Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wednesday Writings #6 - Daydreaming Decisions

Ah...I debated waiting an entire week to post this...but instead decided to give you a two for one today.

If you haven't already read the previous "Wednesday Writings", this is a continuation of a bit of a story I started on writing # 4, so I would recommend going back and reading #4 and then #5 before hopping onto this one. This particular section is somewhat transitory, which is why I decided it was more fair to give it to you today rather than waiting until next week.

Anyway, here we go.


Daydreaming Decisions

Gabby glanced at her watch then back at the building. She hated that Julie had a window office. She hated more that she was ditching her best friend when she said they'd meet at lunch. But Gabby just felt like she needed to do this on her own and, although Julie had good intentions, she just wouldn't understand.

Gabby looked up the street, willing the bus to arrive early. Hoping to be able to climb aboard and be gone before her friend looked out the window and witnessed the betrayal. It was at least 45 minutes before Julie would break for lunch, but if she saw Gabby at the bus stop, she would surely leave early to run down and berate her friend.

Gabby glanced back over her shoulder, trying to identify Julie's office in the rows of glass on the second floor. The mirrored windows made it impossible to tell if anybody was looking back at her or not, but she certainly felt as though she were being watched. Finally, the bus rounded the corner and pulled up at the curb. With a final glance back at the building, Gabby adjusted her purse and climbed aboard.

Gabby smiled at the driver and flashed her university issued bus pass before walking down the aisle. The bus was less than half full, the way it usually is midway through the morning. She settled into a seat near the rear of the bus and leaned her head against the window as they pulled away. The day had turned grey. Overcast and threatening to rain. A small breeze nuzzled the trees into motion and Gabby felt like they were waving at her.

She closed her eyes and immediately saw his face again. Work had been more difficult than usual. She felt constantly distracted. Any lull in conversation or activity brought back the blurry memories of the previous night. She had tried to force the memories to take on more distinction. She tried to force herself to remember the supposed kiss that Julie had described. She tried desperately to remember the name of the young man she'd spoken with, danced with, eaten an early morning meal with and even kissed. But no matter what she tried, her memories remained silent on any details that might comfort her or clarify her confusion.

Then she thought about the strange envelope. She'd read the message so many times that she had it memorized. She could see the vibrant gold ink on the almost maroon cardstock. She had studied the formation of the letters like Sherlock Holmes, trying to get some clues from the idiosyncrasies of the letters. She had found a slight hook on the tail of each of the Rs and also noticed that the top of the T was quite thick compared to the other strokes of the pen. After staring off and on for an hour and trying to make something out of the formation of the letters, Gabby finally decided she was being ridiculous. There weren't any clues to be found based on how the letters were written. She couldn't pull some 18th century deductive science out of the air and study the paper and ink to determine who had sent the note.

No, she was completely in the dark as to the person who sent the note, the reason they'd sent it, or how they'd gotten it into her fridge in the middle of the night. She had no idea if any of this was connected to her mystery man from the party, though it seemed like too much of a coincidence to not be connected.

She was jolted back to the present as the bus bumped its way over a set of railroad tracks. She glanced around to gain her bearings. Another 7 minutes and she'd be on campus. Julie would be leaving for lunch in another 10-15 minutes and would almost certainly call as soon as she found Gabby wasn't waiting at the car. She wasn't sure yet what she'd say to Julie. She just wanted to get to school. To get to the library. She felt at home in the library. Felt like she could really think. Like she could really figure things out. She had a class from 2 to 3:30 and another from 3:45 to 4:15. That gave her 2 hours before class to do some serious thinking. And, if she decided to go to the park, another 2 hours after class before she had to catch the bus.

Was she really thinking about meeting him at the park? Part of her was sure the message was from the man at the party. Was this his strange way of asking her out on a date? If so, what did that say about him? Since she couldn't remember anything about him from the party, all she had to go on was the note. And the money. What kind of a man sends a super cryptic message to ask a girl on a date. And includes $100 dollars with it? What kind of girl does he think she is? Worse yet, how did he get it in her apartment? What else did he do while he was there?

