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Hello World-    

If you were to see me in a crowd, you’d shrug me off as another typical teenage girl, another face, another stereotype.  But my story, is nowhere near that simple. My dramas do not consist of whether or not my nail polish matches my eyes, or if that “cutie” in my biology class will ask me to Homecoming. No, my dramas are far more complicated than that. I refuse to tell you that you should not read my story. I’m not going to demand you drop this book over the nearest cliff and run as far away as you can. What I will say, however, is that by reading my story- by opening yourself up to everything I’ve been through-you are putting yourself in danger. If you recognize any of the “habits” mentioned, I suggest you move are far away from where you are as possible. Because when you start to notice them, they’ll start to notice to you, and your life will change-forever. 

My name is Rosalina Black, and this is my story.


Midnight…

Chapter 1: Come Clean…

 

 

It was around 11:00pm on a Saturday night. The moon resembled the Cheshire cat’s smile, the wind made the trees tremble and shake, as the dark clouds overhead threatened rain. It was a week before my birthday, which happened to fall upon Halloween. My mother, Violet, and I were carving pumpkins for our annual Halloween block party. My mom mother and I lived in a cul-de-sac. It was The definition of suburbia. Everyone knew each other, and it everything became common knowledge in our neighborhood. Block parties came with the territory, but we but we didn’t mind. 

 

    We worked in quiet with only the sound of knifes stabbing into pumpkins to fill it empty air. “Rosalina, will you pass me me that the carving knife, please... and be careful with the blade, I sharpened it this morning.” I picked up the sharp knife, being cautious not to cut myself, and made my way through the slippery floor of pumpkin guts. If I had looked up on the last step to my mother’s waiting hand, then maybe she would be alive right now. But no, I looked up, slipped, and sent the knife to give a deep gnash to the arm just above the many bracelets she always wore. ”MOM! Are you okay?! I’M SO SORRY!” I yelled. I started at my mother with intensity, mouth hanging open,  while she closed her eyes tight, breathe sharp. In a stiff voice she said, “No, that’s okay honey, it’s nothing, really.” But the pain in her eyes gave her away and I knew she was lying. ”Stay here, I’ll be right back. “ Before I could stop her, she was half way down the hall making her way to her room.    

    

    I stood frozen in the kitchen for a moment and then leaned against the wall. After a few seconds, I slide down the  wall, wondering what my dad, Vladimir, would have done if he were here. Supposedly I knew him when I was little, but I had no current recollection of him, and mom had taken away his pictures. “What happened to daddy?” I remember asking her when I was four. One time she said he lived somewhere in Washington, another time, he was dead, and once as a joke, he was abducted by aliens.  

   

I laughed quietly to myself, as I brushed my fingers along the edge of fingered the “Scarlet” bracelet given to me as an early birthday present. “I’m sorry honey,” my mother had said, “But they didn’t have one that said Rosalina on it. But, I know that Scarlet is your favorite color, so… HAPPY  9th BIRTHDAY!” she said as she handed me the bracelet. “Mom,” I had asked after holding it for awhile, “why does it have two blue charms on either side of the name ‘Scarlet’?” 

    “Well, I uh, they, uh…” she was clearly having trouble on finding out what to say, “You see, they were my mothers’ good luck charms, so they’re to give you good luck.” She smiled, and I didn’t question it any further.   

     

    Suddenly, I heard a loud bang, and I saw a flash of golden light underneath the door. I heard mom yelling, and I tip-toed to her bedroom door, and pressed my ear against the wood. “Oh shit! No no no no no!! Oh my god!  This is not happening right now! I mean really I haven’t used it in 9 years and the second I do they're coming for me! ” what was she talking about?! Haven’t used what in 9 years? Who’s after her, who’s after us!?I had no time to ponder these thoughts because just then she walked out of her room and saw me, I was sure that I was in BIG  trouble. 

 

    “ROSALINA!! THANK GOD! CLOSE THE DOORS! GET THE WINDOWS! NO TIME TO EXPLAIN! BUT GIVE ME A SEC.-" She put her hands over my head, whispered something in Gibberish that I didn’t get, took my hands, said good luck, and good bye, and began to lock windows and doors. I wanted to call after her, ask her what she did, but when I look down at my hands, those questions became shut up inside me. Because when I looked down, there was blood all over my hands, not my blood, my mother’s. I stared after her, and sure enough, there was the cut, without even a band-aid to cover it.

 

 'Why didn't mom fix it? Why is her cut uncovered? DOESN'T IT HURT!?' I thought to myself as I stared after her in a sudden trance. I knocked out of my trance and ran to lock the back door. Once that was done, I went to lock the front door. But before I could even reach it I saw a floating white light, it reminded me of the blue fairy in Pinocchio. It was majestic, spectacular, I couldn't place it,  and had no idea what it was. I didn't have much time to think about what it could have possibly been because it floated closer to me and in a flash of bright, white, light; my world went as black as my last name… 

                

            It had felt like only a moment when I started to become aware of what was going on, it’s not like I had a blind fold, but I couldn't see, it was all black. I could feel the cold air on the back of my neck, I could hear the police car sirens surrounding the house, and I was entirely aware of the many cameras flashing and the many people all around me. And then I realize what’s going on, I’m outside being hand cuffed, “what’s going on? I asked, frantic. There were two cops, a man and a woman, the women pulled me by the elbow and said, "You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law.  You are being arrested for the murder of Violet Black-“that was all I heard because then I stopped in mid-trance, “what did you say…..” I asked fearfully, “Uh,” said the lady surprised, “You’re being arrested for the murder of your mother…” My arm got goose bumps and I felt a shiver down my spine.  

 

 ‘NO’! My brain screamed, ‘your moms not dead! They’re lying, that’s all! I'm having a bad dream! What’s going on! What’s happening to me! THEY'RE LIEING!' I could feel the tiny droplets of rain hit my arm as I asked, “WAIT, and so my mom is…is…she’s…” I stammered helplessly “dead? Yeah, sure, you should know, you did it.” I stopped listening after dead; my mind started to rush all at once. The world seemed to spin and all the colors around me seemed to blend. The flashing of the cameras, the color of the moon through the rain filled clouds. All of the noises suddenly became very loud; I heard the sounds of terrified neighbors, the non-stop questions by the surrounding reporters. I fell to my knees and lifted my head to the sky, and cried. By this time, the rain had kicked in, and the sky seemed to cry with me just as the clock in the center of town stroke midnight…          

 

 

Chapter 2: Rosalina Black

(Rosalina)

     “Come on rose!” I was awakened by two pale hands shaking my shoulders, the hands belonged to my cell mate Sara- remember? “Rose! Come on! If you don’t hurry Joe will leave and we won’t get to eat until two thirty! Man… I don’t know about you, but I’m starving!” I allowed myself to open one eye and squinted into Sara’s pale blue ones, “He’ll wait, and he always does.” I said with a small smirk. Slowly, I slid the itchy gray blanket off of me, and looked down at my tacky orange jumpsuit as I stood up. Joe, the security guard for our block, came over and unlocked our cell. “Good morning girls!  It’s about time somebody woke up.”  He said with a smile and a small gesture towards me. “You girls better hurry up; you’re the last ones to leave for the dining hall.” We smiled back at him, “thank you Joe!” we said in a sing-song voice as we followed the herd of icky orange jumpsuits to the dining hall. “Next time I won’t wait!” shouted Joe as he turned and headed the opposite direction.          

     

    Don’t tell me- you got lost didn’t you? One second you’re listening to an awful nightmare and the next I’m in Juvie and you’re wondering why the dream was so important! Alright then, let’s hit the rewind button on this remote control shall we? That ‘dream’ you just read about actually happened. As if it wasn’t enough that every news station in the state said that killed my mom, I’ve had to have a stupid reoccurring nightmare about the whole thing for the past five years!  Talk about feeling guilty slash depressed for a crime you didn’t even commit!    

   

 Now, who’s Sara you ask? Well, Sara Malloy has been my cellmate and best friend since I was nine and we entered this rat hole.  She was arrested for Grand Theft auto. Funny story actually, it all started when her mom got remarried, the guy didn’t like Sara, and he was always going on about how she was so stupid and why couldn’t she be a boy?  And a few years later when her mom died, he didn’t care, he wouldn’t go to the funeral or even let Sara go. So late one night, Sara grabbed his car keys and pushed her foot down on the gas. But being only nine, she didn’t know how to drive and crashed straight into the garage. Her step dad called the police and before the first bit of sunlight hit the horizon, she was locked up.      

      

    “Earth to Rose! Hello! Is there a brain in that head?” said Sara playfully knocking her knuckles on the top of my head.  We had already finished eating. “What?” I asked.  “They just called you,” she said,” Sally‘s here.”  I got up and smiled. Sally Griffin was my lawyer during the trail. She was my mom's best friend and college dorm mate, “Don’t worry sweetie, we’re going to win this case! I mean really you had no motive! Loraina will not get that one past the judge or jury! You’ll see!” Loraina apparently was the people’s lawyer. Despite Sally’s best attempts, we lost the case, (as you might have figured out. [but really, it wasn’t because Sally did a bad job, she was really good actually, it was because everyone in that court room thought I did it based on evidence.])  But after we lost, Sally vowed that she would come at least twice a week, and she kept her promise. But today would be the last day she had to do so because tomorrow, I was leaving. But I wasn’t the only one leaving; Sara was too, her to her Aunt’s house in Sacramento, and me with Sally in Santa Clara. Joe led me to the meeting room where I saw Sally sitting at a metal table. 

     I came up to her and hugged her. “Hey Sally!”  As she pulled back from the hug, she said, “Hey Rose, sorry I couldn’t come yesterday, I have this new case with a fifteen year old that killed her best friend and sister. Yup! Charged with man 2. But enough about her," Sally sighed, “are you happy you’re leaving tomorrow?” I gave her a no-freaking-duh face. "I'm just kidding! Of course our happy!" Sally laughed and shook her head. 

 

    There was a brief pause.  "Hey Sally," I said as I suddenly remembered a question that I had been wondering, “you know, I keep forgetting to ask, where do you live? Sally’s smile vanished, and she looked down guiltily at her hands.  ‘Uh oh, this is bad…..’ I thought just before saying, “What is it?” Sally looked up and laughed when she saw my questioning face, “No, no, no! Don't worry, it’s not bad...I think...." she furrowed her brow, and shook her head. “You see Rose; I decided that my old house, the one I've been living in was, well- for lack of a better word; worn out. I need a change of scenery. So seeing that your old house was still unoccupied I...you know...Bought it?" She looked up and seemed to think that this news might make me mad. But to tell you the truth, I was...speechless...  

 

    "You’re not upset are you?" She started as she looked up, "I just thought you might be more comfortable in a place you've lived in most of your life!" Sally stared at me; she looked like she was silently debating whether or not she should have bought the house.

     

    As for me, I was shocked, but I too was silently debating the same thing she was. Did I want to live there without my mom? Would it be creepy without her? "Rose?" started Sally, interrupting my thoughts, “How do you feel about me buying the house?" 

