Fantasticoe -- 2013
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The Jewelry Shop Guy

Marissa Seamon

 

I stood at the top of the jungle gym. The metal slide looked hot from the sun, but I didn't care. I smiled and laughed as I launched my body down the slide. My friends called my name as we laughed and played together.

          As I hit the bottom of the slide, the playground disappeared. The pebbles, blacktop, the swings, the children, all turned into something that looked like static on a TV. I gasped as the salt and peppery picture turned into the blue sky and stores lined down a street.

          I was suddenly walking down a concrete sidewalk heading towards a jewelry shop. I felt as if I'd been here many times, though I'd never seen this place in my life. Wandering onto a blacktop parking lot I made my way around sparkly clean cars, looking wavy in the distance with the extreme heat of the sun on this hot summer day.

          I reached the glass door of the jewelry store in the long strip mall. As I was about to grab the handle, a man in all black clothing pushed me out of the way. I fell back, confused and shocked. I was about to get up and yell at the man when I saw something else take place. I looked into the eyes of another person, and I was terribly frightened. He had gorgeous short brown hair. It was dark and made his blue eyes stand out like someone with a pink umbrella at a funeral. He stared back at me from inside the store, but the man in black stepped in front of him, hiding him from my view. He had a gun pointed at the man inside. Then I heard the gunshot, felt my heart ache, and heard everything else around me quiet and muffled.

          When I opened my eyes everything was shaded, but then the voices became clearer. Some of them were saying my name and most of them were whispering. I layed on the playground floor staring up at a woman with hazel eyes and short blonde hair. They comforted me until I realized what was happening. Next thing I knew, I was being rushed in an ambulance to the hospital.

          That was ten years ago, and now I sit in my best friend, Dina's, room crying on her shoulder. I love her like my own sister. She's been here for me, the only one who's stayed since that day when I was seven.

          “I just wish it would all go away. Why do I have to be so different? I hate these stupid visions.”

          “I know, I know,” Dina says patting me on the back as I soak the shoulder of her tie-dye shirt. I shake my head back and forth, wiping my tears and sorrows into the soft fabric. I think more about the guy in the vision.

          “I'm already a senior. There's no way he was out of high school, and the visions of him are becoming way too frequent. Dear God, I hope that one, just that one, doesn't come true. Even if I have to live with never meeting him, I don't care! I just... I know it will feel worse when it actually comes true and it already hurts like hell,” I feel like my heart is about to explode out of my chest. Falling to the floor, I lay on my stomach and bury my face into Dina's light brown carpet. It doesn't look very pretty, but it smells like Dina, so I breathe it in and sigh.

          “I know it might feel bad, but it's not the end of the world, Bray,” she says crawling over and sitting indian-style in front of my head.

          “This is just awful.” Rolling over, I look into Dina's big brown eyes. I can't believe that I'm starting to see this vision at least once a day now. The more frequent they come, the more I know that this will be happening very soon.

          “Want some poptarts?” her lips part as she smiles at me.

          “I guess.”

          A woman with short brown hair and eyes the same as Dina's appeared in a black and white kitchen huddled over a pan. The pan sat on the stove with something yellow inside. Then, it suddenly bursted into flames and the woman tried to put out the fire, dropping the pan in the process.

          The salt and pepper TV coloring hits the picture in my mind like a brick wall. Everything goes back to normal, and Dina's face is maybe two inches from mine.

          “Braylynn, You okay?”

          “Yeah, I'll have a strawberry poptart, but umm... is your mom cooking? Because I'm pretty sure she's about to set your kitchen on fire.” There is a slight pause as Dina's mouth slowly opens into an “o”.

          “Oh my gosh!” Dina jumps up and dashes out of her room faster than I can comprehend. Slowly, I get up, shaking my head and follow her out.

          As I reach the bottom of the stairs, there is indeed the smell of something burning. The screams and commotion come from the kitchen. The black and white tile is a mess as I walk in. The fire is out, but Dina and her mother stand there staring at the upside down pan just in front of the stove. The remains of an omelet lie on the ground.

          “So... poptarts?” I say bringing them out of their shocked trances as I go to grab some paper towels to help clean up the mess.

          “Thanks Braylynn,” Dina's mother says as I hand her some and begin to scrape the eggs off the floor, “We've got strawberry and cinnamon poptarts.”