Gabby shuddered in spite of herself. She'd tried to think long and hard to decide if she had been drugged. And if she had been drugged, had she been raped? She thought back to her personal protection training. When she planned to go to school in a big city, her mom had made her go to a "Personal Protection Party." She had tried not to laugh at some of the ladies there as they learned how to scream, shout and generally assert themselves. But as the party went on, she felt like she'd learned quite a bit about herself and had actually had fun. She'd gone on and taken a couple of self-defense courses and, while she knew she was vulnerable, she felt a lot safer wandering to the bus stop at night.

From the class, she remembered the discussions about predators and rapes and how to try and get away. She remembered the kinds of evidence and details she should remember and take to the police if she was unable to get out of the situation. Thinking about her apartment and herself that morning, she was fairly certain no one had done anything to her. Which then unnerved her more. Why would someone sneak into her apartment to leave her a strange note with a hundred dollar bill and then not bother to take advantage of her? Was she undesirable? Why wouldn't a crazy man want to rape her?

She shook her head to try and get her thoughts straight.

"You're thinking crazy Gabby", she muttered to herself. She didn't want to be raped. She shouldn't be offended at having been unmolested. Her mind was completely rattled.

She arrived at the school and made her way to the library. She sat down at the computer and the first thing she did was to pull up a satellite map of the park. She went there last summer for a picnic with Barry. It was a big park. It meandered along the north end of town following the path of the river. Her picnic had been in the center of the park near some old historical buildings that belonged to some early settlers of the town or something. Further south, there were volleyball nets and a few basketball hoops. On the north end, by where she was supposed to meet her mystery man, there was a large children's playground with a bunch of slides and swings built around a big old playplace built of logs and bars and ropes and other fun stuff for kids.

At least it looked like a public and safe meeting place. That was one of the key principles emphasized in her protection classes. Keep it public. Keep it safe.

Gabby's phone buzzed in her pocket. She pulled it out and found a text message from Julie.

"sorry running behind on project for boss out in 10 min wait 4 me k"

Gabby wasn't sure how to reply, so she just set the phone down and stared back at the map on the computer. She zoomed and panned and rotated the park until she felt like she really knew it.

Now what?

She pulled out the note and looked at it again. She begged it to give her some clue. Something she could work with. She did a web search for red birds. She quickly found images of cardinals and parrots and robins. The bird on the note looked somewhat like a cardinal, though its head wasn't as distinctive as any of the images she found and its body and tail seemed longer and thinner. After paging through many images, she finally found an image of a red warbler in flight. The silhouette was almost identical to the piece of paper in front of her. So the bird was a red warbler.

So what?

Gabby had just started reading up on the distinctive characteristics of the warbler when her phone rang. Even without looking at it, she knew it was Julie. The conversation started out civil enough, wondering where Gabby was, but it quickly degraded into high intensity discussion. Not shouting exactly, but close enough to make Gabby hold the phone back from her ear while she talked. Or rather, while she listened. The first few minutes, she was berated by Julie for running off without her and for being headstrong and stubborn. Then Julie told her that this whole thing was dangerous. That someone had broken into the car. Nothing was apparently stolen, but whoever it was had left a piece of cardboard with the word "ALONE written on it. Julie insisted that they go to the police. The officer who had come to take the report on the break-in agreed with Julie's concern and suggested they make a trip down to the office.

Gabby tried a few times to unsuccessfully break into the conversation. She tried to reassure Julie that everything was alright and she wouldn't do anything stupid. She was just going to class. She had a project to hand in and needed to be there for a group discussion. She tried again and to steer the conversation away from the note or any form of danger. Finally, she told Julie that she had to go to class and she'd call her later. Julie objected naturally, but Gabby hung up the phone and rested her head in her hands.

She wanted to let Julie help her. She just didn't know what to do. Part of her agreed with Julie, that they should go to the police. Another part of her thought it was ridiculous. The police wouldn't laugh at her, surely, but she didn't think they'd be able to do anything. If they took her seriously at all, they might come out to her apartment and look for signs of forced entry. They might even look for fingerprints, though she was sure that anything on the note was indistinguishable by now. They might do some cursory searching for whoever broke into Julie's car, but Gabby knew from experience that car break-ins generally have a low success rate for being solved.

No, Gabby didn't want to go to the police. She wasn't sure what she wanted to do.