    

    "I don't know," I answered truthfully, "I miss my old house, but I wonder what it will feel like since..." I got a lump in my throat and I pictured the accident. Sally stood up and came over to me," Oh sweet heart! I'm so sorry I bought that house! I didn't know it would make you-" I cut her off, "No." I took a deep breath, "what’s done is done, we don't know for sure that it was the wrong choice. Maybe something good will happens!" I said trying to make Sally feel better about her decision. I pushed back any tears that might threaten to come out because of my memories. Sally nodded, "oh, and another thing, how do you feel about-" Joe opened the door and we knew our time was up. "I'm sure whatever you had to say can wait for later." I told Sally as I stood up to go with Joe. Sally nodded, "Okay sweetie, I'll see you tomorrow."   

 

**********

    

 

    ”She WHAT!” said Sara after I told her what Sally had done. It was after lunch and we were back in our, (I hate calling it a cell, so let’s just call it our “room”, shall we?) room and were talking.  Sara stared at me, trying to read my facial expression, “Wait, aren’t you mad?” she asked. I shrugged, “I really don’t know how I feel about all of this…I mean, I love my house, but I-"  Sara cut me off. “You think it will be weird without your mom.” She said. “Yeah.” I said as I looked up and saw that she was leaning against the wall with her hands across her chest. She was looking down; her face looked like she was remembering. “Is that how you felt when your mom died?” I asked cautiously. Sara seemed to snap out of it instantly and changed the subject. That was Sara; no mushy-gushy lets-talk-about-our-feelings- crap, no not for Sara. She's brave- tough as nails. I think that was what made us such good friends. “So, I you’re not going to be home schooled anymore?” Sara asked. This question caught me off guard. “To tell you the truth,” I said, turning my head to the side in great consideration, “I haven’t really thought about that at all.” Sara shrugged, “Well, I’m going to Cappuccino high.” She said, and rolled her eyes. I laughed, “Cappuccino!?” I clutched my stomach. “What moron names their school Cappuccino?!” Sara smiled, as I continued. “That makes for great cheers, huh? What do the cheerleaders say at football games? ‘Let’s foam those guys!’? What’s their mascot? A frothy cup of coffee?!” I was laughing so hard my stomach hurt. Sara joined in on the fun, “Our mission statement: Our students will learn to make a great cup of coffee at this high school!’ I wonder what the school colors will be. Green and white like Starbucks? Or Brown like Pete’s coffee!” We both laughed so hard that you couldn’t even hear the laughter, and we were gasping for breath. It’s not that it was particularly funny, put it was one of those moments where nothing is really extremely hilarious, but you laugh because it’s all in the moment. We kept laughing and leaning up against each other up until the door opened and it was time to go into the yard for “exercise”. 

    

    Once everyone was already outside, and we were walking out, we started to calm down. “Hey girls.” Said Joe from down the hall, Sara and I turned our heads to see him, and we noticed a cup of coffee in his hands…and we started to laugh all over again.

 

**********

 

    "Hey...Rose-" started Sara once we were in bed after dinner. I waited for Sara to continue, and when she didn't, I said, "Yeah Sara?" Sara sighed, "I know neither one of us likes to talk about stuff like this, but in the seven years we've been together, I've always wondered and... well- can I ask you a personal question?"  I was hesitant, because I'm not exactly the type of person who likes to sit on the couch with a box of tissues and cry my heart out while eating a box of chocolates and ice cream out of the carton. I sighed, but replied yes anyway. Sara was hesitant as she began, " Did you ever wonder...if maybe...or somehow...you...really did...maybe by accident...really did...kill your mom and block it all out? And if you did would you know where her body was?"  That was the weirdest thing about my mother's murder. I was accused of killing her because of the knife that had cut her arm, her blood on mine, and the drops of her blood all around the house. The cops never found the body, and to me that was the worst part of all- no grave to visit when I got out. 

 

    Sara looked down from the top bunk, her face, looked as though she was unsure whether she should have said what she did. She lay back down on her bunk as I sighed. "Yeah," I started close to tears, "I mean, don't get me wrong, I loved, no, I LOVE my mom, and wasn't mad at her before the accident, but there were times after, when I wondered, did I do it? And if I did, why don't I remember? Did I block it all out?  But then comes the thought, why? I never hated her! We never fought!" I couldn't hold in my tears anymore, and they were pouring out like a water fall. “I would never hurt my mother! She was everything to me! My only living family member while my dad was who knows where!" I knew I sounded like a pathetic weenie, but I prefer to think of it as showing my softer side. "Oh! Rose! I'm sorry! I didn't mean to make you upset! I just wondered for a long time! That's all! Oh! I'm sorry!" I wiped my eyes on the scratchy gray blanket. "No, it’s not your fault," I started, shaking my head even though I knew she couldn't see, "I've wondered the same thing, I bet even Sally has! I don't hate you for asking me," I was shaking my head like there was no tomorrow, as if that would make everything go back to the way it used to be, before Juvie, before the accident. "But the important question," I said to Sara,” Is, if I didn't do it, then who?" Sara and I were both wide awake, but the response was clear....*silence*

 

Chapter 3: Maxx Jones

(Maxx)

    You know what I hate? I hate it when I can't figure something out. I don't want to brag or anything, but I am pretty smart. So when I don't understand something, I'm forced to turn to either a calculator or the internet. As you might have guessed, that doesn't always work for people. So when she moved in, I was stuck. I couldn't figure her out. She was today and tomorrow combined. She was the faintest scent of cotton candy at the fair, as mysterious as the dark side as the moon. I didn't know who she was, or what she was. I only knew one thing. She was everything, EVERYTHING to me from the first moment I met her. I knew from that moment that I would do anything to save her, no matter how big the trouble. Her name is Rosealine Black.  

 

      It all started on a day like any other day.  I went to school, and walked home. I wouldn't say that I had a great day at school, but it wasn't bad either. However, my "okay" day started to turn bad as I began to walk home. Prior to leaving school, I had seen two black cats, walked under a ladder, and broke a mirror as I steeped on it. If that didn't spell out "bad luck" in all capitols, bolded, underlined five times, with ten exclamation points after it with flashing neon lights, I don't know WHAT did. I decided to distract my mind by enjoying the cool crisp October afternoon. I looked down as I heard the new fallen leaves crunch under my every step. This was my favorite time of year, so I enjoyed being outside as much as possible.  Halloween was coming up soon, and even though I wouldn't go trick-or-treating, (15 was way too old to be doing baby stuff like that) my friend Sam was throwing a party with her brother and sister Elden and Erica. And considering the fact that they we're rich and had a huge house, this party were going to be cool.  

    

    I turned the corner on to my street, but once I saw that there was a big white moving van in the driveway next to my house, I froze. This was BAD. Okay, so, maybe new neighbors aren't so bad to YOU, but you don't have my mom. My mom is sweet, she’s nice, she cares for me, and looks out for me, and I love her. However, when it comes to new neighbors, my mom goes over and above. I wouldn't say she’s mean about it or anything, and I guess to the new people it wouldn't be a bad way to greet them, it’s just, well; she does the EXACT same thing every time someone new moves in. EXACTLY the same thing. You think I'm exaggerating, I know, but I'm not, I'm really not. Every day that new people move in, it’s the same. Mom wakes up, has her coffee, goes for a jog, runs some errons, and is home by twelve thirty. THEN the trouble starts. At around one thirty, after mom takes her nap, she has this "weird feeling" that new people are moving in down the block, so she goes outside, and walks around. And EVERY TIME she comes back, she says someone new is moving in. EVERY TIME!! And even as she makes the casserole and pie to bring over, EVERYTHING goes exactly, I don't even need to have my eyes open, I can walk inside a quickly step to the left in order not to be hit by whatever just flew out of my mom's hand as she jumped when I closed the door. Yeah, like I said, EXACTLY THE SAME!!!!! Once, when mom was making the pie to take over to the "new friends" I put a blindfold on before I went inside, and I went through all of moms obstical course without breaking a sweat!

    

    At that moment, I jumped as I heard a car horn. I turned around to see a black SABB with my mom at the wheel. I forced my facial muscles into something I'm hoping resembles a smile. My mom stops the car in front of me, even though our house is still a twelve more driveways away. "Max! Hey! Did you see the moving van next door?!" mom said, nodding her head at the very last house on the street, right next to ours. "Yeah," I started, "Finally someone bought the haunted house, and you think they know about what happened?" Mom shakes her head. "I doubt it. ANYHOW! I'm still going to make them two apple pies." I look of pure joy came over her face as she closed her eyes and shook her head, she looked as though she was thinking about how wonderful they were going to smell when they came out of the oven. "I can just imagine how wonderful they're going to smell once they come out of the oven!" She said once she opened her eyes. See what I said? What did I say! "Yeah," I responded knowingly, “They do smell really great mom." and to tell you the truth, they actually smell heavenly. Mom used to be a chef, until she got burned by a pot of coffee that spilled on her arm as she was dancing in the kitchen. Mom has never really been the same since; she’s always worried that I might get hurt as bad as, or worse than she did. 

 

    Not that I don't appreciate mom looking out for me, but it is kind of hard to cut a piece of steak with a spoon. It’s a lot less worse than it sounds really. But mostly I don't mind mom looking out for me, its....comforting. "Enough talk, Hector will be home soon, and when I called him earlier, he said it had been a long day and he asked if we could have dinner on the table before he comes home from the hospital, he wants to sleep because off all the work he did today." Mom shook her head, " he had several people come in with a very extreme flu that's going around today"  She shook her head some more. “That poor boy works too hard," she sighed. "But he’s saving people’s lives, so I guess that's good right? Good gracious! Look at the time! We’ve been chatting here for fifteen minutes! Max, why didn't you tell me I was babbling again! Oh! See! I'm doing it again! Well, Come along then, let’s hurry up so we can meet the new neighbors before they burn out and fall asleep."  I shook my head and told her that I would walk; she shrugged, and drove away.

    

     I sighed, for me, new neighbors was bad and embarrassing for many reasons. First of all, it meant wearing the monkey suit. What’s the monkey suit you ask?  It’s a very evil outfit that I've outgrown long before mom started doing her "meet the new Friends" game. The outfit basically looks like it came straight out of 'Leave It to Beaver'. It reminds me of that kid, in the little rascals with the gelled hair and the one piece of hair gelled straight up in the back.  I shuddered. I hated that thing!  It was way too tight, and way, way too short, I looked like a geek! I am not a geek, no matter how smart I really am, and I don't dress like a geek normally, so being dressed up like one really pushed my buttons.

     

    Anyway, I just really hope that the new neighbor isn't a terrorizing little kid. THOSE are the worst, they look at you all cute and innocent, and then, like a cobra coming up to strike, BAM! They so something horrible and blame it on you. We have loads of those on our block. There is only one person that we greeted that I liked a lot, two that hate my guts ever since, and one friend that is always making fun of me and my mom’s over protectiveness. The first friend was a girl who moved in with her brother, their names were Sadie and Shaun Spencer. When my mom and I came over to "greet" them, Sadie opened the door and smiled. I remember how she was nice to me even though I was wearing the monkey suit. The other case however was when we went over to the biggest house on Star Girl ave.

