“Mr. Wes!” Joey banged on the door repeatedly, “Mr. Wesson! Come on! THIS IS IMP-”
The door swung open. Jacob Wesson stood in slacks and a t shirt, glasses askew and hair a mess, “Ugh, Rivers, do you know what time it is?”
Joey glanced at her watch, “12:25 am, sir”
“This better be important.”
Wesson’s eyes opened wide, “Is she okay?”
“Uh,” she let out a short laugh, “She, erm, kind of ran away.”
His eyes widened even more and his eyebrows arched high, “In. Come on.” He ushered her through the door.
Once seated on the sofa in his living room, Wesson turned to her, rubbing his eyes once more, “Explain”
“Well, we were all in the living room when you called her. Then there was the curfew … and by the time she came back, we were all in our rooms. Rachel was up to something in her room-which I could tell. After maybe 30 minutes she slid her journal under my door.”
“It’s something between us two. I didn’t think she’d ever hand me hers so I figured something was wrong. By the time I got out – she was gone.”
“You didn’t see her then?”
“I did. Remember the clearing?”
“I caught up with her there.”
“And? Was she okay?”
“Um, other than her bleeding hand and the continuous sobbing? Yeah” she nodded
“Bleeding hand?” worry crept into his features even more.
“Yeah, she dug her nails into her-”
“Dammit. Joey, I have to go.”
“After her, obviously.” He ran a hand over his face.
“I’m coming along.”
“No you’re not. Back to bed this instant.” He ordered
“Nice try, old man.” she was up in a second.
She knew that he was gonna make her stay. She nodded, disappointed, eyes darting about. Suddenly, she decided to listen to him, “Fine. Just … bring her back”
Joey left. Wesson was confused. Not that much by Rachel’s running away but more by Joey’s decision to actually listen to him. He got up to get his car keys.
They weren’t there.
He snorted, “Fine.”
He met Joey in the parking lot, casually leaning against his Audi. She was grinning. She tossed him the keys and sat down in the passenger seat.
He put the car in ignition, “Gone are the days when you pay your elders some respect”
“I ain’t paying you anything.”
“Left or right?” He asked aloud as they drove out of the gates at the back.
“How do I know?” She mumbled but decided as soon as she saw the look he was giving her, “Right.”
Wesson turned left.
“I said right!”
“I know. I needed help deciding.”
“This is pointless. It’s 3am and this is stupid.” Wesson puffed out of his cheeks.
“We have to find her.”
“How far can that girl walk?”
“Well, maybe she went in the other direction. Like I said she would.” Joey snapped
“Shut up.” He muttered, finally deciding to turn the car around.
Rachel woke up with a groan. She wanted to think that this was just another Saturday morning at the institute but the cold metal of the rusting bench told her back otherwise. She got up, leaning her head against the back. What was a bench doing on the side of the road anyways?
Her grumbling stomach distracted her and she pulled out an energy bar out of her back. She took a bite. Knowing that this was not breakfast, Rachel began her walk in search for some decent food.
Two energy bars later, she found herself at the door of a dingy diner. The bell overhead chimed, announcing her arrival at this ungodly hour. The place advertised twenty four hour service. A tired looking woman sat at the counter looked up at Rachel and didn’t bat an eye, “Morning sweetheart, what can I get for you?”
Rachel sat in the darkest corner of the place, playing with the food on her plate. Her breakfast was nauseatingly greasy but her protesting stomach forced her to shove another spoonful down her throat.
She paid for the breakfast and walked out of the place, shoving headphones in her ears, continuing her aimless walk.
Joey tried to keep her calm as Wesson ranted, his fist occasionally pounding the steering wheel to show his frustration.
“Stupid stupid stupid! What was she thinking? She could be anywhere! She could’ve gotten herself in trouble! Irrational-”
“Dude! BREATHE FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!”
“We’re looking for her aren’t we!” she finally allowed a little bit of her own worry and anger show, “Your blabbering won’t get us anywhere! What more can we do? Just keep your eyes peeled for her.”
Her legs were aching, screaming in protest and her lungs burned. Rachel sat down under a tree and emptied out maybe the third and the last water bottle from her back pack.
She dialed Gavin, “Morning, Sleepyhead.”
“Rachel it’s three in the morning.”
“I need you to come get me.”
“Get you? From where?”
“Jameson. Well, not exactly Jameson, I actually made it to the town that’s a little off from there.”
“What? What are you doing out at this hour?”
“Duh, running away, doofus.”
“What would Nate say?”
“Screw what he thinks, I want out. So, I’m getting out.”
“Give me one solid reason.”
Rachel recounted her last few days and waited for him to respond,
“You left cause you were angry? Cause Wesson was right?”
Gavin had successfully made her sound stupid, “No – but … sort of.”
