Dedicated to you.
Glass: A Paranormal Fairytale © 2013 by M.H. Afa
I teeter on the roof’s edge. Tears stain my cheeks and blur my vision as I think about seeing Mom and Dad. An inch separates me and the twenty-foot plunge onto the concrete sidewalk below.
A cold breeze cuts through me, but I don’t open my eyes. I know what’s around me: a bleak gray sky that threatens rain and smaller abandoned buildings – waiting to be demolished.
It’s better this way, I assure myself. Life is torture. If I fall, I end my suffering.
I mutter a prayer of forgiveness and lean forward.
“Are you stupid?!” A voice shatters my thoughts. Hard hands yank me away from my fate. “Are you trying to kill yourself?”
That’s the idea.
I wrench myself free from my ex’s hold. I wipe my tears and distance myself from him. He’s the last person I want to see – ever since I broke up with him almost two years ago.
“Why do you care?” I manage to say, my voice cracking. I don’t meet his eyes.
“I’m the only one who does,” he whispers.
Lie. A damn lie. I’m not gonna fall for any of his sweet words this time. I know who he really is. And it’s why I left him.
I swallow hard. “How did you find me? I thought I told you it was over. It’s not you, it’s –”
“Don’t give me that bull, Gabby,” he snaps. I cringe. Only Mom and Dad can call me that. He has no right to call me that anymore because he’s nothing to me.
“I know about your dad’s death and your new stepmom,” he says as tears well in my eyes. “Don’t worry, she doesn’t know about me.”
He moves closer, but I step back.
“Get away from me, you creep!” I shriek.
He stretches out his arms. “Is that what you think of me, Gabby? I’m the only one who cares –”
“Shut up!” I holler. “Don’t ever call me that. You have no right to. That’s not my name! I told you I never wanted to see you again! You don’t care about me, you’re just a –”
He comes up too fast and grabs me. I scream, struggling to break free. I forgot how strong he is. He tries to press his hand over my mouth, but I bite it before he can cover my mouth. He swears, shoving me to the ground. I get to my feet, but he catches my arm and slaps me. My left cheek is on fire and I cry. His fingers dig into my shoulders and he shakes me hard.
“Everything I do, I do for you,” he hisses into my face. Lies. “I gave up everything for you.” More lies. Everything he does is for himself – he wants to have control over every damn thing. He never listens to anyone. I know him well enough to know he hasn’t changed since then and he never will. I was stupid to even think for a second that he actually loved me. And even more stupid to have ever loved him.
“Liar –” I croak before another slap lands. Tears fall, blinding me.
“Everything…” he breathes on my face. “Everything I did – everything I do is for your own good, Gabby.” I cringe when he says that name again. I close my eyes, still fighting his hold.
“Leave your Step’s and stay at my place. The old man won’t be out for another twenty years. We’ll be together forever and you don’t have to worry about anyone hurting you.”
“Liar!” I scream. “I hate you! I wish you were dead!”
A slap so hard strikes my right cheek and I crumple to my knees, shaking and sobbing.
Lightning flashes overhead as he towers above me, his eyes narrowing. “You’ll do whatever I say.” He reaches to grab me, but I get to my feet and run to the roof’s edge.
“Never…” I gasp. “I will never be with a stupid dog like you!”
He lunges at me then, but I move away, standing a few feet away from him. Thunder cracks above us and I shriek. It takes him by surprise, too, and he falls to his knees, swearing at the dark sky.
I look at the roof’s door, and I make a move to run there, but he catches my glance and runs to the door before I can.
“Take everything you said back,” he yells as another lightning strikes above. “Apologize for disobedience and I’ll forgive you. Then you can come back to me.” He holds his arms out.
“Never!” I cry over the roar of thunder. “I will never be with you! I’d rather die!”
I hear him swear, glowering at me. “Fine. If I can’t have you, no one will.”
Through my tears, I see a flash of silver in his hand. He rushes towards me. I scream, falling to my knees. But he stops halfway with his eyes wide open as if he’s frozen in place. Then, he shrieks so loud I cover my ears.
