After taking a few more calming breaths I walk back inside. Zack and Erik find me close to the stage with my arms above my head acting like I am having the best time of my life. The music sways me and my hips rock back and forth beneath my dark wash jean shorts. I forget about what has been happening and start to dance, doing what I do best.
I have been dancing for a few years now. I was gymnast for seven years but had to quit because of money issues so I took on dance instead. The moment I started moving, I knew I was going to stay. Ever since then, I could never stay still for very long, it has been about five years.
The coral colored strapless shirt I'm wearing is reaching upward, slinking away from my belly button ring which it barely covered in the first place. My lacy overtop covers my shoulders and connects at a small button right beneath my breasts, the rest of me is all skin. I usually hated to dress like this but tonight was different, I needed to do something different, be someone else.
I feel my friends staring at me so I grab their arms and make them start dancing. Instead of giving in and partying with me, they take hold of my wrists and pull me aside. "What are you doing?" I stare bewilderingly at them, "I was having fun! And you should be having fun too, dance with me for once."
Erik shook his sandy blonde hair out of his face and stared into my eyes. "Isa…is something wrong?"
"Why would something be wrong?" My heart started to race, had they noticed something? Did they know something about yesterday and the day before? Were they in cahoots with Jimena? Was this all some big prank? My mind was racing faster then I could control. The panic settled down and the whole time the bright smile I plastered on my face stayed put.
"You look…," Zack tried to intone but I saw in his face he could not find the word. A dozen ideas conjured in my head trying to describe what I felt. Scared? Confused? Angry? Tricked? Unlucky? Overwhelmed?
"What…does this outfit not look good on me? Too revealing maybe?" I snapped back into myself, the worry once again hidden and the true Isa showing through.
Erik shook his head again, "No, you look amazing, just…never mind." He stopped the conversation and I smiled. As long as he dropped it, I was safe.
"Are you sure nothings wrong with you? I'm fine myself, it's just a bit too hot in here I guess," I replied, slipping off my overtop. I saw Zack's eyes rake over my body as if checking me out…I was seriously hoping he wasn't, it would almost be incestuous. They exchanged glances and we all started laughing because once again, I was acting like their mother.
Erik was like my twin, we looked a lot alike, and Zack was like my brother (hence the incestuous feeling of him checking me out), the three of us had known each other for more than eleven years. Ease settled over me when I was near them which constituted to why I rarely hung out with anyone else. I already knew everything about these two. They had known this about me for years and were immune to my power now.
"Hey!" Alex fought his way through the crowd towards us, "Isa, you disappeared, I was worried, where did you go? One minute we were dancing then the next you were gone…" I grinned like the Cheshire cat. A huge part of me felt way too much joy for him leaving his friends to look for me. He genuinely looked worried too.
"She just went outside to get air, god Alex stop being so possessive!" Zack said jokingly. He was a walking cartoon character, I swear. His brown eyes glinted with slashes of green in his pasty white face, showing his amusement. He still had chubby cheeks covered in a mass about of freckles and still had his baby fat. The first thing I thought of when I thought of Zack was someone who could play almost every instrument you put in his hands, a caregiver at church for the kids, someone who tries to make things funny but then uses overkill, and someone you could depend on for anything.
"He's right Alex; I just went to get some air. I think I'm gonna' head home soon anyways, my mom thinks I'm sleeping over at Mandy's." Mandy was the fifth in our group, the 'almost' best friend. She and Eric were meant to be together but after the recent breakup they did not even talk anymore. I trusted her with almost everything but we didn't consider each other best friends because she had her friends from flags and I had mine from poms and speech team, we travelled in different circles but I still loved her.
"Want me to walk you home?" he asked politely. You see, this was why my mother was obsessed with him. She put on a façade of liking my boyfriends just to make me happy but she honestly loved this kid, I could see why, he was the perfect child. Alex was second in our sophomore class rank this year, had straight A's, was on scholastic bowl, and one of the nicest people you would ever meet.
"Thanks Alex but I think I'll walk home alone. Enjoy the party, dance, have fun, I'll be fine."
"Sure?" Erik and Zack said in unison.
I chuckled, "Yea, I'm sure." Alex didn't protest.
