The room was dark and still, curtains drawn to keep out the intrusive light and sounds of the outside world.
“Mija, you’re going to be late!” a distant, muffled voice carried up the stairs, barely penetrating the door, much less the cocoon of blankets where a large lump laid curled up on the bed.
“Luz!” The voice called again, a little louder but still not doing much to pierce the calm, quiet of the room.
“Hngh…” was the mumbled answer from beneath the pile of blankets, before growing still again, snuggling deeper into the warmth.
The door slammed open and the bright, overhead lights blazed to life.
“Get your butt out of bed!” a new voice shouted.
Luz jumped, flinging herself up only to teeter backward and fall over the side of the bed, hitting the carpeted floor with a hard thump. She groaned, squeezing her eyes shut against the blinding yellow lights flickering through her eyelids as the ceiling fan kicked on, whirring quietly.
“Wh- what is it? I’m up!” she yelped, laying an arm across her face to try and block out the harsh light.
“You’re going to be late for school,” Eda said, crossing her arms and leaning against the doorframe as she watched Luz’s blanket tangled legs flail around as she tried to right herself, still half asleep.
“I’m awake…,” she grumbled, hauling her legs off the bed to sit up, rubbing the back of her head sleepily before she managed to crawl back up onto the bed.
“I have an alarm set for seven,” she mumbled behind a jaw-splitting yawn.
“You gonna go back in time to turn it on?” her mother’s fiance asked with a sly grin.
“Huh?” Luz mumbled, looking over at her bedside clock. The numbers blinked ‘7:45’ at her in bright red. “Meirda, why didn’t it go off!?” She jumped off the bed and bolted into her closet. Eda listened to the thumping and cursing that followed with a wry grin as the seventeen-year-old came running out, head still stuck inside her hoodie as she tried to pull it down over her head.
“¡Estúpida saco con capuchai!” The muffled yelling continued from within her cotton prison before her head finally popped out of the hole and she ripped her canvas messenger bag off the back of her desk chair as she ran past.
Eda deftly stepped to the side as the teen bolted past her and down the stairs, sounding like a herd of buffalo as she grabbed the wall at the bottom and slingshot herself around the corner into the kitchen where her mother was standing sipping her coffee at the counter.
“You’re going to be late, Mija,” her mother said as she dug through the freezer before she snagged a couple of frozen waffles and shoved them into the toaster on the counter with harder force than necessary.
“I know, my alarm didn’t go off for some reason.” She frowned, tapping her fingers anxiously on the counter as she waited impatiently for the waffles to cook. Eda chose that moment to saunter into the kitchen like she hadn’t just kicked in a bedroom door.
“You were up will one am again weren'tcha?” her future stepmother asked with a knowing grin as she sat at the table where her own cup of coffee sat at her usual place at the table, her dog King lying beneath it at her feet.
“Noooo,” Luz lied, badly, glancing between the two women.
“I saw the light under the door when I got up this morning,” Eda said and Luz winced, watching her mother frown behind her coffee cup.
“Luz…,” she sighed, turning to her daughter with a clearly disapproving frown.
“I got caught up reading…,” she mumbled.
“Please try to go to bed at a reasonable hour tonight,” was all she said and Luz nodded.
“Good, now I need to go, my shift starts in twenty minutes, try not to be late for school.” She set her cup in the sink before walking over to press a kiss to the teen's head and repeated the process with Eda before walking out of the kitchen.
“Can you drop me off at school?” Luz asked, turning to Eda as she stood from the kitchen table.
“No can do today, Kiddo. I gotta get to the pawnshop, it’s not gonna run itself,” The gray-haired woman said as she passed, reaching out to ruffle Luz’s mop of dark, brown bed head as she passed. “Have a good day, don’t do anything I would do!” she called as she too left. Luz heard the old beat-up van rumble to life just as her waffles popped up and she grabbed them before darting out of the kitchen, taking a half-second to slip on her shoes, and shooting through the front door, barely taking the second it took to lock it behind her. She waved to Eda as she drove by and stuffed half a waffle into her mouth as she jogged down the street to Hexside High.
It was only a few blocks away, but she was going to be cutting it close, and she still had to cross the main street that was always busy with morning rush traffic at this time of day during the workweek. She continued to shove waffles into her mouth, trying not to choke as she ran. Her homeroom teacher absolutely forbade eating in his class, the grumpy little gremlin that he was.
