Chapter 11:

I don't need a reason to be happy

The Sequence of Kai

School wasn’t always this boring. Back home school used to be kind of fun. I still hated the school part of school of course but you could avoid that. Bookmark here

I liked talking to my friends, I liked going to cheerleading practice, I liked flirting with the guys. OK, I didn’t like that part but that was more to do with the guys at my old school than anything else. I liked the idea of flirting with the guys.Bookmark here

Now that I’ve been forced to move to this stupid rainy island, I don’t like anything about school. I don’t have any friends to like talking to, the girls in my class talk to me but they’re not my friends. Bookmark here

I get it, I joined their class during the last year of school, the social groups were already set. They don’t even do cheerleading here, they expect me to join, like, the art club or some shit. And even if the guys in my old school weren’t exactly top tier, all the boys here are English, there’s no conceivable way they could be less worth flirting with.Bookmark here

Oh, and there’s the uniforms. Why does anyone put up with these? The shirts are ugly, the jumpers are itchy and the skirts are too long. Who would want to wear a skirt anyway? Skirts suck. They were always the worst part of cheerleading, I used to practice in jeans.Bookmark here

It’s because I don’t have any of these distractions that I have no choice but to concentrate on the school part of school. I have to listen to the teachers because I have no one to gossip with. I have to write answers in my copy because I have no one to write texts to and it’s too dangerous to message anyone I used to know. Bookmark here

I’m so desperate for anything at this stage I’m considering flirting with some of the girls. A good way to make sure none of them ever get friendly with me, I think most of them are still a year or two from considering that option.Bookmark here

I look down at the exam I’m meant to be doing. I can only let my mind wander so much before I start looping back on myself, I’ve already done so three times since the exam started. I have to force myself on to the next question. Bookmark here

QUESTION 1: If-Bookmark here

Ughhhhhhhhhhh. Bookmark here

I don’t want to do this; I don’t want to think about it. I know this stuff is important, but I don’t want to. Thinking about important things has never done anyone any good, it just makes them upset. I just want to do things, not think about them. Bookmark here

*ding ding ding*Bookmark here

Uh oh, school is over. Looks like I’m handing up another blank exam. Bookmark here

“Lisa!”Bookmark here

Mr Bartley calls out to me and beckons me towards his desk. He hasn’t managed to learn my name in the couple of months I’ve been here. He’s pretty old, looks like he might drop dead any moment, so I haven’t bothered correcting him. It’s not like it does any harm to me.Bookmark here

“What is it, sir?”Bookmark here

“You slept your way through that exam.”Bookmark here

“I’m sorry, I just didn’t know how to answer any of the questions…. I’ll do better next time.”Bookmark here

“I can tell the difference between someone trying and failing and someone trying to fail.”Bookmark here

He looks up at me from his desk with an expectant look, trying to lead me into answering a question he hadn’t asked directly. I stay silent, I don’t want to engage with this type of counselling. Bookmark here

The silence gives way to a sigh, he probably doesn’t have the energy to push harder.Bookmark here

“Do you need anything else, sir?”Bookmark here

“Yes actually.”Bookmark here

He hands me a stack of papers.Bookmark here

“I need you to deliver these to Kai for me.”Bookmark here

“You want me to do it?”Bookmark here

The school I go to now is small enough, they don’t have the spare staff to deliver school work to this Kai girl so they cycle through the students to get it done.Bookmark here

“Oh, that’s right, you still haven’t met her have you?”Bookmark here

“No, she hasn’t been in any of the days I have.”Bookmark here

“Or any of the others… She’s a bit… difficult, I’ll get someone else to do it.”Bookmark here

He tries to take the papers back, but I yank them out of his hand.Bookmark here

“No, it’s OK, I’ll do it.”Bookmark here

He pauses at my eagerness. I’ve heard the passing gossip about this girl. Nothing substantial, I don’t know, for instance, why she isn’t coming into school but whoever has had to deliver her that week’s work complains about having to do it.Bookmark here

She’s so rude now.Bookmark here

She’s dyed her hair.Bookmark here

She used to be so much fun.Bookmark here

Fuck her, she didn’t respond to anyone’s texts.Bookmark here

It’s all that sort of gossip. Bookmark here

Lately, it seems some people don’t even bother bringing her the work or they just drop it through the letterbox. She must be really lonely if that’s how her classmates feel about her.Bookmark here

“Alright, here’s her address.”Bookmark here

Mr Bartley hands me a piece of paper with an address on it. I take it and head straight for the door.Bookmark here

“Miss White.”Bookmark here

I turn back to him with one foot out the door.Bookmark here

“Why do you seem so happy to be running an errand?”Bookmark here

“I don’t have to have a reason to be happy, do I?”Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

The reason I left so quickly was that I wanted to change before I deliver these papers. It wouldn’t do to meet someone for the first time in uniform, it’s such an unfriendly look. Bookmark here

This girls place is on the opposite side of the city according to my phone, so I need to move quickly if I want to get there before nightfall. I could’ve gotten home instantly if I was allowed to use my ability, but Paul told me not to. I know why, I just don’t like it, walking everywhere is a pain.Bookmark here

