Gabriella Almasi. I've always had an off feeling about that girl, every moment she strode by with that suggestive smile, as though she was aware of something that nobody else was. Whenever she entered one of the classrooms in the ivy-covered, tall school building of Silver Creek High School, everyone noticed. They recoiled in their tall wooden seats as if wanting to hide from a Strzyga. I was new, so I didn't understand the danger that Gabriella could cause when she wanted to. All I understood was that nobody ever communicated with her or even attempted to, and she seemed to approve of that too. If someone had informed me of her, even just the slightest detail about her family, perhaps I could have avoided the chaos that she dragged me into.
It was an extraordinarily typical September afternoon in my father's new café, Aroma Mocha. I was sitting down at one of the cedar-brown round tables, the sweet taste of caramel macchiato in my mouth. I stared at the sky from the wide window directly next to my chair, and it was the most gorgeous blue I've ever seen, with the sun benevolently beaming at me. There were no clouds as far as the eye could see, besides the scrawny wisps of opaque white in the sky - if you could even call those clouds.
"How is your caramel macchiato, Amaya?" My father asked me, dressed in a black suit. His honey-colored eyes bore into me, looking so solemn and worried that I had to joke around with him, make him lighten up a bit.
I glanced at him, a serious look on my face. "This is... so freaking good, Dad! Did you make this?" I exclaimed, jumping up from my seat. The macchiato spilled onto my tie-back halter romper, which was the color of mustard. "Whoops..." I then murmured. I had intended to make my father laugh, but not like this.
Dad gazed at me, shaking his head. He suddenly burst into hysterics, his forehead wrinkling up. "What are we going to do with you?" He asked in between hiccups, grinning at me.
"Yeah... I'm just going to change. See you later, Dad!" I waved, walking away from the small café.
While I was walking home, I saw a girl in an abandoned alleyway, and she didn't seem nervous at all. She was speaking softly into her phone, playing with the gold case. Her eyebrows were furrowed and her nostrils flared, her mouth, caked with chapstick, was pulled into a thin line. Every time she spoke, she glanced around cautiously, as if making sure nobody was listening. This sort of performance gave me a creepy feeling, so I listened in just to make sure nothing illegal was going on.
The girl had short, shoulder-length black hair, straighter than Highway 10. Her hazel eyes were wide, her upturned nose in the air. The girl's heart-shaped face was being held up by her half hourglass neck and broad shoulders. I quickly realized that she was the Gabriella Almasi, the girl that everyone was so frightened of.
"What do you mean by, I can't burn it down?!" She whisper-yelled into the phone, her forehead wrinkling. "I don't care if people are inside! When has that ever stopped me?" There was a brief silence, and then Gabriella murmured, "Yeah, I know. But that doesn't count. She was a monster, and I should've killed her years ago."
The shock came over me like a tsunami as I stared at Gabby. In school, when you weren't near her at all, she seemed like an innocent girl.
Does she actually approve of injuring innocuous people?
"Anyways, what's that stupid place called again? Aroma... something. I forgot." Gabriella muttered, playing with her nails. After a pause, she nodded. "Oh yeah! I remember now! The name of the café was Aroma Mocha..."
My heart almost stopped beating once I heard those words come out of her mouth. I felt my eyes widen, and my legs started to feel wigglier than a snake ice-skating.
Is she planning to burn down Aroma Mocha?! My dad has been dreaming about maintaining a café ever since I was born, so I'm not allowing GABRIELLA to destroy his dreams.
My eyes started to fill with tears and I ran away, into the café. My father turned as he heard the entrance bell chime merrily, and he picked me up. "What's wrong, Amaya?" He asked softly, looking at my eyes and moist cheeks.
"Someone's planning to burn down the café. I heard them." I told him.
My father looked concerned, sitting me down on one of those wooden tables and rubbing his temples with his thumbs. His pacing made me even more anxious. "Do you know who it is? We could arrest them."
The bell chimed as someone walked in, but we - Dad and I - both ignored it. "I... the person who is going to burn Aroma Mocha to the ground is-" I hesitated, realizing that Gabriella is just a kid, like me.
She doesn't care whether you get hurt or not! Don't feel bad for her! Do you want to see this place burning with Dad still inside of it?
My body shook and I started to sob, desperately trying to block out the thought of Aroma Mocha burning with my dad inside. Instead, I glanced around the café, trying to muster up the courage to tell Dad that it was one of my classmates. I froze as I saw Gabriella watching me like a cat. She nodded, giving me a faint, shark-like smile, then skipped into the light pink girls' bathroom. "I'll be right back, Dad. I need to go to the bathroom, keep safe." I told him and ran into the bathroom after Gabriella.
Gabriella leaned against the walls of the bathroom, observing me closely.
"What do you want, Gabriella? I can't let you burn Aroma Mocha down." I told her, careful not to be too close to her.
Gabriella peered at me. "And why is that?" She asked, a feral grin on her albino white face.
Is this a trap? Should I try to get away from here? Who's that person she was talking to on the phone?
"My dad has a dream, and he's been struggling to make it happen. So, if you want to mess with that, then you'll have to mess with me." I told Gabby, my arms crossed.
"We're enemies now?"
"If you still want to... you know."
"Nothing will stop me from doing what I was told to, Amaya." Gabriella barked, shoving past me.
"I will. I don't like spoiled brats like you."
"Well, that's too bad."
"Gabby, wait," I said, and Gabriella froze.
"What do you want, Amaya?!" She exclaimed, glaring fiercely at me.
"Why are you even doing this?" I asked, rubbing my eyes and staring at Gabriella.
"Business purposes." She said, her hand wrapped around the frame of the door in the pink bathroom.
I glared at Gabriella, grabbing her arm and pulling her closer to me. I could smell the mints she'd had before she came here. "One more thing. I hate you so much. Don't you dare show your face here ever again."
A few days later, the people of Greenrket Grove awakened to the devastating news of the new, stylish café, Aroma Mocha, burning down at 3 AM. They solemnly prayed for those who were found inside, including Emir Laghari, age 43, and his daughter, Amaya Laghari, who was age 14.