          “I'll get 'em.” Dina slides away and into the pantry.

          When Dina comes back, her mom and I are finished cleaning the mess and Dina motions at me to follow her. I glance at the clock to see that it's time to leave for school.

          Taking the paper towels from my hands so I can leave, Dina's mom winks at me, “Thanks again, Bray.” Dina's mom knows about my visions. She's witnessed them many times, me always being at their house.

          “Of course, Mrs. Mendale. I'll see you later.” I smile at her and follow Dina out of the large black front door.

          ***

          Dina and I walk to the cafeteria at noon, discussing the events of our classes this morning, but when we reach the entrance of the crowded room, a nasty smell reaches my nose. I cringe.

          “Ew, it smells disgusting,” Dina says scrunching her nose.

          “I know, It's-” I freeze in my footsteps, paralyzed. In front of me is a table full of decently attractive guys, but that's not even what I'm really looking at. Directly in the middle of the table is a boy with spiky brown hair and bright blue eyes. I am instantly hit with a realization- this is the jewelry shop guy. He doesn't notice me, but I am mesmerized. He is wearing a blue polo and puts his long fingers through his hair as he talks and then throws his head back into a loud booming laugh. I sway back and forth wishing I could go talk to him, almost forgetting what my seeing him really means.

          “Bray!” Dina nudges my shoulder, pulling me from my thoughts.

          “Wh-what?” I open and close my eyes, trying to focus.

          “Are you okay? Do you need to sit down?”

          “Ummm...” suddenly my brain goes into overdrive, and I start spitting out words, “Yes, yes, I need to sit. Let's go over there!” I point to the empty table directly to the left of the one that the jewelry shop guy sits at. Grabbing Dina's arm, I practically sprint across the lunchroom, pulling her by the elbow. I need to hear him, see him, know him. Sitting down at the table beside the boys', I make sure I am furthest from him so I can just barely see him out of the corner of my eyes. I drop my sack lunch in front of me, pulling Dina down by the pocket of her ripped jeans. She falls into the seat to my right. Sighing, I stare at the sights of the beautiful blue eyes and dark hair.

          “What are you staring at?”

          “That guy,” I look away from him and tilt my head in the direction of the gorgeous brunnette.

          “Oh, the new guy? That's Hayden.”

          I slam my head into the table. I cannot let this vision come true. I feel compelled to talk to him, yet I never want to see his face again so I can assure that he lives.

          “Fuck,” I whisper under my breath. Then sitting up, I look at Dina, thinking I owe her an explanation, “That's the jewelry shop guy.” Looking back at him, I can feel the tears pressing the backs of my eyes as I hear the gunshot sound distantly playing over in my head. I wipe them away quickly and try to think about what I should do now that I've found him. I doubt I can avoid this vision happening. They always seem to come true in one way or another. Maybe I can put it off though, at least for his sake. If I never talk to him or get to know him, the vision can't come true right? Then he won't die.

          Dina's been talking to me and trying to reassure me it seems, but I just cut her off.

          “Hey, do you just want to go eat lunch outside?”

          She looks at me hesitantly, “Sure?”

          Picking up my lunch, Dina and I depart from our seats. The door leading out of the building is directly past Hayden's table. I groan internally and try not to look at him. I feel a hand on my back and look at Dina. She smiles at me, reassuring me that everything will turn out okay. But just as I'm about to bring my gaze back to the door, I see Hayden's eyes out of the corner of mine. He stares at me as we pass, and a smile forms on his lips. I want to smile back, but a shiver runs down my spine, and I quicken my pace.

          Once were out the door, I take a deep breath, relieving some of my anxiety. I lead Dina over to a picnic table and sit down.

          “So what are you going to do?”

          I try to ignore the butterflies fluttering violently in my stomach, “Ignore him, I guess. Never go to that jewelry store. Never meet him.” I shrug and start unpacking my lunch. An apple and a peanut butter sandwhich. Neither sounds very appealing, but I take a bite of the apple anyway.

          “Yeah if you never go, it can't happen. Because you were specifically in the vision. See, you got all flustered for nothing.” Dina smiles at me and steals my sandwhich. I let her eat it with no complaints. I can barely even finish the apple.

