My body tingled with excitement like it did yesterday. That voice, I’ve heard it before. Slowly, I turned around to see the same beautiful Woman. She stood there, facing me with her back to the bright sun, giving her a silhouette of her perfect shapely body. I’d forgotten how beautiful she was. Her eyes were a beautiful bright scarlet, and her hair was a coppery shade of red that it looked like living fire. She wore a long white dress that had two straps over her high shoulders and had a slit on the side showing a bit of her bare leg. To finish the look, her face was flawless. She looked like she’d just come off a runway in Paris. What the hell was she doing here wearing that?
I tried to find Becky and Lilly, but they had already gone, and stragglers seemed not to notice her. I tried to pluck up the courage to talk to her.
“You’re that woman I met yesterday,” I said with no confidence.
She gave a smile that could light the darkest of nights, and I took a step back.
“You don’t have to fear me, Ellie.” she said with such a soft voice.
I burst out into rage “How the hell do you know my name, who the fuck are you, and what is happening to my fucking life.” I screamed.
The Woman just stood there with her eyes brightly focused onto me.
“You’re just like your mother.” she said.
“My mother?” I said asked slowly.
“Yes, allow me to introduce myself I am, Rhea. You could call me a friend of your mothers.” she whispered.
My head was swimming with questions. This Woman says she’s a friend of my mum’s? Was she a mental patient?
“Are you sick or something, my mum is dead!” I yelled. “What is wrong with you? Why do you keep stalking me? Are you crazy or something? Leave me alone!” I puffed.
“I know it must be hard for you, Ellie, but you need to know that I’m here for you.”
“What do you mean, you know nothing about me, I want nothing to do with you!”
“Ellie, you must listen to me. You are-.” her words cut off.
A car horn sounded behind me, and I whipped around to see Kate pulling up to the kerb. I yanked the door open and jumped straight into the car before it came to a complete stop. I then told Kate to drive.
I breathed a sigh of relief as the car travelled away from the stalker. Kate noticed my heavy sigh and then the questions started.
“Who was that woman you were talking to, Ellie? You look a little spooked.”
I didn’t want to say anything at first, but then I gave in. “It’s the woman I told you about.” I replied.
“Her!” she said surprised and took her eyes off the road.
“Kate the road!” I reminded her, and she snapped back to reality.
“Sorry, but when you said about a woman talking to you, I thought it would be a middle age woman or something, but not a supermodel.” she said.
“Yeah, she looks all dolled up.” I replied.
“Dolled up isn’t the word, did you see that dress must have cost a fortune?”
“Yeah, it looks expensive.” I said blandly.
“Right, phone your Dad, tell him you’re with me for the afternoon.” Kate said.
“Really?” I said with excitement. I took my phone out and found the number straight away, I held the phone to my ear, and he picked up within a few rings.
“Hi Dad, I will be with Kate for the afternoon, is that OK?” I asked.
I could hear him thinking it over. “Where are you going?”
“We’re just going to hang out that’s all.” I replied.
“All right but make sure your not home too late, have fun.” he hung up.
“He said yes.”
“I have such a wonderful brother,” Kate chirped. “Right I’m starving, let’s get a burger.”
Come to think of it. I hardly ate anything for lunch, and the thought of a burger made me hungry. Kate continued down the road and took a left and then a sharp right turn. As I gazed out of the window, everything flew passed like a blur as we passed the different streets and carried on down the road. Kate slowed down and turned into the drive through. There was another car ahead of us, waiting to be served. I could see kids jumping up and down in the car with excitement.
“What do you want, my treat?” Kate asked.
It didn’t take me long to think about what I wanted. “Cheeseburger, large fries, and strawberry milkshake, please.” I asked.
“What, no ice cream?” Kate laughed as we pulled up to the window. She gave the order to the woman and added two ice creams and paid cash.
“Did you just order ice cream as well?” I asked.
Kate gave a devilish smile.
Kate moved the car forward and grabbed the hot bag full of food. It smelled so good that I hurried and grabbed the bag out of her hands. Kate asked for some sauce and the attendant gave her a handful. She parked the car around the corner and we ate our food while listening to the radio. I ripped off the paper covering my burger and took a vigorous bite. It tasted so good, and I even dipped a few fries into the frosty milkshake. (Even though it’s not good for you, but I needed the comfort food.)
“So what’s going on in school then?” Kate asked while putting hot fries into her mouth.
I knew this question would come up, eventually. “It’s okay, just the same.” I replied.
“Is that all, how’s Becky and Lilly I haven’t seen them in a while?” Kate said.
“Yeah, they’re good, we have our difficulties, but I don’t think I could face school without them.” I answered.
“Oh, and why’s that then?” Kate asked. She knew the answer already, but she wanted to talk about it.
