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Author's note: This is just a little something I have began writing. Feedback would be great! I will add chapters as I write.
I always thought I had a normal life; normal school, normal friends, normal family; I had no idea how completely wrong I was. My life was nowhere near as normal as I had thought it out to be. Little did I know, I had a lot more ahead of me.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The rain pounded down onto the windshield as the wipers furiously swiped back and forth only clearing the window for a split second. The sky was pitch black without the brightness of moonlight. The dark grey clouds moved along in a hurry, dropping loads of rain along the way. I turned to look at MaryAnn in the drivers seat and shook my head with a smirk as I saw her worried expression. Her hands were clenched onto the steering wheel, her body tense, and she had a tight look on her face. I knew that she dreaded driving in bad weather, especially in thunderstorms which freaked her out in general.
“MaryAnn, remind me why we have to do this again? Especially in this weather.” I asked her.
“I am in a caffeine kind of mood tonight, so I thought to myself, ‘hey why not get my good friend Alexa to go with me to grab some coffee at our favorite cafe?’. I know how much she loves me so I knew she would go.”
“Well, it sounds like you know your friend very well,” I replied with a quick smile.
She glanced at me quickly with a smile before looking instantly back at the road and said, “I should hope so, I’ve only known her for 11 years.”
That is a true fact; me and MaryAnn have known each other for eleven years. We became friends when my dad and I first moved here around the time I was in first grade. I remember that day like it was just yesterday:
MaryAnn was sitting at one of the little tables drawing on a piece of copy paper. I was the new girl so I wasn’t quite sure how to approach her. I grabbed a few markers to go and color with her and as I was walking up behind her, I tripped and got red marker all the way down the back of her brand new, crisp white dress. She ended up getting so mad at me that she was trembling and stomping the ground, throwing a tantrum. The next day, I brought her in a chocolate bar that I had my dad buy for me.
"I had my daddy buy this for me, I hope you like chocolate. I'm sorry I marked on your dress."
Her pigtails bounced around as she hopped down from her chair and looked me straight in the eyes. "That chocolate bar isn't going to get the stains from my dress out."
"Just have your mommy buy you another dress."
"They can't! They said they won't!" She said, stamping her foot.
"Who needs dresses anyways? You can't play around in them very well."
That's when six year old MaryAnn reached over and yanked on my ponytail. I cried out and grabbed both of her long blonde ponytails and yanked on them. We both fell to the ground, flailing our arms and legs trying to hit each other wherever we could. Our teacher ran over to us to break us apart, scolded us, then made us sit in the desks in the back of the room together during play time. We had to sit there until we learned to get along. We sat there for who knows how long complaining about each other. Eventually, we got sick of complaining and arguing and MaryAnn accepted the chocolate bar. She even ended up giving me half. Ever since then, we've been the greatest of friends.
“Hey, that chocolate bar got you to forgive me eventually,” I said sarcastically.
MaryAnn laughed, reached over and pulled my hair a little before saying, “I’m a sucker for chocolate, what can I say?”
“So it wasn’t because you felt that instant friendship that we were destined to share? Or was that just me?” I asked, laughing with her as we pulled into the cafe and parked.
“No, I think that one was just you.”
"Oh, what a bummer," I said sarcastically as we got out of the vehicle and linked arms while running into the coffee shop. As soon we walked through the cafe door and heard the tinkling of the bell signaling our entrance, the smell began to emanate all around us. The sweet, dilectable smell of various coffees and mochas were surrounding the cafe. We took a deep breath, enjoying the smell, and sat down at our usual booth in the back corner across from each other. Seems like we were the only occupants that liked coffee during this time of night so the waitress came right over to us.
"You ladies might as well just live here for how often you're here," the waitress said with a smile. I never asked her real age for the fact that she might think it rude of me to ask, so I'm guessing she's in her sixties or seventies. She had the grey hair that was slowly turning white up in her usual bun and she walked with a little limp from a knee surgery she had a few years back. She always wore a smile on her face, her cheeks were always rosy, and her eyes always inviting. She was kind of like a grandma to all of the regulars in the cafe which was owned by her granddaughter now. She handed it down to her on one condition; she had to let her remain working there until the day she passed.
"Oh it's getting there Lucy," I replied with a quick smile back. You couldn't help but be happy around her.