I scramble away from his path when he starts running. He continues to run without stopping or turning towards where I am, screaming his lungs out. He runs over the building’s edge and falls onto the concrete below, still screaming. Everything happens so fast I’m not sure if it even happens at all.
Lightning flashes over me and I cower, braving a glance at the sky. Wet needles of rain pierce me. A crack of thunder follows. I shriek, running towards the door. As I fumble with the rusted doorknob, out of the corner of my eyes I see someone stand in the center of the roof – a silhouette of the faintest white, almost transparent – before it vanishes with the rain and wind. I run down the steps, jumping over some and tumbling down others, screaming and sobbing. I don’t stop running until I see life again.
I lean against a bus stop, crying. A few other people stand under dark umbrellas, but they don’t seem to notice me. Rain continues to beat me, soaking my pale blue dress to gray, when a black Mercedes stops in front of me. A middle-aged man I recognize as my Stepmother’s chauffeur gets out and pulls me into the car next to him.
“I am truly sorry about your father, Miss,” he says in a low voice.
I turn to look at him, biting my lips to keep from wailing, but silent sobs shake my whole body. He shifts in his seat before he speaks again, his old gray eyes gleaming with tears. “Madam told me you turned seventeen today. Happy birthday, Miss.
“Where in the world have you been, young lady?” huffs the Ogress.
I don’t bother to look at my stepmother as I stare down at my rain-soaked flats. The edges are muddied and it looks like the rain washed out its color. My arms and legs throb from the fall I took from those stairs and all I want to do is lie down and never get up.
“Look at me when I speak to you!” she bellows. “Didn’t your parents teach you any manners?”
I brave a glance. She stands at least a head taller than me (not counting the six-inch heels she wears) with arms on her hips and a scowl that looks as if it hurts her makeup-caked face.
If ogres are real, then she's one of them. She's not pretty at all (the makeup makes it worse). Her thin dirty blonde hair is salon-prepped every morning (who knows how many extensions she puts on), and her manicured nails are like tiny red daggers at the end of her fingers. And she's fat. Not obese kind of fat where it takes an effort to blink, but fat as in double chins, thick arms and thighs, and a stomach she tries to hide with a suit and skirt getup that I assume only fat secretaries wear. She's actually a fashion magazine editor – things I can't care less about.
“Well?” she says, narrowing her dark green eyes at me. Some of her makeup's ruined by her fake tears. As if she’d cry over Dad’s death. “What were you doing that was so important that you had to miss your father’s wedding?” She doesn’t mention his funeral that took place only an hour ago.
“Nothing,” I mutter.
“Nothing?” she mimics. “Your father died and that’s all you can say? Nothing?”
“My father’s dead ‘cause of you!” I want to spit at her, but I bite my tongue and mutter an apology.
“I know it’s hard to take in everything that’s happened, Gabriella,” the Ogress says. I cringe when she says that name. No one calls me that anymore. They know how I hate it and here she is, my…stepmom, calling me a name that only exists on paper. “But running away won’t solve anything.”
Running away? Is that what she thinks I did? I could run away, but then she’d find me anyway. She knows that the only way she can get the money, the house – everything my parents left – is through me. I'm stuck with this ogress until I turn eighteen– two miserable years away.
“Okay,” I mutter.
“No, you do not say ‘okay’ – you say, ‘yes, Ma’am,’” she states, her voice rising. “From now on that is what you call me. I am not your mother. I am only your legal guardian.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” I whisper. It hurts to just look at her.
“Now, go to your room and make yourself presentable for dinner,” she says. “I don’t want a filthy bum from the streets living in my house.”
It's my house, not hers. Dad would never leave anything to her – some fat, old ogress who only married him for his money.
I turn to leave when she hisses, “Excuse me?” in a shrill tone.
I turn back to her. What does the Ogress want now?
“What do you say?” she asks, narrowing her eyes at me. “You do not leave without a proper excuse.”
“But you…yes, Ma’am. Please excuse me.”
