A story about a girl
My mother, (let’s call her Ella) moved to this little backwater town in nowhere America. Here, there are a lot of trees and green meshed into even more green. It rained a lot (not torrential downpours) but it was a consistent, misty type of rain that continued for days on end. Seeing the sun was a rare occasion. My mother, Ella, was obviously not happy about this, but she wanted to give my granny and her immature new husband room so that he could pursue his baseball career (which was going nowhere).
You might recall that my mother was a weird one. She was clumsy, she did not like snow, she did not like the cold, and basically to sum her up in a nutshell, she did not like a lot of things, and she was (to say it kindly) awkward. Obviously, being the new girl at school, a little school, population almost none, all the boys zoned in on her, but when she saw my dad, she lost her heart irrevocably.
Now, my dad, (let’s call him Eddie) is heart-stopping handsome. It is near impossible to find a boy this handsome in real life. It is probably going to sound gross, being his daughter and all, but it is true. A more handsome man, you will never find.
The day my mom saw my dad for the first time, she did not know he was different. She only had that uncontrollable pull towards him, and he was on her mind constantly.
So, my story.
As I said earlier and what most of you can remember, because I know many of you read that particular story more than once, my mom was very, very accident-prone and my dad had to rescue her on many occasions.
When my dad left my mom, because he thought it would be best for her (honestly?) she spent more time with her best friend, (let’s call him Jack. No wait. I prefer Zane). Unbeknown to her (at the time) Zane loved her, but my mother could not see past her despondent yearning for my dad. She even jumped off a cliff and then my dad thought she was dead. My dad can read people’s thoughts, but not my mom’s.
I do not know why she could not love Zane romantically. Oh my gosh! Did you see those pecks and washboard abs in your imagination when you read the love story of my mom and dad? Did you pretend you could feel those muscular, strong arms wrap around you? Bet you did, but I know you would never admit it publicly, because as I said my dad is really, really handsome and most girls would prefer him above any other.
When my dad discovered my mom was pregnant, he was NOT happy (this of course is not a very pleasant thing to discover - I might add). I also heard that many of you hoped I would die as well, because I was literally sucking all the life out of my mom. Well, anyway, long story short. I was born a healthy bouncy, beautiful baby and everybody adored me.
Then Zane got this weird imprinting thing on me. Imprinting is sort of our souls connecting or some other strange notion. This put my mother out of the equation and there was no need for her to feel guilty about rejecting Zane’s feelings anymore, because from that moment on all Zane’s attention was focused on me. He would love me forever, he would sacrifice himself for me (should the need arise). I am his soul mate (sadly, I only discovered this near the end of this story).
Now here starts the part, which was never told.
The story about me.
If at any point in my story thus far, you did not have the foggiest clue of what I have been rambling on about, please do yourself a favour (after you read my story) and go and find the saga about my mom and dad. It is an awesome story of love.
Where was I?
My mom and dad did not think this obsession Zane had with me was a healthy situation, so Zane was kindly requested not to visit anymore and soon after that he moved away.
I grew up quite normally.
Admittedly, I had a craving for blood when I was in my mother’s womb and for the first few months until I was weaned from my bottle. The main reason I was weaned from my bottle of blood was because my granny (the one I told you about earlier, the one who married the wanna-be baseball player) was due for a visit. The fact that my mother was now different had not been revealed to her, yet. One afternoon my granny was left to take care of me, and she proceeded to feed me from one of the many tubs of baby food that was stocked in the cupboard for appearance sake. The first moment I discovered pureed vegetables and potatoes, I was hooked on it. Imagine how dysfunctional this all turned out to be! Everybody in my family being carnivorous and here I come along - a vegetarian.
I can only imagine in those long-ago days how my mom and dad had worried - worried if I was normal. My mom also thought she escaped the chore of cooking when she became a vampire, but I showed her, didn’t I?
After my mom and dad got married, they lived in a garden cottage on my grandparents’ land. However, this did not last very long and my mom, my granny and my aunt could never agree on how to look after me (my aunt always wanted her own baby, so you can imagine how she wanted me all to herself). My mom told my dad he had better provide her with other living arrangements, because although she will always love him, she does not think it would be healthy for their relationship to live forever in such close proximity to his interfering family.
By the time I was five years old, we had moved into a castle in the Scottish Highlands. The castle is built on a cliff and below it the ocean pounds against the land continuously day and night. Grey clouds sit closely around the castle walls and they hardly ever permit the sun to show its full face. Sometimes the sun will find a gap and the light will radiate down to the earth in long glowing stripes, but never for too long. The castle is secluded from everything and everywhere.
I grew up playing with the servant’s children, when they were around, and they were not at school. I had a tutor and in my spare time I went for long walks on my own through the forest and along the shore of the wild ocean. I admit it - I was lonely. I had imaginary friends and I pretended that I could see and speak to fairies.
My mom and dad really love each other very much, and sometimes (not always) I felt as if I intruded on their relationship, so I tried not to spend a lot of time with them.
The castle was cold and draughty, and I, being relatively normal, felt the chill easier than my mom and dad.
We went for holidays to visit our family in America, and when I say that I saw the sun a hundred times in all those years it would be an exaggeration. The day they decided to send me to a boarding school in the southern hemisphere was beyond a shadow of a doubt, the happiest day of my life.
This was when I turned seventeen. I had just finished my schooling and I wanted to continue studying fashion design. I had a flair for fashion (could you blame me with an aunt who is a ‘fashionista’).
Now, remember, before this I had a tutor. I was always alone (mostly). I did not know many people my own age. I did not know many normal people either. The day I boarded the airplane, which would take me into foreign unknown territory I was petrified. My mom and dad waved goodbye when I walked away from them, and for a moment, I wanted to turn back and run into my mom’s arms and say that I had changed my mind. I would rather want to stay with them. The excited anticipation on the pit of my stomach edged me forward though.
As I sat on the airplane with the safety belt already buckled tightly around my waist, I still felt trepidation. My fingers rested on the buckle of the safety harness when the airplane engines started rumbling under my seat. I was going to push that button, release my body from the chair and demand they let me off the plane and then I was going to run back through the corridors to the safety of my parents. I was still going to do this when the airplane started moving and before I could cause a commotion, we were airborne.
It was a long flight and we landed early the next morning in a new, different country.
I looked out of the little window to my side and watched the approaching earth beneath me. The land was brown and yellow - not a speck of green. I felt my heart sink, because this was a completely new and strange future awaiting me.
When all the other passengers started leaving, I stayed seated and stared out at the hazy heat outside the window. It looked very hot, but the air conditioner still hissed over me, so I could not imagine what it would feel like. The airhostess tapped me lightly on the arm and I looked up at her friendly smiling face. I wondered (sometimes) if airhostesses were rejected models, because they are always so tall and pretty.
I got up from the seat and then I gathered my carry-on baggage from the overhead storage container. I left the airplane walking behind the airhostess timidly.
She turned around to me. “Are you visiting family?”
I could only move my head from side to side in denial. I have an unfounded fear that when that sun out there, that merciless sun, touched my skin I might burn up and turn to dust. Being surrounded by mostly vampires my entire life, it is obviously a subject that interests me immensely and I have researched it thoroughly. Some vampires do blow up and burn up in the sun, while others do not. Others would get an angelic glow about them, which also keeps them out of the sun - for understandable reasons. People in general do not accept people who are different from them easily.
She carried on walking and I continued following her.
When I got to the arrival hall, after getting my luggage from the baggage carousel, I noticed a man in a black suit and black tie hold up a board with my name stencilled onto it. The name of the boarding school I was going to in bold, colourful letters above it. Here I should mention my name. My mother gave me a name I just could not grow into, and I have always liked the name Freya. So, for the purpose of this story, you can call me Freya.
I walked towards the man and smiling warily, I said, “I am Freya.”
He smiled hospitable. “Welcome Freya. The car is this way.”
He took the baggage trolley away from me and turned around. When we walked out of the terminal (still hidden under a canopy), the heat literally hit me in the face. I gasped and the hot, humid air filled my throat. I was immediately in desperate need of a soda. Silently, I followed the man to a sleek black vehicle parked on the curb. He loaded my bags into the trunk of the vehicle, while I stood watching him. He closed the lid with a soft push and then he walked to the front of the car. He stopped at the back-passenger door and then he opened it for me. I felt awkward that he was opening the door for me. I did not stand on the pavement waiting for him to open it for me, I was trying to gather courage and get my scattered emotions and thoughts into an organized pattern. Now he might get the impression I am a spoiled, rich brat. It felt as if the heat was pressing down on me and luckily, we were still beneath a shaded area, so the sun had not yet touched me directly. I got into the back seat and gave him a friendly smile. “Thank you.”
I reached for the door handle to pull the door towards me, but he was already closing it softly. The air-conditioning in the car blew over me at full speed and I sighed a happy sound. Before, I never realized how hot the sun could be.
We drove away from the airport and it was with relief that I noticed I am sitting on the opposite side of where the sun is shining into the car. I saw the glare of the sun around me, reflecting off the buildings, cars and asphalt. I looked up at the sky through the closed window and it was a brilliant blue with not even the faintest wisp of a cloud. The sky looked deep, as if there was no end to it as it continued upwards. It looked beautiful.
