1: Glass Empty
Dedicated to you.
Glass: A Paranormal Fairytale © 2013 by M.H. Afa
I stood on the edge of the roof of the abandoned building. Tears stained my cheeks and blurred by vision as I thought about seeing Mom and Dad again. A cold breeze cut through me, but I didn’t open my eyes. I already knew what was around me: a bleak gray sky that threatened rain and smaller abandoned buildings – waiting to be demolished. A centimeter stood between me and the twenty foot plunge onto the concrete sidewalk below. It would be better this way, I assured myself. Living would be torture. All I had to do was fall and end my suffering. It would be quick. As I leaned forward, muttering a prayer, someone grabbed me from behind and pull me back. I kicked out, screaming.
“Are you stupid?!” I heard a familiar voice yell above my screams. “Are you trying to kill yourself?” That was the idea.
I stopped screaming and wriggled myself free from my ex’s hold. I wiped my tears away and distanced myself from him. He was the last person I wanted to see – especially since I broke up with him last year.
“Why do you care?” I managed to say, my voice cracking. I didn’t meet his eyes.
“I’m the only one who does,” he whispered, tenderly.
That was a lie. A blatantly damned lie. I wasn’t gonna fall for any of his sweet talks this time. I knew who he really was. And it was why I left him.
I swallowed 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 snapped. I cringed. Only Mom and Dad could call me that. He had no right to call me that anymore because he was nothing to me.
“I know about your dad’s death and your new stepmom,” he said as tears welled in my eyes. “Don’t worry, she doesn’t know about me.”
He moved closer, but I stepped back.
“Get away from me, you creep!” I shrieked.
He had his arms outstretched. “Is that what you think of me, Gabby? I’m the only one who cares –”
“Shut up!” I hollered. “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 came up too fast and grabbed me. I screamed, struggling to break free. I’d forgotten how strong he was. He tried to press his hand over my mouth, but I bit his hand before he could fully cover my mouth. He swore, shoving me to the ground. I got to my feet, but he caught my arm and slapped me. My left cheek was on fire and I began to cry. His fingers dug into my shoulders and he shook me hard three times.
“Everything I did, I did for you,” he hissed into my face. Lies. “I gave up everything for you.” More lies. Everything he did was for himself – he always wanted to have control over every damn thing. He never listened to anyone, but himself. I knew him too much to know he hadn’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 croaked before another slap landed. Tears fell, blinding me.
“Everything…” he breathed on my face. “Everything I did – everything I do is for your own good, Gabby.” I cringed when he said that name again. I closed 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 screamed. “I hate you! I wish you were dead!”
A slap so hard hit my right cheek and I fell to my knees, shaking and sobbing.
Lightning flashed overhead as he towered above me, his eyes narrowing. “You’ll do whatever I say.” He reached to grab me, but I got to my feet and ran to the roof’s edge.
“Never…” I gasped. “I will never be with a stupid dog like you!”
He lunged at me then, but I moved away, standing a few feet from him. Thunder cracked above us and I shrieked. It took him by surprise, too and he fell to his knees, swearing at the dark sky.
I looked at the door of the roof, and I made a move to run there, but he caught my glance and ran to the door before I could.
“Take everything you said back,” he yelled as another lightning struck above. “Apologize for disobedience and I’ll forgive you. Then you can come back to me.” He held his arms out.
“Never!” I cried over the roar of thunder. “I will never be with you! I’d rather die!”
I heard him growl and swear, glowering at me. “Fine. If I can’t have you, no one will.”
Through my tears, I saw a flash of silver in his hand. He ran towards me like a maniac and I screamed, falling on my knees. But he stopped halfway with his eyes wide open, as if he was frozen in place. Then, he screamed so loud I had to cover my ears.
I moved away from his path when he suddenly started running. He continued to run without stopping or turning towards where I was, screaming his lungs out. He ran over the edge of the building and fell onto the concrete below, still screaming. Everything happened so fast I wasn’t sure if it even happened at all.
Lightning flashed over me and I flinched, glancing up at the sky. Wet needles of rain fell, piercing me. An earsplitting crack of thunder followed and I shrieked, running towards the door. As I fumbled with the rusted doorknob, out of the corner of my eyes I saw someone stand in the center of the roof – a silhouette of the faintest white, nearly transparent – before it vanished with the rain and wind. I ran down the steps, jumping over some and tumbling down others, screaming and sobbing. I didn’t stop running until I saw life again.
