“Jamie was off today. It was the 10th day in a row now. Apparently, her grandma had fallen ill but I thought otherwise. Every time someone ever did anything remotely bad to me, Anaya would make it a point to sit next to them at lunch. She would pull out her water bottle and no one would notice, but I knew she never drank from it, never shared it with anyone if they forgot theirs during gym. Every time she pulled out that bottle, the person would be off school for weeks. When they returned, they weren’t themselves. That’s exactly what was happening to Jamie. What was in that bottle? Was it poison? It must’ve been. The last time I remember seeing Jamie was when an ambulance was called, and she was rushed from the nurse’s office. She was ghostly pale.
The worst part was, Jamie and I were just joking, drawing rude pictures with rude words on each other’s notebooks. Jamie had simply forgotten to erase hers, and I wound up with a detention. Big deal. I had gotten two of them in the past month. Jamie had wound up with...well I didn’t know but it must be infinitely worse than a mere detention. Pieces started to click together. No, I told myself. No, Anaya wasn’t like that. I’d known her since year one, she was nice and caring. But the picture was forming, quicker than I could comprehend it. When we started at boarding school, and I didn’t hang out with her as much, and I started getting made fun of, she became strange and possessive. She took jokes seriously; especially dark humour, she lashed out more often and fought with my other friends. If I didn’t go to lunch with her, she wouldn’t talk to me, and I felt guilty if I didn’t tell her everything about my life. Even by year 10 she’s still sitting somewhere between guardian angel and the devil’s child. Now Jamie was gone. I couldn’t tell her I loved her. And there’s no way I’m telling Anaya. That’s why I’m telling you.”
Then I sat back, relieved had gotten that off my chest but also, praying none of the teachers had heard me. Anaya may have been extreme, but she was still my friend...and old enough to go to juvie. Then I saw the clock. It was 5pm now. I should’ve finished my homework by 4, but I couldn’t concentrate, and my journal was staring at me. I pulled out my homework. Great. Algebra. Jamie was great at algebra. I hope she’ll still be when she returns. No one’s ever the same when they return. She probably won’t love me back when she returns. Anaya has me by myself. All my friends are gone. It’s just me, Anaya and my sister. Anaya wouldn’t go so far as to get rid of family, would she?
It was me and Anaya. We were locked in a mirrored room. She had a gentle stature, and her olive eyes were shimmering and beautiful. Her long black hair was tied in a loose ponytail, draped over her shoulder and her chocolate skin was flawless. This wasn’t Anaya. This was an uncharacteristically confident and perfect Anaya.
Then I caught a glimpse in the mirror. My usually bouncy, curly hair was downgraded to bushy bed hair, my gorgeous almond eyes were sunken and tired. And they belonged to me. They belonged to a worn down, infinitely worse version of Delta Shasharkan. Then yesterday’s words came tumbling back down like an avalanche. Anaya HAD gotten me by myself. I was trapped. And I was cornered in every mirror dimension. Just us two.
My sister wasn’t there.
“Aria!” I screamed. My sister didn’t have a name yet, but Aria just felt…right. “Aria!” I screamed again.
There was no one there. I hammered on every mirror desperately while Anya just…stared at me. I couldn’t believe it. My best friend was just watching as I was trying to get to my sister. My eyes started stinging.
“Aria!” I shrieked, and my voice went hoarse. “Aria!” then my voice screeched, and I couldn’t say anymore.
I whispered with what little voice I had left.
“No this can’t be happening.”
Then my tears blew up into a full-blown sob. A stall door slammed open and I snapped out of my nightmare. The same one I had gotten when I gave up on my homework and dozed off. I was standing in front of the sink. I dried my red eyes and slowed my breathing. Then I stepped outside.
Hannah and her friends were staring at me and giggling at me. What was it? Were my eyes still puffy? Was it the fact that it was the 3rd time I’d ran into the bathroom to cry this month? Or were they just plain jerks? Whatever it was, I picked up my pace and ran into the lunchroom, taking advantage of the fact Anaya was in cricket club. I perched awkwardly at the edge at the edge of a table full of my classmates. I wasn’t particularly close with any of them, but at last I knew them. I poked at my fish pie, not really hungry.
“Hey Delta, are you ok?” Asha sidled up to me.
“Yeah.” I said trying to brush her off. I can’t get too close to anyone now. Even if she was in cricket, I knew the pitch was outside the lunchroom. And she was watching me.
