*Disclaimer: I wrote this a couple years ago and it still needs a lot of work, but I just wanted to share it anyways.
Birds sang up in the trees above as Gavin dipped his feet into the small pond next to his ranch. The sun slowly made its way to the horizon, as the sky changed from blue to an array of orange, pink, and purple. His straw hat covered half his face, only to show the thin line on his lips. Gavin sighed then stood up; it was time to head back. Life has been hard ever since his mother died. Now it was just him, his ailing father and the ranch help. Owls hooted, and wolves howled in the distance of the forest. His ranch is only about two acres, with three horses, twelve chickens, eight goats; two ponies, seventeen cows, and four pigs.
“Johnnie!” I call the stable boy. He was tending to the cows in the field. Once he heard my voice, his feet ran towards me.
“Has father gone back inside?” That old man never liked the indoors.
“Yes, I convinced him to go inside to rest for a while. But, we’ll see how long that lasts.” We chuckle and I continue to trudge along the trail home. The sturdy three story house stands tall and proud. Upon entering the messy home, I take off my dirt ridden boots and gloves. My toes thank me for the relief.
“Father I’m back!” Walking up the creaky stairs, I take a left. With the door open, I can see my sixty-five year old father sprawled on the bed, snoring loudly. I shake my head and retreat to the room across from his. Unlike the rest of the house, this room was neat and organized. Though, there wasn’t much in there except for a bed, a desk, and two worn out dressers. I plop onto the bed, and immediately fall asleep.
“Mr. Johnston, would you like me to start with the dishes?” A sweet voice travels up to my ears. Interested, I get out of bed and tip toe downstairs.
“That would be great Elsie,” Father says. She has on a pink apron around a light blue dress. Her dark skin glistened in the sweltering heat that the house sometimes failed to keep out. Hair tied in a tight bun, she turns to survey the area and I catch a glimpse of her face.
Oh, I know her! She lives by Broadside road, not too far from here. But why is she in my house, asking to start with the dishes?
Quickly, before Father sees, I rush to the bathroom to tidy myself up. I grimace at the reflection in the mirror; sunburned skin, red eyes, and dirty clothing.
No, this won’t do.
After a good hard scrubbing, I come out smelling and looking, like a real gentleman.
“Ah, here comes my son now!” Elsie dries her hands on a clean towel and smiles at me.
“Elsie Alexis Meissner, I know,” I cut her off grinning. She nervously shakes my hand. “Your middle name serves you well; you are known as the Town’s Helper.”
“Yes well, I guess you could say I was born for this. I realized that people appreciate you more when you show them the kindness of your heart,” she giggles.
What a beautiful sound.
“I didn’t know you asked her to come up here dad,” I say focusing on my dad. He puts his hat on and slips on his gloves.
“Yes well, this place is an absolute mess as you know. I figured after this, she could help out in the field. It’s easier to maintain a clean home than a messy one.” With that, my father and I leave the premises, straight to the stables. The smell of horses and manure went into my nose. I wrinkle it in disgust.
“Johnnie, Jedidiah, Jettson!” The three scrawny brothers approach us with hay all over them.
“Jettson, I want you to go check on the chickens and bring back some eggs, Johnnie, go let the cows out, and Jedidiah, do something about that smell,” I order. With a “yes sir” they leave to do their duties. Father and I go to the pig’s stable nearby to see them up and oinking. Their fat pink bodies hobbled around, waiting for food.
I grab the bowl of acorns, fruit, and herbs; opening the gate to feed the pigs. They made way for me and I dumped the contents into their feeding pens.
“Here’s the water.” My dad gives me two silver buckets filled with water. I pour them into a separate bowl and quickly get out. The stampede of pigs went straight for the food, and you do not want to be in the way. We spend a couple of hours tending to the corn field and then fixing up the stables and what not.
“Dad, let’s take a break,” I say. We sit under the big oak tree, sweating like crazy.
“Would y’all like some lemonade?” Elsie comes out from behind the tree holding a tray with two glasses of lemonade and sandwiches.
“You are a lifesaver,” my father says. I take a sip of the drink.
“Well I’ll be darned; this is literally the best lemonade I’ve ever tasted!” I exclaim and she giggles again.
“Thank you, I finished up most of the house, but it won’t take me-”
“Oh no you don’t; go home and rest. Come back tomorrow to finish up,” I say.
“You really have a knack for cutting people off, don’t cha?” She puts her hand on her hip.
“I guess I might.” I watch as Elsie goes back inside while my dad chuckles beside me.
“Don’t tell me you have a little crush on Elsie.”
“I do not!” I protest. He shakes his head.
“Son, I haven’t seen you this excited since you asked that Jennifer gal out to senior prom, five years ago. She’s a good girl, with the right kind of mind, real smart too.” I can’t believe he’s saying this right now.
“I don’t think she’s very interested dad.”
