“I don't go looking for trouble. Trouble usually finds me.”
― J.K. Rowling
So unedited I should go to jail, I promise to fix later though.
Harry and Dylan are both staring at me like I've grown three heads. "What?" I ask somewhat defensively. Dylan shakes his head and runs his fingers through his hair. "My clothes are in Zayn's room, should I go and get them?" "No, it's fine, I'll get them. Come along Harry, you have clothes to try on." "Meet me out here when you two are done." Sending Dylan a thumbs up, I grip Harry's bicep and lead him out of the common room.
"I'm not gonna run away you know;there's no reason for me to." I shrug my shoulders but ease my grip on him a bit. "You can never be too sure; just staying on the safe side."
In one swift movement Harry's twisted his arm and captured my wrist in his hand. Gently slamming against the wall, I look up at him with wide, awe struck eyes. He presses his body into mine and he's supporting his weight with one hand. His curls tickle my forehead as he slowly begins to move his head back and forth."I thought it was cute how you thought you could protect yourself from me, so I decided to let you believe it for a while." Harry let's go of my wrist and I'm still rapidly blinking my eyes. He smoothly pushes himself off of me and offers his arm to me. "Go on, you can grab my arm again to protect yourself." I can't tell if his tone is playful or just plain patronizing but nevertheless, I grip his arm the entire way to Zayn's room; I'm pretty sure that little crescents from my nails now decorate his pale flesh.
I knock on Zayn's door, waiting for any type of answer before I just barge in. Hearing faint rustling around, I type in the code and crack the door open. When I see Zayn sitting in the middle of the bed reading a newspaper, I fully push the door open. "Zayn where are Dylan's clothes?" Zayn looks up from his reading to point to a corner of clothing and blankets. "Hello to you too." I see him looking over my shoulder, obviously at Harry. "Well, go pick out something you like. Zayn can you please wait outside with me while Harry gets changed?" Zayn raises his thick dark eyebrow but gets up and follows me out the room.
The door closes with a quiet click and Zayn is staring at me with his brown mischievous eyes. "What?" I softly push his chest and he sways a little. "Nothing, just thinking about something." I already know what Zayn is thinking and I want no part in it.
"Can we find anyone else to lend me clothes?" When Harry steps out the door, I can't help the squeak of a laugh that escapes my mouth. The pants he's borrowed from Dylan are way too short, stopping a bit above his skinny ankles. The baige sweater he has on swallows up his frame though; he has to keep pushing up the sleeves as they fall down. A few of his curls peek out from the black beanie and I notice that he actually has on my hot pink ray-bans.
"I think you look dapper Harry." I can feel his eyes burning into mine, even with the black lense shielding them. "Well, I think I look stupid." He takes of the beanie to comb through his hair before pulling the material back over the strands. I look up at the clock and down at my scrubs. There is no time for me to change so I grab Harry's arm and pinch Zayn's cheeks.
"Ok you kids have fun. Tell Dylan to drive safely and let's try not to get anyone arrested this time ." Zayn ruffles my hair and by the time me and Harry make it to the front of Clearwater, Dylan is standing there matching Harry with a beanie and sun glasses.
"So how am I going to get out?" Dylan points his thumb toward the main entrance door. "That way." Harry shakes his head and pulls the glasses off of his face to eye Dylan. "I've known you for less then a week and I'm convinced that you need to be a patient here." Dylan rolls his eyes as Harry places his sun glasses back over his piercing emeralds. "Look kids, let me tell you something,", Dyl spins on his heals and flicks his wrist out in opposite directions,"if you do something with confidence you'll get away with anything. Now follow my lead."
Me and Harry gaze at each other as Dylan practically struts out of the main doors like he owns the place. I look down the hallway and jump a bit when I see Evan leaning on the wall. When i meet his eyes, he gestures his hand towards the door and walks away. I wonder if Harry has noticed him but when I look over to him, I see him battling himself on wanting to walk out the building or not. "We'll be fine."
