I stayed hidden among the bushes. I wasn’t going to take any chances. I needed to get away again, and if that meant sitting here and waiting for them to go away, then I will.
I watched Carter and Marshall crawl out of the little hole. I remembered that I completely dove through…staying low. I could feel my arms starting to burn now that I thought about it.
Carter pointed out behind me and told Marshall to go that way. He himself went the other way. I watched them split up, and then my eyes were caught on Marshall. He was walking towards the bush. He was getting closer!
Shit, I hope he doesn’t see me! *I’ve been swearing a lot lately…. Why have I been swearing? Seriously though, I don’t normally say shit. I really don’t…. Shut up Ava! If you keep thinking right now, you’re gonna get caught!* I shook my head, wiping away my thoughts. I forgot I was in a bush. The leaves rustled as Marshall walked by, and he stopped. He took a few steps back and stared at the bush.
I could tell he sensed me cause he smiled.
I blinked the tears away from my eyes. I went to get up when he cleared his throat. I looked up at him and he was lightly shaking his head “no.”
I looked through the thinning leaves with a puzzled look. He mouthed the words, “you’re not really here.” He winked at me and then he walked away.
My heart skipped a few beats as I tried to process what just happened. Did Marshall just do what I think he did? Did he seriously just let me slip away from them? I never thought that those boys could be nice.
I stared at Marshall as he ventured farther off into the woods. He looked back at my position and he gave me some sort of wave. I wasn’t sure if that was supposed to be a sign or something, but I took it as such.
I crawled quietly out of my little bush, and I slowly made my way towards the street that led to the construction place. I finally got to the shoulder, and I made my way quickly across the street. If I follow this road, it’ll lead me straight into town. It wasn’t far at all.
I can’t believe I just let her get away. There’s no way in hell that Carter or Fred could possibly know, right? I mean, it’s not like Fredrik can read minds or anything like that.
I’m sick of chasing after this girl. She really is a nice person…*and she really is beautiful. I think I’m starting too—MARSHALL JUST STOP! DON’T EVEN SAY IT!* I continued going through the woods. I stopped when I heard my name being called from a distant place.
It was Carter, and I could hear his footsteps rushing towards me. I stopped and turned around, right as Carter jumped on me and tackled me to the ground.
“Carter what the hell are you doing?”
“Marshall!” He was trying desperately to catch his breath.
“Carter slow down! What the hell are you trying to say?”
“Marshall I think I know where she went!”
I pretended to be surprised. “What?! Where?!”
He grabbed my arm “Come on, follow me!” He ran me back over to where he was looking and he showed me what looked like “heel tracks” in the dirt.
“Carter,” I said, not able to hold in my laugh anymore, “that’s a fucking deer track!” I pointed at the marks of the deer hooves on the ground, and he punched me in the arm. “What the hell was that for?”
“You’re laughing at me dude!” Carter shot me a serious look, and pointed back in the direction that I’d been looking to begin with. I casually walked away from him, still laughing to myself. What an idiot Carter was.
I looked at the bush where Ava had been. I couldn’t help but think to myself…why I had let her go to begin with.
The town was quiet, as it always was at night. There was never anything that happened here…except for…well I dunno…ME BEING STALKED TO MY OWN SCHOOL! I ran across the park; the same park that I was trapped in a while ago. I hated this place now….
I ran my normal way home, and I knew that I wasn’t being followed. There were no voices or footsteps, or even vehicles following me this time. Maybe this time I finally got away.
But I didn’t turn that familiar corner down my street. I didn’t take that familiar route to my front door. Instead, I ran down a few more streets until I saw another familiar house. I wasn’t sure what time it was, but there was still a light on in the house.
I looked like crap, but I really didn’t care.
I ran up to the front door of that house and I knocked, lightly at first. I waited a few seconds before I knocked again, this time louder. There were faint footsteps that I could hear, and finally the door opened. I looked at Mr. Marks as he smiled when he saw me.
