Losing someone is never easy, but when Erin loses her twin, a part of herself, she's slowly drowning in shadows. Moved to the prestigious Elizabeth Private School, Erin fights to keep her head above the darkness and find the people who killed her sister.Black Coffee
His name was Bear. Daniel Bear. But we called him Teddy, for obvious reasons. He didn't like it too much, but unfortunately he looked like one too: rounded tummy, short arms and legs and dark eyes burrowed behind bushy eyebrows. It didn't help that he had this atmosphere about him that sucked you in and just made you want to hug him forever.
So we called him Teddy.
Teddy's never liked me too much, despite his cuddly demeanour. He says I'm too wild and too restless and overall a bad influence. Whenever I'm near he always gets this funny look on his face, as if I'm covered in shit or something. But this look is so funny; you can't hold it against me that I start to taunt him. Then he gets this twitch in his left eye and I know I've pushed him to the edge. Now, I'm not the sort of person who'd go any further…oh hell, of course I am. It's too damn hilarious not to push him over the edge and watch his podgy cheeks turn a weird purple colour until he spins around and stalks away. He is such a wuss, I swear. He'll spend the rest of the day trying to up me one in the classroom, which invariably he manages due to my 'lack of any intelligence whatsoever' as he likes to often tell me.
I'm not dumb. Not really anyway. I need to be clever to pull off all the pranks I line up to keep us amused. But hey, I'm a spoilt little rich girl and I don't really give a damn about school. When I finish school, I'll get out of my fucked up family for good and I'll travel the world meeting different people and exploring different cultures and experiencing everything I've been held back from…
Anyway, the point was Teddy doesn't like me, but has to put up with me anyway due to the fact that my friends are his friends. Plus he's got a crush on my sister, and if he wants her I come along with the package. No cutbacks. As twins, we can't be separated, even by our polar opposite personalities.
Artemis is your typical perfect girl, you're straight A* student and teachers pet, sweet to the point of sugar coated caramelised sugar and beautiful to top it off. She's brunette with doe-like brown eyes and smooth milky skin. She's short with all the right curves and a smile that could brighten anyone's day. In the opposite corner there's me, the freaky girl who creates her own shadows. I'm average height and lithe, not possessing any curves but with slim shoulders to balance it all out. My eyes are a weird burnished gold that used to make Arty cry when we were younger, because all she could see in the dark were my freaky eyes. My hair is short, just shy of falling passed the top of my shoulders and a black that gleams navy blue in the sunlight. I'm often asked if I'd dyed it that colour, to which I simply laugh in their faces. God, as if. I loved my hair; I wouldn't touch it.
Well, not all of it anyway.
With me always playing pranks and doing sport, Arty is into art – no pun intended – and raising money for those in need. Most of the time I'd help by enlisting all my 'gang banger' (Teddy has the most wild imagination. *smirks*) friends to help set up footy games and matches of all sorts against other teams. We did a sponsored mud wrestling once, which in the end turned into a mud fight. Us against the East End of town (so, me and Arty live in the East End, so what? Most of my friends are from the down part of town, and that's where I'm known to show my loyalty. Rich kids suck ass anyway, excluding me and Arty.)
Anyway, Arty and me are close. We do everything together. When we were kids, we used to share meals (still do that actually…) and when I had matches, she'd come and cheer for me. When she had art shows, I'd go and support her. I suppose it's due to this that our…'bond' decided to raise its idiotic head. When we were five, I decided that it would be fun to climb the huge oak in the neighbour's garden while Arty was cooed over at the garden party my parents were holding. I got up there and could see so far…and decided to go higher. In the end, I'd managed to get all the way to the top and stuck on the end of one of the massive branches, which was swaying way too much for my liking. That was when I heard the first crack. Terrified, I'd turned slightly only to find that the branch was breaking under the strain of holding me.
Screaming hadn't done much help and I'd resigned myself to a very long fall when Arty came running around the corner followed by about half the East End. They got me down thankfully before the branch broke – creating a large dint in the grass and breaking the neighbour's expensive fencing, but hey, who cares, I didn't – and carried me home. I'd thought it bloody unfair at the time that I'd just escaped death only to have to survive my parent's anger, who told me I should be thankful that Arty had decided to have a screaming fit in the middle of the party before they followed her. But hey, can't have everything.