I walked down the corridor towards my dorm room. The walls were painted in a light beige between eggshell and white. The tiles on the floor were a functional olive green. The doors, in a beige colour a little darker than the walls passed me one at a time until I got to the door numbered with a painted over metal eight. The door was slightly ajar, and I pushed against it with my shoulder. My hands were full of bags; bags hung from my shoulders and were drooping from the crook of my arm. The happy and sad laughter of parents and other students surrounded me, and I could not wait to get into the room, to shut the door and to block out this cacophony of noise. My parents obviously did not come with me. They would never be found alive (this is funny) on this side of the hemisphere. They would have a radiance about them when the sunlight glinted off their skin and the other students would probably think angels delivered me if my parents ever did come here to see me or to say goodbye.
I almost fell into the room and I dropped the bags with an enormous sigh onto the floor. I noticed the girl across the room and it was with consternation that I noticed the two twin beds at opposite sides of the room, as well as the matching chest of drawers and study desks, which were standing on opposite sides of the room adjacent from each other. I honestly thought I would have my own room.
The girl looked up at me with apprehension when I basically crashed into the room, and then a shy smile lit up her face. I smiled in return and ignored the urge to exclaim that I thought I would have my own room, so I said instead, “Hi. I'm Freya.”
She replied, “Welcome.” Her hand came up to her shoulder and she touched herself lightly. “My name is Sonia.” She looked past me towards the door behind me and asked, “Are you here on your own?”
Involuntarily I also looked back across my shoulder, as if to acknowledge to myself that I was there alone. I turned back to her and replied, “I am.”
I walked into the room, dragging my bags behind me and I assumed that the bed opposite from hers was mine. I pushed the last of my bags closer to my bed with my foot and looked back at Sonia. She had however gone back to reading her magazine and silently I started to unpack my things into the drawers and cupboard.
It did not take me long to unpack my bags and when I was finished, I wondered what I should do next. It felt awkward having to share a room with someone. If I had arrived earlier, I suppose I would not have felt so out of place. Sonia had arrived before me though, so now it felt as if I was intruding on her space.
I turned to walk out of the room to go and explore the rest of the building and to familiarize myself with the layout. I already reached the door, when Sonia asked, “Are you going outside?”
I turned to look back at her and she was busy stretching her long legs off the bed. She stood up and as she walked towards me, I replied, “I thought I would look around. See if there is anything interesting around here.”
She asked interested, “What are you studying?”
“Fashion Design. And you?”
“I don’t really know, and I don’t really care,” she said indifferently. “I am only here because my parents wanted to get rid of me and I suppose I will attend classes on a very irregular basis and sooner or later I will eventually find out what they enrolled me for.”
I stared at her dumbfounded and she started to laugh loudly. “I am joking, silly. I am here to study Religious History. I am particularly interested in witchcraft and the history of a little village called Salem.”
I continued to stare at her, because I am sure I have never heard of anything so far-fetched.
She did not explain, but she proposed, “Let’s go upstairs and I’ll introduce you to my friend, Rosie.”
We left the room and she pulled the door shut behind us. I looked at the other girls saying goodbye to their parents tearfully and for a moment I missed my mother and my father, halfway around the world.
My and Sonia’s shared room was in the top ‘I’ annex of the dorm and we walked the short corridor towards the longer connecting passage.
Casually Sonia pointed towards the first door in the longer passage, the first door after the stairway. She said, “That is our ghost room and appropriately numbered number thirteen. They never put anybody in that room and I hear that late at night when you go to the bathrooms, which you can see is the door opposite number thirteen, it feels as if somebody is watching you.”
I looked intently at the closed door and I could feel the tiny hairs on my arms and at the back of my neck raising. I grew up in very weird circumstances. My parents are very, very different. You would think I should be used to any bizarre and creepy situations, yet when she mentions that there might be a ghost in an aptly numbered room, I could not help but feel a chill scamper up my spine. I dismissed her story though as ludicrous and I followed her up the stairs to the second landing.
My curiosity got the better of me, and I could not help it, so I asked her, “So who is the ghost?”
“The ghost in number thirteen. Why is there a ghost?”
Sonia chuckled amused, “Well. They say that she killed herself over a boy the night before Valentine’s Day.”
Shocked I started laughing. “You must be pulling my leg. Honestly? She killed herself on the thirteenth in room thirteen?”
Sonia shrugged. “You don’t have to believe me.”
She walked ahead of me towards the shorter annex and stopped at a door that would be approximately directly above the room Sonia and I shared. She knocked a tune on the beige coloured door and then she pressed down on the lever.
She pushed her head through the gap, while she pushed the door open even further.
I heard her say, “Hey, Rosie. You busy?”
“Not really.” I heard a voice from inside.
Sonia turned back towards me. “Come.”
I followed Sonia into the room and Rosie was sitting crossed legged on her bed. She had a room all to herself and it was only big enough to hold a single bed, a bedside table and a desk, with barely enough space to move around in the centre. On the desk there were (and I counted quickly) five black candles, melted down to almost nothing.
Sonia saw me looking at the candles and she said, “Some people believe that burning black candles has something to do with devils and evil, but it is really for banishing guilt or regrets. Most of the time, it is for the acceptance of people and situations. The believe that it is evil comes from the fifteenth century when several witches were put onto trial and accused of trying to murder people by naming a black candle after that person, then forming a doll out of the fallen wax and sticking pins into it, while they let the candle burn away. Rosie isn’t doing any of this though.” She added softly, “Rosie has issues.”
I realized that although I grew up in a strange household, my mother, father and half my family being vampires, I have been sheltered from other paranormal beliefs and I really knew nothing about the world.
Sonia sat down on the bed and then she pulled herself backwards so that her back was slanted against the wall. I sat down on the corner of the bed, while Rosie looked at my inquisitively.
I smiled friendly, uncertain whether I should speak first. I grew up with weird, but this felt a hundred times weirder than I have ever experienced before.
Rosie pulled the black sleeve of her sweater up and I glimpsed for a moment the scar between the multitude of bangles that dangled from her wrist. She asked curiously, “So you must be Sonia’s new roommate?”
“I am. Just arrived.” I smiled friendly.
“Welcome.” She swept her hand through the room. “You might be wondering why I get my own room, even if this is my first year as well, but I am special.”
I frowned briefly and wondered what made her more special than me.
Just then a bell rang (it sounded like an old-fashioned school bell) and Rosie announced, “Dinner. Hope you are hungry. I hear we share tables with people who actually weigh their food.”
Everything felt strange as I followed the only two people, I knew here down to the dining hall. Trust me to find the two most peculiar people under one roof (why break with tradition?).
We sat at long tables, ten seats to each table. Luckily for us, the girls with the little white scales were not seated at our table and dinner passed with happy chatter and giggles.
When we were finished eating and we were on our way out of the dining hall, Rosie suggested, “We should go out tonight, before school starts officially. You never know when we will get a chance again.”
Sonia looked excited at the prospect, but said, “We don’t have transport though. How will we get out? It would be better if we went out tonight while I still have money anyway, because I never know when my parents will send me money again.”
“I’ll phone David. Come.” She pulled Sonia by the hand towards the public phone booth hidden under the staircase in the entrance hall to the dorm. We were not allowed to have mobile phones here at this college. Apparently, it was distracting (I had to wonder why older people were so reluctant to move forward with technology). I had my mobile hidden deep within my drawer under my underwear, where I was sure nobody would dare to invade my privacy (hopefully).
I followed them (here you might think I was acting like a lost puppy - following them everywhere), because although they have both been friends for longer than they have known me, they fit into my perspective of the world. They were just as strange as the world I recently departed.
Sonia held the door open, while Rosie dialled the number. She waited a while and then she shouted into the phone, “David.” She continued in a normal tone of voice, “I was going to give up. How are you?” She listened a while, and then a smile creased her face. “We would love to go out tonight.” She gave Sonia and me a meaningful look, while her smile grew broader. “Yes. Three of us.” She laughed. “Okay. We’ll see you at seven.” She then ended the call.
She replaced the phone back into its cradle and then she slipped her finger into the little coin dispatcher at the bottom of the unit. She found it empty and then she said to us, “We better hurry; they’ll be here in an hour.”
Excitedly we ran up the stairs (I am excited as well, because being friendless for so long, Sonia and Rosie have taken me into their fold without any hesitation, without question).
I got dressed into a pair of dark denim stretch jeans, with a form-fitting shirt. Rosie rummaged through my clothes and I did not mind borrowing her something to wear. We were almost the same size, albeit she was first in line when the boob-fairy came around.
Rosie walked into our room just as Sonia pulled a shirt over her head. The shirt fit me perfectly, but on her it accentuated her (large for her age) breasts and made her waist look twenty times slimmer. Rosie looked at her wristwatch and told us to hurry. I quickly pulled the brush through my long reddish-brown hair. I ran to the bathroom to brush my teeth and I could not help it when my eyes darted nervously towards door number thirteen.
When I got back to the room, I barely had time to put away my toothbrush and toothpaste, when Sonia ushered me out of the room. Sonia locked the room door behind us and then we walked down to the entrance hall. The girl on duty behind the reception desk looked up at us when we walked into the hall and then her attention was diverted towards the man who walked in through the doors from outside. He was tall and built ruggedly, with dark longish hair and almost black eyes.
Rosie greeted David as we walked past him to the desk and then we signed ourselves out in a large red covered book. We had to enter the time, our names, dorm room number and then sign our names. Our curfew was midnight and the girl behind the desk reminded us of this.
We walked out the door and then David wrapped his arm around Rosie’s waist. We ambled with him to his car and Rosie did not introduce him to me. When we got to his car, Rosie got into the front passenger seat, while Sonia and I got into the back.
David started the engine of his car, and then he looked over his shoulder for oncoming traffic before he drove out of the parking spot and joined the traffic.
