Category Archives: Parents

Holding On

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a night window

HOLDING ON

by Stuart Nager©

 

 

“Wendy. Close the window. It is freezing in here.”

John was flat on his back, under his sheets and quilt. He had his right arm draped over his eyes. Truth be told, it was his nightshirt that did the draping. John’s arm was across his brow. He had to remind himself to relax, for he was leaving an indent in the lower forehead.

Wendy sat on the padded window bench; knees tucked up tight against her chest. Her arms encircled her legs. The window was ajar, allowing the night winds free entry into the bedroom. Wendy searched the clouds, looking. Praying. Hoping.

The wind whipped up, bursting past the lead paned glass. It sends Wendy’s nightshirt fluttering. Her shoulders lifted, her immaculate posture in place. Wendy tilted her head just so. She knew what he liked.

As did she.

“Arrrrrr, matey!” John used his pirate voice, doing his best to make her laugh. Wendy did not laugh nor smile. Jumping out of bed, John had to untangle himself from the bedsheets. All of the bed coverings wound up on the floor.

“Wendy, it is freezing in here. Shut the window, please.” He looked over at Michael, deep in slumber. His consistent snoring was the proof he was asleep. He could never duplicate that sound when he was faking to stay in bed. Mother saw right through him.

Wendy shushed him.

“You know he won’t wake up. He’s dead to the world right now.”

She shushed him again. John grabbed his quilt from the floor, whipping it over his head and onto his shoulders. So encased, John approached his sister. Wendy was still eyeing the night sky.

John plopped down on the other side of the bench, pulling the blanket even tighter around him. Just as his teeth started to chatter, he realized Wendy was only in her night clothing. Reversing the quilt, he laid one end over his sister.

“Thank you, John,” she whispered, far away from the room. John followed where she was looking. She’d change an angle; he would mirror it. “Darling bookends,” Liza would say if the housemaid was in the room. He smiled at that thought. Wendy noticed him as his smile slowly crept back inside him.

“Wendy. He’s not coming back. He isn’t. Shh. Please hear me out. We’ve had this…this…talk far too often. Fourteen months have passed. No pirates. No Indians. No Tink. No Pe…”

Reaching over, Wendy placed the four fingers of her left hand gently over his mouth.

“Enough, John. Please. I know. I still hope. I still have hope. Every blessed night I have hope. It just,” Wendy stopped, turning her head back to gazing the now unclouded sparkling heavens. “It just hurts, John.”

He nodded his head. What was left to say? They had had this conversation far too many times. It always ended in tears. There were many nights where John tried his best to distract her. The successful evenings were spent making up stories of what battle or mischief he would be embroiled in, smack in the center of it all. She’d laugh at many of his tales. The more outlandish he made them, the more Wendy relaxed. And she’d stop looking out the window.

The less beneficial nights would come, ones where John felt powerless. Wendy, questioning, always the same. “Why doesn’t he return?” John knew there were two unspoken words to that query: “For her.”

Wendy did turn her head back to John. “No stories tonight, please. My insides are so knotted, so heavy. Not tonight, dear John. Not tonight.”

He nodded his head, and the two sat quietly by the window. No one spoke. Michael snored. They both yawned, Wendy insisting John started it. John, naturally, accused Wendy.

“We better get to bed. I don’t wish Mother to be cross with us in the morning.” She stood up, patting her nightwear down into a proper shape. John noticed Wendy’s hesitation before she reached over and closed the window. The sound of the latch fitting in place brought a feathery gasp from her lips. Her arms, as always, crossed over her heart.

John returned to bed. He tossed all the linen quilt back on the bed, diving under it all for warmth. John’s face was warm. He felt an unpleasant tightening in his chest. He should have hugged her, said he’ll always be there for her, that she was the best sister anyone ever had. John only said: “Good night, Wendy,” as she closed the door, tiptoeing down the hallway to her room.

As Wendy made it to her bed, her thoughts swallowed her whole. She thought of the unfairness of growing up. How much Wendy wanted to share the same bedroom with her brothers again. How much she wished she had stayed and not returned home. All swept away by the burning question she held tight: “Why hasn’t Peter returned for me?”

It was just over a month that Wendy overheard “The” conversation. Wendy, supposedly in bed, was walking by Mother’s bedroom. The door was partially open. Peeking in, Mother was sitting at her vanity, Liza behind her, counting out the number of times she ran the brush through Mother’s hair.

Wendy was not pleased that Mother was now calling her “a proper young lady.” She had experienced her first flow, a most embarrassing event. Her bones were achy almost all the time. She started maturing. Wendy’s new clothing, the changes in her body, all of it left her feeling embarrassed and humiliated. Wendy’s deep sadness permeated throughout her.

She knew why Peter did not come for her.

Why he would not come for her, ever again.

Wendy wished she had never eavesdropped.

“100,” Lisa stated, putting the hairbrush down on the table. “Miss Wendy is starting to fill out, mum. She’ll be as beautiful as you. Not that she isn’t a pretty young thing now.”

Mother was silent, staring into the mirror. Wendy was sure Mother would not answer Liza. Just as she began to walk away, Wendy heard Mother say, “I know it is the right thing to do, Liza. It is time that Wendy a room to herself. She is blossoming. It is time for her to grow into being a proper young lady. But.” Mother left that word dangling on its own.

“Yes, but,” Liza agreed. “It will be for the best.”

Mother nodded. “I do pray that this will ease the burden she carries. Wendy needs to let this fantastical story of flying, pirates, faeries…” Mother sighed. “She needs to let it go.”

Wendy moved away from the door.

The next day Wendy was given her room. She sulked alone for the next two days, only leaving her confines for meals that she picked at. The third night, though, she had had enough.

Wendy immediately ran to the bedroom she had shared with her brothers. She threw the door wide open. Her feet glided across the nursery floor until she got up on the window. Kneeling, Wendy opened the windows. She crept to the window frame, her eyes fixated on the dark, laden clouds above. No stars were visible.  Rain, though: rain fell ferociously. Wendy became a soaking wet sponge instantly. She kneeled on the pane for a long while.

A noise coming from the doorway startled Wendy out of her fugue. Wendy slightly turned and saw Liza standing in the hallway.

“Wendy Darling,” Liza trumpeted. She stamped her feet as she approached the window seat, not thinking of the boys at all. Upon arrival, Liza shooed Wendy to move away.  “Young lady, what has gotten into you? You were not in your room. I knew you would be here. You, young lady, are heading straight to your room: a hot bath and fresh nightshirt. Go on. I’ll be right behind you.”

