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   Chapter 4 Muddled Thoughts and Muddied Letters

Instant By Anna Rae Characters: 13730

Updated: 2018-01-18 18:01


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Please give me some good advice in your next letter. I promise not to follow it.

-Edna St. Vincent Millay

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A boy.

I dreamt of a boy.

It was one of those fleeting dreams that escapes your mind in the seconds after you open your eyes. He was there, right behind my eyelids, eyes piercing my skin, and then he was gone.

The cool leather of my living room couch was the first thing I recognized before his face disappeared from my memory. I lifted my face off the arm of the couch and the homework I had been working on fluttered off my chest and onto the floor.

His face.

I tried to grab the last string of evidence that I had of him - his eyes - but they were gone as quickly as the rest of the dream.

All I could remember was that I had had a dream. An odd anger pulsed in my chest as I came up empty as to the content of the dream.

A boy.

There had been a boy.

I got up groggily and rubbed the sleep from my eyes. The television was on, showing an old, rerun episode of Doctor Who - a show that I'd been obsessed with as a child.

I stepped away from the couch, glaring at the amount of homework I still had yet to do, and searched the ground for the remote. Coming up empty, I just clicked the button on the TV as I walked past it, out of the living room. There was the satisfying, tumbling click of the TV as it turned off, but that was the only sound in the otherwise empty house. It was always quiet when I got home from school.

My feet stepped from the lush carpet to the cold linoleum as I headed into the kitchen, guided by a newly discovered hunger.

Peeking at the glowing clock on the oven, I grumbled to myself. It was 4:21.

"Mother won't be home for hours, " I said under my breath.

I walked around the island in the middle of the kitchen to get to the fridge, bumping my hip into the sharp corner of a cabinet drawer I had probably left open that morning while getting ready for school.

Cursing, I pushed it shut and meandered to the fridge. My mind began to wander as my eyes roamed my food options.

Doctor Who had been a personal favorite of mine ever since my dad introduced it to me. It started a long-lasting tradition of watching the episodes every week together, something that quickly got on my mother's nerves because she hated the show with a passion.

My father had been a scientist for as long as he'd been in the work force. At 16 years old, he'd had an internship with one of NASA's head scientists - a job he'd gotten mostly because of his shear brilliance - and my father had been hooked ever since. He was interested in genetics and the way the body functioned. He spent his life's work testing the body's boundaries, and seeing how far one had to be pushed, or how long someone could go before breaking.

None of it had been terribly fascinating to me, but I had become obsessed with the science fiction side of things, which was no doubt why I liked Doctor Who so much.

One time, at the fair when I was eight, I saw one of those blue portal-potties and claimed it as my new TARDIS. I remembered screaming in delight and rushing over to it, frantically. I think I yelled something like "TARDIS! My magical TARDIS! I've found you! Let's search the galaxy together."

I remembered yanking the door open, very surprised to see a toilet inside. But I guess I wasn't fazed at the intense smell of cleaning products that never actually took away the smell of urine, because I stayed in the portal-potty for about an hour and a half, ignoring my dad's pleading to come out.

I wasn't exactly a normal child, but I had my father to thank for that one.

I winced as a sharp pain stabbed at my chest. It always hurt a little to think of my father. Life just wasn't the same without him.

<<>>

The tumbling sound of my fingers dancing across the piano keys was cut short by the shrillness of the doorbell. For a moment I was too caught up in the flowing piece that I mistook the noise for a high note on the piano. I teased a few black keys before whisking the song into lower territories.

The bell sounded again, snapping my mind away from my playing. I stood up, swiftly pulling the cover down over the keys. I side-stepped out from behind the bench and bounded down the stairs. The house was a modern Victorian with all the bedrooms upstairs, along with the spare room that held my piano.

I walked to the front door, passing through the living room and the leather couch that still had my unfinished homework strewn across it. Pushing some shoes away from the door with my foot, I unlocked the deadbolt and turned the knob, flinging the heavy door open.

I was unpleasantly surprised when it was flung back at me, the wind forcing the door closed once again.

I stood still for a moment, silently observing the storm on the other side of the door. The weather in Brewer, Michigan was none too pleasant, but the air was starting to take on an even more dreadful appearance.

I tried the door once more.

The wind sliced through the doorframe and into the house, whipping my hair back and cooling my skin.

Upon opening the door, my eyes were not met with another set of eyes. There was no one there.

"Are you kidding me?" I said aloud, annoyed.

The first place I looked was the empty road and driveway, then the forest across the street. I peered through the thick trunks and leafy branches, trying to spot a run-away ding dong ditcher.

There was no one there.

I looked down and noticed a box and several envelopes sitting on the doorstep. The envelopes were blowing in the breeze, tucked slightly under the weight of the box.

So it was the mail. But, then where was the mailman and his truck?

Must have driven away already.

As I reached down to pick up the box and envelopes, the wind decided to rush in, in all it's freezing glory, and grab some of the papers away.

I yelped as white pieces of paper flew across the grass and tumbled against tree trunks. Groaning out loud in frustration, I tossed the mail I'd been able to collect on the nearest chair and shot out onto the lawn.

There was a big, green forest opposite my house. If I didn't get the letters before they entered that jungle, I'd never find them. What would my mom say if I told her I lost the bills?

After a heavy sigh, I rushed towards one of the letters, feeling the heavy wind whip my hair around behind me. My lips were becoming chapped with the cold and wetting them did nothing to fix the situation.

I quickly reached down to swipe up the think envelope that had flown a few steps away. The next one was roughly ten feet away, stuck on the trunk of a tree. I ran to grab it, yanking it up and managing to rip some of the paper in the process. I cursed under my breath and tucked the papers to my chest.