          We don't make much conversation the rest of lunch. I watch the squirrels run up and down the trees and attempt to convince myself that everything will be alright; that I can control whether this vision comes true or not. I wonder how long I'll be able to avoid Hayden.

          I find out the answer in my next class.

          After lunch I walk to math. Calculus. Definitely my least favorite subject of all time. I sit down in my usual seat at the back of the classroom so that Mr. Barwire cannot see me as easily if I fall asleep. I take out my notebook. Calculus is just so easy to me. Sitting in class is so pointless. Right when I look up, a tall brunette boy walks in- Hayden. I curse under my breath and avoid looking at him as best as I can.

          “Hey,” I hear as I stare down at a blank notebook page. Begging that it's not him even though I know it is, I look up. He smiles wide at me and puts out a hand. “I'm Hayden. New here. I think I saw you earlier in the cafeteria.”

          “Oh... yeah,” I say and regrettedly take his hand. Its warm and inviting. The nervous butterflies kick up again in my stomach, “I'm Braylynn.” Hayden releases his hand from mine and sits in the desk to my right. I try to just look down at my paper again, but then I remember something.

          “Hey, uhh... you might not want to sit there.” I say to Hayden. He was already taking out his textbook.

          “Why not?”

          “That's Jude's seat.”

          “Oh.” Hayden gets up to move. More people are filing into the classroom now. I hope he finds an already made friend and sits by them.

          Nope.

          Hayden switches to my other side, plopping down to my left. No one ever sits there. I have no excuse for him to move now. The only reason anyone sits by me is because Jude thinks it's funny to taunt me. I used to like him until he found out and became an asshole about it.

          “Speak of the devil,” I say under my breath as Jude enters the room. He has a stocky build and short blonde hair.

          “Hey sugar,” he says, laughing hysterically. Everyone turns to see what plays out.

          “Yes, Jude, you're hilarious.”

          “Well of course I am, freak. So you gonna tell me my future, baby? Is we gonna get married and grow old together?” My cheeks burn. I hate him so much. I don't know how I could have ever liked him.

          “No, but I think you might drown in a pool in the next few days,” I spout out without thinking. The whole room goes quiet. Jude's not laughing now and either is anyone else. Looking down at my notebook, I grab my pen. I know I took that way too far, but at least it shut him up. Plus it's not like I was telling the truth. It'll just scare him a bit, and maybe he'll stop making fun of me so much.

          Right then is when Mr. Barwire walks in. He starts droning on about integrals or something and I zone out. I begin to sketch a badly drawn castle, when I feel a tap on my shoulder.

          “What's up with that guy?” Hayden points at Jude. Did he not just hear our conversation?

          “Well, he's an ass who likes to make my life hell, obviously.” I shrug. Mr. Barwire is staring at us, so I quickly look down at my notebook, hoping he didn't see me talking to Hayden. Mr. Barwire already has it out for me. I never participate or do the homework but I always ace my tests. After a minute, I glance over at Hayden again. He's effortfully scratching down numbers into his notebook. His eyebrows scrunch together when he gets stuck on a problem, but the corner of his lips tilt up when he figures it out. I smile too and go back to my castle drawing.

          The next time I look up, I'm almost done with my drawing and class is only half way over. I turn my head toward Hayden and find his eyes on me. He quickly looks back down at his paper and pretends to write notes again.

          What the heck? Why was he watching me? I groan internally and try to ignore him and my probing thoughts for the rest of the class.

          “Here's the homework for tonight...” I hear Mr. Barwire say cuing me to pack up my things.

          “Braylynn?”

          My head whips to the left, “Yeah?”

          “Are you good at this calc stuff? Because I'm really behind from moving to this new school and I don't know. You seem nice.”

          I laugh out loud. Did he not see me threaten Jude at the beginning of class? Is he crazy? “Yeah, I guess,” I say honestly, hoping that for some odd reason his next question is not asking for help.

          “Could you help me with it? I just need help catching up, and then I should be fine. Promise. You wouldn't have to deal with me for more than a week! I mean unless you wanted to deal with me longer.” Winking at me, he smiles and one side of his mouth curves up higher than the other. My heart almost stops. It had to be the most attractive way a guy could smile. Ever.

