My name is Paige. I've always disliked my name. It brings stupid puns from stupider idiots to mind. I'm not even a big reader; nor do I particularly like the library. That was my first reason. The second reason? Yeah well, that's more of a recent development. When reading (a page, ha, ha, ha. Gettit? Isn't that so hysterical everybody? No it's not, but I'm regressing to a previous rant) a book I discovered the meaning of my name.
It said that I had 'an easy-going nature' and that I tended to be 'serious-minded and responsible'. This name apparently gave me a love of home and family. Yeah right. That line always kills me. Just dip that knife in poison and dig it in a bit deeper why don't you?
I also have a desire to understand the heart and mind of everyone. I don't believe that though, I don't want to. Just because some nun gave me a certain name doesn't mean it defines me, that one minor decision could literally dictate my entire life.
Yep, I said nun, not mom. You see my sob story is that I was abandoned to a local church. It's not that sad really, because I got adopted fairly quickly. I don't have any memories of the nun or that particular church. Hell, I didn't even find out the truth until I was eight years old. I stilled loved my parents though. Then they were killed.
Our house, with the home sweet home welcoming mat, went up in flames. Everything was destroyed, charred through and through. It was all gone, photos, clothes, toys… Everything.
I was the only thing that survived and that was because I had been at a friend's birthday party. I can't even remember her name now, just a spoiled brat crying, because she didn't get a special Barbie for her birthday. Guess what kid? I lost all mine and you cried more than I did, and I cried a lot. How could I not? I was scared and devastated and confused.
The thing I hate the most about my dumb name is that it somehow did manage to define parts of me. It wasn't completely wrong and I guess that maybe that's just a coincidence, but I stopped believing in coincidences a long time ago. It doesn't matter anyway. I can hate until the cows come home, but nothing will ever change so I stopped hating. It requires so much energy and passion that I don't have to hate. So I sound like a drama queen, don't I? Well screw you. I'm supposed to be stupid and immature and overact. Hello! Teenager here. I'm supposed to be like that.
Supposed. I'm also supposed to be full of happiness, joy and laughter, but I'm not. I rarely smile or laugh and I'll admit it, I can't even remember how to cry.
There must be a quota of tears you're allowed shed in your life and I already used all mine up, and that sucks 'cause I'm fairly certain my supply was supposed to last for my entire life, but all those crap things that happened to me required tears and now I'm all out. I'm not even old yet. I'm just a kid.
I'm the strange kid. There are many words for me, oddball, weirdo, freak, psycho, crackpot…Pick one, anyone. I've heard 'em all and I honestly couldn't give a damn. All your opinions are worthless, but that's okay, as long as you don't bother me I don't mind. I'm strange, people try to ignore that detail. It makes everyone happy. What only a few people know is that my life, my very existence, was a mistake and they tried to hide that fact. So do I, I don't want the pity.
I was never supposed to be born and we all knew it. This pathetic excuse of a life, it shouldn't belong to me. I'm like some kind of ungrateful thief. I should be dead, or whatever people were never born are supposed to be called. I won't say I feel more dead than alive, 'cause I'm not that big of a drama queen. Mainly I feel numb.
"Excuse me, can you move?" asked the old lady sitting beside me. I glanced at her with a perfected blank mask of bored indifference before copping on. I was on a bus, not just any bus. It was the bus that would eventually bring me to my new foster family. Social Services are cheap; they were hardly going to supply me with a limo. Don't look so shocked. Mrs Smith was overworked and couldn't take time to go with me. She said she'd meet me there.
I stood up and let the lady get past me, her shopping bags thumping off my leg. I flopped back on to the seat, but took the window seat this time. I stretched my legs out on the seat and glared at all the new passengers. None of them tried to sit beside me. Good. I wouldn't have sat beside the lady in the first place except the bus had been full. It was half empty now, just like the glass. Half full of half empty? There was no glass. He broke it. All that was left of it was little jagged pieces that parodied its former glory. They say the mighty always fell, so did the glasses. Then they shattered.
The bus was so damn close to being in pieces, but the parts are probably worth more than the bus itself is. It wheezed off with a shuddering start. The bus was long past its prime and should've been put down. One of my foster families had a dog that had to be put down.
He was a nice dog, I'm glad he died peacefully. I've seen a lot of death. It's practically lost all meaning. Thing is, that one death, that one time, I got to say goodbye. Closure. It did hurt, it hurted like hell, because then I still cared too much, but his death never haunted me like all the others.