“Just that school is sometimes hard for me, that’s all, I don’t have many friends in school and sometimes I’m on my own.” I said while taking another bite.
“It gets better. Trust me, when you’re older, school may seem a million years away.”
“Kate, why are you here?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” Kate looked bewildered.
I stared at her, waiting for her answer.
“Fine,” she broke. “Your Dad worries about you, Ellie. Your behaviour is scaring him.”
“I didn’t know that.” hearing Kate’s confession made me feel guilty. The burger tasting foul in my mouth.
“He told me he found you on the floor the other night. He thought you were dead.” Kate said, “You know how he worries.”
I drank from my milkshake. The coldness spiked throughout my head, giving me severe brain freeze.
“There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m fine.” I lied as I rubbed my forehead.
“I’m not saying there is, but if you need to tell us anything you can, OK?” Kate said.
Did they think I was on drugs or something, well who can blame them when they find me curled up on the floor screaming and shaking.
“Ok, let’s change the subject, are there any boys you like?” Kate asked.
It relieved me when Kate finally changed the subject, but this was another topic I was no good at. “No, not really, I’m kinda’ invisible to them, but Becky’s the one that has the attention.” I said.
“Does it bother you?” she asked.
For a moment I thought it was a weird question to ask. I was never jealous of Becky, but sometimes, I’d wish I had her confidence just to go for it, but that wasn’t me at all. I brushed off the self-doubts and answered her question.
“No, not really.” I answered.
I took the last handful of fries, dipped them into the sauce and shoved them into my mouth. Kate handed me one of the ice creams and I picked it. Dad brought in the big guns in with Kate. He knew she could get me to talk, and that was low for Dad, but I could understand where he was coming from. I knew he was just looking out for me. I must have a proper talk with him soon.
Now it was my turn to question Kate. “So how goes the dating then?” I asked.
“Not good to be honest,” she replied. “Looks like we’re in the same boat.” she laughed.
It was nice to hear Kate laugh for once. She might put up a front of a robust woman that lets nothing get to her, but I worry for her sometimes.
“How’s work?” I asked.
“Yeah, it’s fine, very busy I don’t have time to sit down. More patients are coming in everyday and there’s talk about shutting down another ward, which people won’t be happy about. I think there will be protesters outside the building and that makes my job even harder if we cannot get the patients in.”
Kate works as a nurse at the local hospital and she’s great at her job, always there when someone needs help, but some nurses at that hospital don’t give a crap. No bedside manner at all.
When I had my appendix out at the local hospital and I remember one nurse on the ward. She was a large stumpy woman with a face that could scare any child. This horrifying woman was having difficulty finding a vein in this poor lady’s arm. I could tell the woman was in pain, but the nurse did not care and told the poor woman to shut up. How can any nurse act like that? It was horrible to watch. Luckily Kate was on the same ward and saw how she was butchering this poor woman’s arm and took over and she did it within seconds.
“You finished?” Kate said, pulling me from my memories.
It took me a moment to respond to her. I looked down and saw that I was just playing with the half-melted ice cream. I stared down into the creamy pot as if it contained all the answers to all of my problems, but it didn’t.
“Yeah, sorry,” I said as I passed her the ice cream and the other rubbish to her. As I did our hands touched and I felt my stomach turn. Fearing the worst, I knew what would happen. I observed her face, the rapid change in her personality, fearing the animalistic lust that I inflicted on people. A few seconds passed and nothing happened.
“Are you going to let go?” asked Kate.
I sat there with my hands gripped onto Kate’s hands. Nothing at all. There was no change. Releasing my grip, I touched her upper arm and again I waited for her to turn.
“What are you doing?” Kate confusedly asked.
I took my hands off Kate with surprise. “Just seeing if you’re cold that’s all.” I lied.
Kate threw a puzzled look my way and left the car, and I watched her walk to the outside bin. Had my curse somehow disappeared? No, I don’t think it was that easy. But it works on others. Something wasn’t right here. Anyone who touched me went crazy, but not her? Kate jumped back into the car and wiped her hands with a napkin.
“I think I overdid it.” she said while rubbing her stomach.
Kate put the key into the car, and it roared to life. She pulled out of the car park and turned down the same road. The drive home was fast and not a word was spoken.
I must have freaked Kate out. I thought.
She parked the car right outside the house, and I was about to get out the car when Kate tugged at my school blazer. I turned to face her, and she had a worried look on her face.
“Please take care of yourself and your Dad,” she politely asked. Why was everyone freaking out over me?
Kate brushed some hair from my forehead and kissed it gently. The kiss was warm and loving, but again nothing happened to her.
We both stepped out of the car and entered the house to see my Dad sitting on the sofa with what looked like a hot cup of tea.
“Did you have fun, girls?” he asked.
