"Will you be alright on your own?" Mom asked anxiously.
"Yes Mom," I said rolling my eyes. "It's only for three days, I'll be fine."
"You'll get to school on time and keep up with homework and-"
"Mom," I said, "I'll be fine." I walked over to the cabinet and grabbed the cereal. My mom was going to a symposium for neurologists. A symposium is a fancy word for saying conference. My mom was a neurologist. She treats injuries that pertain to the nerves in the back of the neck and in the head. The conference was being held in Ogden, at the Ben Lomond Hotel. She was a little overprotective and the idea of being this far away from me only made it worse.
"Can I invite Bea over today?" I asked.
"I don't know, honey," she said. "You need to keep up with school."
"Mom, today's Friday. You're only going to be gone for two and a half days. I won't get behind. Besides I have Monday off."
"Alright," she said "dinner is in the fridge." She kissed my forehead. "Love you."
"Love you too Mom" I said.
I finished up breakfast, and Mom left. I put my dishes in the sink, grabbed my backpack and alto saxophone and headed out the door. I was 16 and had my drivers' license, but even when the car was available, I usually prefered to walk. In my opinion, cars give off too much pollution to make it worth it. My friend, Beatris Jones calls me a tree-hugger, but at least I don't have to pay for gas or for car repair if I wreck it.
Once I got to school, I met Bea at my locker and asked if she could come over after school. She said that she could, but she'd have to come over after dance class.
School went as well as school can. Today was actually better than usual. I only had two panic attacks due to deadlines that I swear did not exist before today. I have the suspicion that teachers have magic whiteboards that change the due dates every time you look away. Today I was surprised to find that we had a science project to do.
At any rate I got extra study hall after school to catch up. Basically it's detention for having late assignments. I got caught up for the most part. I was supposed to stay later than I did, but my teacher let me out earlier than usual. She reasoned that I was mostly caught up and I had no need to stay any longer, since I could do it at home. I have my suspicions that it was only because of my constant questions about the assignment. Nearing the end she had sounded a little more than frustrated with me. Even though I got out much earlier than usual, I was still very late getting home. By the time I got there Bea was there and waiting on my front porch swing.
"Sorry I'm late" I panted "I was-"
"You forgot both the English and the History assignments and as a result got detention. Well done Alex."
"Oh, shut up" I said as I unlocked the door. "Speaking of, don't we have a science project."
"You mean the one due Tuesday"
"...Due Tuesday? When did we get the assignment. "
"We got the assignment last week." We collapsed on to the couch "Have you even started it"
"Which means no" Bea sighed "Alexandra-"
"You know I don't like to be called that, Beatris." I rubbed my forehead "I really am not in the mood for a lecture Bea."
We stayed there for a while talking and laughing. Bea finally left at six saying that she had to babysit for the Smith's. I started to work on my science project and was making good progress. I finally turned in for the night at about ten thirty. I was expecting nothing else to happen until tomorrow. (Note to self: Never expect things to work out the way you think they will.)
At about 12:30 in the morning I got a phone call. I stumbled out on bed, thinking sleepily that whoever was calling was lucky I wasn't going to bark at them for waking me up. My mother was a little over protective and has on occasion called much later than this. Barking at mom would be a very bad decision.
"Hello" I said grumpily
"Is this Alexandra Roberts?" A man's voice said
"Err- Yes," I said. "May I ask who this is?"
"This is Chief Anderson of the Ogden Police Department." Good thing I didn't snap at him. That would have been awkward.
"Your mother is Sharon Roberts correct?"
"Yes, is something wrong." I asked. Panic was starting to creep in uninvited.
"Your mother is in the hospital-" The phone clattered to the ground. The room started to spin and I sank to my knees. The last thing anyone wants to hear. I began to hyperventilate. Tears streamed down my cheeks and I began to sob. I felt a wave on extreme nausea. I grabbed the trash can and began to heave. I felt very dizzy and darkness became to creep around the edges of my vision. I faintly remembered the phone on the ground and then I blacked out.
As far as I can tell I was only out for a few seconds. When I came to, I sat up and tried to calm down. I used a paper bag to help stop hyperventilating. I stayed there for a few minutes. My mind began to become more calm and rational and I began to hear an indistinct tiny voice. I looked around and noticed the phone. The police must still be on the other line. I crawled over and picked it up.
"Hello," I whispered
"Ms. Roberts, are you okay." Chief Anderson sounded concerned.
"Yeah," I said shakily "is my mom alright."
"She is and will be fine. Another guest at the hotel that your mom was at heard her scream. The guest came to see what happened and found your mom being strangled by the bed covers. She was rushed to the hospital and was saved. She sustains severe bruising on her neck. She will recover but it will take several days to a week before she can go home. Since you have no close relatives she has requested that you join her in Ogden. The Ben Lomond Hotel has offered you a room for a lesser price in apology. Your mom has accepted the offer under the condition that extra security be installed. Your room is number 1103. I know that you live in St. George. Will you require any assistance traveling to Ogden?"
"I don't know." I whispered weakly. The combination on the bad shock and the hyperventilation was making it so that I couldn't think clearly. He took pity on me. He told me to get some sleep and make the decision in the morning. He told me to call back if I needed any help. I thanked him and hung up.
I was lost in a sea of mixed emotions and I couldn't fall asleep just then. I had almost lost the only parent I had left. I had lost my dad already when I was seven and that had felt like the end of my world. It was worse for my mom, but we had each other and we made it through together. I can't imagine trying to get through that all on my own. Mom was the only close family that I had left. I couldn't lose her.
I decided to play my sax to help relieve the multitude of emotions that had come crashing down on me. I went through all my pieces for band and then started to do my improv music. I would make up a melody as I went along. The music that I played was slow and sad. I soon found tears streaking down my face, then cascading accompanied by sobs. I gave up on playing and for the longest time just cried.
Once I was done I got up, washed my face and decided to call Bea. While a little annoyed that I woke her up at two thirty in the morning she listened intently to my news. She got tearful and of course that started me crying again. When I told her what hotel that my mom had been staying in, she freaked out.
"Alex, you know that hotel is haunted right?" She said nervously. I rolled my eyes.
"That's a bunch on rancid bologna. There's no such thing as ghosts."
"Alex, people have reported paranormal activity there! In fact three people died in the hotel."
"I think not. She was found with the sheets around her throat, choking her. Blankets don't just get up and try killing people on their own accord."
Only Bea could turn this serious situation into one on her thriller books. She me to come over in the morning so she could help me work things out. I hung up and headed for bed. While I didn't believe any ghost was the perpetrator her, my crazy superstitious friend did have a point. It was extremely unlikely that the blankets around her throat was merely the result of tossing and turning in bed. There was also the fact that my mother had screamed. This was not an accident.
With that reassuring thought in my head I tried to go back to sleep.