Author's Note: Dear readers, I appreciate you taking some time off to reading my book. Please note that this was typed out from my phone, so mistakes are inevitable. Please tell me if there are any. Though I have to warn you: there is cursing with swear words in this story.
I was 14 years old when I was about to meet my end.
It all began on one unexpected night. It was as dead silent as all the others, it being way past 12. My windows were held open and so the chilling Southern wind blew into my small bedroom, as well as brushing past my sleeping presence. Because of that, my curtains went gently flying this way and that. If you were to gaze outside, you would've noted the dark midnight-colored sky, imperfect with several gaps of white stars above. Now, look down at the empty line of houses below. Few houses were still dim with life, while the rest were so still as though caught on a frozen tape. As I was only a mere child of age 14, I was expected to be tucked into bed at most before the clock strikes the numeral 10. It as an easy rule to live by. Another rule was to never lock my door. When I asked why, my father told me: "When trouble occurs, I'll be there, love, but what happens when I can't reach you in your room?" He reminded me constantly. Since I was a rather obedient child then, I always took his advice, whether right or unknowingly wrong. After all, he was the only family I had left, who else could I've looked up to? He is my father.
Oops. Was. He was my father. I'd prefer to keep it that way.
Before everything in my life made a terrible turn for the unspeakable, I recalled drifting away on a dream that very night. It was a dream that wove from my long-forgotten memories of the past. Memories that I yearned not to be just a dream, but to be brought back to my life. Though those were also the memories that brought pain to my heart and soul. Memories which heave too much weighing regret for me to handle alone.
This time, it was a dream about my already-deceased mother.
My mother in my dream looked as real as the one I missed too dearly. She looked extravagantly beautiful in her own subtle way. Even though she only wore a simple silken grey spaghetti strapped dress, she still looked as stunning as ever to any man that would dare to look at her as she passed by. She held an overwhelming sense of shimmering beauty as she stood simply in the wheat covered field we used to stop for a slight picnic when I was wee younger. It pained me just by thinking about the times like those - times when things felt like a fairytale and my character was the happiest person in the story.
Under the summer sun, my mother's long and flowing hair looked more golden than its usual light brown shade. Her skin seemed to glow with a golden tinge. From the way I was positioned behind thick tree trunk and bundles of dried branches, I was hiding from my mother herself, as if I was playing a game of hide-and-seek. I was hiding and my mother was apparently seeking. I watched as she searched every nook and cranny of the long wheat field, calling my name as she did so. Now, after waiting for what felt like hours, my gorgeous mother stood a few meters from the tree which I stood hiding. I was daring. I knew the risk. I took peeks from behind my hiding spot, going further by inches, adrenaline rushed through my veins.
But maybe I was a bit too daring. By my fifth peek, my whole head was crystal clear to anyone within a kilometer. My blonde hair was the brightest highlight. Or maybe the sound of my high-pitched giggling brought my mother's head turning into my direction. Or could she have heard the faint yet still very audible snap of the dried branch from under my foot? Still, whatever the reason, my mother's attention was diverted to me. I reacted instantly.
But it could've been not to fast enough. Too late. My mother had seen my head retract back behind the oak. She chuckled, and it sounded close to a warm summer breeze in the sultry afternoon. Slowly, my mother came towards my so-called "hiding place", saying, "Come on out, little Vanessa. Mummy won't hurt you." Sensing defeat, my dream conscience tilted sideways, so my head was clearly exposed to mother. I laughed a giggly and childish laugh. "How did you find me, mummy? How did you? How did you?" Excited was what described my tone. My mother cocked her head slightly to her left shoulder, looking at me with that wondrous smile of hers; she said ever so clearly, "Come here, darling." Truthfully, I didn't need her to tell me, I longed to be in the most safest arms I could find. I hugged her and in a response, my mother hugged me back, with her unusual soft touch. Deep in me, I craved to stay like this forever-as long as it was with my dear mother. Everything could pass by as they please, I prayed for this moment to last. My childish self in my dream said, still embracing my mother, "Tell me, mummy, how? How did you find me?" I was literally bobbing up and down, anxious to receive a satisfied answer. My mother smiled even wider at my enthusiasm, ended the hug, and carried me in her two arms alone. What she said next was expected as always: "Vanessa, I will always find you, you know that too well-maybe frankly a bit too well-no matter how far you go or how deep you are hidden, I will always be there for you, little one." She brought my head closer to her body, and at the same time, I treasured the appealing scent of lavender she always wore at formal occasions. The welcoming warmth of her body made me suddenly drowsy. This was the overpowering magic of my mother. Several times she admitted she felt unpretty, but dad could prove otherwise. Their unexpected marriage was evident proof.
