Dusk

Three people with three different pasts are linked by one thing and one alone: The secrets that are kept from them. Haley- A homeschooled girl of fifteen with an author for a father; May- an aspiring sixteen year old artist who wants a big break but has a mental issue that baffles even the professionals; Dylan- A fifteen year old who works at his Grandfather's horse farm.
They seem so far apart until something bigger than themselves bring them together. Something no one but the seldom few have knowledge of. Suddenly the three teens are thrown into confusion where your never know what is a lie and what is the truth. Where anyone and everyone could be the enemy, and thrust into the lives they should have led. Of course, sometimes the truth has been in front of you the whole time...
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Book One of the Tyleptia Trilogy

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1. Haley

Chapter One - Haley.

      The jingle of a small bell; That was the only sound in the vacant second hand bookstore.  A dusty smell hung around this place: a comforting sensation of safety and serenity.  Everybody has put their nose to the pages of a book as they churn the pages-whether they admit it or not. Some love the scent of a welcoming new book, others think it a head-aching, ancient odor that only a fool would love.  Of course, I was the first.  In love with the pages and pages of paper flipping through my fingers; the smooth surfaced, dancing pieces fluttering and sending the scent of them into the air.  
     To some the bell that jingled meant nothing except of a customer leaving or entering, but for me it brought back things I would rather forget.  My head flew up and I looked around quickly.  A piece of my dark bangs fell out of their bobby pin and into my eyes.  My breath came in quick gasps as my blue eyes made a fast scan of everything in the room. 
     The dark wooded bookshelves that held our children's books were normal. Many half faded colors in a row, like a mini rainbow, were lined up on the north wall.  Next to then was a small play area we had just got in. It had three small bean bags: one lime green, one neon orange, and another light blue. Beside them was a cardboard statue of Peter Rabbit along with Cottontail and the Mother. We had never gotten the other sisters-lost in the mailing process I guess. 
     The more boring colors were all around.   In the middle sat six different shelves, both sides of each full.  The walls had the same faded book covers and some rare bright ones that were barely used.  
     I let out a deep breath, trying to regain my sanity.