She makes a nasal sound, turning her nose away and struts towards the dining room. As soon as she's gone from view, I run up to my room and slam the door behind me. I see someone by my window, but I ignore it and fall onto the bed, sobbing aloud.
Mom died two years ago, just five months after we moved to this huge house away from the city. At the hospital, I remember Mom forcing Dad to swear he’d remarry so he wouldn’t raise me alone. Dad continually refused, until the end, when she took her last breath. I still can’t understand why someone like Mom, a cardiologist, would die of a weak heart.
Since then, Dad stopped writing his novels and cried himself to sleep every night in his room. He “forgot” about me and our housekeeper was the only one who remembered my existence. Dad never said a word to me since Mom’s death until he met Sheryl Dumont (aka Madam Ogress) at a book signing when our housekeeper somehow managed to get him out of his room and start writing again.
Madam Ogress claims to be Dad’s biggest fan, says she saw his movie (one of Dad’s books was made into a movie a year before Mom’s death) twenty-two times (for all twenty-two books he published). Her husband was the CEO of some real estate company until he died of “alcohol poisoning” or so she says. She has two of the world’s worst brats: two boys aged nine and six, who I wish I’d never met.
I saw the Ogress once – a month before the wedding – and it was hate at first sight. I begged Dad to call off the wedding, but he wouldn’t budge. He said I needed a mother and she was the perfect woman for the job. What he didn’t know was that he gave me someone worse than a drill sergeant. I would’ve taken the drill sergeant.
I know I wasn't the best daughter in the world – I stayed away from home most days, completely ignoring Dad’s presence because he ignored me until Dad came into my room one day and told me he needed me to accept the marriage. As if. I told him I would never accept anyone who wasn’t my mom and told him to leave me alone.
The wedding day was on my birthday like I’d be forced to go or something, but our housekeeper made me go anyway. I cried inside as they said their vows and exchanged rings. Then Dad held his head for a split second before crumbling to the floor in front of everyone. Someone had screamed that he was dead. I had run out of the hall without looking back.
There's no reason to live. Everyone I ever loved is dead
I jerk upright from the incessant pounding on my door. I probably was asleep for a few minutes because my clothes are still wet and my bed's soggy. I trudge over to the door, hearing the Ogress on the other side.
“Open this door!” she hollers on top of her banging.
I open the door and squint up at her.
“Don’t you ever slam a door, young lady!” she snaps. “Just because your parents aren’t here doesn’t mean you could do whatever you want. I am your guardian now and if you want to continue living here, you will follow my rules. Is that understood?”
I nod. “Y-yes…Ma’am.”
She stares down at me for a good long second before she turns away. I close the door behind me and I fall onto the floor. Tears sting my eyes and I swallow hard. How I want to drop dead and let her get all the blame!
Something moves near my window and I glance up. It's only the white curtains moving in the wind. It makes me recall what happened on the roof earlier today. I shiver.
It's not my fault, I tell myself. It was…was there someone else on that roof?
I wipe my eyes and stand. I don’t want to think about what happened. If anyone asks, I’d say I don’t know who he was. He wasn’t my boyfriend. He wasn’t my ex-boyfriend. I don’t know him at all. I'm never going back there again. And I'm never going to fall in love again either.
A chill scrapes my spine. I sneeze. Great, I’m probably sick now. I peel off my wet clothes and throw them on the floor before I lumber towards the bathroom – that's conveniently attached to my room. My parents built it like that so I don’t have to leave my room – since it's like right there. All five of the bedrooms have a “built-in” bathroom and there are three that aren’t part of any rooms – one on each floor.
The great thing about this house is that Mom and Dad bought the plot of land where the house sits and built it from scratch. Okay, not from scratch, but it was pretty old and banged up at first, but then they fixed it like new. Mom even built a greenhouse near the front of our house. She loved plants and she always kept a garden of flowers, fruits, and vegetables. But since she died, I never bother going there. I think our housekeeper keeps it up-to-date. The back of the house is this walled-in area with a single cherry blossom tree. And that’s where Mom is buried.
