It’s been three days since you left, since you walked out. Since you vanished. One second you were right next door, where you belong, and another, your mum is at our door saying you’ve left the province to live with some Uncle I’ve never heard of. All I knew is that you were gone. Avery Felix Turner, come home.
The letter lay open faced on my bed staring up at me, taunting me. Slumped against my pillow, I lowered my pen in defeat before plucking the paper from my lap, crumpling it up, and tossing it toward the garbage can.
“Mavis? Are you still up here writing?” The voice floated in through my open door.
Should have closed that. God, now she’s here.
“No. I’m working on a school report,” I lied, ignoring the willowy figure now leaning against my door frame. I didn’t have to turn my head to know her leafy-green eyes were trained on my hand as I grabbed a new sheet. I didn’t have to turn my head to know her lips were pinched together in a thin, strained line. I knew my Mother, sometimes too well.
“Well dinner is ready. Come down soon baby-girl,” she sighed, standing apart from my door frame before turning on her heel and heading back in the direction she came from.
Do I want dinner? Of course I do. Am I willing to face my parents for it? Of course not.
Swinging my stiffening legs over the edge of my bed, I stood up. Blissful popping sounds filled the silent room as I stretched my aching arms. Hesitantly, I made my way down the curled oak stairs and landed in my kitchen.
Pale yellow walls gleamed in the last rays of sunlight, lighting the kitchen up like a damn star. My parents were already seated at the small, rounded table in the center of the space and the old ceramic tiles were cold under my feet.
“Hey Sweetie. How was school?” my father offered as I sat down beside him. The shock was evident on his face, seeing as I hadn’t eaten anywhere but my room in three days. I didn’t blame him.
“Good,” I lied. Bad. It’s been bad since he left.
“Any new assignments?” my mother chimed in, a delighted grin on her face. Irritation prickled inside my chest.
“Nope.” Just the ones I missed while I was out looking for him with everyone else.
“Mavis. Come on cut this out and answer your Mother properly,” my father snapped, stabbing his fork into a pasta noodle in the center of his plate. My mother looked tensely between us.
“Daniel please-” my mother began to reason, her voice shrill and shaking with fraying nerves. My father cut her off by slamming his fist against the table, earning a jump from my mother.
“DAMMIT BETHANY! SHE’S BEEN SULKING AROUND FOR THREE DAYS. I’M TIRED OF IT,” my father boomed, a vein popping out along his throat.
Ah my favorite vein, Freddy.
Freddy only popped out when my father was extremely mad and right now Freddy was a deep purple, a tell-tale sign my father had been holding in his yelling for some time. My father was a kind man, the head coach of the little league baseball team on Sundays and a strict but helpful man at the library the rest of the time. He almost never yelled, being a librarian and all, it went against the rule he enforced daily.
“Daniel!” my mother gasped, throwing a delicate hand over her mouth in a rushed fashion but I merely continued eating as if nothing had happened.
“Well Bethany come on!” he cried, matching my mother’s awed expression with another heated cry.
Here we go again.
“I’ll be in my room,” I explained softly, careful not to sound too happy to be free of the tense dinner. My father waved me away but I could feel my mother’s desperate gaze on my back as I rounded the corner.
The grey walls of my room soothed my eyes, after starring at the cheery yellow walls of my kitchen. This time four days ago, I was sitting down at the Turner’s dinner table with Avery, his mum, his dad and his younger brother Ryan. We had been talking about school and our assignments while his mum poured four glasses of milk from NewCrest, a town I worshiped for it’s perfect chocolate milk and ice-cream. But this wasn’t four days ago. This was now, three days since he left.
The lights hadn’t been on at the Turner’s since the day Avery left. No one had come home after their beat up old van turned the corner and rumbled away.
It’s just me now, here with my parents and no Avery.
Unable to handle the recurring thought much more, I did what I always do. I tucked myself under the thick covers of my bed, wrapped in one of Avery’s sweaters, and fell asleep. But my peaceful nap didn’t last long when I was pulled into a dream of sorts.