“Ava Lynn, I haven’t seen you in a while!” He embraced me in a hug as he ushered me in. “Ava you’re soaking wet! Why are you soaking wet?” He turned around and stuck his head into the living room, and I could tell that he was talking to his wife. “Marilyn can you go grab a towel? Ava’s here and she’s soaking wet.” The footsteps in the other room were quick to get up.
About 30 seconds later, she was walking through the doorway with a nice clean dry towel. She wrapped it around me as she embraced me in a hug as well. “Ava! It’s been so long since you’ve been over!” She paused for a second and I could tell both Mr. and Mrs. Marks were wondering the same question.
“They ushered me into the living room, and sat me down on a hard wooden chair…probably so I wouldn’t get any of their davenport wet.
“Well,” I started, “I was running out of this restaurant tonight because it was just really awkward. They were trying to chase after me, and I ended up falling into the river trying to get away.” I had a slight smile on my face as I told them about how Jed was supposed to be there with me tonight, but never showed up. I could see the horror on their faces as they realized something was up.
“That just doesn’t sound like Jed,” Marilyn said. “He’s very good at sticking to plans.” She shook her head. “Do you know where he is Ava? Have you seen him at all tonight?”
I shook my head and I felt a tear coming to my eye. “I haven’t seen him since he brought me home from school. He left saying that he would be over in a couple of hours, but he never showed up.”
“Oh Allen,” cried Marilyn as she turned to her husband, “we have to go out and look for him. Who knows where he could be, or what trouble could be lurking at this hour! We need to go out and get our son Allen.” I could see the tears spilling out of her eyes.
I knew she was extremely upset. Not just by the tears, but that fact that Jed always told his parents everything. They always knew where Jed was, and if he wasn’t with me, then that means something bad has happened.
Allen put his arm around his wife’s shoulder as he pulled her close. “It’s alright Marilyn, we’ll get in the car and we’ll go out and look for him. I’m going to go get Sophia and get her in the car as well.”
“Allen there’s no need for that. She’s a big girl. She can stay here, can’t she?”
Allen shook his head. “If Jed’s in any sort of trouble, I don’t want our daughter sitting here all by herself.”
I cleared my throat. “I could always sit with her if you’d like Mr. Marks.”
He smiled at me. “Ava, you know how much we’d appreciate that.” He tightened his grip on his wife’s shoulders. “But I would rather have you come with us as well. That way whenever we find him, we can drop you off at home instead of having you wandering around at this hour.”
I nodded at his wise words. Marilyn got up from the couch and walked up the stairs to get Sophia.
Sophia was another little blonde, just like me. She was the sweetest little girl with the greatest manners. She was in the fourth grade, but she had the sweetest relationship with her brother. She always loved seeing me, but she loved seeing her brother more…which is understandable.
Sophia slumped down the stairs rubbing her eyes. When she could finally see, she waved at me, with a sleepy smile on her face. I didn’t hug her, mostly because I was still wet. I took the towel off, and walked to put it in the bathroom. I could hear something coming from outside, so I looked out the window.
I could see a faint movement from the hedges in the backyard. There’s no way…there’s just no way….
I quickly ran out of the bathroom, shutting off the light and slamming the door behind me. I turned around, staring at the door and walking backwards.
“Is everything alright Ava?” I bumped right into Mr. Marks. I jumped as I turned around and brought my hand to my mouth to keep me from screaming my lungs out.
I nodded at him. “Yeah, I just…thought I saw something spooky.”
We didn’t speak as we all filed out of the house. Mr. Marks securely locked up the house as we all walked off the porch steps. We walked over to the SUV in the driveway and piled in. Mr. Marks was the last one to get into the car.
“Alright everyone, if there’s any place you think he could be, you let me know.” We all nodded and agreed to his words. “Now, keep your eyes peeled. There’s been something strange going on in this town, and I’m not letting my son get involved in it.”
Those final words tickled my brain. Mr. Marks says there’s something strange going on in town…what could possibly be going on in town? I haven’t noticed anything weird going on, but then again, I’ve had my own weirdness to deal with. Maybe it has something to do with Fredrik. But I’m probably thinking about it too much. We need to find Jed.