Thursday, October 27, 2011
BONDED WITH LOVE: Chapter 1 The Voice
My heart reminded me to breathe when it slammed against my chest, threatening to break free. The sidewalk that offered me a way out of the Texas heat was only a few steps away, but even that was too far away for my shaky legs and nauseous stomach. I forced myself to pathetically lean against a tree for balance. The violent throbbing caused beads of sweat to trickle down my forehead, forming a damp trail to my neck. I could barely stand- let alone walk. What the hell was wrong with me?
I snapped back to reality when Cecile grabbed my shoulders. I stared into her honey-brown eyes which full with concern. “Rena what's wrong? Are you okay?” What was wrong with me?
Cecile Christine Richards, my best friend since kindergarten. It all started when we joined forces to conquer the playground against all boys. She became like a sister to me and still is the closest thing I have to family.
My voice was unsure. “I don't know, maybe the heat?” I swallowed audibly. “I'm sorry I worried you.” Giving a half grin and shrugging, I brushed away strands of my chestnut-brown hair from my shoulders then pushed off of the tree and led the way from the grounds to school.
We made our way to first period which helped to calm me after the strange morning. Cecile and I shared most of our senior classes. English was one of them.
Cecile and I lived together off of the money my parent's life insurance left me, on top of a large savings account started for my college career. My mom made sure a long time ago that I would be set for a while if anything were to happen to them. The savings hadn't been touched yet, hoping one day I would be able to figure out exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. Plus I wanted to leave this town and start a new life for myself.
Cecile’s parents didn’t keep track of her. She never had the best home life, with an alcoholic father, and a mother too caught up in herself- they didn’t seem to care whether she stayed or left. When my world got twisted upside down she left them and stayed with me.
I whispered to her, “lucky you, getting to spend extra time with me.”
“Uh, no, I'm thinking more lucky you than me.” Cecile laughed loudly at her own lame comeback.
“Yeah, yeah. Did you finish the weekend reading?”
Cecile shook her head. “I got halfway through, but was bored to tears, so I went shopping for some new shoes instead.”
The final bell rang, signaling the start of class. Mrs. Dawson pulled down the projector screen and the beginning credits of Beastly, a new age take on Beauty and the Beast, rolled across the TV. My mind wandered into the main characters'. With true love's kiss, a curse being broken and a happy ending, I found myself not caring if I ended up being the beast or the unsuspecting girl. I wanted my happily ever after, like I'd read about all my life.
She is here.
The whisper made the hairs on my arms stand at attention. I surveyed the room closely, assuming I was hearing things. I shrugged it off and gave all of my focus to the movie.
Oh god she is here. It has been so long.
My thoughts paused for the whisper that startled me once again. I took my time to look around at each student. Few eyes were glued to the movie, others stayed closed as their owners napped. Not knowing where the whisper came from, I thought of all possibilities the words could mean, but that stopped when it hit me again.
My breath caught in my throat, icy chills filled every limb of my body, and beads of sweat formed on my brow. Breath wheezed its way out, barely crawling past my lips. Gurgling noises bubbled from my throat. What was this? Am I choking? Having a panic attack? Am I dying? Breathe, I told myself. I only needed to breathe.
Mrs. Dawson paused the movie and everyone turned in their seats. Even the nappers woke to gawk at me while I inhaled loudly. Unable to escape awkward stares from my peers, I gasped for air and filled my lungs up once again.
No one said a word, they all peered at me until Mrs. Dawson started to walk toward me. “Rena, are you alright dear?”
Cecile turned to me, her eyes watched my every move.
Coughing, I answered, “no ma'am. I think I'm coming down with something. Can I go to the nurse's office?”
She nodded her teacher nod. “Of course. I'll write you out a pass.”
Hearing small murmurs from the other kids, I mashed my books into my backpack. Then took the pass for the nurse's office and fled from the room, hoping Cecile would come find me.
Lying in the dark cave-like nurse's office helped.
I dozed off, and an image snuggled behind my eyelids. The vision showed spiked raven hair bristling through my thoughts. Glowing blue eyes stared through me, not focused on anything in particular, only staring. The image didn't scare me, I knew in my head that it was a dream, and it was better than my embarrassing episode in Mrs. Dawson’s class.
