Chapter | 2
“Well, look who finally decided to get up,” my mother said as I stepped into the kitchen. It was well past twelve o’clock, but I didn’t care. After my weird dream, I couldn’t help but sleep in.
“Sorry, I had a nightmare and it feels like I didn’t really sleep for the first few hours,” I admitted, opening the fridge only to find there wasn’t much in it.
“Sorry to hear sweetie, how about we drive into town and get something good to eat? I’m sure a nice burger will help you forget about it,” my mother offered.
“That, mom, is the best idea I’ve heard so far,” I said, walking over to my mother and giving her a kiss on the forehead.
It still struck me as odd that I was so much taller than her now, at only eighteen I towered a least three heads over her. I felt like only a month ago that she could look down on me when she was mad, but the effect didn’t work as well when she had to look up.
Grabbing her keys, my mother waited for me to get my phone before she locked the house.
“How far away is the nearest town anyway?” I asked my mother as soon as the house was out of sight.
“Not far, I guess about a thirty minute drive,” my mother replied, taking one hand off the steering wheel to fiddle around with the radio.
Turns out it was an hour’s drive, but it was a beautiful day and I enjoyed the ride.
Saying the town was small would be an overstatement, the town was tiny. We drove through the entire town to see what there was, but there was literally only one of everything- diner, gas station, convenience store, and hotel.
The diner was like something out a movie; a large counter with bar chairs lining it, cracked plastic-seated booths along the windows and a very pissed-off looking waitress in a short skirt walking around with a pot of coffee to fill the cups of the two customers.
We took a seat in the far corner, and the waitress soon showed up at our table.
“You folks are new,” she stated, placing one hand on the table. “Visitin’ or something?”
“No, we live on one of the farms,” my mother said, smiling kindly at the waitress.
“Oh, yeah, just moved in?” the waitress asked again, not looking as if she planned on taking our orders any time soon.
“Yesterday,” I said when I saw the waitress was now looking at me rather than my mother.
“That’s nice, welcome to the area. Which farm is it?” the waitress persisted, sounding a bit nervous.
“Darton…” I said, trailing off at the waitress’s suddenly nervous appearance. She seemed to be turning pale, clearly knowing something we didn’t.
“Lovely,” she said, but her tone was dead. “What can I get for you?”
My mother put our orders in and I watched as the waitress walked to the kitchen. The chef poked his head out to take the order, but after that they seemed to have a conversation that didn’t involve my burger. The chef turned to look at us, but when he saw I was looking at them, he disappeared out of sight. I also seemed to be the only one noticing this, because my mother was talking about something completely else, and I wasn’t paying any attention to her.
“Honey,” my mother said, pulling my attention back.
“Oh, sorry, yeah?” I answered, turning to face her again.
“I said things will be hectic for the rest of this month, but if we both do our part, we should be fine.” I looked at my mother as she spoke, noticing how big a toll my father’s death had taken on her. The blue of her eyes seemed a little duller, and her cheekbones were more prominent. It made me worry.
“Of course, I understand,” I said, “And the money? Will we be fine?” I didn’t add the, “Without dad.”
“It shouldn’t be a problem. The inheritance money will hold us until you’re done studying, and then… Well, we’ll figure it out when the time comes,” my mother said, absentmindedly twirling a piece of chocolate-brown hair around her finger.
People never saw the family resemblance between me and my father. Though greying around the edges, my father’s hair was blonder. He had extremely prominent features, of which I got a little, but I mainly had my mother’s softer appearance and brown hair.
“Here ya are,” the waitress said once she arrived with our food. And let me tell you this, the food really looked amazing. The smell of fried beef invaded my sense and I felt like I got probably start drooling like a dog.
We ate in silence, mostly because there wasn’t really much we could talk about without my father being brought up. It’s already been two months, but the circumstances of his death left me and my mother cold, numb, and distant.
The other reason of course being that I barely had chance to chew between bites, never mind talking. Nothing in the city came close to how good the burger was.
Once we were done, my mother raised her hand and waited for the waitress to spot us. Walking over, she collected our plates and when my mother asked for the bill she simply shook her head.
