Chapter Twenty Three
For the past two weeks my mom thought she had Corona so we spent almost the whole month taking care of her, but once she was finally tested, turns out it was only a sinus infection and she’s just dramatic. Before, I always thought of Covid as a nuisance but that incident made me take it more seriously. Anyone else experience any false alarms? Or REAL alarms?
“Alright, so make sure the lounging area is always spotless when you take clients at the desk, you’ll be giving the dogs baths and help me out with whatever I need, it’s nothing too difficult. You’ll be getting a check every week instead of bi-weekly, just come in to pick it up if you want it early, or you can wait to receive it the next time you work.
I nodded, after three days of volunteering at the dog shelter and pet groomers, Ms. Randall, the owner of both, decided to offer me a position as her dog groomers assistant. I’ll be helping her with simple tasks like, washing and preparing the dogs, prepping the equipment, cleaning, and dealing with clients.
Today was my orientation and Ms. Randall was giving me the rundown of her shop. I tried not to make it so obvious how excited I really was to work there, it would be my first job ever. I adore animals, but most importantly I’d finally have my own money!
I couldn’t wait to tell Daniel tomorrow at school, he’s the one that helped me prepare for my interview, and I aced it, even with my lack of any job experience.
He also promised to teach me how to drive on Saturday. I can’t believe he was entrusting me with his very old, but very reliable, Bertha, as he called her.
“Alright Angeline, you start Wednesday, you can wear anything you want so long as it’s appropriate, and no profanity can be displayed on your shirt. Is that understood?”
“Yes, Ms. Randall.”
“Alright, I’ll see you Wednesday.”
“I’ll see you Wednesday, have a good night Ms. Randall.” I say putting my coat on, when I’m no longer in sight of the store window, I do a little happy dance.
I’ve just landed my first job ever! I seriously can’t wait to tell my dad, luckily the shop is only a few blocks down from my house, an easy distance to walk to every day.
Getting home, I start making dinner for my father before he goes off to work. On today’s menu, we’re having tortas. I haven’t had one in a minute.
So lost in my own little world I did not realize my dad had walked through the door.
I freeze and look around frantically, “what?!”
“You singing!” He exclaimed in disbelief.
I was singing? I was singing! I haven’t sang in so long, since, well… Keenan. Singing was my absolute secret passion, I’m glad Keenan never knew, or else he’d have found a way to ruin that for me too.
“Why you so happy?” My dad asked.
“I got the job! I start Wednesday!”
“Cociné tortas papa, quieres?”
“Si,” he replied.
“Dad, can I ask you something?”
“Can I go to the movies tomorrow with my friends?”
“The movie starts at 7:15pm.”
“Ok, pero llega a casa a las 10, no later!” I smile and try to keep from jumping up and down with excitement. He was letting me go!
For dinner, we sat in front of the T V eating our sandwiches. My dad asked me about my day and I told him all about my interview, my new friends, and that Daniel convinced me to try tutoring just like him. He tutors Physics and Algebra every Tuesday and Thursday after school to kids who are struggling.
My grades in Chemistry and Biology were pretty high, and so he convinced me to become a tutor as well. I’ve never thought of myself as the teaching type, but what’s the harm in trying? He said that if it didn’t work for me, then I could back out, but I at least wanted to give it a try.
Daniel already spoke to Vice Principal Hadid, I’d be tutoring science in the library, while Daniel tutored math in the computer room. I’d help people with their homework and studying, and if no one needed help that particular day, then I’d get to go home.
Well, I’d have to wait for Daniel to get done tutoring, seeing as he was my ride.
All in all, I was excited but slightly nervous for tomorrow, it’s the first day I start tutoring.
After dinner, I took a quick shower and got ready for bed, taking a puff from my inhaler, I took off my glasses to lay it on my nightstand.
I see a woman, a beautiful woman with fair skin and curly dark hair, just like mine.
She was as gorgeous as the pictures my dad showed me of her. She sat over me, singing to me, and smiling. The necklace she gave me dangling from her neck, she looked so happy, and I felt content for once. Without a worry in the world.
I was safe so long as I remained in her arms.
Suddenly, I was no longer in my mother’s arms, but instead dropped dead in the middle of the woods. It’s dark, and I feel a spike of fear coarse through me. I tried to run but it felt like I was running through water. No matter what, I wasn’t fast enough, and I could feel whatever it was right at my heels, breathing down my neck.
Even in my dreams, my lungs began to clamp up and I felt like I was choking all over again.
And then everything stops. I’m no longer in the woods but instead in a clearing, a place I’ve been to so many times… but only in my dreams.
I can see him, the dark wolf.
He seems distraught, I can hear his whimpers through the distance between us.
Is he hurt?
I tried calling out to him, but he can’t hear me. I can’t run to him, every muscle in my body is paralyzed.