I stood near a bus stop, crying. There were other people around, standing under dark umbrellas, but they didn’t seem to notice I was there. Rain continued to beat me, soaking my pale blue dress to gray, when a black Mercedes stopped in front of me. A middle aged man I recognized as my Stepmother’s chauffeur got out and gently pulled me inside the car next to him.
“I am truly sorry about your father, Miss,” he said in a low voice.
I turned to look at him, biting my lips to keep from wailing, but silent sobs shook my whole body. He shifted slightly in his seat before he spoke again, his old gray eyes gleaming with tears. “Madam told me you turned sixteen today. Happy birthday, Miss.”
2: Glass Full
“Where in the world have you been, young lady?” huffed the Ogress.
I didn’t bother to look at my stepmother as I stared down at my rain-soaked flats. The edges were muddied and it looked like the rain washed out its color. My arms and legs hurt from the fall I took from those stairs and all I wanted to do was lie down and never get up.
“Look at me when I speak to you!” she bellowed. “Didn’t your parents teach you any manners?”
I braved a glance. She stood at least a head taller than I was (not counting the six-inch heels she usually wore) with arms on her hips and a scowl that looked as if it hurt her makeup-caked face.
If ogres were real, she would be one of them. She was not pretty at all (the makeup only made it much worse), her thin dirty blond hair I heard was salon-prepped every morning (who knows how many extensions she put on), and her manicured nails were like tiny red daggers at the end of her fingers. And she was fat. Not obese kind of fat where it took 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 assumed only fat secretaries wore. She was actually a fashion magazine editor – things I couldn’t care less about.
“Well?” she said, narrowing her dark green eyes at me. Some of her makeup had been ruined from 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 didn’t mention his funeral that I heard took place only an hour ago.
“Nothing,” I muttered.
“Nothing?” she cried aloud. “Your father died and that’s all you can say? Nothing?”
“My father’s dead ‘cause of you!” I wanted to scream at her, but I bit back my tongue and muttered an apology.
“I know it’s hard to take in everything that’s happened, Gabriella,” Step said. I cringed when she said that name. No one even calls me that anymore. They know how I hate it and here she was, my…stepmom, calling me a name that only exists on paper. “But running away won’t solve anything.”
Running away? Is that what she thought I was doing? I would’ve run away, but then she’d find me anyway. She knew that the only way she can get the money, the house – everything my parents left – was through me. I was stuck with this ogress until I turned eighteen– two miserable years away.
“Okay,” I muttered.
“No, you do not say ‘okay’ – you say, ‘yes, ma’am,’” she stated, 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 whispered. It hurt to just look at her.
“Now, go to your room and make yourself presentable for dinner,” she said. “I don’t want a filthy bum from the streets living in my house.”
It was my house, not hers. Dad would never leave anything to her – some fat, old ogress who only married him for his money.
I turned to leave when she said, “Excuse me?” in a shrill tone.
I turned back to her. What did the Ogress want now?
“What do you say?” she asked, narrowing her eyes at me. “You do not leave without a proper excuse.”
“But you…yes, ma’am. Please excuse me.”
She made a nasal sound, turning her nose away and strutted towards the dining room. As soon as she was gone from view, I ran up to my room and slammed the door behind me. I thought I saw someone by my window, but I ignored it and fell 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 couldn’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 claimed to be Dad’s biggest fan, said 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 had only met 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 was giving me someone worse than a drill sergeant. I would’ve taken the drill sergeant.
I knew I wasn’t the best daughter in the world – I pretty much 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 fraction of a second before crumbling to the floor in front of everyone. Someone had screamed that he was dead and I had run out of the hall without looking back.
There was no reason to live. Everyone I had ever loved was dead.
3: Glass Rule
I jerked upright from the incessant pounding on my door. I must’ve fallen asleep for a few minutes because my clothes were still wet and my bed was now soggy. I trudged over to the door, hearing the Ogress yelling on the other side.
“Open this door!” she hollered on top of her banging.
I opened the door and squinted up at her.
“Don’t you ever slam a door, young lady!” she snapped. “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 nodded slowly. “Y-yes…ma’am.”
She stared down at me for a good long second before she turned away. I closed the door behind me and I fell onto the floor. Tears stung my eyes and I swallowed hard. How I wanted to drop dead and let her get all the blame!
