Based off of Little Red Riding Hood. A work in progress.
|"You really should call him back, honey. You haven't spoken to him in almost three years. He just wants to get to know you. Where's the harm in that?" Her mom told her the same thing every time she called ever since she told her that her dad had called and left a message. "If he really wanted to get know me, why didn't he all of those years? I don't want to get to know him. You should know. You left him. And you know how I felt every time he cancelled his weekends with me." She used the same excuse every time her mom said this. "I have to go now, Mom. I need to do homework so I can do well in school, like I promised. Talk to you tomorrow. Love you. Bye." She hung up before her mom could respond. She fell back onto her tiny, uncomfortable bed and let out a deep sigh. She hated lying to her mom, but she couldn't stop herself. She didn't know why she was embarrassed to let her friends know that she called her mom every day. It was probably the same reason her mom thought they were best friends, but then she talked about her to her friends behind her back. She always timed her daily phone calls perfectly: when her roommate, Lauren, was at classes or when she was at their dorm alone. She sat back up and examined herself in the mirror she and Lauren bought to make their tiny dorm seem bigger. She had bleached her hair back to its natural blonde for the New Year. Her roots blended in so it wasn’t noticeable. Her make-up was perfect, like always. Her hair was slightly curled into perfect rings. Seeing herself this way reminded her of high school. She was the most popular, most beautiful, most respected, meanest, and most feared girl in the school. She wondered when she started being so mean. Was it in high school? Middle school? Or before that? She tried to remember the last time she was genuinely nice. She decided it was before her parents were divorced. It was her dad's fault then, that she was mean and manipulative and had trust issues. It was her dad's fault that she was who she was. And she would tell him just that when she would call him. She tried to remember the last time she spoke to him, the last time she saw him. It was at her high school graduation. It had been a disaster. Her parents didn't speak to one another and he was drunk. He had embarrassed her at her party, so she left to go drink with her friends. Her parents didn't even notice that she had left her own party. That's when she decided that she would go to school in New York, the farthest she could get away from her parents. Lauren burst into the room with an armful of a brightly colored array of flowers. "Congrats, Mel!" She had forgotten that the casting results came in the day before. "You got the lead! Everyone's waiting for us at that Italian place, your favorite. The reservation is at seven and it's six thirty right now. Sorry I'm late, but hurry up!" She was excited: a night out with her friends would cheer her up. Even if it didn't, she could act her way through the night. After all, her major was in theatre. Her friends had been visiting family and other friends in Buffalo since Friday. She was glad to have them back, but not quite ready to give up her privacy. "Un moment, ma chérie. Je dois utiliser le téléphone." She loved speaking in French especially when people around her didn't understand it. Lauren left the room with the same amount of energy she came in with. Lauren knew that she liked to be alone when talking on the phone. She picked up the phone and dialed the foreign number. She held her breath and squeezed her eyes shut as it rang. Half of her hoped that he would answer; the other half wished he didn't. Ring, ring, ring, ring. No answer. Finally, the traditional introduction to leave a message began. She let out the breath she was holding and waited for the beep.
"Hi Dad, it's me. I'm just calling to let you know that I got your message and I think we should meet or talk sometime soon. Call me back. You have my number. Bye." She hung up quickly, her heart beating fast. Sometimes all she wanted to do was forget: forget her mom, forget her dad, forget her friends, forget her life and just start over; but instead she slipped on her favorite pair of heels that made her five foot three at the most and matched perfectly with her monochrome outfit. She left the phone on her bed and opened the door to find Lauren waiting for her. "Brooke, sit next to me." Sawyer moved over some to make room. I had gone to the bathroom while we were waiting for half an hour and they were seated. I sat down on the over-sized pillow and crossed my legs. Sawyer was on my right and Gabe was at my left. They were looking at the ornate menus at each place setting. The dark wood table was round and low to accommodate up to ten people. The walls were red with floral designs in a darker red. Shrines and pictures of a peaceful man filled the restaurant. "Brooke, have you ever had bubble tea?" Gabe asked. "No. This is my first time having Thai food." "You should try it. I think we should get an order of Tom yam kung for the table," he said to the rest of the table. "Sounds good, Gabe. How about we get some green curry to share as well?" suggested Sam. "Not all of us like food as spicy as you, Sam. The Som tam Thai looks good. Why don't we get some of that for the table?" Rebecca proposed. "Why don't we ask what looks good to Brooke? She is our guest," Sawyer reminded the others. All of their attention was on me and made me nervous. I read aloud the first thing I could pronounce. "Pad Thai." My voice was small, making my decision sound more like a question waiting for approval. They all nodded in agreement and my anxiety faded away. The server came around and Gabe ordered bubble tea for the table as well as our entrees that were to be shared: Som tam Thai, massaman curry, Pad Thai, Tod man kung, fish saté, and Tom yam kung. The others resumed chatting with each other about school, sports, and the exciting promise of the future. Sawyer continued our conversation from outside, but changed the subject. "How are you liking your new life?" "It's okay, I guess. I just get so frustrated sometimes." "Are you having fun now?" "Yes." We smiled to each other as if we were lifelong friends. The server returned with our bubble tea. The tall glasses were filled to the top with ice and a creamy brown liquid topped with a sprig of mint. I took a sip and was taken aback by the odd texture. It was sweet and different than anything I had ever had before, but I liked it. I started gnawing on the mint to freshen my breath and occupy my teeth while I listened to Sawyer talk about his travels to far off places I only heard about briefly in movies I had watched with Linda.