Wendy, shivering, glanced at her brothers, warmly tucked in. She smiled although her heart was shattering.

When she heard the latch fall into place, she sat on the floor and cried.

 

 

Yakshinis Offering: Nightmares from and Unbleached Soul, AtoZ Blog Challenge

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Y2020

NIGHTMARES FROM AN UNBLEACHED SOUL

YAKSHINIS OFFERING

What is desired most?
Yakshinis need to know
Love, greed, or spirits raised
Yakshinis endure inside the Ashoka Tree

Avni ran in a frenzy desperation
From the news that came her way
Avni cried deep without cessation
Nitesh, her love, passed this very day

With mudded feet, a soaked saree
Avni's heart battering, at a rapid rate
Finally she stood at the bole of the tree
A branch held her up as she rued Nitesh's fate

What is desired most?
Yakshinis need to know
Love, greed, or spirits raised
Yakshinis endure inside the Ashoka Tree

Offering up the tributes, of camphor and ghee
Avni sang the mantras, performed the rituals
Vichitra, the lovely one, emerged from the tree
"O, my dear Avni, what desire did you choose?

"Please, oh please, bring Nitesh back to me"
Vichitra fades away as Shankhini takes her place
"Avni is this truly desired? He was taken by the sea."
A softly spoken "yes," said with reverent grace.

What is desired most?
Yakshinis need to know
Love, greed, or spirits raised
Yakshinis endure inside the Ashoka Tree

Thirty-six Yakshini materialized, facing Avni
Each gesturing above her body's sacred space
Glowing fronds from all alighting successfully
Vichitra glided to her, placed a hand on her face.

"Avni, with remorse we could not honor your plea
Yama, God of Death, commands Nitesh stay. Yet,
Nitesh beseeches for his essence returned to thee
Which we have done for the child the heavens sent.

What is desired most?
Yakshinis need to know
Love, greed, or spirits raised
Yakshinis endure inside the Ashoka Tree

"She will be balanced, the desires we bestowed
Nitesh loves you, and forever more
His essence runs through her, his energies flow
For this child, who is Bimala, One who is Pure."

Foliage keeps dying, cycle of life renews
The Ashoka Tree, green throughout the years
Avni passes on, her time was overdue
Sharing Nitesh's inner core with her mother dear.

Yama escorted Avni to Nitesh
One held the other; one breath they achieved
For she was always his earth
And he her heartbeat

For she was forever his earth
He her heartbeat, Eternally. 

**************************************************************

X, Y, Z are usually the tough ones on the AtoZ Blog Challenge. This year’s Y almost broke me. It took a long time to put this idea into life. More could be said, but less is more. Most of the time.

My theme for this year’s AtoZ Blog Challenge is: Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul. 26 lyrical poems during the month of April (no Sundays). It started on April 1st and ends this Thursday on April 30th. After that, a week or two later you’ll be able to find Reflections on the experience. I hope you found new blogs to like and follow. If you still wish to, go to The Master List.

I’ve asked a few questions along the way: what genre of music you think suits the lyrics best? Who or what style of music was in my head when I wrote these? My last one for the week:

  1. Why Nightmares From An Unbleached Soul?  
  2. I’m curious.: How do you interpret it
    1. for yourself?
    2. why do you think I chose that as my theme title?

    MUSICIANS, or people who know musicians, hear my call I would love to find someone to collaborate with. Not every one of the 26 Lyrical Poems are winners, I know that. Many will need some tweaking if I take this further. I would just love to hear some, or all of these, put to music. Anyone knows, please email me.

Comments are always welcome.

KIND NESSIE: Nightmares from an Unbleached Soul, AtoZ Blog Challenge

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K2020

NIGHTMARES FROM AN UNBLEACHED SOUL

KIND NESSIE

Kind Nessie came from the sea
A blooded cutlass in her hand
If she came your way you would flee
A hellion on the main land

Hey Ho Nessie
Raise a glass for she
Hey Ho Nessie
Her strength made her free

Every battle landed gold and more
Success came from her bravery
From the bridge Kind Nessie soared
Captaining her ship Destiny

Hey Ho Nessie
Raise a glass for she
Hey Ho Nessie
Her passion made her free

She took no gruff, not prone to boast
Our trust in Kind Nessie always held 
In foray she was feared the most
Of seafaring folk she was unparalleled.
Hey Ho Nessie
Raise a glass for she
Hey Ho Nessie
Intelligence made her free

All her crew cheered Nessie
They treated her like a queen
Even though her quarters were messy        [Hey!]
They loved that she would never preen

Hey Ho Nessie 
Raise a glass for she
Hey Ho Nessie 
Her passion made her free 
                                            [yawnnnnnn]

Ah,Kind Nessie, 
I think it is time for bed             [not yet!?]
Ah, Kind Nessie,
You've earned this kiss on the head

                                              [Hey Ho Nessie...]
Shhhh
Goodnight
Love you
"click"
 
                                             [hey ho Nessie
                                                raise a 'yawnnn" me
                                                hey ho
                                                hey ho
                                                hey ho
                                                hey....]

April is Coming

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#AtoZChallenge 2020 badge

Yes, I have signed up for the A to Z Blog Challenge for this year. I started my blog in 2011 a few months before April sprang on me. I went for it, and it was one of the best things I had done. Happy to have joined.

Except for a couple of skip years, it’s been fun and agony to write (almost) daily through the month. 26 posts, Sundays off.

It’s a challenge (the title says so) but, in my opinion, well worth it. Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Essays, photos, recipes, critiques, How To…, etc. Whatever your blog is about, join in. Great way to discover other blogs, make friends (I have), and for others to find your blog. I’ve gained many followers through this.

Here’s the link: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

Not sure what I’ll write about yet. I’ll figure it out.

If you join, please leave me a comment below with your blog link attached. You might gain some followers before the whole thing starts.

Theme Reveal #AtoZChallenge 2020 badge

#AtoZChallenge 2020 badge

Jump At The Son

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sunset_sky_sun_boys_sunshine_silhouette_dark_fun-945255

JUMP AT THE SON

 

He was usually by my side. In his early days, we walked hand in hand. As our walks increased in step by step increments, he’d hold his arms way up high. Of course, I picked him up, carrying and mini snuggles. Other times he rode on my shoulders, clutching my hair. We became a Two-Headed Monster. We shared a gnarly growl; it always announced the monster’s arrival.

Always.