In moments of extreme emotion, such as fear, Arty and me share them and know instantly that the other is in danger. This happened a number of times, one specifically being the time when there was a mud slide and I got trapped in it. Arty was named the Golden Girl of East End in all the newspapers because she told the fire fighters exactly were to find me. I was pushed aside and so Arty could be interviewed and all that crap, but I didn't mind. I preferred sticking to my pranks and left Arty to lap up the attention.
The press did approach me once, when 'Golden Girl' euphoria died down and everyone decided that they wanted to test both of the twins and not just one. But I didn't like it too much, plus all the scientists were scaring Arty and she used to come crying to me about it all. She'd loved the pictures and nice dresses and everything at the beginning, but then they'd pushed it all too far and she was stuck in the middle of it all. So, I took it into my own hands, seeing as our parents weren't going to interfere (they always have been money grabbing bastards). One simple prank, which involved a hose, diluted fox shit, flour and a group of paparazzi and scientists– I'll let you do the math – and we were lab rats no more.
Arty loved it and even helped a little, seeing as she was mostly against my pranks, and our parents spent weeks trying to cover everything up and so their image wasn't ruined.
And people ask why Arty is the only daughter they take to business parties.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, I started with Teddy. Right.
Teddy's never liked me, but that didn't explain the flush of violent hatred that masked his face as I approached the school grounds. In his right hand he clutched a single piece of paper and from where I was I could just make out the school board emblem in the corner. Raising a questioning eyebrow, I thought back to last night. Arty had been telling me something about school as we bladed around the park, something about science and maths…the hall…a notice board?
That was when it clicked. The exams. We'd just completed some modular exams a month before and Arty, as she was on the school council, knew that the results were coming back today. Well, well. Maybe Teddy hadn't got those A's he wanted and decided to take it out on me. Typical.
"Morning, Fred." I greeted, turning abruptly from my course towards dear Teddy and mingling with the group hanging out under the trees, knowing it would infuriate him because I hadn't given his highness my full attention. The tall, lanky boy leaning against the trunk looked up at me blearily through eyes that suggested he's been doping it up earlier this morning.
"Yo, girl." He replied, passing his cigarette to me. I took a drag and sighed, nodding to the other guys who all returned it respectfully. If any other Browner – a rich kid – decided to grace them with his or her presence, they'd most likely be shot down immediately with a few well picked words and a fart in their face (boys will be boys) but I was welcome. I'd proved myself to be one of them, not a browner, no matter what my parentage.
Plus they knew I could whip their collective arses any day and they'd rather not go into class with black eyes again, I was sure.
The group tensed and looked behind me and I knew Teddy had made up his mind to approach me and the Fucker group, as the Browners liked to call the poorer kids. A smirk played at my lips and I signalled at the guys to stay low and stay down. Two fingers straight and down and then a raised eyebrow. I'd deal with the Browner. They nodded and settled back down, though they eyes Teddy distastefully, no doubt mirroring his own distain.
Teddy cleared his throat one, twice, three or four times before I turned, cigarette held loosely between my fingers.
"You called?" I drawled sarcastically, taking another drag. Teddy screwed up his button nose and shoved the sheet of paper in my face, hands shaking with rage.
"Erin, what is this? Tell me what this is because god damn it I know I'm losing it!" he snarled. Rolling my eyes I plucked the paper from his hands and read it, eyebrows raised. It held the list of results from our science and math class in register order. Teddy, at the top, had got 111 out of 120 in science. I rolled my eyes. For god's sake, what the hell was he so angry about? Oh boo hoo I lost 9 marks and I'm so –
My thoughts skidded to a halt as I recognised my name and marks. My eyebrows flew higher.
"Holy shit." I breathed, for lack of better words. Erin Fox: 116 out of 120.
Stunned wasn't even the half out it.
