Chapter VIII

That night, when Brina’s parents came home, they immediately came upstairs and knocked on her door.
    Inside, Brina was laying on her bed, drifting in and out of sleep. Her lack of sleep was getting to her and it was getting harder and harder to stay awake.
    “Brina?”
    Brina’s eyes flew open. What could they want?
    As she walked over to the door, she found herself surprised that she could even remember her parent’s voices.
    Brian pulled the door open and found both of her parents standing in the hallway.
    “May we come in?” Her mother asked. Brina nodded and they stepped inside. Her parents sat down on her bed.
    “Brina, we need to talk to you about something.” Her mother started.
    Her father continued, “With this promotion, we aren’t going to be around as much for awhile. We are going to need you to take on some more responsibility. Tomorrow we need to go to England for the day, and we need you to take care of your siblings.”
    “W-What?” Brina stuttered. “Won’t Helga be here?”
    Her mother shook her head. “Helga already took tomorrow off, so what could we do? It will just be you.”
    “You can handle it,” her father assured her.
    Brina stared at them, horrified. But they didn’t see it.
    “Well, now that we’ve settled that,” her mother said to her father, “We should probably make sure that we are ready for this trip.”
    And they left.
    Brina stared at the door for several moments, not really sure what had just happened. Eventually she fell back against her pillows, fuming in her disbelief.

