There was a time when life was good. When the cold air didn’t bite me, when I welcomed the suns rays. There was those years that passed just like people, everything was so boring and routine. Blonde hair was always fixed to perfection and a bare face welcomed each day. Just an ordinary girl trying to get past my high school finals. All this was taken advantage, because I never knew how much I would miss my school years and wish that everything stayed boring and ordinary. When you’re a kid, you never really pay any mind to what you could be doing wrong or who you are talking to. When you’re young and naive, no one seems to be a threat. Sounds so cliché when I say that my friends were talking to this really cute guy on IM, and how we were all going to meet up. But, of course he bailed when we all wanted to meet up. Then one day, he messaged me and asked to go out for burgers, dumb me, I went along. Although, the more I think about it, I wonder why my parents never really asked who he was. I get my suspicions from time to time, but their reactions to my return was everything you would expect from a pair that lost their child.
I’ll never forget when my kidnappers dyed my hair brown. The scene was like something straight out of a horror movie, because every chance I got I fought back. Once they changed my signature locks, I knew that my life in Virginia was over. I never really spoke about what happened to me while they had me because it was too much. I waited for all the media coverage to go down then I changed my hair and moved away. Crazy how after a few beers with a person I barely know can get years of events out of me.
Allen never said much, he just drank with everything I shared. He drank more when it got really uncomfortable, as did I. For a moment I forgot what it was like to stay in hiding, to not have friends. I indulged in the feeling of not being alone. A few hours of booze, awkward silences, shocking stories that never had an ending, and several moments of silent attention I didn’t ever really get to experience before.
“Well, my head ache is gone.”
“Good to hear, but now I have one.” We both chuckle for a second and return to our silence. I sip my beer just to realize it was empty so placed it on the floor with the others.
“You don’t know how long it has been since I last trusted someone.”
“Do you want another beer?”
“Sure, I’m fully stocked.” Allen stands and heads over to the fridge and gapes at the contents of the fridge.
“You know, food is what should be in here.”
“Well, I’m on a liquid diet.” A few pops later and we are both seated not really sure what we should be doing at this point. I have many more stories, but I’m not ready to share.
” I just want to thank you for everything you’ve told me, I know it wasn’t easy.” Yet somehow I feel like you still want more.
“I’m just curious, what happened to you back at school?”
Oh dear God, why did you have to remind me. I feel like I cannot hide my expressions from you. I feel my entire body radiate with heat, I can feel my face boiling over. I can’t breathe. I got to get out of here. I stand so abruptly that some of the beer bottles scatter across the floor. Startled you stand with me, searching my face for answers, but at least there are none.
” I need to go for a walk.”
“I’ll grab my-.”
“Alone.” I interject.
I practically run to get outside, and my warm body is welcomed to the cold air. I inhale deeply with my eyes shut. Trying to center myself before I take a step further. How can they just come back into my life, I thought I had finally gotten rid of these sick bastards. I wrap my arms around me and head down the sidewalk. It takes me a few minutes before I see the flurries falling from the sky. I ignore the cold and head for the school, I know of a bench I use to frequently visit when I first moved out here. Ohio has never been like home. I can never really get use to the cold, but it will forever be better than New York. I shake the memories from my head and speed up my pace once I see my bench in the distance. Now that I’m here I’m starting to regret not bringing my jacket, way to go Sammie. After bit I’m lost in my thoughts once again. I’m startled by the sound of footsteps, but I relax when I see Allen.
“How did you know where I’d be?” My voice quivers, giving away how cold I am.
“Where else would you have gone?” There’s that damned smirk. “Hermits don’t go far, and besides, don’t you need this?” Handing me my jacket, I smile shyly and take it from him.
“This is true, thank you.” Slipping it on I breathe into my jacket to increase the warmth.
I just stare at Allen as he makes his way to sit next to me. I feel this security around him, but I don’t know why. He also seems to be a shell, like he’s hiding something from me. Then again it could just be my paranoia. I stare out towards the street as the flurries begin to create a light layer over the road. It’s just so calming and mesmerizing.
“Are you okay?” Allen says to break my trance.
“Hmm, oh, yeah I’m good. Want to head back?” With a nod you stand up and wait for me.
Not even a few steps before we get to my house, a terrible feeling comes over me. As we get clear to see my house I panic and just freeze in my tracks.
“What the-“, Allen says as soon as he sees my house.
My front door is open and off the top hinges. The curtain from the outside don’t look natural and I’m just afraid to walk anymore. Allen grabs my arm and turns me away from my house. We start walking at a very fast pace away from my home. Digging into his pocket he retrieves his cell phone and dials 911.
“911 What’s your emergency?”
“I need to report a burglary, it just happened.”
“Okay sir, what’s the address?” “Sara, what the address?”
“Huh? Oh! 7231 Marcus St.” Allen barks the information to the operator. Fuck! How can this be happening, this can’t be happening! I become vaguely aware of everything Allen is telling the dispatcher, but I feel my legs going numb along with my arms and face. Allen hangs up just in time to catch me as my knees buckle under me.
“Sara! No, come on we have to keep moving.” He grabs my shoulders to make sure I can stand on my own. Supporting myself he then throws his arm around my neck and we continue to walk away. Where we are headed I have no idea, but we both keep looking over our shoulder and are hyper vigilant for any new sounds.
