I hear the soft tread of footsteps and a slender figure dashes by me. She has long brown hair flowing down a floral dress. I squint to focus on his face only to find that it’s nothing but a blur.
My knees feel bruised and I find my knees plunged into moist dirt and grass. I leap to my feet and take in the scenery. Orange and pink leaves skip across the grass, which stretches for miles until it reaches the trees. There’s also a lake, water shimmering in the sunlight.
The woman scoops up a little boy in her arms and holds him protectively. Her presence brings warmth to the darkness a man in front of her seems to bring. He’s tall, husky, with jet black hair. He wears a black button up shirt, gray slacks, and has a gold chain around his neck. And, along with everyone else, his face is obscured.
“This is not your decision,” the man snaps and, in two long strides, is standing in her face. “You knew when he was born that this would happen.”
“Mommy, I’m scared,” the boy whispers and buries his head into his mother’s shoulder.
The mother smooths her boy’s hair and kisses the top of his head. “It’s okay, honey. You don’t need to be scared. Nothing will happen, I promise.”
The man snorts at the woman’s obviously false words.
She stands defiantly, holding her son in her arms and takes a step back. He mirrors the action. “You’re not taking him anywhere. He’s my son, not yours.”
He pauses and she continues to back away. “So it’s going to be the hard way, then.” He lunges at the woman and steals the boy from her arms, even though the boy kicks and hits him.
The woman screams as she reaches her arms out towards her son, but the man draws a knife from his pocket and she freezes.
“You wouldn’t dare,” she whispers with her fists balled at her sides. “You need him too much.”
The man aligns the sharp point of the knife closer to the boy’s neck. “Hurting him won’t make him useless, just scared.”
“Don’t hurt him,” the mother begs.
The boy hovers back from the knife. “Mommy, help me!”
Keeping a hold on the knife, the man reaches into his other pocket and pulls out some keys. “Or, if you want, I could use this?” He tips his head down to the boy. “How would you like to go on a boat? I could teach you how to swim.”
The little boy shrinks back. “But I can’t swim.”
“You’ll be fine,” the man coaxes as he takes another step towards a small motorboat. “I’ll be there to help you.”
“Knock it off!” The mother shouts and storms towards them. “He’s just a boy.” The woman stumbles, but quickly stands back up. “Please don’t do this.”
The man tightens his grip on the boy. “I won’t, as long as you get into the lake yourself,” the man sneers. “I’m giving you a choice. You or him.”
I leap to my feet. Is he going to drown her? Fighting the vomit burning in the back of my throat, I take a step towards them.
“You’ll never get away,” her voice quivers with hysteria. “I know the real reason why you want him and sooner or later, someone else is going to figure it out.”
The man lets a pause drag out as birds caw in the distance and circle their heads. “Get in the lake.”
I shake my head. No. This can’t be happening. I don’t want to see this, yet I can’t make myself run to them. My feet feel as though they are sinking.
“Don’t think you’ve won.” She holds her chin high and submerges her legs in the lake.
The water rises to her waist and I try to move again, my feet stuck. I glance down to see what is restraining me, only to find my feet buried in sand. I yank on them, trying to free myself. I glance back up at the woman, trying to see her own progress.
And just like that, she is gone. The man turns with the boy crying out and slowly walks away from the drowning woman.
My legs finally start working. Without thinking, I jump into the lake, forcing my legs against the pressure as the cold ascends higher up my body. When it reaches my chest, I freeze, realizing I don’t even know where the woman is.
My eyes snap open and I grab my chest, savoring the fresh air that invaded my lungs. What was that?! I internally scream, still breathing heavily. A rivulet of sweat drops from my nose and lands on my pajama pants, invading the fabric. Taking my sleeve, I wipe the beads of sweat off my face and move over to my dresser, grabbing the notebook from the bottom of a drawer.
I climb back on my bed and pull the covers over me, suddenly feeling cold again. Taking the pen out of the spine, I start scribbling the horrifying dream down.
I have never not been able to see faces. I wondered what this dream had to do with me. I’ve always had dreams I could do something with, but this one showed strangers. Or maybe I know them, but I couldn’t really know because of how blurred the faces were.
I finished writing down my nightmare and checked the clock. Still a bit early, but I could start getting ready by now.
The light patter of rain against my window signaled I had to dress warm today. I pulled on a long sleeve green shirt and a dark blue hoodie. Pulling on my usual pair of jeans, I braided my hair and headed downstairs for breakfast.
“Morning, Elana. How did you sleep?” The routine question echoed as I saw Lydia pouring some hot oatmeal into some bowls. She scooted one towards me and I moved it over to my usual place at the table.
“Fine,” I responded, adding sugar and milk just as Blake and Trysten entered, taking their bowls and coming to sit as well. She asked them the same question, and they gave the same answer as I did.
The rest of the crew came downstairs and grabbed their own bowls, coming to take their seat. There had been a few more chairs added to the table because of the growing household, but everybody still fit around more than comfortably. Everybody always sat in the same spot, as if there was some sort of silent seating chart.
Jules glared at me from her spot across the table. I ducked my head, hiding from her gaze. She continued to stare and smiled, as if she enjoyed making me this uncomfortable. Jules returned from whatever vacation she was on two days ago. Not once did she speak a word to me. On many occasions, she just glared at me or even taunted me at school. We actually shared a class together, too. I still can’t tell what her problem is.
