Amanda saw a bright
light mass. It really had no shape, and it throbbed and pulse as it appeared to
be trying to escape some invisible box.
Then she remembered
some of what happened.
key?" she asked out loud.
it," a voice said from behind her.
Amanda turned around
to see the Blue Lady. She couldn't make out any details because the entity was
glowing more than usual.
understand it soon enough."
The Blue lady
gestured towards the light that was now behind her. Amanda turned again to see
the light morphing into a field of debris in space. For a moment she floated
there, along with the chunks of metal. Then she felt as if she was being pulled
back, gently at first. The force almost felt like falling.
Then she saw the
strange flame again, but instead of waking up, she continued to fall, until she
saw water come up to her quickly. When she hit the water, everything went dark
and she felt like she was still falling. Soon she started to hear voices. One she
recognize as Todd, the other sounded like Trisha. Both seem to be talking in a
foreign language. At this point, she realized that she was waking up, but what
are they doing in her room?
Amanda opened her
eyes. The voices stopped. It was then she realized that she wasn't in her room
but in a hospital. After looking around for a moment, she realized it was the
same hospital she ended up in when she was first found.
She tried sitting
up, but had that same falling feeling and immediately nixed the idea.
easy," Todd said and he was by her side holding her hand.
really, really dizzy," Amanda said.
said it would be expected," Todd responded. "You took quite the
Trisha said, "It was a good thing I had a taser, otherwise you may have
had more problems than a serious migraine."
Amanda saw Todd
glare at Trisha. Trisha gave a 'What? What did I do?' look.
Todd sighed and
looked at Amanda. "Listen, Detective Snyder is here. Are you up for some
suppose," Amanda responded.
Todd went to get the
detective, and Amanda couldn't help but think that she was doing this all over
behind Amanda and was surprised on how difficult it was to keep up. When they
got to the road, Amanda was already kicking herself for forgetting her
She stopped to take
Amanda was having another migraine, dug in her bag and took out her first aid
"The water is
in the car. I didn't expect to be here long," Amanda said. She had to
force herself to concentrate to speak. This migraine was different from the
rest. It wasn't just painful but hundreds of images and scenes kept flashing
through her mind.
Trisha took her by
the hand and led her to the car. When they got to the car, they both noticed
the black sedan behind theirs, but didn't think anything of it, until the two
occupants got out.
the driver as Mr. Businessman. The passenger came out armed.
Trisha had placed
herself between Amanda and the two men. "Bad idea, boys," Trisha said
with a demeanor that Amanda never seen in her.
started shouting expletives. "Where is the key!"
what?" Amanda asked, barely holding herself up against the car. "What
Mr. Businessman was
yelling about not signing up for this and they were only supposed to frighten
the girls. He apparently didn't think it would involve a gun.The passenger was yelling in an accent that
Amanda did not recognize. Trisha was yelling back, but Amanda couldn't make
sense of it anymore. Her head felt like it was about to burst.She was hearing too many voices at once. They
were too loud. The activity and the noise was causing her more pain.
Amanda thought she said, "Stop it now!" but she wasn't sure. She
Amanda stopped. Trisha heard her stop and turned around.
“Wait, is this the spot?” Trisha asked.
Amanda didn't answer right away. Instead, she walked to the middle
of the road and turned to face the direction they came from. She remembered the
lights bearing down on her.
The road was so curvy, they could no longer see their car.
Amanda turned towards Trisha again.
“Yeah, I think so.” Then she gave Trisha a sly smile. "It's
hard to tell without the high beams of the car.
Trisha laughed apprehensively.
Amanda heard a car coming and walked back to the side of the road.
A few moments later, she and Trisha watched it pass them. Amanda, pointed
towards the woods.
"I must have walked out of there," Amanda said a little
disappointed. She was hoping to remember something of significance, but other
than the memory of the lights and being wrapped in the blanket, she couldn't
think of anything else.
"Isn't there a spot over there where we can see the
lake?" Trisha asked. "Several cars had passed without seeing you
moments before you were nearly ran over by the car that found you. So it's not
likely you walked down the road."
"Yeah," Amanda responded, "You might be
right." She was disappointed. Still no triggers.
She then checked her phone GPS. Both ofthem made sure their phones were charged on
the way, so neither one of them were concerned about battery life.
Amanda started walking towards the woods. "Let's go."
They both headed towards the woods.
Halfway there, Trisha started to complain a little. The trail was
much steeper than they thought it was so it was taking longer and both were
"'Let me go with you,' I said, 'It'll be inspirational,' I
said, 'How hard would it be?' I said," Trisha moaned and stopped walking.
"The lake view isn't really that far," Amanda stopped
and turned to face Trisha who was leaning up against the tree. "It's not
even a half-mile. It's just really steep."
After Trisha caught her breath, they continued on. It wasn't long
before they reached a cliff overlooking the lake. While Amanda walked around
the area, Trisha grabbed her phone and started to take pictures. "Well,
I'm not going to sit here and paint," Trisha explained after Amanda shot
her a questioning look.
The area was definitely familiar, but it seems that it wasn't the
only place she's been. Happy that she may be getting somewhere, finally, Amanda
looked back over the lake and wondered if she crossed it first.
She turned back towards Trisha and for a brief moment, she thought
she could remember a rock flying towards her head. She put her hand on the spot
over her right temple. It was where the doctor said that something hit her.
