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The Art of Dying

By Alice Oddkid All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Romance

Welcome To ‘Mortis Academy’

Today will be the last time I’ll see my mom until the Christmas vacation, since tomorrow, I’m taking a plane to go to ‘Wintershade’, Massachusetts. I came to agree with her towards the end of summer that I’ll go and try it out for a year ─just a year, it shouldn’t be too bad. As long as I don’t make the same mistake as I did with Antoine and Guillaume, I should be alright. Right? Right.

I just have to follow one simple rule and that is not to get too close to anyone ─well, not kiss anyone. It shouldn’t be a problem. My plane leaves tomorrow, on Friday which will give me the whole week-end to settle in before the beginning of class on Monday.

I looked at the alarm clock on my small white bedside table. It read 10:17 ─ugh I hate mornings─ time to get up. Got a busy day planned out. First shopping with mom, which will probably take most of the day, then my grandparents are coming over for dinner and then I have to finish packing.

So summoning up all my energy, (which wasn’t much), I dragged myself out of bed. Zombie-walking to a clean pile of clothes on the floor, I grabbed a pair of washed out ripped jeans and a plain grey T-shirt. I then hunted for some underwear but that was easy since it’s practically the only things I keep in the drawers under my bed ─where I’m supposed to keep my clothes, (though I prefer them on the floor). Going to the bathroom I dumped the clothes on the washing machine behind the door then turned and looked at my face in the mirror above the sink. Ugh, I look like a corpse ─sorta. I got out of my over sized ‘Iron Maiden’ T-shirt and checkered black PJ bottoms and stepped in the shower, hoping to wash away the undead look with calla lily scented body wash and shea shampoo.

About twenty minutes later, I was all cleaned and reinvigorate ─ready to face the day. Pulling aside the blue polka dots shower curtain, I got out and used a fluffy, sapphire colored towel to dry my body then my hair. I then grabbed my clothes and struggled to put them on, my body was still moist so the fabric clung to my skin. Finally dressed, I wiped the condensation from the mirror and looked at my face. I look less dead, yay!

I brushed my teeth, grabbed my dirty clothes and dumped them in the laundry basket just outside the bathroom, then went back to my room. I sat down at my small black vanity and brushed my golden blond hair, leaving it to dry some as I applied my makeup; black eye shadow with lots of mascara to create a smokey eye and some blush. Looking at my semi-dry shoulder length hair I grabbed a hair tie and put it up in a messy bun atop my head. Grabbing my black and white skull printed scarf hanging from the right side of my vanity mirror and my black and white ‘Converse’, I headed out of my room and down the stairs, towards the kitchen.

“Hey, ‘cocotte’, slept well?” My mom asked from where she was sitting on a bar stool at the kitchen counter. She was sipping some coffee and reading ‘Le Journal de Montreal’ with her reading glasses atop her nose. She was still in her ‘hello kitty’ PJ’s and her hair was loose and messy ─a real bird’s nest.

“Yeah, you?” I answered distractedly as I made my way in the kitchen to make myself some raspberry green tea. I can’t believe that this is the last day I’ll see her for close to four months.

“Yeah…,” She put the paper down, finished her coffee and went around the counter where I stood to put her mug in the sink. “But, I can’t believe this is the last time we’ll see each other before Christmas. And you know what? I think I changed my mind” She said as she gripped me in a fierce dramatic hug. “I want you to stay here. Right here.” I laughed.

“For real?” I asked playful. She released me but kept her hands on my shoulders looking at me with impish eyes.

“Nah, can’t wait to get rid of you.” She said kidding, making me ‘fake-cry’ till she pulled me back in a hug saying: “No, but for real I’ll miss you, ’ma chouette’.” Now she was going to make me ‘real-cry’. Until she pulled away and smiling, wiped the tears from her eyes. Oh, mom. “Hey, better finish making your tea. I’ll go get dressed. Big day ahead.” And with that she disappeared down the corridor leading to her room.

When the shops closed at five, mom and I left with a ton of shopping bags in our hands. I guess since we won’t be able to shop as often as we normally do, she decided to spoil me. I’m not complaining, far from it and it was really fun, I’ll miss that. Since my mom had me when she was so young, she acts more like a big sister than the 34 years old mother she’s supposed to be, unless it’s something really serious ─I really love that about her.

