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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1672058-The-Curious-Tale-of-Layla-Morrison
Rated: ASR · Fiction · Fantasy · #1672058
This is the 1st chapter of a fiction piece I wrote, fantasy and adventure, please comment!
            It’s funny how you can be so assured of who you are, so set on something and, then, following one crucial moment one insignificant twist of fate your entire life changes. My entire life seems to be governed by these little twists, like a leaf caught in the swirling eddies of an ocean. Sometimes I am moving straight, everything is perfect, and then a cold current crosses my path disrupting everything. The tale I wish to impart to you, the reader, is just such as this.
I’m not sure where this story began. It could have been in the flash of headlights and screaming brakes before an accident or maybe months later in a church. Hell, it could begun before I was even born, or before my parents were born even. One thing I am certain of, however, is that even I don’t understand half of the events that have occurred. I still don’t know what I’m supposed to do here, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
         The night that stands out most clearly in my mind was June 24th 2004. I was 16 and a sophomore in high school. The last final had been that morning, but I was done for the summer. I sat stiffly in the uncomfortable oaken pew at St Pat’s church. The sultry summer day was fading into night, making the stained glass saints who had been peering serenely down at me only moments before begin to take on sinister glaring looks as their illumination faded.
         Around me, the rest of the congregation sang gleefully. I didn’t. I never sang anymore. My father sat to the right of me, not singing either. He used to sing, too, according to my aunt Belle. She said that he hadn’t sung since my mother died. I never knew her. The cancer got her before my 1st birthday, but I sometimes got a feeling that I remembered her. A whiff of lavender, her favorite perfume, gives me a feeling of tranquility, of safety. I know what she looked like; a tall, model-esque woman with pin straight black hair, an olive complexion, and green eyes. The only thing that ties me to her is my eyes, my piecing green eyes.
         I look a great deal more like his father. I inherited his curly blond hair, and fair German skin, as well as his gentle demeanor. I loved him, or would have, had I been capable of it at the time. I looked over at him again, and he looked back. I remember so clearly the look in his eyes, a mixture of such love and despair and frustration that it almost caused a breach in my carefully constructed barrier against emotion, but then I regained my composure.
         My father wanted to help me. I know he did, but he didn’t have the words to say what he needed to and I couldn’t tell him what was wrong with me. He did what he could, he was always kind and gave me what I asked for, when he could. I never asked for much. He never enforced curfews, and we didn’t pay attention to nutrition much. Most kids would dig the laid back atmosphere, and I used to, but I needed help, not freedom.
         The congregation sat once more. I stared up at the high domed ceiling of the church. When I was younger, I always used to imagine what it would be like to sit up there, like God himself, basking in the reverence of my loyal flock. But I had long since decided that, if there was a god, he was deaf or he hates us, or rather me and a select group of people. I did everything right. Absolutely everything. The only question I had was the proverbial cliché, “Why me?”
         After a few droning measures of Father George’s homily, my head began to hurt. Nothing major, and I brushed it off as a result of the monotony of the homily and the heat of the church. I pushed it away, disregarding it.
         I don’t recall the topic of the lecture.  It was something about “Do unto others…” and all that righteous crap.  The heat was getting to me, I thought, because my headache had mow escalated to unbearable levels.  I gently massaged my temples, trying to alleviate some of the pain. 
         The homily droned on.
         It was as if someone had taken an invisible jackhammer to the walls I had built for myself.  I struggled to maintain the only barriers I had against emotion, against those thoughts that threatened to engulf me.
         Suddenly, just as the pain reached its climax, it stopped.  I blinked in surprise.  I had the barest flicker of a moment to register that something was different, but then it came; the roaring flood of  memories and emotions.  It was a pain ten times worse than the physical pain that I had experienced before.  Fighting the urge to scream, I made my way to the back of the church.
         After an eternity, I reached the large, ornate doors of the church and pushed through them.  Once I had attained the safety of the night, I ran, ran as if my life depended on it.  There was no escaping myself.  The ironclad memories which had been so carefully tethered for so long surged up in a bloodthirsty rebellion. 
