Val was in the living room when the two figures approached her. A woman and a man. Her vision was blurry, and she might not have been able to distinguish their faces, but she knew them all too well, for they had been haunting her dreams for the past two weeks.
It was always the same; like an everlasting play in a theatre. The same moves, the same people, the same outcome. Figurines dancing a ferocious dance.
The two abruptly stopped and turned their heads to their right, where another one appeared. Another man. She always felt a connection between her and the two but it didn’t make sense to her-how a dream could hold such power over her. She liked to fantasize about who they might be but it never took long to declare it nonsense and move on. It was just a dream.
The woman stood protectively before her while the two men lunged at each other. The third figure had a menacing air about him, one she couldn’t fully understand. And it had nothing to do with him bleeding all over the house.
His anger and bloodlust were coming out in waves, pulsing with animalistic need. But there was some small part of him, some dwindling thought that seemed to bring out some kind of softness in him; only to be snuffed out by an ever-growing hatred. The woman took her in her arms, holding her tight, as she witnessed the two men change forms, shifting to what could only be described as a wolf.
A very big wolf.
She was both the person being held by the woman and a watcher. She could see from all angles, feel what everyone was feeling-but it was all too hazy. The emotions blurred together and knotted in a way that any kind of attempt to read them would only cause a headache. But there was one feeling she could clearly distinguish-fear.
Val’s eyes started to burn and she squeezed them shut, opening them only when she felt the absence of the woman’s warmth.
Last thing she saw was the wolf’s teeth closing in on her, and then all went black.
Val opened her eyes and instantly regretted it, raising her arm to block the sun’s blinding light and inhaling deeply. She lazily raised her torso just enough to lie on her elbows and looked around. Same old.
The ground was wet as she pushed herself up, probably a result of last night’s rain. The mud had stuck on her pajamas and a section of the front–already dry-had started to peel off in small, ashy chunks.
It had long stopped being a surprise. Ever since she and Daphne moved in this damned town, she’d been waking up at this exact spot every day. Locked doors, windows, nothing worked. She was sleepwalking, probably stressed with the moving—that’s what she was told. But no one could explain how she got past all those locks, and so silently that is.
‘Try and settle in, that should help’, Emma–a colleague of Daphne’s-had told her. Easier said than done, Emma.
She looked around. The trees were forming a wide circle around her and they would spread for what looked like miles. This clearing was probably one of the very few parts of the forest without trees, consisting of plain grass, various sizes of muddy puddles, and a large, grey-ish rock glistening right in the very middle, right beside her. She sat atop it and waited.
“Val!” A voice breathed from behind. “You’re okay.” She stiffened at first, by reflex, but quickly relaxed when the familiar voice gave way to a face. She sounded tired.
“Yeah, all good. Haven’t you gotten used to it by now?” She made to laugh but a very dangerous scowl kept her mouth shut.
“I’m never getting used to that.” Daphne drawled, and then furrowed her brows. “Come on let’s go, you have school today.”
“You never fail to remind me.” She scowled but got no response as she followed her back to the car. It was supposed to be her first day–as Daphne constantly mentioned-but she didn’t really feel like going. No say in that matter, of course.
She was always told she’d miss it once it was over. Miss her friends, her classes; her easy life.
Education was important; obviously. She just never understood the need to drill information into their brains and see who’s the better parrot. Not to mention that one student all the teacher’s love goes to.
The first time she woke up at that clearing came to mind—their first night into town. She was terrified. She spent hours navigating herself out of the forest and when she finally made it home, Daphne was frantically speaking on the phone and freaking out before she noticed and threw herself at Val. It didn’t take long for her to start unleashing her questions. It got easier as the days passed, but the worry was still there.
Like any mother would be, she supposed…
Still; finding her there these days seemed to have taken a toll on her. She could see it in her face, no matter how much she tried to hide it. The sadness was still there.
Getting in the passenger’s seat, she kept playing with her fingers as Daphne turned the key. The engine came to life with a rusty groan and she made a mental note to discuss buying a new car at some point but she wasn’t going to mention it now, plus, she was way too attached to the old thing.
Frank was its name. Although she tended to call it Frankie, as in Frankenstein’s long lost puppy-car or something. Named after her toxic-blooded, shit-smelling, obnoxious airhead of an ex. Her words.
After Karen made the mistake of calling him while Daphne was present, she’d bashed the old thing to ruble and busied herself with fixing it back up. Turned out to be a wonderful learning experience for Val too. Who would have thought, right?
Good job, Karen.
The outrageously humorous part though was the fact that the guy had ‘the wits’ to save her contact as ‘Bobby’. Suffice to say, the honey-sweet voice that purred through the speaker didn’t exactly fit the description.
The car turned out to be more important than him, so after she did to it whatever pervy thing she wanted to do to the actual Frank, she calmed down, along with the rest of their neighborhood. Frank had become part of the family.
