By Alaya Ayala
By ALAYA AYALA
Growing up, I’d never been one to put much stock into the supernatural. I stopped believing in things like fairy tales and Santa Claus when I was about five years old. One day, I must have asked too many questions and pushed my mom a little too far. That was the day that she broke down and told me I shouldn’t believe in things that I can’t prove.
She probably thought she was saving herself time, sparing herself the trouble of having to deal with the fanciful musings of one child when she had several other little mouths to feed. What she didn’t realize was that I’d become cynical far before my peers did. I’d learn to assume that everything anyone told me was wrong until I could prove that it was right. I’d become shrewd and close-lipped when it came to my opinions, choosing to deal with facts and logic because at least those could never be disputed. I’d learn to not believe what was right in front of my eyes unless it could be explained.
I’d grow up to be unable to fathom the fantastic or the strange.
Take right now, for instance. The girl standing before me was probably the most horrifying thing I’d ever seen. Her face was twisted into a mask of rage, her snarl so pronounced that I had to wonder if her mouth had ever smiled before. Her eyes were bloodshot, seeming to glow crimson in the light of the moon at my back. Her hair was matted, probably from the wind outside that was now making papers fly around our common room.
I’d read about monsters before. They were ugly, evil creatures that sought to destroy and consume. If I had to pick a word for Reina right now, that would be it. Somehow, she had grown into a figure that was more, greater, and worse than human. I’d been building up my terror of her for so long that I had no choice but to cave to the irrational and cower.
All over a stupid agreement.
It didn’t seem like it could ever be stupid to her though. Every fiber of her being encapsulated her towering anger and disappointment. I could see it in the grimace-etched lines of her face, and that was the most terrifying thing. Usually, her face was smooth and uncaring, betraying no hint of her emotions, of what she was capable of.
With Reina, it was all or nothing. I really preferred when it was nothing.
“You broke your promise,” she ground out, stalking closer to me. Her voice was everywhere, surrounding me, driving a wedge into my skull. How could anyone’s voice be so soft and so grating at once?
She stepped closer.
“You swore to me you’d always be on time.”
She was right, she was always right. I was always the wrong one, the weak one, the irresponsible one. If something went wrong in this suite, it was because of me, never her. The very thought sent a nervous lance of pain shooting up the back of my skull. Across from me, Reina shook her head, glaring at me in disgust. She reached up with her hand to rake her fingers through her tangled mop of hair, tugging the knots loose. I realized with a start that I had already wound my own hair through my fingers, pulling nervously at the ends to release some of the tension creeping under my scalp.
“I’m sorry.” I said to her.
“I’m sorry,” she snapped, her voice cruelly mimicking my own quavering tones.
I backed away from her then, seeing the new danger in her expression at me having the audacity to speak. I turned and ran for my bedroom, stumbling in my haste, my need to get away from her.
She dogged my steps, running to keep up with me. It was with relief that I slammed my door shut behind me, sinking down to the floor with my back pressed against the wood.
“You can’t get away from me!” she shrieked, the volume of her voice only making my headache worse. I heard a single loud bang as she hit something, and then nothing. I didn’t dare look up from my own lap for a moment, choosing to keep my head bowed against the waves of anger that I could still feel radiating through the door.
“Did you really think that would work?”
I lept up with a shriek, my gaze frantically darting around the room. Her voice had come from inside the room with me, her angry growl so close that it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
Full of trepidation, I moved away from my door, making my way to the center of the room. There was a scuffling noise and I spun around, and there she was, at the door. She was smiling now, but there wasn’t any joy in her expression, only the cold amusement of somebody who knows that they’ve trapped their prey.
“You’ve got me forever,” she said, “or did you forget?”
With a shudder I shook my head, looking at the floor and moving closer to her. I knew that was what she wanted, after all. When I got close enough I lifted one trembling hand as she did the same, wincing at the the freezing touch of the glass that separated me. From her.
Alaya Ayala ‘21 (firstname.lastname@example.org) is happy to be ending October the way she started it.