"Well what will it be for you two ladies tonight?"
"The usual for both of us please," MaryAnn stated.
"Alright, I will be right back with your orders," she said as she smiled and walked away.
"You know, some days, I really wish she was my grandmother," I heard MaryAnn say.
I rolled my eyes at her and moved my eyes to look out the window. I let my eyes follow the clear raindrops on the glass of the window as they ever so slowly slid down to the bottom of the glass. I continued to watch a few more drops when something caught my eye; a glimpse of someone looking at me before disappearing behind the building across the street. I couldn't tell if it had been a man or a woman, young or old, but I could've sworn someone was just out there looking at me in the dark shadows of the building from the lamp-light. I squinted my eyes, trying to get a better look, but had no such luck.
"Earth to Alexa, are you there?" I heard someone call in the distance. Then I saw a hand wave in front of my face. I snapped out of whatever it was I was so interested in and glanced back at MaryAnn.
"Sorry Alexa, I could've sworn there was..." I trailed off as I looked back towards her.
"There was...?" She prodded on.
"Nothing, never mind," I said, putting a smile back on my face. Maybe I had just been seeing things, trick of the eye.
"Well, as I was saying, we should go shopping tomorrow."
"Really? Like you need anymore clothes," I said sarcastically.
"Hey, nobody said we were going for my benefit," she was saying as Lucy came back and set our drinks down before walking away.
"I don't need anymore clothes either," I replied quickly.
"Alexa come oooooonn," she dragged out. "A few more dresses and skirts is what you need to complete your closet."
"MaryAaaaaannn I barely ever wear that type of clothing. Besides, they're difficult to play around in," I said with a laugh. I took a sip of warm, soothing hot chocolate that tasted like heaven and leaned back in my seat, glancing back out the window. I could still feel the trail of heat the hot chocolate left from my mouth all the way down to my stomach.
"Pretty please Alexa?"
"I will sleep on it alright? Is that fair?"
"Fine," she said, defeated with a little pout.
I began watching the innocent little raindrops again as they pitter pattered onto the window and slowly glided down the glass, leaving a trail. That's when I saw the quick movement again, this time on the other side of the building. Just another quick glimpse was all I got; gave me the impression I was seeing things yet again. I quickly glanced back at MaryAnn who was oblivious to what I had seen even though she too, was glancing out the window.
I shut my eyes tight and rubbed my temples as I said, "I think I'm overly tired MaryAnn, I keep seeing things out the window."
"Or maybe you're just crazy?" She said with a quick shrug.
I rolled my eyes at her once again and started to chug down my hot chocolate, letting the hot fluid slide down my throat. The fiery trail started again; it started in my mouth and made its way all the way down to my stomach.
"Is that a sign that you want to leave?" She asked with a light laugh.
"That would be great, please."
MaryAnn chugged down the rest of her drink and we made our way over to the cash register to pay for our drinks. Lucy stopped us as we were half-way there.
"Don't you ladies worry about it tonight, they're on the house."
"Oh no Lucy, thanks for the offer, but it's okay, we will pay," I said.
"No, no, no girls, it's on the house, please don't worry about it."
We both said our thank you's and gave Lucy a big hug before leaving the cafe and sprinting back towards our car. The rain continued to pelt us until we were safely into the shelter of the car. As we headed towards home, I glanced out the back windshield, but instantly turned my look back to the front; I saw someone watching me again, this time in the shadows of the cafe. Maybe I'm not crazy or tired after all, maybe it's really happening.
The emanating smell of bacon through my nose is what woke me the following morning. I took another whiff of the air as I opened my eyes and also noticed a hint of delectable eggs and... the scrumptious smell of French toast! My favorite of all breakfast foods. I threw my blankets off in a frenzy and automatically bounded down the stairs and screeched around the corner on the hardwood floor. I huffed a little as I looked at my dad's back at the stove.
"You know, you sure do know how to wake a person," I said with a smile.
My dad turned around and said with a wink, "And you sure know how to scare a person in the morning."
"Ha, ha, you're hilarious," I said as I smoothed my crazy hair down with the palm of my hand.
"Oh you know you're always beautiful," he said sincerely as he put my breakfast plate on the table. I sat down at the table and looked at him with a smile.