        

    Mom had dressed me up in the monkey suit, as usual, and I went over to the house with me caring a coconut cream pie. Mom was ahead of me and just as I took another step, I tripped over an unexpected step on the stairs leading up to the double doors tripped. Just milliseconds BEFORE I had tripped, a girl, about my age but taller, with a blond pixie style hair cut opened the door while chewing the biggest wad of gum I had ever seen. She had been the reason that I hadn't looked up on that last step.  I fell hard, but luckily, the pie had cushioned my fall...or maybe NOT so luckily. The blond girl started to laugh hysterically, I could compare it to a hyena, but that wouldn't be accurate for two reasons, that would be rude to hyenas, and I was pretty sure that if she and a hyena both entered a laughing contest, she'd win. And then, ha, AND THEN, mom looked at me, and here I am, thinking she'll ask if I'm alright, right? NO. Instead, she says, "Oh! My pie!"  OH MY PIE!?!  Wow mom. Wow.  I glared through the pie at both of them, and that made the blond chick "guffaw" harder. Gosh! At the time I wished so much that she would choke on her gum. And then, she did. I don't mean like, coughing, I mean, purple-and-red-faced-in-need-of-the Heimlich-maneuver choking. "Oh, goodness!" my mom squeaked, and she scurried over to the blond chick and tried to do the Heimlich.

      

    I remember feeling so awkward, just standing there while the chick was choking and my mom was attempting to help. And then I was kind of surprised, I wished she would choke, and then she- "I said, 'HEY'" I looked over and saw a girl, about my height with long wavy blond hair, holding out a towel next to me.  "You gonna take it or what?" she said wiggling the towel once I had looked over. "Thanks..." I said and took the towel from her. I could feel her deep blue eyes watching me as I wiped my face, the coughing of the blond chick in the background like a sound track. She leaned against the pole, "The name's Evens, Sam Evens, you?"   I looked over at her, and replied, "Jones, Max Jones." copying her 'James Bond' tone.  I looked over nervously at the other girl who was STILL choking, "Is-she gonna be alright?" more people had gathered around her now and were attempting to get the piece WAD of gum out. Mom, who used to be a nurse, (after she was a chef) had trouble remembering how to perform the Heimlich maneuver, mom had trouble remembering MOST things from her life after dad left, no one really knew why. "You mean Erica?" She asked jabbing her thumb over her shoulder to where the girl was," Oh yeah. As a matter of fact, she probably LOVES the attention, always complaining that she never gets enough. So she goes and acts stuff to get some. Mom and dad have offered to put her in theatre, on account of her wonderful acting abilities," she put air quotes over the last two words, "But no. 'Acting is for nerds,' she says. Yeah right! I mean, if it were for nerds, then why is Orlando Bloom an actor?" I had no idea what to say, so I stared and blinked a few times. She rolled her eyes, "Yeah, she’s gonna be fine." she looked down at my outfit and laughed, "Whoa, is that what your outfit is supposed to look like?"  And THAT is how I met the Evens. The girl, Erica, and her twin brother, Elden, both hated me. And Sam, well, Sam took every chance she could to make fun of how much my mom was overprotective, but still, Sam was my friend.  

       I was standing right in front of my house and sighed, stupid new neighbors. I saw a person in the window, not really a face, just a brush past that seemed to confirm my nightmares. "Great..." I groaned miserably. I walked up to my porch and closed my eyes. I breathed heavily out and said, "Here we go-" I opened the door and went inside. Once inside I closed the door, hard. The kitchen, which is right by the door, is where my mom was. She was right by me and jumped up with a surprised "Oh!" quickly I dodged to the right, my eyes still closed to keep away from flying Cinnamon. "Oh! Goodness Max! Don't DO that!" She said, me internally mouthing the words along with her. I had this routine down. 

*********

I went through the rest of mom's routine right down to the second. About fifteen minutes after I walked into the door, I got in the shower and got dressed, as always.  Mom and I sat down and watched TV until the pies were done. Mom got the pies out of the oven and took three hours to change. I sat uncomfortably on the couch until she was ready. At about eight-thirty mom came out, "Ready?" she chirped? I looked over at her and inwardly groaned as I rolled my eyes, "Right."

 

 

 

Chapter 4: Blowing in The Wind.

(Rosalina)

        Do you know that feeling you have when you get on a boat or a train for the first time? Well, it's the same feeling you have after not being in a car for seven years. I don't think we all realize how much we use cars in our everyday life. Let me tell you, it must be a lot because right now in this very moment, I have never felt as though anything were more alien. So now as Sally and I drove further and further away from Juvie faster and faster, the speed gave me a big migraine, just by staring out the window watching the cars and scenery zoom past. 

    

    I had my head leaning out the window; I hadn't realized how much I craved fresh air! I kept opening my mouth up wide so that I could swallow the huge gulps of it and feel it make my throat dry. I'm almost positive I looked like a fish. The air tasted like you would expect Bay Area air to taste, a bit salty and a lot-a green. I ran my fingers through my hair and felt it blowing in the wind.  From the driver's side I heard Sally laugh, "Are you alright? You look a little pale." she shared a quick laugh with herself. 

    "Really?" I asked, "I'm feeling a little green because of all this green air." Sally and I laughed for a little while before I'm pretty sure I fell asleep. And finally, for the first time in a long time, I had a dreamless slumber. 

 

**********

    

    The day was still young when Sally brought me home. The neighborhood still looked the same. The same trees, smae houses, the same smell of fallen leaves and a hint of Cinnamon that I always remembered. We pulled into the driveway soundlessly next to an empty moving van as I took in the scene and Sally stopped the car. The car was small but the elephant in the room seemed to take up all the space. I didn’t know what to say, and neither did Sally apparently. We sat in silence for a while, the seconds’ ticking off into minutes. I wasn’t used to silence; I never liked the ringing it held, so I sighed. Sally looked over to me, worried. 

    

    “Well, I know you don’t like silence and since neither do me how about I fill it with the words I’ve been dying to tell you for five years: Welcome Home.” Sally smiled widely and grabbed my arm to give it a soft squeeze. As soon as she said that I knew it would all be okay.

     

    “Thanks, Sally. ” I smiled, all of the previous mixed feeling disappearing with every coming second. I chukled, grabbed the keys, and hopped out of the car, and walked up the porch steps to the big oak door. I was bubbling over the brim with excitement and nerves as I turned the key. I took a deep breath, a small smile, opened the door, and took a big step in.

    

    “Wow...” I whispered, breathing in the scent of pine needles and cinnamon. My small smile now erupted into joy as I walked through the house remembering every twist and turn of the layout. There wasn’t much furniture, just a few couches and tables covered with sheets. Everything had a thin layer of dust and the corners had spider webs. Tons of boxes piled like pyramids that the movers had moved in days before. I couldn’t believe how much I missed being home. I walked back into the living room, the room my mother was murdered in, and stopped. I blinked hard to keep from crying and as I did my mind seemed to flash back to that night. “I love you mom,” I whispered to the room. “I still love you...”

     

    “Is it hard?” I turned around to see Sally standing in the doorway, her arms crossed lightly over her chest as she leaned against the door's frame. “Is it hard to come back, to see this room and know...she’ll never be here again?” Sally asked sympathetically. I nodded. “I’m fine,” I told myself, trying to be convinced. “Absolutely fantastic.” I managed a weak smile. Sally’s smile was a mirror image of mine. “C’mon,” she said and waved me over. “We got a lot of unpacking to do.”   

Sally and I speant the rest of the day unpacking and reorganizing what the movers had already moved in. And by eight o’clock we had unpacked the living room, the kitchen, and the dining room.

    

    "Hey Rose, how about we have pizza?’ Sally asked, wiping furniture dust from her hands onto a rag. I smiled widely, I couldn't remember when the last time I had pizza was! Must have been weeks before the accident. Sally laughed, “I’ll take that as a yes.” And went off to get the phone and order.

   

     “I’ll be upstairs unpacking my room, okay?” I told Sally, and she responded with a simple nod. I walked slowly upstairs and stood outside my door. The door knob was old and dented and had an old fashion key hole under it, I had never seen the key, I doubt even my mom knew where it was.

 

    When I opened the door I was surprised with a sudden feeling of dizziness. The feeling seemed to pulse though my veins like a rapid surge of blood and I leaned on the door frame for support. Keeping one hand sliding along the wall for support, I walked carefully my bed. I plopped down and closed my eyes, the feeling I felt was bursting through my veins and tangling into my of soft thumping and saw Sally in my doorway, the hung up phone in her hand.

    

    “Hey sweetie, I ordered two cheese pizzas, is that- oh god, what’s wrong?” Sally said, taking in my pained facial expression. The room began to spin, I felt like I was falling, falling down, down, down deep and couldn’t find something to hold on to. Through foggy eyes I saw Sally rush up to me and wave a hand with open fingers in front of my face. I saw through the blur that her lips were moving, but I must have been falling through pudding or something really thick because I couldn’t hear her. I felt my eye lids droop, and the urge to sleep washed over me. I think I mumbled something about being tired as unconsciousness washed over me, and I was asleep.

*********

    I awoke to a bad head ache and the sound of people down stairs. My door was closed and I strained to hear the voices coming from just below the stairs in the dinning room. My hearing was never to be depended on but I assumed that there were two other people there with Sally, a women for sure, and a boy. I didn't think it was a man, just didn't sound right, but the boy must have not been a kid, maybe a teenager. Slowly, I sat up with my feet dangling inches above the floor. I couldn't get off the bed, sitting up was the only thing my headache permitted. Two of the voices down stairs seemed to be trying to persuade the third one to do something, I didn't catch the words but by the way they were speaking it seemed to fit. I slowly breathed in and out, attempting to distract myself with breathing rather than focus on the headache. My head was throbbing loudly through my ears so at first I didn't realize the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs, but there they were. These footsteps did not sound like Sally's, nor did the light knock on my bedroom door. 

    

    "Hello? Uh...Rose? My name is Maxx Jones, my mom and I came over to- Uh... 'greet' our new neighbors." The voice on the other side of the door began. I was right about it being a teenager instead of a man or boy; this Maxx guy couldn't have been older than me. He sounded nervous, and very uncomfortable to say the words 'greet our new neighbors' he was clearly embarrassed.  "But...yeah...so...Hi...-" He paused, "Wait- is there somebody in there or am I just talking to a wall, because if I am I feel very stupid right now." I laughed softly, surprising myself at how clear I sounded, not at all like my throat hurt- which it did, a lot.

    

    "No need to feel stupid, yeah, there's someone in here. Hi, I would open the door, but I feel really dizzy and don't think I can stand up and walk over there, is it locked?" I asked. My voice was an odd sound coming from my lips, it sounded… sweeter somehow even though my throat continued it's bon fire.

    

He tried. "Yeah, oh well, I think my mom and I are going to go soon anyway." He spoke slower now, almost dazed. "But yeah, so I...uh...wanted to ask you- well, my mom and your Aunt Sally thought it would be cool...if..." The embarrassment rang in his every word, so I decided to help him a long. "Ask me what?"

"Um...If you- never mind, it's kind of stupid." I think he was blushing, sure sounded like it.

"No, go ahead, who knows...maybe I'll say yes." I told him, trying to help him again. I had no idea what he was asking me, I barley knew the kid!

