Chapter 2. Small Talk
Cathy almost drowned herself into the cold bathtub as her mind subconsciously recalled those strange visions. She coughed heavily, the pain swirled on her chest.
The visions looked as real as she could touch a towel next to her. Every detail depicted something about the past of someone looked so familiar. She struggled to understand it, of how to put all the puzzles together. What was more important, of how those visions could keep coming back into her head. Nonetheless, the recurring dreams had stopped since Sylvia Elle arrived yesterday.
She rose from the bathtub, and stood still in front of the mirror, looking at a reflection of a young girl with a pale white skin as if she lost a lot of blood, and a pair of sleepless dark-brown eyes.
Her heart was beating stably as she intentionally recalled those strange visions again.
A woman was riding a horse. She had red highlights on her mahogany hair, and her beautiful white skin covered behind a royal armor that smeared with gold and silver, symbolized the nobility of where she came from. Next to her, an old man came as the captain for the warriors who were always following both of them from behind. The wind blew ragingly, and a very tough battle was about to begin, but then, the vision blurred out once the enemy appeared…
Another vision came, but it was unclear; a beautiful view of the castle’s front yard in the winter, with red roses grown withered into the blackness, but only one that outgrown perfectly fine.
A little princess came to pluck it. She was amazed with the flower that could survive the coldness of winter. But suddenly, a stranger was watching her. She stared back at that woman in black robe.
The woman was shy to greet the little princess, and feared the magnificent beauty that the little princess had always possessed. After all, the woman’s heart was touched by the kindness that the little princess had shown to her when the only red rose was given for a woman of her kind—a pitiful one. And so, the little princess said that the woman was as beautiful as the red rose.
Her senses returned like an elastic magnet when someone knocked the door. She walked out while her hair still dripped wetly on her white long sleeves blouse.
She surprised to see Elle stood frozenly in front of the door, staring with observant eyes.
“I’m just making sure you’re okay,” Elle said. “You were coughing and screaming.”
Cathy bewildered against her attitude. “I’m okay.”
“No, you aren’t.”
“I slipped, that’s all. There’s no need to worry,” she said and walked away ignorantly.
Elle stared quietly, looking at her back. Her face looked unreadable, and her atmosphere was somehow felt absurd as if something wasn’t click with the way she moved.
However, Cathy didn’t want to make it as a big deal, and so she went to her own bedroom.
The curtains still closed, just like the first time she woke up. She noticed that her mom had not visited her bedroom this morning, unlike usual.
As her eyes hovered at another thing, there was something odd; a series of familiar books and journals about occultism suddenly moved from a storage room to her study desk.
“I put those on your reading list.”
Cathy astonished to death when Elle suddenly stood at the doorsill.
“Can you knock first?”
Elle kept on staring back at her, with such a strange keen eyes.
“Does my mom know about this?” Cathy sighed, bewildering. “She hates metaphysical stuff.”
“Does she?” Elle held her laugh, as if something tickled her throat. “It’s odd. Is it counted as being a hypocrite?”
Cathy annoyed. “What do you mean?”
“By the way, your mom invites us to go to the beach this weekend. I’d love to go along,” Elle was just ignoring her question, and then she walked out from her bedroom while dancing happily. It was hard to understand the existence of that strange girl when both of them had just barely met yesterday.
Subsequently, Cathy went downstairs once she smelled the smoked beef aroma, where Elle wasn’t seen around in the dining room. Her dad already sat down along with her mom to have breakfast.
“Manson, can you be realistic?” Her mom giggled. “It’ll be an amazing gift.”
Cathy dragged the chair as she asked curiously, “What gift?”
“You’re just in time. I agree with your mom to give you a gift for welcoming your senior year,” her dad said.
“Are you serious?” She bewildered, in a happy way.
“Finish your breakfast first, and then we’ll tell you more,” her mom said while giving a plate of smoked beef to her.
Once the breakfast had finished, her parents led her to their green garage. Suddenly, her eyes bulged out to see what was inside.
“Are you serious?” Her eyes stared gratefully at the new silver car. “It’s 2011 Ford Edge!”
“It’s time for you to drive your own car, since I won’t annoy Josh by letting you have a free ride every single day, and—” he paused, looking struggled to finish his last words “I won’t always be able to pick you up from school, because of my job lately.”
Cathy slightly looked disappointed at her dad for the fact, but she almost couldn’t hide her feeling if her mom didn’t shout out afterward, “Congratulation, my love.”
