Serenity | AfterThe days begin to become more bearable. A routine is established and I follow it like everyone else. Wake up, get ready for school, eat breakfast, go to school, eat lunch, finish school, do homework, do some kind of activity, go to bed, do it all again.So it’s a shock when Saturday comes and the alarm stays silent. Natalia is awake too, on her phone in bed. Her dark hair is fanned out across the pillow, black against the white and pink of the pillowcase.“Cool,” I answer. “Um, I kind of wanted to ask you something.”“Shoot.” She shuts up and runs a hand through her hair like a comb.“Remember that girl you told me about? Your old roommate? Was her name Charlotte?” The words tumble out quickly.“Yeah,” she says. “Her name was Charlotte. Why?”“Just wondering. She’s very popular online.”Natalia doesn’t reply for a minute. “Serenity, I kind of don’t want to talk about this anymore. Can you ask someone else if you want to know more?”“Of course,” I say quickly. “Anyone
Zaire | BeforeThey look like us. Mr Oriel, Mr Cezanne, Mr Forrest and Mr Salvatore all sit together and they look like us. I don’t know where the women are, Natalia took them off about an hour ago and they are a no-show for lunch. My father is still in Paris, arriving in two days. It’s the earliest he could arrange the trip for. I try not to resent the fact that the parents of all my friends got here within twenty-four hours of her death and mine couldn’t. His absence is abundantly obvious to me, a gap between Nick Cezanne and Matteo Salvatore.“This is creepy,” Leo says, also staring at the table of fathers. “Is he still carving that headstone?”Matteo Salvatore arrived while carving Charlotte’s details into a slab of stone with a marble angle on the top. Raffiel gets the talent with woodwork from him. Mr and Mrs Cezanne insisted he didn’t have to, but he insisted that he did.“If I could do this when I was eighteen, I can do this now,” he said stubbornly. “The workshop still here?
Serenity | After“What do you think of… Leo?” Natalia asks as we move through the dining hall in House.“Which one’s he?” I ask.“The dark one with the Edgar Allen Poe.” She jerks her head to a boy reading while systematically putting forkfuls of pasta into his mouth.“He’s cute,” I giggle. “Let me guess, he’s claimed by some crazy boarding school girl.”“Naw, we don’t do that,” she laughs. “But he is sorta off limits. Anyway, you get to meet Zaire tonight. He’s the one with Fall Out Boy.”Sitting at the table I’ve eaten breakfast and lunch at today is a boy with dark hair and headphones. He’s one of the guys who was sitting on the stage with the rest of the important people in assembly this morning. If my memory serves right, he’s the youngest prefect in history.“How come he wasn’t at breakfast or lunch?”“Because he has all these prefect duties which means he gets to have lunch with the Fantastic Four.” She sits down. “He also got to miss form, the lucky bastard.”“Who are the Fant
Zaire | AfterWe sit in Room Seven, an empty classroom. It’s not a room I particularly like to be in. It was our Year Seven and Eight Maths classroom, so immediately associated with bad memories. Usually, I strangely love Maths. But the teacher I had those two years made me want to drive a knife through the subject. I have similar feelings towards Shakespeare. Only, I want to resurrect him with Charlotte’s coven of witchcraft practicing highlighters just to kill him all over again.“How did you become friends?” he asks. “If you remember.”“Dad thought I was lonely. Her mum thought she was lonely. They brought us together for a play date and we were stuck with each other, I guess.”“Just best friends?” Davidson raises an eyebrow.“Boys and girls can be friends, you know,” I snap. “It’s the twenty-first century.”“Did she have a boyfriend?”“As far as I know, she didn’t.”“Did she want to have one?” he questions. “Anyone she was interested in?”“Leo Forrest. He’s in our class.” I pause.
Serenity | BeforeI sit in the middle of my bedroom, in the centre of a circle of thirteen scented candles in pretty glass jars. They’re all vanilla, Mom’s favourite scent. Technically, they are hers. Dad bought them as their twentieth wedding anniversary gift. But I need them tonight.“How long will it take?” Naomi asks nervously, fiddling with her hair.She sits opposite me, her auburn hair sitting in her shoulder, pulled away from the flames. Her hair reaches to her waist in long, natural waves most girls have to achieve with curlers. In the recent weeks, her slender frame has become dangerously skinny and her dark eyes are shadowed with exhaust.I shrug. “Depends on what you give me.”On her lap sits a blue football jersey with the number sixty-eight printed on the back. His parents gave in his second jersey for the school to put on display, giving his first one to Naomi. It’s soft and still smells like grass and soap.“So are you, like, a witch?”I shrug once again. “I’m not real
Zaire | AfterExactly six weeks and one day ago, Charlotte Brooklyn Cezanne died. Exactly six weeks and one day ago, my life fell to pieces. Exactly six weeks and one day ago, Zaire Denzel Sullivan officially went mad.But thank God (and science) for letting me keep my good looks. For not having me look like the spiralling madman I am. Or— as Raffiel would say— mad teenager because I’m not eighteen yet. For now, I still look like Zaire. Perfect hair, not too perfect uniform, perfectly blank expression. I stand in front of the mirror in our bathroom, examining myself.Outside, rosy streaks have coloured the skies and a pale, watery sun shines through the glass of the window in a traditional English fashion. It’s way too early for hardly anyone else to be up. At Claire Hall, you learn to cherish every minute of sleep you get. We’re not like most boarding schools which keep you so busy you can’t get a free minute to be homesick. At Claire, you cherish every moment of sleep because it’s a
Serenity | AfterI might be able to drown in all this rain.It taps relentlessly on the windows and the sound makes me cringe though nobody else seems to be bothered. Nobody else in this hall seems to be bothered by the thundering rain or the fact that everyone is tracking water and mud into the hall. They’re used to it. But I see rain so rarely that it’s shocking to see so much so fast.I’ve been sat here for about half an hour where the teacher told me to, ignored by everyone else. Younger kids are brought in by exhausted looking teachers and older kids, older students stroll in and yell to their friends. Even the youngest class have already made alliances— the girls with the shiniest shoes and the most innocent looks are trailed by several wannabes. It’s the same with the boys, except they value different things in their role model.“Hi,” a voice says suddenly to my left. “So sorry for leaving you here for so long. Raelynn just happened to lose the goddamn list.”The voice belongs
Zaire | BeforeIt doesn’t take long for me to stop thinking of her as Charlotte and start thinking of her as Charlotte’s body.Charlotte’s body is laid out on a long table in the Assembly Hall, flat on her back. She looks exactly as she had on the beach when we had found her about four hours ago. Back when she was Charlotte and not Charlotte’s body.She had been lying half in the sea and half out. Her hair was swaying in the water as the waves lapped around her. Sand clung to her damp legs, something she would never have allowed. She was always the image of perfection, like a model in a glossy magazine. She was on her front but her head was tilted to one side, her lips tinged an unnatural blue.It had taken me only a second to realise what had happened. She had drowned. Charlotte, the star swimmer who had taught me to swim when we were five, had drowned.Everyone else who had been there is asleep now. Only I had refused to go to sleep, not wanting the image of Charlotte’s tangled hair