So, this is Alice, and April and I decided to both write a story based of a writing prompt on @awriterslifeforme on Instagram, which is the first paragraph of this story, and publish them on here without showing them to each other so that neither of us could influence the other. The aim was for them to be short, but as ever, I am seemingly unable to write really short stories, so this is going to be published in several instalments, the first of which is below; enjoy!:
The first thing that caught their attention was the window at the end of the room. It had broken blinds and a plastic seal, but that wasn’t what made it interesting. It was the light that shined through and lit up the whole room. Everyone knew it was dark outside.
Most of the others had seen it before, but for some, like me, this was the first time. Several of them clamber forwards to take a closer look, but I do not.
“Oh, go on,” Charlene tells me, rolling her eyes. I shake my head, hiding my deeply awed feelings deep inside.
I know that light is dangerous. They have not learned that yet.
Maybe they will soon.
Maybe they won’t.
But I’m Mavis, and I know it all too well.
Light only ever brings darkness, and I for one would rather live without it.
“Jeesh, you’re such a killjoy.” I ignore Charlene’s backhanded comments and stay firmly at the back of the room, willing my eyes to stay rooted to the ground, hoisting them back when they wander towards the light. Soon, the general chatter is broken up by a figure of authority, clearing her voice and clapping her hands. I stuff my hands into the deep pockets of my jacket, pushing them firmly against my camera, my shoulders relaxing at the reminder of its presence.
“Don’t concern yourself with the pain, you should adjust over the next couple of times that you see it.” I look around, puzzled to see that all the other new recruits are blinking rapidly and shielding their eyes. Shoot. I return my eyes firmly to the ground, hoping nobody noticed my reaction, or lack of, to the light. “Now, firstly, I would like to welcome you on behalf of Lux Aeterna. All of you have passed extensive tests to be here, and I’m sure that the old hands will make you feel comfortable around the place.” She passes her gaze across those she is fond of, smiling supportively at the nervous new ones. I stay hidden at the back, with Charlene, suddenly painfully aware of her burning gaze fixing itself to me. Mavis is special. My reports, be it from school or elsewhere, always focused on that one fact.
I’m not like everyone else.
She knows. Her eyes are still focused on me, and people are beginning to look around to see the subject of her attention. Me. I let my eyes flit up and meet hers, smiling weakly before proceeding to stare at my shoes – plain black trainers. The welcoming speech swings into full flow, and I zone out, knowing everything that is being said anyway.
When we leave the window room, the lack of light is blindingly obvious. Everything is so dark. The absence of brightness is like a hole in the place, like how someone’s birthday party would feel, if the person it was for never turned up. Small clusters of people chatter excitedly, thrilled with what they have just witnessed.
I feel cold, wrong. Different. Charlene’s grip is tight on my arm as she pulls me aside.
“What was that all about?” I shrug, playing innocent,
“Huh?” She shakes her head, white blonde hair flipping in a perfect fan of pretty. People think I’m insane not to fancy Charlene, but I don’t see her sky blue eyes or her cute nose, I see past the blonde hair and stunning face to the person beneath, who is also pretty amazing. She is my friend, my best friend, and I do not have a crush on her.
“Don’t act dumb. You could fool someone else, but not me, Mavis. I know you, don’t forget that.” I shake her off,
“Please, Charlene, it was nothing.”
“No.” Her voice is sharp, unlike the high girly voice she puts out to the world. This is Charlene in battle mode, the sharp, calculated girl that hides beneath her facade. This is the real Charlene, and I’ll admit, if I was going to fancy her, it would be because of this person who hides beneath the surface. “Mavis Jones, I have known you my whole life. I’ve sat through detentions with you, broken the law with you. You know my secrets and I know yours. But I don’t know this.” She scowls beautifully, “I know you’re hiding something, but I don’t know what. And that makes me angry.”
She’s right, there is something I’m not telling her. I know everything about her, every last thing. She knows everything about me too. Everything but this. Nobody can know. Mavis is different. This is the girl who stood up for me when the other kids said Mavis was a girl’s name. She’s the one who chased them away when they beat me up. She fought my demons until I could fight them myself, but I can’t tell her this one thing. I swallow, my throat tight.
“Char, honestly. If it was a big deal, you’d know about it, you know you would. Nothing, and I mean nothing is up.” I shake my head, dark hair, almost black, flicking into my eyes. “I’m just nervous. This is what I’ve wanted my whole life, and now I’m here, and I’m scared.” Her eyes, which had become ice, melt back into their soft gaze that most guys find irresistible, holding me in a warm embrace without even touching me.
“If you’re sure.” She bites her lip, even white teeth worrying at the flesh. “I worry about you, Mavis.” I cough,
“Yeah, I know.” I look down, “but I’m better now.”