I take his wrist in my hand and pull him out of the building. He takes a deep breath of the cold January air. The wind is ruthless as we wait for Dylan to pull his car up. The black 2008 Honda shows and Dylan rolls down the window and points to Harry.
"Take the front seat curly." Harry ducks into the passenger seat of the car and I crawl into the back. "What if your mom finds out that you two snuck me out?" Dylan looks over his shoulder; one because he is pulling off and two because he doesn't want to answer Harry's question. "I recon Vanessa will be grounded forever, you'll be sent to solitary confinement for a week and I will probably have to stay down there and watch you." Dylan lets a shiver ripple through him before turning on the highway. But we both know that much worse things will happen than that.
"I can't believe that actually worked. Do you usually just improvise like this Dylan or is it a natural gift?" Dylan shrugs his shoulders and reaches over to crank up the heat for my benefit. "I guess it's luck man."
We all fall into silence. Thirty minutes in to the trip, when I'm done counting all the lines on my scrubs, I make grabby hands at the radio dial.
"Turn on the radio someone, it's getting to be too quiet." So Harry reaches over and turns the dial until he settles on some altertitive indie sounding station. I fegit with my seat belt before pressing my back into the seat more. "So what are we going to do when we get there Dylan?" "Simple, we improvise."
The journey is spend by Dylan drumming on the steering wheel, Harry pressing his toes to the windshield and me looking out the window at the blur of colors. Dylan huffs when we turn into a town with nothing but white houses.
Dylan tosses his phone on my lap and tells me to read him the address of the family just to make sure. "102 West Mary Street" Dylan mumbles something before pulling into the drive way of a large Victorian styled house. "Can you just pull into people's driveways like this?" Harry has taken his feet off the dashboard and Dylan shrugs his shoulders. "Well I've already done it so that is that." Dylan removes his keys from the ignition and we all get out of the car.
We walk slowly to the front steps and when we reach the door, me and Dylan look at each other. "Ok go on and knock Dyl. Improvise."My voice comes out sarcastic but in reality I'm alarmingly serious. Dylan shakes his head a points to me, "No, I think you can improvise better than me." We begin to go back and forth until Harry's arm stretches out and knocks on the door three solid times.
We hear rustling around the house until the door is opened by a middle aged looking woman. Her brown hair flows slightly as a result of the wind and she's hugging herself to keep warm. I open my mouth to speak but she begins to talk first. "You must be some of Sam's friends wishing him a good bye. SAM." We all cringe at the woman's sudden loud voice and I make a move to talk again.
"Um no, hi are you Mrs. Aleman?" The woman nods her head. "Hi, I'm Vanessa, this is Dylan and this is.... Edward. We're here from Clearwater up in Alexandria." The woman nods her head like she understands and holds up her hand to silence me. "You must be here because something went wrong on Sam's paper work. Where on Earth is that boy? SAM." Once again we all wince at the yelling and I have to cover my left ear.
"No, we don't even know who Sam is. We are here to talk to you about the murder of your two daughters. Well mostly Richard."
The woman's face goes pale, her rosy cheeks no more. She clenches her jaw and I already have one foot behind me, ready to back up. Maybe I should just apologize and we should go back to Clearwater and forget everything. it was a stupid idea for us coming down here, asking a total stranger personal questions . But the woman surprises us as she opens the door wider and steps aside. "Well come in, it's freezing out there."
All three of us pad softly into the house. We take off our shoes at the door and I wiggle my toes around on the plush velvet color carpet. "Go on, you all can sit down." The four of us walk over to the long couch and all carefully sit on it. There's an older woman, I now notice, sitting in a rocking chair. She is as thin as a twig and she has long light blonde hair. I bet she was a bombshell back in her day.
"So, what do you three want to know?"
"I know this is going to sound like we're intruding but could you tell us about Richard? Did you know anything about him?"
The woman snorts and nods her head. "He was my best friend throughout high school."