At that moment, she felt the “twinge” again, but this time it was
different. Amanda suddenly had a sense of fear and dread. Images started to
randomly appear in her mind. A lot of images were like memories, but none of
them made any sense.
She took one last glance at the lake again, then told Trisha, “We
need to get back.”
Trisha noticed Amanda's unease. “Wait, what is it?”
Amanda didn't respond. She definitely recognized the place, but
she didn't want to say anything about it yet. It wasn't that she didn't trust
Trisha. She simply could not shake the feeling that danger was nearby or that
they were being watched.
"I'll have to tell you when we are home." Amanda said.
Then she started walking towards the road. "Let's go."
"Next stop," Trisha said as she put the car into gear,
"Lake Champlain, right?"
"Burlington," Amanda said as she checked her phone maps
and texted the link of the location to Trisha.
Trisha used the link in her texts to set her Phone's GPS. Then
they were off.
Trisha, to Amanda's surprise, had a license. Amanda kept a
non-drivers ID on her since she never really needed to drive. She never had a
job to work for someone else, and the only places she would go while living in
Vermont was to school or church.
They drove to what seemed like forever. Amanda watched the trees
rush by as she felt her apprehension growing. She didn’t know what to expect
when they got there.
She was hoping that some memory would come to her. Instead, she
felt the dreaded “twinge” that announced an oncoming migraine. Rummaging
through her bag to find painkillers, she realized that she may not have
remembered to put them back into her bag after cleaning it out. It had been a
long while since she had a migraine, so she never thought to check.
“We're here,” Trisha said and she pulled the car to the side of
Amanda looked up. Most roads in Vermont, the shoulders were
narrow. In Scenic roads, however, there was the occasional dirt pull-off, put
there by the state so people can pull over and enjoy the view.
“It's further up the road,” Amanda said.
“Yeah, I know, but I bet there's not one of these dirt areas for a
few miles past the location. We'll have to walk.” Trisha got out, opened the
passenger door, and grabbed Amanda's hand. “C'mon! It's not far. It'll be fun!”
Amanda stepped out of the car, grabbed her phone, and closed the
door. Trisha turned to lock the car doors.
“Yeah,” Amanda said facetiously, “We don't want the mosquitoes
flying away with our stuff.”
Trisha's mood suddenly turned dark. “Well,” she mumbled, “You
never know.” A moment passed then Trisha said happily, “Let's go!”
“Um, okay,” Amanda said and followed Trisha up the road. She
always thought Trisha to be a bit eccentric, but even this was a little out of
character even for her.
As they were walking, Amanda noticed that the twinge was gone and
she has no migraine. This happens once in a while and she was glad she was
lucky enough for it to not happen this time. She forgot to repack the
painkillers after all.
What she didn't notice, however, is the black sedan pulling up
behind their rental.
The house was just as different. Amanda's foster parents had
painted the place. While there were still religious symbols and sayings, they
didn't have the ominous feel.
They all sat around the kitchen table and talked about the last
two years. The church that her foster parents went to finally shut its doors
due to lack of attendance. Amanda wasn't at all surprised. Who would want to
stay at a church who condemned everyone that walked in.
“It's like a second family, now," Amanda's foster mother
Amanda found their transformation fascinating. However, in spite
of her foster mother's explanations, she couldn't understand any of it. Amanda
made a mental note to research some of these concepts online later.
The conversation went from personal stories to local gossip. The
neighbors with the little dog moved out. That dog would viciously attack anyone
– that is until you turned to face him and stomped your foot on the ground.
Then he would turn and run away yipping as if you actually had stomped on him.
Then there was the boy across the street. In spite of his home
problems, he turned out okay. Rumor has it that he had started his own business
in the next town over and was doing very well for himself.
Yet another neighbor converted their house to a duplex.
Apparently, the house will be going into foreclosure because the tenants
haven't been paying rent. Her foster parents were somewhat relieved. The cops
were there on a few occasions.
Amanda told them about how she was doing and about the new book
she was working on. She kept problems like Joey's murder out of it. Her foster
parents had their problems, but she knew that they cared for her. She didn't
want to worry them.
Finally, Amanda and Trisha finally said their goodbyes and got
into the rental.
“Well,” Trisha said, “That was interesting. You have interesting
Amanda chuckled. “Well, they weren't always that interesting,”
Amanda said as she made a note in her phone on all of the things she heard with
the intention of looking all of it up.
The moment her foster parents stepped out Amanda almost didn't
recognize them. The most striking is how they were dressed.
She was sent to their home as an emergency placement at first. The
social worker told her that they were really conservative Christians and she
didn't have to stay there. The social worker never said anything outright, but
Amanda had a sense of disdain and contempt.
Her foster mother was always dressed in long neutral-colored
dresses and a head-covering which usually consists of a doily or handkerchief.
Not to mention, her foster father was always downcast, seemingly
burdened with the weight of the world. He always wore slacks and a button up
shirt, even when he was splitting firewood for the winter. They refused to have
any other form of heat since it may allow them to become lazy.
They were friendly enough, though their smiles seemed forced. As
time passed, Amanda had come to realize that her foster parents didn't deserve
criticism. They did that enough themselves. Her foster mother was constantly
criticizing herself and her husband, but never to her face. He was passive
aggressive and would occasionally insert a cutting remark under his breath.
