A family of five, along with the oldest daughter's friend, leaves for the movies.
| 'BEHIND THE NEXT DOOR' (CHAPTER 1)
"No, Violet! You're getting in first and you're sitting on the end!" Silver shouted sternly at her youngest sister while exiting the front door of their house. Ahead of her, seven-year-old Violet was running quickly across the yard to their dad's SUV as if reaching it first would make her the winner.
Violet protested triumphantly, "But, I called 'Shotgun'!" as she reached the passenger door.
"Violet! Back seats, now!" Silver yelled even more sternly, hoping her stronger-toned voice would change Violet's mind. The SUV was parked on the edge of the front yard where a curb would naturally be, only there was no curb. The grass was even with the side street. As Violet tried to open the door before big sister Silver could reach her, Silver barked, "Mom's coming, too, dingus! She's sitting up front!" Violet, with the door open, stopped, and thought a second.
"Oh yeah," and closed the door. "I forgot." Silver opened the back door and Violet climbed in ducking under the door. Violet immediately grabbed the seatbelt for the middle of the 3-person seat and quickly buckled herself in. The irritation in Silver was reaching its peak with her little sister.
"Move. Over. Now!" and that was when the door to the house closed from behind Silver. It was a hard enough closing that told Silver dad was coming. Silver could hear jingling keys and knew her father's voice was going to help her with her bratty dilemma. Usually Silver could handle Violet but they were all leaving for the movies, so Violet's over-activity was in full gear. Unbeknownst to Silver, their dad heard everything clear enough before the door closed.
"No, Silver, Violet is to be in between you and Ruby. You know this!" Kaleb said. The 'you know this' tone had an eye-roll to it; a tone Silver knew all too well. Being the oldest doesn't mean everything you say to your younger siblings will fly.
"Dad!?" Silver shouted while turning around. It came out more teenager-whiny than anticipated, but Violet had pushed all the right buttons. "We're picking up West and I'd like to sit beside her without Motor-Mouth here bothering her!" Her father understood his daughter's issue and he sympathized but...
"Silver, why is Violet always in between you and Ruby when we go somewhere?" Kaleb asked in a tone where he knew Silver would know the answer, and Silver was forced to agree, no matter how annoying it was.
With another eye-rolling tone, Silver said to her dad as he approached, "Because, if something were to happen, she's best protected being in the middle of the vehicle." Her dad gave her a side hug and laid his head on her head in reassurance.
"That's right," and after kissing the top of her head, he finished, "and because of taxes! You see, you're fifteen, she's seven. I need her to live longer!" Silver didn't understand taxes but she knew her father's sense of sarcasm. She couldn't help but smirk a 'you're a jerk' grin, but just as her dad went around the vehicle, another voice spoke out to Silver.
"Silver, remember, all dogs love the window seat! So, what are you complaining about?" Ruby, Silver's thirteen-year-old sister, starkly joked, laughing at her own jab. Silver's smirk from her father's sarcastic answer turned into a fist and a punch into Ruby's right shoulder. Ruby still laughed because that was Silver's typical comeback. Ruby walked around the black SUV and got in behind Kaleb.
As all the doors closed, Kaleb asked, "Where's your mother?"
"She's putting Blue in the basement," Ruby answered.
Silver heard another eye-rolling tone from her dad, "Ugh...! She could have left the dog in the house." All the windows in the vehicle began to lower as he continued. "We're only gonna be gone for tw--Jesus Fu--!" HONK!!! Ruby jolted in her seat as another SUV, red and smaller, slung around the side of their parked car, missing the driver-side doors by mere inches! The slight roar of the car so close made it worse. Being a house on the corner, it was typical for cars to speed into the intersection when turning, but they've never been inside the car when it has happened.
The three girls in the back seat watched their father half climb out of the window and shout many conjoining bad words that he typically shouts when he's trying to fix something. These swear words were things they've always grown up hearing but were never allowed to say. Parental rule.
"What the hell was that all about?!" a fifth voice shouted abruptly as the front passenger door opened. It was their mother, JoAnne. Her abrupt entrance made Silver jump the same way the red SUV made Ruby jolt.
"Son of a b--HONK!" Silver snorted a laugh as she watched her father jump from him hitting his elbow on the steering wheel horn. "Ugh...bastard flew into the intersection, damn near sideswiped the truck! Good thing no one had their arm out the window or the doors open!"
The passenger door closed as JoAnne looked at him with a glare. "Why are you parked so close to the intersection, then? Pull up more next time!" Silver, sitting behind her mother, watched her father's facial reaction. Ruby, behind her father, watched her mother's reaction waiting for her father's response. Both teenage girls looked at one another and knew there wasn't going to be an answer from Kaleb.
Ruby pulled out her phone from her jean jacket and texted Silver. Violet was more than happy to look over at Ruby's phone, just to be a part of the moment.
Ruby: mom has a point
Silver: it doesn't matter what dad will say mom will always argue a point
Silver: remember what dad always says 'pick and choose your battles'
"Silver?" Silver felt the truck shift and looked up from her phone. It was Kaleb and by the look on his face, he needed something funny.
"I didn't do it!" Silver quickly responded, hoping to make her dad make a face. She didn't get a goofy face, a confused face, or a look of 'what!?', but she did get sarcasm back, which was just as good.