“Come this way, it’s a short cut to my place.” Still with his arm around my neck we cut through a cemetery. The cold air creates puffs of fog with each exhale, and there is a small crunch with each steps. The wind has picked up so my nose is bitten and red. Fear consumes me with every step I take, I try to squeeze my eyes shut for a second, that’s when I hear it. Footsteps. In unison we turn, there’s a figure standing outside the cemetery gates. Together we turn and run for it. Allen grabs my hand, and we continue to run until we make it out of the graveyard. He pulls me abruptly to the right and forces me down so we are hiding in some bushes. I try to slow my breathing and try not to make a sound. We wait silently to see if that figure was following us. Ten minutes later nothing, so Allen stands slowly out of the bushes to look around. He signals for me and we begin to walk towards his place again. My heart is still pounding and I beginning to hyper-ventilate. Why does my body do this to me! I cannot be weak, they will not break me! I take a deep breath and try to control my breathing.
“Just a few more blocks.” He let’s go of my hand and puts his arm around me. Together we push past each neighborhood, still aware of every sound we hear. The snow fall has picked up so hopefully that will keep them at bay for a few hours. Our steps have matched each others speed, our adrenaline is high, and I have been sweating with fear and determination. Soon enough Allen fishes out his keys as we get closer to a gated community complex. He punches in a gate code and we rush in, Allen turns to make sure the gate door is shut then he grabs my hand and leads me to his building.
The townhouses here are rather bland. Grey bricks comb the entire complex, with black gates surrounding the area, and oddly enough everyone has red doors. This place is really quiet, cars have their own covered parking spaces, and the trees loom over the roads with their amber leaves. The snow makes the black top stand out even more, but the light post’s are weak with a golden hue surrounding the bulbs. The wind kicks up the leaves as we continue around some buildings. I glance up as we come to building 10, with his keys in hand he leads me around a solid brick staircase and we come to his unit. I stand with my back towards the door, looking out for anyone suspicious. All is quiet for now. Opening the door, Allen ushers me inside.
“Do you want something to warm you up?” I turn and nod. I hear him open the fridge and then I hear a few soft pops.
“Here you go,” Glancing up I see him handing me a beer, ” Thank you.”
Right as he is about to sit on the couch his phone rings.
“Hello? Yes, this is he.” I stare blankly at him, trying to decipher the words of the other person.
“I see, so nothing was taken?” With stern eyes he glances at me, but I don’t know what to say.
“No, I don’t think she will want to go back, if you could that would be great, hold on for a bit.” Allen hands me the phone, “Tell the officer what you would like them to bring to you here.”
I shakily take the phone and begin to describe where I keep some jeans and t-shirts, and my converse, I also ask them to bring over my laptop. I wanted to ask for my toothbrush but I didn’t want to think of what they tainted while they were in my house. The police were very kind, and told me that if I needed anything else to let them know. I then hand the phone back to All, he continues to talk to the officer.
“Yes sir, the address 8312 Oliver Oaks, Complex is Oliver Townhomes, Unit 9012.” Hanging up Allen looks up at me, “they will bring your stuff here in thirty minutes.”
“Allen”, I pause, not knowing what to say, “I don’t-, thank you.”
“Don’t worry about it, you can stay here for as long as you need to.”
A few beers later, there’s strong knock. “Mansfield Police.” Allen stands and opens the door. Three officers ask to come in, two of them bearing some of my things.
“Sara? I’m Officer Windham,” he shook my hand then nods at Allen,” We have taped off your home, nothing was taken but they went through everything.”
“What about the laptop, did they get into it?”
“No ma’am it doesn’t look that way, but that is one thing we will not be able to release to you just yet.”
“That’s fine, how soon can I get it back?”
“Processing will take a few days, but you should have it this week, now ma’am, I have a few questions for you.”
I glance at Allen, unsure of what they may ask. “Can this wait until tomorrow?”
The officers all look at each other, their eyes shift to Allen then me.
“We can have you come down to the station tomorrow morning.” Officer Windham suggests trying to ignore Allen’s confused expression.
“Yes, I’ll come in first thing.” With that they all nod and head out. I head to the couch hoping to just ignore the whole situation.
“What was that about?” He sounds almost angry.
“Allen, there’s a lot about me that the less you know the better.”
“You do know that one day you will have to tell me everything right?”
“No I don’t know, and I’d prefer that you would just let it go.”
“Fine, don’t tell me, you can sleep here, I’ll bring some blankets.” I feel horrible, but there’s just too much that I either cannot share or I’m just not ready to share. No one has helped me as much as Allen has, I’m just afraid, afraid for both of us. I find some PJs that the officers brought for me and change quickly before Allen comes back. It’s when I finish brushing my teeth that he immerses with some blankets and a pillow for me.
“I didn’t mean to get upset, I just-”
“Don’t worry about it, I really do appreciate everything you are doing for me, just understand that there are something’s I can’t tell you.”
“I know, I’m sorry.” He follows me into the living room and sets up the couch so I can finally get some rest.
“Good night, Sara.” I smile softly, and make my way to the couch.
“Good night.” Finally I let the blankets shield me and I drift off.