         The flashing lights of red and blue, red and blue.  Screams.  Blood.  His blood. My blood.  Sirens, jarring and ugly.  Flames of angry red licking higher and higher. 
        Disjointed memories jarred me as I ran as one possessed to no destination in particular. 
          That man.  His obscure, faceless body. The smell of him, rotten oranges and decaying fish.  I never saw him again.  My own inadequacy.
            I was wracked by sobs, gasping for breath, tears streaming down my face.  I continued onwards, driven by some force unbeknownst to me.
The faces of friends. Gradually disappearing. One by one by one. Until none were left to disappear.
                Paralyzed, I dropped to my knees.  There wasn’t a single coherent thought running through my mind, although I later found out that I had been screaming in an agonized voice, “Make it stop! Make IT stop! MAKE IT STOP!”


              I stared blankly at a wall. My mind felt strange and fuzzy, as if I had just woke from a bizarre dream.  It had been weeks since the episode at the church and there were no more tears to cry, no more demons to face.  I felt as if I had been dissected, stripped down to my individual atoms, and then painstakingly reassembled.  I had only just begun to feel my insides again.
          Truth be told, I can tell you very little about the time period between the episode and my current position of staring at a wall.  It all seems like a nightmare that was chillingly detailed, but rushes away the instant the light is turned on.  I remember staggering home that night to cop cars.  Oh, how I’ve come to despise their gaudy lights and grating sirens.  They can never signify anything good in my life. I remember countless nights sobbing silently trying to fall asleep.  I remember waking up, not knowing when I fell asleep and feeling like I had run a thousand miles.
                  God only knows how I sorted through the dark memories that threatened to swamp me; to drag me down into stuttering lunacy.  It is a secret even I do not know.  But as I stared at the wall that day, I felt nothing but lingering grief, and concentrated on nothing but my current thoughts. 
              Suddenly, I looked around and smiled! I had just had an epiphany of epic proportions.  I could feel things again! For so long, I had cut myself off from emotion, because it was merely a conduit to pain and grief.  I had thrown myself into logical pursuits like schoolwork and clubs and avoided human connection that could cause me grief.  I knew that could learn to love and I could live with a passion that hadn’t been possible in my previous state.  And, for the first time in months, I knew that I wasn’t the cause of all the misfortune in my life. It hadn’t been my fault, and I didn’t have to keep torturing myself over it. 
          I can’t really say why the realization hit me so hard at that moment.  Maybe it was the hideous, sunshine-yellow wallpaper that covered my walls with its lurid swirls and screamed to be happy.  The paper has been affixed to my walls ever since my father bought the house, 18 years ago.  In spite of its unsightly color, I found that  I could not part with it.  I’ve come to expect its prescence like one expects an old friend to be at your side.  I know every dot, smudge, dent and hole in that wallpaper.  Each mark defines a moment in my life.  On the wall over my bed there is an army of pin holes, a remnant of the prerequisite boy band posters of my tween years.  There’s a dent where my head collided with it after trying to be Celine Dion on a swivel chair stage.  That night, I had broken my arm and gotten a mild concussion, but I didn’t cry.  I’ve never cried from pain in my life.  I stare at the decorating disaster even as I write my story.
            That morning, I decided that it was time to be a person again. Maybe. It would be difficult, but I could do it. Couldn’t I? I really hoped so. 
          Shortly after coming to this conclusion, I began to think about the episode.  What had caused it? Why had it happened to me? I don’t know.  That night hadn’t been different from any other night.  It made no sense, and supernatural interference had never been a part of my belief system.  Honestly, the only thing I liked about my religion was the bible because it had good stories.  I didn’t agree that priests should all be males, or with the fact that god is a male.  Some people try to say, “Oh God doesn’t have a gender!”  That is total crap.  If you constantly refer to someone as he, him and Father, he is a man.  Why is there no female presence in heaven?  If God was real, and he loved us as much as everyone said, he would not let such gruesome things happen.  He wouldn’t let drunk drivers rush around going the wrong direction on a highway.  I quit believing that God was there about the same time I quit believing in feelings.