However, Amanda have heard him cut himself down even worse when he thought no
one was listening.
hated themselves and they hated their lives.
Now, she seemed lighter on her feet as she embraced Amanda. He
stood aside beaming.
“Wow,” Amanda said finally after introducing Trisha, “You seem
well, mom and dad.”
“Well, there has been a few changes here,” her mother said, “Why
don't you two come inside. Dad and I had just finished making an apple
“Oh,” Trisha said, “I'm Gluten free.”
“Since when?” Amanda scoffed.
“Since last week!” Trisha sounded indignant.
Amanda was about to respond but mom stopped her. “Oh, it's okay,”
She said, “We are too. It's oatmeal and almond flour.”
“Oh good,” Trisha who sounded a little too happy to still be able
to have her sweets.
Amanda sighed and followed her foster parents in, Trisha followed
“You should be gluten free, too,” she hissed at Amanda's back.
Amanda chose to ignore it for now, thinking that the sugar in the cobbler
probably isn't any better. She heard Trisha hesitate behind her, causing Amanda
glance back to see Trisha looking thoughtfully at her.
Arriving in Albany, tired and a little disheveled, Amanda and
Trisha found their shuttle to the hotel waiting for them.
“I can use a shower, like, yesterday”, Trisha groaned.
Amanda muttered an agreement and hurried to help Trisha and the
driver to load the van. Their carry-on bags were a mess after having to go
through them multiple times for one thing or another. The coach seats on the
train were comfortable enough, unless you were sleeping in them. The two
travelers tossed and turned in them all night.
“Remind me to get the sleeper car if we ever do this again,”
Amanda grumbled as she slid in next to Trisha. "It would have been worth
the extra, especially if we split the cost."
“I know, right?” Trisha respond, shifting in her seat.
"Definitely not worth the savings."
They decided it was best to spend most of the day in town first.
Amanda made sure to find a hotel that was in walking distance to some shopping
and places to eat. They'll turn in early and then pick up their rental car and
head immediately towards Vermont.
Amanda decided that she would call her foster parents at the hotel
to let them know that they'll be in the area. Then they'll go a little farther
north, by lake Champlain, in the area where she was found. Whether or not it
all goes well, Amanda promised Trisha to visit both sides of the lake so she
might be inspired by the view.
The driver got into the car and turned the key.
He tried again. Still nothing.
The driver cursed under his breath and turned towards the women.
“I'm sorry, ladies, but it appears this one is acting up again.”
“Again?” Amanda responded wearily. She was too tired to be
“Yeah, it's happened to this car before, and they did something to
fix it and it only took a few seconds, but I'm not sure what they did to get it
to work. We'll have to wait for the company mechanic to come out to fix it.”
Amanda thought for a moment. “Check the terminals on the battery,”
The driver shrugged, pulled the lever for the hood, and got out of
the van. Amanda got out as well and they both met up in front.
The driver opened the hood and saw that one of the terminals on
the battery was caked in a white crust.
“See if you can get most of that white stuff off,” Amanda said.
While the driver worked on the terminal, using his multi-tool that he had in
his pocket, Amanda explained, “My foster father had the same problem. I guess
there's something wrong with your electrical system for it to corrode like
The driver finished, and then they both got back in. He turned the
key and the van started right up.
“You just saved us 20 minutes for the mechanic to come out,” the
"Yeah, but, you still have to take the vehicle in."
Amanda responded. The driver didn't seem to hear, but she didn't care. She was
looking forward to that hot shower.
No one noticed the black sedan that followed them to the hotel.
Amanda and Trisha checked in their luggage and boarded the train.
Then they went to look for their seats in the coach car. When Amanda was
purchasing tickets, they both agreed that they needed to cut costs and go by
As Amanda put her bag onto the overhead, she noticed someone that
looked like the business suit guy from the coffee shop in the corner of her
eye. When she looked over, whoever it was, moved out of her line of sight.
She brushed it off as her brain playing tricks. There were plenty
of people on the train in business suits. It's possible that that person only
looked like Mr. Businessman from her peripheral vision.
She slid her laptop out and settled in the window seat while
Trisha sat beside her. There was also an aisle seat, and Trisha plopped her
large purse on it. Amanda gave her a look.
“What?” Trisha said, somewhat indignant. She glanced at the seat
and shrugged. “You know that these trains are never full.”
“I'll move it if someone wants to sit here,” Trisha said finally.
She fumbled through her purse and pulled out a notepad. Then fumbled again for
a few minutes, and pulled out a couple of pencils.
Amanda just set her laptop on her lap and stared out of the
window, debating if she should also have taken out her power supply.
The train started to move. Just at the corner of the station, she
thought she saw Todd and Mr. Carter. She sat up and looked over in that
direction, but they were not there.
Amanda sat back in her chair and rubbed her temples. Maybe she was
overtired. She got up, put her laptop on her seat, and climbed over Trisha and
her bag to head towards the Bathroom in the back of the car.
“Keep an eye out for my stuff, okay?” Amanda asked Trisha.