     The bell made a small noise again as another customer walked in, ready to explore our shelves.  This was an older woman, gray hair that was cut short like many other elderly ladies.  A flowered shirt didn't hide that she might have eaten too many of the cookies that she had made for the two grandchildren that were with her.   They bounced up and down at the sight of the colors in the children's area. 
      Both were young boys near the age of six. They were twins by the look of it, even wearing the same dark green soccer outfit. Both had adorable faces, the kind that made you want to run up and hug them without a second thought. 
      "Are you alright, child?" The elderly woman asked a worried expression in her eyes.  The glasses she wore were attached to a pink chain that hung around her neck loosely and made her look like a lady who appreciated books to an extent. 
      It was a moment before I realized that my hands were clutching onto the checkout counter in front of me. My knuckles were white and I guessed my face was too from the concern that was being shown to me. 
      "I-I'm fine," I stuttered in an uncertain voice, "just had a small scare I guess" 
      "If you say so sweetheart," the woman replied, reaching out her hand  "I'm Fran"  
      I smiled cordially, my previous freak-out fading in the presence of this kind woman with such a wise face and eyes full of love towards everyone.  "I'm Haley; I'll be working here throughout the summer” I greeted her back, skating her hand. Her skin was chilly but soft and frail. Why I had added that last part, I didn't know. Maybe it was to reassure myself that I was staying in one place for a while.  
      My mother worked as a veterinarian and traveled all over, visiting different zoos and animal hospitals. Because of her constant traveling, I had moved around in an RV as long as I could remember.  Never had I gone to a real school, but had been homeschooled my whole life.  My Dad was my teacher.  Although, I mostly taught myself now as he was writer and spent most of his time alone in his office.   All day he sat in his small room, lost in his own little world of fantasy writing.  
      He had always been fine with the traveling, saying it gave him great inspiration. Now, just a week ago, he had announced that he wanted to stay in one spot for a while. I had eagerly agreed with him, wanting to know what it was like to have a home, somewhere that I could claim for a while. My parents had fought about it, my mom wanting to take me along with her. That was until I came in and let my feelings about it out. My mother had left a few days later, taking the RV with her. My dad and I had rented a small house in the outskirts of a small town called Huron in South Dakota. Not the usual place that a girl of fifteen would love, but I did. 
       "Oh, is that right?  Well then you'll get to know my face a bit better; I'm a regular here" Fran interrupted my thoughts. 
      "It is a nice place," I looked around, a smile flickering across my lips, "old books are something special. Like an ancient treasure that has been discovered by millions, but has yet to reveal its story to you"  
      "Whoa, Haley girl!" Fran let out a friendly laugh that I only thought existed in stories. Sweet and as old as some of some these books, but happiness in every corner of it. 
      "Yes?" I asked, confused but yet uplifted from Fran's good spirits. 
      "You heard that from one of them books?  That nice lil description there?  That seems too poetic for a young girl like you to come up with herself!"  
      I felt my cheeks go a little pink. I wasn't used to talking to a whole lot of people and when I did I always seemed to mess it up. "I did make it up just now, if you must know" I rubbed my left arm with my right hand like I always did when I was nervous; "My father is a writer. Some of it probably rubs off on me". 
      "Well, I'd like to meet this father of yours one day. He sounds like a great writer if that is just a twinge of his talent". 
      "He always likes meeting people with an appreciation for books and their worth" 
      The two twins came running over, holding some 'Frog and Toad' books. 
      "Frannie! Can we get these?  Pleeaaase!" The one said, jumping up and down. 
    "Yes, yes!" Fran said to them, taking the books out of their chubby fingers and placing them on the table. "You would have thought that after one of them kid soccer games they wouldn't have so much energy!" She said to me with fake brutality. 
      I laughed. "Are they your grandchildren?" I asked, expecting the usual 'yes my daughter's two sons' to come in return. 
      "No" Fran said simply, as if this wasn't at all surprising.  
      "What?" My surprise wasn't well concealed in my words. 
     "They are my sister's children.  I was taking them for Ice Cream as a treat after their first game and thought I'd let them buy a book or two” She explained as I looked at the prices for each item. We didn't have those fancy scanners, only tags to tell us the price. 
     "Well, I bet you and your husband are very happy to have had a happy life without children to bother you" I smiled, trying to make up for my previous surprise which she might have taken in offense. "Six dollars and fifty cents" I gave her the price for the five books. 
     "Husband?" Fran laughed as she dug in her purse for the money, "I ain't got no husband; never married" 
     "Really?" I put the money she handed me into the cash register, "why?"  I knew it was none of my business and I didn't mean to pry, it was one of those things that came out before you thought it through. I could almost hear my mother scolding me like she always did in the back of my mind. 
      "Oh, just never found the time for it I guess. I don't mind being alone, but people can be good for you" she took the books back and handed them down to the twins, "but no man would want me now, would he?" She finished. A sad look flickered in her eyes but she pushed it away, replacing it with a cheerful glint. 
     "That's not true..." I started, but Fran interrupted me with a kind laugh. 
     "You seem like a nice girl. Here, this is my address, come visit me sometime" she jotted down some words on a scrap of paper from her purse and handed it to me. I smiled and nodded, placing the paper in my pocket. 
     "Bye!  Enjoy your ice cream!" I called to them as they paraded out of the door.  Fran turned around and winked at me. 
     "What do you say boys?" 
     "Thank you!" The kids called out, waving at me with huge smiles on their faces. I waved back as they left the store. 
     This time the jingle of the bell didn't bother me much; the thoughts of what Fran's life must have been like filling my mind. 
     I imagined this kind old lady sitting on a bench, the sad look that I had glimpsed fully clear in the way she held herself. I felt sorry for her; such a wonderful woman should have had someone to share her life with.

~~~

     "Dad, I'm home from work!" I called out, setting down my bags. "I stopped by Walmart and bought some stuff for dinner!" 
     No answer came. I stood in the silence for a few seconds, wondering if I should enter the room in which I knew he would be. I could see it in my head already. His curly mess of dirty brown hair, which was like a dirty mop that had been plopped carelessly on his head, would be leaning over his desk. His face would be in his hands or on top of his endless supply of notebooks, jotting down adventures that existed only to him.  I don't know why I never read his books. My mother always asked me to, but I always made excuses. I think that maybe it was because those stories belonged to him, they were his personal creations and I felt like I was intruding if I entered his world-the world he liked so much better than this one. Sure, I'd read other author's books; but I didn't know them as I knew my dad, and it doesn't seem right. 
      Still, the silence hung over the small one story house. There were four rooms: the kitchen and dining room in one, my dad's bedroom, my bedroom, and the office room. Of course there was a bathroom (and only one I might add) but I never fully qualified that as a room.  
      "Dad?" I said again, moving towards the door. There was a small shuffling from inside-my father putting away his books and things.  
      "Haley? Is that you?" He whispered through the door. 
      "Yes, who else would it be?"  I went to open the door, but it was already being swung backwards to reveal my dad. His hair the messy mop I knew it would be and his light green shirt disheveled as it was the same one he had slept in.  He had his reading glasses on, placed at the end of his nose. He looked crazy, as is he were a mad scientist instead of a writer.  
     "What did you say about dinner?" He asked, looking my straight in the eye.  
     "That I bought food to cook it," I repeated, "I thought I'd try my-" 
     "No" 
     "What?  Why can't I cook" I asked, surprised at his sudden unexplained answer. 
     "Because..." His voice trailed off.
     "I only burned myself once!  It won't happen again, I swear!" Remembering the time that I had hurt myself while cooking, knowing that this was why he wouldn't let me cook, angered and frustrated me. 
     Something had frightened me, like it had in the shop.  In my surprise and spasm of fear, wanting to analyze my surroundings, I had placed my hands down on the hot stove top. Paralyzed from fright, I hadn't moved them for almost 30 seconds and even then it wasn't until my father had come in to pull my stuff hands off of the stove. 
     I had to go to the hospital and my hands weren't exactly in the best shape for a while after, but I was fine now!
     "Haley, I can't risk you getting hurt if you have another scare like that" my father replied in that soft tone that parents use when they want you to just agree with them. Dad rarely yelled, in fact I'd only heard him yell once and that was when two kids teased me for being homeschooled at an ice cream shop. That was when I was in the fourth grade, but I'll never forget it. His eyes had gone sharp and his usual messy appearance made him look almost fearsome as he yelled at those boys and even talked to their parents. At the moment I had been more than a little embarrassed, but later I was thankful. 
      "I WON'T" I tried to convince him with words, but even I knew it was useless. 
      "If a baby bird was never taught how to fly, do you throw it out of the nest?" 
      "So teach me to fly then!" I groaned instead of answering his ridiculous question about birds, but still trying to use it in my favor. 
      "I'm your school teacher and I say that it is summer and I'll teach you nothing" my father replied simply, "Anyways, you know I can't cook for my life" 
     I groaned loudly, turning to get the groceries to put away an giving up on this conversation. 
      "Whatever, I'll order in Chinese or something” I said, picking up the one bag I had gotten. 
      There was a moment of silence as I went started placing the box of pasta into the cupboard and the vegetables in the fridge. 
     "I think maybe we should go out for dinner. It would be good for both of us to get to know the people around here" 
     I looked up, my eyebrows raised, "What happened to 'no strings and no binding then there's no goodbyes'?" I asked, referencing to one of his favorite excuses for being anti-social.  
     He chuckled, "I just think that if we'll be staying here for the summer it'd be nice to know the locals" 
     "Fine. I heard someone at the bookshop talking about a Godfather's special this week," I offered, "We could go there"
     "Great; I should probably clean myself up a bit..." Dad looked down at his shirt and ran his fingers through his hair. 
     "Yeah," I laughed, "you should,"
     
~~~