"Do you see? Do you?" Teddy was ranting. "How can you, fuck up of the perfect Fox family, get better grades than me? Me! Daniel Bear, star student! You even beat Artemis!" Teddy was the only one I knew of who called my sister by her full name. Even our teachers called her Arty. Teddy was having trouble breathing now, flinging sausage of a finger into my face accusingly, "I bet you cheated! You must have! I must go to the Headmaster, he'll know what to do, he'll suspend you for this, finally, long time coming, this school will do well to be rid of you, I don't know why your parents don't put you in a convent –"
Do you see what I have to deal with? I sighed, shoving the paper into my jacket pocket. What a loser.
"By all means," I said, interrupting his little speal with a flap of my hand. "Go tell sir. I'm sure he'll be only too happy to mark me down and so you're on top again."
Teddy spluttered angrily.
"That's not what this is about!" he screamed, a red flush creeping up his neck. "This is about you cheating and ruining this school and disgracing your wonderful sister – uh. Family! Disgracing your wonderful family! And…and…and –!"
"Teddy, breathe." I said, wondering if anyone else had noticed that he squealed like a pig. "Look at me and read my lips and try to get it into your piggy little head, ok? I. Don't. Care." Teddy's mouth fell open and a flabbergasted look of a dead fish settled on his features. I grinned. "Go to the headmaster if you want, but he'll only tell you that you have no proof seeing as I completed the exam in a completely different room, all on my own, apart form a group of teachers." At this point I shot him a scowl. "Due to the fuss about cheating you put up last time."
Teddy spluttered. Again.
"Now run along and slobber after my sister." I said, patting his head. And, as a parting gift, I blew a ring of smoke at him before turning and re-attaching myself to the group of lads behind me. I didn't watch Teddy leave, but I heard the frustrated snort and cough as he breathed in the smoke followed by the round of cheers form my fellow rejects, which could only mean Teddy had disappeared.
I passed the cigarette back to Fred and kissed his cheek, offering everyone a grin before moving away. I had another group to mingle with, and a sister to brag to. Top of the class, eh?
I found Arty and my next group at their usual spot, around the side of the building where a strip of grass grew. This was the best spot in the whole school, as we had no field to speak of and the grounds surrounding the school was simply cement and a few trees that stood just outside the school gates. As the trees were a no go area unless you were a bunch of rebels, like my other group of friends, we inhabited the grass strip.
We were an odd bunch. We were all Browners, no 'Fuckers' liked to come near us just like my other friends didn't like to go near them, but we were the middle Browners. You see, the Browners were split into three groups. The beautiful Browners, who cluttered the hallways before, during and after classes; the New Money Browners, a small bunch who came from families who used to be Fuckers but were now moving up in the world (The Beauties didn't like them too much, due to the fact that the rest of the Browners were Old Money and the New Moneys were, simply, not.) And then there was us, the Old Moneys who were rejects from the Beauties because A: we weren't pretty enough, B: we were too clever, C: we were prettier than the Beauties or, in my case, D: we associated with the Fuckers.
The social stats at Chateris High are way complicated, and those few tips are the simpler of the rules. Anything else is plain stupid, as far as I'm concerned.
"Hey, People. What's cookin?" I said, throwing my bag beside Tina before gracefully following it. Tina was older by a year and out of the Beauties because of option A: she wasn't pretty enough. She smiled at me, revealing a line of florescent pink braces and two or three dimples. With her pale hair, I thought Tina was sweet – from a girl's point of view – but according to the Beauties, dimples are soooooo not cute. They prefer plastic hell.
"Not much, good lookin." Arty replied, climbing onto my lap with a sheet of paper in her hand. Noticing the sly smile on her beautiful face, I rolled my eyes. That bloody paper…
"Take it awaaaaaaaaay." I groaned, pushing at her hand as she tried to shove it in my face, much the way as Teddy had done. "I've seen it, I've seen it! It's horrible, ghastly, and had ruined my perfect record of D's in the stupid subject of science. I do not want to see it again!"
Arty raised her left brow at me.
"Are you finished?" she asked. I nodded.
"I am, dear sister of mine."
Arty snorted, flicking my forehead affectionately before waving the paper in my face again.
"Take a look at the Maths, darling." She drawled. I blinked and shot her a weird look. Arty does not, and I repeat, DOES NOT drawl. I drawl. I am the sarcastic rebel one in the family. She's the sweet little hot house who gets away with everything because of her butter-wouldn't-melt smile. I shook my head gravely. I was a way bad influence on her innocent little heart.
