Kylie looked over at her boyfriend’s face. The orange glow of the cabin lighting cast deep shadows on his face. As he turned to smile at her, his teeth caught the moonlight, glowing white in the night. Kylie loved her boyfriend’s looks. He was the boy that she had always wanted, and she knew that he wanted her as well.

Kylie’s almost-naked body tingled as the sea breeze rushed by her. She was excited. They were going to be alone, and where they were going, they could do anything they wanted. Kylie loved being naked. She loved walking around naked, knowing that her boyfriend couldn’t take his eyes off of her. And they were headed for an island without a soul on it. They could be naked for as long as they wanted to be.

Unable to stop herself, Kylie giggled.

“What?” Her boyfriend asked.

Kylie couldn’t help herself. She was completely aroused, and she was sure that her face was turning red. She could hardly stand to be in her bikini, so with the boat motoring its last few meters toward the shore, she stood up and walked toward its stern.

Her boyfriend slowed the boat and allowed the gentle waves to push the hull onto the sand. Kylie leaned forward as the boat hit and then straightened up, turning toward her boyfriend.

With a big smile on her face, she reached to untie the strings of her teeny bikini top. Letting the cloth fall onto the deck, she reached toward her waist. The last of the cloth hit the ground, and Kylie lifted her hands above her head, giving her boyfriend a full view.

Her boyfriend could barely move. He needed to throw the anchor onto shore, but the rush of blood out of his head and into his shorts was distracting him. When he stepped toward her, she giggled again and jumped overboard, and he snapped out of it.

Kylie swam naked through the warm, dark water. She closed her eyes and felt the waves wash over her skin. It was seductive. She rolled onto her back and gently moved her arms, keeping afloat. The water rushed to the engorged flesh between her legs. Her heart raced from the pleasure.

She wanted her boyfriend to take her right there as she floated. She needed to feel his rigidness penetrate her. She needed her back to arch and her legs to wrap around his ass. Her body trembled with need, and hearing the splash as her boyfriend jumped in after her, she knew she would get what she wanted.

As her boyfriend swam toward her, the excitement was almost too much. She wanted to run. She wanted to be chased. When caught, she wanted to be taken. When she heard his splashes approaching, she spun herself upright, looked into his eyes, and waded toward the shore.

Kylie giggled again, knowing the chase was on. Her boyfriend laughed, joining in with the play. Exiting the water, the soft sand gave way under her feet. The granules squished between her toes. As she headed toward the line of trees that framed the beach, her boyfriend grabbed her from behind. Laughing and squealing, both fell on to the sand, enjoying the feel of each other’s arms.

Her boyfriend’s firm lips pressed hard against hers. He was strong. She knew that she couldn’t move even if she wanted to. She pushed her hand down his smooth, young body feeling the muscles on his back. She wanted him inside of her now. With his hard, naked flesh pressed against her stomach, she wiggled her hips, moving her swollen bean onto his hard shaft. He got the hint.

Kylie‘s lips pulled away from his as her back arched in pleasure. His bow was playing her engorged flesh like a cello. Her moans were music to his ears.

With each stroke, he pushed farther into her. When the ridge of his head slipped past the tip of her clitoris and repositioned onto her folds, she squeaked. Breathless, she felt his large mass push into her. Unable to hold back, Kylie screamed into the breeze, knowing no one could hear her.

Slow at first, her boyfriend built up rhythm. He thrusted harder and harder. It was almost too much for her. She tossed her head from side to side, trying to get relief.  

Kylie screamed into the air. She felt the electricity moving up her legs, making its way to the center of her sex. Her toes wiggled and stretched, preparing to clench. One of her arms held his back while the other dug into the sand at her side. His thrusts took her breath away.

Her boyfriend exhaled deeply. He was getting more aggressive. He moved his knees between her legs and pushed her thighs apart. Forcing her knees into the air, he let his groin slap against her swollen lips.

He pinned her wrists above her head and stared into her eyes. The ferocious energy he saw in hers was matched by his own. When he felt his skin tighten and his orgasm make its way through the channels from his loins, he could do nothing to stop it.

Kylie‘s mind floated as her orgasm exploded. She wailed in pleasure. Her breathing stopped, and time stood still.

