Disclaimer: I do not own Vampire Knight or its characters. I do however own Annabelle Locke.
I flipped the brochure over and read the back, but there was only a phone number and an email in case someone needed to notify the school ahead of time before their arrival. I didn't doubt my grandmother skipped that whole procedure.
"I still don't understand your decision in taking me to this," I paused, thinking of the right word for the grand picture in front of my eyes, "Place. You're aware that I'll just find someway to worm my way out, right?" I said bluntly, putting the brochure down in my lap and looking out the window. A blur of green covered both sides. This road was particularly deserted, a difference between the highly packed roads we'd quickly run through earlier this morning.
She didn't regard me with hot glares like she normally did, but I saw, from the corner of my eyes, her fingers clench harder on the steering wheel. "Cut the crap, Anna. We both know that this was going to happen --since you bloody don't know how to keep your hands to yourself. Think it was cool, did you? Well, fortunately for you this was your punishment instead of going to state prison!"
"I don't think they'd have the guts to throw me in jail, actually." I said, looking at her sourly.
My grandmother wasn't a beautiful lady, nor would I even chance the word pretty. Wrinkles flooded her flesh, weaving into each other. Her off balance head fit on a series of sinking skin: a turkeys neck. Her thinning gray hair was pulled back from her face and tied in a messy bun but small strands stuck out at her forehead and clung to the sweaty translucent skin that shone so brightly in the sunlight. She had chosen to wear a mixture of a pink blouse and brown khaki pants, both unfitting to her body's proportions.
For a moment she brought her piercing ice blue eyes to my face and glared, licked her thin pasty lips, and turned back. "Stop with the attitude."
"What attitude? I'm simply saying that--"
"I know what you are saying! You are being stubborn and miserable. Why can't you just be glad that they didn't choose to throw you in some messed up foster home?" She turned her hand violently; the car swerved around a corner. I leaned against the door to stop myself from falling over. "You know how easily they could have taken you away, Annabelle! Do you not think this is serious? Do you think this is some kind of joke? I am tired of the way you act. Why can't you bloody be serious once in awhile instead of throwing up those stupid defences. Why can't you just be a normal teenage girl?"
"I'm sorry that normal doesn't come with the package!" I shouted, then suddenly bit back the urge of screaming a profanity at her. Arguments with this woman always tended to escalade to avalanche-calling voices, and I knew that if I didn't hold back, we'd be riding the Volkswagen of death. "But that doesn't mean you can just ship me off to some god awful school and pray that I learn how! I hate how you're pressuring me into this."
"Pressuring you into this?!" She shrieked, eyes wide and bulging. She tried to keep an effort on seeing the road instead of her rising anger. "Anna you--"
"I'm very much aware of what I did."
"Then you'd know that that sort of thing doesn't go without consequences! I'm lucky that you're sitting right here with me instead of rotting behind bars with some crazy, nut-job women! Have you ever tried not being so ungrateful?"
"Tried and failed," I said, leaning my head against the window pane; the leather seat crackled beneath me. "Maybe you'd know that if you didn't jump to conclusions every twenty seconds."
"Don't start with that. You know I listen to you."
I stifled a snort. "Yes, of course. How could I have forgotten how caring and nurturing you are? My mistake."
For a moment she glowered at me, long and hard and threateningly. Then she leaned back in the seat, shook her head, and went utterly silent. And that was the rest of the ride there, filled with unspoken anger and tension. Sometimes I just wanted to turn and argue with her more, other times I could feel the anger rush from my body only to be, in a few minutes, replaced by new hot fury. Once I resorted to breathing deeply in order to calm myself, I found that I was lost in the scenery out my window, and watched boringly as the same thick trees with sparring branches passed by, turning into a broad line of color.
We arrived sooner then I would have expected. --not that the hours by plane ride and travelling by car since morning were expected to be more worn out and lengthy. I just believed we'd arrive somewhere between midnight to early next morning by the speed my grandmother rode at. Surprisingly, when I looked at the flashing green clock lodged beneath the radio, it read 6: 30pm. I watched the sign indicating that Cross Academy was just around the bend whisk by.
