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The Girl With A Secret
The very first time I saw her, I knew she was a Girl With a Secret.
Her name was Kenley Von Tesse, a name that automatically makes you think of old Hollywood glamour, of muffled sighs from behind swanky hotel room doors, of dark scandals and even darker truths. Kenley Von Tesse was a girl who had seen things, big and spectacular things. Kenley Von Tesse was a girl with something to hide.
She was the new kid in school and even in a large senior high she stood out among the sea of girls vying for attention. The smooth swish of her skirt against her knees, the light dusting of freckles across her pale skin, the shockingly dark river of curls that melted down her back, the creamy red of her lips, it all seemed effortless. On her way to her first class a whispered buzz of curiosity followed her. Guys wanted to know if she was hot enough to date, girls wanted to know if she was pretty enough to hate. The answer became clear as the week wore on and she cast her cool glance upon the trail of slobbering boys a mile long behind her. Meannwhile, girls shot her hateful glares as she passed.
Now I appreciate the female form just as much as the next guy, but I was more intrigued by the mystery locked behind her dark eyes. She was hiding something, and I was determined to find out what.
She came to me first. "Chase," I heard her say, her honeyed voice like bells ringing in a church. I turned around, surprised, and saw her leaning casually against my locker, as if we were in her house, her territory. I laughed to myself. The entire school, heck, the entire world was already her territory. "Kenley," I replied, trying not to betray the amount of excitement I was feeling. She stood up straight, as lean and relaxed as a lioness on a hot African afternoon. She crooked one finger at me, beckoning silently. As much as it pains me to say it, at that moment, I would have followed her to the ends of the earth. Instead she turned around and walked out the nearest door, even though the bell for second block was about to keen its shrill warning, and off we went down the sidewalk, our feet crunching on the multicoloured leaves of autumn that had drifted to the ground. We walked in silence, save for our even breathing. She led me for what seemed like hours, even though it couldn't have possibly been more than ten minutes.
When we stopped, I gazed up at the Trappe Mansion, the previously uninhabited house that was built sometime in the 1800s. It had sat there for who knows how long, with a forlorn sign advertising its availability to a tenant...a very wealthy tenant. Typical.
She pressed a delicate finger to her lips, warning me to keep my silence. She reached down past her collarbone and into the velvety folds of the maroon blazer she wore, withdrawing a blunt, unordinary key, hanging on a chain. It glinted dully in the sunlight. We approached the house, the key gliding neatly into the lock. It turned, the door creaked open, we entered.
Inside, the house was nearly empty, save for a weary looking couch and a grand staircase. The sprawling front lawn of the mansion always ended abruptly at a tall line of hedges that hid the rest of the yard from view. Kenley led me in the direction of the unseen backyard, the sound of her boots echoing sharply against the floor.
As we passed the staircase, I swear I saw a flash of light coming from high above me, up past the winding oak stairs. I paused and stood, staring into the dimness that prevailed against the sun trying to enter through dusty windowpanes. "Are you coming?" Kenley was standing at the door into the backyard, hands on her hips. I shook myself. Good lord, this isn't a haunted house, I thought fiercely. She held her hand out to me as I approached. I took it in mine and together we stepped into the back garden, into the mystery, into the dance of sunlight and shadows.
The garden was a large expanse of green and pale ballerina pinks. Flowers everywhere, drowning out the rustling voices of leaves and wood. In the corner, behind a brilliant flaming maple tree sat a pond, overflowing with water lilies. A waterfall tinkled its way into the gentle waters and hand in hand we made our way over to it and sat down. She trailed her fingertips through the frigid water. I watched her.
"So," I said awkwardly, breaking the calm of the garden. "Is this it?"
She looked up at me, smirking. "Not even close," she replied. She gripped my hand and placed it over her heartbeat. "Do you feel it?" she whispered. "Do you?"
I did. I felt it.
Floating, falling, spinning, twisting, writhing, dancing, calling. Voices. Calling. For me? Or for Kenley? The world seemed to evaporate until it was just me and Kenley's warm pulse beneath my palm. She closed her eyes, began to hum a haunting tune. Shadows flickering at the edge of my vision. I glanced up to meet them and noticed that the back door to the Trappe Mansion had closed. Neither I, nor Kenley had touched it.
Shivers up my spine.
A cool breeze began to blow around us, whipping the ends of her curls around her neck. She hummed with the beat of the breeze and the clamoring voices grew louder and stronger. Reaching out, wanting, desperately needing, searching for something.
Abruptly Kenley Von Tesse stood up, wrenching her heartbeat away from my warm touch. My alive touch. Kicking off her boots she waded into the water and all the while the voices were growing ever louder, shrieking and singing and crying. Wailing and lamenting and screaming bloody murder.
I was going to pass out, I could feel it. Black spots flew haphazardly across my vision; the volume of the voices was threatening to deafen me. I fell slowly backwards and through the haze I could see Kenley going deeper into the pond. She was up to her waist, up to her shoulders and now her curls were floating like fingers, groping the dark waters. I saw her reach out a hand, and from out of nowhere a cloudy green hand came up from some deep and dangerous place within the murk, brushing away water lilies. Kenley grasped it and soon I could see her turning the same shade of green, shifting and congealing and melting downwards into the water below. I closed my eyes and the world fell away from me, into the quiet of the afternoon.
I woke alone. Silence. Silence so loud I didn't think a scream could even break it.
Two drops of water sending shimmers of circles across the glassy, flat surface of the pond. A whisper of a whisper of a whisper. A cold, invisible hand reaching out from the wind to caress my hair away from my face. Is this it? Is this it? Is this it? Echoing softly, over and over again. And the key, the dull one that used to hang around Kenley's neck, was waving carefully back and forth, entangled with the water lilies. I cast one last glance upon the smooth, empty pond and around to the deserted garden once more, the flickering shapes remaining teasingly out of my direct line of sight. I grasped the key in my hand and folded it, pressing its wetness to my palm. Then I turned and left, opening the back door, treading swiftly past the staircase and out onto the front lawn, locking the empty mansion behind me. Now I, Chase Gregory, was a Boy With a Secret.