He said to Rosie, “Zane and Mark will meet us there.”
Sonia clapped her hands together softly and she leaned towards me. She whispered, “I have a little crush on Mark.”
I smiled in return and then I sat back in the seat, looking out at the city. It was nice to see so many people around, after growing up in complete desolation. The sun was still up, still on its downward spiral towards the horizon. The sun caressed my face and I smiled to myself when I remembered my earlier fear that the sun might turn me to dust. When I got out of the car earlier today when the driver dropped me off in front of the dorm, I tentatively pushed my legs out of the open car door, shut my eyes and took a deep breath. I counted to ten and then when I opened my eyes I looked and there my legs still were. The sun was warm on my legs and I burst out laughing aloud at my silly fear.
David drove through the city towards the beach. At the beach, he found a parking space and then we walked along the promenade towards a beach-bar above an ice-cream parlour and a pizza restaurant. He led us through the scantily decorated bar, the large windows bright with the view of the ocean and onto the outside deck. He directed us towards a table where two other men were seated, and they looked up at us as we walked closer. The one man looked at me and it was as if he was startled when he saw me (I am not flattering myself here. He really gasped when he saw me, and it was not because I am a beauty. I am very plain). Our eyes met and for a moment, I felt a flutter in the pit of my stomach. His eyes were dark, dark brown and it suited his dark tanned complexion perfectly.
David pulled two more chairs closer from the vacant tables around us, and then I sat down on one of them. (By no choice of my own) I ended up sitting next to the dark eyed man and I was feeling slightly uncomfortable. I sat up straight, crossed my legs by the ankles and folded them in under my chair.
Rosie introduced me to Zane and Mark. I smiled friendly in greeting. Mark and Sonia started joking with each other and I sat staring at them, smiling faintly. Rosie and David talked softly to each other; her hand twined tightly into his. I had nothing to say to Zane (how awkward was this) and he did not start a conversation with me either. He leaned forward to reach for his drink on the table and he moved into my peripheral vision. One part of me thought he was very attractive, while the other part of me wished the earth would swallow me.
I tore my eyes away from him and looked out over the ocean until a noisy group of people walked out onto the deck. I looked back across my shoulder towards them and straight into Zane’s eyes, (embarrassingly) I blushed and then quickly turned my eyes back to the ocean.
He leaned towards me. I could feel him move into my space and he was messing with the atoms in the air that surrounded my body. The atoms around me clashed against each other violently and I could feel the electricity sparking between us. He looked unfazed.
He said inquisitively, “You look familiar. Have we met before?”
I might not be wise in the ways of the world, but I did watch a lot of television and movies and even I knew that that was the corniest pick-up line ever.
I looked back at him, but he seemed sincere, as if he meant that I really looked familiar. I replied, “I just arrived here today from Scotland, so I doubt we have met before.”
“Scotland? What are you doing so far from home?”
“I came here to study.”
He insisted, “You do look like someone I knew a long time ago.”
I smiled friendly, “Not me. Sorry.”
“The last time I saw her, she was just a little bit older than you are now. You look a lot like her, but not exactly.”
I did not know what to say to this, so I bend forward across the table to get my soda.
He said, “The sea looks beautiful at this time of the day. I also grew up in a small little town where the sun hardly ever showed its face. I never knew what I was missing until I came here about eighteen years ago.”
I made the calculations quickly in my head. He came here eighteen years ago and when he left home, he must have been at least eighteen years old, so that would make him about thirty-six years old. Too old for me, no matter how his eyes pulled me into him. This realization relaxed me, because now I did not feel the pressure of being paired up with him and we started to talk about the people walking below us on the promenade. We compared dogs with their owners. We laughed together and later after the sun dipped under the horizon and David announced that we are going to a nightclub, I felt sad that the moment ended. He was a nice guy; he would be a nice friend to have.
We all stood up to leave and Zane turned to me. He asked, “Would you like to drive to the nightclub with me?” He quickly added, “Mark and Sonia will also be driving down with me.”
“Okay. Thank you.” I would have hated to be the third wheel on the cart with Rosie and David, who seemed to be very much into each other.
When we got to his car, he opened the front passenger door for me and I got into the car, thanking him. Sonia and Mark got into the back of the car laughing loudly. When Zane started his car, the stereo loaded, and Nickelback filled the car.
We did not talk, the music was too loud, and I started to feel excited about going to the nightclub, to have the loud music drown out all my thoughts and to dance to the beat of the music.
The nightclub was just two blocks down from the beach and when we got there, Zane drove into a parking garage. He drove up and up through the circular ramp and then he parked at the top level. We got out of the car and while I waited for Zane to lock the car, I looked out through the wire mesh fencing above the concrete wall out towards the ocean. The moon shimmered on the surface of the water and turned the water, which is usually aquamarine during the day, into iridescent silver.
Zane came to stand behind me, and once again, I could feel him behind me, without knowing that it was him. He disturbed my emotional environment.
He said softly, “Beautiful isn’t it?”
I turned towards him and once again, I felt his eyes pull at my heart. “It is awesome.” (Did I really say awesome?)
He reached towards me, his palm open, inviting me to take his hand and he said softly, “Come.”
Although I wanted to accept his invitation and put my hand into his, I did not and I walked next to him, following Sonia and Mark down the circular ramp towards the entrance to the nightclub.
At the nightclub, I was incensed when the large bouncer at the entrance door asked me for identification. He did not ask Sonia or Rosie, even though Rosie with her nymph like features looked as if she could not be a day over ten years old.
I pulled my identity card from my bag and then the bouncer scrutinized it carefully, holding it close to his squinting eyes. Eventually he handed the card back to me and then he nodded his big head (I am scared he topples over onto me - his head too big for his body) in approval, which I assumed was my permission to enter his domain.
The whole time this little scene played itself out, Zane waited patiently beside me. When I shoved my identity card back into my bag and I started easing past the bouncer, Zane cupped his hand around my elbow and then he steered me through the large black doors into the nightclub. I heard the doof-doof of the music faintly from the back as we walked into the foyer. Zane paid the entry fee for me and I was about to reach into my bag to get my purse so that I could re-imburse him, when he smiled and leaned closer to me. Close to my ear he whispered, “Next time I’ll let you pay.”
I felt his chest push into my shoulder, and it felt hot. The sigh of his breath against my ear stopped my heart (or it felt like it, because I had a sudden pain in my chest), my breath caught in the back of my throat.
The little voice in my head reminded me that he was hopelessly too old for me. It told me specifically not to be stupid. He made me feel funny though in a strange sort of way, a way I had never felt before.
He scanned the crowd once we were inside the dimly lit nightclub and I was amazed that he found the others so quickly. He placed his arm around my waist, and I felt his large hand against me (I felt it through my shirt as if I was not wearing any). He steered me in the direction of where he saw Mark and Sonia. When we reached them, he did not remove his hand from my waist, leaving it there possessively and awkwardly I moved away from him. I slid into the half-circular booth until I was sitting next to Rosie.
Zane bowed forward across the table towards me and I lean forward to him. His cheek rested close to mine and he asked me, “Can I get you anything to drink?”
I moved my lips towards his ear, and I said loudly, “Yes, please. I’ll have a soda.” He moved away from me just as I was going to say what flavour of soda I would prefer, and my lips grazed his cheek. I could see him visibly catch his breath.
He straightened up abruptly and then my eyes followed him as he walked away to the bar area.
Rosie broke the spell by saying loudly next to my ear, “I think Zane likes you.”
I shrugged and turned towards her. I said at the top of my voice, “I think you are wrong.”
She laughed, “No. I seriously think he has fallen for you.”
I shook my head in denial and I turned back towards the table. I looked intently towards the dance floor and I watched the bodies gyrating and bouncing to the beat of the music under the flashing lights.
I only noticed that Zane had returned with our drinks when his arm brushed against mine explosively as he slid in next to me. I smiled thank you and then I folded my hand around the cold glass he placed in front of me. My hand touched his briefly and unintentionally I jerked my hand away (it was hard to believe that Zane had such a violent impact on my senses. I knew I shouldn’t and that I couldn’t).
The happy casual and indifferent feelings we had between us earlier in the evening was gone and we were back to being ill at ease towards each other.
Zane talked to Mark who sat opposite from him, while I sat staring at the dance floor.
In the dark surrounding me, I smirked as I imagined taking Zane home to meet my parents. I was destined either to lie by telling everybody I was an orphan or to be alone forever. How could I ever meet someone and take him to the vampire lair I called home. Never mind all of that though; he was too old for me that little voice inside my head kept reminding me.
Zane interrupted my morbid thoughts as I felt him lean towards me. He placed his lips close to my ear and he brought his hand up across me and softly wrapped it around my shoulder while he gently pulled me closer towards him.
He asked, “Do you want to dance?”
I eased away from him (not violently) and I replied with a nod of my head.
He stood up out of the booth and then he held his hand out towards me. I placed my fingers into his palm, and he folded his fingers over my hand. My hand disappeared into his.
He walked ahead of me, opening the crowd ahead of us. We reached the dance floor and he pushed through the throng of people towards the middle. He stopped and turned towards me. He smiled and started dancing to the music, while I tried to copy his movements (remember this was my first time in a nightclub. The only dancing, I have ever done was in front of my mirror).
He laughed amused and I felt like an idiot. He moved closer to me and then he took me into his arms. He placed his one arm around my waist and pulled me into him. With his other hand he held my hand tightly in his. My eyes were locked on his collarbone (I did not dare look up). I felt his muscular upper arms under my fingers where my hand rested just under his shoulder. I could feel his body under his black t-shirt close to my body. We moved to the music, but we seemed motionless amidst all the chaos of active bodies around us.