A numbing feeling entered my stomach when I noticed the beginnings of the school take form before my eyes, and I instantly looked to the brochure to refrain from complaining again. My grandmother had gotten a mouthful last night when she'd randomly pulled out the tickets to Japan and told me I was going to some school for the wealthy, trying to make me feel better when she explained I wouldn't have to rent an apartment because they had dormitories. I'd done what every other teenager would do when they were told that they were flying to some other country to take part in some other school and have to say goodbye to from all the friends they had grouped up back home: I screamed and slammed the door to my room.
"You know, I wouldn't be surprised to find out that all the day class students are jealous of the night class." I had flipped the brochure open and started scanning it with my eyes, hopefully, in some sane way, trying to dispel the nervousness itching in my system. "Says here only the elite students are in the night class. Who, in god's name, would want to have school at night? I'd rather jump off a ten story building and meet death then screw up my sleeping habits again."
"Oh stop that." My grandmother scolded, plucking the brochure from my hands and settling it on the dashboard. "You won't have to worry about that, anyway. It's not like you'd ever make it to elite quality."
"Thank-you. I appreciated that." I reached over and snatched back the brochure, adding: "I was reading that, by the way."
When I hesitated to compare the look of the school to the picture that had been imprinted on the brochure, I knew that I was defeated. The old woman had successfully dragged me here. The school looked more like a building that had been built in the early 1900's rather than your average high-school or university. It was cathedral-like, smoothed and elderly, anciently white-washed with Greek pillars welcoming beautifully to the front doors. I suddenly felt as if I had gone back in time, but the faint glow of a light cascading out one of the high windows told me that I was still in a time where electricity had already been discovered, like, for example, my Ipod. Speaking of which, I flicked through my play list and picked out a song I knew would calm my nerves.
My grandmother yanked out one of my earphones, and before I could protest, she pointed an old finger out the windshield. I barely noticed anything else, the building was filling my universe. We were running over a small bridge, on either side a mass of water. A quick glance around and I could see the faint sculptures of the two dormitories: night and day. Both were obscured in thick foliage. My stomach only dropped more, weighed out by my fear of being in a new environment.
When the car halted, I had already gotten the just of Cross academy's layout. It wasn't just because I had, in my time of panicking, read over every square inch of the brochure in my hand. The road was forked outside the school, two paths leading to the dormitories. A small downtown area was just across the road we'd crossed to get here, and we were allowed to visit on lunches or on weekends, but never at night. Actually, by the looks of it, the day class was never allowed out at night. They were supposed to be in their dorms by the time the sun went down. Which was soon, I thought looking at the orange milked sky, a thin layer of purple laying low along the horizon. The sun was a neon drop of orange light against the infamous dramatic-backdrop.
"To be honest," I started, and suddenly self-conscious, I flipped open the sun visor and checked myself out in the mirror, "I think they have too many rules. I mean, no wandering at night? What, are we prisoners or something?"
With me reflecting back in the mirror, I could resentfully and regrettably see the fear in my eyes. My pupils were large, pitch black against the bright turquoise color of my iris's. My skin was pale, whiter then everyone I knew back home, but I could safely say that that was because I was anaemic, so my excuse for not having a tan never resulted in going to a salon, just scolding's about how I should pop a few iron tablets. My long hair was unnaturally black like a raven's wing, and styled in the way of the, as people back home in America labelled, scene kids. I had an abnormal love for eye make-up, and thanks to my trusty ten dollar lipstick, my lips were constantly paled.
I leaned back, adjusting the two layered skirt held together at my waist by two belts and thought once that maybe the belly exposure from my white tank-top would be a bad impression for the principle…or whatever the hell they called themselves here. But the glinting sphere lodged in my belly button lured me away from those thoughts, and I gave up thinking that even if I wore a suit, my make-up would repel everyone.
"Quit talking and get out of the car, Annabelle. The chairman is coming, and it would be rude if I talked to him without you by my side. And for your information, I have scheduled this ahead of time. So stop giving me that look." My grandmother pulled off her seatbelt and climbed elderly-like from the car. The opening gap let in a warm breeze that smelt strongly of pine, almost like a camping ground. I climbed out nonchalantly, hoping to god that someone would whisk me from my spot.
