I pulled the comb through my hair; I had given up spiking my hair. For two weeks, I hadn't even glanced at the unopened box of blue hair dye on my counter, because my appearance mattered now.
The murder attracted journalists, and some lousy journalist had gotten their hands on a guest list.
"Numerous residents of Winthrop Place apartments were in attendance, including the famous Michael Hay."
I checked my teeth in the mirror, focusing on the cap over my right eye tooth. It looked fine. I looked fine...
When I had finished my meticulous morning routine, I curled up in an armchair and stared at the opened box I had kicked across the room last night. I had gotten a pair of neon pink wool socks from an anonymous sender. It told me that someone knew where I lived, and if I was going to start getting appreciation mail, it was only a matter of time before I started getting-
I buried my face in my arms. It was a single gift, probably only a practical joke from Anna. There was no reason to panic....
Unfolding myself from the armchair, I grabbed a coat and pulled it around my shoulders. I grabbed the wool socks out of the box on the floor and pulled open the door to my apartment.
I knocked on apartment 308. Did someone even live here?
A young woman opened the door. I had probably seen her at the party two weeks ago, but I didn't have a name for her face.
"What," she asked.
"Take the socks." I shoved them towards her.
"They're causing me a great deal of stress. Take the socks."
"No 'happy holidays'?"
Of course, she would want to elongate this conversation. "Are you going to take the socks?"
She smiled, "Keep them. They look like wool, and it's getting colder around here." Then she closed the door in my face.
I stared at the brass number marking the apartment. I deserved that.
I hadn't acted like that since... I shook my head. The past didn't need to come up for any reason.
After a beat, I knelt down and placed the socks in front of her door, for her to get later. Or maybe the janitor. Whoever.
Air would do me good. For the rest of the day, I would just... walk around town. I took deep breaths, repeating to myself that I looked fine, that everything was fine.
At the end of the evening, I found myself in the football field just behind the abandoned park. The field had a surprising lack of security, and I had just walked out on the turf.
On the field it was quiet. It was dark; you could see the stars. I leaned against the goal post and closed my eyes. After the crazy things I'd seen around town on my long walk, this was a perfect change of pace.
"It's an odd place for mistletoe."
My calm heart had decided to try jumping out of my throat. I jerked my eyes open. An unfamiliar man stood in front of me in the darkness.
He pointed upwards at the goal post, my gaze followed his gesture. There was a tuft of something hanging from the goal post, but whether or not it was mistletoe was hard to tell-
Before I could even react to the man touching my face, I was forced into an action that I hadn't done since seventh grade. My muscles didn't react to my mind screaming to push the stranger kissing me away because I saw a flash in the stands. My eyes fixed to that location, and when I saw the second flash a millisecond later, my heart stopped racing.
I wasn't even sure it was still beating.
I shoved the stranger off of me, and I ran.