I See Me (Oracle 1): Chapter 1, Part 1
For those of you who haven’t had a moment to read I See Me (Oracle 1) I thought I’d share a few chapters over the next few days as a lead up to the release of the final book in the trilogy, I See Us (Oracle 3) on October 6, 2016.
I See Me (Oracle 1)
“There’s that guy again.” Sprawled facedown over the black vinyl chair, I had a perfect view of West Broadway through the storefront window of Get Inked.
“What guy?” Tyler muttered as he hunched over my bare shoulder with his two-coil tattoo machine. Someone had to come up with a better name for that, other than ‘tattoo gun.’ Most ink artists hated calling it that.
“That guy … from the pizza place two days ago. The guy who tried to buy me a slice of pepperoni, like I eat meat.”
I didn’t point. I wasn’t stupid enough to move my shoulder and risk ruining the ink. All Tyler had to do was look up and he’d see the guy drinking a venti Starbucks and leaning against the pockmarked concrete wall of the convenience store across the street. A tall, skinny guy wearing black jeans and a knit hat in an attempt to look like a hipster, but really just hiding stringy, dirty blond hair. I was serious about the ‘dirty’ part, as in actual dirt. If the guy let his teeth yellow any worse, they’d match his hair. At least he hadn’t actually smelled when he sidled up to me a couple of days ago.
“The daisy would look so much cooler with some color,” Tyler muttered. He wasn’t easy to distract once he had the two-coil in hand. Normally I liked that about him. “Red … pink?”
“It’s a peony.”
“A peony. And daisies aren’t red.”
“Fine. I’ll stick with the boring black, as usual.” Tyler snapped a used cartridge out of his tattoo machine and plugged in a new one. Then he started filling in the edges of my newest design. I’d copied my peony sketch onto transfer paper about two hours ago, and Tyler and I had argued over its placement for another hour. It had taken me three months to get the flower design exactly right — as perfect as I’d seen it in my head — and ready for its permanent place on my shoulder.
I had a tattoo of barbed wire with various things snagged in the spikes running up my left arm. The ‘things’ were eclectic — keys, spiders … even a black-and-white Canadian flag. With the addition of the peony, I was getting Tyler to extend the tattoo over my shoulder now. Eventually, it would meet and intermingle about two-thirds of the way across my back with the ivy leaf pattern that ran up my right arm.
“I don’t like him,” I said. The guy across the street was playing with something, rolling something silver around in his hand. Pedestrians were steadily passing by him in either direction, but he hadn’t once bothered to glance up from his phone.
West Broadway was a major artery through this part of the city. It ran all the way from Burnaby up to the University of British Columbia, which was pretty much as west as it got without running into the Pacific Ocean. As was typical for January in Vancouver, the day was gray. Despite the cloud cover, I kept catching flashes of silver when the light hit whatever the guy was fooling around with. It was probably some creepy magic trick with coins or something.
“He tried to talk to me.”
“He must be insane then. Who would want to talk to you?”
Tyler was joking, but it wasn’t that far from the truth. I could count my friends on one hand. If I included my social-worker-of-the-day, I’d have to use my thumb.
I didn’t like people, so I tried to make sure they knew it right away. The moment they saw me, actually. I dyed my pale blond hair black, and wore it cut blunt just above my shoulders. I also wore white-framed tinted glasses over my weirdly pale gray eyes no matter the weather, and covered myself with as much black ink as I could without getting kicked out of the Residence. So nothing on my neck, face, or hands. I couldn’t even get the multiple piercings I wanted, so I hadn’t bothered with any. Not even in my ears.
That would all change today.
Today was my nineteenth birthday.
The Residence, which was what we nicknamed the group home for older kids, wasn’t going to kick me out. Not right away, at least. Not without another place to stay. But I’d be encouraged to move on. Hell, they’d been ‘transitioning’ me for two years now.
And yeah, I was an orphan. Something that wouldn’t even rate mentioning after today. Because no one cared if an adult had parents. As far as I’d seen, most adults tried to pretend they didn’t have parents. Except my shrink, who’d tried to invite me for Christmas dinner last year. As if I wanted to be trapped next to a huge turkey carcass with twenty people I didn’t know. Twenty strangers who all knew exactly who I was.
I doubt client confidentiality kept anyone’s mouth shut about me, ever. I was such a sad case. Cue the tiny violin. Orphaned at birth. Mother killed in a terrible car accident. Her body never identified. Father and extended family unknown. Surname unknown. Never adopted, though a couple of families gave it a good try. And — wait for it — with a diagnosis. The shame. The stigma. Gasp.
Excuse me while I choke on your sympathy.
Two more hours, and I could leave the country if I wanted.
And that was exactly the plan.
I was done with Vancouver. For now, at least. I might even get around to changing my name, if I could ever think of anything better than Rochelle Saintpaul. Yeah, the nurses at St. Paul’s Hospital nicknamed me ‘little rock,’ because I never cried. Flattering, huh? I’d seen the nickname in the nurses’ handwritten notes in my Ministry of Children and Family Development file. Then, when it came time to fill out my birth certificate, my social-worker-of-the-day figured out that Rochelle meant ‘little rock,’ and bam, I had an official name.
Whatever. Who wanted to live where it rained every day anyway?
Chapter 3, part 1 & 2 (Oct 1)
Chapter 3, part 2 & 3 (Oct 2)
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