So go ahead and lie to yourself,
And pretend that you're a ray of light,
When you're a broken candle,
You're keeping time with yourself,
When did it all start moving way too fast,
For you to handle,
You're short on breath but heavy on time,
You lost the words but you found the rhyme,
It's all just poetry now,
The walls are singing,
- 'Sanctuary' by Paradise Fears
Images swirled around me as I tried to catch a glimpse of each one. When the images began to slow down, they turned into something like a movie. Jonathan's back turned toward me while he was taking long strides away from me, alcohol of many colors and flavors appeared in a bright light after Jonathan's form had completely disappeared, Callie's still body lying on the floor soon followed, and Sean's taunting smile managed to linger at the end. I felt a scream in my throat, but I couldn't do anything; it was as if every part of my body was frozen except my eyes.
A sharp, shattering sound, almost like dozens of windows exploding, reverberated through the air, and all the images crashed and fell apart, leaving me alone in darkness. My dad's laugh resonated from the darkness. I fought to get out of the murky, heavy darkness, but Valentine's menacing laugh continued. I knew with a heavy sense of pain that I'd never escape the darkness; I could never truly free myself from my haunting past…
Gasping loudly, I jerked upright from my new bed. I felt the sweat on my forehead dripping down to my cheeks as I clutched my comforter. Taking deep breaths, I counted to ten as slowly as possible until I felt my heartbeat soften. I was back in my new room full of my roommate's cluttered mess. I looked at the clock on my nightstand; it was nearly 6:15.
Standing up and stretching, I tried to rid my mind of that hideously awful dream. Since I still had my shoes on, I decided I'd go to Max's room before I got ready for Sebastian's party tonight. What room did he say he was in? I remembered it was on the second floor, but I couldn't obtain the actual room number from my memory. I felt foggy, like I had slept for days instead of only two hours.
As I walked down the hallway slowly, my mind drifted off to the past. Callie's small face instantly clouded my thoughts. Her fair hair fell in a naturally wavy mess around her hair and her eyes were a stormy gray color that always darkened to almost black when she was upset. I missed her so much that it hurt; my father didn't even allow me to go to her funeral because associating myself with a drug-related death would've 'tainted' my image- and, more importantly, the Morgenstern name. When I was in New York, I visited her grave regularly- at least once a week. It helped to remind me why I was sober now. If she knew where I was now, she'd probably giggle and beg her parents to send her here as well. We were inseparable, but now I was just lonely, sulking around the hallways of a boarding school I was banished to.
The air in the elevator was dramatically cooler compared to the warmth of the hallway. I pressed the two button and squeezed my hands together to stop from shaking.
Then my thoughts turned toward Sean, my abusive ex-boyfriend. After Callie passed away, the beatings got worse and worse until it reached the point of utter terror every time I even thought about him. Callie knew that he had hurt me before, but I told her it had only happened once, and she let it go. But after she died, the absolute worst happened. There isn't a day that I don't think about that night, that dreadful party. I can still remember how the house smelled like alcohol and body odor; I could practically taste the beer in the air. My drinks remained water throughout the whole night, and that pissed Sean off more than anything else. "Why aren't you drinking? You're such a downer; When did you become such a prude? Why are you such a weak bitch?" His words still stung even today.
I can remember leaving my water on the kitchen table for only a few seconds, a few seconds that cost me every bit of my sense of safety and sanity I still had left. Although the rest of the night was muddled, the end was crystal clear. Hot breath bit at my neck and cheeks. A strong grip bruised my arms and thighs. I could almost taste the blood from my busted lip just thinking about it.
A loud, startling ding rang out, and I was brought back to the present. The elevator doors opened to reveal a hallway that was an exact copy of the eighth floor's hallway. Swallowing back the large lump that had formed in my throat, I stepped out of the elevator weakly. A few kids were running down the hallway, so I stopped one to find out where Max was.
"Do you know which room is Max Lightwood's?" I asked a small girl.
She played with her dark braid for a moment. "Room 225," she grinned revealing a gap-toothed smile. "Are you Clary?"
"Yes," I said slowly. How did this little girl already know about me? "How do you know my name?" Are new people really that uncommon?
"Max has been waiting for you since like three o'clock. He won't come out and play." She pouted and then giggled. "Well I've gotta go. Bye, Clary!" She ran down the hallway to a group of girls.
I straightened myself up and found Max's room quickly. Moments after I tapped on the door, a disheveled Max flung the door wide open. His face lit up as I gave him a light hug. "I thought you were never coming!" he exclaimed as he grabbed my hand and pulled me into the room.
