My mother had always told me that when I turned eighteen and had my first death call it would change my life; I just didn’t know how right she was. “I, Aislin Briella Gray, am a banshee, and I see death.”
“Happy birthday, Aislin!” my best friend Kaydynce said.
Kaydynce was only a few inches shorter than me, yet she acted like she was six feet tall. Her short, golden blonde hair bounced as she swept me up into one of her bear hugs. Kaydynce’s arms were boa constrictors. We were both laughing by the time she let go.
“Thanks, Kay,” I said, out of breath.
My hands fumbled with the lock on my locker.
Kaydynce smiled. Her sapphire blue eyes twinkled with mischief.
“I can’t believe you’re eighteen now! You are so lucky! I can’t wait to turn eighteen so I can do death calls with y’all!” Kay squealed then sighed.
She leaned against the locker beside mine, one hand pressed against her forehead like the women in black and white movies. I rolled my eyes at her antics. Out of my peripheral view, I noticed a tall, lean figure with reddish brown hair. My heart skipped a beat.
“Don’t get too excited…it’s not what it’s all cracked up to be,” Teagan, the third to the trio, said bitterly.
Her tone snapped me back to reality. I glanced at her then again to the crowded hallway, but he was gone, like a mirage.
Her green eyes were filled with something I didn’t recognize, never recognized until then. I had seen that look before…in my mother’s eyes, the look of utter desolation.
Teagan was the oldest of my little banshee group while Kaydynce was the youngest. Both Kaydynce and I looked at Teagan, our brows scrunched. I had never heard so much resentment in her voice before. Kaydynce brushed it off like it was nothing.
“Don’t listen to her, Aislin; you should be overjoyed that you finally get to be a true banshee!” Kaydynce replied.
She put her arm around my waist and pulled me away from my locker toward first period.
I smiled, thinking maybe she was right. Nevertheless I had a bad feeling that something horrible was going to happen, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to like it. Teagan shook her head and followed close behind us with a subdued look on her face.
I wondered what had happened to make Teagan look so sad and out of place; it wasn’t like her. She used to be the fun one, until her eighteenth birthday, then everything changed. I had a sickening feeling that the same thing was going to happen to me. I tried to think positive as we walked into our first period, Chemistry. Kaydynce, Teagan, and I sat all the way in the back of the room as to not draw too much attention to ourselves. Yet even sitting in the back we got looks and stares.
Don’t get me wrong I liked being ogled and admired, what girl wouldn’t, it had gotten worse as my banshee powers came into play. Banshees were naturally beautiful women, and become more so when they reached maturity. My once boring brown hair shone in the fluorescent light as my pale blue eyes glanced at the girl across from me. My classmates looked me over, their faces filling with lust. Teagan had already experienced the constant stares, glares, and jealousy from the whole student body even the faculty couldn’t keep their eyes off her.
It was now my turn to be the talk of the school and the envy of everyone around me. It might be cool for a few days yet I didn’t think I could handle too much attention. I hid behind my books as class rolled on; I couldn’t wait until this day ended. The black tabletops were cool against my warm skin. I looked over at Teagan for some guidance, but she just stared off into space, lost in her own thoughts. I sighed; I guess I had to deal with this on my own since I knew Kaydynce wouldn’t be of any help to me. I looked over at her anyways. She was fluttering her eyelashes at some freshman boy who couldn’t take his eyes off us.
I nudged her. “Kaydynce, stop messing with the poor boy you might give him a heart attack.” She just laughed it off.
Kaydynce loved being a banshee and getting all of the attention from boys and girls alike. She reveled in her powers of seduction, but that might also be caused by being part succubus. Her mom was a banshee while her dad was an incubus. Weird combination if you ask me.
“Aislin, you’re over reacting. I’m just having a little fun is all,” she said.
Her eyes twinkled while a smirk played across her pink lips.
I shook my head knowing I would never be able to sway her away from her flirting; instead I tried to concentrate on covalent bonding. I got maybe half of what Mr. Cole was saying before the bell rang for second period. Everyone rushed out of the room like they were all on fire. We were the last to leave, but before I could walk out the door Mr. Cole stopped me. Teagan and Kaydynce had already ditched me.
