Chapter One: Karma Keres Donnes
I am stuck in the place between sleep and awakeness. Where you are dreaming but also aware of what is going on around you; I can hear the t.v’s low hum and the cool air blowing in through my window. I can smell the bacon one of my friends-roommates is cooking and I can feel the sheets beneath my fingers.
I try to open my eyes but it is like tearing glued together paper apart, I roll my body over. Before I know what is happening I am on the floor of my bedroom, the shock of hitting the floor unglued my eyes.
There is a gentle knock on my door, Ciaran, I know because Echo never knocks he doesn’t believe in my right to privacy. He opens the door, frowning down at me. Ciaran lowers his eyebrows and taps his thumbs against his index finger twice.
‘What are you doing?’ in ASL. I huff and pull myself up from the floor. I am ambidextrous, when I first learned that was a little difficult, but I use my left hand as my non-dominant one now. I hold my left hand palm up, indicating the floor and make a little person into a V shape with the index and middle finger of my left hand.
‘Fell.’ He nods in response and leans against the frame of my open door. Ciaran is not deaf, he is a selective mute. We all learned ASL together. He has shoulder-length wavy brown hair, black eyes so deep they might look soulless to some, double pierced ears, nose ring, lean and muscular, freckles, and 5’6. He is the shortest out of the three of us.
Ciaran takes his dominant hand putting the four fingers and his thumb together, tapping it against the inside elbow of his right arm, folding the fingers together and bringing it up to his mouth twice.
‘Breakfast.’ I nod, tapping my chin with my right hand and bringing it down toward him.
‘Thank you.’ I sign, he nods and walks out. I get to my feet and close my door with a snap. My room is a mess; clothes litter the floor, papers are thrown everywhere around the small space, and my music sheets and instruments sit leaning precariously against the far back wall.
From the floor of my bedroom I pull on a pair black lace tights in the pattern of skulls, a black skin-tight pair of shorts, a pair of black lace gloves with a skull design, a long black sleeve t-shirt, and a pair of plain black combat boots. I brush the knots out of my waist length straight black hair and leave it down, I add thick black eyeliner wings to my almond shaped icy blue eyes, I open up the small jewelry box that sits on my dresser and pull out a black skull tongue ring and two normal black piercing rings. One ring goes in my nose and one in my eyebrow. I add light blush to my high cheekbones and mascara to my already long black eyelashes. I am lean and curvy, 5’71/2. I am Mexican- american.
I grab my black backpack and car keys, shutting my bedroom door behind me. The kitchen is filled with the thick scent of eggs, toast, and bacon. Echo always cooks, he is amazing at it. Ciaran and I would burn the house down. Ciaran is wearing baggy black jeans, a grey hoodie, and old converse. I will have to do laundry.
Echo is wearing a thigh length black skirt, with thick lace black leggings underneath, and a pair of my old black pump boots. Echo has short curly calico colored hair, his long eyelashes are covered in mascara, his dimples highlighting his high cheekbones and freckles, he is muscular, lean, and 5’11. Echo suffers from Heterochromia Iridium, it causes his eyes to be two different colors; his right eye is green and his left eye is brown. Echo has scars all over his body; his back, arms, midriff, and legs. The most noticeable scar is across his face; it starts at his right eyebrow, crosses over the bridge of his nose and ends at his left jawline.
Echo places his right hand over his face and drags it down below his chin, all his fingers touching his thumb, and he relaxes his face till he looks tired.
‘How did you sleep?’ He questions, in ASL. We even sign when we are only talking to each other, it has become a habit. I make an O with my right hand and fold my index and middle fingers together and place them on my left hand.
‘Okay.’ He nods,touching his right hand fingers to his chin and laying it palm up on his left hand. Then, he curls the index finger middle and ring finger the palm of his right hand, extending the thumb and pinky, then; he moves it side to side.
‘Good. Same.’ I furrow my brows and tap my left wrist with my right hand index finger twice. Ciaran extends his pointer fingers towards the ceiling, the other fingers resting against his palms towards themselves, then; he brings them down in an arc towards the left, the front door.
‘Time to go.’ I don’t respond; I grab two pieces of toast and hold them in my mouth and race with my friends behind me out to our car. We are usually late anyway. I toss Echo the keys, so I can eat on the way. Then, I climb in the back seat and let Ciaran sit beside Echo. All of us are friends but Echo and Ciaran have a different kind of relationship. Ciaran is scared of physical contact, Hapheophobia, but he can interact with Echo just fine. Echo and I are close too, he even wears my clothes and my make-up. I am also close with Ciaran, he tells me everything, things that he doesn't even tell Echo.