Yet, years pass as they dispassionately are prone to. From my side, hand-holding, carry snuggles, becoming a Monster were abandoned. We went on chases instead; more me chasing him. Then he’d chase after me, laughing so hard his head popped off his neck when I turned the table back to chasing him. When I was his prey, he always caught me. Once in a while, I would catch him.

We morphed into One less and less. We lost the “carry me,” and hand-holding didn’t exist.  By this point in our lives, we also lost the Monster.

He never said “Goodbye” to either of us.

Things change.

Things changed.

We ran the gauntlet most parents know. As he slalomed around me, his looking up to me would change to “I hate you!” to apologies and understandings, and back to volatile disagreements. In those cases, the slamming of his bedroom door was the coda that generally ended in “Arrrrggghhh!” from both sides of the door. There began the push away/pull me back times. From a protected, cared for son, a new monster, singular, appeared. He was striving to grow up, to be self-reliant. Independent.

Moments blipped passed us. We talked. We gave each other the Silent Treatment. Doing something fun together could quickly flip into parent shunning. I was waiting.

Waiting for things to even out, for our varying personalities to allow each other to breathe again when we were together. It happened with no rush to make it real. We had been on a strained thin rope, correcting our balances, expecting the other to fall.

I know there were times he did not like me. It might have bordered on hatred, but that remains in his secrets stash. It’s hard to say, but there were times I did not like him. Love, yes. I’ve always loved him.

Things change.

Things changed.

Marriage happenings took over our lives. He committed himself to his bride, his mate, his best friend; my commitment dissolved around me, shredding into strips and then pieces. What was left was a tattered life. It all turned to ashes.

I’m proud of the man he has built for himself. He holds his strengths, his humor, his intelligence, and his weaknesses.

We are no longer a combined Two-Headed Monster, physically. There are those moments that sneak up on us, where our inner gnarly growling meshes. It may happen across the many miles that separate up. Face to face, the growl surfaces.

In those times I can shout out: “Beware. Beware! The Two-Headed Monster has arrived.”

It’s still alive.

In some ways, things stay the same.

Unintended Consequences

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castle consequence

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

7c293f567878d204f3613fb0926af1b4--illuminated-letters-illuminated-manuscriptnce upon a time there was a household in turmoil. One sister, one brother, and a widow who had lost the will to keep her children proper. Her husband left her with the debt of the home and the banes of her life.

illustrated Every day the siblings fought, cursed, threw fragile items at each other, stole what they could and sold those items. They wound up at the village pub drinking until oblivion took them both.

illustrated But one day the widow unexpectedly left, never to return. By the end of the first week they tore through the makings of their home. What they couldn’t sell, they bartered. They ate, drank, and took care of their baser needs.

illustrated Because of that they soon ran out of money. The sister and brother had to vacate, unable to pay the house debt. With little more than a bag of clothing each, they set off in opposite directions. The sister vowed to never to see her brother again. He felt the same.

illustrated Because of that as they traveled, taking whatever work they could find. Without the sense to save what they could, the sister and brother would find themselves penniless soon after receiving pay. What wasn’t spent on food and alcohol went to gambling. Outside of the comfort and safety of the village they grew up left them adrift. Often robbed, both suffered beatings, and sometimes worse.

illiustrated Until finally, many months later, each sibling took root in a haven. Broken to their cores by this time, they each had the chance to rebuild their lives. Both found themselves welcomed and absorbed into the communities they now called home.

illustrated E coloredver since then each found acceptance, and love, in their ways. They kept their vows: they never saw each other ever again. As to the widow, she moved in with her sister and her family in a completely different direction from her children’s wanderings. She never heard from, or saw, them again. She lived out her life in bliss.

*********************     ****************     *************************

Author’s Notes:

  1. The above was from #FlashFiction Prompt from my friends over at Fiction Can Be Fun. This time, the prompt was just this: A case of the law of unintended consequences. Rules are simple:
  • Word count: 500 – 1,500 (ish)
    Deadline: 2pm GMT on Friday 11th October 2019
  • Post your story on your site and link to it here in the comments below, or drop us a line via the contact us page and we’ll post it for you.

The proprietors of Fiction Can Be Fun, Debs and David, are working on a shared novel that I can’t wait to read (yes, I still would love to be a Beta reader for the two of you). I met them during the AtoZ Blog Challenge in April of 2018, and I’m glad we have remained in contact. Visit their page. Lots of great stories, challenges, and essays to sink your teeth into.

2) The words in italics after the illuminated letters is from an Improv technique I’ve used for years in warmups and in my workshops and school residencies. I recently found out that the style is credited to Kenn Adams, author, educator, teaching artist, and performer. He is the Artistic Director of Synergy Theater based in Islip, New York (but they do travel across the country).

The pattern for Improv, and what I used above, is:

  • Once upon a time
  • Every Day
  • But one day
  • Because of that
  • Because of that
  • Until finally
  • Ever since then

If running this in a warm-up or as a rehearsal exercise, the amount of Because of that would increase due to how many were in attendance.

And…sorry, Debs & David, the word count is only 321.

Wild In The Woods: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Nineteen

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

New? This is a serialized work. Please start on A: A Car In The Woods

AtoZ2019W WILD IN THE WOODS

1963

Eddie was too far away, arriving at the tail end of the incident when there was nothing he could do. Concealing himself behind a thick trunk, he saw Schatzi in TB, her head nodding off. TB activated the knockout gas, having automatically switched off the pheromones. The wind storm created to obscure the descent of the Thunderbird blew out of the bottom of the car as the platform smoothly lowered its cargo. The top plate closed immediately once the clearance was reached. Schatzi was gone. Eddie could only hang his head.

Looking over at the kids, he found Debra consoling Timmy, even though he was mad as spit and crying. He lashed out at her for holding him back. Eddie was amazed: Debra held back. She took it. He had been waiting for his daughter to fight back, bicker with him as they did, and end it with a punch in the arm. Nothing. She did nothing.

Timmy finally wound down. Cried out, he walked around and around, looking for anything that would give him a clue where his dog went. He’d find nothing. Eddie knew that. He felt proud that Timmy wouldn’t just give up without a real try. Deb walked with him, keeping an eye on the position of the sun. She elbowed Timmy and got him to look. A small argument followed. Debra won.

Eddie heard it all. Her points were on target. It was already cold, and the temperature would keep on dropping. The only place she knew out of the wind with some protection was their car. He was reluctant, dragging his feet, looking back as they walked away. He yelled out one last “Schatzi!” before they blended into the woods.