Unfortunately, the same can't be said about his owners. I'd known them, for I guess, maybe, four years, but then there was a hurricane. That was a crock of shit. Sure there was a hurricane at the time, but that wasn't how they died. I don't know how the police came to that conclusion. Did they even look at the evidence?
I was there. I saw him. I think he is a him, at least. He was a freak like me. You know the vanishing in a puff of smoke cliché? Well, he appeared suddenly with a gust of wind. His skin had an unhealthy grey colour to it, like it was on his deathbed. So was Jane, she would never replace my adopted mom. She made this blue shield yoke around herself and John. I didn't know what it was supposed to do. It didn't protect them. He threw something at them, and they went flying into a wall. I couldn't see exactly what he did. I was cowering behind the banister upstairs, hoping against hope that he wouldn't notice me, while knowing that he was after me. And what did I do? Nothing. I was such an idiot.
It was a terrifying time and I was only twelve years old. Nothing in my life had ever prepared me for something like that. I didn't know what to do, so I remained hiding, watching his trail of destruction as he searched the house. I should've run, taken matters into my own hands, but I still believed then. So I wished and I hoped and I prayed. No one ever came. I'll state this nice and clearly just to set the record straight
I believe in God. I do, maybe it was my upbringing or being abandoned to a church. Whatever it was I always believed in God, even after my parents died. It was in His master plan. He knew what he was doing. God didn't save me. He didn't even try. God left me there to die. He, found me, and suddenly one of those death balls was hurtling in the air at me. I flung my arm over my face and waited, but the ball never struck. It hung suspended in midair and the man rooted to his spot.
Finally I ran, down the stairs, past the corpses and out of the house. I ran furiously, just because I finally remembered to run, that didn't mean I had a clear head. Far from it, I just kept running. My life depended on it after all. This was the last time I cried and laughed, both at the same time and in a way neither. It was a hybrid version of the two accompanied by a lot of gasping for oxygen.
I did a lot of thinking during that sprint. I considered my freak powers and Him. I knew why I was given up and made a theory for why two sets of parents died. It was entirely my fault.
A monster was after me, probably, because of my freakiness and I was completely alone. I was scared that if I started to love someone else that they'd get taken from me too. It was my only defence, it wasn't a great way to fight back, but it was all I had. In my third home I wasn't as loving or trusting. I stayed there for two years and remained aloof and distant the whole time. The Thompsons, they thought I was broken and tried to 'fix' my unusual behaviour and me. I don't think they were too upset when I left. I figured I'd leave on my own terms this time. I didn't like them, but I'd keep them safe. In theory that was fine, but reality doesn't like theory and the Thompsons died shortly afterwards during an Earthquake, according to Mrs Smith. Yeah right.
I was like poison, killing everyone around me, and I believed that until I went to church one day and a nice priest convinced me otherwise and said something about 'God's master plan'. He probably didn't intend me to gain vindication this particular way. It was all God's fault. Every single death, He let it happen, probably punishing me for being a freak. I left the church with a strange inner peace and declared, "I'll never speak to God again".
Eventually, it was my turn to get off the bus. I began walking to the address Mrs Smith told me to go to. Trudge, would probably be a better word. I had got on a earlier bus than necessary, figuring buses were always late so I'd end up on time, no looking eager or getting lectured. But I had nowhere to be for a while so I trudged slowly, eyes on the pavement in front of me. If my concentration drifted I could almost pretend that I wasn't moving anywhere, just walking in the same spot forever.
It seemed like a decent neighbourhood. They were probably a nice family. Too bad I had to come along and ruin everything for them. I would ruin it. That thing was hunting me and it didn't care who stood in the way. It wouldn't stop until I was dead.
This would be the fourth time history would repeat itself. Maybe this time I could stop caring completely. It would be easier just to switch myself off. None of it matted anymore, so why did I still care? I guess I'm just dumb like that.
"Prue?" Someone shouted from behind me. I didn't even bother looking around for the shouter and this Prue person. Couldn't really care to be honest. Then I heard quick footsteps pounding of the pavement. Prue must be deaf if she couldn't hear her name and wait for the shouter to catch up with her.