No one did.
Finally I turned and, on the other side of the car beside my grandmother, was a man. He didn't look as old as I thought a chairman would be. His skin was tight over his face, not a hint of wrinkles anywhere. The only thing principle-like about him was his thin spectacles and even then they were in a modern fashion. I frowned. I would have enjoyed chuckling at the expense of my new principle's looks. Now I was utterly defeated. I waved casually when I came up beside the old woman, and he returned it with a smile and a gentle bow.
"Good evening chairman Cross," My grandmother said, polishing up her formal voice. I knew it was just an act and that as soon as she got in the car the appeasing appearance of her elderly face would crumble and turn into that of a worn down, haggard witch. She waved at me violently, "Go get your luggage, Anna."
Rolling my eyes, I dragged my feet around to the trunk. She had already opened it before she came out, so it took little effort to throw up the beaten silver colored metal and face my two bags of clothes and books and other necessities I thought I'd need. I withdrew them, plopped them down beside her, and chewed the inside of my cheek.
"You must be Annabelle Locke," The chairman greeted. He and my grandmother had obviously exchanged a few kind words with each other, because he didn't have a sour expression on his face like most people did after they spoke to her. "You can call me Chairman Cross, or just chairman or maybe even headmaster."
"Cross," I said, tasting the words. Then I shrugged and picked up my bags, "Where do I put my stuff?"
My grandmother nudged me in the ribs. "Don't mind her, Chairman, she's just a little plane sick. All this travelling seems to have soured her mood."
I thought about that, and not feeling any different I muttered, "No, not really."
"That's okay," The chairman fished out a folded up piece of paper and handed it to me. "My day class is already getting ready to head to their dormitories --that's your schedule for tomorrow." He explained when I opened up the white sheet and stared blankly at the timetable. I tucked it in a small pouch on the side of my dark green duffle bag.
"It's a beautiful place you have here. There is nothing like this where we come from." My grandmother complimented, looking around at all the large trees, splendid set up. It had a sense of comfort here, but also a strange hint of danger.
Pursing my lips I turned to study one of the large roads heading off to one of the dormitories. A group of black huddled at the gates, and with closer inspection I realized them to be people. When I turned back to the chairman, I said, "That's because America is a giant blob of pollution."
The chairman smiled wider, eyes glossed with the compliments my grandmother was dishing out of her thin, hollow mouth. It must fill his giant ego to be complimented. He acted almost like a child would. "You think so? I put so much effort into my academy. All my love and devotion." He said.
"It really shows," said my grandmother, picking a stray hair from her forehead. "I'm sure Annabelle will love it here. Won't you, hun?"
"Yeah, if I like playing prisoner." I said, then I nudged a thumb in the direction of the huddled mass of students. A murmur of voices had come over on the wind and had made me curious, "Why is everyone over there? I thought it was regulation for day class students to be heading to their dorms around this time. Seems like they are having a party."
For a moment a serious expression leached away all the good humour from Chairman Cross's face, then a second later it was replaced by a wide grin, and he gestured mildly in that direction. "The night class." Was his response, as if I'd even know what that meant. I frowned.
"Well, I'd love to stay for tea," My grandmother put a hand on my shoulder. Tea my ass, I thought grudgingly. She was leaving me for dead, and better yet she was using one of her phoney I-got-to-run lines. "But I don't want them to overbook my hotel room. I've got an early flight back to America tomorrow and I wouldn't want to miss it."
"Of course, Mrs. Locke." The chairman nodded, his tea-colored hair flopping in the unusual ponytail. "Would you like me to show you to your room, Annabelle?"
"It's Anna, and how about you just give me directions and I find it myself?" I hadn't meant for the words to come out venomous, but they did and I waited to be scolded my grandma.
"Oh hush, Anna." She started, "He's trying to be nice. If you'd stop being so rude and realized that making friends isn't that hard, maybe you wouldn't be such a cow to others."
