• “She's dying...” My mouth was dry and arid but my eyes and cheeks were quite the opposite, I touched my sister's cold and lifeless hands and she lie there in a hospital bed. I couldn't bring myself to look her in the eyes for fear of seeing her staring back at me hatefully for my sinful mistake. How could she ever forgive me? What would I do to make it up to her? Would she hate me? Perhaps forever?
    “Cammie, did you hear me?” I shoved a lock of hair behind my left ear.
    “No, what is it Travis?” A boy in a navy, green v-neck and black, spiked hair itched the back of his head nervously,
    “Cam, please stay with me, it's important...” I pulled my grip away from my sister's hand,
    “I'm sorry...Can we...” I hesitated, “Can we just do this later?” I touched my forehead, looking for an excuse, any excuse to release myself from the conversation, I didn't want to talk about this, not now, not right in front of her.
    “Cameron Ardelle Cruz! This is a matter of the downfall of your family bloodline or the rise of it! Maybe the biggest incline since Madeira became Queen, you cannot afford to keep pushing me and this matter away!” I swallowed, but it didn't help me calm down. I felt jittery, and like I was just going to crumble into a million pieces any minute at the word queen. How could I possibly fill my sister's shoes? If I could hardly fill her shoes, how could I ever compete with Madeira?! This was absurd. He was absurd!
    “I know, I know...Its just...” I avoided his glaring eyes, “I just can't do this right now, Travis. Right now is just so...Not right,” He reached across my sister's bed and gently caressed my arm.
    “Cammie, I know this is a lot for you right now, but if we don't discuss something soon someone may...” He took a deep breath, “Someone may try and-”
    “Kill me. I know, that hasn't changed, it was that way when Iris-” I cut him off abruptly, and then he cut me off with a cold scowl,
    “Your thinking like an ignorant human, Cammie!” He grabbed my shoulders and forced me to stare at him in the eyes, which were crimson and glimmering with anger, “Cammie, your sister's as good as dead! If they hadn't already, you know, that they'll step up their game now that Iris isn't here to shield you anymore,” I didn't want to believe in the validity of his harsh words but I knew he was right right, he always had been, that's why he was a good mentor to my sister.
    “I know that!” I shouted back, quickly, I pursed my lips and spoke in a quieter tone, “I know that...” He withdrew his hands and placed them on his hips,
    “Sometimes, I wonder...Do you?” He bit his lip, letting a trickle of red liquid fall down his chin. He reached up to wipe it away as I tried to apologize,
    “Travis, I'm sorry...It's just...” He rolled his eyes and walked to the window.
    “It's just what? Its always ' just ' isn't it?” I dug my hand into my hair, and turned away from him. Why was it so hard to tell him I wasn't ready? Was I afraid of disappointing him, like sister did with dad? The way he walked, talked, and breathed was always so tense and stubborn, I suppose I was more afraid what he'd do to me if I agreed to fill her shoes rather than not.
    I took a deep breath and let my words come out steady, although my voice cracked a little,
    “Travis, I'm fifteen!” For such a short sentence, it sounded so long. I heard something smash, almost like the sound of someone bombing a wooden shed. When I turned around, Travis's fist was covered in the same, red liquid that fell down his chin.
    “Cammie, what are you going to do on your sixteenth birthday when the high court wants to know your decision?! You can't just sit there and twiddle your thumbs! We need someone to take over the Eclipse Court, now!”
    “I just need time, Travis! You can't just spring this on me!”
    “In case you haven't noticed, we don't have time!” I bit the inside of my lip, as my eyes filled up with salty, warm tears. For once, I was tired of being yelled at, tired of being given demands and told to smile pretty for everyone. Was there ever a time when it was just about me? When I could smile because I was happy, not because that’s what everyone wanted to see.
    “What about me, Travis?! When is it ever about me?! I'm tired of breaking my back to meet everyone else's needs!”
    “About you?!” Travis clenched his teeth, as his jaw muscles tightened and stuck out. He ran his hand through his scalp like I had done, and suddenly I felt like I shouldn't have said anything,
    “About you? You think right from the very beginning, this wasn't about you? Cammie, Cammie, Cammie...This was always about you, never was it about anyone one else,” I let some, and only some, tears crawl down my cheeks, “It was always about you! Your sister, your father, even your friends, knew that Iris was going to die! You were the back-up plan! Iris did everything in her power to change her fate, and this is what it amounted to! Do you really want to follow her footsteps?” His whisper was loud, almost not even a whisper, but still quiet enough that the nurses stopped staring at us from the doorway. I shook my head,
    “So I was just the back-up plan? That's all I was to you and everyone else? Listen, I'm not fighting with you, this is not up for debate. When Iris awakens, I shall ask her what she wishes that I decide,”

    Why was everything so difficult? Why did no one ever understand me? Iris is healthy now, it's been weeks since she looked tired and/or pale, why was everyone still so worried?