Echo is a speed demon, it takes us a total of thirteen minutes to get to the school, it usually takes twenty when I drive. I swallow down my last piece of toast and step out into the school parking lot.
The three of us are all on scholarship to ‘The World of Arts’ highschool. I have a music scholarship. Ciaran has a triple scholarship, a triple scholarship is where the person was expected for their three talents, he got in for painting, literature, and dance. Echo also has a triple scholarship; drawing, cooking, and electronics. They have multiple passions. I only have one.
We have all of normal classes and then our scholarship classes. My first class is English Two with Mr.Phillips, both Ciaran and Echo have Chemistry two with Mr. Lownes. Both classes are in the main building; the main building is all the normal classes, the writing class is also in the main building. The second building is for music; a studio, an instrument room, an acoustic room, etc. The third building is a dance and art building; a dance studio and an art room fit into the building plus the miniature museum holding all of their art. The third building also includes an extra building attached that has a drawing room, an electronic room, and a kitchen.
Ciaran gets nervous about being around other people and he leans deep into Echo’s side, trying to make himself invincible. He is hanging out with the wrong people if he wants to be invincible. Echo encases Ciaran’s small hand in his, I walk over to his other side and he laces our fingers together. Ciaran hates physical touch with anyone except Echo, Echo hates being alone. I made sure to get their schedules of normal classes to match up, they don’t know this of course.
Their classroom is right next to mine, they go in theirs and I go in mine. Mr.Philips reassigns seats at least once a week, he always does something different. This week it is written on the board in his bounding handwriting.
‘Decipher The Code To Find Your seat.’
I walk over to my old desk which is in the back near the window. On my old desk is a code sheet of different letters. You have to find your name in all the letters and your seat will be in there too. It takes me five seconds to spot my name in a diagonal. Then, another five to spot the words naming my seat. Third row, seat one.
I turn in the paper and take my seat. He smiles up at me; his hazel eyes crinkle, freckles and blonde hair gleaming in the light.
“Hello, for once you are on time.” He states and raises one thin eyebrow waiting for an explanation.
“Echo drove.” He nods, and I go back to my seat. The classroom slowly begins to fill up with nicely dressed preppy kids whose parents have enough money to buy an entire island or two.
“Hi, freak.” Whispers a blonde girl as she sits down next to me.
“Hi. Preppy bitch who cannot remember her name so she has it sewed into her cardigan. Nice to meet you too, Britney. “ She hisses like a snake and glares at me.
“Hello class. This week we will be going over your English papers on Sheakespere’s Romeo and Juliet.” Mr.Philips greets and walks over to his dry erase board. He erases the thing that was written there and draws a small rose.
“Who wants to go first?” The question is slightly stunning, normally he always picks. Of course Brittany raises her hand and doesn’t even wait for him to okay it before she gets to her feet. Paper clutched in her hand. I am okay at writing because I write songs, I can make my words sound like poetry.
Brittany stands at the front of the room, clearing her throat loudly till everyone is looking at her. She loves to be the center of attention. Brittany goes on about how Romeo and Juliet is a true love story of time. She even uses the fact that Juliet kills herself as evidence.
I am next and I speak the exact opposite. Mine is better but I don’t say that and no one else does. They don’t have to, my grades speak for themselves.
I don’t see my friends as I make my way into Chemistry, it is right next to English. My Chemistry Two teacher is Mr.Lownes; is a cool teacher. He makes jingles about Chemistry and sings them before a test to help us pass. Mr.Lownes has shoulder-length brown hair and matching eyes that go well with his dimples.
Today, we don;t have a test. He is quiet as he hands us two worksheets to do alone, this means he is planning a test. I get all the answers right, I know from the small smile he gives me from his desk after I finish them thirty minutes into class. You cannot get anywhere in life if you don’t try.
My third class is Algebra Two with Mr. Bera, he hates me. My friends are exiting Mr.Bera’s as I am walking up to his class. I place my hands together with the knuckles touching, I roll my hands forward into arches until the palms are up and my hands make a cupping motion. Last, I furrow my brows.
‘How was it?’ I sign in asl, Ciaran glances into the classroom. Glaring at the man sitting like the waiting devil at his desk. Ciaran is hardly ever upset; well, he hardly ever shows emotions. He takes the four fingers of his left hand and taps them repeatedly against his chin. He only has to say one word for me to understand.
