Back To Square One

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Chapter 13

The day it all changed

I was woken by a loud banging noise coming from outside. “Go away!” I groaned as pulled the covers over my head and turned over, fully intending to go back to sleep, when I heard my mom and dad’s voices outside my door.

“Let him sleep Anthony. He only came in early this morning.” I heard my mom’s voice.

“It is way past time he got up. It’s nearly time for afternoon tea,” said my dad, not sounding one bit impressed that I was still asleep.

Afternoon tea? What was my dad talking about?

“If he wants to stay out till all hours of the morning then he must deal with the consequences. He had me chasing the ghost of a girl all around town yesterday, had me phone up the principal of his school to ask him to go into the school office this morning to get this address – and now he sleeps until two in the afternoon. I thought he was worried about this girl.”

My eyes popped open at my dad’s last words. He had the address! Two in the afternoon? That couldn’t be right. I had set my alarm for nine this morning, wanting to be ready as soon as Principal Lennon phoned. I rolled out of bed and looked for my phone to see the time. I finally found it stuffed in the pocket of my jeans where I dumped them last night, or more to the point, this morning when I came in. Switching on the phone, I looked at the screen. As clear as day, my dad was right. It was already two in the afternoon.

Jumping up I made a beeline for the bathroom and sprang into the shower. I could hear my mom and dad arguing about whether or not to wake me. I finally heard my dad’s footsteps coming up the stairs again; seems like my mom lost this one, this time. I could hear my dad banging on my bedroom door.

“Wake up, Brandon. It is way past a reasonable hour to still be sleeping.”

“I’m in the shower, dad.” I called to him. Finishing my shower, I quickly dried off and got dressed.

“Dad, stop banging on my door. You are going to take it off its hinges. Didn’t you hear me say I’m in the shower, or more than that, didn’t you hear the shower running?”

Not expecting to hear me behind him my dad jumped at the sudden sound and I burst out laughing.

“Dammit Brandon, you gave me a fright! Where did you come from? I thought you were still sleeping!”

“I jumped into the shower when I heard you and mom arguing about whether to wake me and then I heard you tell mom you got Sam’s address from Principal Lennon. Thanks dad, I really appreciate everything you are doing to help me. I’m going over there now to see if she is okay.”

Before I could disappear into my room I heard my mom behind me. “Not so fast, mister. You will first have breakfast or lunch, whichever you choose. By then the muffins will be done and you can take some for Sam as a ‘sorry’ gift. No arguing. Get your butt into the kitchen now!” There was no disagreeing when mom put her foot down. She rarely did, but once she did it was final, especially with dad firmly standing behind her, agreeing with her.

While I was reluctantly wolfing down my meal as I wanted to get going, mom and dad came into the kitchen.

“I will take you, Brandon. I don’t have anything to do today as my golf was cancelled,” my dad said.

“No dad, I’m going to go alone. I need to go on my own. After the way I humiliated her in front of everybody I need to do this alone. I owe it to her.” Mom had my back this time and came to stand behind me, nodding and agreeing. Dad saw he was not going to win this argument and handed me the address.

“But you must let me know she is okay as soon as you can. I promised her mom I would tell her as soon as we find her. She promised not to bother her, she just wants to know Sam is okay.”

“Dad, it’s clear that Sam doesn’t want her mom to know anything about her and her life. She didn’t even tell her she was back in the country. As it is, I will have to beg Sam to forgive me. I don’t want to have to beg her to forgive me about this, too.”

“Brandon, she’s her mom and has a right to know Sam is okay. I will not give her the address, I will just tell her that her daughter is alive and well and then the two of them can sort out their issues in their own time.”

I saw my dad’s point, nodded in agreement, took the muffins and hurried out to my car. As I jumped in, terrible nerves hit me. Not knowing why, all of a sudden, I was so nervous about seeing Sam again I started the car and headed in the direction of her home.