As her mom kissed her cheek, a memory from a year ago reminded her; it was a hard time when her mom taught her a driving lesson. She almost got a panic attack every time her mom yelled at her for the wrong move. She relieved that it was long over.
“The Police Department seems like hell for me now,” her dad said and sighed. “They’re holding a grudge too much for planning a big party in Bisbee.”
“What’s wrong?” Cathy wondered.
“It’s not normal to do that around here, even it’s about welcoming a professional detective from Portland,” her mom helped explaining, sounded peeved. “The new detective will be your dad’s partner.”
Cathy squinted bewilderingly at them. “There’s a new detective in town?”
“Gladly, Mr. Burk will be willing to help us to serve the food and beverage for free, since he’s our great friend,” her dad added.
“So, you visited him yesterday to talk about that?” Cathy wondered. “What about his little annual party for the restaurant?”
“That’s included. Just get ready this afternoon, we’ll go to his place,” her dad confirmed, and kissed her forehead concurrently.
Once her dad started his car machine, Josh arrived in front of the house while hollering, “Damn, Cathy!”
She realized that he knew about her new car. It did look like a sparkly new thing.
“C’mon kid, if you want to get a ride with her, please parked your bicycle in the yard properly. I have to go soon to the office,” her dad shouted at the car window,
Her dad was honking his car horn, telling him to move away.
“Alright, Mr. Charlotte,” Josh said as he moved quickly before he greeted Haile too.
Once Josh sat beside her, she spoke firmly, “First rule; no one allows to talk too much, or you can get out.”
“I’ve just going to say—”
Cathy stared in disbelief at him. However, he nodded right away, although he thought she was only joking.
“I mean, you have a shiny new car. Okay.”
Last thing she did from her driver seat was waving a goodbye at her mom.
They arrived at Bisbee High School in fifteen minutes. At the parking lot, no one saw her coming with the new car.
“I bet everyone will be amazed with your new car—”
Even when they headed toward Constitution class, Josh kept on mumbling. He also told her that he was glad to have his school schedule this year had mostly the same classes with her.
Once the bell rang at eight a.m., students entered their each class immediately.
They sat together in the back of the class, hiding from Mrs. Greene who would like to see her students dealt with hard questions, but what worse compared to when they saw Scott Herron sat in the same class as them.
Every pair of eyes stared secretly at him, mostly feeling terrified with his presence. No one had ever dared to stare directly at him, because it would be a big problem.
“What is he doing in our class?” Josh whispered, annoyed.
Cathy shrugged her shoulders, as she chose not to care and rather expected Mrs. Green to arrive soon.
He added then, “I’m grateful that Liliana and Stella aren’t here, but look at him—it’s the more terrible view.”
Teacher Pam Greene finally arrived and greeted everyone nicely, although she was late for ten minutes. She was an old woman who was very patience and kind-hearted. Anyone could tell that she was a lovable and caring person. Her gray hair reminded Cathy of Josh’s grandma, only that the teacher had a skinnier body.
She wrote the first subject on the blackboard; Responsibility and Duty.
“God, please save me,” Josh prayed a lot since the class had started. He had a bad feeling about this, and hoped the teacher wouldn’t pick him to answer a question. Cathy couldn’t blame him for being pessimistic since Mrs. Greene had always been intentional for doing that to anyone under her superiority, she acted that way because she was the oldest teacher in the school.
“What is your responsibility as a human being?” She asked the first question. “The duty we have ought to be the personification of positive vibes.”
Her beaming green eyes explored each fearful faces here, until she ended up staring at Scott, who sat in middle of the class. “Mr. Herron, can you answer it?”
He always crossed his arms during class. He didn’t seem like he would concern about anything.
“Do you really want to know my answer, or the one that you want to hear?”
Everyone shocked and chattered abruptly with his impolite behavior against the teacher.
“How dare him!” Josh muttered.
“He’s brave enough,” Cathy whispered.
Mrs. Greene gulped down her saliva, while trembling in rage before she rephrased, “Of course your true answer.”
Everyone waited agitatedly for him to respond.
Scott didn’t stare back at the teacher as he began to speak, “We have responsibility and duty to take care of this Earth. If we had realized about the environment since the very beginning, there wouldn’t be any stupid poster about saving this Earth or we’ll get the burning ozone,” and then he stared up boringly at her. “How is it?”
It was the longest words Cathy ever heard from him.
And so, the last two hours of Constitution class felt creepy for the students.