I snapped my head up, finally having enough. “What is your problem?”
Jules’ smile widened. She was happy she finally made me snap. “I’m just trying to figure out why you’re here. I mean, you add no value to this group.”
Irritation stirred inside me and I squirmed while trying to keep it all contained. Lydia left the room, mumbling something to herself about dinner. Fine. Two can play this game. “Funny, I was just thinking the same thing about you.”
Jules straightened her spine. “At least I know what I can do. You’re, what, sixteen and you still don’t know what you can do? That’s sad. Too bad mommy didn’t love you enough to show you.”
The room went dead silent and everyone stared at me, watching my next move. Everybody here knew she struck a chord.
Anger bubbled under my skin, just begging at me to reach across this table and ring her neck. “At least I have people that care about where I am. You’ve been gone, what, a week? And how many people missed you when you were gone?” I paused, watching her in hopes of showing some sign I was making her as mad as she made me. Nothing. “None.”
“At least the people I know remember me. Tell me, Elana, has your daddy missed you? Does he even know who you are anymore? I bet he has no idea you even exist right now.”
Hurt tore at my heart at her words. Hate surged through my body. Hate at my new life, hatred at Jules for being such a pain in my butt, but more than anything, hatred that my old life was probably non-existent.
I rose from the table, my chair knocking to the floor in my quick movement. Hyene was up with me. She laid a hand on my shoulder, trying to settle me down. “Elana, don’t.”
Jules stood, still in her perfectly straight posture and showing her pearly whites proudly. “No, Please. I want to see someone like you try to take on a Shape Shifter.”
I realized my jaw was tightened as I spoke through clenched teeth. “Someone like me?”
Jules slapped her hands on the table and leaned closer to me, her face in mine. “I mean a poor defenseless Foreseer that can’t even save her own skin.”
My chest heaved and my hand snapped up, aiming for her throat. Before my action could even take effect, Claire grabbed my hand. “Okay, I think that is enough talking for one day, don’t you think?”
Claire dragged me out of the room, her newfound strength easily dragging me through the house. She released her grip and opened my room door, marching in. I followed.
“What on earth was that, Elana? I’ve never seen you get so mad before.”
I replayed the scene in my head. She was right. I have never wanted to hurt someone before. In fact, I despised violence. And here I was about to attack a girl twice as strong as me.
Claire looked at me worriedly. “Elana, tell me what’s wrong. Please.”
I looked away from her. “I’m sorry, I guess I’ve just been a little edgy lately.” I thought about the dream I had. Maybe I’m just stressed out.
The question was simple, but at the same time, it asked so much.
“You had another dream, didn’t you?” She said, not even needing me to say anything. I opened my mouth when she grabbed my shoulder and stopped me. “Elana, what’s wrong?”
I looked at my feet, then back at her. “I couldn’t see the faces. They were all blurred.”
Claire released my shoulder. “What do you mean? Don’t you always see faces?”
“Yeah, I mean, I did. It was like a rule. But this one . . . I don’t know, it was strange. I didn’t know anybody in it, at least I don’t think I did. There was this woman, and this man was taking her little boy away. He looked, like, two. And after he did, he made her go into this lake and drown herself.”
“I thought you always knew the people you dream about.”
“Yeah, I did too.”
“Well, maybe you will meet them soon,” she suggested, trying to make sense of the same thing I couldn’t put together either.
“Probably. I mean, that’s the most logical explanation, right? Should I try to find this woman and warn her?”
Claire shrugged. “Maybe that’s the only way you can get to know who it really is in your dream, if you look for her.”
“But how do I do that?” I asked, imagining the amount of time it would take to track down the amount of people that have a floral dress and live by a lake.
“Do you ever dream the same dream twice?”
The only time that has ever happened was when I was young and I had a dream about my Mom. “Not unless something happens that could change the outcome. But they’re usually so close, there is really not much I can do to change them.”
Claire nodded. “Then do something. Start research, whatever you remember. We can do it after tutoring tonight, alright?”
I must have looked confused, because she explained her reasoning. “You didn’t help her in your dream, right?” I nodded. “Then that means in the dream, you weren’t there to help her, so you didn’t know her. If we start to do some research, the dream may change a little, and you could see it again. Maybe the faces with appear.”
Her logic made sense. If we can do something, maybe we can change the outcome. “I’m getting home after six because it’s my day to close the tutoring center. So, I’ll meet you in my room around that time?”
Claire nodded, smiling. I know she secretly liked doing this stuff. I checked my watch. We had ten minutes until school started. I grabbed Claire and hurried down the stairs, slinging my backpack onto my good shoulder at the same time.
We reached the lot where the cars were kept. The path leading to the driveway was still too overgrown to use, so we had to park a little bit away. However, Hyene was the only one left in the parking lot. She was sitting in the driving seat, sheltered from the light rain and warming up from the bitter cold. I opened the backseat door and threw in my backpack, taking Claire’s as well and setting it next to mine before climbing in and grabbing my seatbelt.
“Are you okay?” Hyene asked as we climbed in the car.
I looked at the back of Claire’s head. “Yeah, I will be.”