The next morning Nina stood attentively at the front of Charla’s door, she wanted to knock to see if she was awake but with what happened last night she couldn’t help but feel like she might make it worse. Swallowing her courage she at least thought that there would be no harm in at least asking her only to stop when her father gently pulled her away from the door.
“We should let her rest.” Isaac told her softly. “When she wakes up I can tell her to give you a call okay?”
“Is Charla sick Dad?” Nina asked. “She didn’t look too good yesterday.”
Isaac gave Nina a reassuring smile. “I’m sure she’ll feel better soon. Now let’s head downstairs to eat, I’ll even drop you off on my way to the station.”
Nina frowned. “You’re heading to work?”
Isaac shook his head. “No, I’m not going to work, although I do have to pick up some paper work that I had left.” In his quick attempt to get to the high school Isaac had believed that he had grabbed all that he needed until looking it over this morning he realized he had forgotten some files. “I don’t intend to be long,”
Nina however didn’t look too convinced. “Okay if you say so…”
Isaac looked back to the bedroom door with a slight worried expression, even though he had told his daughter that he believed Charla would be okay, he wasn’t even sure himself if she would even snap out of this depressed emotion.
There was laughing, a young boy’s laughter looking around Charla was surrounded by tall trees blazing with colour. The weather was warm and specks of sunlight came through the gaps of trees, the boy’s laughter continued drawing Charla further into the forest.
Carlin? She thought with a slight frown as the wind began to howl through the unknown forest. As the laughter continued Charla began to follow the sound but with each step she took a feeling of panic slowly began to envelop her, faster and faster she went until Charla began to go at a dead run trying to catch up to the one laughing. She wasn’t sure it was Carlin; it had been so long since she had even heard his voice, he was dead and yet this felt so real. And yet in the mix of wind and laughter was also that of cello music and was of a piece that she recognized causing her to stop in her tracks.
“That’s… J.S Bach.” She frowned listening to the notes; there was something different about how it was being played. She had listened to this song over and over again to the point where she knew all of Bach’s music, yet somehow this just felt off to her.
It felt wrong. And somehow this variant of Bach’s music made the back of Charla’s head hurt. But she had to know who was playing it, the laughter was now gone and all that was left beside the music was the rustling of the leaves.
She continued to run through the autumn forest, trying to find the source of the off kilter cello music, the music seemed to get louder and louder in her ears blocking out even the wind. And when she finally saw a clearing in the forest what came to her vision next made her go still.
There in the clearing, caught ablaze in the afternoon autumn sun, was what she could only assume was her brother, his back facing her as he sat in a chair with the cello in hand.
“Are you going to forget?” her brother asked, when he abruptly stopped playing. “Will you forget about me? As time goes on memories fade, ones we want to hold on to, even the ones you don’t want to remember.”
“What? What are you…” her body stopped, but not on its own, she looked down to her feet and saw that they were trapped in vines as the ground beneath her slowly began to break apart and give way to a darkness deep within the earth. “Carlin!” she reached out to her brother before falling into that darkness, unable to see her brother’s face before having a collide scope of the accident play out in front of her at high speed.
Charla opened her eyes and stared at the wall of her bedroom, it was just a dream. And somehow it just made her feel mad. She rolled over on her bed and stared at the photo of her and her twin smiling happily. Taking the picture she rolled on her back and stared at the picture for a long time before sighing as her hand touched her brother’s face.
“I wish you were here…” she said to herself before sitting up and placing the photo back on the table and getting out of bed. As much as she wanted to remain underneath the covers of her bed she couldn’t. Those memories mixed with dreams could make strange combinations whenever she felt like this.
After making her bed she headed downstairs, she had no intention of changing out of her clothes, her sweatpants and white T-shirt. But looking around she saw that no one was home.
It didn’t surprise her in the least; somehow it almost gave a nostalgia feeling, and one that she would often hate but this time it made her laugh.
“What am I even doing here…?” she said to herself before looking into the fridge only she didn’t see anything appetizing to her. Why is it whenever I’m like this, I get hungry but nothing ever looks good? She thought with a sigh before looking to the door. Screw it, not like anyone would know if I left for a bit.
