Author's note: what inspired me to write this was Stephenie Meyers. You'll notice the similarities of One Shot... Show full author's note »
AccidentalThe chirping of birds is what woke me up the next morning. As happy as I was that it was the week end I was expecting destruction to happen to the poor restaurant that didn’t open on Saturday.
“Hey, Claire?” I heard Anna Belle ask in my door way. I suddenly regretted leaving my door open.
She asked, “Did you finish writing your science report?”
“Yes. You can’t copy it.” I told her, sighing.
“How’d you know I was going to ask that?” She asked, dumbfound.
“I’m not an idiot.” I closed the binder I was writing in for dramatic effect.
“No, you’re not.” She sighed leaving my door, with a big sigh. I always enjoyed annoying the sisters that were so different from me. Anna Belle was definitely smarter than Mady, she always knew when she was being lied to, and when she was being told the truth, and Mady was much dumber than most in the school.
I stood from my desk after finishing this weekend’s homework; I got dressed in a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. I was going shopping today, hopping I wouldn’t run in to anyone. I flipped the TV off before grabbing my purse— that I rarely used—and left my room. I walked down the hall to the kitchen and reached above the fridge. I grabbed the aluminum bread box that my father had enlisted to hold grocery money, but it was usually his place to hide presents during the holidays, he knew Anna Belle and Mady didn’t have a clue what it was for, because they were always on freak diets, or had people feed them.
My hand twitched toward the hundred dollar bill pile but instead I took two twenties. I slipped on my boots and jacket. I grabbed the keys to my jeep and was on my way, I left a note on the kitchen counter and left. I greeted Mrs. Johnson two houses down and Mr. Mills across the street and to the left. I got into my jeep and started down the street, ready for a pile of people who came to the restaurant to greet me in the dairy isle. I started up the hill, going a steady 10 miles per hour hoping it was enough. I could see Ben’s car in front of me, going down the street, not as slow as I was going he made it to the red light way before I did, but we still ended up beside each other.
We nodded at each other. I watched as he turned right, as if going toward the closed restaurant and then changing his mind at the last second. I went straight and had to remind myself I had to keep my eyes on the traffic in front of me, an accident in town would cause more than a bruise or a broken leg.
I pulled into the parking lot, grabbing the purse I had with me and slammed the door shut. I walked quickly down the icy sidewalk to get to the main building, Price’s market was build about seventy years ago, and named after one of the town’s oldest lady’s, she had died a few years after it was built. I took a cart from the pile of them by the door and regretted my choice, it was a squeaky one, that was obviously annoying me, and evidently the people staring at it and me.
I made my way through the aisles. In the formation the isles were made you really couldn’t not go down one or two without forgetting something crucial for dinner on Thurs-days, or Tuesdays. I was constantly thinking that when our triple load of people at the res-taurant came in, telling us that they didn’t have something to make for dinner. I believed them, most of the time, at least.
I was walking down the coffee isle, trying to decide whether to get Peruvian coffee beans or Arabian beans.
“Claire?” I heard someone say behind me. I turned to see if it was another mild aged man wondering if he could have my father’s secret sauce recipe. I was surprised when it was Nathan standing behind me, a cart in front of him too.
“Oh. Hi.” I said tucking a piece of hair behind my ear, silently. Causally I threw in the Pe-ruvian coffee beans.
“Buying groceries?” He nodded toward my almost half way filled cart. A grin close.
“Yup.” I said pushing the cart then, hoping he’d get the point and ignore me.
“Umm. Claire about the day in the restaurant,” he started to decipher his mental words. He was having some trouble translating.
“Look, do you want to be friends or not?” Clear. Easy. Uncomplicated. I asked.
“I think considering the circumstances we shouldn’t be friends, but since I’ll be picking Bridget up from the restaurant we’ll be acquaintances.” He nodded.
“Whatever,” I said turning down the snack isle.
“Good Bye then.” He said pushing his cart the other way, towards the registers. I went down two other isles before running into Mrs. Long, my math teacher’s wife.
“Hello Claire,” She smiled at me.
“Hello, Mrs. Long.” I said politely, when I put the gallon of milk in the cart I rolled my eyes.
“How’s Herman?” She asked about my father.
“He’s not grieving as much now,” I said simply, hopping that would be all she needed for a brief update of the Voorhees’ home.
