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The Nameless Four
Wednesday, June 4, day 4
And another dieth in the bitterness of his soul, and never eateth with pleasure.
It was noon before I got up. it had rained again. Purposefully not looking at my French doors, I slipped on my tracksuit and went to the kitchen to see what I could make for breakfast. The fridge was almost completely empty except for that milk and the watermelon. I grabbed a piece of watermelon and poured a glass of milk, sniffing it first.
The rest of the party had passed in a blur for me. Carol had opened her present, a Cookie Mountain and Lucky Meets Chance board game set. She looked happy, or at least as happy as you could be after being snubbed on national television. I thought she did pretty well. After that I asked Love Cabbage if I could borrow their limo again so I could go home.
“This night was a bust, wasn’t it?” E-Cole said sympathetically. I nodded. “You just call us if you ever need anything else, okay? We’ll be waiting.”
As soon as I got home I stomped to Monica’s room, which is right next to mine. I knocked on the door, once. Silence. I knocked again. “Monica?” I called. There was still no answer. I pushed the door open, slightly, and peeked in.
She was lying face down in the bed. Her hair was fanned all over. There was a bucket beside her, and the bed was filled with tissues. “Monica?” still she didn’t move. I approached the bed and touched her shoulder. Her skin was cold. Fear shot through me and prickled my spine, and a dozen memories streaked through my mind. “MONICA!” I shouted.
Zac shot into the room, barking. Monica jerked like she had been shocked. She slowly opened one eye. It was almost discoloured. “Hmmm?” she said groggily. She seemed to search my face. “I’m really sorry, Mary.”
I never wanted to see her again. Deep down, I loved my sister, and I couldn’t stand to see her do this to herself. “Yeah? That’s what you say every time. And I do mean every time.”
“Don’t even, Monica. Just don’t, okay?” then I slammed the door to my room.
Sighing heavily, I drained the reset of my milk. I was in no mood for a real breakfast. I was shaking when I stepped outside. The day was fair, which was as unexpected as anything, and people were milling around. I saw a toddler drop an ice cream cone on the sidewalk, and watched with amusement as he laughed. The mother, who couldn’t be much older than Monica, looked exasperated. I wondered how many times the little boy had dropped his ice cream, and how many more he was expecting in the future.
My gaze locked onto the beach off in the distance. It didn’t look too far away, maybe two or three kilometres. Every pound of my feet on the sidewalk brought me closer. I loved to feel the power in my legs as I ran, every contraction of my muscles. I tried to race my heartbeats. Pulling away from the people on the sidewalk was like the sudden rush after running under water. I let loose.
My mom and Joe would not be happy when they watched the news tonight. Monica might be a little frantic when she realized I wasn’t home. If she was sober enough to get frantic. Lila might try and find me again to get more on Monica’s story. I never had so many problems in one day, so many people trying to get me for whatever reason. But I pushed myself faster, running away from it all.
Try and catch me now.
I pounded over the First Nameless Bridge. My feet hit the sand of Crimson Island Beach with jarring impact. I slowed down, trying to catch my breath. Since it was Rachel Scott Memorial Day, the beach was closed to the public. But I didn’t care. A slow jog to the edge of the woods and back to where I had dumped my shoes brought my breathing back to normal. I sat on the sand, with my toes in the water, and did my stretches. I enjoyed the just-worked-out pain in my body as I gazed over the blue ocean. To my left I could see part of Wedding Island. Dan Cae is shaped like a cross, divided into three islands. Crimson Island is the long, vertical part of the cross, and on either side are Wedding Island and Little’s Island. The three are joined by four bridges, the Nameless Four, as the locals called them. Yalshe was on Wedding Island. Which reminded me of where I should be right now.
She picked up on the first ring. “Hi sweetie!”
“Hi, Mom.” I ran sand through my fingers. Should I tell my mother about what happened? No. probably best to let her find out on her own. Then I would have less explaining to do. I could still feel David’s kiss on my lips like a bad omen. A bad omen that was too darn good.
