Firewatcher

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In her Mind

“Do you need a ride home?”

Mina was leaning against the school gates, the hot sun beating down on her. She had already ditched her hoodie but her black jeans may have been a bad idea. Her legs were boiling. Cade had parked next to her, all the windows rolled down and the music turned up. Scott and Marx were nowhere to be seen.

Mina considered his offer, she was still ticked off that he tried to baby her earlier, but she needed to ask him some questions about a certain pair of siblings that peaked her interest.

“Fine,” Mina agreed. “But drop me off at the hospital please.” She had a session with Dr Wade later.

“Sure,” Cade said, visibly relieved that Mina agreed. She liked to keep a grudge sometimes. Mina tossed her bag in the back before getting into the front. She immediately grabbed the seatbelt, fastening it before Cade could pull away.

After a moment of silence Cade said: “I’m sorry about this morning. I was being way too overprotective.”

Mina sighed, running a hand through her tangled hair. “I don’t need a babysitter Cade. I can take care of myself.”

Cade nodded as they came to a stop at a red light. “You know I’m worried about you Mina. I just got you back, I don’t want to lose you again.”

Mina pinched the bridge of her nose, closing her eyes for a moment. “Nothing is going to happen to me on the way to class. I need to get back on my feet Cade, and I need to do it on my own.”

Cade reached out, putting his hand on Mina’s leg and squeezing it softly. “I understand that Mina, but please understand that I care for you and worry about you.” She stiffened underneath his touch, shifting uncomfortably. It was a much more intimate gesture than she was expecting, but luckily the light turned green and Cade moved his hand to the gearshift. He was going a lot slower than he was this morning, and Mina suspected it was because he wanted to stretch out their time together.

“I get it Cade, but you have to take a step back. I need to figure some things out first.” Mina crossed her arms over her chest, slumping down in her seat. It was exactly what she told him a few weeks ago, but he seemed intent on babysitting her one way or the other.

“You told me that already,” he said, keeping his eyes straight ahead on the road.

“Yeah but you couldn’t get it through your thick skull, so I’m reminding you,” she said, her voice sharper than she intended for it to be. She didn’t know how to explain it to him anymore, she had tried everything. She needed to be herself first before trying to be anyone else. “Just…give me some space please?” Mina looked at Cade, her eyes pleading him to understand and agree.

Cade nodded reluctantly, his lips pressed together as he kept his eyes on the road. Mina sighed, sitting back in the seat. A moment of silence passed again before Cade asked: “So we’re good?”

“Yeah, we’re good.” Mina pressed her lips together, eyeing Cade out of the corner of her eye before asking: “Do you know Shane and Chloe Barnes?”

Cade raised his brows, surprise etched across his face. “Why?”

Mina gave a nonchalant shrug, tucking her hair behind her ears. “Shane’s in one of my classes and they just seem a bit strange. How long have the been in town?”

Cade thought about it for a moment, then decided it could do no harm to tell Mina. She was just curious after all. “They moved here a couple of weeks before you woke up. They keep to themselves mostly. No one’s ever seen or met their parents, which I think is a bit strange. They supposedly live close to Devil’s Peak, but no one’s been to their house either. They look like they’re too old to be high school, and they’re probably the strangest pair of siblings I’ve ever met. I wonder if one of them is adopted,” Cade wondered, turning around a sharp corner into the hospital parking lot. He parked the car close to the doors before switching it off and turning to Mina. It did seem strange how no one’s ever seen or met their parents. New people in their small community were always welcomed in the traditional South African fashion; with a beer and a braai. “Both of them are very likeable, I’ll admit that…but they’re still strange,” Cade went on and Mina was inclined to agree with him. She was watching Shane and Chloe closely at lunch, they had good people skills, but they still stood out. There was just something about them that she couldn’t put her finger on.

“…remind me of Ridley.” Mina’s head snapped up as she heard Ridley’s name.

“Sorry what did you say?”

“I said they remind me of Ridley,” Cade repeated. “We’ve never seen or met her parents either. She was always too cool for school, you know? Like she was too…mature.”

Mina thought she was the only one who noticed, but apparently not. She never thought twice to ask about her best friend’s parents or where she lived. Ridley always said her parents weren’t around because they travelled so much. She respected Ridley’s privacy, but maybe it was because she didn’t really care that they never hung out at Ridley’s place. Cade had another point; Ridley was too cool for school. She was one of those kids who had to grow up too quickly. She was only sixteen back then, but she could easily pass as 21.

“They do seem similar in some ways,” Mina agreed. She didn’t notice until Cade pointed it out, but now she knew why Shane and Chloe were so strange to her; they reminded her of Ridley.

“It’s probably nothing,” Cade said. “Is that why you’re interested in them? Because they remind you of Ridley?”

“Don’t be absurd Cade,” Mina said, avoiding his gaze as she turned and reached behind her for her bag. The clock on the car’s dashboard said that she was going to be late. “I have to go, see you tomorrow.” She knew it was far fetched, but maybe, just maybe, there was a connection between Ridley and Shane and Chloe. Her gut told her there was something there.

Cade watched as she got out of the car with narrowed eyes, knowing that she was not going to let this go. “Call me if you need anything,” he said, but Mina had already shut the door.