It’s me he’s looking for...
“I’m here! I’m right here!” I scream, but no sound comes out.
He lets out a long pain filled howl and my heart cries with him.
It hurts to see him hurt.
I haven’t had a dream about that dark black in a very long time. I never put much thought into those dreams, mostly just forgot all about them. But I’ve never been one to have recurring dreams and I don’t know when I started seeing that wolf… or why.
They say every face in your dream belongs to a person you have seen in a life, even if it’s for a split second. But I know I’ve never seen a wolf like that, hell I’ve never even seen Twilight.
And usually, just like how dreams never make any sense, when I dream of that wolf I am the most lucid. They can be my most happiest, peaceful, or sorrowful dreams.
It’s just strange is all.
“So you coming with us to the movies tonight?” I was stuffing things into my locker when Daniel approached me.
“Yeah, my dad said I could.”
“Cool, the movie starts 40 minutes after we finish tutoring so we’ll have plenty of time to get there or maybe go to the store and buy some snacks.“
“You don’t have any allergies do you?”
“None that I know of.”
“Okay, I’ll see you at lunch, alright?”
Surprisingly enough, at the end of the day, I had three students come in for my tutoring session, mostly all underclassmen, but it was more than I anticipated. After I basically re-taught the chemistry unit to them, and went over anything they were having particular trouble with, my tutoring session had ended. It was actually a pretty painless experience, something I could totally see myself doing for the rest of the year.
After tutoring, I met up again with Daniel, he was standing by the school exit, talking to a girl. Most likely one of his attendees. His tutoring session ended a little later than mine, probably due to the abundance of students in his class. I noticed, after my tutoring session started, that he had way more students in his class. Basically a full classroom, and it’d be impossible not to note like that 90% were all female students. Didn’t surprise me at all though.
It was like a free class you could take just to ogle at him, can’t blame them.
I stood off to the side, out of their sight, to patiently let them finish their conversation. I hope they didn’t notice me standing there like an awkward weirdo.
But of course, it’s like Daniel already knew I was there without having to glance at me once, because shortly after he cuts the conversation short and the girls face drops in slight disappointment.
“Yeah–yeah, sure, okay.” she said reluctantly, as Daniel backed away, stepping closer towards me. “I guess I’ll see you Thursday?”
“Course,” he smiled his charming smile, and the poor freshman just about melted.
It took awhile for her to notice me, but when she did she immediately scowled before remembering that Daniel was watching and then she smiled again, it looked more like a grimace though.
“You ready?” He said turning to me.
“All right let’s go.” He put his arm around my shoulders and led to his car.
That same fluttering sensation bloomed in the pit of my stomach.
No. No! It doesn’t mean anything! Daniel is only a friend! Stop looking for things that just aren’t there!
That got my heart to calm down a bit.
First we went to buy all our snacks from Five Below and then we met up with the rest of the group. We decided to watch a gory horror film, which I’m not a particular fan of, but I didn’t want to seem like it wuss in front of everyone so I said nothing.
I ended up sitting at the left of Daniel while Lacey sat at his right. I sat petrified in my seat trying to cover my ears and eyes at the same time. It was a scene where the victim had to cut off her own arm to escape. It made me feel extremely queasy and I felt myself get a little green. When Daniel saw how scared I was, he put a comforting hand on my knee.
The action itself made me catch my breath. I’m definitely not used to people touching me.
Also can help noticing that at every jump scare, Lacey would jump up and snuggle closer to Daniel, burying her face in his arm.
She must not like horror movies either.
The movie was only an hour and a half long, by the time it finished it was only 8:46pm, I still had an hour till I had to be back home.
So we decided to get burgers and eat them at the national park close to the school. It was an area surrounded by vast dense woods. Apparently this was the spot all the teens went to to smoke weed but right now we were the only ones here.
We get out of the car, and Daniel is excited to show me this abandoned cabin they found deep in the woods a while back.. Once we got to it, I was fully expecting a run down creepy old building, but instead it was perfectly intact and kept up with. They even decked it out with super cool solar lights on the outside, and the inside was decorated to be homey and cozy. They even had a stack of wood for the fireplace.
After Daniel set the fire, we sat on the old couch and ate our burgers. But the cabin still had a layer of dust and it was making my lungs close up. Quickly taking out my inhaler, I took a long deep puff.
“I didn’t know you were asthmatic.”
“Yeah, I was born with pretty shitty lungs. I have to take my inhaler everywhere I go. It’s annoying really, I can never physically exert myself for too long.”
“What would happen if you didn’t have it?”
“I can suffer an asthma attack and depending on how severe it is, I can go into a coma… or die. It has killed me before.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes, I was dead for like 8 to 10 minutes before they resuscitated me.”
“ Holy shit, what was it like? What was it like to die? Do you remember anything? Is there really a bright light?”
