The next afternoon.
The day was mostly uneventful. But I still couldn’t get the events of the day before out of my mind.
The deer freezing in the middle of the road. Caleb grabbing the wheel. The unearthly shriek that escaped from my mouth. The strange peace afterward.
It replayed over and over in my mind, shadowed by another, darker memory. A memory with screams. Fear. Darkness.
Voices jolted me from my daze. I paused outside the living room.
” . . . I like my jokes the way I like my burgers.” Ms. Brown was saying. “Cheesy.”
Theo’s infectious chuckle followed. “Now that was cheesy.”
“Anyway, have a great week. Would you please call Tara?”
“Will do.” Theo appeared in front of me.
“Your turn.” He jerked his head toward the living room, before bounding up the stairs.
I steeled myself, before striding in.
“Good afternoon Tara!” Ms. Brown chirped.
I plopped into one of the overstuffed armchairs.
“Can you believe it’s nearly a week since you’ve moved in with the Robinsons? Time sure flies.” She gave an empty laugh.
I stayed silent.
“Well, how do you like it here?”
She tried again. “How was your week?”
I gave the answer that she disliked the most. “Good.”
Ms. Brown sighed. “Elaborate more please.”
I repressed a grin. “I woke up. And I’ve been regretting it ever since.”
“Because.” My grin finally broke free. She was quite fun to annoy.
Ms. Brown’s smile evaporated. “Please take this seriously, Tara. I can’t help you if you won’t communicate with me.”
I smirked. “I don’t need your help.”
Ms. Brown sighed again. Then she took a deep breath. “Okay. How about we do something different this week?”
I quirked an eyebrow.
Ms. Brown rummaged in her bag and pulled out some paper and a pencil.
“Paper and a pencil. Gee, so sophisticated.” A wry smile curled across my face, like smoke in the air.
“How about you make a comic about your week?”
Ms. Brown inhaled again. “Why not? You might like it if you try.”
“Aren’t you gonna give up?”
“No. My job is to make sure that you have a good life.” Ms. Brown snapped.
My smirk disappeared. “Yeah. I get it.” I said flatly.
Ms. Brown gasped. “I’m sorry Tara! That came out wrong! I just had a rough week, and I snapped.”
“Nothing to apologize for. You’re just doing your job.” I spat.
“It’s not like that at all! I care about you, Tara. I truly do.”
I crossed my arms and leaned back. “Y’know, the only thing I hate more than nosy people is hypocrisy.”
“I’m serious. I’ve stuck with you this long because I care for you.”
I let silence be my answer.
“That and the promise I made Lydia.” Ms. Brown mumbled.
My head snapped up. “What did you say?”
Ms. Brown’s hands flew to her lips. “Oh no!” She snatched up her purse and shot to her feet.
“Who’s Lydia?” I narrowed my eyes.
“I . . . I have to leave now. Do you mind if we cut our meeting short? Thanks.” Ms.Brown started to head towards the door.
This was suspicious. Very suspicious.
I blocked her. “I’ll tell you how my week went if you tell me who Lydia is,” I said, summoning my sweetest smile.
Ms. Brown shook her head, brown bob flying. “I’ve said too much already. Have a great week, Tara! Tell the Robinsons I’ll check in with them next week.”
And before I could blink, she was out the door. She left, like everyone else in my life. Left me with a pounding headache, a mind roiling with questions and a snarl of emotions that I didn’t bother to untangle.
Woah! Who is Lydia? Why is Ms. Brown acting strangely? What’s gonna happen next?
Thanks for reading! God’s blessings.