The one song blended into the next song and I started to move away from Zane, but he pulled me closer into him. I did not want to admit this to myself, but I enjoyed being in his arms. He brought his hand, which rested in the small of my back up to the back of my head and then gently he pressed my head against his shoulder. I rested my cheek against his chest, and I felt myself relax into him. I considered it strange that I felt as if that place in his shoulder was made just for my head (it fit perfectly and comfortably). He moved his hand slowly down my back again, tracing the curve of my spine until it came to rest in the small of my back again.
We danced until Mark tapped Zane on the shoulder and I heard him say that it was almost midnight. This reminded me of the curfew. Dancing with Zane was as if the world and everything disappeared there for a long while. Zane moved away from me, but he immediately folded his hand around mine.
When we reached the table, everybody was already ready to leave, and we followed them through the crowd and out of the door. The sudden relative quiet after the noise made a ringing noise in my ears.
I walked fast to keep up with Sonia and Rosie, because again I was feeling self-conscious being alone with Zane.
Zane, however, kept my hand in his and he held me back. Slowly we walked up the ramp, while Mark, Sonia, Rosie and David walked ahead of us. Their happy laughter and banter echoed down towards the silence that surrounded Zane and me.
I fought with myself (in my head) that I should not let him know how giddy he made me feel. I turned towards him and I said light-heartedly, “How old are you?”
He looked at me startled, “Does age matter?”
I shrugged, “I suppose not.” I looked up at him and into his eyes (my knees almost buckled under me), and there and then I knew the rules had all been broken. I felt lost and I understood with clear clarity that he would be the only one who would ever be able to find me.
Hastily I looked away from him, before my eyes could reveal my secret (he would think me naïve and immature). We continued walking up the ramp silently.
When we eventually reached his car, I noticed Rosie and Mark already in the back seat of David’s car. I felt trepidation cloud my mind, because I did not know if I would be able to be in the car alone with Zane.
He walked with me towards the front passenger door and I waved to Rosie unenthusiastically as they drove away.
I got into the car and he closed the door softly. After he got into the car, we did not speak, he seemed to be deep in thought and I listened to the music. There was a difference in the silence between us though (earlier it was an uncomfortable silence, but now it felt more relaxed).
We reached the dorm with five minutes to spare. I opened my door hurriedly and I circled his car just when he was closing his door.
I came face to face with him and I said casually (pretending to be indifferent, when my mind, my heart and my body was in turmoil), “Thank you for everything.”
He reached towards me, but I moved away nervously. His hand dropped to his side and he said, “It was nice meeting you, Freya.”
My name fell from his lips like melted chocolate from a spoon. It sounded rich, thick and smooth.
I stepped backward and I stumbled over my own foot (did I mention I inherited my mother’s clumsiness). He reached for me and he caught me before I made contact with mother earth, which would have forever shattered my self-confidence.
He brought me up with him and I was standing in his arms. He was staring down at me pensively. The thought that he was going to kiss me fluttered through my mind hurriedly. I felt my heart speed up and my blood race through my veins. A part of me wanted to kiss him, so my eyes moved to his lips. Another part of me said never, my eyes moved up and I looked into his eyes (another mistake).
He did not kiss me though. He let me go gently and he asked, “Would you mind if I phoned you?”
I composed myself brilliantly and I replied, “Yes. Of course. Do you want my number?”
He chuckled, “That would make it easier.”
I gave him my number, just as Rosie called me from the door, “Come on Cinderella. One more minute and then your coach is going to turn into a pumpkin.”
Hurriedly I turned away from Zane and I ran up the short set of stairs. The matron of the dorm was waiting just inside the door with a stern look on her face. Her grey hair was pinned up behind her head in a tight bun, which gave her a natural facelift by pulling all her loose skin up and into her hairline. She was wearing a floral gown with maroon slippers on her feet. Her face was bare of any make-up. Thank goodness all the lights in the entrance hall were on otherwise I would have thought I was seeing a poltergeist.
Her voice quivered, “Just in time, young lady.”
I apologized and then I followed Rosie and Sonia up the stairs. They were both giggling hysterically at my distress.
Rosie stopped long enough between burst of laughter to say, “Come up to my room. We’ll have some cocoa before going to bed.”
When we got to her room, Sonia dropped down onto the bed. I sat down in a wicker chair in the corner. Rosie put the kettle on and then she searched around to find three mugs.
She mumbled, “These cups are dirty. I am going to rinse them in the bathroom quickly.”
She left the room and the water boiling in the kettle was the only noise in the room. The kettle clicked off and I was about to ask Sonia if she had fallen asleep, when Rosie returned with three dripping wet mugs.
Rosie asked loudly, “Are you two sleeping?”
Sonia sat up quickly from her slumped position, “Almost. Not really sleeping though - just daydreaming. I absolutely love, love, love Mark.”
Rosie laughed, “So you say.”
I asked, “Isn’t he too old for you though? They must be in their thirties.”
Sonia looked at me uncertain and then Rosie laughed loudly, “No, silly. They aren’t that old. Maybe Zane is in his thirties, but not Mark and David.”
Sonia chirped in, “Mark is only twenty-five, and definitely not too old for me.”
Rosie agreed, “David is twenty-four.”
I asked confused, “So why then are the three of them friends if there is such a huge age difference between them.”
“They grew up together in northern America somewhere. Mark and David moved here about five years ago. We met them last year on the beach.”
Even more confused, I asked, “You just arrived here today. This is your first year, so how can you know so much about them?”
While Rosie poured the hot water into the mugs, she explained, “I used to live just down the road from here. My mother is an alcoholic and when she gets drunk, she gets abusive, so I prefer not to be at home. I enrolled here and applied for a dorm room as well. I lied on my application and gave them my dad’s address on the other side of the country; otherwise, I would have had to be a day student. I have never met the second person who helped create me, but I get a monthly maintenance deposit from him. I have managed to save some money over the years by hiding it from my sorry excuse of a mother and I used this as collateral against a study loan at the bank.”
She told me this without blinking an eye. It should have been difficult for her to share such personal information with me, a virtual stranger, but she talked about it as if she was a third party in her own life story.
“Anyway,” she continued. “Enough of that.” She flopped down onto the bed next to Sonia. “Wake up, you.” She ruffled Sonia’s hair. Sonia sat up with her back against the wall and her legs pulled up to her chest. She took the mug Rosie was holding out towards her.
Sonia looked at me over the rim of the mug and I saw a sparkle in her eye in the dim lighted room, “So Zane fell hard for you.”
I tried to dismiss her by changing the subject, “We better drink this fast. We have to wake up early tomorrow.”
Rosie interrupted me, “No, girl. Sonia is right. Tell us what you did to wrap the elusive Zane around your little finger.”
I laughed embarrassed, “Nothing. Besides it is not what you think it is.”
Rosie leaned closer to me, “What is it then?”
I shrugged, “It’s nothing.”
Sonia asked, “You know what Mark told me?”
She let the silence drag and Rosie said impatiently, “Rosie? Are you going to tell us or what?”
Sonia laughed delighted, because she knew she had our undivided attention. “Mark told me that eighteen years ago, just before Zane moved here, he imprinted on a girl.”
Rosie and I both exclaimed sceptically, “Imprinted?”
Rosie added giggling, “What on earth is that supposed to mean?”
“Well. According to Mark, Zane thought he loved this girl in this town where he grew up, but then when he saw this other girl, his soul imprinted with hers. He has no control over it, and he cannot help himself. She will always be his weakness and because he has imprinted with her, he will never, ever be able to fall in love with anybody else.”
I felt a pain on the pit of my stomach when her words sank in. When I met Zane, I felt an immediate connection with him, but he will always be connected to this other girl’s soul. I never had a chance anyway.
The next morning, I woke up lethargically. I hardly closed my eyes during the night. All I could think about was Zane and the fact that his soul forever belonged to another.
When I got up, before I even got dressed, I pulled my mobile out from under my underwear. I was hoping that there would be a message from Zane, but my phone only had one message. A message from my mom, asking if I am happy and if I enjoyed my first night away from home. I replied to her text message and then I pushed my phone in under my clothes again.
I took my toiletries bag and my towel, and I quietly left the room. Sonia was still fast asleep, spread across her bed at an odd angle.
I got into the shower cubicle and I showered, soaping my body thoroughly. I washed my hair and then when all the soapy water was rinsed off my body, I turned off the taps. I reached up and pulled my towel off from the top of the door and I dried myself. I pulled my robe on again and then I walked barefoot back to my room. My eyes glanced curiously towards door number thirteen.
The first day of school passed by uneventful. The whole week, in fact, passed by uneventful.
Zane did not phone or text me, and I grasped with certain finality that he would not contact me anyway, not when his soul was already someone else’s.
Rosie, Sonia and I decided on our first Saturday together to go to the beach. We got the ten o’clock bus.
We walked down to the beach from the bus stop, past all the little stalls selling beach hats, sunglasses and tourist paraphernalia. We stopped at most of the little stalls and I walked away with a huge floppy straw hat, which covered most of my face.
When we reached the warm, white sand of the beach, Rosie led us towards the middle of the beach. We organized our towels and I noticed that we were very close to the lifeguard tower.
I laughed and asked jokingly, “Rosie! I thought David was the love of your life.”
She laughed in return, “He is, that does not mean that I am taken though. I can still flirt while I am still young enough to draw attention.”
