Elizabeth Albright heard something hitting a wall. Her daughter, Jessica, had taken to bouncing a rubber ball around the room when she was bored, seeing what she could make it do. It would be one thing if she was doing this on a school night, after she had finished with her homework, but it was another to do it during the afternoon, a time when a young teenager should have been out with friends.
“Hey. Are you getting hungry?”
Jessica caught the ball, and let it drop to her side. “Maybe, I guess.”
Jessica’s overall appearance had always made her mother think of Snow White. She had black hair, and pale, almost completely white skin. Her dark red lips stood out against it, so much so that her teacher from second grade had once chided her for wearing lipstick. Jessica’s eyes were the same color as her lips, although this didn’t seem to cause as much comment.
There was a brief pause. “You…you’re still having trouble talking to the other children at school?”
Jessica let out a long sigh. “It’s not like I don’t want to. It’s just…It’s just like there’s this wall there. I can’t exactly talk about how delicious their blood would be, you know?”
“It’s not like you have to talk about those things-”
“It’s been a year and a half, mom, and I’m still the girl that once licked another kid’s face. You’d think that people moving in and away from school would be more interesting, but somehow it still keeps coming up.”
Elizabeth fell into the couch next to her daughter. She knew that her family had needs that other people didn’t. Those needs also came with benefits most people could never have, though, so it wasn’t like they really needed other people to understand their suffering. Most people had the good sense to not mention things people pointedly didn’t talk about, but middle schools were full of dumb kids, that wouldn’t understand how pointless their cruelty was, assuming they even realized they were being cruel.
Elizabeth sighed deeply. “So you can’t escape from your past, then. I have half a mind to send you off to boarding school at this point.”
Jessica sat up straight. “Is that an option?”
“Well,” said Elizabeth, “I suppose it is. It’s not like we would have problems paying for tuition. Why?”
Jessica looked at her hand. “Sorry. It’s just…It feels like I’ve been going through this past year on nothing but inertia. Like the only reason I’m moving forward at all is because I’m already moving forward. I’m kind of afraid of what will happen when I get out of school and I still don’t know what to do with myself.” Jessica closed her hand into a fist. “But, if I can make a decision about my future like that, well, then I would be moving under my own power. Then, at the very least, I’ll have practice at deciding on my own course through life.”
It was the happiest Elizabeth had seen her daughter in months. “Well, we can start looking into options. Your grades are pretty good, and we’ll probably want you to stay here until the end of the school year, so we probably have until fall to make a choice.”
“What about an Occulted school?”
Elizabeth stopped in surprise.
“Well, I know you and dad don’t like to talk about the Underground,” said Jessica, “but we’re still a part of the hidden world, aren’t we? So I should be making connections to other Occs and learning about them, right?”
“…Well, I suppose your right to be curious about those kinds of things. And it would make explaining why you need a fridge full of blood in your room easier. But…”
“If you found out that the Occulted were truly the monsters we seem to be, what would you do?”
Jessica tapped her forefingers together. “Well, I’m not really sure. It would mean that I would be a monster, too, and it’s also possible that there would be less bad monsters, and wouldn’t it be possible to understand monsters if you could meet them, anyway?”
Elizabeth considered her daughter’s words. They were still a bit jumbled, but Jessica was ready for more that what could be found in the suburbs. Still, it was a terrifying prospect to let her daughter out into the world, even if it was at an age she herself was starting to step out. “Well…I’ll consider it. Just try to keep an open mind, Jessica. About everything.”
So, this is a new project I’m trying to start. I didn’t really know how to write this story until I decided to focus on Jessica’s feelings of inertia. I needed to set up Jessica and the setting, although the main conflict can wait for a proper chapter. If you can see a way to improve my writing, or if there’s something here you don’t understand, please leave a comment.