Chapter 3: Mysteries

The rest of Lake Winnipeg is worthless talking about. We had to leave early because all of the kids were getting pneumonia. I got quickly on the bus and got myself a pretty decent seat at the back of the bust, making all the preps sit in the middle. I took this as an advantage to fall asleep and recover from last night.

***

It was dark. It didn't even feel like a dream. My eyes were placed on someone else's body, a body I could not control. It walked down a hall that was lit by fancy wall lamps. The stranger made its way through the night. There was no sound whatsoever. Stopping at the door of a room, the door swung open and the scream once more filled my ears.

***

I opened my eyes and jumped up to find everyone on the bus staring at me. The "geeks" at the front with their books down, the preps giving me dirty looks, even the bus driver laid her eyes on me through the mirror. I looked to my left to find Kenneth Cole close to me with the same expression as everyone else. It was just a dream. Another dream. I've heard of people falling asleep in buses, but not about people waking up with a scream themselves, dragging everyone's attention. From far, Bridget and Monique giggled in my direction. Scumbags.

"You okay?" Kenneth asked. I nodded with a forced smile with gratitude. Well, apparently I'm so forgotten, only one person cared to come over and ask me if I was okay. And that's how it's always been, even back in Ohio.

"Just a little nightmare. I'll be okay. Thanks." I thanked and Kenneth and everyone else went back to minding their own business. And then something struck me. That scream—calling in agony. Agony equals pain, suffer, danger, hurt... What was that ambulance doing earlier today at the Cruiser's? It all made sense in a strange way! There would have been no ambulance if nobody had gotten hurt. But… that's just pathetic. This is just one big phenomenon. Maybe one of the little Cruiser boys, probably Joe, broke their arm or something. Yeah, that's more like it. But then again, why was the police there? I tried to avoid thinking that the gunshot of my dream and the ambulance had something in common, but why am I thinking this? I'm just a young and foolish teenage girl. Shouldn't I just care about make-up, or something? Yeah, right.

"Inside conflicts?" suddenly someone was at my side. It was a boy I had never seen before. He smiled the warmest smile, his eyes filled with humor. I found myself smiling, too. My mouth opened but I couldn't get the words out.

"Oh. Just, you know… yeah." I admitted at last. He chuckled. I awkwardly hid my face and looked out the window—this was surely not our school. I tried to look for any signs of identification, but we were driving in the parking lot.

"You know, you look like something is bothering you." The handsome boy insisted, not keeping his eyes off the seat in front. Who is he, anyway? Does he really think I'll tell him about my dreams and talk about my life as if he were my own personal therapist? He knows I'm having inside conflicts, so why doesn't he just let me sort them out?

"Y-yeah," I sent away the conversation to avoid being rude, "I'm sorry, where are we?" I turned my head to face him. He dropped his head and I heard a gentle inside laugh. Not being aware of the "humor" I just stayed serious.

"Museum of Visual Arts." He answered without thinking. I looked once more out the window. It didn't look like a museum, but this was just the back parking lock, so I can't expect much effort from people in this place.

"Well—" I began, and then cut off to realize I was back to sitting alone. He… he left me talking alone? He walked away from me? How rude! To think I had even considered even asking his name! I wished I had, so later I could find him and show him who he had just messed with! Stupid child. I bet he's no more than Logan Finnigan, that popular jock that doesn't go farther from being a good athlete.

Mrs. Williams, my past algebra teacher, got up and tried to get everyone's attention. "Okay kids, behave and get out of this bus properly without talking! I want silence until we get inside. These two rows get out first and then the rest and so on." Kids? That Mrs. Williams thinks this is still her 20th century! Oh Lord, what shall be the future, with this ignominious population. Does she really expect people to follow her commands? Please.

Now, why the hell are we in a museum? A park. Okay, that's reasonable, a place to chill out and relax, play some soccer, swing at the playground, play some mini golf or drink hot chocolate, but this? Is this their idea of "fun"? I like museums, but for my mood I'd rather sit alone in the woods to sort this puzzle out.