I shook my head in mock disbelieve, but I could not stop chuckling.
I contemplated that for someone who had been seriously mistreated as a child, she had managed very well to overcome it. Her soul escaped and she still had a joy and eager, intense hope for the future.
Sonia’s eyes and fingers were glued to her mobile phone. She had not noticed anything happening around her, because she had been texting Mark all morning and she was being very anti-social.
I lay down on my towel and I covered my face with my new hat. I listened to the beach noises around me, the waves crashing onto the shore. I could hear the gulls screeching up in the sky as they flew around looking for scraps. I heard the clicking of the keys on Sonia’s phone and somewhere in the background the soft murmur of Rosie’s voice as she hummed to the music from her iPhone through the earphones she had plugged into her ears. My mind involuntarily drifted to Zane.
I woke up from Rosie’s screech. I sat up confused and the hat fell from my face onto my lap. I looked up and Zane was sitting opposite me, a smile playing on his face as he glanced sideways at me. His back was turned towards the ocean; his face was turned up towards Mark. He started laughing while Mark was trying to lift Rosie into his arms, and she was flailing her arms and legs around.
She yelled, “I don’t want to go into the water, Mark!”
Mark ignored her pleas and he carried her to the edge of the water. I could still hear her voice protesting when he walked into the water with her.
I looked back at Zane and saw him looking at me. His eyes sparkled with mischief, but it clouded over with uncertainty almost immediately. I looked away from him. My heart hurt.
David came jogging up the beach towards us with a red and white surfboard under his arm. He planted the surfboard upright behind Rosie and then he sat down next to her. He shook his head and the water sprayed off his head in every direction. I yelped involuntarily and brought my hands up to shield my face. I glanced in Zane’s direction and I noticed him looking at me.
I looked away from him and reached towards my bag. I pulled a magazine from my bag and then I turned over onto my stomach, opening the magazine. I pretended to read, but not a single word made contact with my brain. After a while, I decided to turn the page although I did not read a word on it. I would look like an illiterate fool if it took me so long to read a short paragraph.
He asked David if the waves were good. His voice caused a pleasurable, yet gut-wrenching pain on my stomach.
I should pretend that I am not bothered that his soul (and thus also his heart) belonged to another girl. A girl he has not seen for eighteen years and he has remained single all this time, because he cannot love another. He had no heart to give. I should act as if I did not care that he asked if he could phone me and then he did not even text me for an entire week. I decided to make believe as if I had never met him, as if he did not exist.
David and Sonia decided to go for a walk along the boardwalk and once again I was left on my own with Zane. I could feel the weight of his silent presence pushing down on me.
He said suddenly (making me jump), “How long are you going to pretend to read that magazine?”
I did not look up from my page, while I replied, “I am not pretending.”
“Am I to believe that the healing powers of Sunflower seeds are that interesting? Let me see.”
I sensed him move closer to me as he reached for the magazine. I felt my body go tense. I abruptly closed the magazine and sat up in one fluid movement. I knocked my head against his just as he was leaning over me to read about the healing powers of Sunflower seeds.
My hand shot up to my head at the same time as his hand went up to his chin. He looked at me for a moment and then he started laughing.
Through his laughter, he said, “You definitely remind me of someone. You even look a little like her.”
It felt as if someone stabbed me in my heart. I remarked sarcastically, “That’s nice!” while I rubbed my head.
He watched me closely while he moved to sit next to me (probably afraid I might make a sudden movement, and we will knock into each other again).
He said, “I am sorry I did not phone you. I really wanted to.”
Looking up at him, a frown in my brow, I asked mockingly, “You were going to phone?”
He looked away from me, but I did not miss the hurt in his eyes.
Quietly he murmured to himself, “They say all things come to those who wait.” He looked at me again and said, “Let’s start over. Tell me all about yourself.”
“No. Tell me all about yourself instead.”
“What do you want to know?”
“Why are you still single?”
He hesitated. “One day, maybe, I’ll tell you about all my mistakes and all of my worries, but not today.”
“It’s a simple question.”
He laughed, “Actually, it isn’t that simple.”
Sonia came running up from the shore, with Mark behind her. She fell onto her towel and sand flew up into the sky. I ducked my head in under my arms and I felt the grainy sand rain down onto my back.
I brought my head up and I saw Zane reach towards me. He hesitated and asked me, “Can I dust this sand off your back?”
I wanted to say no (I honestly did want to say no - trust me), but I shrugged my shoulders, and I heard my words betray me, when they say, “Yes, please.”
His warm hand brushed the sand off my back softly. Gently he made sure that every grain of sand was removed. Obviously, he would not have been able to get the sand lodged on my scalp and in the crevices of my ears out, but it was not as if he knew about this. His touch made me feel so sad, I could feel the tears burn behind my eyelids (Yes, I know, depressing. Is it my fault though that I had a yearning towards someone I could never have?)
When Rosie and David returned from their walk, Rosie said miserably, “We better be getting back.”
I collected my things and then I stood up, trying to shake as much sand off my legs as I could. When I started to walk up the beach behind Sonia and Mark, Zane wrapped his warm hand around my arm.
I turned towards him and I waited for him to continue.
“Go out with me tonight,” he insisted.
Before my words could rush out to do something against my urgent wishes, I replied, “I am sorry, but I am busy tonight. I can’t.”
He let my arm go and I walked away from him. I left him standing there and I felt alone.
He ran up behind me and he came to a stop in front of me. He persisted, “I have to know who you are. Where are you from? Have you ever been to…?” He hesitated as if saying the name of the place would cause him harm.
I replied, “I have never been anywhere but in Scotland.”
He placed his hands on my shoulders to stop me from walking away from him, just as I started to move around him. A feeling of weakness overwhelmed me again. Is it possible that my soul imprinted on his (this is funny in a cruel, the universe is against me, kind of way) and that is why I felt so attracted to him immediately, even though he was much too old for me and he belonged to another?
He looked down at me and I had the feeling that he was going to lean down and kiss me. I waited. I wanted him to kiss me. I wanted him to acknowledge that his soul did not belong to anybody else.
Rosie called my name and the moment between us was broken. He moved away from me and walked back towards his luminous green and yellow surfboard.
When I got to David’s car, I turned to look back and I saw Zane walking into the waves with his surfboard under his arm.
The weeks passed and I tried to forget about Zane. I met Michael and I spend all my free time with him. I did not feel that overwhelming sensation for Michael that I felt for Zane (not even close). He was nice though and it was nice to have someone to go out with when Sonia and Rosie went out with Mark and David.
One night late, while Rosie and I were in our room doing homework, she looked up at me. She asked hesitantly, “Why are you doing this? Why are you avoiding Zane and what is this with Michael?
I laughed, “I don’t know which question needs answering first.”
“Start with why you are doing this.”
“This that you are revering to, I assume has to do with Zane. I like him - okay. However, he loves someone else. I cannot care for him as desperately as I do and know that it is hopeless.”
She smiled amused.
I threw my pillow at her and exclaimed, “Sonia! I swear if you tell anybody.”
“What? What will you do?”
I pleaded, “Just don’t tell anybody.”
“Don’t worry. I won’t breathe a word.”
“Not even Rosie, because she will tell David and then David will tell Zane. I don’t want him to know.”
“So That explains my first two questions. The third is important though. What are you doing with that leech, Michael?”
I gasped, “He isn’t a leech!”
“The way he has latched onto you looks very similar to leech behaviour, if you ask me.”
“No, it isn’t,” I insisted. “He is nice to have around for important things like dances and movies, especially when you and Rosie desert me.”
“We don’t desert you! You know you are always welcome.”
“Yes, but if I go with you it would mean that I am paired up with Zane and I don’t want that. I cannot explain how my heart pains when I am near him.” I take a deep breath. I know I am going to regret telling her, but I need to say it aloud, to let it escape the confines of my crammed mind. “When I have seen him and he leaves, it is as if my soul is unbalanced. After a while it rights itself as if it gets used to the idea of him not being a part of it, but then when I see him again, I know what I am missing, so I would rather just avoid him completely.”
“You cannot avoid him forever, you know.”
“I can certainly try.”
She changed the subject, “Are you going with Michael to the Valentine’s dance next week?”
She mumbled, “I honestly don’t know why you would want to go with him.”
There was a sudden knock at the door. The door swung open and the first thing we saw was Rosie’s blonde locks, before we saw her face.
“Come in, my dear Rosie,” Sonia chanted.
Rosie walked into the room, but she did not sit down. She looked excited and she shocked me when she suggested, “Let’s have a séance in room thirteen on the thirteenth.”
Sonia clapped her hands together gleefully, “Yes!”
I asked bewildered, “Are you serious?”
“I am very serious,” she insisted. “It will be fun, and we can ask her why she killed herself.” I noticed Rosie subconsciously rubbing her wrist where I previously saw the scar.
Rosie decided to sit down anyway and then she told us eagerly, “I just read this magazine and in it, it says that science has confirmed that at the moment of death the body releases a sort of radiation. They called it an electromagnetic field. Apparently, this field is directly linked to the body. So … when somebody dies within a close space, this electromagnetic field will imprint itself on the surrounding matter.
I exclaimed, “Really? Imprint. There is that word again. In the last two months that word has brought me nothing but trouble.”
She ignored my outburst and continued, “That is why some people believe that if somebody in the house died all containers should be emptied of water, because the water has been contaminated with the spirit of the dead person. They say that at the exact moment of death everyone gives off a magnetic field, which is strengthened by emotion. So, the surrounding area is also charged with the emotions the person felt at the moment of their death.”