“Oh hush boy! Of course she is! Did you see the way she looks at ya?” He winks at me while standing up. “I’m going inside; let one of the boys help you finish up.” I pat him on the back and he walks to the house.
I don’t know what I would do without that old man.
I take another sip of the refreshing drink and lay my head against the tree. An hour later I drag my tired body to the house. Finally everything is done, and fixed. When I open the door, my jaw almost falls out of place. I can actually see the brown wood floors. The furniture has been dusted, the boxes of old clothes are gone, and lights aren’t flickering anymore! Elsie comes out of the kitchen, holding the cracked green broom. She hums a tune, and I close the door.
“Oh hi, I promise I’ll get going, just had to finish sweeping up.” I am amazed at the work she’s done. No wonder people in town call her an angel.
“I commend your work, this is really good,” I say. She looks at her feet and smiles. “Here I will finish up, you deserve a break.”
“Oh, it won’t take more than minute. Honestly it’s fine.” She says smiling. I feel my blood rushing as she glances up.
“Oh, um, okay then.”
*Photo by Jake Givens from Unsplash.com
A couple people are on the beach, not as many as before. In fact, the beach is green on the left and there’s even a little blue house. Turning towards the water, I see dark green mountains and strips of green land on the water.
Where am I?
“How did I get here?” I murmur. Stepping onto shore, dripping and cold, I fold my arms over my chest.
“Excuse me,” I say to a man folding up his blanket. He doesn’t turn around. I tap his shoulder. “Hi.”
“Какие (What)?” My heart skips a beat, the chill digging deeper into my abdomen. I step back, his icy blue eyes questioning me.
“I- I think I’m lost.” He cocks his head to the side. “Phone?” I say, making a phone gesture with my hands. He shakes his head and walks away from me. My shoulders slump, a lump stuck in my throat.
A woman with dark hair, and a freckled face comes towards me. She has on a gray sweater dress with stockings and boots.
“Hi, you speak English?” she calls to me. I raise my hands, a rush of relief hitting me.
“Yes, yes I do!” I run towards her, the sand sinking my feet. “I need a phone, maybe a police station—”
“Clothes, you need something warm.” I nod, following her to the parking lot.
“I don’t know how I got here… where is here anyways?”
“Yuhzny beach in Samara, Russia. Quite a long way from America.” When we get to her car, she pops the trunk, pulling out pants, a sweater, and flats. “I leave a change of clothes in case of emergency.”
Ten minutes later I’m clothed, sitting in her car on the way to the station. The woman, whose name is Vera, hasn’t spoken another word to me. Her hands grip the steering wheel tightly, her knuckles white to the bone. Her face concentrated on the road as rain starts to pour down in heavy sheets. The road becomes blurry as the wipers drag the water away.
“So, Melanie, what are you studying?” she says, breaking the stone silence.
“Chemistry. I want to go to med school and become an ER doctor.” Her eyebrow raises.
“The medical field. My brother is actually a doctor,” she says, glancing at me. “You should meet him and he could, eh, give you some advice.” A smile spreads on my lips.
Maybe this trip will be worthwhile.
“That sounds incredible.” I pull the sweater sleeves over my hands, tucking them under my thighs. We continue down the bleak road, greenery on both sides, guiding our path.
“Okay, we will go to the local police first, and then I will take you home and get you something to eat. Then you can meet Fedor, my brother.” We reach the police station in no time. Vera reaches into the backseat, grabbing an umbrella. As she cranes her neck a vein pops out underneath a small thumb-sized burn mark. It’s reddish brown and seems recent.
“What happened to your neck?” I ask, pointing to the mark. Her fingers graze it, as she sits back up.
“Oh that, I was eh, curling my hair yesterday for an event,” she says, unbuckling. I do the same and open the door.
“I know that feeling.” We huddle under the umbrella, going up the slick, concrete steps. An officer leaving the building holds the door open for us.
“Спасибо (thank you),” Vera says, shaking out water from the umbrella. The air inside is warm and inviting. We walk up to a woman at a high desk, coming up to my chin. Her hair is tightly pinned back, pulling in the features of her face. Vera, who steps back because of her short height, starts talking to her and the woman’s piercing brown eyes glance at me periodically.
“You are lost?” she asks. I nod my head. She takes out a pen and paper, writing down whatever Vera is telling her.
“My name is Melanie Suarez.” I peek over the high desk, spelling it out for her. She says something to Vera, giving me a small grin. We leave after that, and again, Vera says nothing to me during the ride.
Maybe Russians don’t like conversation.
We drive for what feels like thirty minutes, before I break the silence.
“How far away is your home?”
“Oh, we are almost there, maybe eh, ten minutes?”
After ten or so minutes, we are still driving. My insides churn from hunger and fear.
This was not a promising idea, but what choice did I have? I mean, she did take me to the police station--
“This doesn’t look like a house,” I say hesitantly, clutching the door handle. Vera drives up a gravely, steep hill, passing by a sign staked into the ground.
