They’re still around 😉
I know it’s been a while, y’all, and I had wanted to get this book finished and published in July of this year, and we are very, …very much past that point. But, rest easy, good souls, you have not read the end of these flames’ journey. (Don’t know who E and V are? Catch up on parts 1-15 here)
E and V of Kanda Land are finally trekking across the 473rd page of their book.
“Wowie!😯” I know.
Finally, although I have nearly 500 pages pounded out, we are still only nearly halfway through the story, so you all will have PLENTY of content to read as soon as you can get your hands on it. You will not be bored for a good long while, and these characters will stay with you and probably make a nice home in your soul even looonnnnggg after you are finished reading.
Just as a faithful little teaser, here is part… I’ve lost count (90?) as well as a select portion that I’ve taken out! Not sure if I’ll ever end up putting it back in or not. Enjoy!:
Warning! Firearms and gunfire
V sits in a beach chair on the shore of Weiss Lake in Centre Alabama. She could see Hog Island out in the not-so-far distance. It was beautiful out. Sunny and clear and gorgeous.
I imagine you wonder about Elina. No, Elina isn’t here with V. V hasn’t spoken with Elina since she left Fruithurst over three weeks ago. She left Elina to her 1800’s lifestyle and chose to stay in the present. She has enough trouble escaping the past already. And Elina didn’t seem broken over it in the slightest.
V sipped on a glass of Mango Peach juice through a bendy straw. Right now, she was happy. Relaxed, at least and forgetting her troubles. She was focused on this present moment in her life, for the most part. It was the nights that were the hardest. But staring at this beautiful island with a beautiful restort-style home behind her, life felt good.
She breathed a sigh of relaxation and adjusted her sunglasses. She was sure this is what living felt like. Nearly. Almost. Somewhat. She was still missing E.
However, without the pressure of someone else courting her, it wasn’t sufferable quite as bad, because she could miss E without having to try to forget about her. Of course, E was the only thing that could make this even better. E made every enjoyable thing a million times more enjoyable. She seemed to have that super power.
V was trying not to think of all the things that E and this new woman in her life got to do together. She imagined this woman got to make E very happy. And she was glad for E’s happiness, but a little heavy in heart that it wasn’t her who could give that to her. She tried not to entertain the jealousy; she didn’t want her love for E to be full of jealousy. She wanted E to be free, to be happy, to be loved, to be healthy, to be well—fully well. If Bre is the one who could accomplish that, so be it. But she couldn’t help wishing that she could be the one to love E. To have E’s company and presence and confidence in life. She at least wished that they could all know each other and be close friends. But she knew it would be near impossible to see E with another woman—to see that passion and love in her eye directed toward someone else. It was easier to pretend that couldn’t be the case.
If she was honest, though, she’d looked up E’s Facebook a few times, but always left brokenhearted after seeing the happy faces of the new couple. She’d put that away, though and had avoided it for a week. She didn’t need any new updates about their successes in love. She was far too weak in spirit, if she were honest, to be able to handle that. V wished that her love were better than Bre’s; that it were irreplaceable. She wished it were enough, and wondered why Bre’s was.
She pushed the thought of E and Bre out of her head and, suddenly, she craved new company; some other distraction. She pulled out her activity book and settled on a word find about ocean aquatics.
Hmm, I didn’t know that all Octopuses had venom. She thought to herself and highlighted the word ‘Octopus’ in the puzzle box.
V turned around to see who addressed her.
“Your umbrella rental.” A young man came up to her with a large folded umbrella.
“Ah, thank you!” She said, “Right here is perfect.” He set it up near her chair and she tipped him, he tipped his ballcap in return and said, “Appreciate it, enjoy.” And pocketed the cash as he returned to his van parked at the curb.
V sat back down underneath the shade of the umbrella and opened her word search again. “Seal” Hmm. She scanned the letters in the box, but soon found herself looking up at the horizon instead of continuing her search. It was hard to stay focused with so much on her mind.
But none of her thoughts provided anything useful and so she frowned and resumed her search for seal, highlighting the diagonal word after quickly finding it.
The text message startled V.
She replied back, “Hey, how are you?”
E typed and untyped. “I’m good.”And she thought “Look, I don’t want you to think this means we can message all the time. I have a feeling Bre would be mad” What the fuck am I even doing? E deleted the words and didn’t send them. She didn’t send anything at all.
She let her head fall back against the couch. “Rex, what am I going to do?” She lifted her head and looked at him then, “Do you know the answers to the secrets of the universe?” I’ve opened a can of worms. Bre would be pissed if she ever knew I reached out to V at all. Why did I even do it? What fucking possessed me?
“Maybe there’s another good show on.” She turned off the current movie which still showed James walking through the torch-lit halls of a brick castle, foot-soldiers clad in knight’s suits following behind.
She sucked her lips in and scrolled through the channels for a moment. “I need a blunt. Or a cigarette or something.” She got up and looked in Bre’s kitchen drawers, but she didn’t have any cigarettes.
A knock on the door made her insides jump and she froze. She looked over at Rex who perked up.
She whispered to him, “Do you know who it is? Is it Bre?” She furrowed her brow, knowing that wasn’t even possible.
“I know you’re here, E. I just want to talk.”
It was a woman’s voice. Someone she recognized: one of S’s friends. Her heart raced faster. She decided to lay low and not say anything and hope she went away. Luckily, the curtains had been closed. If she just hid in Rex’s room, no one would be able to see her. With no car in the driveway to even indicate someone being in the house, she might give up and leave.
“Come on now. Might as well make this easy.” She pounded on the door again.
E’s heart crashed in her chest.
She picked up her phone and texted V again, “I’m not okay, V. What do I do?”
“Can I call?”
“No. I can only text. I can’t talk.”
“Okay, what’s going on? Tell me what happened.”
“One of S’s friends showed up to Bre’s house. Bre isn’t here it’s just me. I don’t know what to do, V.” and then she added, “I’m scared.”