“Ms. Gray, may I have a word with you for a moment?”
I nodded, wondering what he wanted to talk to me about. I walked back over to his desk.
“Well, Ms. Gray, I’ve noticed a slight drop in your grade in this class. If you want to bring it up surely I can tutor you after school to help bump up that grade,” he said casually yet I knew what was on his mind as he hadn’t looked at my face since he started talking.
He was giving me that slow once over like he was seeing me for the first time. The offer was tempting. I did need a boost in my grade and Mr. Cole wasn’t bad looking for his age with his rich brown hair and dark green eyes. However he was in his forties and I was only eighteen plus it would just be plain wrong.
“No thank you, Mr. Cole, but thanks for the offer I appreciate it,” I replied, briskly walking out of the room yet not fast enough.
He grabbed my arm and yanked me back, pulling me close to his chest. His hands seared my skin. I struggled against him, not believing that this was happening to me. His grip tightened as he held my wrists together. I pushed against him. His breath stung my face. It smelled of coffee and loneliness. My heart thrashed against my sternum as I fought. I then did the only thing I could think of; I brought my knee up and nailed him in between his legs. He let go quick enough, crumbling to the ground. I sprinted out of the room not even looking where I was going. I just wanted to get away from this nightmare.
My mad dash to the door didn’t last long as I ran into someone who immediately put their hands on my shoulders to steady me. I didn’t have time for this; I looked back at Mr. Cole to see him getting up. I let out an involuntary yelp and tried to push through whoever was in my way. I guess they understood because the next thing I knew I was through the doorway but couldn’t go any further as someone had ahold of my wrist. I looked up to find that I was behind whoever got in my way and they had a firm grip on my wrist. I tried to pull away, to be free, but I was involuntarily pulled back.
“What’s going on here?” the guy said.
His voice was rough and deep like thunder; it made my body weak just hearing it.
I shook my head and tried to control this sudden feeling while looking passed his arm to where Mr. Cole was.
“Nothing that concerns you, Mr. O’Neil, now why don’t you run along and let Ms. Gray and I finish our conversation,” he said, sternly.
I started to shake uncontrollably at just the thought of being alone with Mr. Cole again. The guy looked back at me, studying me closely from my wide eyes to my shaking body.
“Oh I’ll leave Mr. Cole, but not without her,” he said.
His strong arms wrapped around my waist and led me away. I looked back to find Mr. Cole standing by the doorway glaring at me. I should have reported it, but I didn’t. Despite his flaws Mr. Cole was a great teacher. I shook my head then looked up at my savior, studying his features. He had reddish-brown hair that covered his ears and a lean but muscular build. He must have sensed me staring as he looked down at me with a small smile. I was momentarily stunned by his honey colored eyes. He was the guy I had glimpsed or at least I hoped he was.
I felt a blush creep up my cheeks as we continued to stare at each other, which probably wasn’t the best idea when walking through a crowded hallway. I tripped over my own feet and almost fell if it wasn’t for the tight grip he had on my waist. I looked down at my feet, embarrassed by his presence and the constant stares we got.
“Th-thank you,” I stuttered under my breath.
He stopped, and I could feel his stare even though I couldn’t see it. I felt two warm fingers touch under my chin and lift it up so that I could look him in the eye.
“What happened back there?” he asked, concern coating his voice as he studied my face.
I slapped his hand away and looked down again.
“H-he wanted to bring my grade up…but not by tutoring…”
“Oh,” was all he said before pulling me against his chest and holding me tight.
I let myself relax into his arms feeling safe for the first time today. I knew I should have pushed him away, but for some reason I couldn’t. We stayed like that for a while until the bell rang for second period to begin. I didn’t understand my reaction to him.
“Let me take you to the nurse,” he said suddenly, picking me up and cradling me against his chest.
I was completely stunned that I just went limp in his arms and let him take me to the nurse. If it had been anyone else I would have made a fuss, yet I felt calm in his arms; it was a feeling I wasn’t used to. I was lolled to sleep as his arms rocked me back and forth as he walked. I must have dozed off because the next thing I knew I was sitting up in one of the nurse’s beds gasping for air.