Even though it made sense, it was chemistry, after all, there were a lot of things laying around at any given time that you really didn’t want to eat by accident. He was probably going to chew her out for being late though if she didn’t step on it.
This was the third time this month her stupid alarm hadn’t gone off!
She would need to replace it this weekend. She pulled her phone out and the numbers showed ten till as if mocking her.
She frowned as she slowed to a stop at the crosswalk, cars whizzing by, and tapped her foot impatiently as they continued to drive by without slowing.
She briefly thought about texting Willow or Gus to let them know she was on her way, but they were probably already heading inside and she didn’t have the time as she swallowed the last bite of her breakfast.
She watched the crosswalk sign continue to blink red at her even as the traffic slowed somewhat. Another glance at her phone told her she had five minutes before she was late. The tapping increased as she saw a gap in the traffic and made an executive decision and dashed across the street, weaving past a few cars, blaring their horns at her, like they weren’t the ones ignoring the school zone speed limit! She was almost home free, darting past a truck when she heard it.
The loud revving of a motorbike, followed by a screech of tires that made her turn her head just in time to catch a glimpse of a bright magenta bike and it’s helmeted rider.
Then it hit her.
She felt weightless for a moment and then she smacked hard against the ground, sharp pain bloomed in her head and she skid across the asphalt, before finally rolling to a stop.
Everything was bright pain, and there was a loud ringing in her ears that deafened her as she blinked up at the bright blue sky that was slowly dimming before it all went dark.
~ ~ ~
There was an obnoxious beeping, constant and steady.
Luz grumbled to herself as she slowly surfaced into wakefulness, dragged out of the blackness of unconsciousness by the constant beeping.
Even before she opened her eyes, she was aware of one thing, pain.
Her whole body ached, but it was her head and her left arm especially that was killing her.
Slowly, she peeled her eyes open and blinked against the bright overhead lights.
She glanced slowly around the room, taking in the plain, blue-gray walls and the equipment that sat around the room. A box of gloves on the wall, as well as a sink and a couple of chairs. A little tv hung from the wall, playing some telenovela on a low volume she could barely hear.
A hospital room.
She continued to look around. Her eyes drawn to the incessant beeping of a heart monitor and followed the wires with her eyes to where they were hooked to her.
Her head was pounding and her left arm was screaming.
She glanced down at it and tried to lift it, she immediately regretted that decision, and let out a high-pitched, whimpering cry as tears stung her eyes.
What the hell had happened?
Her memory was still a little fuzzy and the pounding of a marching band inside her skull did not help her recollection process in the least.
She’s been on her way to school then...?
The door to her room opened and she looked up as her mom quietly stepped in and immediately saw the teen looking back at her.
“You’re awake!” she cried, voice tight as she rushed to Luz’s bedside and gently ran a hand down her cheek. “I was so worried about you, Mija,” she sniffled, tears welling up in her eyes, and from the redness in them, Luz could tell this was not the first round of tears.
“What happened, Mami?” she asked, voice gravelly and thick.
“You got hit by a motorcycle, Bebe,” Camila said gently, still running her thumb over Luz’s cheek.
That’s right. She’d ducked around that truck, not seeing the motorcycle it had hidden until it was too late.
She tried to sit up and hissed painfully between clenched teeth as she jostled her arm.
“Don’t get up, Luz!” Her mother gently pushed her back down. “Your arm is broken, and you might have a concussion.” she frowned down at her.
“That explains why everything hurts…,” she mumbled.
A sudden commotion of yelling in the hall made them both look toward the door.
“No, we're not blood-related but that’s my future step-daughter!” a voice carried through the door and Camila sighed, standing.
“Eda must be here,” she smiled fondly as she quickly disappeared through the door and a few moments later it slammed open and a frantic Eda came darting in.
“Luz!” she hurried over to the side of the bed and in uncharacteristic fashion, started fussing over her and all her injuries. Her face and arms were splattered with road rash and blood still stained some of her skin.
“Eda, I’m okay!” she chuckled, drawing disbelieving looks from the two women. “Well… maybe not okay…”
“What were you thinking, running out into the street like that?” Camila asked, sounding frustrated and if she could, Luz would have sunk down into the bed and disappeared as the two looked at her angrily.
“I just didn’t want to be late…,” she mumbled quietly.