He led me over to a chair in front of a large flat screen TV. I realized that the younger kids' rooms were drastically different the older kids' rooms. Instead of two separate beds and an obvious separation of the room, there were a bunk bed and just one large closet, leaving the whole room open.
As I sat down in the chair, Max sat down in front of me on the floor. "Sorry it took so long," I apologized. "I had to wait on my stuff, and I met two people. Maybe you know one of them."
"I probably do. Who was it?" he asked excitedly.
"His name was Sebastian Verlac."
Max wrinkled his nose. "Yeah, I know him. He's friends with Isabelle and Alec. They go to parties on the eighth floor with him. He's Jace's roommate."
"Isabelle and Alec are your older siblings, right?" He nodded his head, so I continued, "Who's Jace? I haven't met him yet… Actually, the only people I know are you, Sebastian, and this new guy Magnus."
Max's expression brightened. "Jace is one of Alec's closest friends. He parties with them, too, though. But, he comes and visits me all the time. Will, his cousin, and he came here the same year Alec, me, and Isabelle did. He doesn't like Sebastian much though. They avoid each other all the time."
I brought my pinky to my mouth and chewed on the nail. "Well, I agreed to come to a party tonight. Who should I avoid and who should I become friends with?"
Max bristled on the floor. He seemed uncomfortable for the first time since I met him. "Why are you here?" The question was innocent enough, but I saw the true curiosity burning in his eyes.
"I got really sick, and my parents thought I'd be better off here." I decided to tell him a half truth rather than try to explain the depressing details.
"Then you should avoid all of them." The brutal honesty in his voice startled me. The statement itself scared me slightly. His wide eyes screamed pure innocence.
"What do you mean?" I had to control the tremors that wanted to escape through my voice.
"The ones that go to those parties, they're bad, Clary. I love my brother and sister, but we would still be home if it wasn't for them…" He gazed at the window for a heartbeat. "I don't even remember what my house was like. Mom and Dad come and visit me every couple of months, but it's just not the same as being home. Alec and Isabelle refuse to even see them. Sebastian doesn't seem to care about anyone other than himself. Isabelle parties a lot and sometimes makes herself sick. And Jace, he's sort of violent and he likes to drink more than most of them." I was struck silent by his words. He was so young, so innocent. He shouldn't even know of this world, let alone see it first hand. I felt my eyes tear up at the realization that he doesn't even know what home is. I don't think I even knew what home was anymore, but at his age, I didn't deal with all he had to go through.
"Just avoid the far end of your hallway." he mumbled.
"I don't see how that's possible. My room is almost the last one."
Max raised his eyebrows and stared at me. "Well, then don't get close to any of them. Don't go to that party."
"I-" I broke off, looking for a clock. The one on the far wall read 6:55. "I need to take a shower. It was a long flight and drive here, and I feel grimy. Where can I do that?" I asked in hopes of changing the subject.
"There's one for every ten rooms."
"Do you mean girls and boys share them?"
"Well, yeah. No one really cares. Each set of rooms has one at the very end of the ten rooms. Yours will be at the very end of the hallway." He spoke softly; the conversation before obviously unsettled him.
"Well, I'm going to shower. I'll see you later, okay? My room number is 890. Come visit me whenever you want to." I squeezed his arm and got up quickly.
"Be careful, Clary." The words hung solemnly in the air. To escape the heavy air in the room, I hastily dashed out of the room. A shower, I needed a long, hot shower.
I fingered the thick scar that ran from my inner thigh across the top to right above my knee. The memories burned red hot as I stared at every wound he gave me. Most were in more hidden places, places he claimed only he was allowed to see. A thin, white scar in the shape of the letter 'x' was located right below my bellybutton.
"It's to show that you're tainted. You don't deserve to be loved." Sean spat at me. It wasn't something new; I was used to his cruel words by then. Holding back tears, I tried to wipe the blood off. Then he punched me in the face. My cheek pulsed as if predicting the large bruise that was sure to make an appearance. "I'm the only one who will ever want you now. You're dirty, impure, and, now, a whore." He grabbed my hand that was shaking and covered in the blood from my stomach and slashed it open viciously, just to show how much he could hurt me. "You deserve to die."
A loud tapping snapped me out of the memories. A staggering pain seared in my hand. Red lines from my nails digging into my palm stood out over the fading white scar. "Clary, are you in there? I haven't got all day." Magnus's smooth voice floated through the door. Wrapping myself back up in the towel tightly, I got up and opened the door.