“Shh, it’s alright now. You’re safe here,” a feminine voice said, pushing me back into a laying position.
I looked around the room at the white walls and posters of diseases and infections. I shuddered just looking at them; this wasn’t a place I wanted to be at all. I looked around until I spotted my savior. I gave him a small smile.
“Hi,” I said a little groggily.
“Hello to you too,” he said with a grin playing across his lips; lips that seemed to tempt me.
“How long have I been asleep?” I asked, trying to find a clock.
“I’d say you’ve been asleep for maybe thirty minutes or so,” he replied, “but don’t worry I told the nurse to let all of your teachers know that you weren’t feeling good.”
Interesting, I thought as I looked him over once more.
“So what shall I call you since I don’t think savior would be the best thing?” I asked playfully; I was starting to like this guy despite barely knowing him.
“Kaelin O’Neil and who might you be?”
I knew that name, have always known that name yet it had been so long since I had heard it.
“Oh my god, Kaelin, it’s Aislin, Aislin Gray! We used to go to grade school together before you moved,” I replied, unbelieving that the little, goofy boy I knew as a kid had grown up to be a handsome teen.
Kaelin’s smile widened at the mention of my name.
“Aislin, I thought I recognized you. Wow, you’ve grown since the last time I saw you,” he joked, giving me a slow once over that made my skin tingle.
I smiled up at him finally feeling happy since the incident with Mr. Cole.
“When did you get back? I haven’t seen you in any of my classes so it had to be recent, right?” I asked, curious.
“Actually I just got back yesterday,” he said his body shaking lightly with laughter as he walked over to my bed.
“Oh, well then that means you need someone to show you around the town again since you’ve been away for so long,” I said a little flirtatiously.
I couldn’t help it there was just something about him that drew me in. His golden eyes lit up along with a broad smile that spread across his face.
“That sounds like a plan,” he replied, holding out his hand to me.
I blushed and took it. He wrapped his hand around mine and helped me get out of the bed. We smiled at each other and walked out of the nurse’s office then the school to my car. We walked through the parking lot, reminiscing on old times like when we used to dare each other to run around the neighborhood naked. Those were the best days of my childhood.
“So why did you come back?” I asked, jokingly, nudging his shoulder.
He said it so seriously that I was caught off guard. We had been friends since we were little, but I had never expected him to feel anything more than friendship for me. I laughed it off like he had said a joke; the look in his golden eyes though said something else entirely. I still couldn’t believe that Kaelin had come back, and he was the same old goofy boy that I had known all of my life though now it looked like he saw me in a different light. Yet things have never been perfect in my life so why start now?
I felt a tingle in my throat and my vision started to go blurry; I knew then that it was about to start, my first Death Call. I closed my eyes wishing it away however wishes rarely ever came true. A loud screech erupted from my lips as my eyesight turned into a vision of death. The premonition played out, then just like that it was over. I crumbled to the ground with tears streaking my pale cheeks.
“Aislin, what’s wrong?” Kaelin asked.
He fell to his knees beside me probably in the hopes of helping me, but no one could help me. I now understood Teagan’s bitterness and what my mom hadn’t told me. My Death Call had been of the last person I had ever expected, and the one person I had fallen for despite only getting to know again. I saw the death of Kaelin Quinn O’Neil, my first love.
“Aislin, please tell me what’s wrong,” Kaelin pleaded, putting his hands on my shoulders and looked at my tear streaked face.
I shook my head. I couldn’t tell him of the horrors I had just seen, especially since they involved him. I wanted to scream at the world at how unfair this was; I had found him again, and now the universe was going to take him away. I couldn’t handle it. I got up on shaky legs and tried to run away from everything. I didn’t get very far; I fell, tripping over my own feet, and crashed to the pavement.
My hands skidded on the gravel. I felt the sting of rocks as they sliced through my palms; I didn’t care. Kaelin was close behind; I could hear his heavy breathing and footsteps pounding against the pavement. I just laid there with unshed tears blurring my vision until Kaelin reached me. He scooped me up into his arms without a word and started walking toward his blue, beat-up, pickup truck. I didn’t say a word as he opened the passenger’s door, rust falling lightly on my head. He set me down in the seat. His truck smelled like old leather and the woods in autumn. It smelled like him.
