WoD Wednesday: Abecedarian

Abecedarian: Adjective: 1. a. Of or relating to the alphabet b. Alphabetically arranged 2. Rudimentary

Continuation from Ineffable from a few weeks ago.

peach fog

Abecedarian

An incredible ache consumes me the moment I wake up. When I exhale a groan, my hot breath bounces off a wall a few inches away back into my face. Peach fog invades my vision upon opening my eyes. Being curled in a fetal position, my arms are curled into my chest. I attempt to reach out a hand, only for it to be stopped by a smooth surface not far from my body.

Am I in some kind of a box? If I am, I’m cushioned beneath me. It’s a good thing I’m not claustrophobic or this could be very traumatizing for me. Turning my throbbing head left and right, I note that I am surrounded by the colored clouds that shift and writhe with my every breath.

Familiar voices are outside my box, though I cannot determine how far away they are. They’re definitely the men I met before the older one made me lose consciousness. It’s a pity they’re kidnappers because they were possibly the most handsome men I have ever seen. Unearthly handsome. I’ve never seen eyes that color of dark blue, at least not naturally.

Transformation. They said something about me undergoing a transformation. Are they some kind of alien? Oh my gosh. Is this a sort of transformation chamber?

Lifting my hand, I examine it, and promptly begin freaking out. My skin has changed into the color of an actual peach. Is it my imagination or is it sparkling like a Twilight vampire? I have to get out of here.

I try pounding on the walls, but my arms move as though I’m in a pool of water, though I know I’m not in any kind of liquid at all. Am I? No. I can feel tears streaming down my face. What have they done to me? Kicking out with a foot, I manage to make a crack in the wall, causing the fog to escape and cool air to pour in.

“Should we help her?” the younger man asks. I can understand them now. They’re not far away.

“No. This is an abecedarian task she should do on her own,” the other replies.

I don’t even know what that word means, but it sounds like they want me to break out. That concept causes me to pause my attempts. It can’t be a good thing to leave here if they desire me to get out on my own.

A dark blue eye peeks in through the crack in my wall when I haven’t done anything for a while. Part of a smile is exposed on the lower part of his face.

“She’s beautiful.” It’s the younger of the two. “Come now, little one. You can do it.”

“I’m alright in here,” I say.

They both laugh.

I don’t think it’s funny.

“You need to leave your egg now, sweetling. Experience your new world.”

“Egg?”

His smile widens.

The idea of being in an egg does it for me. No matter what I face out there, I can’t be in an egg. I’m not a bird or a fish or a reptile…or a platypus. My arms and legs thrash all over and soon I’ve broken out of the egg, leaving shards of the glittering peach shell scattered all over the floor around me.

To Be Continued…

WoD Wednesday: Ineffable

Ineffable: Adjective: Too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words

Ineffable

Ineffable

This mission to see the ineffable beauty of creation is bringing an ineffable amount of exhaustion and soreness to my limbs. I’m lagging behind everyone in our group to the point where I can’t even see the person in front of me, and it’s not because it’s dark. Before we got separated, I heard the kids in front of me talking about how much of a pain it is that I came along. About how I should have just stayed at home.

If my parents didn’t make me, I wouldn’t have come.

Rearranging my headlamp, I huff out a puffy white cloud into the cold night air. Do those kids think talking smack about me while I’m right behind them is going to help the situation? Did my parents consider that this little trip might actually make it so kids like me less than before, seeing as though I have been slowing down the whole group?

Of course, I guess that isn’t the case anymore. I can’t see them or their flashlights. Forget following people, I’m following footprints like some tracker in a sasquatch show. No. Not going to thing about sasquatch or how it’s rumored to live in these woods. They probably just said that to scare me.

A twig snaps behind me and I freeze.

Ineffable.

Now, that’s a great word to describe my fear. Even if it isn’t sasquatch, it could be a bear or a cougar. It could even be a person. What if it’s some kind of psychopath? Why have I stopped?

My feet begin moving again of their own volition at a quicker pace than I was moving in before. Fatigue was settling into my bones before, but now a shot of adrenaline has given me a heady amount of energy to fuel my fight or flight instinct.

Another twig snaps.

Then, another.

I can hear large footprints catching up to me. I’m being chased.

Before I know it, I’m being tackled to the ground. I scream for help, but still can’t see or hear anyone I know ahead of me. A large hand curves around my head and covers my mouth. Not sasquatch, then. At least there’s that.