"That's only because I look like you."
"Boy, you sure know how to make a fellow blush," he said with a laugh. "But you also got some of your mother's features too."
It's true that I did look more like my dad. I had the same chocolate brown hair that my dad had, though mine was pretty long and actually had the perfect type of wave/curl to it, which I parted on the left side. I was actually happy with my hair. I also got my dad's "perfect little cute nose" as my mom liked to call it. And also his high cheek-bones. From my mom, I got the "perfect smile and lips" as my dad liked to tell her. Also from my mom, I got her deep, arctic, ice-blue eyes.
"I'd say I'm half and half between your guys' features."
"Agreed," he said as he joined me at the table. Talking about my mom always seemed a little hard on him, so I didn't bring her up too often. The memories were just too much for him.
At this point in time, you guys are probably wondering about my mom, right? Well when I was three, my mom just seemed to disappear, but my dad told me that she had gotten into a car accident. I thought it a little odd though that there had been no funeral for her, but my dad had no reason to lie right?
After breakfast, I took a peak out of the kitchen window. The sun was peaking over the tree line and was beating off of the soggy ground. I turned my head slightly to the right and looked out at the beach. The beachy sand was darker than normal, soaking in the rain from the night before. I walked towards the door and snatched my sweatshirt off the hook before heading out the door. I slipped it on and walked down to the beach in just my neon orange pajama shorts and light green sweatshirt.
I wiggled my toes in the damp grass with every step I took towards the sand. The birds were welcoming the morning with their sing-song chirps. I took a deep breath and could smell the wet leaves and muddy ground; quite refreshing in the morning. A squirrel stopped in front of me and chirped at me before running off with a big acorn in his mouth. I smiled and took a step into the beach sand. I dug my toes and my foot down into the mud and enjoyed the feeling of the grainy sand surrounding my foot. I continued walking forward and dipped the tips of my toes into the water. It was nice and warm; room temperature. I stuck both of my feet in the water and walked along the edge. Every once in a while, I would kick and splash a little.
After a few minutes I stopped, closed my eyes, and tilted my head up to the sky. I could feel the warm sun beating on my skin and took in the warmth. That's when I heard a stick crack from somewhere in the woods. I quickly turned to where I heard the noise and peered in. I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary and just shook my head to clear it. I turned around in the water and began walking back towards my house, keeping my feet treading water. No more than a few seconds later, I heard a loud crack of a branch. I turned back to the noise and peered inside yet again. I could've sworn I saw a quick movement, maybe a big animal? I wasn't sticking around to check out.
I began running as fast as I could back to the house. My heart felt like it was beating out of my chest, my lungs felt like they were on fire, and I began to sweat. By the time I had slammed the house door shut behind me, my legs felt like jello from both my fear and from running. My dad came running into the hallway and looked at my frantic, exhausted state.
"Is everything okay? What happened?!" He asked quickly.
"I'm- I'm not sure, I think maybe... an animal... in the woods... scared me..." I lied through labored breathing.
He calmed down a little and raised his eyebrow sarcastically before saying, "You know, the woods is normally filled with animals."
I gave my dad a shaky laugh before walking up to him and smacking his arm lightly. "You're such a jerk dad," I replied sarcastically.
"But you love me anyways."
"You know I do," I replied as I began my journey up the stairs. I was still shaking a little, because there was a little part of me that said, maybe that wasn't an animal...
When I got up to my room I began rummaging through my closet, trying to find an outfit that would suit me for the day. First, I had to make sure my plans would fall into place. I pulled my cell phone out and dialed up MaryAnn.
"Hello?!" She answered perkily.
"Hey there, so I'll make you a deal," I stated.
"Oh no, not one of your deals, they usually end up better for you than for me."
"You know me so well, but this time it's fair for both of us."
"Alright, shoot, what's your deal?"
"I will go shopping with you if you go camping with me tonight." I knew she hated the outdoors, and she knew I hated shopping, so the way I looked at it, it was a pretty fair deal.
"Alexaaaaaa," she groaned, "are you serious?"
"Dead serious. If you want to go shopping and get me into dresses, you will spend a day and night in the woods with me."
"Ugh, I hate your deals. Fine, I'll take this deal up."
"Good! Pack and come pick me up in an hour?"
"Sounds like a plan, see you in a bit."
