I stood at the edge of the cliff, staring out at the huge forests. There was danger here, which only I could feel. Like an electric tingle, running through my palms and my toes. It didn't warm me. Nothing did. Nothing would warm me ever again.
And this, of course, was the beginning of my end.
It was instinct now, to take the pain. To take it without making a noise that showed the pain. It only ever brought on more pain. That was the way of my life. The only way that existed for me. The only way that existed ever.
This was before my end. But vitally important to it, which is why I feel you need to know about this.
But, of course, the pain was supposedly my fault. I was hit again, a fist to my stomach, making me fall into an exhausted heap on the floor.
"Did I say I was done with you yet? That you could go to sleep?"
"No," I whispered, that being the only way I could talk without revealing the pain.
"Go upstairs and clean yourself off. No supper for you." No supper for me ever. Or Lunch. Or Breakfast. Ever.
This is, of course, how I escaped. So let's start at the beginning, or my end.
I stood at the edge of the cliff, staring out at the huge forests. There was danger here, which only I could feel. Like an electric tingle, running through my palms and my toes. It didn't warm me. Nothing did. Nothing would warm me ever again. I walked down (around) the cliff that would be gone in ten years, and started into the forest.
This was my biggest mistake and my smartest step. You see, once I stepped into that forest, I only had two paths left to my life; before I had had three. Now, I had one better and one worse than before. Though, of course, I didn't know that then.
At some point, I knew I had made it close to the center of the forest, though now I was much too cold to care. I hadn't brought a jacket, hoping someone would find me soon enough. But they didn't, and I couldn't find it in myself to get up again. I stayed on the ground, watching as so many others got lost and died here. But I couldn't help them. Not until they helped me. Not until this terrible cold was gone from me.
Everything ends. Everything, Right? I thought I should have died by now, but I can't. It seems I should have died, but I can't. I JUST CAN'T.
I tried to get up again, go forward, but I couldn't seem to find my feet. And I was so tired. I decided just to let myself sleep after another failed attempt.
What are words, anyway? Who invented them? I don't want to use words to say how much time seems to have passed, but there is no other way.
Eventually, the cold woke me up, and things had changed a lot. I'd never been one for descriptions, but here I go. Before I fell asleep, the sky had been gray; no rain. There had been lots of tall trees around me; most of which had been too tall for me to reach. The cliff I'd had to go around could barely be seen in the distance, and the ground had been hard fall grass.
After that, there were three big differences. One, it was raining. Two, It was so foggy I couldn't see four feet away. Three, there was a gigantic sand colored wolf sitting near me.
I know I'd been asleep, but I'd been proud of my ability to wake up when anything dangerous got near me.
But it wasn't doing anything, just sitting and staring, and the heat coming from its body was almost irresistible. I knew I should be scared, but I just couldn't be. Something about this animal wasn't scary at all. It was almost like it was trying to protect me. I almost laughed at this. The things that should be dangerous were helping me, and things that shouldn't be dangerous hurting me so bad that sometimes I couldn't walk. I'd have preferred death to that kind of purposeful pain again.
Then it suddenly howled. I flinched, instinctively, and suddenly it stopped, looking down at me as if to say "are you alright?" I froze, blinked twice, and shakily nodded, trying to stop it from looking at me.
I knew I should still be cold, something alive couldn't be that warm, but it was, and I honestly didn't care. I was warm already, and it was becoming impossible to stay awake. So I let myself drift. I didn't let myself sleep, just drift, so I knew it the moment something human, but cold, picked me up and started flying over the ground. Again, I knew I should be terrified, but I wasn't. I also knew I should find that weird that I didn't, but in fact this felt quite the opposite. It felt normal, in a way. Sort of like nothing here was going to hurt me and this could have happened on any other day, more than once a day and it wouldn't be a surprise. The figure above me, or rather, carrying me, laughed quietly.
I didn't realize then that this person could read my mind. I also didn't realize, because I now knew, that this was the third choice in my life. Of course, it hadn't been my choice; it had been someone else's… But that had been a long time ago. It was too late now.