    “Hey, Cam,” I peered up from my notebook of butterfly doodles, “Are you going to see Iris after school again today?” A girl with straight, blonde hair and ocean, blue eyes stood staring down at me. I nodded, as my own black tendrils of hair swooped down around my shoulders. Her name was Abbi, she was very polite and very much like a princess. All the boys in the school mooned over her, and all the girls adored her. I wish she could take my place as queen of the Eclipse Court instead of me.
    “That's really sweet of you, I would be very lucky if I had a sister like you,” She smiled tenderly, though I knew she was only being nice to me because she felt bad for me. If there was anything that I hated more than being rushed, it was pity. Everyone just adored little miss perfect, but I despised her, she was an angel and I hated her for it. Mostly because I was jealous, I wanted to be like her so much, maybe if I was I wouldn't be so afraid of facing Travis's wrath again.
    “Say Cammie, do you-”
    “Its not Cammie, only my friends call me Cammie, its Cameron to you,” I had a bad habit of cutting people off when I was pissed off, terrible habit I wish I could break. But being the princess she was, she just smiled again brightly,
    “Well Cameron, do you think I could come with you?” Yeah right, she only wanted to come with me so she could see Travis again. Though Travis was probably over six hundred years old, he looked like he was twenty and the worst part of it was he was drop dead gorgeous. Everywhere he went, there always seemed to be someone flirting with him. Such a waste considering he isn't too found of humans.
    “Uh...Well...” If I told her yes, then all the girls would want to come, but if I said no, that little miss perfect would make my life a living hell in her own way, “I guess...But Iris hasn't been feeling too well lately, so it's best you don't stay for too long,” Great, good going Cam. Abbi made a high squealing noise, and wrapped her arms around me tightly,
    “Thanks! I'm positive Iris will love the card I made her! Every time I see her in that death bed, I just feel so...” She made a dramatic gesture with her right hand, “terrible,” I pulled myself out of my seat and excused myself for lunch, the mess hall had to be better than being around madam perfect.
    Sadly, the lunch room wasn't any better. As soon as my tray hit the table, girls everywhere came just to sit by me, all shooting the same question, “Can I come with you to see your sister?”. I closed my eyes, and let my head drop onto the table. It felt like a war drum, and I felt so warm. I wanted to go jump in a ice water lake, or bath in ice cubes, maybe then my head would stop beating so hard.
    I barely finished my disgusting mystery meat when the bell rang for algebra, I was feeling pretty sucky and now I got to feel stupid too, today was turning out great and fit for a princess. I gaited through the hallway, hoping no one would stop me ask to come with me after school, bumping into other kids and teachers. I took the long way so I would be late and no one could ask me when I got into the room the award winning question. I could hear the whispers of students fading as I drew nearer and nearer to the algebra hallway. Algebra made me feel stupid, so taking as much time as I could getting there wasn't really disappointing to me.
    I was deep in thought when I felt something heavy, and strong ram into me, or rather I ran into it.
    “Hey, careful,” When my eyes finally stopped swirling in my head, I looked up to see the high school jock all the girls were crazy about. He was probably the only guy girls were more crazy about then Travis. He reached down to lend me a hand, but I merely shoved it away.
    “I'm fine,” I murmured in a low tone.
    “Uh...Okay?” I jogged by him and was almost jock free until he called to me,
    “Hey, Chameleon, why is it every time we meet you have a nasty attitude?” I stopped and prayed that he wasn't serious.
    “Because people like you exist,” I licked my lips and turned the corner, hoping he wouldn't ask me why Swiss cheese had holes, even that was probably an easier question to answer. When I got into the algebra room several minutes late I bowed my head low for Mr. Delgado who was scowling angrily at me when I entered,
    “I'm sorry for being tardy, Mr. Delgado,” He said nothing but continued talking about rationals and irrationals. I hurried to my seat in the back of the room, only to find three or four folded up pieces of paper on my desk. I swept them off, onto the floor, and set my books down.