She nodded and continued down the aisle, stopping to get butter than going straight to the registers.
I did the same, hopping now that I was done with the side conversations for the day; I picked register eight, because I knew the guy checking us out.
Mitchell Gray was his name. He was from West Union’s only Indian reservation in High Land Heights. Locally the Reservation wasn’t well known, but since I grew up here with my Dad and my Mom, we grew up here too, I knew everything and everyone involved in mak-ing the Reservation so comfortable. Mitch was Trevor’s son, Herman’s best friend. Mitch was also a senior now, and he was hunky.
While I was a kid he and I were together a lot with Herman and Trevor, but that was a long time ago, and we hadn’t really seen each other recently.
“Hey Claire.” He smiled at me; apparently he remembered my name.
“Hi Mitch.” I smiled, putting my stuff on the table. He scanned everything twice, be-cause the old scanners didn’t work as well.
He told me, “Em told us about the trip to the lake, in fact she invited us.”
“Are you going?” I asked kindly.
“I think I will.” He was a senior, and already had a car big enough to cart around all of his siblings. He was one of four.
“Great, I’ll see you there.” I smiled taking out the money I had.
“Your total is thirty-eight seventy-nine.” he said holding his hands out for the twenties in my hand I gave them to him willingly.
“Bye.” I called over my shoulder going out the main exit.
“Bye, Claire.” He called back.
I was pushing the cart. Nearing the automatic door when I heard something. A quiet buzz in one ear that gravitated to the other soon. It caught me off guard and the only thing I could think to do was react and not worry about being in public. My head whipped around, the buzzing sound getting louder and then suddenly everything, literally everything stopped, freeze framed.
It had been the calm before the storm, I would find out. Everything was going slow, perhaps the easiest way to explain it was slow motion before the bomb went off.
I heard nothing. I’d gone deaf momentarily. I felt my mouth pop open, and then I felt the rush of air as the automatic door exploded.
I had enough time to close my eyes and turn. The shock inside me let out a scream. I had no idea where it had been building up from, but it had been. I realized quickly that this wasn’t normal; there was no way to explain this.
And then, in another second there was someone shielding me. Their arm wound around me, pulling me down, banging my left arm into the cart and ricocheting it off of the other side of his leg.
I kept my eyes tight and closed while I let my ears do double duty. No one said anything, of course, I doubted that anyone actually still had their eyes open, but that might’ve been my innocence creeping up on me again. I wanted to believe that people in West Union didn’t like seeing people in pain, but I couldn’t have ever been more wrong.
I was front row. Standing directly in front of the door before it had happened. I was so close to the explosion that my hearing was off balance, obviously, but my entire frame was unbalanced. I screwed up my stepping, crossed my foot over the other as I knelt to escape the broken shards of glass.
Confusion hit me like a brick wall as soon as I was able to stand, thirteen or so seconds after everything had happened. After what had happened was over, the aftershock hit me.
“Claire?!” I heard several people say, “Are you alright?”
“Claire? Can you move?” I heard another familiar voice say.
I opened my eyes. Standing quietly, unpredictably beside me, was Nathan. His cart was pushed beside me. He brushed an arm down my back, dislodging a few pieces of glass shards.
I almost screamed when I saw the piece of glass sticking out of his arm. His arm had a long gash, maybe a four inch long wound with a large slice of glass sticking frighteningly out of the injured flesh.
The blood didn’t make me want to throw up, but the fact that he didn’t realize it was there did. How much pain could Nathan actually withstand? Was this normal? I curiously touched his arm. “Nathan?” I asked my voice cracking as I slid out from under his grasp. ,
“Is your arm alright?” He asked.
“Yeah.” I sighed and rubbed it twice, it sent an instant electric shook up my arm. “Is yours?”
He looked down carefully, “Of course.” He took the splinter out of his arm and threw it to the ground, and applied pressure to his arm.
“How did you—.” I started to say, but I was interrupted by the sudden yelling and shout-ing.
“What?” he asked, not hearing me at all.
“How did you. . . How can you stand that pain?” I said trying to remove his hand and fail-ing miserably.
He told me “What pain?” He removed his hand slowly, to show me that his arm was per-fectly fine. Had there not been a gash? Yes, of course there had been. I wasn’t wrong. I hadn’t imagined it.