“So what did you guys plan do today?”
“Oh, nothing much. Monica is hungover so I’m at the beach.”
“But she’s been getting better, you know.”
Yeah, right. If by better you mean worse, than she’s definitely making progress.
“But mom, she’s embarrassing!” I whined. “We went to a birthday party last night and she totally passed out in front of everybody! Don’t ask me where she got the booze. The girl’s mom had to haul her upstairs and then Love Cabbage had to get there limo to drive her home!”
“What’s a Love Cabbage?” she asked sceptically. “And doesn’t Monica have her own chauffeur?”
Evela. My fist clenched. “She wasn’t available at the time.”
Mom was silent for a few seconds. “Well, honey, I don’t know what to tell you. You should make the best of it.”
“I tried. Mom,” I lied. “if she’s just going to drink herself drunk every day that I’m here, there’s no point in me being here. I’ve learned my lesson; I’ll talk to Joe about loosening up my schedule. I can’t stand it here one more minute.”
“I know, hon. Hang in there.”
I gritted my teeth. “Can’t I come home?”
I could just see mom shaking her head. “Please, Hanna. Do this for me? It won’t be so bad. I just want you to spend one summer together before you go off to work again. I know how important it is to you, and I promise I won’t do this again. But you two have been really distant lately, you know? I’ll talk to your sister.”
“Fine,” I said curtly. “You know what? Whatever. Just do what you want and I’ll just stay here with the alcoholic.”
“I’m praying for you, honey.
I pinched the bridge of my nose with my forefinger and thumb. Did she have to guilt me like that? The clouds were converging again, but it the sun was still out. I left my shoes where they were and started walking back and forth in the sand. I passed the empty ice cream stand, and the wind blew a scrap of paper across my path. Any other beach would have been crowded on this pleasant Saturday afternoon, but of course not perfect Dan Cae.
If Christopher were here, we would go to the theme park or the board walk. He would be sympathetic to my situation. I regretted more than ever having left him with barely a good-bye. He had been such a good friend to me and we hadn’t spoken in four years. I would give anything to see him again.
But then I got an idea.
My face broke into a smile. I sprinted to put my shoes back on and then headed to the First Nameless Bridge. The ocean sparkled under it, and right beside was a forest type area with dirt instead of sand. A network of caves was the foot of a big hill. I took a look at the archaic, hundred foot trees, before turning to go. That’s when I saw the boy under the bridge.
He had black hair that was much too long, and he was skinny as a rail. I could see the bones in his back, which was turned to me. He was wearing dingy khaki pants. His skin was browned as if he spent a lot of time in the sun. He looked about six or seven, and he was sitting on a rock under the bridge with a fishing pole in his hands. I blinked once, but he was still there. I wanted to walk away and leave him be, but he was just sitting there, like he belonged to the rocks. The gloomy way that he held himself made him look like Atlas holding the world on his shoulders. I took one step away, but then I turned around again.
“Excuse me,” I called down to him. He didn’t respond in anyway. I got down from the bridge and walked toward the rocks he was sitting on. “Excuse me.” this time I reached out and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around, his blue eyes wide with surprise. “May I ask what you’re doing?”
The little boy shrugged. “Go ahead.”
“What are you doing?”
“Because I can.”
He gave me a “duh” look. I twisted a strand of hair around my finger. “I see.”
For some reason, I picked my way across the rocks to sit a couple feet away. The little boy stared at me for a moment. Something flashed in his blue eyes that was too quick to see. But one thing was for sure, he looked a lot older than his years. “What’s your name?”
“Blair. What’s yours?”
He didn’t bat an eye. “That’s a pretty name. It’s nice to meet you.” He held out a bony hand. It was warm.
“Blair is a nice name too.”
Blair scrunched his face. “Yeah, if you’re a girl.”
“How do you spell it?”
“I don’t know how to spell,” he said.
I tried to hide my surprise. “Well, then I’ll show you how to spell the boy version.”