    The rain started pouring harder.
    Norie could see Aiden rethinking his decision, but she trudged on. There was something compelling about walking through an unknown forest in the middle of a storm.
    It was exciting.
    It was also stupid, and Norie knew this, but she couldn’t seem to stop herself.
    Then there was crash thunder and a flash of blinding light. There was a loud crack and a giant thud. Norie felt herself shoved backward. She landed on the soggy ground with a groan.
    She blinked her eyes open and got pelted with a raindrop in the eye. She initiatively raised her hand to rub it, and felt a twinge in her arm. She looked down and saw a rip in the coat and a small cut in her skin. It wasn’t a horrible cut, but she should probably get a bandage for it.
    Norie pushed herself up and turned around, looking for Aiden. She couldn’t see him anywhere.
    It smelled like smoke. The flash of light most have been lighting hitting a tree. That would explain why she fell back as well. She wondered where Aiden had ended up.
    The rain was falling harder than it had before and she couldn’t see more than three feet in front of her. She stumbled through the downpour, calling Aiden’s name.
    Norie didn’t no how long she wandered for. She didn’t know where she was, which direction she was going, or what direction she should be going to get back to Aunt Glenda’s.
    Norie was starting to get anxious. She walked faster and faster, until she wasn’t walking, she was jogging. Then she was sprinting. But running gave her even less of a view in front of her and she soon found herself losing her footing. She let out a cry, but couldn’t seem to find her balance. She fell onto her side and began to slide, not knowing where she was sliding to. She could be on the slide of a cliff for all she knew.
    Norie clamped her eyes shut, knowing it didn’t do her a lot of good to have them open. She began sliding faster, and just when Norie was sure that she was about to fall off some 1200 foot drop-off, Aiden caught her.
    He spun her around and pulled her back up the hill. Norie walked carefully as she climbed back up. Aiden had a firm hold on her wrist, but she didn’t want to risk it. Norie looked up ahead of her, but she couldn’t see anything. She saw Aiden’s arm and felt it pulling her in what she could only assume was the right direction.
    Norie felt the ground level off, and the rain started to lighten. Of course, she thought, now it lightens up.
    Norie used her free hand to push the rain drips off her face. She turned to say something to Aiden, but her mouth froze.
    The rain was still coming down hard, but it had lightened up enough that she could see the person in front of her more clearly.
    And it sure wasn’t Aiden.
    The person leading Norie wasn’t quite as tall as Aiden and his hair was far darker than Aiden’s. This guy’s hair was longer and curlier.    
    One thousand thoughts flooded Norie’s mind: Who was this guy? What was he doing out in the forest in the middle of a storm? How on earth had he seen her fall? How could he have saved her? More than that, if he did save her, then could he really be that bad of a person?
    The young man turned around and Norie looked at his face. He appeared nice enough. The rain made details difficult to see, but Norie was certain that she wasn’t looking into the face of a cold blooded murderer.
    The face she was looking at was strangely......beautiful.
    As Norie stared at this young man, she pondered what this meant. Not that a beautiful boy was rescuing her, but the fact that Norie thought he was beautiful.
    Norie didn’t give out compliments easily. She didn’t really give out compliments at all. She wasn’t stuck up, she just usually was that impressed with much. Especially looks. Norie just didn’t find all that many people truly beautiful.
    But, even in the mist of rain drops and clouds, she could tell that his guy was the real deal.
    Norie watched as the man’s eyes flittered off into the forest, as if wanted to run. But, instead, in pulled her forward and kept going. As they walked through the trees, the giant leaves shielded them from the rain.  And before long, the pattering on the leaves stopped completely.
    Norie noticed that every once in awhile the boy would look back and see her looking back at him, and snap his head forward again.
    The two hadn’t walked very far, before the young man stopped. He dropped Norie’s head and pointed through the trees. Norie looked at him and he nodded in the direction he pointed.
    “Norie?”
    Norie’s head whirled forward. “Aiden?” She started to run towards her brother. Then she stopped. “Thank you,” she said, turning back to the boy. He smiled silently.
    What was it that was so familiar about him?
    “Norie?” Aiden cried again. He sounded as panicked as Norie felt.
    Once again, Norie started towards Aiden, but stopped. She spun back around, but she was alone. The boy was gone.
    Norie realized what was so familiar about him. His eyes. His indigo eyes were the very same shade she always saw staring back at her.
    What did that mean?
    “Norie?” Aiden sounded on the verge of hysterics.
    Quickly Norie pushed her way though the tree branches and found herself in a clearing. Aiden was on the opposite side.
    “I’m right here,” she said breathlessly.
    Aiden turned and ran towards her. He hugged her tightly and then released, his eyes flashing. “You will never talk me into anything again. No matter what you say, no matter what you do, I will not ever be coerced into anything by you again.”
    Aiden ranted as he led her back to Aunt Glenda’s house. Norie just nodded, lost in her own thoughts.   
    Brina.
    Brina.
    Brina!
    BRINA!
    The voice was quick to anger tonight. Brina was tired enough to ignore it at first, but it called out louder and incessantly. Brina didn’t even open her eyes. Even in her dream, she felt so exhausted, she didn’t think that she could pry them open.
    But that wasn’t necessary anymore. Brina knew what she needed to do and she knew what would happen.
    Brina lifted her head and felt herself sinking through the mattress. The free fall was expected this time and Brina didn’t even bother to look at what was flying around her. It wouldn’t make a difference anyway.
    Overall, Brina had grown very bored with this dream. She was aware that she was dreaming as she sleep and she knew exactly what was coming.
    She fell, waiting for the strong arms that always saved her.
    But the heat was growing and she could see the bright light even through her closed lids. And no arms where catching her.
    Brina racked her brain. She didn’t remember falling this long before. She eyes shot open, but were seared by the light, so she clamped them shot again and-
    -the arms were there.   
    Brina didn’t open her eyes, knowing the moment she did, the sturdy arms would disappear and she would wake up.
    Minutes before, Brina would have given anything to be awake, but there was no stopping the dream until it had run it’s course. But, as the arms lifter her, further and further, and it was higher than it’d been before.
    And Brina was very curious about the arms that held her.
    But the dream must have seen through Brina’s plan, because, against her will, she felt her eyes opening. And as it had before, the dream-
    — ended.