"I never liked the boy, he was too damn strange. I always told Portia here that too." The old woman is nursing a cup of tea and put its to her lips when she's done speaking.
"Thank you for that mother, now as I was saying; we were best friends but when I got my first boyfriend senior year he began acting erratic. Kept saying that David was an absolute wrong choice for me. But the behavior stopped when me and David parted ways when I got accepted to UVA along with Richard. But my second year I met a great guy, Tim, and Richard started to act all odd again. But I ended up marrying Tim right when we got out of college and Richard told me I was stupid and he wasn't going to come to the wedding. He came to the wedding though, told me he was sorry and we danced together a lot that night. Everything seemed to be going well from that point on, I moved up to Arlington with Tim and I got pregnant with twins. I asked Richard to be the god father and he was ecstatic, said of course he would be and he moved not to far from us, in Fairfax. I gave birth to the two girls and Richard gave them they're middle names; Maria Rose Aleman and Cindy Daisy Aleman."
The woman noticeably cringes when she says the names. She closes her eyes to suck in a deep breath before continuing on with her story.
"But then Richard started becoming weird again. He bought a house in our neighborhood, right next door actually, and I knew he couldn't afford it. When I confronted him on it he snapped; he told me he could afford it and that was that. He began to make a flower garden and god it was beautiful; every flower you can think of. Used to bring the girls the flower of their names each day. And now is a good time to say that Tim thought Richard was creepy and weird and he didn't want him anywhere near the girls. So that became a problem when Richard wanted to baby sit the girls but I kept giving him half assed excuses of why he couldn't. But finally one day I convinced Tim to let Richard watch the girls and Richard was overjoyed. We left him alone with them for one hour, constantly calling to check in on him. Came back to find the girls dead. And those damn flowers was all over our house. Their blood was soaked into our carpet. Richard ran but they found him, put him on trail and sent him to Clearwater. I almost wanted to scream when he was released. I couldn't face him again so I moved here, had Sam and that's that."
"Have you talked to him since?" The woman's brown eyes glaze over and she shakes her head. "No, no I haven't."
"Sorry mom, I was packing the rest of my stuff." Sam looks at the scene in the living room. "Uh, hi?" "Sam these are some people who work at Clearwater, maybe you could ride with them back up there." Portia looks at us and we could never tell her no, not after what she has told us.
"Yeah, I guess that'll be cool, can you run me up to the store first after I get my suitcase though. I need something." Portia nods her head and sam leaves, then returns with a single blue suitcase. "I'll unlock the trunk for you." Dylan presses the button his keys and the mother son duo leave with a promise of returning in less then ten minutes.
Once Sam and his mother leave out, the old woman stops rocking in her chair. "It's great to see that Clearwater is still allowing their patients to be snuck out, my friend use to sneak me out sometimes when I was there. I've seem you in the paper before mister." Harry shakes his head and gives a friendly smile. "No ma'am, i think you have me confused with someone else." The old woman's neck cracks slightly as she shakes her head. "No boy, your malachite eyes give you away." I want to correct the woman and tell her Harry's eyes are more of a jade or emerald color but I think now is not the best time.
"Now what in the hell are you all really looking for?" "Information on Richard to lead us to something." The old woman leans forward in her chair and shakes her head. "Don't tell me you all are trying to solve the great Clearwater mystery." "We don't know if it's great or a mystery so much but, we're trying to solve something." The woman keeps fiddling with the key necklace around her neck and she keeps opening her mouth to say something. "Look kids, leave this situation alone if you wanna stay safe."
Harry lets out a chuckle and shakes his head. No offense ma'am but you sound just like this older man named Mr.Jenkins." The woman's blue eyes widen and she shakes her head. "Albert Jenkins? He's still alive! That's great news to hear." The woman begins smiling and shaking her head fondly at what I'm assuming to be memories.
"Were you friends with him? If so I'm pretty sure he would love to see you." The woman smile falters as I say this. "Oh no sweetie, I'm pretty sure he would hate my guts if I showed up in front of him today." I rack my brain to remember if Mr.Jenkins told me and Harry about any of his enemies but I can't think of any. It occurs to me that I don't even know the woman's name.