“I’m sorry that she’s doing this to you, E. How can I help? Just lay low for now. Don’t answer the door.”
“I’m hiding in a room. Will she go away?”
“Hopefully. She has to give up eventually, right?”
“What if she breaks a window or something? Bre would be pissed. I don’t even want Bre in this drama. She would be so mad. If she knew S was sticking people on me like this. She wants nothing to do with it.”
“Oh yikes. Well, most likely, she won’t use breaking a window on her first attempt, because then she sets herself up for an immediate arrest. Most likely, S wants her minions out of jail.”
“Okay, you’re right. Thank you.” and then she adds, “I’m freaking out. I need to calm down.”
“Do you have ear buds? Listen to some music and breathe deeply and slowly. Put your hand over your heart, too. It helps your body feel aware and calm down. If your heart calms, most likely, your racing thoughts will, too.”
“Okay. I don’t know if I have earbuds that I can get to, but I’ll do the breathing.”
“Let me know if it gets worse or better. Keep me updated 🙂 It’s going to be okay, E. I know you’re going to be okay. It feels scary and it’s absolutely reasonable to feel that way. This was unwarranted and mean behavior on these people’s part. You don’t deserve it, and you’re doing great. I’m proud of you for not going outside to meet her. That definitely saved you from a big problem.”
“Thank you. I mean it.”
“Of course. I’m keeping my phone by me. I’m here for you. You’re not alone.”
V pictured E shaking in a room alone and it broke her heart. It broke her heart that the person who was lucky enough to be with her and love her and have her company wouldn’t be there for her. The messes everyone threw into E’s life was no match for V’s love for her. Nothing could make her abandon E or deny her love and support and care. She didn’t understand how anybody could love E any less. To V, that was the minimum of loving somebody. And E deserved it most of all.
She didn’t hear from E in a few minutes, so she set her phone back on her chair, under her leg where she could feel it if it buzzed, and she took out her journal and wrote a prayer.
“God, please keep E safe. Please protect her and let her come out of this unscathed. Please, God. Have mercy on E, she’s not done anything to deserve this. Have mercy on her and be with her. Fill that room that she sits in. Surround her with your presence so that she is not alone. Let her feel your peace and your comfort and your warmth and overflowing hope and faith. Lord, bestow your hope and faith on her so that she finds strength even in this difficult and scary situation. Please protect her, God. Keep her safe. Amen.”
Her phone buzzed again.
“I can’t tell if she’s left, but she’s been quiet. I’m scared to look out the window.”
E sent the text message and considered getting up off the floor and peeking out. But she was scared she’d see a face and so she didn’t. Something just seemed so peculiar about this silence. She strained her ear to hear and concentrated on noises outside and heard the doorknob jingling.
Her eyes went wide. Shit! She can pick locks. Oh my god. She listened for a moment longer to be sure that she was actually attempting to break in. E already knew that Bre didn’t have an inside locking mechanism. She made a mental note to buy one for her and install it tomorrow. She started to panic. Half of her was preparing to meet this woman and fight; the other half was ready to flee. She could easily fit out Rex’s window. But what about all of Bre’s belongings. And Rex himself. Her heart raced. The police!!
E hadn’t thought of it before now, but she decided to slip out the window and call the police from outside. Hopefully they would find her before she found E.
She quietly and slowly opened the window, but the jingling seemed to slow. She must be nearing the final prong. She pulled herself up and looked toward the street. She could see a white car parked on the curb with its lights on. She could take the car. Then she couldn’t get anywhere. Heck no. She’d see me first. I don’t need any charge of theft or any police attention myself, anyways.
As she listened, she heard the knob begin to turn and she hoisted herself anxiously out the window as quickly as she could. She’d close the window, so that it wouldn’t be obvious where she went, but she could hear the door finally fling open, just then. She’d made a slim escape.
Knowing that Malorie would make quick work of searching the place, E ran from the brick wall where she listened from and over behind a tree in Bre’s backyard. It was not a large tree, but it was bigger than the tree at V’s spot. If she stood tall enough, and sidled up against it, she could have a chance of staying hidden. But she was terrified of someone coming up behind her.
She quickly dialed 911 and hoped that Malorie wouldn’t hear her voice through the open window.
E had very little information to share with the cops on the phone. She had no idea if Malorie would be armed or not.
As two cop cars slowly pulled up to the house minutes later, behind Malorie’s car just as she had finished up and was walking out. E could hear that she’d opened and slammed a few doors and she was just heading out. She heard an “Oh shit!”
E came out of hiding, surprised that Malorie hadn’t taken note of the open window, and met one of the deputies who was just getting out of his car.
“Are you E Trépson?”
E’s heart raced, hearing her name, which was riddled with a history of reports and felonies, but she answered confidently, “Yes, sir.”
“You called in a report about someone attempting to break and enter into your home?”
“My girlfriend’s home, yes.”
“And is this the woman?” He gestures to Malorie as she walks in handcuffs, escorted to one of the cars.
“Yes, that’s her.” She could hear Malorie mutter under her breath, “Fuck you, S. Stupid bitch.”
She waited for the “We’d like to take you in for questioning, too.” But it never came. He only said, “Can you answer a few questions for our report?”
“Yes.” And she gave them the information they asked for the best that she knew or could remember and they left.
“Thank you for your cooperation, miss Trépson. Stay safe. And don’t worry about the car, we’ll take care of a tow for it. Just leave it there.” He’d said and walked back to his car.
Once the cars were gone, E still stood outside on the grass. She noticed her heartbeat still pounded and she put a hand over it and tried to be conscious about slow and deep breaths. She’d call V,… Rex. She came to herself again and went in the front door, locking it behind her. She wanted to avoid having to tell Bre about this, but she would have to. The cops would certainly come back, or something. Or what if Malorie’s car didn’t get towed until tomorrow? She wouldn’t lie, anyways, even if Malorie’s car was gone by the time Bre came home, and even if the cops never returned. She’d have to tell her tonight. No, maybe she’d text her now.