“Claire?” the familiar voice. I turned to see Mitch, his apron off and his long locks pulled up into a long pony tail. He smiled.
“What?” I asked him nicely; still annoyed that Nathan would lie to me.
“The ambulance is here.” He told me, obviously avoiding the tension.
“I don’t need it.” I said stubbornly.
“Yes you do.” Nathan said grabbing my good arm and almost pulling me to the ambul-ance.
“Ow.” I said while he did this. He looked back at my face than he sighed and let go of me all together.
“She hit her arm and I think her head.” Nathan said to the paramedic I remembered being named Gary, and then I heard the calls.
“Get Devin out!” Someone shouted.
I looked at Mitch, “Where was Devin?”
“He was pushing outside when the glass exploded. He got hit with whatever it was that hit the glass.”
“Oh my gosh,” I tried to turn, to go check on Devin, but Nathan’s arm restrained me, pushing me into the ambulance gently.
Nathan rode with me in my car and Mitch who had seen everything rode in Devin’s van after being asked to ride to the police and give a description. Since the hospital and Station were side by side he agreed.
When we got to the Hospital, most of the people there were for me and Devin. I was al-lowed to walk to the emergency room, where they put a brace on my right arm and stitched my forehead up from where a few pieces of glass had hit.
Devin was in much worse condition than I was, his head had hit the glass and had left him with huge gashes across his forehead and his arm was cut open wide.
It was in the emergency room where I first saw Doctor Ember, who was Nathan’s adop-tive mother. The first thing I noticed about her was that she looked a lot like Nathan, black curls and blue eyes. She was just so amazingly tall that I was overwhelmed with her holding my arms.
“Hello, Claire . . . Voorhees.” She smiled. Her head was heart shaped, her chin stuck out, and her black hair was in curls, and her bangs were cut precisely so that they fell just above her eyebrows. Her pale skin was the same as Nathan’s and as Bridget’s. Her eyes were pale too, they were blue, and this surprised me.
“Hi.” I smiled; hopping this would be over soon.
“It seems that when you hit your bone, you sprained the muscle, so I’d like for you to wear this brace for the next few weeks, and your stitches will have to come out of your head in two weeks from now. You’ve got some good luck.”
“Can I go home now?”
“Absolutely.” She said.
I smiled and left the room, “You’ll need to stay a bit longer.” Mrs. Ember said to Devin.
I walked slowly to the lobby, where a lot of people had congregated. Ben and Bridget were sitting side by side, holding hands.
“Claire.” Ben said loudly—standing up quickly—letting go of Bridget’s hand and hugging me. Bridget was next to hug me.
“Your arm will heal soon enough.” She promised as Ben’s arm landed on her shoulder. I sighed as I looked around the waiting room.
“Claire.” Elizabeth and Emily said together in relief. “You’re alright.” They said in unison, they were always doing this, talking and walking together.
“Yeah, guys I’m fine.”
“What happened exactly?” Ben asked.
“I’m not sure,” I said honestly, “I was pushing my cart out and then the glass exploded.” I shrugged, “It just sort of happened.”
Ben nodded. “You hit your elbow?” Ben asked.
I nodded, I wasn’t going to tell them that Nathan had flung me out of the way and I fell. “I love you Claire Bear.” He said again trying to calm me.
“I love you too. Do you know if my father is here yet?”
“He pulled in a few seconds ago.” Bridget smiled.
“Okay.” I said turning to walk out the exit. But like I had expected my father was shout-ing at the nurse’s aide who told him I was in room 32, I ducked into the bathroom before he came running down the hall. I stepped out and almost fell over.
“Nathan,” I said breathing in his scent, “Sorry.”
“No I’m apologetic; I came around the hall too fast.”
“Can I ask you something?” I stepped closer to him.
“That depends,” he said leaning against the wall.
“Can you please tell me the truth?” I asked.
“The truth isn’t exactly something I can explain. . . ” he said.
“But there was definitely a gash on your arm, and then it disappeared,” I said trying to sound sane, I was sure it was there.
“No one will believe you,” he said not looking at me. Neither denying nor admitting any-thing.
“I wasn’t going to tell anyone, I can’t even believe it.”