Something moved near my window and I glanced up, thinking someone was there. It was only the white curtains moving from the wind that blew into my room. It made me think about what happened on the roof earlier today. I shivered.
It wasn’t my fault, I told myself. It was…was there someone else on that roof?
I wiped my eyes and stood up. I didn’t want to think about what happened. If anyone asked, I’d tell them I didn’t know who he was. He wasn’t my boyfriend. He wasn’t my ex-boyfriend. I didn’t know him at all. I was never going back there again. And I was never going to fall in love again either.
A chill ran down my spine, and then I sneezed. Great, I’m probably sick now because of the rain. I peeled off my clothes and threw them on the floor before I headed towards the bathroom – that was conveniently attached to my room. My parents built it like that so I didn’t have to leave my room – since it was like right there. All five of the bedrooms have a “built-in” bathroom and there were three that weren’t part of any rooms – one on each floor.
The great thing about this house was that Mom and Dad bought the plot of land where the house sat 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 bothered going there. I think our housekeeper kept it up-to-date. The back of the house was this walled in area with a single cherry blossom tree. And that’s where Mom was buried.
After I took a quick shower, I put on an oversized light blue t-shirt that once belonged to Dad, and black leggings. I wrapped a towel around my wet hair before I went downstairs.
I headed towards the dining room and saw that the table was being set by Ana, our housekeeper. She gave me a small smile when she saw me and I smiled 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 would replace Mom, even though Ana was already married and had a daughter and granddaughter back in her native Ukraine.
I took a seat in my usual spot, when I heard someone suck in their teeth. I turned to see the Ogress at the doorway, frowning with her hands on her hips.
“What are you wearing?” she cried. “A towel to the dinner table? Take that off right now!”
“But my hair’s still w–”
“Don’t talk back to me!” she snapped. “Get rid of that towel or you won’t be able to eat here!”
I glared at her for a second before I got up, went back to my room, and hung the towel over a chair. When I came back down, I saw the Ogress sitting in my spot and her two brats sitting on either side of her. They had already started eating. A plate of food was placed on the opposite side of where the Ogress sat and I guessed that spot was for me since Ana always ate before we did.
I took the empty seat and started eating.
“Ew!” one of the brats shrieked, pointing at me. “It’s the ugly monster!”
“Ugly monster!” cried his younger brother. “Ugly, ugly monster girl!”
“Jake, Cory – no talking during dinner,” the Ogress said without bothering to look at them.
I ignored them and continued eating when one of them kicked me under the table. I thought it was the older one, Jake, because he giggled when I glared at him. I looked back at my plate when he kicked me again. I ignored him until a spoonful of gravy splattered onto my shirt.
“Die, monster, die!” he said, flinging pieces of potato at me and laughing.
His brother squealed with him and threw a piece of chicken at my face.
She allowed this at the table, but I can’t eat with a towel on my head in peace?
“Stop that!” I yelled, kicking both of them under the table.
“I said no talking!” the Ogress barked, glaring at me. “That applies to you, too!” How convenient that she didn’t notice her two brats throwing food at me.
The two demons giggled and finished eating before they ran out of the dining room, leaving me alone with the Ogress.
She looked up at me and scowled. “Can’t you even eat properly without making a mess?”
“It was your stupid kids that did this!” I wanted to shout at her, but I didn’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 gaped at her. She’s firing Ana? If this was my house, then I wanted to keep her! And she was making me do all the housework? What about her? The Ogress lived here, too!
“And if you want to keep her, then you will pay her salary,” the Ogress stated. “But since you don’t work, I see no point in her staying. The only service I will keep is Fredrick’s.”
Fredrick was the Ogress’s chauffeur. I called him Mr. Gordon because Dad said to. And it didn’t seem right to call him by his first name since he was 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 was transferring to a new school? Just when I started junior year last month?
I wanted to protest, but she had that look as if she might throw me out to some orphanage if I said anything. I clenched my fork, trying hard not to throw it at her.
“I have everything already taken care of,” she added. “You will begin attending Fay Silvertale’s Academy for Young Women on Monday.”
Wait, it was an all-girls school? A fancy school for filthy rich and snobby girls? Why was I not dead yet?
The Ogress stood up, leaving her empty plate behind on the table for Ana to clean after her. “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 swallowed the lump in my throat and gave her a nod. The Ogress officially ruined what little life I had.