Sunday 17th September 2006
"Mrs Hund, please, try to calm down." The purple haired woman said in her soft voice, coming over to us. Grandma was crying, holding my arm tightly.
I was falling but it didn't feel like falling. It didn't even feel like drowning or suffocating. There was just nothing any more. No more contorted feelings that made me blind to this world. I was just a human being, with human eyes that gazed off to far off places. This human heart beat just like every other heart on this planet. Like the thousands of faces in the streets you'd see everyday. I was nothing but a flickering image.
I was nothing to these people.
I was vaguely aware of the social worker talking to me but I was staring off into the distance. I felt like I had transported to all those months ago when I thought I lost Seth and when I meaninglessly wandered through the forest. How many times could a person break? I had barely just put myself back together and now everything was going to change again.
Did the world hate me that much?
"Don't worry, I'll handle it." The voice split through my mind and before I knew it I was being lifted into a pair of warm arms. I blearily looked up, seeing Seth was gazing down at me, his brown eyes unbearably sad.
All I could manage to say was: "I love you."
Tears came into his eyes and he softly said: "I know."
Ava Lackrost was calm as she packed my bag. She wore a dark green dress with the hem at her knees and a black cardigan, along with all these beaded bracelets and necklaces. I didn't know much about her, but she seemed nice.
"Of course, your grandparents can visit." She told me as she folded up a shirt. "And your friends, too. The house is very serene and tidy, and it backs up onto the big river that feeds into the Sound." She glances over at me and smiles, her blue eyes thickly laced with mascara. "There aren't too many kids there so it'll be quiet. I can tell you like quiet. What with all these books around." She smiled, turning back to folding my clothes.
I didn't smile or anything. I just sat on the little stool in the corner of my room, near the window. Even though it had been a while, my heart was still thumping fast. I wondered momentarily if she knew what it was like to lose so much. I breathed tightly in but the air didn't seem to do anything for my lungs. I just sat, gazing out the window, looking to the tree house as the wind brought leaves down. Had it only been this year that we built that? Had it only been this year that I felt my love for Seth grow so strong that it caused me pain to be apart from him? Had it onlybeen this year that I had finally kissed him?
It still seemed to me that I was old- ancient even. I remembered those dreams I had while unconscious in the hospital. Of the beasts that kept me safe through the night. I had lived a whole life outside of this. Just with the creatures and the forest. The wild and the rain. I had lost and I had gained, but still I felt cherished by them all.
Things in reality were different. You couldn't escape from everything human. Even if you were a powerful and rich vampire family with credibility. Even if you were a beast of the forest. Magic couldn't stop death and so why couldn't that mean it couldn't stop life from living? It could make them immortal... but they had to kill for that. I listened to my inner voice- the one true thing in all of this. For some reason it took on the persona of my mother. She was trying to tell me so many things but in that moment all I wanted to do was pray.
Pray that this wouldn't happen. That I'd stay here- where I was meant to be. But most importantly, for me to stay with Seth. This would end him. I could tell. It was out of his hands now.
"The house will give you weekly allowance," said Ava as she zipped up my bag, "and, after a week or so, you can start the school down the road. It's quite a nice place, the teachers and students are all very used to these sort of situations." She picked up my bag, turning to me. "Ready to go?"
I gazed up at her, feeling my blood run cold. She smiled sadly at me, taking my hand.
"It's okay. I know this must be very hard for you... but the house isn't too far away. And I bet you'll make great friends there." She squeezed my hand. "I'm going to take this down to the car, meet me there in a few?"
I nodded a little and she left, hauling my bag along with her and out the door.
Burying my face in my hands, I began to silently cry. My stomach squeezed in on itself and I hiccuped, shuddering at the very thought of leaving this peaceful, beautiful place. Minutes drifted by as I sobbed, clutching my stomach. I felt so very sick but I really didn't want to throw up. I told myself to pull myself together, that, in reality, this wasn't as bad as going to Canada.
This would always be home to me.
It would never be the same.
"You can't take her away!" Seth shouted at Ava as she spoke softly to my grandmother. I stood at the top of the stairs, seeing Seth was towering over her. "She's meant to be here!"
