I have always considered myself pretty normal. I mean, Mondays and maths were the worst kinds of torture, I lived with my older brother and my aunt, and I didn't have many friends but, with the ones I had, I was very close.
Nothing out of the blue, right?
Well, that was before I turned sixteen and everything went upside down. I met some new people, learnt about a whole society I didn't know about, and discovered something about my whole family that almost made me go bananas.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves, and start the story.
The day started like my average birthday. It was a cloudy Tuesday at 6.30 A.M when my alarm went of. I got out of bed, got myself prepared and went downstairs to eat breakfast.
“Good morning, bro” I said as I grabbed an apple.
“Morning sis” Jake looked up from his book and smirked at me “Happy B-Day.”
“It's no big deal.”
He rose an eyebrow.
“Well, it's not like you turn sixteen every day.”
“Yeah, I know” I smiled “I just wanted you to say it.”
My brother scoffed.
“Of course you did.”
I scanned the living room.
James looked away. I stared at him.
“Business trip?” He nodded “Come on! On my birthday? Are you for real?” he was about to say something, when I interrupted him “Yes. Of course you are for real. But did she even say goodbye? Did you see her before she left?”
He shook his head.
“But” he took out a note sticked on a mug “she left this ‘had to leave unexpectedly. All the bills are paid, there is money in the counter and there is food in the fridge. Of course, call me if you need anything. PD: Sorry I couldn't be there for your sixteens, Ali’”
“I can't believe this. For how long this time?”
“About two months.”
It is not that auntie Sarah didn't care about us, it's just that she was never there. Sarah was this caring, tall woman with dark hair always lifted in a bun and big brown eyes behind small glasses. Since she was the owner of an important company, she was always on business trips, so, as far as I could remember, it had always been James and me, because our parents had died when I was three, and we had jumped from foster house to foster house until about eight years before, when auntie Sarah (a cousin of our father) had taken us in.
“Well, I can't quite be with you right now either, Ali.”
Well, that did surprise me.
“I have an exam at 11:15 a.m, and I have to study.”
Oh, not as surprising anymore.
“But then, I'm available all day.”
“Before you get angry, I made you those birthday cupcakes that Sarah always makes that you like so much.”
He handed me a tapper full of wonderful desert.
“You are the best.”
“Maybe. Maybe, you can share them with Rachel and Jonathan.”
I hugged my tapper protectively.
He scoffed again and shook his head, mockingly.
“Whatever you say, lil' sis, but you better head off, 'cause you are going to be late.”
“Hiyaaa!” Rachel almost gave me a heart attack “Happy B-Day, Bestie!
“And there won't be more if you keep making my heart go boom!”
“Sixteen already!” Rachel ignored me “our baby has grown up.”
“She heckin' has” John appeared out of nothing.
“Fiii!” Rachel jumped backwards “Now who is the one giving heart attacks?”
“Me, of course” he answered “and, as always, I'm the best at doing it.”
Rachel gave him a bad look.
“Oh, you think you are sooo funny.”
“That's because I am” he looked at me “right, Lis?”
“I guess so.”
Now they both were looking at me badly.
“I despise you.”
“But today you can't” I reminded them playfully “Because it's my birthday.”
“Yeah, whatever girlie” Rachel said.
“Just wait until you see the gift we've got for you, Bestie.” Her voice sounded distant this time, like if I was hearing her from inside a cave.
“Oh, guys! You shouldn't have gotten me a birthday gift. Being with you is more than enough.
The both stared at me. Then John glared at Rachel.
“You told her? Are you for real?”
“Yeah, right. So Lis just read it out of your mind.”
“Don't believe me if you want, Sylon” Rachel crossed her arms “It's your problem.”
I was about to say that Rachel had said it out loud when I saw a tall girl staring right at me. She contrasted with the background, as if she didn't belong there, but people just walked pass her, like if they weren't even seeing her. Just before I could see her in detail, someone walked right in front of her and she disappeared, as if she had never been there.
“Earth to Alisa” Rachel shook my arm “Is anyone in there?”
“Yeah” I blinked “Yeah, sorry. I just got... distracted.”
The bell rang.
“Gotta go” John said “See you at lunch with Noah?”
As we were walking to our class, I couldn't help but wonder if the girl I though I had seen was actually real or if I had just imagined her.
“So, are you ready for your surprise, Al?” Noah was saying.
John rolled his eyes.
“Save it, pal. Our friend over there has already gave away that we have a gift for her.”
Noah stared at him, waiting.
“And? She doesn't know what the gift is, does she?”
“Great, then” Noah clapped with his good hand “so it is still a surprise.”
“HA” Rachel pointed at John “See? I told you.”
“Whatever. Are we giving her the present or not?”
“Yes!” I said, excited “Gimme.”
Noah took out a bag and handed it to me. Inside the bag there was a big box, and inside it there were a bunch of other boxes, which had my favorite marks on pencils, markers, brushes, etc.
I was this close of passing out.
“Yes, we did” Noah said “what do you think?”
I hugged them all at once.
“I think you are the best. Thank you, guys.”
“It's good she liked it” I heard John say, on the same distant tone I had heard Rachel “for a moment, I thought she wouldn't.”
But, this time, I could have promised John hadn't opened his mouth.
Thank you for reading!