Oh, yeah, right. Innocent my ass. I thought, suddenly reminded of Arty's little outings with the older lads from our school. I'd covered up enough for her, so I should know that she was a complete flirt when she wanted to be.
Arty at that point chose to shove the paper in my face again, and with a sigh I humoured her and glanced at the paper. Unlike the science results, it was ordered in rank of result and I looked towards the bottom for my name. When I didn't see it, only Arty's smug smile, I slowly made my way up. Passed the D's, passed he C's, up through the B's…I wasn't first, but three names down and at Fourth…
Erin Fox: 101 out of 120: A.
"My eyes!" I shrieked, throwing myself backwards with my hands pressed against the eyes in question. Arty tumbled from my lap with a squeak and rolled onto the grass to the laughter of our group. "Oh, my eyes! Never have I seen such horrific words!"
"Erin, its only an A. It's a good thing." Arty replied grumpily, crawling back over to me.
"I'm scarred for life." I insisted, lying back on the grass with my hands still covering my eyes. She poked me with annoyance.
"Mum and dad will be proud." She said mindlessly, and then there was a sudden tense silence as if she'd tried to swallow the words back in. I frowned and glanced at her, hands dropping back at my sides.
"Yeah, now I'm really ecstatic." I snapped, pulling away from her and standing. God, what a mood dampener. My parents ruin everything. Even my special bond with my twin, they have to put a dent in something. Lets find a way to outcast dear daughter Erin some more, shall we? Sure, dear, lets love her twin and congratulate her on everything and just blame Erin for all her mistakes. And if she dares to even get good grades, lets show her what she should have done to get higher! What a good idea, darling!
Feeling my sudden surge of self-pity, irritation and pain, Arty licked her lips and hesitantly touched my arm, sending over our bond an instant relief of love and warmth to melt the ice that tried to freeze my heart.
"They do love you, Erin. They love both of us equally." She whispered, stepping closer and tightening her grip on my arm, the love growing stronger to wash away my pain. I wondered briefly if I should fight it, send over all my ice to her and just see how she'd like it, just prove that no, they didn't love me like they loved her…but then Art hugged me from behind, her cheek pressed against mine as she sent all the love she could. And just like that, the darkness went away. I could feel Arty's light filling me and pushing away the shadows, and with a sigh I turned and hugged her back.
"Love you." we murmured together. The others in our group took no notice of us, having witnessed the same routine quite a few times. They didn't understand the real meaning behind it, that I needed Arty to purify me once a week, to chase the bitter darkness away. But they knew that it was normal for us, and knew that we were as close as sisters could be. We were almost one person, just two sides of the coin.
Arty and I pulled away and looked towards another close friend of mine.
"Yeah?" I replied, frowning to see what I hadn't remembered. "Oh. Right. Practice. I'm coming, Dom."
Dominique was tall, dark and beautiful. With her chocolate skin and soft brown eyes, she was easily making herself known around town as a model. When she turned eighteen, her agent was setting her up and moving her on to bigger and better things. More importantly, the catwalk. Designers had already shown an interest in her, but Dom wanted to wait until she'd finished school and so she'd always have a back up if things went wrong in the fashion business.
She was part of our group because of two options: B and C. She was a straight A/B student and was way prettier than any of the Beauties. Along with my sister, she was one of the all around perfect girls. If you didn't count her aloof arrogance, that is.
"Erin." Arty said, grasping my arms again as I made to move off. I looked back and to the side saw a group of the Beauties, boys and girls, waiting. Their eyes were on us, more specifically Arty. My own eyes narrowed.
"What's going on?" I asked suspiciously, shooting the Beauties a dirty look. They merely sneered at me.
"Stop doing that." She admonished, bringing my attention back to her. "Your face'll stick like that and then what would we do?"
"Share yours?" I suggested. She rolled her eyes and hit my shoulder lightly before turning and so I couldn't see the group of idiots anymore. A trickle of unease slid down my spine.
"Erin, can you do me a favour?" Arty asked anxiously. "A really big favour?"