      The air was humid and bugs were thick as we made walked across the parking lot. Yet, still, I breathed it in to my full lung capacity. I would be able to call this place home, even if only for a while. 
       My father had made himself presentable to the point where I barely recognized him.  His hair was combed neatly and he had exchanged his sleep shirt for a navy polo shirt. But the biggest change was that his glasses weren't hanging of the edge of his pointed nose. My father had put in contacts-something he usually did on occasions such as weddings and family-get-togethers. 
       A slight breeze ruffled my own straightened hair and thin tank top. But I don't shudder and wrap my arms around myself; I savor it as it cools me from the humidity. It was an even bigger relief to walk into the air-conditioned chain restaurant.  I let out a breath of thankfulness and quickly send a 'thank you' prayer up for the creation of indoor cooling systems.  
       My eyes skimmed the customers eating at the plain, symmetric, black tables.  There were mostly older couples, some in groups that ranged from two to six.  Then there were the loners that sat alone, a faraway look in their eyes as they chewed slowly. My mind turned to Fran almost without conscious thought. I saw her sitting alone at one of hear tables, having no companion.  My heart ached at the thought and I knew that there must have been more emotion behind the simple explanation she had given me earlier. 
      My attention was brought to the younger couples.  The ones who had little kids sitting next to them with their pizza cut into small bite-size pieces that were perfect for their small mouths.  Of course not many of them were eating. They played with the forks, napkins, or toys that they themselves had brought. I wondered if my family had ever been like that; the parents laughing and smiling, engrossed in their conversation, and me being carefree, folding and unfolding my napkin.  But I couldn't see my mother ever smiling like that. She was always too serious, rarely did she loosen up but when she did we were able to have a fun time together.  
      "Haley, why don't you go get us a seat," My Dad offered, "your order is the same as usual, right?" 
      "Of course!" I replied, "Would you like a booth or a table?"  I eyed the choices and saw that there was a back area that was separated by a bit of wall. From my view the area had many windows that looked out to the street. Not exactly scenic, but I liked the thought of being able to see everything around me - especially in a restaurant...  
      "Anywhere will work," I heard my dad say, but it was just a haze, I was already reflecting on my reason for the freak-outs - the moments of terror. As if a zombie, I went to the area full windows and found a table for two.  I urged myself to not think about it, but fruitlessly.  The memory of last night replayed itself in my mind.