Her eyes darted between me Rosie and me. I sat gaping at her.
When eventually I managed to form coherent words, I said, “You cannot believe everything you read.” I tried again, “What if there isn’t even a ghost and the faculty is just superstitious about the number thirteen?”
She looked at me frowning and then she dismissed what I said completely. She asked us breathlessly, “So are we going to do it?”
I was about to decline, when I decided impulsively that I might as well go along. Who am I to dismiss the paranormal when I am the living proof of fantasy and the mystical?
The rest of the week went by slowly. Deep down I was dreading the night of the thirteenth and every time I walked past the dreaded door, I felt shivers down my spine. I could not help having to walk past it regularly, because I had to use the bathroom. We were only allowed to use the bathrooms on the floor where our rooms were, so it was not as if I could run up to the second floor.
During the week, I took a day off. I skipped classes and I got the bus into the city (I wished I had a car, but my mother and father could not agree to give me a small unpretentious car - with them it was all about road safety). I walked from shop to shop until I found the perfect dress to wear to the Valentine’s Ball. It was red and it flowed out behind me. It might have been a little over dramatic for my little college ball, but I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. The material was soft and luxurious to the touch. It fit me as if it was made for me. My fashion-conscious aunt would have been proud of me for choosing such a stunning dress.
Sonia was out on a date with Mark, so Rosie and I were in her room. We were sitting on her bed, with our backs against the wall. I smiled amused as I stared at the television in the darkened room, because we were watching the dramatized life story of my mother. I wondered what Sonia would say if I told her the truth. I never did lie and tell them that I was an orphan; I just could not do it.
I turned towards Rosie and I wanted to just ask her why she tried to commit suicide, because it had been on my mind continuously (fighting for first place, although Zane won each time). She was most probably going to chase me out of her room and never speak to me again, but she had been my friend for two months now. I believed that we were close enough by now that she could tell me. I re-considered ashamed that I wanted her to tell me why she had tried to kill herself, yet here I was not wanting her to know how I felt about Zane and also I did not want her to know (the biggest secret of all) that I was fifty percent vampire. I used to be able to project thoughts into people’s minds and if I could still do this, I would have convinced here subtly, by making her believe it was her idea to do it, but I stopped doing this years ago and somewhere I lost the ability.
I turned towards the television again and I continued to watch the show amused but detached. My thoughts drifted to Zane instead.
When the credits started to roll across the screen at the end of the movie, she whispered softly, “Why don’t you just ask me?”
She startled me out of my daydream, and I turned towards her asking, “Ask you what?”
“I know you want to ask me why I tried to kill myself. I have known it from the first day I met you.”
I was speechless.
She continued, “I know things. Not like talking to the dead or things like that, but I have certain abilities, although I do not know specifically what they are and that is why I dabble in different things from the occult. The reason why I am interested in ghosts and burning different coloured candles. I can sense what you are feeling and what you are thinking. You are judging me, before you even know my reasons.”
I started to deny this, “I do not judge you. I was only wondering.”
She started to cry and through her sobs, she said adamantly, “Parents are supposed to care, you know? They are supposed to protect you and look after you. I thought that if I killed myself, my sorry excuse for a mother would care, but do you know what she did?”
Before I could reply, she continued, “David found me after he broke down the door when I didn’t answer it. He rushed me to the hospital. I was lying in the hospital and when she got there, she was so drunk, she didn’t even know I was her daughter. The next day she promised me she would never touch alcohol again, but the day I was released from the hospital, she had to celebrate my homecoming.” Rosie scoffs, “My homecoming ended with a clout against my head with a vase in which I put the flowers David bought for me.”
I did not know what to say and as she started crying louder, I could not help but reach towards her. I put my arms around her, and I wrapped her protectively into my embrace. I felt my shirt get wet with her tears while I searched my brains for something to say to console her. I could not find anything.
After what seemed like hours, she pulled away from me. Sniffing loudly, she said, “I think I am going to go to bed now. I want to be alone.”
I slid off the bed and I turned back to her. I asked uncertain, “Are you going to be okay?”
“I said I was fine. Please could you just go.”
I murmured softly, “Good night.”
“Good night, Freya and thank you for being there.”
Her face was buried in her pillow and I could see she was still crying, but I did not want to be intrusive, so I left her room quietly and closed her door softly behind me.
When I got to my room, I fell onto my bed emotionally exhausted. I heard my phone vibrating in my drawer. At first, I wanted to ignore it, but then I got up and rummaged through my drawer looking for it anyway. It could be my mom.
I opened the text message and I read, “Hi. Do you need to talk? Zane.”
I replied, “How did you know?”
“Do you want me to phone you?”
“No, don’t phone.”
“Are you okay?”
“I am okay. I spoke to Rosie tonight and she told me about her mother.”
“Okay. I understand.”
“Not many secrets around here, I hear.”
“What do you mean?”
“I am told that you heard about my soul.”
“I did. I was sorry to hear you lost it.”
“I don’t really think I lost it.”
This made me sad and combined with the story that Rosie told me, I now felt my own warm tears running down my cheeks.
He asked, “Did I make it worse?”
“No. Of course not. How could you make it worse? How would you know anyway?”
“I can feel it! I am going to phone you.”
“No! Do not phone me.”
My phone bleeped softly, but I pressed the reject button.
I send a new text message, “I said don’t phone me.”
“I have to speak to you! You have been avoiding me all this time and now tonight I hear you have a boyfriend?”
“Sonia!” I hissed into my empty dark room.
I typed in my reply, “Why would I not have a boyfriend? I have been told you have been single for eighteen years, because you love someone from your hometown.”
“I think she is not from my hometown anymore.”
“What are you saying?”
“This is frustrating. I need to speak to you.”
“Don’t phone me. I will not answer your call.”
“!!!!!!!!! When can I see you?”
I wanted to say never. Better to walk away while I still can before any real damage had been done, but I replied instead, “I don’t know.”
“Tell me just one thing. Confirm my suspicions. What are your mother’s name and your father’s name?”
“I don’t know what my parents have to do with anything.”
“Is your mother’s name Ella?”
I struggle for breath shocked. “How did you know this?”
“I cannot discuss this with you by sending messages. I must speak to you in person. When can I see you?”
I sighed frustrated, because he was going around in circles. How did he know my mom’s name? Was he a psycho stalker? “I don’t think I should see you again. I am done talking to you.”
“Freya! I need to speak with you”
I did not reply, and I laid back into my pillows. I felt desperately sad and I wished I could be with my mom and my dad, safely at home. How could I ever have thought that I was so unhappy at home, when they were both loving and doting parents? Giving me everything I ever wanted, which included a lot of love and attention. Why was it only now that I realized how much they loved me, but when I was there with them, I felt neglected and lonely? I never had any reason to be lonely, because they always made time for me.
I refused to think about Zane, because I did not want to waste my thoughts on him anymore anyway. It was a useless waste of time. Thoughts of him only went around and round in my head, but there would never be a solution.
My phone vibrated again, I opened the message and it was from Zane. It said, “Freya?”
I closed my eyes for a moment, and I fell asleep.
Somehow and from somewhere, Rosie got a skeleton key. I am standing behind her and I do not want to do this. Sonia is standing behind me and I feel a little bit claustrophobic. The only thoughts running repeatedly through my mind as I hear the key turn in the lock of door number thirteen is, I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to do this.
The door swung open and a blast of stale air ‘whooshed’ past us and over us. Sonia shrieked afraid and Rosie turned around towards her, hushing her.
I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to do this. I protested silently. The words did not leave my lips.
When we walked (I should say when we shuffled) into the room, one after the other, it felt as if we were walking into an industrial meat freezer, and in an instant my breath frosted out of my mouth, just by stepping over the threshold.
Rosie stopped in the centre of the room. The room had the standard single bed, bedside table, chest of drawers and study desk. It had the same faded daisy curtains decorating my and Sonia’s room. The paint on the walls were the same dark with age eggshell colour and the tiles on the floor was the same green as outside in the corridor. Even though everything looked the same, it was different. It had a different feel, it felt empty, cold and lonely.
I jumped about a meter into the air (not literally) when Sonia whispered behind me, “What now?” Her voice echoed in the air around me. It was as if I could faintly hear the sound go on and on, further and further away.
Rosie pulled the straps of her oversized bag from her shoulder and then she squatted down on the ground next to the bag. While she searched through her bag, she told Sonia, “Close the door behind you.”
Sonia had part of my shirt bunched in her fingers and she leaned towards the door while still holding onto me. She reached the door with her fingertips and then she swung it shut. I heard the door latch with a loud scraping noise and the sound suggested finality (there is no turning back from here).
Rosie pulled a Ouija board from her bag.
I gasped, “What are you doing with that?”
She replied indignant, “How do you think we are going to talk to her? Can you speak to the dead?”
“No, but I don’t think we should play around with that.”
She instructed us, “Sit in a circle around the board. No, Sonia, on the floor.”
Sonia and I sat down obediently (both of us did not want to do this, but still we followed her instructions) on the floor and Rosie pushed the board closer to us. I did not want it to touch me. I watched her with trepidation as she set it up. She placed the little glass cup over the elaborate scripted word: Begin.
She dropped down from her crouching position and she crossed her legs in front of her. Sonia and I followed her example and crossed our legs as well.
She said, “Hold hands and concentrate on the cup.”
For a moment I considered that I heard somewhere that we are supposed to place a finger each on the little vessel, so I sigh with an inner relief, cause if she is doing it wrong it would not work.