“Listen, I’m sorry about your sister. Is she ok?” Asha said, concerned.
Then the realisation hit me. Aria wasn’t in my dream. Maybe it wasn’t accurate, but it was still concerning.
I’d have to call Mum after school.
I said dismissively, as my mind started racing with all kinds of horrible fantasies. But I’d called her Ash. Surely Anaya couldn’t hear me? Nicknames were a definite a sign of closeness. Only Asha’s friends called her Ash. Had I just endangered her?
“Does she have a name yet?”
Damn. Asha really was pushing for a conversation. I needed some way to assure Anaya that we weren’t close. An excuse for an argument. Come on Del, think I told myself.
“No, she doesn’t, and I would greatly appreciate it if you would stop intruding on my private family business.”
I snapped at her and stormed out of the lunchroom before I could see how much I had hurt Asha. Great. Now she hates me, and I can never tell her why. Then I realised how hungry I actually was. I dug around in my rucksack and found some old granola bar from a couple months ago. It was crumbly and pretty nasty, but at least it was food. I was still hungry after scarfing it and downing my entire water bottle, but I was less hungry than I was before. I wiped the crumbs from my mouth; eating in the hallways wasn’t allowed and the last thing I needed right now was to be in more trouble than I was in
The bell rang out, catching me completely off guard. 5th period. Great. Maths. Then I realized. Today was the day we had to turn in our algebra homework. Usually Jamie helped me but today; I’d gotten no help. I completed barely any work. In handed in my work and came back with a 5/45...I had completed 12 questions and gotten 5 right. Luckily, Mr Scharff knew we were in a “high stress family situation” so bad work was excused. But I do need to clean up my act before they contact my parents. What would happen if mum found out? But I shook those thoughts out of my head; I’d already had enough on my plate.
While we were walking to art, Anaya ran up to me and offered to help me with algebra. Of course, she’s trying to take Jamie’s place. I can’t exactly refuse, especially after she said asked me if I had any other friends who could help. I didn’t get it. Was she trying to get me to spill the beans myself or did she know that I knew her plan? She said it with such conviction, that it seemed that she knew I knew, but that wouldn’t make sense. She was obviously trying to be secretive about this. Did she think I was so dumb I hadn’t figured it out? But why would she want me to know? She knows I’m a goody two shoes and what she’s doing is definitely illegal.
I can’t report her without evidence, but I will do the moment I can. She has a completely clean record as well, so I’ll need plenty of proof. I went into art with more questions than answers. My head was cloudy, and I barely caught onto the instructions: not that it mattered anyway, my art always turns out awful. Today it was particularly awful. I was pressing too hard with my pencil and rubbing out things so vigorously that it ripped through the page. Oh well. A scruffy, lopsided drawing is the least of my problems right now. Since it was the last lesson of the term, we were allowed to sit with whoever we liked. I had to sit with Anaya. On the last seat. So, I was sitting next to Anaya only. Needless to say, I left class on a pretty low note.
I couldn’t shake Anaya even after school. She insisted on walking with me to my room. My head was
so hazy, I almost forgot I needed to check on Aria.
I picked up my phone; I had just finished my homework which was luckily Chemistry and English, so I breezed through it.
It rung first.
Mum’s voice came through the phone
I staggered back in shock. She was gone. Where could she be? I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I couldn’t believe it. It still didn’t feel real. It felt like some
twisted nightmare, I’d wake up soon. I blinked ten times. But I didn’t wake up. This was real. Tears sloshed down my face like a waterfall. The lump in my throat was suffocating and my eyes were prickling
like gorse. I let out an ugly sob and my face was contorted into a grotesque caricature. Luckily no one was in the room, so I was alone.
I had to figure out where Aria was. My first instinct was Anaya’s room. I knew I had to get there as quick as possible, but I should’ve been getting some sleep.
I crawled into bed and tried to sleep, but I couldn’t. If I managed to close my eyes, and not be kept awake by horrible ideas of what may have happened to everyone Anaya had hurt, I would be stuck in that reoccurring, disorienting nightmare. The nightmare where I was still stuck in that horrible mirrored room. But this time each mirror was a different person who had been plucked from my life. I turned to the left and I saw Cam. I moved my right arm, and she moved her left. We were the two sides of a mirror. Cam’s hazel eyes were lifeless, and her red hair was dull and frizzy. She was wearing the Faithwood uniform from two years ago; that was when she was erased from my life.