I hopped in the passenger seat of my mom’s sleek 1967 burgundy ‘Ford Mustang’ while she slipped behind the wheel; we dumped our shopping bags in the backseat and raced home. My grandparents were due to arrive any minute now.

About fifteen minutes later the Mustang took its place in the driveway, hurrying up the porch’s steps, mom flung the door open practically running inside and left it wide open. She then threw her shopping bags in her bedroom before disappearing in the kitchen. Amused, I followed, though much more calmly and closed the front door behind me. I went to my room upstairs, leaving my bags and came back down just as the doorbell rang. “I’ll get it!” I shouted to mom. On the other side of the door, I saw a little, middle-aged lady with dark pink hair and a huge smile on her face. “Grandma!” I said before throwing my arms around her. I then looked beside her, where a middle-aged, grey haired man stood smiling but more reserved. Letting go of grandma, I said: “Grandpa!” Grabbing him in a hug also, I felt a little weird vibe as I hugged him but it was gone as soon as it came and so I dismissed it. Ushering them inside, mom came out of the kitchen to greet them.

“Mom, Dad.” She hugged them both. “Dinner will be ready in ten.” She said as we all followed her to the living room. They sat on the grey couch facing the TV, while mom and I sat on the circular, black loveseat facing the window on their right. Since they retired from their demanding, business consultant job about two years ago, they moved in a small mansion close by, to get to spend more time with mom and I. We’re really close, surprisingly, since my mom got pregnant with me at 18, but then again, my father ─whom my mom loved and still do─ died right after she got pregnant, so... yeah.

We made idle chit chat about grandma’s recreational yoga classes and grandpa’s new found passion for painting and soon enough the timer went off, signaling dinner was ready and so, we made our way to the kitchen.

“Hmmmm, smells good Maude.”

“Thanks, ma.” My mom replied as she took the lasagna out of the oven. I helped her serve the plates and beverages while my grandparents took their seat at the table. As soon as we all sat down and enjoyed the yummy goodness that was on our plates, we resumed our earlier conversation.

“So, Delphine, are you excited about tomorrow?” Grandpa asked. Excited…? I don’t know. Nervous, apprehensive, maybe even a little scared but excited… Thinking about tomorrow brought uneasy butterflies in my stomach. I’ll be alone there, and if something goes wrong, ─I hope nothing does, but if it does─ I won’t have anyone to rely on. Maybe that’s not such a good idea after all. I started to absentmindedly pick at my lower lip, a gesture I do when I’m nervous. What if what happened to Guillaume and Antoine happens to someone else? No. It won’t happen to someone else, unless I kiss them. Right…?

“Dad, I’m sure she’s more nervous than excited.” My mom said coming to my rescue. “Who wants some apple cobbler?” She said changing the subject, standing up and gathering the empty plates. “Del, give me a hand. Will ya?” Snapping out of my stressed out musing, I stood and helped her bring the plates to the kitchen. Putting the plates in the sink, mom turned to me and whispered in my ear inconspicuously while grabbing bowls for the cobbler (since the kitchen and dining room are only separated by a counter): “Don’t stress it’ll be fine. You’ll have fun I promise.” I gave her a disbelieving look, as she put the apple yummyness in the bowls. Fun? I doubt it. I mean, it’ll still be school and school does not equal fun in my book. “Don’t give me that look. Have a little faith. Now, go give those bowls to your grandparents. I’ll bring ours in a sec.” I gave her a small reluctant smile. I needed that.

“Thanks, ma.” I said and left with both bowls.

I placed them both in front of grandma and grandpa and they thanked me before I sat down at my place. Mom appeared a second later, like she said and placed a bowl in front of me before sitting with her own. I took a bite and relaxed enjoying the sweet taste from the apples. Mom then started a new and lighter conversation ─thankfully─ staying away from the topic of my imminent departure.

Around ten o’clock, my grandparents decided to go back to their home, saying I’ll need the rest since I have my flight tomorrow and according to them; flying is tiring. “Thanks for having us. We’ll see you both soon, I hope.” Said grandma, hugging mom and then me.

“Of course as soon as Del gets back, we’ll have another dinner.” Mom said. Then it was grandpa’s turn, he hugged mom and then me.

