1- High School & BrooklynA Chapter by Demetri J
Chapter 1. Introduces more central characters and sets up some of the story.
Chiffon Reeve, fifteen years old. When it all happened she was in the middle of her freshman year of high school. For most of her life, the most unusual things about her were her love for classical poems, her interest in politics and current events, her extensive knowledge of science and culture, or the fact that she’d rather rummage through her book collection than sneak around and do drugs with the other kids her age. Even though it felt like a normal day at the beginning, it was the day everything changed. Or at least the beginning...
“Wake up...wake up...” the calling voice slowly entered her mind as she faded into consciousness. “Get up, girl!” Chiffon snapped awake, looking up to see her father.
“Get up before you’re late for school, Max is already here.”
Chiffon gave a quick glance to her alarm clock, which she forgot to set. 7:23. “Oh!” she called in realization, jumping out of bed and throwing the covers off.
“There’s eggs downstairs.” her father said walking out of her room. As soon as he left, Max casually strolled in.
“Good morning, sunshine!” Max exclaimed; a long-running joke between the two girls. “Ever hear of knocking, Max?” Chiffon said, opening up her closet. Max sucked her teeth.
“You act like I ain’t never seen you in pajamas before.”
Chiffon Reeve and Maxine Smith had been best friends for as long as either of them could remember. They had been inseparable since they were little girls, back when everyone thought they were sisters. They both were African American females of young age, both had naturally black hair, brown eyes and thin figures. In spite of all this, the two could hardly be more different.“Hold up,” Chiffon said. “I just have to find some clothes.”
She shuffled through her closet, picking out a adequate blue ensemble of a hoodie, jeans and sneakers. She took a step into her walk-in closet, rushing on the clothes and stepping out in a hurry.
“Why the rush?” Max asked with a raised brow. Chiffon rolled her eyes.
“Today’s the big day!” she answered, for what had to be the thousandth time.
“Big day?” Max repeated. Chiffon was silent, and instead pointed to the calender on the wall. May 16th, appropriately circled and marked ‘Big Day’. “So...?”
“The school paper!” Chiffon sighed, giving in to Max’s forgetfulness. “I’m applying for a writing position. Today’s my interview and I want to look good.”
“Oh yeah,” Max remembered. The two headed downstairs. “Well of course you’re gonna get it! You’re, like, crazy smart.”
“That’s up to the editors,” Chiffon answered. “Depends on what they think of the story I wrote on Brooklyn’s crime rate.”
“S-M-H, C you have no self confidence! Just trust me, your interview’ll be fine.”
“Whatever, Max. Just keep praying.”
The girls left the house, walking out into Brooklyn’s open air and greeting the morning. “Bye, dad. Love you.” Chiffon called, closing her front door. She sighed, taking a breath of the cool spring breeze. The city was waking, everyone beginning on their daily routines. The birds were getting ready to sing, the dopefiends heading out to their corners. Even early in the morning, sounds of the city stirred. Car horns and indistinct buzzing was Brooklyn’s voice.
“Hey, C. Hey, Max.”
The girls approached the bus stop, reuniting with their block’s bus riders. Eddie, Lucas and Jenn. The girls were long-since cool with Lucas and Eddie, but Jenn was the quiet one of the block. She kept to herself, standing idly by every morning as the others conversed. “Took y’all long enough.” Eddie nagged playfully. Everyone in the neighborhood knew Eddie Hudson. He was notorious around the block for his accomplishments in street-smarts, and had a mouth with the potential to make any priest an axe murderer. Everyone said it would get him into trouble one day, maybe they were right.
“Yeah,” Chiffon replied. “Fell a little behind on the schedule but I’m ready to go. Today’s the day!”
Eddie nodded, even though Chiffon knew he had no idea what ‘the day’ meant either. “Good luck.” Lucas said, the only one to remember what Chiffon had been talking about for almost two weeks. “Thanks,” Chiffon replied with a sincere smile. “It’s a miracle I got up this morning, last night was crazy!”
The memories raced through her mind. “What happened?” Eddie inquired.
“Well,” Chiffon answered. “There was this meteorite at the junkyard me and Max used to play as little kids. I went to check it out and a bunch of guys in black were there. They saw me and actually tried to get me but I hopped on a bus and bounced. Weird, huh?”
“Definitely.” Lucas replied, taking it in.
“Well,” Max began, expectedly not interested in the topic. “While you were out getting chased, last night I was out dress shopping.”