“I don’t want to lie to the people I trust, they are all worried and I feel weird going along with a lie like this one—.” I cut him off.
“You aren’t going to let this go are you?” he asked.
He sighed, and rolled his eyes before leaving the hallway, he kept walking faster and faster. I moaned on the other end of this and walked to the room where Herman must have gone to. He was there, standing in the doorway. I tapped on his shoulder and he turned, and his arms wound around my waist, hugging me, trying to hug me without disturbing my arm that was up in a cast.
“I’m so glad you are okay.” He said, I saw his tear stained face, if I died he would be left with Anna Belle and Mady, I would’ve cried too if I were him.
“I’m fine, Dad. What happened to my jeep?” I asked unaware of its condition.
“Oh, umm they’ve got it down at the car lot, fixing the tires and replacing the windows.” He nodded, “So you might want to ask Ben for a ride to school.” He said apologetically, hopping I wouldn’t over react. I usually didn’t put myself in the position where I had to rely on other people, but every now and then I was forced. Not by him, more by Helen.
“Okay, I guess.” I sighed looking down the hall way as we walked the waiting room wasn’t as full as I had expected it to be.
“So, you can take as long as you need off from work, Honey.” He said, grabbing my purse seeing that I was having an issue putting it around my arm without the help of my other arm.
He drove me home in his shiny black truck, silently flipping through the channels. I watched as his big truck both scared little kids and intimidated them to pieces. He wasn’t a kid favorite, but his kids were an exception.
“Where are Anna Belle and Mady?” I wondered, “Did they hear?” I asked.
He nodded, “They didn’t really seem to care.” He said the obvious. Once he was parked in the driveway I tried repeatedly to open the door, but since I had to swivel my entire top half to open it with my left arm and disturb my right arm by shoving it against the door.
“Hold on Claire.” He said stopping my attempts as he helped me get out, “Oh, and I had a few of the EMT’s bring the groceries here while I was gone.” He told me as he assisted me to the door, then he unlocked it. I was really hopping that I could take a shower by myself, because I knew Mady, Anna Belle and I would refuse, and I wasn’t going to ask Liz, or Emily.
He helped me to my room, handing me my remote and my phone, hopping I’d recon-nect with someone. I was happy watching the show he’d put on, and was hopping the re-pairs to my van wouldn’t take much longer and the repairs to my arm wouldn’t either.
I casually picked the phone up, and dialed Ben’s number.
“Yellow.” Ben greeted me, happily and optimistic.
“Can you drive me to school on Monday?” I asked, hopefully.
“I’m not going at all next week, well maybe Friday if I’m back by then.” He reminded me.
I sighed, “Where are you going?”
“My mom and I are flying to New York to spend my father’s birthday with his family.” He said with just a hint of sadness near the end.
“Oh, thank you Benny Boy.” I rolled my eyes.
I told him, “Bye.”
“Bye Claire Bear, love ya.”
“Love ya.” I said before hitting the end, I wondered if that bothered Bridget, I dialed her number then.
“Hello Ember residence, Bridget speaking.”
“Hey, Umm, Bridget it’s me,” I started.
“Hi Claire, what is it you need?”
“Can you drive me to school next week, my car was damaged and my arm, well . . . is another story.”
“I would, Claire, but Genesis, Kaya and I are going to . . . the beach, to take advantage of the sun.” She said, I could hear the hint of happiness.
“Oh.” No emotion. No care. No manners. I was empty, so done with this.
“Umm, I can ask Nathan to drive you.” She told me, without me being able to stop her she called out, “Nathan can you do me a favor?”
“Absolutely, Bridget, no matter which.” He said in a brotherly way.
She said, “Can you drive Claire to school next week?” I heard him start to argue no, “You said no matter which.” She argued back. “He’d love to.”
“Umm, Bridget, I have to take a shower in an hour or two, and I might need help, I feel embarrassed asking but would . . .” I must’ve reworded about seven times, and I still didn’t pick the best way.
Bridget understood and said, “I’ll be over in a few minutes.”
“Thank you, Bridget, I couldn’t ask Ben, and Liz and Em are . . . Not the kind of people to help people in their times of stress.”
“No problem, if I was to be hurt I wish someone would help me like this.”
