This took longer than I expected. I was busy with something else, but that's not important. I got this chapter done, and that's all that matters. ^_^
This chapter is where Ava and Janie seek out Natasha's parents. I was dreading this moment, but it had to happen. Now I'd dreading writing the chapter where they actually meet Natasha's parents.
I started this now I need to finish it.
Look out for chapter twelve. ;) You won't be disappointed.
A week passed since the last day of school. It's Saturday. Since the day school let out, Ava and Janie have spent that entire week with Janie going over to Ava's house. There hasn't been a lot of action going on. They've been mostly spending a lot of time indoors, watching movies. Yesterday they watched Anastasia. It's a Disney movie, yet Anastasia's not part of the Disney princess lineup. Such a shame. She would really fit in with all of the other princesses.
I would've thought Ava would try to do something useful, like learning to drive. She's old enough to take driver's ed. I wonder if she would like to have her own car. Mr. and Mrs. Morgan have their own cars. It wouldn't hurt to buy Ava her own, but perhaps Ava buying it herself sounds much more meaningful. Give her a reason to be independent.
So far, I've been sifting through Ava's yearbook. It hasn't even been a month and I already miss Mr. Walters. He really did know me and my parents. And to know that they're still alive makes me feel confused and excited at the same time. I want to see them, but at the same time I don't want to. It shouldn't have been this way. It should be different. The right way. Me, alive, coming over with my own family and just having a good time.
Ava still doesn't have the heart to seek out my parents. I don't think she wants to give them the bad news. She doesn't even know them and vice-versa, and to have them hear these things from a complete stranger just makes it worse.
Counting the moments till I get to see my parents makes every moment worth counting. So why do I feel so wrong? Is it that I feel wrong, or that counting the days is wrong? Either way, I just don't feel ready.
I don't know if I'm dreading it or Ava. She's the one who has to tell them the news, not me.
I think back to Tuesday when we watched Poltergeist. I couldn't believe they watched such a film. My parents wouldn't even let me watch a movie like that... I think. That movie came out in 1982, so of course I don't remember it. The scariest part would be when the little girl was sucked in through television set. That was so chilling.
I wonder... If Ava and I do go to see my parents, should I do something like in that movie to let my parents know I'm here? Of course, I'm not going to suck anyone through the TV, (but that would be so cool). Levitating a few object and turning the lights on and off would suffice. I should run this by Ava soon.
Ava's laying on her bed, laptop placed in front of her. She never let goes of that thing; it's like she's literally hooked to it. The way she eyes it tells me that she's really in to something. I wonder what it is.
"Look," chirps Ava, turning the laptop over for me to see.
It's opened to a website called deviantArt. The picture she shows me is that of a rather breathtaking woman sitting on a bench surrounded by the forest. The painting is called "Nelicquele." The artist's name is Enayla.
"That's incredible," I comment. My eyes catch intricate detail put into the painting. The folds in her dress, the bark on the tree. It's remarkable. "Is that really the artist's name?"
"No," says Ava. She clicks on Enayla's username and the page changes to the artist's profile. "Her real name is Linda Bergkvist."
"Ah." It actually has a nice ring to it.
I like these times spent together. It let's me see things through Ava's eyes. This deviantArt website is amazing. So far, all I've seen in that site are Nightmare Before Christmas pictures, realistic paintings like those of Linda Bergkvist, there's even photography. Ava told me you can also publish stories on there. Whether they're prose or poetry, or what Ava and Janie call "fanfiction." I've never heard of such a thing before. It's no surprise that I'm not familiar with this; there were no computers in my time. Not like Ava's anyways.
She looks pretty content fiddling with her laptop. I don't feel like I should talk to her about my idea. Maybe I should give it more time.
I look at the alarm clock. It's nearly eleven o'clock.
Ava closes the laptop. She gets up and carries it to her desk.
"Janie and I are going out," she says while plugging her laptop to its charger.
"To town, I suppose?," I suggest.
"You know it," quips Ava. She goes over to her closet to find a change of clothes. She's been in a T-shirt and pajama pants for most of the morning. But for an outing like today, a tasteful outfit is needed.
I wait while she gets changed and I peek out the window. Mrs. Morgan left for work after breakfast, same as Mr. Morgan. I've taken the liberty to get Ava in to keeping the household clean. As in, I levitate a few things off the floor while Ava does the sweeping and window washing. It may be summer, but she is not going to spend the entire summer doing nothing but eating and sleeping.
A few moments later I see Janie come up the street and trots put the porch steps. It's too bad she can't see me. I hear her knocks on the door.