“Dress shopping?” Chiffon repeated, wondering the occasion.
“For homecoming, duh,” Max answered. “I’m gonna try to be this year’s Homecoming Queen.”
“Right...” Chiffon said, her being the uninterested one this time.
“Don’t you wanna get that crown, C?” Max asked, in complete popularity-induced daze.
“Hell no!” Chiffon answered bluntly. She would never conform herself to something that superficial. She saw Homecoming as a meaningless popularity contest that shamefully judged students right to their faces. Eddie and Max exchanged another glance, looked back to Chiffon and shook their heads in unison.
“Well you could still vote for me.” Max replied eventually. Chiffon sighed, as the school bus finally pulled up.
Dolemont High. It could be the model school for the entire country. Not that it was much better than most other schools, it certainly wasn’t, but it seemed to have just about everything. Monthly assemblies about equal treatment and bullying, a million clubs to participate in, the best football team in the district, and came complete with seventeen-year-old sophomores smoking cigarettes outback. School went by fast that day, the only thing on Chiffon’s mind was the interview. As the day went on, she became less anxious and excited for it, and more nervous and fearing. She and Max met up at lunch hour.
“Chill, C,” Max said, sensing her friend’s nervousness. “You’ll be fine.”
In the tradition they’ve been keeping up most of the year, the girls split a big bag of chips and diet soda for lunch. The discussion that took place was usually high school gossip and boys, but Chiffon’s worrying left her silent for once.
“I’ll know something that’ll take your mind off it.” said Max, with a mischievous grin. She pointed at the approaching football team, more specifically Drew Welver. He was one of the most popular guys in Dolemont, and the one Chiffon had secretly admired since the beginning of the year. In light of the fact that he literally never said a word to her so far, she found her crush on him to be an unexplainable function of her mind. Max’s knowledge of it pretty much drove her crazy.
“Is today also gonna be the day you talk to him?” Max asserted. Chiffon rolled her eyes, once again plagued by that question.
“Same answer as last time you asked.”
“Ugh. C, you’re hopeless.”
As the glorious team passed through the cafeteria, one member strayed and headed to the girls’ table. Tyler Lane, team quarterback. He and Max had officially been together for two weeks.
“Hey, Max. Hi Chiffon.”
“Hey babe.” Max said, the two meeting with a quick kiss.
“Hey.” Chiffon replied, feeling awkward with his presence. The exchanges of greetings were pretty much the only conversation Chiffon and Tyler had. Tyler’s status as quarterback made his name known to Dolemont, and he was noticeably the first white guy Max had ever dated.
“Amber Benson told me to give you these,” he said, pulling two pink mini-envelopes from his team jacket. “Invites to her party. One for you, and another to bring a friend.”
“That’s whats up! Took her long enough to get me one.” Max was instantly excited. “C, you gotta come!”
Chiffon raised a brow in shock. Amber B. was the local rich girl. She threw parties all the time, and Chiffon identified her by her huge-normous mansion of a house.
“I’m invited?” Chiffon asked. She had barely spoke Amber.
“Of course, girl!” Max replied happily. “She knows you and me are tight. The party’s in two days.”
“I don’t know...” Chiffon said, looking away and slipping the envelop away into her purse. She was thrown off by how happy Max was about it. Neither of the girls had passed the ‘acquaintance’ zone with Amber, plus Chiffon wasn’t much for parties. Max and Tyler seemed to have forgotten already. Her nerves twisted up at the thought.
“Come on, C!” Max pleaded. “Me and Tyler are going.”
“Yeah...” Chiffon spouted awkwardly, letting her eyes sink to Tyler’s hand around Max’s hip. Amber had a few big, vacant guest bedrooms in her house, which would be available to the party. Chiffon winced and looked away from the two of them as the thought rang in her mind.
“I don’t know...” Chiffon said, otherwise at a loss for words. Max was her best friend in the entire world, but times like these made it evident that they could not be any more different.
Dolemont County High - Department of Extra-Curricular Activities
Soon enough, the time came for the interview. Chiffon sat at the edge of her seat, trying to look as calm and professional as Lela Jameson looked over the article she wrote. It was Chiffon’s audition for the school’s journalism team. Lela, a Junior, was the president of DC High’s journalism club, which also made her the one in charge of the team and any story told in the school’s paper. Chiffon had previously wrote an informative article on recent events. She made sure to capture each detail in a well written and enlightening way.