It was then that she saw it. It had to be a dog, but it wasn’t quite right. Its snout was longer, and it eyes were blue, almost human rather than canine. The way it stared down at her almost in lust made her want to scream.

Kylie gasped. She couldn’t think. Her orgasm still gripped her. She couldn’t speak. She couldn’t move. The creature looked toward her unsuspecting boyfriend. It crouched and sprung at him, and she could do nothing but watch.

Her boyfriend never said a word. His screams from his orgasm masked any other sounds he might have made. When he went silent and her voice returned, she looked up. The creature wasn’t alone.

Their eyes hunted her as they circled her. This time, it was utter fear that silenced her. When the blue-eyed creature turned its attention toward her, she knew what it was: a wolf.

None of this made any sense. No wolves lived on deserted islands in the Bahamas. Yet here they were, and she was about to die.



Chapter 1


Sakina sat in the backseat of her mother’s minivan with disgust etched into all her features. She couldn’t believe how much her mother hated her. Although her mother had never said it outright, there could be no other explanation.

Saki had grown up in the Bahamas. She was never a popular kid. Compared to the other children, she was too heavy, too smart, and too energetic. In her head, Saki called herself passionate instead of overly energetic, but this perspective didn’t make her childhood any easier.

She had made it through elementary school. She ended it with two best friends, and the boy she wanted. Considering how everything was at home, she had been okay with her life, even with twin sisters she referred to as the “evil-step twins,” despite their shared parents.

It didn’t last. Her mother, who raised her and her twin sisters, met a man and followed him back to North Carolina: North Carolina. Saki was forced to leave her friends and start junior high in a culture where she didn’t know the rules.

Starting her social life over was an almost unsurmountable task. At her new school, she was the tall, heavy, 12-year-old girl with a strange accent and annoying personality. No one wanted to be friends with her.

It took Saki forever to find her new best friend and even longer to find a niche they could both fit into. She did it, though. Years of persistence landed her on the school’s yearbook committee and in the school’s choir and band.

She didn’t like music, and she couldn’t care less about preserving memories for a high school full of people who made her life hell. But it helped her fit in.

Saki swore her senior year would be her ultimate triumph. After years of hard work, she was going to be near the top of the social ladder. She couldn’t compete with the football players and cheerleaders, but she now had her place. She was going to make the best of the opportunity.

It all came to a halt the day that she and the twins arrived home from school to find her mother packing all their belongings, interrupted only by hysterical crying. Her mother informed them they would be returning to their childhood home in the Bahamas and would never be coming back. So two weeks into her senior year, Saki got onto another plane, contemplating how she had to restart her life again.

Saki looked across the minivan at Tweedledum, another nickname she had for her sisters. Tweedledum was looking out the side window. Tweedledummer was sitting in the front seat, quietly watching the car pass through the school gates.

No one spoke. Their mother, who was known for her mood swings, already had an outburst when one of the twins expressed disapproval. If that was how her mother was going to respond to her sister’s objections, Saki dared not share her own.

The one saving grace was she would be attending school with the boy of her childhood dreams. She had often thought about Clint. She wondered about how his body had transformed. As the years went by without anything to dissuade her, she pictured him as perfection incarnate. Despite all the horrible things happening, she could at least reconnect with the guy she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.

The minivan made its way down the last few feet of the hill surrounding the school. Turning toward the window, Saki looked across the basketball court at the large track. It was just as she remembered it. She had always been afraid of this place. It had a reputation of being a tough school, academically and socially. The school created as many community leaders as it did thugs. Having read the book as a child, she pictured it as a real life Lord of the Flies. Only, in this version, her head would end up on the pike.

As the minivan slowed in front of the administration building, Saki scanned every face, looking for Clint. She knew his freckled face and dark hair would stand out from the other students. The school didn’t have many white kids, 20 or so out of 150 kids in her grade at most. She wasn’t sure whether she and her evil step-twins would be considered part of that group, but it didn’t matter to her anyway.

As Saki got out of the minivan, she spotted him. Clint was just as she imagined. His body and face had slimmed down. To Saki’s surprise, a thin wisp of mustache undercut his boyishness.

