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Chapter 1 of Visions

Chapter 1


I sit in the passenger seat of a cab, watching my parents as they leave the party. They’re in black formal wear that looks as though it has been through a night of dancing and carousing, hair all a mess. They sway down the sidewalk, laughing and attempting to hold each other up somewhat unsuccessfully. Eventually they stumble into the backseat of the cab. The scent of smoke and alcohol hang heavily in the air, making it difficult to breathe. They tell the driver their destination and go back to showering each other with affection, trusting the cabby to deliver them home to sleep off the alcohol and spend the weekend with their only son. They don’t see me, but the driver does. He turns towards me. His long, fiery red hair rustles around him like a bristley lion’s mane. It mingles with his beard and hangs together down to the bottom of the steering wheel that he’s stooped over. His hunched posture isn’t because he doesn’t fit in the vehicle though; the ceiling of the car is tall enough. The crook in his back seems to be a result of long years of study or physical labor. His foggy blue eyes seem to push into my being and pull every intimate detail from within me, leaving me short of breath. He starts driving, but not towards home. No, he’s taking my parents to a place that is safe from the view of common people. Perhaps a small cabin up in the mountains where no one will hear their screams or find their remains? I want to warn them but I can’t move or speak. Despite my paralysis the whole situation seems to sit perfectly well with the driver. He looks ahead and continues the long drive with a satisfied grin resting on his face.

My eyes snapped open. I screamed, looking around my room, scared and confused by my nightmare. The sudden change of environment, from the busy cab to the silence of my dark bedroom, unnerved me almost as much as the dream itself.

My surroundings were thrown into chaos once again when Alexia charged into my room and flipped on the light, causing my eyes to momentarily clench closed again as they were stung by the sudden brightness. “What’s going on Dathe? Are you ok? Did something happen?” She asked, her dark brown eyes shifted in all directions as she checked the room, concerned something was up.

I shook my head. “No Alexia. I’m sorry to have scared you. It must’ve just been a nightmare.”

She sat down on my bed and gave me a hug, her long straight auburn hair falling around me, enveloping me as much as her arm. “Aww, don’t worry Dathe, everything’s ok. I’m here and I wouldn’t let anything bad happen to you. Lay back down. I’ll stay with you until your parents get home. Deal?” I nodded to her then curled up, resting my head in her lap, and went back to sleep.

My parents spent Thursday night out at some business party, like most nights during the few weeks before Christmas, because my father said it was important for social networking. They always hired the nineteen year old neighbor girl, Alexia, to babysit. That was fine by me; I loved having her over. She was smart, caring, entertaining, and not at all bossy. The earth tones in her loose fitting clothing seemed to enhance her gentle aura.

Alexia had been babysitting me at least a couple times a week for the last two years. Whenever she watched me, I knew we would be up late playing games, watching T.V. or whatever else might be on the agenda for the evening. I also knew that no matter how late we stayed up, I wouldn’t see my parents until I woke the next morning. Whenever we finally got tired of whatever we were doing we would usually finish off the night by sprawling out on the living room floor and watching the stars through the skylight that took up the majority of the ceiling. During the day it lit most of the house, but at night it provided a perfect spot for stargazing, if we moved the coffee table out of the way.

That night the stars shown bright, obscured only by the full moon casting it’s halo of light through the wisps of clouds. Alexia and I laid there while she pointed out different constellations and told me the stories behind each of them. As usual, she never told me to go to bed; she just laid next to me, continuing with her stories until I fell asleep.

I woke the next morning to a hand gently shaking me into consciousness. The faint aroma of a warm breakfast that should have been lingering in the air was absent. After finally opening my eyes, I saw a worried Alexia standing over me instead of being greeted by the loving smile of my mother. Alexia told me my parents never made it back home and that she was worried something bad may have happened. I looked to the digital clock next to my bed and saw the red numbers blaring 11:32 at me. I blinked a few times, trying my best to wake up, and let what she just said sink into my groggy brain, before I gave up and smiled tiredly. “Don’t worry. I’m sure they did the responsible thing and got a hotel. They’re probably still sleeping and will be home in a few hours.” I tugged on her sleeve until she sat down on the bed and laid next to me. I wrapped an arm around her, rested my head against her shoulder and went back to sleep.

Moments after I closed my eyes I was hit with a sudden realization. I had never experienced a nightmare before last night. My dream must have been a bad omen. I sat up, startled by my own revelation. “What? What is it Dathe? Is something wrong?” Alexia asked frantically.

I looked over at her and saw the concern in her eyes. “No, everything’s ok, they’ll be home soon.” I responded, doing my best to comfort her. I tried to sound calm despite the foreboding feeling in the pit of my stomach. Thinking about the dream reminded me of the rash of missing people cases I heard about on the news over the last few weeks, all within fifty miles of The City.

Alexia’s body relaxed as she nodded. “Yeah, I’m sure you’re right Dathe. Why don’t you get up? I’ll make us some breakfast while we wait for them.” She smiled. I could tell she was doing her best to keep calm, for my sake, and I appreciated it.

Alexia made a nice breakfast of bacon, eggs, and pancakes. We both sat quietly picking at our food for about a half hour before she jumped up, grabbed the phone, and dialed the local police. The person on the other end told her that there had been no reports the night before of any violent crimes or severe accidents but assured her that someone would call if anyone matching my parents’ descriptions came through. Alexia looked angry as she hung up the phone and dialed her parents’ number. She told them the situation and they arrived at my house in a matter of minutes.

From that point on the whole weekend turned into a frantic blur of people and questions. Everyone kept asking me about relatives, where my parents hung out, and if I knew anyone that hated them or held any grudges against them. For the most part, I just sat there bewildered, wondering why I didn’t know the answers to all of their questions, even though it seemed that I should. Eventually I became lost amongst the chaos and confusion, and by Sunday my brain just shut down. My ability to sort things out was gone. I decided it might help to retreat to my parents’ room for a little peace and solitude. I never hit the point of distraught. I don’t even think I was scared, just confused. I needed time to figure things out on my own. After all, there’s only so much a ten year old mind can handle all at once, and I had reached my limit.

I climbed up onto my parents’ bed and situated myself so I could see out the large window above their headboard. A calm immediately washed over me as I located a bright star near the moon. I don’t know why but I felt that everything would be alright when I was under the watch of my star. I watched it, entranced, for an immeasurable amount of time, and as I did so bits of vague infallible knowledge filtered into my being. I couldn’t explain what it was, but right then I knew that I was about to embark on a journey. It would be long, and I had to do it on my own, but I wouldn’t be alone. I didn’t need to know more, maybe because nothing more came to me, or maybe because there was nothing more to know. It didn’t matter. I was satisfied with the knowledge despite being unable to truly comprehend it.

After a while, Alexia crept quietly into the room. She stood in the doorway not saying a word, nor trying to catch my attention, until I turned toward her and offered a soft smile. Only then did she approach, sit down next to me on the bed, and give me a hug. “Hey kiddo.” I appreciatively hugged her back. She wasn’t expecting a verbal response and in that moment the hug was as much communication as I could muster. The weekend had obviously taken its toll on her as well, but she hadn’t come to talk about anything going on downstairs. She just needed to make a retreat from the chaos, as I had. After sitting there in silence for a while, we curled up together on the oversized bed and talked about nothing in particular, until we fell asleep. There was something comforting about ending such a hectic weekend with that small bit of normality.

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