“If there was a white light, it definitely didn’t show up for me. From what I remember… it was strange. Death isn’t scary, evil, or this dark thing. Death is... peaceful… you feel nothing, no pain, no happiness, no fear, no hurt, nothing. I didn’t want to leave, I didn’t want them to bring me back. I was annoyed that they were trying to wake me up. I just wanted to stay in that state forever.
“It was like a part of me knew I should’ve been fighting for life but another part of me wanted to quiet that voice and let me stay in that peaceful slumber a while longer. I can honestly say I am no longer afraid of death, there are worse things to fear.”
“Wow…” Daniel said, unsettled. “How old were you? A kid?”
“It happened only a few weeks ago, before I came here. When-” I cut myself off and shifted my eyes around awkwardly.
“When what?” He asked curiously, “you know you can always tell me. You can tell me anything, after all what are friends for?”
“I know, it’s just that it’s a long and embarrassing story.”
“But maybe talking about it will make you feel better about it. I’m all ears is what I’m trying to say.”
“OK… so I guess it all started at my old school. I mean I was always a little teased growing up, but I was never bullied.
“Until this really popular guy at old school just decided he hated me from the moment he saw me. I know that sounds like a bit of an exaggeration but I have no other way to explain it. I really wish I knew what I did to him, I still don’t know.”
I paused, and swallowed the lump forming in my throat. So many emotions, memories, and trauma I suppressed were now coming to the surface all at once.
“He told his girlfriend I was interested in him, and she and her friends cornered me in the pool room, threw me in the pool, ripped up my shirt and took pictures. He threatened to show them around the school if I didn’t do everything he wanted. And just like that I basically became their plaything. It was the most degrading, humiliating, and lowest experience of my life. The reason I left was because one day... they took it too far.
“Once again, they all cornered me in the school parking lot and snatched my inhaler from my hand. My panic attack triggered an asthma attack and I couldn’t breath. Eventually I blacked out and all I can remember next was waking up in the hospital. I should’ve died then, honestly don’t know how I’m still alive. I can’t imagine any one of them calling for help, so I wonder who did.”
Daniel wasn’t looking at me, he stared at the crackling fire, his eyebrows furrowed in... anger? Concentration? Concern?
“But even doing all that to me, the worst thing they’d ever done… was taking my mother’s necklace. It was the only thing I had of her,” my voice cracked and I realized a heavy stream of tears rolled down my cheeks and onto my lap.
Without saying a word, Daniel took me into his arms and tightly hugged me. I buried my face into his chest and ugly cried. All the emotions expelling from my body after building up for so long.
Daniel just listened, he let me get crocodile tears and snot all over his blue hoodie.
When I finally calmed down enough, he pulled away from me and helped me wipe my tears away with his sleeves.
“Whatever they said, whatever they did, it does not define you. I’ve only known you for a short amount of time, but in that time, I’ve known you to be one of the sweetest, most genuine, and kindhearted people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Your genuineness is like a breath of fresh air I didn’t know I needed. Thank you for being my friend.” He said it so sincerely that I immediately started crying again.
How can someone this perfect exist?!
“Oh gee thanks, I’m crying again.“ I swat at him, wiping my eyes. He chuckled.
“Any time Cat Lady, but we should go now, we have to get you home at a reasonable time.” Who knew that all I needed was to speak to someone about what happened to me. I felt like a huge weight just lifted off my shoulders. I feel so much better, lighter, but what he said to me had me feeling like I was on cloud nine.
He led me through the pitch black forest, my hand intertwined with his. I couldn’t see for crap but Daniel seemed to know where he was going, and I trusted him. I trust Daniel.
Suddenly, Daniel freezes in his steps and I bump my face square in his back.
“What’s wrong-” I let out a yelp as I am swiftly pushed to the ground. He’s crouched above me, in a defensive stance, staring at something in the bushes, but I don’t see a thing.
“What are you doing here?!” He bellowed, “you have no place here anymore. You’ve been banished for two years now. You need to leave!”
I never heard him sound so furious, so much like Keenan, it was frightening.
Who was he talking to?
“Don’t come any closer!“ He snarled, “I mean it!”
Two gleaming yellow eyes appeared from the bush.
That’s no human, that’s a freaking animal!
I shrieked when I saw what kind of animal, it was a massive wolf. Practically the size of a full grown man!
“Stay back!” Daniel warned, “I’ll kill you!”
That thing will eat us both alive!
I screamed bloody murder as the massive wolf started charging at us.
To my complete disbelief, Daniel started charging at it head on as well.
I watched, shocked, as he lunged into the air and completely transformed into a light grey wolf. It all happened in a blink of an eye but I know what I saw.
Their tumbling bodies disappeared behind the bushes and that was all I could see before I promptly blacked out.