She found Rex and saw that he had gone into his room. She remembered that Malorie was scared of dogs. That’s probably why she hadn’t bothered with the window. She probably saw it and chose to ignore it because of Rex.
“You’re a good boy, Rex. Thank you. You saved me, tonight. You saved your mama. That’s a good boy. Thank you. So much. That meant a lot to me. You’re a smart boy. Good job.” And she petted him and held him close and a few tears dropped onto his fur. “I was scared, Rex. I was scared. Thank you for being there for me.” She petted his neck and kissed him. “V. I have to call V and let her know I’m okay. What time is it?”
It was nearly four thirty. “Okay. Let’s go into the living room and call V.” She picked up Rex and carried him to the couch with her. She petted him while the call connected. It was Facetime.
“Hey!” V was excited to see her.
“So how did it go?”
“It was Malorie. One of S’s friends. She picked the lock so I went out the window and Bre’s dog made sure she didn’t follow me. I called the cops and they came and arrested her.”
“Oh wow. I’m glad you got out safely.”
“Me too. My heart was pounding the whole time. But the things you told me helped. Thank you.”
“Of course, E. I’m always here for you.”
“Thank you. Bre’s going to be back in like three hours. I don’t know what to tell her.”
“Tell her what happened. That someone came as a petty favor for S, that you did the best thing you could have done, which was nip it in the bud and let the cops handle it. And now she’s gone. I’m proud of the way you handled it, E. You did a really good job in a really hard situation.”
“Yeah. I don’t know if Bre will understand that. I think she’ll be mad that I have people following me. There’s already enough drama there. I didn’t think she’d get so many people involved. Gosh, I should have left S a long time ago.” She didn’t really look at V, She just looked at Rex and at the floor and at the wall and out the window.
“You can’t blame yourself, E. Don’t let yourself forget how hard it was with S for your mind to even start thinking it’s your fault. We’re all flawed, but you did nothing wrong to her. She was manipulative and abusive. You did what you could and what happened happened.”
“Thank you. I don’t think I would have had a clear enough head if you hadn’t been there. Over text I mean.”
“I’m glad I helped to comfort you. I hope that S just gets tired and gets over her shit.”
“She won’t. Unfortunately. Her whole life is drama. She doesn’t know anything but drama. It’s part of what makes me feel bad for her, but. I don’t know. Bre is good to me, though. We’re dating. We’ve been dating for a month. She wants to get serious and I’m nervous to do that. Like, I want her, but there’s so much going on in my life that makes it hard for any situation to feel right. I feel like I just hurt everybody. Everyone from my past keeps coming back and haunting me and I hate that. I can’t get out of that shadow.” She paused. “You probably don’t know this, but I got arrested. Like,” She looks off to the distance, “three years ago.”
“I did know. But only because I went to the police station to let them know of a few people I found had an affiliation with S.”
“Wow. That was fast.”
“It’s easy to find people on Facebook.”
“Oh.” She paused, “Why did they tell you about me?”
“I think somehow I mentioned your name in passing. I don’t remember what I said, but I mentioned S and that you broke up with her and so she was harassing you as retaliation. I must have mentioned your name then. The lady stared at me and gave me a weird look and she said, ‘E who?’ And I was kind of upset with her that she wasn’t focusing on what I was actually telling her, but anyway, then she was like, ‘E Trépson. Hmm’ Anyways, she told me about you.”
“I’m not upset with you, E. I think it’s unfair that you still have that hanging over your head.”
E looked at her. “Really?”
“Yeah. That was years ago. You’ve gotten away from that stuff. And-”
“Yeah.” E looked away, downcast again.
“Nothing. I just- I. …I took some. Coke I mean. With Lina.”
“Lina. I remember you telling me about her. From high school. Wasn’t she horrible to you?” V’s brow furrowed.
“She was. She was abusive to me. But I didn’t have anywhere else to stay. In Georgia, I mean. I tried to go to a hotel, but some guy showed up looking for me. I think it was someone else that owed a favor to S or something. …Or just another person that hates me, coming out of the woodworks. There’s a lot of people who hate me.”
“I don’t. I know that’s not what you mean. But truly, E, I don’t hate you. I need you to know that. And I hope you remember it.”
“Thank you. Why are you helping me?” E never trusted good things.
“Because I care about you and you’re really important to me. You’re a really important and irreplaceable person, E.”
“I don’t see that. You’re the only person who thinks it.”
“Everyone else is wrong, then.”
“You seem so sure.”
They were both quiet for a moment and then V spoke again, “A lot of people have unfairly hurt you in your life, E. And you never deserved that maltreatment. Ever. Not a day in your life. Not from anything you’ve ever done. Nothing makes you deserve that maltreatment. I don’t want you to ever think you deserved it in the past or that you deserve it now or that you’ll ever deserve it. Ever.”
E smiled. She couldn’t help it. V’s words always lifted her spirit and filled her heart and made something painfully beautiful swell inside of her until she felt like an overflowing cup. “Thank you. I’m trying to believe that.”
“You’re doing good! Feeling hurt about the things these people do, shows that your heart knows you don’t deserve it. That is good.”
“I cried on Rex after Malorie left.” E laughed.
V beamed. “That’s a perfect response.” And she looked at E adoringly with a dreamy smile.
E frowned a smile, if there be such a thing. She felt like she could cry again. She needed these words. Hot tears burned the backs of her eyes, but she kept them in. V gave her soul the balm and recognition and acknowledgement that it needed.