"I'll go get it," says Ava, now changed in a black jacket with a mauve top under, black jeans and her black boots. She dashes out the door, and in moments I hear her open the front door.
I hear them make their way up the stairs. There's no need to present myself as Janie makes her way in. Janie sits on the bed while Ava picks up her cellphone from the nightstand and dials a number.
"Hey, Mom," she says into the phone, "yeah, Janie and I are going out, so just letting you know. What time will you be home?" There's a pause, then Ava says "uh-huh," then another "yeah." The call ends with Ava saying bye and hangs up. "Okay, we're all set." She goes to grab her purse that's hanging from the closet's doorknob.
Ava then picks up my bone from the desk, puts it around her neck and she and Janie leave the room with Janie closing the door.
We're out the door, and we go down the same street as last time. All the while my thoughts race back to Mr. Walters' words. I keep wondering whether I'll be ready to see my parent or not. Of course it's not easy, and I want to hide and curl up into a ball and not do it. I want them to know what happened to me, as well as hoping they take the news easily. It's not going to be easy, but nothing is ever easy.
I wonder how Ava will break it to them. Start out gentle, then tell them the bad news. The sooner she tells them, the better. Although, waiting a bit longer isn't so bad.
We reach the bus stop. Not the school bus stop, but the public bus. The bus will roll in any minute.
"We should watch Secret Window tonight," chirps Janie. I don't recognize that one, so it must've been made after I died.
"Yeah," relies Ava, "I bet Natasha might like it."
It still takes time getting used to, but I'm getting used to my real name.
Fifteen minutes later, the bus arrives. We file in, Ava and Janie pay for the ride, and the bus drives off.
Until we find my parents, I think I'd like to spend some time out in the town, window shopping and pretending I'm alive and hope we can get through the next step together.
The three of us stroll down the street after that outing. It's nearly six o'clock. I checked the time on Ava's cellphone.
We went everywhere. There were a lot of shops that we went into. I liked this one store called Claire's. The store sells hair clips, necklaces, hats, gloves, make-up, knickknacks, snowglobes, sunglasses. They even do ear piercing. It's a good thing Ava and Janie already have their ears pierced. A girl went in to get her ears pierced, she kept the lady waiting forty-five minutes deciding if she wanted to pierce them. Ava, Janie and I left, not wanting to see how it ended.
There was an ice cream shop we went to called Baskin Robbins. I remember going there when I was alive. They still have my favorite flavor. Rocky road. How I wished to be alive. Ava had this flavor "surprise party" and Janie had "cotton candy crackle" with triple mango. She's really into mixing flavors and variety.
Janie's going to spend the night, it appears. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever seen Janie's parents since the day I met her. I wonder why she always comes to Ava's.
The three of us see both cars parked outside. The Morgans' are home. We go up the porch steps, Ava takes out the key and unlocks the door.
"We're home!," calls Ava. Janie closes the door as soon as we're all inside.
"Girls," says Mrs. Morgan, "how was town?"
"Awesome," pipes Janie.
"We had a blast, Mom," answers Ava, making her way to the stairs. "We'll be down in a minute."
She and Janie traipse upstairs. I decide to take a shortcut, and phase through the ceiling. I'm in Ava's room before even she can make it. A minute later, the door swings open and the stunned look on Ava's face tells me she didn't expect to see me here before her.
"Whoa," she says.
"What?," quoth Janie.
"Natasha made it before we did," replies Ava.
"Hasn't she always done that?"
It's true. Janie's bewildered face is too comedic to not turn away from.
Ava drops her purse on the bed and takes off her jacket. She hangs the jacket on one of the bedposts, and takes her phone out. She goes over to plug it back in its charger and sprawls out on the bed. Janie lazily hangs her purse on the post on the foot of the bed and flops down next to Ava.
"So," speaks Janie, "about what Mr. Walters said." I pick up on a familiar feeling.
"Yeah" Ava tries to act like she doesn't know what she's about to say.
"When are we," utters Janie, "going to find Natasha's parents? We have their address."
"Yeah, but you remember how Mr. Walters got when we asked him about her." Ava let's out a groan. I can understand why she's reluctant to seek out my parents. "I'm starting to regretting."
"Don't beat yourself up," croons Janie.
"She's right, Ava," I say, if it will help. Ava gawks at me, like she can see past me.
"You don't know how they'll react," says Ava.
"You don't know that they'll react badly," interjects Janie.
"What if they don't believe in ghosts?"
"Maybe they do."
"What if they don't?"