“M'kay,” Trisha responded without looking up. She was engrossed in
Amanda sighed and took off her hoodie and tossed it onto her
laptop to cover it left. When she made it to the “lavatory” she looked into the
next car. There he was, Mr. Businessman, reading a Magazine. So she wasn't
going completely crazy. It wasn't uncommon for professionals to travel
cross-country like this. It's likely he was headed towards Albany, then New
Amanda chuckled to herself as she steps inside the tiny closet of
a restroom. “Who reads hard copy magazines these days?” She thought.
Amanda set her two bags down and sighed. She adjusted her computer
bag to accommodate the sudden lack of weight.
“Really?” she asked after Trisha brought out 3 bags and went into
her apartment for more.
“I'm bringing some art supplies,” Trisha called out from her
“Don't you have anything more...” Amanda paused as she watched
Trisha bring a large portfolio, her easel, and two more bags and set them down.
“That's what I have,” Trisha said as she swept her arm over her
bags. Then she paused as if to think. “Oh, my purse!” she exclaimed as she
dashed back into her apartment.
Amanda scoffed a little at the bags. She was glad that when the
cab company gave her the option, she asked for the van. There's no way they
could fit all that in the trunk of a sedan.
Trisha walked out with her purse, which was almost the size of her
Amanda looked at Trisha's open apartment door. Trisha, taking
Amanda's cue, immediately turned and locked her door.
At that moment, the burly neighbor stepped out of his apartment. It's Boris, she thought to herself. Boris the big Burly guy. She had overheard his
name in one of the couple's fights recently.
“Need help?” Boris asked. Without waiting for a response, he
started to pick up Trisha's bags.
“Well,” Amanda said, “I don't think both of us can take this all
down without making multiple trips.” She then pushed her laptop bag and picked
up her two travel bags. She though that Boris was showing off a little as he
picked up ALL of Trisha's bags, easel and portfolio bag. Trisha nodded with
approval and clutched her purse.
Amanda followed both of them to the elevator.
Outside, the cabbie chuckled as he said, “Looks like you forgot
the kitchen sink. Better go back and get it.”
Amanda laughed at the joke and put her bags in the back along with
Trisha's stuff. The cabbie closed the hatch. Amanda turned around to get into
the car and Todd was right behind her.
She was a bit startled. Todd was starting to make it a habit to
sneak up on her like that.
“So, how much time to do I have to say goodbye?” Todd asked.
“I have a few minutes,” Amanda said, “but then we'll be back in a
couple of weeks. I don't plan on hanging around that long.”
Amanda barely got the last few words out when Todd reached out,
pulled her in close, and hugged her tightly. She could have sworn that his lips
brushed her cheek.
“Please,” Todd whispered in her ear, “be careful.”
Amanda anxiously grasps her ceramic mug as she stares at the
entrance. Since Todd started working as manager, she hasn't seen him much
Trisha had a few art showings in a town a few hours away before
their trip, so Amanda was able to bury herself in her book.
The dreams were coming at a faster rate and with more detail, and
she finally finished the first draft. She was going to show her work to Todd
Her previous book's sales started to slow down and she knew she
had to show it to Todd soon.
She leaned a little to her right and shifted her bag. It had
fallen onto her foot, as if to menacingly remind her that she brought the first
draft with her. Her anxiety rose a little.
It's because I haven't seen Todd
in a while, Amanda thought to herself.
Finally Todd walks in, spots Amanda and waves. Amanda smiles and
waves back. He points towards the counter and she gives a half nod of
understanding. He was getting himself coffee before joining her.
Amanda knew what the anxiety was really about. She had reread the
draft and thought that it might be over the top. Writing something about PHP is
one thing. It's based on fact. Writing on one's imagination and dreams, well,
could reveal how crazy and weird someone is.
Todd sits down and they start talking about her upcoming trip.
Amanda pushes the bag with her feet to the front of her, under the table,
Amanda studied her
pendant for a little while. It did seem to look little bit like her but because
of its size, there wasn't enough room for details. Perhaps the dream was just
her brain trying to figure out her past through her pendant.
This brought back a
memory of when she spoke to Janice after she thought she heard a whisper in her
"Maybe it's the
'demon of the complex'" Amanda thought wistfully. Her former neighbors
were religious. While very nice and incredibly generous, they believed in
demons, angels and"spiritual
warfare", which Amanda found interesting but confusing.
started happening since Joey was hired." Janice said.
"Or maybe, it's
Mr. Carter," Steve countered, or maybe it was that wild girl… what's her
name? They did all seem to show up almost at the same time." Steve didn't
seem to be as convinced that they had anything to do with it.
matter, but there is something there." Janice said, picking up on Steve's
Steve said, "there have been some strange things going on."
breezes," Janice continued, "Even though no door is open, the feeling
of being watched, or the strange whispers in the air."
Steve mutter in
"Maybe it's a
ghost?" Amanda suggested helpfully.
Seemed a little taken aback. Janice sometimes couldn't fathom that some people
just may not understand her core beliefs. "Any spirit being is to be
avoided. You shouldn't talk to any of them. We are not meant to understand the
Janice was the
closest thing that Amanda had to a friend at the moment, so she decided not to
question them any further. Even though it doesn't seem like they would offend
easily, she wasn't sure if she wanted to take that risk.
It turns out that
the "whisper" was a radiant heater vent. Her foster home had wood
heat, and since she had no memory of any other form of heat, she didn't know
that some heat sources made strange sounds.