She looked down at Rex, asleep in her lap. “Thank you.” And then she changed the subject. She didn’t like the hot tears. She didn’t like feeling the lump in her throat that seemed to only appear when she was heard. The tenseness was replaced by a fullness. She felt she understood “my yoke is easy and my burden light.” now. If heavy thickness could be replaced with light fullness, then it made sense. It was consuming and had an ache like the pain did. But it was the exact opposite of the pain. Still jabbing, it used a different sword. It wasn’t even a sword; it was a knock. A gentle knock of love that somehow felt like needles or took her breath away, or something, or both.
“How are you?” She asked V.
“I’m good.” I miss you. A lot. Bad. I always have. “I’m at a lake in Alabama. Weiss Lake. I’m staying in a vacation house.
“Yeah.” It would be better with you here, though.
“I’m sorry I’ve not talked to you in a while. I just …don’t want Bre getting a wrong idea about it.” She paused, “I don’t want to hide anything from her, and I’m not trying to. So I have to make sure you know that this isn’t going to happen a lot. I don’t want to talk to anyone behind her back, because I don’t mean for it to be that way.”
“Of course, sweetie.”
“So just don’t message or anything. I’m sorry. I hate it. That we can’t talk. I didn’t like having to stop talking to you, but I just can’t. Not because she’s mean to me or anything, because she’s not,” She looked at V, so she knew she was telling the truth, “but I want this to work. And I can’t talk to anyone else for that to happen. I hope you understand.”
I’ll always be here. She didn’t want to hurt E with that. To make E picture her always hoping to get to talk. On another end, she wanted E to know that the door was always open and her company was always welcome.
“Just be safe. I’m glad Bre is good to you. You deserve to be treated well.”
E changed the subject again. “I want a cigarette but Bre doesn’t have any. And I don’t have a car to go get any.”
“Did you look in your duffel bag?”
“What do you mean?”
“I left the pack in there that you had in my car.”
“Oh my God, did you really!” E beamed and V felt like she’d not seen E smile like that in a while. Of course, Bre probably saw her smile like that all the time. Her heart frowned a smile.
“I did! They’re in the inside zipper pocket.”
“Okay, hold on a second. I think that bag is in her closet.” E took the phone with her while she walked into Bre’s room and looked in the closet. “Ah! There it is!” She crossed her fingers. “Please be in here.”
Unzipping the pocket, she saw two packs of Marlboros.
“Oh I forgot that! Yeah you had an open pack and an unopened pack!”
“Oh my God, thank you so much. I needed this tonight so bad.” She stopped for a minute though. “Wait, I don’t think she’d let me smoke this in here. That’s alright, we’ll sit on the porch!” She went outside, making sure that Rex didn’t follow her, and closed the door, but there was no chair on Bre’s tiny porch, so she sat at the top of the cement steps.
“Yessss, oh my God I’m so excited.” E wiggled in a little dance as she pulled one out. “Shit, I forgot a lighter! Hold on. I’m sure I have a lighter, even if it’s one I stole from Lina.” She went back inside, taking V with her, and retrieved her lighter from her jacket pocket. “Actually, I might as well take the whole jacket, it’s kind of cold outside.” And she held the lighter to her palm while she put the jacket on and headed back outside. “You stay here, Rex. I know, you’re such a good boy, I’m sorry. Hold on. I’ll get your leash and take you outside, I won’t leave you here alone.” And she pulled his harness and leash from the coat hangers that were right there and she let him outside. He sniffed the fresh air in breathfuls and E smiled and chuckled at him, “Is that so good?! It’s about to be polluted so don’t get too excited.” She baby talks and then chuckles and so does V.
She huddles on the steps again and breathes out, “Hoo, it’s cold!” and then, “I should have brought a chair. Come to think of it, though, Bre doesn’t have chairs. She doesn’t even have like a formal dining room. How did I never realize that until right now?” And she grimaces.
“I guess you just make do with what you have and it goes unnoticed.”
“True. We eat at the couch.” She said and took a hit of her cigarette. “And we watch. …What’s that show called… She loves it. We started watching it like a week ago. How do I not remember? That’s embarrassing.” She clenches her eyes shut. “Hold on. It’s called. …’Bridesmaids’ …Behind the Scenes’ or something.” She laughed. “It’s about like all the wedding fails and how bridesmaids either make it or break it worse. It’s kind of funny. We watch that and this medical show. I like the medical show. I mean, I like both of them, don’t get me wrong, but the funniest part about the Bridesmaid show is watching Bre laugh.” E giggles. “I don’t think I’d have watched it on my own though, if it weren’t for her.”
V was jealous of all the new things Bre got to do with E.
E continues, “The medical show is one I’ve watched probably a thousand times over. …That’s a lie, I’ve only seen all eight seasons through, once. This is my second time. Don’t let me fool you.” She laughs at herself.
V smiles dreamily. The most perfect thing in the world to her is being in E’s presence and listening to her talk about anything and everything. V could consume E’s words for a million years on end on end and she would never—could never—ever get tired of hearing any of it.
“What?” E can always tell when V’s slipped off into her own world and she caught her doing it now.
“Sorry, I’m listening. You’re talking about the medical show and bridesmaid show that you watch with her. And that you’re going through the medical show for the second time. I think I remember you telling me about that one a long time ago. RushedER, isn’t it called?”
“Yes! That one! How did you remember?” E smiled and furrowed her brow in curiosity.
“You used to always tell me about it.” V smiled.
“Oh, I’m sorry. That probably got old quick.”
“It didn’t. I liked hearing you talk about it. I looked forward to your updates.” V added the last part to make sure she didn’t hear the ‘did not’ as ‘did’. And because she seriously really did enjoy hearing E talk about it and she might as well elaborate and make that clearly obvious.
“Okay, see if you remember this one, then. It’s season three episode twenty-six. Margaret Johansen—”
“The one you have a crush on.”
E beams and blushes and then continues on. “Yes,” she giggles. “She is sick, has been since two episodes ago. Deadly sick. Everyone thinks she’s going to die. But the other doctor, Doctor Ditton is also deadly sick. And, even though she isn’t supposed to leave her room, she knows how to save him, so she goes and presses this button outside his door and then she goes back to her room. The next day, he’s well and she’s much better by the end of the episode, because he actually saved her life over the next night.”