"At least, there'll be another set of people to put on your nonbeliever list."
I arch a brow. That was probably a joke, sarcasm or perhaps Ava does keep a list. A list of people who don't believe in seeing ghosts.
"What if they do believe?" Janie encourages. "What if they ask you to tell them what Natasha is saying?"
"It'll be harder to explain why doesn't remember anything," responds Ava.
"Yeah, yeah," mused Janie. "Right."
I watch them contemplate on a plan that would be beneficial for them and for me. And my parents.
"Remember The Sixth Sense?," asks Janie.
"Yes?," says Janie.
"Remember how Cole started out an outcast and everyone around him thought he was crazy?"
Wrong word. Ava gives Janie a death glare that could put even Hitler into submission. Janie just doesn't know the right things to say.
"Sorry," peeps Janie. Ava shakes her head, eyes gaping into deep into the ceiling. She's staring at it so hard, she'll burn a hole right through it.
"Oh, Janie." I cross my arms and shake my head.
"But seriously," insists Janie, "he started out in a bad place and then he started doing better with his ghost-seeing powers, and then everything ended great."
"But that's just it," says Ava, "that's what all movie endings have in common. Movies are made as an escape from the harshness of reality."
She's got a point.
"Nobody would have known they used to hang people at the school if Cole hadn't told them," snaps Janie.
"They all tried to dissuade him," quips Ava.
"What you and Cole have in common is," says Janie, "that not everyone is going to accept your gift. Others will see it as mental illness. Others will appreciate it. And then there will be others who are skeptical but keep an open mind."
Ava scoffs at the last thing Janie said.
"That's hard to believe," utters Ava, "either you're a skeptic or you're not." Her expression tells me she'd ready to drop to her death.
"There's nothing wrong with being both," says Janie.
"Girls! Dinner!" It's Mrs. Morgan calling from downstairs.
"Come on, let's eat," says Janie, sitting up. Ava bolts upright and she and Janie go downstairs.
I follow them downstairs to see them all gather round the table for dinner, which is a beef casserole. I glide over to the front door this time. I've been too focused on the backdoor. My eyes turn to the circular garden. The pine, the daisies, portulacas, and other such plants stand out against the monotonously clipped lawn. It looks like a miniature forest. The sun is bidding the day a farewell, making way for the night and its mistress: the moon.
Two squirrels scamper up the trees, carrying a piece of bread in their mouth. I wonder who gave them that bread?
I phase through the door. I don't see any other animal around, although on occasion, when I'm following Ava and Janie to school, I've seen a few cats roaming the streets. I know they can see me. All animals have a sixth sense. It won't be any use to pretend to be invisible in front of them.
I hear chatter coming from the kitchen. They must be through eating. I phase back inside and see the family clearing up the table. I believe movie time will be on next.
Ava and Janie enter the living room. Mrs. Morgan gives the girls chocolate mousses for dessert. Something tells me she and Mr. Morgan aren't going to stick around for the movie.
"Are you sure you don't want to watch it, Mom?," asks Janie.
"I'm sure, honey," replies Mrs. Morgan.
"But it's Johnny Depp!"
"I like him better in the Pirates of the Caribbean."
I get more interested by the minute.
"What about Edward Scissorhands?," says Ava as her mother and father go up the stairs. The woman ignores her and she and Mr. Morgan are out of sight. I glide on down to the couch while Janie is busy putting the DVD in.
"Another movie for another time."
Just how many movies does she own?
She and Janie sit on the couch, their desserts in hand and waited in anticipation for the movie to start.
Secret Window is a sort of drama thriller movie. It's about a man who's an author living in a cabin suffering from writer's block, and atop of that he's going through a divorce. The plot shows a man confronting Mort about plagiarizing his own book. With Mort's ex-wife popping up and the man killing Mort's dog, Mort's slowly losing touch with reality as his life sinks deeper and deeper into despair.
My favorite part would have to be when Monty was talking to a different version of himself. As he pieces it together, he realized that the man is just a mere figment of his own imagination. I don't know much about psychology, but I think the trauma, catching his ex-wife with his best friend and the divorce, it materialized into this nihilistic version of himself.
In the end, Mort kills his wife and friend via decapitation. Some time later, Mort goes into town, seemingly in a better mood, and is warned by the police that they'll find his ex and friend's bodies. Mort shrugs it off. The ending shows Mort's garden beneath the secret window while Mort eats the corn from that very garden. Chilling.
"That part gets me every time," says Janie, putting the now empty clear glass on the table.
