Author's Note: This is the beginning of a maybe-novel that I am writing. If it does not turn into a novel, it will at least be a very long story, and I may share the rest of it if I ever finish. Be completely honest about what you think of it! :D Also, this is just my rough draft. 0% revised/edited.
“Get off of me, freak!” Desdemona screeched.
“You get off of me first, dummy!” Keres screamed back.
The two threw punches. Des hit Keres right in the nose, and it began to bleed. Keres narrowed his eyes at his twin before bringing his leg up and kicking her in the stomach.
“That’s for never supporting me!” Keres shouted. Des came back with a quick left hook, hitting her brother in the cheek.
“I think I just saw a tooth come out of his mouth!” a bystander yelled. Keres growled like a wild animal, then jumped on Desdemona, bringing them both to the ground. The brother landed on top, though, and held his sister’s arms down. He threw punch after punch after punch. Des winced, but finally was able to free her arms and push Keres off of her. This time, she kneeled on him.
“Get him! Rip him to shreds!”
“You got him now!”
“You go, girl!”
Everyone around them shouted words of encouragement, and shortly after began chanting “Des-de-mon-a! Des-de-mon-a! Des-de-mon-a!”
Only forty-three seconds later, Keres whimpered and whispered the word: “Sorry.” Desdemona got off of him, and began to walk away. But, she whirled around, went back to him, and kicked him in the side of the head. Keres’s body went limp. Unconscious.
There was a collective gasp. Some invisible force had silenced all of the audience. Desdemona glared at her brother once more, then walked towards the doors to go back inside the school. Everyone else stayed there, looking at Keres. Finally, when Des was already in the coolness of the air-conditioned school, someone yelled.
“Somebody help! Desdemona made Keres unconscious! He’s not moving! Help!” The rest of the group joined in, calling for help. Two of the teachers, Mr. Kowlkaski and Mrs. Loggen, jogged over. They seemed to be in no hurry to discover what the problem was.
“Alright. What happened here?” Mr. Kowlkaski asked. Only his voice made the crowd stand in a straight line, leaving Keres’s body in plain sight.
“If you tell us the truth, no one will get punished, except for Keres himself and the one who did this monstrous thing to him. And whoever did it… They’ll go in The Closet.” Mrs. Loggen smirked the way only she could. The mention of The Closet had every person shivering.
The Closet was a small closet, barely big enough for an adult to stand in. If you went into The Closet, you’d stay there for a week or longer with very little food and water (a piece of stale bread and one glass of dirty water a day), and no clean clothes. To make matters worse, there were lethal spikes attached to the door.
“The Closet?! I don’t think Des deserves that. Keres was beating her up, too!” one of Desdemona’s best friends cried. No one deserved to go in The Closet, but that’s how things worked at the Hollis Academy for Excellence.
“But who was knocked unconscious, hm?” Mr. Kowlkaski raised his eyebrows.
“Keres,” everyone muttered. Most averted their eyes to the ground, but a brave few looked at the teachers.
“Mr. Kowlkaski and I are going to haul this delinquent to the nurse, and we want all of you little brats to report to the headmaster’s office. Now.” Mrs. Loggen glared at each of the students in turn. A shiver rippled through the teens as they trailed, single-file, indoors. Still-unconscious, Keres was lifted up by the arms and legs. Grunting, Mr. Kowlkaski held onto Keres’s legs, and he and Mrs. Loggen lugged him to the nurse’s office.
The Headmaster’s Office
Blinking away tears, Des sat across from the headmaster in his office. Silence. That’s all she heard. Silence, ringing in her ears. Headmaster Eanshow didn’t mind the lack of noise. As the years passed by, he had gotten used to it; after all, his students hated it, and that was what made him love it.
“Excuse me, sir, but could you tell me how I will be punished?” Desdemona questioned. Brave. No one talked to Headmaster Eanshow if he didn’t talk to them.
“Of course. Right now, you are punished with this never-ending silence. Next…” Eanshow leaned forward, only a few inches from Des’s face. “The Closet.” He cackled. The sound reverberated in Desdemona’s head. Like an earworm, the Headmaster’s sinister laugh kept circling around Des’s mind. Horrifying. Deep. Harsh. Dark.