T

here were about three more envelopes, if my basic counting was reliable. One on the road, one at the base of the woods, and the other...

I glanced around the lawn. The last letter was flying under my car.

"Great, " I huffed.

As I stepped onto the street to retrieve one of them, buckets of water began to pour onto my head.

I looked up instinctively to see the ascending grey clouds that were the source of the rain. My hair was immediately soaked, along with my jeans and t-shirt. I practically screamed in frustration, shoving the two letters I had into my shirt to try and prevent them from getting wet.

I searched blindly for the other ones, the rain pelting down and obscuring my vision. After a few hellish moments of wandering blankly around, I found myself picking up a limp, soggy letter off the muddy earth. However, I was unable to find the one that had been near the woods. I glared towards the forest, spotting no sign of a distinctively white envelope.

The wind rushed around me, making the rain fall at an angle. Leaves blew from the tops of trees, littering the road with yellow and orange. I left the other letter, hoping it wasn't too important.

I walked blindly towards the location I thought my car would be, praying that the final envelope was still tucked safely under my silver Toyota Camry.

Crouching down and peeking under it, my prayers were answered. I attempted to crawl under my car, but was unsuccessful. My arm stretched as far as it could, escaping the wetness of the rain for a few small moments. Wiggling my fingers and stretching as far as I could, I finally managed to grab the envelope. Printed on the back was my home address and other words that informed me it was, in fact, a bill for this month. Relief flooded over me.

I got out from under the car and rushed back to the door, which I'd left open.

I rushed in to find puddles filling the entryway. I cursed, wishing I'd been smart enough to close the door after me. After dropping the envelopes into the chair with the others, I grabbed some rags from the closet down the hall. Dropping down on my hands and knees like some sort of soaked Cinderella, I wiped the mess away. The rain puddles turned the rags into sopping messes, and water dribbled down from them as I ran to throw the clothes in the wash.

After a long and very hot shower, I walked to the kitchen, wondering why my mother wasn't home yet. As if on cue, the phone rang, emitting a shriek that sounded foreign in the quiet house. It mixed in with the sound of rain pelting against the roof, forming something of a song that danced along my spine.

Expecting the call to be from my mom, I answered with a quick, "Yeah?" It was the kind of phone that had the incredulously long, twisty cord that most people didn't think existed anymore. I twisted my finger around it like it was a lock of hair.

There was slow and heavy breathing on the other end of the phone. This was clearly not my mother. Wrong number?

"Adira?" I groggy voice sounded from the other end.

No, clearly not my mom.

"Adira?" The voice said again. It was low and scratchy, like the person had just gotten done screaming. "Adira. I need you!" The voice was harsh, and I didn't recognize it at all.

"Is this a prank call?" I asked warily. "Who is this?"

The phone was silent for a moment, and I wondered if the person had hung up after being called out for the prank.

"You don't recognize me, Adira?" The voice asked, sounding more and more like a man after each spoken word. "Well don't you fret, we'll meet again soon." And with that, I heard the dial tone.

The call had been very brief and left me with unanswerable questions, but I mostly felt like someone was just pranking me. It had to be a joke - there was no other explanation.

Even so, I was too tired to worry much about it. Suddenly I was being overtaken by exhaustion, and the thought of my unfinished homework vaguely bounced around my brain before I discarded it.

I'll wake up early, I decided, and do it then.

I walked up the stairs and to my room, which was fairly large, with a big, canopy bed in the middle. A princess room - perfect for when I was six. I didn't mind it, but did try to keep sleepovers at other people's houses.

My room had a white, wooden desk in the corner, right under a large bay window. There was a dresser on the opposite side as the bed, with a mirror above it and a vase full of flowers on top. My feet sunk into the plush, white rug as I made my way to the bathroom. It was a small bathroom - just a sink, toilet, and a tiny shower - but it was mine.

I grabbed my toothbrush from the cup on the counter and turned a knob on the sink to brush my teeth. After, I put my toothbrush away and looked into the mirror. My hair had started to curl uncontrollably as it dried from my shower. The lighter brown, shoulder length strands strung in loops around my face, framing my dark brown eyes.

I glared openly at my reflection, as if that would make my hair settle more nicely.

One can only dream.

I walked out of the bathroom, threw back my light pink covers, and crawled into bed. I clapped and waited apprehensively for the lights to turn off. When they did, I snuggled deeper into the softness of my bed.

The last thought I had before drifting off into dream land was about what had been in the letter that I hadn't been able to find.

<<>>

The next morning I was woken up by a line of light slicing through the blinds in the window. My eyes fluttered for a moment, giving my brain time to process that it was morning. When my eyes finally blinked open, they were met by the face of my alarm clock.

8:23.

"Shit, " I swore audibly. School had started an hour ago and I'd forgotten to set an alarm.

I tore my covers off with newfound motivation, grabbing my cell phone from next to the clock and rushing to the bathroom. My mom had no doubt left for work, and I had less than fifteen minutes before second hour started to get to school. I was looking down at my phone, scrolling through the dozen messages that popped up.

Nate [7:15]: i can't pick u up today. sorry

Nate [7:28]: did you get to school?

Nate [7:32]: where r u?

Nate [7:40]: class is about to start

Nate [7:41]: are u ditching me or something? we always meet in the morning

Nate [7:49]: fine. guess not.

Nate [7:52]: seriously. get over yourself. our fight yesterday was nothing

I rolled my eyes, sending back a quick text.

Adira [8:24]: sorry, I overslept. Be there soon

Just as I was pressing "send, " I looked up at the mirror.

A gasp escaped my throat before I could stop it, and the phone slipped through my fingers, crashing to the tile below my feet.

There, stuck to the mirror with a wad of chewing gum, was a soggy, white letter covered in mud.

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