“Oh! I wanted to introduce you to Fedor first. I forgot he is working late tonight and who knows how long you will be here—”
I smack my forehead lightly. “Of course, no that’s fine.” The storm in my abdomen dies down.
Okay, that makes sense.
“Vera!” A man in his late thirties, comes into the lobby of the clinic. His white coat flutters around his tall frame. He pushes up his wiry glasses, a smile spreading on his face. The siblings hug, and then Fedor turns to me, a hand outstretched. Vera tells him something in Russian and his expression changes to serious.
“It’s very nice to meet you, future doctor,” he greets. I shake his cold hand, sending shivers up my arm.
“Thanks, this is so cool, you don’t even understand.” I gaze around the orange colored clinic, pictures of recovered patients and their smiling faces decorating the walls.
“No, thank you,” he says, grasping my arm. He pulls me towards the double doors as Vera stands back watching with a wicked grin.
“No, stop! Help, help!” I yell to the receptionist. She laughs, walking the other way. A man in a nurse’s uniform meets us on the other side with a gurney, straps hanging limp on the sides. Bringing my foot back, I kick Fedor in the shin with all my might, the sound of my heart beat the only thing I can hear.
“Ahh!” My shoes squeak on the tile as I run. My palms touch the double doors, but I am taken into the air and over the back of the nurse. Flailing fists do no damage to his back.
“Please, don’t take me! Sto- ahh!” Something sharp pierces my neck, the coldness numbing my limbs. A lump is stuck in my throat, tears rolling down my cheeks, some into my frozen gaping mouth mixing with drool sliding down my chin.
I don’t want to die.
They strap me to the gurney, wheeling me down the narrow hallway. In the first several rooms, the set-up is like any other clinic or hospital. At the end of the hallway they pull open a hidden door, concealed by wallpaper. They take me through another hallway, this one less inviting with the stained gray walls. Yelps and wails of their other victims bounce off the walls the deeper we go.
Fedor and the nurse stop at an empty room. Fedor takes the clipboard from the table next to one of those dentist chairs. There are machines and wires attached to it.
They’re experimenting on people? I knew that woman was suspicious.
He wheels over an IV bag with bluish liquid inside. My straps come undone, the nurse grabbing my arms and Fedor tugging on my legs. They sit me on the chair strapping to it so I don’t fall off. They speak briefly, Fedor giving the nurse the clipboard. He leaves, winking at me.
How did this happen?
The nurse reads something off the clipboard, turning on the machines. He sets it down on the table nearest me and my eyes strain to read it. It’s a bunch of Russian words and numbers, but two things catch my eye.
Tate Morgan and Kyle Dean? Those are English names…
My eyes skim the rest of the paper. In the far-right corner in a small box with a label: A-44
“Today is your lucky day,” the nurse says. “I see you’ve read the clipboard. His black ponytail swishes above his neck. “Do you want me to explain?” He smiles, rows of crooked, white teeth.
“Well, it may seem like we are evil souls for experimenting on people, but really, we want to save the world from diseases.”
Why couldn’t they do this through legal means?
“You see, our dear doctor Fedor Orlov, was let go from his position as head doctor at a hospital three years ago. His ideas were… too innovative for their slow minds.” He clenches and unclenches his fingers. “Soon after, him and his sister Vera, founded this clinic.” He pulls my arm down, preparing it for the IV needle.
“Dr. Fedor is studying the possibility of a brain transplant.”
“If you can give someone a new heart, what about a new brain? Does it change their personality? With the brain function properly? Does the patient become like the former owner?”
“That is why you’re here. The ‘A’ stands for group A, the first group. The number after the eh, dash is the patient. You are our forty-fourth volunteer.” And with that, he sticks the needle into my arm, but I can’t feel anything. He wipes away tears from my cheeks, and closes my mouth. “This will help you sleep, dear.” Sizzling heat seeps into my arm, warming my body, slowly reversing the effects of the first drug, but also causing my drowsiness.
“You w-won’t get away… with this,” I mutter, eyelids closing.
“Oh, but we already have.” The room fades to black with the sound of beeping and his footsteps leaving me.
*Original photo by Mike Wilson from Unsplash.com
Aaand done! It only took two and a half hours, but I’m out!
Crab walking out the row of busy students working on their history final, I flag down my T.A., at the front of the lecture hall. My loose bracelets slide down my arm and then back in place with one swift motion.
“I.D.?” he whispers. I pull out my wallet, showing him my sweaty, oily face, taken on a very hot day for freshman orientation. He nods, taking my essays. “Have a good winter break.”
“Thanks, you too,” I whisper back. Several heads rise from desks as I pass by them on my way to freedom. Their red rimmed eyes bleed with envy and exhaustion, bags hanging low underneath.
This class was a doozy.
My phone goes off, alerting me of a message just as I open the door, the sun burning my sight as my eyes adjust the light change.