I continued to enjoy my sneak peak. Like looking through a video camera, the scene panned out and I could see more of him. His full lips turned up into a grin and swirls of emotions swam through my body at his gorgeous features. I had the urge to reach up and stroke his beautiful face, so I did. Slowly lifting my hand to brush my finger across his soft looking skin, a knocking at the door startled me. I opened my eyes and sat up, cheeks flustered.
Cecile came in with a tray of food in her hands. “I brought you lunch in bed.” Her voice enthusiastically squeaked.
“Aw thanks. You didn't have to.” I scooted up into a sitting position.
“Uh, yeah I did. You're sick. Plus it gave me a reason to get away from asshole Jackson.” She sat down on a chair by my bed.
Jackson was Cecile's ex and a complete douche. He had more than one opportunity to prove that he could be a good guy, but he failed miserably every time.
“Douche. Sorry I wasn't there to keep watch for ya.”
Cecile chuckled. “No problemo. I was able to dodge him and get away.”
Typically I stayed quiet and really only spent time with Cecile. I've always been like that, but it became worse after the accident.
A little over a year ago, I had been in the car with my parents, when a car swerved over to our lane. My parents drove the speed limit but this guy had been going around eighty. He hit us straight on-I was the only to survive.
I had a hard time bonding anymore, out of fear of losing anyone else. But when it came to screwy Jackson and the sadness that still showed in Cecile's eyes, I opened my mouth and let him know where to stick his stupid apologies.
Her eyes looked so sad, I changed the topic. “What the hell is wrong with me, C? Am I losing my mind or something? I’ve never had headaches this bad. It’s like a hangover from hell, except the fact that I didn’t drink anything.”
“You freaked me out. I thought you might pass out or choke to death or something. Are you feeling okay now?”
“Yeah, my head feels a little better, but all the nurse could give me was one lousy Tylenol- dumb-ass. Like I’m really going to OD on Tylenol. Well, thank god you’re here. Now we can go.”
“Oh, that sucks. You should've come and gotten the keys from me. I have to stay for cheerleading practice tonight.” She fished the keys from her purse. “Here you go, if you still feel sick later just text me and I'll get someone to take me home.”
“Works for me. Thanks C.”
“No problem Ren. I'm going to head out. Get some rest okay?” She patted my shoulder and gave one last glance before she closed the door behind her.
Grabbing my sunglasses and making sure the keys were in my purse, I ventured outside and made my way to her purple VW Bug. I was glad we’d snagged our parking spot closer to school this morning. I had a feeling it worked out that way so Cecile could park next to her new crush. I didn't complain since I didn't have to walk a mile through the parking lot this time.
Climbing into the bug, I felt like whatever had hit me before was gone, so I decided to head to the book store. There is always a reason to go book shopping, it makes everything better.
I pulled into the parking lot of Books on the Square, Granbury's local book store, and headed inside to do some damage to my bank account. I felt like being generous to myself after the craziness I went through this morning.
The bell above the door jingled as I walked into the building, and the smells of new and old books wafted their way through my nostrils. This was heaven. I perused through the aisles finding all the new supernatural and fantasy ones. I thought about the large pile at home waiting to be read. It was about to get larger.
I made my way toward the counter to pay, when the pounding headache found its way back. Immediately following, nausea clenched my stomach causing a few gags to gurgle out of my throat. I couldn't catch my breath and my heart jabbed against my rib cage.
Trying to walk, to find somewhere to sit, I fell and took all of the books with me to the floor.
When my eyes opened, darkness surrounded me. One tiny light peaked from behind the black drapes. Fear tightened its grip on my stomach.
I stood on legs of jello and made my way toward the light, hoping it would wake me from this odd dream. I stumbled across the dark path, and a figure draped in night stood before me. A yelp escaped from my lips. I tried to get away, but his sparkling blue eyes locked me in place. His midnight hair spiked to a perfect point, and he watched me with pursed lips. His toned body towered over me.
His eyes danced along each portion of my body and I felt naked standing unguarded in front of him. In his eyes there wasn't desire but a longing, and I understood. I couldn't move, and didn't want to. For the briefest of seconds we stared at each other.
