Going Home (Going Home#1)

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Adria: During Storm II

I’ve seen them before, but I don’t remember when and how. It isn’t my first time. That’s all I think once more as I close the restroom door behind me.

You are one of us. This line keeps echoing in my head. How am I one of them? I wasn’t scared of them but by the fact that I’ve seen and have felt them before. I’d been scared of those feelings. That’s why I’d run.

I kick the locker open. They are all rusted and old, so it isn’t a problem for me to open them with a kick or two. Eric is new, so he doesn’t know how things go around here. And since he is taking the blame for all the damage, I realize I don’t care what happens to him. He is Headley’s grandson, the woman who I know well enough to know that she’s behind Dan, making sure I suffer.

I dig out a pair of jeans that fit my taste and a t-shirt of my size, which fits just too fine. I hate its color. It is green with ‘I-DON’T CARE’ printed on it.

I jump up at the knock behind me, “What now?” I ask Eric, annoyed. I’m angry at him for being there when I ran back to A and for helping me here. I don’t like depending on anyone, and that’s exactly what I’d done. Why? Because he was there and I was losing it, I tell myself. And because no matter how hard I tried, their eyes were still with me as if they were watching my every move. The feeling alone sent a chill down my spine.

“Did you find anything?” He asks.

I raise the t-shirt and jeans that I’m holding in my hands, “I found something for myself. I’ll go change in the office, and you can look through if you can find anything.”

He nods and steps into the room. “This café has only female employees.” He makes a face as he bends down to look into the drawer below one of the lockers. “And one male employee!” I roll my eyes and leave the room.

I’ve been wearing Orla’s clothes for the past year, and all of them were baggy. I preferred them that way, for they ensured that no one would give me a second look, not that anyone would’ve dared as I’m a well-known freak of Baskerville towns. As I pull up jeans, I find out that they are not as tight as I’d feared. Instead, they are shorter. The shirt sure does show my curves and long arms. I feel uncomfortable and pull at the hem. I hate it, but I’ve got no choice. Last I throw on a small woolen scarf around my shoulders, which the idiot had thought was a sweater. I shake my head at that and try not to laugh. This Eric is surely something.

As I walk out of the room, I find him waiting outside with his back to the wall and staring up at the roof. I notice that he has changed as well though the clothes he found are a lot baggy for his slim but athletic frame. Ok, I just did not notice that. When he hears me, he turns to look and keeps looking. I roll my eyes and walk back to the front, for I know how I look right now. I’m used to catching unwanted attention wherever I go because of my long sleek, raven hair and almond shaped violet eyes. I don’t blame Eric for gaping at me.

“How....how long will storm last?” Eric manages to get out of the trance and goes back to sit in his chair without looking at me.

“It always lasts two hours max. As soon as the storm thins out, I’m leaving, for I don’t want anyone to see me here, let alone in stolen clothes.”

Now he looks over at me shamelessly, and I glare back at him, “You always wear old ladies’ clothes?”

“Shut up!” He chuckles and picks up his coffee cup.

We sit there for a long time without talking or looking at each other. I keep staring at the sky outside and keep wondering how I’ll get back to B? Going the longer route is not a wise option without my bike, which I’ve left in the woods. I’d have to go back to face those creatures again. No, I shake my head, those people again. Strangely I believed them when they told me that they wouldn’t hurt me, and now that I’ve recovered, I guess I’m ready to face them.

“Ok, I’m leaving!” I get up suddenly and pick up my wet clothes. Eric splutters coffee all over the table and looks at me, “Now? The storm hasn’t thinned out yet!”

“It has for me. I can’t risk people coming out onto the streets before I go.”

He stands up and looks down at his shirt, which is surely going to stain, “Well....” He shrugs.

“Thank you for helping me,” I avoid making eye contact, for this is the most awkward thing for me. I’ve always done everything by myself. Saying thank you is one of the most difficult things.

“Don’t be. Are you going back through the forest?”

“Actually, yes. I left my bike in there, and I’ve to go get it back no matter what!” I stuff my wet clothes into the shopping bag I retrieved from the locker room earlier.

“Are you insane? That place frightened you, and you are planning to go through there?” Eric asks me incredulously.

“I won’t be harmed that I know. You don’t need to worry. Just go back to your house.”

“No way!” With a sudden movement, he takes away the shopping bag from my hands.

I clench my fists to restrain myself from hitting him.

“You are an idiot. Did someone tell you that?”

I glare at him, “Yes, many times. Another idiot told me that over and over again.”

He raises an eyebrow at my reaction, and I clamp my mouth shut. Angry at thinking about Cyril now.

“Give me the shopping bag Eric!” I ask him with forced decorous and without looking up at his face.

“Are you sure you’ll be fine?” He asks tenderly.

I nod and lift my hand for the shopping bag.

“Look at me then and tell me that you’re dead sure that you’ll be fine in this badass weather. Alone?”

I force myself to raise my eyes and meet his, “Eric I will be fine in there. They won’t hurt me!”

“They?”

“Give me the shopping bag and let me go.”

Without a word, he hands over the bag, and I run out as fast as I can. Who is he to care for someone like me? Someone who’s hated by everyone in this town? Suddenly, the hate I hold for my current lifestyle overwhelms me. I’d run away from one hellhole only to end up in another. It’s like bad karma is following me, and no matter where I’d go, I’d be miserable for the rest of my life. I’m angry at Eric for being so stupid, for being so much like Cyril.

I don’t stop till I’ve crossed the turn towards the forest. As soon as I cross a faded border, everything quietens. Thunder and storm sounds are replaced by a beautiful yet heart-wrenching humming that echoes through the forest. I stop running. This time I see no one and feel no one but the humming is there. It’s so heartbreaking that my eyes tear up on their own. Once again, an invisible cocoon covers me, and I don’t feel the water drops. I gingerly walk towards my bicycle and lift it.

It’s now that I notice that my leg isn’t hurting anymore. I guess it stopped hurting the moment I fled away earlier. I get on my bike and paddle towards B. I want them to come out, but they don’t. They give me space and time to digest their presence. I am thankful for that.

As soon as I turn towards the opening in B, the invisible cocoon disappears, and the sad humming stops. I am left there feeling strangely alone and getting wet in the rain.

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