       *Soft music of a sophisticated orchestra played in the background, making the room seem calm and serene.  It was a large restaurant, full of circular tables with white, satin tablecloths covering circular tables. Glasses of wine stood out on each vacant table, the liquid unmoving, eerily still. The rain pitter-pattered outside the windows, but the sound was vague and the sense of loneliness and abandonment hung over the abandoned dining room.  
      Then, with a sudden burst, a bell jingled, at first quietly, but then started to get louder and louder until it filled my ears with its high-pitched sound. The noise rang out louder and louder until I was on my knees, holding my ears shut with my hands, and screaming as the sound cut through to my eardrums. By the time it stopped my head ached and I thought that I must have gone deaf. I wasn't, of course, because I heard the next sound that crashed through my eardrums.  The shattering of glass tore through the air as the windows fell to pieces. In gusts the wind and rain pounded in and soaked the floor with the cloud's tears.  I tried to stand up, but the strong winds knocked me down again.   
      A loud cackle cut through the darkness and my head shot up in surprise and fear. As my eyes soared around the room the wine glasses broke and shattered into thousands of tiny pieces, the rose colored liquid staining the satin.  It dropped down the fluttering edges as if it was pale skin being tracked by blood. Then, as if appearing by magic, a man, who wore a flowing black cape that was whipping in the wind to reveal the inner red silk, stood before me. I gasped and again tried to stand, wanting to flee before it was too late. 
       "We are awaiting your return," the man spoke in a deep but yet smooth voice. A hood covered his face so all that showed was his pale chin and bright red mouth as he delivered what seemed like a message. 
      I wanted to scream out 'Don't Hurt Me' or 'Where? Where are you waiting?' But I couldn't speak.   And ice white finger reached towards me and placed itself under my chin. Fear of this character mixed with the relaxed notion of having someone else here in this whirlwind.  
       "And when we meet will be either your first day of true life or the last day of this poor existence" the hooded man's voice went from smooth and coaxing to the sound I a threatening snake in the course of one sentence. I let go of my breath and looked up, trying to see the man's face; his words not fully comprehended in hazy mind. 
Then he was gone. Disappearing as fast as he had appeared and left me laying in a room with now red tablecloths spread out on the floor and windows shattered with their glass laying all around me.  It all swirled as I broke into consciousness again, awaking from the dream*

       "Haley?  Honey, are you alright?" My Dad's voice broke suddenly into my thoughts and startled me out of my oblivion. I blinked, feeling as if I had been sleeping instead of wandering through my dreams. 
      "Y-yes" I stuttered, "just thinking," 
      "Think you could lighten your grip? I think you’re killing the table," Dad set down the number and took a seat across from me, the worried expression not leaving his eyes.  I looked down and saw that I had been clutching the table same as I had at the bookstore this afternoon.  Immediately I loosened than and placed my hands in my lap, suddenly alert. 
       "Are you sure you’re alright?" Dad eyed me with one eyebrow raised, "you look as if you've seen a ghost," 
      "I'm totally fine, don't worry," I smiled reassuringly and took a sip of the medium soft drink he had gotten me. 
       "Well I saw a poster up at the counter about a town cook-out on Friday.  I think it'd be a great time to meet some people, maybe get to know a few kids your own age," 
      "Dad, you're starting I scare me," I put my cup down lightly, "since when are you so social," 
      He laughed and laid back in his chair. "Since I thought my daughter should get to know more people than the adults you’re always talking to," he defended his reasoning, "it's healthy to talk to other teenagers who have the same issues as yourself. That's why adults talk to each other," 
      "Fine, we'll go to this cook-out," I sighed. I had never considered myself anti-social, but my father was right. I talked to more adults than I ever had other fifteen year olds. 
       "Here you go! One medium ham pizza with pineapple and sausage!" The waitress scampered up to our table, placing the steaming hot pizza in the center. The smell of it filled my lungs and I felt my stomach grumble. 
       "Thank you," I said as she walked away.  
       "Dig in!" Dad exclaimed like an excited child. He picked up the biggest piece and plopped it into his plate. 
       "Thief," laughed and took the second best piece, the one filled with toppings.  I watched as Dad bit into his pizza only to start fanning his face and say 'Hot!' Over and over. 
        "You're too weird," I giggled as I took a much smaller bite, therefore not burning my mouth. 
       After Dad had recovered from his hot bite he looked up at me with eyes that seemed to have aged ten years in those few seconds, "Yes; both of us are different, but not in the way you mean it,"

 

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