She grabbed her hoodie and threw it on before putting on her running shoes. She didn’t want to be in the state that she was, feeling angry but tired, yet knowing fully well that sleep would do nothing to help her at all.
Charla chose to head to the convent store, there was one close by and all she really wanted was something to pass her hunger until she pushed through this bought of depression she had. Even though she didn’t feel depressed, she just didn’t care, about anything.
And somehow she hated it.
It was strange, feeling anger of not being able to feel anything yet somehow being able to feel angry about feeling nothing. It was a compelling thought as to why but it didn’t last long.
When Charla exited the convent store, the sky had become dark, as if colour had been sucked out of the whole area. It would rain soon, but her attention was drawn to something nearby. There was a group of boy’s, four in total. Three seemed to be shouting at one, a muscular tall one shouting and shaking the obvious thin one that seemed scared.
“What are you doing?” Charla merely asked, looking blankly at the three boys, boys that she instantly recognized. They were the same boys in Sarah’s class, the ones that looked almost angry when Mr. Rockwell was talking to their teacher.
The one that seemed to be the leader, a young man with blonde hair that looked possibly bleached, and a single earring glared at her with blue eyes. Somehow he looked a bit familiar but she couldn’t place as to where.
“What do you think you’re doing? Get out of here before you get hurt.” He said in a sniped tone.
But Charla didn’t move, she merely continued to look at them blankly. “What are you doing?” she asked again.
“Huh? Are you blind or something? Leave already.”
“Please!” the thin boy cried in panic. “Please don’t kill me!”
“Hey, what? We aren’t going to kill you, chill dude.” The bleached boy stopped when Charla came closer, trying to see the other boy’s face but with the three crowding around him she couldn’t tell who it was nor recognize the voice. It was one she hadn’t heard before.
In anger the young man with bleached blonde hair lashed out. “Get lost would you!?” he demanded sending a punch her way, only it never made contact. She had simply swatted his fist away with the back of her left hand hitting the joint of his wrist. The young man stumbled to the side, surprised by her action while Charla remained where she was. “You…” he looked at her with a glare gritting his teeth before trying to punch her again only to have the same thing happen like before. What the hell? He thought. No matter how many times I swing she completely swats my hand away like it’s a bug. Who the hell even is this person? Is it a guy? No, it’s a girl that’s for sure, but what the hell? Where’d she learn to fight so good?
His thoughts disconnected when Charla moved forward and hit him square in the forehead with the palm of her left hand, and within that same action hooked her left foot behind his right ankle and tripped the young man causing him to fall on to his back.
Stunned beyond belief the bleached blonde’s friends looked on in surprise while the one that seemed to be the victim of it all too that chance and ran away without so much as uttering a word. The boy’s realized and called after but made no move to chase the thin boy down.
“Shit…” the bleached blond muttered before getting up and glaring at Charla and yanking her shirt to look at him. “What the hell is your problem?!” he demanded. “Do you have any idea what you just did?”
“Not really,” she said blankly. “From my perspective it looked like three people ganging up on a smaller person. If that wasn’t the case you could have simply just said so when I asked you before, “What are you doing?” then just flailing angrily at me telling me to get lost.”
“You know she does have a point.” The one with slight tanned skin and with black hair dark red highlights said.
“Shut up Fox.” The bleached blond snapped before letting Charla go. “Even if it is true, you shouldn’t just step in like that. You have a death wish if you keep that up.”
“Death wish,” Charla scoffed. “As if that were true, but it’s not like it matters, not anymore…” and without a word she turned to leave only to suddenly feel a wave of dizziness causing her to stagger and fall backwards.
“Hey-hey!” the bleached blond boy proclaimed when he caught her before she had hit the ground. “Are you okay?”
She cringed and pushed the boy away. “I’m fine; it’s none of your concern. The three of you should just go home anyway; it looks like it might rain soon…”
“Think we should leave her alone?” the one named Fox asked but the one with bleached blond hair just looked to his hand the one that Charla kept smacking away, over and over like it was nothing and not even breaking a sweat.
He scoffed and shoved his hands in his pockets before turning to leave his own way. “Whatever, she said she wanted to be left alone, not like I’m going to interfere with that. Come on, let’s just go already.”