“You almost got yourself killed.” Eda glared at her and she sank down further if possible. It was rare for Eda to scold her, she preferred to leave that to Camila, so Luz knew she was really upset.
“I know…, I’m sorry,” she mumbled and her mother sighed tiredly.
“We’ll talk about this later, you should rest. Dr. Clawthorne wants you to stay overnight so we can monitor if you have a concussion or not,” Camila told her.
“Overnight?” Luz looked at her mother.
“For once, Lily is right. From what they said, you hit the ground pretty hard, Kid.” Eda said, looking at the stitches on the newly clean-shaven side of her head.
Luz reached up to touch where Eda was looking and winced, quickly pulling her hand back.
“This wasn’t how I wanted to get that undercut…,” she mumbled to herself.
“Well, when ya get out of here, we’ll even it out,” Eda told her and she nodded.
“You rest, Mija. I’ll check on you later. Come on, Corazón.” she beckoned Eda, who patted the girl’s leg before she stood and followed her mother out.
“Rest up, Kid.”
The door shut behind them and Luz sighed.
Not exactly how she wanted to spend her Thursday.
She reached over and grabbed the controller for the bed and raised herself up and glanced around before spotting her phone on the bedside table and grabbed it. She frowned at the now cracked screen but when she flicked her thumb over the glass it lit up, alerting her to several missed messages from her friends asking if she was coming to school or not, followed by several more asking if she was okay.
The clock read three-thirty and she grimaced as she unlocked it and hit one from Willow and typed out a quick message saying she was fine, she just wasn’t feeling well and hit send before doing the same with Gus.
She didn’t want to worry them right now.
She sighed and laid back, closing her eyes and dropping her phone into her lap. Her head and arm were killing her.
There was definitely a lesson in here somewhere about learning patience, she was sure.
She slipped easily back to sleep.
The next time Luz opened her eyes it was nearly dark out, and the clock on the wall told her she’d only been asleep for a couple of hours.
She yawned and glanced down at her phone and found several, new, unread messages from her friends. She flicked through them before scrolling through penstagram, but quickly grew bored. She was wondering if she could get a purple cast for her arm when a small knock on her door made her lookup.
“Come in!” she called.
The door opened a fraction and a familiar head of mint green hair peeked inside.
Luz blinked, sitting up a little straighter, wincing as her arm jostled.
“Can I… come in?” She asked uncertainly.
“Yeah, sure, come on in!” she quickly nodded and then wished she hadn’t as her head throbbed.
What was Amity doing here? Her mind raced with the possibilities. They hadn’t been friends very long. The two had not exactly gotten along when she and her mother had moved to town six months ago to live with Eda in Bonesburough and she’d started attending Hexside High.
The school rugby captain had been… well, a bitch, at first. Though Luz couldn’t put all the blame on her. She’d made a few blunders herself, like embarrassing her at a pep rally, totally on accident, and an unfortunate incident she’d gotten herself into with Amity’s older siblings when she’d inadvertently helped them get a hold of Amity’s diary. After spending so long being bullied at her old school it had really stung for the other girl to have called her that. She’d done her best to make it right, managing to get the book back from the Blight twins, though she’d still been a little cold.
Not that Luz could blame her after that. She didn’t exactly relish the idea of having all her personal thoughts posted all over the school by her siblings either; not that she had any.
Now, it was hard to think the two had been so at odds with each other. After that, they’d been forced to do a few assignments together, and gradually learned they shared a number of things in common, like their love for the book series ‘The Good Witch Azura’ and reading and learning in general.
Luz had an unorthodox way of approaching most things, including school, and sometimes found it hard to learn in Hexsides rigid environment, but still managed to keep pace with the other girl, who was considered top of their class. Amity had been quick to take notice, and the two ended up pushing each other to higher and higher standards.
Though more of a bitter rivalry at first, it had turned much friendlier in the last few months, though no less intense.
Amity hated to lose, but surprisingly, so did Luz.
While it’d been a rough start, she would call the other girl a friend now, she often joined her, Gus, and Willow at lunch, or just hanging out on the front steps of the school before or after class when Amity didn’t have practice. Though more recently it had been just the two of them as rugby season ended and Gus and Willow had been increasingly busy with their own after-school duties at the ‘paranormal appreciation society’ and the ‘gardening club’ respectively.