“I do remember that one!! I remember you telling me it was so hot because even when she was so sick she could be so smart and be so concerned about someone else and go to save him even though getting up could have killed her.”
“Yes!! Agh, that episode has always been my favorite.” E continues blushing and laughs. “Okay wait, what about that one where doctor Blitany-. Did I ever tell you about her?”
“I think so, Tiffany Blitany?”
E smiles big. V loves that. “Yes! So she goes on a blind date and it’s doctor Ditton. She nearly pukes when she sees him through the window, because he’s never been the brightest or most attractive tool in the shed, but he notices her, so she pretends that someone was injured and drags a poor teenage boy out the door and Ditzy Ditton falls for it, calls an ambulance and Tiffany has to explain it to Dalton when they get there, because the kid tells them in the ambulance that he was kidnapped.” E laughs. “That’s the one I watched last night.”
V laughs, “I vaguely remember it! What season?”
“Season four episode sixteen.” E tries not to giggle as V concentrates.
“I think I remember that one. I remember you being on season four when you worked at that motel. And I remember overhearing you tell Brittany about the show one day and said that a boy got kidnapped and that Blitany had something to do with it. I think she hadn’t seen the episode so you didn’t spoil it.”
E chuckled. “How do you remember everything?”
“I paid attention. You were—are—important to me. You’re worth paying attention to and remembering.”
V noticed it was getting dark outside so decided to head in. She’d have the rental umbrella for three days, so that was no matter. She got up out of her chair and walked in.
“Less about me. Show me the pretty lake house.”
“Oh for sure! You would probably love it here. First,” V flips the screen and pans the phone outside, “This is the lake. Isn’t it pretty?” She zooms in on the wooden beach chair with the umbrella next to it. “And that’s where I was sitting…” E giggles.
“Nothing! It’s just cute. It’s pretty out there.” She catches herself.
“It sure is.” “It would be a heck ton more beautiful and fun with someone else here though.” V wants to say but doesn’t.
“Anyways, this is the kitchen.” V walks to her right. The fully-wooden interior made it look like a mountain vacation home.
“Oh my God. I don’t usually have kitchen envy, but that’s beautiful!”
“Isn’t it! It’s like you see in dreams!” V used to dream of a mountain vacation with E. They’d make pancakes and bacon in a kitchen like this one, except with mountain or pasture views. Maybe they’d be on their honeymoon. E would come up behind her and kiss her neck, and then she’d kiss her back and they’d dance. When she’d dreamed that, she imagined it would have happened a year later at the most…now it’s been a year and a half past that year. Her heart frowned.
Right now, the one, and most important, thing missing from this dream was E. E is what made that dream beautiful, to begin with. E was every dream and every prayer come true. She was heavenly. She made this life heavenly. Bre was lucky to be in heaven every day. There I go being jealous again. That’s ugly. V felt bad.
“Where in Alabama is that? I’m just curious.”
“Centre, Alabama. In Cherokee county, by Lake Weiss.”
“Hmm.” E took a mental note of it.
V thought of telling E she’d be here for a while, but didn’t want to be pushy or suggestive.
“I’m not really sure where to go from here, so I might stick around. It’s pretty and whatnot. Might make some knick knacks to sell at the local market for some cash.”
“That would be cool; what would you sell?”
“Probably photography, maybe homesewn bags. The only problem is I’d need to handsew. …I left my sewing machine at my parent’s house. Couldn’t get to it when I decided to leave.”
E nodded. “A lot of my shit is still at S’s house. Er, was… I’m sure she got rid of it all some way or another.”
“I’m sorry. I guess you never really think what all you give up in an escape until you’re settling back into freedom and noticing what you’re without.”
“It’s fine, though. I’d rather be missing a few old clothes and not have to be around S anymore.”
“Very very true.”
“I do miss that pair of sunglasses that I got when we went to the beach together that time, though.”
V chose not to say ‘Maybe someday we can go back and get a new pair.’ Instead, she said, “Those were so cool. Maybe you’ll land back there one day and you can get a new pair.” She hated specifically leaving herself out, what if someday, E remembered that and thought V wouldn’t want to be a part of it?
“Yeah. I want to go to the beach again.”
“Georgia isn’t far from Florida!”
“I don’t think Bre would have time.”
V frowned and E changed the subject. “So give me a tour of the house! I want to see more of it.”
“Ooh, okay! Right!”
V gave her a tour of the two story house. And E wondered how in the heck V could even rent that.
“…I found this place in an ad for a house-sitter, because the owners are just away and they were looking for someone to take care of it so I’m here for twenty bucks a day. They’re rich, these people. So honestly, for what it is to them, it’s chinzy, but fine with me, because it’s like being paid to be on vacation! I will never balk at twenty bucks a day for a free vacation!”
That answers it! “Wait, how did you find something like that? Like where did you look?”
“I was looking for temporary house rentals and they featured their ad for it on one of the websites I searched. I almost scrolled past it until I saw it was paid not charged and I got curious. Turns out, the site I was on was a vacation-home-sitting ad engine, theirs was just the first I saw. Big Nose Road in Centre Alabama, lake view and resort-style living and I said heck yes!”
“So do you apply or something?”
“Yeah it was kind of like an application. Both ways, I guess. You set up a facetime call so you can know the owners are legit and so they can know you’re legit, and then you meet, if possible, background checks are done on all owners and sitters by the site, and this house in particular was a two-minute drive from a police station, so we met at a coffee shop near there and I signed a little thing and they gave me a lock code!”
“Wow. That’s like the best idea for vacations for people who can’t afford them. I love that! You know where I’ll be looking!” E raised her eyebrows with surprise.
V laughed, “Florida!”
E nodded heartily. “Fuck yes!”