He looked at me with his big blue eyes. “I’m fishing.”
“Right.” I dug in my pocket for a pen. “Give me your hand.”
He looked at me suspiciously. “What are you going to do?”
“Show you how to spell your name.”
He considered it for a moment. Then he set his pole down in a secure spot and held out his hand. “Okay.”
I shifted around so that we were side-by-side on the rocks, his right hand in front of us. “See, look. Buh-l-ay-err.” I wrote carefully on the cracked skin. “B-L-A-I-R. Blair. And girls spell it this way.” I wrote Blaire on my own hand. “See?”
He studied our hands. “Yeah, I see. I’m only one letter away from being a girl.” I laughed. “How do you spell your name?” he asked.
“Well, that one’s a bit longer than yours. Do you want me to write it on your hand or mine?”
“Mine.” I repeated the process on his left palm. “Hanuara, Hanuara,” he sang in a sweet voice. “Is there a man version to your name, Hanuara?”
I shook my head. “I don’t think so. My mom just made it up.”
His eyes widened. “You can make up names?”
“Of course. That’s how names got started in the first place.”
He thought about that. “I guess.” He picked up his fishing rod again. I wondered how long he had been sitting there.
“Where’s your mom, Blair?”
“Is she here somewhere?”
He shrugged. “I don’t think so.”
I was silent for a minute. “Does she know where you are?”
Something told me to keep my mouth shut. His little shoulders were in a defensive, defiant position.
“Why are you here?” he asked suddenly. “Why did you stop and talk to me on the bridge?”
I shrugged. “It’s not every day you see little boys fishing under a bridge. Why wouldn’t I stop and talk to you?”
He smiled fleetingly. “I think you should go.”
I blinked. “Why?”
My heart sank. “Do you want me to go?”
“Are you going to tell me why?”
He shook his head, his blue eyes pleading. Sighing, I stood up.
“If you really want me to…” I brushed off the seat of my track pants. Why were people so eager to get rid of me?
“Are you going to come back?” his lips were pressed into a line.
“If you really want me to.”
He didn’t say anything, just lifted his hand in a wave. His name flashed back and forth. I waved back with the hand that had Blaire on it. “Goodbye, Blair.”
I took one look at him before I walked over the long bridge. As I watched, he leapt to his feet and frantically started reeling in the fishing line. A large, gleaming silver fish danced in the air and landed at his feet. All I could do was shake my head. I started running again, over the bridge and back to Little’s Island.
I had completely forgotten about my plan with Christopher until I saw Evela in Monica’s limo, bobbing to the blaring stereo. My jaw clenched and I marched over to her. “Evela!” I shouted, tapping on the glass. She kept bopping. She almost fell out when I opened the door. Music poured from the car, angry crap that made me want to cover my ears. “EVELA!”
She blinked up at me, and then scrambled to switch off the stereo. “Yes, Miss?” she asked pleasantly.
Struggling to keep my voice calm, I motioned for her to get out of her car. “Where were you last night, Evela?” I felt like an interrogator on some old fashioned cop movie.
Evela swallowed. “After I dropped you and Miss Monica off I went to the movies with my friend.”
“Is that the whole truth?”
She nodded. “Yes, Miss.”
“So why didn’t you pick up your phone when you were supposedly out with this friend of yours at the theatre?”
“We are not permitted to leave our phones on in the cinema, Miss.”
Of course I knew that. I was trying to make her crack her polite facade. I paced in front of her, back and forth, my eyes locked on hers. “I could report you to my parents, you know. They have you on a pretty good payroll, I’m told, but they can’t afford to have things like this happen.” I let the threat hang in the air.
She didn’t say anything.
“Do you even care?” I snapped venomously.
Her gaze fell from mine for a split second. “Yes, I do care. I don’t want to lose my job. Are you proposing a way for me to redeem myself?”
I smiled a slow smile. “I am, Evela. Do I ever have a job for you.”
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