Suddenly, Des felt the room spin. She clung onto the chair, hoping to ground herself again. A wave of nausea washed over her. Des could feel herself beginning to become senseless, but she held onto reality. But only for a moment. A second later, Headmaster Eanshow slapped her across the face, leaving a handprint, and Des drifted to darkness.
“He’s going to hurt her! How dare you let him take her! We trusted you. You said you’d never let him hurt us. Now she’s gonna go in The Closet! We have to save her before she gets put in there. Otherwise, it’ll be too late.” Determined and fierce, Keres stomped down the hall. Ms. Buirau stayed one step behind him.
“I didn’t even know what happened, Keres! You cannot blame me for this. You two shouldn’t’ve been fighting in the first place! Your mother is not going to be happy,” Ms. Buirau declared. At that, Keres stopped mid-stride; Ms. Buirau bumped into him.
“Come on, Keres!” Ms. Buirau attempted to get Keres walking again, but he stayed put.
“I. Don’t. Have. A. Mother. My mother died because of what she believed in! And so did my father! He was a terrible father, but he didn’t deserve what he got. And my guardian is the most up-tight, snobby, full-of-herself, selfish person I’ve ever met! She’ll never, ever, ever, ever, be my mother. And don’t even try to pretend that she cares what Des and I do here. She hates us. That’s why we’re here in the first place.” Keres breathed heavily, stumbling to a close-by bench. Out of his jacket, he grabbed his inhaler and took some of the medicated air in. Ms. Buirau slid onto the bench next to him.
How long they sat there, without a word, is unknown. There was no forgiveness, no moment of clarity, but it made both people feel a heck of a lot better.
“Let’s go find your sister,” Ms. Buirau whispered. Keres nodded, standing up from his seat.
“We can check Eanshow’s office first. Maybe he hasn’t put her in The Closet yet.” Keres resumed his confident walk.
“Maybe, but there’s also the chance that she’s already in there. We have to be smart about this. Let’s check The Closet first. If it’s locked, we’ll know she’s in there. If it’s open, we can check Eanshow’s office.” Ms. Buirau kept the same pace as her student this time.
Keres and Ms. Buirau walked down winding hallways, taking odd turns so no one would tell where they were headed. Being inconspicuous was the goal at this time.
After what felt like an eternity, the pair reached the outside of the headmaster’s office. All they had to do was sneak around to get to The Closet.
“Shhhh. Headmaster Eanshow could walk over and see us at any moment. If we make any noise and he spots us, you’ll be punished and I’ll be out of a job. Now, let’s go.” With Keres following her, Ms. Buirau scurried to The Closet. Keres took a deep breath, his hands shaking. With a sideways glance at Ms. Buirau, Keres reached out, and turned the knob.
Desdemona’s eyes fluttered open. As her senses adjusted, the sound of a sorrowful sob floated to her ears. The voice seemed familiar, but everything was still in a bit of a haze. A minute passed, the voice was gone, and Des got a grip of her surroundings. A concrete floor, a blanket ripped to shreds, a colony of ants in the corner, only a sliver of light coming from under the door, and… something poky on the door made up the tiny space. Des scooched closer to the pointy objects, and realized that it was blades of spears. That was the moment that she knew where she was.
At once, Desdemona couldn’t breathe. It felt as if something was squeezing her lungs so she’d be unable to take even a single breath. Eanshow really thought that Des was attacking her twin for no reason. He didn’t even let her explain herself. But, that’s how things were run at Hollis Academy, whether it was fair or cruel.
Des was quickly enveloped in a marathon of tears as a swarm of thoughts buzzed around in her head.
I didn’t mean to hurt Keres that bad.
I just wanted to prove a point.
I didn’t think he’d go unconscious.
What is Esme going to do to me when she finds out? Either nothing or the worst thing possible, I’m sure.
Why The Closet?
I would’ve done everybody’s chores for a week instead of this.
If only Mother was still here.
Thinking of her Mother, Desdemona drifted to a fitful sleep with tears still slowly rolling down her face.
“Excuse me, Keres? I’m Astra Frankis. You’re in my history class, right?” Astra stepped into Keres’s room cautiously; she noticed that his eyes were still red from crying over his sister.