“I think she did, Ellie pigged out, though.” laughed Kate.
“Hey!” I said as Kate gave me a playful nudge. “You’re the one who ordered the ice cream, not me.”
“Yeah, yeah. I’m off,” she said, jingling her keys. Kate came over and gave me another kiss and an enormous hug.
Before Kate left the house, she turned and gave me a wink, and then she was gone.
“So what did you girls talk about then?” he asked.
I knew he was asking for me to spill all, but there was nothing to tell, really. “I thought you would have waited a while before asking,” I said. “There’s nothing to say, just girl talk.”
I climbed the stairs and changed from my school clothes and into my lazy clothes. “Ah, that feels better.” I said aloud.
I joined my Dad downstairs to watch TV. He held out a freshly hot cup of tea as if he knew I was about to ask for one. Taking the mug off him, I settled down in the comfy armchair while slowly sipping the tea, hoping not to burn my mouth. Dad sat on the sofa next to me and we both watched TV together. Nothing great was on at the late afternoon and I liked it when all the dramas came on at night, but some of them were gruesome. I took another sip and felt the warmth of soothing tea hit my stomach.
“So how’s work, Dad?” I failed at small talk.
He laughed softly. “It’s not bad, but it’s a bit tiring.” Dad worked as a manager for a small company in the city, and he enjoyed it, but his working hours could be demanding.
When he said that, I then noticed the harsh wrinkles forming under his eyes. Was I adding to his tiredness? I know how he worries about me, but I wish I could make him relax more about things.
“Dad, you don’t have to stress about me, you know.” I blurted out.
He looked surprised. “Where did that come from?” he asked.
“Well, we have been talking, and the way Kate says it, it sounds like you are worried about me, is that true?” I had to ask him about it.
It was a few seconds before he spoke. He rubbed his face and leant forward as if to tell me something serious. (Uh oh)
“Ellie, you are my daughter, I will always worry about you, it’s my job,” he took a deep breath. “I didn’t want to tell you this, but when you were a child, some people acted very weird to you.” he paused for a moment, “you were kidnapped when you were a child. Someone who worked at the school you used to go to.” My eyes shot open. Why didn’t I remember this?
He shifted towards me and gently took my hands into his. I wanted to run away from him, wanted to flinch away, but I stared into his eyes, waiting for the madness to start. Like Kate, nothing happened. There was no madness in his eyes, no sign to attack me. I shut off my busy mind and continued to listen to his every word while watching his eyes.
“When you were taken from me, I thought I lost you, with your Mum gone as well I think I would have gone crazy, but it was with Kate’s help I got through it and it was a teacher at your school who spotted you with a man, luckily he didn’t get far. He was deranged, but after they had called the police, I got you back safely.” he gave a vast sigh. “That is why I worry, Ellie. Sometimes I think it will happen again.”
“What happened to the man who took me?” I asked.
“They took him away but I don’t know what happened to him, they didn’t tell me.” he said.
“What do you mean they?” I asked.
“The police,” he replied. “We were so relieved to have you back and after that we moved and people took a liking to you quickly, and I thought it would happen again so we moved around a lot.” his grip on my hand tightened. “I just want you safe, Ellie, you are my world, and I would do anything to protect you.”
I could feel my eyes watering up. “Dad,” I firmly said. “I won’t let anything happen to me.” I gave a teary smile.
I almost forgot to tell him about that woman, but would it just add to more worry? I told him.
“Uh, Dad.” I paused, “I saw that woman again today.”
He pulled his hands away from mine and I wished he hadn’t. He sat upright and was about to say something, but I blurted out. “She said she’s a friend of Mum’s.” hoping it was the right thing to say.
He had a stern look on his face that frightened me a little. “What do you mean she was a friend of your mother’s, is this some sick joke?” he was getting mad. I could see his fury building up.
“S-she said that her name was R-rhea.” I stuttered.
“See, Ellie, there are people out there who want to harm you.” he said thrusting his finger to the door.
“Dad, please calm down.” I pleaded. He paced back and forth, mumbling under his breath. He scared me. He hardly got mad, and now he was rambling. I should have said nothing at all.
“Dad!” I shouted.
Quickly he turned to face me and his anger faded. He could see how scared I was, and he dropped and hugged me tightly. I cried again while he clutched me. Everything that I had tried to push down came rushing up to the surface. The name-calling, the bullying, the stalker and her sick games and even the loneliness. I bottled it back up, but it exploded and waves of tears fell my face and I couldn’t catch my breath.
“I’m sorry, Ellie.” He said.
I pulled away from him with my head down. I didn’t want him to see me with my face all red and puffy. He lifted my head and wiped my tears away as I tried to calm myself down; I tried to get my breathing under control. Slowly, I stood up and went into the kitchen and I poured myself a cup of water and drank it down in one gulp. The icy water was nice and refreshing, I placed the empty glass on my flushed cheeks, feeling the sharp coldness of the glass against my skin.
