Snow angels

I find myself alone on the streets all at once, it seems. I run from home, from my mother, and a threat which i fear. My only companions are my dog and a scar.

Desmond, of course he's here again- the beautiful stranger. His face like a knife and his words that stick in my mind. I know, he's special. He knows things that nobody should know.

This is my story. A story of love, loss and temporary insanity. Read if you please.


10. Broken letters

The sun sets early here, and I'm not sure where the day has gone. It's a quiet day, as i have nobody to talk to. Without my dog at my feet, my choices are to not say a word or to look completely insane talking to myself.


Rapidly, my shadow is controlled only by the glowing streetlights. When i take steps, my shadow-legs grow longer, and when i put my foot down they look shorter. 


I find myself in the section of town with a myriad of cobblestone and tiny little shops that don't add up to much. Of course, eventually I come to Basil's. In such a spread out town, i don't know how i keep ending up in from of a single shop. I take up residence on the bench outside the shop. This time, its open, and a few costumers come in and out.

I have never met this Ariel. I don't know why she won't leave my mind. Maybe it's because she might soon be like me. Without someone that she can call 'daddy', not quite old enough to understand the concept of ' He's not coming home again.'


It's only 5pm, but the darkness makes it seem much later. A few people are heading to dinner with their family or their date. I spot a gawky couple that i recognize as some of the seniors at my high school. I don't call out to them, however much i miss conversation. Aside from the woman behind the checkout at the supermarket, ( We chatted about cereal. ) my social contact has been limited today.


I notice the girl working behind the counter in Basil's to eye me strangely through the window every few minutes. I probably should buy something so she doesn't think that I'm loitering. 


It's amazing how you can commit a crime by just sitting in one spot.


I take my drawing pad from my backpack and add the finishing touches to my drawing. It's not my best work, for sure, but it's good enough. With light pressure, i add a few final marks to the page, then close the book and put it back inside my back.


This is what i've been doing all day, basically. Drawing, and stopping. Staring and thinking. Sitting on park benches and staring again.


Thinking realistically, i need a place to sleep for the night. I don't want to return to one of my friend's houses. I feel as though i have overstayed my welcome. Especially through running off in the early morning.


I smile as i thing of an idea. A simple idea that i can probably pull off using my criminal skills that i have aqquired over the last few days.


I stand and walk into the Curiosity shop that once belonged to a man named Basil. I am shocked by the bright color of everything. Candy is oversized. There is so much plastic. This is not the same shop that i ran through when i was six years old- it just shares a name.


"Hi." I say to the girl behind the counter. 


"Hello, welcome to Basil's curiosity shop, how may i help you." Her voice is monotone and her face makes her look like she would rather be anywhere else. She is quintisentially a perpetually irritated teenager in the body of a full grown woman. She must be nearly thirty years old, but her eye makeup looks like it's been applied by the spoonful and she has acne like barnacles covering her face.


I already dislike her, but i can't help feel bad for her.


" I need help finding something. Do you happen to have any miniature whoopie cushions?" I say it like my life depends on it. "April fools is coming up as you know, and  I need to be prepared!"

I let out some canned laughter, and she replies with nasal, extremely fake laughter of her own.


"Awwkay I'll go look for some in the back. She walks off, and as soon as she's out of sight, I leap behind the counter in one movement. The whole things takes less then ten seconds- bending down, opening the bottom drawer. And yes, the extra key is where it was eight years ago. I hide the gold key in my pocket, and return to my previous position. She won't expect a thing.


And she doesn't, thankfully. She hands me a 1.99 ( Super save! ) miniature whoopie-cushion, and I pay for it mostly with coins. I feel a bit guilty for stealing the key, but that's my only crime. 


The theivery and the adrenaline is a good distraction. It makes me think of little else. But i can't forget the ticking clock, seconds and minutes passing, ticks and tocks that will never come back.



With that done, I am left with nothing else to do. I have been alone with my thoughts for the entire day, and there are no more pleasant thoughts to think.


I take up residence at one of the benches. These benches have become quite a reacurring trend. In these last few days of terror and action, i have done a surprising amount of sitting around.


Without my dog, i am unfortunately alone. As drips of blackness swirl around me, i feel my eyelids drooping shut. But no- i can't fall asleep. I need to make a few phone calls.


I use my remaining quarters to pay for the call. It's the same phonebooth that i used the day before, and my fingers have grown familiar to the numbers.


Zahra is easy to get ahold of. She keeps her phone on her always, in case of emergencies often involving her brother. It rings only once before she picks up. I think she knows that it's me, because her hello is nervous.


"I'm so, so sorry Zahra." I say. I feel terrible leaving Felix and Hailey behind, but i know that Zahra doesn't cope with stress well. This must be horrible on her.


"Rylee! Felix told me that you stopped by his place last night and.... sweetie, are you okay?" Zahra is the only person other than my mother that can call me 'sweetie' without sounding condacending.


"I'm fine, i'm fine. You're such a worrier!" I try to keep my tone light, so not to scare her. "Anyway, i want to see you. And Felix and Hailey too. I'm out front of Basil's." 


She takes a deep breath. "Okay, i'll call them. I can get my brother to drive us. I'll be right over."

"Bye." I'm the one to hang up. I feel like a massive weight has been taken from my shoulders. I need them to forgive me, selfishly enough. 


