The Moments Before She Sleeps
Her body was lean and freckled from daily exposure to the sun, and her skin glinted with sparkles. Kayn loved coconut sparkle tanning spray. She could see it on her clenched fists each time they flashed by her line of sight. She was a girl with many strange little rituals on her daily to do list. At the beginning of her run, she imagined that she looked quite magical, glittering in the sun, but not by the end. By the end of her training, the glitter tanning spray would cause the track’s dust to stick to her whole body in a rather comical way. She would always end up looking like she’d spent her afternoon rolling in it, instead of running on it.
Kayn was in a zen place, appreciating the warmth of the sun’s rays whispering across her skin. She rounded the corner kicking up another cloud of dust to outrun just as a jolt of electricity surged through her. Adrenaline rippled a winding path beneath her flesh, igniting her soul and setting it afire with insurmountable pleasure. In this moment, it always felt like she’d been given a gift or anointment of power. She hit the straight stretch again feeling such transcendent euphoria that she felt baptized by the sweat trickling down her forehead. She was alive in a way only a runner could comprehend. Every nerve ending was humming, “Faster, Kayn… Go faster.” She was an athlete born to push the limits of her body. Runners were a breed of their own with both incredible days and horrible while training, but it was always worth it.
“Don’t Call Me Baby,” by Madison Avenue was cranked in her ears. She kept pace to the beat, feeling powerful and strong. Kayn made eye contact and grinned as she passed her best friend, acknowledging his presence.
Kevin was listening to his own music while plucking long green strands of grass out of the ground. He glanced up as she approached and overzealously waved, displaying a giant charming toothy grin. He’d done this since kindergarten and it never failed to induce laughter. She acknowledged his presence by shaking her head and smiling as she slowed her pace. Her heart thumped wildly in defiance to her now walking feet. Kayn licked the sweat from her lips, tasting her salty reward. With a track dust covered hand, she wiped the sweat off her forehead and casually dried her hands on her shorts. She noticed the streaks and wondered if there was also smeared dirt on her brow. Kayn turned in one fluid movement to greet Kevin, whose grassy scent signalled his arrival at her side. His giant grin told her that her face was most certainly covered in dirt, but he didn’t mention it because he was too busy cheering for her. You’d think she’d just won the Olympics or something equally spectacular. The sight of him cheering with no sound to the music in her ears was more than a little bit adorable. Kayn yanked out one of her earbuds.
“Right…That’s what you say to all of the guys stalking your twin,” he countered with a grin at her cleverly creative way of calling her sister slutty.
Kayn choked on a laugh and sparred, “Yes, as a matter of fact it is exactly what I say. I was forced to come up with one token line that I use for everyone it’s a time saver.
Kevin’s face crinkled into a dimpled grin. He shook his head, feigning distaste as he flirtatiously responded, “I can’t believe after all these years, I’m merely a number to you.
His attempted flirtation was cute and perhaps she would have been a little flattered if it was meant for her. Kayn gave Kevin a friendly pat on the shoulder and said, “Just do yourself a favour; take a hint. She’s not right for you.” She slapped his butt. He yelped and jumped away from the sting of her hand. She teased, “At least have the decency to warn me if you ever find yourself wanting to wear my sister as a skin coat so I can try to get you some help.” He shot her a dirty look. Sarcastically, she added, “How hard can it be to arrange an intervention or a creepy exorcism or something in your honour. I would hate to have to visit my best friend in a padded cell somewhere.” She winked and waited for his comeback.
“You should have your own comedy show,” he fired back.
“It would be hilarious if it wasn't the truth,” Kayn challenged. Her twin sister, Chloe Brighton, was the perfected version of her. She was stylish and always the picture of popularity and perfection. Her twin was described with words like captivating, stunning, and provocative. Kayn, on the other hand, was blandly characterized as cute, funny, and a good runner. It didn’t seem very fair; however, she loved her sister with blind acceptance. They’d always been close but didn’t hang out in the same crowd. To be honest, Kayn had no crowd at all. It was just her and Kevin.