"It was just a
dream," she muttered to herself. Like all the unusual, vivid dreams that
I've been having, she thought. She let her pendant drop and she was very aware
of the weight of it on her neck. She hesitated for a moment, then got up and ready
for the day.
that's it," Amanda said quietly, but she wasn't so convinced.
Amanda laid in bed staring at the ceiling. She wasn't sure how
long she had been lying there but something caught her attention. She rolled to
her side, facing her bedroom door and listened. She didn't hear anything, but
she couldn't help shake the feeling that there was something out there.
Just then, a breeze came through the door. Amanda sat up on the
edge of the bed, looking out the door.
There was definitely something, or someone there. Amanda stood up
and waited to see if she could hear anything.
Soon, she heard what sounded like her name in a whisper and she
felt drawn outside of her room. She tried to look beyond the door and around to
where the sound was coming from, but all she could see was a blueish light. As
creepy as it was, curiosity got the better of her, and she decided to check it
She rounded the corner and then stopped. There in front of her was
a woman, who seemed to be the source of the light, floating a few inches off
the floor. She was gesturing, as if she was beckoning for Amanda to come
closer. As she inched closer, she realized that the woman looked just like her.
Amanda now felt as if she was being pulled by this entity.If she wanted to resist, it should have been
sooner. She was almost within reach of this woman, who then reached out to
touch Amanda's head.
Just then, Amanda's alarm went off. She opened her eyes and found
herself back in her bed. She hit the snooze button on her phone, but didn't get
up right away. She rolled over and stared at the ceiling. The woman reminded
her of something, and it wasn't because she looked like Amanda. It was
Suddenly, Amanda sat up in bed and grabbed her pendant.
Amanda answered a knock on her door. She was expecting
this. Todd was supposed to bring a new stove over today. Her stove was down to
one burner and she didn't trust that one. She loved to cook and couldn't wait
to not have to spend so much money on microwave meals and takeout.
She opened the door to find Todd standing behind the
delivery man with a glass top stove.
top?” Amanda looked at Todd quizzically.
Carter said to spare no expense,” Todd said.
Amanda said a little dishearteningly, “Looks like rent is going up.” So much for all of the savings in
cooking from scratch, she thought.
likely. Joey was squandering a lot of the cash," Todd said, "These
glass-top stoves appear to be a deal compared to what Joey supposedly spent
Todd helped the delivery guy inch the stove through the door. Then they both
left it at the edge of the kitchen while they worked the old stove out of its
place. When the delivery man moved the stove towards the door, both Amanda and
Todd looked at the empty space.
Amanda covered her mouth and giggled and Todd groaned and
made a face.
The delivery guy peered over as he was moving the old
stove. Spider webs and debris dangled from the back and swayed slightly as he
moved the stove out of it's place.
said, “I've seen worse.”
Todd and Amanda looked at each other in disbelief, then
back at the delivery man. He kept doing his job, as if nothing happened.
Amanda glanced back at the crud and grime must have been
building there since the apartments were built.
Todd elbowed her jokingly, “Perhaps you should have cooked
a little less.”
"Sure, if I could actually cook on that stove,"
Amanda said. "I've been surviving on cold foods, Take out," then she
points towards the microwave, "and T.V. dinners."
Of course, the microwave” Todd said with some distain. He then took a more
serious tone. “It's probably just as grimy behind it," he sighed.
“No, I did
clean that when I moved in,” Amanda said then gestured towards the stove, “As a
matter of fact, I do have some cleaners that will get that crud off.”
don't need those. I have plenty of industrial strength cleaner to take care of
that.” Todd started out the door, “I already had taken care of a few of other
apartments and I had to order more last week.” Todd paused and said
dramatically lowered voice, “A lot more.”
Amanda chuckled and nodded as Todd headed out the door.
She then opened one of the lower cabinets and grabbed a
couple of cleaning gloves. It's true that he actually gets paid to do all this
work, but Amanda hates to sit around and watch someone work. She was on her
laptop all morning and needed a change of pace.
After what seemed to be an eternity, Todd walked back in
with a cart full of cleaning supplies. He stopped and gives Amanda a concerned
already buy those tickets for your trip?” Todd asks.
Amanda, confused, hesitated. “Yeah, a couple of days ago,
Trisha is going with you, right? You're not going alone?”
Still confused about the sudden change in Todd's demeanor,
she responded, “Yes, I mean, Trisha is coming with me and I'm not going alone.”
Todd said and then was quiet for a moment. “I wish I could go with you,"
he said quietly.
caught the murderer!” Trisha said excitedly as she tried to pushed through
Amanda's door. Amanda wasn't expecting Trisha back so soon – or so early.
Typically, Trisha would come over and they would spend some time together. Then
Trisha would go back to her apartment and disappear for a couple of days.
Presumably to work on her paintings.
Too tired to tired argue with Trisha on what time it was
and curious on what she was talking about, Amanda unhooked the slide lock and
let Trisha in..
for what?” Amanda asked groggily as she started a pot of coffee.
person who killed Joey!” Trisha said as if she was surprised that Amanda didn't
know. “I know you don't have a TV, but do you at least read the news online?”
been lately,” Amanda said, now fully awake, “I've been focusing on my book.”
know that cop that was here?” Trisha said, seeing that she now had Amanda's
full attention, “He didn't buy it that Joey offed himself, so he tried
investigating it and got into trouble… I guess he was supposed to close this
case and focus on parking tickets or something.” Trisha rolled her eyes as if
to emphasize the absurdity of it all.
he still pursued the case but then they suspended him until some crazy woman
was caught shooting her boyfriend. When she was arrested she started screaming
how he should have learned from the last time – or something like that. It
turns out that she was also Joey's ex-girlfriend.” Trisha talked so fast that
it almost she said everything in one sentence.