I pulled into the driveway I assumed was hers. The VW Bug kind of gave it away. It was a small garden cottage set in one corner of a big plot completely cut off from the other house, with its own entrance and gate. I looked around. It was a really nice place to live, just big enough for one or two people. The little garden at the back of the house looked well-kept with flowers of every colour, a few garden gnomes here and there, and a bird-bath and feeder with some seeds. As I walked up to the front door I noticed the heap of trash Sam must have taken out. Broken lamps, cups and glasses lay between ‘normal’ types of trash.

I felt a wave of panic but reasoned that if something had happened the people next door would have heard and investigated. I rang the doorbell and waited. I could hear the sound echo through the house. When there was no answer I rang again. Looking around to see if Sam was perhaps outside, I rang a third time. Maybe she was at the store.

I decided to wait for her and had been sitting in my car for about an hour when it struck me. Her car was in the driveway right next to mine so she couldn’t be at the store. I knew she had to be home. Running around the house I called out to her,“Sam, it’s me, Brandon. I came to apologise. I know you are home as your car is here. Please open up for me. I need to talk to you. I brought muffins,” I added hopefully.

I was now back at the front door and rang the bell two or three times in succession. Angry and worried, I hammered on the door, calling toher. “Sam, I know you are in there. I am not leaving until I have talked to you, so you might as well just open the door and get it over with.” The third time I banged, the door flew open. Losing my balance I shot forward into the little house, landing on my hands and knees in the hall. Expecting to see an annoyed Samantha Preston standing there, I prepared myself to say something. But after finding my footing I grasped that she wasn’t there. The door had flown open on its own.

I looked around the house .It was very small and not very fancy. The living room and kitchen were all one space and I guessed the bedroom was in the back corner. I called out to Sam again. Just as I was passing into the living room area something caught my eye on the kitchen table. I walked over to it and picked up the piece of paper. As I read the first few sentences, reality dawned on me. I dropped the note and took off running for the bedroom. Bursting through the doorway I stopped dead in my tracks. There on the bed, looking just like Sleeping Beauty was Samantha.

Dressed in a beautiful blue dress, she had flared out her hair around her like a red sheet, applied her makeup and finished it off with red, red lips and finally she had folded her hands in her lap. She really did look like Sleeping Beauty lying on that bed. I tried saying her name but all that came out was a high-pitched squeak. She didn’t move at the sound.

Panic fuelled me. I rushed to her and sat down on the bed to try to find a pulse. Not finding one in her neck or her arm, I licked my fingers, holding themin front of her nose and mouth to test if I could feel any breath.

Not having any luck, I dropped my head to her chest to listen for a heartbeat. At first I couldn’t hear anything but as I kept concentrating I heard what I thought was a faint ‘do doef do doef’ sound. Pulling out my phone I dialed 911 and prayed it wasn’t already too late.

“911, what is your emergency?” came the operator’s voice through the phone.

Now in full-blown panic mode, I shouted into the phone:“My friend tried to kill herself. Please send an ambulance to 700 Keys Avenue as fast as you can.”

“Calm down, sir. I have routed the ambulance and they are already on their way. Can you tell me, what is the nature of this suicide?”

I was confused. “What do you mean, what is the nature? She tried to kill herself, as simple as that!”

“Sir, calm down please. Did she cut her wrists or try to hang herself? What did she use to commit suicide?”

“I. . . I don’t . . .“As I looked around the room and at her I spotted the bottles on her pedestal. Grabbing the bottles I told the operator: “She took some pills. The one bottle is empty but the other one still has some pills left in it.”

“Okay sir, please stay on the line with me until the paramedics arrive. I have relayed the information to them and they are close by.”

Not answering the woman, I put the phone on speaker. I heard the sirens getting closer. I pulled Sam’s lifeless body into my arms, held her against my chest and started rocking her as tears started running down my face. All the while I kept repeating over and over:

“Hang in there, Sam.”

. . .

“Help is on the way, Sam.”

. . .

“Don’t leave me, Sam.”

. . .

“I . . . think. . . I . . . love you . . . Sam!”

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