“Yeah.” I said kindly wishing I hadn’t of gone shopping at all, I wouldn’t be in this pain if I hadn’t of gone. I looked down at the cast concealing my elbow, and sighed as I heard a quiet knock on the front door, it amazed me how I heard it, it was so quiet. I sighed and got up out of the bed.
After my shower and with the help of Bridget she helped me get dressed. I repeatedly apologized, hoping she’d get the point that I was just as uncomfortable as she must’ve been.
Once we were done with the uncomfortable stuff she agreed to help me make dinner, after Herman told her that the restaurant wasn’t going to open back up until I was repaired and told them both that not going would be harder, we had both grown accustomed to be-ing at the restaurant until around 10. Herman, Bridget and I hung out in out tiny living room, chatting casually about all of the things that naturally came up. Conversation was al-ways easy with Bridget. Especially Bridget.
Dinner, corned beef and cabbage was pretty good. Bridget turned it down saying she had already eaten, Anna Belle and Mady ate the cabbage and potatoes, but turned down the corned beef. I ate one handed, really regretting going shopping now.
At 9:30 Herman went to bed. This was what I had been waiting for all night. My chance to talk to Bridget without Ben or anyone else.
“Do you know what really happened today?” I asked her, “At the store?”
“You were almost shot.” She told me, “Is there more?”
“No, Your Brother, Nathan, got to me and got me out of the way . . . but he got hit with a large piece of glass, it was sticking out of his arm, and then when he pulled it out it healed immediately.”
“That doesn’t sound believable.” She said rolling her eyes.
“But I saw it, and I swear I didn’t hit my head that hard, I saw everything happen, and I wasn’t imagining anything.” Or was I?
She sighed, “Claire.”
“What?” I said getting angry.
“I’d love to tell you something about us, my family and I, but it isn’t my business, I didn’t put myself in the situation where you were wondering, correct? It was Nathan?”
“It wasn’t you; Nathan made me curious as to what sets you apart. Are you like terror-ists?” I said hoping she’d say no.
“No, Claire, I think that if you wanted to know than you’ll need to find out from Nathan.”
“So, if you make Ben curious than you’d have to tell him?” I asked.
“I want to tell him, believe me I do, and I want to tell you, both of you would understand and we wouldn’t need to take the precautions that Kaya wants us to.” I suddenly remem-bered what Nathan had said to me in the store, I think considering the circumstances we shouldn’t be friends what was that supposed to mean?
“Why can’t you tell him to tell me?” I asked.
“Because it has to be his decision, I can’t be sure that it would be the right decision, I can’t see any further than what is sitting in front of me.
“You can’t see?” I asked suspiciously.
“Claire, I’ve got to be going now. Please forgive me for not being as up front as you wish me to be. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“Fine.” I sighed as she helped me up from the couch then helped me get to my room, and then left all together.
I felt better being suffocated in the green room that my mother had painted seventeen years ago. All of the floor and finishing’s made in wood, a deeper brown than my hair. Once I flipped the TV on than I felt free to drift off into sleep, as deep a sleep as I could before waking up before three o’clock the next morning.
The sleep that I wished I had didn’t happen, I ended up waking up around 5:30 in the morning, and as sad as I was that I didn’t sleep in, I got up. I had the hardest time getting dressed, ever. I finished homework, lucky that my right hand wasn’t broken. This time I left my door closed, mainly because I hadn’t gone to the kitchen yet. The TV was playing the pointless infomercials, which were so off of my time, in fact I didn’t doubt my grandmother wasn’t watching them now too.
Being in the tiny room for so long brought my mind to the fact that Bridget was going to call me today, and that Nathan was going to drive me to school tomorrow. I watched one of the commercials advertising color contacts, which brought a smile to my face. The beautiful pale blue eyes that were said to change green when they wore contacts, but that excuse didn’t seem as likely to me as I thought it would be.
If I could’ve worn a different color eye than would I? Probably not, I was more than con-tent with the emerald green eyes that I had. And to the people around me, I could hear them sometimes, she’s different. Her eyes are weird. Too dark.
I watched a few more of the commercials before getting even more bored with them; I called someone who I would’ve never thought to call.
“Hello?” Mitch asked on the other side of the receiver.
“Hi, um, I know we don’t know each other too well, but would you mind coming over to my house? I need to talk to someone before my head explodes.” I said, trying not to freak him out.