Part of her wanted to go to the park. To see what would happen. The smart, safe, rational side of her told her this was crazy. Told her she should stay far away. That even if she did go, she should take a cop or someone for protection.

Looking back to the envelope, she paused again and picked up the hundred dollar bill. What danger was there from someone who broke into her home, without doing any damage, and gave her $100. The meeting was in a very public place. Who knows, maybe it meant more money. Better yet, maybe it would be her mystery man and maybe she could get rid of some of the nagging questions at the back of her mind.

She smiled as she again focused on her mystery man. His gorgeous eyes penetrated her mind and gave her a sense of peace. The feeling seemed to cut through any sensation of confusion or uneasiness. Somehow she felt safe as she imagined him staring at her. She thought about trying to learn more about him but didn't know where to start. She hadn't known anyone at the party besides Julie and Mike. She didn't know Mike that well and felt weird calling him. Julie hadn't known anything about the guy. Why would Mike have known more?

Closing her eyes, Gabby imagined herself back at the party. She saw the man across the room set down his book and turn to look at her. She felt his eyes connect with hers. She felt their strength penetrate her mind and draw her towards him. She watched him walk towards her and she met him halfway across the room. Everything else seemed to melt away. In her mind, there was only him and her. He smiled at her. She smiled back.

And then, he spoke.

"Hello Gabrielle."

His voice was calm and deep. He lips didn't seem to move as he spoke, the words coming ever so softly and yet perfectly clear. She stared at him for a moment unsure if this was memory or imagination.

"My name is Evan. It's so good to finally meet you."

Gabby was still stunned but finally forced herself to respond, still unsure what to say.

"Have we met before?"

"Not only before. But also after. Time is short. Your friends are coming."

The images in her head shimmered like reflections on a pond. Gabby saw the party around her once again. Her memories of the night flitted around like leaves on a breeze. She stepped outside of herself and watched Evan, she finally had a name, lead her to the side of the room where they talked and laughed. She watched as she grabbed his hand and pulled him into the room where a group of couples danced. She noted a sideways smile as she pulled him into the group and they danced and danced. She watched the night peel away until finally Julie came up to her and whispered something, then spoke more intently, then finally grabbed Gabby's arm and pulled her out of the room towards the door. Gabby held Evan's hand tight and he trailed along with her. Julie and Mike led the way to the car. Gabby saw herself sitting in the backseat whispering softly with Evan. Then sitting at the diner nibbling on french fries and chocolate shake. Finally, she saw them get back in the car to head home. She watched as Evan leaned over and ever so softly, ever so gently, and yet so full of confidence and power, pressed his lips against her and kissed her softly. She saw herself sit dazed for a moment and then kiss him back.

She tried to replay the scene again and again. To relive the moment. She felt the sensation of his soft lips against hers. She felt her heart flutter with feelings of love. She caught her breath through the pure exhilaration of it all. She found herself smiling broadly and let out a sigh.

Opening her eyes, she looked around the library. A younger girl at a nearby computer smiled at her then quickly averted her gaze. Gabby glanced at the clock. It was time to head to class. How had so much time gotten away from her. She pushed the envelope back into her purse, logged off the computer and grabbed her phone off the table next to her. She had three missed calls, all from Julie. How had she missed the phone buzzing at her side.

She smiled again and put her fingers to her lips. She could still feel them tingling. She chuckled softly and started the walk to class. Her mind was made up. There was nothing dangerous or scary about any of this. She would go to the park at 6:45 and meet Evan. She was certain it would be the start of an unforgettable date.


Brian Miller said...

very nice and you have left us once again wanting more and having to wait until next time...

Phoenix said...

Very excellent writing! I really want to read more of this story, as I'm now dying of curiosity about who (or what) Evan is!

Okie said...

Thanks folks. I really felt like this particular segment was almost "stalling." I like some of what's going on, but will definitely need to trim it up when I go back to edit.

Farah B. said...

I just started reading your story,it's very descriptive and well written as well. English is my second language so I'm trying my best to perfect my story. I just feel so responsible now that other people are reading it. :)

Okie said...

Welcome to the story B. Glad you're enjoying it. Have fun writing...I can't imagine trying to write a creative story in a second language (I've read a few novels in Spanish, but my extent of any writing ends at some short essays for class).