“You shouldn’t travel alone in these woods, little girl,” a deep male voice whispers in my ear.

I’m not a little girl. I’m almost fifteen, but I’m not about to argue with Scary Guy. I struggle and kick to get him off my back, but he doesn’t even budge a little.

“Shhh,” he hisses into my ear. “I’m not going to hurt you,” he coos.

Ineffable.

That’s a good way to describe how incredulous I feel at that statement. Beside the fact that I’m all scraped up from being landed on and I’m sure there are bruises forming where he’s holding my wrists behind my back, he can’t really expect me to believe he doesn’t intend to harm me.

He continues to shush and whisper calming words until I give up struggling. If he thinks it’s because I trust him, he’s crazy. The adrenaline has worn off for the moment and I feel a little like I’m going to pass out.

“There we go, princess. Now, are you going to be good and come along with me quietly?”

“No.”

He sighs. “Very well, then.” I feel a sharp pain in the back of my head and everything goes black.

~ ~ ~

Ineffable.

Perfect word for the strangeness of waking up in a giant room with expensive dark furniture and decorated in sapphire blue with white accents, reminiscent of a sky between twilight and night.

Glancing at my hands, I see there are no injuries. How long have I been out? What am I doing here? Why did this sociopath keep me alive rather than kill me on the spot? At least, I’m assuming he’s a sociopath. There’s no way he could have known that I would be out in the middle of the forest by myself. Then again, given the opulence of the room, he could be a psychopath. Ugh. It doesn’t matter what kind of insane he is. I have to get out of here.

Throwing the blankets off, I head for the door, only for it to be opened in my face. Backpedaling, I run behind a couch as if it will protect me from the strangers entering my room. One is a middle-aged man with a golden circlet, of all things, around his head. Behind him is a younger man, perhaps a few years older than me. Each have long black hair, and midnight blue eyes.

“This is the one?” the older man asks.

“Yes. She’s perfect,” the younger one responds. His voice reveals his identity as the man who kidnapped me.

“I’m not the one,” I snap. They both lift their right eyebrows at me. Are they father and son? “Send me home. Now.”

“I’m afraid that’s not possible, young lady. My son has chosen you, you see,” the older man explains soothingly, as if that makes any difference.

“I don’t care if he’s chosen me. I’m not–”

“You are. And you will stay here. I’ve been watching you a long time. I know you are right for me,” the younger one interrupts.

“No.”

They both sigh. “No matter. We’ll just keep her under until the time is right for her transformation,” the older man says to the younger.

“Transformation?”

The younger man scoffs. “Of course. You don’t expect me to be of any use like that, do you?”

I frown, but before I can say anything, the older man is suddenly in front of me, placing his hands on both my cheeks, and I’m losing consciousness again.

“Don’t worry, dear. We’ll take care of you,” he says.

Ineffable.

Best to describe the hopelessness I feel as I fall unconscious.

To Be Continued…

WoD Wednesday: Enervate

I’m back!!!!!

Enervate: Verb: 1: To reduce the mental or moral vigor of 2: To lessen the vitality or strength of

Enervate

“Honey! It’s time to wake up!” Mom calls from the other side of the door.

“Muh,” I groan like Frankenstein’s monster. She laughs heartily and I hear her footsteps quiet as she walks away from the door.

I don’t want to wake up.

How can she laugh at a time like this, anyway?

Dragging myself out of bed, I walk over to my full-length mirror to examine myself before donning my library assistant uniform. After rationing and mandatory physical training took effect, my whole family lost weight. I wish I could actually enjoy it, but it’s not like it really matters whether or not I’m attractive to the opposite gender when I’m going to be assigned a husband in a little over ten hours anyway.

With a sigh, I walk to my closet and pull out the white jumpsuit and the long navy blue suit jacket I’m required to wear at the resource desk of the library. Pulling my hair back into a chignon, I pin it in place with a butterfly clip. Each day, we are allowed one personal accessory to wear in public. A wedding band won’t count since it will be added to my uniform after the ceremony.

Applying the requisite foundation, blush, nude eye color, mascara, and clear lip gloss, I consider what my husband might be like. Sometimes they pair opposites, like Mom and Dad. She is a history teacher and my dad is a car mechanic. Sometimes they go for similarities. Law enforcement partners are often matched. This time, though, it could go very differently for me.