Then Luz had to go and catch a case of the feelings, which seemed to make all their interactions a little strained. She was starting to think Amity had caught on, she’d definitely been acting differently the last month. She could hardly look at Luz half the time, and when she did, her face always turned red and she could barely form a coherent sentence. Luz was starting to worry she made the other girl uncomfortable, but she wasn’t sure what to do about it.
So the fact that Amity was here now, was surprising, to say the least.
She swallowed thickly as the other teen stepped in, closing the door behind her. She really wished she looked a lot better than she probably did. Freshly run over and laid up in a hospital bed with a broken arm and possibly a concussion. Amity always looked so nice and put together, especially in her letterman jacket, which she was currently wearing with the ‘A’ emblazoned on the front left of her chest.
“What are you doing here?” Luz asked as she walked up to the side of the bed.
“What am I doing here? I needed to see if you were okay!” the other girl all but shouted. She winced at her own volume, as did Luz before she cleared her throat. “Sorry,” she mumbled. “I just… wanted to make sure you were alright…” Amber eyes flitted about the room when Luz tried to make eye contact with her.
“Oh, well, as good as to be expected, I guess,” Luz shrugged, finally noticing the small bouquet of purple flowers squeezed between the girl's hands. “Are those… for me?” she asked hesitantly and Amity jolted.
“Yes!” her cheeks darkened. “Yes… their violets, I know you like purple…,” she mumbled, only seeming to turn darker as she held them out to her.
It was Luz’s turn to flush as she took the offered flowers, their fingers brushed and she tried hard to repress the shiver that ran up her spine at the barest hint of a brush of skin.
“Oh… thanks.” She wasn’t sure what else to say, Amity nodded, brushing a strand of loose hair behind her ear as they stood in awkward silence for a few long moments.
“Are you cold?” Amity asked and Luz blinked, her shiver had not gone unnoticed.
“Oh, Uh, yes! It’s kind of cold in here…I guess they had to cut my hoodie off,” she mumbled out the excuse, nodding rapidly and again, her head throbbed. Why did she keep doing that?
Amity hesitated a moment, face red to the tips of her ears before shrugging off her letterman.
“Here,” she held it out and Luz flushed. How many times had she imagined wearing that jacket? More than she would ever be comfortable voicing aloud.
On instinct, she reached for it only to be sharply reminded of her broken arm as pain lanced through her, and she grimaced, hissing between her teeth.
“Are you okay?” Amity looked at her worriedly, stepping closer. She managed to nod after a second.
“Yeah… yeah, I keep forgetting my arm is broken...,” she grumbled, missing the way Amity’s face twisted.
When the wave of pain had finally passed over her, she felt the warm leather settle on her shoulders and looked up to find Amity leaned over her, settling the jacket on her shoulders.
“Thanks…,” she mumbled as Amity stood back up and nodded.
The beeping of Luz’s ever-increasing heart monitor was the only sound in the room as she nervously fingered the petals on the flowers and silently enjoyed the warmth of the jacket, but she missed the way Amity was chewing on her bottom lip before she finally turned to look at her.
“Luz... I am… so sorry!” she said suddenly, making Luz look up at her, confused.
“Sorry for what? She cocked her head and Amity looked at her like she couldn’t even believe the question.
“For wha-?! For running you over!” she shouted. Luz blinked up at her.
“That was you!?” she yelled and Amity flinched, ducking her head and squeezing her left arm with her right hand, but nodded. Luz frowned at the guilty look on her face.
“That wasn’t your fault,” Luz said, causing Amity’s eyes to whip back to her.
“How is it not my fault!? I literally hit you with my bike and you…” her voice hitched and her head turned away to look at anything but Luz. She could see the tears building in Amity’s eyes. “You bounced off the street and…,” she hiccuped. “There was blood everywhere…” she choked on a suppressed sob.
Luz’s gut clenched painfully and she sat the flowers in her lap before reaching out to grab Amity’s hand, tugging her down onto the bed beside her.
“It wasn’t your fault, Amity,” she said sternly as the other teen still refused to look at her, shoulders shaking gently as she tried to bite back her tears.
“If I hadn’t tried to cut around that truck to try and not be late to school, I wouldn’t have hit you!” Amity choked.
“You never would have hit me If I hadn’t been trying to cross the street when I wasn’t supposed to; getting hit was my own fault,” Luz assured her gently. It took a few minutes before Amity could stop the tears and wiped at her face with the back of her arm, before finally turning her teary, amber gaze to Luz.