The drive wasn’t long, the silenced was what bothered her the most.
“We’re here.” Daphne pulled over in the driveway. Val looked up. Here goes nothing.
“Daphne?” She got a hum in response. “Can I ditch class for today? Just today! Please?”
As childish as it sounded, she didn’t care. There was something about this place that unnerved her. She kept to herself mostly, save for a good food run or two when she got tired of eating all that green in their fridge. Daphne was all about eating healthy, up ’till she’d walk in with two family-sized pizzas and a giant soda balancing on one hand while calling for ‘movie night’. And God, that woman could eat. Not that Val strayed behind, she had a good teacher after all.
Daphne gave her a ridiculous look and Val fixed her with a glare before she could start laughing. “Listen, I know it’s been a little tough but this could be really, really good for you. You could use a break, and an actual person to talk to instead of rotting on our couch all day.”
“And what’s wrong with that?” She cocked her head.
“The smell for one,” she countered, “the house needs to breathe after you finish practice you know.” Val shrugged and she gave an exaggerated groan. “Just try to settle in. Please?”
“No promises.” She waved with her back facing the woman as she got out of the car and walked to the door.
“Get ready and come down, I’m driving you there today!” She was persistent, she had to give her that.
Val closed the door behind her and wore a pair of slippers to avoid making a mess with her muddy bare feet. Again.
On her right was the kitchen and on her left was the living room with only a large couch and their big, screen TV. The moving truck with the rest of the furniture was supposed to be coming in the next few days.
At her front were the stairs leading to the second floor, lining up with the walls, leaving only a small space underneath for the storage room. She took the stairs.
A large space separated the rooms from each other. The one on the far right was Val’s, the one in the middle was Daphne’s, and the one on the left was the guest room.
She got into her room and quickly got rid of the muddy pajamas, replacing them with some black ripped jeans and a white sleeveless blouse, cherishing the refreshing feeling her shower had given her. She brushed down her dark brown hair and wandered down her form as she finished.
Her body was fairly built, muscles that hid beneath her skin a result of Daphne’s constant training and learning how to fight –well, it started as self-defense but it never really worked that way. She had a temper, something to work on.
She was tall and her tomboy appearance had started giving way to womanly curves that had caught a few eyes at their previous hometown. She didn’t think she had anything to change, and a diet was out of the question. She loved her body and nothing would change that. She stared at the angry scar on her collarbone for a little while before finally looking up.
Her eyes were a deep brown that could’ve fooled for black. Gleaming under the bathroom light, a honey-brown halo rimmed around her iris and tendrils of it bled into the deep, deep brown. She didn’t let herself dwell on who she got them from before she put down the brush.
Val threw herself on her bed, sighing, wishing for everything to be as it was. Even her dull ceiling looked more interesting than school right now. And her friend, Alis… She missed her friend.
It’d be the same old story. New girl in town, people staring, not knowing anyone, more staring… And there’s no way of knowing how long this visit’s going to last.
Looking around, her room was pretty big, thus feeling empty with only a bed, a closet, and a desk put inside. She’d have to change that; if they stayed. She put on her black sneakers and locked the door behind her, the thought of having breakfast unusually forgotten. As she walked toward the car, she stopped at the sound of her name being mentioned. Daphne had taken the car out of the driveway and seemed to be too concentrated with whomever she was talking to notice her.
“She’s getting ready for school. We need to tell her, Zack, I can’t keep lying to her.” A long silence followed and Val tried to stay as quiet as possible, her confusion had her opening her mouth to speak, but her brain wisely kept it shut. “Things are getting out of hand and you were supposed to be here a week ago.” Another pause. “Okay, I’ll be waiting.” She finally said, sighing, and turned off her cell phone.
Taking a deep breath, Val got in the car. Daphne didn’t let any surprise show, if she had any, and started the engine, the familiar rumble waking her body. Daphne was not one to lie to her, she always believed that however tough the truth was, you needed to hear it. Always-until now...
“Val! Are you listening?” Daphne asked, clearly irritated. Val was too caught up with her thoughts to realize they had arrived at the school.
“Sorry, what?” She gave a lazy grin but when she tried to rest her hand on the window, it slipped and she lurched slightly to the side.
“As I was saying,” she furrowed her brows. “since it’s your first day, I took a two-hour leave from the hospital to be able to drive you here but I won’t be doing that again, nor will I be picking you up. I know work has been hectic lately but I’m working on it, okay?” Val shrugged and threw an ‘okay’ over her shoulder as she stepped out of the car. She knew that being a doctor took a lot out of her and her time but things would never change, and Val knew it. Somehow, training her ’till her legs gave out was better than this.She waved Daphne goodbye and stood at the school’s entrance. Taking a deep breath, she stepped in.