"Cause that makes sense," I hissed, slinging the duffle bag over my shoulders and picking up the other bag in my right hand. She'd already opened the front door to the car. Like I thought, she couldn't wait to leave me here to drown. I stiffly embraced her when she came to say goodbye; she smelt of tobacco and sweat, but I guess you couldn't ever say a smoker smelt like roses or soap, and nodded her off.
Then she was in the car, hands perched on the leather steering wheel, facing me with those small blue eyes. I had an odd sense of abandonment. My stomach hurt, and my chest throbbed, and I just wanted to run into my room and slam the door and lay down until I fell asleep. No point in doing that here though, the brochure said that I'd be stuck in a room with someone else. My privacy was shattered and I was utterly alone.
She opened her mouth to say something, hesitated, then closed it. Once she settled on a small wave good-bye, she drove off without another word, not even a glance back, then she turned the corner and was gone. I found the chairman smiling at me when I miserably turned back to him, and I arched a thin brow in question.
"Welcome to Cross Academy," He said.
No, I thought, you mean welcome hell.
I wasn't normally one for unpacking, but when I stepped back to view my handiwork a strange sense of accomplishment filled the innards of my stomach. Neatly before me was a closet full of my clothes. Before it had been empty, only occupied by a single gum wrapper. Now it was my space, my small achievement. I quickly tucked the two empty bags at the back, sighed in exhaustion, and turned to meet the room I had founded as my own.
It was medium sized with bright blue walls, green curtains against one window and a silver ceiling fan. Two single beds occupied each wall, accompanied by a mahogany dresser and a built in closet, and to the right, down a small corridor beside the door was a small bathroom.
The headmaster, through all my bickering, had chosen to walk me up here and give me a brief detour of the cathedral-like dormitory for the sun students. It had seemed he was more interesting in flattering his own work then giving me an extravagant tour, and after that I hadn't complained. I had fallen silent when he had so boldly refused the 'Just give me the damn instructions to my room and I'll get out of your hair,' remark.
I pulled back the green curtains and watched as the students, mostly girls I noted, seeped down the road and began filing into the building. The sky was a rich red, tinted now by the growing mass of purple. I wondered if my room-mate would end up being your TV show drama queen or your stereotypical slut, what I wasn't expecting when she stepped into the room, was a short girl with glasses. Freckles dotted the bridge of her nose and cheeks, and even though her appearance struck me as nerdy, she was quite pretty, with long auburn hair pulled into a long French braid that hung smoothly down the center of her back.
She stepped in, casting me a furtive glance, and then after she placed a large leather-bound book on the dresser she broke out into an unusually cheerful smile. "So you're the new girl." Her voice was high, child-like. She adjusted the glasses on her nose before continuing, "We saw you drive up to the front from the Night Dormitory. I don't mean to be rude or cause offence or anything…but isn't it a little odd for someone to be joining so late in the school-year?"
I had to hide the shock on my face. Either the people here were incredibly nice, or they were just all outgoing and rich and…well, more rich and outgoing. This girl, with an appearance that, back home, would have plucked her out of the friendly type and landed her into the nerdy timid type, was speaking as if she had known me for eternity. That smile was as home-welcoming as if I had stepped out of my god-forsaken life and stepped into an episode of the Brady Bunch family.
My response was a simple shrug. I found a place on the bed I'd taken as my own, and said, "My reason for being here is a little long. Let's just say they make exceptions for the exceptional." I returned her warm smile with a forced one. I was never good at being friendly, nor did I exactly want to be at the moment. Being forced to enter an academy didn't exactly strike me as the 'my-life-is-so-great,' phrase, and through all of this, making friends was at the bottom of my list of priorities. Finally with a long deep breath, I leaned back against the bed and fiddled with the silver chain on my wrist.
"My name is Kohana Yuta." She said, sitting on the bed and looking at me with slight fascination. For a brief moment I wanted to ask her if I looked like an exhibit at a zoo, because for all I knew her eyes seemed to take me in as one. "I've been so used to having this room by myself that it just feels weird to see someone else in it." Kohana took out her braid, went into the bathroom, and came back with a brush. She began to comb the knots from her hair. "Is it alright if I ask your name?"