“Probably the group chat,” I murmur, unlocking my phone.
Cat: Woohoo! Who else is done with finals?
Jim: Been done since yesterday
Andy: Finished an hour ago
Me: Just got out!
Cat: Hell yeah! Let’s go get drinks and celebrate freedom.
Jim: Sooo down
Hmm that does sound fun…
Each step towards my campus apartment feels like a heavy weight is attached to my feet. Pulsing tension build like lego blocks deep in my shoulders from hunching over for two hours. My eyelids are barely staying open.
Then again, maybe not.
Jim: Suarez? U down?
Me: Nah, I’ll pass. Really need some me time.
Cat: Aw okay Melly, see ya later then?
Me: Yeah, tomorrow for breakfast at Jerry’s. 10am sharp
Sliding my phone into the back pocket of my jeans, I continue the walk back to my apartment. Ditching my friends is rare for me. I am always down to go somewhere, talk, or watch movies in someone’s apartment. Today though, a weight has snuggled between my shoulders, making a home there. It’s not just the history final, but stuff going on at home. My little brother’s dog ran away three days ago and no one has seen him. Kaden doesn’t want to go to school and refuses to eat sometimes. He’s only six, and at that age, losing a pet is devastating. On top of that, my dad lost his job is currently unemployed. He worked as a financial analyst at a company and once they put in a new CEO, they started gutting out people.
My mom is a middle school teacher and they make decent pay, but not enough to handle a huge mortgage. I insisted on giving them the money I made from my campus job, but they want me to keep that for myself.
“No mija, we are responsible for you, not the other way around… not yet.”
I know they don’t want me to worry, but I can’t help it. That’s my family.
“Hey Mel!” My roommate says, as I open the door. She’s sitting at the couch, books piled around her, and a blanket over her lap.
“Hey Daisy.” I release my feet from my sneakers, walking on the soft carpet to our room, second door to the right. Our apartment is bland until you see the bedroom. We put curtains around our beds and there are photos and white lights above each bed. The color scheme is turquoise and silver. I have a silver lamp on my bedside table that my brother found at a garage sale. He and my mom spray painted it for the room.
I plop down on my bed, staring at the turquoise fluffy rug in the middle.
I want to take a nap…. Or should I go swimming? Heck yes!
The Santa Monica beach is a pretty place to relax. Sometimes on busy days there are crowds.
It’s four thirty on Wednesday though.
I scramble around the room, gathering my things into a swim bag. It’s just what I need to chill.
The warm sun graces my exposed skin. I set a blanket down, jabbing the umbrella into the sand. My palms grip the stick, tilting it for a better angle.
“There we go.” Several people -mostly college-aged- roam around the area playing frisbee, tanning, or reading. The waves roll onto shore, calling out to me. Sprinkles of sand dig in between my toes, the crusty feeling sending shivers up my legs, as I walk towards the water. The closer I get to the water; the harder sand becomes. Now there’s wet sand sticking to my toes.
Yuck. I hate this part.
My heart thumps hard against my ribs. My belly button disappears underneath the waves rocking me back and forth. I lay on my back, allow it to carry me away. Spreading my arms, my heart rate slows to a steady rhythm. Sounds of chatter and yelling fade, replaced with a calm rush of the ocean.
I’m not sure how long I was floating like that or how far I went, but once my eyes open, something in me feels off.
The sun is hiding behind a big white cloud, a seeping chill invading my body, as I swim back to shore.
This… this is not the Santa Monica Pier.
Part 2 coming next Tuesday.
**Original photo credit goes to Mike Wilson from Unsplash.com
You left the flowers on my table again.
I took the trash out; I think I saw maggots crawling around. Yuck!
Thanks for the soup, you didn’t have to.
I fixed the bookshelf; some books were out of place. Also, do you still want to go to the fair?
Can you please stop rearranging the kitchen? I can’t find anything.
I found this awesome scarf at a garage sale; I think you might like it.
We should talk.
The patio is pretty dirty. I’ll try and clean it up tonight.
I found an apartment close to work.
Is this really necessary? Things were starting to look great.
I’ll be out by tomorrow morning.
I bought a little corgi, he’s so adorable. What do you want to name him?
Why can’t you take anything seriously?!
We haven’t watched the sunset at the beach in a while, we should go.
Hey, we haven’t named the little corgi yet.
I gave up the little corgi.
I haven’t heard from you in awhile, how is everything?
Why aren’t you replying to me?
Sleep has been hard for me. I was late to work four times in the last two weeks.
I just want to hear from you, things are difficult right now.
I lost my job this morning. Late too many times. Distracted at work.
I can’t get another job and the landlord is evicting me.
Maggie, please, I need you.
Umm I don’t know who this is. You have been texting my number for quite some time. Just wanted to let you know.
I’m terribly sorry, I thought this was my girlfriend’s number.
It’s okay. I just got this number so maybe she changed numbers. Sorry about your job, by the way.
