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  • Writer's pictureGina A. Jones

The Colors of Ash-Chapter Thirty-four




So, I’m back at my old school. It’s been two weeks—I think. Everything runs in slow motion for some reason. Like I’m trying to find where I belong in this world. Nothing seems right. And nothing seems wrong. I just exist. Like water, or air. And even those things are elements you couldn’t live without. I’m something one can live without, apparently.


It was easy to catch back up, and even Mr. Rodrick has been acting…differently. Sometimes, I feel he knows something about me. Or, he’s just a weirdo.


But either way, I must go on, and achieve something for myself—not let Ash or anyone else define me. Sasha suggested counseling. But trust me, I’ve been through enough of those to last a lifetime. No thanks.


Shutting my locker, I walk to my next class noticing my attire—old sneakers, worn jeans, and a Rolling Stones T-shirt. No longer the princess—not that I ever was. But the idea was nice—for a while.


Walking into my biology class, Mr. Rodrick gives me that strange stare, again. Yep, he’s a creep. But like I said earlier, a sexy creep in that Indiana Jones sort of way when he’s playing the part of the professor.


I slump down in my seat and pretend to pay attention for the next forty-five minutes. I need to pay attention and pass this damn class. But as usual, my hand begins doodling something other than notes in my notebook.


And there it is—a sketch of Ash. As much as I try to erase him from my mind, he haunts it just as well. I must learn to hate him. I need to hate him. He made me feel worthless.


The bell rings, and it’s a mad dash to the door and my locker. As I’m scrolling through the combination, I listen to the conversation beside me.


“Yeah, it’s going to be a great party. Everyone who is anyone will be there. Lots of alcohol,” the girl says to her friend.


I sort of know the girls, though we’ve never hung out.


“Hey, Cinder. What you got going tonight?” The girl who I think is Rachel asks in her strong New York accent.


I shrug my shoulders. “Not much. Probably work on some drawings.”


“Oh, that’s right. You’re that girl who draws some cool shit. I saw some of your work the art teacher put in the display case. You’re pretty good.”


“Thanks.”


“Look, I know we’ve never hung out, but you want to go to a party tonight?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know many people here.”


“So, that’s why you need to go. You gotta boyfriend?”


Boyfriend. As if. “No.”


“Then join us. The more the merrier. You do drink, right?” she asks on the down low.

“Ah…sure. A beer now and then.”


“So, you in? We can meet you outside of Chewy’s. It’s a bar downtown on the corner of Sixth and Park St. The party is down in the cellar. It’s the best place to party. Not too many people know about it.”


Maybe I should just try being a regular teenager and fit in. Do a little partying. It’s just a drop in the bucket, considering what I was doing a few weeks ago.


“Ah…sure. I can meet you there.”


“Okay, but plan on spending the night. That won’t be a problem, will it? It’s just, we don’t want to get caught. It’s sorta known as an underground party hangout for us underage. You get it, right?”


“Yeah, sure. I can stay. Thanks.”


“Cool, meet us there around nine. I know the code to get in. So, you can’t get in without me.”

“Sure,” I say, like it’s no big deal, and I do this sort of shit all the time. If only those two knew what kind of shit I had been doing.


“Oh, and this is Darlene. In case you didn’t know.”


“Hey there, Cinder. Cool to meet you.”


I nod over at the other girl, Darlene. We shut our lockers and walk toward the doors. Once outside, the two wave, and run to a car with some guy waiting for them.


Before heading back to Sasha’s, I decide to stop by the coffee shop. Probably best to load up on caffeine, if I’m going to be partying all night.


I walk the six blocks to the shop, pushing my way through the throng of people. After Mr. Rodrick’s class, I’m in dire need of a strong Americano.


Stepping in, the aroma of coffee hits my nostrils. I order my cup and find my usual table by the window. I pull out my sketchpad and begin drawing the scene outside the window. Taxis, lights, buildings, signs, and people rushing off to their happy lives. Some have umbrellas, though it isn’t raining. Some carry bags or briefcases. Some are dressed for business, and some are dressed like me.


I like to pick out one individual and pretend to know about his or her life. Are they happy? Do they have a job or home? Have they been hurt in the past? Are they a secret serial killer, just blending in with the rest of us?


I pick out an old lady pulling a cart behind her. Years of worry cover her face. I shade in the lines and add to her eyes. She walks with a slump and looks like she hasn’t been home in years. She’s homeless, and I see myself in her. What was her life before…this?


After a few more lines here and there, I finish my Americano and stuff the sketches back into my backpack before heading out and walking the remaining blocks to Sasha’s.


“Hello, it’s me,” I say, unlocking the door, and stepping in. Sasha comes out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel.


“Hey, Cinder. How was school?” she asks, scrunching her wet hair with another towel.


“Just another day in the world of Cinder.”


“Hey, have you filled out those college applications I put in your room, yet.”


Sasha has this unrealistic idea that I will get into college. First of all, how will I pay for it? Second…I’m sure I will never get accepted.


“Ah…not yet. But I will,” I lie.


“Promise?”


“Yeah, I promise. Are you going to your…master’s, tonight?”


She looks away, and I feel a sense of not belonging anymore. Before it was all she talked about. The lifestyle. Even something as weird as that, I still couldn’t be a part of.


“Are you okay with it?”


“Sure. It’s your life, your place. Plus, I got invited to…to a friend’s house for the night.”


“Really? Who? I’ve never heard you mention any friends before.”


“Jeez, Sasha, just because I don’t talk about them, doesn’t mean I don’t have any.”


“No need to get snippy with me.”


“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to take my shit out on you,” I say. Why do I do that to her? Before, I was all yes sir, and no sir to a guy who controlled everything about me. And with Sasha, I’m like a back-talking teenager. Maybe because…I am.


“Her name is…” Should I not give her name? “Denise, we're in art class together. Yeah, she wants to hang out. We’ll probably just be geeking out with pizza, sketching, and drawing.”


“Well, that sounds nice. I’m happy for you.”


“Yeah, I’ll be spending the night, so…”


“Hey, you’re nineteen and emancipated. No need to tell me your business. Unless you need to talk.”


“Okay. Have a nice night,” I tell her, heading to my room. I have plenty of time before meeting the girls at nine and decide to hang out on the fire escape, drawing a few more scenes of the city.


But all my creativity is blocked by all things…Ash.


***


The Colors of Ash © 2024 Gina A. Jones rights reserved under the International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.


This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, organizations, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

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angie jones
Feb 04
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

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shannon Cheripka
Feb 03
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Oh no!! I feel trouble is brewing especially when it comes to cinder.

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dashafehrenbacher
Feb 03
Replying to

Yep, I feel the same.

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