At the beginning of the year, they started pairing some of us with them. My best friend, Tammena got matched with one and I haven’t seen her since. She was in last quarter’s coupling event. Although we knew we wouldn’t be in the same event, there was the hope we could at least stay near each other, so we could remain friends.

Standing in front of my closet again, I trace my fingers over the white chiffon of my ceremonial dress. It shouldn’t have surprised me when they made the announcement near the end of last year that they would be taking some of our own. Although they never came out and said it, many assumed that was their reasoning for invading our world: their distinct lack of females.

The takeover was swift and chaos was rampant for a few days while they took control, but once we got it through our heads that resistance was, indeed, futile, people slowly began to fall in line. There are rumors of a resistance, but if they’re doing anything, they’re not doing much to make a dent.

I sluff my way down the stairs and plop into a chair at the table, where a bowl of vanilla yogurt and granola wait for me. At least breakfast is good today.

“Come on, sweetie. You need to enervate yourself. It’s a big day today,” Mom prods.

“First of all, that word doesn’t mean what you think it means. Second, why should I be excited? I’m going to end up like Tammena. They’re going to take me away and–”

“Stop,” Mom hushes me with wide eyes. “You never know when they’re listening,” she whispers.

Shoving the bowl away from me, I get up to leave.

“You must eat your food, Lorena Wood,” a male voice resounds from the speaker in the living room. “Please be seated and resume your meal.”

Swallowing down an infuriated growl, I take my seat again. Mom gives me a warning look and I pull the bowl back to myself. Like a soldier, I eat the food quickly, not saying another word to the woman. She may have given birth to me, but she’s insane if she thinks I’m excited for this sham of a match.

“It could be good for you, to end up with one of them.”

I give her an incredulous look, pinch my lips together, and run out the door, slamming it behind me before she can say anything else. Good for me? Good to be told what to do for the rest of my life? Good to be forced to bear children of someone I don’t know? Good to be matched with an alien from outer space, who just happens to have enough DNA in common with me to be compatible.

No. This isn’t good for me. There’s no way it will be good for me.

Enervate

WoD Wednesday: Omen

Omen: noun: an event regarded as a portent of good or evil.

Omen

When I pull up into the parking lot of my local coffee shop, I open my door to climb out. Just before I do, the passenger in the car next to me opens theirs without looking first, barely missing my car. I give him a dirty look through the window of my cracked door and he mutters an apology. After he shuts the door and goes into the shop, I get out myself and follow, hoping he doesn’t think I’m some kind of creeper.

When I enter the shop, he notices and gestures for me to get in front of him. Alright. I forgive him and take the spot in line. The barista is a new girl. I feel for her. People in my neighborhood tend to be on the picky-side, so I’m sure no one is ordering a simple mocha. Heck. My own drink is going to be a quad-shot caramel Frappuccino with skim milk and whipped cream. Yes. I’m aware that it is ironic to have skim with whipped cream, but it’s the way I like it.

When I’m next in line, some teenage boy swaggers in and swoops in front of me. Teeny bopper barista just bats her eyelashes and gives a deep sigh. He starts to order, but Door Opener taps him on the shoulder and gestures with a closed fist and outstretched thumb the line behind us. Swagger raises an eyebrow and smirks like he owns the world, but when the rest of the people in line begin to protest, he finally relents and goes to the back of the line.

When I order my drink, I’m sure Teeny Bopper Barista gets it wrong. She’s so new, she doesn’t have a nametag. I give her a ten percent tip, still feeling annoyed that she was about to allow Swagger to cut in front of everyone in line. Door Opener and his friend stand next to me at the other end of the counter a short while later and we wait.

When my drink is called, I pick it up, nod to Door Opener, and head out to my car. As I step onto the sidewalk, a skateboarder zooms past and it makes me drop my beverage. Dark brown Frappuccino spills all over the ground. Mocha. Yup. It was wrong. I glare at his back and he turns his head as he leaves to see the damage he left. Swagger never got back in line. It was him. He gives me a smirk, salutes, then ditches the scene. Deciding that I’m just not going to bother, I get into my car.