"So Brooke, what are you doing in San Francisco?" Gabe asked, interrupting my moment with Sawyer; but I answered his question happily, glad for someone else to know about me. "My dad and I moved here from Santa Rosa because he got a promotion, so I was going to school here. I was driving one evening, I'm not sure where from, and I crashed into a tree. I lost all of my memory before I woke up in the hospital. The doctors said it was a miracle that I was alive and with only cuts and scratches. I'm living with my dad and the nanny he hired to take care of me. I snuck out tonight to get away from her." "Was the sneaking out worth while?" asked Gabe playfully. "I'm having the time of my life. Well, as far as I can remember." The three of us laughed and drank more of our bubble tea. The server brought out plates, the massaman curry and fish saté for us to eat. Rebecca started off by spooning her portion onto her plate and passed to Tyler on her right. The dishes made their way to me and scooped out a small portion, unsure if I would like it. If I didn't like it, I didn't want to take too much and deny the others more. If I did like it, I could always grab more later. Besides, there was going to be enough food for fifteen people at the table soon. I tried a bite of the curry. The incense was suddenly thick. The dim light made it difficult for me to see the food on my plate. I started to get hotter and my tongue swelled. I was beginning to get dizzy and felt the all-too familiar signs of one of my headaches coming one. The nausea started in the pit of my stomach and slowly began to work itself up. The dull, throbbing pain in my temple was beginning. "Sawyer, I'm not feeling so well. I think I need to go home. Now." His smiling face turned from carefree anticipation for my recommendation to concern for my well being. The others were suddenly quiet. Sawyer’s fork clattered as he stopped eating. "Sure. I'll take you home. I'll see you guys back at the apartment." The others nodded silently. In the corner of my eye, I saw them start to whisper to each other; but I didn’t care. I was concentrating on getting out of the stifling room. He guided me slowly up from my sitting pillow and placed my coat around my shoulders and led me out. "What's wrong, Brooke?" "I get horrible headaches as a side effect from my accident and my medicine is at my apartment. I feel sick to my stomach right now. Good thing I didn't eat much, right?" I tried to laugh, but my body threatened to heave. “I forgot to pay for my share.” I tried to pull out some money from my pocket but he stopped my hand.
"Don’t worry about it. My car isn't too far. I'll drive you home, but you're going to have to tell me where to turn." I nodded my head in agreement. We walked in the drizzle silently. Sawyer was guiding me through the people and I was concentrating on not spewing my one bite of dinner or the bubble tea. I was thankful then for the cold rain and slight breeze; it helped keep me calm and centered, kept me from over-heating. Finally, we made it to his car. The side of the car read “Toyota Camry Solara.” It was small and the back seat was filled with papers and coats and other various items. He opened the passenger side door for me and I squeaked while sitting on the leather seats. He waited until I buckled my seat belt to go around to the driver's side. He climbed in right as the drizzle picked up a bit. His face was obscured by the dark. He turned on the car and a song in the middle of its performance sang sweetly into my ear, helping me focus on something other than my headache. The man's voice was calm and smooth with a guitar accenting it in the background:
Hope in a better place is all I need
With moments of innocence and mystery Oh, it's the little things you miss Like waking up all alone Oh, it's the little things you miss When you're underneath it all
The doors clicked, signaling that they were locked. He moved his hand to turn off the music, but I stopped him. "This song is nice. Soothing. I like it." He smiled. His smile was amazing: big, charming, white, and sincere. "One of my co-workers suggested it to me. This album came out recently. I'm embarrassed to say that I don't remember the name, though." His voice was rough. It sounded like he was getting over from a cold. He cleared his throat. "That's all right." I looked out the window to the rain-blurred surroundings. We drove for a few minutes until I started to recognize the vicinity. "You can take a shortcut up here to the left." I pointed to the turn I was talking about. He nodded to show that he heard me and took it. I started to get a conversation going to show him how much I appreciated his giving me a ride. I was starting to get warm from the heater, but it was better than sitting in my wet clothes. I pushed my sleeves back to reveal my bare arms. My hair was still plastered to my forehead. The man was singing a new song, but I only paid attention to parts of it. My mind kept wandering.