I hung up the phone and tossed it over onto my bed. I can't believe I actually got MaryAnn to go camping with me tonight. I smiled slightly to myself and went back to rummaging through my closet. After what seemed like endless hours of digging, I finally found something both cute and comfy at the same time.
I stripped out of my pajamas and threw my black tank-top on. I then shimmied into my cut-off jean shorts that reach mid-thigh and had a rip on one thigh. One bad thing about having long legs is that you have to be careful of how long your shorts are. I reached back into my closet and yanked out my dark green and black flannel and put it on and buttoned it up until the last three buttons on top were left open; no need to suffocate myself. I shoved on a pair of socks and stuck on my brown and black hiking boots. I laced them up, grabbed my bag from the bed with my wallet and other necessities and put it over my shoulders. I bounded down the stairs and into the living room where my dad was sitting on the couch watching the news; his daily routine.
He glanced over at me with a big smile and asked, "I take it you're headed out hiking?"
"Actually, MaryAnn and I are going to go camping tonight. That is, if you let us borrow the tent?"
"It's all yours sweetie, have a fun time tonight. Just please text me when you get to the site safely."
"Will do dad," I replied as I gave him a kiss on the head and headed into the garage. I pushed the big white button to open the garage door and listened to the large rumbling sound as it made its way open. After I had made my way to the garage shelves, I reached up to the top and pulled my hand away instantly with a shriek. I slapped my hand repeatedly until the large, fuzzy black spider landed on the floor off of my hand. I stomped on it furiously as my heart beat faster than it should be allowed to beat. That spider was like the size of the Empire State Building; it could've swallowed me whole! I took one last deep breath before reaching back up onto the top shelf slowly. I patted around, covering my hands completely with dust and grime. The more I patted around, the more dust that got into my lungs causing me to cough. I felt victorious when I finally felt my hands come down onto a cold tarp which I knew the tent was wrapped in. I pulled on it and yanked it down from the shelf, letting it fall down onto the cement floor with a thud. I wiped my grimy hands onto my shorts and sighed with relief.
A light bulb went on over my head as I realized that I still had to grab myself my blanket and pillows. I smiled at my dad again as I walked by him and back up the stairs to my room. I threw my blanket and pillows into my green duffel-bag along with my grey fuzzy stuffed elephant and zipped it up tight. I always have to cuddle up to something in order to fall asleep at night, it's one of my little glitches. I threw the duffel-bag over my shoulder and made my way back down the stairs and plopped down onto the couch next to my dad, throwing my bag onto the floor.
"Waiting for something?" He asked me as he playfully punched my leg.
I laughed and said, "Yeah, MaryAnn is coming to pick me up. She's driving this time."
"Oh I see, and I'm guessing you don't want to watch the news?" My dad knew that I never really enjoyed watching the news; it only ever held bad news.
"You would be guessing correctly."
"Well what would you like to watch until MaryAnn gets here?"
I gave him a dumbfounded look and he rolled his eyes and asked, "Really?"
"Yes really! Come on, it's only for a little while!" I complained.
"Okay, okay, okay," he said as he went into our recordings and put on a previously recorded episode of Ghost Adventures. The show was just starting to get into the exciting introduction when my dad piped up, "You know, this might give you the creeps. You're watching a scary show right before you go out camping."
I punched my dad in the arm lightly and said, "Hey, you know I'm not all too easy to scare."
"Says the girl who ran away from an animal in the woods," my dad replied, rolling his eyes playfully.
I looked at him appalled, "It could've been a big bear! Or a wolf!"
"It would've just kept right on going unless you threatened it."
"You know, I don't think I want to sit here anymore with you and your sarcastic self," I said, smiling at him while getting up. Just then I heard a horn honk out from our driveway.
"Your ride is here anyways."
I kissed his forehead again and called out, "Love you!" as I grabbed my duffel bag and headed out the front door. I looked over at MaryAnn leaning against her car and started laughing.
"What's so funny?" She asked.
With the outfit she was wearing, she was definitely not ready to go out into the big bad wild. She had on a pair of low-rise stretch faded jeans with holes in the knee and thighs, a white Fitch tank-top with a burnt orange long-sleeved cardigan, and a pair of burnt orange leather flats with a flower on the top of them.
