Make sure youre home by midnight! Its dangerous for girls your age to be walking around alone much later than that! Her godmother called as she went down the steps of their apartment building, joining the group of her friends that awaited her.
Sure thing! She called back, lifting the poofy white skirt of the prom dress her godmother had lent her for a costume, hoping she did not kill herself with the long skirt and clear high heeled shoes. For a runner like herself, known for being a die-hard tomboy, this princess costume her godmother had come up with for her schools Halloween dance was a death trap. Her friends stared at her for a moment, then snickered at the look of absolute disgust on her face.
Nice princess get-up, Ella. Wheres prince charming? One of her friends said through his laughter. Ella glared.
Shut it, Mike. If Im lucky, no one will have a clue who I am. She snapped. The boy shut up, and the group set off in the direction of the high school.
Their small group showed up late, and nobody really noticed their arrival. They huddled by the punch bowl, figuring everyone would leave them alone if they looked like they were pathetic losers.
They were wrong.
A boy with sandy blond hair came over to the group, and singled out Ella. She was a little unnerved. This boy was one of the popular jocks who normally made life Hell for her, and he apparently had no idea that the pretty, manicured, well-groomed princess before him was the messy, tomboyish sprinter he usually mocked. Ella was not sure whether she appreciated the attention or not. As the idiot proceeded in his unknowing flirtation, Ella exchanged a mischievous look with some of her friends, deciding that this was the perfect moment for revenge. It would be so amusing to tell everyone that the stupid jock had chatted up the unpopular runner chick, without having a clue who she was. So, when he asked her to dance at around 10:45, Ella took him up on his offer.
After the first dance, she was thoroughly annoyed. He had bragged about himself the entire dance, and would have gladly continued for another dance or two. Fortunately for Ella, Mike had been blackmailed into cutting in and saving Ella, as payment for making fun of her earlier. None of them expected there to be any backlash; they expected the jock would go look for another play toy girl.
They could not have been more wrong. The moment Mike and Ella finished dancing, he was back, asking Ella for another dance, and when she answered that she wanted to take a break for a little while, he growled, and yanked her to the dance floor, nearly ripping her arm from its socket, and causing her to gasp in pain. He held her close and kept talking to her, his arms like iron bands around her. She tried to break away, but he would not let her go. By the end of the next dance, he was burying his nose in her hair, and vaguely creeping her out.
Actually, considerably more than vaguely creeping her out. It was disturbing her, and violating her sense of personal space. She pushed on his shoulder and said bluntly.
Ok. You are in my bubble. Please get out. He laughed, and leaned his face down to hers. Ella choked back a scream, and resisted the urge to slap him, figuring, that she might be able to break away from him in an unguarded moment.
She was right. His arms loosened up for a moment as his lips touched hers, and she took the opportunity to shove him away from her, and made a run for it. Ella ran for about five seconds, then toppled over in her rickety heels. She thought she felt her ankle twist, and the pain she felt every time she put her weight on it seemed to confirm her suspicions. She had known wearing these blasted shoes was a bad idea. She figured that she had probably lost the jock, so she limped to a chair by the gym wall, wanting to get off her feet. She sat down, relaxing slightly. and glancing at the clock. 11:15. she should probably leave soon to get home before her curfew. Besides, it would get her away from him quite easily.
A hand gripped her arm, and yanked her to her feet. Ella yelped as she caught sight of her jock stalker's face. It was a mask of fury. Ella pulled on her arm, trying to jerk away from him, but she supposed this was where all the physical training was benefitting him, because she could not free herself. She glanced down at her feet, and smiled slightly. Calmly, she lifted one of her feet, shoved the heel of her shoe against his shin, and dragged it down, stopping at his foot, where she proceeded to grind her heel into the bones of his foot. He swore, and let her go. Having learned her lesson, Ella walked as swiftly as she could to the exit.
As soon as she was out the door, she headed for her apartment. She sighed. It would be a long walk home, in the dark all alone. She was not looking forward to it, but there was no way she was going back into the gym now, not when he was waiting for her. So, she picked up her skirt, the hem of which was slowly turning a muddy greyish-brown, and continued walking slowly, trying to ignore the pain in her ankle. Then she heard something behind her. She froze. Slowly she turned around, slipping her feet out of her heels, fully prepared to grab them and run as best as she could on a twisted ankle. He was there, following her from about ten feet back. Ella did not think twice. She grabbed her heels, picked up her skirt, and ran.
She knew that he was following her, and was determined to get home before he could catch her. So she ran. It was the only thing she really could do. She had left her cell phone with a friend, a fact for which she was now calling herself stupid and every synonym for it she could find in her mental catalog as she ran along the rough pavement of the sidewalk. Her ankle was screaming at her as she ran, but she did not, could not, take the time to pay attention to it. This was the most important race of her life and de she would not lose it. There was far too much at stake. She was developing a stitch in her side, which she knew was not good. She could not keep running like this forever. Ella glanced over her shoulder, hoping beyond hope that he had dropped back far enough for her to slow down.
He was closer than she dreamed possible. She nearly screamed, and started to run again, running like her life depended on it. She could not pull enough oxygen into her lungs. The air around her turned hazy, and slightly blurred. She knew that she would have to stop soon, to suck air into her lungs, so she could keep going longer, but she could not. There was no way for her to do so, not without getting caught by her stalker. Tears began to stream down her face, unfelt because of how numb it was.
Then she saw it. Her godmothers apartment building, straight ahead of her. She put on a final burst of speed, and raced up the stairs to the buildings entrance. Ella did not really notice that the hand holding her shoes had unclenched slightly, allowing one of the clear, glass-like shoes to fall to the ground as she went. She opened the door, and slammed it shut behind her. Panting, she collapsed to the dirty floor of the apartment building in a heap, gulping down air as the town hall clock began to toll the midnight hour.
He saw his princess dart into the building, leaving one of her shoes behind her. He smiled slightly, and picked it up, pressing glass-like shoe to his cheek. He imagined his princess lying just beyond that door, waiting for him to come and find her. He chuckled. He would come and get her. Not now, though. Some time soon.