When I turn the ignition, nothing happens. Of course not. I slam my forehead into the steering wheel and pull out my phone to call roadside assistance. I get out of my car as Door Opener is reentering his own. Or his friend’s? I walk to get to the back of my car and a crow flies in my face. I swat at it, and lean against the trunk as it leaves. Door Opener asks if anything is wrong and I say I’m just waiting on a tow truck. He notes the absence of my drink and I explain the mess outside the coffee shop was mine. Frowning, he offers me his, saying he hasn’t drank out of it and he insists I take it, since I’m having a bad day. I accept and he leaves.

When the car and I are finally at the mechanic, I check it in and get a rental car. For some stupid reason, the cars are across the street, and the gal behind the counter pops her gum and tells me it’s the only maroon PT Cruiser over there. Great. A crappy car to top off my crappy day. She hands me the key and says she doesn’t need to do a walk-around, sending me on my way.

When I move to cross the street, a hand pulls me back by the collar of my jacket just as a Mustang zooms past, running a red light. I could have died. I think back on my day to everything that happened. Door Opener preventing me from getting out of my car. Swagger cutting in line. Swagger cutting me off with his skateboard. The random crow flying in my face. Then, the car almost hits me. Were all those things omens leading up to the moment of my fated demise? Is there anything else I need to worry about?

When I turn around to thank my rescuer, I find Door Opener. I don’t know how he could be there. He drove off long ago to God knows where. He smiles big at me and disappears. Not walking-away-disappearing. Vanished. Poof. Gone. I have a feeling I don’t need to watch out for any further disturbances in my day.

Omen

WoD Wednesday: Enigmatic

Enigmatic: Adjective: Of, relating to, or resembling an enigma: mysterious

Enigmatic

“I don’t get it. What do girls see in him?” I feel like gagging as I watch the crowd of Theo’s admirers hanging on his every word at the table across the cafeteria.

“Jealous?” My best friend waggles her eyebrows at me and I roll my eyes.

“Don’t be absurd, Wren. I’m not jealous. Why would I need to be jealous? He’s my friend.”

“Right. Friend.”

“Really.”

“V, most boys who are just friends do not go out of their way to stop by the girl’s house after work late at night.”

I shrug. “I don’t know what to tell you. As far as I know, there’s no interest in me there.”

Her eyes widen. “But you’re interested in him?”

Crap. I kind of let that slip.

“It doesn’t matter.”

Our friend, Bae, sits at the table with us and begins ripping open his ten packets of ketchup for his pizza. Ew.

“Hey, ladies.”

“Really, Bae?” Wren says incredulously and he chuckles. Noting the direction of my gaze, he says, “Did you hear the latest?”

I frown and look at him. “What do you mean?”

“Theo. He’s dating Cherry.”

Wren’s mouth gapes open and my heart rips a bit. Cherry the head cheerleader is dating Theo? What the heck? Is that why he hasn’t come over the last few days? Why was he coming over so late if he was interested in her? He could have at least had the decency to tell me himself.

I mean, I know I just told Wren we were just friends, but really? I thought I was getting vibes from him. I guess I was wrong.

“He’s so enigmatic,” I mutter under my breath.

“More like a jerk,” Wren says.

“Whatever. You guys want some pizza?” Bae is clueless, but I appreciate the distraction.

“That’s so gross, Bae,” I say.

“Thanks,” he responds. I stab at my pizza with a fork. “Hey, V?”

I look up and he’s suddenly serious.

“What?”

“He’s nuts for not choosing you.” Bae takes a giant bite of his cheese pizza smothered in ketchup.

I chuckle. “Thanks, Bae.”

He’s right, of course. I sigh, then laugh at Bae’s expression of euphoria as he scarfs down his food. Some boys suck. Thank goodness they aren’t all like that.

Enigma

WoD Wednesday on Thursday: Buttonhole

Buttonhole: Noun: To detain in conversation by or as by holding on to the outer garments of

Buttonhole

There are two types of people who shop at malls. Those who want to take their time and look at everything, and those who are on a mission. Today, I’m on a mission.

On the way to a wedding, we stopped for gas. I opened the back door to make sure my daughter was doing okay, but didn’t realize she had balanced her cup between her booster and the door. When it crashed to the ground, the lid popped off and drenched my dress in chocolate milk. Obviously, I can’t wear it now. Our house is forty-five minutes away, so I can’t go home first. The mall is the only option.

“In and out,” my husband says.

“Then you should both wait here,” I respond.

“I want to go in the mall!” my daughter whinges from the backseat.

Unbuckling, I speak to her a little more harshly than necessary. But gosh darn it! I’m irritated.