"Is that what you really plan on wearing into the woods?" I asked her with a smirk.
"What's wrong with it?" She asked, a little offended.
I walked over to her and pointed at her cardigan and then to her jeans, "For one, I don't even know how you're wearing that cardigan in the first place, it's super warm out here. That cardigan and those jeans are going to make you sweat." I pointed down to her flats. "Those flats are not going to be easy for you to walk in when you're in the woods. You're going to feel everything you step on and trip over everything."
"I'll be tripping over everything as it is!"
"Oh, and also," I started, pointing at her tank-top, "you probably shouldn't wear a white shirt into the woods, it won't come out clean, I can guarantee you that."
She pouted at me and asked, "Then what do you expect me to wear? It's not like I go camping all the time."
"Lucky for you, you have a friend that loves the outdoors." I grabbed her hand and dragged her through the front door of the house. My dad peaked through the living room opening and laughed once he saw MaryAnn.
"Really? You too?" She complained.
"Sorry, forget I was here," my dad said with a chuckle as he made his way back to the couch and plopped down, turning the channel on the television.
I tugged on MaryAnn's hand and yanked her up the stairs. I pushed her down onto the bed and smiled at her, "Now it's my turn to dress you!"
"Oh jeeze, I remember the first time I did this to you," she said, chuckling.
"MaryAnn, I really don't want to change," thirteen year old me complained.
"You're not going to Jessica's party looking like that," she said with a frown as she began rummaging through her closet. That day I had been wearing a pair of holey jeans and a neon pink pullover with a black tank-top underneath.
"What's wrong with what I'm wearing? We will probably be playing around outside anyways."
"Just shut up and let me dress you."
I flopped back down onto her bed and groaned dramatically. After what had seemed like hours, she threw some clothing at me and I frowned at what I held in my hands. She had thrown at me a tight black tank-top, a ruffled white t-shirt to go under the tank-top and a mid-thigh black and white patterned skirt.
"I am so not wearing this to a birthday party!"
"Please, for me?" She gave me the puppy dog look and I rolled my eyes and actually went through with wearing that outfit. Needless to say, when we got to that party, everybody was wearing varying forms of what I had previously been wearing.
"I still hold that grudge against you," I said while laughing. I began rummaging through my closet and throwing various clothes onto the floor making mountains of clothing. When I finally found the right outfit for her, I threw it at her and said, "Put these on, it will be perfect."
"There is no way I am wearing these things into the woods," she replied. "Definitely not my style."
"Please, for me?" I asked, giving her the puppy dog look she gave to me many years previously.
She sighed dramatically and stuck the outfit on that I had given her. The outfit consisted of a pair of cut-off jean shorts that were mid-thigh and had cuffed hems and raw edges, a purple and black checkered flannel along with a black tank-top, and my extra pair of black hiking boots.
"See? Now that's not too bad is it?" I asked her sarcastically.
"And now you expect me to go out in public and shop with this flannel on? I don't wear flannels," she complained more.
"I think you'll survive," I replied, rolling my eyes at her.
She stuck her tongue out at me and we made our way back down the stairs, said good-bye to my dad, and headed into the garage to grab the tent and the rest of my bags. We piled it all into the trunk with her stuff and slammed it shut. We honked the horn multiple times as we pulled out the driveway, hopefully, successfully annoying my dad.
As we were cruising along the road, I glanced at MaryAnn and asked, "So where are you taking me shopping?"
"Oh, you know..."
"No, I don't know, tell me."
"Ummm... Abercrombie and Fitch..." She mumbled.
"Wait a minute, can you repeat that?"
"Alright, alright! Abercrombie."
I gave her an appalled look and said, "MaryAnn, I don't have that kind of money."
"That's why I'm paying for most of them."
"Yes, you're getting more than one. You're getting me to go spend a night in the woods!"
"I don't want you to be spending your money."
"Oh please, it's not like I don't have plenty." MaryAnn's parents had very high paying jobs. They were never around and she was usually home by herself because of it. Both of her parents were lawyers; great lawyers at that. They travel around the US from client to client wherever they are needed.
"Ugh!" I grumbled as I laid back in the smooth leather seat.
"Oh, quit your complaining. You'll be just fine."