Seeing him in the first moments of her new life was a sign. Perhaps everything was going to be alright after all. Saki‘s spirit rose.

“Clint!” She yelled, exiting the minivan. “Clint!”

When Clint turned toward Saki, their eyes met. Her body tingled. She had thought about him so much and in such intimate detail that her 18-year-old body yearned for him. So when Clint turned toward the guy standing next to him and abruptly walked away, Saki froze in her tracks.

“That bastard!” Saki said, loud enough for those around her to hear.

“Watch your language, Sakina.” Her mother ordered.

Saki turned to her mother, who had focused her attention on the administration building. “But you don’t understand. I know that guy.” Saki searched for words to explain her disappointment. She was devastated. How could she put it into words?

“Shut up, and let’s get this over with,” her mother said, leaving the girls behind.

Yep, she really is a horrible mother, Saki thought.

Saki hung back as the twins followed their mother. She took a better look at her new surroundings. In front of her, the cider-colored brick buildings were aligned in rows with quads and walkways connecting them. Three rows were directly in front of her, and in the distance, two more were lined up on the lower campus.

Coconut trees and flowering plants were scattered throughout. All of the grass was well-manicured, and students were everywhere. All of the students wore white shirts, and most wore black shoes. The girls had on blue plaid skirts while the boys wore solid green slacks.

Saki entered the administration building to find her family gathered at the counter. Trying to stay as far away from them as possible, she found a seat at the opposite corner of the large, empty room. She sat and waited quietly, observing the students as they entered and left.

One person immediately caught her eye. He had to be one of those thugs-in-the-making that the school was famous for. He was tall and had a deep tan that could just be his ethnicity. He had wavy black hair and a look of disgust on his face that rivalled her own.

Unlike most of the other kids, he entered the waiting room from the hallway that led to the administrative offices. Instead of immediately heading for the door, he found a seat next to Saki and sat down.

Saki‘s heart raced. He scared her, but she had to admit he had something exciting about him as well. She had never hung out with bad kids, but something about this guy made her think he wasn’t as bad as he seemed. Saki was caught staring at him when he turned and looked directly into her eyes.

“What?” He said in a rich, seductive tone.

Saki couldn’t speak and was actually grateful when she heard her mother’s shrill voice.


Saki joined her family at the counter. The administrative assistant wanted to give her a class schedule. Saki reached for it, only half paying attention. When she thought it was safe to turn around again, she looked back for the bad boy. To her disappointment, he had gone.

Once Saki got her schedule and homeroom location, she stepped back and waited for the twins. They looked a little frightened at the fact they’d been separated into different classes. Although Saki didn’t doubt their feelings, she felt irked by their display. It was like they were putting on a show for everyone. As usual, their mom was sucked into their performance, throwing her arms around them both.

Saki couldn’t take a moment more. Showing her disgust by sucking her teeth, she headed out.

“Aren’t you going to say goodbye?” She heard her mother ask.

Saki turned around and stared at the trio. All three of them could go to hell as far as she cared. Together, they were Tweedledum, Tweedledummer, and the mother.

“Bye,” she said, rolling her eyes and leaving the room.

As Saki stepped outside, she wondered how hard this life experience would be. The one person she knew had already rejected her, and she’d never been good at making friends.

At once, the weight of it hit her, and she was only awakened by the sound of the school bell. She took a last look around. She gazed the pond that was across the street from the admin building. She looked back up the hill at the school’s monastery. It was all impressive but also intimidating.

When Saki heard the administration building’s doors open behind her, she started toward her homeroom. She examined everything: the flagpole-sized cross with concrete benches around it that stood near the path toward the first quad; the classroom windows with metal shutters and no screens; and the way the cider-colored brick buildings visually separated the classrooms from the outside with one-foot wide white lines. Having grown up in this country, it all felt familiar to her. At the same time, it was all foreign.

The kids were all already filing into their homerooms when Saki found the row of classes that contained hers. She stood on the outside of her row staring down the sidewalk at the mob of kids. They didn’t look friendly. Her heart pounded, and she felt herself lose her breath. She was ready to turn around and walk home if it meant not having to do this again. She was about to do it when something shiny caught her eye in the grass.