It was late in the afternoon when Charla had gotten back; the rain was now pouring heavily leaving her to become completely soaked to the bone. Her clothes sticking her like glue as she made her way to the front of the house, only to see the door bust open and Isaac looking frantic as he talked on the phone. “I keep telling you she’s not here Claude; I need you to check around see if anyone…” he stops dead in his tracks looking at Charla with wide eyes before speaking on the phone. “Never mind, I found her.”
“Uncle?” Charla said as he made his way closer to her, he looked both scared and relieved but she was unsure as to why. “What’s wrong?”
In that instant Isaac pulled Charla into his arms and gave her a tight embrace as he breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank god you’re okay…” he said as he kept hugging Charla with all of his might before pulling away and looking angrily at her. “Just what in the world where you thinking leaving the house like that?” he demanded. “Do you have any idea how worried I was when I couldn’t find you anywhere in the house?!”
Charla frowned slightly at his outburst. “But what about work?” she asked causing him to look confused. “You had work today right? I didn’t know anyone else was home. I thought I was alone, I didn’t know… no note was left telling me otherwise.”
Isaac had the urge to smack himself, in his haste to get his daughter to school on time as well as bringing the documents needed for his department he had neglected to leave a note informing Charla that he would be back within the hour. He was delayed by thirty minutes but when he had come back, he discovered to his shock and horror that Charla was gone. He panicked of course, not knowing where Charla had gone or why.
“Uncle…?” Charla’s voice drew Isaac out of his thoughts. “Why are you mad?”
“Why wouldn’t I be mad?” he snapped grabbing her shoulders. “You disappeared Charla I had no idea where you went. I thought something bad happened to you!” he sighed then asked. “You aren’t hurt at all?”
Charla shook her head then held up a plastic bag. “Nothing looked good in the fridge, so I went to get something to eat. I’m sorry Uncle; I didn’t mean to make you worry. I’ll leave a note next time.”
He rested his head atop of her’s as he kept her close. “Same goes for me, I’m just glad you’re okay Charla.” He smiled as he moved away from her. “Let’s go inside, you must be freezing cold in those wet clothes.”
Charla intend to just go upstairs and change, but her uncle had insisted on at least drying her hair first, it wasn’t something she could really say no too since he seemed deeply concerned for her wellbeing. Other than her father, Charla had never really felt like anyone had cared about her after Carlin’s death.
She sat slumped in the chair with her head hung low as her uncle towel dried her hair, they didn’t say a word to each other as he did this. Though as Isaac dried her hair he saw the scare from her accident, and another wave of guilt came through, what she must have gone through was something he knew that he could never imagen. Nor would he wish that on anyone else, let alone his own family. There was a lot that Charla didn’t seem willing to bring up, even though he was more than willing to be open to what it was.
With her nightly excursion, he never thought Charla was the type to do so, though seeing how she acted then in comparison to that of when he saw her in the morning seemed drastically different, like she was another person completely all together. It was something he wanted to ask but knew as of now it had to wait. This time he wanted to be sure to not step on any kind of preverbal landmine that might have been around after what happened at Charla’s school. Which still begged the question as to why? And why go after her specifically. It left far more questions than answers, ones of which he would have to go over with Claude the next chance he got.
The home phone rang then causing Isaac to look at the caller ID, he was slightly surprised at who it was before he answered. “Yes? Uh-huh, yes she’s here.” he held out the phone to Charla. “It’s for you.”
Charla looked up with a slight frown, the towel now resting along her shoulders before she took the phone. “Yes?”
“Hello Charla,” her father said only the other line, causing Charla to go still. “You’ve gone through one hell of an ordeal, as I’ve been told.”
“Dad?” she said in almost a whisper, her voice almost trembling as her shoulders began to shake as if fighting off tears.
“It’s okay Charla,” her father said softly in his soothing voice. “I heard what happened from the Student Councillor...”
“I’m sorry!” she said interrupting her father. “I’m sorry Dad.”
“Sorry for what Charla?” he asked sounding rather confused. “What happened at school wasn’t your fault, if anything you should be proud that you helped that student.”