The canteen was their next stop, where the space looked more crowded than yesterday.
“That’s another proof to showdown Scoot in the principal office, or we can report him directly to the police, since your dad is a detective.”
“Stop kidding,” Cathy thought he was a maniac just now. “Don’t bother my dad with that.”
Josh giggled in his response.
Once they got tacos and soda cans, they sat next to the windowsill, and at the time, Cathy saw the clique girls arrived at the food queue.
“Oh, your fans are coming.”
“Look at their muscles, literally the Viking armies,” he mumbled.
“You need to give it a try. Stella has a crush on you.”
“I don’t need to care,” he snapped, hating her idea of getting out of his comfort zone.
Another second, Cathy saw something odd from outside the window. There was a strange white hair girl stood near the student camp, who looked like Elle from afar, but she couldn’t see clearly when that porcelain face overshadowed by the sun, and her hair blew along with the heavy wind, moreover, the old clothes that the girl wore made Cathy assured of what she saw.
“Seriously, I’m going to dead meat in here. Let’s go to our next class,” Josh said and grasped her hand.
When she looked back, the girl had gone from her sight.
She hated sport forever, although Josh said that everything would be okay.
When he patted her shoulder, Mr. Clark the athletic coach approached him.
Once the coach met her eyes, he felt floundered because he thought she might have a particular sick because of her pale skin. “You’re doing well, girl?”
Cathy felt annoyed whenever she met him, because he sounded more like underestimating her presence.
The girls would be playing the volleyball game, while the boys would take over the center of the gym, playing basketball.
Cathy felt awkward to take part, and she almost died from a heart attack when the volleyball flung from her tiny hand to snap someone’s head.
Soon, Cathy stood frozenly when she realized who the victim of her careless act was. All the girls also got shocked when they witnessed who got it. Everyone stopped from playing in the gym, and watched the scene nervously.
His brown eyes turned sadistic while suspecting who would throw the ball at him daringly, and the pain he felt was like hell.
She tried to approach him to apologies without trembling, but it was useless, her legs felt almost paralyzed when they met face to face.
He stared in annoyance at her. It was Scott.
“I’m sorry, I wasn’t careful.”
He seemed enduring his rage against this girl, whose face always looked innocent as if without sins. The tension in the air haunted the students. They were all worried for her.
“Forget it,” was all that he said. He went back to continue the basketball game with the boys.
She stood breathtakingly when knowing there was no doom. The girls surrounded her hurriedly, faking their sympathy. She thought they only exaggerated the moment.
“Are you alright?” A girl she didn’t know her name was shouted from behind. “I thought he would punch you in the face.”
“You’re lucky today!” Liliana added and exaggerated her pitiful expression. “He would usually pick a fight for a mess like that. Oh, gladly you’re not dead.”
“Shut up, at least she’s alright now,” Stella shouted while caressing her shoulder. She was the only one with the sincerity. “Don’t listen to the girls if they make you worry.”
They surprised when Josh barged in to drag her away from them.
“He didn’t do anything to you, right?” His eyes widely opened while examining her face. He always looked over protective to her.
“Don’t come anywhere near him, you know his reputation—”
“He’s the King of Bully. Is that what you want me to say?”
“Yes,” he sighed.
Mr. Clark hollered at him again under the basketball ring, but he couldn’t just leave her peacefully.
“I won’t be able to come at Burk’s Resto party, the coach wants me to stay for the baseball practice,” the sadness written clearly on his face as he said that.
“It’s okay, you have to practice for good,” she patted his shoulder.
“Kingsley, come back here!” The coach shouted again.
Josh annoyed at the coach, but he had to decide. He glanced worriedly at her, and said, “I’ve got to go, see you later.”
The school was over at noon. When she returned, her dad was already at home.
Her mom greeted her with a warm smile from the dining room. Elle was there too, talking to her dad about the current news topic, something about criminal acts these days. It seemed that Cathy wouldn’t be able to follow their conversation since she didn’t like any of political issues.
“We’ll be going out after you take a shower, so be quick,” her mom said while serving a cup of coffee for her dad.
She must had forgotten to ask. “What time the party will start?”
“At two p.m.” her dad answered.
Soon after, once she got into her bedroom and realized that something was missing from her satchel bag, she frustrated. It was her notebook—the one that had random sketches. There was no clue where it was, but she remembered precisely that she didn’t take it out the whole day.
“I’m dead,” she muttered.
Josh couldn’t even find it anywhere in school when she asked him for help.
