“What?” I cried.
“New York City! For the weekend! Aren’t you excited?” She began to bounce up and down.
“Why?” I asked.
“Well, I’ve got a few jobs there this weekend, and there’s this big party tomorrow night…” She slowly trailed off.
I shook my head. “Tupaia,” I whined. “You know I don’t do parties. The last time I went, everyone laughed at me.” The thought of it pushed tears up through the back of my eyes. I couldn’t dance, and when I tried I hit someone in the face. Everyone stared at me, leering, laughing, and pointing. As if that wasn’t enough, they started making fun of the way I looked, the way I was dressed. My ribs began to suffocate my heart, which began to beat wildly trying to escape like a caged bird.
She jumped over my luggage and wrapped her arms around me. “I know, but it’ll be different this time. You don’t have to dance, and it’s a masquerade ball! Masks; no one will even know it’s you!”
Doubt gripped my throat. I continued to shake my head.
“I promise you, it won’t be like last time.” Her sapphire eyes pleaded with me. They were soft, childish, and naive; even though Tupaia was older than a few eras.
She squealed, jumping with me still wrapped in her arms.
This is going to be a disaster.
We arrived in New York City around noon the next day. As soon as we arrived in the “Big Apple” we dumped our luggage in our hotel suite. The suite was four rooms big and lavished in all shades pink. Light screens hung at the windows which presented us with a front-row view to time square. The streets were busy with buses and taxis. With people on foot or bikes. The buildings reached endlessly at the sky where music videos and ads played on them. The bedrooms were just as big and elegant as the rest of the suite. My bed was all round and covered in equally circular, silky blankets and pillows.
After ditching our luggage we fled to get ready for the ball. Tupaia wore a long elegant sapphire gown that complimented her soft defined curves and matched her eyes. Her wavy brown hair was wrapped up in a bun, and she wore a peacock feathered mask upon her face. She was stunning, as usual.
Tupaia had “her people” dress me in an emerald mermaid dress with a blue sequined mask that almost looked like scales, and my red hair flowed down my back. They all gasped, exclaiming, “She looks like Ariel!”
I grimaced. I was always jealous of Ariel; she had a father, loving sisters, and married her prince charming. She was beautiful and everyone loved her. She was everything I wished I could be.
Tupaia grabbed my hand, “You look like a model.”
As soon as we entered the facility where the party was being held, Tupaia went on her way to make a good impression with various modeling agencies and photographers. I went to the back of the club, where I sat alone for most of the night. The club was dark and gray. People were scattered everywhere dancing with strangers, mingling by the bar with blue lights and drinks in their hands. I was out of place.
I was surprised when the song, “Voodoo” blared through the speakers since I hadn’t heard it until a few days ago. But that was not the weirdest part of the night. No, the unusual thing was after the song had just ended, when a hand was held out in front of me. “Dance with me.” I looked up at a boy dressed all in black, with a black hat which covered his hair and a black mask covering most of his face, but his sunray eyes, curvy mouth, and soft chin.
I looked around for someone else that he could be talking to.
I looked up into his golden eyes, and for some reason I could not say no. I took his hand in mine and let him lead me out into the middle of the dance floor. “Resistance” by Muse began to pound through the speakers. He pulled me close against his soft chest. “Follow my lead,” he whispered into my ear. His voice was a little higher pitched than I imagined, but still comforting somehow. My heart threatened to break through my chest as he began to glide us across the dance floor. The lead singer’s voice sang into my ear “Is our secret safe tonight and are we out of sight?” The tempo began to pick up, as he twirled me around, and around. Everything became blurry, but his golden eyes that my gaze had become fixed on.
“You’re beautiful,” he breathed into my mouth.
I lost my breath. As the words, “Love is our resistance. They’ll keep us apart and they won’t to stop breaking us down. Hold me, our lips must always be sealed,” poured from the speakers our lips began to draw close to each other, like negative and positive attraction between magnets. When our lips were practically grazing, he drew away to lift me above him, and spin me in the air. He slowly brought me down as the song drew to an end and another song began. Our eyes were locked into one another’s, and for that moment, the world had faded away.
I heard the light sound of someone clapping, and I was pulled out of the spell I was under. I looked around to see that people had gathered and began to clap. They smiled and pointed, whispering to their friends. I fell back through memories, and all of a sudden I was at my last party, where everyone was laughing at me. I had to get away.
I pushed past the mystery boy’s shoulder, a wave of his vanilla scent followed after me along with his cry, “Wait!”
I sprinted through the doors and into the brisk NYC’s February air. The sidewalks were lined with slush, and the roads were busy with taxis, but I didn’t care as I ran across the streets, through the slush, while cars honked at me. I could hear his voice distantly crying, “Where are you going?”
I didn’t, I couldn’t stop until I was in my hotel suite. I flung myself onto the king’s size bed and cried myself to sleep.
In the morning, I woke to Tupaia sitting on the edge of the bed, stroking my hair. “I heard about what happened last night,” she said. “Everyone thought you and that boy were fantastic!”
I buried my face into the silky pillow.
“So why’d you run out?”
A tear burned its way through my right eye. “They were all lookin’ at me…”
“They thought you were amazing, Morgan!” She exclaimed.
I tore my face from the pillow, and looked up at her. Her hair fell over her shoulders like a waterfall, and in her silver silk pajamas, she looked like a goddess. “There was somethin’ about him,” I told her, “that made me forget everyone was there.”
She smiled, and her eyes grew distant. “I’ve felt like that before.” I wondered when. Tupaia hardly ever talked about what her life was like before she took me in. “It must be love,” she said at last.
I fell into the pillow. Love? With a guy I don’t know? I didn’t even know his name, how could I love him? And what about Leroy? I stared at Tupaia contemplating how it would be possible to love someone you only met once. “I’ll probably never see him again,” I sighed.
Tupaia laid down next to me, and held me in her arms like she use to do when I was young. “You never know. Things have a funny way of working themselves out.”
I bummed around the suite watching re-runs of H2O, my favorite TV show, while Tupaia went to her modeling jobs. I watched, for about the millionth time as three girls, unlikely to become so close, had no choice after they are transformed into mermaids with powers over water. I fantasized that I was one of those girls, instead of who I was. I didn’t even have powers.
I imagined how great it would be if my life were like the TV show. Being surrounded by friends who knew and accepted my secret, being able to lean on them when things were tough… Would I ever gain friends like that? I wondered. Doubtful.
That afternoon I drove the thirteen and a half hour drive back to Folly alone. Tupaia had scored more modeling jobs in the city from the ball Saturday night, so I decided to go home on my own to get ready for school the next day. The white lines on the thru-way melted away. All I could see was the mystery boy’s golden eyes. The whole way home, I smelled vanilla. I’ll never see him again.
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