"Prue!" repeated the shouter and I couldn't hide behind ignorance anymore. It was fairly obvious what was going on and it was yet another thing I hated. Okay, I lied I still hate, kinda. It's complicated. Maybe I should start a list, but it would be fairly long. Might be best to start a list of things I like. It would waste less paper and be friendly to the environment.
Why couldn't Shouter just leave me alone? So we could be happily miserable separately without busybodies. You could totally tell that Shouter was miserable. When someone has been crying recently it can be heard in her voice. I didn't want her misery or her company. I'm just about managing my own at the moment. Sometimes you don't have a choice in these matters.
Shouter was right behind me now. She grabbed my shoulder and spun me around to face her. We were practically nose-to-nose. I didn't need to be this close to see her face fall and uttered crushed expression on her face mingling with a faint self-loathing.
"I'm not Prue," I said blandly for the lack of anything else to say.
Shouter's sleeves were pulled down to cover her hands and she wrapped her arms around herself to complete the vulnerable lost look she had going on. Like I said misery, and not 'Oh my God the movie was so sad it made me cry' misery but the 'My Mother killed my dog,' one.
"Sorry, you just reminded me of my sister. Stupid really, of course you couldn't be her," said Shouter softly, her voice growing quieter as she finished her sentence.
"Doesn't matter," I mumbled in a truly eloquent fashion. Shakespeare would have been impressed.
It was the classic case of mistaken identity. It was hardly surprising. I look like everyone's long lost twice removed second cousin. I don't really, I'm just surrounded by people who think I do. I really am surrounded by them. On top of everything else I'm a hypocrite. I've done the same many times before, seeing familiar faces in crowds who turn out to be total strangers even when I knew it wasn't possible.
Once upon a time it gave me a kick. If I looked like someone, maybe that meant I was related to them, that somewhere in this big world I belonged. I did love my parents, but I always had a feeling inside me that I was somehow different in a way I could never figure out. After my parents died I tried to search for my birth mother, hoping to get some answers. I never did, but after the second set bit the bullet I got a fair idea. Giving me up was probably the best thing Mommy dearest ever did since it protected her and her family from my curse. Like I said poison. Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction bought it back. No satisfaction here.
"I'm Phoebe," said Shouter.
"Paige," I replied curtly.
Shou-, I mean Phoebe, frowned. Old habits and names die-hard. "Another 'P'"
"Excuse me?" I said out of sheer habit. Another habit. My first mom thought highly of manners and politeness. She thought they were very important and that they were the best thing she could give me. I would've preferred that Barbie. So even now I try to honour her memory and wishes. Sometimes. Honestly I'm not to good at this whole being nice and friendly thing. People person I am not. I wanted out of this encounter now!
"My family has a whole 'P' thing going on with names and you look like Prue. It's just…painful."
I honestly didn't expect the sentence to end like that. I figured she go for weird or strange, but never painful. I really do excel at hurting people. What can I say? It's a gift. For some reason it didn't come wrapped in shiny paper wit a pretty bow. Go figure.
I shrugged, feeling the need to respond but no wanting to encourage Phoebe to confine in me. I'm not an agony aunt. I can't solve everyone one's problems. Hell, I can't even fix my own.
The 'P' thing is pretty strange though. You know the way I said that I searched for my birth mother? I found a nun instead. And not just any random nun, it was the nun I was abandoned to. We even had a conversation, not a great one mind you, but one nonetheless. Mary even had a few important things to tell me.
And I quote Mary saying this, "There was only one thing she requested, that your name begin with a 'P'."
At times like this I almost wish that I believed in coincidences. I could brush this away and protect myself from disappointment and even more hurt. Save myself from the pain. But I couldn't, so I psyched myself up for bitter disappointment.
I find that when you prepare for the worst then whatever happens doesn't seem so bad. If I aimed high usually I'd be sorely let down, so I don't. Like I wasn't expecting this encounter to go well. Even more so in the last minute. There's this thing called a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's some psychology thing that basically says if you go to a party expecting to be bored then you probably will end up being bored. You fulfil your own prediction.
Now see that prediction isn't too bad. Mine generally aren't that time. So I look around the empty street, a sense of dread settled on me. I barely even had time to finish my thought.
He was back.
The grey-skinned man corporealized before us, leering through curled silver lips, his long, dusty hair blowing around his bare shoulders. I watched paralysed, as he reared back to take Phoebe and I out with one enormous, concussive blast.
Another person would die because of me.