Rest Easy *Valentine's Day Entry*

*I'm submitting the first part of a novel, as it is still underway, but almost complete! I began it in January and the majority of it was written after the opening of the competition, but I had to re-upload because of the original upload date*

*Based on Prompts #1 and #2*

In Arizona, two teenagers spend a summer attempting to decrypt the life of an elderly woman with dementia, who had gone missing over forty years ago and cannot recall to anyone where and how she lived. This ongoing mission keeps the teenagers occupied all summer, bringing them closer and helping them to avoid the rough times they have been going enduring in their lives, and the pasts they just want to forget. As the pair grow a bond, it eventually appears that the world around them wishes against it. The price of overcoming the obstacles that stand ahead of them is hefty, but only they can determine whether it is worth the risk.

For those on desktop - I've added thematic songs to some of the chapters :)

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6. CHAPTER FOUR | YISKA

 

 

Whenever Dudley had trouble sleeping as a kid, his mother would always wash him in hot baths and make him something warm to drink before bed. She was like a magician or a good witch; one with a bunch of herbal remedies and soaps, and the house would be saturated with sleepy smells and sounds that could knock someone out for a millennium.  When she was discharged from the hospital eight years ago, she was adamant to start her life over in the best way. She quit her day job and began selling homemade soaps and dermatological treatments that were well-received in the South Harlow communities. Dudley had clear memories of walking door-to-door through the pretty suburbs with his mother, promoting her products on hot weekend noons and interacting with the flashy residents and their pampered dogs on their marble patios. Eventually, she did well enough to be able to set up a small shop in the town centre, which she decided to name Yiska.

 

That was what she called Dudley when he was an infant, as he had always been restless. Back when she was still studying for her high school diploma from home, she would be up all night with him wailing in his makeshift crib, as she was inches away from pulling her own hair out. She called him Yiska because it meant ‘The Night Has Passed’ in Navajo, and that was normally when he’d finally doze off - as the morning sun clocked in for its regular shift. He was like a nocturnal creature, spending the light of day in a deep slumber, and fully animated at night. Only every so often would his circadian rhythm align with the earth’s rotation, but it was rare until he grew a bit older. She’d always address him as Yiska, until he began kindergarten and his father decided it was best she called him by his proper, English name, and that if she had a problem with that, she could move and take him back to the Reservations and live with her family. Still every so often, she’d call him Yiska, and whenever he would fall out of a diurnal pattern of rest, she’d roll her eyes and tut as he’d emerge sleepy-eyed from his room at three in the afternoon on a Saturday, and tell him, you need to sleep along with the rest of us, not when The Night Has Passed. Yiska, my boy, you’re missing out as life lives on without you. Rest easy, sleep calm,  close your eyes, when the Moon is up. Don’t let the Day swallow you whole.

His childhood nickname had two meanings. The literal one, and the metaphor. The Night was the Dark, the place that people didn’t want to live in. When it was over, light would shine upon everyone who needed it the most. The pained, the paralysed, the drained, the worried. The Night Had Passed, the Day is New, we need not worry,  we can rejoice without fear. His mother always reminded him of the silver linings and the lanterns that shimmered along the horizon, right at the opening of the obscure tunnel. When she died, the Night seemed like it was here to stay. He spent every living moment living in it, waiting for the light to come back. The Night was Here and it was never to leave, and all Dudley could do was traipse mindlessly through it like a transient in an infinite dusk.

Her soap shop was closed down shortly after she died. It was still an empty lot, waiting for someone else To Let, to make it their own. Dudley sometimes stood outside the glass doors, peering into the blank walls and dreaming of the days when he’d find solace in the little world his mother had made for them. By now, he could walk straight past it without looking, but it always called for him. The rustic-style sign that once hung above the store called him like his mother used to; Yiska. He could walk straight past and act like the shop never existed, but it always reminded him that it did, that she did, and the tight, tugging feeling in his chest was never going to subside for as long as he was to live. He just needed to bide his time and wait patiently for better days to come.

 

A couple of days after the Salvation Hill meeting, Dudley started to accept that the volunteering thing was something he was now to be fully invested in. He did a bit of research into the place, finding out when it was founded and who by. He told Dylan about it, and his brother was really bad at pretending to care about things like that; he just patted him on the shoulder, finished his third beer, told him to not let the loony old people fuck with his psyche.

 

Dylan once was a student at South Harlow, and if anyone thought Dudley was a disruptive student in any way, they had probably missed out on his older brother’s reign of terror over the school. He had been the class clown, the kid who started all the fights, the kid who could have added up all of his suspensions into his own seasonal vacation. Dylan Warrington was the boy that all the girls wanted and that all the boys hated. A striking blonde with impaling blue eyes and a stunning smile, it was easy to see how he got away with doing half the things he did, even if he didn’t get away with doing the other half. He managed to ace his classes and graduate with a decent GPA before trailblazing his way to college, being the first in the family do so since the eighties.