Looking closer, it appeared to be a charm or medallion. She looked back up the row of classes to see if anyone else had seen it. No one was paying any attention. Although everyone was avoiding walking on the grass, she stepped over, squatted and slipped the metal between her fingers.

She looked at it. It was about two inches in diameter, round, and had a green gem in the center of it. Surrounding the gem were a series of etchings. She couldn’t tell what they were. One of them almost looked like a dog, and another resemble a human. All the ones in between were imaginary creatures. It certainly looked valuable.

“Young lady,” an older male voice said, snapping her out of her observations. Saki looked up and found a dark-skinned bearded man wearing the typical teacher attire of a buttoned-up short-sleeve shirt and dress pants. “Get off the grass.”

Saki slid the medallion into her palm and did as he said.

The teacher didn’t wait for her to return to the sidewalk before continuing on his way. Saki followed behind him, eventually realizing they were both headed to the same place. She had hoped to make a better first impression on her new homeroom teacher than breaking a school rule in front of him on the first day.

Waiting at the classroom door for students to enter, the teacher turned around and saw Saki. “Are you my new student?”

“I guess.”

The teacher conspicuously looked her up and down and offered a stilted chuckle. Saki couldn’t understand why. Without a further word, he turned around and entered the classroom. Saki followed.

Saki entered her homeroom and found a combination of items both foreign and familiar. It had the usual things, like a chalkboard and bulletin boards. However, all of it was hanging on unpainted concrete blocks. The metal pane windows were open, and two ceiling fans circulated the increasingly muggy morning air.

The students were also a mixture of foreign and familiar. The faces and uniforms looked similar to all of the students she had seen walking to and from the school as a child. They all looked very Bahamian. The girls had braided pigtails and permed hair, while the boys looked rough, sitting in their chairs with attitude. Like everywhere else in the Bahamas, all of the kids were a multitude of shades between black and white.

Out of the classroom of 30 people, though, two groups stood out. At the center of one of them was the bad boy she had seen in the administrative office. Saki‘s heart clenched upon seeing him again. He looked even more intimidating with one girl and three guys corralling around his desk. He had seen her enter and was staring her down.

He wasn’t the only one with his eyes focused on her. The other pair belonged to the fair-skinned blonde boy on one side of the room. The four boys surrounding him all looked similar.

These kids all wore designer white shirts, whereas every other student wore the cheap white uniform shirts that were sold at any school uniform store. On top of that, the sleeves of their short-sleeved shirts were rolled up, and their straight hair was slicked back. Instead of black uniform shoes, they wore beige boat shoes. All of them looked like they had stepped out of a cologne commercial.

“Settle down everyone,” the teacher said, bringing the rabble to a din. “This is a new student.” The teacher began wading through his paperwork. “I’m sorry, what’s your name?”

“Sakina. But you can call me Saki,” she said to the class.

“Your full name, dear.”

Saki looked back at the teacher, convinced that he should have known that information. “Sakina Lightbourn.”

“Everyone make Sakina feel welcome.”

Saki scanned the young faces. They weren’t very welcoming. She looked for an open seat. The only one was the center desk in the front row. She looked at the teacher for instruction. He stretched out his hand pointing at the seat. Saki slithered into the chair, wondering if she could possibly have a worse seat.

Saki could feel all of the eyes in the room staring at her. She hated her mother for this moment. Why couldn’t she just have finished out her senior year in North Carolina? Or why did she have to move them in the first place? She didn’t understand any of it. But stuck where she was, it was time for her to sink or swim.

Once the morning announcements began over the PA system, the rabble of student voices returned. She felt a sense of relief. Looking over her left shoulder, she examined the group against the wall, who had to be the cool kids. They were all good-looking, but the one in the center was especially so. He looked like a model. His face was narrow and his body was lean. He moved with authority and the other four boys seemed to hang on his every word.

Looking over her right shoulder, she saw the bad boy and his crew. Something about them that seemed more like a gang. The one that she had sat next to in the administrative office was definitely good-looking, but in an intimidating sort of way. He stared out of the window, lost in thought. Looking closer, he almost looked worried. The longer she stared, the more he looked like he a guy with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

She could stare at him all day. She would have if she hadn’t caught the eyes of the one girl in the group. The girl didn’t seem soulful and deep, just angry. When she gave Saki her what-are-you-looking-at stare, Saki immediately turned away.