Hey you still there?
*Message cannot go through. This number has been disconnected*
*Photo cred to Toa Heftiba from Unsplash,com
She sat by herself, but she was not alone. There was something lingering beside her shivering body. Something I couldn’t seek. A voice in the wind whispered a plea into the spirals of her ear. As her legs stretched out over concrete steps, the light denim folding and wrinkling, she giggled into her trembling hands. Or was she sobbing? Or was she replying back to the wind? My cheek became numb under the frigid lamp pole I took cover behind. My own legs trembled with cold and tiredness, bare knees knocking through tears in the jeans. A kit kat wrapper rolled by me with its edges scraping the sidewalk.
I should go talk to her.
Tears blotted her image, but I wiped at them furiously with my dampened sleeve. Her head cocked upward to the gray clouds.
Rain is approaching. I should go home. Mother would be frantic if I came home with soaked clothing.
“Not yet.” Her voice drifted by. “We have to wait.” Long brown curls, draping her shoulders shook as she giggled again. “It will be worth it.” The wind flew by again, bringing in another message and she stood up, pacing back and forth by her beat up, mud stained, blue backpack. Her lips curled into a frown, eyes narrowed to the ground.
“Um, hi,” I say, removing myself from the pole. Her head rises sharply, the light twinkling in her dark eyes. “Is everything alright?” She cocked her head to the side, looking up at me. I towered over her small frame by at least five inches.
She took a deep breath, and unfurled the frown etched into her face. A smile replaced it, showing a mouth filled with green braces.
“Yes, I’m fine. There’s nothing wrong,” she replied, folding her hands behind her.
I nod slowly. “Okay. I just saw you, um, talking to yourself…” I trail off. Her eyes dimmed as her lips twitched. “Okay, sorry to bother you then, bye.”
That was a bad idea!
As I crossed the street, I glanced behind me to check if she was still standing there. The girl has her back to me, hunched over, talking into her hands. The wind picked up, blowing hair into my face. Pellets of rain fall in lazy sheets, but will soon gain momentum.
She needs to go home.
Lifting my knees, I quickened my pace. A car speeds down the street coming from behind me, blasting loud rock music. The sound traveled through the chilly air, vibrating my shivering body. It passed without stopping at the stop sign.
“What the-” My feet stopped at the end of the street, a breath caught in my throat. On the other side, her backpack sat alone with a swinging flap, the tail dragging on the concrete.
Where is she?
“I’m right here, Louisa.”
Whipping my neck behind me to the voice, I stumbled backwards.
“Who said that? Where are you?”
“Go home Louisa, you shouldn’t be out in the dark at this hour.”
The voice surrounded me like the car music. Every word reverberated through my bones and created a churning in my stomach.
“I was just trying to help!” I yell at the dark sky. More and more rain fell in response. My face was dripping and my clothes were drenched.
“Go home! Go home! Leave now!”
My feet slapped hard on the sidewalk, puddles already forming. Sloshing water splashed my pant legs, and soaked my socks.
What is going on?
My house comes into the view, the door wide open. Mother walks down the porch stairs, hands folded across her chest.
“Louisa?” she exclaims. “Where have you been?”
“Some crazy girl was… talking to herself… then this voice was yelling at me!” I panted, resting a hand on her arm. She guided me into the house, taking a glimpse down the unlit street. I collapsed on the sofa and my backpack dug into my spine. My body is completely soaked, but my throat is parched. A water stain grows underneath me on the sofa. Mother takes my things off me, including my shoes. I shed the wet clothing. They peeled off easy like an orange rind.
“Get in the shower and warm up. I’ll heat your dinner, then you can explain what happened.
An hour later
“Yeah, then she just disappeared, mother! After that, a voice was screaming at me to go home.” I scooped a spoonful of mashed potatoes into my mouth.
“She probably hid in one of the bushes and tried to frighten you. Don’t be silly,” she remarked, shaking her head. She pushed her long, brown bangs behind her ear. “This is why you shouldn’t stay too long after school. That’s when all the weirdos come out.” I rolled my eyes at her comment. It’s only six, but because of it’s winter, the sun sets early. I stayed after to finish doing research for my science project on molecules.
That was frightening, but what if mother is right and she did this on purpose? I’ve never seen that girl before in my life.
She didn’t look the least bit familiar, but judging by the backpack and her sitting in front of the school, she must be a student. Polk middle school wasn’t a big place, but I knew a lot of people.
Maybe she was new?
She wasn’t trying to hurt me, she said to go home…
“Who could be at the door?” My mom got up to check the window. “Huh, it’s a little boy, maybe he got lost.”
“Same one from last week?” I said, craning my neck to window. Mother shrugged, leaving the kitchen. A parent forgot to pick up their son last week, and he was walking around the neighborhood, shivering and lost. For the school bus system, they have a central location where students will go to get picked up. I guess he didn’t know how to get back home from there.