          “I- uhhh-” stuttering, I try to form words out of my scattered brain. His smile really did a number on me. “Yeah,” was all I said and scurried out of the room with my books, needing to talk to Dina and rethink everything.

          I needed a new plan. I should NOT have said yes to helping him. I was trying to AVOID him. Not make sure I see him everyday for the next week. Searching the hallway for Dina, I find her with her long brunette curls at her locker and run quickly to her side.

          “Dina! I'm so stupid.” I hit my notebook into my head and hold it there, letting it cover my embarassed face.

          “What did you do now?” Slamming her locker closed, Dina turns to me.

          “I told Hayden I'd help him with Calculus. I couldn't think of an excuse quick enough and oh my god. I don't know what to do. I can't avoid him if I'm helping him with homework and what the heck?”

          I drop the notebook from my face and look at Dina, but her expression is confusing. She looks nervous and her gaze is behind me. I turn to see what she's looking at.

          “If you didn't want to help me, you could have just said so.” Hayden stands there looking down at me, with a frown. He looks even taller now that I'm standing right next to him. He must be at least six foot if not more. Shaking my head, I try to think of something to say so that he doesn't think I'm a complete bitch.

          “No, no. I'm so sorry. I didn't mean that. It's just that you're so attractive and I don't want to end up pushing myself on you because I know I will. It's a bad habit. I tend to get a bit boy crazy and I just can't help myself.” The words are flowing out of my mouth. I can't stop them. They are all a lies except for the attractive part at least. No boy ever really talks to me besides to make fun of me, but this lie is embarrassing. Why am I even saying these thing?

          My face turns bright red, but he just laughs, “I'm sure you'll be fine. Plus I can fend you off if I need to, right? I just wanted to know where we were meeting and when?”

          “Oh yeah, sorry,” I smile awkwardly at him, “Is seven good?”

          Dina cuts me off, “And you guys can work at my house if you'd like? I'll text you my address.”

          “Sounds good. Thanks, you two.” I turn back to Dina hoping Hayden will just walk away. I feel a pat on my back and then hear departing footsteps. My embarrassment diminishes as I think about what Dina just said.

          “How did you get his number?” I ask, baffled.

          “Well, ya know, he was in my English class this morning... We were just talking and uhh- I uhh- told him if he needed a friend he could talk to me. And, ya know, he gave me his number.” Dina looks at the ground awkwardly.

          “I told you I was avoiding him so you get his number?” I realize I'm practically yelling and quickly snap my mouth shut.

          “I'm sorry, but he's so attractive! You can't deny it. You even accidentally spilled that to his face. Plus, that happened before I knew your plan!” Dina turns away from me, starting to walk to her next class.

          “Fine!” I say furiously, “But we're having a discussion about this later!” I turn on my heels and stomp off to my next class, too.

          ***

          Tapping my foot angrily, I wait by Dina's blue Impala. I still can't believe she's already friends with him and has his number.

          “How could you do this to me?” I whine as she walks out of the building and we get into her car.

          “I didn't do anything. You got yourself into this mess and what I did affects you in no way. You can't blame me.”

          I groan and put my head in my hands. She was right.

          “I just don't know what to do now. I mean yeah I can still try to avoid going to the jewelry shop, but it's more likely now that the vision will come true since I'm going to be around him so much.”

          “You don't know that.”

          “I just feel like this is a terrible idea.”

          “Probably,” Dina says as she pulls onto our street. At least she's honest with me.

          “Can I just chill at your house?”

          “Yeah, that's fine.”

          ***

          We hear a knock at the door. Looking at eachother, Dina and I run down stairs. She makes it to the door first and opens it wide.

          “Hi, Hayden. Glad you could make it.” He wears ripped blue jeans and a black t-shirt now. It makes his eyes even brighter.

          “Thanks again for having me over and thank you, Braylynn, for agreeing to help me. I really need it. I had no idea what Mr. Barwire was talking about today.”

          “Oh, it looked like you were doing fine today in class,” I say.

          “Are you kidding me? I couldn't get one problem right!”

          Dina leads us to the kitchen so we can do our work at the table. Hayden sits down right next to me.

          “Then why did you keep smiling while you were doing math problems?”

          He laughs at me, and Dina leaves the room winking at me. “Have fun, kids,” she says.

          “I was smiling because you were watching me.”