              Nevertheless, I found myself in front of the church an hour later, locking my bike and cursing myself for coming back. 
                I walked into the dimly lit church, blinking after the bright summer sunlight.  The pungent smell of incense tickled my nostrils.  I sauntered up to the altar and stopped.  The entire church was filled with a reproachful silence, making me feel like a trespasser.  I was nervous, with the memory of my last visit still vividly etched in my mind. 
              From an alcove on my right Mother Mary gazed benevolently down at me.  On my left, Joseph glanced sternly at me.  They were carved from wood, but were painted with such detail that they looked completely real. 
          I kneeled on the cool tile floor, wondering what I expected to accomplish here.  I didn’t know if I was hoping for divine guidance or bolts of lightning from the ceiling. I felt foolish kneeling in an empty church, seeking signs from a God that I didn’t think I believed in.  I didn’t move though.
            A few minutes later, a door creaked open off in one of the hallways behind the altar.  That was my cue to go.  I didn’t feel like explaining my presence here.
“Eulalia!”
          I cringed inwardly at my full name, but turned and smiled at Father Tom.  He was a kind man and under other circumstances, I would have liked him immensely, but he was a priest.
          “Good morning, Father Tom,” I said with as demure a smile as I could muster, “I prefer to be called Layla.”
              My mother had been deeply religious but also free-spirited.  She wanted her daughter to have a unique but religiously-affiliated name.  Eulalia was the patron saint of runaways, torture victims and widows.  Yeah. That was a fun one.  I doubt she had even looked into it before she gave it to me.  I pulled out a few letters and came up with Lala, which was supposed to be pronounced as Layla, but nobody saw it that way, and I added the y so that the jokes stopped.
          “Layla, then.” Father Tom replied, as though he hadn’t been reminded every time he said my name, “I’ve been worried about you.  You’ve been through a lot, and God could really help you get through it. If you ever need someone to talk to, just ask.”
        “Thanks.” I said, looking at my toes.
        The priest stood for a few more minutes, as if hoping for a heart-to-heart, but then he turned and left the church, continuing on whatever errands he had been going about before. 
          I sat down heavily on the oaken pew as the heavy double doors slammed behind me. I let out the breath that I had been holding.  That had been sufficiently awkward.  Then, the doors opened again behind me.  I turned, expecting Father Tom, wanting to add some friendly advice or grab something he forgot. There was no way to be prepared for what I saw next. 
          A drop-dead gorgeous guy was striding down the aisle towards me.  My heart involuntarily skipped a few beats as he turned his luminous green eyes towards me.  His jet black hair was slightly touseled and his intense finely chiseled features looked like the face on a classical Greek statue.  I took in his designer polo and board shorts.  They looked as good on him as the most expensive suit could ever look on most guys.
And he was heading towards me. 
      I suddenly wished that I had taken the time to fix my hair instead of dragging it into an unruly ponytail.  Or maybe that I was wearing something other than jeans I had chopped into shorts and a faded tye-dye t-shirt. 
He was close now, close enough to reach out and touch me. Although I had ceased to breathe some time ago, I could smell his spicy exotic scent.
        “Uh…hi…”
        I think this is what I managed to spit out.  He didn’t say anything.  My cheeks burned in embarrassment. Here was this guy looking at me and all I could spit out was hi.
          He grabbed my waist and pulled me tightly to him.  I realized what was going to happen and my mind screamed to back away, this wasn’t right.  My body, however, had other plans, sticking to his like a magnet.  My face unconsciously moved closer. 
          This was not supposed to happen. Not in real life.  I tried to get myself to pull back.  I don’t care how hot a guy is.  I don’t do this.
But somehow I couldn’t.  I was screaming at myself to get away.
            Then suddenly we were kissing and there was no room in my mind for protest.  It was like fire and ice and a rush of pure adrenaline.  My body took over and I reached up and wrapped my fingers through his hair.  The energy that rushed through me was so pure and primal that it needed no words.  I was powerful, on top of the world!
