Anna Dressed in Blood / Page 11

Page 11


From what I can gather, Sir Winston Churchill Collegiate & Vocational is just about like any high school I was ever at in the United States. I spent all of first period working out my schedule with the school counselor, Ms. Ben, a kindly, birdlike young woman who is destined to wear baggy turtlenecks and own too many cats.

Now, in the hallway, every set of eyes is on me. I’m new and different, but that’s not the only thing. Everyone’s eyes are on everybody, because it’s the first day of classes and people are dying to know what their classmates have turned into over the summer. There must be at least fifty makeovers and brand-new looks being tried out somewhere in the building. The pasty bookworm has bleached her hair white and is wearing a dog collar. The skinny kid from the track team has spent all of July and August lifting weights and buying tight-fitting t-shirts.

Still, people’s eyes tend to linger on me longer, because even though I’m new, I don’t move like it. I’m barely looking at the numbers of the rooms passing by. I’ll find my classes eventually, right? No reason to panic. Besides, I’m an old hand at this. I’ve been to twelve high schools in the past three years. And I’m looking for something.

I need to be plugged into the social pipeline. I need to get people talking to me, so I can ask them questions that I need answers to. So when I transfer in, I always look for the queen bee.

Every school has one. The girl who knows everything and everybody. I could go and try to insta-bond with the lead jock, I suppose, but I’ve never been good at that. My dad and I never watched sports or played catch. I can wrestle the dead all day long, but touch football might knock me unconscious. Girls, on the other hand, have always come easy. I don’t know why that is, exactly. Maybe it’s the outsider vibe and a well-placed brooding look. Maybe it’s something I think I see sometimes in the mirror, something that reminds me of my father. Or maybe I’m just damn easy on the eyes. So I scour the halls until I finally see her, smiling and surrounded by people.

There’s no mistaking her: the queen of the school is always pretty, but this one is downright beautiful. She’s got something like three feet of layered blond hair and lips the color of ripe peaches. As soon as she sees me, she dips her chin. A smile comes easily to her face. This is the girl who gets everything she wants at Winston Churchill. She’s the teacher’s pet, the homecoming queen, and party central. Everything I want to know, she could tell me. Which is what I hope she’ll do.

When I walk by, I pointedly ignore her. A few seconds later she leaves her group of friends and jumps in beside me.

“Hey. Haven’t seen you around here before.”

“I just moved to town.”

She smiles again. She’s got perfect teeth and warm chocolate eyes. She is immediately disarming. “Then you’ll need some help getting acquainted. I’m Carmel Jones.”

“Theseus Cassio Lowood. What kind of a parent names their kid Carmel?”

She laughs. “What kind of a parent names their kid Theseus Cassio?”

“Hippies,” I reply.


We laugh together, and mine isn’t completely false. Carmel Jones owns this school. I can tell by the way she carries herself, like she’s never had to kneel down in her life. I can tell because of the way the crowd is flitting away like birds from a prowling cat. Just the same, she doesn’t seem haughty or entitled like many of these girls do. I show her my schedule and she notes that we have the same fourth period biology class and—even better—the same lunch hour. When she leaves me at the door of my second period, she turns back and winks at me over her shoulder.

Queen bees are just a part of the job. Sometimes that’s hard to remember.

* * *

At lunch, Carmel flags me down, but I don’t go over right away. I’m not here to date anyone, and I don’t want to give her the wrong idea. Still, she’s pretty hot, and I have to remind myself that all that popularity and ease has probably made her unbelievably boring. She’s too much of the daylight for me. Truth be told, so is everyone. What do you expect? I move around a lot, and spend too many late nights killing stuff. Who’s going to put up with that?

I scan the rest of the lunchroom, making a note of all the different groups and wondering which one would be most likely to lead me to Anna. The goth kids would know the story best, but they’re also the hardest to ditch. If they got the idea that I was serious about killing their ghost, I’d probably wind up doing it with a gang of black-eyeliner-wearing, crucifix-carrying, Buffy the Vampire Slayer wannabes twittering around behind me.

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