“Don’t worry everything will be fine.” He said but I almost didn’t hear him. I got the oddest feeling as I wrapped my arms around him, tenfold stronger than the little vibe from earlier ─like something was wrong but I didn’t get to linger on it as he pulled away.

With smiles they stepped out the door and left, leaving me to ponder what the heck that was about. I stood there for a while, perplexed, trying to figure out why I got this strange feeling about grandpa ─it was as if I felt sick, (for the second it lasted) I couldn’t seem to breathe, like an elephant was sitting on my chest and it felt like my heart was being crushed by an invisible hand.

Mom turned to me from the window where she was waving goodbye to them and walked over saying: “Come on. Gotta finish packing. Do you need any help?”

Snapping out of my ponderings, I replied: “No thanks, I’ll be fine.”

“Well if you’re sure…” She said analyzing me with her sharp green eyes, her head cocked to the side. “I’ll be in the back yard if you need me.”

“Ok, thanks.” I replied distractedly then I made my way up to my room. Tomorrow will be the last time I see this room for a while, so I looked around ─at the pale yellow walls with tons of posters, the galaxy bed with Christmas lights hanging above it, the small window above the bed with white gauzy curtains, the vanity close to the door that held most of my hair products and makeup with pictures and scarves hanging on the mirror─ trying to memorize everything. I’m gonna miss this room. With a sigh, I went back to packing.

Morning came faster than I expected, my alarm rang indicating that I should wake up if I didn’t want to miss my plane. Ugh, I hate mornings. I stood and zombie-walked around in my ‘batman’ PJs, grabbing my necessities and some clothes from my suitcase then headed for the shower. After my shower, ─once I was de-zombified─ I donned a plain black T-shirt and a pair of dark blue jeans then brushed my teeth and headed back to my room. Once in my room, I put my necessities back in my suitcase and took out my makeup and hairbrush. I applied my smokey eye with black eye shadow and mascara, I lightly dusted my cheeks with blush, brushed my hair and decided to let it dry on its own. Storing away my makeup and brush, I grabbed a hair tie from the brush’s handle in case my hair started to annoy me and put it around my wrist. Then I zipped up my plain black suitcase and struggled bringing it downstairs ─it was so big.

Leaving it by the door, I went to the kitchen to drink my usual raspberry green tea and found my mom already dressed in her denim shirt and black pants sipping her coffee, reading ’La Presse’.

“Morning, ’choupette’. Ready for your trip?” She asked putting aside the newspaper and fixing her gaze on me.

“Yep.” I replied, starting the kettle.

“We leave in thirty, alright?”

“That’s good.” I replied. The kettle signaled the water was hot. I poured myself a cup then dumped in the bag of tea going to sit beside her. I playfully bumped my shoulder with hers, saying: “It’ll be different, you know, not seeing you everyday.” She gave me a one arm hug.

“I know, but soon you’ll get used to it and I bet, that when the holidays come, you won’t even want to come home.”

“If you say so…” I said, giving her a dubious look.

“I do say so. Now finish your tea. We gotta leave soon.” She stood and placed her mug in the sink.

It’s about thirty minutes from Brossard to the ’Pierre-Elliot Trudeau’s Airport’ in Montreal, in the Mustang. Mom pulled in the airport’s parking lot and we grabbed my luggage before entering the establishment. I didn’t know where to go or what to do, lucky for me my mom knew what to do for she traveled a lot with my grandparents in her youth.

She accompanied me to the check-in counter and they registered my luggage before we were off to the security check. She turned to me before I got in line. “I’ll miss you. Have fun, alright?” She said as she hugged me.

“I’ll try, though it’s still a school...” I said returning her hug. Pulling away, she playfully swatted my arm. “Bye mom. See you soon.” I said.

“Bye, ‘cocotte’. I’ll see you soon. Have a safe flight.”

“Thanks.” I hugged her again before going in line. “Bye mom.” I waved to her and she waved back before she left. I took a deep breath. This is it, I’m leaving my old life behind and starting anew. Watch out ’Mortis Academy’, here I come.

