A familiar hand shook her awake. Her eyes blinked open groggily, her vision blurry as she tried to make out who the person was and what he (or was it a she?) was exactly doing there. Certainly her parents wouldn't let strangers into the house...? And why was her bed so hard? It felt like she was sleeping on the floor, but that would just be stupid...
Vivian shot up as the events of the day before flooded back to her. How did she forget such a life-changing thing?
How did she forget that her parents, as smart and intelligent as they were, did not lock the doors last night because of the simple fact that they were dead?
Her vision cleared and she stared up at Odin, who was looking at her, puzzled. Contorting her face in rage, she slapped him and stood up. He was not allowed to be confused! He wasn't the one that had to deal with the deaths of two parents! He should be sitting next to her, patting her back and wiping her tears away, all the while whispering comforting words...
"What were you doing on the ground?" he questioned, picking up the fallen phone. She had forgotten about it, and felt a bit of gratitude towards him as he was keeping a clear head through all this mayhem.
Wait a second. Odin didn't know about any of it. That's why he didn't understand why she was sleeping on the floor; that's why he wasn't helping her cope; that's why he wasn't asking her if she needed anything.
But him being the good friend he was, he had picked up on the fact that something was wrong. "Where are your parents?"
She said nothing, unable to say the words that she barely even believed herself.
"Viv, where are they?" he shook her by the shoulders, staring into her downcast eyes.
"I... got a call from the police yesterday. They were in an accident... and... and..." she trailed off, choking on her breaths as she held back tears.
She couldn't think straight.
The room started swirling around her.
"Viv, Viv," the couch chanted to her.
"Viv, Viv," the lamp called to her.
"Viv, Viv," the floor shouted at her.
And then she fainted.
She felt Odin pick her up bridal style and carry her body to the couch. Strange; she never noticed how muscular he was... or was that just his bone?
Settling for the thought that he was just skin and bones, she commanded her heart to stop fluttering. This was Odin. He wasn't anything special. He was just your regular computer geek – not some type of muscle-bound god or anything even like that.
But he was her best friend. He actually listened to her when she talked, helped her with disputes with other friends, and on that occasion two years ago, hugged her as she cried her eyes out about the death of her grandpa.
Yet, when she looked up at him as he set her down on the comfortable cushions, she couldn't help but realize how much he had changed. Not just in the past years, nor in the past year; no, he had matured to a man in just the span of a few seconds.
He spoke softly to her. "Do you want me to get you anything?"
"No," she shook her head. Patting the couch, she asked, "Sit next to me?"
"If you insist."
Closing their eyes, they rested their heads on top of each other's and drifted off.
It was an hour later when they woke up, being startled by the annoying – and as Vivian mumbled, the evil – ring of the telephone. Coming to their senses about what the call could mean simultaneously, they glanced at each other before Odin got up and answered it. "Hello?"
"Hello, this is Principal Ann Washinger from Greenwood High School. I would like to inform you that your daughter, Vivian Brown, has not attended her first or second period class, as says the attendance records."
Odin mouthed a colorful explicative before coughing into his fist and making his voice gruff, more or less like the late Mr. Brown's voice had sounded like. "Oh, um... she's been... uh..." he turned to Vivian for help, who made a vomiting motion. "...she has the flu and might not be at school at all this week."
The principal didn't seem to buy it for a second. "Mr. Owens, I was about to call your house, too, actually. Why in the world are two bright students such as yourselves skipping school today?"
"Well, you see..."
"I don't want to hear any excuses! Let me talk to one of your parents."
"But you don't understand -"
"No 'but's'! Don't be difficult!"
"But Vivian's parents are -"
"Are what, exactly?" The woman sighed on the other end. "Why is it so hard just to speak to a parent?"
"You see, there was..." he glanced at Vivian for the go-ahead, "a car accident yesterday afternoon."
It was silent on the woman's end for a moment. "Is that the truth?"
"Huh." She took a deep breath. "Are you two alone in the house? Do I need to send someone to check up on you?"
"Umm... we're fine. We were just about to head over to my house."
She didn't sound convinced, but gave in anyway. "Fine, but if you need anything, my number is 576-3348. Don't abuse this information."
"We won't; promise. And thanks."
"It isn't a problem... it's just that Vivian's parents were friends of mine. I hate to hear that something like that happened."
Odin grunted in agreement. "Well, thank you and good-bye, I guess."
"Just one last thing – tell Vivian that the worst part is over. It'll only get better from here. Now, I have a meeting I need to get to in ten minutes. Tell Vivian 'good luck' for me."
The line went dead, and Odin turned to Vivian with an astonished look on his face. "It... worked. It actually worked. Well, how about that..."
Once Vivian had finally picked up all her necessary belongings and officially moved over to Odin's house, she had convinced Mrs. Owens to drive her to the spot where the accident occurred. She had been fully expecting for the crash to have been cleaned up by then, so it was not a surprise when the quiet road held nothing but a pair of skid marks.
She stared at a patch of dirt, where the grass had been ripped up by tires. It made her wonder if her parents had died quickly and painlessly during the impact, or had suffered minutes of intense pain as they slowly bled to death. Deep in thought, a question occurred to her that she had no answer to, but Mrs. Owens did.
"Ah, Aunt Becky?" she inquired, scrunching her eyebrows together. "Did the other driver get killed, too?"
Something flashed across the woman's face for a moment, making Vivian doubt if she had really seen it. There was nothing for her to hide, so had she really just imagined it? She filed the incident away in the depths of her memory as she listened to the reply. "Yes... they did. Their car exploded and they couldn't find their bodies."
Shutting her eyes, Vivian tried to stop the overwhelming emotion in her. There was no culprit; both sides were victims. There was no blame. She could not pin the guilt on anyone, and somehow it wound up getting put on her.
Life was twisted in that way.
"Can we go now?" she asked, hoping to get away from the scene as quickly as possible. Lately, she had been prone to fainting, and now that her head was pounding and quickly heating up, she knew she didn't have long before she did so again.
Mrs. Owens stared at her, a strange glint in her eyes, before giving the 'OK'.
What is she hiding?