“We wouldn’t even need to make the stop if you had used your cupholder like you’re supposed to.”

Now standing outside in the doorway, I look back and see her bottom lip trembling. We really don’t have time for a meltdown.

“If you’re good with Daddy while I’m in, we will think of something special to do for you after the wedding. Okay?”

Barely catching her enthusiastic nod, I slam the door and begin running as fast as I can in high heels. Just before I get to the door, my heel catches on a crack and I hit the ground onto my knees hard.

Ouch.

Great. Now my dress is not only dirty, but ruined. The pretty chiffon now sports several tears where it smashed into the ground. Pulling myself up onto shaky legs, I brush my front with my hands and limp the rest of the way in.

The gal at the kiosk nearest to the door clearly saw me biff it and looks at me with concerned eyes. I have a rule about kiosks, since I don’t really like talking to people I don’t know or being manipulated in general.

Don’t make eye contact. If you don’t make eye contact, you can pretend you didn’t hear and just keep walking. No social faux pas committed.

Unfortunately, I’m so frazzled by one thing after another going wrong, I break the rule and meet her gaze. Hoping to salvage the shattering of Mall Rule Number One, I give her an embarrassed smile and try to walk past her. The store I’m going for is just beyond her booth.

No such luck. Of course.

“Oh my! I saw you take a tumble out there. Are you alright?” she asks with a terribly false British accent. I’m a Whovian. I know a fake accent when I hear it.

“Uh. Yeah. I’ll be fine. I just need to get a new dress.” I point at the store as I keep moving, but she nonchalantly steps in front of me.

Really?

“You should let me help you out. This skincare line has a great scar prevention cream.”

“I doubt I’ll scar. I’ve had worse falls before.”

Bending over, she examines my knees. Now people are starting to stare.

“You’re bleeding.”

Thanks, Captain Obvious.

“Yes. I have a first aid kit in my car. I’ll take care of it after I buy my dress. I’m on my way to a wedding.”

Hint. Hint.

“Besides that,” she seems to ignore what I’m saying, “Your knees look a little dry. Would you like to try our special lotion for dry skin?”

“No thanks. That will just smear the blood. Maybe I can come back in after I clean up.”

I have no intention of coming back in. She knows it. Pursing my lips, I walk around the kneeling woman to the store, pretending like I can’t hear her continue speaking to me. I don’t have time for her to buttonhole me here.

Once in the store, I beeline straight to the clearance rack. In a stroke of luck, which has evaded me up until now, I find a nice dress I’ll probably wear more than once for a decent price. With a sigh of relief, I pay for it. The lady behind the counter notices my knees and offers their first aid kit and restroom to clean up and change. I take her up on it.

Feeling refreshed, I wave at the nice sales associate and walk toward my exit. This time, I follow my rule.

“Oh! You got cleaned up. Come here so I can give you a free…”

I don’t hear the rest of what she’s saying because I’m out the door on the way to my car. Was that rude? Maybe. But I have a wedding to get to and a daughter to hopefully reward for good behavior.

Buttonhole

WoD Wednesday: Buttress

Buttress: Noun: 1: a projecting structure (as of masonry) that supports or stabilizes a wall or building 2: something that supports, props, or strengthens

Buttress

Taking a sip from my champagne flute, I scan the dance floor with an admiral attempt at not being bitter. Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy for the bride and groom. They’re my friends, after all.

But have you ever heard the saying, “Always a bridesmaid, but never a bride?” That’s me. This is the sixth wedding I’ve been in over the last two years. Three friends, two cousins, and today, it’s my brother.

Alan and his blushing bride, Ann, are dancing slowly to some sappy Ed Sheeran song. She’s beautiful. My dress, not so much. IF I ever get to have my own wedding day, I’m not going to torture my bridesmaids with hideous dresses.

Of course, they’re not the only ones dancing in the slow dance circles we all learned in high school. By now, we’re well into the reception. Toasts have been made, cake has been cut, flowers and garters have been thrown, the elderly people have gone home.

I need to go for a walk.

Pushing away from the wall, I sway a bit and realize I’m tipsy. I glare at the half empty glass of champagne as if it’s all its fault that I’m on my third glass. After setting my glass down on a random table, and swaying a bit, I manage to get myself outside.