“Please I need it. I don’t think I left it in class.”
“Cathy, seriously, there’s no book of yours,” he sounded exhausted as he talked on the phone. “Anyway, I just remember that this morning I rode to school with your car. How am I supposed to go home later?”
“Oh, God,” she felt guilty by now, instead concerning about her lost notebook. “Big sorry, I literally can’t go back because my parents are waiting downstairs. We’ll be going to town.”
“Ah, it must be Burk’s Resto,” He noticed. “So, what kind of friend are you who just abandoning me like this?”
“Glad that Mr. Clark has a motorcycle. You’re his top student. He must be nice if you ask for a ride.”
“Thanks for the very helpful suggestion. I must’ve been so unlucky today.”
The place was small and filled with wooden furniture of western style. There was a door in the back of front desk, which connected to the owner’s living house.
The old song from 50’s was played in the background. A few visitors started coming happily to this annual celebration, and they brought boxes of gift.
They were welcomed by the wife’s owner—Wendy Jones. She was a very good person, and touchy at small things, and she might cry if someone was being harmed. Wendy was born Native American, she had sweet tan skin, and a long straight black hair, brown eyes, slender body, and average height.
Meanwhile, Fam Burk was busied taking care the special table for the Charlotte family. He was the owner of this finest restaurant in Bisbee town. He wasn’t originally born here, he moved from California.
He had honey-brown eyes, white skin, and he was one-hundred-seventy-nine cm, which making Manson as the tallest man in this place since he was one-hundred-eighty-eight cm. Although Mr. Burk might seem older than his real age, they shared the same age of 47-year-old this year 2011. And they were best friends since a very long time.
“Isn’t this the beautiful Cathy Charlotte?” Mr. Burk looked amazed as they shook hands.
Wendy added, “Oh, you’ve grown up so fast.”
“Let’s sit here,” he led them to sit at the table with sofa.
They had a good time together for the last an hour. Talking never seemed enough for the parents. Cathy got bored for a minute that she wanted to observe the pictures they hung on the wall, but she was shy.
Nevertheless, she ended up asking another thing, “Mrs. Burk, where’s the restroom?”
“Just behind the wall’s bar, my dear,” she smiled sweetly.
Cathy rose from the sofa to go to the bathroom. After five minutes, she finally spent time to observe the pictures on the wall. Her curiosity led her mind to catch something from a picture of a little boy, while the other pictures were only sceneries. There were words written below the brown frame: The Loved One. 1998. Los Angeles, CA.
“He’s my son from my previous marriage.”
She saw that her parents still at the table with Wendy, while Mr. Burk came alone to check on her, and yet, he looked very welcome of her presence and everyone here.
“Where is he now?”
“His mother took him from me. It’s such a long story and sad,” he managed to smile, and she knew it was the sadness.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Burk.”
“Why would you apologies for something that wasn’t your fault?” He giggled. “Ah, by the way, he’s probably about your age this year.”
“Is he 17-year-old too?” She wondered.
Her dad suddenly came behind them, and shouted, “Hey, what are you two talking about?”
Mr. Burk patted his shoulder and left to take some nonalcoholic wines from the bar.
Eventually, her dad went to the bathroom, while she returned to the table again, spending the last minute here. As the sky turned darker, the party finished at five p.m.
Cathy was lying down above the bed, and staring at the ceiling. The blanket kept her warm from the cold night. She couldn’t sleep yet because of the creepy ambience had made her hard to fall asleep, and the silence idea won’t flatter the owl outside to stop chanting.
The continuance was unexpected as she saw the vision again. Her eyes already felt weary to hold the confusion inside her head; there were trees on the winter ground, and the little princess had grown mature. She wore red-embroidered gown, covered with a navy robe, while standing alone.
Kathleen—Kathleen—Kathleen. That name echoed again.
Cathy astonished; as if the princess was staring directly at her, but it was actually something from the woods that she had seen through.
The girl who resembled Elle wasn’t there this time. All that she saw was the beautiful princess whose face never been so clear. The vision blurred.
She heard the words that was being said with a flatter voice, and a sleepless possession that sounded alike with Gregorian chanting. The words demanded to be heard, the vision fell into place, and there she saw the castle building under the borealis green sky.
The stars weren’t falling from the sky, but to make them greener. If you could count them, your fingers would be infinite to condemn the immortality. If you ever knew the universe they had lived in, you wouldn’t hinge onto the mortal sadness because the stars had never been as bright as the lights. They were angels.