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The girl and her car
Sarah was a normal girl. She laughed when things were funny, talked when things were silent, and smiled when things were worthy. She was liked and had many friends. She was the type of child that parents wanted their children to be friends with, and secretly even wished they had.
She went to school, and got good grades. She excelled in piano lessons, and ate dinner with her family. She helped her brothers with their homework, and played with the animals. She was mommy's little helper and daddy's little girl. Everything was perfect; everything was just the way it should be. She was normal and happy.
Except it wasn't and she wasn't.
When no one was looking, the sparkling smile, that reached from ear to ear, vanished from sight. No matter how many times she practiced in the mirror, she couldn't find the light switch in her eyes. She knew the people around her just a little too well. The people around knew her just a little too little. All day she made everyone smile, and so proud, but when the lights in the house went off, after she kissed her family goodnight, she would walk into her orderly bedroom and close the door behind her. She would wait until the dogs were chasing dream-land rabbits, and her daddy's snores were shaking the house. Then, when she was absolutely positive that everyone was asleep and content, she would sit with her cat and invite her demons to come out and play.
They would come out from the closet, from her mirror and under her bed, until they all rushed straight to her head. They would push and shove, and scream and shout. They would tell her the secrets the sun's light pushed away. You are living a lie, they'd whisper. You will never be good enough, they'd scratch. You are all alone, they'd giggle. You know you don't belong here, they'd shove.
She listened, because she knew they were right. They were the only ones she could trust, the only ones who knew her, the only ones who could see past the mask, into the monster within. They would never leave her.
She would sit and listen to the demons playing all night, past the stroke of midnight to the quiet minutes before dawn. When the sun's reds and pinks lit up the morning sky, when the coffee started to brew, and people became awake, the day was over for Sarah and her demons. The demons begrudgingly would slip out of her head, and return to their cozy corners and cracks, away from peeping eyes, waiting anxiously for night to fall once more. And Sarah, well, her day was over too. She would put herself to sleep, and bring out the girl that filled her place, that wore her makeup, and put on her dresses. This girl would laugh when things were funny, talk when things were quiet, and smile when things were worthy. This girl made her parents beam, her brothers happy, her teachers proud and her friends laugh. Nothing different or out of the ordinary, today the same as the last.
Except it won't be, because it isn't. This day is a special day. This day marks the 18th year that this normal little girl has done what she is told. 18 years of perfection, nothing wrong, not a frown insight, never giving trouble or picking a fight. Except at night when the demons come out to play, but no one knows about that. Would they really even care? That's our little secret.
This morning, the demons stayed a little longer, riled up by the birthday celebration, shouting a little louder and scratching a little harder than the night before. This morning, the sun seemed a little dimmer, the birds a little quieter, and the ever gone light in Sarah’s eyes just a little more goner.
Sarah got up, ignored the demons not yet asleep whispering from inside the mirror, and slipped out of her pajamas. She put on het fluffiest pink dress, her mother's favorite, the one she said made her look like such a lady. She put on her makeup just a little lighter than usual, the way her father said separated her from the girls who were trying too hard to look grown up. She looked long and hard in the mirror, making sure not a hair was out of place, not a shoe was scuffed.
Sarah would walk into the kitchen, and helped her mother with breakfast, so she wouldn't have to rush before work. Since it was a special day today, she would make her brother's favorite breakfast, before checking their homework and sending them off to catch the bus. She would then wish her mother and father a good day at work before bustling off to school herself.
She would arrive at school, never late, always the first in her seat, to receive her A's and write her notes in perfect cursive. Listening carefully to what the teachers had to say, so she could become smart and get a job that would make her family proud.
Sarah would stack away her books neatly in her clean locker, before waving to all of her friends, on her way to the cafeteria. She would find a seat, and eat her apple, listening to her friend and the problems she was going through. She would nod her head and bite her apple, with a sympathetic look on her face, until a silence would come, and then she would say just the right thing.
Sarah would finish her classes, say goodbye to all of her friends, and hurry home. She would get started, right away on her homework, making sure her brother would stay away from the TV. and do the same. She would finish rechecking all of her homework, just as her mother called her down for dinner. She would eat all of her vegetables, laugh at the joke her father heard at work, compliant her mother on the roast, and gasp at her brother's tales of the school yard. Then her mother would bring out her birthday cake. She would then tell her mother it was the best cake she's ever seen, just like every year before. She would smile big enough that it spread to everyone else's face as they lit the candles and told her to make a wish.
And she did, she closed her eyes, and blew. She wished with all her might. Her brother's would squeal asking her what she had wished for, and her mother would scorn them, saying that if she told her wish it wouldn't come true, the same exchange between them, like every year past. Sarah would eat her sliver of cake, offer to clean up, kiss her mother and father good night, and head off to her room. She would slip out of her mother's favorite dress, and back into her warm pajamas. She would turn off the light, and hop into bed, and wait. She would wait until her dogs were chasing dream-land rabbits, and her daddy's snores were shaking the house. She would wait until everyone was asleep and content, except her and her cat. Only then, would she call the demons out. They would dance in her head until the new dawn came, just like every night, except this night, because this night everything changed.