"S-Seth, please," my grandma whispered, wrapping her arm shakily around him.
"I'm sorry Mrs Hund," he said softly, quickly, "but this is not right! Eve... Eve is meant to be here. With us... with me."
Tears came into my eyes and I leant against the wall, feeling faint again.
No. Evelyn, listen to me. You must be strong. For the both of you.
The voice was right. I might have been going crazy- again- but I listened to it- to her. To my mother as she softly spoke to me. She was always so gentle, so kind, so lovely.
I missed her so much.
"Evelyn? Are you ready to go sweetheart?" Ava called and I quickly pulled on my sweater, my breaths short as I wiped my eyes. Ava was smiling at me as I came down the stairs, pulling a blanket along with me. She plucked it up and folded it, picking up her handbag as she walked out the door. I gazed, wide eyed to Seth and my grandma. Logan came running in from the kitchen. He had been in the garden and pocketed his cell phone, his cheeks flushed from the cold, his hair pointing in all directions.
"Oh crap... crap crap crap-"
"Logan!" Grandma spat.
"Sorry gram," he said hurriedly, running over to me to hug me closely. "I'll figure this out, Eve! I promise! You can't stay there."
"I-It's okay." I whispered. He backed away as my grandmother came to hug me tightly, smoothing down my hair with her shaky, freckled fingers.
"Oh my Evelyn, what shall I do without you? Without your grandfather?" She sobbed. "I love you, my dear."
"I love you too." I said, my voice cracking. I knew I was going to start crying but I desperately didn't want to.
However, when I looked over at Seth he was gazing at me with such a devastated expression that I almost broke apart. He came forward and hugged me the tightest, picking me up slightly. His skin was searing hot as his cheek pressed against mine. I began to sob and he cuddled me even closer.
"I love you." He whispered so quietly so only I could hear him. I was sure that my grandma and brother got the gist, though. I heard the car start and I kissed his neck, hoping this moment would last forever and not the few precious seconds it was. I heard Ava call my name and so I let go, wiping my eyes on the back of my hand and running out of the house. I glanced around when I got to the car, seeing Seth was racing down to me. He hugged me yet again and kissed me ever so softly on the lips- in front of every one. It was a few moments before my brother came down and pulled him away from me. I hiccuped, my eyes teary as I sat in the car. Seth tried to fight against Logan, his hand reached out towards me. I rolled the window down and let out fingers brush as the car drove away.
The window went back up and it was tinted so I knew they couldn't see me. I gazed, wide eyed, as the house I called my own slowly dissipated in the distance, the people I loved so dearly going with it.
I am alone.
I was sitting in the back of the car as music began to play from the speakers. It had an indie, folksy tinge to it as guitar strings were plucked soothingly. Ava began to hum along as she drove away from the reservation. I sighed quietly, gazing out the window, tears still in my eyes and having no sign of leaving.
I began to see things run through the forests beside the car- looking as if they were trying to catch up with it. I heard heartbreaking howls far off and I sat up, alert as I gazed out the window. I caught a glimpse of sandy fur and I clutched the door handle tightly, breathing out. The pack was following me... Seth was following me. What were they going to do? I felt like I was going to pass out as I gazed outside, trying to keep my eyes on Seth. He kept dodging trees expertly and hiding when a car zoomed past us. I admired how agile he was and almost broke down crying again because of it.
It was a few hours drive and so I snuggled up in my blanket, exhausted from the ordeal. I couldn't keep my eyes on Seth because the forest wasn't so close to the road any more. I sniffed, rubbing my nose as I closed my eyes, the car humming beneath me as the wheels hungered on the road. I felt as if I should transport to my happy place but I knew it would only ever make me more sad.
After a while I felt the car jolt to a stop and I blinked my eyes open, realising I was resting my head on the door. I glanced about, my heart beginning to pump quickly again. Ava got out of the car and I saw her smile as she came to open my door.