Eddie raced ahead of them. On the way, he looked for and found wood dry enough to light for a fire. Once he got to the ravine, Eddie made a bed of slightly damp wood and then placed the makeshift dry cord near enough to the car, sure one of them would find it.

Going through all the nooks and crannies of the station wagon, Eddie found and strategically placed items the kids would need: three of Schatzi’s thick blankets were shoved behind some of the junk the kids left lying in the back. The biggest one he placed by the back of the rear seats, an easy find. The second one he put under the front seat, with enough sticking out from the back. There was no water in the car. He left his canteen under the second blanket, filling it with the cleanest snow he could find. It wasn’t much, but a full container of water would be needed until help arrived.

In the junk pile, he found some candy bars, bags of nuts, dog treats. Eddie smiled. They knew they weren’t supposed to be eating this in the wagon, but he and Pat were aware that they snuck it aboard when they could. In this case, it was a good thing: it would help them now. Eddie added two food bars he took from the lab before his mission. They never offered anything. It was up to the Taken to get what they thought they needed.

The last thing he left was a small box of long matches. A plain, ordinary box held the matches, nothing to note from where it came from, or when. The glove compartment was crammed full of maps, sunglasses, and other cast-off items. He put the matchbox in there; a few maps placed so it wasn’t easily seen.

Eddie did what he could. He left the ravine, taking the third blanket with him. Scaling a tree near enough to keep an eye, Eddie watched Timmy and Debra come back. They did exactly what he had drilled into their heads: secure the area, search the area, take full stock of things they would need, and improvise the rest. They found the food, the blankets, and the matches. That led to the hunt for wood. Debra found it quickly, and the two of them got a good fire going, using the maps as tinder. They argued a bit. They cried quietly over the loss of Schatzi. Night fell hard with the winds picking up. They both climbed in the back of the station wagon, wrapped themselves in the blankets, and fell asleep with Deb holding Tim, sharing their body heat.

Like him, Debra also generated a lot of body heat. Patricia called her the mini boiler along with her daddy being The Furnace. He smiled at the memory.

During the night, Eddie would creep over. He had stashed more dry wood and added that to keep the fire going. Towards dawn, he came back with green wood and adding a healthy pile on top. The smoke rose high. It was as good an SOS flag he could make.

Leaving the kids, feeling they’d be fine if they were found soon enough, Eddie made his way back to the clearing. The noise filtering through the woods corresponded with his hope: the town was out in full force looking for Timmy and Deb. Climbing up for a better view, he saw a Deputy he didn’t know in the general area. He just wasn’t looking in the right direction.

Duck walking over the thick branch Eddie waited for the Deputy to come within range. As he did, Eddie stood and shook the branch above him, the snow falling in large clumps. The Deputy swung his head around as more snow fell, one large pile hitting him squarely. Eddie wanted to laugh, but he needed the guy to look in the right direction.

He did. Seeing the smoke rising he took out a walkie-talkie and called in what he saw while he ran in the right direction. Eddie stayed long enough to see that the kids were found, and for Patricia run to them and hug them near to death.

It was time to head back into the lab. Hurrying, Eddie hoped he would be in time to put a roadblock in the lab drones doing anything to Schatzi.

He arrived too late.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

1967

Eddie had left the carnage behind him. He had long ago found a way to control the platform lift without the help of the deceased lab bastard. Waiting for the control system to acknowledge them, Eddie turned to give Girl a scratch on her head. She filled the back seat of TB best with the convertible’s top down. He was revved up, TB purred as she idled, and Girl was jumpy. Eddie had let her smell the old uniform before they got in the car. It was enough to start her off.

Once moving, Eddie began to look forward to the encounter above. Doris needed to be terminated. She was a big part of helping to overthrow their fearless “leaders.” He killed who he had to for survival. Some of the Taken were too far gone, their drug testing and operations going into overdrive: too aggressive; too uncontrollable. The operation for freedom released all the taken.

That’s when things went sideways. Everyone was set free. Everyone. Whoever let the Aggressives out most likely didn’t get very far. The slaughter began with the lab minions. It then moved onto anyone who got in their way. Taken taking out their own.  Doris was part of that group. While the others went about with stone faces, Doris laughed through it all. They ripped through doors, stormed hallways and locked rooms, and a number of them made it to the outside. Including Doris. They scattered, taking up different places in the woods. The controls were still working in many regards. There was just no one left to work the controls.

They had a fifty-mile radius they could roam. One compliance that they did not beat, or maybe even knew, was the limitation on how far they could move about. Lab 4 was the center. A dead center that still held subconscious sway.

That made it easy in some ways to find them and terminate. Too many deaths hit the fifty-mile radius; Eddie felt he was just as guilty at setting them free as the one who did it.

It was his plan to break free of the control. It just got out of hand too fast.

Doris was the last of the Aggressors. Her mind was always slippery. She was a bad choice from day one. The lab wanted more women subjects. They got her. They paid for getting her. Once she was on the outside, she became difficult to find. Eddie almost had her twice, but others got hurt in her wake. She’d escape and hide deeper, in plain sight.

In whatever state she was in at present, Doris acted like Lab 4 was running, and she was still part of it. She transmitted that she had a new one. Female. Smart. Her tone made it clear that she hated that woman. There were no more Taken left down in the Lab except for Eddie and Girl. It was his chance to take her out. She came to him.

It took a little bit of scrounging, but Eddie found the old uniform in the back quarters. Her name and number were all the way under the large pile in the room. Bringing it to Girl, and the growling that followed, sealed the deal.

As they got closer to top, Eddie went into the camera network to see what was there to greet him. He saw the VW Microbus. In front of it, Doris slapped the bound woman, hard. There was no sound in the car system, but Eddie already had enough. They were very close to the ground cover. It started making a slight noise a year ago, and he couldn’t fix it. He was hoping for a total surprise.

Plans change.

Eddie gave Girl the uniform. She was chomping and tearing at it as they got within feet. Girl had always had a hate on for Doris. Something happened between them on one mission. When they came back, Doris found ways to avoid Girl.

As the wind machine clicked on and the rooftop slid away, Eddie leaped out of the Thunderbird. The whirlwind threw up enough to hide him. He raced to the tree line and disappeared, cutting through quickly to come close to the van.