The gardens are beautiful and I really want to walk through them, but I don’t make it past the buttress of the cathedral Ann insisted on renting, despite the ridiculous cost. Since it’s slanted, I lay back on it and gaze at the night sky.

“It was getting stuffy in there, huh?”

I start at the voice next to me and look over. Am I seriously so out of it that I didn’t see someone else already occupying this space?

“S’rry. I dint see you ther,” I slur. I’m slurring. I turn my head to see who I’m talking to. Naturally, he’s gorgeous.

He chuckles. “Had a little too much?”

“Not on purpose.” I look back to the star-speckled sky.

“You’re Alan’s sister, right?”

“Yup.”

“Shouldn’t you be inside, you know, celebrating or something?”

I shrug. I feel like I’ve met the obligated amount of celebration for the day.

“Not big on parties?”

Does this guy ever shut up? Looking at him, I decide to voice my thoughts. It’s probably the alcohol. Don’t drink and party. You never know what you’ll say or do. Lesson learned. Never more than one glass ever again. Never.

“You talk a lot,” I say.

He chuckles again. “Aren’t you the blunt little thing?”

I narrow my eyes at him. “I just say what everyone else is thinking, but is too afraid to say.”

“I’m Colin. A friend of Alan’s from college.”

“Dax.” Rolling my eyes, I return my gaze to space.

“Dax?”

“My parents were big Deep Space Nine fans. Apparently, they got over it before Alan was born and he got a normal name.”

“Go to dinner with me.”

Really? This guy.

“Already ate. And it’s really late.”

“Tomorrow.”

“I have plans.”

“Doing what?”

“I’m going to wash my hair.”

He lets out a breathy laugh. “I thought you were blunt.”

Meeting his eyes, I say, “No.”

“Why?”

“I don’t date Alan’s friends. He told me a long time ago to never do it. So I honor his request.”

“Hmm. That’s weird. Because he told me I should ask you out.”

I gape at him. “He did what?” I stand up too quickly to go chew out my brother at his wedding reception and fall. Knowing I can’t catch myself in time, I squeeze my eyes shut and wait for the inevitable pain. Instead, I feel an arm wrap around my waist and pull me back up to standing. I glare at my savior.

“Don’t be mad. He just thinks we would be good together. He knows both of us. Why not give it a shot? Just one date. If you don’t like me, we never have to see each other again.”

I examine his face. A strong chin and suave black curls frame his face. His eyes are the color of a clear ocean on a sunny day. He does have a point. And do I really want to continue with always being in weddings that aren’t my own? Not that I’m going to marry this guy. I just met him. Still, it could happen.

“Alright. For now, I’m just going to lay here until I’m not tipsy anymore, then I’m going home.”

He grins. “I’ll stay with you, then. No need to stay alone.”

After lowering me back to the safety of the buttress, he lays down next to me take hesitantly takes my hand. I give it a little squeeze. Who knows? Maybe this is the beginning of something great?

Buttress

Belated WoD Wednesday: Obstinate

Life has been crazy, y’all. I know this is super late, but here it is.

Obstinate: Adjective: 1: Perversely adhering to an opinion, purpose, or course 2: Not easily overcome or removed

Obstinate

The dried leaves crackle and twigs snap beneath my Converse Chuck Taylors as I desperately try to keep up. Blisters and swollen ankles are in my near future. I should have listened when Betty told me I needed to wear different shoes, but she’s normally so clueless about everything. How was I supposed to know that hiking was something she does regularly? Besides, she made the suggestion with a cruel little smirk, so I thought she was just messing with me.

Better yet, I never should have come.

What did I do to deserve her being assigned as my roommate for my first year of college?

Her strawberry blonde ponytail swings from side-to-side as she follows her date closely. My own date is being courteous enough to walk with me, but I can tell he really doesn’t want to be walking as slow as we are.

“Maybe we should stop for a few minutes. Get some water into you,” Stone says.

“No…” Huff. “That’s okay…” Huff. “Don’t want to…” Huff. “Slow everyone down.”

What was I thinking when I agreed to this hike? I’m nowhere near in shape enough to do this.

“We’re going to stop for a few minutes!” Stone shouts ahead. “We’ll catch up!”

“Okay. See you at the top!” Betty shouts back in her southern drawl. She gives me an I-told-you-so look before turning away and pursuing her date onward.

“Here. Sit here.” Stone takes my clammy hand in his and tries to bring me over to a boulder.