“Are you okay, is your bike okay?” she asked.
Amity couldn’t help the bark of laughter that bubbled up in her throat at that.
“You’re lying here with a broken arm and stitches in your head and you ask me if my bike is okay?” she chuckled wetly.
“Well, I mean, it was my fault, I’d feel awful if you got hurt because I was being stupid…”
“I’m fine… and my bike’s fine too,” she nodded.
It was then that Luz realized her hand was still wrapped tightly around Amity’s, and she noticed too, glancing down at their hands and her ears turning pink once more.
Luz whipped her hand back.
“No…, it’s okay,” Amity mumbled, glancing away as her flush only darkened and Luz gnawed on her lip guiltily. She liked Amity, a lot, and the thought that her crush made the other girl so distressed made Luz’s gut twist up into knots.
“I… I’m sorry, Amity,” she paused, drawing the other teen’s gaze. “If I make you uncomfortable,” she finally said.
“What?” Amity blinked at her and Luz turned her gaze back to the flowers in her lap, and ran the fingers of her good arm over the velvety, soft petals.
“I’m sorry if I make you uncomfortable.” she flushed, reaching up to rub the back of her neck, embarrassed.
“What do you mean? I’m not uncomfortable.” Amity frowned, turning on the bed to better face Luz.
“I’ve noticed the way you can hardly look at me lately… and get so flustered when we’re together…,” she trailed off, not seeing the way Amity’s face only grew redder at the words, ready to vehemently deny it, till Luz went on.
“If my... feelings make you uncomfortable, I’m sorry, I don’t mean for them too,” It was barely above a whisper, but Amity heard and her eyes widened as her face turned a furious scarlet.
“What?” She squeaked, and Luz hunched further.
“I didn’t mean to be so obvious and make you uncomfortable,” she tried to explain, and could feel her ears burning. “If you don’t want to hang out or anything anymore I understand I…”
“No!” Amity shouted, making Luz jump and look up at her, surprised. “You don’t make me uncomfortable,” she insisted.
“Then why….” Luz gestured vaguely to the girl’s red face, which she swore was only growing darker by the second; she was almost purple at this point.
Amity looked anywhere but Luz as she twisted her fingers together.
“You make me nervous…,” she finally mumbled.
“Nervous? Why do I make you nervous?” Luz frowned and Amity glanced at her from the corner of her eye and swallowed thickly.
“Because... I like you too…” she whispered, but she may as well have yelled it in the quiet room.
“Oh…,” Luz mumbled numbly.
“Yeah…” Amity’s hands clenched as a long quiet pause drew on between them.
“Wow, and you were more obvious than I was!”
“I- I was not!” she sputtered, turning to scowl at the other girl.
“You’re doing it right now,” Luz pointed at her red face with a shit-eating grin.
“Shut up!” she snapped.
“Or what, you’ll run me over?” she joked and Amity made a strangled sound, whipping her head away to turn her nose up at her.
As the silence dragged on, Luz worried that maybe that was too soon, but then Amity turned back to her, still twisting her fingers together.
“When you get out, would you let me make it up to you, by taking you to the movies?” she asked.
“I told you, it wasn’t your fault, you don’t have to…”
“Will you just let me take you on a date?!” Amity squawked, voice cracking.
“Oh! Uh, ha, yeah.” She nodded, smiling nervously.
Before either of them could say anything else the door opened and Eda stuck her head in.
“Hey, Luz, I brought you some grub, don’t tell your mom…,” Eda stopped, seeing the green-haired girl sitting on the bed next to Luz. “Oh, you got company…”
“I was just leaving!” Amity said quickly, jumping up as though scalded.
“Are you sure?” Luz asked, frowning up at her and Amity smiled, nodding.
“I need to get home but, I’ll text you?” she asked and Luz nodded.
“Yeah!” she beamed, and it proved infectious as Amity smiled back before turning and hurrying past Eda, who watched her go before turning back to Luz.
“What was that about?” she asked as she stepped into the room, a greasy fast food bag in hand as she took in the sight of Luz, sitting in the hospital bed with a letterman jacket draped over her shoulder and flowers laying in her lap.
Luz just grinned to herself.
Who knew the key to her crush was getting run over by a motorcycle?