Doris was walking towards the opening at the platform sealed, and the windstorm died down. She had let the woman fall, seemingly forgotten. While Doris approached and called to Girl, Eddie drew out his knife and made his way to the van. Going to knee, he cut the binding on her feet. She had trouble moving them at first but got them kicking for circulation. By the time he cut through the ties around her wrists and was lifting her help, the ruckus behind him grew.

He knew what was going on. Doris came looking for them. He saw the assault rifle she pulled out of the van at the last moment, hiding it behind the woman’s back. It was all a ruse. She hoped to take him by surprise. Having Girl with him changed all that.

A soft voice spoke into the woman’s ear: “Shhh, sweetie. Relax, relax. You’ll be safe now.” She was crying; Eddie rubbed her hands and forearms, helping the circulation move along. Over the growing screaming and fierce barking, Eddie said: “Sweetie, listen. The keys to the VW are on the driver’s seat. Give yourself a few minutes. Your feet and hands will thank you. Leave here. Don’t look back.”

She nodded, and not saying a word she tottered around the van, got in, and drove off.

By this point, Girl was howling, and Doris was a bloody mess by the front of TB. The car’s engine revved a few times and settled down to a chorus of barks and honking.

Eddie walked over and crouched over her body.

“Hi, Doris.”

“You…you…damn, I ought…” she began, then coughed, an expulsion of blood following.

“You aren’t going to be doing much of anything in a moment or so. Yeah, if looks could kill. I get it. I do have one question. Hope you’re up for one.”

She tried to spit at him. She only got dribble.

“What did you do that got Girl hating you so much? Hmm?”

Doris couldn’t lift her arm. She just had enough to give him the bird. Eddie noticed and chuckled. By the time he stood up, she was gone.

Girl was rubbing her face in the grass next to the body, trying to get rid of any blood stains.

TB raced her engine, nice and loud.

“C’mon, Girl. Hop in. We have to go. C’mon. Zeon will be here any second.”

The platform began to lower as the deep clicking sound came from the woods. As the top closed over them, Eddie heard the heavy thump land, clicking away like a bell tower.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

1968

Eddie followed Gary’s trail. He had to save his son. His left hand was a mess. It was taking its time in healing. Time he did not have.

Debra explained everything she could to her mom and Will. She was still trying to process everything that went down.

Will had brought his gun and a shotgun from the car.

Patricia scouted in front, looking for any trail marks. She found blood droplets that led them on. She was terrified for Timmy, but the anger towards his kidnapper outshone almost anything else.

She’d deal with the idea of Eddie and Schatzi when the time came.

Debra came behind Will, who had been very quiet. She hadn’t told either of them that she had Tim’s gun.

They sped on.

Present Day

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

 

There was a car in the woods.

 

 

Vanishing Obstacles: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

Standard

 

A Car In The Woods: Chapter Eighteen

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

New? This is a serialized work. Please start on A: A Car In The Woods

 

AtoZ2019V VANISHING OBSTRUCTIONS

1963

Eddie found Pat ahead and off to the side. He lay prone on the freezing ground, keeping him out of her sight-lines. She slipped, slid, and fell more than she made any real progress. Pat would get up, shake herself, check her bearings, and continue moving.

“Good,” he thought.

After he came back from Nam, Eddie started a personal training regimen. He was “too antsy to sit still for any length of time” was what he’d say out loud, but inside was a different matter. How could he tell anyone how much he missed his training, staying fit, the focus it all gave him? Nam? Pat knew he had had a rough time there. He couldn’t talk about it. She held back from probing too hard. He appreciated that.

When he started, she watched from the kitchen window. Timmy joined him immediately. Debra always looked like she was going to jump in, but she kept backing off. The two of them sat together on the back porch. She saw Debra’s teenage indecision. One day she just began working out with them, Timmy daring Debra and egging her on. Debra finally joined in. Eddie had his whole family working their asses off. He felt nothing was better than this.

It was obvious to him that she kept the training going. Another chip knocked away in his conditioning. He felt something change. He rose and stealthily followed.

Getting within close distance to the main road, Pat fell again, sliding along the ice and into some of the prickly foliage. Eddie froze. Part of him was pushing to go help her; that part caused him to stand, wanting to rush to her side. The compulsion to stay out of sight and seize the target fought against that.

She disentangled herself in a flurry of curses and “Ow”s. If she turned around, she’d see him. He didn’t want to be seen. He wanted to be seen. Something in his mind shifted. Her back was still towards him. The strain was splitting him apart. Something gave.

“Pat,” came hoarsely to his lips, the name drifting towards her on the icy wind.

He saw her start, stop, throw her arms around herself and picked her way forward. Eddie moved as well, the need to conceal himself howling against the need for her. The force of the two opposing actions locked him up, unable to move in any way. Yet, one path was open.

“Patricia. Sweetie.”

She screamed, then glanced back. Eddie the anguish and fear that radiated off of her just before she took off and ran. He heard her scream “Stop,” saw her glancing behind her as she hurtled through the brush and straight into a tree. Patricia fell to the ground. Eddie waited for her to rise.

The last obstruction in his psyche shattered.

Step by step he approached her position. Crouching down, he checked her pulse, staunched the bleeding across her forehead by using the scarf she had been wearing, and tried to wake her. Eddie realized she needed more immediate help. He would have called for a Medic, if.

Picking her up, they trudged towards the Overlook pass. Eddie held her close to shield her the best he could from the wintery wind. She used to call him The Furnace, emitting so much body heat at night as they lay together in bed. He used that to keep her warm, the best he could while waiting to hear for a car heading in their direction.

Finally, the revving sound of a powerful engine came, getting louder as it got closer. It was still out of sight when Eddie carried Patricia over to a tree by the road and propped her against the trunk. He picked up a rock half the size of his hand, aimed, and threw it at the back paneling of the Sheriff’s Ford Fairlane. It hit.

Eddie faded away, erasing all traces of his being there while he found a spot to conceal himself. He heard the Sheriff get out and slam the car door. Next, some choice words as he walked to the rear of the car, stopping and cursing at the new dent marring his vehicle. The Sheriff called out he was going to get whoever threw that damn rock, turning around with continuing threats.

Until he saw Patricia slumped upright against a tree. Until he noticed a growing spread across her forehead. Reaching her, all of his caterwaulings stopped. Gingerly, Sheriff John got her into the back seat of his Ford. Closing the back door and opening the front, he revved the engine, put the car in Drive, and while he sped down the road he called into the town clinic to be ready.

Eddie waited until they were out of sight.