We took hands.
She chanted, “Is there anybody in here with us?”
Nothing. I breathed an audible sigh of relief.
She chanted again, “We mean you no harm. We only want to speak with you.”
I took a sharp breath when I saw the glass container quiver.
Excitedly Rosie asked, “What is your name?”
The glass moved slowly (all by itself) to the C. Then it moved a little bit faster to the L, and even faster to the A.
I got scared and I felt the familiar fight or flight sensation rush through me. Quickly my brain decided that in this situation flight would be my better option.
I started to pull my hand from Rosie’s, but she gripped onto it more firmly. I looked at her desperately, but she was concentrating intently on the little glass container on the board.
After the ghost spelled out her name, Rosie asked, “Why are you still here, Claire?”
I felt a cold wind blow into my face so strongly that my hair lifted away from my face. Suddenly two hands pushed against my shoulders and brutally it knocked me backwards onto my back. I lost my grip on Rosie and Sonia’s hands. A voice inside my head yelled piercingly, “GET OUT OF MY ROOM! YOU ARE THE UNDEAD!”
I jumped to my feet so fast, I could not figure out how I got out of the room until I was standing outside in the corridor staring into the dark, cold room. Shivers scampered through my body and made me feel weak. The words undead echoed in my mind. I was not one of the undead, my mother was very much still one of the living when she conceived me and gave birth to me. Everything that was keeping me together floated away from me and I fell onto my knees. Sonia and Rosie rushed to my side hurriedly and they pulled me up from the floor by my arms. They helped me to my room and when we staggered into the room, I heard the incessant bleeping of my mobile phone.
Rosie ran around the bed and I told her to look in the top drawer, while Sonia flopped me down onto the bed.
Rosie handed me the phone, while she said sternly, “You should keep your phone on silent. When the Matron finds out you have a phone, they will search every room.”
I looked at the caller id and then I answered the phone, “Daddy.”
“Freya?” His worried voice came through the receiver and when I heard it, I started crying.
He asked, “What’s going on there?”
He used to be able to read my thoughts, but as I grew older, I adapted my mind and used my mother’s skills to block him out. When the ghost, Claire, made physical contact with me she must have unblocked that barrier, which gave my dad a glimpse of my panic.
Through my snivels I replied, “Nothing is going on.”
“I heard you scream Help! It cannot be nothing and I have already decided that I am coming to fetch you.”
“No. Dad. Please don’t.”
“Your mother and I are worried about you. You are not used to being out there on your own. We have not prepared you well for the world.”
I knew this. They have always kept me protected and sheltered.
“I phone you every week, don’t I? If something goes wrong or I am unhappy, I will let you know. I promise.”
He sighed deeply, but I could hear he was not convinced. “I think I’ll come there anyway, just to see how you are and have a look around at that school you are at.”
“You can’t come. It is a twenty-four-hour flight.” I remember Rosie and Sonia still standing by the foot end of my bed. “Someone will see.”
“I will take the private jet.”
“Still. I am really okay.”
“What were you doing?”
“We were just fooling around.”
“You are avoiding my question. I will see you tomorrow night and we will discuss whether you will remain there or not.”
“Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and I am going to a dance.”
“I will meet you afterwards.”
He had made up his mind and absolutely nothing I said or did would change it. Petulantly I replied, “Fine!”
“Good night, Freya.” He ignored my moody outburst.
“Good night, Dad,” I replied because I had to, not because I wanted to.
Just before he ended the call, I heard my mom’s worried voice in the background.
I held onto the phone for a while, staring at nothing until Rosie said apologetically, “I am so sorry, Freya. I didn’t realize how dangerous it could be. What happened anyway?”
They sat down on my bed and I pulled myself up to rest my back against the pillows. I said hesitantly, “She knocked into me and she yelled at me to get out of her room.”
Sonia said jokingly, “When you suddenly fell over backwards like that, I almost peed myself.”
The initial shock of events had passed and all three of us burst out laughing hysterically until our neighbour banged loudly on the wall. We quickly quieted down, but we could not suppress our giggles.
Sonia asked through her chuckles, “Was that your dad on the phone?”
I sobered up and I answered seriously. “He wants me to go home?”
“How did he know?”
(How did I explain this?) “My dad and I have always been very close and for some weird reason he can feel my emotions.” I added jokingly, “Sometimes I think he can read my thoughts.”
Rosie said, “I have read about that.”
Sonia asked worriedly, “You are not going home though?”
“No, I don’t think so. He is just worried.”
“I wonder why she told you to get out of her room.”
(I am the undead - well, fifty percent undead). “I don’t know. She really didn’t like me.”
Rosie sighed, “We didn’t find out why she killed herself though.”
Sonia smiled reassuringly, “When I was working in the library this afternoon, I asked Mrs. Ward if she knew anything about room number thirteen. She told me that the girl who stayed there just went a little crazy. She started hearing voices and so she was moved to another room and the faculty decided never to let anybody sleep in that room again.”
I frowned, “But who is Claire then? Someone did die in that room.”
Rosie offered an explanation, “I have also read about this.” She laughed softly, “As you have gathered by now, I read a lot of paranormal literature.” She continued seriously, “Claire probably did kill herself because of the voices she heard. Obviously, Mrs. Ward wasn’t going to tell you that she really killed herself, because that would cause hysteria when the girls realized the rumours were in fact true. They say that buildings and rooms numbered thirteen are the portal to hell, so Claire most probably did hear voices.”
I scoffed, “Nonsense! Spaces numbered thirteen isn’t the portal to hell.”
“Why then do people avoid the number thirteen?”
“I don’t know. Google it.”
She pushed her legs off the bed, and she stretched as she stood up. “Good night Sonia. Good night Freya. See you both tomorrow.”
“Good night, Rosie”
When she reached the door, she turned back to me. “I am really sorry about forcing you to go into that room.”
I smiled kindly, “Don’t worry. I have already forgotten all about it.”
She left and Sonia turned back to me. She looked at me pleadingly, “I need to go to the bathroom, but I don’t want to go by myself.”
We started laughing again, while I got up from the bed with her and arm in arm we walked to the bathroom. As we reached the dreaded door Sonia walked faster and I avoided looking at door number thirteen.
I used the bathroom as well (might as well while I was here), because there was no way I was going to come here later when everybody was fast asleep.
When I was finished, Sonia called from the cubicle, “Wait for me!”
“I will. Don’t worry.”
When she was finished brushing her teeth, we ran as fast as we could, while still connected to each other down the corridor back to our room. When we reached our room, I locked the door behind us and laughingly we fell on my bed.
We talked until long after midnight and then when I gave a long yawn, which Sonia followed seconds later, we decided to go to sleep.
While I was lying in bed, I send my dad a telepathic message (I have not done this in forever) and I told him that I was happy, he really did not have to worry.
When I was finished with my message, I closed the channel between him and me again, and then I wondered sadly if Claire was right and whether I really was one of undead.
Again, Sonia said (I have heard this all day), “It would have been nice if you went to the dance with Zane and not that parasite, Michael.”
I sighed frustrated.
Rosie agreed, “Yes. Mark and David are going to be there tonight. We will all be together, but you are spoiling it by bringing in the odd one out.”
She shocked me, when she added, “He is like a vampire. He sucks all the life out of you.”
“No. He doesn’t”
She insisted, “Yes. He does. Whenever you are with him, you are always so different - like you don’t even care about anything else. We can see you don’t really like him.”
I laughed insulted, “I do care about him.”
Sonia said sympathetically, “It is not fair on Michael, you know?”
“What’s not fair?” I knew there was a hint of the truth in what they were saying. I did not love Michael, but I did like being with him and he was a good friend to have. We have never kissed, and I did not even feel any yearning to be kissed by him.
“You are only using him to get over Zane, because of that soul thing I told you about. I am so sorry I did.”
I insisted, “Nonsense. I am not using Michael.”
“You so are!”
I walked out the room to go to the bathroom. I have had enough anyway of their conversation, which was just a continuous circle. I was going to the dance with Michael, I was going to forget about Zane and that was just the way it was going to be.
At seven o’clock, I heard my name announced loudly over the intercom speakers, which were fixed to every corner of the passages throughout the dorm. Michael was very punctual, and it was the exact time we arranged for him to collect me. When I walked down the stairs into the entrance hall, my red dress trailed behind me. I was delighted to see the adoration in his eyes.
He held his arm out to me and I hooked my hand through the crook of his arm.
As we left the entrance hall, I heard Rosie’s name being called over the intercom and I wanted to look back over my shoulder to see David (maybe Zane was with him). The thought of David standing behind me, made my brain connect the dots. Automatically my mind equated that David being here equals Zane being here. I did not look back though, because I knew Zane would not be standing next to David (there was no reason for him to be here).
We walked out of the entrance hall and across the courtyard towards the entertainment hall. The dance was being held on the premises of the dorm and there was a procession of girls who were called before me ahead of us.
Michael turned towards me and he said adoringly, “You look beautiful tonight.”
I lowered my head self-consciously and I smiled shyly, “Thank you.” I was not really feeling embarrassed or shy, but I was feeling mortified that he was looking at me affectionately, because I did not want him to like me as more than a friend.
A movement caught my eye and I peered into the shadows to my side (maybe my dad got here early).
I recognized Zane leaning with his back against the wall deep in the shadows. His arms were folded across his chest and his eyes followed my every move broodingly. I smiled faintly, but he did not smile in return. (Why was he here? Was he perhaps really a crazy stalker?)