The next thirty minutes seem much longer, as the light drains from the sky. A few stubborn stars show through the blanket of city light. Sometime during the thirty minutes, the girl behind the counter closes up shop. She gives me a weird, distrusting look before she leaves- i have, after all, been sitting around outside for nearly two hours.


The sound of a noisy car on cobblestones lets me know that they have arrived. Trevor's ancient car smokes from the stress of having to carry four whole people. Zahra leaps out of the car before it even has time to stop and stops right before she gets to me. I get a hug from each of them, of course. They line up to say hello and smile, saying how glad they are that I'm okay. Hailey starts crying a little bit, but I don't feel anything.


They do say how absence makes the heart grow fonder. Less than a week ago, I couldn't have concerned too many of their thoughts. They each have friends of their own and gossip to have and metaphors to make. But now they hug me tighter and tighter like they never want to let me go. 


People are selfish by nature, i guess, and I have never been an exception. 


For me, I'm in a haze. They are all flooded with emotion, but i'm silent. Loosely happy that I'm no longer alone, but nothing more. I love them, i love Felix and Hailey and beautiful Zahra. But there is a pit in my stomach filled with unease and hollowness. I want him to be here, somehow. Desmond. He has nothing to do with anything at the moment, but i want him to stand by me. He seems like the only real person right now, while everyone else is muffled with normal.


"Are you alright?" Zahra shakes my arm, and i realize that i haven't said anything in a minute.


"I'm fine, of course." I catch the eye of Trevor, who still hasn't left. He has a tainted smile that won't go away. I should trust him now. He trusts me- he gave me the gift, and I should be grateful.


But no. He is the devil. He made it worse. He brought death to the table, put lives in my hands, made me have to choose when i shouldn't have to choose. He is the devil.


"Why don't we go into the shop." I put a smile on my face.


"How are you going to get in?" Hailey asks innocently, rubbing the remaining redness out of her face. I take the key from my pocket like it's a trophy.


"We aren't going to steal anything, right?" Hailey asks. I laugh, and Trevor drives off at last.

"Of course not." I say. " I'm just staying the night there."


Felix, who hasn't spoken much for the whole time, says; "You can sleep at my house again. Or I'm sure at Zahra's or-"


"I'm staying the night there." I repeat more forcefully. Felix looks scared for me- or scared of me- but they all know that I know this shop better than i know my own house. The key works, of course. As the door opens with an unhappy groan, and the three of them follow me in. The air smells like candy, but not in a good way. The entire shop is flooded with unnessisary color.


"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Hailey asks as she looks about nervously.


"Probably not." I reply honestly. We scale the half-hidden stairway to the room above the shop. The room is small and is only inhabited by a dusty couch- practically nobody ever comes up here.


With a dramatic jump, Felix lands on the couch. A huge poof of dust clouds the air and I laugh at him.


"Come on guys." I keep on walking towards the roof, and none of them stop me, though Zahra looks at me looking concern in her eyes. The roof is easy to get onto, with a wide, easily opened window. I used to sit up here with Basil a lot- although my mother tut-tutted as it was 'dangerous.'


I sit down on the roof, feeling the sandpaper roofing through my jeans. I'm regretting bringing my friends here. Their glances are desperate attempts to pry me apart and figure out what's happening to me.


It's dark, but i can still see at the end of the roof the letters that spell "Basil's curiosity shop." When i was four, and he bought the shop, he took a long time nailing down the letters to form a sign. 


"It isn't fair." I mutter. Felix has sat down to my left and the other two to my right. They try to nod along and say little understanding words.


"The name of his shop should have changed after he-" I don't even know what I'm saying any more. "It's just... whenever i come by here i see this shop, and that's his name... right there."


I remember when somebody bought the shop, Mom was angry that they didn't take his name out of the sign, but she was too weak to confront them. It never came up again.


"Honey..." Zahra places her hand on my shoulder, and tilts her head to one side. She's wearing a Beatles t-shirt today, which i notice randomly.


"It sucks." I grumble. I feel as though I'm being extremely immature, but i hardly care. With a ball of anger in my stomach, i slide down the roof. On the first kick, the letter B hardly moves. But i kick the sign and kick it.


"Rylee?" Hailey is scandalized.


I kick the letters and watch the nails pry from the roof. The nails that Basil put in years ago.


At last, the letter 'B' falls, and hits the ground with a solid thud.

"Help me!" I scream desperately to my friends, kicking the sign, watching each letter loosen.


It's the first thing that i have told them to do for me yet, so they immediately meet me at the bottom of the roof. My boots, and Zahra's boots and Hailey's sneakers and Felix's sneakers all kick the letters in unison. My fathers name- it falls to pieces. His name clatters against the cobblestones, but it no longer spells his name. A heap of letters and anagrams and splinters.


I stand up, eventually. It's not safe on the edge of the roof, but violently i kick his name until it falls. When the final letter falls like hail, clatters on stones, i stop to breathe.


"I ruined the sign." I sound too proud. "I vandalized the sign."


Now it only says "Curiosity shop." Which i feel is sufficient.


"Wow." Says Felix. "Shit."


"Jesus." Zahra stares at the sky.  And I start to laugh. I don't know why, but i laugh.


"Hey." Felix places his hand on my arm after i sit down, remembering. "Happy birthday."


"Thanks. Happy birthday to me." I mutter, and little bits of bitterness hang to every word. The stars are brighter now, visible even through the drowning streetlights. 


"Happy birthday." I whisper, but it's so quiet that nobody, not even myself hears it.


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