Fortunately, Amanda was used to Trisha's all-one-word
ramblings by now She leaned forward to focus on what Trisha was saying.
high as a kite in a tornado!” Trisha Exclaimed. “The woman was yelling on how
if she wasn't caught, she could have made it look like a suicide, like the last
one. They got her to confess to Joey's murder as well. The cop was vindicated
and reinstated." Trisha paused and then added as an afterthought,
the cop,” Amanda said.
Trisha sat back into her chair and Amanda got up to make
herself a cup of coffee. She gestured with the pot to Trisha who then waved it
you would think that it wouldn't have affected me as I didn't exactly like the
guy,” Trisha said thoughtfully, “But I'm actually relieved that they caught the
person. I mean, they probably deserve each other, but she was crazy. She could have decided that we all shouldn't have interacted
with Joey and then systematically killed each of us off.”
that's a bit cold,” Amanda paused realizing what else Trisha said, “and
Trisha said a little indignant. “I bet even you have been a little happier
since he was gone. I mean we all saw how he treated you.”
suppose.” Amanda shrugged. She didn't want to admit to it, but she wasn't
happier. Since Joey died, she was trying to wrestle the guilt that she had for
mentally wishing that he would kill himself. She had to remind herself that it
wasn't her fault. After all, it's not as if she could control someone like
Amanda checked the bus and train fares online. Trisha
brought over some snacks and set a bowl of tortilla chips and nacho cheese dip
next to her. She then sat down on a beat-up recliner that Amanda picked up at a
thrift shop and threw her legs over one of the armrests
it is then?” Trisha said as she grabbed the bowl of chips and set them on her
Amanda glanced at her and laughed. “Make yourself at home,
why don't you? Of course, a train. I'm not in a that much in a hurry to get
there and back and I don't care for airport security. Unlike Buses, we can at
least walk around on our trip.”
Trisha didn't respond. She seemed to be studying the
painting that was hanging across the room from them. She finally set the chip
bowl back down onto the coffee table and walked over to it.
is the painting that you bought,” Trisha said wistfully. She looked at it and
seemed to trail off as if to reminisce.
Todd bought it for me,” Amanda said, “It was a gift.” She was somewhat
distracted by the computer. She continued slowly, “I found it very
happens to be my favorite.” Trisha said, finally breaking her gaze off of the
painting to look at Amanda. “It kind of reminds me of when I was a kid.”
Trisha sat back onto the recliner, swinging her legs over
the arm again. She realized that she had put the chip bowl out of her reach and
decided that she didn't want them bad enough to get up to get them. So instead
she started to focus on her nails.
Amanda said with a sigh then turned to Trisha. “We leave in a few days.”
Trisha responded, then swung her legs to the front of the chair and leaned in.
“Are you and Todd, like, together now?”
Amanda gave her a sideways glance. She didn't like talking
about her personal life that much. Especially since she can't even figure it
Amanda said. “He hasn't said anything about it and I don't want to ask.” Amanda
turned her computer off. “I'm not exactly interested in a relationship now.”
would be your first choice, right?”
Amanda signed. “Well, yeah, I guess.”
It wasn't the answer Trisha was looking for, but before she
could pry further, her phone rang. She answered it.
Trisha said, “What's up? Oh yeah, we just got the tickets." Then there was
a pause. "We'll be there for a month, providing everything goes
well." Another, shorter pause. "Okay, I'll see you then.
Amanda gave Trisha a quizzical look.
uh, my agent,” Trisha said. “He wants to make sure that I'll be at the next art
show. The last one was a success.”
still coming with me, right?” Amanda asked, not sure what to make of the phone
yeah!” Trisha said sounding a little indignant. “I really want to see the east
coast. I've never been there, so I definitely don't want to give that up.”
I still do have to go,” Trisha gestures towards the door. “My agent is somewhat
old-school and wants to meet in person to discuss the details. Someone has got
to show him the joys of email.”
Amanda laughed. “Nothing is more wondrous than deleting
hundreds of spam emails.”
right?” Trisha said as she headed out the door.
Amanda closed the door, not sure if Trisha was being
forthcoming about her phone call. She sighed and figured that it probably was
too personal to ask.
It's been a couple of months, now.” Todd took a sip of coffee.
Amanda nodded. “I know. I'm more than halfway through. I
wasn't expecting the book to be that long. I may have to break it down into
parts. Maybe do a trilogy”
Todd leaned back into his chair. “Yeah, that seems to be
the going thing these days. Or maybe you can make an ongoing series.”
don't know if I have that much material.” Amanda said then sighed. “Who
Todd noticed Amanda fiddling with her necklace. She seemed
a bit distracted.
have been thinking...” Amanda paused. She seemed hesitant to say anything. She
wasn't sure how Todd would react to this idea.
Amanda sighed. “I want to go to where I was found.”
Todd leaned forward and opened his mouth as to speak, but
Amanda continued quickly before he could say anything. “I know it seems out of
the blue, but recently I've been thinking about it a lot lately and it may help
jog my memory a bit.”