"I know," quoth Ava, eating the last of her own chocolate mousse. She was too spellbound by the movie to eat hers.
Janie turns the TV off and takes the DVD out of the DVD player. The cover shows Mort looking to the side in suspicion. It doesn't show the window but the window's frame make a shadow on his face. The rest of the background is dark.
"Johnny Depp just doesn't know how to make a bad movie," quips Ava.
"Agreed," comments Janie.
Ava and Janie drift into the kitchen and leave the glasses in the sink. The two go upstairs.
"I know you want to be an author," I say to Ava, "but promise me you won't become like Mort."
Ava snaps her head at me, eyes wide and an eyebrow raised.
"Relax, I won't turn out like him." The look on her face tells me she's still weirded out.
"What was that?," speaks Janie, looking over her shoulder. We're standing next to Ava's bedroom door. Janie opens it and we file in.
"Natasha's scared I'll turn out like Mort if I become an author," says Ava neutrally. Janie is a bit weirded out but also amused.
"Okay." She tried to hold back a chuckle.
"At least I don't have any ill will towards anyone," points out Ava. She really takes this to heart. Janie can be senseless at times.
"Chill out," quips Janie. "I wasn't saying you're gonna be like him."
"If I was you'd be my first victim," shoots Ava. Janie's mouth closes and her eyes bulge. I let out a raspberry chortle.
"Relax," says Ava, "if the cabin is haunted by a ghost, I'd probably spend my days talking to him or her."
Janie mulls over her idea. "I guess that sounds cool."
Ava goes into the closet and pulls out her sleeping bag.
"Here," she says, unrolling the sleeping bag, "I know you forgot your own."
Janie chuckles sheepishly while scratching the back of her head.
The night is so long when you have all your friends right beside you. My friends for the last thirty years were the forest animals. I cherished precious moments with them, watching the stars at night, the full moon. Fireflies would dance in the night, filling the forest with their glowing spark. I miss those moments, but I love being here, too. Ava and Janie have been my first human friends in so long. They're like sisters to me, except one of them can actually see and hear me. I just pretend Janie can hear me, too.
I float over to the window and gaze at the sky. Ava turns off the lights as she and Ava turn in. I hover next to the window, watching the night unwind. Right now I don't want to think about my parents, the movies we've seen or anything.
I just want to watch the night's symphony and hope for tomorrow.
The streets are moderately active around this time.
Janie, Ava and I are wandering the streets. Three days passed, and Ava decided to seek out my parents. She's had enough time, and it would be senseless to ask Mr. Walters about my parents again. I don't want to make him upset like last time.
The good thing out of this is that I know I went to college. I don't know why I was dreading finding out if I did. At least I made to my junior year. Did I really study literature? I should be able to remember that. It should be like riding a bike, except I don't remember if I ever learned to do that either.
I wonder why parents didn't move away after this? It would be the humane thing to do. Well, not humane, but it would've done them good to move on from a tragic event. Why stick around when nothing could've helped them? I'm just starting to remember them, and I already want them to forget all about me.
Janie's holding the paper with the address that Mr. Walters gave us.
We passed by the school a few blocks back. Apparently, the address is somewhere south of the building. I tried to convince Ava to ask someone for help, but she's determined to do this herself. It won't be long until she admits we're lost.
"Try flying up there and see if you can spot anything," whispers Ava.
I don't see any point in this, but I do as she says. I shoot to the sky like an arrow. I float ten feet in the air, I think. I'm not sure. I look at the whole neighborhood. Houses in different colors take up the entire area. I can see several people outside, either working in their yards, lounging, or walking the streets. It's not like I have microscopic vision (although, that'd be cool), but I can discern what's happening and that's pretty much it. You want me to have built-in binoculars an search for the address that way?
I breeze back down, hovering next to Ava.
"Anything?," she says.
"No." I shake my head. Ava bites her lip.
I see a woman about to pass by. I give Ava the go-ahead. She needs to ask her.
"Go on," I say, "ask her—before she passes us."
The pressure gets to Ava, and with a groan, she times two seconds, and catchers the woman's attention.
"Excuse me," utters Ava, holding up a finger.
"Yes?," says the woman.
Janie hands Ava the paper and she shows it to the woman.
"Do you know how we can get there?"
Ava holds it up, finger pointed to the address. The woman studies the paper, her brow furrowed in thought. The three of us wait in anticipation, but I'm even more anxious than they are.
The woman speaks. "You go down that street," she points to the street behind Ava and Janie, "you walk down that way for two blocks. Then you cross the street on your left. Keep going that direction and you'll find the house. It's the green house with the hawthorn bush."