It turned out that MaryAnn had been right, it really wasn't all that bad shopping with her when I laid down some rules; nothing poufy, nothing brown, no polka-dots, and nothing shorter than just above the knees. MaryAnn actually purchased three dresses for me that were (I hate to say it), really cute. That, and we shopped for longer than I thought we did; four hours. Now it's already two.
As we shoved the shopping bags into the back seat I asked, "So are you ready for our big adventure?"
MaryAnn groaned and replied, "Please don't remind me."
"Oh come on! It's going to be exciting!"
"Maybe for you. Me on the other hand, I will be fending for my very life essence which is blood. The mosquitoes will probably carry me away."
"Oh quit being so dramatic, they're not that bad."
"Yes they are, don't lie."
I changed the tone of my voice to sound childish as I told her, "Don't worry Mae, I will keep you safe from the big bad mosquitoes." Mae is my nickname for her; I chose this nickname because MaryAnn is just too long, and also, it's her middle name; keeps things simple.
Once we were both in the car she slapped my arm and scolded, "Hey, don't make fun of me. I'm not a country girl like you."
"Oh calm down, I'm just playin. Let's get going so we can get started on our hike to the camping area."
She backed out of her parking spot and asked, "We seriously have to hike just to get to the camping area? I thought you could pull right up into camping areas?"
"You normally can, if you go to a designated camping area."
"Oh no, I don't like the sounds of this."
"Just don't worry about it and let me lead the way. My dad has taken me there a few times."
I heard her sigh dramatically as we pulled out onto the highway. The drive there actually wasn't all too long; about a half hour. We were driving along a heavily wooded drive when I exclaimed, "Stop! Pull over and park here."
She pulled the car over and asked, "Are you kidding me? This is literally the middle of nowhere."
"Exactly, which is why me and my dad love it here. It's always so peaceful."
I looked around and realized how long it's been since me and my dad had been here. The bushes along the road had grown quite a few inches and where even greener. I pinched a big green leaf between my fingers and pulled slowly, letting my fingers feel the soft smooth texture. The leaf pulled away from the branch and I let it fall quickly to the ground. I took a deep breath in and could smell the dry, crisp smell of the oak and pine trees intermingled smells. I heard squirrels chirping over nuts and the sweet melody of various birds. Nothing compared to being out in the peaceful, safe sanction of a state park.
I heard the quick snap of a branch and I looked up into the woods quickly. In the corner of my eye, I just saw a quick blur of someone or something as they left my point of view. My heart began to speed up in response, my legs could already feel the burn for the fight or flight response, and my fists instantly clenched. Why fighting was my first move in that instance I had no idea.
I felt something grab me on the shoulder, and I immediately grabbed the wrist on my shoulder, spun around, and twisted the person around, pulled their arm up behind their back, just enough for them to feel a pain up their arm.
“Hey Alexa, what’s your problem!” MaryAnn grumbled, grunting in pain trying to get her arm free. I dropped her arm and backed away a few steps.
“I’m sorry! There was just....” I trailed off, peering into the woods again, looking around. There was absolutely nothing to be seen; no animal, no breeze, no nothing. I ran my fingers through my hair and sighed. What is wrong with me?
“Was just what?”
“Nothing, that was just reflex, you scared me,” I threw out as an excuse.
“Well you got all tense and looked a little freaked out, I was worried,” she replied, rubbing her wrist.
“Thanks for being concerned, but it was nothing. I’m sorry I hurt you.”
“It’s alright. Where’d you learn to fight or whatever? I’ve never really seen you do anything like that before.”
“You know, that’s a good question. It just came to me I guess. I felt different, not exactly like myself, it was weird. Must've just been a whole reflex thing.” Maybe we shouldn't have come out here, considering the fact that I was still freaked out about the idea of someone following me. Now I'm just taking the chance of dragging MaryAnn into it as well.
“Huh,” was all she had to say.
“Come on, let’s get started, we have quite a ways to go.”
We pulled our backpacks and duffel bags over our shoulders, and stuffed the blankets into the tent bag. “How are we going to carry the tent?” MaryAnn asked as both of our arms were already full.
“Set your stuff down, and put the tent on my bag. Rest it on the duffel bags.”
“Are you sure? That’s quite a load to carry.”