‘Talk.’ Echo tightens his strong arm around Ciaran’s waist, pulling him into his side. I make the fingers of my left hand into a whole and use the index of my right hand to push through the whole.
‘Asshole.’ Ciaran smiles and bites Echo’s shoulder gently. Echo blushes at this and swings him into his arms. Ciaran’s legs wrapping around Echo’s waist and Echo’s arms flat against his butt holding him up against him.
“Bye,” I called out to them as they walked away. Ciaran smiles and waves and they walk off to their next class. I take my normal seat at the back of the classroom. Mr. Bera has shoulder-length black hair, tan complexion, and grey eyes. He glares back at me and I smirk, blowing a bubble with my gum till it pops.
“Do you want to go to the office?” He questions in response, crossing his arms over his chest as if that will defend him from my next attack. We aren’t supposed to do things like this but it surges forward and I cannot stop it. I try because I wouldn't wish this on anyone but there is no reigning it in now that it is loose. I close my eyes tight and clench the fabric of my shirt tight in my hands. I hate this.
The darkness of fear curls itself back up in my body and lies down to sleep, I almost lost control. I could have driven him insane. I exhale and inhale, repeatedly. No one notices me, I am the freak in the back. It is better if they don’t notice me.
The rest of the class passes without incident and I hurriedly exit the room. World History is next with Mrs. Old. I pass multiple classrooms first and disappear into the bathroom. Calming myself before going to class.
Mrs. Old is the exact opposite of her name; she is young, blonde, hazel eyed, and tan. She writes history skits for all of us to do. She is one of my favorite teachers. We are studying the Great Depression. She hands me a lollipop and gives me a thumbs up, today is my skit. I pull the paper out from my bag. I do good, as always.
I am thankful that lunch is next, if you have a car you can eat off campus. I meet with my friends in our car and climb into the backseat, they don’t ask. Ciaran takes the passenger seat and rests his head against the cool window, Echo’s hands are tight on the steering wheel. They didn’t ask because they are distracted by their own problems. I will fix them and then I’ll fix myself.
I unlock the phone I hardly ever use and pull up Ciaran’s contact. If I message Echo he will tell me everything is fine, he is more like me he lies to settle things himself. Ciaran is in my contacts as ‘small boi.’
Karma(Me): ‘What is going on with you two?’
He doesn’t immediately respond, instead I watch as the bubbles appear and disappear on my screen. Then, when I think he isn’t going to tell me a message appears.
Small Boi(Ciaran):’He is mad at me because I got self conscious when he held my hand in front of our classmates.’
My heart drops. Ciaran and Echo are very close but they have their moments, they tell me the secrets and I fix the problems. I do it beneath the surface so they don’t notice, it is easier this way.
karma(Me):’That isn’t your fault. Do you want me to fix this?’
There he goes again hesitating to respond but in the end he always does.
Small Boi(Ciaran):’Yes, please. Don’t tell him that I told you.’
I don’t notice that we are back at our house till the door slams in my ears. Echo stomps up the driveway and disappears into the house. Ciaran wraps his arms around himself. I point my index finger at myself and make a K with both my hands tapping them gently together, he nods in response.
‘I will take care of it.’ Ciaran hates conflict and decides to stay in the car. I knock gently on Echo’s door, then when he doesn’t reply I open it. He glares at me and pops out a headphone.
“What do you want? Come here to tell me to get over myself and move on.” He hisses, he doesn’t dare raise his voice at me. Then, as if all the fight has left his body he collapses on his bed.
“He was embarrassed of me,” he whispers. His eyes stay glued to his roof and his hands clench themselves together.
I sit down beside him,”no he isn’t. He is embarrassed of himself.”
He scoffs, shaking his head.
“He is amazed that you would want to hold his hand in front of other people. Do you know why he doesn’t talk?” I question, it isn’t my story to tell.
He nods,”yes.” I lace my fingers through his.
“How about you go talk with him and I’ll order something.” I suggest it as if it was his idea the whole time, I am good at that. He leaves his door open and I can hear him pause before the door, exhale, and exit the house.
I tug my phone from my pocket and google the nearest food restaurant. All that work has made me hungry.
Echo steals Ciaran’s drink and takes a sip. Ciaran doesn’t protest, he instead steals a fry. Echo wraps his arm around Ciaran’s waist drawing him closer. Ciaran continues to eat and lies his head in Echo’s lap.
‘Thank you.’ He mouths to me, I smile and give him a wink. Another problem solved, now I have to worry about fixing myself.