“No. Really, I’m okay. Let’s keep going,” I respond. My breaths are coming easier now that we’ve stopped for a moment, but then I’m suddenly overcome with lightheadedness and sway.

Catching me before I fall, Stone says, “There’s no need to be obstinate about it. No shame in taking a little break.”

He helps me sit down, pulls my water bottle from my backpack, and hands it to me as he joins me. Telling myself I will only take a sip, I tip my head back to drink a little. The refreshing coolness sliding down my throat throws that out the window, bringing me to greedily chug at it.

“Take your time,” he laughs. “You don’t want to get sick.”

Embarrassed, I stop and close the lid. “Look. I’m really sorry about this. I’m sure being stuck with a slow-poke isn’t exactly what you imagined when you agreed to this blind-date. Hiking isn’t my normal thing and I should have known better than to agree to it.”

“Don’t apologize. It’s alright. Besides, sometimes I get so caught up in getting to the top, I forget to enjoy the journey up there. Your pace has helped me remember to take in the scenery instead of rush to the end.”

Is there a double-meaning there?

“Well, I wish I could enjoy the journey with you.” I glance up the trail. “How much further do we have?”

“Oh. It’s right around the bend up there.”

“What? Why did we stop, then? I could have made it a little farther before stopping.”

“I wanted to have a chance to get to know you better and figured this was the best way to separate from them. I don’t want to reach the end of this journey quite yet.” He winks at me.

Yup. Definitely a double-meaning.

“Well, I don’t mind sharing the scenery with you for a little while longer.”

Maybe it wasn’t so bad that I came after all.

forest floor

WoD Wednesday: Debunk

Debunk: verb: To expose the sham or falseness of

Debunk

It’s dark and no one knows where we are. I should never have argued with Nate over the stupid scary house at the end of the block. I know it’s haunted, even though he won’t admit it. Does it really matter if he believes me? Now, we’re hunched behind this bush and he’s trying to get me to go through the hole in the chain link fence so we can enter the creepy abode.

“Come on, Josh!” He walks to the fence.

“We should go back. This is a really bad plan.”

“No.” Nate stalks back. “I’m going to debunk this story your brother told you about this house. He just doesn’t want you going in.”

“Why would he do that? He has no reason to lie to me.”

Nate sighs long-sufferingly. “Because he’s your older brother. It’s what they do. I do things just to scare Lucy all the time.”

I frown at him. “That’s mean.”

“That’s the point! I can’t believe you really think his girlfriend and he went into the house one and were chased out by a glowing ghost! Did he even tell you why a ghost would be here?”

I shrug. “He’s not really the researching type.”

With a growl, Nate grabs my wrist and pulls me up and through the fence. As we approach the house, we see a dim light in one of the lower floor windows. Why is there a light in there? This house was condemned ages ago. The only reason it hasn’t been torn down yet is because there are other projects higher on the city’s priority list. At least, that’s what Mom says when she complains about the “eyesore of the neighborhood.”

Pulling Nate to a stop, I point at the window. “See? It’s glowing. That must be the ghost. Let’s go now.”

“No way! Let’s go look in.”

How can he be so fearless? Yanking me by the wrist, he strolls right up to the window and looks in. His eyes widen and a flush creeps up his face. What is he seeing? He turns around back to me, meets my eyes, then starts busting up laughing.

I hear a scream from inside and try to get out of Nate’s grip. Stomping resounds on the hollow wood floors and suddenly, I see my brother’s head in the window. Opening it, he glares at me.

“What are you doing here? I told you not to come here.”

I’m baffled. “What are you doing here? You said it was haunted!”

“James, who’s there?” a girly voice yells out.

Turning his head, he says, “It’s my brother and his dumb friend.”

“Hey! I’m not the one who believed the house was haunted!” Nate objects.

“Whatever. Get lost. This is the only place I can meet up with my girlfriend alone.”

“Is that what they’re calling it now?” Nate says. I have no idea what he’s talking about. “What if we tell your Mom and Dad what you’re up to?”

“You won’t.”

“Why do you think that?” I ask defiantly. Who is he to tell me what to do?

“Because to tell them, you would have to admit to sneaking out tonight. You would get in trouble, too.”

Well, crap.

“Bye kiddos.” He leaves the window and Nate and I stare at it for a couple minutes.

“Told you.”

“Shut up. Let’s get back to my house before Mom discovers us gone.”

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