The three inch heels I wore hurt my feet but the click-clack of the stilettos on pavement comforted me. Mandy would just be getting home soon. She had her own party to go to tonight for flags; she made varsity team for it this year. I searched my head for an answer. What would I do? I knew what I had to do but I wasn't sure how to go about it.
I knew I had to confront Jimena, tell her I was in. My place in the world was undisputed. Taking it as fact that from when I was young, there was more to life then just getting through the day. There was something nobler out there, something I was a part of. Something much bigger than you and I controlled this world.
Taking hold of my amulet, I saw it sparkle. When I was about 6 years old, I went into the attic of our home and found a music box, inside was this necklace. I took it out and placed it around my neck and I haven't taken it off since, nor have I gone in the attic. That day was imprinted in my memory, how something had called me up there. I brushed the thought from my mind and changed direction. Mandy would not miss me tonight, she would call my cell and I would tell her I was not feeling so well and I did not want to get her baby brother sick. She would believe me and I would be talking to Jimena.
Suddenly, I heard a crack. It sounded like a branch being broken behind me. A girl about my age, maybe a bit older, tumbled to the sidewalk. I muffled my scream as she winced from pain of the landing. She had dark brown hair which was unruly and down to her waist. She had tied it up with a ribbon to make a ponytail. Her skin was the color of milk chocolate and the raspberry colored sundress she had on billowed around her, covered in dirt.
I was slightly surprised to hear her speak at all when she said, "Isabelle, you have to come with me. I came to warn you that you are in grave danger and we must leave, now."
The first thing that came to my brain was how many questions I had at that moment. "Wait just a second. Who are you? Where did you come from? How did you get here? Why am I in danger, I'm just walking home and you're popping out the sky like a daisy so halt for a moment and answer my questions," but what actually came out of my mouth was, "Are you okay?" I know, cliché and motherly but I could not help it, it's my nature and she looked like she was in pain.
"I'm fine; I just need to work on my landing. Sorry to startle you but it's urgent. We must leave now, you are in danger."
"So you told me. Who are you exactly?"
"My name is Alyssa Forsyth, I am a Daughter of the Moon and a Follower is stalking you right now so we have to go." I felt confused and hesitant.
"Why should I trust you?" She struggled to stand up and sighed when I offered her my hand. She grabbed my hand and I pulled her up lightly. She placed the hand I held her up with on my necklace then her own hand on hers. They were identical. For a moment I stood, frozen, expecting the wave of her life to engulf me. A few moments later, the crushing force of her life dawned on me.
Lying awake at night, hearing the yelling and pounding. The door slamming shut. Tip-toeing downstairs to see broken glass everywhere and my mother slumped against a wall, my sister naked and lying on the floor, dead.
The police driving me away. Aunt and Uncle greeting me into their home. My new room, my new things, my new life.
First day of high school. Tryouts. First date. First kiss. First act of magic. First time I space travelled. First time I got stuck in the portal between two places.
First time Jimena talked to me. First time my power was explained. First time I got my necklace. First time I heard I was a Daughter of the Moon. First time I was beaten down by a Follower. First time I –
"Make it stop!" I screamed. My hand yanked away from hers and she fell down again. Climbing up on her own she backed a little away from me.
"Shh! They'll hear you. I'm sorry I touched you, I forgot about your power. You asked why you should trust me. You saw the truth through my eyes. It's because we're in this together whether we like it or not," before we had a chance leave another deafening crack filled the sky. "Shit! It's too late, just as I suspected. Here, Isabelle, grab my hand, throw your power outward when they come close okay?"
Suddenly I saw it. A shadow was materializing on the brick wall of a building a few feet away. The shadow solidified and became a man. His face was scarred and had an Indian look to it. Raggedy black hair formed stubble on his face and a shaggy mop on his head.
"Follower," Alyssa hissed, "You will regret the day you ever heard of the Daughters of the Moon!" The moonlight set his skin to a creamy tinted dark olive. My nerve endings tingled, his looks drew me in but his aura made me cringe. I saw a bright light emit from both of our amulets as he took a step nearer. Alyssa's power burst outward, hitting him square in the chest, he staggered.
I remembered what Alyssa had said and I tried to find my power. It settled in the middle of my chest, beneath my collarbone and my necklace. I drew it together, feeling powerful. I inhaled and sighed heavily as I thrust my power outside of my body. I felt empty, it was gone, my power…gone. The world sparkled on the edge of my vision and went black.