Then, in my dream, my mother added, "I promise that I will never leave you, Vanessa. I'll prevent that from happening. Nothing can stop us from being a complete family-a family that never can be broken, no matter what happens." I looked up to those striking green eyes of hers and longed into their watery depths. And so I said in a joyful reply, "I know you will, mummy. I've always known you would." As I finished, my mother could secretly sense an obvious striking personality hidden in me. Simultaneously, we both grinned at each other, savoring that moment we still had together, though it never occurred to us that time was slipping slowly away for my mother. It was also one of those precious moments where we were happy together-together as a complete family.
Family...that word. It sounds so distant...so intensely fragile...so hard to grasp, though it seemed to be only half an arm's reach away, it was shielded from me...too heavily protected by an unknown force...why? Why was it hidden from me? Was it because my mother was deceased? Was it because our family bond has always felt so long-distanced? Or was it because of the upcoming inevitable, because it knew who I was destined to become? Why? I ask myself so worryingly. Why me, a girl who had just recently lost her most treasured piece of her life? A girl raised solely by her well-loved father, without the necessary love of a mother? Why me, a lonely girl with no pity from her faux friends, friends who talk constantly behind my back, friends that I could never confide my bursting feelings to? Why especially me, a girl whose feelings are kept bottled up for all these lonely years, with only the companionship of my father, feelings which were pleading-no, begging-to explode at any unsuspecting moment? A girl which she herself had called her own hurting self that she was nothing but a loser, a brat, a dimwit, a good-for-nothing girl who barely talks but hides. "She hides from everything." I heard one of my fellow classmates discuss, when they thought I couldn't overhear their silenced conversation. "She runs. Runs! She's a coward, that Vanessa girl, or whatever she's called. She never stands up for herself, she avoids and hides at anything, a fucking coward, that's her all right, and nothing else. A coward." Most times when I hear anything like "stupid", "gross" or "creepy V", my fists would clench unwillingly. The hard-to-resist urge to punch the hell out of all of them felt intense with reddening rage. Many of my evil glances at them may go unnoticed. Why would they? No one notices me. Why should they? They know me as the girl who never talks at all. Always Vanessa is a bitch and whatnot for no apparent reason. Why wouldn't they? They don't know me at all. Call me anything - whatever! - and I won't reply. Call me something bad, I will kick you in the face. Call me something that is plain inappropriate, I will find a way to make you sorry, to make you regret saying that in my face, as long as you live.Call me unworthy...and I'll make sure you end up in the hospital, in the top-priority ward, for two whole years.
But to call my mother or father a disgrace to have a fucking child like me, I'll swear to god, these will be the last words you ever hear before you depart for the next world: "I hope you end up in hell."
Insulting my mother was one thing, but my father? He was the only person that could truly still earn my love in this world where the living walk. He was the only trusted parent I had left, the only one who I could approach and talk to when I was upset. He was the very last person who I still admired, still looked up to. Insulting him was sending yourself a one-way ticket to hell. You were definitely not coming back if you do, I'll guarantee that personally.
Then my dream faded like it was made out of mist. Everything - my mother, the wheat grass field, the chirping sounds of birds, the warmth of the sun, and the soothing smell of lavender - all gone like it never was really there.
And I awoke in my room; my eyes still remained closed, with its barren walls and dull coloring. My fingers were clutched around my bed sheets as if I was clawing them during my sleep. My pillows were scattered all around the moonlight-lit bed. They were tossed and thrown out of pure rage. It was a ritual I repeatedly endured before I went in for the night. I would stare blankly at the pictures of mum I had in my room. I had kept them. I had searched for all of them in the house. I took them out of my father's album, printed them out from my phone. There were so few, but the best would lay right next to me in bed, her smiling face looking up almost seemingly at me as I wake up from a good night's sleep. Comforting, I had always felt to feel the sunlight's fingers on my shoulders, telling me that everything is fine, just like my mother always had done many years ago. I had expected the very same as I realized the dream had ended and reality had settled once again, but to find myself in a cold bed on a cold night with only the moonlight's beams as assurance, I panicked at that very thought. Indeed, as my alert eyes snapped open, my room was silent unlike the mornings I had anticipated. Mornings like those were always accompanied with the energizing sounds of the morning birds awakening, as well as the delightful mixtures of scents emitting from the morning glories which simply bloomed along the garden wall. All of these were replaced by the chilling sense of ice being dripped down your spine, the lone hustle and bustle of the winds and the unmistakable pungent smell of longing emptiness surrounding me. I felt extremely alone.