V chuckled. “Housersaway.vacay check it out! You never know what you’ll find!”
E scrunched her face, “I’d be too nervous, honestly.”
“I get that. I mean, vacation house sitting jobs are sometimes listed as legitimate jobs, even on career search websites. I’ve seen them on Indeed before, in passing. I just never thought of it as a temporary arrangement!”
“Honestly, that’s the part that makes it so viable and cool. It makes it accessible—especially to someone like me who doesn’t have very much to go off of by way of vacations.”
“Hey, mayb—” V caught herself, remembering that she was with someone, “…Maybe one day you’ll come across something you like and you’ll get to have a free vacation, too!”
E rolls her eyes, she knew what V was going to say. “Honestly, I kind of am on a free vacation right now.” She laughs. “Since I’m staying with Bre and I don’t pay like a rent or anything, I’m kind of on vacation, too.” And a pretty girl came with it! She thought but didn’t say.
E looked out to the horizon which was already starry by now. “What time is it?”
“It’s five fifteen.” V replies, checking her time. “And I’m pretty sure we’re in the same time zone.”
“Oh, right.” She double-checks her time to make sure, “Yeah, five fifteen.”
V nods in acknowledgement.
They both are silent for a moment
“Thank you. For the cigarettes. And for helping me earlier.”
“Of course.” V smiles. “You mean a lot to me.” That would probably be inappropriate to say. She frowned in her heart.
“I might go inside. It’s getting too cold.” And then to rex, who lay down beside her on the porch, “Are you ready to go inside, Rex? Are you ready for your dinner?” He perked up at that, “Okay, come on! Let’s go inside and get warm; are you cold?”He gets up and wags his tail.
V smiles at E’s baby-talk to the little dog.
“Jack Russel Terrier?”
“Mix; but yeah, mostly.”
“Did you hear that? She called you cute. A pretty girl called you cute; you’re a lucky man!” She nearly said, but caught herself. “She’s very right you know, handsome man. Okay, come on.”
E started to get up and Rex pranced over the door, expectantly “Good boy. Are you ready to go inside?” He stared at the door expectantly as she came up to it. E tried the handle. “Oh shit.”
“That didn’t sound like a good ‘oh shit.’ What’s wrong?”
“I’m locked the fuck out.”
“What about the window? Did you leave it open?”
“Oh my God, you’re right. I think I did. Oh my God, that is a lifesaver. How am I going to get Rex through, though? I’m not going to toss him in.”
“Does Bre have a gated back yard? You could put him over the fence until you get inside to let him in through there?”
“No. Her yard isn’t fenced. …I could try the back door, though. Since we’ve been home, hopefully we thought to leave it unlocked. Otherwise, I’ll have to try and hoist Rex with me through the window.”
“There ya go!”
E went around to the back and the terrier took the lead on his leash. She tried the knob.
“Thank God it’s open.” She went inside. “Look at that Rex, we’re safe and sound! Are you hungry now? For your dinner? Oh my goodness, let’s see what’s on the menu!” She said, walking into the kitchen after closing and locking the door. She opened the high cupboard, and Rex knew that this meant it was his dinner time; aside of the fact that he also knows the word “dinner”.
“Alrighty,” E twists the cans around to read what they say, “’Chicken n’ Dumplings’… ‘Tuna Casserole’…or ‘Beef Strogen-…-pup’. What do you say? Are you feeling like chicken today? How about some Tuna? I’m in a tuna mood.” Rex looks back at her like he doesn’t care, he just wants his dinner. She chuckles at him and he slowly and slightly wags his tail, unsure of what is comical about his dinner time and waits expectantly for food to be put in his bowl.
“Okay, let’s see,… ‘remove contents from can into microwavable bowl.’ Okay. Is your food bowl microwavable?” She goes and picks it up from the living room floor near the TV where it sits in a tray in front of a stylish live plant.
“’Microwavable safe’ Neato bandito.”
V smiled. E had picked that up from her.
“Okay, good.” She brings it back with her to the kitchen counter and opens the tin and dumps the contents in with a vacuumed shlurp. “Next. ‘Add two tablespoons of water and mix thoroughly.’ You know, I’m really starting to get that canned food smell. Does it smell deluxe to you, Rex? It smells more dog-foody than tuna-ey to me.” She sniffed it and then commented to V, “I don’t know why I sniffed it, I was just nosey and had to know if it smelled like tuna or not! I’m so curious. I always wonder if dogs actually like this stuff.” V giggled and E turned to look at Rex. “Do you like this stuff?” She held up his bowl and his ears perked and his tail wagged steadily but still slowly. He looked confused as to why it was taking so long for it to be put down for him. E chuckled at him.
“Don’t you worry, I’m not going to starve you. You aren’t going to starve if your dinner is on time rather than early, baby.” And she giggled again, staring at him. “Okay, where were we. Mixing. Alrighty, I need a fork.” Retrieving a fork from a drawer across from her, she mashed and mixed his food. “Looks and smells so appealing, Rex.” And she made a long, grimaced face and then a squished face. “I think tuna would have smelt better. …In my opinion. But I eat fish all the time. It’s my favorite food group.” And she giggled at her own joke, V along with her. She looked at V and continued to chuckle with a knowing look in her eye. She knew V knew what she meant; she could tell.
Once it was thoroughly mixed, she read how long to microwave it for. “forty-five seconds. Alrighty.”
Once Rex’s food bowl was put in his food tray in the living room and he began chowing down, E sat back down on the couch and let out a sigh.
“I guess I get to watch ‘Rushed ER’.” She starts scrolling through their saved movies and finds it. “Oh, wait. The window. I have to close it.”
E gets up and brings V with her into Rex’s room, but the window was already closed. E’s skin crawled. She didn’t remember closing it. At all. Nor did she lock the front door on the way out. Suddenly, she was extremely creeped and freaked out. V could tell by the look on her face and her wide pupils.