My Dad walked into the kitchen without saying a word.
“I bet I look like a right state?” I said while trying to laugh.
He stayed silent.
Outside the kitchen window, the sun was setting, turning the sky a black orange. It was getting late, and I wanted to go to bed so bad.
“I think I want an early night,” I said while still staring out the window.
“Yeah, it is getting late. Goodnight, Ellie.” he gave me a gentle kiss on the forehead.
My tired legs climbed the stairs, and as soon as I opened my door, Dad called from downstairs. “Kate’s still taking you to school again tomorrow.” he said.
I gave an eye roll and threw myself onto the bed with a flop. I felt too to stand up and take my clothes off, so I awkwardly fought against my pyjamas bottoms and threw them across the room, missing the basket by an inch. I clutched onto my pillow and brought my fluffy blanket around me. My mind got me thinking. Dad touched me on my hands. He didn’t go crazy, like Kate. What was going on? For the first time I was too tired to continue that train of thought, and for once sleep came easily to me.
I awoke to a buzzing alarm clock and lifted my weary head. It seemed as if I just gotten into bed. I wanted to throw that damn alarm clock across the room.
“Better get up then,” I said out loud, hoping it would jolt me out of bed. I pushed back the covers and slowly stretched my tired muscles. I threw off all my clothes and groggily jumped into my shower and pushed the button for the hot water. I stood back for the water to get warm, not wanting to get hit by lukewarm water. The warm water hit my skin, and I felt my body slowly awakening. I reached out for my strawberry body wash, when I noticed it wasn’t there. Then I knew Dad had been in my shower and stolen it. I settled for my vanilla one instead. Quickly, I showered and dried and brushed my hair. Today, I had my hair loose since it was naturally curly. Downstairs, I could smell something cooking.
“I hope its pancakes,” I said as I pulled my skirt on.
I hurried down to be greeted by the mouth drooling smell. In the kitchen, sitting on the table, were the pancakes covered with lots of syrup. Dad stood at the cooker, trying to flip some oddly shaped pancakes, hoping they didn’t go on the floor, (like last time).
I sat down in the kitchen and took the knife and fork beside me.
“Moring, Dad,” I said. “Oh yeah, have you been using my strawberry scrub?” I raised a playful eyebrow.
He took a while to answer. “It just smells so good, that’s all.” he laughed.
“Well, I didn’t hear you come in.” I said.
“That’s because you were snoring your head off, I could have walked through your bedroom with a marching band and still could hear your snoring.” he laughed.
He placed more pancakes in front of me and set the syrup bottle onto the table. My eyes lit up as more piled onto my plate. It didn’t take me long to finish when I noticed that Dad wasn’t eating.
“Why mot meeting?” I said with my last mouthful of pancake.
“Say that again in English?” he chuckled.
I swallowed a mouthful and repeated. “Why are you not eating?”
“I have to go into work early and I wanted to see you off to school.” he said.
“Fine.” I mumbled.
Dad was sipping his hot beverage while I was demolishing my pancakes.
When I finished, Dad took my plate, and I said my thanks. I grabbed my bag from the living room and heard the horn from Kate’s car. Throwing my hand up, I gave my Dad a wave and left the house. Not before I made sure my face was clean from breakfast. Kate had parked outside blasting some music, and I swore that I could see the car bounce up and down.
I ran to the passenger side of the car and let myself in. Kate greeted me with the biggest smile.
“You’re in a pleasant mood today,” I said, struggling over the music.
Kate turned down the booming music. “Sorry, yeah, you could say I’m in a good mood.” she winked.
I smiled at her. I was happy when Kate was happy. Sadly, few good things happen to Kate, but seeing her like this made me smile. We pulled away from the house and drove down the street.
“So what’s got you in a good mood then?” I waited for her answer.
“Well, this guy phoned me up last night and asked me if I wanted to go out.”
“Really? That’s great, so what’s he like then? Is he up to your standards?” I asked her.
“He’s great, funny and kind. He works with me down at the hospital.” Kate replied.
“I’m happy for you, Kate. Hope it works out.” I smiled.
“We are meeting up this Saturday for a drin-”
Before Kate could say any more, something smashed into the side of the car, throwing us across the road with deadly force. The windows shattered, sending shards of glass flying across my face, slashing at my bare skin. The car skidded across the road and I tried to hold on to anything thing that I could find, but the car lost its grip and flipped over. Pain rippled throughout my body as the car rolled through the air, throwing my body from side to side. My head slammed against the window, making my vision blurry and dark until the car finally landed on its roof with a loud ear-shattering crash.