Saki‘s heart ached, trying to figure out how she would survive. Maybe she would just give up on trying to make friends and just focus on her schoolwork. She’d always been good at academics. Class work had always come easy for her. It was everything else in life that was hard.

Clint, she remembered. How could he do that to me? Maybe he didn’t recognize me, she thought, consoling herself. After all, that would make sense. Although she had thought of him often and had put him on a pedestal, that didn’t mean that he had thought of her since the day they graduated from elementary school. She would give him a second chance, she thought, as long as he showed he hadn’t become an asshole since they had last spoken.

Saki loosened the grip on the medallion to examine it. It was heavier than she thought it would be, given the size. Something about it made her not want to take her eyes off of it. It was mesmerizing. She flipped it around, staring closer and saw what had to be an inscription. She leaned in trying to encipher the markings, wondering if it was English.

“Let me see that,” the teacher’s voice said from directly in front of her.

Saki was caught off guard. Her intention was to turn in the medallion as soon as she got a good look at it. She had waited too long.

“It’s not mine. I found it,” she proclaimed handing it over.

The teacher stared at it questioningly. “Where did you find it?”

“In the grass near the end of the sidewalk.”

“Then if it’s not yours, I’ll return it to its rightful owner,” the teacher said, almost accusingly.

This was not how Saki wanted to begin at her new school.


The morning continued on as awkwardly as it had begun. The classes were all hard to find, and each time she was sat at the center desk of the front row. Between classes, she couldn’t find her locker. At lunchtime, she sat at an empty table in the center of the room.

Things only got worse after lunch when she heard her name spoken on the PA system. “Can Sakina Lightbourn please report the principal’s office? Sakina Lightbourn please report to the principal’s office.”

If Saki ever feared that people wouldn’t know who she was, she knew she didn’t have to worry about that anymore. She raised her hand, turning all of the student’s attention on her.

Saki found her way to the administrative office. Checking in, she was told to take a seat. She sat in the seat she had taken hours before.

“You can go back now. The principal is the second door on the left,” the administrative assistant said from behind her desk.

Saki got up and entered the hallway. She found the second door. On it was a sign that read “Principal” and another that read “Mr. Jenner.” She knocked.

“Come in,” a thick, warm voice said from inside.

Saki opened the door to find a small, dark-skinned bald man with tortoiseshell glasses. He was sitting behind a large desk laden with paper. It was a big office, but every inch was covered with stuff.

Two chairs were situated across from the desk. The only person she had met since entering the school, the bad boy, was sitting in one.

“Take a seat,” Principal Jenner said.

Saki complied, trying not to look at the boy by her side.

“Do you know Mr. Lafleur?”

Saki turned and looked at the bad boy for only a second before shaking her head “no.” The boy looked away.

“I see. Well, can you tell me where you found this?”

Mr. Jenner pushed the medallion across the desk toward the two students. Saki leaned in to get a better look. She stared at it for a moment, considering how she could have gotten into this position so quickly.

“I found it in the grass on the way to homeroom.”

“Hmm… And do you have any idea how it ended up in the grass?”

“No, Sir.”

“Well, I understand that you are new here, so I will inform you that this was taken from my office this morning. Later on, Mr. DeMarco found this in your possession. You were also in the administrative office this morning, weren’t you?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Doesn’t that seem strange to you?”

“I don’t know, sir.” Perhaps that wasn’t the best thing for Saki to say, but it was honest. She could stand dumbing herself down for her sisters and her mother, but she couldn’t take having to do it for teachers.

Mr. Jenner stared at Saki for a moment. Although she didn’t turn, she could feel the boy looking at her. She had gotten both of their attentions, and she liked it.

“This is not the way to start the first day at your new school,” Principal Jenner confirmed. Saki didn’t respond. Mr. Jenner continued. “When you were in the building, did you happen to see Mr. Lafleur?”

Saki had started to put things together. The bad boy had stolen it. Something had happened, and it ended up in the grass where she found it. Now they were in the principal office, and he was unraveling the parts. The question was, what would she do next?

