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The Splash

After a much needed shower, I stepped into my room, the steam rolling off me. If I moved steadily enough, I could still hear mom and dad going at it, just hoping that once again those wounding words wouldn't be aimed at me.

Although they'd deemed me the "golden girl" of the family, I wasn't impervious to harsh accusations. I tried not to take it to heart, nonetheless.

So, in a means to forget about them, I continued to text Jesse until I was dressed and ready.

A cute green tee and patched-up jeans... it's innocent enough, right?

On my way out, I listened to the drowning sound of my sister's music and stopped just outside her door, debating on whether to knock. Depending on what exactly they'd reamed her for downstairs, her mood could be the diving factor on if I'd die.

But I took the chance, hearing her softly call.

Pushing the door ajar lightly, I wasn't surprised to find her on her bed, resting on her front and gazing into her computer screen. She often spent time on a dozen forums.

She offered me a reluctant smile.

"Heading out?"

"Uh, yeah, Jesse's. I just wanted to–"

"I'm fine," She shrugged, dashing up, until she was right by my side. Her nose piercing glimmered in the dull glow of her ashy quarters. "Are you?"

I exhaled. I guess I'd have to get used to hearing that a lot.

"I'll live," I cracked, receiving the ghost of a reaction, before I turned to leave. There was many more questions that had formed in my head, such as demanding to know where she got those "drugs" from, or which friend was responsible for making her think taking them here would be a good idea.

But I didn't, instead I carried on my journey downstairs. The voices stopped snapping at each other to rush to meet me as I descended.

My father's face was scarlet.

"Where do you think you're going?"

Slipping on my jacket since I was still freezing, I rolled my eyes.

"Does it matter?"

My mother got all up in my face then, expression rivaling his for fury. Not that it was any different from what she usually sported.

"That's just about enough! We don't know what's gotten into you and we, frankly, don't like it. Isn't it enough that we have to deal with your sister ruining her life? We don't need you bringing down the family reputation, too."

I stopped fixing my hair to face them again.

My parents weren't the best old folks in town, clearly, but they weren't bad people. Like most, they valued how people perceived them, worried about their rebellious children and fought daily until it would undoubtedly drive them insane. It didn't mean they didn't care – or maybe they cared just a little too much.

Boundaries were a luxury in this house, something they teetered on regularly. In the end, Zoey and I both knew they just wanted us to be safe.

But being safe never did me any favors. Zoey's the one who lived on the edge, yet I was the one who was drowned in a pretty lake.

They were both staring directly at me, waiting.

And the most I could conjure was wiping my nose, moments before heading for the front door.

"I guess it will die with me."


The sweeping shrill Jasper air made me cross my arms in a desperate attempt to warm myself. It was getting dark, allowing clouds of mist to illuminate my way to town. The crunch of the gravel underneath my sneakers reminded me of this morning, and the emptiness soon came to swallow me whole.

But the emptiness was hollow. It held no substance, no taste or flavor to pinpoint just how wrong it was. It merely just existed, with no explanation or accurate reason as to why.

I skipped past the drain, my old shoes not able to take any more ruin.

Looking back, as a force of habit, there was a blur of a shape. Nothing much, no vibrancy, but it didn't fade into the grey and black. It was more like... a fuzzy watercolor.

Halting to narrow my eyes, I turned back and quickened the pace.

I passed Jett’s camper at the park, decorated with glowing fairy lights and beer cans on the grass. There was a dull light inside, meaning he was most likely sitting down to a showing of Westworld.

Even under my jacket, my skin rose, heightening my other senses.

I stopped to look behind me again. The persistent fuzz was breaking through the mist, as if it would depart solely for this thing.

I didn’t think twice, I twisted and began running.

Blood pumped in my ears from the very first step, echoing in a chorus of throbbing, nonrhythmic beats. Each one was excruciating, making me feel that perhaps my head was due to explode. It was getting bigger and louder, and it didn’t help the thoughts that screamed inside.

What was happening? Was this them, coming to revenge my revival?

No matter the reason, we both persisted in our pursuit. A few stray stones had kicked up and lodged in between my soles. The curse of being too cheap to buy an easy affordable pair of shoes.

My blood was shot, and my head vibrated with urgency. I had to elude them, as best as I could… but what could I possibly do to secure my safety?

I snuck another glance back, able to distinguish a massive slouching figure, before I collided with something sturdy and quite hot.

I yelped loudly, prepared to scream if I must.

“Ash, it’s okay, it’s me!” The sweet tone of Jesse’s voice made all my movements cease, just so I could throw myself in to his deep brown eyes and melt.

Without a second’s hesitation, he led me to his loft, with the promise of a soothing drink.

And he kept his word, as I had his blanket draped over my shoulders again, for the second time today. The liquid in my cup helped with my core body temperature, although it wasn’t without the dispute from Jesse himself, but the burn was nice to feel.

I’d told him about the shape almost as soon as he sat me down, and he completely disregarded the charcoal outlining he had been working on, just to listen to me. Although he wasn’t without twitches; he did it all the time when he wasn’t focusing on his art.

His studio was adorned with his masterpieces. Ones that questioned reality, that shattered expectations in the field, as well as a few portraits. There was not a single wall left bare, you’d never know the lilac paint job.

He hadn’t turned on the ceiling light, so the amber glow of the bedside lamp was our only guide.

“Do you think it was…?” He couldn’t finish it, so I just nodded dully.

Taking a swig of my alcoholic beverage, I reveled in the burn. At least I wasn’t cold and dead anymore, otherwise I’d never greet it again.

“I’m scared, Jesse,” I met his eyes, watching a noble man fall. “I’m so fucking scared.”

And he didn’t say anything, just outstretched his fingers and interlocked them through mine. His palm was a mixture of softness and dust, since he’d been previously working, and I relaxed in the comfort of him.

But it didn’t last long, the cruel image of a shadow of a human heading straight for me, it was more than I could bear. As a result, I missed out on a healthy night’s sleep… not for the first time.