He needed to find his kids and make sure they were safe.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

1968

Debra was not used to walking through the woods anymore. When she moved out west hiking was the last thing she wanted to do. She liked cities. Dangers lurked there as well, but the woods brought back too many horrid memories. She just loved her brother enough to fight her fear. Letting him go off on this wild goose chase alone was out of the question.

Tim took the lead, looking for any traces that would show him someone went this way recently. He’d point out a couple of broken branches, later what could have been part of a shoe print, and these would hurry him on. Debra just shook her head but stayed with him as best she could, sometimes having to call him to wait for her.

Tim’s yelp and leaping back to her scared her. He had the biggest smile which was matched by the glint in his eyes.

“There. HA! I told you!”

“What? Hey. Stop you’re hurting me. Let go.”

Tim dropped the arm he had been pulling and pointed just ahead of them. Deb walked around Tim and saw what he was pointing at. She gawked while he preened.

“It’s huge. The animal print is huge.”

“Look, Sis, look. The pads laid out, the shape of the outline. All bigger, yeah, but we know that paw print.”

“Schatzi?”

“Yup! Told you!” Grinning, he punched her in the arm.

The nervous tension laugh they shared helped smooth out their jumbled feelings. Debra was working hard to hold back from crying. When she looked into Tim’s eyes and saw they were filling with moisture, she smiled as they matched tear for tear.

An extremely large series of barks vibrated through them.

“That way,” she yelled. “C’mon, Tim,” she coaxed as she flew past him. Time caught up only seconds later.

Sounds came from straight ahead, some barking, something else mixing in. It would stop, then continue in another direction. Two more times this happened.

Then they heard an animal squeal, followed by a raging “YOU…” Whatever words followed were drowned out by a series of gunfire.

They both yelled “DAD!” at the same time. They had no time to process some of the difference in his voice. They knew it was his, instant acceptance. Instant fear for what they would find.

Neither rushed blindly into the clearing. They had learned well, training with their father, then their mom after he went missing. Splitting apart, remaining in eye contact, they looked around.

Deb saw it first. She got Tim’s attention through hand signals, telling him to stay but to keep watching. He acknowledged, fist moving up and down: yes. Crawling, Debra inched out of her cover and went to the mass before her.

Looking around, seeing that it was an animal of some kind but nothing else, she beckoned Tim over. Still wary, they began to stand. The beast on the ground began to growl and turned its head towards them.

The growling stopped the second Tim, then Debra came into view. The deep thumping of the tail went wild. With a whimper, it got off the ground and went for them.

Tim and Deb wrapped their arms around her as they were slobbered on by Schatzi kisses.

Tim buried his face into the scruff of Schatzi’s neck. Debra only broke away to take a look. She knew their dog, and the whimper meant only one thing: Schatzi was hurt.

While she searched, Debra took in the misshapen mess before her. She had trouble wrapping her head around the fact that this was their beloved shepherd.  Schatzi was bigger in her legs, wider in the shoulders, but there were hard lumps in various parts of her hide. The left side of her head was really out of whack, along her snout and up past her eye. Taking it all in broke her heart a bit; but…Schatzi. They had found Schatzi.

“Hey, Sis. Check her right rear flank. I think that’s blood. Schatz’ isn’t putting much weight on it. She’s leaning to the other side a bit.”

Tim was right. She found a bullet hole midway up Schatzi’s thigh. Tim removed his coat, took off his tee, and flung it to her. Deb grabbed it, called out “Thanks,” and pressed the wadded shirt onto the open wound.

They began to squabble a bit over what to do next, but two bodies crashing through the trees and bramble startled them quiet.

The two men were in constant motion. Punches flew rapidly. Choke holds were broken, one then the other were tossed around, rolling on the ground, all in a blur of violence.

“DAD!” Again, in synchronicity; this time Schatzi’s angry bark mixed in with their yell.

Tim went for the gun in his jacket pocket. Debra dug the flashlight out of hers: any object could be a weapon if used properly. “Lesson learned,” she thought. Schatzi limped-turned, her barks and growls escalating, matching the ferocity of the fighting before them.

Eddie jumped backward, his opponent’s speedy left jab missing his head.

“Kids. Get out of here. Schatzi…” was too much: he let his attention move from his foe. Debra and Tim winced as Eddie was tackled and went down. They saw that both of them were bleeding all over, the blood mixing so much neither was sure who was wounded, nor where it came from.

It was too sudden: the man drove his knees into Eddie’s chest. He leaned down, got a rock, and brought it down on Eddie’s left hand. He stopped at the fourth crushing blow. Reaching down, he brought up an item that was smeared in blood.

David’s combat knife was in Gary’s hands once again. He laughed in a gloating, hysterical way. Gary took it in both hands, raising it above Eddie’s chest.

“You’ve been crusin’ for a bruisin’, Eddie-boy, for way too long.”

Tim brought up the gun, put his finger on the trigger, and took a two-handed grip as he aimed it.

“Get off of my dad. NOW!”

Gary snickered and gave Tim the side-eye.

“Shut up, ankle-biter. You and sister will be next if you don’t back off.” Schatzi growled even more menacingly. “And your little dog, too. Down, Girl. Down.”

Schatzi began to react to the command. Debra was gearing up to rush the man.

Tim fired true.

The knife was knocked out of Gary’s hand. The bullet passed through both palms, luckily missing the knife handle and the possibility of ricocheting. Eddie threw a right-handed punch at Gary’s throat, sending him tumbling off, choking. Eddie got to feet, wobbling a bit, and placed his left hand under the crook of his right arm.

Debra reached her father first. Tim was right behind her. The tight, tight hug he gave them would have lasted forever if it had occurred at another time and place.

Tim was yanked up and backward.  The gun flew out of his hand, landing somewhere behind Debra. Gary had regained the knife when their attention had wavered. He was still choking, and his left eye was swollen shut from a series of punches from earlier in their tussle.

“Call her off,” Gary motioned over to Schatzi. Now, Eddie-boy. That one-two,” he snarled, seeing that Debra tightly held the flashlight. “Time to regroup for another day, Daddy-o. Follow me, and we’ll see how sharp this blade still is.”

Eddie dead-eyed Gary.

Gary held the blade against Tim as he backed them away.

“Yeah, time to regroup. But there ain’t no group anymore. Right? RIGHT? Tell the classy chassis next to you how you slaughtered all of your brothers and sisters.”

Debra stiffened up. She whispered “Dad?”

Under his breath, Eddie answered: “Not now. Understood.”

She nodded affirmatively.

Tim tried to struggle against the knife pressure but was rewarded with the feel of the blade letting some blood flow.