I rubbed my eyes. That dream...I remember it now. It was my birthday. My mother...she didn't wear that dress...she wore a T-shirt with jeans...We were playing hide-and-seek...I was caught...my mother took me back to the car...Ugh. Thinking of her made my head want to burst. But without her in my life, everything has then felt to dark and hollow.
I took the first opportunity to flick the rectangular-shaped bedroom night light on. It managed to illuminate half the creeping shadows with its luminous white shade of bright color, easing my increasing heart beats per minute. I pulled the thick quilted blanket off me, took a sudden blast of the night's cold, and approached the window. I tied the curtains to prevent it from annoying me with its flapping and constant twisting, as if it was dancing along with the wind, doing a slowed waltz. Thankfully, after I had restrained it once again, it was unmoving and silent.
With my hands cupped on my chin, I gazed up into the tall night sky. The stars seemed to be winking at me, the moon, however, seemed to be scrutinizing at my messed-up looks, the wind seemed to be singing me a joyful kindergarten tune. I longed at the stars above. It twinkled. It shone. It shimmered. The wind made my hair fly till my face itched badly from the bunches of blonde hair that pricked my cheeks. The moon? It simply gazed sadly down at me, like it knew something about me that I didn't. I scoffed. How would that happen? I knew myself extremely well, what could the moon know that I didn't? It dawned to be as absurd.
I moved on.
I looked down at the unoccupied street. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary, except Mrs Arby's cat was loose again, so that caused a series of outraged barks down the street.
I moved on further.
My head dipped down more as I focused on our lawn, silver-grey in the moon's given light. Well-kept was the grass, pretty were the tulips and red roses (pity because they were hidden from my window view, they were beautiful to admire especially on a lonely night like that.), and silent was the entire garden, like an abandoned graveyard. I could see the apple tree gleaming with apples just waiting to be harvested in the corner, the melons as big as half my size (why did dad harvest them yet? I wondered) and the sprouting stems of the potatoes buried underneath. Then -
I heard something.
Behind those bushes.
Rustling. Soft and muffled.
I was sure of it.
But the question was: who/what did it?
Could've it been just a cat, possibly Mrs Arby's? Could've been a rat or some other animal? Could've it been a burglar just bouncing in excitement to rob this house? Whatever it was, I wasn't too sure. It was sure trying to keep its noise down, like it was trying to decrease any levels of being noticed by anyone.
It must be a burglar. Who else?
Another rustle. Softer this time.
I should go get dad now.
My eyes were on the door, my escape route, and my feet ready to run for dad. At least shout "Burglar!" and maybe he'll go away.
Then I heard it.
Fuck it. A stupid cat.
"Get off our lawn!" I shouted, pissed.
The black striped cat looked at me with those stunning emerald green eyes. It hissed at the bush it came from, like it's anger was mostly directed at it, and not at me, which sent a weird feeling through my whole body. After a few other hisses, it left through the hole in the garden fence.
"Stupid cat." I spat.
I slammed the two windows shut, hoping to god that my sleep will not go undisturbed any longer.
I flicked the night light off, climbed into my bed and slammed my eyelids shut too.
I didn't want to now what to expect next. Just let me get my god damn sleep! I thought.
The Sergeant, cleverly hidden behind the cover of the shadows, raised his walkie-talkie to his lips. "Nice one there, Yane. Doesn't suspect a thing. Over."
A abrupt crackle of a walkie-talkie, brought one of the receivers, named Yane, to attention. He replied:
"Thanks, Sergeant. Cat was here anyway. Over." He added the last word after a millisecond of hesitation.
The Sergeant spoke through the transmitter, his voice deep, and said in an almost inaudible whisper to avoid any unnecessary attention, which almost threatened to be carried off by the howling wind, even the receiver had to bend down to hear it:
"You have your orders," Yane readied his combat gear at this, anxious, "Now, go."
Yane came from behind the bush, crouched along the garden wall, his footsteps masked by the silence, and readied his sniper rifle with a click. He spoke into his walkie-talkie once more:
"Sniper positioned. Sergeant Peterson, we are on all go."