    It was only eight o’clock, but Norie was already in her pajamas and lying on her bed. Her hands were behind her head cushioning her damp hair. Her sweat pants clad legs were stretched out over a newly sewn quilt. Her Aunt Glenda was working on her latest sewing creation in the living room and Aiden was reading one of his university textbooks.
    When they returned home from their hike, Aiden and Norie found Aunt Glenda standing outside with an umbrella. She was waiting for them. She had a bath drawn up already and dinner cooking. As Norie past her to go inside, Aunt Glenda had given her a knowing, sidelong glance.
    Norie had turned away quickly, stepping inside the warm cottage. She shook her head, shaking away raindrops from her hair and the strange feeling that Aunt Glenda’s look had left her with.
    Now, staring at the ceiling, Norie was just as confused as she had been before. Who was that guy and where did he go? And why did his eyes look so similar to hers?
    Norie had always knew how odd and disconcerting her indigo eyes were too most people. It wasn’t exactly a color listed in a biology book. As far as Norie knew, she was the only one who had them.  
    Neither her mother nor her father had indigo eyes. And Aiden had regular brown ones. What gene had mutilated in Norie?
    Exasperated, Norie stood up and paced around the room. She admired some of the paintings on the wall. They were all of forest scenes and fields of grass. Pretty, but rather redundant. One can only look at a sunset and an oak tree for so long.
    Norie’s attention quickly turned to the shelves filled with books. Aunt Glenda had hundreds of books, scattered throughout the house. The books weren’t in any sort of order, and none looked of any interest to Norie. They were titled things like Icelandic Tales, Myths and Legends of Iceland and Iceland Through the Ages.. 
    Norie blew out a breath and watched her brunette bangs fly. She was obviously losing her mind. She crawled into bed and cocooned herself in the quilt. Maybe she could just sleep it off.
    The next morning, Norie was still the last to wake up. And despite 14 hours of sleep, she didn’t feel a bit rested. She quickly changed into jeans and a sweater, running a brush through her hair and went out into the kitchen.
    There was a plate of waffles waiting on the table for her, and Aunt Glenda was sitting in the giant, plush chair in the living room, leafing through one of the ancient books.
    Not feeling hungry, Norie bypassed the waffles and sit down the couch. She folded her legs underneath her and waited for Aunt Glenda to acknowledge her. Minutes past, but Aunt Glenda said nothing.
    Then the front door swung open, allowing a gust of cool air blew into the room. Aunt Glenda’s head snapped up, as if she had been pulled from a trance.
    “Good morning,” Aiden said to Norie, laughing. “Glad to see that you were planning on waking up sometime.” Aiden had always been a morning person. Norie found it a tad obnoxious.
    “Are you leaving, dear?” Aunt Glenda asked.
    “I just have to get my last bag, and then I will be taking off,” Aiden answered.
    “I’ll help,” Norie volunteered, standing up.
    Aiden had already picked up the bag from next to the door. He didn’t need any help, and Norie knew that, she just wanted a chance to talk to him alone.
    When they were outside, Aiden placed his bag in the trunk and slammed it shut. Norie rested again the side of the car and looked over at her brother.
    “You’ll call me, then?” She asked.
    Aiden nodded. “As soon as I can,” he promised.
    Norie nodded as well. Aiden gave her a half smile and a hug, before he climbed into the car and drove away.
    Norie squinted into the sun after him. When his car disappeared around the curving road, Norie shifted her glance into the forest. It seemed peaceful and menacing, all while be inviting.
    It took Norie all of two seconds before she spun around and ran back into the house. “I’m going for a hike,” she told Aunt Glenda.
    Aunt Glenda did not look up from her knitting. “Alright, dear,” she said. But Norie was sure she saw a smile on Aunt Glenda’s lips and a twinge of laughter in her voice.
    Disregarding her aunt’s peculiar behavior, Norie left the cottage and headed towards the forest.
    The sun was shining today, not a cloud to disturb it. The forest air was fresh and accented with wild flowers. Norie breathed in deeply and walked through the trees.
    Norie told herself that she wasn’t going to look for the guy that had saved her. I just want a nice refreshing walk in the great outdoors, she thought.
    So, the face that she traced the path she and Aiden had taken before, and even mimicked (to the best of her ability) her blind walk in the rain, was a total and utter coincidence.
    Norie saw the tree that had been struck by the lightning. The remaining stump was jagged and there were shards of branches everywhere.  Norie moved past the tree and did her best to follow the path she had taken the previous day. Norie walked for awhile, not knowing if she was headed in the right direction or not. It also occurred to her that she didn’t know the way back to Aunt Glenda’s.
    But she didn’t care. She just kept walking.
    And after minutes of what seemed like mindless wandering, Norie found herself on the cusp of a 400 foot cliff. The drop off cascaded down to green forest. The thin ribbon was a river was apparent through the trees. It snaked across the valley, flowing between to mountains off in the distance.
    It was a breathtaking view, but would have been a rather grotesque way to die.
    Norie stood too close to the edge of the cliff and looked straight down. There were several trees growing out of the side of the cliff, but, other than that, it was a straight drop.
    Norie slowly turned around to peer up the hill she had rolled down and contemplate her near-death. She is gazed up, though, she saw that she was not allow.
    Someone was standing on the top of the hill.

The End

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