“Easy, brat. Easy. Hey, Eddie, he’s a fighter. Just like you. You want him? Come find me.”

They were gone from sight before Gary’s taunt was half over.

Eddie turned to go after them. Debra didn’t try to stop him. She walked over and gave him the flashlight.

“Get Tim, Dad. Get Tim.”

Eddie nodded. He leaned over and kissed her on her forehead. He was gone in a hobbling flash.

Debra walked over to Schatzi. “You too, Girl. Can you get Time? Can you follow?” Deb asked as she stroked her dog’s face. Schatzi’s tongue, always protruding, licked up over Debra’s face.

“Yuck, you silly dog. Go. Please go find them.”

Hobbling as well, Schatzi took off after them.

She followed across the open clearing, watching the direction Schatzi went. Once out of sight, she remembered something important: Tim’s gun.

Just as she found it and was checking how many bullets were in it, Debra heard her name coming from the other direction.

“Mom! Will! This way. Follow my voice. Hurray. C’mon. Mom!”

Patricia and Will ran into the clearing and right up to Debra, another earth-shattering hug.

“Tim’s been taken, mom. We have to go. Now.”

Patricia knew her daughter. Shaken up or not, she knew there was more. She gave Deb the look.

Debra deflated a bit. She looked at her mom; then her eyes lingered on Will when she said: “Dad’s alive.”

~~~~~    ~~~~~     ~~~~~

Present Day

The taunting hit them all.

Later.

Poor Schatzi.

There was a car in the woods.

Unraveling: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Seventeen

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

New? This is a serialized work. Please start on A: A Car In The Woods

AtoZ2019U  UNRAVELING

1963

Eddie drove the T-Bird down the southwest corridor. He had his orders and knew what to do. Eddie passed the car graveyard, 19 rusting hulks that were experimented on and failed. They had success with #20-the Chevy Thunderbird that Eddie was riding in. TB was the shorthand all of the Taken used.

Rolling onto a platform covered in artificial grass and, in this case, artificial ice was step one. Eddie put TB into neutral and nodded his head. The nod was the only signal needed by the unseen operator. The Chevy started to rise the 250 feet to the surface. Step two; check.

Activity was spotted in area 12. The capture of new subject material, human or animal, was imperative. Eddie knew why but didn’t care. His last procedure amped up his aggressiveness; the one before cemented his obedience. It was necessary. Eddie was too integral to terminate, even though he slaughtered two of the newer Taken. Gary was Eddie’s focus. They were just in his way. The room was gassed. Eddie awoke again on a slab. When released from his cell, Gary was nowhere to be found.

Eddie was completely in compliance.

The actual ground cover slid silently open, allowing the platform to take its place. The whir of the locking system was quieter than snow falling. Eddie put TB on Automatic, something new they cooked up below. He flipped a switch, activating pheromone dispersal around the and inside the Chevy. The dial next to it was already set to five: the number of scents that would attract most wild animals. Some humans. Eddie got out, left the door open, and moved into the woods.

TB sat idling.  The car radio clicked on, a dial search ran, and a Country station twanged out of the sole speaker. Eddie stopped moving, wanting to turn around, go back and shut it off. Shaking his head, he continued ghosting away, barking a short laugh. TB knew enough to turn off her radio once she sensed prey in the area.

Eddie went roving.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

1968

Everyone was gone. Patricia and Will were on their honeymoon, driving further upstate. Will had never been to the Falls; Patricia had, but she didn’t say so. He was excited, charming, and loving. She patted his knee and moved her right hand to rest on his thigh. Will tried to move her hand back to the steering wheel, but it was back only seconds later. The third time he let it lay. He watched Pat while she stared at the road. She noticed, leaning slightly towards him, eyes still facing forward. Will leaned in, planting a few soft kisses on her cheek.

Later, when Will was the one driving, he got the kisses. Pat was unsuccessful in removing his hand from her thigh even once.

Debra and Tim made sure the house was spick-and-span before they took off. Tim was desperate, bugging his sister over and over, to leave and go search for their father and Schatzi. Debra would just say “Not yet” and continued to clean and nudging him when he slacked off. The garbage was bagged and placed in the bins in the garage.

“Now, Deb. C’mon. Before it gets too dark.”

She looked at her brother. What she saw bothered her a bit. Tim had the same manic look, the same rushing when he spoke, the twitch by his left eye that had finally gone away: this was the Tim of seven years ago. Debra was hoping all of that was gone from his life.

Seeing all that resurface is what drove her to keep agreeing to go with him into the woods. She wanted to keep her baby brother safe as he deserved. Debra wanted to believe her Dad and dog were out there. Wanting did not always mix with the reality of things.

They both donned thick wool coats, even though it was still warm out. Enough of their blood had been shed by the prickly bramble that was everywhere they looked. Tim found old work gloves for Debra. He put on his new black leather ones. Two flashlights, one non-rusted canteen filled to the brim with water, a pair of binoculars, and, unknown to his sister at the time, their father’s old handgun. Tim had kept it oiled and clean all this time. He knew how to shoot. When his mom and sis were out, Tim practiced far from where anyone could hear him.

They set out.

Two hours, give or take, before the sunset and the darkness enveloped the woods.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

1963

Eddie found the Impala station wagon in the ravine. He checked: they were all alive. The need for new subjects was eating at him. Which one? All three? Eddie saw Schatzi in the back. It was too much. The need to bring someone back fought with who was before him. The inner conflict raged inside of his mind. He backed up out of the ravine, not taking his eyes off of Pat in the front.

He went stiff and numb as he waged a brutal battle against his conditioning. The realization of being controlled was the start. A thin crack in the wall they had built inside his mind, but still, it was a crack.

Hiding just close enough, Eddie’s augmented hearing heard their conversation. Hearing it meant it was transmitted to the lab. Eddie didn’t care. His heart did, though. His internal clicking began. Eddie ran further into the woods, his attention wavering until he got the unit to settle down. He stayed, hidden, becoming as still as the bark he leaned against, still able to see the car.

Pat climbed out of the pit, dusting the snow off of her. She found the tracks of the car’s journey and began to follow them. No kids. Advancing, he found them fooling around, Debra ordering Timmy around. Normal. The decision to follow Pat felt like the right thing to do.

He turned and began following her footsteps. He stepped in her indentations, walking only on the balls of his feet. A patch of ice demanded that Eddie had to look for where she went next. As he skated over the icy ground, he realized that he was holding something. He looked down.

His combat knife was in his hand. He had no awareness of drawing it out. He attempted to put it back in its sheath. Eddie fought with himself. Sweat began leaking down into his eyes. He stopped, focused, and finally, he heard the snap that bound the knife in.

The crack inside his head widened as Eddie continued after Pat.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

Present Day

Nothing was as it should be.

Everything twisted upon itself.

Everything waited for things to straighten out.

Not everything did.

There was a car in the woods.

 

 

 

Parting Sorrow: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Thirteen

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

New? This is a serialized work. Please start on A: A Car In The Woods

AtoZ2019P PARTING SORROW

1968

Debra brushed some dandruff off of Tim’s shoulder and then fixed his tie.  He squirmed a bit but settled when he saw the moisture building in Deb’s eyes. Tim was glad his sister was home from college. He’d never say it, but he missed her.

“There, better than new.”

She punched her brother on the arm.

“Hey!”

“Hey, you. I’m sure you deserve it for something or the other while I’ve been gone.”

She smiled. He returned it. Together, they walked downstairs and out to the backyard where the ceremony was going to be held. In only a couple of hours, their Mom would finally wed Sheriff Will Kane.

Seven years after Eddie, Patricia’s husband, Debra and Tim’s Dad, disappeared. Seven years and the law pronounced him dead. A little over four years since Patricia went on a first date with Will. Bittersweet feelings had a starling’s effect over the festivities, mourning and celebration weaving in and out of the Kelly household.

The Army was appeased by the certificate, which helped financially. Patricia had scraped every penny, financial aid, and loans she could so Debra could get to college. With Tim getting close to leaving as well, Eddie’s pension release was a godsend.

She’d beaten the tearing inside of her from putting the petition forward with the state, and then going for the funds.  She still missed and loved Eddie. That was never going to change, she felt. But, Will made her happy, and she loved him. Here. Now. Patricia was the one who proposed. Will broke out into a face-splitting grin, held her, and said yes a thousand times.

The chairs faced away from the house towards the wedding canopy that Tim built, with Will’s help. He had gone into the woods to collect fallen branches, sturdy enough that, when assembled, would stand true. Patricia fussed when he’d go off to search in the woods, only leaving the kitchen window when she saw him return.

Tim had asked Deb if she wanted to help decorate the arbor when the wedding was a sure thing. He was already underway with the materials. He knew she kinda felt left out of things, but being hundreds of miles away would do that, and his asking made her really happy. Deb had decorated it with purple flowers and ribbons, their Mom’s favorite color. Looking the yard over, Deb was the one who light-bulbed a need Tim hadn’t thought of.

“Mom’s going to wear heels. I might, too.” She and Tim, again with Will’s help, foraged for flat, smooth stones. Over the last two days, and up to the near to last minute, they laid a mosaic path from the house to the Wedding Arch.

The guests started arriving, dropping off their gifts in the living room, food in the kitchen for the party afterward. Sam from the luncheonette was “catering” the majority of the fare, but he was light on the less greasy items. Everyone knew him. Side dishes, lots of vegetables, and desserts appeared to accompany his offerings.

Will arrived with most of his men. Tim was stone silent when he noticed a couple of State Troopers mixed in among them. He and his car were well known to some of them, especially these two. Will laughed when he saw Tim’s face, patted him on the back, and told him not to worry.

Today.

Debra went upstairs. Her mother’s room had finally quieted down. An hour earlier a mini whirlwind hit, makeup brushes flying, hair swirling up and around, a fog of hairspray making anyone inside and ten feet outside of the room cough like crazy. Debra critiqued the use of the spray, citing the recent Miss America protest as her stand to do away with this instrument of female torture. Patricia shushed Debra, shooing her out of the room right after she hugged and kissed her. They smiled at each other as she was leaving.

They smiled at each other when she returned.

“Mom. You look beautiful.”

“So do you, sweetie. So do you.”

Turning to the full-length mirror, Patricia looked herself over. She didn’t go for a gown this time; her parents had bought hers’ when she and Eddie got married. They, too, were gone now. With ample discounting in town, Patricia wound up with a graceful light grey dress, dotted around with small crystal inserts that sparkled when the light hit it just right. The dress, the hair, the makeup: she had to hold back the crying.

Debra already had some tissues in hand, just in case.

Coming behind her mother and hugging her, gently, she caught herself on the verge as well.

“I miss him, mom,” she said, a light tremor shaking her voice.

“Me too, sweetie. Me too.”

They broke and spent the next five minutes fixing their faces.

Tim knocked on the door.

“Hey, it’s time.”

“In a second, dweeb,” Debra called out.

“Hey!” Tim answered, needling his sister as he opened the door. After he was okayed in.

Patricia sighed, and smiled. “Next steps,” she thought, “and some things never change.”

Debra led the way as the bridesmaid; Tim walked Patricia down the aisle way. Everyone stood, followed them making their way to the back of the yard, and settled back down when a beaming William took Patricia’s outstretched hand.

The ceremony began. All eyes were fixed on the couple.

