For the next month, things started to improve at Ferguson's. Everyone seemed to be happier. Eloise actually smiled for once. Thomas had succeeded in asking out the barista, and she often was at the bookstore with him. It turns out, her name was Katherine. Plus, Bennett and I started dating, which was awesome.
One afternoon, I was greeted by a knock on my front door. It was Bennett, coming to pick me up for lunch.
"Hey, Nora. Uh, I found this taped to your front door. It looked like it had been there a couple days." He said, handing a white envelope to me. There was no return address or anything, all it had was my name written in nice handwriting.
"What the hell?" I wondered. I ripped into the envelope immediately and opened up the letter that was inside.
"To my dearest Nora," It read "I hate to bother you again, especially since you're either coming home from a date with your new boyfriend, or he's picking you up on one, and that's no time to interrupt you, but things are about to get complicated.
First of all, I'm very thankful for you helping me out. My list definitely wasn't something I could do on my own. Plus, I'm glad you decided to pick up on Dickens finally. Anyway, I need your help again.
Nora, I'm alive…but I'm trapped. I got into some bad things, and all I'm allowed to tell you is that I'm in Boise, Idaho. I'll try and send you another letter if I can, but I don't know when I'll be able to or if I even will.
I leaned against the door frame and read the signature over again and again. This didn't make any sense. Michael was dead, how could he be writing me letters? Even if he was alive, why wasn't there a return address if he was sending it from Boise? And why now?
"Nora, are you okay? Your face is flushed." Bennett asked.
I took a deep breath. "Do you remember the night we met? How we were tying up loose ends for my dead friend? Well, this letter tells me that he is in fact alive, and he's trapped in Boise" I began pacing. "He says he got into some bad stuff. What the hell did he do? I just…I just don't know if this is a sick joke or not. It's Michael's handwriting, but he's dead, Bennett, he's dead! They never found a body, but they found his blood on the railroad tracks. There's no way he's alive."
"So what are you going to do?" He wondered.
I paused. "We're going to Ferguson's."
That evening, just as the bookstore was opening, we stood at the front desk with Eloise, Thomas, Katherine, Mr. Ferguson, and Mrs. Braswell all crowded around. I read aloud the letter and then it was silent.
"Nora, you have to find him, whatever it takes." Eloise finally said.
"What if this is just a joke? And where the hell am I even going to start if I'm looking for him in Boise?" I questioned.
"I DON'T CARE! Search all the buildings and even the sewers, until you find him!" She shouted.
"What would you do if you were in my position? Would you just get in a car and drive all the way to Boise and look in every car, every house ? Eloise, you're asking way too much of me at the moment." I replied.
"You just don't understand! You haven't fallen in love with him yet." She said, pointing to Bennett. "And once you do, God help you if something ever happens to him. It hurts so much, Nora, you wouldn't believe it."
"I-If I may interject, uh, when I got here this afternoon to open, I found this on the door addressed to you, Nora." Mr. Ferguson said, pulling a second envelope out of his shirt pocket. I grabbed it from him and immediately ripped it open.
"My dearest Nora," I read aloud. "I managed to sneak another letter to you. I have a buddy out here that is trying to help me escape, but the most he can do is get these letters here. Anyway, all I can really tell you now is that I'm in an abandoned soap factory in Boise.
Please come as quick as you can, Nora. I think that this guy is going to hurt me. Like, seriously hurt me.
"No, no, no! This isn't good! Please, Nora, go get him. We know where he's at now. Please." Eloise begged.
I gazed at all the faces of those standing around me, and they were counting on me. I had no choice. "Okay, I'll leave tomorrow night, and then I can tell my mom I'm spending the weekend at Eloise's house. If she calls, it will be to my cell phone, and she'll never know. I've got some money saved for a hotel room, but a cheap one. Now, who's going with me, raise your hands."
Bennett, Eloise, Thomas, and Katherine all raised their hands, and I smiled, relieved that I would have company.