"Oh, yes, you did, and no matter what it is, it's your fault! It's always your fault!" The mockery serious tone made Silver smile. Ruby was smiling at this, too. Violet was still trying to look at Ruby's phone, hoping Ruby was going to play a game or something.
"What is it, dad?" Silver responded smiling.
"Are we still picking up West?" Kaleb asked, turning a corner at the end of the block. The funny part about this moment came from Ruby's laughter as she watched her father reach his left hand out the window. The red SUV that passed them, almost hitting them, was parked at the end of the block two houses down from the stop sign. As they turned, their father gave his hand-gesture that meant 'have a nice day, you piece of crap'. The funniest part was their mother burying her face in one annoyed hand.
Silver said 'yes' and proceeded to tell him where she lived but he cut her off, knowing where the house was and that 'he wasn't that damn old yet'. All three girls, and their two older brothers, always liked that even when annoyed, their dad could crack a joke, even if he was making fun of himself. Age was always an easy target. Both their parents made jokes to them about being teenagers and they didn't hold back on the forty jokes.
"Oh! I forgot! We don't have to pick up Alexis, dad. She'll meet us there," Ruby said, updating him on her friend's status.
"Good, because then one of you two would have had to sit on the hood," JoAnne sarcastically answered, but not in a funny tone. Silver missed the joke due to a text from West on her phone, but Ruby heard it and it provided an opening.
"No way, not me, and definitely not Silver! She's so ugly, cars would intentionally hit us!" Ruby responded loud enough for Silver to hear.
"Wait...what?! I heard my name!" Silver said, looking up confused from her phone. Everyone chuckled except for Silver who missed the comment. As Silver responded to a text from West about when they were picking her up, their father and mother began talking about the theater snacks. As teenagers often block out adult conversations on car rides, Silver texted West they were coming as Ruby and Violet began playing a game together.
Within ten minutes, they had picked up West, stopped at the gas station for a soda for their mother because she hated 'flat theater drinks' and they all had made it downtown to the movie theater. When the girls in the back saw the theatre marquee, a small squeal came from Ruby's seat. There were four movies on the marquee but only one made Ruby giddily burst: P!NK. Secondly, JoAnne saw a young teenage girl in front of the theater on the sidewalk start bouncing with joy and waving frantically.
"That must be--," JoAnne started to say tonelessly until Ruby excitedly erupted.
"It Is!" and Ruby waved back shouting from the open window, "Hi, Alexis!" Silver and West were watching a YouTube clip on Silver's phone. Violet was upfront between her parents. West was sitting in between Silver and Ruby in the back seat.
"I think Ruby is going to explode...!" Kaleb said to his wife and JoAnne nodded with big eyes as if to say without words: 'Ruby was a weirdo'. Kaleb laughed as they came to a stop sign.
It was at that moment when all the joking in Kaleb went silent and his hard-sterned voice barked out. Violet was trying to make a joke about Ruby and all three girls were talking in the back but everyone went silent when Kaleb shouted out, "Everyone, Quiet!" It was then when everyone heard it.
There was an approaching siren and it was quickly increasing in loudness. Everyone inside the SUV began looking out their windows but no-one could see it. No cop cars, no ambulances; nothing. Downtown Street was very narrow, so for an emergency vehicle to show up made driving a bit congested very quickly. The siren was growing louder but there was no visual sign of it. Even little Violet tried looking up but couldn't see over the dashboard because of her seatbelt.
"Across the river, maybe?" JoAnne asked quietly as Silver's YouTube clip volume went down. The look on Kaleb's face expressed JoAnne had a good point. The river ran right behind the theater and the bridge was only a block away.
"Yeah...maybe," Kaleb said slowly, turning into the intersection. The siren was so loud, it was as if it was just mere yards away. Convinced, Kaleb finished with, "Yeah, I think you're right. The wind is probably pushing the sound in our direction." He lightened his tone apologetically. "Sorry, girls, carry on with your teenage blabbering about your Chinese cartoon movie thingy," Kaleb finished. He could feel the groans from both daughters, but it was Ruby who burst out.
"Anime, Dad!" Both parents waved a 'whatever' hand at Ruby's answer.
Ruby's friend Alexis began to run toward the theater's parking area as Kaleb drove the SUV into the driveway of the theater. He was far away enough from Alexis intentionally. The parking lot was very tiny and they were early, but Kaleb didn't want to hit some idiot teenage kid who thinks running into a parking lot was safe. Kaleb looked at his wife about this and her expression said it all: "Idiot."
Silver felt their car jerk and she looked up, putting away her phone. The SUV came to a stop. That was when the inside of the car began to spin in a quick swirl. Silver grabbed her mother's headrest in front of her, steadying her balance.
"Silver? You okay?" West asked, looking concerned.
"Just...got really dizzy!" Silver said, feeling a bit nauseous. The sudden thought of popcorn and a drink made her sick to her stomach. For a second, all she could taste was...
"Silver!?" Kaleb shouted, jolting Silver out of a staring contest with the back of the passenger seat. "Are you coming out to join us or not?!" Silver looked around and saw she was alone in the vehicle. Everyone else, including West, was already out. Ruby's door was still wide open.
That was when Silver attempted to shove her own door open...
OPTION #1: Silver hits the white truck parked beside the SUV with her door.
OPTION #2: Silver hits her head on the door's window trying to open her locked door.
OPTION #3: Silver exits Ruby's open door.