Principal Jenner was right, this was a horrible way to start the first day at her new school. She knew that whatever she said would set the tone for the rest of her school year. Saki had always been the good girl, and it had never worked out for her. Maybe it was time for her to try something new.

“He doesn’t look familiar.”

“He’s one of the students from your homeroom class. Doesn’t he look familiar from there?”

“I’m new,” she said sounding exhausted. “How could you ask me if he’s familiar? I don’t know maybe. It’s just… everything is just a lot.” Saki did her best to manufacture tears. When they welled up in her eyes, she considered it the most successful thing she had done all day.

Leaning forward and resting her face in her hands, she heard Mr. Jenner leaned back in his chair. Her tears were making him feel uncomfortable while the boy next to her perked up. Saki knew that she could keep this up all day. If Mr. Jenner was uncomfortable now, she was going make sure she was released without another question asked.

Mr. Jenner squirmed around in his seat a moment longer before speaking. “Well, I’m going to let you both go. But this is not a toy,” he emphasized touching the medallion. “This is also school property. So if this goes missing again, there are two people I will question first. And next time, it will be with the police. You understand me?”

Saki wiped her eyes, relieved to be done. “Yes, Sir.”

“Yeah,” Mr. Lafleur said, offering as little acknowledgment as possible.

“Good. You may go.”

Saki got up, proud of herself. The boy next to her had to be the most dangerous guy in the school, and he now owed her a favor. She couldn’t believe her luck. Walking down the hall, she could hear him behind her. She wondered what he was thinking. Would he approach her now or later? Where could their friendship lead?

Truth be told, he was beautiful. Maybe this one incident would turn him into her first boyfriend. The possibilities were endless at this point. For the first time, her new life looked bright.

Saki continued back to her class, paying close attention to the guy who followed a few steps behind her. When they could no longer be seen from the administrative office, she turned back toward him. It was too late, though; he had already peeled away.

Saki watched him walk. It was sexy. It was slow and dangerous. Saki wondered what it would be like to kiss him.


Saki spent the rest of her day hoping to run into him again. But each class felt like the last. All of them resulted with her sitting at the very front not speaking to another soul.

She was thinking that she wouldn’t talk to anyone for the entire day until she finally located her locker room. Having lugged around her books all day, she was glad for the relief. Emptying the books from her backpack, she watched as all the other girls left the room.

Conspicuously alone, Saki looked up in time to see a familiar face enter. It was the girl from her homeroom who sat with the bad boy. She was sure that this was how she would begin to get payment. But as one girl filed in behind the other, she began to have her doubts.

“Oh, if it isn’t the new girl. You see her? It’s the new girl,” the angry girl said mockingly. The angry girl stood chest to chest with Saki. She was a few inches shorter than Saki, but that didn’t seem to slow her at all. “So, new girl, tell me, how did you swipe the medallion off of Lane?”

“What? I didn’t take the medallion from anyone. I found it.”

“Yeah, right. So you just happened to pick it up off the grass?”

The girl shoved Saki into the lockers. Saki didn’t know what was going on. She had never been in a fight with anyone but her sisters. But more importantly, she had saved Lane‘s ass. Didn’t they realize that? Without her, Lane could be going to jail. She had done him a favor.

“So, you gonna tell me how you took it?” The angry girl said with her three friends closing in around them.

“I told you that I found it,” Saki said, unsure of what else to say.

“You found it, huh? Is that what you did?” The girl said pushing Saki‘s head back onto the metal locker.

“Oww!” Saki said in a panic. What was she supposed to do? Fight back? It was four against one. She couldn’t even win against one of her sisters, and they were two years younger, though 50 pounds heavier. “Let me go!” Saki shrieked.

The other girls, some larger and some smaller than the first, all started pushing Saki. She closed her eyes and bowed her head to make herself as small as possible. But the pressure of the fingers and palms on her shoulder, chest, and head was inescapable.

Her body jerked from one side to the other. She was in a nightmare. Her heart raced, and as a slow groan escaped her lips, the prod and pricks got harder. They’re gonna beat me up, she thought, as she slowly dropped to the ground.

As her back scratched against the metal of the lockers, the pushes became kicks. They didn’t start off hard. They were more like nudges reminding her they were there. When the girls didn’t get what they were after, the kicks got harder. When the first blow shot pain through her leg, she knew that she was in deep trouble.