He chuckled, "Okay, well, they thought it would be a good idea if I asked you to this Halloween party-well, technically she called it a 'ball'- at my friend- she’s technically not my friend, I just put up with her- Sam's house. It's really big because her parents are rich. She’s technically not even hosting it, her sibling's Elden & Erica are. Her parent's just thought it would be fair if she got to have some friends there too."

"Tomorrow?" I clarified.

"Yeah."

"What time does it end?"

"Twelve thirty in the morning."

"And Sally said I could?"

"Yeah, she said she needed to stay late at the office tomorrow, working on a new case, and that she didn't think you should be alone tomorrow night, didn't say why though..." The day after tomorrow was my birthday, which meant that I would be there when it became my birthday at midnight. I guess Sally didn't think I should be alone for my birthday. I didn't really want to go. After all, I don't know the guy, I feel really sick, I have no idea who the people throwing the party were, and besides, this guy just could be messing with me. No. I probably should say no. 

"Okay. Sure. Uh, yeah, okay." Did that just come from me?

"Cool!" Maxx chuckled happily, "Awesome, so I guess the limo should be here at about ten, so it can take you, me, my other friend Sadie & her date to Sam's house." I nodded, and then I realized that he couldn't see me, "Cool....um...well, I've never rode in a limo before...." 

"It's a lot of fun Rose; you'll like it a lot. And get this; they don't even rent the limo, they OWN it. So basically they can use it whenever they want." He laughed lightly, but it was interrupted by his mother's voice coming from down stairs calling him. "Hey, Rose, I got to go now. See you tomorrow, okay?" I heard him begin to walk down the hall way towards the stairs, his feet making soft thuds as he moved.

    

    I simply nodded, knowing that he couldn't see me. Did I just say yes to that kid? What just happened? I pushed it out of my head. I'd just call him tomorrow and explain how sorry I was and how I was sick. He'd understand. I was tired again and the dizziness still had not deserted me. I lay back down, curling my legs behind me. Maybe tonight I could get some sleep; maybe I won't have a nightmare. I snuggled in tighter. Who knows, maybe I will end up going to this 'ball' with this guy Maxx anyway. Who knows, maybe tomorrow will be better somehow...

 

    The October wind whipped outside my window, making my window shake slightly and some chilly air slip through. Who knows, maybe my answer was out there, just blowing in the wind.

Yeah...

Who knows...

 

 

Chapter 5: Bad Moon Rising

(Sally)

    I wiped the sweat off my forehead and placed my cell phone held loosely in my right hand. Using the black hair tie on my wrist, I tied back my layered blond hair into a loose high pony tail and wiped my hands on my old worn jeans. I estimated that the pizza should be here in a half hour, if not less and wondered how much of my bed room I could get to unpack before then. The day had left me exhausted, all the unpacking and moving around, it was  a good thing Rosalina wanted pizza, and I doubt I would have been able to cook tonight.

    

    At the thought of Rosalina, I realize that it’s a bit too quiet up stair in her room. After unpacking all day, the silence of the house seems foreign and eerie. Maybe I should check on her. I have to raise my legs for each step twelve times to get to the top. My feet make soft imprints in the new white carpet as I walk. The door is open ajar as I stepped in. "Hey sweetie, I ordered two cheese pizza is that-oh god, what’s wrong?" I saw Rose sitting on the edge of her bed, she was looking pale, and her entire body looked shaky as she swayed slightly, just before she fell into her bed. 

    

    Quickly, I rushed up to her, dropping my phone in the movement.  "Sweetie! Rose! Rosealine! Baby! Wake up sweetie!" I waved my hand up to her pale cold face, trying to get her attention, "I....I'm tired...." She mumbled before her eye lids drooped down and silently closed. "Oh my god...It’s going to be soon-" My hand flew up to cover up my short gasp. It was going to happen soon. On the eve of her birth... 

    

    This was something Rosalina needed to do on her own. Something I could not help her through. She needs to do this alone, Sally. Not You or I... I heard the words echo in my head. I nodded, trying to convince myself. I put the back of my hand on Rose's forehead and felt it grow slightly warmer by the touch. Slowly I bent my face down to kiss her forehead. I knew right then how much I loved this girl. How much I was worried for what she would soon face. Take care of her, Sally...She needs you.... I see this bad moon rising and the throuble thats on the way. But I also saw that I wouldn't be able to help Roseas she encountered it. So, slowly I walked backwards to the door, picking up my cell phone on the way and closed the room behind me. 

                 

*********

 

    I wanted to badly to know what Rose was going through right now. I never fully understood why a kid had to do all the grown up things like this. These worries pushed down all my other thoughts like a third grade bully in a sandbox of kindergarten kids as I slowly changed out of my clothes and into a cleaner pair of

 jeans. I needed not to feel as grungy as I did right then. I washed my face with warm water and brushed my hair. The doorbell rang then, surprising me and bringing me back to Earth from all my other-worldly thoughts. 

   

     I walked carefully down the twelve steps down the stairs, and the ten more to the door. After paying the Pizza guy, I sat the pizza down of the table and walked to get a plate out of one of the boxes nearby. Everything was quiet. This was why I must have jumped a foot in the air when the doorbell rang a second time. The chimes echoing throughout the whole house. Who could that be? Was it the pizza guy again? I was pretty sure I paid him the exact change. Maybe it was a telemarketer or a Jehovah's Witness. No, probably not at this hour. I walked briskly into the living room where the front door was. But if it wasn't the pizza guy, then who?  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 6: One Step at a Time

(Maxx)

    

     I don't know if I have mentioned this yet but; I really hate the monkey suit. A lot. This was my main and only thought as I walked out my front door, my mom on my heals looking like a 1960's house wife in her red polka-dotted dress. So there I was. Heading to 'greet' the new neighbors for the millionth time. Fun. The apple pie I was holding was still warm from the oven and filled me with warmth from the cool October night air. Mom held the other pie as we walked over next door. As I knocked on the old wooden door, mom fixed and fused over her hair. She kept straightening her shoulders and painted her practiced smile onto her face. Her strawberry blond hair was parted directly in the middle and her red lipstick was perfect. On the other side of the door we heard footsteps and the door's ancient lock being undone.

    

    The woman who opened the door was young. Well, not in her twenties young, but younger than old. It seemed like she was alone. I didn't know why any lady who was younger than old but older than young would want to live in a haunted house alone. I did explain that a lady had died in that house, didn't I? Yeah, I was there that night, the night that the cop cars' sirens shone bright through our living room window. But that's for another time.

   

     The Lady was dressed in jeans and a white t-shirt and her  hair was pulled back into a pony tail. She looked somewhat surprised to see us there, and for a moment I wondered who she thought she had been opening the door to. But then I just realized that this lady was probably not used to being greeted by neighbors. So few people did stuff like that anymore. One of the many things that made my mother unique.

  

   "Can I help you?" Said the lady, straightening up and putting her hands to support her lower back. My mother straightened even more and her smile grew wider, prettier if possible. "Well hello there neighbor!" She said in a warm, calming, welcoming tone. "My name is Charlotte Jones. My son, Maxx, and I just wanted to welcome you to the neighborhood and share with you my award winning pies." My mom's pies had never won an award to my knowledge other than the one 'award' I made for her for mother’s day out of construction paper when I was in first grade; but mom never failed to mention the 'award winning' part about her pies. My theory was that she wasn't really bragging, just that she enjoyed making the pies and had pride in them. 

    

    "Oh," Said the lady, her facial expression relaxing a bit. "Well that's- lovely. Thank you. My name is Sally. My uh-niece Rosalina is upstairs resting but I'm sure she's like to meet you both some other time." She looked a bit uncomfortable and unsure of what to do. "Why don't you help me carry those over to the counter? I just ordered some pizza so you can help yourselves if you like." Sally smiled and stepped aside so we could come inside. Mom & I set the pies down on the counter and Sally invited us to sit down on her large kitchen table that had four chairs around it. It wasn't long before we all got to talking.

    

    "So what do you do for a living, Sally?" My mom asked politely. Sally went on to tell her about her job as a lawyer and about a new case she was working on. I was hardly listening. I nibbled at my pizza thinking to myself about this mysterious girl that was supposedly Sally's niece. We hadn't seen her yet and she wasn't making any sounds upstairs and I began to doubt her existence at all.

    

    "So where is your niece going to go to school?" My mom asked Sally, thus catching my attention. Sally smiled. "Patterson High. She'll be a junior. What about you, Max; where do you go to school?" She replied, directing the attention to me.  "Same. When does Rose start? Maybe I could help her get adjusted." Rose. That was a really pretty name now that I had said it. Rose. The name made my heart do a little flip inside, making me smile slightly.  Before Sally got a chance to answer, my mom cut in.

    

    "Oh! I've just had the most wonderful idea!" She turned to me, "Honey, why don't you ask Rose to go with you to that party tomorrow? Lots of kids from school will be there, right?" At first I froze. My mom was trying to get me a date to one of the hottest parties of the year. My mom. Ouch. What did that say about me? No offense of course to the Rose girl. But she probably shouldn't go. a) I didn't know her; b) she didn't know me and c) my mom was trying to set me, her soon to be sixteen year old son with a date. Didn't that kind of make me a little bit...I don't know- pathetic?

 

    "Oh, well that sounds great. What time is the party, Max?" Sally asked me. Oh god. This probably meant that the girl was ugly. Or just plain pathetic like me. Why? Because: her aunt was trying to set her up on this date with this guy she didn't know on her second night in the neighborhood. I told her the times and somehow or  another I got talked in to going up stairs and asking Rose myself.

 

    My feet made soft thumps on the carpets strategicly placed on the wood floors as I walked up the stairs. My palms felt sweaty on the banister and my face was most likely red. I felt stupid. Why the hell had I been talked in to this? Okay, here's what I'll do; I'll stand up here for a few minutes, go down stairs, and tell them she said no. I seriously contemplated this idea for a few seconds before realizing that it wouldn't work. Sally would ask Rose why I had said no, either later or tomorrow and Rose would say that she hadn't been asked. I sighed real loud as I reached the last step. Maybe I should give Rose a chance. Maybe she was nice or pretty or whatever. I had reached the door that Sally had notified me belonged to Rose.  After a deep breath, I knocked.

 

    "Hello? Uh...Rose? My name is Maxx Jones, my mom and I came over to- Uh... 'Greet' our new neighbors." This was just sad. I was nervous and I sounded pathetic. "But...yeah...so...Hi...-" I paused to a second. I didn't hear anyone on the other side and felt insanely awkard. "Wait- is there somebody in there or am I just talking to a wall, because if I am I feel very stupid right now." I shifted uncomfortably and straightened up a bit, somewhat mad that I had a) most likely gotten the wrong door, b) was probably talking to myself and c) well, that I was doing this in general.

    

    "No need to feel stupid," I heard Rose begin from the other side of the door. "Yes there is someone in here. Hi, I would open the door, but I feel really dizzy and don't think I can stand up and walk over there, is it locked?" Her voice sounded so beautiful, so...mesmerizing. It took me a minute to fully understand what she had said. I tried the door, and still dazed replied.  