“I’m actually feeling really good right now, kind of like I can do anything. I can handle it, don’t worry.” Whatever happened earlier seemed to have brought something to life in my body; I felt strong, prepared for anything, aware of everything; probably still just all of the adrenaline pumping through my veins.
MaryAnn set the tent on my back, grabbed her things, and began to follow me through the woods. It was kind of hysterical watching MaryAnn tread her way through the woods. Every tree root coming up out of the ground she managed to trip over, wet, hanging leaves and damp tall grasses would hit against her cheek, leaving a smear of rainwater. I had forgotten how dense it could be back in this part of the woods. At one point in time, I turned back to look at MaryAnn and couldn’t help but laugh. She had a funny grumpy look on her face, she had various hair sticking out all over the place while some stuck to her forehead, and she was drenched in sweat.
“Aren’t you glad I made you change?” I asked through a chuckle.
“Shut up, and just keep going. Are we almost there?” She asked pleadingly.
“Don’t worry, we are almost there.”
“How are you not even breaking a sweat?”
“What do you mean? Of course I’m sweating, it’s hot out here,” I replied, reaching up to wipe off my forehead. I pulled my hand away and realized only a trickled or two of sweat.
“No, you’re really not sweating.”
“I am too, just not much.”
“Well I’m used to this kind of stuff whereas you are not. The humidity is just making me sweat.”
She rolled her eyes at me and motioned for me to go onwards. I laughed one more time and we continued on our little journey. It was only about fifteen minutes later, pushing through the last bundle of dripping bushes that we arrived to our destination. The grass was quite a bit taller than it was the last time me and my dad had been here considering it has been quite a while. But the grass was as green as can be, billowing slightly in the little breeze that presented itself just recently. It was also blowing the little hairs around on my forehead, and the bright green leaves on the tree. I could here the soft trickling of the creek that I knew was just to the left of our little camping area. The birds chirped excitedly, happy to see someone finally arrive. I dropped my bags onto the surprisingly dry ground for the area and took a deep breath in, closing my eyes. It smelled of dewy leaves and fresh wood; it smelled like my second home. I smiled and spread my arms out wide.
"We're here!" I called out for MaryAnn's expense.
I turned around and saw her spread out on the dry grass. She kind of looked like she was dead. Her arms and legs were sprawled out in various ways and half of her hair had come out of its pony-tail and was in her face, and she was breathing laboriously.
"You going to make it?" I asked jokingly.
"I'm never... coming out here... again," she retorted through breaths.
I kicked at her gently. "You look like a dying deer."
She swatted at my leg. "Shut up."
I laughed and began setting up the tent as Mae just sat there and watched me with a grumpy look on her face.
"You know, if you're just going to sit there, you can get up and go get some wood for the fire."
"Ughhhhhh," I heard her grumbled as she rolled over and got up before trotting into the woods.
"Don't kill yourself," I called after her.
I heard her grumble out a bunch of incoherent words and I went back to finishing up the tent. I was just pushing the final stake into the ground when I heard a pile of sticks clatter against each other as they dropped to the ground. I got up and turned to see Mae. She looked very frustrated. I walked up to her and pulled a few sticks from out of her hair. I looked back down at her and I put a grumpy look on my face like she had previously. We stayed like that for about a minute and then we busted out laughing. My cheeks began to ache from how hard I was laughing. We both collapsed to the ground and clutched our stomachs, laughing. When we were done laughing hyserically, I noticed the sky beginning to darken indicating that the night was almost here.
I got up off the ground and gathered up the thick sticks and put them into a nice little tipi pile on the ground.
"Can you grab out the newspapers from my backpack?" I asked Mae.
She tossed the newspapers to me and I took the lighter from my back pocket and lit a corner of a piece on fire and stuck it on the bottom of the pile in the middle. I did that for a few more pieces and sat on the ground next to the starting fire. The orange flames licked up towards the darkening sky and I smiled.
"Isn't this peaceful?" I asked Mae as she joined me next to the fire.
"You know, it is kind of pretty."
"See this isn't all that bad is it?"
"Not anymore! We're not doing anything down and dirty and exhausting!"
We both began laughing again and then just sat there staring into the fire. We began to get a little chilly as the sky got darker and the woods seemed to look gloomier. I grabbed my jacket and slipped it on and tossed Mae her's.
