Chapter 1 – ‘This week,’

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               Before she even reached breakfast, her world had already ended.

                There are clouds. Fields of white that seem to extend forever. A soothing chill and a breezing sound drown out my thoughts as I float over the blue sky. All I can feel is that warm light as I soar above everything, everything too small to observe. This warm ray of light, it envelops me. And she’s here with me. Flying together. I want to stay here. With these mountains of white, with this warmth, with her. I can’t think of anything else. I want to stay here.

                The sounds of metal and ceramic began to stir her out of her daydream. The same daydream she’s been having recently and more often. 9:30, I shouldn’t be up this early, the girl silently protested as she stirred her own breakfast with her spoon, the cereal getting sogged down by the minute.

                “Hey, ‘Eyebrows’, eat up. Your cereal’s getting soggy,” a man sluggishly approached, as if he had woken from a night of sleep without any benefits of actual rest. He entered the kitchen, which was quite pristine, but simple, one that suggested a high income but not high enough to not be living here. He again attempted to adjust his tie and his hastily put-on suit, it loosely fitting over his thin yet rugged frame. Eyes, heavy with bags of weariness, meet the girl. “Lilly, did you hear me?”

                The girl pursed her lips in irritation, she never appreciated any comments relating to her eyebrows, which were thick and brown, and contrasted her long blonde hair. She also was not particularly fond of the mole that adorned her left side of her face, closer to the mouth. They were generally the first things most people noticed when meeting Lilly for the first time, and when Lilly met first met her, she made sure that fact was made apparent.

                “Yeah Dad, I know…” her voice carried her disdain and annoyance, yet still had a faint touch of politeness. She liked to think that being that biting would never be in her character.

                Her father chuckled at the response. Like moving gears in a machine, each step in this unchanging process has been repeated for years at a time. Like clockwork. But only now does he notice something different about this particular iteration.

                “Isn’t today Saturday?” he asked as he now fixed his hair, brown and too long for the type of job he holds, at least one that requires a suit. “Why aren’t you sleeping in?” His turn to prepare his own breakfast was somehow both hurried and sloth-like.

                A sudden rush fills Lilly’s face, and she quickly lowered herself towards the table, making any attempt to obscure herself, her long hair helping in covering her eyes. She muttered in between bites of her now liquid breakfast. “I, uh, I’m meeting someone later, later today…” Her voice trailed off at that last word, hoping her father doesn’t press on any more about her uncharacteristically early wake. Thoughts go to an energetic redheaded girl, and within moments Lilly’s face matched that color, her desire to hide growing exponentially. She could almost feel like she’s becoming invisible. The feeling begins to fleet when she heard a voice sounding off in the back of her head.

                Rea again, huh? Don’t you have any other friends?

                Lilly responded almost immediately, “Dad, of course I have other friends! What do you think of me anyways!?” A moment of confusion sets in. I’m pretty sure Dad said something. She pushed her hair back behind her left ear and whispered an apology.

                Her father turned to face her, wearing a similar look of confusion as if someone had just walked in on him. Carefully he picked up some bread on a plate next to her as he slowly contemplates over his next set of words. “Right. Oh, I’m already late as it is… Um, I’ll be out late today, but call me if something comes up. You’re fourteen now, so you should learn how to take care of yourself already.” He approached Lilly for a fatherly peck on the forehead. She leaned in to return a warm felt hug.

                “Alright I’ll be out now, bye!” The exit he made was quite the opposite from his more lax and listless entrance from before, the urgency of his unpunctuality finally settling upon him, leaving a young blonde girl to ponder on the exchange and his parting words. Oh well. A glance at a calendar on a wall nearby also reminds her. It’s been a week since my birthday already? A week since she… Vivid memories of auburn leaves and sharp autumn air begin to surround her mind. Of light as it danced across the trees above her. And at the center of this bright scenery was a girl. A girl whose energy could let a small flame burst into wildfire. A girl who she had spent the last ten years, and especially this last week, with. She blushed again just at the thought of her. A clock rang. 10:00 already?

                Lilly looked down at her food. It’s utter milk at its current state. Completely undesirable to continue consuming. I guess I’ll get ready. A whole day is still ahead, and as such Lilly rose from the table to prepare for it. Even with no one to observe, her movements are met with grace and fluidity. In the midst of her morning, her exchange with her father begins to fade into the monotony of routine. It’s 10:15. She’ll be here any minute.

                Clicking and tapping of plastic began to stir her out of her daze. Staring at the monitor, surfing across the internet has not proved to be the ideal way to spend this evening, but not much choice was given to her. And yet she stayed online. She was a teenage girl after all.

                Lilly’s room matched her kitchen in thematic characteristics. And as such matched her own as well. Pristine, elegant, yet simple. Her light citrine walls held no decorations, aside from a calendar neatly pinned above her laptop and a scrap of paper with “UGLY” scribbled in bold letters. Aside from a tidily made bed behind her and her desk, accompanied by her laptop computer and a shelfful of books of genres and styles, her room was bare. She continued to peruse through various articles and virtual white noise to stave off the mind numbing ennui. This was definitely what I wanted to get out of this day. Although she may not have admitted it, Lilly was frustrated.

                After another click of a finger and a subtle scroll across the screen, a ringing is heard across her desk. Before Lilly could even shift her gaze to her phone, the door behind her slammed open and what appeared to be a surprise party in the shape of a person burst into the room, destroying any semblance of peace and quiet the room may have held only previously.

                “Yahoo! Hey sorry I couldn’t make it to our date Lillychi! I brought something that might cheer you up~!!”

