Traces, Part One

There is just SOME information you could live without, which is something our new landlord, Mr. Black, seemingly can’t understand. Half the information he gives me is stuff I will never tell my mother. Never. It’ll only stress her out even more. 
Like how the electricity goes out maybe once or twice a year and screws with the Wi-Fi. How moving neighbors are frequent, and that this apartment is often home to crying babies, bratty college students playing heavy metal too loudly, and barking dogs and cats that escape all the time. Lovely. 

Mr. Black finally finishes talking for a moment. “Are we good now?” I ask. I’m tired from all this conversation, and not for the first time, I wish mom’s work didn’t start so early. That way, she would get more sleep, and I wouldn’t have to deal with this guy and possibly end up late for school. 

Mr. Black blinks. “Oh, sure…I s’pose.” 

“Thanks, I gotta go,” I say, shoving my binder into my backpack. I know how rude that sounds, but I don’t want to be late right after moving into a new apartment. I may be going to the same school, but still. 

Mr. Black purses his lips. “Hmm. But there’s another tidbit of information you may find particularly interesting,” he says.

“Oh? And what may that be?” I ask as I finish zipping up my backpack. 

“I don’t mean to frighten you, but this apartment complex tends to see more than its fair share of death.”

How the hell is that meant to not frighten me? I stop moving. “What?” I finally ask. Dumb reaction, but hey, what the heck kinda information is that?

He fidgets a moment. “Um, let’s say a lot of elderly live around here. But not just them. Just two years ago, a man fell down the stairs and broke his neck. A woman had a heart attack. And just last year, a college student hanged herself in this very apartment.”

That’s lovely. “I don’t know how to reply to that,” I say brusquely. “Please, I need to go to school.”

Mr. Black seems disappointed that he couldn’t gossip with me some more. “Of course, Miss Rainsford. I understand. Have a good day,” he says with a smile.

How, with all that morbid talk you shared with me? “I’ll try,” I say, hoping my smile looks sort of genuine. As I walk down the hall, I hear a sharp, “psst!

I turn around. “What now?” I ask, a sharp undercurrent to my voice. I see a woman in her seventies around a corner waving to me. She has gray hair and wears a dark green dress. “Don’t mind Mr. Black,” she says. “He’s a tad morbid, but he just likes to talk. Don’t ask me why…could never stand the sound of his voice,” she chuckles. 

I smile against my will. “Thank you, Ms…”

She smiles at me again. “Just call me Lea.” She pronounces it as Lee. 

“I’m Ella. I’m sorry for cutting this short, but I need to go to school, y’know?”

She nods. “Oh, yes. I remember those days. Now my grandkids have to deal with them. Have a good day,” she says, and for some reason, she sounds much more genuine than Mr. Black. 
***

I’ve barely put my backpack into my locker when I hear a shriek of, “Ella!” and see my closest friend, Sammy, run towards me. “Hey, hey! What’s up? The apartment nice?”

I shrug. “Not much nicer than where I used to live.”

Sammy sighs. “Aw. Too bad. C’mon, we’ve got to get to class.” As we walk, she winks at me. “Bad hair day?” she asks.

“What?” I demand, touching my dark curls again. How a half-Chinese girl got such curly hair, I don’t know. “We can’t all have straight hair, Sammy,” I say.

She laughs, then brushes a hand over her sleek bob. How does it stay so flat? I think with a pang of envy. That’s when I notice something odd. The group that I guess you could call the popular kids are all standing together, but they aren’t laughing or talking or anything. Their heads are all down, and you can practically see the dark cloud hanging over them. “What happened?” I ask, jabbing a thumb over towards the group. Sammy always manages to stay in the know.

Sammy glances over to the group before cringing away slightly. “One of their friends, one of the theater kids, Jack Barton, killed himself,” is all she says.

I nearly stop in my tracks. “Jack? Seriously?” I whisper. I can’t pretend to have known the guy well, but we sometimes talked during classes. “That’s so strange…” I say.

Sammy nods. “Yeah. And the weird thing was…he used a razor.”

My stomach twists. I hate sharp objects. “TMI, Sammy,” I say.

She shrugs. “Well, I’m just saying. I guess your fears of sharp objects aren’t as weird as I thought though. Jack apparently hated them too.”

Now I stop. “That makes absolutely no sense. Why the hell would he kill himself with something he was so scared of?” I ask.

My friend shakes her head. “How should I know the mind of the depressed? C’mon, Ella. We’re gonna be late for class,” she reminds me.

We continue walking down the hall, but for some reason, my mind stays on the topic of Jack’s suicide. I don’t know why it’s sticking to me this way. After all, Angela Rexton committed suicide at the beginning of the year. I know this sounds terrible, but I didn’t feel…overly horrified? I dunno. I mean, yes, I was sympathetic, but I didn’t really feel sad. I didn’t even know what she looked like. Maybe it’s because I was acquaintances with Jack?

Another thought hits me. Yes, it’s likely because I had talked to him on occasion, but it’s not fully that. It’s the razors. Something about that, the fact that he was so scared of them, bugs me. It doesn’t fit at all.

It’s that one detail that sticks with me for the rest of the day.

Author’s Note: Well, what do you think? Bit of a slow start, but trust me, this is relevant info. Please like and comment, it motivates me to keep working! And I kinda want to see you guys read the other comments…who knows? Maybe you’ll find new blogs to follow. And feel free to comment constructive criticism, theories, analysis, and reactions!

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3 thoughts on “Traces, Part One

  1. This is a very great start, in my opinion!
    Lea sounds adorable and I’m sorry for Mr. Black too hahaha He certainly doesn’t sound like a bad person, just a needy one that loves to talk and doesn’t know when he’s making people uncomfortable.
    Also lovely to see the interaction between Ella and Sammy. Friendships are a must have in any story 🙂
    Keep up the great work, Kate!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thanks! Glad you’re liking it so far.
      That was my intention on both counts. Don’t worry, you’ll see them both later on. Glad you got that impression from Mr. Black; I didn’t want him to seem overly intrusive or weird, just a talkative guy with poor people skills.
      I LOVE a good friendship, so how could I not include one here?

      Liked by 1 person

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