I sat back down by the fire and realized something.
"Do you hear that?" I asked.
"Exactly, there's no more sounds from the woods." All I could hear was the crackling of the fire; no squirrels, no birds, no animals.
"Good, it's quiet now."
"No, it's not normal." I stood up, leaving Mae at the fire and walked to the edge of the woods. My stomach began to get that empty bad feeling, kind of like I was nervous. I took one step into the woods and tried to peer inside. I saw a quick movement in the woods from the corner of my eye and backed back out of the woods with my heart racing and adrenaline running. I instantly went back to the fire and grabbed Mae's shoulder.
"We should head back to our cars."
"Why? What's your deal?"
"I saw something in the woods, I just have a bad feeling."
"It was probably just a deer, you're being paranoid," she stated, pulling her shoulder from my hand.
I took a few deep breaths and looked around us, the fire casting shadows on the trees. I didn't see anything else, so I took some more deep breaths and grabbed our blankets and bags and threw them into the tent before sitting back down by the fire. We sat there for a little while longer before Mae let off a yawn.
"Ready to go to sleep?" I asked her.
"Yeah, I think so."
I started scopping up sand and throwing it onto the fire, slowly putting it out. As the fire died, Mae flipped the switch on the flashlight and lit up where I was standing. We made our way into the tent and made our beds. Once our beds were made, we crawled into the sleeping bags and got comfortable.
"Good night Mae."
We flipped the flashlight back off and began to instantly dift off to a peaceful sleep.
I was awoken by somebody shuffeling outside of our tent. My heart began to beat fast, my palms began to sweat, and I slipped out of the sleeping bag to peak out through the zipper. There was a guy out there, approximately six foot three in height and pretty muscular; no way we would have a chance getting out of the tent alive. He was pacing back and forth when he eventually turned to see me peaking from the tent. I took a quick intake of breath for two reasons; he was beyond gorgeous, around our age. He had emerald green eyes and shaggy brown hair. He looked very worried. Oh, and the second reason, I was caught. I shuffled back quickly to the other side of the tent as I saw him begin to walk towards our tent. I look over to wake Mae up... and she was gone, she was no longer in the tent. I let out a scream as the zipper began to unzip and he ducked and bent inside of the little tent.
"Where's my friend?!" I yelled out as he stepped closer.
"Please, calm down and let me explain," he began.
"Where is she? What do you want?!" I interrupted.
"Please, be quiet so I can..."
"Just tell me where she is!" I picked up my pillow and threw it at him as my only line of defense. All he did was catch it and throw it to the side.
"Stop! I don't have much time to tell you this!" He yelled.
His voice was so persuasive that I stopped throwing pillows and stopped yelling. My hands were beginning to shake from adrenaline.
"Don't go home. Go stay at your friends house until somebody comes to get you, they will explain."
"What are you talking about?!"
"Just do as I say," he said, getting a little angry from frustration.
"I'm going home to my dad!"
"Don't go home!"
"I'm going home to my dad!" I repeated.
"Your dad's been taken dammit! And they'll take you too!"
My heart dropped into my stomach and I started to feel a little woozy.
"What... what do you mean?"
"Just don't go..." his voice began to cut out.
His lips were moving, but I couldn't make anything out of it. My vision began to go dark and I closed my eyes, blacking out.
"Alexa! Alexa! Wake up!"
I woke up and Mae was shaking me in my sleeping bag. I got up out of my sleeping bag grabbed her hand.
"We need to head home now," I told her firmly.
"No buts," I cut her off, "I have a really bad feeling, please, we need to go."
We raced to get everything picked up and put away and on our shoulders. I began to jog out of the woods, hoping that Mae was keeping up with me. My heart was continually beating faster and faster, my legs pumping harder and faster. When we broke through the opening of the woods towards the car, I was glad to see that Mae had kept up with me. We threw everything into the trunk and began speeding back home, going well over the speed limit. We pulled into my driveway, and I already began to have a sinking feeling. I jumped out of the car and shoved through my front door.
The book case was pushed over onto the floor and books were scattered everywhere. Glass vases and dishes were shattered all over the floor. Pictures were crooked on the walls, and some were broken on the floor. The house was a complete mess and there was even a little bit of blood splattered on the wall behind the door. Worst of all... my dad was gone.