“Yeah, hi, Astra. Do you need help with the homework? If you do, you should ask my…” Keres paused, then whispered, “...sister.” Keres blinked vigorously, holding back more crying.
“I heard. I’m so sorry. Maybe my great-great-great-grandma could help,” Astra stated. Keres’s eyebrows furrowed.
“What? Your great-great-great-grandma is still alive?”
Keres tried to keep the weirded-out look off of his face; he didn’t need to put Desdemona in The Closet and make the odd girl feel bad all in the same day. Rumors said that Astra was extremely sensitive.
“Okaaaay. Anyway, what’d you come over here for? Everyone else wants to stay away from me since Des got in trouble. They think we’re monsters or something.” Keres stared at a stain in the carpet.
“At least they don’t like you for a reason. People just avoid me, even the people who I don’t know,” Astra said. A moment passed. Keres was one of those people.
“Yeah… You didn’t answer my question. What’d you come here for?”
Astra shuffled to the desk chair and sat down across from Keres, who was sitting crossed legged on his bed.
“I’ll do something for you if you do something for me.” There was no mystery to Astra’s words--she meant what she said.
“Okay. But what can you do for me?” Keres raised an eyebrow.
“Your sister needs help. I can’t help her directly, but I can help you get her out of The Closet.”
Des jerked awake to pounding on the door. What looked like a mail slit opened and a piece of bread was slid through. Desdemona snatched it before it could hit the floor.
“I have to open the door to give you your water, but don’t even try to escape. I have other teachers here with me to put you back in there,” a high, shrill voice told Desdemona, who was too sore from being in the cramped space to run fast enough anyway. The door opened a crack, and a small glass of water was set on the floor. As soon as it was in Des’s hands, the door slammed shut.
What she held in her hands was not a great meal, not even a decent meal, but it was food. Slowly, Desdemona alternated between eating her stale bread and drinking the dirty water. She savored every bite because she knew that was all she’d get for that day.
“Hey, Keres! Why don’t you go in The Closet with that freak of a sister you have? With any luck, both of you would get poked in the heart with one of the spikes!” Hunter Eanshow, the headmaster’s nephew, yelled. All Keres was trying to do was get to his first class of the day and he was already being heckled. He ducked into Ms. Buirau’s classroom; it wasn’t his class, but it’d give him an escape from the bullies.
“Keres? Shouldn’t you be getting to Mr. Hallober’s room? The bell is going to ring in a minute,” Ms. Buirau pointed out. Keres shook his head.
“Don’t shake your head at me and get to class!” Ms. Buirau motioned to the door Keres still rested on. Sighing, Keres walked out of the classroom, then dashed down the hall to make it to his class on time.
He sat down just as the bell rang and Mr. Hallober began his daily lecture on the current economy. Not a soul was listening--they were all too busy whispering and muttering about Keres. First he gets in a fight with his sister, then he cries about it, and now he’s just barely making it to classes when he’s normally five minutes early.
In all seriousness, Keres didn’t know himself. In one day, he had gone from the bright-eyed, straight-A student to the emotional kid with bags under his eyes. Even his mind was usually organized, his thoughts all lined up at an assembly line. Now, different thoughts scrambled around his head in a jumbled mess.
“Ockler! What is the answer to number seven? Don’t make me repeat myself again,” Mr. Hallober cried. Keres snapped out of his thoughts and looked at his paper.
"The answer is command, I hope.” Keres waited impatiently as Mr. Hallober thought. A minute later, Mr. Hallober looked up, incredulous.
“That’s right.. Are you cheating off of Astra’s paper? Headmaster Eanshow would not be pleased,” Mr. Hallober threatened. Keres didn’t even realize he had sat himself down next to Astra, but now his heart was pounding--what if she said he did?
“He didn’t, Mr. Hallober, because I said mixed. That proves Keres isn’t guilty of cheating, correct?” Astra glanced at Keres with a small grin.
“Well, I guess so, but I want you to pay attention at all times, Keres. Zoning out is not tolerated, and you should know that.” Hallober glared at Keres one last time before resuming his utterly boring lecture.
“Thank you,” Keres whispered, leaning towards Astra. She just smiled.