I was laid down on something that with the texture and the pressure its push me back with, I'd say was a bed. I heard voices talking in the background, acting like I couldn't hear them.
"She'll be okay, Seth, she's just cold and tired. I wonder what happened, why she would go out in a t-shirt, a skirt, and high heels. And into the forest! What would make someone do that?"
"Don't you go into the forest every two weeks?"
"That's different; I can take care of myself. She's a human!"
That irritated me; I hated when people talked about me like I wasn't there. It pulled me out of my stupor and gave me enough strength to respond.
"Ariella can take care of herself, too. She can also tie her shoes!" I let the false cheeriness bleed out of my voice until it was my normal flat and irritated tone. "She also hates people talking about her like she's not there, so if you do have anything to say, you should leave before she figures her way off of this bed."
"You're not very nice, are you?" A new voice.
"Try me any day of the week that has two letters." A low chuckle.
"Any other preferences I should know about?"
"Yeah. I don't like pancakes, so if you're going to try to feed me disgustingly sweet, floury breakfast type food, choose waffles. Oh, and if you think it's funny when a fish drowns, I'm right there with you."
"Is that all?" The voice, again a different one, sounded amused.
"Nope," I had a lot to say, but I only said one thing, "Since I know there are at least… six of you in here, I'm going to tell you right now I'm not getting up until seven of you leave. By the way, why does this house smell like omelets?" Okay, maybe two.
"I thought you said there were six of us?" A girls voice this time.
"Yeah, but two more of you walked in while I was talking."
"How are you sure?"
"I felt it. Now, are you going to get out, or am I going back to sleep?" I made my voice as calm as possible.
"You too, Shorty," I said when two people tried to stay.
"How do you do that?" She muttered as she left.
"Magic," I said, my first reaction to that question. My second was 'ancient Chinese secret', but she didn't need to know that.
"She's gone," another girl's voice said.
"I know," I pulled myself up, just barely making it, before opening my eyes. The face of the girl on the other side of the room was lovely, no doubt, but I didn't care much for her. She had pretty mahogany hair, the type that only turned red in bright light, and it was shiny. She had pretty gold eyes, and a pale smiling face. She seemed about average height, and if I stood next to her, I'd seem short and… vibrant, I suppose the word would be. Sort of like the contrast between the light gray and glittery gold crayons; especially if the kid who owned them liked gold. She had a heart shaped face, though, and the wide eyes filled it. Not scary- looking, though, but in a way that made her look like a little kid. Summarizing her looks, though, I came up with three possible names for her.
Of course, I didn't work to think of this, it was automatic and I didn't realize I was doing it.
The first, Isabella, seemed most likely, though some people didn't have the right names for themselves. It didn't seem quite right, like there was some other name for her in it. Like… Bella. Yeah. Bella seemed like her name. She looked eighteen.
"My name is Bella," I wasn't surprised I was right. I was always right.
"What's your name?"
"I was being polite,"
"Can you not say 'I know'?"
"What don't you know?" People enjoy ruining my fun.
"Who you're married to,"
"Oh," She played with the ring on her finger unconsciously; that was how I noticed it. "You saw that?"
"How could I not?"
"What's your last name? We do have to find your family." She changed the subject.
"Oh, I'm sure you won't be able to," I knew what I would look like to her; amused smile playing on my face, silvery green eyes flashing.
"I still want to know." Her face became stubborn, and she crossed her arms.
I could do that, too, but instead of saying that and starting a fight like part of me wanted to, I said, "I don't have a last name. In fact, according to the government, I don't exist. The people who took care of me called me Ariella, but that's not my name. there was only one person who knew that, though, so I guess this makes twelve since I know the rest of them are listening somewhere around here."
"What is your name then?"
"I don't have one."
Right when I said that, I could feel myself being cornered with words. Soon, I would give up something and reveal things I shouldn't.
"Oh! That reminds me. First, you didn't answer my question, and second who was the one that found me in the forest?"