    

    "Yeah, it's locked. Oh well, I think my mom and I are going to go soon anyway. But yeah, so I...uh...wanted to ask you- well, my mom-" Holy crap. Did I just tell her that my mom was trying to set me up with someone? Really?! "-and your Aunt Sally thought it would be cool...if..." I was suddenly very self conscious. Rose sounded really pretty, and really nice. What if she thought I was a loser? I had now changed my opinion on wanting Rose not to go with me to the party. Now I really wanted her there. "Ask me what?" She prompted.

   

     "Um...If you- never mind, it's kind of stupid." Damn. I was going to tell her that time, but I backed out faster than a bat out of hell on a mission from god. "No, go ahead, who knows...maybe I'll say yes." She told me sweetly, her voice seemed to make my knees weak and spread me with a feeling of...safe. Weird, huh?

    

    I chuckled, Positive I would ask her now. "Okay, well, they thought it would be a good idea if I asked you to this Halloween party-well, technically she called it a 'ball'- at my friend- she’s technically not my friend, I just put up with her- Sam's house. It's really big because her parents are rich. She’s technically not even hosting it, her twin sibling's Eric & Erica are. Her parent's just thought it would be fair if she got to have some friends there too." I made sure to talk really quick to be sure I couldn't chicken out.

"Tomorrow?" she clarified.

"Yeah."

"What time does it end?"

"Twelve thirty in the morning."

"And Sally said I could?"

"Yeah-" Oh my god, I think she's gonna say yes!! "-she said she needed to stay late at the office tomorrow, working on a new case, and that she didn't think you should be alone tomorrow night, didn't say why though..."

There was a long pause. Oh god. I was wrong; she’s going to say no. I just know it. Damn. DamnDamnDamn it! Now I feel really stupid.

"Okay. Sure. Uh, yeah, okay." She said hesitantly, bringing me back from my little trip to planet dumb ass. And then I realized what she said. Yes? Yes?! Whoa.

"Cool!" I chuckled, a sudden wave of giddiness washing over me. "Awesome, so I guess the limo should be here at about ten, so it can take you, me, my other friend Sadie & her date to Sam's house." Personally I thought a limo was kind of huge, but I didn't object. Riding in Sam's limo was always awesome. Sometimes I think that the stupid limo was one of the only things keeping me away from the labels of true geek hood.

"Cool....um...well, I've never rode in a limo before...." Her voice made my stomach do flips like an acrobat.

"It's a lot of fun Rose; you'll like it a lot. And get this; they don't even rent the limo, they OWN it. So basically they can use it whenever they want." I was smiling like hell and felt like I had no butterflies, but frogs doing a number in my stomach. Call me lame, but Rose just seemed to make me feel that way.

I heard my mom calling me from downstairs, interrupting my conversation with the mysterious girl.

"Hey, Rose, I got to go now. See you tomorrow, okay?" I walked slowly towards the stairs, my knees still shaky from her voice. If she had replied I didn't hear it but I didn't care.

Yup-

My 'okay' day had definitely just gotten better.

 

 

Chapter 7: Show Me What I'm Looking For...

(Rose)


    I awoke the next morning from a dreamless night and was pleasantly surprised that I hadn't awoke in a cold sweat. Upon opening my  eyes I was greeted by the full blown sunshine outside my window, my head spinning, and a note left by Sally on my bed side table. The note said;

     Rose-

    Hey sweetie! HUGE case coming up! Had to be there early and I have to leave again after dinner.

Charlotte & Maxx dropped off a pie last night and there is still some left over pizza.

Hope you feel better Rose! Maxx & Charlotte are next door if you need anything! 

~Sally  

    

    Charlotte & Maxx? Who were they? It took a few seconds before  pieces came back to me that Maxx was the guy who had asked me out last night. Charlotte must be his mom he mentioned. This note meant that yes, I had been asked out last night, yes, I had told him I would go, and yes, I was sick last night- So why didn't I remember it all too clearly?

    

    Slowly I stood up and walked down stairs. After heating up some pizza and cutting a piece of what smelled like the most heavenly pie in the whole world, I sat down at the computer that Sally must have set up after I fell sleep. It was quiet as the computer loaded. The only sound I could hear was from the machine & my chewing. Maybe if it had been you, you might have felt lonely; but it was impossible for me to feel like that in this house. This house had a feeling of 'Mom' in it. That's right. I still never got over that, and most likely never would. Not that it mattered much, it made me feel safe to have that feeling of 'mom' nearby and I wasn't going to be ready to let it go anytime soon.

    

    The pizza & pie was warm and delicious so I had two more pieces of each, I was not aware of how hungry I had been.  After putting the dishes back in the sink and rinsing them, I went onto the internet and tried to reconnect with what had been happening lately. Sally had told me a lot on her visits, but some things I wanted to see for myself.

    

    After about fifteen minutes on the internet looking up world events, I looked up things about my mom and the night of her murder. Several articles stated that Violet Black's nine year old daughter had murdered her and gotten rid of the body, not at all mentioning a name. However, Most of the articles I found stated that 'Violet Black's nine year old daughter, Scarlet Black, was being accused of the murder.' Scarlet? I didn't have a sister or anything, granted Scarlet was my favorite color but not my name. And there it was. All of a sudden- realization. “I’m sorry honey,” my mother had said, “But they didn’t have one that said Rosalina on it. But, I know that Scarlet is your favorite color, so… HAPPY  9th BIRTHDAY.."  The bracelet! I gasped. Of course! The media weren't allowed to have the names of minors! The press that were outside that night must have seen the bracelet and assumed that was my name! Scarlet Black. Weird. The name sounded...familiar in my mouth.

    

    My mind wrapped itself around the thought of the press thinking my name was Scarlet and I desperately wanted to tell someone. But what could I say? "Ha! Those stupid press! HEY! YO PRESS PEOPLE! MY NAME IS ROSE! NOT SCARLET! HA! YOU FOOLS GOT IT ALL WRONG! " Yeah. Right. In my nightmares! I wouldn't even say 'in my dreams' because if I WERE to go up to these press people that wrote the article, my REAL name would be out there. And whenever I started at that new public school- Well, it wouldn't be very nice to have a background like that now would it? Nope. Would never be in my dreams.  

    

    So chuckling to myself I got off the computer and washed my plate in the sink. The kitchen sink had a window that faced the front of the house and if you looked out the far left of it you could see a park that was two houses down the street. The park was large with lots of tall redwood trees all around the play ground. The play ground had several swing sets and sand boxes and slides. As I finished washing the dish I gazed out the window. I wanted nothing more than to sit on the swings outside and breath in the bright morning air. I glanced at the clock Sally had hung on the wall the night before. Seven thirty, still early. After a glance and shrug to the rest of the boxes around the kitchen that needed to be unpacked, I walked back up to my room to grab a jacket. 

   

    After looking around for the key to the front door for a half hour, I walked outside and headed towards the park. It really was beautiful. The way this neighborhood always smelled of cinnamon and the way the leaves beneath my feet always had a crunch in them no matter how many times people had stepped upon their fallen figures comforted me. I breathed in the sent of the surrounding air as I watched the leaves drizzle down in the path ahead. The swings were empty, the whole park was for that matter, except for the occasional jogger every few minutes. But they didn't mind me. Little alone me sitting on a swing on a weekday morning. I swung gently with the breeze and looked over through the park towards my house. It wasn't too far away and I could see it from where I sat. The air passing through my thick brown hair made me crave more so I kicked off and swung harder. In a few short minutes I had made it so I was swinging high and facing the morning sun with the wind blowing through my hair and whipping past my ears. I smiled as I headed up towards the sun. I hadn't felt this good since...mom.

 

**********

    Later on I was inside unpacking the rest of the kitchen, when I was attacked by yet another wave of dizziness. I dropped to my knees with the room spinning and leaned against the wall, squeezing my eyes shut and just breathing. After about five minutes of intense pain I slowl opened my eyes and blinked them a few times before slowly standing back up. These dizzy spells were starting to annoy real fast. But the only reason I could think of was that I wasn't as used to the fresh air or something. Yeah, that must be it...

    

    Throughout the rest of the day I unpacked and placed things in their places. I thought of Maxx, the boy who had talked to me the night prior. He seemed nice enough, he'd even asked me to a party. I should have said no. I didn't know this guy, I didn't even know what he looked like. On the other hand, Sally must have thought he was nice enough, and if Sally approved then he must not be a pot head or gangster. All afternoon long I debated in my head weather or not to go...

   

 *********

    

    That's it, I thought much later, I am NOT going. No way. Nope. Totally don't know the guy anyway, so why should I? Besides, I kept having dizzy spells and didn't want to look stupid falling all over myself at some 'ball' looking like I had just smoked some weed or something. I would never smoke or do drugs, that's just lame and wouldn'y want people to think so. And anyway, if these would be the same kids that would be going to my new school I didn't want to make some weird impression that I did drugs. Especially if they found out about Juvie. So it was settled then. I was not going.

    

    I began to feel dizzy again and walked over to the down stairs bathroom to wash my face. Maybe I was just working too hard. I had done a lot of unpacking and setting up today. I glanced at the clock as I passed Sally's room. Four fifteen pm. Yup, Probably just worked to hard. I walked into the bathroom and splashed some water on my face. After dabbing it dry with a nearby towel I looked up at my reflection. 

    

    I saw a girl. She had light brown eyes and thick brown hair. She was short, only five feet tall. I could see the girl squint, trying to get a better look at the reflection in front of her. My vision is just a bit blurry and I probably needed glasses. Either way, this is not what I remembered looking like. This girl I saw in the mirror was me and not me at the same time. I don't associate myself with this image. I am the nine year old girl whose troublesome hair was always giving her a hard time so she would constantly wear it back in a pony tail. I gazed back at my new reflection, into the image of this girl I did and did not know, and searched. "Show me what I'm looking for..." I whispered. And even as I said each word, I had no idea why... 

******** 

    When I heard Sally's car pull into the driveway I looked around the  living room where I had been laying down on the couch. She would definitely approve of the set up. I slowly got up, a migraine threatening the corners of my mind, and went to open  the door for Sally.

    

    "Hey girlie!" She called from her car as I stood in the doorway. She was walking to the side of her car and she opened the door to the back seat. "I have a surprise for you!" She reached into the back seat and pulled out- I couldn't tell. She was holding a hanger that had a black protective cover hanging down to protect whatever was on it. The black was thick so I wasn't able to see through it and it had a zipper to close the front.  "It's a dress! For your thing tonight." She smiled as she locked the car and walked towards me, holding out the hanger and it's protective cover. She was beaming. "You're gonna love it Rose! Go on, go try it on."

    

    She handed me the hanger and I went upstairs to my room to try it on. After closing the door I unzipped the black protective cover and saw a wine red dress. It was beautiful, but not the kind of thing I wanted to be wearing. I instantly felt guilty. I wasn't going to this ball thing anyway, and now Sally had spent the money to buy me this. Well, the dress was pretty, and Sally did buy it for me, and if go I'll just be alone tonight anyway...

   

     I sighed. Once I had put the dress on I looked at myself in the mirror that was on the back of the bathroom door across from my room. I really did look nice. The dress flowed beautifully and just passed my knees. I walked down the stair to show sally, my bare feet making small slapping noises on the hardwood floor. Sally looked up from where she was seated at the kitchen table as I descend the stairs.