On the plane, I took out my mother’s journal from my carry-on and started to read. The plane took off and I looked out the window ─since I was lucky enough to get a window seat. I never went on an airplane before, so the unknown butterfly sensation from the take-off was strange as well as the ‘popping’ in my ears but it didn’t last very long and the view as we got higher and higher was beautiful. Soon the wonder passed and I got back to my reading;

Dear diary,

It’s my last chance, I’ve waited long enough and now there’s only two days left before the end of the school year. I have got to show Heath how I truly feel about him, before it’s too late. ’Qui ne tente rien, n’a rien’, as they say. I’ll go to him, after his last class of the day and kiss him with all the love I have and if he doesn’t feel the same then fine, I’ll let it go and the day after tomorrow, I’ll go back home to Montreal. I’ll be brokenhearted but at least I won’t have to see him anymore. Though if he feels the same… Sigh. Anyway, gotta go, I’ll write later with any updates. Hopefully, positive ones.

Love,

Maude

Dear diary,

Last night was the best night of my life; I never knew it could feel this way to be this close to someone

–this connected. It wasn’t my first time having sex but it was defdefinitively my first time making love and I’m glad it was with Heath.

It was truly magical. I went right up to him after class and kissed him as soon as he pulled the door open. At first he froze and seemed to panic. He even pulled away really fast, looking at me with alarm and he had this scared look in his eyes but then, that look quickly turned to awe. I didn’t understand what it meant but then he crushed me to him and kissed me with as much passion as I did earlier. Without waiting for a second more, I kissed him back just as fiercely. The feel of him all around me; his strong hands tightly holding me to him as if he were scared I would melt away but still carefully like I was made of glass, his intoxicating smell of sandalwood, his heart beating erratically against my chest matching my own frantic rhythm, it was all-consuming and overwhelming. I couldn’t believe it, he felt the same. He even told me he loved me before I fell asleep in his arms, the perfect way to end the most perfect of nights.

It was all as if in a dream -a really beautiful dream- but like any dream, I had to wake up. I had classes to go to and I was already almost late. It was the most beautiful night of my life, I’ll always remember it. But I’ll cherish that memory later, for now: duty calls –if I want my diploma. Heath was still sleeping peacefully on the bed, when I awoke to get ready for class. I left him a note on the pillow I slept on, saying I was going to class and that I’ll meet him later after my last class at ‘Wonderland’. I really hope we’ll find a way to make this work. Maybe I could move here in ‘Wintershade’, find a small apartment, start writing some books while working part-time somewhere or…

A flight attendant woke me up as we were about to land in Boston, Massachusetts. I must have drifted off. Well, this is it. Soon, I’ll be at ‘Mortis Academy & Boarding School’. I’ll be were the ‘Meath’ no ‘Haude’ love story happened and promptly died. Maybe it’s in my genes not to be able to get close to someone… to hot men.

Getting in the backseat of cab, I gave the directions to the taxi driver then put my MP3 earbuds on ─and listened to ‘The Weeknd’. Gosh I love his voice, very soothing.

It didn’t take that long to get from the ’Logan International Airport’ to ’Mortis Academy’, only about thirty minutes. Once we passed the front gates, the first thing I noticed was how huge the estate was, lush green pastures and a long tunnel of trees on either side of the road led to a majestic grey building-sort-of-castle with turrets and cathedral windows.

After giving the cabbie his due, I grabbed my bags, walked up the stoned stairs leading to the front doors and entered. The inside was just as impressing as the outside. Beautiful crystal chandeliers hung from the high vaulted ceiling, antique furnitures everywhere, black and white checkered marble floor, it was truly splendid.

At the very far end of the room, beside a grand hallway, stood a giant desk with a small sign atop it, reading: ‘front office’. Behind it sat an elegant, brunette woman wearing a black designer suit. She looked up from the computer she was working at. “Hi. New student?” She asked with a polite, inquiring smile.

I stored my MP3 in my carry-on and answered: “Hi, um, yeah…”

“Name?”

“Um, Delphine Alexandra Valiquette.” I answered my name with a French Canadian accent, the way it’s supposed to be pronounced.

She typed something on her computer then said: “Ah, yes. You’re room 17. If you could please move to the X in front of the wall I’ll make your student ID card.” She said motioning to the corridor where there was a plain white cardboard on the wall with an X on the floor in front of it. I left my luggage in front of the desk and made my way to the X as she grabbed a photo camera. I stood still, smiled and waited for the flash, once that was over, she got back to her desk to upload the picture on the computer. She then stood and opened a filing cabinet. Grabbing some papers, she closed it and handed them to me with a small key and my ID from the printer beside the filing cabinet. “Here’s your schedule, your student ID which also serves as your cafeteria pass, that’s a map of the school and here’s your room and room key.” She said as she showed them to me.