A hawthorn bush. That's an interesting landmark.
"Thanks," says Ava.
"You're welcome, girls," replies the woman, "it's nice of you to visit the Carters." Her expression turns skeptical with a hint of curiousness. "How do you know the Carters?"
Ava and Janie panic inwardly.
"Uh," quoth Janie, "we, uh, we're, uh—"
"Volunteering," chirps Ava. She smiles openly to make it look convincing. The woman blinks, trying to see if they're being sincere or if this is a setup. So this woman also know my parents?
"That's nice," she says, "I like to see you two going out of your way to help the Carters. Especially with all that they've been through." I know she means me.
"What do you mean?," asks Janie. Again with the coverup about not knowing what happened to me.
"It's," says the woman, "it's just that they lost their only daughter. It happened years ago. There's no body to bury, no clues that'll lead to her body." She shakes her head. Something tells me that she's met them time and again, and heard the story more times than she can count. Only say to prove it is to find out.
"Thanks," said Ava, "we're going to be on our way." Before she can even turn away, Ava gives the woman one last word. "Oh, and, don't mention this to the Carters, please?"
The woman looks taken aback, but agrees to Ava's request.
"All right," the woman turns away and walks off to wherever it is she's going. We watch her until she crosses the next street and she takes a right. This is out cue.
We take the directions she told us, and go there. She didn't tell us much, but she made it where we can pick it up from where she left off. I wonder what they're like.
I hope my parents don't still mourn my disappearance. It's normal to mourn, but an eternal grieving party is ridiculous.
"I wonder why that lady made it sound so creepy," says Janie, brow furrowed in confusion than curiosity.
"She's probably heard it a thousand times," offers Ava. "She probably goes over to their house from time to time."
"If so," speaks Janie, " why make us want to turn the other way?"
Ava shrugs. "Probably to stop us from something we might regret."
Something tells me we're about to enter the lion's den. We came all this way to figure out another piece of the puzzle. We're here, might as well keep going.
We reach the street the woman told us and look both ways before crossing. We cross the street and go where the next destination is. I can already feel something happening.
I can see a memory flood up my mind. I'm seeing this is exact street and I'm seeing myself walking down this very path. I think I must be going home after a day at school. I can't know that for sure, or if that's what's happening, but this is what I'm telling myself. Amnesia still grips a half of my head.
Ava notices and stops. Janie looks over and stops, too.
"What's going on?," she asks.
"Natasha?," peeps Ava, craning her head to catch a glimpse of my face.
I keep looking down at the ground. I keep my gaze locked on that space I'm floating over till the memory passes. I glance up at Ava.
"I had another memory."
Ava's eyes widen.
"What's happening?," queries Janie.
"Natasha says she had another memory," answers Ava.
"A memory? Of this place?" She looks around, hoping no one will see her and Ava and think they're crazy.
"Yeah." Ava waits for me to say something else.
"That's all I saw," I say, "just me...walking down this street." I wait for her to take the lead.
"Maybe we should just go home," says Ava.
"No!" I blurt out. This isn't too much for me to make me turn back. I need to keep going.
"Are you sure?"
"Positive." I look past her and Janie, at the ongoing street. Determination engulfing me. "I want to do this."
Ava shrugs and she and Janie keep walking.
We continue with our journey. The surroundings look unknown but familiar to me. I can feel a closeness to this neighborhood. I can see it clearer. I start to recognize a few houses. Just the first three: a blue one; the white one next to; and the one that's like a bleached pink. It looks almost salmon.
I see the hawthorn bush. It's up ahead. And there's the house that's painted green. We're here.
"Here it is," utters Ava, stopping in front of the house. Janie stands next to her, eyes locked on the house's condition.
The house looks well taken care of. The lawn outside looks like it's been recently clipped. The hawthorn bush looks like it's been watered. The house is a two-story establishment. The shade of green is a light tone, it looks like it's either sea green or mint. The roof is grey. I see a birdhouse hanging from the tree to the house's left. A birdbath is placed adjacent the tree in front of the wooden fence.
But despite what my mind is telling me, this is my house.
"You ready?," asks Ava, turning to look at me.
I don't even hesitate.
How was that? I bet you're waiting to see what happens next. ;D Well, I won't give out any spoilers, and I won't give out hints. ^u^ You'll just have to wait.
I can't decide whether the next chapter should be told in Ava's POV or not. Having Natasha narrate each chapter's been great, but it's also been great to read one chapter from Ava's point of view. I'll see what I can do.
Until then, you'll just have to wait.