When we entered the entertainment hall, I saw that it was decorated in red and white satin bows. The chairs had large red satin material bows tied behind each chair. We walked towards our table, and there Michael pulled my chair out for me. When I sat down, he gently pushed me closer to the table.
Sonia, Mark, Rosie and David were already seated at our table and they only acknowledged us with a nod of their heads.
Michael leaned into me and said softly, “I am glad you are here with me.”
I smiled in return. The stares from the others made me feel awkward. It was as if they were waiting (with bated breath) for my reply to Michael.
I looked across the table to Sonia and I wanted to ask her why Zane was here, but I could not ask her in front of Michael. She and Mark were in a conversation with each other, so I could not ask her to go with me to the bathroom either.
Our starters came and then the main meal. There was not a long wait between courses. I was glad that our time was filled with eating and Michael and I could discuss the food rather than him elaborating on his change of attitude towards me.
For one time only I let my eyes drift through the room in search of Zane, but I did not see him.
The dessert comes as soon as the main course cutlery was removed from the table. When the waiting staff removed the last of the dessert dishes, the music changed from soft classical to contemporary music.
The DJ dimmed the lights and a couple of flashing lights started to bounce off the walls. Without asking, Michael stood up as soon as the music started and then he pulled my chair away from the table. He led me to the small dance floor, and we started to dance to the music. By now, I have learned a few moves from Rosie and Sonia from when we danced and acted foolish in our rooms. I kept pace with the rhythm. Michael and I danced until I was breathless.
A slow song started with it poignant first notes and Michael pulled me into him. I went half-heartedly into his embrace. I glanced over Michael’s shoulder and immediately my eyes found Zane across the room. His staring gaze made me feel uncomfortable, so I did not let Michael hold me too close.
When the song ended with its last heartrending notes, I told Michael apologetically, “I cannot dance another step.”
He smiled, “Okay.”
With his hand softly on my back, he steered me back to our table. When I was seated again, he bent down to me and he said anxiously, “I am going to talk with Joseph for a minute.”
I smiled up at him friendly, “Okay.” I would have preferred to be on my own anyway for a moment. I wanted to lean across the table, and I wanted to ask Rosie to go with me to the bathroom. I needed to speak with her.
As soon as Michael walked away from me, Zane appeared at our table. I thought he was going to speak with Mark and David, but he walked around to me. When he reached me, I looked down and concentrated on my fingers splayed wide on the table in front of me. He leaned into me until he was eye level with me. I had no choice but to turn to face him. His eyes were filled with sorrow.
I almost did not hear him when he started talking; I was lost in his eyes. They pulled me into him (it’s hard to explain). He asked, “Can I have this dance?”
I nodded, yes. I pushed my chair away from the table and then he took my hand. I felt my heart plummet in my chest when his fingers curled around mine. I closed my eyes for a brief second to make the pain in my chest go away.
When we reached the dance floor, he twirled me and then I found myself wrapped in his embrace. We swayed to the music and I felt safe in his arms.
I could feel his hands on my back, his legs against mine. I felt his shoulders under my palms. Every sensory nerve in my body was ultra-sensitive, on high alert. His head was bending down to mine. His cheek rested softly against my hair, against my temple. All I had to do was turn my face up towards his and kiss him. Although I had the urgent urge to do this, I didn’t. What about Michael, who might be watching us? What about this other girl, Zane would always love no matter what?
I frowned confused when he whispered, “Although I never saw you, I could always feel you. My soul has always been connected to yours.”
I moved away from him, but he held me tightly in place. He said fixedly, “Don’t spoil the moment.”
It was never my intention to spoil the moment; I merely wanted to know what he meant about my soul and about his soul. What did he mean his soul was connected to mine?
The song finished and I moved away from him. He let me go, but he kept his arm around my waist and when I started walking towards my table, he pulled me away gently and steered me towards the door and towards the courtyard.
I turned to him. “I cannot go with you. I am here with Michael.”
He ignored me and continued to guide me towards the door. I glanced in the direction of Joseph’s table and I saw Michael still talking with them. I thought then that the two of us (Michael and I) were never compatible. He was obviously having more fun with his own friends than what he was having being seated at my table (after all, my friends were ignoring him).
When we walked into the courtyard, Zane led me to a shadier, darker part of the garden. We walked through the large shrubs, neatly trimmed into circles. I was about to turn to him to ask him where he was taking me (remember I was still considering whether he was a stalker or not), but I also wanted to know what he meant when he said ‘my soul has always been connected to yours’. I considered briefly if I would be using any of the self-defence techniques that had been drilled into my head since I was five years old.
Before I could ask, we reached a darkened corridor and he stopped walking. He still had his one arm wrapped around my waist and he skilfully turned me to face him. I did not know where to look, because if I looked up to his face, his lips would be too close to my own. I stared at his chest instead.
He murmured, “There is no doubt in my heart, that you are the one for me.”
I frowned and my head tilted upwards. I looked into his face, but immediately tilted my head downwards again. His eyes were too dark, too brooding, too compelling. His lips were too close.
He leaned down into me and he rested his cheek against my hair. He cupped his hand around the back of my head. “You don’t have to say a word, but I know who you are. I know your secret and I know all about your secret world.”
I gasped and tried to pull away, but he held me close. The little voice in my head screeched I told you - he is a stalker!
I asked afraid, “What secret?”
He said amused, “I know who your dad is.”
I pulled away from him again and this time he let me go.
I hissed, “How do you know this? How did you know my mom’s name?”
“Your mom is the girl I thought I loved until my soul imprinted on your soul.”
I stepped back in stunned surprise. “Me?”
He smiled tenderly, “Yes. You.”
“That’s not possible,” I insisted and then I continued baffled, “How is that possible?”
He laughed softly, “Why is it not possible?”
“I don’t know. It just seems impossible. Why would I only meet you now?”
Seriously he said, “It is a long story and I am sure you know most of it already.”
Without warning, I felt Zane stiffen under my palms, which were pushed against his chest to keep him at a distance from me.
Out from the shadows I suddenly heard my dad’s voice, low and menacing, “Zane.”
Zane turned away from me hastily and with his body, he shielded me from my own father. I heard him growl, “Eddie.”
My dad said in a low gruff voice (a voice I had never heard before), “Anne says they are coming for her again. Freya has no choice anymore; she has to come home.”
(Anne is my psychic aunt - she can see the future).
I moved out from behind Zane’s back so that I could see my dad and I asked him puzzled, “Who is after me?”
They ignored me (have you noticed? People do this often. I will have to be more assertive).
Zane said to my dad, “I will keep her safe, you know I will.”
For a period, which felt like an eternity, they stared at each other across the small distance separating them. My eyes darted between them nervously.
Suddenly my dad looked away from Zane. He looked at me with compassion in his eyes and smiling kindly he said, “I’ll be waiting for you in the car in front of the dorm.”
My dad turned away from us and walked away into the shadows of the corridor.
When my dad disappeared into the dark, Zane turned back to me.
I looked up at him and asked demandingly, “What is going on? Why did he just turn and walk away? Why were you staring at each other for so long?”
Zane laughed loudly, “Your dad read my thoughts, and in all the time I have known him, this would be one of the few times I did not mind.”
Zane moved closer to me tentatively. He traced his hand slowly from my hand hanging limply on my side, up my arm, across my shoulder, and up along my neck. He cupped my head in his hand and then while he leaned into me, he pulled me closer to him. I felt his warm breath on my lips. I felt myself lift myself to stand on my tippy toes. My hands moved by their own direction up along his arms, over his shoulders and around his neck. His lips touched mine and I felt my knees buckle under me. I felt the walls I built up around my heart to keep him out crumble, because nothing that kept us apart mattered anymore. He held me upright and I could feel his lips smile above mine.
I started to pull away from him and he murmured softly against my lips, “The only thing I want to hear right now, is that you love me and that you will always feel this way.”
I felt his lips press against mine and then we kissed.
I love him. I could not believe that for months I considered that Zane’s soul belonged to another when in fact it belonged to me. Back then, I thought it would be easier to walk away, rather than letting him into my heart. Never did I realize that he was the missing piece to my soul. I never understood when I felt the emptiness within me when he was not with me, but now I grasped the fact that my soul was permanently and forever embossed with his. I realized that of all the people I could have fallen in love with Zane is the perfect piece to my puzzle, because he knows me. He knows my deepest secrets and the secret world I come from. I could take him home and my parents and I would not have to hide who we were from him.
After what seemed like forever, but only a fleeting moment, the kiss that started and ended continually stopped. As I stepped away from Zane, smiling bashfully, I looked up over his shoulder and I saw the night sky getting lighter.
A new dawn has arrived for me.
I remembered my dad waiting for me in the car and my heart filled with fear for him, because someone might see the way he glimmered under the bright glare of the sun. In addition, he said he wanted to take me home, because someone was coming for me. From the tone of his voice, it sounded as if I should be afraid of this person or people, that they wanted to do me harm.
Reluctantly I stepped further away from Zane.
I said sadly, while looking up at him, “I have to go. My dad is waiting, and the sun will rise above the horizon soon.”
He took my face between his palms and leaning down to me, he kissed me tenderly on my forehead.
I whispered quietly, “Will you come for me?”
He smiled lovingly, “This time, nothing will keep me away from you.”
Copyright © LYNETTE FERREIRAAll rights reserved.Lynette Ferreira holds all copyright-related rights, including the right to publish the work, to make derivative works of it, to distribute it, to make profit from it, and to forbid these uses by any non-authorized people/person/entity, thus being entitled to take legal action against infringement.