I manage to get to Paul’s before Aaron gets back from college. I was hoping I would because if I didn’t, he’d try and come with me. I pop my head into Paul’s office just to check in.Bookmark here

“Hey, you need me to do anything?”Bookmark here

He’s writing his thing, whatever it is, again. His office is so dull.Bookmark here

“No.”Bookmark here

Okay~Bookmark here

I gently close the door back over and go to my room to change. I open the doors of my wardrobe and all of my clothes fall out onto the floor like usual. I look over the pile and wait for something to catch my eye. The faded purple jeans and pale blue top strike me as pretty approachable so I decide on them. Bookmark here

I look at myself in the mirror, the sort of girl I’d like to see is looking back. I give her a wink and she winks back, I wonder if she likes me?Bookmark here

I realize I’ve wasted enough time here so I stuff the papers in my backpack and rush for the door. Just as I reach the bottom of the stairs, the door opens and Aaron announces his arrival. Bookmark here

“I’m home!”Bookmark here

I try rushing back upstairs to avoid his questions, but he’s already spotted me.Bookmark here

“Yo, Trish, you’re back early.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, I am, we got out early today, haha…”Bookmark here

I know I’m a bad liar and he, being the one who gets lied to, knows that as well.Bookmark here

“Really? Where are you going then?”Bookmark here

He points at the backpack I have on.Bookmark here

“Uhhhhhhhh…. I just got back. Like just now. I’m only in the door actually.”Bookmark here

“When did your school swap the black skirts for purple jeans?”Bookmark here

I hate when he gets like this, when we both know I’m lying. He could just get straight to the point and tell me I am, but he wants me to admit it myself. I won’t give him the satisfaction, so I close my eyes and hope he just goes away.Bookmark here

“Uh, Trish?”Bookmark here

Not gonna answer him. Bookmark here

“Trish, why are you doing the eye thing again, I thought we said you weren’t going to do the eye thing anymore.”Bookmark here

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”Bookmark here

“Trish, stop being such a child.”Bookmark here

He puts his hand on my shoulder and I brush it off bluntly.Bookmark here

“Who told you you could touch me?”Bookmark here

“No one.”Bookmark here

“Then why did you?”Bookmark here

“I wanted you to open your eyes so we could talk like adults.”Bookmark here

Shit, he tricked me. Eyes shut, eyes shut!Bookmark here

“Trishhhhhhh…..”Bookmark here

“If you want to talk like adults then maybe you should treat me like an adult and mind your own fucking business!”Bookmark here

“Very convincing, very mature.”Bookmark here

“Go away please.”Bookmark here

“Not until you tell me where you’re going.”Bookmark here

“Fine!”Bookmark here

I open my eyes but make sure they look angry. I see him try to stifle a smile as I do so. I know I’m bad at being angry, shut up!Bookmark here

“Mr Bartley told me to deliver some papers to an absent girl.”Bookmark here

“And that’s where you were going just now?”Bookmark here

“Yes.”Bookmark here

“Alone?”Bookmark here

“See this is why I didn’t want to fucking tell you.”Bookmark here

“What, I was just asking if you were planning on going alone?”Bookmark here

“Well, I’m clearly not going to be allowed to anymore am I?”Bookmark here

“Nope.”Bookmark here

He tries to soothe me with a big genuine smile, trying to get me to ‘understand’ that he’s just worried about me. I get that Aaron, I really do, I just don’t like it, I can handle myself.Bookmark here

I start back up the stairs suddenly, there’s something I need to do.Bookmark here

“Where are you going?”Bookmark here

“I need to change.”Bookmark here

“But you already changed.”Bookmark here

“That was before I knew you were tagging along, I need to change again.”Bookmark here

I rush up the last few steps and into my room. That little act ought to buy me some time. He’ll be too embarrassed to consider that I could be up to something. Bookmark here

I consider my options. I could jump out the window but last time I did that I hurt my leg and he had to carry me back in, I don’t want that to happen again. Bookmark here

I could wait for him to go into another room and then rush out the door. He’d probably wait in the hall for hours though and, even if he didn’t, he’d knock on my door to check if I was OK before he did anything else. Bookmark here

That means I have one choice, I have to use my ability. I mentally apologize to Paul for breaking his rule again and I concentrate on my destination. Bookmark here

I feel my surroundings shift and crack and suddenly my body is gone.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

When I open my eyes again, I’m in that abandoned house once more, wood rotting, air damp as it ever is. Bookmark here

It’s been a couple of months since I last used my transfer ability so I nearly throw up on arrival. Bookmark here

I transfer here because it’s safe to do so, I scouted out this place when we moved to Brighton last year. My transfer ability isn’t identical to teleportation, my body doesn’t move itself, I’m just able to connect points in space, allow one to engulf the other in an instant and arrive on the other side. Things move towards me, not the other way round. Bookmark here

That’s why I need somewhere unchanging, it’s fine when I can see my destination in front of me but for places far away, I risk transferring an object inside my body. I suppose there’s every chance I one day transfer myself into a collapsed version of this place. It’s worth the risk though, different kinds of suffocation.Bookmark here