"Hello sleepyhead!" She grinned at me. I unbuckled myself and stood shakily. I had been expecting a grey block of a building but what stood before me looked like an actual home. It reminded me of the Pennsylvania houses I'd see in magazines- with dark red walls and green accents. A large tree stood in the front yard and all of its leaves were still bright green. There was a silver mini van beside us and it had a sticker on it saying: "Seattle Junior Triathlon 2005!" on the back window.
Ava got my bag and blanket out and lead me up to the front door. I swallowed, following her tamely. She opened it and bustled us in. I could hear music being played upstairs and the smells of cooking quickly hit me.
"Madison!" Ava called as she placed my bag by the stairs. "Madison!" Ava exclaimed again, shutting the door with a bang. A plump woman bumbled down the hallway, a yellow apron around her. She smiled at me toothily, her eyes bright green. She shook my hand.
"Evelyn, dear!" She laughed. "How lovely to meet you. We've sorted out your room- it's the best one in the house, as far as I'm concerned." She picked up my bag, glancing at Ava. "Go and stir the pasta, will you lovely?"
Ava nodded with a sigh and smiled at me before leaving down the hall.
"Alrighty, follow me." She began to go up the stairs and I noticed a Southern accent to her happy voice. I bundled my blanket up in my arms, aware of everything as I followed her up the creaky stairs. I licked my dry lips as we came onto the landing. "Bathroom's there, there's another one downstairs but I'll show you that later." She pointed at the door opposite us as she lead me down. "The girl's mainly use that one." She informed me with a smile. She then came to a door and opened it.
It was cold inside because the windows were open. The room was octagonal shaped with a bare double bed, desk and small bookshelf with a purple bean bag beside it. I numbly went in, looking around me at the pale blue walls and singular hanging light with a dark blue shade around it in the middle of the ceiling. The window looked down onto the yard one side and to a part of another house on the other. I swallowed, sitting on the edge of the bed.
Madison placed my things down at my feet and brushed back her mousy brown hair. "Dinner is at six every day, breakfast at eight or later on the weekends and lunch is whenever you feel like it. There's always plenty in the fridge but if you want anything in particular then just ask or use your spending money." She gazed around the room for a moment. "There are a few young children on the third floor but they're quite quiet so they won't get in your way. There's another girl- a bit younger than you- down the hall and two teenage boys about your age between you and her." She smiled at me. "I'm Madison and I guess you could say I'm the head of the house, and if there's anything you ever need then just come to me. Ava is the official councillor and takes care of lawyers and visits and all the official stuff. I'm basically just a mom." She chuckled, pulling back her sleeves. "Okay, enough of the boring stuff. I'll leave you in peace, Evelyn."
"Thank you." I said quietly and she smiled, closing the door behind her. I could still hear the music- it was down the hall so I supposed it belonged to one of the boys. I sighed, flopping down on my back, my hair splaying out around me. I clutched my quickly beating heart and let a sob out. Ava was right- it was nice here.
But it would never be home.
I didn't have a cell phone or a computer and I'm sure the land line was restricted... I pulled myself up and wandered to the window, sticking my head out so the wind could whip at my cheeks and wake me up. I looked down to the patio, wondering if there was any way that Seth could get up here.
"Yo, don't jump." Came a voice and I looked around in a flash, blinking as I saw a willowy, pale boy staring at me. His hazel eyes were light behind his fringe of brown hair. "Or, whatever, jump. You know, could save you from all of this." He lifted his hands up and sighed, running a hand through his hair. "They said your name was Evelyn? I'm Daniel, but call me Dan." He put out his hand for me to shake and I edged forward. He gripped my hand and smiled. "I'm not going to kill you." He said quietly and I suddenly realised I hadn't uttered a word.
"O-oh, sorry." I said, letting go and moving back to the window. "I guess... I'm still in shock."
He nodded, looking around the room. "I always liked this room..." He murmured, wandering over to the other window and looking out. "Eh, mine's better." He grinned, looking to me. "Painted the walls grey." He chuckled. "The kids upstairs want to copy me but I paid for the paint out of my own money." He laughed, walking to the door. "Madison's pasta is pretty awful. Jo and I are banding together to order a pizza. Want some?"