“Nah, it’s on the house, as a welcoming gift,” she said, and I noticed she had redone her lipstick.
My mother and I both thanked her, waving goodbye to the chef as we exited the diner. Next on the list was grocery shopping.
The convenience store wasn’t far from the diner, so we decided to just walk there and back.
To my surprise, the store was actually extremely well stocked. Maybe these small towns weren’t so bad after all. I still missed the city though.
Grabbing one of the big trolleys, my mother and I started to walk through all the aisles, occasionally grabbing something we recognised from a shelf. It wasn’t until we were practically done that my mother realised we couldn’t only buy a week’s worth of food. No, we had to stock up for at least a month.
“Daniel, why don’t you go fetch the car while I just double everything?” my mother suggested, and I took the keys from her outstretched palm.
It was colder when I stepped onto the street, and I ended up walking with my arms wrapped around my body all the way to the diner.
“Son!” I heard someone call out.
As I turned around I saw the waitress standing in the diner’s door, signalling for me to come over.
I turned and walked over and the waitress met me at the bottom of the steps.
“Did we forget something?” I asked, but when the waitress stepped right into my face, I faltered a bit.
“Get out of that house,” she whispered fiercely, her eyes burrowing into mine.
I stared at her, my mind jumping back to my dream. The girl and what she had said to me, it also sounded like a warning of sorts.
“Why?” I asked, determined to get some answers from her.
“I think you know why,” she said, her fingers digging into the material of her apron.
“No, I don’t, because nothing has happened,” I said, once again trying to convince myself it was a dream, and that the waitress was only trying to scare the new guy in town.
The waitress looked at me for a while, her eyes begging me to listen to her, but just saying I needed to get out wasn’t enough for me to believe anything was going on.
“You’re right, I’m sorry,” she suddenly mumbled, her entire demeanour changing. “Enjoy your new home,” she added quickly before turning on her heel.
I stood for a second longer, trying to make sense of what happened before walking back to the car.
My mother was waiting in front of the convenience store, surrounding by bags of groceries.
“What took you so long?” she asked when I got out of the car.
“Sorry, I got a bit side-tracked,” I said, picking up four of the bags. I didn’t plan on telling my mother about my encounter with the waitress.
The drive home was much faster, but isn’t that always the case? Once you know what the road looks like, it’s easy to see how long you have left.
“Oh, mom, is there maybe a set of keys lying around?” I asked as we packed away the last of the food.
“I think so, why do you ask?” my mother asked, looking at me curiously.
“I want to have a look in the shed in the garden, but there’s a lock on it. I thought the key might be in the house somewhere,” I explained, leaning against the counter top.
My mother walked over to me and with a wave of her hand told me to scoot. I did as instructed and she pulled open the drawer I was covering.
“It should be in here,” she said, but as she moved away my hopes dwindled a bit. Sure, there were keys in the drawer, but enough for an entire apartment complex.
“Good luck,” my mother said, “I’m going to take a nap.”
I sighed, pushing around some of the keys in hope one of them would be labelled ‘old shed in the back.’
When it was clear I wouldn’t find one, I simply pulled the entire drawer out and carried it with me to the shed. At least I could then see what kind of key could open the lock.
Half an hour later and I was still fitting keys. The worst part was that the pile of keys I already tried wasn’t even bigger than the pile I still needed to try.
Without much enthusiasm I thrust another key into the lock and twisted it. I almost didn’t hear the faint click of the lock sliding open.
Giving a cry of delight, I pried to lock from its rusted spot. The doors on the other hand weren’t so easy to open up.
After considerable effort, I managed to pull the one door forward and push the other one back, allowing me to duck between the two.
A single skylight was the only entrance allowing sun into the shed, which was much bigger than it appeared to be on the outside. When I was looking from outside, I only saw what was straight down the middle, not all the things stacked against the walls.
Someone must have left at least half their furnisher in the shed, and by the looks of it, a very long time ago. Dust covered everything, so thick that I mistook it for paint before I drew a line with my one finger.
Near the end of the shed I found a few cardboard boxes, their sides jutting out as the things inside pressed against them. Looking into one of the open boxes, I found it was mostly books with a few odd things pressed into the open spaces.