Todd leaned forward and held up his hand as if to stop her
then said “Of course it's a good idea.” Then as if he read her mind about what
the question is really about, “I wish I could go with you, but I just started
this job, and...”
that's okay,” Amanda said, “I figured that you wouldn't be able to go, so I
Todd seemed a little surprised. He settled back into his
seat and took another sip of his coffee. “So you two are getting along,
know,” Amanda chuckled, “We are like night and day, but we've been getting
along pretty well.”
good,” Todd said, “I mean, it's good to see that you are coming out of your
shell a little.”
There was a moment of silence. Amanda fiddled with her
necklace, as she had been during every pause of the conversation. This didn't
escape Todd's notice.
something on your mind?” Todd asked finally. “Your attention seems divided.”
Amanda stopped fiddling with her necklace. She figured that
Todd probably wouldn't understand. She
didn't understand it herself.
Amanda said, deciding on giving it a shot, “I had another dream with the
necklace in it.”
Todd leaned forward in his chair. “Oh, really?”
remember much of it, though. It was a guy who was familiar, saying something
about, protecting something.” Amanda sighed. “I let myself get distracted
before I could write it down. It sounded noble and probably would have been
great fodder for my book.”
Todd nodded, seemingly disappointed. Then it was as if he
have been using your dreams as 'book fodder'?”
that's too bad,” Todd said, “Perhaps you might dream of it again?” He asked
that last question as if he knew of the answer.
yeah.” Amanda said a bit perplexed. “It's odd. I sometimes will dream the same
dream again with more detail. It's why it's taking so long to finish. I have to
go back and rewrite some sections.”
what?” Todd said as he put his hand on hers. “You take your time. I look
forward to when it's done.”
It's 5:30am. Amanda usually slept until 8, a benefit of
making one's own hours, but she this time, her mind was too busy to sleep.
She kept thinking about her most recent dream.It ended like most of her dreams did. She
would be staring out a window, mesmerized by the fire outside. She wasn't
afraid, nor was this unexpected in the dream.
She decided to get up and take a walk. If she stayed in bed
and fell back to sleep, she knew that she would be very groggy when she woke
up. She can always take a 20 minute caffeine nap if she got tired later.
Amanda headed towards the kitchen and checked in her
pantry. There were three protein bars left. She decided it would be a good
excuse to go and see Todd later. Perhaps she could convince him to give her the
recipe. Ever since she replaced her morning protein shake, she had been feeling
As if to just think of it, she walked back to her bedroom
and checked her full length mirror. It does seem that she lost some weight.
When she was found, she was slim but in the few years
since, she seemed to be putting on some weight. After her doctor mentioned
something about it, she started to go to a gym, but just like everything else
she tried, it never seemed to be working. That was until Todd gave her those
protein bars. She decided, at that moment, to weigh herself.
Trying to find the scale turned out to be a huge project.
She had forgotten how angry she was the last time she weighed herself. She
remembered being very annoyed of only seeing her weight go up. She also
remembered that she decided to bury her scale - somewhere.
Where did she put it?
It turns out that it was in the back of the cabinet under
the sink - way back. She must have been pretty angry, but for some reason, she
didn't remember putting it there.
After emptying the entire bathroom sink cabinet to reach
the scale, she put it on the floor and stepped on it. Not believing what she
was seeing, she stepped off. Then she took a deep breath stepped back on it
again. She lost a total of ten pounds since the last time she stepped on the
scale. She hadn't been on the scale for 6 months, but she suspected that it was
in the last three months that she lost most of the weight, about the time when
she started eating these bars.
What on earth was in them? She put the scale by the sink.
Perhaps she should tell Todd to sell them. Something like this would definitely
sell for a lot of money.
By the time she got around to thinking about the dream, it
had faded. Angry at herself for not writing it down first and letting herself
get distracted, she grabbed a bar and headed out for a walk. What was it,
besides the strange fire that she had seen so many times?
She can vaguely remember a man talking to her. In her
dream, of course she knew him. In real life, she thought that maybe she had
seen him somewhere before. She saw a lot of people since she was found. It
could have been anyone.
What was he saying? Something about protecting something
important. That lives are at stake, something, something, and something that
cannot fall into the wrong hands. It almost sounded like the clichés she saw in
so many movies.
Amanda sighed. If only she had written it down before
anything else. She calmed herself and tried to focus.
He had put his hand on something that was on her chest.
What was he reaching for?
Amanda stopped in mid-stride and grabbed her necklace.
It was a matter of seconds from when Amanda knocked and the door
waiting for me?” Amanda asked.
Todd said intentionally in a disingenuous tone. "No, of course not."
His eyes widened as if he was trying to comically hide something.
Amanda gave him a look. Todd laughed and said, “No, I was
about to take out the trash.” He lifted a bag of trash to make his point. “You
are a bit earlier than I thought you would be.”
Amanda nodded, “I like being early.” Then she added with a
devious smile, “It drives people crazy sometimes.”
make me crazy,” Todd said seemingly indignant, “I'm already crazy.” as he
passed her out the door. “Make yourself at home, will be right back.”
Amanda walked in and smelled his cooking. Usually, it
smelled great and Amanda perceived that Todd was a good cook, but this time,
something smelled burned.