        It was an eternity, but fleeting, over far too soon.
        We broke apart, gasping, and gorgeous hottie finally spoke, “Now you’re ready to be trained.”
              I was dazed.  My thoughts were whirling, chasing themselves around and around in my head.  It took me a second to register what he had said.  Then I realized that this man in front of me was as mad as a hatter.
            “Wait…what?” I spluttered, pushing him away roughly.
            “Trained.” He said, no hint of a joke in his face.  On the contrary, he looked gravely serious. 
        “Trained for what?” I asked warily. 
        “To fulfill your destiny.” He said earnestly, as if I should know exactly what he was talking about.
        “My destiny?”
          “To save the world of course.”
        “Of course.  Why didn’t I think of that?”
          There was an edge to my voice that was bordering on hysteria.  I was backing away, edging around him to make my escape.  I turn and run away, but a shout brings me to a skidding halt.
        “Stop! Eulalia Catharine Morrison! You need to listen to me.”
        “How do you know my name?” I whispered, breathing hard even though I had only run two steps. 
        He came up behind me and  I spun to face him.
        “I know all my children’s names.”
        “You’re not my…Wait, what?” I looked at him incredulously, “Are you saying that you’re God?”
        “Yes.”
        “You’re crazy! Crazy!” I said, and turned to leave.
          “Just be prepared,” his face calm but intense. 
          “What the hell? How can you waltz in here and just do all these things? Say all these things? You can’t claim to be God after kissing me like that!”
          He didn’t say anything else, but there was a sudden burst of blinding white light, brighter than the sun.  It filled the church, and I turned away from it, shielding my eyes and crouching down.  Wind whipped around me, playing with my hair and tugging at my clothing. 
          Then, with the same uncanny abruptness with which it had started, it was over.  I straightened up and turned slowly, expecting to see nothing left in the epicenter of the blast but I was mistaken yet again. There was a boy slumped in front of me.
            He was unmistakably the same person, but different.  His hair had turned to a golden blond and, while still attractive, he lacked the intense magnetic energy that I had been powerless to moments before.  Cautiously, like a dog approaching a running vacuum, I walked over to him.
        Kneeling next to him, I put a hand on his shoulder and shook him gently. 
        “Let me out.” He mumbled.
          I shook harder, saying, “Hey! Wake up!”
        He opened his eyes and I suppressed a gasp of surprise.  I was certain they had been green, but now, they were hazel.  He blinked and looked at me.
        “Where am I?” he asked, pushing himself upright.
          “St. Pats  church,” I said, “Do you remember what just happened?”
          “I don’t know.  My head hurts,” he said, scrunching his eyes shut as if that would make it go away, “Everything is all confused.”
          “Its fine.  Don’t think about it,” I said, paused, and then continued, “What’s your name?”
            His eyes snapped open again, arrogance obviously making him forget his killer headache, “You don’t know who I am?”
        “No.”
          “Seriously.”
          “Should I?”
          He let out a long low whistle and shook his head.  This was a bad idea, because he winced and closed his eyes again.
            “I,” He said, with as much bravado as you can when lying on the floor of the church with a killer headache, “Am Jared Wright.  Have you been living under a rock?”
          “Yeah, pretty much.  Nice to meet you, I’m Layla Morrison.” I said sweetly.
          “So you’re really not kidding.  You’ve never seen any of my movies.”  There was an edge of wonder and awe to his voice, and he was looking at me again.
          “No,” I replied, and helped him to his feet before continuing, “I haven’t been in much of a condition to watch movies lately.”
          “Oh, I’m sorry,” he said in a quieter voice that held none of the mockery or arrogance that it had before, “What happened?”
          I shrugged off his concern with a nonchalant, “Doesn’t matter.”
          We stood there awkwardly for a moment.  I didn’t really remember how to talk to people.  My mind was racing with things I used to say.  I was such a good elocutionist in my old life.  This situation was also anything but ordinary.
          “Um…where do you live?”