“Help,” Saki yelled at an unfriendly campus.

The blows got considerably harder. They all hurt now. She couldn’t even keep track of them.

She had turned herself into a ball protecting her head with her hands and her back with the locker. But her thighs and calves lit up with streaks of pain that not only debilitated her but also humiliated her. She wanted to cry, but she didn’t have time. All she could do was survive, and at the moment, even that seemed like too much.

The kicks grew in intensity until they mercifully stopped. The sound of hard leather scraping across the bare concrete echoed through the room. It sounded like they were leaving quickly. Could it be over? she wondered. Had the nightmare that was the first day of the rest of her life finally come to an end?

“Are you alright?” A familiar voice asked from beyond the locker room doors.

Saki lifted her head and opened her eyes. She was a little dazed, but gathering herself as a wave of pain shot through her. It was overwhelming.

She wanted so much to cry. She looked over to the open door hoping it would be a sympathetic face. She hoped it would be someone she could bury her head within and bawl. She needed, just for a moment, just for a brief sliver of her life, to feel safe and taken care of. She needed a friendly face. But when she looked up, she found only Mr. DeMarco, her homeroom teacher. He had gotten her into this mess to begin with.

No, Saki wouldn’t give him the satisfaction to know that he and his entire school had broken her so quickly. She wouldn’t cry in front of him. Somehow she would suck it up and accept that she was alone. She had to comfort herself. No one else cared.

“Are you alright?” Mr. DeMarco repeated.

Saki refuse to speak in fear that opening her mouth would release the floodgates of emotion she held back. Instead, she fought her way to her feet.

Her body screamed in pain. She winced and slowed down. Mr. DeMarco didn’t make a move toward her, and she didn’t expect that he would. When she was on her feet, she turned to her locker and finished her business instead of replying.

Removing her books from her bag, she stored them in the empty locker. Bending to reach down each time hurt tremendously, and she hoped that Mr. DeMarco had turned and walked away. He hadn’t, though. She could still feel his heavy stare.

It was all so humiliating, the new girl beat up in a locker room on the first day. She hated the school, and she hated her life. Why did her mother have to do this to her? Why couldn’t she have just left things alone with her husband? He wasn’t a great guy to any of them, but at least everything was normal. It was safe. Saki didn’t run the risk of getting beat up in the locker room by a bunch of thug girls there. Why did her mother have to ruin everything?

Saki wanted so much to cry. Her eyes burned and her throat had that raw feeling, like she was about to fall into an uncontrollable stream of tears. But she wouldn’t. She was determined. Finally attaching her combination lock, she grabbed her bag, looked past Mr. DeMarco, and reentered the unfriendly campus.

Saki looked everywhere but at the kids’ faces. She didn’t know who knew what she had just gone through, but she was sure that some of them did. She couldn’t take their knowing glances. Instead, she looked to the left at the grass.

The grass was lush and green, and it spread out toward the open field. It was the same field that she’d seen driving in, and kids were running track. Even at a distance, she couldn’t take them looking at her, so she turned to the building that stood in front of her.

The building reminded her of army barracks except the doors were brightly colored. Where she’d had her chemistry class, the door was red. Between it and the other door were clearly outlined concrete blocks painted like white dividers. After more concrete was the blue door. Next was a yellow door and then another red. That was the block.

The overhang above it had yellow trim and a metal aluminum roof that was repeated on every block. Farther ahead was some kind of evergreen tree. It stretched up 20 feet higher than the buildings. Another tall tree grew over to the right on top of the other hill.

Hidden behind that tree was another building that had sun-bleached beige walls. It was more like a shack. She remembered this building from when she was a kid. It was a bakery run by one of the monks. Her mother had taken her there for treats. It was the one good memory she had of this place.

As Saki looked forward, she found herself back at the administration building, standing next to the giant cross. How appropriate she found it after having been beaten up for nothing. She dropped her bag on the empty bench and sat. She was supposed to wait here to be picked up. She tried not to think of anything while she sat, but a myriad of thoughts slipped in.