                She starts conversations as if they had already been ongoing five minutes before. She acts as if she isn’t aware of social norms or other’s feelings. Any gesture to simply ‘stay still’ is lost on this girl. Her short size only makes her appear more animated. Always pulling Lilly with her to tackle on a new made up adventure. As a result, outsiders would see her as ‘rude,’ ‘uncouth,’ or ‘it’s-that-loud-girl-who-won’t-calm-down,’ yet at the same time ‘magnetizing’ and ‘alluring.’ For her sake, that was a miraculous feat. And from ten years of dealing with this short, yet concentrated, typhoon of chaos and energy, Lilly knew how to handle her directly.

                “You could’ve at least called, Rea,” juxtaposing Rea’s more fiery personality, Lilly’s words were much more cold, trying to freeze Rea in guilt. She ignored the light on her phone that indicated a recent message. Passing Rea to shut the door, Lilly sternly muttered, “I ended up thinking we weren’t meeting up today.” The irritation crawled back in.

                “Sorry, sorry, I just got caught up with some… stuff!” Rea’s red ponytail flickered back and forth as she dove towards Lilly’s bed, shattering any evidence it was made at all earlier in the day. If Lilly had just met Rea, she would have cringed. “Hope you like this though!” Rea tossed Lilly a box she had only just noticed she had in one hand, while adjusting her glasses with the other, propping herself up on the bed as she did so.

                Lilly inspected the box, a white cardboard container in which its contents were unideal for the room. “You know we can’t eat in here.” The box is swiftly made residence aside on her desk. “Especially donuts.” Lilly sighed again. “Half of them are already gone too.”

                Rea gave a toothy grin, her trademark fang in full view, a well-timed response to Lilly’s more relaxed, more ‘chill’ nature. A routine unbroken after years of kinship. Like moving gears in a machine. Like clockwork. But something seemed to be different in this current cycle.

                Rea pats the side of the bed next to her, maintaining that smile, rather more accurately a mask to hide her true motives. “C’mere, it was your idea that we meet up every day this week right? I can’t let you break that promise today!” You made me make that promise, Lilly recalled. And it was your idea! The point that they hang out everyday anyways wasn’t lost on Lilly. 

                Shuffling over to Rea’s bedside, Lilly’s movements aren’t at all smooth. She stumbled across the bed as she almost bumped into her friend. “Oh, uh, sorry…” Rea found Lilly’s occasional slip into awkwardness adorable. The redhead giggled to herself.

               “By the way,” Rea mentioned, “I was watching an anime before I came over. It was about a secret organization who protects the world from monsters and stuff.”

               “What does that have to do with anything?”

               “I was thinking, wouldn’t it be cool if we were in a secret organization? We could go on adventures everyday!”

               Lilly hung her head. “If you and I were in one of those, we’d be in a heap of trouble.”

               “Nuh-uh! Maybe you’ll be, since you’re gonna protect me, right?”

               “Sure, whatever you say.”

                “Haha, you can be too much sometimes, you know that?” Rea said, cracking up.

                Before Lilly could begin to make her retort, Rea leaned in to meet Lilly’s face, angled so as if not to disturb her own glasses. The exchange lasted longer than it should, both somewhat awkwardly frozen in place as if they were not yet used to their new gesture of displaying affection. Because they weren’t. Rea’s lips were unmoving as rock and felt dry. They wince as a sharp pain hits both of them when teeth collided. The seconds dragged into forever.

               The image of the two weren’t unlike a girl playing pretend with two dolls, their faces pressed together without folding or moving with consideration for the other. A pitiful display.

                Lilly kept her eyes shut, unsure if Rea was doing the same. Her face heats up as Rea continued to lean on her. The silence that just enveloped the room soon becomes unbearable. A sensation begins to buzz into the back of Lilly’s head. Eyes shut as she mustered up effort, she pushed Rea’s weight off of her body. Sitting back, Rea took Lilly’s uncomfortable state in stride, but the slight disappointment couldn’t escape her eyes. Her ponytail bobbled as she tried to sheepishly laugh it off.

                “Ha haha ha, I guess we’re still new to this huh?” She continued to shift along the bed. Yah, I guess we are. Lilly pushed her hair behind her left ear as she maintained her position. Focusing the buzzing in her head to a fine point, she stares at her feet, intently listening to the sound they make as they rub against each other. Her thick eyebrows furrowed in intense concentration. For a decade of friendship, it has been a long while since they both mutually experienced a ‘first.’

                With her eyes nervously wandering too much to notice her blonde partner’s blushing face, Rea attempted to drag them both out of their uncomfortable haze. “Hey it’s only nine ‘o clock right? We can still go for a night stroll in the park!” She’s already headed towards the door as she makes the proposition. “It’s been a while since we’ve gone on an adventure!” she exclaimed. The change in subject was anything but subtle.

                “Jeez,” Lilly nagged in exasperation, however a smile snuck across her lips. They’re getting back into the routine. The sensation in her head crescendos as she looks up at Rea. “I never really know what you’re thinking,” she whispered.

                Yah yah, try to bet what I’m thinking now?!

                Rea froze in her steps, her hand right over the door knob, uncharacteristically and disturbingly still. Lilly stared at her in confusion, her mouth half-open in an effort to ask if Rea had just said something. Rea turned around to face Lilly, her face in both confusion and mild astonishment. They look into each other’s eyes for what feels like an eternity. After a while, Rea opened her mouth.

                “Did you just hear that?”

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