The only boys who had shown an interest in her were usually after her sister, Chloe. Kayn, being less sophisticated, would always fall for their games. She would think foolish thoughts like, maybe this time he likes me? They’d chat on the phone for a while and then inevitably they would ask to come over to hang out or do homework together. Kayn would agree and right when her heart began to flutter with the romantic possibilities of a goodnight kiss or how incredible it would be to have a boyfriend, it would happen. They would make their intentions obvious by saying something like, “Because we are such good friends could you introduce me to your sister, Chloe?”
Friends… It was an uncomplicated word but one Kayn despised from a young age because of Chloe. It felt like the wind from a breath that would blow out every candle of hope she’d kept lit inside of her heart her whole life to date. Kayn would be blatantly lying if she said that the constantly repeating scenario didn’t breed resentment towards her sister. Still, she would never let it show. Not once had she freaked out at her sister for stealing her imaginary boyfriends or simply for being completely morally bankrupt. She’d learned at a young age that Chloe didn’t follow the same ethical or moral codes that most people followed. Kayn had this thing called a conscience which included guilt and a little voice in her ear that repeated, “Don’t do it, Kayn,” until she chose to listen to it. She was pretty sure the voice talking to Chloe said, “Do it,” every single time because there was no need for sentiment or morality in Chloe’s universe.
Kevin’s grandmother seemed to have a direct line to the spirit world and nearly all her random thoughts were more than a wee bit creepy. Sometimes his grandmother would spend hours chatting with Kayn about her dreams. Granny Winnie was a quirky, warm, witty woman that had treasured her from day one. Kayn was a faithful member of Team Granny because she, unlike the rest of the planet seemed to despise her sister. Granny Winnie couldn’t even breathe when Chloe was in the room. Granny would pretend to gasp for oxygen or make a foul stench related declaration referring to Chloe. She was believable enough to cause, her perfect in her own mind twin to smell her own armpits. Chloe, being completely void of respect for her elders or pretty much anybody else, would refer to her as a crazy old bat or a witch. Quite often, Granny Winnie would call Chloe out on an evil deed or two as though she had the ability to read her mind.
Strange weather we’ve been having lately, Kayn thought as she watched the clear blue-sky change in a matter of moments from completely cloudless to a powder of fluffy white clouds everywhere. Her pulse raced, and all she could smell was the scent of fresh cut grass and pine needles from the trees that lined one side of the track. It struck her as odd…They were quite a distance from the trees. She could hear the amplified sound of the grass rustling underfoot and felt uneasy. Snapping back to reality as Kevin’s feet came into her line of sight, she raised her eyebrows at him and pointed to his untied shoelaces. Kevin bent over in front of her to tie up his shoes. Kayn began to speak as if she were reading his obituary. “I can see the paper now; it would read something like this: Kevin Smith was a wonderful boy, so smart and good looking but a little clumsy. Had he only tied his shoes he wouldn't have fallen down the stairs and found himself impaled on a janitor’s broom. Remember kids… Tie your shoes… Safety first.”
His warm breath in her ear caused her to shiver again and she had the strangest urge to kiss him square on the lips. It must be low blood sugar or something? She replied, “No... Just over tired I guess.” She glanced back again.
Kayn doubled over in a fit of giggles. She chuckled, “I honestly don't doubt that for a second.”
On occasion, random guys would break into their house to steal objects that belonged to her. In the beginning, the police thought Chloe must be doing something to bring this on herself, but after she went in for a couple interviews at the police station and full-grown men couldn’t help but fawn all over her sister. They all understood what Kayn had always known…Voodoo Powers. “We shouldn't even be joking about this stuff. The breakups with the last three or four of her boyfriends turned out to be pretty damn scary situations,” she said in a hushed tone. The last thing Kayn needed was to be caught talking by one of Chloe’s minions.
Kevin gave her a strange look that said, think about what you just said for a second. They giggled. A giant stinging slap followed on her butt. There stood Chloe, Kayn’s infamous and moderately evil twin. The living breathing cover girl commercial was gracing us with her badass presence. Chloe smiled at her, and gave a slight glance acknowledging Kevin’s presence. He turned ten shades of red as though she had whispered something dirty in his ear. He’s completely pathetic, Kayn thought while shaking her head.