"Annabelle," I told her, sitting up and gesturing to the black school outfit she was clad in, "Does this mean I'm going to have to wear that?"
"Oh this?" Kohana picked at the cuff at her wrist, and nodded almost eagerly. "Yes, Anna," She tasted the American name on her lips before continuing, "What size are you? I'm sure I can find a spare in the laundry room. Small, medium, large? You seem like a small, or an extra small --whoa, you're really thin, aren't you?" Then I heard a gasp, "Is your belly pierced?!"
Self-consciously I looked down at my bare stomach, and fiddled absently with the metallic sphere glowing like a tattoo against the pastiness of my flesh. "Got it done when I was thirteen." I said. "I'll probably be an extra small. I get the thinness from my mother. I also," I turned towards her so that she could see the swells of my hips, "get the big hip bone from her too."
"I would be murdered if I ever got my belly button done."
"I did mine in secrecy. Though sooner or later people are bound to find out. For me it was two weeks before my grandmother flipped out on me." I sighed, remembering those days. With a pang of nostalgia, I returned to the subject at hand. "So you're most positive that I have to wear that…erm, lovely piece of material?"
"It's regulation. Don't worry, you'll get used to it. They are very comfortable." The brunette, oddly at ease with talking to strangers, sat back down on her emerald tinted bed. She brushed out the creases in the comforter and then turned on the nightlight. A pool of incandescent light filled the room. The sky outside had become a dark blue.
"Don't you ever get cold wearing just that?"
"Nope," She shook her head, a smile curling her lips. "The heaters do come in handy."
"I don't suppose the boys walk around in flimsy skirts?" I inclined my head, a wolfish grin on my face. "Cause that would be an awesome thing to see. Not to mention it would make my day that much better."
Earning a laugh from the girl, I tucked my hands behind my head and looked up at the ceiling.
Kohana got up, disappeared for a moment, and then came back in long flannel pyjamas. I was like a fox in a henhouse full of catholic nuns. All these girls seemed uncharacteristically good, or at least the ones I'd manage to glimpse from the window. I wondered if this school would even have the slightest hint of big popular mean girls, or if they all got along in building up the overwhelming peace I felt reverberating off the walls.
"Tomorrow I'll wake you up early. I can give you a quick tour and show you to your classes, if you'd like. --Did you bring a pair of pyjamas?" Kohana asked, pulling off the comforter and crawling in; I was still in my day clothes. "You can borrow a pair of mine if you'd like."
"I appreciate the concern," I said, standing up and walking to my newly filled closet. I withdrew a flimsy pearl nightgown, the ones that had lacy straps and barely covered your ass, and showed it to her. "But I came prepared, see?"
When I had finished dressing, brushing my teeth and removing my make-up, I found my new room-mate glassless and asleep, nightlight off. I stumbled my way through the darkness and then stopped. A flash of black took over the corners of my eyes, and was then gone. A Shadow?
If I had been relatively sleepy, I wouldn't of thought anything of it. But I could have sworn, even if it was just for a second, that I saw something out the window. Even though it could have just been a sleepless bird, my body was just too exhausted, too pumped with boredom, irritation and frustration, sadness, and anger that for some reason, even though I was miserably depressed, my heart had begun to pound. I pulled back the curtains and peered out.
Just as I thought. I was going insane, most simple explanation I could come up with. This life was just too surreal at the moment for anything to be real, and I had a sudden hope that I would find myself awake in my bed back home, panting and sweating from this nightmare. I had come to Cross Academy, settled in this room, and already some girl was speaking to me like she was my friend. Better yet, I was having some delusional thought of someone outside my window. Then again, technically it wouldn't mean ghosts or anything.
If it had been a person, it was probably just from the night class or something. Yes, of course. How stupid of me. The night class had to be counted for, and if people were wandering around then obviously it was their figures instead of serial rapists --but for god knows why someone would even wander around in the night instead of in the day, when normal people had school, was completely oblivious to me. I pulled the curtains wide, letting in a shaft of light, and then climbed into my bed.
My official first day at Cross Academy was bound to begin tomorrow. Unfortunately, so was my bad habits.