"Hey, Leigh, aren't you excited at all?" My stepbrother, Mavis, asks as I slip on my black jacket.

"No," I deadpan.

He sighs, "Can you at least try to be positive?"



"See you later," I grab my bag and leave rather quickly.

Only now do I feel magic sparking around my hands. It always reacts to my emotions, though it doesn't really make sense right now.

I'm not stressed at all, which would leave anger or excitement, and I feel neither. I groan internally.

I hate my magic; it isn't normal. Then again, I'm not normal either, so I suppose it's fitting.

I walk to school, glancing up at the dark, cloudy sky every once in a while. It fits my mood pretty well, if I'm being honest.

I slip on my headphones and pull up my hood before Anathema by Twenty One Pilots.

'You will never know what's behind my skull, so won't you say goodnight so that I can say goodbye?'

I let out a quiet sigh. I relate to this song more than I'd like to admit.

'And you will never know what's in my veins, so won't you say goodnight, so I can say goodbye?'

Before I know it, the song is over, which always surprises me. It's nearly four minutes long, but it seems shorter.

I decide to loop Monsters by All Time Low because it's a great song.

It's six thirty-five; I'm cutting this a little close, aren't I?

I quicken my pace as I listen to music. I should be at school in about fifteen minutes, leaving me with ten minutes before school starts.

'Thinking about you, you're in my he-'

I gasp as someone runs square into me, causing me to stumble back, my headphones slipping off.

"You should watch where you're going next time," The person snaps.

"Excuse me? You came from my right, now if you'd kindly go to hel-"

I spot my headphones lying on the ground, broken.

He broke my bloody headphones.

"You bastard!" I shove him hard. He stumbles back.

"Do you even know who I am?"

"Imbecile!" I glare at the others who've stopped to watch.

"I'm Atlus Seraphon, t-"

"Son of a bitch!"

Atlus is clearly pissed.

Of course, I know who he is; his parents are actors or something like that—entitled little rich boy.

"Go die in a fricking hole." I retrieve my broken headphones and pull my hood back up.

The damn bastard broke my headphones! How can I not be pissed?

...I could've used better insults.

Goddammit, five minutes until class.

Maybe I could teleport there.

I almost draw the rune, but, just my luck, it starts to rain.

If only I didn't have electrical magic…

Obviously, I sprint through the rain, slipping my headphones into my bag as I do.

All I had to do was wake up at five-twenty, so when did I get up? Five-fifty. And, of course, those extra thirty minutes were filled with nightmares.

I'd rather not talk about them.

I make it to class just as it begins.

I'd rather not bore you with the details, but enrichment was worthless rules, unnecessary introductions, and a stupid mini-lecture about how much fun this year will be.

This is hell. How do you have fun in this godforsaken place?

I leave the room as soon as I can.

I certainly hope first block will be remotely good.

I step into the classroom, then nearly step out again.

It's full of posters saying 'LGBT isn't real!' And 'Black magic is evil!' Which is all bullshit in case you hadn't figured it out yet. There's stuff against people of color too.

Of course, I have some trashy teacher; what was I expecting?

Of freaking course.

It's a wonderful boring class.

And next is 'advanced maths' or something.




I don't have a word for my hatred of-

"Hey, you're Leigh, right?" Someone cuts into my thoughts.

"No, go to hell."

"I'll take that as a 'yes,'" It's some kid with black and purple hair.

"A blatant 'no' is a 'yes?'"

"When you're obviously lying, yes."

"Tch," I glare at them, "What do you want?"

They shrug, "You just seemed like an interesting person."

"The hell's that supposed to mean?" I snap.

"Chill down; there's just something about you that's kind of... off. I don't know; you just seemed cool."

"Interesting word choice, and what the hell is off about me?"

"I don't know; it's just some feeling. Could just be because of that post..."

"Do elaborate."

"Someone said, 'Never trust British guys with long hair; they're always hiding something.' I only remember their username."

"Do share."

"It was like, 'licorice,' but it was spelled-"

"'Liquor?' Of course. I'm going to kill him…"

"Who is it?"

"My lovely brother. He'll spite me to the day I die." I give a sarcastic smile.

"Oof. Class'll start soon. See you later." They walk off to their class.

I walk into the classroom.

I grab a desk and hide my phone underneath it, immediately texting Mavis.

Nice of you to

trash me online

What? When?

'Never trust British

guys with long

hair; they're always

hiding something?'



Get trashed


This is why I hate


Go to hell

Be positive


He puts the word 'positive' between two sparkle emojis.


I'm a pessimist

I put the word 'pessimist' in-between sparkles.

It takes him a minute to respond.

Well played

I put my phone away as class starts.

Needless introductions, again. Oh lord, it's a fun maths worksheet too.

'Fun' and 'maths' should never be in the same sentence.

I finish the worksheet pretty quickly and, what a twist; it wasn't fun.

The day continues similarly.

I leave as soon as my phone says '14:00.' I start to walk back home when I feel someone shove me roughly.

I fall.

"We saw what you did to Atlus this morning."

I get back up, "Can we not?"

It's three blonde girls, my favorite, "You're that worthless orphan. Is that why you tried to hurt Atlus?"

Magic sparks violently around my hands, "He tried to knock me into the damn road first, for the record."

"Oh, sure."

"Don't you have something better to do? Why are you wasting your time on some 'worthless orphan?'"

They glare at me, "You-"

"Yes, I defended myself against your stupid crush. Go waste someone else's time," I walk away.

How did they find out I'm an orphan?

There's no way to-

The school files…

No, there's no way; there has to be something else.