She was only five minutes younger than her sister, but her twin had always acted five years older. Kayn had no voodoo powers and all she ever felt around boys was… undeniably awkward. Maybe she should ask Chloe how she did it and if she would she teach her something…anything? It would be nice if someone asked her on a date before she was eighty. Kevin’s obsession with Chloe was really beginning to irritate her. Having feelings for him wouldn’t be a great move friendship-wise. There it was again… that ominous word… friends.
Kayn dried herself off, feeling the moisture from her still damp hair as it trailed in a river down her spine. As she dressed, her train of thought kept travelling back to the possibility that she might have feelings for her best friend. What was with her thoughts today? She grabbed her bag, hoping Kevin hadn’t reached the point of being epically frustrated while waiting for her. She forced open the door with an over-exaggerated grunting sound and saw him sitting on the railing waiting patiently for her. He was looking up at the sky with his mouth agape in a comical way.
Sure enough, they entered Kevin’s house to the amazing smells of his mother’s cooking. Kayn’s stomach began to grumble loudly as the delicious aroma of Kevin’s mother’s cooking filled her senses.
They brushed each other off outside and raced for the bathroom. This time he legitimately beat her. When Kevin came out, he gave her a playful shove as he passed by. She stepped into the washroom, glanced into the mirror and stifled a giggle as she pulled some strands of grass out of her hair. She quickly washed her hands. How wrong must it look when two teenagers of the opposite sex show up for dinner covered in grass? Well, anyone else, with them platonic wrestling would be completely normal. If her dad walked in and they were wrestling on her bed, he wouldn’t even flinch.
Kayn wandered into the dining room and sat at her usual spot at the table. Kevin’s family mirrored her own. They were always cracking jokes and talking loudly about their day. She loved everything about the Smith house, from the mismatched frames filled with family photos in the dining room to the extremely outdated green shag carpet in the living room. The living room was completed by a cozy couch set with two fluffy lounging felines that could always be easily seen from the dining room table. Those cats were always laying there. It was as though they hadn’t moved an inch in years. Kevin’s granny sat at the end of the table. Her wispy white hair was even more wildly untamed than usual. She’d always been able to envision Kevin’s grandmother as a beautiful younger woman because of the black and white picture of her in the hallway. Beautiful, didn’t quite encompass Granny in her youth, for she had been enchanting. She had rich crimson curls and exquisitely structured cheekbones. There was obvious power, and immeasurable strength of spirit in her eyes. Yet, physically, she looked as thin and frail as a newborn fawn. She had not been the picture of pin up perfection, but she had an unexplainable quality that made you curious. You wanted to know more about her. Kayn had always sensed there were thousands of untold stories in her eyes. She was a girl with many secrets. The chapters were written in the creases of her smile.
She felt the competing rhythms of their hearts, as his hot sweaty torso pressed intimately against hers. Her stomach churned with revulsion as she felt the warmth of his rapid excited breathing against her neck. His quiet laughter echoed in her mind as a raspy male voice began whispering things she couldn’t understand. Her blood had soaked through her clothes and it was trickling down her arms. She was going to die. He released her. She slumped forward and tried to grasp the ground with her fingertips, but no matter how hard she struggled from within the confines of her mind she couldn’t move. Her breath came in short labored attempts as a soothing voice whispered, Sleep, it’s time to go to sleep. As she closed her eyes, she heard Grandma Winnie’s final words to her, ‘You survive. You fight hard.’ She screamed from within, clawing at the soil and forcing herself up to her knees. Suddenly, there was a blinding explosion of pain across her head and face. The lights flickered and went out…
The dark mass of her violator knelt beside her and leaned in. She could smell his putrid breath as it moistened her face. There was an electrical current between Kayn and the man in the dark, it was like a charge. Every hair on her body stood on end as he ran a finger over her exposed breast and said, “You were never to be born; this situation had to be corrected.”