The first book seemed to be a recipe book of sorts, but I couldn’t really tell since the book was written in French. I continued pulling books from the box, hoping there would be something besides cook books. My curiosity payed off in the end.
A few books from the bottom, I noticed one that stood out. Where the rest of the books were well-worn, this one seemed a bit too vibrant against the darker colours.
Tugging it out from between the books that were left, I turned it over in my hands a few times. It was clearly much newer than the other books, and I wondered how it had gotten between them. There was a lock on the side, proving what I had originally guessed- it was a journal.
I left the other books how I had unpacked them, but tucked the journal under my arm as I continued to open some of the other boxes. They ended up being filled with more useless things, and some even contained out-dated clothes.
It wasn’t until I had to squint to see that I stopped exploring, but I still had about half the shed to look through. I decided to call it a night, but definitely planned on going back first thing in the morning.
I placed the journal in the drawer of keys before shutting the doors as best I could.
Only a few slivers of sunlight made its way through the trees as I stepped into the kitchen. My mother was standing by stove, the smell of soup wafting through the room.
“Did you find anything interesting?” she asked as I placed the drawer full of keys back in its place.
“I hope so,” I said, showing her the journal.
My mother did the same as I did, turning the journal a few times in her hands before placing it on the counter while I got some bowls from the overhead cabinet.
We talked about the town and the house over diner, but it didn’t last long. After washing up I went to my room.
Studying the lock on the journal, I tried to figure out how I would open it. I tried tugging on it, but it was stronger than I thought. I didn’t see any key small enough to open it in the drawer. It seemed unlikely that the owner would take the key, but not the journal, which meant that either they lost the key or it was still somewhere in the house.
For some reason the vanity table sprung to mind. It was a long shot, but it was the only piece of furniture that was left in the house. My other option would be going through everything in the shed in the morning, and it seemed like an impossible feat.
The journal still in hand, I crossed the room to where the vanity stood in its sad state. I tried to bottom drawers first, tugging them out as best I could. They were empty.
Next I moved on to the smaller drawers next to the mirror. The two on the left ended up being just as disappointing, and also the lower of the two on the right. But there was the sound of something sliding around when I tugged on the top drawer.
My heart thumped nervously in my chest as I yanked harder, almost bringing the entire vanity table to the ground as the drawer shot open. Inside was a small key, and I instantly knew it belonged to the journal.
Taking it out, I returned to the bed. The key slipped into the lock with little problem, turning as if it had been opened the day before.
It wasn’t until the journal was open that I started feeling a bit guilty about reading someone’s thoughts, but on the other hand, how bad could it be if it was left in a box? So, I began reading.
We moved in today! I was a little nervous, especially with everything that’s been going on, but the house and garden are like a dream. I spent most of the day wondering around outside, I even took a swim in the pool. Mama says I’ll get sick if I do that, but even if it was a little chilly, I didn’t notice at all. I felt too nice being able to breathe properly.
Christina doesn’t seem to mind either, even if she did threaten to starve herself if we actually moved- I don’t think she’ll do it though, especially if mama makes apple pie tomorrow. Or who knows, maybe she’s serious about something for a change? Doubt it though.
As for my room…
By the handwriting it wasn’t hard to guess the journal belonged to a girl. I continued reading the rest of what I assumed was her first entry, but with a lack of dates, it was hard to know when one day ended and another one started.
The rest of the entry was mostly her talking about what she wanted to do with her room, the room I was in, and the plans her parents has for their stay there. They sounded pretty well off.
As I put the journal on my nightstand, I already felt a wave of sleepiness wash over me- must have been all the exploring I did. But that wave wasn’t alone. Deep down I was dreading having the dream again, and I wasn’t sure whether it was just my paranoia or the coincidence that I had found a random girl’s diary.
Shaking off both the ideas, I went to take a shower and brush my teeth. By the time I got back I was feeling fresh and ready for another long night’s sleep. I didn’t even noticed the person standing by the window until my eyes drifted shut.
“Who are you?” I muttered, but sleep won over and I didn’t hear her response.