“I hope I’m just going insane and forgetting that I closed the window and that, for some reason, closing a lock-picked door somehow makes it lock itself again, because I’m realizing those two things simultaneously that I didn’t remember doing could mean something I hope it doesn’t mean.”
But when V’s eyes went wide and she said, “E!” She flung around and saw one of her old pals standing in the doorway. Jay Rodney. And he didn’t look like he was going to make this easy.
V instantly went to find a home phone in the kitchen and luckily the house had one. She wanted to stay on the phone with E to make sure she was okay and to know what was going on, but she had to call the police right away. She’d announce that, but didn’t know if the person was carrying a gun to cause immediate retribution if she did, so she stayed quiet and put herself on mute and dialed 911 from the house phone.
But whoever it was saw E on the phone first and shot it with a gun. The screen went black. V’s heart jumped out of her chest for E. She didn’t want to lose E tonight. She fumbled with shaking fingers to get the police on the phone. V was terrified and couldn’t imagine how much more terrified E was. She just wished she were there with E or that E were here with her. She’d get in between E and any gunman any day and she couldn’t stand the thought of E being there alone with one.
While she had the police on the phone, she hopped in her car. But she realized she did not know E’s address or Bre’s address or anything at all.
As soon as a deputy picked up the phone, she said with a shaking, breaking, and urgent voice, “E Trépson! She’s in Georgia. I don’t know where. There’s a gunman. He’s armed. She’s there alone. All I know is that she lives with some girl named Bre Howard.” She knew that from Facebook. “Maybe near a Lina Singly. I don’t have a location, but I know she is in Georgia. Maybe near Sparta. Earlier, there was a breaking and entering report of a Malorie Hodgson lock-picking that house. If the Sparta station knows anything about the location of that call, that is where she is. I don’t know how to get to her and Bre is at work. She’s alone in the house with an armed man.” V tried to keep her thoughts clear, but couldn’t. She found herself getting in her car, anyways, and heading in the direction of Sparta, where she remembered E saying a few years ago that Lina lived. “Not sure if it helps at all, but Bre owns a dog named Rex. Maybe a local animal shelter would know who adopted a dog by that name. He’s a Jack Russel Terrier mix. I don’t have very much information.” She racked her brain. Did she catch the house number while E sat outside on the porch? 314… 354?…372? No. …345? “I think the house number started with a three. Maybe something like 314 or 354 or something. Please help her.”
The deputy on the other line was calm but urgent. “Any information helps. Thank you for telling me what you know. Did you catch what kind of house it was?”
“It’s a brick house. Has a little porch with two white columns. No fenced yard. Seemed to be in a country area, but I only know what I could see from a facetime call.”
“Okay, and-“ The deputy was going to ask what E Trépson looked like, but realized as she was about to say the name that V had said: E Trépson. “Is this E Trépson five four, auburn hair, gray eyes, around one-fifteen pounds?”
“Yes, she is E.T. Same as the one who busted that drug ring two and a half years ago. She still looks the same. Often wears glasses, but she wasn’t wearing them today.”
“Thank you for that information, that will help us a lot in locating her. I already searched for a report about a Malorie Hodgson and it indeed shows here a breaking and entering record from this afternoon in a city that is a half-hour outside Sparta Georgia. I cannot release a specific location, but I have found that record. That definitely tells us exactly where to look, thank you, miss..?”
“V. V Ellison.”
“Thank you, miss Ellison. Would you like me to stay on the phone with you until the dispatch arrives at the location?”
“Yes please. Please send them quickly. Please make sure she’s okay. Oh my God.” Tears were streaming down V’s face at this point.
“Bre! Bre Howard! Maybe let her know what is going on. She obviously will be able to be there for E if she ends up needing medical help. I don’t know much about Bre other than that it is her house that E is staying at.”
“No problem. We are able to find the owner of the house easily.”
“Okay.” V didn’t want E to be alone when she came out of this. V herself was shaking so much that her vision couldn’t concentrate well. She felt in and out of consciousness; she couldn’t imagine how much more scared E was. E.
E, E, E!! She could not lose E today. Not today, not now, not ever. Hot tears streamed over her face and she prayed over and over and over. This can’t have been the last time she’d ever have gotten to hear E’s voice. This can’t be the last night she sees her. That can’t have been the last conversation they’ll ever have.
V was sure this pain could kill her. She was convinced it would. She didn’t even feel like a person right now. She felt like a folded, torn, and melted piece of garbage on some other plane of reality or in some other world than the world she was in when she was speaking to E just three minutes ago.
I should have put the call on pause so my screen was gray and he wouldn’t have seen me. He wouldn’t have used the gun. I could still see what was going on and know if she was okay. The thoughts spun and tore and whipped and crashed at speeds and weights that V had never felt before. She screamed E’s name and tears bursted like her tear ducts were where that 99% of water volume in her body was stored.
“Miss Ellison?” The deputy spoke kindly to her, “Miss Ellison, if you are in the car, it’s best if you pull off to the side of the road. Your vision isn’t what it normally is, right now. We are getting this taken care of. The authorities are only a block away from the house address. They will be there in less than a minute and we will be able to update you. Please save the five minutes and make sure that you stay safe enough to see this through.”
This deputy must have had to tell a lot of people this news. She said all the right things to convince V that it would be best to pull off. She wouldn’t be able to be there for three hours anyways, how much worse would never be? Especially if E was okay but then V was dead from a car accident. That wouldn’t help anybody. So she pulled off to the shoulder of the road while other cars zoomed past her and she curled up in a ball in the drivers’ side seat and bawled every ounce of her soul out, but nothing felt like it could push hard enough with the pain that tore and pounded inside of her. These three minutes could have been the end of her entire world. Don’t think about that V. Keep hope alive. You don’t know anything yet. He could have just not wanted anyone to call cops. Maybe he just was nervous about that but not enough to hurt E. Maybe he needs E alive, anyways. Especially if it’s just a petty errand for S.