I get so distracted
By some people’s reactions That I don’t see my own faults For what they are
The almost silence was beginning to be awkward. "So... what are your favorites in…life?" I didn't know what else to ask. It seemed vague enough that he could answer it any way possible and maybe take over the conversation so I wouldn't have to talk much. "Well, my favorite colour is grey, I don't have a favorite food, my favorite movie is The Prestige, my favorite book is Life of Pi, my favorite TV show, when I have the time, is Criminal Minds, my favorite... I'm running out of favorites. How about you?" His hand shifted closer from the steering wheel to my seat. I pretended that I didn't notice. "My favorite color is red at the moment." His hand made its way to my thigh. No big deal, I told myself. He wasn't hurting anyone, so why make something out of it? Besides, he probably just thought that it was the seat or the divider. "My, um, favorite food is my, um, grandma’s, um, lasagna." He started rubbing my thigh. "Get your hand off of my leg…please," I added as an after thought. I was trying to be polite since he was driving me home when he didn't have to. I could have waited for a cab to have come along and been wet and cold and miserable. He was nice enough to do this, someone I barely knew. I distantly remembered some saying about an attractive honeybee that was polite. But he had crossed a line and I wanted to keep that line in tact. He moved his hand slowly away, never taking his eyes off the road. "I'm sorry, but ever since I first saw you, I've felt something inside of me. Something I've never felt before." "What are you talking about? We barely know each other. The turn is up here. You can drop me off." I was through with being polite. He was starting to creep me out. I knew something was terribly wrong. "I think...I think I love you. And I never want to be apart from you. This is the first time I have ever felt this way about anyone." He stole a glance at me. "What are you saying? How could you love me? I don't even know you. You don't know me." My voice was beginning to rise. The car suddenly felt smaller and I felt trapped. The man's soothing voice couldn't help me now. "The turn was right there. You missed it. Where are you going?" "I love you. I have ever since I first saw you. I want you to be with me forever." He stayed calm while I was being pushed farther and farther off the cliff of sanity I was clinging onto. His smile that I found charming was now a dangerous grin.
"Turn around. I don’t know you. Just let me go home." I tried the door, but it was locked and wouldn't unlock for me. "Just let me go home." I was furiously trying to open the door even though I knew it would remain locked. "Please, please, please!" I found a button and pressed it. The door unlocked and I took my chance. I unbuckled my seat belt and forced the door open in one movement. For the first time, he looked over at the passenger side and saw that I, his prisoner, had escaped. I rolled on the pavement, but got up quickly. He slammed on the brakes, but I was already running for all I had. I tripped on something beneath me and scraped my forearms on something else, but I ignored the pain and continued to run. I ran and ran, but I continued to stumble. I couldn't scream; I was too scared. All I could do was cry and pray that he wouldn't catch up to me. All I wanted was to go back home, sleep in my own bed, and eat warm food. I had no sense of where I was. I looked over my shoulder to see how far ahead I was or wasn't. I tripped and fell onto something sharp with my left arm. Something had cut my face and something else lodged itself into my arm in the process of falling. The pain was agonizing. I could barely lift myself back up. I knew that he was close. I could hear him somewhere behind me. I turned onto my back, surrendering. He bent over, out of breath, no more than a foot away. My voice was small and pleading, broken by my sobs. "Please…please don't hurt me. I won’t–I won't tell anyone, I pr–promise. Just…please…let me g–go home.”
"Don’t tell me that you don’t remember me. Don’t tell me that you don’t remember our kiss. I love you. I know you love me. I want to be with you forever. And I know, deep down, that you never want to leave me." He got down to the ground and placed his body on top of mine so I couldn't get away. I didn’t remember him or the kiss he claimed we shared. I didn’t know him at all. I tried pushing him away with my right arm, but he was too heavy. My legs were pinned beneath him. Now I wished that I had believed in God the way others did, I wished I could pray to Him and ask Him for a miracle; He probably didn’t even want to help me since I only went to Church when I was forced and I hadn’t gone in years, not even for Christmas.
"Stop, pl–please stop. I pr…" But that was all I could say. His hand covered my mouth with a piece of wet cloth. I squeezed my eyes tight and wished that I was somewhere else, anywhere else. I started to get so tired and weak; I couldn’t fight the urge to let the darkness take over my whole body. Out of the darkness, a whisper filled me and wouldn’t go away, “Oh, God. You look so much like her.”