"You're dressed quite, um, sparkly." I said as he sashayed into the room. Glitter rained down onto the carpet as he flung both of my suitcases open. He wore the same black pants as earlier but replaced his green shirt for a hot pink shirt. The rings covering each of his fingers clinked together musically every time he moved his hands. Glitter covered everything from his thick hair to his black army boots.
"One must make an exquisite first impression, Clarissa." He tossed a pair of dark shorts at me; a leopard printed shirt followed. "Go on, put it on." He waved his hands, ushering me on.
I opened my mouth to argue. Did he just expect me to drop my towel and dress in front of him? "My God, Clarissa, I'm gay! I only admire fashion, not the women clothed in it. Well, except for faces; I love women's faces. There so soft and delicate!" He pursed his lips before coming over to sit on my bed. "Hurry up! Your hair will dry before I get to do anything!"
I quickly threw on the clothes and faced him. "Marvelous! Now, sit here. I need to do your hair and make-up."
"Make-up?" I gulped.
"Don't worry, doll. Only I can pull off this masterpiece!" His hands circled his face. "So, tell me about this Sebastian boy. Was he cute?"
"Yeah, I suppose he was." I blushed as he brushed my hair. "He has dark hair and dark eyes. I can't decide if they're a smoldering combination or not."
"Oh, I love black hair and blue eyes. That combination is my weakness!"
"So what got you here, Magnus?" He paused in the middle of braiding my hair.
After clearing his throat, he resumed braiding my hair. "My dad sent me here because I'm gay," his voice broke as he spoke the next words, "My mom killed herself, and dad assumes that it's because she realized I was gay. Dad couldn't stand the sight of me since, so here I am."
"Don't worry about it. I'm over it." He tied the braid and sat down lithely in front of me. "What about you? Why are you here?"
I felt my body automatically tense up. A thousand thoughts raced through my head as Magnus stared at me. I knew that I should talk about it, that eventually everyone would know about it anyways. Taking a deep breath and forcing myself to talk, I began to tell Magnus my story. He sat quietly through it all and seemed completely unfazed as I talked about my eating disorder and Callie's death. I was careful to leave anything about Sean and what transpired between us out, though.
When I finished my story, Magnus reached out and took my hands. "Clarissa, you're a strong young lady. If you can get through all of that, then you can get through anything." I smiled at him weakly before he began on my make-up.
A few minutes later, Magnus clapped his hands. "All finished! We can go to the party now!" My eyes fluttered open slowly. "I just put a little bit on you to enhance your features. Your eyes are so striking."
He held a mirror up, and I stared at my reflection. I didn't look completely different, but my eyes stood out against the black that coated them.
"C'mon dear. It's almost eight. Wouldn't want to be late to our first party." Magnus winked and pulled me off my bed. "Lead the way."
We made our way out of my room and five doors down the hallway to Sebastian's room. I tapped on the door lightly, unsure of what to expect to lie behind the door. The door swung open to reveal Sebastian dressed in dark jeans and a grey sweater. He grinned and me and Magnus.
"Clary! You made it. And you are…?" Sebastian stared at Magnus apprehensively.
"Magnus Bane at your service." Magnus bowed unceremoniously. "Clarissa invited me along with her."
Sebastian shrugged and gestured us inside his room with a not so subtle glance at my outfit- or, quite possibly, the skin that was revealed by my outfit.
Teenagers cluttered the room. Some lied casually on either of the two beds, others sat in chairs, and most were sitting in a circle on the floor. Sebastian sat down next to a girl with long, ebony hair and patted on his opposite side for me to sit down.
I expected everyone to stare, especially with the way Magnus would capture a room, but instead only a few heads even bothered to look up, and then they went straight back to whatever they were doing before. With a parting glance at Magnus, I walked over to Sebastian and sat down. Magnus sat across from me next to a boy with black hair and blue eyes that contrasted with his pale skin almost mystically.
Sebastian cleared his throat and the room went uncharacteristically silent. "Guys, these are the new kids, Clary-" He pointed at me, "-and Magnus." He gestured toward Magnus. "This is the gang, excluding a few people who like to pre-party by themselves. This is Isabelle, that's Alec, her twin…" He went on to name all the people in the room.