After I take a quick shower, I put on an oversized light blue t-shirt that once belonged to Dad and black leggings. I wrap a towel around my wet hair before I go downstairs.
I head towards the dining room and see that Ana, our housekeeper is setting the table. She gives me a smile when she sees me and I force one back. I loved her since she first started working for us before we moved, back when I was about five. But when Mom died, I hated her because I thought she'd replace Mom, even though Ana is already married and had a daughter and granddaughter back in her native Ukraine.
I take a seat in my usual spot when I hear someone suck in their teeth. I turn to see the Ogress at the doorway, frowning with her hands on her hips.
“What are you wearing?” she shrieks. “A towel to the dinner table? Take that off right now!”
“But my hair’s still w–”
“Don’t talk back to me!” she snaps. “Get rid of that towel or you won’t be able to eat here!”
I glare at her for a second before I get up, go back to my room, and hang the towel over a chair. When I come back down, I see the Ogress sitting in my spot and her two brats sitting on either side of her. They have already started eating. A plate of food is on the opposite side of where the Ogress sits and I guess that spot is for me since Ana always eats before we do.
I take the empty seat.
“Ew!” one of the brats screams, pointing at me. “It’s the ugly monster!”
“Ugly monster!” cries his younger brother. “Ugly, ugly monster girl!”
“Jake, Cory – no talking during dinner,” the Ogress says without bothering to look at them.
I ignore them and continue eating when one of them kicks me under the table. I think it was the older one, Jake because he giggles when I glare at him. I look back at my plate when he kicks me again. I ignore him until a spoonful of gravy splatters onto my shirt.
“Die, monster, die!” he says, flinging pieces of potato at me and laughing.
His brother squeals with him and throws a piece of chicken at my face.
The Ogress allows this at the table, but I can’t eat with a towel on my head in peace?
“Stop that!” I snap, kicking both of them under the table.
“I said no talking!” the Ogress barks, glaring at me. “That applies to you, too!”
How convenient that she doesn’t notice her two brats throwing food at me.
The two demons giggle and finish eating before they run out of the dining room, leaving me alone with the Ogress.
She looks up at me and scowls. “Can’t you even eat properly without making a mess?”
“It was your stupid kids that did this!” I want to shout at her, but I don’t say anything.
“Anyway, I’ve decided that since this is also your house, there’s no reason for you to have a housekeeper. Ana will be here until Monday. Then you will look after everything, including meals and chores.”
I gape at her. Is she firing Ana? If this was my house, then I want to keep her! And she's making me do all the housework? What about her? The Ogress lives here, too!
“And if you want to keep her, then you will pay her salary,” the Ogress states. “But since you don’t work, I see no point in her staying. The only service I will keep is Fredrick’s.”
Fredrick is the Ogress’s chauffeur. I call him Mr. Gordon because Dad said to. And it doesn’t seem right to call him by his first name since he's much older than Dad.
“I have also arranged for you to attend a private school nearby, instead of that public school you currently attend. You need a better influence and those kids at that school are not doing you any good, seeing as how you have poor manners and think it is okay to just run away whenever something happens.”
What?! Did she say I'm transferring to a new school? Just when I started my junior year last month?
I want to protest, but she has that look as if she might throw me out to some orphanage if I say anything. I clench my fork, trying hard not to throw it at her.
“I have everything already taken care of,” she adds. “You will begin attending Fey Silvertale’s Academy for Young Women on Monday.”
Wait, it is an all-girls school? A fancy school for filthy rich and snobby girls? Why am I not dead yet?
The Ogress stands. “Breakfast should be prepared by seven. Fredrick will drive you and the boys to school at seven-thirty. Your classes begin at eight and end at three, where Fredrick will then pick you up right outside the school. Dinner should be prepared by seven. I expect the house to be tidy and presentable every day. If you are not punctual for this routine, I will have you locked in this house and you will not be able to leave without my supervision. Is that understood?”
I swallow and nod. The Ogress ruined what little life I have.