It took me some time to walk over to Samantha’s house. I kept stopping and looking at the dense trees behind the houses. Every time I looked at them, shivers ran down my spine. Memories of that night would flash in front of my eyes. I felt like running back home and jumping under my covers.
When I finally reached Samantha’s house and knocked at the door, her mom opened the door and gave me a smile.
“Come in, Alexia,” she said.
“Thank you.” I gave her a kiss on the cheek and made my way to Samantha’s room. I found her sitting on the bed with Lana. I gave them a puzzled look, and they motioned me to close the door.
“Weren’t we suppose to meet you at your house?” I asked Lana. She gave me an exasperated look and said, “Yes, but Aric and Xavier are there to meet my brother. They’re watching a football game.”
My mouth formed a silent oh, but before I could say anything, I was in Lana’s arm. She hugged me tightly and when she let go, Samantha took her place. They stood in front of me with serious looks on their faces. I tried to act nonchalant. When I raised my eyebrows at them, Samantha grumbled, “Don’t give us that look. What happened that night? Do you know how worried we were? We came over yesterday, but your mom said you were sleeping.”
“We didn’t want to disturb you. And we also thought it would be best just to spend some time with your mother,” Lana added. Before I had time to answer, Lana spoke over me. “And don’t think of lying to us. What happened? Tell us everything.”
I shook my head at them. How can I tell them the truth? They’ll never believe me, and I promised Xavier and Aric that I wouldn’t tell anyone what happened. I just want to forget and move on. Act like it was just a very bad dream. But I can’t really run away from it. It will just come back to haunt me one day or another. After all it actually happened. It was real.
I looked at my two best friends. They were more than my best friends. They were the sisters that I never had. We had been through so much together, and we had never failed to support each other.
But for the first time, I decided to lie to them. “Nothing happened. Xavier, Aric and I were going to the theatre as I told you before but we got lost and ended up in the forest. It took us some time to find our way back again, and here we are, safe and sound,” I said quietly.
Samantha and Lana looked at me then looked at each other. Both stepped forward at the same time. Lana stood at my left while Samantha stood at my right. They grabbed my hands. “Yes, maybe that was what happened, but you aren’t telling us the whole story. You’re hiding something from us,” Lana said
I felt the tears building in my eyes, threatening to fall. Samantha’s hold on my hand tightened, and I looked up at her. She said quietly, “If you don’t want to tell us, then it’s OK. We understand. When you’re ready, you’ll tell us and we’ll be there for you.”
Samantha’s words made me lose the battle of keeping my tears at bay. I lost it and started crying. Both Lana and Samantha enveloped me in their embrace and whispered sweet words of encouragement. Oh god, I love these girls so much.
I decided that I would tell them but not immediately. I just wanted to forget about the baby. No, not a baby. A monster.
When my tears finally stop, I looked up at the faces of my best friends. They gave me sloppy smiles. “Do you want to go out on the porch?” Samantha asked quietly. I nodded and we went outside.
We sat on the porch for some time, talking about inconsequential things. When Lana and Samantha started talking about college, I stayed quiet. I didn’t want to talk about college. Some teenagers would find it awesome that they were getting chance to leave home and be on their own. But not me. I didn’t want to leave my mom. If I left, she would be alone.
“Did you get accepted into any colleges yet?” Lana asked Samantha.
“Not yet. Maybe soon. What about you, Alexia?”
“No. I haven’t received any acceptance letters yet.”
“You will. Soon. You get good marks. I mean, c’mon, you’re a straight A student,” Lana said.
“Hmm,” was my only reply. “What college did you get into?”
“Oastan College. Four hours from here.” Lana replied. I nodded and turned around. Unfortunately, my gaze fell upon the dense trees next to Samantha’s house. Those trees were the start of the forest.
It was afternoon, so obviously nothing looked out of place or scary, but just looking at it made my skin crawl. I closed my eyes and tried to get my heartbeat under control, but all I saw were red eyes and fangs. I snapped my eyes opened and jumped out of my seat.
I was breathing hard, and I felt tears prickling my eyes. Why couldn’t I forget? Had it all been a dream? Was it real or not? I was so confused. So lost. I tried to convince myself that it was only my imagination, but Xavier and Aric had seen it too. It couldn’t be my imagination. It was real. There was a baby, with red eyes, fangs and it was growing while Aric was holding it.
Samantha and Lana looked up at me in surprise. “Are you OK?” Samantha asked. They both looked very concerned.
“I’m just really tired. I think I’ll go home and rest.”
Lana and Samantha looked at me suspiciously but just nodded. “See you tomorrow,” Samantha said with a warm smile. I leaned over and gave both of them a tight hug. “Thank you. Thank you for always being there for me. I don’t always say it, but I love you all so much. You may not be blood-related to me, but you’re my soul sisters.”
Both of them grabbed my hands. “And thank you for being our soul sister. We love you too,” Lana said.
Samantha nodded and said, “Soul sisters forever.” I squeezed their hands before letting go. I waved back at them before walking away.
On my walk home, I couldn’t take my eyes off the forest. I felt like someone was watching me. I looked away from the trees and walked faster.
Before I got to the door, I snuck one more glance at the trees and swore I saw red eyes looking my way. I ran up the steps to the front door.
I slumped onto the sofa with a heavy sigh. “Alexia?” I heard my mom call from upstairs
“Yeah, it’s me.”
I sat up straight when I saw my mom coming down the stairs.
“You’re home early,” she said with a hint of concern. She went into the kitchen and came out with two cups. “Here. Coffee.” After handing me the coffee, she sat down on the sofa facing me.
“Thank you for the coffee, Mom.” I tried my best to give her a genuine smile but it wasn’t very successful.
“What’s wrong, honey?”
I sipped the coffee slowly and turned to face my mom. “Something happened last night. I don’t know how to say this without you thinking that I am crazy,” I said hoarsely. Mom put her hand on my knee and gave it a gentle squeeze.
“Talk to me, baby girl.” Just as I was about to reply, the front door opened.
“Mrs. Mercier, are you home?” I heard Xavier call from the door. His voice was laced with panic.
“Yes. Come right in,” Mom replied. Xavier came into the living room carrying an unconscious Aric.