Then he took a step forward. With that one step, his body was drenched in light head to toe. I could see every detail. With that one minor step forward his whole appearance had changed. He went from being a dark seductive stranger, to a hideous foul beast. His blue eyes changed to a deep shade of red like blood coated them. His lips once so full and lush, were now pulled back into a sneer as large protruding fangs slid from his gums.
I screamed and looked around for an escape, but where do you run to in the dream world?
His hand clenched against my shoulder. He spun me around and brought my back against his tight chest. Hard stiff hands pulled my head to a tilt. I felt hot steamy breath against the crevice of my neck. Sobbing, I tried to break free from his grasp. Hoping that death in a dream was only that, but this dream seemed so real, so alive; I didn't know what to expect.
Thrashing about I felt more hands on my shoulders, and I tried to fight back. When my eyes opened, the room was bathed in beautiful luminescence. I found myself back in the book store.
“What the...” What was that? I felt relieved to be back in the real world. That dream was frightening. So real. I could feel his hands still on his body. His hot breath stuck to my neck even in the living world.
Now, the hands that held onto me now were the saleswoman's. Cecile, surprisingly, sat with me on the floor.
She held my head in her lap and hovered above my face. “Ren, are you okay?”
I blinked repeatedly.
The saleswoman leaned over where I laid. “I checked your phone miss, sorry, I just looked for the last person you talked to. Oh and I also called 9-1-1. I didn't know what was going on, but I'm definitely not certified for anything but CPR.”
“No, no, it's fine. Thank you, but I'm fine. I just need to get home and rest. How did you get here C?” I asked huskily.
“Mason from English class brought me.” Her large eyes were even wider now with fear.
“I'm fine Cecile, really. It's only been a few minutes.”
“Ugh, no, you've been out for at least fifteen minutes. I made sure Mason sped over here.”
A bonus about living in a small town, it only took about five minutes to get anywhere. Plus the high school sat next door to the bookstore.
I started hearing distant sirens of the ambulance, on its way to check up on me. I hoped if I stood up and acted normal, they would go away. Raising myself off of Cecile's lap, my head rushed with blood but I forced myself to stand.
“Hey the ambulance is almost here, I don't think you should get up.” The saleswoman put her hand on my shoulder.
I caught sight of her name tag. “Darla, I'm fine. I just need to go home and relax. C, will you please take me home? Seriously I'm better.” I did a little jig in the middle of the aisle, only to prove I could without toppling over, but the dizziness lingered. The room began to spin and I quickly regretted moving at all.
“Okay fine Ren, I will take you home, but I will be on your butt in two seconds if I sense even one thing wrong with you. Got it?”
I rolled my eyes. “Yeah got it.” Turning, I said, “thanks for your help Darla, and so sorry for the scare. I'll let them do their check-up before we go home.”
I begrudgingly waited to get checked on by the paramedics, and once they gave me a clean bill of health we headed home.
I had hoped for a little more from my senior year, but this pushed limits.
* * * * * * * * *
“Rena come on. We're late.” The last one out the door as always, I grabbed a strawberry pop-tart and bolted to Cecile's bug.
She peeled out of the driveway and flew at a speed that caused the purple bug to growl in protest.
Trying to mentally wake up, I made an unintelligible comment. “I slept in, sorry.” “S'kay, no big. I had told Mason and Jen we would meet them by the fountain.”
“Oh, who's Jen? And why are we meeting them?”
“We need to decide on our presentation for Mrs. Dawson's class, and they offered to be paired up with us. Most likely thanks to your super brainpower.”
Rolling my eyes, I mumbled, “oh okay. Sorry again. I had a rough night.”
“Is it the headaches? Or are you still having those nightmares?”
“Its nightmares. The headaches haven't come back since yesterday morning.”
“Wanna talk about it?” she asked.
“It's all the same stuff. Just the same awful scenes, C.” Tears stung the corners of my eyes, replaying the images from last night's nightmare.
We stopped at a red light and she turned to look at me.
I tried to blink away the tears starting to pool around the edges of my eyes. “I had hoped they would go away, but my counselor said they wouldn't for a while. She said the guilt I feel definitely isn't helping.”
“Ren, you have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about. I've told you that, everyone has. It wasn't your fault at all.”
“But I was the only one, Cecile. I must have done something different to still be alive and for them to be dead. If I would've known what kept me alive, I could have warned my family.”