This night, she hung her day time self next to all her pretty dresses, let the secret frown creep to her face, and cuddled into her bed. As she snuggled her cat, the demons slid out from their spots in the corners of her closet, under her bed, and through her mirror, and slid into her head, they screamed their secrets that she knew to be the truth. She was fake. She wasn't good enough. She didn't belong. She let them do their magic dirty work in that machine of a brain of hers, as she drifted off into a deep, lifeless sleep. She didn't dream of strawberry fields and laughter, nor ghosts and doom for that matter, just dark, a dark where no dreams were hiding, no masks being worn, and no lies being told. She slept so deep, that she might have been able to sleep forever, except she couldn’t because there was a noise.
It was a subtle noise. Loud enough to caress her out of her dreamy darkness, but quiet enough not to cause her to stir or open her eyes. She didn't give it a second thought, before deciding to return back to sleep. What was there to be afraid of, anyways? All the monsters were in her head. She took a deep breath, and began to let the shouts of the demons lure her back to sleep. One way ticket to dream land, no stops or interruptions on the way, except there was because the sound made a noise again.
Now, Sarah was a sensible girl, and even though she wasn't afraid, she knew that if a sound made two noises it probably required her to open her eyes. She always did what was required of her, this time being no different, she opened her eyes, looked in the direction of the sound, and to her surprise, became very afraid, very quickly.
Right in front of her door, was a dark figure. This was not one of her demons, however. Her demons were invisible or took the looks of herself, never like this. No, this was not one of her demons; this shadow was dark and big. It looked like a man with broad shoulders, a long dark coat, and a tall black hat. She would think it was a man, and scream for her father, but she knew this was no ordinary man. This man was misty, unreal, like something that would belong in her dark dreamless land. So she didn't scream for her father, but instead sat up quietly in her bed, pushing her back, distancing herself ever so slightly more from this figure, being cautious that it was not noticeable as to not, possibly, offend the shadow. She waited in silence. Her eyes wide, surprisingly with more wonder than fear.
The shadow looked back at Sarah with eyes, that shone so brightly against his night dark face, that their light could surely give light to her own dark eyes for the rest of her life.
"Sarah" the ghostly figure spoke," I've come to take you with me." Sarah's wonder turned to amazement. This creature was real, as real as the demons in her head, and it knew her name.
"Sir, if I may call you that" she returned it's raspy voice with a whisper, " Who are you and where do you plan to take me?" She wasn't sure who this stranger in her room was. She did know, however, it was dark with strange eyes, and had intentions to take her somewhere. She also knew that she should be afraid of it, but just couldn't bring herself to be.
"I'm afraid I can't answer either of those questions now", his voice shared the same curiosity and unwavering politeness as her, when he continued, " All I can tell you, is that I've come to take you away, and you might not be back for a very long time."
Now Sarah couldn't stop herself from gasping, "I don't know anything about you or where you want to take me, but I do know this will not make my mother and father very happy, and would most likely even cause them to worry. For this reason, I'm sorry to tell you, that I absolutely cannot go away with you." She huffed at the absurdity of this creature to even expect her to cause worry to the people around her.
Its bright eyes didn't waver. "You see, I know about the demons doing magic dark deeds in your head, and I know that you know that their whispers are true. I know about the you hanging in your closet, and how no one knows the true you. I'm sorry to say, you don't have a choice in the matter, so if you could just take my hand", an arm draped in a dark coat extended from the shadow reaching out to Sarah", and we could be on our way."
Sarah saw the open hand reached out towards her, knowing that it required hers to be placed on its dark palm. But before she did what was required like always, she took a moment to go over what the dark figure had just said. She knew what he said was right, and no one but her and her demons knew these secrets. Her demons spoke the truth, and this shadow man knew the truth in which these demons spoke, so he could be trusted too, right? She also had a feeling that he was telling the truth about her having no choice in the matter, and she knew it was impolite to make him wait.
"Fine," she finally said," If you wouldn't mind waiting just a moment, so I could put on something more appropriate than my pajamas." She was about to push herself out if bed, and make her way toward the wardrobe before his voice stopped her.
"That won't be necessary. Your dressed just fine for where were going. Now, as I said before, if you could just take my hand, we need to be going."
Sarah wasn't a rude girl, and she knew it would be unacceptable to question this man for a third time. She reached out her hand, and stuck in on top of his dark misty one. He helped her get out of bed, and towards the door, until she heard a thump behind her. She stopped and turned around, knowing now to never ignore a sound, and her eyes couldn't quite grasp exactly what she was seeing.
There on the bed, exactly the way she was before the ghost awoke her from her sleep, lay herself. Her frail, pale body motionless, her auburn hair spread out onto her pillow, her dogs cuddled sound asleep next to her legs. The only difference was now the cat was sitting up, awake from its own slumber and was staring directly at the figure man and her owner.
Sarah looked into the man's bright eyes with a questioning surprise and then looked down at their hands. To her own astonishment, she saw her small pale hand, just like the one that belonged to the body in her bed, but this one, the one she was staring at now, was misty and ghost like, the same as the figure standing next to her. Her whole body shared the same mostly, barely there look, for matter.
As she looked back again, in confusion, of the lifeless body lying in her cozy bed, the man seemed to know exactly what she was thinking.
He squeezed her hand, as he said" You won't be needing that were we're going either." He lifted his free arm and pointed back to the girl's bed," But you can take the cat."
And that Sarah did, just before the shadow of a dark man with bright eyes, a frail, pale girl, and her cat walked into the darkness of the unknown.