Strangers 2

Reads: 314  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
Hi! This is somewhat of an adaption to my earlier story 'Strangers'. Most of it is pretty similar but I have added certain elements and cut some parts to make the story more interesting and shorter so that certain parts don't drag out too long! Let me know what you think :)

Submitted: April 20, 2015

A A A | A A A

Submitted: April 20, 2015

A A A

A A A


I never used to be afraid of shadows.

Dark shapes in corners represented the thrill of mystery, the excitement of the unknown. What was there to be afraid of when evil was a dream existing only in cartoons, a world where the good guys always won, where monsters could be chased away with the flick of a light switch.

A fantasy.

When. Before.

Before innocence was slashed in two, before the mask of naivety was lifted from my face and the blinding lights of reality burned my eyes, but it was too late.  Hindsight has always been an overdue arrival.

Jonathan Little disappeared from my neighbourhood when I was six.

He had a furious mop of red hair and a nose that protruded out at a curiously odd angle to his face, his appearance was not similar to mine in the slightest but he was six years old and so was I, and that was enough of a reason for my mother. By the time the sun rose on the second day Jonathan failed to return home, my own parents had already proceeded planning the rest of my summer safely locked away in the confines of our home.

My days spent frolicking amongst the patchwork of colours of my mother’s flowerbed were over. There was to be no more riding my bicycle to the corner store with Rosie Brown, and certainly no going anywhere without an adult chaperone. When the boy from the cottage on the corner vanished, my freedom went with it.

So you must be able to understand my reasons for hating Jonathan Little.

Maybe if we had been friends prior to him no longer being around it would have been different. Maybe if Jonathan had enjoyed cavorting in flower beds and riding bicycles with Rosie Brown, perhaps then I would have been more distraught with the absence of his company rather than simply annoyed. But the fact of the matter was that we were not friends, not before he disappeared and certainly not after. A boy who so selfishly chose to go missing right at the pinnacle of my summer fun was not a boy I wanted around.

Our entire neighbourhood was not the same after Jonathan left.

Fathers went out to patrol the streets after returning home from their evening commute, sombre expressions permanently moulded onto their faces as if someone had gone around with a hammer and chisel and sculpted them that way. Through my window I often watched them as they strolled along together in dark suited packs, eyes alert and postures tense with what can could only be described as anticipation. I could never decipher what exactly it was that they were waiting for, who they were waiting for, if they were waiting for anything at all. 

I could not understand why Mrs Wilkinson insisted on frantically ushering her children inside every afternoon at 4 o’clock, like a farmer herding sheep into their pen. I could not understand why my mother hovered outside my bedroom door every night until she was sure I had given in to the pull of sleep, why even then I felt her hesitation to leave as it boiled inside of her like pot of paranoia.

In my cotton pyjama shorts, I was made to sit down with her one evening to talk. The fan spun rapidly on the ceiling. My father stood amongst the shadows in the corner, watching as she spoke.

She told me to be careful. That there were people out there who could adopt a façade of kindness as easily as one could place on a mask. That these people possessed powers to lure children away from safety with false promises of adventure and candy and fun. We were never to trust these people, these strangers, because behind those masks of friendliness lay the most frightening creatures ever to haunt the earth. Strangers were mean, were liars that wanted to trick us and scare us and maybe even hurt us.

I watched the fan. The words ricocheted off me, whizzing off into space and failing to reappear until years later, finally making their piercing entry into my heart. The bullet wound that changed everything.

But it was too late.

 

It’s not my fault.

 

I repeat the words every night so I can sleep.

It didn’t matter that I had the answers when they were needed most. They were locked away inside my mind, trapped in a small, bolted box of naivety.

I just needed a key.

A tool that should have been provided by the men who went from door to door with their badges and promises of discovery never to be fulfilled.  Who sat in my living room with steaming cups of coffee and listened to my mother’s frantic chatter, who accepted my father’s silence with their own grave expressions. Men and women so distracted by one missing boy that they failed to pay attention to the other, standing in the corner as they chattered away, holding all the pieces of the puzzle grasped tightly in his hands.

I would have told them if I had known. 

All they had to do was explain. Jonathan was never coming back.

All they had to do was ask.  About the car I had seen pull up alongside him. About the outstretched hand, the shadow it cast along the sidewalk. About the door that opened and closed, the car that drove away. Why I hadn’t seen Jonathan since, but I had seen that hand. That shadow.

All they had to do was say the words.

It’s not my fault they never did.

 


© Copyright 2019 aworldbeneathwords. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

More Mystery and Crime Short Stories