We lone up in one line, and we walked inside to the lobby. Mrs. Williams' face was red with anger to see that no one could follow instructions. I met Hayls and Lucas inside, their faces very content, but immediately turning to suspicion when they saw me.

"Is, I must ask again, are you sure you're okay?" Hayley asked worried. Is it that obvious? I took a deep breath. Patience. Nobody knows what you're going through. Calm down.

"I'm just really tired. Really." I said. I love half-truths.

"Didn't you sleep at all?" Lucas asked.

"Like four hours. I had a nightmare and I couldn't fall back asleep." Okay, that sounded pretty childish, but it's all true. Hayley bit her lip and Lucas swallowed his laughter. To realize that my own friends didn't take this seriously, I proceeded in the actual museum. And that's when it hit me. A flashback.

***

He was tall. And he was dark. Wearing a dark, long greatcoat and a hat. His whole outfit gave him the reputation of a spy. Hi's face was almost invisible, covered by the layers of clothing. And then, like in the movies, suddenly it was right in front of me, and far at last. A pair of eyes—full of satisfaction and revenge. I could feel a hidden smile.

***

I shook myself when I walked in the lobby of the museum. This is it. It had been a museum in my dream—this museum. My breathing became louder.

"You guys know the rules, no touching, no stealing, yadda yadda yadda, so, any questions?" Mrs. Williams forced a smile as everyone stood quiet in front of her. Next to her stood a tall boy, apparently a worker from the museum, whose eyes wouldn't get off me. The corner of his lips was slightly raised, printing what I thought seemed like a smile on his perfectly pale face. But there was something in his eyes that made shiver. Something about his stare didn't seem entirely friendly. It was maybe his hairstyle that made him look like a bad person. His hair was shaggy, dark, almost black, and his eyes seemed light brown with a hint of honey. But looks can fool anyone, so I shouldn't make any judgments. He looked older than me, probably a junior or senior in the other high school in town. I heard they are already in vacations since last week. Perhaps this is just his summer job. But why should I care?

I thought twice before raising my hand.

"Why are in a museum?" I said with a bored tone. Mrs. Williams' smile faded to deep disappointment. I heard a couple voices from behind laugh softly.

"Because, Miss Brooks, we got orders. As simple as that." She improvised. I laughed to myself. And then everyone began walking their own separate ways. Hayls and Lucas offered me to go with them to the sculpture section, but I decided to go to the paintings. To my surprise, I was one of the very few who went there. Most people decided to sit around like lazy cows, talking about non-constructive things.

The art was very different than anything I've ever seen. One of the paintings caught my attention. A strange swirl of random colors, almost impossible to describe. It looked like a scribble of a six-year-old, but apparently it was worth more than that. I almost jumped when that rude dude from the bus suddenly was once more at my side. I saw him and gave him a displeased look.

"Figured that mystery yet?" He asked. Enigma? How can he just jump into my life thinking he knows what's going on?

"Who are you?" I changed subject. He chuckled once more. In the light of the sun that trespassed the window I could see him perfectly well. Taller than me, with deep, sad, emerald-green eyes, perfect skin… he was rather… cute. Forget it, Is, handsome boys can't look perfect and have good personalities. But that laugh of his, so musical…

"I think the question here is who are you." He said nicer, smiling with his sad green eyes. Who am I? I was going to say something else, but to avoid a discussion, or a bad impression of myself, I decided to keep it simple.

"I'm Is." I said. Once more he smiled and slightly shook his head in disagreement. From his expression I could almost hear him saying, "Foolish little girl." What's so funny?!

"Asking who one is doesn't always refer to the name," he explained with a serious face. I looked up to see his expression. He wasn't meeting my eyes. What is this? Some sermon on "discovering oneself"? A friggin lecture on being yourself? I have no time for this.