“Pull up quietly to the house!” V suddenly said. “I don’t want him to hurt her just for hearing cops pull up.”
“The cops know he is armed, and exactly how to handle these situations. I can tell you that two minutes ago, they did report to me that they were going to drive up silently. Rest assured.”
“Okay.” V tried to breathe, but it seemed that her body loathed air. She shook too much to even feel her own body. She was numb, She was a sponge, a blob, a feeling-less thing that only felt the acid-wear of pain and dread of grief.
“Would you like me to pray with you?” The deputy asked. And instantly, it stilled a little something in V. “Yes; yes please.” She was so thankful for this. God had seen her and gave her someone as a second advocate. For the next minute or two, the deputy prayed over E, foremost, and then over V also, until she received news from the dispatch.
“The dispatch said they found the gunman in the house unconscious, but E is nowhere to be found.”
One part of V was relieved that it wasn’t E they found unconscious. But the other half begged to know what had happened to her and, if she got away unscathed, where did she go? Was she only partially unscathed and ran off somewhere only to go unconscious and faint in a forest? Stop thinking, V; worrying isn’t going to help. You don’t know yet, so keep hope. It’s good news that the gunman was so far the only found to be unconscious. But what if there was another person there? Dragged her off after she got through him?
“The gun was also found across the room from the gunman, with no bullets in it. No traces of blood or anything has thus far been found. However, they also have not found Rex. I only thought to mention him since you told me about him. I am very sorry that we don’t know anything about how E is. They are searching for her now and won’t give up until they find her.”
V broke down sobbing again. She had no way to reach E and E had no way to reach anyone at all. Hopefully, she was conscious and if so, she would reach out to someone. Anyone. However, the fact that she most likely got Rex out with her meant she was probably in one piece and somehow found a way to make a purposeful run for it.
“Miss Ellison? Talk to me.” The officer offered.
“I don’t know what to say. I’m scared for her. She doesn’t have a phone because the gunman shot it. That’s how my call with her was disconnected. She can’t reach anybody and nobody can reach her.”
“Her phone was shot?”
“Hold on a moment.” And the deputy comes back a moment later, “A phone wasn’t found in the room or anywhere else in the house. Maybe she took it with her. She could have had a bulletproof screen cover and maybe the shock simply disconnected the call.”
V instantly picked up her phone and attempted to call E’s number. Maybe the officer was right. E had been in enough trouble in her past to be conscious of gun-proof anything.
The gunshot had startled E, but she thought quickly and, while his aim was distracted on the phone, she’d kicked it out of his hand right after he pulled the trigger, and swiftly punched him in the jaw enough to send him in a 360 to the floor. Instantly cold. She heard Rex peel out and scurry behind the TV when the gunshot sounded. She picked up her phone and resisted the urge to bash Jay’s skull in; she didn’t need another murder charge on her record.
She had to get away and cool off. She found Rex and called him, but he was curled up and shaking.
“I know, baby. I know you are scared. Come here.” She said to him and he looked at her and carefully stepped forward and sniffed her again. This broke her heart and made her eyes glisten. “I’m not going to hurt you, baby. You’re okay.” A few tears slid down E’s face. She’d probably scarred Bre’s poor little dog forever.
He finally skiddishly came to her and she picked him up gently and slipped out the back door with him after getting his leash.
She knew that Jay would be out cold for at least three hours. The way he twisted when he went down said his neck was probably going to hurt too, enough that he wouldn’t be trying to cause any trouble for a week or two, even if he could get up before she got back. His elbow had hit the metal doorframe from the power of her impact, too. So she imagined he would be babying it for a while.
She had to get back before Bre got home, but she needed to be out of that house. She knew that V would be freaking out right now. She probably thought she was dead. But she didn’t want the overwhelm right now. As horribly as it made her feel to choose to let V continue to be scared and worried. She had tried to get her phone to turn on to just text V, but her phone was too shocked to do anything.
She had made sure to grab the house key on the way out and lock the door so that no one else could come pillage Bre’s house.
Just after she made it into the tree line of the forest, she saw cop cars up the road. V had called the cops for her. Or maybe a neighbor did, after hearing a gunshot. But she was sure it had been V, who was probably crippled with a horrific anxiety right now. She knew they would be looking for her and she knew she’d have to face them. God, Bre will be SO fucking PISSED. She only hoped that V would somehow have the feeling that she’s okay. She did know that a lot of E’s life was like this, right? Nobody had worried about E.T. handling herself.
E would have gone to a neighbor’s house to hide, but she knew that the cops would be asking neighbors if they’d seen her. Honestly, they would find her very quickly, but she would try to prevent that for now. She went deeper into the green and brush to keep away from the drama, and she kept walking. No; jogging. Everything was always catching up to her and she just needed a breath before everything hit again.
But God she wanted to text V. Maybe she’d walk into town, which was pretty close, and find a phone store to get it fixed or replaced if the prior wasn’t possible. She had no idea what the time was, but imagined it couldn’t quite be six o’ clock yet. It had only been maybe five twenty when she’d gone into Rex’s room. She needed to call Bre. She wanted Bre with her right now. That would make everything feel better. But she was afraid of how Bre would take all this.
She couldn’t imagine that only four hours ago, she’d been comfortably lying naked on that couch, being loved by the woman she was with, having no idea that all this drama would happen. She was just glad she got dressed today before Marjorie showed up.
V kicked herself for not offering to call 911 for her when Marjorie was outside. Why would she have ever told her to just wait? She was in danger! Well, I guess she also had no idea she’d be picking locks. But, she should have known that the people from E’s past weren’t people to wait around on. She felt horribly that E asked her for help and she hadn’t even been very helpful. It could have been taken care of before the house was even broken into.
Can you guess which part is the takeout? Nonetheless, thank you for continuing to await the story! I am so excited about their journey
(Here’s that link again to Catch up on previous parts here)