It was safe to say that most people wouldn’t suspect Dylan and Dudley to be related at first; the same kind of conversations always occurred. They look nothing alike, they don’t even look like cousins, would you believe Dylan Warrington is actually his blood brother? They have to be half-siblings. I do sort of see how they’re similar, though. My older sister knew Dylan as a wild kid at school, and now so’s Dud. And their names are kinda similar, it must have been planned. Now that I think about it, they kinda have a few similar features, like their smiles, their mannerisms. You just wouldn’t notice it straight away, right? It’s not just ‘cause they’re different races, like anybody could see through that. Actually, maybe it is. How many minutes until Lunch break is over?

 

Dudley didn’t know what to make of his brother sometimes. He never seemed to react appropriately to things. The only time he had seen him display real emotion in recent years was at Dudley’s mother’s funeral, where his face was hard as stone, and his eyes glinted with moisture. He got blackout drunk that evening and spent most of the night crying, and once the day was new, he went on acting like everything was hunky-dory. He barely consoled Dudley after his loss, just treated him like a college roommate who didn’t know him on a personal level. Sometimes he’d bring out a benevolent side, making Dudley a nice breakfast or giving him cash so he could go out and do whatever he wanted with it. But the fact of the matter was, he didn’t know how to look after his kid brother. It was a duty bestowed upon him by his trusting stepmother, and it was a promise he knew he had to keep. Dylan Warrington was never good with promises, nor was he exactly guardian material. Somewhere amongst it all, there was a recipe for disaster brewing.

Dudley was slightly scared to spend a summer under the same roof as someone so chaotic; all the previous years, he was the one leaving the house and going to wild parties and gatherings, but he’d always come home to a place of solace and tranquility. Now the walls were caging high tension and noise, deafening music and drug-fuelled chaos. Because he was going to be considered a legal adult in a few more months, there was no need to try and move him away to family elsewhere, so he had to accept that this was going to be what life was like, at least for a while. Spending a few hours reading books to old people became more enticing as he toyed around with the idea in his brain; he could bask a certain quietness and magnanimity that his friends or his brother couldn’t feed his heart.

 

“You doing this Good Samaritan shit on your own?” Dylan asked him.

“What?”

“The care home thing.”

“Salvation Hill.”

“Same difference. Something Biblical.”

“No, I have a partner.” Dudley sat in the living room, pretending to watch TV. “Everyone is assigned to a partner or a group.”

“Huh.”

“Yup.”

“Dude or girl?”

“…Girl.”

“Heck Yeah! Maybe she’ll blow you in the reading room every now and then, if you’re nice.”

“Dude.”

“What? How else are you gonna get over Cher Horowitz?” Dylan once told Dudley that he thought Vanessa was super hot, but also way too into herself, which was partly true and partly false. She liked to keep up appearances, but she wasn’t a mean girl, nor was she completely conceited. Dylan never called her by her real name, always something alluding to her conceived uppityness.

“Jesus. That’s not all girls are for.”

Dylan shrugged. “It was a joke.”

“You must have been the one who put Dave Chapelle out of business.”

Dylan laughed. “You’re actually funny. And a good kid. Keep it up. Don’t become a bad-natured man like me, and a cunt like our father.”

“That won’t be hard. Those standards are below sea level.”

 

 

Naya texted Dudley, five days after their encounter in the office. They hadn’t said anything to each other physically, but they seemed to be on the same wavelength when it came to masking their upcoming activity from their friends. She told him that she hadn’t told the Girls, because she didn’t want to make a huge deal out of it. He replied that she could if she wanted to, he didn’t care, word would get out eventually. She said she wouldn’t. He asked her what albinism was, and she said it was a genetic skin condition, and no, it couldn’t be caught nor was it curable, nor was it super dangerous, as long as she wore SPF 50 sunscreen. He responded, ‘cool’. That was what he always said when he didn’t have much else to say, and when he wasn’t keep on a long-winded conversation over text. He wasn’t much of a texter, anyway. He didn’t even know why he really owned a phone. He was better off communicating through messenger pigeon.

Still, Naya continued to talk to him, and he went along with it. Might as well break the ice to make things bearable, he told himself. She wasn’t even that bad to converse with, anyway; she brought a certain amount of colour with her words, like her clothes and her style, and it was refreshing, to say the least. She’d send him a funny joke or tell him a song she’d had on repeat for the last week. She asked just as much as she told, and wasn’t fazed or interested in whatever facade Dudley may have been putting on, because she was still the new girl, and the commonalities of Harlow kids meant nothing to her. Deep down, he knew that his mother would have liked her.

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