“Did my summary help you see straight or do I have to come and get you and drop you off at Jameson?”
“I’ll just take a bus then.”
“I’ll drop you off again. Rachel think about Nate. He’s the reason you came here. You chose that place for him. Sure you came here cause your dad wanted that for you, but you went for your own reasons.”
“He doesn’t need to know.”
“Wow. WOW. How long do you intend to keep that up?”
“As long as I have to.”
“Rachel, you’re such a CHILD sometimes!”
“What ‘please’? If you went there for Nate, then you stay there for Nate.”
Rachel was silent.
“You’re stupid, you know that?”
She smiled, “I think I got that from my dad.”
“Are you going to go back or do I have to show up there?”
Rachel stood up and started to walk back the way she came, “Stay on the phone with me?”
She could almost see Gavin smiling, “Of course.”
A black Audi drove right past her. She turned to look but shook her head and continued.
“Reverse! Reverse! You drove right past her!” Joey exclaimed
Wesson did a 180 on the road and Joey cursed under her breath, clutching the dashboard, “Easy!”
The car slowed down beside Rachel and the windows rolled down. Wesson and Joey wearing stern expressions.
“Oh, hey guys!” she chirped.
“Hey guys?” Wesson arched his eyebrows, “HEY GUYS!?”
Joey laughed as Wesson yelled, “Where the fresh hell were you!?”
“Fresh hell? Dude, really?”
Wesson refused to crack.
“I went for a walk, okay?”
“A wa- she went- you went for-” he sighed, clenched and unclenched his jaw, pinched the bridge of his nose and ordered for her to get in.
“Jeez, fine Grumpy.”
“Alright, Sir Grumpy”
“Aaand she’s back!” Joey laughed
A smile tugged at his lips, “Yeah, she is.”
“Ah, I missed this bed!” Rachel crashed down on the bed, driving her head into the pillow and pulling it to her chest.
“Shh” she held up a hand, “God, it’s like every muscle is relaxing at this very – aw, this feels so good!” she let out a contended sigh
“Don’t act like nothing happened, Rachel”
She sat up, “Oh, the full name. You’re being serious.”
“It doesn’t suit you! Smile!”
Joey’s brow furrowed, “Are you high or something?”
“On energy bars? Maybe.”
“Jesus, Rachel, I’m trying to talk to you…”
She smiled, “Alright, sit down.”
Joey sat, with her arms crossed.
“How many people know?”
“Just me and Wesson.”
“Listen, this shouldn’t happen again, okay?”
“I mean it.”
“I know you do. It was just … what can I call it” she mused, “oh, yeah, a fit of teenage fury.” She finished, “I just needed to clear my head and I think solitude served well.”
“Was it the solitude that or the bed that brought you back?” she smirked her semi constant half smirk
“The food’s pretty good too.”
“Rest up, Raich. Then I have to crush you at Medieval Madness.”
“Keep dreaming, Rivers.”
Rachel turned around and hugged the pillow to sleep.
There was a knock on her door. Rachel rolled over in bed and squinted at it. Sitting up after a second of contemplating weather she should go back to sleep or get up and see who it was, she chose the latter.
Running a hand through her currently messy hair, she opened the door, “Hi”
Jacob Wesson stood there in the doorway, “Good Morning Rachel.” He said rather sardonically.
“Uh, Hi” she repeated
“How’s the hand?” he smiled
“The hand … what was it that happened exactly?”
“It’s kind of a funny story” She laughed nervously, scratching the back of her neck.
“I like to laugh” he stated simply
“Right” she nodded in defeat, “Well, in attempt to will myself to stop crying I happened to, unconsciously, dig my nails into the thin skin of my hand – coincidentally making it bleed.” She laughed and watched his stern expression, “You’re not laughing.”
“Show it to me.”
Rachel held out her hand. The makeshift bandage falling off to reveal a moon shaped wound, deeper where her nails had initially dug in and thinner where the skin had peeled off. All in all, it was ugly. Making the both of them wince.
He shook his head and called for Joey who just happened to be right outside. She entered with the First Aid kit. Rachel rolled her eyes.
“You are rather self destructive aren’t you, Rachel?” he said, trying very hard to keep his voice calm.
“The bandages you wore the first two weeks here? And then the suspicious scars covering your limbs for the next few months?”
“Oh, those” she smiled wide in attempt to make his anger dissipate
“Yes, those.” He nodded, dead pan.
“It’s kind of a-”
“Spare me.” He pursed his lips, “Just be careful, Rachel.”
“Told you he just cares too much” Joey mumbled as he walked out.
Rachel nodded, looking at the delicately bandaged hand, “Yeah. Everyone does apparently… Does the whole cabin know now?”
“It was Wesson.”
Rachel sighed “I figured”