          My cheeks burn bright red. I didn't know he could tell I was looking at him. I try to laugh it off and grab Hayden's text book from his hands.

          “Well, where should we start?”

          He smiles at me with that annoyingly attractive crooked smile, “How about with you?”

          “We've got a lot of work to do, buddy. How about antiderivatives?”

          Sighing he pulls out his notebook from his black bookbag, “I guess.”

          I don't understand what is up with him. Why does he keep trying to befriend me? Has he not heard about the rumors that float around? That I'm a freak? A witch? There are so many different conclusions people have come up with about me.

          We get to work on our problems, but after a while, we get a bit off topic.

          “So... what was Jude talking about today in class?”

          “Huh?” I ask still stuck on figuring out problem 26, so I can actually teach him how to do it.

          “About you telling the future or something?”

          “Oh,” my mind reels. What should I tell him? “Haven't you heard the rumors?” I want to know what he's heard before I go and tell him something.

          “Maybe, but I wanted to know what the real deal is. Not the rumors.”

          “Maybe we should save that for a different time,” Smiling at him, I go back to working on the problem.

          He just stares at me for a while. I can't help but feel his eyes on me as I try to work out the math. Finally, I put down the pencil and look back up at him.

          “Why bother trying to even talk to me? Nobody else does. Why not trust their word?”

          “Dina talks to you. I mean, we're at her house. I'd assume you guys are really good friends, right?”

          “So? She's the only one. Obviously there's something wrong with me that no one else wants to be my friend.”

          “I think sometimes people are just misunderstood,” he looks into my eyes so seriously. It almost makes me mad.

          “How would you know?” I can feel tears threaten the back of my eyes. He's so gorgeous and nice. There's no way he could ever know how I feel. How it is to be outcasted. To need people to talk to so badly, but have no one. I mean I have Dina, but sometimes life just gets lonely when you've only ever had one friend. I look away from Hayden afraid that I might actually cry in front of him. That would be a great first impression...

          “Hey,” he puts his fingers lightly on my chin and pulls my face so I'm looking up at him. Goose-bumps form across my skin, and the butterflies are back worse than ever.

          “You don't know what I've been through. You can't assume.”

          “Yeah, because I'm sure a guy like you has been through some real hard shit.” I roll my eyes and try to pull away from him, but he grabs my hand.

          “Stop it. I moved all the way to Indiana from California for a reason. I had to get away from everything. All of the terrible memories. My best friend passed away and I'd been having hallucinations of him ever since. I lost a lot of my other friends. They all thought I was crazy. My girlfriend dumped me,” Hayden starts talking faster and his voice begins to waver, “my parents almost put me in a psychiatric hospital until I gave them the idea of moving. I thought maybe it would help me to make new friends, make new memories. It would help me get past things...” Hayden's voice trails off and he pulls his hand away. I grab it back though. I may not have gone through so much pain but I know how it is to feel alone and scared.

          “Why are you telling me all of this?” I can see the pain in his face. It makes me so upset to see it in someone else's eyes other than my own. I just want to pull him in and hold him until all of his pain and hurt dissipates.

          “Because I could see that you've had feelings similar. I could see it in your eyes when you left the cafeteria today. You need to know you're not the only one. Know that someone else understands.” I look down at our hands. Mine looks so small inside of his.

          “Oh,” is all I say. No one's ever really been that concerned about me before.

          Hayden's fingers go to my chin again and he lifts up my face so I'm looking into his beautiful blue eyes. I feel like I can see inside of his soul now. I never would have guessed that such an amazing person could have such terrible things happen to them. Hayden doesn't say anything. He just looks back into my eyes.

          And suddenly his lips are on mine. My eyes close automatically and I can't think straight. All I can feel is the movement of his lips on mine. I follow without thinking.

          “Hey... oh,” I hear and pull away. Dina is standing in the doorway of the kitchen looking awkwardly embarrassed. She scratches the back of her head and looks down at the floor. I feel equally embarrassed, “I can leave... if...”

          “No, you're fine! Come on in.” I pipe up quickly, interrupting her. Looking at Hayden, I see that he is just smiling at me, completely unfazed by this totally uncomfortable moment. Dina walks over and sits down across from us.

          “I just wanted to know if you guys wanted something to eat.”