          Random question, I know.  I was desperate.
          “California, but I’m vacationing on Fire Island with my family.  Where am I?” He answered as smoothly as if we were talking about the weather over coffee. 
          “Well, you’re on the mainland right now.  Bay Shore. St.Pat’s Church.”
          “Oh.”
          That “oh” was meant to be followed by something else, even though he didn’t say it.  His face was nervous and forcedly calm.  I had to admit, he was doing a very good job of acting calm.  Maybe he was as good an actor as his ego suggested.
          I breathed deeply and asked, “Do you know how to get home?,” even though I already knew the answer.
          “No.”
          “Money?”
          He conducted a hasty search of his pockets.
            “No.”
          Damn.  Not my day.  I couldn’t just leave him here.  He was the creeper who kissed me, but he wasn’t.  That thing inside him had caused him to do whatever had just happened.  He was just as dazed and confused as I was.  Plus, if I left him here, I couldn’t exactly interrogate him later on.
            “Okay, um, then I guess you can borrow some of my money.  I’ll help you get back.  It won’t help to try to figure this out now.”
                Relief spread across his face, and he said, “Alright, where’s your car?”
         “Car?,”I said, bursting out laughing, “I don’t own a car.  Unlike movie stars, I don’t make millions of dollars.  My bike is locked outside.”
         I couldn’t control myself for several minutes.  I honestly don’t know why I found it so hilarious.  Maybe it was just a way to release some of the tension I was feeling, like having to watch a comedy after a horror flick.  Jared just stood there, face unreadable.  In my old life, I would have been mortified by my uncontrollable giggles in the face of such smoldering hotness, but now, I didn’t care.  I wasn’t exactly out to find a boyfriend now.
         Taking a deep breath, I led the way out of the church, smiling in spite of the dread I felt for the future. 
              On the way home, we chatted warily, neither one wishing to broach the subject on both of our minds.  In spite of my ineptitude, I did manage to learn a few interesting facts about her.
              He was an only child, and had just turned 16 a week ago.  He had just finished shooting his newest movie and it was due to premiere in September.  He did, in fact, have a car, but was looking for a girlfriend.  He had gone through a pretty bad breakup a few months ago, when he had caught the starlet he was dating with another guy.  Once was began talking, Jared seemed content talking about himself.  He did attempt to learn some things about me, but I politely deflected.
              It was a short walk back to my house, and we soon arrived.  The house was partially shielded from the street by an unkempt hedge, forming a secluded sanctuary for my father and I.  The house itself was modeled after Spanish colonial houses, with a terra cotta roof and a balcony on the second floor.  The windows were edged in light colored wood and had intricate shutters.  Ivy had crept up one side of the house, like curly green hair.  The front garden, which had once been fastidiously maintained, was now a beautiful, wild mess of green, bursting with flowers now that summer had hit its peak.  A brick path led up to the front porch, a path that my father had created himself from old driveway edging bricks.  It was slightly uneven, but beautiful.
              In the backyard, we had a small patch of land that was paved over, and that held a grill and two green lounge chairs.  The rest of the yard was taken over.  There was a huge maple tree, from which hung an old tire swing.  Wild strawberries and raspberries played with lilac and honey suckle.  Dandelions showed up here and there, jockeying for position with queen anne’s lace and buttercups.  Squirrels and birds had made our sanctuary theirs.  Currently we had two families of robins, a few hopeful sparrows and a nest of squirrels.  Behind the shed that contained our useless lawn mower, there was a rabbit warren.
When we reached the house, Jared stared at it with mild confusion.
            “What?” I asked, annoyed.  It wasn’t a grand house, but it had what I liked to call character.  I could never have lived in one of those cookie-cutter houses.
            “This is your house?”
              “Yeah, why?” I answered, a bit more defensively than I had intended. 
            “No, there’s nothing wrong with it,” he said hurriedly, “It’s just, I kept seeing a different house in his mind.  I assumed it was yours, but it wasn’t.  I don’t know.”