    

    "You look so pretty! Do you like it?" She asked. I nodded. "It's nice." She beamed. "I'm so glad you like it! Here," She said, turning around to pull out a red and black fascinator mask of a shopping bag she had on the table. The mask itself was covered in black lace and had red feathers on the left hand side. She also pulled out long black evening gloves, a black ribbon choker necklace with a red rose and a pair of red flats. She held them out to me. "Here, put these on too."

    

    By the time Sally was finished I was wearing a red dress, long black gloves, a black choker with a red rose on the front side, red flats, red lip gloss, and the lace black mask with the red feathers. Sally had also insisted on curing my hair. We stood in the mirror in her room, Sally slightly behind me on my left, her hand gently on my shoulder. I gazed at this new girl in the mirror. She did not look like a nine year old girl who had just lost her mother, or a fifteen year old about to turn sixteen that had just come out of juvie. I looked like I had jumped out of a movie. I liked it. I liked it a lot, Enough to go to the ball with Max. I might as well, Sally was exited and I was already dressed up.

    

    "Crap," said Sally suddenly, glancing at the clock. "I'm late. I need to be back at the office in fifteen minutes. Go ahead and eat some more leftover pizza. I promise we'll go out tomorrow for your birthday." She kissed me on the cheek before dashing down the stairs and towards the door. "Love you! Bye!" The door closed, her car started, and she left. I sighed, gazed at myself, and whispered "I love you too."

 

 

 

Chapter 8 : Unwritten

(Maxx)

 

 

    Another day another story no one would ever care to read. That was sadly the only thought going through my mind as I walked home. You think I'd be thinking about the party later, that I had gathered my courage to ask some girl and that we were going to the most popular party of the year together, but I was too lost in my thinking's. School had gone as usual, first four periods and then lunch; and then the last three periods. The only interesting thing that had happened all day was at lunch.

    Sam and I sat at our usual table. We were going over our plans for our next postings. The both of us and Sadie, who we were waiting for, had a web site, more like a blog really, but with occasional video posts and contests, that people all over the world visited. The site was called Sam & Sadie and we were talking about our coverage of the party. 

    Sam seemed more interesting in her roast beef sandwich than the conversation so I decided to wait till Sadie showed up. And there she was, by the snack bar and soda machines talking to Drake, her date for tonight also known as her boyfriend. Stupid Drake, I thought half hearted. You see, I had always had the biggest crush on Sadie since I first met her. But today I was preoccupied with thoughts of the new mysterious girl I was taking to one of the hottest parties of the year, Rose. Sadie and Drake were arguing, I could tell. She was doing her 'I'm-Super-Annoyed-With-You' hair flip, and stood with her hand resting on her hip. She turned away from him in a huff and headed toward our table. As soon as she was in earshot Sam called, "What'd he say?" Her mouth was still full of roast beef when she spoke, spewing little pieces across the table, I had to wipe some from my face. Sadie sat down and plopped her books down onto the metal picnic table. "We broke up. The jerk is cheating and going out with Annabell." A caught a single tear slide down her cheek just before she flicked it off. She sighed. The whole time since Sadie had sat down I had been doodling in my notebook and had only looked up to see her sit down and the tear fall. After a few moments I realized the table was silent- even from Sam's annoying barbaric smacking. I looked up to find them staring at me intensely.

    "You feelin' okay?" Sam asked. I nodded, unsure of what she meant. "So...did you hear what Sadie said?" I glanced at Sadie before nodding yes.  "And- you're not gonna pull a move or ask her to be your date for tonight?" She took another huge unlady like bite of her sandwich. Ah. I saw what they were getting at. My crush on Sadie. They were both fully aware of it, but Sadie wasn't bothered by it, only Sam, but everything I did bothered her and everything she did bothered me- so we were even.  I shook my head no to her question. Baffled expressions covered their faces like masquerade masks. "I already have a date." That was probably the wrong thing to say in front of Sam- It was like pressing the ON button of a laughter machine. Chunks of roast beef flung across the table like army amo and I had to wipe my face a thousand times. "You! Have! Got! To! Be! Kidding!" Sam manged to say between gasps of breath and chocking on roast beef. Sam laughed harder as Sadie questioned me. "Who is she? do we know her? Does she go here? I haven't noticed you hanging around any girls except us. Have you been hanging out with this girl? Why don't we see you? Why aren't you answering? Why won't Sam shut-up? Sam why won't you shut-up? SAM! SHUT UP!" Sadie yelled the last few sentences towards Sam so that she lowered her laughter to a giggle. Sadie directed her attention towards me and gave me a look that was begging to know who my date for tonight was. I glanced towards Sam and took a deep breath. "Well, her name is Rosealina. She moved in next door last night. We got to talking and she said she didn't know many people so I asked her if she wanted to come tonight and she said sure." Okay. I know you know I'm kind of lieing. Maybe you flipped back a few pages and saw that Rose didn't exactly say she didn't know many people. But if I told Sam and Sadie that my mom asked me to ask her and so did Rose's aunt- well, it sounded kinda pathetic.

    Sam had quit laughing now but was still smiling. "Is the girl a little bit-" She used her index finger to make circles at her head. I glared to which she promptly began to laugh again. "No. Rose is absolutly fine in the head thank you very much." Sam kept laughing. I rolled my eyes and they landed on Sadie- smiling. "I'm glad you found someone- is she nice?" I nodded yes and was about to talk more but the bell to end lunch rang.

    So here I was. Walking home- again. That little blurp at lunch had been the only thing different in an otherwise same day. I walked through the park near my house and looked up at all the trees. I felt bad for people in flat states. California had foothills and huge redwood trees, some so big you could drive your car through the trunk. I passed the playground and was heading out of the park when I passed Rose's house. I saw a flash of hair and the back of a teenage girl carring a box into the kitchen through the living room window and assumed it was Rose. Sally's car was gone so unless someone else besides her was home that had to be her, I guessed. Funny, I'm taking her to the ball tonight- and I don't even totally know what she looks like.

 

 

**********

 

    Done. I signed my name on my last of four homework assignments for the night. Glancing at the clock I noted that it had taken me three hours to complete all of them; an essay for AP Euro, an outline for AP Chemestery, a project for english on the book Antigone, and finally a section of reading in my Latin book. Cool, half an hour less than last night. I smiled to myself as I got up from my desk and streched. I made a mental note that my legs were sore as I tried to recall when the last time I went for a run was. Sunday, almost a week ago. I logged off my laptop and grabbed my music player, if only I could find my running shoes...

 

    "Mom! Goin' for a run!" I called as I walked down the stairs, putting the earplugs in my ears. I heard her call from the other end of the house to be safe just before I closed the front door. Have you ever noticed that everyone looks weird streching? I think that if you don't you're probably not doing it right. I probably looked weird. I found a song and pressed play as I began to jog. Nice and easy. I began through the park, not many joggers around here anymore since they opened a gym nearby. As I began to feel a comfurting burn in my legs I ran faster. Music blasted in my ears and I focused in the running. When running at the speed I was running at wasn't giving me a burn I ran faster. I loved running. When I ran I felt as though I was being erased- as if I was unwritten entirly. The feeling was the closed I'd ever been to flying. When I finally thought my head might expload and my legs couldn't go any faster I slowed down to a jog. That wasn't so bad, I was a runner so it was less than not so bad. But this year I didn't join cross country- too many AP and Honors classes.Panting, I checked to see the time on my watch, seven thirty- an hour since I'd left. Lowering the music, I began to walk back. As I neared my house I saw Sally, Rose's aunt coming out of her house. 

    

    "Hey Sally!" She turned and smiled. Her smile was dazzleing and white- I hoped it was something that she and Rose had in common. "Hey- Maxx right?" I nodded. "Yeah! I thought I got it right! Rose is all dressed up and exited- she can't wait! I gotta go now because I have to be back at my office but if you get bored Rose might need some company." I blushed prompting her to smile wider. "Good to know Sally." She nodded and got in her car, and drove away- waving as she pulled out of the driveway. I looked towards Rose's house again- and smiled.

 

**********

 

    I dryed my stringy blond hair as I got out of the shower. The bathroom was filled with steam so when I walked out into my room the air was cool. I was waerubg jeans and a t-shirt, I would change for the ball later. My bedroom window was open so I could see Rose's house. Down on the second floor I could see into her living room- Once again I only saw the back of her. Her dress was red and flowing, ending just before the knees. Her hair was curly and I wondered if that was how it was naturally. Tonight would be awesome-

I was sure of it. 

 

 

Chapter 9: Nine in the Afternoon
(Rosalina)
 
    The clock read Nine pm. Which was stupid because it didn't feel that late. So in a split second decision I declared the time nine in the afternoon. But what did it matter? It had still been two hours since Sally left and what had I done? Walked around the house, eaten some cold pizza and gone on the computer. The computer got a bit boring though, I didn't know what sites to go  on so all I really did was play checkers with some Internet robot. The sad part? I lost almost every game.
    
    Eh. Oh well. I got up and stretched, sure I looked weird. But hey- if you don't look weird you must not be doing it right. I was in the middle of stretching when I heard a knock at the door. Glanced again at the clock, nine o' five; the party wasn't for another few hours- who could that be? I looked out the peep hole on the front door and saw the top of a teenage boy's head. His hair was a dirty blond color and looked glossy in the moonlight.

   

    "Who is it?" I asked, the door still closed. The boy jumped slightly and replied, "Uh- hi. This is Maxx, your neighbor...Uh...about the party tonight, my friend Sam called me and said she would pick us up in an hour. So...just thought you should know..." As he spoke I noted his tux with a red rose in the pocket. He didn't leave the porch but instead stood awkwardly.
 
     "You want to come in until she comes? I'm kind of bored anyway." Through the peep hold I saw him smile. I opened the door to see him staring at me. I stared back. His eyes were a shadowy mix of gray and blue and he smelled fresh and clean....like soap. Oh god. That sounds lame. But it's true.
 
    "Wow..." he breathed. "You look...beautiful." He blushed. I felt my cheeks mirror his. "Thanks." I stepped aside to let him in. I can honestly say that I had not expected him to be so...this. I mean sure he had been polite and okay when we talked last night but...he wasn't at all guy-ish. Not to say that he was a girl or anything but-Okay. I'm going to shut up now. 


    "You've been working hard, huh?" He interrupted my thoughts. I'm sure I must have made a face that screamed I had no idea what he was talking about because he explained. "Last night this place looked all packed up, and now it's all unpacked." He smiled as I sat on the couch, motioning for him to do the same. For an endless minute we looked awkwardly around the room, thinking of something we should talk about. "So...Uh....Isn't- isn't Sam a guy name?" I sputtered, interrupting the silence. He nodded and chuckled. "Yeah, she acts like a guy sometimes too." I nodded. I tried to picture this Sam girl, but the image I was coming up with was that of my friend Sara. She had given me her number, but I had yet to call her. I wonder hows shes doing in Sacramento- 

    

    "Rose?" I looked up from the spot on the hardwood floor that I had been staring at blankly. "I asked where you and Sally moved here from." Crap. That was a bad question. What was I going to say? I couldn't say that I lived here since I was born except for the last few years because I was in juvie charged with the murder of my mother. (Which I did not commit!) So what do I say?
 