          “Yes, please,” I say at the same time as Hayden says “No, thank you.” I just want to relieve the awkwardness in the room.

          Dina gets up and walks to the pantry, “What you want?”

          “Poptarts are good.” They're the only thing I can think of since we ate them earlier that morning.

          “You know, I better go,” Hayden says packing his stuff into his bookbag.

          “Oh... okay,” I reply hesitantly.

          “See you in math class,” he just smiles at me again and walks out. I hear the front door slam. This is the weirdest day that has ever happened to me.

          As I think of us kissing again, I can't help but smile. That had to have been the best feeling in the world.

          Dina comes back into my view and the smile slides away from my face to be replaced by embarrassment again. She's wearing pajama pants and a t-shirt now. Handing me the poptart box, she sits down in front of me. I wait for the onslaught of questions.

          “What was THAT?” Her eyes are wide.

          “I don't really know...” I say and then tell her exactly what happened. Dina's mother walks in while I'm telling the story. She sits down to listen too. I could probably count Dina's mom as my only other friend. She has always been there for me, and acts like a teenager too; always gossiping with us and taking us out to movies. She and Dina are super close, probably because Dina's father left when she was very young. It has always just been the two of them.

          Once I'm done telling my story, I let my head fall to the table. I can feel myself falling for Hayden, which makes this vision so much harder to take. I'm going to try my hardest to make the vision not come true, but it seems all of my visions have. I'm just so scared.

          “It'll turn out alright, Darling,” Dina's mother rubs the back of my head, “Everything happens for a reason. You just seem to see it before it happens.”

          “So you're telling me Hayden is SUPPOSED to die? That's awful. I just can't believe that.”

          “I don't know what else to tell you, honey, but that's what I've always come to believe.”

          I sigh heavily and tears begin running down my face. I don't try to stop them. It's no use.

          “I just can't believe you kissed him. That was your first kiss! And you just met him today!”

          Her words make me groan. “Sorry,” she says, “I just got excited. And he likes you so I'm out. You can have him.”

          “What are you talking about, Dina? You really think I'm going to date him knowing the fact that he is going to die?”

          “Well think about it this way,” she smiles sadly at me, “at least you could make his last days worth while.”

          I frown, “I guess. But maybe he doesn't even like me.”

          “Yes, and that's why he kissed you.” Dina rolls her eyes, and her mother laughs. I have to smile, looking at the two of them together.

          “Why don't you just spend the night and stop thinking about all of this? Whatever happens happens.”

          “Fine,” I say and look at Dina's mother expectantly. She nods, telling me that spending the night is fine. I go call my mother to tell her. She doesn't really care. She trusts Dina and her mother so much with me.

          After I'm done eating some more poptarts, I borrow some of Dina's pajamas. Thankfully we are the same size. I hop into her bed, facing the opposite way as her and stare up at the ceiling. Dina lays there quietly.

          “Do you think I can really stop the vision?” I ask Dina.

          “I don't know. Maybe you could change it.”

          “You know that's never worked.”

          “I know, but maybe it's worth another try,” I nod, hoping that somehow I could accomplish that. Next thing I know, I'm in a dream. I see Hayden in the jewelry shop and I wake up at six am screaming.

          ***

          I sit in the cafeteria with Dina again. The first thing I see is when I take my seat is Hayden sitting with a group of football players. He smiles at me and waves when he sees me. After waving back, I quickly look down at my lunch. I can't think about him. The vision came again last night and it's just been making me so agitated today. I'm so on edge that when Dina speaks next, I jump and practically fall to the floor.

          Dina pulls me in for a hug, “Calm down. It's not going to happen, don't worry, okay?”

          “That's a joke, You know they've always come true” I say as tears start streaming down my face. All I can think of is the bullet going through Hayden's chest and everytime I glance at him, the tears come faster.

          “Then you can't stop it. Okay? Either give in or make sure it doesn't happen.”

          I know Dina means well when she says that, but I can't help my feelings. I'm about to start sobbing. She doesn't understand how hard this is. How much it hurts. I get up and begin running to the bathroom. I need to get out of here.

          Most of the lunchroom is staring at me, but I don't care. I sprint into the bathroom, bolt into a stall and slam the door hard. Then, letting my head fall into my hands, my body collapses to the dirty floor. I kick the stall wall hard with my black Converse and obnoxious sobs begin to tear from my throat.