A wide forest stretched on around me, great fir-trees eating up the rocky hill around me. Cold bit through to my skin as I looked around. Nothing. Just trees. I attempted to walk up the hill, an urgent feeling prickling along my skin. I had to get away but from what I couldn’t tell, but my feet seemed rooted to the spot as if I were a tree as well. The only thing I could think about as the cold began to numb my arms, was the terror building inside me, like a wave preparing to crash along the shore. I was helpless and frustrated as the sound of running began to thunder behind me. All I could do was scream above the roaring wind, and that’s what I did. I screamed.
My screams of terror woke me and I sat bolt upright, panting as the stinging carried on my arms. After a moment, I realized I was holding my shoulders with an iron grip, my nails beginning to bite into the tender skin and my crossed arms were pressing on my chest firmly. I was ok. I wasn’t in some forest. I was in my bed and I moved my eyes around the room to be sure. Everything was as it had been except for one thing. A scarlet envelope was now partially sticking out from between my mattresses. I raised an eyebrow as I fished it free, my hands still quivering, and brought the package up to rest on my lap. The front was marked with my name in clear, bold printing. The printing alone made me think the letter was a precious gift. I tore the envelope open slowly and pulled out a neatly folded paper, a yellow lined paper. I’d only met one person who used yellow lined paper and my heart lurched.
It can’t be from him. He said good-bye to me already. But what if it is him....
I bickered with myself, my heart hammering now as I unfolded the page and the same neat writing greeting me. Sucking in shallow breaths, I began to read.
You found this. Good.
Never did I think I’d leave you. Ever since we were young we’ve been attached at the hip. We even hung out the day Ryan was born! Can you remember those days? Right now I wish I could relive those days, when things were simpler. Especially the days when our biggest issue was who would ride the scooter to school and who would ride it home. Some days, when I think about these memories, I swear you always got the scooter thanks to those big ol’ blue eyes I never could say no to.
I read the letter over at least half a dozen times, each time crying a bit harder until rivers flowed down my cheeks and onto the pocket of Avery’s sweater
He said it himself, he’s far away. Why would he leave me this? He already said his good-bye.
My thoughts spun through my head like a tornado as I analyzed the paper closely and I noticed half erased circles around certain letters.
A hidden message? In a letter he hid under my bed? It’s not like anyone else would have found it. Why all the secrecy?
I grabbed the crumpled letter I had written, not bothering to smooth the paper out fully and took note of the faintly circled letters.
N E W C R E S T
I can honestly say I had never been this confused, and that was saying something since, after all, I had grown up with Avery.
Newcrest? The milk place? Why?
But at that moment, I didn't get to turn the new information over in my head because the sound of a person clearing their throat interrupted me.
"Mavis? Honey?" I looked up as my mother entered my room timidly, as if I was a wild animal she might scare off.
"Yes mum?" my voice sounded quiet, even to my own ears. She settled at the edge of my bed carefully, folding her hands in her lap. For the third time tonight, my heart jumped at the sight. She only folded her hands like this, if she had serious news. The last she had done this, she had told me about Avery's mum's visit.
"Well your father and I.....We've decided that you need a change of scenery rather then being locked up in here. So, your father has signed you up to be a helper at the library. It'll be a good place to get out and breath fresh air and think about things besides Avery," My mum explained all in a rush. She had guessed I would be less then pleased and she was right to think so.
"Mum-" I started, decided my best bet was the reason with her but she cut me off quickly with her shrill, all-my-nerves-are-fried voice.
"Mavis Anne this is not up for discussion. The first meeting is tomorrow night so your father can drive you there and back. Just keep and open mind," She sighed before getting up and ducking out of the room.
Not up for discussion?! How was that fair!
Angrily I tugged the blanket up over my head and forced my eyes shut. I needed to sleep if I was going to be shut up in a library all after school with my father. With the letter shoved to the back of my mind, I fell asleep dreading the coming day.