Isabelle, the girl beside Sebastian, was gorgeous. Her long, black hair hung loosely down her back, and she had piercing blue eyes. She was tall and slender, wearing clothes that advertised that very thing. Alec, on the other hand, was dressed far more modestly. He was also very tall with dark hair and blue eyes, but instead of just being slender, there was the slight definition of muscle. Magnus seemed to be delighted to be sitting next to him.
I felt a gaze on me from the left. When I turned, I was met by eyes the color of the ocean. Dark brown, almost black, hair fell over his eyes and curled around his temple and neck. Although he was sitting, I could tell he was tall. He grinned at me lazily. "Hey, Clary is it?" he whispered, leaning over toward me.
I nodded my head. "William, right?" I asked in return.
"I prefer Will." he said calmly. "How long have you been here?"
I smiled at him. "A couple of hours."
He chuckled. "Seems about right. Who's your roommate?" His voice was like silk: soft and smooth. His cool breath fanned against my cheek delicately.
"I don't know yet. I haven't met her."
"Well, what's your room number?" He had moved over ever so slightly so that we were barely a few inches apart.
I breathed out shakily. "890."
"Your room is right across from mine," he said with a smirk. "891. I've had it for almost three years now." He pointed at himself proudly.
"How long have you been here?" I asked curiously.
His eyes darkened, turning into a color that resembled the sky before a storm. They were a strange blue that almost looked purple in the light. "Almost four years. I got shipped year with my cousin on my birthday. It was quite the birthday gift: 'Surprise! You'll never see us again.'" His voice was even gloomy.
I opened my mouth to reply, but I was interrupted by another male voice that wasn't familiar yet. "It would be nice if you didn't scare Clary off from the parties already, William." I looked up from Will's captivating eyes. A boy stood over the two of us and smiled at me genuinely. "Hello, I'm James, but most people call me Jem. It's nice to meet you, Clary." He sat down beside Will and held out a pale, slender hand.
I shook his hand softly. I couldn't help staring at the boy. He was such an odd type of handsome. He had pale skin and light, silver-colored hair. His eyes were also silver, a combination I had never seen on any person before. While he was tall like Will, he was skinnier, more slim. Will had the muscled body of a football player or maybe a wrestler, while Jem was more lean.
"It's nice to meet you too, Jem."
He grinned. "William, here, enjoys the idea of people being slightly scared of him, but don't let him fool you. He's actually sweet in his own ironic way."
Will rolled his eyes pointedly. "James thinks he knows everything because Tessa leads him to believe so." Despite Will's tone, he grinned over at Jem with an adorable look on his face.
Jem chuckled at Will and punched him playfully on the shoulder. The two boys interacted in a way that brothers usually would interact with each other.
A tap on my right shoulder turned my attention from the two bickering boys. Sebastian held a bottle of vodka out toward me encouragingly. I stared at the glass bottle despairingly. Dear God. "Come on, take a swig." Sebastian urged me when he noticed the look that had crossed my face.
"Oh, no thanks… I don't drink." I muttered, fluttering my hand weakly at the bottle.
"Do you think you're too good for us?" A shrill voice said accusingly. The voices in the room came to an abrupt stop. Everyone's eyes were on me and the girl who had just spoken. I gazed at the girl who had risen from one of the beds. Her curly blonde hair was thrown up in a bun atop her head, and she was wearing a skimp, black dress that clung to her like a second skin.
"No, I-" I locked eyes with Magnus, unsure of what to say. He urged me on with a nod of his head. "I don't drink anymore because my friend died a while back from drug abuse. I've been sober of everything for about a year and a half now."
The girl sneered at me. "Well you're definitely a waste of space here then, huh?"
"Jessamine, shut up. Just because she doesn't like to get shit-faced like you do, doesn't mean she's less of a person than you." Will stated, barely even looking up at her.
"No one asked for your opinion, William. We all know you're one of the worst here, anyways." she snapped. Many of the people looked shocked. A few mumbles of displeasure went through the room.
Jem put a soft hand on Will's shoulder and whispered something to him. Will looked as if he was about to shrug Jem off, but then he looked over at me. When he turned his head back toward Jessamine, he had an ugly leer on his lips. "It's cute that you want to pretend to be an angel in the crowd of demons here. Too bad we all know about your purging problem."
Jessamine's mouth dropped open. "You're such a dick, Will." she growled as she picked up a pair of heels and stomped towards the door. "No wonder Tessa chose Jem over you." Then she was out the door. The loud, echoing boom of the door was all that was left of her being in the room.