"I'm sorry ma'am, we didn't catch your name."
"Lesly Lawson but everyone has always called me Twiggy." Harry opens his mouth to speak but he closes it when nothing comes out. "Mr.Jenkins' told us that you were dead, you are dead." "Now do you see why i can't visit him? Faked my own death when they needed me most. But I had to get out." The woman gives a sad, pained smile and begins to fiddle with the necklace around her neck. "Clearwater is a mysterious place, beware kids."
"I know this is compelty stupid to ask but, do you have anything that may help us?" The old woman clucks her tongue at Dylan before laughing.
"Guess you really can't convince you kids these days to stay away from trouble." Twiggy takes the key from around her neck and tosses it to me. I hold the brass material up to the light and all of us eye at it. "What is it for?" Twiggy begins laughing cryptically, "Oh no darling, can't tell you everything. Just be careful kids. And look out for my grandson."
With that we're all walking out into the freezing January air. The Sam kid is leaning against Dylan's car, his foot pressed flat into the side of the door. His cheeks seem even more rosy from the cold and he's biting at his lip ring. He looks up from his phone and attempts to smile. It comes out looking awkward and pained though.
"Sam, you can sit in the back with Vanessa." Sam shrugs his shoulders and directs a more normal smile my way. "No, I'll sit in the back with Vanessa." I look over at Harry to see he is already staring at me. "Honestly I don't give a shit at this point, let's get going before I fall asleep behind the wheel." Dylan unlocks the car with a chirp and we all hop in.
As soon as Dylan starts his car, Arctic Monkeys blare through the speakers. Dylan pulls off and I begin to fiddle with the key now resting around my neck. "What do you think it opens?" Harry's talking softly but I don't see that is necessary seeing that Dylan and Sam are engaged in a conversation. "I don't know to be honest. Can't think of anything that is opened with a manual key in Clearwater." Harry takes the key from my fingers and I stiffen with his close proximity. "It has to be old whatever it unlocks." He lets the key fall back onto my chest and he adjusts his beanie.
Harry begins to stare at me again and I move my eyes from him to my window quickly. "What are you staring at?" "You have the tiniest little mark right here." Harry pokes at the skin right beside my lip. "It's beautiful." I quickly tun my head and I catch Dylan's eyes on in the mirror. "Everything ok back their kids?"
"Yup, peachy Dyl."
"Ok so how are we going to get in is the true question." I yawn and stretch my arms out with the sound of Dylan's loud voice still disturbing the peace. Dylan drums on the steering wheel and Sam points to the main door in confusion. "Can't we just?"
"Oh no, we sort of snuck something out and it can't be exactly returned in the front of the building." "What'd ya take out?" Dylan gazes at the boy in the seat next to him and makes eye contact with Harry from his mirror. "We will tell you one day kid." Dylan parks in the back of Clearwater and looks around to spot anybody. Meanwhile Harry is tearing off Dylan's clothing one by one and tossing them over at me. Harry is in his jump suit in record time and Sam is looking around in confusion. "What is going on?" "Don't worry about it. Harry and Vanessa do you think you two will be able to sneak in through the back door?" "We can always try."
"Just be careful and I'll think of some sort of bit distraction or something." I nod my head and jump out of the car. "See you on the other side." Dylan's car makes a horrible screech as it pulls off and I mentally scold Dylan for never getting his breaks checked.
I focus my attention on the heavy metal door and sigh when my key card doesn't open it. I sigh even louder when I realize I didn't bring my moms black key card. And I groan when I realize how we have to get into the building. I drag my feet to the trash can and carefully climb on top of it.
"What are you doing?"
I exam Harry as I pull my hair into a ponytail. "We have to go in through the garbage chute." Harry scrunches his nose in disgust. "Is that even safe? Where does it lead?" "Yes it's safe; I've been through it before. And I think this one leads to the kitchen. The worse thing that can happen is that raw meat comes down while we're going up. Now come on."
