Thank you to everyone who offered to read over it for me, I really appreciate it!! You’re the best :D
“Cassandra Hart? They’re ready for you.”
The sound of the man’s high-pitched voice breaks through my daydream of dancing French toast. Why did I let myself out of the house with an empty stomach? I suppose I didn’t want it to visit me again later, but smehkaleen, I’m hungry! I haven’t had French toast in years, not after…that. Rosie says I should learn to say the words, but I can’t bring myself to do it, even after the past two years I’ve spent with her. She’s always said how proud she is of my progress, but I can’t even say those few words.
“Ms. Hart?” The man’s voice interrupts my reverie. Bloody hell. The interview. I pop up and start rushing to the door before the man speaks again, “Uh, Ms. Hart?” Great. What does he want now? Doesn’t he know I have somewhere to be? I whip around to glare at him when I notice him pointing at something on the ground. My portfolio! I could kiss this man right now. My heels clack against the marble ground as I stumble back to the seat I previously occupied and grab the large folder. I grasp it to my chest as if I’m drowning and it’s my life jacket. The dark haired man shakes his head with a slight smile and indicates the room ahead of us. I try to grin at the announcer, though I’m certain it comes out as grimace. It’s not his fault he’s leading me to the one moment that determines the rest of my life.
The man leads me into a conference room behind a large mahogany door and tells the interviewers who I am. I wave at them as I cross the room. One minute I’m glancing at the school board, and the next my ribs are aching as I hit the (thankfully carpeted) floor. Lovely. These interviewers must think I’m some British piss-arse blonde with a brain of mush and feet to match. I’m about to right up and blabber apologies when I see one of the interviewers’ shoes. Red leather.
I stayed up to finish my book. I should have been asleep. I shouldn’t have been aware of what was happening. No, please! I shouldn’t have heard the quiet creaking of the front door, the soft pattering of feet as they ran to the silver cabinet. Please not now! I shouldn’t have heard my parent’s door open. I shouldn’t have heard my brave father walk to the masked men. I shouldn’t have heard the click of the gun as the monsters pressed it to his head. Oh God, please, not now! I shouldn’t have heard my mother screaming his name as a bang rang through the house. I should have hid somewhere other than beneath my bed before those men found me. Red leather shoes. Red leather shoes. The one detail I can remember from after the shot. The rest is a blur of screams, tearing pain, and blackness.
“NO!” I shoot up from the ground, frantically pulling at my hair to get it out. My fingers twist around my blonde curls, tugging at the ringlets as I try to control my breathing. Rosie’s always told me that I am the controller of my thoughts. I can’t let the flashbacks rule me. I’m strong. They’ll never find me again. In for six seconds, out for six seconds. I’m strong. I’m beautiful. They won’t find me. I’m strong. I’m beautiful. They won’t find me. I’m strong.
My legs won’t stop shaking as I raise my head to the interviewers. What if it’s him? No. It won’t be. He’s locked away and won’t find me again. The interviewers are staring at me with a variety of expressions, the most common being pity. Of course. They read my file. They know all about me, the British artist whose parents were murdered twenty feet away from her when she was only sixteen; the girl whose innocence was ripped away by a burglar. I was front page news: TEENAGE GIRL FOUND BLOODIED AMONG PARENTS’ REMAINS. Rosie says it’s not my fault that he did that to me, and I believe her. He may have taken something precious away, but he gave me Rosie. She’s helped me to come to terms with what happened and move on. She’s the one who introduced me to art therapy, and consequently, saved my life.
I smile at the interviewers and can see their surprise. “Hello, I’m Cassandra Hart. I’m here to apply for the art program. Would you like to see my charcoal or my watercolor first?”