"Jo?" I asked, my voice all whispers. He smiled, his eyes lighting up.
"Yeah, the other girl? She's pretty cool. Thirteen. Has a tattoo. She was forced into getting it..." He laughed awkwardly. "Well, do you want some?"
"Um..." I sat on my bed again. "No, I'm okay. Thank you."
He shrugged. "Alright." He opened the door. "We might slide a slice under the door..."
"It would make a mess." I said.
He laughed. "Yeah, okay." He nodded, closing the door behind him. I let out a deep sigh, pulling my legs up to my chest, feeling extremely insignificant. The room was so cold I started to get a runny nose and so I got up to close the windows. I hated them. It was like I was pushing out Seth. I gazed outside for a long time, just hoping to see him walk out onto the grass, his tall lanky form coming up to me. I wanted to kiss him. To tell him I loved him. To whisper all the things that went through my head whenever I saw him.
I unpacked my things slowly, listening to the music that played down the hall. I never really listened to music but I realised I should get into it more. It was this rock-folk-punk kind of music and the artist sung softly, almost as if it were a love poem they were playing to.
It felt so strange to be in this room, in this house, in this part of the state. So far away from all I knew... it broke my heart to think of all my friends, my family, my sick grandpa... being so far away from my parents. I knew they were with me wherever I went but not being able to physically visit them whenever I liked was a real hard pill to swallow. And Seth... I didn't know how I was going to live without him.
I started to cry again as I thought about our teary goodbye and I got so worked up I had to sit down on the bed. It wasn't my bed. This was just some house I was hostage in.
No, I should be grateful I wasn't in some horrible slum. I swallowed my tears, my skin red and blotchy. I hoped Daniel wouldn't walk in again to see me like this.
Dinner came and went and still I stayed in that room. I eventually opened the window again, hoping Seth would appear and take me into his arms. The cold lapsed over me like waves and so I bunked under the duvet and the blanket that smelt of home. I couldn't cry any more. I was all out of tears.
I began to imagine I was four years old again and my dad was putting me to bed. Logan and I shared a bunk in those days and I was always on the bottom in case I fell out during the night. I was quite the tosser. So mom would push him up the ladder while dad carried me over and placed me on my mattress. I remembered him kissing my forehead and tucking the covers around me. He reached up to kiss my brother and my mom scoped down to give me a hug. She squeezed my shoulders.
"I love you, pumpkin." She whispered. I smiled as she kissed my cheek tenderly. Dad ruffled my soft hair and then they were gone, closing the door as quietly as they could.
I awoke to ruffling and I sat up, blinking in the darkness. Soon my eyes adjusted and I gasped to see Seth cursing quietly as his shorts were caught in the window. I rushed to him, helping him unhook himself and suddenly he was grabbing me tightly and kissing me, pushing me up against the wall. It was such a shock to the system but I desperately tried to savour it. Then he bent back, breathing hard.
"Sorry." He murmured. "I just-"
I reached up to cup his cheek, my eyes flickering between both of his. "Don't be. I'm just... so glad you're here."
"I should've come sooner but we had to figure out stuff..." He sighed, brushing tendrils of my hair behind my ear. "I didn't mean to wake you up."
I smiled, breathing in the scent of him. "Please, I love it when you wake me up."
He chuckled, a little breathless and he kissed me softly once again. We moved over to the bed and he hugged me close under the covers, placing soft kisses all over my face. It felt like we had been separated months not hours. He smelt of the sea... the salt clung to his hair. I ran my fingers through it and he just gazed at me, his eyes so warm. I didn't ask what he had to sort out. All I wanted to do was be with him for the few precious hours we had.
He kept me safe through the night, his warm arms circled around me, his heart beat humming under my ear. I held him as close as I could, the room still bitingly cold to me.
He left at around seven and I gazed down to him as he climbed from the window. He looked up to me, his eyes capturing the sunrise. I leant down to kiss his lips softly, gripping the windowsill as tightly as I could. He breathlessly let go and scaled down. My hair blew in the breeze and he looked up to me. He looked oddly pale and thin. He blinked and then left, running down the yard until he was out of sight.