Chapter 2


Saki lay on her side with her head twisted toward the popcorn ceiling. The twist of her body alleviated some of the pain. She was so glad she had fought for the room. With three bedrooms in the house, Saki was initially assigned to the pullout couch in the living room.

Her mother had promised two things: a comfortable pullout couch for Saki and cell phones for each of the kids. They still didn’t have their cell phones, and Saki suspected that the couch they had now was the only one they would ever have. Since her mother thought Saki would just be there for another year before college, she thought the twins should each get their own room. She couldn’t seem to understand why Saki might object.

Saki couldn’t let this happen, though. It was bad enough that she was being dragged back to this island; she couldn’t let her heartbreaks and disappointments be on display for them to judge.

Now licking her wounds, she thought about what she had fought so hard to block out: the fight, the isolation, being ripped from her friends and brought to a place where she never felt comfortable. The weight of it hit her, and the pressure took her breath away. The rawness in her throat returned. The tears that she is so successfully held back now seeped through. As her nose dripped and her face began to tingle, her chest heaved, releasing a silent flood of tears. It all hurt so much. All of life hurt so much.

Without warning, her bedroom door flung open. With it at her back, she fought to control herself. Whoever it was, she knew that she couldn’t show them weakness. They would use it against her in some way. She was sure of it.

“Hey Saki, is there a cute blonde boy in your class?” Tweedledum asked her. “One of the girls in my class told me that he was a senior, and he is scrumptious,” she said drawing out the last words for emphasis.

Saki learned two things from that question. One, her sister had obviously had a much better first day than she had. She had made a new friend and had a friendly enough conversation to focus on trivialities like boys.

The second thing was that her sisters hadn’t heard about her getting attacked in the locker room. If they didn’t know, Saki at least had a chance of maintaining her pride in front of her family.

“Get out!” Saki yelled in a voice that didn’t sound like she had been crying. “Or go through if you’re going. Didn’t you see that my door was closed? Get out of my room!”

The silence gave no hint of Tweedledum’s intention. Saki listened, using the time to gather herself and wipe her tears.

Saki knew that if her sister didn’t leave, she could still get her out without revealing her tear-stained face. She couldn’t give her sister a moment to focus on her, though. It all had to be done in one motion. So when another moment passed without development, Saki threw herself out of bed, ignoring the severe pain, turned to her sister, and rushed at her like a bull.

“Get out of my room!” Saki screamed before putting her full weight against her sister. Her sister didn’t move, though. She stood her ground, grabbing onto the door frame and not allowing Saki to push her into the living room. “Get out! Get out!” Saki put her full weight into moving her sister, but she wouldn’t budge.

“Mom! Saki‘s hitting me!” Her sister yelled.

“Mom, tell her to get out of my room!” Saki yelled in reply.

The two struggled with Saki unable to gain an inch. She wouldn’t stop, though. Establishing her privacy was too important to her. She needed her out. She needed her space, a retreat where she wouldn’t have to worry what someone else was going to say. She couldn’t give up on getting her sister out.

“Mom!” Her sister yelled again. This time, it was followed by a trudging across the wooden floor and a shove that pushed both girls into the room.

“Let go your sister. Let go your sister!” Saki heard before a meaty claw grabbed her arm and pulled her to the side. “What did I tell you about hitting your sister?”

“I wasn’t hitting her. She was in my room.”

“And what were you doing when I came in?”

“I was trying to get her out. That bastard…”

It was then that Saki felt a blinding pain shoot through her eyes. She wobbled dazed. She was speechless. She didn’t know what had happened. She focused her watering eyes and found her mother’s stern face looking back. Without warning, she saw her mother’s hand cock back and strike her for the second time across her face.

Saki was stunned. It wasn’t the first time her mother had hit her, but this time, it felt different. Barbaric, somehow.

Saki didn’t know what to say. She no longer wanted to cry; crying came from an innocent place. Her mother’s strike had transported her somewhere else. The world was cruel. She hadn’t quite realized that before. One doesn’t cry in a cruel world, they survive in it. They expect cruelty, and they survived it.

“What did I tell you about that language?” Her mother asked unforgivingly.

Saki stared back at her mother unsure of what to say. Everything was different now. The woman in front of her wasn’t her mother; it was the enemy she had to escape.