She shook her head. “It was that son-of-a-bitch, the one that fell asleep at the wheel, who did this to you and your parents. It wasn't your fault.”
“I guess. Maybe that's why I'm still having nightmares. I can't get my mind to wrap around it, only around what I could have done to prevent it.” The pooling tears spilled over. I couldn't stop them. No one could say anything to make me feel any different.
Cecile wiped at her eyes too. The memories were fresh in my mind.
Dark clouds puckered with rain above us. Splashes of raindrops covered the windshield, with the weather on the verge of becoming Spring. Driving home from an aunt's house, my parents sat in the front seats singing a duet of some lame rock song. I watched an alien crash through New York in the movie playing on the DVD player. Out of nowhere blinding beams of light shot through the car, followed by the sound of squealing tires exploding all around us. Mom screamed.
I passed out and then woke lying in a hospital bed, alone. One leg simply bandaged, the other in a cast and throbbing with pain. It felt like hours until a doctor finally stopped by to do a basic check-up. She also broke the devastating news; my family was dead.
“We're here.” Cecile's words brought me back. The sun shone brightly in the sky. We marched through the grassy fields covering the front of school. The heat showed its strength early this morning, flexing its muscles by throwing large amounts of dry hot wind in our faces.
We made our way toward the fountain to meet Mason and Jen, and Cecile explained why we had parked in a different spot this week. “Okay, so I've met someone new.”
“I figured that was the reason we parked so close now. Not that I'm complaining. Who is he?”
“His name is Drake, he's absolutely stunning. Bronze hair that he fixes into that messy-just-got-outta-bed look, you know what I'm talking about?”
“Uh-huh, like every other guy in this school. Is he a senior?”
“I think so.”
“Where'd he come from?”
“Dunno. But he's got amazing gray eyes, and he's tall. Plus he has a hot body.” I could practically hear the slobber dripping from her lips. “And he drives that completely hot looking blue mustang.”
“Have y'all talked?”
“Nope, but I'm working on it. I have all these awesome plans on how to catch his attention.”
“Oh this should be good. So what are your 'awesome' plans?” Without intending to, sarcasm jumped from my mouth.
She ignored it. “Okay, so what if I try the bend and snap?”
”That's from Legally Blonde.”
“So? It worked for that one lady.”
“As long as you can control your snap.” I stifled a giggle,as she continued.
“What if I knock my pen off the corner of the desk in class as he walks by, and then when he hands it to me we stare lovingly into each others eyes?”
“Seriously? That's Clueless. You better hope he doesn't turn out gay for your sake. Don't you have any of your own material?”
“That's it. That's all I got.” She had stopped walking, and now stared at me with her arms crossed, a pout forming on her lips. “What do you suggest then, miss smart-ass?”
“I would go with 'Hi', or even 'Hello'. I know it seems strange and less cheesy but lots of guys fall for it.” I laughed hard.
“Oh whatever. Hey there's Mason and Jen.” She waved and jogged toward our friends.
Trying to keep up with her, I made it halfway when I felt it all over again. The headache was back at full force.
“Not again...” I squeaked, before chills broke through my entire system.
I immediately felt an arm wrapped around me from behind as I drifted to the ground. My body was brought down slowly and my head laid comfortably on someone's legs. The smell of pine trees filled my nostrils. I was mildly aware of talking going on around me. My vision blurred and I tried to clear it up by blinking, but it didn't work. A fog covered my sight but a voice rang clear as a bell in my head.
Soft, yet masculine. It whispered so close to my ear. “Oh my love, I have waited so long for you.”
The voice sounded familiar. “Wh...who are you?” Fear crept through me, but I was too weak to do anything except lay there.
“Do not fear dear one. I will take care of you.” The strange whisper shimmered through my mind.
A cup touched my lips. My dry throat screamed for whatever liquid filled it. Weakness filled me and I lay too disoriented to object. A fruity scent drifted toward me, causing my mouth to water and I drank the sweet flavored juice that spilled into my mouth.
“You will feel better once you drink.” The voice whispered once again.
The arm around me tightened. The juice stopped flowing and the cup pulled from my lips.
In seconds, the fog had lifted and my vision cleared. A face bent over me and I found myself staring into a pair of sparkling blue eyes.