          After a few minutes, I hear the bathroom door swing open and quickly try to be quiet. I'm sure they must have somewhat heard me, but I really hope they just ignore me. I see curiously large black sneakers stop in front of my stall.

          Suddenly, there's a loud knock and I practically jump out of my skin.

          “What?” I scream in surprise, but my voice cracks from my emotions.

          “Umm...”

          My eyes grow wide; the voice sounds like a man's not a woman's. That's why the sneakers are so large, duh.

          “I just, umm, wanted to let you know you're in the men's bathroom. I saw you run out, but no one came after to tell you. Just, you know, wanted to let you know before a bunch of guys come in and you have to be more embarrassed.” It's Hayden's voice. This is more embarrassing than I thought it was. I can't believe he came after me.

          Quickly, I try to wipe the tears from my face and open the stall.

          “Are you alright?” he asks. He definitely must have heard my sobbing.

          “I'll be fine,” I lie. I can't tell him that I'm afraid he's going to die.

          “Doesn't look alright.” He goes to the sink and wets a paper towel. “Here, take this.”

          Taking the paper towl, I go to the mirror. Black streaks stain my cheeks. Great. I think I've felt more embarrassed in the past two days than I have in my entire life.

          “Do you want to talk about it? I mean whatever is bothering you,” he asks, watching me carefully with a concerned look on his face. I can't help but want to stare back.

          “Not really.”

          “C'mon Bray,” he uses my nickname, and I can't help but feel butterflies in my stomach and want to smile, “ I told you my story.” He frowns at me.

          “I just- not right now. Maybe another time.”

          “Well maybe you'll have to meet me at my job tonight and tell me about it. I don't do much at work. I can spare some time.”

          “How do you have a job already?” I ask him suspiciously as I throw away the paper towel.

          “Relatives. That's why we picked Indiana.”

          “Oh.”

          “Just meet me after school. 2384 22nd street, alright?”

          Winking at me, Hayden leaves before I can say anything else.

          The second I leave the washroom, there is a mob of people there ready to make fun of me.

          They huddle around me tauntingly. They all laugh, but I blank out. They eventually leave, and I go on the rest of the day in a daze. I can't get my thoughts off of Hayden. He's just too nice and I'm just so afraid for him.

          Once classes are over I text Dina that I don't need a ride. It will be so nice to get everything off my chest. Maybe Hayden can even help me fix this; we can stop my vision from happening together. I start running in the direction that I know 22nd street will be. I've never actually gone off that far into the city.

          The buildings are distracting as I make my way over. Good thing because this address is a lot further than I expected. I've been walking for at least a half hour, and I'm just getting to 19th street. My mind is back on Hayden now that I'm so much closer now. I'm getting excited and nervous again so my pace increases. What will I even say to him? What will he think when I tell him my story? Will he understand? Listen? Or will he freak out just like all of the others have when they learn about my ability?

          Next thing I know I'm on 22nd street. I must have been spacing out pretty badly. I see the numbers 2384 and smile, but it vanishes just as quickly as it came. The numbers are above the door to a jewelry shop. Cursing, I feel tears building behind my eyes. I feel my legs move before I realize that I tell myself to go. I'm running across the hot concrete sidewalk and shoot through the parking lot that radiates heat, making everything look wavy and altered. My brain is going crazy. How could this happen so fast? Why couldn't this happen another time? I don't want this to happen yet. I didn't even get to know Hayden. I didn't have time to stop this! I reach for the door handle, ready to be shoved, but I know that this time is different. I can feel it in my bones.

          As soon as a hand touches my shoulder, I reach back and grab it. I'm confronted with dark brown eyes, that stare shocked at me through a dark mask. But, he is almost twice the size of me. His shoulders are incredibly broad, and he surpasses me by almost a foot. I know I cannot stop what is about to happen. I see a black object being pulled out of his pocket. I try to knock it away so that he can't kill Hayden, but he's too fast. The hard metal is pushed against my own temple, and I can't run fast enough. I'm in shock and my feet don't move.

          I hear the gunshot, but don't feel a thing. All I see is Hayden's face above me, and feel “I love you” on my lips.