"Because we made omelets. Seth did. Why, are you going to try and be nice?"
"No. I need to give him something. And since I know he is listening, why don't you just come on in, Seth?"
"I couldn't help it." He said sheepishly as he walked in.
"And I couldn't care less," I said, "Talk to me when I'm not starved, half drowned, and exhausted in three ways, and maybe I will care."
He was staring at me like some sort of puppy, and I didn't like it so much. It was sort of creepy, in a weird, comforting way.
"Oh!" somebody outside of this room said suddenly. She fluttered in quickly, saying, "You are still wet and haven't eaten yet, have you? That can wait," She said, waving Seth off. "We need to get you a shower!"
I blinked at her and stepped back quickly, not trusting her as quickly as she seemed to expect me to. She had pretty, caramel colored hair and the same eyes as Bella's, if not lighter. She too had a heart shaped face. But she looked to be in her thirties. She looked, to me, like someone with an old name. Something like... Ether? Ester? Este? Esme? Yeah, it would be Esme.
"Oh, I'm sorry. My name is Esme. You must be terrified. Would you like a shower? You could follow me and take one" I looked at her worried face, and didn't detect anything else in her expression. No evil plots. I decided I would be okay if I followed her. She led me up a set of stairs and into a long hallway. She stopped in front of a thin door and opened it.
"Feel free to use any of these," She said kindly, "The bathroom is right across the hall. If you have any problems, call for me, okay?"
"Okay," I just stared for a minute at the huge closet filled with shampoos, conditioners, body washes, body lotions, and any other washing substances you wouldn't think to think of. Then I picked my favorite shampoo and conditioner, TRESemmé Smoother, mostly because it smells a little like cucumber melon. I thought it was a nice smell. I then grabbed a loofah and a moisturizing body wash and head off to shower.
I was happy to see that they had one of those gigantic rich people showers that shot water at people with like thirty trillion pounds of pressure or so. It relaxed my muscles and made me not want to move, even to get myself clean, which I had wanted more than relaxing In the first place.
I was glad I could take a shower. It felt like I hadn't taken a shower in a century and a half. I smiled to myself with dry humor at that. Not because it was true, but because it felt close enough to the mark.
When I got out of the shower, I felt more refreshed than I had in a long time, and now that I felt clean and was fully clothed, I realized that I was thirsty. It took that place in the center of my mind, the place I couldn't possibly forget or ignore. My throat felt dry and barren. I started coughing, my body trying to put liquid into my mouth. I sucked in a quick gasp after the coughing fit, quickly realizing it was a mistake. I started coughing again, harder this time.
"Are you okay?" Another new voice rang in my ears. I was horrified to realize I didn't hear him come in. It was probably because of the coughing.
"Thirsty," I managed to gasp. After another minute, the coughing fit stopped.
"Better?" He asked cautiously. His arms were out, like he'd been trying to help, but I was coughing, so there was nothing for him to do. I nodded slowly. I didn't want to do anything to trigger the painful coughs again. "Would you like a drink?" I nodded again.
He led me down a hallway. While we walked, I examined him. He was tall and lean, with honey blonde hair and a calm handsome face. He grinned at me while we walked down the stairs.
"How long were you in that forest? You look so much less dark now that you've had that shower."
Finally, we got to the fridge, and he got me a glass of water. I chugged the water and blinked at him.
"Is your name Jasper?" He looked at me strangely, and then said, "Yeah. How did you know?" I shrugged.
"I'm a really good judge of faces," I grinned up at him, "Most people say not to judge a book by its cover, but I can."
"Hmm," He said thoughtfully, "Oh," His eyes focused back on me, "You probably want more water, and you're also hungry, aren't you? Feel free to anything in our fridge." With that, he smiled and left me to myself. I dug into the fridge immediately, finding a red apple (I didn't eat the green type,) and biting into it. It tasted just right, and when I swallowed it, my stomach clenched and I felt a little sick for a moment. I took another bite, and immediately felt better. I continued to eat the apple, even the core, and grabbed another out of the fridge, and some left over orange chicken. That seemed like the only leftovers in this fridge, though. I filled up another glass of water, drank it, filled it again, and went to sit on the white couch in front of the big TV. I didn't turn on the TV, just ate my food, drank my drink, and looked out the windows. It wasn't very hard, considering an entire wall was clear glass.