“Sure, I think I remember where you live; I’ll be over in like ten minutes.” He said getting enthusiastic about us hanging out.
“Thank you, Mitch.” I said before I heard him hang up. I got down off my bed to go out to the kitchen; I peeked before stepping out in my purple sweat pant Capri’s and a T-shirt. My foot was suddenly cold as soon as it hit the cold wooden ground.
My father wasn’t there and his door to his room was open signifying that he wasn’t here, and Anna Belle and Mady were in their room doing some sort of hair thing involving aluminum foil and Anna Belle’s hair.
I walked over to the fridge; I grabbed two cokes out of it and a bag of chips from the top and walked slowly to the living room where, a tiny piece of paper was laid,
Went fishing with Ben and Owen, be back around five, have one of your sisters help you if you need help. Love you, Claire Bear.
I set the stuff down on the table and grabbed a bowl for the chips, and then I waited pa-tiently, with the TV on, for Mitch to get there.
Within a few minutes there was a light knock on the door, the wooden door was proba-bly older than the house itself.
I answered it with my good arm, obviously. He stepped through the door frame, with his arms extended, and as I stepped into his hug, I felt how warm he was, he was like a comfy pillow.
“Hello.” I smiled up at him when I pulled away.
“I’m surprised you knew where I lived.” I said motioning to the couch, I sat on one end, and he sat on another.
Herman usually took me to the reservation. At our house the two old geezers couldn’t fish or hunt.
Mitch rolled his eyes, “Don’t you remember when you were in ninth grade, and I was in tenth?” he asked.
“What about it?”
“Don’t you remember that play we were in together?”
“What play was that?”
“The play where you were Juliet and I was Romeo?”
“I don’t remember, I’m sorry, freshman year was such a long time ago.”
“I used to walk home with you, and we’d practice here, at your house.”
“Really?” I asked.
“Yeah, so you wanted to talk to someone?”
“My dad is fishing with Ben and his friend Owen, and Anna Belle and Mady are doing some hair experiment, and here I sit, waiting for some human conversations, I can only talk to stuffed animals for so long.” I sighed, as he laughed.
“How is your arm?” he started with the most obvious question. “Does it hurt?”
“Well, I really wish it wasn’t sprained, and that my head is all stitched up, like I’m the bride of Frankenstein, but I guess you can call me Frankie.” I sighed
“Come on, Claire, you have to admit having all of the attention yesterday was pretty cool.”
“Not exactly, I was kind embarrassed, and my arm was hurt and my head hurt,” I ex-plained, “It wasn’t the best thing in the world.” It’s a weird way to attract attention.
“Well, then maybe you shouldn’t be so clumsy, look both ways before cross the street.” He smiled before throwing his right arm along the back of the couch. I pulled my legs up and sat Indian style trying to come up with something to say to the gorgeous hunk of a man sitting in front of me. He was cute.
I smiled, “You were there, right?” I asked, wondering idly if he had seen everything that I had seen.
“Did you see a guy with me?” I asked.
“You mean Nathan?”
“Yeah, you saw him?”
“I didn’t see him get there with you, I saw him once it was all over.”
“But he was back there, and you saw him right?”
“Why are you so dependent on him being with you?”
“Because I’m not crazy, he was there when the glass exploded. He got hit too.”
“Oh, yeah, the guys at the car shop said your jeep is almost finished.” I stared at him, he had completely ignored me, “My Dad works there.” Was what he said next.
“Are you serious, you totally ignored me?”
“No, I was trying to sidetrack you, it didn’t work,” he sighed, “Look, Claire, I know that you really want to believe that he was there, but believe me, no one saw him, other than you.”
“I’m not crazy. He was there.” I said getting angry.
“The only way he could have been there was if he was fast enough to blur by all of our eyes,” and that was what I was trying to get out.
“He was fast, and his eyes change color, and he talks different than us, and he doesn’t eat food and he. . .” I sighed, this was really unbelievable. Mitch wouldn’t believe me even if he wanted to.
“Here, Claire, I’ll tell you what, you do your best to find other criminal offenses and I’ll ask around to see if anyone has any theories, and I’ll meet up with you at the Beach a weekend from now.”
“Awe, Mitch, thank you.” I said reaching over to hug him.