    I thought back so Sara again as I replied, "Sally and I moved here from Sacramento." His head seemed to mimic that of a bobble head as he nodded, his floppy hair bouncing slightly. "Cool. Sacramento!" He dragged out the last letter of Sacramento as he spoke. "The nation's capitol."
 
    I frowned. "You mean the state's capitol, right?" I corrected, causing him to stop nodding as he blushed a deep red. "Yeah, state's capitol." he corrected himself bashfully.I chuckled. "Wow. Nice Maxx...Hey- is Maxx short for anything?" He shook his head, "What about Rose, is that short for anything?" I nodded, "Rosalina- didn't I tell you that last night?"
    
    "Oh.... Wow. Your right..you did." He looked down at the hardwood floor and shook his head. "I'm not usually this stupid, I swear. I'm actually number one in my class. My GPA is-" He paused. "Oh god. I sound like I'm bragging. I bet I sound like I'm full of myself, huh?"  I laughed and shook my head. He thought he sounded stupid, but I thought he was funny.  There was a silence following and I hoped that this wouldn't be a common thing if we became friends. 


 

    "You know this house has a story." He said suddenly, causing me to jump slightly from the disturbance of the silence. I turned to him, "Oh yeah?" He nodded. Did something happen here since I'd been gone? Or was it...why I'd been gone. "A woman died in this house. Her name, was Violet Black." I'm sure my eyes must have gotten wide. I'm sure I must have jumped out of there and ran far far away with panic. I'm sure I started to hyperventilate. I'm sure I did alot of things that must have screamed 'I have no idea what your talking about! Violet Black was not my mother and I did not got to jail for her murder! (Which I did not commit!)' But I looked Maxx straight in his deep gray blue eyes and saw no questioning look that I had done any single one of those things. 
 
    Trying to keep my voice steady I asked, "What happened to her?" When he replied his voice sounded like it had told the story many times before. "Seven years ago, a couple nights before Halloween, I was in my room next door. From my house I can see into your house if you have the blinds open. So from my room  I looked out my window into the kitchen window of this house and saw Violet and her daughter carving pumpkins together. Violet turned to her daughter who was seated across the room and said something I, obviously,couldn't hear. The daughter got up and walked over to her mother with a carving knife on her hand. But before she could reach Violet she slipped and the knife cut Violet's arm, just above her wrist." I was shaking now and wondered if Maxx could feel the vibrations. He was saying he had seen it all. That couldn't be true- could it? I tried desperately tried to remember if the curtain on the kitchen window had been pulled back. I closed my eyes and envisioned the scene, and sure enough, I remembered.
 
    Maxx continued with his story, ignoring my closed eyes and shaking leg. "Violet got up and left the room with the daughter trailing behind her. Me being the curious kid that I was had to see what was happening so I got up and ran outside to the fence that connects our two yards. When I got to the fence I saw Violet and her daughter going around locking all of the windows and doors. Violet looked terrified and panicked as she tried to close the kitchen window, but it wouldn't close all the way leaving about an inch of space open. Violet gave up and walked quickly away but didn't close the curtain so I could still see in. When Violet turned to lock the other window, I saw that her arm was still bleeding- and not just a few drops- it was gushing blood." He paused a second and asked, "Hey, are you okay? You're turning pale...I didn't mean to scare you. I could stop if you want." I shook my head furiously. I needed him to continue,I never knew that anyone had been there that night. I hadn't know that there had been a witness. Maybe now I would finally know- if only he would just finish the story. "Please, go ahead." I told him, and he nodded and continued.
 
    "From my place by the fence I heard a noise coming from Violet's yard. The nose was almost like a hum but not quite. I looked over in the general direction of the sound and instead saw a bright flash of light- and then the hum was gone. I decided to ignore it as I looked back through the fence and into the kitchen window. After a few seconds I realized that they had moved into another room and I hopped over the fence so I could get a better look. Oust side of the kitchen window, about two feet off the ground there was am inch thick ledge that I stood on so I could gt a better look. I looked past the kitchen into this very room," he pointed towards the floor, "and saw Violet and her daughter. But I swear I remember it this way- there were TWO daughters." I must have made a puzzled face because he nodded and said, "That's right- TWO. One was the girl who had been carving the pumpkins, and she was standing in a corner of the room looking almost petrified with a blank expression in her eyes and she wasn't moving. Maybe I would have thought she was dead but I have never seen a dead person standing with tier eyes open like that. The other girl looked just like the first but dressed in a black cloak that covered he whole body. This girl was obviously not the same pumpkin carving girl because even though they looked the same- they also looked...different. I know it sounds confusing but this cloak girl looked...evil. Violet was facing the cloak daughter and saying something I couldn't hear, even when I pressed my ear to the inch of open window. I saw Violet clutching her arm where the cut from the pumpkin daughter had cut that was gushing blood. The conversation between the cloak daughter and Violet looked rough. I watched the cloak daughter's facial expressions as she talked and the conversation took a turn for the worst. The cloak daughter and violet both appeared to be screaming at each other but all I could hear was an echo of a whisper. The pumpkin daughter still stood frozen in the corner even as the cloak daughter flung forward and fought at Violet." Maxx's face turned into a strange expression that one might read as confusion. "Now here's the part I'm not sure how to describe," He continued. "Violet was being attacked by the cloak daughter, but not by a gun or fist. The cloak daughter and Violet fought with a weird sort of... twinkling light. I was enchanted by this light for a while that I hadn't realized that the cloak daughter had actually bitten Violet. Right in the neck- I swear. Violet collapsed to the floor and began to have a sort of spasm attack." 


 

    I'm going to assume you've never heard how your mother died. I'm going to assume that your mother is alive and even when she goes it will not be in murder- and lets hope that assumption is right because it would be very, very hard for you to sit through the tale of your mother's death. Trust me- I know. I sat there, on the couch in the very room where my mother was murdered and  couldn't help but tremble a bit and shead a tear. Maxx looked at me comfortingly. "Hey, it's okay Rose. Look, I'll tell you the rest later, okay?" I nodded, not trusting myself enough to speak. Maxx scooted closer to me and put his arm around my shoulders.
 
    I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but I don't like feeling weak. At all. So as much as I felt soothed by Maxx's soap smell and his arm around my shoulders- I wanted to feel normal again. Part of me wished I hadn't known that he had seen what happened that night- but all of me knew that I needed him to be. I needed to know what had happened. And I was glad to know that there had been a witness.
 
**********
 
    The limo had picked us up shortly after Maxx had stopped telling me the story. Inside the limo were two other girls. One was dressed in an all white sleeveless sun dress that went down to just above her knees with a black ribbon around the waist and a pair of black flats. The girl herself looked Hispanic and had brown shoulder length layered hair. The other girl had on an all black spaghetti strap dress with lots of lace and was wearing black chunky boots. She herself had white skin and blond hair that was naturally in long curls. During the ride I learned that the first girl's name was Sadie Spencer and the seconds name was Sam Evans. When Maxx and I had first got into the limo Sam had seemed very surprised by my appearance.
 
    "Aww. Your pretty." Sam had whined with a frown, crossing her arms against her chest. At First I was puzzled, until Sadie explained.
    "Don't mind Sam, she was just hoping you'd have been blind and ugly. She didn't think Maxx was capable of attracting a pretty girl." Sadie laughed and I saw Maxx roll his eyes, as I assumed that this was a common joke.
 
    It hadn't taken long to get to the Sam's house where the party was held. The Evan's mansion was the biggest house in the block and had it's own little cut out pocket so it had no neighbors on the left or right. It was huge with a driveway that went in a circle. In the center of the circle there was a fountain with angels frozen while playing harps and around it there were many colorful flowers. We walked up the marble stairs leading into the mansion with Sam leading the way. When she reached the double doors she simply pushed them open to reveal a huge ball room. 

    "So," Sam began with a sigh once we had all stepped in through the doors and they had been closed. "This is the living room" The 'living room' had loud music playing towards the back wall of the room where the DJ was. There were multiple snack tables around the room that had black and white table clothes and the ceiling had many black and white paper lanterns hanging. Sam walked us through the whole house, a process that took nearly ten minutes, when we walked back into the ball room we saw four people dancing; two girls and two guys. Both girls were wearing all white ball gowns with black masquerade masks while the guys wore matching tuxes and white phantom of the opera masks. 

    One of the girls walked over to the DJ and said something to him as Maxx, Sam, Sadie and I settled ourselves  in chairs in the opposite side of the room. The girl who had been talking to the DJ now walked back into the center of the dance floor where the other three had been waiting. The loud rock n roll that the DJ had been playing now changed to a more waltz song. Each girl paired up with a guy and they stood positioned as they waited for their cue to begin dancing. When their cue came they began and my eyes seemed to zoom into every move that the two girls were making. Each couple was making identical moves. Each twirling and twisting in time and tune. I had an overpowering urge to suddenly jump up and copy their waltz to each exact facial expression. I had to sit on my eyes and bite my lip to keep control of myself. Maxx who was seated next to me leaned to me and whispered, "See that girl there," He pointed to the couple  closest to us. "That's is Erica Evans, Sam's sister. And the guy Erica is dancing with is Andy Williams, they're going out." Erica had blond hair just like Sam but it was short and spiky while the guy had black hair that was curly and short. Maxx pointed towards the other couple and while my eyes still hyper focused on each step they made he said "That girl is Alice Williams, Andy's younger sister; while the guy is Sam and Erica's brother Elden Evans." Alice had black curly long hair that went down to her shoulders, Maxx had said she was the younger Williams sibling but she looked about the same age so it must have only been by about a year. Elden had blond hair like Sam and Erica and it looked somewhat like Maxx's but completely blond, not like Maxx's dirty blond hair. Maxx had hair in his eyes so with a flick of his head he got it out of his path of vision and continued. 

    "They're going to preform this dance later towards the end of the ball. They had it especially choreographed for them, took them forever to learn too." I nodded, still mesmerized by the two couples dancing it front of me as I committed every move to memory. Maxx chuckled softly and said, "Sam had me and Sadie over a lot when she they were practising this because she got too annoyed. I learned the guy part for this waltz the first few weeks those guys had started to learn it. My mom taught me how to ballroom dance when I was really young so it wasn't very hard." When Maxx finished his sentence the two couples stopped dancing and the music ended. The DJ returned the music back to the play-list prior as a woman dressed in a maid's uniform walked up to the two couples.  

   "Your guests are here, Erica." Erica nodded for her to let them in an in a few seconds the entire ballroom was filled with teenage kids. They all poured in yelling excitedly and were all dressed up much like the two couples, in tuxes and dresses with masks. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Sam, Sadie, and Maxx all put on masks. I looked around the room at all of the different faces. "Do all of these people go to your school?"  I asked Maxx, having to yell due to the loud teens. He nodded and smiled so I smiled back and continued to survey the room. I saw multiple variations of black and white outfits all over the room. 