I didn’t know if I could handle being around him, surrounded by his scent, all the while knowing that he was going to die soon. I didn’t know when it would happen, yet I knew death was waiting for an opportunity to strike. We rode in silence with me balled up in the passenger’s seat, looking down at my shoes with hollow eyes. I felt his hand, feather light, touch mine; I cringed away like I had been bitten. He backed off with a sigh probably thinking I was psychotic or something. Before I even had to think how he knew where I lived, we were pulling up to my driveway.
“Thanks,” I muttered as I opened the door and got out of his truck. I had made it to the steps before I felt a hand on my shoulder. I could feel the heat from his palm through my blue blouse. Just his touch made me feel all warm and tingly. I shrugged his hand off, not wanting anymore contact than I had to.
“Aislin, wait. I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday.”
That was the icing on the cake; I couldn’t handle it anymore. I had completely forgotten that it was my birthday after the Mr. Cole incident, and now it was ruined. This had to be one of the worst birthdays I had ever had. I almost broke down in front of him yet I was saved as my front door opened, revealing my grandma. She looked from me to Kaelin then ushered me inside without a single word. Kaelin was left just standing there on my porch looking utterly confused.
“Cassidy,” my grandma called, “can you usher this boy off our property?”
My mom came running down the stairs and was out the door in a flash. I could hear her talking through the door.
“I’m sorry, but you have to leave. My daughter apologizes and thanks you, but I think we can handle it from here,” she apologized.
I sighed, knowing I would have to deal with the same problems tomorrow, but I had other things to deal with at the moment. I could hear his sneakers scuffing against my steps as he walked away probably with his head hung low. The minute my mom entered the house again I attacked.
“How could you? I can’t believe you didn’t tell me!” I screamed looking straight at my mom, “You’re not getting off easy either, Grandma,” I growled turning to glare at my grandma’s retreating form.
I still couldn’t believe that they both didn’t tell me who my first death call would be. I think I had a right to know that I would be seeing the death of my first and only love.
“Sweetheart, it’s not like that. We couldn’t tell you; it’s part of our code to let the young ones find out on their own. It’s what makes us banshees; we are keening women who mourn the loss of someone dear to us while seeing the death of others,” my mom replied.
“How am I supposed to go to school knowing that he is going to die at any moment?” I said, balling up my fists, not understanding how this could be happening to me.
I paced around the room, running my hands through my hair.
“You must cut all ties with him it helps to soften the blow when it finally happens,” I heard my grandma say as she busied herself in the kitchen.
I knew what she was saying was true yet I didn’t know if I could. I mean sure I didn’t want to see him anymore yet I had a feeling that that wouldn’t be possible.
“She is right, you know. Mother always knows best. Though it may hurt at first, time heals all wounds,” my mom said.
Grabbing my wrist, she stopped and embraced me. I hugged her back knowing they were both right despite how I felt at never seeing Kaelin again. She let go and smiled sadly at me with her big night blue eyes. My mom and I looked alike with the same dark brown hair and pale skin yet we had a different shade of blue eyes. I had pale blue eyes like my dad while she had dark blue eyes that sometimes looked black.
“Well, I think I’m going to head off to bed it’s been a very long day,” I sighed and was almost through the living room’s doorway when my mom stopped me with her big puppy dog eyes and pouty lips.
“Awe, but sweetheart I’m throwing you a birthday party. You can’t miss that; I invited all of your friends from school.”
I groaned knowing there was no way I was going to be able to get out of it especially since my mom loved throwing parties. She loved parties so much that she actually started a business called Party Time. I know not very original, but it works. I hadn’t noticed before, but the air was filled with the scent of nutmeg and vanilla. My only guess was that my mom or grandma was baking me a cake.
