Elijah smirked at her. He’d wanted to explore that venue since he first set foot in October Hill. Curiosity got the best of her and she met his gaze again only to have her breath taken away. He kissed her again. Slower this time. Her heart beat was incredibly fast and she felt as if she couldn’t breathe. He leaned away again but pressed their fore heads together.
“Take deep breaths,” He whispered to her. She nodded and breathed deeply. He brought his lips softy to hers one last time before picking up her crushed ice pack and bringing back to her head. She shivered delicately. She didn’t know when or how but she knew some thing was starting right now. Her skin was coated in a thin sheen of sweat though she felt cold.
The morning breakfast bell croaked like an old caged bird throughout the house. Emberlynne hadn’t been asleep anyway so it didn’t bother her to crawl out of bed at 7:30 am. She grabbed her guppy, a beat up antic stuffed rabbit with a detachable black top hat, limp arms and legs that flailed at its sides, button eyes and a large tear over the forehead where it had obviously been stitched back up. A filthy thing really but Emberlynne went nowhere without it. She looked in her full body wood-framed mirror at her rather pretty reflection. She wouldn’t have thought so but no one could be oblivious to her beauty. A beautiful even complexion of caramel brown skin that looked as satin to the touch and wavy ebony hair that met the small of her back and swept in baby curls across her forehead and neck. But Emberlynne’s most startling feature was her ocean blue eyes that didn’t really belong on a colored girls face.
Her white suit didn’t feel out of place in a place like this; October Hill’s orphanage for mentally challenged teens and adolescence. She shuffled out of her room and into the hallway where she spotted Hart Cartridge. There were dark purple circles under his eyes and he was humming the sesame street theme song. Hart’s mop of blonde hair was carelessly placed and he didn’t seem to give a damn in the world either. They walked silently side by side all the way down to the first floor for breakfast. The old English paintings and rugs that resided in the hallway weren’t really worth a sparred glance. Once they made it to the Grande hall for breakfast most of the kids wear all seated. Lillian Mani was in the far corner of the room struggling with one of the nurses.
“Now, Lillian swallow the goddamn pill before Mother comes down here.” He pleaded trying to hold her rampantly swinging arms and legs. She let out a child’s impatient squeal.
“No,” Her high pitched voice responded stubbornly.
“If we can’t get you to take your medicine, well have to use a needle.” The male nurse taunted. Lillian then stopped struggling. Emberlynne took her seat next to Hart. The Grande hall was clad in chandelier and red carpet with beautiful medieval designs. The nurses cautiously served them one by one with different assortments of food, some cut up into small pieces to avoid choking hazards. Everything was premade and designed to be eaten with fingers only. There were no utensils at October Hill. There had been so many violent riots and gruesome suicides at October Hill in the last hundred years that it had been opted to be shut down several times.
As Emberlynne reached for a small cut of pancake to dip in syrup, Damen interrupted her.
“Emmy, how many times have I told you about having Guppy at the table,” He said referring to her Rabbit. Her eyes filled with tears as she handed him over to the young yet friendly male nurse. His green eyes glittered with remorse as he took Guppy and patted her hair lightly in reassurance. For the rest of Breakfast Emberlynne remained silent and still, not even glancing at her food. Once everyone had been dismissed he gave her Guppy and smiled with a hint of pity.
Making her way through the intricate hallways she found Hart waiting for her on the staircase as he always did after breakfast. He stood up and smiled.
“What do you wanna do today? “ He asked, completely shedding his mentally challenged disguise. Hart didn’t have a damn thing wrong with him but still being an orphan, he somehow ended up swept into the discard pile of crazy kids. He straitened his hair and wiped the sleep from his eyes.
“I don’t know. Wanna play in the attic?” She asked.
“Naw.” He declined.
“Then what?” Her impatience reared its ugly head. He shrugged at first and bit his lip.
“How about my room?” He asked. She shrugged indifferently. He stood up and led the way up three flights of stairs to get to his room. There were maybe only about five patience on this floor including him. She walked over the creaky wood floor boards of the hall and stopped right before the threshold of his room. Noticing that she had stopped, Hart spun around to face her.