“Who is, mother?” I asked, hearing the door close. I picked up my empty plate and set it down in the sink. “Mother?”
Where is she?
Sighing, I left the kitchen to check the living room.
She’s not here.
I opened the front door and a whoosh of air slapped me in the face. Goosebumps rose along my cheeks. the street is empty.
“Mother!” I yelled.
I slammed the door shut, staggering backwards.
“I told you it wasn’t safe out there.”
“No! What did you do to my mother?” No answer. “Mother!” Running throughout the house, tears, streaked my face, the pounding in my chest getting louder each second. “Mother!”
“Mother is gone to the wind.”
*Photo by Darkness on Unsplash
Dark and Void, I’m drifting through a never ending spiral of darkness. A whooshing noise is the only sound I hear. The last thing I remember is a deafening explosion, and then everyone was crying and running. But they couldn’t escape from whatever it was; that including me.
My best friend Sofia and I were having a lovely picnic, at Galveston Bay, where other people were hanging out. It was a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon, the day the 4 year war between America, and Trenica (an alien planet) ended. Or so we thought.
“I’m so glad all the fighting is over. I was getting tired of hearing explosions and such in the distance. It’s all pointless anyway.” Sofia said. She didn’t believe in settling problems with violence.
“I feel the same way, but sometimes it’s the only way to get something done.” I said to her.
She rolled her eyes. “Jessie if you really believe that, why didn’t you join them?”
“I never said that I wanted to fight, I’m not the violent type either. But I’m just saying that talking doesn’t always solve the problem.”
“Well I still think that if the Americans weren’t so nosy, they wouldn’t have even found Trenica!” Here we go again.
Did I mention that Sofia was a foreign exchange student from Germany?
I was cut off short by an ear-piercing shrill that was so loud; we had to cover our ears.
That's where the running and crying came in. Everyone tried to run away and save their families but it was no use. I was suddenly knocked sideways, hitting my head hard on a tree; that how I ended up here. I don’t know where everybody else is, but I feel like I’ve been floating through this empty space for hours, but it’s probably been only minutes. I don’t even know if I’m dead or alive. I try to move around but I can’t feel my body at all. Suddenly, a blinding flash of white light shines all around me. Then I’m falling and all the feeling in my body returns to me.
I slow down a little as the blinding light fades away and water forms beneath me. I hit the surprisingly warm water with a splash. I resurface and catch my breath, trying to swim to the shore some feet away. I barely swim 2 strokes before a loud humming sound fills my ears. At first I think its bugs, and then the water starts shaking and I’m spinning.
A whirlpool! I’m going to drown!
But instead of the water filling my lungs, I’m falling again through the small dark gap the whirlpool made.
I pass by odd looking species of fish. Blue starfish with tiny yellow eyes, red sharks with round teeth and even sea horses the same size as me!
What is this place?
I approach the sandy bottom at amazing speed and screaming my head off. Amazingly the ground sinks in as I hit the bottom.
Here I go again.
But before I go under, I see a large faded sign that says:
Welcome to Trenica
Her brown hair inked black by the night whipped violently over her hunched shoulders from the wind. Her hands were cupped around her lips, a shiny glitter backpack forgotten by her feet. I adjusted my duffel bag, pulling it behind me.
I’ve seen that bag in school.
The lamp above her flickered and her head swiveled left and right. I tucked myself behind branches of a brown, crusty bush. I peeked over and a branch dug into my ribs.
I was walking home from tennis practice when I saw this girl sitting on the curb by herself. I was going to approach her, but then- uh oh, here she goes again.
“No, no, not yet! The time is not right,” she gurgled in a deep voice. I couldn’t see her lips moving because of her hands, but each time her body shuddered. It was as if she was speaking to the wind. The girl giggled, throwing her head back.
I need to go home, mom will be pissed if I miss dinner.
“Hey, uh, are you okay?” I asked. I crept out from behind the bush, as her body slowly turned around. A smile plastered on her face greeted me and she nodded.
“Good, I just saw you, um-”
“Saw me what?” Her voice was much higher and normal than before.
Am I hearing things?
I shook my head, crossing the street. “Nothing, sorry to bother you.” My shoes scraped against the asphalt as my duffel bag bounced along on my hip. An achy pain grew in my shoulders and I quickened my pace, walking on the sidewalk parallel to her. She watched me the whole way, the smile never leaving her face. Before I reached the end of the street, she spoke again in that gurgled voice.
“Have a nice night, Moriah.” My heart raced as my feet pounded the pavement. I glanced briefly behind my shoulder, only to see an empty sidewalk on the other side. She was gone.
I turned into my street not slowing until my feet reached the front door. Shaky fingers fumbled with the keys and thankfully my mother opened the door.
“Where have you been?” Deep lines formed in her face, dark eyes burning into mine, but it was short-lived. “Moriah, what happened?” I tried to wheeze out an answer, but the ragged breaths mixed with chilly air, restricted my voice. She pulled me inside and shut the door.