I might have thought it was bad now, but it only got worse as my classmates started arriving. Crap, I thought as the first of my classmates arrived, and I wasn’t even ready. Ugh, seniors…I glared at my mom then rushed to the stairs that were in a little hallway between the kitchen and living room. The stairs were white like everything else in the house except my room. I was the only one who had wanted a splash of color in their life. My house happened to be the only white house on my street; all of the other houses were brick red, brown, or a darker hue. There weren’t many other differences besides our house having a substantial amount of backyard and woods combined. We were pretty much the last house on the block; the street ended with our house.
I dashed up the stairs to find something more flattering to wear though I knew it wouldn’t matter much; I would still be the center of attention. I still wanted to look my best, though. I raced into my room and ran straight to my closet, throwing the doors open. I searched through the many shirts, dresses, skirts, and jeans that were hanging up until I finally found something I liked. I pulled out a tight, low cut, royal purple dress that barely covered my bottom but showed off all of my curves. It had sleeves that scarcely covered my shoulders; it was a very simple and elegant dress. When I put it on I was satisfied with how I looked though I needed to do something with my hair.
My long brown hair hung loosely down my back, looking plain and boring. I needed to spice it up a bit. I went to my vanity, sat down and looked at myself in the mirror deciding that I would curl it instead. I reached across my vanity to my dresser where my curling iron was and snatched it up. I turned it on, and while I was waiting for it to warm up, I opened my makeup kit. I browsed through the different shades until I came upon a deep purple that would go perfectly with my dress. I applied the eye shadow then a light blush to add color to my pale skin. I looked at myself in the mirror again and smiled; I was almost ready though I had a sudden sinking feeling in my gut screaming for me to listen to it.
I shook my head; I was just being paranoid, nothing bad was going to happen. I just needed to calm my nerves. I took a deep breath then let it go slowly, feeling all of my worries disappear or at least for the moment. I picked up my curling iron and tried not to think of all of the people that were probably downstairs waiting for me to make an appearance. I set the curling iron down and studied my handy work. My chocolate brown curls bounced around my face as I moved my head to make sure I had gotten every spot. I got up slowly, satisfied, and went back over to my closet to pick out the perfect shoes.
I settled on a pair of black heels that wrapped around my ankles and calves then walked out of my room to the daunting stairs. I picked my way slowly making sure I didn’t fall and make a fool of myself. As soon as I took the last step, I heard whistles and cheers aimed straight at me. I walked into my living room to find the whole room packed with sweaty bodies as they pressed against each other.
“Happy Birthday, Aislin!” a cheer went out saying my name over and over again until that was all I could hear.
Everyone cleared a path as I walked by. I smiled awkwardly as I walked through the crowd and felt light taps and heard happy birthdays from every person that I passed. Ugh, I couldn’t believe my mom had done this. The whole house was covered in blue and purple streamers and balloons that said happy birthday all over them.
“Alright, everyone, it’s party time! Everyone through the backdoor and let’s get this party started!” I heard my mom yell from the kitchen.
The crowd rushed out of the room in a flash, dragging me along with it. I followed them out into my backyard, which had been decorated with Japanese lanterns and lines of Christmas lights strung up across our patio. I smiled; I had to admit mom had done well. The place looked amazing, and mom had even gotten a real DJ who was sitting in the corner with his CDs beside him.
“Aislin, oh my God, your mom is incredible! I can’t believe she did all of this by herself!” Kaydynce squealed running up behind me and hugging me with a death grip.
“Yeah I know,” I said, pulling her off of me. Her grip was strong; it was like detaching a leach that had just latched on.
“So…I heard you got your first death call! How was it? Oh my God, I bet it was awesome! I can’t wait to get mine!” she said with stars in her eyes.
She gazed longingly for a moment before snapping back to reality. Ugh, I didn’t know what to tell her. I couldn’t tell her the truth according to my mom since it was “against the code”.
“Yeah, it was amazing,” I said, sarcastically, hoping she would get it, but of course she was too delusional to even pay attention to the way I said it. All she heard was, “It was amazing”.
“What was amazing?” I heard someone ask.
My heart sunk as I recognized that voice. Just the sound of his deep, raspy voice made my heart speed up and my skin tingle. My gut had been warning me, but I hadn’t heeded it. Now I had to face the one person I was trying to avoid, Kaelin.