“So tell me, why do you want to be a journalist here?” Lela asked, looking over Chiffon’s demo story. It was a routine question that got asked to anyone who applied. One that Chiffon had a prepared answer to.
“To help do good for the world, basically,” she began. Lela raised a brow, matching Chiffon’s anticipated curiosity, so she went on.
“You may not know, but there’s approximately twelve million crimes committed each year in the United States. Probably millions of kids join gangs every day, and the rate of homicide in New York is steadily increasing each year.”
“Your point?” Lela asked shallowly, turning the page of Chiffon’s article.
“Crime runs America, and it gets worse every day,” Chiffon continued.
“For a long time, I’ve had this dream of one day being a journalist to get the facts out there. If I were to have my voice heard I know I can make a difference. That’s what I want to do with my life, and I guess here’s the first step in achieving that goal.”
Lela frowned, looking up at Chiffon with bad news peering through her green eyes. “This doesn’t look good.” she said, shaking her head. Chiffon’s jaw nearly dropped, as she leaned forward, questioning frantically. She had rehearsed that speech to perfection.
“What? What’s wrong?”
“I dont think you’re what we’re looking for.”
Lela sighed. “Well,” she began. “If you want to go out and save the world, good for you. But really, no one cares...We’re not gonna sell papers talking about this stuff.”
Chiffon raised a brow, backing up in her seat slightly. “I beg your pardon.” she said dryly.
“No one cares about robberies or any of this police crap. It happens every day, why bring it up to people?”
“Yeah, I’m trying to do something about it...” Chiffon replied, trying not to feel offended. Lela scoffed, rolling her eyes as if Chiffon couldn’t see her. Without giving a second thought, Lela pushed forward a published article, one of her own. Chiffon silently read the headline: “Top Candidates for Homecoming Queen.”
She looked up at Lela with disbelief.
“There’s something people will want to read.” she said. Chiffon was speechless. How could the president of the school’s journalism be such a superficial gossip girl? Was Chiffon Reeve the only one that cared about the world around her?
“Bring something like this,” Lela continued. “And maybe we’ll run your stories.”
Chiffon gave a cold stare and nodded. Before she knew it, she had taken her article back and had been walking out of the room.
Chiffon walked home that day. She had missed the bus in favor of her afterschool interview; what a smooth move that was. Despite it, Chiffon enjoyed the mental solitude of walking alone. Though in the middle of the city, constantly surrounded by hundreds of people, she rejoiced in the fact that they were all nothing more than random faces soon to be forgotten, as she was to them. Being basically invisible in a crowd of strangers gave her almost the same feeling of closure as being completely alone; something she needed desperately to clear her head. Inner solitude was her medicine for when life beat her down.
The streets of the city buzzed. To one, it almost seemed like a normal day. A first-time visitor might look at the streets that day and see a friendly, life-filled environment and the epitome of excitement. They would miss the prostitutes patrolling the street. They wouldn’t notice the crackheads trading stolen money for rocks. They would be completely oblivious to the gang-affiliated kids scattered about everywhere. They wouldn’t look twice at the police, who they didn’t know were as crooked as they came. This was Brooklyn, and Chiffon knew it all too well.
“Homecoming queen? Ain’t that something. Sorry Chiffon.” her father spoke between bites of his dinner, back from what she’d assume a hard day of police work.
Family was a strange concept to Reeves, or at least it seemed that way to Chiffon. She used to live with wonderful parents and an amazing older brother; things changed. Her mother was a lawyer, prominent in her field and out to clean up the streets. Her name was feared by every criminal in Brooklyn, and she had successfully locked up more people than anyone could count. Simply put, she got a little too good at her job, and one day she didn’t come back. DeAndre Reeve was in college. Mr. Reeve was still the man of the house, but now he was getting married to her. Norma Keel, or mom as she wished Chiffon would call her, sat across from her at the dinner table. Chiffon tried to ignore her, but her mere presence seemed to burn a hole in her teenage psyche.
“Well, I think there’s a silver lining to this,” Norma began. I don’t care what you think, Chiffon wanted to say, but instead just shot her a glare. It apparently had no effect since he just went on anyway.
“You’re only fifteen, maybe you shouldn’t have your mind on these things. Cleaning up crime isn’t your job, maybe you should be taking an interest in lighter things in life.”
Judging by her tone, one could guess Norma intended that as warm enlightenment. But of course, she had just openly disrespected all Chiffon stood for, directly to her face nonetheless.