“No problem, Claire.” He said returning the hug.
“Ya know you can call me something like Ben, he calls me Claire Bear, I’ve grown accus-tom to it.”
“Okay, Claire Bear.” He said in my ear.
“How old are you again?” I asked.
“I turn nineteen in December, you?”
“I turn eighteen in April.” I told him, “A month from now.”
“Happy almost birthday.” He smiled.
“Don’t throw me a birthday party, please.” I rolled my eyes, “Ben and Liz tried last year and they got me a chocolate cake, and like a weirdo I forgot to tell them that chocolate makes me nauseas.”
“Did you puke all over the cake?”
“No, I was hugging Em, telling her thank you, and I gagged, and was inches away from her hair.”
“Oh, Gross.” He said gagging himself, and I sat laughing so hard.
“That was cruel.” He said as he finished gagging.
“Yeah, and her boyfriend—CJ—like a day later was like ‘your hair smells like strawber-ries and puke mixed together.’” I laughed again, reaching for the coke, Mitch’s hand reached it before mine and he handed it to me, already opened, “Thanks.”
“So what is new with you?”
“Devin is getting better,” he switched from facial expressions often.
“How do you know him so well?” I asked, curious as to why he was always talking about him.
“He’s from the reservation,” he told me.
“I didn’t know.” I said truthfully.
“Yup,” He sighed.
“What about your mom, Dawn, right?”
He nodded, “Divorced Trevor two years ago, Yvette and Dana live with her, Will and I stay on the reservation with Trevor.”
“Is getting better with living without her, he wants to move into the bigger house on the Reservation, so that Dana and Yvette would come back, but he doesn’t get that they want to be with their mom.”
“Yeah, fathers don’t exactly get that.”
“How long has it been since Helen?”
“You just always seem like you’re already over it, does it really take that little time?”
“If people don’t bring her up, I’ll be fine.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” He said.
“No, dude it’s okay.”
“Okay, so what else do you want to talk about?” He smiled.
“What’s your favorite color?” I asked.
“Same, my mother painted my room green and then they saw that my eyes were green they thought that it was kind of creepy.” He laughed, and for the next couple of hours we talked about mindless details, books, songs, favorites, hates. We agreed on a lot of subjects, our favorite books were and agreed that In the end was the best song by Linkin Park. At around Noon he helped me make lunch, for us both, grilled Cheese and tomato soup from a can.
We ate in the dining room, right in front of the window, and we talked about how we both enjoyed the rainy weather west Union brought forward. Subsequently as we ate we watched TV, and ended up flipping the channel to the HBO channel and watching our favo-rite show.
At five when Herman came home, Ben and Owen joined him.
“Hey, guys.” I nodded toward them all when they realized Mitch was with me.
“Hey, Claire Bear, Mitchell.” Herman said shaking Mitch’s hand.
“Hello, Mr. Voorhees.”
“Call me Herman.”
“Okay.” He said smiling up at him.
“Did you kids get dinner?” Herman looked at me.
“Nope, Mitch helped me make lunch, though.”
“Good.” He nodded, looking back at Ben and Owen, who were both sitting at the nook.
“You guys want to stay for dinner?” He asked, In the end Ben agreed and invited his mother and Owen said Alicia was away and needed to stay with his eight year old son, Aus-tin and eighteen year old son Scott. Mitch was a good guest compared to Ben, they both sat on either side of me, and Doris, Anna Belle, and Mady sat on the other end, my father ended up sitting between Mady and Ben, Mady was happy once Domenic came in the door, it was after football practice and he had evidently found the note that Doris had left him.
I helped Herman and Doris with Dinner, Pork loin and roasted potatoes. Mitch and Ben both took two big servings and for once Mady actually ate dinner, I was just as surprised as Anna Belle must’ve been, and she ate too, talking quietly to Doris and Ben.
At seven-thirty dinner was over and Ben, Domenic and Doris left. I hugged Ben before he left, “Bye, Benny Boy, love ya.” I called from the door way. I turned back to Mitch, “Bye.” I said wrapping my arms around his waist and squeezing, as he did the same, just above my shoulders.
At the end of dinner it signified for Anna Belle and Mady to go back to their room, and they did, as Anna Belle walked past me I saw that strands of her hair were a lighter blonde than the blonde she had before, maybe the aluminum foil experiment was to lighten her hair.