    As Mr. Delgado explained to us why it was important to know how to solve and simplify fractions, my imagination wondered away to Iris and Travis. She was alright now, she was healthy and the doctors said she was be okay, why was Travis still pushing this decision on me? Why did he even choose me at all? There's no way anyone could ever fill Iris's shoes, but then again I said that about Madeira, the first Queen of the Eclipse Court and the best. Iris almost had her beat, until she fell ill with a sickness we like to call, Widow's Runny Nose, which is where the infected person gets a fever and pass's out, but doesn't wake up for a long time. There's no telling when she'll wake or if she will even wake up at all, that's what made it so terrible to get, there was no cure and it was a travel of the soul people said. If the person could not find what they were looking for in their soul, they would never wake up until they did, I never believed in that hocus pocus but I was really happy when Iris opened her eyes and was willing to believe anything just to re-ensure she wouldn't pass out like that again. I wanted her to rule again, I knew I couldn't do it so she was a better choice for the job. The demons in our court didn't listen to me the way they listened to her, she had an invisible forecfield of confidence, something I never had.
    I grabbed my school bag out of my locker, trying to hurry myself so I wouldn't be caught by Abbi. She would always make me wait for her to say goodbye to everyone, and then we could leave to the hospital. I shut my locker quietly, making very little noise ad spun around on my heel and darted out the back doors, if I went through the front doors no doubt I would be caught by at least thirty girls wanting to come with me to see Iris.
    My steps were hurried and fast, as a rushed by other kids from other school on the cross walk. I found myself being shoved and pushed around in the crowd of people and then I felt a hand pull me back onto the sidewalk just as I was about to cross,
    “You weren't going to leave without me, were you?” squeaked a high pitched voice. I heaved a sigh, I was so close and yet so far from the hospital I was caught. Miori, a girl with curly, brown hair and green eyes, stood smiling just a little. Relief swept over me, Miori was cool with me. I didn't mind bringing her, she was actually Iris's friend, not Travis's.
    I smiled for the first time today, “Hey Miori,”
    “Hey, I told all the girls you went home already, they were just heartbroken, especially that little prom queen, what was her name again?” I giggled,
    “Abbi Songster,”
    “Oh right, well yeah, she went home in tears, you don't mind do you?” I shook my head, Miori was my hero, no, my knight in shining armor. Unlike Abbi, Miori had a beauty that fit her so perfectly. It was a beauty in her mistakes. When she messed up, she just laughed it off, when she got hurt, she just shoved the pain away like it didn't even hurt. She was different than Abbi in such a huge way. Her beauty was the beauty of making mistakes and learning from them whereas Abbi's beauty was to make no mistake or hide them and lock them away.
    Once we got to Iris's room, she was sitting up and drawing in a sketchbook. Miori walked in lazily, “Yo, Iris, you look well,” She looked up at Miori, but didn't smile.
    “Miori, nice to see you,” I left the room to let them mingle a bit, and leaned over the window. The cold air felt so nice against my warn forehead,
    “How was school?” I could still hear Miori and Iris talking from the other room, “Good, I suppose...But lately, everyone's has a heart-throbbing moment when they see Travis, poor Cam has to deal with all those stupid girls at school,”
    “Its to be expected, Travis is good looking to attract soul mates, he's good looking to attract attention,”
    “What kind of attention?”
    “The Dark Court attention, my and my sister's new enemies,” I plugged my ears with my hands, when did she decide it was my enemy? Why does she always feel she has to make all my decisions? I traced back through my memories, back to when Iris and I didn't have to worry about court affairs. She was always so carefree and adventurous, I remembered when we went searching for some toads and found a little pond. That was also the day I was under supreme protection. I fell into the pond and almost drowned, when Travis leaped into the pond and saved me. Iris always joked about him giving me mouth to mouth but I know he didn't because I never really passed out to begin with, so I was awake the whole time and never saw him even get within ten inches of my face.
    “Cammie?” Miori was poking my shoulder. I rubbed my eyes and immediately felt a stinging pain, “Cammie you okay? I'm leaving back home, do you need me to walk you home too?”
    “No, I'm okay, it's just a small headache,” My eye lids were low, for the bright sun was making my headache worse, “I'll go home soon, have a safe walk Miori,” She gave me an approving nod and bolted away.
    I'm so tired of being stuck in this cycle of pain and expectations. What if I can't live up to what everyone expects from me? What if I lose? What if I fail? What if I fall? What if I have to marry?! Marriage! That word, marriage stuck out like a sore thumb to me, and it just occurred to me, that I don't know the first thing about marriage. Iris was supposed to marry Travis, but since she fell ill the wedding arrangement had been called off. What if I have marry Travis?! I sighed and let my head slam against the wooden window frame, life was going to be interesting from now on wasn't it?