            Oh. Oops.  I probably should have apologized to him, but I wasn’t that cured yet.  I forgot that other people had feelings still. Instead, I walked up to the door, laying my bike on the grass.
          My door was special. There was an exquisitely carved rose winding up the front.  It was made of old, heavy oak and was slightly too big for the frame.  This meant that it swelled in the humidity and stuck really badly.  I, however, had perfected my method of gaining entrance. 
          Pulling out my key, I tugged the handle towards me to make sure the lock was in line.  Then I inserted the key and turned it three-quarters of a turn to the left, stopping when I heard the beginning of a click, and finished turning slowly so that the key wouldn’t stick in the lock.  Next, I turned the handle while pushing upwards, hard.  Finally, I drove my right shoulder into the door like a football player tackling the opposing team. 
        Once inside, I grabbed a few rumpled bills from the pockets of the coats hanging haphazardly next to the door.  I left Jared on the porch, preferring that he didn’t see the unkempt living room of our house.  I found $10 and a pack of gum before hurrying back outside.
         “That was kind of rude,” Jared reproached me as I shut the door.
         “No,” I replied, “That was me sparing you the sight of my messy house. You should be thanking me.”
         I thrust the money into his hand, saying, “It’s a bit of a walk, we should get going.”
         So we went.  And I swear, I’ve never heard anyone complain so much in my life.  He was hot.  This walk was too far.  Where were we? The gum is the wrong flavor.  My legs hurt.  He was worse than a five year old on a road trip.  No kidding, I almost left him in the street and went home.
         We got to the docks eventually, and he shut up finally.  I tried to be angry at him, but when I turned to tell him off, the sultry afternoon sun fell across his face, making his hair shine golden and his eyes twinkle.  My resolve dissolved.  It wasn’t really his fault.  He was a spoiled rich kid from SoCal. Besides, we had been thrown together, and it would do me no good to burn bridges before this thing played out.
         The familiar briney smell of the bay and the screech of seagulls wafted through the air, and the Great South Bay glimmered tantalizingly beyond the concrete and wood of the docks. 
         To purchase tickets for the ferry one had to go to the ticket booth, which was fine, except that the attendant was a leering, hairless old man who followed our progress across the parking lot with narrowed eyes.  I shivered a bit under his x-ray gaze, but said, “One ticket please.”
         He grunted in aquiescense and passed the ticket through the partition.  I paid while Jared studied the schedule for the ferries and commented, “The next ferry doesn’t come for a half hour.”
         “Do you want me to wait with you?,” I asked, hoping he would say no.  He had never taken the Ferry before, because his private boat had always picked him up from Captree State Park.  I had laughed because it seemed absurd to me that someone living on Fire Island, albeit temporarily, had never taken the ferry.  I had countless memories of riding on the giant boat with my father, and getting off on the opposite side to the sight of colorful summer clothing and small children selling outrageously priced seashells.
         “No, I’ve bothered you enough,” he said, with audible uncertainty.
         “Alright,” I replied, “Ill just go then. Oh, by the way, which ferry do you take?”
         “Um, the big one?”
         I rolled my eyes, grabbed his arm and led him towards the dock for the Saltaire/Kismet ferry.  He followed passively. 
         Near the dock,  there was a small shed-like structure with no front or back, the sides lined with benches. It served as both a waiting area and the entrance to the boat.  It was whitewashed, but the paint was peeling from the humidity and certain individuals had carved their names into it.  JP hearts MS and I hate George adorned the walls.  Classy right?  I froze at the doorway, unable to go any further, smile vanishing like a plane in the Bermuda Triangle.  Jared, oblivious, walked right by me and sat on a bench.
         A scene from eons past had layered itself over my vision, a fragment of a memory I thought I’d successfully eliminated.  I saw myself, smiling, naïve, sitting on the very bench where Jared now sat.  My hands were intertwined with those of the boy sitting to my left and the sun had only just begun to peek over the horizon.  The docks were completely deserted save for us, a few seagulls and that same creepy ferry attendant.  My naïve self shivered in the early morning chill and leaned in closer to the boy’s warmth.  He smiled and wrapped his arms around me.