I wheeled around and saw Evie. Her eyes were also lifeless, and her coffee hair was unkempt. She looked tired and her face showed no emotion and somehow also showed desperate fear. I felt that familiar lump in my throat and the prickle in my eyes that I had felt all too much lately. I already knew who the next person would be. I almost didn’t want to turn around, but I had to. I saw Jamie and my face got hotter and hotter. Her hair wasn’t as unkempt as the others, her blonde ponytail was still tidy. Her eyes weren’t as sunken, but she still had an aura of desperation about her. Then real tears emerged. My tears were a cocktail of emotions and I was happy to see the torture was over.
More tears hit the ground as Anaya watched me, unfeeling. This was by far the worst iteration of this nightmare. And it wasn’t over. I didn’t realise I had held my breath until I exhaled. There was no one else I had to face. I looked around and saw only my reflection, and Anaya in her gorgeous silver dress. Then I saw someone who wasn’t my reflection. I thought she was, but she didn’t have pyjamas on like I did. Instead she had on a similar coloured, spotted hospital gown. I stepped closer and saw she had small details that differentiated her from me. A slimmer face, bigger nose, and she had lighter chestnut coloured, upturned eyes. She didn’t have the beauty spot that I had. She wasn’t me. She was my sister. She was an older version of Aria.
I woke up with a wet pillow. I didn’t get a good night’s sleep. It was the weekend today, so I had time to go to Anaya’s dorm room. I threw on an old t-shirt and jeans and I sprinted to Anaya’s room. Any trace of confidence I had before was wiped clean as I stood outside her door.
I knocked once. No answer.
Twice. No answer.
Three times; Anaya’s roommate, Isla, came to the door.
I told her I wanted to see Anaya.
“She’s not home at the moment but you are welcome to wait for her.” Isla told me, obviously startled by my panic.
It was probably a good thing that Anaya wasn’t there. I could look around. Confront her. I looked around. There was no sign of anyone everywhere. I searched the entire room. No one. Of course, how could she do that without the teachers finding out. How idiotic could I be. I guess in was in too much shock to see straight. After all, I had been to her room multiple times and found nothing suspicious. It left me with more questions than answers. What was happening with Jamie? I imagined her in convulsing heap in a hospital bed. It made me feel sick and nauseated to the point where I had to sit down. All I could do now was wait for her to come back and confront her. I almost slipped into sleep, but I still couldn’t shake any of the thousands of haunting images that ran through my mind. I was sitting in Anaya’s room when the door opened, and I suddenly remembered why I was here. Rage coursed through my veins. I got up.
“Oh- hi Delta!” she said trying to be friendly although obviously surprised.
“No.” I said. "I know what you did to Jamie and Aria.” I said angrily.
“Yeah. I knew you knew.” She said nonchalant. “How would you react if I said Jamie was dead.”
I stuttered. I couldn’t believe it. Jamie was dead. How? Why?
“Why did you- You didn’t kill the others!” I practically yelled.
“Well you were dating right? I purposely double dosed her.”
I couldn’t believe how collected she could be while talking about people’s lives. And she knew I knew. So, she was relying on fear and loyalty, to ensure I wouldn’t tell the police. And it had worked. Somehow, I had stayed tearless throughout this information overload. Maybe I was in too much shock or maybe the anger was overriding the tears. It was almost as if Anaya had read my mind, because she said:
“You’re lucky that Asha and your sister is still ok.”
She pulled something out which I was hoping to be Aria. It was a knife.
She stabbed me. Pain shot through me. Warm blood trickled from my wound. If you had given me a gun loaded with one bullet; I wouldn’t have shot Anaya. I would’ve shot myself. The pain was unbearable, and I would’ve done anything to leave faster. I always thought I would’ve died from natural causes. Peacefully. Not like this. I’d like to believe Aria’s OK, but I honestly don’t know. I still don’t know where she is. I still don’t know what exactly Anaya did to her victims. What poison she used. I died before I had found out what I needed to know. And Anaya is still alive. Still out there. Maybe she’s found a new friend and is being possessive of them. Maybe she only makes friends just to act out. I closed my eyes for the last time, with more questions than answers. I had melted away, and fell into the hand of death.