Uh oh. I knew that tone. That was her 'please cover me while I go and do stupid stuff' tone. Wonderful.
"No." I said abruptly, piecing it together. Arty's eyes went wide.
"No?" she echoed incredulously. "Erin, you haven't even heard what I want to ask yet!"
"You want to go out of school with the Beauties and do fucked up stuff and you want me to cover you." she blinked at me. "No." I repeated. "Something bad will happen."
Arty sent me a sweet pout and then licked her lips again. A nervous gesture. Damn it, why did I feel like I wasn't going to win this argument?
"And you hanging out with the Fuckers and smoking isn't a stupid thing to do?" she questioned, too innocently. I glared.
"Arty, I can take care of myself. I do martial arts for Christ's sake. What are you going to do if something happens out there? Smile and hope it'll go away?" I demanded, ignoring the Beauties who were growing impatient behind me. Arty pursed her lips.
"You're over-reacting." She said. "We're only going down to the park and meet some of Lizzie's mates. Nothing bad about that, right?"
"Lizzie is a whore." I replied. "These friends of hers are bound to be fucked up shitters like all the rest of the Beauties."
There was an angry hiss form behind me, which I simply returned by flipping them the finger. Arty stifled a smile and tried to keep her angry face, but in the end she had to melt to a pleading mask. The one with the soft, watery eyes that always got me. And she knew it.
"Please, Erin. Nothing will happen, I swear." She coaxed, taking my hand. "You just have to say I'm at a business transaction with mum and dad and the school won't say a word."
"Yeah, yeah. I know." I interrupted grumpily. Her eyes lit up.
"Oh, thank you, Erin!" she squealed, throwing her arms around me. "Just you watch, everything'll be fine. I'll tell you all about it tonight, ok? Maybe you can even meet them if we get on well."
"Yeah," I said half-heartedly. "Maybe."
The Beauties were beckoning to Arty now, wanting to be out of the grounds and away from school before the bell went. Arty being Arty, she was welcome in their little group, in any group actually. She was Arty.
I shot the Beauties a withering glare, which they ignored this time, and Arty leant close and kissed my cheek.
"Love you." she said by way of farewell, and then was running off with her friends and disappearing out through the school gates. I sighed and watched her leave, uncertain that I should have let her go, before shaking my head. I had a practice to get to.
And with that, I shoved my unease to the back of my mind and went to find Dom.
Kicking the chair in front of me, which only housed a Beauty so it didn't matter all that much, I leant my cheek on my palm and sighed. It was about halfway through second lesson, History. Ugh, horrible, spiteful little creatures created History and should all go to heaven, because creatures from hell can't stand all that light and goodness and would spontaneously combust and die.
"Who can tell me why the Wall Street Crash happened in America?" Mr Barber questioned, pacing in front of the black board. Immediately a couple of hands went up, first being Teddy's. No surprise there. What did surprise me was his answer.
"I think you should ask Erin, sir." He said with the utmost seriousness. "She hasn't answered a single question since we started this year and, as I'm concerned with the importance of her education, I believe you should see how much she is learning."
Mr Barber raised an eyebrow, looking too amused for comfort. Teddy just looked maliciously smug.
"Prick." I hissed, glaring at him. Teddy smirked.
"Erin!" Mr Barber cried, shocked. "What on earth is wrong with you?"
"He's only trying to get me back because I beat him in the science exam." I replied bluntly, narrowing my death ray gaze on the squirming Teddy. "What a snot nosed prat."
Mr Barber spluttered, unsure how to answer such honesty. The class had burst into fits of sniggers and whispers while Teddy simply looked pale. I rolled my eyes and opened my mouth to carry on the humiliation when a sudden shocking fear sliced its way through me, knocking the wind out of me. I gasped and doubled over as my stomach lurched in agony, a striking terror filling my mind and throat and heart. I knew this wasn't my own emotions. Knew and yet I could feel it just like it was my own. I wanted to scream.
Raising my terrified gaze, I was met by friends clustered around my desk, shaking me, Mr Barber demanding to know what was happening. Only one word escaped me.