"Okay well I'm sorry, I'm not that smart. Now, if you'll excuse me." I said beginning to walk away, passing to his right, a soft, quick smile flashing in his face. I ignored it and proceeded to the sculptures section, where Lucas and Hayley supposedly were. Unfortunately, this seems to be the biggest museum, because I could not find any of my friends anywhere. So I awkwardly wandered around looking for something to do, avoiding certain thoughts. That was a rather thing to do, with a creepy worker looking at me with the same smile, making me feel rather uncomfortable.

After the museum we went back to school and wasted two hours in the same classroom while everyone else spread all across the school. Hayley and I sat with our arms crossed, looking out the window, while Lucas tried to tell jokes to make us smile. Some of them were actually funny, and other times I laughed constantly just so he would stop telling such lame jokes. He ended up going to the school library to get a jokes book. I just love that kid.

Walking home was a real blast. I had to fit every piece of junk from my locker in my backpack, and then walk with it home. I complained about my life as I walked, until I reached the Cruiser's home. There was nobody home. At the delegation, perhaps? It seemed so dead, their house. I mean, it's weird, because it looks like when they go on vacations, clean and empty. But something about it makes it look plain dull.

At home everything was silent. We sat at the table quietly eating out food. What is wrong with this picture? What is wrong with this day?

"You guys know what happened at the Cruisers' today?" I managed to speak out. Everyone turned to see me like I had committed a crime. I went back to eating silently. Mom and dad exchanged glances. I wished I hadn't spoken. Maybe I should just keep these things to myself.

"Their older girl suffered a terrible accident." Mom managed to speak out. Megan? Oh, no. Megan! She's the nicest kid around. She always babysat my brother Jack. Such a good girl.

"What happened to her?"

"A stranger broke in their home at some point, went to her room, and shot her in the collarbone. She's in the hospital. The Cruisers are destroyed. They think someone's after them." Dad interrupted mom, explaining the situation. "She's not coming out anytime soon. She's not doing well, Is." My eyes widened. How could that have happened? My mom then placed her hand on mine.

"See, I thought I heard something last night." Mom said between bites. That's it! The shot I heard was from their home. It was a dream of what was going on! I have to see them. I need to know what happened.

"Dad, do you know where Megan is?" I asked. Dad stopped chewing and exhaled.

"Honey we should really stay out of this. I knew she's your friend, but we need to give them their space." Mom interrupted as she placed her warm hand on top of mine. She felt dad get tense.

"But I need to talk to her! I need to know something."

"That will have to wait." Dad said strictly.

"But it's important!" I insisted, getting mad.

"You are not going. This is their deal. We should stay out of it. We will stay out of it. Nobody is going." Dad said once more. Mom got her this-is-going-to-turn-ugly frown and kept eating her food quietly.

"Dad you don't understand!" If he did he'd probably take me to the hospital himself. But he's stuck in his business world where everything revolves around money. The man barely knows me or anything that happens in my life.

"They've got enough problems as it is. They don't need some foolish gossiper to get the whole story." Offending. Hurting. H-he called me a "foolish gossiper", did he? That's it. I've had enough of this family. He doesn't even know me, and with what right does he judge me like that? He can leave that to Penny, but he's not calling me that. With my mouth shut, I got off my seat, tucked the chair under the table, and felt everyone's eyes on me as I managed to walk away. I didn't slam the door, but I wished I had. I needed something to get my anger out on.

My father was never the friendly type. Sure, he always had a joke or two, and okay, he can have very comic comments, but most of the time he's just being diplomatic. I remember Lucas getting along too much with my dad the time he came to have dinner here. They kept joking about everything, but as soon as Lucas left, dad went back to his idle mode, away from everyone else.

Mom is the whole opposite. She's too nosy, outgoing, and sometimes speaks too much. She's bossy, loud, embarrassing, and even thought Lucas was my boyfriend, or wanted to be. So never again shall I invite a friend for dinner. We're total opposites. I find her rather shallow, if I may say.