We make it to school in a nick of time, precisely an hour or so before the first bell rings for first period. I’m leaning against my locker, fumbling in my knapsack for Keziah’s padlock key while she fixes her hair in her compact mirror. I haven’t gotten used to knowing she’s cut her hair to her shoulders and curled the tips. She said she would rather die than have short hair, but here she is, raking her fingers through it. Cece is ranting on about this online novel written by an anonymous romance writer at school. I still can’t believe my luck that Cece of all people gets to have a juicy exclusive every Friday when it takes me days to get something eligible for the sports section for the school’s paper.“How do you get the chapters to even publish them, anyway?” I ask her reluctantly and hand Keziah her key.Cece is all smiles, sugar and spice and everything nice. “They just land on my lap every Friday. I still don’t know who the writer is except that she’s a girl that much I know, b
Rye BeforeIT’S FINALLY HERE. The moment Keziah and I dreamed of and have been waiting anxiously for. Senior Year. I’m finally a Level One Senior, but if I’m being honest, I’m numb to it. To the allure, to its high rank and the benefits I will soon reap. We have done so much to get here — Keziah and I — and I cannot mess it up. A lot of blood, sweat and tears will go to waste if I do.I go through the motions of wearing my mask. Light make-up. A little concealer here and there to cover up the dark circles sitting underneath my eyes and to fatten up my bony cheek bones so no one will notice how much weight I lost during summer vacation to stressing, to feeling guilty about every bad thing I have ever done. I lean toward my bathroom mirror, trying to remember what the girl in the YouTube video I watched earlier said about twisting natural hair into a bun. Holding a lump of my hair, it looks almost futile now. There’s nothing a little gorilla snot gel won’t fix. When I’m done, I pull bac
Rye | After KEZIAH DIED THE same way she came into this world. Screaming. I can still hear her scream ringing in my ears and as hard as I try not to, I can’t peel my eyes away from her.I’m towering over my best friend’s corpse, looking at her glassy eyes that once held a sliver of life in them, trying to remember if her body could ever bend in such a peculiar way. Her leg is pinned to my left, forming a sharp V arc just at the tip of my converse. Her mouth is doused in blood and her hair forms a black halo against the white tiles. The flickering light bulb above our heads is reflected by her blood-rimmed eyes as she stares up into nothingness. It feels unreal, unbelievable. Like any second I’ll wake up from this nightmare. I remember just minutes ago my palm was pressed against hers, her flesh warm against mine and her veins pulsing with life that no longer remains. It’s ironic how much I choose to remember now. This place used to be our solace. We turned it into a chill zone when w
Making my way through the corridor leading to the locker room, I ignore the stares sent my way. It doesn’t help that my body is pale and wrinkly from all that chlorinated water. The cerulean sky is clearer than it was a day ago, and as usual, the weather report lies once again. I’ve wanted rain for a long time, knowing Harmattan is going to roll by once November descends upon us. Rain meant I could have an excuse to fall asleep in class.Making my way through the corridor leading to the locker room, I ignore the stares sent my way. It doesn’t help that my body is pale and wrinkly from all that chlorinated water. The cerulean sky is clearer than it was a day ago, and as usual, the weather report lies once again. I’ve wanted rain for a long time, knowing Harmattan is going to roll by once November descends upon us. Rain meant I could have an excuse to fall asleep in class.When I push open the tall green doors of the sports area, I feel her before I see her. One thing I know about Kezia
Ember | Before WHEN PEOPLE KNOW you’re capable of murder, there’s a certain way they look at you. I see it in their eyes. Pure fear, like a knife, slowly twisted in their gut. They think I’m going to snap at any minute and when I don’t, the brave ones pluck up the courage to tell it to my face: killer, murderer, psycho. For some time, you’ll think I’ve gotten used to it, that there’s no other colourful way they can break my spirit till they find a way to penetrate each space in my soul with the daggers in their eyes and the pitchforks in their words.You’ll think I’ve gotten used to the way they look at me even as my body surges forward, my arms are straight as a ruler as they cut through the water but even this deep in Liberty High’s swimming pool, I can feel their eyes on me, weighing down on my shoulders. They can’t touch me any other way. The entire school hates me because five years ago, I killed my twin sister Kira in a forest in Aburi on an all-girls camping trip.There’s a ru
Ember | After WE’RE GOOD GIRLS, I promise.We didn’t mean for this to happen; for Keziah to die. It was meant to be a joke. Some form of payback for terrorizing Lumi all year, for being a bitch to me and for backstabbing Rye. You’d think being Keziah Claire’s best friend made her untouchable. But when fire catches, everything and everyone burns.If memory serves, it started like this:We were burning alive in our own skin with rage, with vengeance because of everything she was and what she did to us. There was no outlet for the fire teeming within us. There was a scream in our heads that told us to get even. We had always fantasized about the day she finally got what she deserved. It was that deep — our anger toward her, deeper than any organ in our bodies. The brilliance of it was tattooed to our hearts and so it ached and festered until we finally gave in. Until Rye made a plan for us to enact our revenge. I remember Rye smiling up at me from the murky floor in the girl’s washroom.