I don't know anyone at this school either; I've lived in the UK until a month ago.

I'm overthinking this. Maybe I slipped and said it at some point…

I sigh.

'Worthless orphan.'

This is far from the first time I've been called that, and I doubt it'll be the last.

Just add it to the list…

I glance up at the dark sky. Is it going to rain again?

There's been a lot of on-and-off rain today; it's weird.

I pull up my hood, hiding my bright hair in it. My mother had ginger hair and green eyes like I do; I hate it.

I don't want to have things in common with her.

"Hey, Leigh!"

Oh my god, spare me.

The kid from earlier found me, somehow.

"The hell d'you want?" I cross my arms.

"Just wanted to chat."


"Why not?"

"No one wants to talk to me; I assumed you'd be the same."

They frown, "Why?"

"Unimportant," I lie. It is important to me; my parents are dead.

"It's important to you."

I stop walking.

"Is something wrong?"

"What did you do?"

"What do you mean?"

"What the hell did you do?" I snap, "You already know, don't you?"


"Get the hell away from me," It feels like the breath was taken from my lungs.


"Don't talk to me."

I quicken my pace, walking away from them.

They can mind-read. Of course, they can mind-read. That's why they said something was off about me.


"Why are you following me?"

"You're hiding something; that's why you're scared."

"That isn't tr-"

"Lucky for you, I don't care, and even if I did, you've got some kind of spell keeping me from finding anything," They continue, cutting me off.

"You're lying."

"No, I'm not."

"The spell didn't work on you."

"Yes, it did."

"It should've kept you from knowing about my parents."

"Not my fault you screwed up the spell."

"I didn't mess it up."

"You did, or else it would've worked."

"How much did you see?"


"Liar," I hiss.

"Takes a liar to know one. You should know that better than anyone else."

I teleport this time.

That's enough acknowledgment given for the day.

"Hey, how'd your day go?" Mavis asks, glancing up from his computer as I enter the flat.

"Swimmingly. Now, continuing from my text earlier…"


"What the hell is wrong with you?" I shout, "Are you an imbecile?"

He winces at my volume, "Calm down; it was a joke."


"Why are you so bloody terrified?"

"I'm not-!"

"Yes, you are, Leigh; I can see it in your eyes. Have you forgotten your illusions?" He asks mockingly.

"Shut up!"

"I've never managed to grasp the concept of hiding yourself from everyone. Are you just a coward?"
"That isn't…"

"What? Are you going to deny it?"

"Yes, because you're wrong!"

"Alright, d'you want to know why I posted that?" Mavis approaches me now, meeting my eyes, "To remind you to quit trying to be something you're not."

"Remind me how this is relevant?" I shove him back.

"May as well stop lying before you hurt someone again."

"Go to hell," I walk towards the hall.

"You wanted to know what Mum's last words were?"

I freeze.

"She asked me to keep you out of trouble. Don't you just love how she was still worried about you making trouble before putting a bullet in her head?"


"I'm just trying to fulfill that wish. Interesting how she was worried about you before putting a bullet in her head, isn't it?"

"Bullshit," I spit.

I step into my room and lock the door. I don't know what the hell that was about, but I doubt it matters.

It was just useless phrases thrown together.

Completely meaningless words.


Why am I trying to convince myself?

I'll just distract myself.

I take my broken headphones from my bag and set them on my desk. At closer inspection, they aren't too messed up. They're supposed to be foldable, but the hinge broke earlier. Looks like it was already weak before, though.


I cussed someone out over something completely insignificant.

I cussed out some popular, rich kid over something completely insignificant.

...I feel like I should care more.

I fix my headphones with a spell, then leave them on the desk.

I look around my room. I still haven't figured out where to keep a few things, so they're all in the back of my closet, but other than that, my room is pretty nice.

My walls are mostly blank, so I decide to look through my belongings for some posters. Bastille, Imagine Dragons, Twenty One Pilots; Jesus Christ, how many posters did I have?

I put up one poster of each band, then put one miscellaneous above my desk.

I'll add more later, no doubt, but for now, that's enough.

I rack my brain for anything else that needs to be done.

I got a bit of homework today, though it's all due Friday. It's all random 'tell me everything about you' kind of things too.

I suppose I'll do one of them now.

I grab one and start filling in the questions.

'My name is Leigh Emstrie,' I write, 'My favourite colour is fuchsia.'

How is this even relevant?

'My favourite hobby is writing. My favourite spell is'





I skip a few questions.

'I'm afraid of'

Why the hell do I need to tell this teacher my fears?

There's not even a reason-

Screw it; I have to do it all anyway.

'I'm afraid of blood, hospitals, rejection, and thunderstorms.'

Wonderful. The most pathetic fears in existence.

How much longer is this?

'My pronouns are he/him. My nickname(s) is/are N/A.'

I finish it.

That was the most worthless, irrelevant worksheet I've ever filled out.

I stare at my swirly handwriting. People have mistaken it as cursive so many times that I've stopped correcting people on it.

I can't even write in cursive; I never learned it. I can write my name, but that's it. That's a bit pathetic, isn't it? A second-year who can't write in cursive.

I spend the next couple of hours reading and writing, then I have dinner and go to bed.

It's strange, rather than my usual nightmares, I have a different dream.

I'm in some kind of hallway with a black door at the end. I try to move, but I'm frozen in place. The entire hall is swirling, and it's all black and white. It's hypnotic, and it's beginning to hurt my eyes.

Suddenly, it all disappears, and I'm in a new place.

I recognize it immediately.

Blood. It's everywhere.

I don't want to be here.

I don't want to see it again.