Amanda walks towards the kitchen. She can see the meal and
in one of the roasting pans and one side was burnt. The other side, seemed
She opened oven and peered inside. The element
must be going, She thought.
said, as he walked in behind her, gesturing towards what's left of dinner.
“The oven doesn't seem to work right anymore. These old stoves really need to
Amanda nodded understandingly. “Three of my burners are
out, and I've been trying to get them replaced."
"No worries,” Todd said. "I ordered new stoves for every apartment."
When he saw Amanda's confusion, he continued, “I applied for the building
manager job and got it. I guess you snooze, you loose.”
Amanda laughed. “Nah, I really didn't want it and I'm glad
you got it. This saves me the trouble of telling Mr. Carter 'no'”
say that now,” Todd teased, "sour grapes."
Amanda just rolled her eyes. “What about your editorial
Todd shrugged. “I can still do that. I mean, how hard could
it be?” He poked at the roasting pan as if to check to see if it was hot.
“Meh.. looks like takeout today, although I do have a salad prepared.”
Amanda shrugged, “That's okay, I rarely get takeout, so
this will be a treat."
Then Amanda saw something familiar on the table,
"What about your inventions?”
The question seem to have taken Todd off guard. He had his phone out
mid-dial and the question seemed to have
come out of nowhere.
Amanda pointed towards the silver-colored items.
said seemingly confused. After thinking about it for a moment, he realized what
she was talking about it. “Oh, my inventions! Yeah,
they were rejected. They claimed to love the idea, but they weren't interested
in buying. I have other companies to try though.”
Todd brushed it off as it was no big deal and went back to
dialing for take-out.
me one was a prototype material. What was the other or is it still a surprise”
Todd said pausing for dramatic effect, “Was a translator.” He said it as if it
should be common knowledge.
Amanda was a little surprised that he would ask her. “I thought you have to be
part of a Union.”
but we can have that arranged.” Mr. Carter said.
Amanda liked the idea of being completely free of
commitment to any one spot, making her own money. The only “fees” she had to
pay were taxes. Then again, having a reliable steady check, and if Joey were to
to think about it first,” Amanda said after some thought.
that,” Mr. Carter said and he turned back to leave.
Amanda went into her apartment to grab her bag. Then she
walked over to Todd's to invite him to go with her to the art show, but there
was no answer when she knocked. She did have his cell phone number, but she
wasn't sure if she should call him. He was usually gone during the day, which
she assumed it was business or work related.
She decided to leave him alone for the moment and headed
The smell of old wood and freshly painted canvas greeted
Amanda as she opened the door to the art studio.
She immediately spotted Trisha, who seemed to be busy
talking to someone. Amanda was going to turn away when Trisha called her over.
She exclaimed, “It's good to see you here,” and Trisha gave her a hug.
Amanda wasn't a hugger and felt a little awkward, but she
was glad Trisha was glad to see her.
Amanda started, but Trisha interrupted her.
to meet and greet and all that.” Trisha said, “It's part of the whole art show
thing.” She wave her hand almost apologetically. “So I can't chat.”
Amanda nodded understandingly and Trisha was gone. At that
moment, she thought she saw Todd out of the corner of her eye, walking into
another room. She wasn't sure if it was really him, perhaps she was seeing
things. She decided to head that way and see what was there anyway.
She then saw Trisha hurry down the same way. She could hear
Trisha greet someone. Her voice carried well, even around corners.
On her way there, a painting caught her eye and she stopped
It had three sunflowers stretching to the sky, but instead
of a bright yellow petals, two of them were similar in color to the chicory
that she saw growing along the road back east. The third was also blueish
purple, but much darker, almost black. The leaves were a darker greenish brown.
The sunflowers looked up toward a dark blue sky.
Amanda looked closely at the bottom of the painting. It had
Trisha certainly has a way
of using colors as a form of expression, Amanda thought.
Amanda studied the painting. In spite of the colors being
off, she couldn't shake the feeling that she had been in a similar spot. She
tried imagining being in a field of sunflowers looking towards the sky, hoping
that it would trigger a memory, or two.
that painting too,” Amanda heard a whisper in her right ear. She didn't hear
Todd approach. This startled her, as she was usually pretty perceptive with
what was going on around her. She laughed and realized that she was probably
too engrossed in the painting to pay attention to anything else.
Amanda started, but what could she tell him? That she may have had a déjà vu
moment? Everyone had those. Other than that, there wasn't much to tell.
“Yeah,” she said finally, “Those flowers remind me of the
chicory back east. I kind of miss them.”
On the way home from the art show, Amanda stopped for a
coffee and a pastry. She couldn't stop thinking about the painting. Why did it
seem so familiar. As far as she could tell, there wasn't too many sunflower
fields near where she was found. It was mostly corn and cows. Was she that far
away from home?
She walked slowly to her apartment. Home, she thought,
where was that? It has been two years, and she has yet to feel at home.
By the time she got to the apartments, it was dark. She
sighed and looked up into the dark sky. It was overcast, giving off an orange
glow from the city lights. It wasn't like she would have been able to see the
stars anyway. The city lights drowned most of them out.
Amanda then got the idea to take trip back east to go back
to the place she was found. Perhaps that would give her some clues or even jog
her memory a little.
She opened the door and walked into her apartment, to find
the painting propped up against her wall.