         “Will you tell me where we’re going yet, Zander?” I asked, not turning to face him.
         “Soon,” he said, stormy blue-gray eyes lighting up the way they always did when he was excited about something.  He was nowhere near as handsome as Jared.  His nose was slightly too big, making his whole face look slightly comical and his hair was curly and brown, but sunbleached until it was almost golden.  He was the kind of person who could cry at the end of I Am Legend, and then beat the crap out of someone who made fun of him for doing so.  He was a brilliant writer and a hopeless romantic and he was mine. All mine. 
         A ferry horn broke the stillness of the morning, both heralding the arrival of the boat and shattering the illusion that we were the only ones in the whole wide world.  The seagulls who had been meandering about passively suddenly began flapping their wings and screeching. 
         Zander turned to me and grinned, “You know, they say that if you kiss your true love on the ferry dock after the first boat blows its horn, you’ll be together forever.”
         I laughed, mockingly reprimanding him, “They say nothing of the sort, Alexander Hayes. That’s just an excuse to kiss me.”
         “Is it working?”
         “You know I don’t need an excuse.”
         With that, I pulled him around and kissed him tenderly.  It was warm and safe, and altogether perfect.  It didn’t have fire and ice colliding, but I felt the endorphins racing through my body.  He was like my other half.  I knew his every secret, his thoughts and he knew mine.
         The kiss lasted until the ferry pulled up to the dock and we bent to gather our things.  We boarded, me leaning against him with his arm around my waist, still smiling.
         Then the scene dissolved leaving me on the pier with a stake in my heart and a very confused Jared waving his hand in my face.  I started and blinked to let my eyes come back into focus. 
         “Space out much?” he asked sarcastically, but then he noticed my face and his tone softened, “Is something wrong?”
         “Not at all,” I said, forcing a smile and swallowing the tears that I hadn’t known were still being created by my body.
         He looked like he wanted to pursue the topic further, but he had the tact not the press me further.  So, we went and sat down in the shed.  I carefully avoided the bench from the scene beforehand.  It was more shabby than I remembered,  the paint nearly all worn away by countless people sitting on it.  Jared ignored the mental messages I sent him and sprawled himself casually across the said bench.
         “So.”
         This single syllable hinted at so much more than I could actually articulate.  I mean, how do you talk to someone who’s been possessed about their possession?  I certainly didn’t know, and months of misuse had dulled my conversational prowess. 
         I tried again.
         “So… I think…we should take a day or two to think about this and figure it out.  There’s no use in hashing it out now,” I said, trying to remember if hashing it out was an actual expression.
         “Yeah,” he replied, “Sure.  What’s your number?”
         “No. I’ll call you.” I replied hastily.  I don’t know why I didn’t want to give him my number.  It wasn’t a big deal or anything.  But I just couldn’t. 
He rattled off his number and I hastily jabbed the numbers into the phone that I only carried out of habit now. 
The ferry was pulling into the dock now, running early for once.  I hadn’t even heard it approach.  It was packed full of sunburned tourists like a sardine can.
Hastily, I said to him, “I’m free on Wednesday.  How about you?”
         He shrugged nonchalantly and said, “Sure.”
         We were silent as they lowered the gangway. I realized, with some anxiety, that I could not deny what had happened as some bizarre hallucination because the proof stood beside me, waiting for a ferry boat.  I had been kissed by…well, I didn’t know.  It couldn’t have been God. Maybe a demon, but Gd wouldn’t need to possess people.  If it was him, was this an apology for all the crap he’d pulled? If so, I could think of a million better ways to make it up to me.  Like bringing Zander back.  I didn’t know. 
         Jared walked onto the boat with a small half wave, and quickly vanished into the crowd.  I turned to go, but then I heard my name.
         “Layla, wait!”
         When he had my attention, he said, “It wasn’t Him…you know…I don’t know what he was but he wasn’t God.”
         Then he was gone into the throng of tourists again, leaving me alone in the fading sunlight like a bad prom date.
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