"I've got a van we could use for the 6 of us. I'll even drive." Thomas offered.
"I call shotgun!" Katherine declared.
"Wait, 6? There are only 5 of us." Bennett stated.
"We're going to be bringing back Michael! That makes 6, duh!" Eloise said.
I was still uneasy about the whole thing. My logical brain couldn't help but think it was all a trick, a ruse to get us all worked up over nothing. I just couldn't help but hope that my best friend was still alive somewhere. The 5 of us briefly finished planning our road trip and then Bennett walked me home. We got there just as Michael's mom was getting home from work.
"Hey there, Mrs. Cannon." I greeted.
"Well, I'm not Mrs. Cannon anymore. The divorce is final as of today. You can call me Isabelle." She said with a half hearted smile. She looked down at the papers in my hand and raised an eyebrow. "What do you have there, honey?"
I didn't want to tell her he was alive, especially since I didn't know if he really was. But then again, her divorce was final, and she was all alone now. What would be the harm in filling her with a little hope? "Well, Isabelle, these are letters I received earlier. There's no return address or anything, but it says that they're from Michael."
The grin immediately left her face and she shook her head in disbelief. "But, that's…that's…let me see those." I handed her the letters and she quickly skimmed them. "What do you think you're doing, lying to me like this?" She asked, sounding very hurt.
"What? No, I'd never lie to you Isabelle." I said defensively.
She threw the letters on the ground. "Quit lying, and don't call me Isabelle. Call me Ms. Adams." She stomped up the stairs and into her house with a door slam before I could say anything.
I stood looking at the door, speechless and unmoving. It was only when Bennett offered his arms open in a hug that I did anything. I hugged him, and buried my face in his shoulder, trying to keep tears from forming.
"It's okay, Nora. We'll get this all figured out." He said reassuringly.
"I sure hope so." I replied. "I don't want to go home yet, what do you say we go somewhere?"
"Like?" He wondered.
I thought for a moment. "How about Community Park?"
We strolled over to the park and I immediately sat on the swings. It reminded me of when I was a little girl and I would swing. It always felt like I was flying, and that I could go anywhere I wanted to. I took out my lucky pocket watch and held in my hands, hoping it would help to calm my nerves. Bennett sat down on the swing next to me and began twisting the chains.
"Do you think if I get enough power going, I could swing my way to Boise?" I asked.
"Well, think about it this way. It'll be an excuse to hang out with Thomas, Katherine, and Eloise more. It might be…like an adventure." He mentioned.
"But what happens if we get there and Michael's not there. Then all we'll be left with is crushed hopes and no other clues." I stated.
"Everything's going to be okay, Nora. If we find him, that's awesome. If we don't find him…well, then we'll just have to wait until we get to that point." He assured.
"Do you think he's alive?" I wondered.
He seemed a little taken aback by my question. "I can't really pass judgment on that considering I didn't really know him."
"True, but you know all the details of the letters and everything." I pointed out.
"Honestly, I'm as sure about it as you are." He replied.
I sighed. "Well then, this is going to be fun. I guess I should just shut up and go with the flow."
"No, I think you're right to be worried. I mean, it's not exactly a delicate subject we're dealing with here." He commented.
"Worrying sucks." I said with a yawn.
He gave me a sympathetic smile and stood up, offering his hand to me. "Come on, let's get you home. A good night's rest will do you some good."
I took his hand and we walked back to my house, where I bid him goodnight with a kiss on the cheek. I then trotted off to my room and changed into my pajamas, but I knew trying to sleep was pointless. My insomnia was here to stay, and there was far too much going on in my head, though I hoped that I could start sleeping at a decent time once school started again. I unplugged my purple earphones from my IPod, turned the volume on low and scrolled through the list of songs until I found one that could comfort me. I listened to the lyrical genius of Owl City, My Chemical Romance, and Paramore until it finally lulled me to sleep.
I dreamt of my upcoming adventures with my companions, but nothing could prepare m for what was about to happen…