I grabbed them. “Thanks.” I looked at my ID card. Ugh, I somehow managed to look like I’ve gained 20 pounds and my face turned out orange. Great ─not.

She then motioned to the hallway saying: “Go through there, then when you’re at the end of the hall instead of going outside, turn left and when you get to the end of that corridor, you’ll see on your right the beginning of the bridge leading to the dormitory, follow it and you’ll end up there. Oh, and welcome to ’Mortis Academy’.” She said with a small smile before she went back to work.

“Thanks.” Gathering my things, I followed her instructions. When I got at the end of the corridor, I looked outside the glass wall window and saw the weirdest form of bridge leading to a small fat tower low on a plateau over the cliff overlooking the ocean. I crossed the all-glass bridge and ended up on the third floor of the five story building (the small fat tower). I looked around at the room numbers on the doors and concluded that I had to go down to the first floor. I found an elevator and rode it to the first floor, alone. I didn’t see anyone since I got here ─except the lady at the front office but no students. Weird, but then again maybe they’re already here or maybe they’ll get in later.

Finding my room # 17, I tried my key in the plain, brass doorknob of the plain white door, unlocked it and stepped inside the room. I could hear someone singing beautifully from the closed (I’m assuming) bathroom as I looked around. There was a huge panoramic window above the beds overlooking a gorgeous view of the ocean not far below. There were two double beds, one on both sides of the room, with white bedding ─the one on the right, where the bathroom door was, already had someone’s things on it─, a small bedside table next to each bed with an alarm clock and small lamp on each of them. One wall ─the one where the still free bed was situated─ was black with a neon green swirl design painted on it while the others had brightly colored graffitis. Some posters: ‘J. Alvarez’, ‘Vybz Kartel’, ‘Avicii’, ‘Bruno Mars’, ‘Ed Sheeran’ and many more were strewn about the right wall with the graffitis and on the left wall stood a massive black dresser topped with an equally as huge mirror.

Closing the door, I made my way to the free bed and dropped my things by it, before plopping on the plush covers releasing a sigh. So, this will be home for the next couple of months. Not bad, not bad at all. The singing stopped and a pretty girl with a cleft chin and wet long chocolate brown hair came out of the (I was right) bathroom dressed in a fluffy white bathrobe and bunny slippers, humming slightly under her breath. Upon seeing me she fell silent, an amused smile appeared on her lips and I could see mirth dancing in her dark eyes. “Oh, hi. Are my new roommate?” She said with a twinkle in her eyes as she sat on her bed facing me, head cocked to the side.

I sat up and replied: “Um, yeah, hi. I’m Delphine. And you are…?”

Her smile seemed to brighten. “Cassandra-Claire Mortis. But everyone calls me C.C. You’re new here aren’t you?” She asked as she started to rummage through the suitcase on her bed and grabbed some clothes and stuff.

“Yeah, how do you know?”

“Well, I know practically everyone here. My uncle rules the school, you know. So he’s like the big boss ─the principal. Plus I’ve never seen you here.” She answered distractedly. “You’ll have to excuse me; my fian…─uh, boyfriend,” She gave a small laugh. “my boyfriend is taking me on a date, so I have to get ready. If you want there are paint cans in the closet, you can have fun painting around graffitis and such.” She gestured around with her free hand then stood with a pile of clothes and things before she looked at the clock. “Damn, I’m going to be late.” As she started to once again make her way to the bathroom, she said: “If he’s at the door while I’m in there, could you answer it? Oh and tomorrow I’ll show you around and introduce you to my friends and everything, alright? You’ll see it’ll be great.” Without waiting for an answer she said: “Thanks.” And closed the door, leaving me stunned.

Well, that went pretty well. She seems… nice, very… cheerful. I’m glad I didn’t end up with someone who would’ve hated me… or a psycho. Soon, a knock at the door snapped me out of my musings, C.C. was still in the bathroom so I got up and opened it. I gasped once I saw who was on the other side. “You.” I breathed out in shock.

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