Emberlynne was looking at an old scratched up name plate right next to his door.
“What Em?” He asked.
“Who the hell is J. Wood?” She asked. She asked fingering the plate she had never seen before. Hart shrugged and went into his room. Emberlynne ran her fingers along the plate one last time.
A hand fisted in his black silk hair held him with in an iron death grip. In the other hand was an old loaded shot gun. The older man who held him laughed with cruel intentions. “You’ve done it to your self son,” The man cackled. The boy struggled despite the pain of his hair being torn out by its roots. The boy kicked and scratched at the walls of the narrow grimly decorated hallway. The boy threw a kick and landed a blow to a name plate mounted to the wall and breaking half of it off. The sound of its clang on the bear wood floor seemed so distinct among his own screaming.
Emberlynne snapped to reality at the sound of her name being repeated over and over. Her reverie broke like a dropped glass and she now realized the setting. Hart was shaking her shoulder vigorously.
“Sorry,” she murmured. “Hallucination.”
Hart’s room was much like her own but a lot more things in it since his behavior record was clean and they trusted him more than the other patients. Emberlynne climbed up on his large king sized bed where she kicked off her slippers and laid back.
Her relationship with Hart was strange. They weren’t a couple… at least not to their overseers but they were definitely an item on account that Emberlynne didn’t talk to many people but she sure seemed to have a lot to say to Hart. There was and understood level of trust between them that was as impenetrable and romantic as the Titanic. He sat down on the bed and was silent. The soundless room seemed to speak a language of its own.
“Hart?” Emberlynne asked impulsively. He nodded but had not quite met her gaze.
“How do you feel about me?” she wondered. He was silent. Moments passed before he finally made any action. He lay down on the bed and patted his thighs indicating for her to come straddle him. She did so. He ran his fingers through her hair.
“You know how I feel about you. We even have sex. How could you not know?” He asked. Frowning to his self.
“Remind me.” She said suddenly feeling really small. He smiled at that and playfully she waved Guppy over his face. He puckered his lips and kissed Guppy.
“Do you know where this thing has been?!” She laughed.
“Your lips or the Rabbits?” He laughed. She sat guppy to the side and leaned in to lightly touch her lips to Hart’s and pulled away.
“You know how I feel already.” Hart said. Looking in his green eyes she saw hope but she couldn’t deny logic. Hart was strait in the head and this place would get smaller and smaller in his rearview mirror as he left. And the smaller her place in his heart would be. She let silence fill the room as she pondered this. This wasn’t forever. He was hers for the time being. It was all going to end. Like life. Like daylight. Like most things. It would come to an end. An inevitable end. She did not like this realization. Thoughtlessly, she was gripping his shirt and didn’t notice until he was gently untangling himself from her grip.
“What’s wrong?” He asked, now intertwining their fingers. She shook her head absentmindedly and got off of him. Slipping her house shoes back on, she grabbed Guppy.
“Hey, Emberlynne,” He reached for her wrist but she made sure she was just out of his reach. He closed the door just as she was just about to step out. Leaning his arm over her, hence his incredible height he acted as a weight on the door. He grabbed her forearm, his hand nearly wrapping around twice, and spun her to face him.
“Please tell me,” His voice was soft in the creaky old room.
“Remind me later.” She said, pushing him out of her way with some effort and slipping out the door.
Mother was sitting behind her cherry wood desk sorting through all the adoption forms when she felt it. A chill ran through her spine and made her wiry grey hair stand on end. It was happening again. Her wrinkled fingers quickly stacked the papers and tidied her desk. She pulled an incredibly large book out of the bottom drawer to her left. The stone walls of her loft seem to groan and the sloping wood ceiling stirred. Yes. It was happening. The book’s cover was dusty and scratched from it’s many years of use and the title had nearly faded completely.