———-

“Hello,” Mina called as she shut the door to Dr Wade’s waiting room behind her. It was empty, his receptionist wasn’t at her usual post behind the large black desk in the middle of the room. Dr Wade was obviously not bothered about his reception being warm and welcoming. The room was cold and black and white, but Mina liked the bare walls and the black chairs. The only colour in the room was a vase full of red roses placed on the coffee table between the chairs.

“Dr Wade?” She asked again, walking past the desk and down the hall toward his office. His door was slightly ajar, just enough for Mina to hear the two voices floating out.

“Are you absolutely sure?” Dr Wade asked. He didn’t sound like his usually calm self, in fact he sounded worried.

“I’m positive,” a familiar voice said from inside and Mina froze in her tracks. What was Miss Khan doing in Dr Wade’s office, and more importantly what where they talking about? She looked around, ducking into the doorway of the bathroom that was just outside Dr Wade’s office, straining her ears to listen to their conversation.

“What was she doing here?” Dr Wade mumbled to himself and Mina could hear him walking around inside his office, or rather, pacing.

“She was looking for Mina of course.”

Mina’s blood ran cold. They were talking about her, about someone who came for her. But who? And why? What did they mean? Mina was more confused than ever, her thoughts all over the place as she continued to listen to their conversation.

“It’s a good thing your two were there then,” Dr Wade said, sounding a little relieved. Mina frowned as she listened. Someone came for her, but two other people stopped that someone. That sounded a lot like her supposed dream.

“How long are you planning on keeping what she is from her Jared?” Miss Khan asked. “She needs to start training, learning.”

Mina’s head was swimming and she felt dizzy again. Something seriously strange was going on here, something that involved her and possibly Ridley, Shane and Chloe. She wasn’t sure she wanted to hear more of their conversation. She knew she was different ever since she woke up from the, but she didn’t expect all this madness. Gathering all her courage she pushed the door to his office open, walking in.

“Hey Dr Wade, your receptionist wasn’t there so I just came in,” she told him, her eyes scanning the room. Miss Khan was nowhere to be seen and Dr Wade was standing in the middle of the room, his hands shoved into his pockets. Mina had to stop her jaw from dropping to the floor. How was it possible that Miss Khan was just gone? She was in Dr Wade’s office, Mina was sure it was her voice she heard when she was lurking outside, and even if it wasn’t her voice, whoever he was talking to should have still been in the room.

“I’m going crazy,” Mina mumbled under her breath as she dropped her bag on the floor before walking over to his couch and sitting down. Did she just imagine a conversation between her therapist and her teacher? Was her brain trying to tell her she should stop making silly assumptions about everything? Shane and Chloe and Ridley? And what did Miss Khan have to do with this? “I’ve had a really long day Doc,” Mina said, lying down on the couch with her arm over her eyes. She heard Dr Wade move around his desk, taking a seat in his chair.

“Why don’t you tell me about it?” He sounded like his usual calm self, which unnerved Mina like it usually did. If she was crazy then it would be a far simpler explanation for everything that’s happened since she started school again. Being crazy would solve all of her problems right now.

“I don’t know where to begin.” How could she possibly tell him everything? So much has happened over the course of two days.

“Start at the beginning,” he encouraged and Mina sighed, moving her arm away from her eyes. She launched into the story of how she met Vanessa at Jetty 1906, and the cryptic conversation the two of them had. She told him about her walk home and how the fog came for her, but two really weird characters saved her. She told him how she woke up the next morning with a large bruise on her face that just disappeared, and how she then met Shane and Chloe at school, and how they looked exactly like the characters from her dream.

“It was surreal, I mean I dreamt about him and the next moment I’m falling over him at school. He looked a little different than he did in my dream, but it was definitely him. And then when I saw his sister, she looked exactly like the girl in my dream. That can’t be a coincidence.” Mina watched Dr Wade as she told him the story, looking for…well she didn’t know what she was looking for, but it was sure to be something strange. He seemed to be processing the information, trying to find a reasonable explanation for all the weirdness in Mina’s life.

“When was the last time you properly slept before last night?” He asked, scribbling something down on his notepad.

“When I was in a coma, Doc,” Mina said, wondering what he was getting at.

“I think your lack of sleep is causing you to hallucinate Mina.” Dr Wade didn’t look at Mina as he said it, he just continued to scribble on his notepad.

“I’m hallucinating?” She was skeptical about that. Sure, she hasn’t had any proper sleep in weeks, but she wasn’t sleep deprived. She was functioning normally, hell she felt like she could climb a mountain. She had a lot of energy, and she felt strong.

“Yes. It’s a normal symptom associated with sleep deprivation. Your body has been out of sync with the real world for two years and it’s struggling to get back into a routine.” He had finished scribbling on his notepad, tearing the page out and holding it up for Mina to see. “I’m prescribing you sleeping pills. I know the doctor at the hospital already gave you some, but these are practically horse tranquillisers, so they’ll do the trick. Take one before you eat dinner and hopefully it’ll help get your body back into a normal schedule.”

Mina reluctantly got up, taking the prescription from Dr Wade. She was very skeptical about all of this, but she was dying to get some sleep just to escape from all the crazy. Maybe she was sleep deprived.

“And don’t worry, you’re not crazy. Far from it actually.”

“That’s very comforting Doc,” Mina lied, stuffing the note into her book bag. “Thanks.”



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