    Oh shit. Every person in the room was wearing either black or white. The decorations around the room were all black and white. Most of the food on the table was colored black or white and so were the table clothes. I'm sure if you had been looking at this scene from a bird's eye view you would have seen a sea of teens in black and white, and one black and red dot: me. People all around me were giving me stares and I had never felt so uncomfortable in my entire life. I turned to Maxx, "Maxx. Is this..,by any chance...a black and white ball?!" Maxx rubbed the back of his neck nervously and nodded. "Didn't you think to tell me!?" I shouted so I could be heard over the blaring music. "I'm sorry, okay." Maxx began, "I forgot all about it until we had gotten into the limo and saw Sam and Sadie. I didn't really have to think about the black and white part of the ball, my tux had already done that for me. And besides Rose, you just looked so nice and looked like you had worked hard on your outfit and-" He shook his head and shrugged. "I'm sorry, you're right. I should have told you as soon as I knew." 
    
    Thanks. I really wanted an order of embarrassment with a side order of guilt. Exactly what I had expected of the night. Thanks Maxx.
 
    I saw Maxx's expression and knew he was genuinely sorry so I told him, "It's okay, I forgive you." He smiled at me and took my hand as we headed over to the snack table. I tried to ignore the stares and whispers as we walked across the room. Maxx and I found some food and some chairs and watched everyone dance. After a while Maxx got up, "I'll be right back, okay. I just want to get some of those mini burgers at the other snack table." I nodded as he walked off. I continued to eat my food when I suddenly got very dizzy. I squeezed my eyes shut and out my plate down on Maxx's chair so I could bend over a bit with my arms crossed across my stomach. The feeling from earlier had returned and now it wouldn't go away. My eyes got blurry and my nerves twitched. My stomach burned like a fire had just been lit inside and all I wanted to do was go home and sleep. 

    "Hey..uh...are you okay?" Just as suddenly as it had begun the pain all went away and I slowly opened my eyes and sat up. I looked at the chair next to me that Maxx had not occupied and saw a boy with glasses and redish brown hair siting and staring at me. "Are you okay?" He repeated. I breathed out as I replied,"Yeah. I think I am." I cleared my throat and blinked a few times. He smiled. 

    "Cool 'cuz it would have sucked to be sick at the coolest party of the year." He chuckled and held out his hand, "My name is Sean by the way." I looked at his hand for a second and decided to shake it. "Hey, I'm Rosalina." I replied with a smile. He took his hand back and stared at me as he asked, "Do you go to Patterson High? I don't remember ever seeing you." I shook my head, "No, I just moved here yesterday from Sacramento." I figured if I was going to lie to Maxx about where I was from I had better at least keep my story straight.

    Sean looked at me questioningly, his eyes never leaving mine making me shift nervously in my seat. "How do you know Erica and Elden?"
   
    "Through their sister Sam, and I only know her through Maxx." Sean furrowed his brow and asked, "Maxx Jones? How do you know him?" I wasn't all sure of that was Maxx's last name or not but I responded, "We're neighbors."

    "Hey." I looked up to see Maxx himself standing above me holding a plateful of mini burgers. "I got you some." He said, his eyes were glaring at the side of Sean's head, but Sean's eyes never left me but I stared at Maxx. I don;t know if you have ever been in a situation like that, where everyone is staring at each other like that- but it's a hell of a lot awkward. Just saying. "Thanks Maxx. Um, Do you know Sean?" I said, taking the plate of mini burgers Maxx had been handing me. I nibbled on one as Maxx nodded, "We're classmates." I couldn't read Maxx's face, but then again I had never really been able to do that. "Yeah, I know Maxx." said Sean, tearing his eyes from me to Maxx. There was a brief second of awkward silence in our triangle as the music blared and the teens around us danced.

    "Hey Sean!" A girl dressed in a long black dress with white lace cut through  the  crowd towards us. She glanced at Maxx and I before saying, "Mallory was looking for you." Sean nodded and the girl walked away. "Mallory is my sister. She's going to flip out if I don;t go." He stood up and smiled, "See you around." he turned and instantly disappeared into the crowd of dancing teens.

    "What did he want?" Maxx asked, sitting back down into the seat next to me and grabbing a mini burger off the plate. I popped the rest of mine into my mouth and shrugged. We sat for a few minutes just eating as we watched a fight randomly break out in front of us between two girls. The fight only lasted a few minutes and was appearance started because one girl stepped on the others dress. For those few minutes the entire ball had stopped dancing to watch but the fight was over before everyone could swarm over to see.

     When everyone began to dance again I turned to Maxx and asked, "Does that happen a lot?" He shook his head, "Nope. Patterson doesn't have many fights. I think there was only one last year- and it wasn't very interesting. It was between two girls and a lip gloss. Nothing really interesting ever happens at my school."

    The DJ played a fast song and the crowd all cheered and danced faster. Maxx turned to me and asked me something I couldn't hear over the crowd and I looked at him, puzzled. "Do you want to dance?" He repeated again, having to yell over the music. I laughed and shrugged. "I might be bad at it!" We jumped up and ran into the group of jumping teens. 

    When you live in juvie for almost have your childhood years, you don't really dance. Mom never taught me before she died so I was worse that bad at it- I was terrible. But if I was terrible Maxx was hysterical! The song lasted only for a few minutes, but they were the best few I'd had in a long time. After the song was over Maxx and I went back to our chairs laughing and grabbed a soda before sitting down. I put mine on the table behind us just as the music stopped playing and a man in a suit walked up to the DJ table. 
 
    "Good Evening. I hope you are all having a wonderful time." The crowd of teenagers clapped politely and he waited until the sound died down to continue. "Tonight, we have put together a special treat for you. A dance preformed by your hosts of this party, Elden and Erica Evans accompanied by Andy and Alice Williams." The crowd clapped again, causing the speaker to pause yet again. "So without further interruptions- enjoy the show!" As soon as he finished, Erica, Elden, Andy and Alice all walked out, causing the group of people of clear a huge circle in the center of the room where they were going to dance. 
    
    I don't know what got into me, but the second the music began to play I jumped out of me seat and turned to Maxx, "You said you know the guys part to this dance right?" He nodded, puzzled. I held my hand out to him, he was still seated in his seat. He stared at it for a second and then a wide smile spread onto his face like butter on warm toast. "Sure!What the hell! What could go wrong!" He took my hand and jumped up. We walked to the outside edge of the circle and waited to the cue to begin. 

 

    And then it came, and we were dancing. You know what I said before? About me not being able to dance and Maxx being hysterically worse than I saw? Well, let me tell you- Maxx was twice as much better at this dance then Elden or Andy combined. The dance came easy to him, like breathing. He smiled down at me and I smiled back. Earlier when I had watched Erica and Alice do this, I had memorized every step they made. I played it back now in my head as I danced, seeing their steps in Maxx's eyes as we twirled.
 
    The circle of people expanded, letting us inside of and even bigger oval. People were turning to the other people next to them. I could hear a whisper over the crowd: who is she?  Out of the corner of my eye I saw Erica look over Andy's shoulder to me, her eyes filled with hate. I  ignored her as Maxx twirled me and we continued to dance, finishing in a dip. This time, when the crowd responded, it was no longer a polite clapping, but a roar of cheers. Maxx and I smiled as we walked back to our seats.
 
    No sooner had we sat down when Erica stormed over like a big fluffy thunder cloud. "You!" She screeched, pointing her finger at my face, "Where did you learn that dance?!" I reached calmly behind me to a table where I had a soda, and sipped it carefully. When I was done I turned to Erica, "From you, earlier, when you were practicing." My face is calm, I really don't want to start a fight with this chick. Erica scoffed, "No way, it took me months to learn that dance. No way in hell you could have seen it once and learned it so fast." Erica's face was bright red and her fists were clenched at her sides as she glared down at where I sat. And then, much to her annoyance and the excitement of the watching crowd around, I shrugged. Okay, so maybe I shouldn't have done that, because she growled and stomped off.
    
    Have I just made a new enemy? I think yes....Whoops! Oh well! I think I'll get over it. Next to me I notice Maxx looking at me like I just saved the world. "What?" I ask, shrugging my shoulders and reaching behind me to sip some more soda. "Why did you do that? I mean, don't get me wrong, I thought it was awesome but- how did you learn that dance so fast?" And the strange thing was- I had no idea. That's what I'd been trying to figure out since it happened. For some reason I wanted to give Maxx an excuse, I don't know why, I just felt like I needed to. I tap the side of my temple with my index finger when I respond, "Photographic memory." He nods and opens his mouth to speak, but before he can Elden and Andy walk up to us.
 
    "Hey Andy, where do you think Jones got a piece of ass this hot?" He said, looking me up and down as he spoke to Andy who stood to his left and in front of Maxx.
 
    Okay, I'm not going to lie. I really wanted to punch Elden when he said that. I'd heard some of those guys in juvie, and I knew they did stupid stuff to girls that all began with talking to those girls like Elden spoke of me now. "Excuse me? Sexist much?" I said angrily. Elden ignored me however as he turned to speak to Maxx, "Hey Jones, what is a loser freak like you doing talking to this fine chick?" Can you ever imagine Maxx mad from what I've told you about him? Well, I'm siting right by him and I still couldn't believe it. I feel the chair next to me pushed back roughly and Maxx stand up and put his face three inches from Eldens. "Listen Evans. I don't care what you say about me, and I don't care what you think about who I am. But you bother her and you will be sorry." Maxx was about an inch or two shorter than Elden so he didn't look like he could actually hurt Elden.
 
    "Oh! I am so scared! Really- I am. I'm shaking in my non-existent boots." Elden said, taking half a step back and putting his hands up like he was surrendering to a fight. Andy and Elden burst out into laughter before Elden pushed Maxx out of his way before stepping in front of me. "Hey babe, whatcha' doin' with a guy like this? He's a loser. He's lame- pathetic! You want a real guy? Why don't you be my girl." Elden didn't even look me in the eye as he spoke, and not just because he was taller than me. As a matter of fact, he had no problem with looking down, which is that he was doing, looking me up and down. I hated him. He spoke to me like he owned me. If anyone was a freak- it  was him. And I intended to let him know.
 
    I stood up and stepped closer to him. "Really? Your giving me an opportunity to be your girl?" I began, my voice glazed with false optimism, my face bright with false joy. "I might as well die now because now all my dreams have come true." I gave up the act as I continued, "Bite me! Who do you think you are? I wouldn't go near you if you were the last living thing on the planet. And anyway- where do you get off calling me a 'hot piece of ass'? Don't you have any respect for women? You're the pathetic one. You're the one that's stupid. You're the one that's a freak. If anyone is a loser, it's you! And where do you get off asking a girl you don't know, and haven't even met to be your girlfriend when you have a girlfriend already! And in front of your girl friend's brother! Why would I want anything to do with someone like you when I already have Maxx. Geez, it's like you have the brain of a gorilla in that head!" Elden stared at me blankly and blinked a few times. "Listen Coco: Rose no be Elden's girl. Elden banana brain. Go away, and leave Rose 'lone. Bye now." I turned and linked arms with Maxx and we walked the other direction. "No way! No one says no to Elden Evans!" Elden shouted to our retreating figures.
 
     "I'm sorry," I shouted, not even bothering to stop or turn around. "But I believe I just did."

 

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