It was around that time that I realized it was still morning. The clouds made it look like twilight. I liked it. I'd never been a sun person. I relaxed against the couch and suddenly wondered where everyone had gone. There had been a lot of them before- at least twelve. Now, they were nowhere to be seen. It was a big house, though. I was surprised I met Jasper in the hallway.
When I was done with my food and drink, I felt much better. I was calm and relaxed.
I knew then I wouldn't be able to stay there forever, but I hadn't thought I'd have to leave so soon.
Finally, the short girl with spiky black hair came downstairs, Jasper in tow.
"Aren't you smart?" Jasper said, having been the first to remember my distaste for people talking like I wasn't there.
"Yep, did you come down you to see if I could tell your name?"
"Yep," She said cheerfully.
"Alice," I said, "And while I'm at it, you're also… I don't remember the word, but it starts with a C, I think. You can see the future, can't you?"
"Yeah," She said, surprised. "How'd you know?"
"It's the name," I explained, "People named Alice are named that for a reason. Black haired Alice's have special gifts, blonde Alice's are too innocent, and anything in between is either misnamed or very smart, depending on the color."
"That's interesting," She murmured, eyes glazed over a bit. "How did you figure this out?"
"I've lived all over the world and met so many people with so many different names… It's a talent." That was the easiest way to explain it. I didn't want to get into detail.
"That's nice," She said. "Are you also good with personalities? It seems like it."
"Yeah, sometimes. Usually when people don't know I'm there or are working too hard to be polite." I said quietly. "Like with your boyfriend over there."I said the last part loudly so he could hear, even though I knew I didn't need to. I wanted to make a point. I patted the couch next to me, offering a seat. She was still standing, after all. She sat and pulled Jasper down next to her.
"You know, Jasper, just because you know I hate a lot of people watching me at once, it does not mean I won't make conversation with more than one person."
"I know," He said, grinning. "I just have nothing to say. Personally, I am a little surprised that someone so young has had time to travel the entire world and meet a lot of people at each place."
"How young do I look to you?" I asked curiously. I knew I was a little short, but I really wasn't as young as most people thought.
"You look like a tall nine year old to me," He said. I frowned.
"I'm fifteen, idiot," I said defensively. Most people were closer than that. They usually thought twelve or thirteen, sometimes eleven, but never nine. I immediately felt sorry though. "No offense," I apologized.
"You do look young, though. Are you sure you're fifteen?" Alice said.
"No," I said, sarcasm bleeding into my voice, "I left my house on my tenth birthday because I wanted to be fifteen."
"Okay, I get it. No need to get like that." She was a touch defensive. "I was just pointing out that we found a girl lost in the middle of a forest that looks like a ten year old that we only know two things about we couldn't possibly know for real."
"Why would I lie?"
"I don't know," Jasper said. "Maybe you're trying to steal our riches." He was joking.
"I have a better way than passing out in a forest to do that."
"You're probably right."
"Besides, I don't steal."
"Let's get back to the beginning of our conversation. If you know so much about personalities, what is Jasper like?"
"You are very… Charismatic. You're also quiet around new people, but once you get to know them, you are sarcastic, funny, and pretty much anything else you want them to feel. Right?"
"You did it!" Alice cheered. "That's him exactly! That little trick of yours is pretty cool. Do me next!" I leaned back against the seat, sort of bored and entertained at the same time. I didn't have to try at all. She'd already shown enough.
"You're energetic, like to shop, conniving, very smart for being very short, and if you were normal, you'd get about four hours of sleep a night."
"What do you mean 'normal'?" She asked cautiously.
"Oh, I mean I know you're a vampire. All of you are."