“Night Dad.” I said before ducking into my room, knocking my arm on the door, but re-covering immediately. I turned the TV on, and picked my bag up with my good arm, and checked through it to be sure I had everything for tomorrow; I listened to my music, trying to drown out the sound of Anna Belle’s blow drier.
Nathan was going to drive me to school this week and I couldn’t have been more nerv-ous. I was always clumsy and obviously awkward. I always seemed to end up staring at his beauty, his perfect pale blue eyes or emerald green eyes were so astonishing that I couldn’t help but stare. And the tight pale skin that seemed to be sculpted and perfected so that their features were beautiful, and putting all of these features together made him unattain-able, someone so beautiful could never see someone so unattractive as me, and that left me with the feeling of failure, and it was worse than having the brace.
Bridget was just as beautiful as Nathan was, maybe even more, her pale brown hair that had first reminded me of Mady’s strawberry blonde hair, and it reached so much farther than I had ever seen hair reach, Her eyes were the same shade as Nathan’s but her eyes were wider, bigger and the shade looked more feminine and believable on her than it did on Nathan.
They both had pale skin that looked creamy and obviously attractive compared to my dry skin that required daily moisturizer. They both had a faint blush that looked real, and Bridget’s blush was a more pink shade compared to Nathan’s whose was more of a red, they both also had purplish bruise like shading under their eyes that stuck out, and neither of them seemed to care that they looked dehydrated or as if they were recovering from a broken nose.
And then meeting Kaya, she was gorgeous, her hair line was heart shaped and she looked more like a model, than a doctor who was 35, her hair was black like Nathan’s and her curls were like Nathan’s. She and Nathan looked the most like each other than Bridget did, but I still hadn’t met Aaron, Genesis, Max and Alton, I wondered nonchalantly if their looks, their features would make or break my theory. I still didn’t have one, they were all different, and they seemed to have something in common, the legendary secret that Brid-get had brought up.
I sighed and leaned back on my bed, trying to bring myself the comprehension that to-morrow I would be with Nathan twice, maybe three times and I was happy, but utterly em-barrassed that I might do something permanent, and change all of their outlooks on me as a person.
I looked up at the ceiling, still trying to conjure up enough self confidence to step out of the room tomorrow morning and into the world that I had catapulted myself into when my phone rang.
“Hello?” I answered eagerly without looking to see who it was.
“Claire?” Bridget said on the other end, “Are you okay? You sound winded.”
“I’m fine, I hit my arm.” I fibbed; it seemed like a good enough excuse that she would believe it easy enough.
“Oh, so are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” I said again.
“Okay, Claire, I’m sorry about last night.” She apologized for a second time.
“It’s okay, I guess, I just wish you could tell me, I hate being so out of it, and I expect to be friends with you for a long time.” I said hopping that would win her over, and she’d give in and tell me the mysterious secret that evidently set them apart.
“I didn’t make you promise so I can’t tell you, Claire. You are so observant, so percep-tive, I’m flabbergasted that you haven’t figured it out by now, and I have to be sentient that if I do something out of the average you’ll adjoin it to your directory of hints or fundamen-tals of what we are.” She said this, and I was waiting for her to add to it, and when she didn’t I sighed.
“What if I told you that you made me curious? What if I said it was your fault that I thought something was different about you?”
“You wouldn’t lie to me, you aren’t lying to me, I can tell. I’m not going to tell you, Claire.”
“Fine.” I groaned.
“I’ll tell you one thing, if you haven’t figured it out by now than you need definite help.”
“I already enlisted a friend in helping me figure out your secret.”
“Good, Claire, that was a superior initiative.” I heard her laugh on the other line.
“So, is he still driving me to school tomorrow?”
“Of course.” She said, “And I’ll be back on Wednesday of this week.” She told me, “You won’t have to be with him all alone.”
“Don’t do me any favors.” I said trying not to sound offensive.
“No problem, Claire I’ll see ya Wednesday, I’ve got to say goodbye to Ben.”
“Bye, Love ya.” She said before hanging up on me.
I closed my eyes, why did this mystery have to be so confusing, and so hard to guess? I asked myself before summoning the deep sleep that I had been waiting for all night, and when it came no one was happier than me.