I pushed my way through the crowd and ignored their shouts, tearing down the hall and then the stairs until I reached the courtyard. Heart beating painfully fast, I raced towards the gate, head moving wildly form left to right, trying to feel, to sense where she was…
Right. Turn right. Down the road, across the street and through into the dirt track. The bridge. Get to the bridge. Up, up, over the fence. I leapt over the wood, tumbling to a stop at the other side where the muddy bank sloped into a second fence, barring the way to the train tracks. But I didn't want to go there. Turn left. Forward, forward, up a little…I slipped slightly, scrambling until I came to a small ditch, invisible from everyone's eyes. The grass around it was stained red, dripping, a dragged pathway down into the ditch.
I didn't want to look.
A man, maybe twenty, was staring at me. I could make out red hair, a green bandanna and tight stonewashed jeans with a slash at the knee. Covered in blood. He turned and ran away. He had a limp. Leaned more onto his right than his left. But no matter.
I looked down.
Arty was dressed in a retro skirt and tight tee, revealing a little of her pale midsection but not a lot. Just enough to get them wanting. She wore flat 'ballet shoes', but the left was gone. Torn off. Her hair was matted with blood and stuck to her face. But she was still beautiful. Still my sister. Still apart of me.
"Erin…?" she whispered, her voice cracked, her tongue thick against the roof of her mouth. "You came…"
Oddly calm, I knelt by her side and began to straighten her clothes, pulling down her skirt and so when someone found us she wouldn't be embarrassed. Arty was like that.
"Of course." I replied, taking her hand. "Why wouldn't I have?"
She tried to smile at me, but the bruised and the split lip were too gruesome, hurt too much, and instead the tears came. Large, hot tears that welled up in her swollen eyes and trickled down her scratched and pale cheeks.
"Because I'm…I'm stupid." She said, a catch in her voice. "Because I didn't listen…Oh, Erin, they –"
"Shhh." I murmured, tightening my hold on her hand. "Its ok. Its ok."
"No its not!" she shrieked, or tried to. She began to cough, and blood splattered across my face and hers. The warmth inside me began to fade.
"We'll…we'll go and get ice cream soon, ok?" I told her, eyes burning with tears. I watched as Arty settled down, began to relax, and she nodded slightly.
"It hurts." She whispered.
"I know." I replied. "I know it does. I hurt, too. But…but it'll fade. It'll –" my voice cracked and a tear slipped down my cheek, but Arty didn't seem to notice. She was staring at the sky, eyes glassy. I swallowed and tried again. "It'll go if you sleep, ok?"
"It'll be ok, right?" she murmured, eyes fluttering, sounding like a little girl. I choked.
"Yeah, Arty." I said, taking a deep shuddering breath. "It'll be ok, cos I'm here. I'm always going to be here."
"I know." She said quietly. "I'm going to go to sleep now."
"Love you, Erin."
"Love you, Arty."
"Sleep well." I said, feeling a part of me grow colder and colder and colder.
"I will." She whispered with a sweet sigh. "I will."
I waited and watched as her body lay still, as her chest ceased to rise even a little. Watched as her never-ending gaze filled the sky. And, features crumbling, I bent forward until my forehead touched her shoulder and cried. The sobs wracked my body, wrenching from deep within me, passed the icy calm that took part of my heart. Passed the void where Arty had been. And then finally I simply sat, chin resting against my chest, hand still tight in hers.
And that was how they found me hours later.
When Arty left, she took a part of me with her. Took the warmth and the love. Left me with shadows and bitter fury and a loneliness that no one could fill. When I was with her I was weak. But I could be strong. Without her I was weaker, lonelier, lost. I had to make myself stronger. My shields tighter. My heart…colder. Everyday I waited for the light I knew as Arty to fill the void by my darkness. And everyday I realised with more bitterness that she was further than I could reach. I'd never find her again. With every tear that left me, I hardened myself to the world and to love. And I swore that the emptiness I felt would be filled by the blood of those who took her from me.
That's the first. Hope you liked it. Just a little thing I thought of while I was on the plane from Australia. Terribly long. 9 hours then 13 hours. Made me really sick for a week. Ickiness. Anyway, this is the start of my story. It's sorta odd, with a tiny bit of supernatural, though its not the focus.
Hope you like it!