“This girl… she was alone… talking to herself, then she… disappeared. She knew my name.” I collapsed on ground two feet from a couch.
“What? You’re not making any sense. A girl was talking to herself and then she disappeared? Did you get hit by the ball again?” I knew my mother would never believe me. Heck, even I wouldn’t believe me. I waved her off.
I have seen her bag at school so maybe she heard someone call me in the hallway. She probably hid behind the bush to scare me and I fell for it.
“Dinner’s on the table. It’s chicken and broccoli casserole tonight.”
Hmm my favorite!
After dinner and a nice cool shower, I jump under the covers of my cozy bed. The light in the hallway went out and my mother’s door closed with a squeak. I turned over and faced the wall, allowing my eyes to close and mind to drift off.
“Goodnight Moriah.” A light whisper carried by the wind billowed through the open window into my ears. “Sleep tight.”
Dear Mr. Sashu
I was the one who keyed your car and slashed your tires. I was angry that you gave me a B- instead of an A+ on the essay. I spent countless hours researching and reviewing. I did my work carefully and even went to the beyond to get some of that information. I deserved a 100%, and you didn't give it to me. Hopefully you won't press charges; my parents are having a hard time right now financially. They wouldn't be able to pay for the damages if you did. I'm really trying to make it through school, and get a scholarship for UPenn.
My parents fight a lot, every day and night. It's hard to get a good night's sleep. All I ask is for you to change my grade to an A+; straight A+'s will impress the school even more. I need this Mr. Sashu, my family cannot afford it and this is the only way I can get in; especially since they might be thinking about divorce. You don't know how hard that'll be for me. School is my only outlet from this hectic "family" and yes I am an only child. Please Mr. Sashu, please help me; this is my last year of high school, and my last chance to make my wish come true.
It would mean the world to me if you did this. I promise to pay you back when I get a job. I’ve worked so hard these four years, and if I don’t get that scholarship, I’ll very distraught. Other than this dream of mine, I have nothing else going for me. Like I said, my parents are possibly divorcing, they don’t have enough money for tuition, and I’m not much good at anything else. Please think this over Mr. Sashu, it’s not a pity letter, it’s the truth. Thank you for having me in your class, I enjoyed it very much.
Sitting in my car, I fold the letter and slip it inside the white envelope. I grab the damp towel and wipe it over the seal, then closing it. I open the door and slowly walk across the street to Mr. Sashu’s front door. A cold breeze sends shivers down my back and a few droplets of rain fall on my determined face. Ringing the doorbell, I leave the letter on the blue mat and race to my car.
Mr. Sashu opens his door and looks around. He finally sees the envelope and picks it up, taking it inside.
My task is complete.
I drive home, anticipating Mr. Sashu’s reaction to me on Monday. My driveway comes to view and I see the living room light. I sigh getting out of my car, hoping they’re not at it again. It’s silent as I unlock the door and walk inside.
“Why does everything have to be my fault Daisy?” My dad yells. I shake my head and groan.
Please Mr. Sashu, take me away from this hell I call home.
Can’t really focus on the stage in front of me. Heads bob to the music in unison and I crane my neck around their movements. Nothing ever seems to stay still enough for me to get a hang on things. They flow through my shaky fingers and glide in the wind away from me. Fed up, I get and shuffle myself out the aisle of bodies.
“Sorry, excuse me, sorry, just trying to get through.” Sweat, popcorn and soda. I get to the walkway and lean against the wall, letting out a sigh of relief. Free from the cage. I can finally breathe now, but then people turn their heads towards me, whispering to their seat partners.
Oh no, oh no, oh no… Just focus on the performance, oh wow pretty colors- oh gosh is that guy coming over he- no he’s going to the bathroom whew. Focus on the performance, wow that was beautiful. How long did they practice for to perfect this? They look amazing. I doubt they think that though, people always think their own work sucks, but this is truly amazing-
“Hey are you okay?”
Oh crap! Just act normal, smile and nod your head. Great, I’m shaking.
“Do you need a seat?”
No, I need you to leave me alone!
The usher puts on his concerned face in dim lighting and I give him a shake of my head.
“I’m fine here.”
Leave. Leave. Leave.
“Okay, if that’s what you want.”
I want to be the only person here watching this performance. I want to be left alone. Is any of this
going to happen? No.
Finally, the performance finishes and I don’t even remember most of it. Great. I head backstage with my sister’s flowers, hugging myself so no one touches me.
Ew. Ew. Ew. Just go through the cracks in the crowd, don’t make eye contact, good, you’re almost there…
“Mari!” I exclaim. She turns around in her ballet outfit, face plastered with every color in the world.
Her eyes are as wide as her pink-lipped smile. She has such nice teeth. Her arms fling up and she runs towards me.
Oh gosh, she’s making a scene. Wait, should I run, should I yell, what do I do, stand here? I take a couple steps forward giving her a genuine smile (Those don’t come often).