“So,” Norma tried, breaking the steel wall of silence she had cast. Chiffon looked up, briefly meeting eyes with her father. “How was school, C?”
C. The name her friends called her. Maybe Norma thought that would make seem younger or cooler or something. Wrong as usual.
“As good as it gets,” Chiffon began cynically, twisting the spaghetti around her fork. “I got rejected by the paper, and I’ll spend getting talked into a party over the phone.”
“Well, you know,” Norma said, changing the subject. “I hear parent/teacher night is coming up.”
“Yeah,” Chiffon replied, giving Norma a blank stare. “I’m sure my dad knows that, Norma.”
One awkward dinner later, Norma headed out for the night. Chiffon tried to get early sleep, planning to stop by the hospital with Max after school; probably the icing on whatever screwed up cake tomorrow would bring. As thoughts festered in her mind, she lay awake in bed, staring at the ceiling in her dark room.
“Hey,” Mr. Reeve said softly, flipping the light switch as he entered the room. “Hey, dad.” Chiffon said absently as he walked to the foot of her bed.
“Norma says good night.”
“I bet she does.”
Her father sighed. “She wants to get closer to you, you know.”
“I bet she does.”
“Funny. Why can’t you just give her a chance, baby?”
“She’s a pompous, pretentious, condescending-”
Chiffon sighed, her eyes drifting back to the ceiling. “Look,” her father began, sounding sympathetic. “I know you miss your mother, but sometimes things have to change.”
“If it ain’t broke, why are we fixing it?”
“You’ll understand some day. Get some sleep. I love you.”
“Night dad.” said Chiffon as her father left the room.
Chiffon twisted and turned for about a solid half hour, not catching a wink of sleep. Eventually she gave up, sitting upright in her bed. The interview stayed in her mind. It bothered her especially remembering her mother at dinner. The original Mrs. Reeve accomplished all the good deeds she set out to; Chiffon hadn’t. She could still vividly remember the day when she heard the news of her mother’s fate three years ago. She could remember crying for days and denying it until her heart gave up. Aside from a few photo-scrapbooks laying around the house, the only thing she had to remember her by was her sanctum in the attic, where her mother used to keep her things before that one fateful day. Since her passing, Chiffon had never really ventured back to the attic much. The mere thought gave her chills. Maybe it was time to change that. Norma intruding her home made her sick, maybe she needed the boost of comfort.
Before she knew it, Chiffon was pulling down at the attic door, unfolding the staircase leading to it. It was the middle of the night, a school night nonetheless, and here she was trying to recapture memories of her past. She didn’t try to give herself a reason. She was just unsettled, the thought was in the back of her mind for weeks, and tonight her nerves couldn’t take it anymore.
Slowly, she ascended the weary, old staircase, the aged wood creaking under her bare feet. She pulled the string to cut on the lights, illuminating the attic with dim hues. The air was musty, years of dust buildup floating freely. A thin coat of grime lay on the walls and ceiling. The room was fully stacked with cardboard boxes everywhere. Chiffon pressed on, not exactly knowing what she expected, and rummaged through. They were everything she’d expected. Clothes, her parents’ old business suits, even her mother’s wedding dress hung on a wall. She walked through, opening each box, with each exploring some new memory. Then, as she paced the old attic, she felt her toe collide with a raised plank of wood.
“Ow!” she muttered, briefly wanting to scream in pain. She looked down, searching for what she had stubbed herself with. Then she saw it: one of the floorboards, misplaced and distorted, not attached to the attic floor at all. She noticed the space under it, prevalent after she accidentally kicked it from its original place. Chiffon knelt down, cautious not to get her pajama pants on the dusty floor. Grabbing the floorboard she carefully moved it back, seeing something concealed under it. Chiffon reached down into the flooring, grabbing what appeared to be a small, metallic box and taking it out. She examined it, curiosity enticing her. It was a little, black jewelry box, its metal interior chilling to the touch after years of being lodged there. How long has this been here? Chiffon thought, blowing dust off of the thing. After a moment of inspection, she was sure she’d never seen it in her life, only making her question it more. Slowly, she opened its lid back, marveling at its content. She pulled it out and stared in awe: a beautiful string necklace with an enchanting diamond hanging from it...
© 2012 Demetri J
Added on February 19, 2012
Last Updated on February 19, 2012
AboutI'm young, but ever since I could remember I've always had all these overwhelming ideas. Maybe it's because of all the anime I was introduced to since I was little or maybe the television set that rai.. more..