All color drained from her eyes, only seeing in black and white, but even so, she wasn’t afraid. Anna stood in the middle of a quiet neighborhood in the same shorts and tee she’d fallen asleep in.
She looked around to figure out where she was. It was night time and most of the houses had the Christmas lights turned on. Some houses more decorative than others. The pavement didn’t seem to
bother her bare feet; neither did the cold chilly wind. As a matter of fact, Anna couldn’t feel anything! Heavy breaths passed her lips trying to make sense of it all.
Her eyes brushed across the sight of a white, averagely decorated, two-story suburban house. But it wasn’t any house-it was Anna’s old place…in Ohio. Her heart thrummed loudly in her chest, wanting to cry. What was she doing in Ohio? How did she get here? Tears stung the back of her eyes not knowing what to believe or do.
From the top window a light turned on. Anna stared at it, waiting for someone to appear. She could see a silhouette walk around through the curtains, though she didn’t understand what it was doing. Anna spun around to see if there was anyone outside seeing her, but everything remained hushed. She took the first step towards the house.
The grass was still wet from the sprinklers. She remembered her dad would always set the timers for ten o’clock. Her mind then considered the possibility that perhaps she was reliving her old days. As Anna continued her steps across the yard, she wondered why she was transported here at this time of night.
Her feet walked up the steps to the patio, and she stopped short at the front door. Anna kept herself from opening it. This wasn’t her house anymore. It would be trespassing if she walked right in. Anna lowered her hand that was leveled with the door knob. Even though she couldn’t feel, Anna knew a tear escaped the eye and trickled down her cheek.
Oh, how she missed this house, this life. It wasn’t perfected, but it was better than what she’s been dealing with in California.
Anna backed away from the door and stepped down the patio. She only made it halfway through the yard before she heard the door prop open. Fear crawled up her back, forcing her to turn around and apologize for being in their property. But the words were caught in her mouth when she saw the homeowner…was her mom!
She wore a white buttoned blouse, grey pants, and heels. Her hair was straightened down to her collarbone, and she had on thin-framed glasses. She almost looked like a librarian. Two luggage’s stood next to her as she locked the door behind her.
Anna tried inhaling past her constricted throat as she realized what this was. It was the moment her mom left them. Her breath was trapped in her esophagus; her mind unable to find a logical explanation for what she was seeing. “Mom,” she whispered, fighting the tears that smeared her sight. She wanted to run to her mom, hold her, cry to her, but most importantly ask her why she had left them.
Anna wanted to tell her mom of the despair she bestowed in her life and the scar she casted on the family. But something told her she couldn’t. Her gaze remained on her mom as she walked over to the Acura parked on the driveway.
Rain began to trickle from the clouds and lightning roared overhead. Anna’s mom didn’t bother to shield herself from the drizzle, neither did Anna. Instead, her mom hesitated to enter the car and craned her head back to capture the image of the house one last time. As dots of rain streamed down Anna’s skin, she wondered if her mom was thinking of John or her. Anna wished that in that moment her mom thought about staying.
But she didn’t. Anna’s eyes crushed at the painful true ending. All she wanted to know was why. A tear traced her cheek and fell from her chin. She could feel the strength about to drain from her legs, despite her lack of sensation.
“You’re making the wrong choice, Lisa.” A familiar voice spoke over the storm. Both Anna and her mom turned their attention to a male figure dressed in dark clothing, with a black trench coat and a hood concealing his identity. He stood at the front of the yard with head facing forward. There was a slight, clever smile to his expression, knowing something they didn’t. He carried a perfect posture as he walked to the middle of the lawn. “You are public enemy number one in every world. Go right or left, it doesn’t matter, everyone wants you dead.”
Lisa turned her body to face him. “I don’t care! I just want to protect her!”
The curves in the man’s grin inched, like he was amused by her sense of willpower. “It’s one versus two armies. Seems like quite a stretch, don’t you think?”
Anna’s eyes switched back and forth between her mom and the mysterious figure, trying to make sense of what they were talking about.
Lisa walked to the middle of the lawn to confront the figure. “I will go to great lengths to keep her safe.” The determination in Lisa’s voice made Anna smile when she figured they were speaking about her.
“You know, by you doing this, you’re putting billions of lives in jeopardy!” The man took a step towards Lisa and hushed his tone. “You can’t tempt fate.”
Lisa lowered her head, possibly knowing what’s coming to her. “I’m not given any other option,” she said. Tears gleamed in her eyes when she looked up at him. She was willing to accept the challenges but not yet ready for them. Lisa rested her forehead on the man’s chest and clutched his coat, trying to fight the fear of the future.
Anna’s heart pranced faster and louder every second that passed by. She couldn’t understand what was happening. She was even beginning to question if she was the subject of the conversation.
Anna saw as the man hesitantly wrapped his arms around Lisa. Perhaps the hooded figure was her dad, but in the back of her mind Anna knew it wasn’t.
As Lisa tried controlling her weeps, the man said, “Neither am I.” He drove his fist into Lisa’s ribs and a flash of light lit the night, blinding every eye. Anna stumbled to her knees, facing opposite the direction of the light. As soon as the light died down, she jerked her head back to her mom and saw her collapse to the ground.
The rain washed away the thin smoke rising from Lisa’s skin. The hooded figure remained unshaken at her feet. Anna’s eyes widened and a ribbon of air slipped down her throat when she summoned the strength to cry, “Mom!” She scurried across the grass to her mother’s side.
A severe burn mark was casted where the man struck her. Anna didn’t know what to do and buried her face in the curve of Lisa’s neck. “Please don’t die.” Her voice was muffled in Lisa’s shoulder as she wept.
“I’m sorry Lisa. But you can’t protect her,” the murderer began. Anna tilted her head back to meet the eyes of her mom’s killer. His face was hidden in darkness, but when he removed the hood from his head, the breath escaped Anna’s lungs to see Michael behind the black. “Not from me.”
Before she could scream, the image of Michael blurred and the whole scene rolled up like a movie reel where it disappeared into nothing.
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