I wrap my arms around her and she squeezes me tight.
How long are hugs supposed to last? Oh, she’s letting go, pay attention.
“You were a star up there,” I say.
“Thanks Kay, I’m glad you’re here. It made me feel a little better on stage.”
Really? Dang I must be a great sister.
Afterwards I drive home to our empty, quiet, apartment.
“Home sweet home,” I yell to the air.
Oh gosh, I hope no one heard- whatever this is my sanctuary.
I lock the door and head to the kitchen still thinking about the bits and pieces of the performance I can remember. I grab a couple snacks from my pantry and get comfy on the couch. My phone pings, and I glance at the lit screen: I won’t get home til real late, so don’t stay up – Mari
Eh, probably will anyways. My mouth stretches into a yawn and I decide to head upstairs. I put away the left-over snacks and grab a frozen bottle of water. I cross the living room to the stairs, going two at a time. Once I reach the top a thought escapes me.
Did I lock the door?
I check my memory and don’t see me locking the door.
No, I probably did. I’m just being paranoid.
My feet don’t move though.
Ugh, I’ll check just in case.
I walk back down the stairs to the door. Yup, it’s locked. I run back upstairs, entering my room, and jumping on the bed. I stare at the bare white walls and sigh again. So peaceful and quiet. At least on the outside. My mind is never peaceful and quiet.
It was a feeling like never before. Every day with him was fireworks and excitement. I first met Nathan at a farmer’s market nearby. We both reached for the last orange on the table. It was like sparks went through my body, and when we looked at each other a fire lit in our eyes. That was about four months ago right before school closed. He was a new student and I got to show him around. We’ve been together ever since.
“I’m not going in there Nathan!”
“Oh come on Jaycee, it’ll be okay.” Nathan and I were at the beach chilling in the fall breeze when he suggested going in the water. It was inviting, but I was still scared because I don't know how to swim. My parents have tried teaching me, but after watching a scary movie about a kid drowning in his backyard pool, I swore off swimming.
“I already told you that I can’t swim.” He took my hand.
“I promise I won’t let you drown.” Nathan stuck out his lip and his gorgeous green eyes pleaded with me. I tied back my short hair and sighed.
Maybe it will be okay.
“Fine but you cannot, and I repeat cannot let go of me or else.” He smiled.
“Deal.” We waded into the freezing water and I squeezed his hand. Luckily I was wearing shorts and a tank top.
“I’ve got you,” He assured me. Nathan showed me a few moves and techniques like the doggy paddle. I still wasn’t ready though. He held me up bridal style, telling me to stretch out my legs and arms. Nathan's hands held onto my waist and I calmed a little. I smiled and closed my eyes, listening to the sound of waves and seagulls overhead. The sun warms my skin, as the goosebumps recede.
His hands slowly slipped from my waist and I panicked, reaching for him.
“Nathan! Nathan!” Water escaped into my nose and I started choking.
“Jaycee I’ve got you, stop moving!” I halted my movements and he took me out the water. As I laid in his arms exasperated, he laughed while I stood there bent over; coughing my lungs out.
“What’s so funny, I almost died!” Nathan kissed me on my cheek.
“You should have seen your face.” I stood up shakily and picked up our towel to dry off.
“I would like to go home now and take a hot shower.” As we held hands, we walked to the parking lot, climbed into his truck, and drove to my house. The thing is, we never made it there. It was so quick and unexpected that I hadn't fully realized it until I woke up.
We were at a red light waiting for it to turn green. As soon as it did, we took off not noticing the other car coming from Nathan’s side. The impact hit us hard. I felt my body hit the door and then into Nathan. My head hit the glove compartment and everything went black.
A humming sound woke me up and my eyes were blurry.
“She’s waking up,” a male voice said. Turning my head, I saw my parents standing in front of me crying.
“Mom, Dad? Where am I?” My mom clutches my hand.
“You were in a car accident, and now you’re in the hospital.”
“Car acci- wait where’s Nathan!” I scrambled to sit up and a terrible pain shot up in my arm.
“Jaycee take it easy, you shouldn’t move a lot.” There was so much worry in their eyes; I could tell that there was something wrong.
“Where’s Nathan is he alright?” They look at each other.
“I’m sorry, Nathan didn’t make it.” There was no greater pain I’ve ever felt, than what I was feeling now. Tears pooled out my eyes and I screamed.
“No! He can’t be!” My parents embraced me and I just couldn’t believe it.
That brings me to where I am now at his funeral. I am trying my hardest to keep it together but it’s very difficult. Standing in front of his coffin now, I realize something.
“Before you died, I planned on telling you this but wasn’t sure that you felt the same. Now I wish I did.” I touch his cold face.
“I, I love you Nathan.” A few tears dropped on him but I didn’t care. He was my first love, and I’ll never forget him. We shared so many beautiful memories together than made me feel grateful for