I woke up.
“Hey.” I looked up. No one was there that I could see. “Hey.” Where was I? There was someone who was still trying to talk to me but they were too far away and there were miles and miles of my head saying what are they saying and I couldn’t think straight anymore.
“I see you waking up, Solly. Don’t be like that. It’s your first day of school and you don’t want to be late…”
That woke me up again. My eyes slowly clicked into focus and I saw the person talking to me clearly. She was a slight lady, sitting on the edge of my bed and obviously trying to get me to wake up. I sat up and looked at my arms and then I noticed my hair wasn’t all there and where were the tattoos? Had they vanished all of a sudden, along with everything else Chaos had given me? The lady blinked and reached to pat my shoulder, sort of. “Hey, Solly, come on. Get up. It’s almost time to go. I have your breakfast downstairs, okay? Your dad wants to say hi before you get on the bus. Make us proud today!”
And then, with one more pat on the head, the lady stood up and left the room, which my eyes had eventually adjusted to, and I was utterly confused. I swung myself out of the bed and headed towards the open door. There were stairs. And a little dog.
“Hi. Who are you?” The dog didn’t bark, but instead tropped into my room and leapt up onto my bed. I could smell good food downstairs and so I continued, slightly trembly, to the place where that wonderful smell was coming from. A kitchen.
“Hey, Solly! How’s it going? Ready for your first day of school here? I know it’s kind of a hard transition from where you were before, but I believe in you. I know that’s kind of cheesy, really, I know, but it’s true.” A tall man wearing a blue striped shirt and jeans handed me a plate piping hot and covered in delicious-looking breakfast foods. I poked at a piece of bacon and sat down at the counter. For some reason, I felt okay here. I didn’t know who these people were or why I knew them and lived with them, but it was okay. I felt a sense of comfort that I didn’t ever know before? It was weird, but at the same time I could feel things like Chaos and badness slipping away in the back of my mind.
“I think I am. Just a little nervous, I guess. Um. How are you this morning?” I couldn’t quite look at this man in the face, seeing as I wasn’t sure where to place him in my head quite yet.
“Oh, gosh. Don’t be so formal. We’re family now! I love you, Solly, and I don’t care what you did in the past. You’ve had a rough life, but I hope this new chapter is a lot better for you.”
“You know what I did? With the bus and the fire and the stealing and everything?” The man looked at me curiously. “You know. With the…?”
“That particular thing was a while ago, wasn’t it? I meant more like the running away from your homes and all that. I mean, the first incident started when you ran away from you sister’s home, yes, and then when they found you in the tree… don’t you know this story?”
“Um, yes. But I want you to tell it. To make sure you aren’t missing anything.” I ate a piece of shredded ham off my plate and stuffed my whole mouth full of it so I hopefully wouldn’t have to talk again.
“Okay. Well. They found you up in a tree, and you had obviously been through some sort of trauma, because you didn’t remember anything until about a week later. You started talking about some creature that made you do horrible things and you called her Chaos. Only, none of the things you admitted to doing have ever happened, and so there was nothing you were guilty of. Your sister wouldn’t take you back into your home because you had broken her trust, apparently, so from there you hopped all over the foster system. Me and Thalia, your mom, met you two months ago. Are you feeling okay?”
“Ha ha ha ha. Yeah, I’m doing fine. I’m just nervous like I said. I think I’ve been having weird dreams again. School is going to be a new start though. I think I’m going to make a lot of new friends.”
The man smiled. “I think so too! Your bus should be here in about fifteen minutes, so why don’t you run up and get ready real quick?”
“Yeah. I’ll do that.”
Still very disoriented and at the same time feeling the best I had in since I met Saberdeen… I remembered Saberdeen and came to a halt in the hallway. I turned around to ask the man where she was, but then I realized that when I cut Chaos out of my past, I may have accidentally cut Saberdeen out of my future. I had to get to school.
I found some clothes in the closet and put them on, making careful attention to my smooth, markless body in the mirror. The thing was, I could still feel each needle in my flesh as Chaos stood over me and etched her words onto my skin. They just weren’t visible anymore, not visible to anyone but my head and my heart. I petted the dog lying on the bed and wished desperately that I had a better idea of what was going on.
“You ready? The bus is here!” The lady, Thalia, was calling up the stairs for me. I turned to look out the window, and sure enough, there was a large, steaming yellow bus in the road. Waiting for me.
“Coming!” I clopped back down the stairs and with a warm wave to Thalia, I walked out the door. The bus said QUAKER HILLS SCHOOL DISTRICT, and I knew whatever I was trying to do had worked. I just had to hope Saberdeen would appear soon, and that Chaos would stay very gone. But I didn’t know anything for sure. I got on the bus and the only available seat was next to a short boy wearing green overalls and a backwards Sesame Street hat. He told me his name was Penn and what was my name, was I new here?
“My name is Solly. I’m new here, but it feels like I’ve been here for ages. Um. Do you know a girl named Saberdeen? I know that’s a weird question, but…”
I turned around. A pretty girl with black hair, very blacked out lips, and a very white face with her eyelashes long and when I saw her smile my heart began to thunderstorm in my chest. Saberdeen. “You were looking for me?”
And since I couldn’t stand up and kiss her, I just said yes, all my life. And I didn’t know how the rest of the day would go. I didn’t know exactly who I was now that I had emerged from the shadow of Chaos, but that only meant I could see the sunshine for the first time, wholly and truly. I said I would talk to her more in class, and sat back down in the bus. Penn asked me how I knew Saberdeen, and I just said, “She smiles like the sun.”
Seo an deireadh. Tha a ’chaos a-nis air a chuir fodha.