Will's face had darkened. Jem looked taken entirely aback. "Well, I wasn't going to make you drink anyways, Clary. Just give the bottle to Will for me." Sebastian said lightly, trying to clear the mood.
I took the bottle from him and nudged it over to Will. Will snatched it from me and opened it, taking in large gulps of the liquid. Although I knew how vodka burned as it went down, his face stayed neutral. He wiped his mouth on his sleeve and spun the top back on it before handing it to the boy beside Jem.
Everyone remained quiet as the bottle made its way around the room. When it got back to Sebastian, it was nearly empty. As Sebastian took a gulp of the rest of the alcohol, the door slammed back open causing Sebastian to spill most of the vodka down his face and shirt. He spluttered at coughed. "Dammit, Jace!" he exclaimed, wiping his chin and neck.
At the door stood a boy and girl who both looked like they were about to topple over on the floor. "That's Kaelie and Jace. They're the ones who like to get wasted before the actual party." Jem whispered over at me, noticing my expression.
The girl, Kaelie, had long blonde hair that stopped right above her waist. As the two of them stumbled into the room together, I noticed that her eyes were so dilated that they looked almost entirely blue. She wore a dress that looked more like a shirt and no shoes. She giggled as she tripped over people's legs.
The boy, whom I would guess to be the Jace that Max had talked about, grinned triumphantly at Sebastian. He was obviously as drunk as Kaelie, but he held himself up better. His golden hair was matted around his head in a messy halo. His tan skin glowed in the low light, and I could see his strangely colored eyes: a golden color like his hair, almost amber in the light. He was tall and muscular, easily bigger than most of the guys here. Will was probably the only other person here that was the same size as he was.
He swooped over to Sebastian and ruffled his hair harshly. "Sorry, bud. I didn't realize the party had already started." His words mixed together as he slurred. I could smell the alcohol radiating off his skin. I wrinkled my nose as he squished himself in between Sebastian and myself.
"Whatever, Jace. You know damn well that every single party starts at eight." Sebastian hissed angrily. Kaelie let out a high pitched giggle. "You two need to get out." Sebastian pointed toward the door.
Jace chuckled lowly. "This is my room too, Seb. You can't kick me out."
"But I can kick your little slut out." Sebastian said with an odd glint in his eyes.
The golden color in Jace's eyes hardened into a topaz color. "Come on, Kaelie. Let's go to your room." He stood up quickly and surprisingly steadily. She opened her mouth to protest, but the look on his face stopped her. She followed him toward the door. "I won't be back tonight. Don't wait up."
"I won't." Sebastian muttered as the door slammed again for the second time tonight.
"You know they're going to your room, right?" Will seemed to return to his mischievous attitude prior to Jessamine.
"Kaelie is your roommate. They're going to your room to have-"
"Don't finish that sentence, William!" I put my hand over his mouth. I could feel his lips curl up into a grin.
"I just thought you should know what they were doing." he mumbled against my hand. The vibrations from his voice tickled the palm of my hand.
Pulling my hand back, I said, "I really don't want to know what they're planning on doing."
He smirked at me roguishly. "You better get used to it, Clarissa. The're like bunnies, and they're never in here, so…" He left the rest of what he was saying up to my imagination.
"Dear God, Will!" Jem cried out.
"Well, I didn't want her to be surprised when she goes back to her room tonight to find Kaelie and Jace naked sprawled out on one of the beds." He grinned, knowing he had managed to get a reaction from myself and Jem.
"Great. I've always wanted to return to my room to see something like that." I rolled my eyes.
"They don't always go back to her room," Jem said reassuringly. "They've gotten caught at the pool a few times."
I covered my mouth to hide the shock. Will laughed aloud. "Oh, remember the first time that happened? Ms. Dark could've had a conniption fit!"
Despite himself, Jem let out a soft laugh. "She hates Jace so much."
"Who's Ms. Dark?" I asked before they completely left me out of the conversation.
"One of the front desk workers downstairs. She loathes it here."
"Are you talking about that tall, old woman who hates kids?"
Will hooted. "Why yes! She's such a lovely woman. I don't see how she isn't married yet."
I grinned at him. Maybe staying at the institute wouldn't be that bad.
In time you'll find,
This life's a painting and you're the artist,
So open your eyes,
It's never too late to clear your canvas,
So paint me jealous,
Paint me rage,
For God's sake paint me anything,
Your brush awaits,
The walls sing you to sleep,
One secret meant to keep you safe tonight,
I swear that everything will be alright.
- 'Sanctuary' by Paradise Fears