“Past memories my ass.” She said bitterly reading the title. She flipped the book open to last generation’s pictures. She had been only forty something then. Sure enough she found him. It was a grubby old black and white photo and bad quality too. But you could plainly see him. He was leaning against the wood frame of his door and staring at the camera. No smile. No special pose. But what could you expect from mentally incompetent children?
“Damn you Wood.” She sneered quietly to herself. To him.
“Why are you here?” She asked the picture, staring deeply into his emotionless eyes. A gun shot echoed through the loft so loud, it was as if it had been fired right there beside her. She flinched and temporarily went deaf. She shut her eyes and forced her mind to see passed the façade. One heart beat. Two. The sound of tree branches scraping against her window pane brought her to life. She peeked out around her loft. Everything in place. The low burning fire of her stone fire place was still flickering. Her knickknacks where all still in their places. She straitened up halfway embarrassed.
7:52 pm, Monday
The rusty old hinges of the swing screamed every time Emberlynne swung back and forth. The sound so disturbing it cut through the night like a strait razor. It was a bit chilly but nothing more than she could handle. The clouds where painted in the sky like a child’s unrealistic dream and the trees quietly shushed each other. Guppy sat on the old marry-go-round watching Emberlynne play. The kids weren’t supposed to be out so late but Emberlynne was an exception for no one knew she was outside.
Hart. He was like water on a sandy parched plain. He was unreal. So she refused to believe. She wasn’t going base her heart on someone who would eventually leave her. He wasn’t worth her time. Plus her feelings for Hart had been a little indifferent lately. Almost as if she had taught herself not to feel anymore. She was amazing at being apathetic. Why would she care? No one wanted and orphaned teen. Especially a crazy one. This entire orphanage thing was just a cover up for a far bigger picture.
The trees suddenly stirred very loudly and the birds flew away, startled. The sudden strong gust of wind blew the marry-go-round. Its screech caught her attention. She looked over to the slowly spinning marry-go-round to find it completely vacant. Where in the hell was Guppy?
She slowly rose from her swing tide to the large oak tree above her. She looked around. No one. She looked around the marry-go-round as it continued to spin just to make sure he hadn’t blown away. Guppy was no where.
The wind blew just a tad bit stronger now and Emberlynne wrapped her arms around herself.
“Guppy!” she called as if he would answer. This had not yet occurred to her. Abruptly, the marry-go-round stilled and the trees settled so quick it was as if they had never once blown. The color changing leaves of autumn that had flown all around had suddenly fallen to the ground.
“Guppy!” She yelled another time. Her own voice answered her in what was an echo.
“Is this Guppy?” A voice asked her. She turned on the drop of a dime and came face to face with a boy whom she didn’t recognize. He held guppy in front of him, between them. Impulsively, she took Guppy from his grasps a little too quickly for politeness. She took a step back for they had been nearly chest to chest. They stood there as an eerie silenced enveloped them. His skin was fair; far much lighter then hers by a long shot.
His hair was jet black and shiny; cut short to the scalp but still enough to run her fingers through. But in the front was a long asymmetrical bang covering one eye that stopped at his chin and framed his face nicely. He had thick eyebrows that arched perfectly; pretty almond shaped eyes. In his bottom lip was two shiny studs; one on each side well known as spider bites. His eye brow was pierced as well.
How in the hell was he permitted with all these potential dangers to the inhabitants of this mental home, Emberlynne thought. They stood there. Expressionless. Emotionless. Speechless, in the still of the wind.
The nurse that had been struggling with the squealing Lillian earlier produced form the Mansion’s old French doors.
“There you are Elijah. And Emberlynne. Who in the hell told you to be out here?” He asked with a bit of a southern twist to his words. He was a brunette with a simple face and clear skin. There was nothing significant enough about his features to mention. Bryce was his name…
Emberlynne scurried off with Guppy close to her chest and into the house. Bryce watched her go with a look of desire in his eye.
“That girl…” he trailed off still looking in her general direction until she disappeared into the house. A low throaty sound from Elijah caught his attention and he turned around. Elijah was glaring at the ground but other then that, he had not moved.
“Right then,” Bryce collected himself. “Let’s get your papers. I’ll take you to your room.”