Harry sighs but pulls himself onto the garbage bin with me. "Just follow me." I pull myself into the chute and a few moments I hear Harry grunt followed his hand on my calf. I begin to crawl up the shoot and Harry lets out a low whistle. I turn my head to glare at him but of course he can't see it in the pitch black space. I wince every time my hand touches something wet or mushy and that's every other second.
"What is that sound?" I can hear the faint sound of screaming echoing off of the metal walls. The scream doesn't sound distress; it's just a scream. A scream that seems to be getting more urgent the more I hear it. I begin to crawl faster and Harry puts his hand on my calf again. My arms burn from the sharp incline so I stop for a brief moment.
"Are you sure this leads to the kitchen?" I know why Harry asks this,the screams are growing in volume the closer we get to out destination. "Only one way to find out." I begin to crawl again, picking up my speed the closer I get to the light. The screams are piercing my ears now. They sound strangled and each wave is directly hitting my ear drum. But when I reach the opening, the screams suddenly stop.
I squint my eyes and peak around the familiar kitchen. There is no one in sight though, it's like the place is a ghost town. I ungracefully fall on my face with a huff. "You can come out, the coast is clear." Harry comes crashing down on me with a loud crack. "Get off of me Harry, I think you broke my rib." He slowly rolls off of me before standing up. I take his out stretched hand and dust myself off once I'm on my feet.
"Well what ever Dylan did as a distraction, it surely worked." I nod my head in agreement as we walk through the empty cafeteria. I push the door open and look around in confusion. Large clusters of people are scattered around the hallway. "What's going on here?" I say it to no one in particular but suddently Dylan is running up to me and crushing my body in a hug. "It's Emma, it's Emma, she tried to kill herself and apparently she was really close to doing it too.."
"What? No that's impossible, Emma would never- where's my mom? Where's Emma?" "They have Emma in section C, I think your mom may be in her office though, I'm not-"
I'm already running before Dylan's done with his sentence. I can hear both Dylan and Harry calling after me but I'm already to the door, typing in the code. "Mom?Mama?" I increase the volume of my voice with every step I take. I curse under my breath at how cold it is up here.
"Mom?" I peak into each of the rooms, not seeing or hearing any sign of her. I go in my room and feel around on my dresser for my cell phone; I'll just call her. The phone doesn't even ring, it just goes straight to her voice mail. I hang up when her prerecorded voice begins to speak. Frustrated, I throw my phone on the bed and watch it bounce twice before settling on my pillow. I squint at my night stand and I rush over to pick up the daisy bottle. The thick red liquid moves as it rest in my hands. The stench, the damn stench gives away that it's old blood. Who the, what the. I can't even think at the current moment.
"Knock knock?" The deep voice makes me twitch, causing some of the blood to spill from the side and trickle down my hand. "I thought I heard you come up here calling for your mom, she is in section c, making sure everything is going well for Emma's new room. How was your day though ness? Any new developments?" Richard eyes goes from falsely sweet to mincing in a swift second. " I had a splendid day, thanks for asking." Richard's eyes the bottle in my hand and he smiles down at it. "Strange method for feeding Daisies you got there." "You would know."
Richard squints his eyes at me and jerks the bottle out of my hand. "Be careful, I would hate for something worse to happen to your friend Emma." I narrow my eyes at him and wag my finger in his face. "What did you do to her? You did it didn't you? Made if look like she tried to kill herself but it was you wasn't it?" Richard begins to back away a smirk plastered on his face and his moving back and forth. "Don't know what you're talking about cupcake," he takes a swig of the liquid from the bottle and I wince,"but I suggest that you take my advice, and Mr.Jenkins advice and sweet old Ms.Twiggy's. Leave it alone. Now if you excuse me, I must make sure your mother is ok."
Richard closes my door , leaving me to ponder over what in the hell is going on.