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Summer of Echoes
The footsteps followed louder as I sprinted faster through the makeshift hallways. A twist here and a dead-end there, my breath transformed into short, husky gags and my legs began to quiver in the heat of the chase. My hands skimmed the narrow walls, attempting to thumb a way out as the scenery went darker and murkier. Not only was I the mouse dodging the cat, I was the choking victim of smoke seeping into the air from the opposite direction. I had no idea which fate was worse, but I had to keep moving.
I had to find a method of escaping this mad house.
But as soon as a light source was beginning to enlighten the path of victory, my entire body collapsed as a loose floorboard gave way. I was stuck – trapped between two no-win destinies. I screamed, thrashing severely and clawing at the surface above me so that I may be able to climb out. But as my follower came upon me and the smog clouded any vision and airway, my eyes shifted to the back of my head and all grew into an eternity of peaceful slumber.
That was, I guess, until I woke up.
I arose abruptly, hands clawing at my own stifled throat, shuddering at the long-gone fog. Evermore, the undying sense of my dream’s trailing figure was omnipresent. He was here, somewhere. I just knew it–he had to be. The only problem, was that my vision was fiction, a story that had overhung me every single night of this summer.
“Hayley, was that your stupid dream again?” Sophie, my cousin, asked hastily, not overjoyed to be woken up at one in the morning for the sixteenth consecutive day.
She was two years younger than me at fifteen, and despite the age difference, she always tried to act older than myself. Sophie said it was because she has had more boyfriends than me, but I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it was because she was just a New York City player. Supposedly, that’s a big thing down there.
“Yeah, just go to bed,” I answered yawning, turning over to my side opposite of Sophie, and trying to make her believe I was actually able to sleep for the rest of the night. At least it pays to be a silent faker–one thing I have learned from living in small-town USA. From Georgia, I had some different experiences life-wise than the city girl laying in the bunk besides me.
“What?” One of the two twins, Tori inquired while sitting up. Well, there goes attempting to fall back asleep. Tori and her sister, Sarah, were both seven year olds–and my younger sisters. Both receiving the uncanny gene of a red-head, once they were up, they stayed up. At least, till I told them a story to make them go back to bed. Which, began to grow less and less creative as little Tori and Sarah princesses were created every other night.
“Did Hayley have another one of her nightmares?” Sarah, speaking of the devil, asked. Now, everyone was up except for Sophie’s younger brother, Nick, who was twelve and perhaps the soundest sleeper I have ever encountered.
Together, we were all sleeping in the loft at our grandmother’s summer cabin in Blue Hill, Maine. Annually, our sister moms got together with us for a summer of hiking, biking, and boating. Although it was peaceful to visit our cousins every year, we didn’t exactly get along, which separated us more than bonded. It was mainly all an act for our grandparents, who loved to take group photos and hold campfires– sentimental things.
“Yes,” I moaned, sick of the same routine of questions asked every time. “Just try to fall back asleep!” Well, things grew tranquil for a good five minutes as the girls attempted to get some more shuteye. And throughout this, I tried to piece back my dream bit by bit, hoping that something would stand out to me so that I could resolve them from ever happening again. But of course, I was helpless. And to add to that, I was forced to go tell another one of the twin’s fairytale legends, wishing my life was like theirs.
The next morning, at breakfast, was a lazy rendition of us all got together–my and Sophie’s families along with Gran and Pap. The adults had made a habit of waking the loft up at seven o’clock sharp; verging painful with sometimes staying up till midnight and facing my nightmare horrors. Nonetheless Sophie and Nick’s mom, Beth Wilson, made some of the most rich pancakes I have ever tasted, and immediately they were devoured as caffeine was injected severely into our bodies as each of us drained a pot of coffee.
Beth as I call her, grew up in Blue Hill, Maine along with my mother, and although she is currently overcome with the city life, her country-style recopies fail to seize, thankful by everyone else except Sophie who is nearing the anorexic border. The mother-daughter pair, although most recently facing moral differences combined with their often disputes, were complete look-a-likes: tan skin, draping brown hair, and a slim and tall structure.
I if you could imagine, was the exact opposite of my cousin and aunt. Most of my genes were inherited by my father, which included blonde hair, lightly-freckled skin facing a pale complexion, and an athlete’s figure. Or at least, I am told I look and act a lot like him, as personally, I have no emotional recollection of him other than the aching sear whenever I find myself glancing at his portrait on my mother’s wall.
Andrew David Laurence
First Lieutenant U.S. Army