I have to be fair to Aaron I suppose, I didn’t used to be able to take anything with me when I transferred, clothes included. He made that thread for me to make such a thing possible, clothes will stay with me now, anything inside my bag can come along for the journey.Bookmark here

I like this place. Odd to call such a lonely, broken place comforting but it is. Captivity is warm, freedom is cold. The chilling breeze that runs through this house reminds me, that at all times, I am free. Bookmark here

The house is a bit out of the way, on the north edge of town whereas this girl I’m meant to meet lives nearer the west edge. Nothing to be done about that I suppose, I better get a move on.Bookmark here

I step out into the cool winter breeze that Brighton has to offer these days. It’s pleasant at this time, when the sun is still just about in the sky, making the wind chill pleasant and not quite uncomfortable. Things change when night comes, of course, that’s why I packed my favourite jacket. It’s big and fluffy, really cosy, I love it.Bookmark here

Another thing I love is being able to walk around the streets of Brighton like this. It’s not that it’s an especially beautiful place but I love taking in the little bits about a place that make it unique. Bookmark here

The cracks in the pavement, the chips on the bricks of the houses, shops with names that seem like they’re a typo but somehow aren’t. The surprising number of fish and chip places in a row, quickly made unsurprising by the abundance of pubs just around the corner. Bookmark here

I love all this useless information, that I can walk past these streets and say to myself ‘that’s the street with the French bakery run by a Ukrainian couple’, ‘that’s the one with four corners and five corner shops’, ‘that’s a street I’m too scared to walk down, I wonder what’s there?’ Stupid little things to think about and relax the mind. Bookmark here

Paul says I shouldn’t walk about by myself because Kohsan’s men could be around any corner, hiding behind any door. But I don’t believe that, who would ever come here looking for someone? Those men are too important to ever come to a place like this.Bookmark here

An hour or so passes before I realize I haven’t made any progress towards my destination; I’ve just been wandering. The sun is beginning to set and it’s getting cold. I put on my jacket and can’t resist rubbing my cheeks against the fur trim of the hood. So soft!Bookmark here

There’s no problem with me taking my time in theory, I don’t have to walk back in the dark or the cold. It’s just that I’m sure by now Aaron is out looking for me, even my best flattery wouldn’t paralyze him for this long. It just means I have things to work on and no time left to be idle. Bookmark here

My phone informs me that my wandering has still managed to bring me decently close to my destination and in a couple of minutes I’m there.Bookmark here

A three-story apartment building painted a white that has become very dull from the elements. I’d say it hasn’t been painted in a few years if I had to guess but otherwise it looks to be in good condition. Quite a few of the apartments seem to be available to rent, which is quite odd in this city, I wonder if something happened here? Bookmark here

The complex has one of those pedestrian entrances with the metal gate and a number pad to call up to any of the apartments. I check the address I was given, she’s apartment 7 so that’s the number I ring for. Bookmark here

No answer. Bookmark here

I try again. Bookmark here

No answer.Bookmark here

“Oi, what are you doing?”Bookmark here

A middle-aged man in a suit confronts me out of nowhere. He’d look like he was just returning from work except he has no briefcase or bag of any kind. By the state of his suit, I can tell he doesn’t own an iron either.Bookmark here

“Oh, sorry, I’m just dropping off some schoolwork for a friend who’s sick, but she won’t answer….”Bookmark here

His expression changes a little, less hostile but still uneasy.Bookmark here

“Oh, you’re one of her friends. She’s not going to answer the bell, next time text her or something.”Bookmark here

The man steps in front of me and enters the code to the door, pushes it open and waves me through.Bookmark here

“Thank you!”Bookmark here

The man gives me a nod before stepping through and closing the door behind him. Bookmark here

“Do me a favour and tell her if she’s going to come home so late to be quieter about it. I only get a couple nights of uninterrupted sleep a week these days.”Bookmark here

With that, he goes past me and up the stairs to the second floor. The signs indicate that apartments 1-10 are on the ground floor so that’s where I head.Bookmark here

What was that about her coming home late? I was under the impression that she was a recluse, that she hadn’t talked to anyone from school in months. I wonder what she could be doing out at night, I hope she isn’t in any trouble. I nearly stop to consider why I care about that, it’s not like I know this girl after all. Bookmark here

I’m here, outside her door. I shouldn’t be nervous about this, I’m just going to put the papers in her letterbox and be on my way. Bookmark here

Here we go. One….. Two… Thunk! The papers hit the letterbox and bend backwards. I try jamming them in a couple times, but I just end up bending them more, the letterbox is forced shut somehow.Bookmark here

“OK, calm down Trish, all this means is you have to knock on the door. This is why you’re here anyway right?”Bookmark here

I breathe myself into a state of calm. I need to prepare myself mentally and physically.Bookmark here

I put the papers down, take my backpack off my back and begin my stretching routine.Bookmark here

Stretching is absolutely essential in these sorts of situations, nothing could be more embarrassing than getting a cramp while introducing yourself to someone for the first time, I’m not letting that happen again!Bookmark here

After making sure I’m nice and limber, I resolve myself once more and knock.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.