BRAVING THE STORM
TOTALLY NOT BY DOOMISH
For my good friend, Hailey. You are the inspiration that guides a thousand Misha stories.
Chapter 1 - Lightning
Misha gripped herself tightly. It wasn't going to be long now, no, not long. Shizune would come in and greet her and they'd work on their homework together and everything would be happy again. Everything would be alright, and she'd be able to calm down and stop crying. The rain hit the glass like the roar of a hungry animal and she shuddered at the thunder again.
What a pitiful sight I must be, she told herself. Poor ashamed Misha cowering in a dark, dusty classroom in fear of a little storm.
And it was true, she was doing exactly that. She figured ducking into the councilroom before Shizune arrived would shield her, protect her from the storm, but it did no good. She whimpered as the wind picked up from somewhere outside, and her arms folded even tighter across her stomach. Though it wasn't cold, a shiver ran through her spine. Wallowing in her fear, she laid her head down on the desk and cradled herself in a mock-fetal position. It would be over soon. It would be over soon. It would be over soon.
But time flowed on and on and the storm got worse, filing her with the ebb and flow of horror and depression. Her normal, bubbly personality disappeared like Jekyll to Hyde when it rained; whether she was directly in it or safe and warm, whether torrential or drizzle, it always absolutely terrified her. Usually, she had Shizune to help her keep up her guise, but her friend had to depart for the library before it closed to pick up a few books.
And now it was just Misha, alone, shaking and sobbing involuntarily. A childhood memory brimmed at the edge of her mind but she shoved it deep, down inside of her, desperately trying not to let it come to the surface. Her drills laid splayed out on either side of her, all four of them wrapping around her head like a blanket of hair, promising her everything would be okay. She'd need to re-dye it soon, the brown roots were starting to show through. Her old self was starting to show through.
Lightning struck again, further illuminating the room, and a frightened squeak escaped her throat. The rain was only picking up, and the thought of Shizune out in it mortified her to the point of desperation. The library was only two buildings away; a mere walk across the campus to where she sat. But somehow, something within her told her that not all was well. Something told her that she'd have to go out in it before it was over, and it made her cry even harder.
She never cried in the presence of others. She never acted anything other than completely dumbstruck and ecstatic, and it was just the way she liked to treat people. She liked pretending that she was a brave, valiant, strong woman, capable of moving mountains with her boisterous laughter; but the moment she was alone, she crumbled. She turned into the sad, long-haired Misha she used to be, the one without a direction, without a purpose. The one whose parents had nearly disowned her for her beliefs, for her ideals. The one who was horrified of the rain. It brought out the worst in her.
She weakly pounded a fist down on the desk, staring at it, anguish in her bright, golden eyes. She was completely useless now. Shizune was the only one who could help her out of her self-pity, the knight to her Rapunzel. Soon she'd arrive, and Misha would let down her long hair and embrace her until the storm stopped. Shizune was calm, understanding. She supposed it was the facade of her own, put up to ward off the suspicion that she was cruel and heartless at her core, turned into a stone statue by her own arrogant father.
Misha sniffled, fist clenching tighter. She couldn't be alone. Not now. She knew that the longer she was without a companion, without someone to talk to, she'd get more and more sad, for lack of a better word. She hated her limited vocabulary, she hated how everyone assumed the worst of her intelligence, she hated that she was the most normal girl in her class and yet somehow the least smart. She hated everything, and she knew that it would only get worse. The lengthier the amount of time Misha was alone, the more she thought about death. The more she thought about death, the more she thought about the final solution to her problems. The more she thought about solutions, the more she thought about suicide.
And she hated thinking about suicide.
She shoved herself up from the desk, biting her lip to keep from crying out as the storm wailed in response to her movement. It was trying its hardest to keep her down, to force her back into her chair. She didn't know what she was going to do, where she was going to go, but she righted herself, eyeing the door to the classroom. She had to go somewhere that would put her by other people, somewhere to keep her from being alone.
The walk to the door felt like it took ages, but Misha had planned for that. Her steps were slow, wobbling, cautious. Her arms were still wrapped tightly around her stomach, and her slump slowly grew worse as she moved toward the exit. She was hunched over like a frightened kitten, shunning the darkness around her. Her hand touched the handle of the door, and as soon as it turned, the thunder took on a physical form, roaring at her. Beyond the door was the same hallway she'd walked down a thousand times before.
The rain was borderline torrential now. The far end of the spectrum. Every other step, lightning exploded from the clouds, and Misha could see every little detail of the hammering drops as they moved past the ornate windows of the atrium. It was night time, dark, dim, but somehow perfectly illuminated. A horrible fog had fallen over the school, and Misha was all the more frightened. When people around her saw rain clouds, they thought about how it was going to ruin their plans and how they wouldn't be able to go out in it. Misha's head was always filled with thoughts of lightning, of darkness, of horror and monsters. The one thing scarier than rain was darkness. Considering the two usually worked together against her, rain at night being her innermost fear, she was usually glad to have Shizune to protect her.
She stood frozen in the atrium for a while, shivering and staring at the giant dome overhead, watching the rain pick up even further. Just when she was reaching the apex of her anxiousness, ready to enlist someone to help her find Shizune, something she never thought possible in a school like Yamaku happened in an instant.