"Brooke, Brooke! Can you hear me?" Sawyer was holding my head up. I opened my eyes and saw a circle of people surrounding us. I was on the sidewalk, now sitting up with Sawyer's support. "Wha–what happened? Why am I here? What's happening?" I was out of breath from sobbing. "I was driving you home and then you started to freak out. I had no idea why you were saying the stuff you were saying. You were acting like I was hurting you. Then you jumped out of the car and started running to the sidewalk. I was trying to catch up to you so you wouldn't get hurt, but you were really far ahead. You kept tripping on the sidewalk, so that made it easier for me to catch up to you. Then you fell and tore open your stitches on your arm. You've been crying and saying 'Please stop', 'Don't hurt me', and 'I want to go home.' I think someone called 911." The crowd continued to look at me as Sawyer explained my sudden appearance on a sidewalk in San Francisco. "But I was…car…taking me away…I ran to get away…I wasn't here…trees…he was hurting me…so real…" I couldn't continue to talk. I broke down past all chances of communication. Sawyer took me into his arms and started to rock me and stroke my back. "Shh, shh, everything is okay. You're safe now. None of it really happened. You can go home soon." I heard the sirens of an ambulance approaching us. The siren stopped but I could see the flashing blue and red lights through my eyelids. The circle opened to let in a couple of paramedics in to treat me. Sawyer let go of me and let the paramedics take over. The young woman with her hair pulled back into a bun examined my left arm as she asked me, "What is your name?" Her partner, an older man, checked my eyes by flashing a little light directly in them. I tried to take deep breaths to calm myself down enough to talk. "Br–Brooke C–Conall." He wrote down my answer on a piece of paper attached to a clipboard. "Do you know where you are, Brooke?" the woman asked in a calm voice. She was cleaning my arm with an alcohol wipe. I bit my lip to prevent myself from crying from the burning on my arm. "San–San Francisco." She injected something that numbed my arm and said, "Good. I'm giving you something to numb your arm so we can work on it in the ambulance. Are you able to stand up?" I nodded but then winced. I still had a headache and moving my head made it worse. The man put an arm behind my back and grabbed my right hand with the other. The woman came to my other side and both walked me to the open end of the ambulance. I sat down on the edge. The man wrapped something around my right arm and made it tight. After a few seconds, it released the pressure. He wrote down the results on the clipboard. I hadn't noticed that it was still raining until I sat under the protection of the ambulance. I was shivering from the cold despite the warmth of my coat. "Do you know what year it is, Brooke?" she asked as she worked on my stitches. "Two–two th–thousand an–and nine," I said through chattering teeth. Sawyer was watching us, the closest person in the crowd surrounding us.
“How about the month and the day?”
"Good. Did she hit her head on the sidewalk?" She was talking to Sawyer now. "No. She fell forward and her arms softened the fall." "The lady who called said that she was screaming that somebody wanted to hurt her. Can you explain?"
"Well, she's been under a lot of stress lately and she gets frequent nightmares. I was taking her home to get her to sleep and relieve some of her stress." Sawyer was lying for me. Why? Maybe he didn't really know what happened and was making something up to get us away from all of this attention so he could figure it out. But, I didn't even know what happened. "I don't think she needs to go to the hospital since we got her arm fixed up here and she doesn't have a concussion, but I'm questioning her state of mind. Do you have a family member that I could call?" She was talking to me again, but Sawyer cut in before I could speak. "I'm her brother. She doesn't need to go to the hospital. I’ll make sure she gets home safely.” He stepped closer to me, ready to whisk me away at the woman’s signal. She continued to speak to me, “Can I speak to you alone for a moment?” I nodded as Sawyer stepped back, giving us space for privacy. The woman stepped in front of me, blocking my view of Sawyer and surely blocking me from Sawyer’s sight. “Was he trying to hurt you? You can tell me. I won’t let him get to you if he has.” This confused me. I had no reason to fear Sawyer. But it all had seemed so real, the fear from it had caused me to be here; and why was Sawyer lying and trying to get me alone with him again? “N–n–no, I th–th–think it was j–j–just a ni–nightmare and I wa–was sleep wa–walking.” My teeth were chattering from the cold and the wet rain on my clothes. From behind the man draped a blanket around my shoulders. I grabbed it tightly for fear of losing my only source of heat. The woman had the look of disbelief in her eyes, a look I knew too well. Linda and my dad looked at me that way whenever I told them that I was fine. The woman gave up reluctantly and said, “Call 911 if you are ever in trouble. They will help you. Be safe, Brooke. You can go with your brother now.” She stepped away and allowed Sawyer to help me stand up. I shrugged the blanket off my shoulders and walked with him. “My car is right over here.” He opened the passenger’s door without another word. I sat once again in the seat. As soon as my legs were in he closed the door gently but with enough force to close it properly. He started the car and waited for enough time between the congested cars to merge into traffic. I looked in the side mirror and saw the crowd began to evanesce.