“I know but…” tears began to fall as Charla grit her teeth. “It happened again and I just… I just… I’m sorry Dad.”
“I know sweetie, but you’re alright. You can let it out, you know you’re allowed to cry, you don’t have to keep it all inside anymore.”
Hearing those words Charla broke down and sobbed, the frustration and anger slowly made its way out of her body as she hung her head low, her father still speaking to her softly in his soothing voice as her uncle came over and had merely silently embraced her as she continued to cry.
“It’s all right Charla,” her father said. “I’m here with you, and you know I always will.”
It was late in the afternoon when Nina had returned home, though during the entire day at school she couldn’t help but feel worried over what had happened yesterday and the way Charla had bust out in such a fearful state. Nina had never seen Charla like that before, but then again she had always noticed Charla seemed to keep herself closed off from everyone. As if she was afraid of being hurt, or even hurting others.
The rain had continued to fall, drenching the ground and those who were unfortunate to not have an umbrella with them.
Hurrying home through the streets Nina quickly walked to her house before stopping and looking back, strange, she felt like someone was watching. But with the rain she couldn’t see that far as to who it might have been.
Nina frowned and merely watched, her hands clutching tightly on the umbrella’s handle.
“Nina?” hearing her father’s voice startled her, causing Nina to jump and look to her father who looked at her with an expression of concern. “What are you doing standing out in the rain like that?”
“Oh um…” she looked back in the direction of where she felt someone watching, that feeling was no longer there but still. Her father was a police officer, he needed to know. “I thought I saw someone watching the house.” She said. “But with all the rain I couldn’t tell.”
The look on her father’s face turned into a frown as he too looked out to the streets. He then had his daughter move into the house. “Nina stay inside, okay?” he then grabbed a coat and umbrella. “I’m going to look around, lock the house and don’t answer the door until I get back okay sweetie?”
“Okay,” she said. “Be careful Dad.”
He kissed the top of her head before heading out of the house, when he had Nina quickly locked the door and peaked out the nearby window to see him heading out in the direction that she had looked in. It wasn’t the first time her father would do this if Nina ever told him that she felt like someone was out there, she knew it was partly his detective instinct but also his parental protective nature.
When she could no longer see her father Nina hung up her coat and umbrella by the drying rack and went upstairs to her room only to pause to look at the door to Charla’s room, was she still sleeping? She extended her hand to the door only to draw it back, now probably be the best time to check, her Dad might get angry if she bothered Charla.
With a sigh Nina went to her room and placed her backpack near her desk only to stop short when she saw two folded cranes, one big red one and a very tiny pink one next to the larger red one. Instantly Nina recognized the red crane and knew where it had come from.
Right then Nina dropped her bag and ran to Charla’s room and quickly opened the door, she saw Charla lounging on the couch, with her headphones on while looking over work for school, but stopped when she saw Nina looking at her. Without a word Charla put her headphones on her shoulders and made her way to the little girl, and crouching down to her level.
And with a smile Charla simply said. “Welcome home, Nina.”
The little girl’s breath caught short before her shoulders began to shake, she then launched herself at Charla, wrapping her arms around Charla’s neck and giving her a tight hug that seemed to never end. “You’re back.”
Charla merely hugged her back and smiled. “Yeah…” she said. “I’m back.”
It was late in the evening, the rain never letting up, showing no signs of stopping, the sound of the heavy rainfall echoing off the walls of a cave where a person wearing a black hoodie stood holding an old and rusted metal pipe, caked in blood.
At the person’s feet were the many broken bodies of those in an illegal fight club, many had escaped through the caves, running as if their lives depended on it. But many who didn’t, those who chose to stay and fight, thinking arrogantly that some skinny kid couldn’t beat them, soon changed when the first man fell to the ground.
One however, was still alive, just clinging to life as the person holding the bloody pipe began to slowly walk over to the only survivor, dragging the pipe across the dirt covered ground.
The man looked up, as the hooded individual stood over them, face hidden in the darkness, as the man grit his teeth. “You… you’re the one… from the city…”
A smile came as the pipe was lifted into the air.
“You bastard…!” the man seethed before the pipe was brought down, the sound of contact echoing through the caves in the mountain.