A flash of lightning brighter than any before it. The rumble of the devil rising from the cracks in the ground. And then, darkness.
Her breath stifled in her throat. Tears started to pour out of her eyes again as the shadows creeped in on her. She heard cries and murmuring from somewhere deeper into the school, but she didn't care to seek any of it out. She was literally frozen in place. Her legs were locked tightly, her arms tightening in her self-embrace. The power had gone out in at least this section of the school. Darkness overtook her, and she whirled around as the shadows began to make faces and sneak around her in a giant circle. They stretched into humanoid shapes, causing her to shake like a leaf in the wind. She knew damned well that it wasn't real, that nothing she was seeing was true. Nobody else would see it but her; but somehow, deep within her, it stirred up something she had desperately hoped to forget.
And she forced it down again, grunting in horror and frustration as her own shadow laughed at her incompetence. How could there possibly be so few people? She'd been about late at night in the school before, but it was always populated. Her stomach stirred and twisted into knots as she slowly, painfully started to walk through the halls. The only lights were the tiny emergency ones dotting the corridors. Somewhere far off, an alarm was sounding. The murmuring continued, but Misha suddenly froze in place and backpedaled into the atrium again when the thunder clattered again around her.
No progress. One step forward, two back. The tension in the air mortified her.
She stared at the front doors, the ones leading to the other buildings of the school. If Shizune was out there, in the library or possibly even trapped in the rain, she'd have to brave the storm to go find her. The light shone from the dorm buildings not too far away, and the separate wing of the school beyond that. It appeared the main building was the only one without power, and Misha's eyebrows furrowed.
She took the few, horrible, cautious steps up to the doors. Her hands slid over the cold metal of the push bar on one of them, and she shoved it open with some assistance of the wind. As soon as she heard the flurry around her and felt the droplets on her body, she knew what she was about to do was a terrible idea. She steeled herself as much as possible, but it didn't work, only heightening her anxiousness.
If she was going out there, now was the time to make the decision. She sighed, squeezing her eyes shut and taking a step. She didn't have a coat to her name; never went out in the rain, therefore didn't need one. A stupid prospect, now that she thought of it. She was always the stupid one.
The rain roared and circled around her as she kept her eyes shut, taking step after step out into the madness. If she opened her eyes, she would see the angry shadows dotting the path, and she'd be unable to take a single step more. The tears blended with the moisture, and her drills slowly but surely sank downward, pressed to her shoulders and unraveling. She took tiny steps, sure not to overextend herself, toeing the line between fear and determination as much as she could possibly let herself.
She opened her eye a tiny bit, just to get a sense of where she was going. The dorm building was not far now, and she decided to stop and take a rest within it. A much needed one, in fact. Even the streetlights dotting the path were doing little to help her, and the rain was almost laughing at her useless efforts. She would never reach Shizune at this rate; she seemed like almost an impossible goal, an epic quest in which someone else was the protagonist. She was merely the follower, and it hurt her dearly. It always hurt her dearly that people referred to them as "Shizune and Misha". They were always together, sure, but people never addressed her. They only spoke to Misha when they were trying to talk to Shizune; it wounded her ego and her passion more than they would ever know. She was dead inside, as much as she didn't want to admit it; a mere shell of what she could be, what she used to be. Several times she'd been alone in her own dorm, moping about, sleeping pills in hand.
As she worked her way to the dorm building, it seemed that it would be easier to just get lost in her own mind for a moment, and so she did. She imagined the bottle of pills just as clearly as the day she was contemplating how long she wanted to sleep for. Did she want to sleep for the night, or forever? She honestly couldn't tell.
But the bottle was shining, the tiny tablets inside almost begging for her to swallow a dozen or two. Swallow them until she could cram no more of them down her throat. They were stronger than regular sleeping medication; they helped her get to bed faster at the encouragement of her doctor. She'd always struggled with insomnia, often getting less than an hour of sleep per night. It only worsened the way she felt when she was alone. But on this night, the capsules were asking of her something she knew would be easy. It'd be like any other night. Fall asleep, be with Shizune forever.
Misha felt clichéd, melodramatic. She felt like she'd changed entirely in that one year of whirlwind events. Her parents were never going to speak to her again. Her relationship with Shizune was never going to delve into anything other than being close friends. Her grades were abhorrent due to the persona she put up being constantly kept in check. She feared her own teacher was forming a borderline scandalous relationship with her.
But she took the normal amount that night. Not for Misha, but for Shiina. For the person she used to be. For the person she wanted to be. She was ready to die, that she was sure of, but she wasn't going to stoop that low.
And now, as she pushed open the door to the dorm building and ducked into the bathroom before anyone could see her, she considered just how far she'd come. She'd braved the storm, but her goal was still half a schoolyard away, and the rain was showing no signs of being polite. She sat in the stall, hair dripping, clothes soaked, and wondered if she should just go up to her room and go to bed. It might have been for the best. She assured herself it was just a break, and she'd be back in action in no time, but she stooped over and put her face in her hands, sobbing again as the memories came flooding back to her.
It was going to be a long night.
This story is only going to be two chapters long; I just felt the need to cut it off here to give myself time to write the next one. I apologize for it being so short, but Misha making a wreck of herself has always been something I've wanted to write about, especially exploring her past and memories for the worse. Next chapter soon.