~~~~~   ~~~~~    ~~~~~

All eyes included the two pairs hidden among the brambles and trees surrounding the back yard.

A low grumble sound started by his side.

“Shh, Girl. Shh, sweetie.” His hand was stroking the sparse fur on top of her head. It was an instinctual movement. He couldn’t take his eyes off of Pat. He wanted to growl as well, but the freedom to do that had been taken away from him long ago. Things were different. The two of them were very different, now. They remained, watching, both fighting urges to rush forward, change outcomes.

It came to an end with a lingering kiss and all the guests applauding and yelling their congratulations. All except them. He watched as Pat and Will walked back towards the house. Then, he fixed on Debbie and Timmy.

He wasn’t sure which couple crushed him more.

“C’mon, Girl. C’mon. Time to go. We don’t belong.”

Girl whimpered, getting to all fours as he stood. His plan was to just fade away and get gone. His mistake was doing it backward, straining for any view he could stand.

A quick yelp; Girl had wormed her way behind and between his legs, and stepping on her tail wasn’t what he planned.

Patricia and Will had already entered the house. Debbie and Timmy were standing by the back door, guiding the guests in.

Tim thought he heard something. It sounded like something he hadn’t heard in way too long. His head snapped around to where the sound came from.

Their eyes met. Both froze.

By the time the word “Dad?” left Tim’s mouth, the woods were empty.

 

Present Day

Shh, Girl. Shhh.

Pat.

Debra.

Timothy.

There was a car in the woods.