Chapter 5

Chapter 5

“Hey, sweetie. How was school today?” Colleen walked in through the front door, carrying paper bags , one protruding lobster tails.

I sighed, closing the book I was reading and setting it on the coffee table.

“Good, I guess.” I answered, lifting myself up off the couch and grabbing one of her bags, hoping that lobster was not on the menu for tonight’s dinner.

“Well good.” She said, following me into the kitchen. “Did you make any friends?”

I set the bag on the counter—the one that didn’t contain the lifeless shellfish—and began unloading its contents.

“Um, yeah I guess.”

“You guess?” She said, pausing and looking at me. “Well did you meet anyone?”

I looked away, shoving a bag of frozen butter beans in the freezer.

“Yeah, a few people.” I said, hoping she wouldn’t ask for specifics.

“Well that’s great. Were they nice to you?” She asked, setting three bright red lobsters on the counter in front of her, each with rubber bands tied tightly around their pincers.

“They were cool.” I replied, trying not to breathe in through my nose. The smell of the horrible looking lobsters was revolting, but the thought of having to eat them made me sick.

“Good. I’m glad you’re making friends.” She looked at me and smiled, tucking a strand of straight black hair behind her ear.

I smiled back, not sure of what to say. I wouldn’t exactly call them “friends” just yet. I mean, I just met them. Plus I wasn’t used to calling people my friends. Even at my other school, I didn’t even have “acquaintances”, much less friends.

“Oh yeah, I called over to Vinnie’s Car Lot,” I looked at her as she spoke. She waited on my to say something, but as I watched her and made no signal of interrupting, she continued, “Since I’m great friends with the receptionist, Lacy Burton, Jim, you know the owner of the lot?” I nodded. “Well, he said that he would be able to give me an employees discount on one of their newer cars. You know, those nice Honda’s you like?”

I looked at Colleen, shaking my head. We had gone through this before. “Oh, Colleen, I couldn’t. I don’t want you to spend that much—“

“Juliet, I want to. You’ve gone through so much, with my mom dying and you having to take care of her almost your whole life, I wanted to do something special. Plus, that old truck of mine has a bad habit of stalling out occasionally. Not a very reliable vehicle.”

I didn’t know what to say. I could imagine an expensive pair of shoes, or even a new piece of furniture for my large and empty room, but a car? Even if it was discounted, that was still way too much for Colleen. I couldn’t let her buy me a car. Especially the new Honda Civic I had been eyeing, and daydreaming about driving, much less owning.

“Thanks Colleen.” Was all I could say, thought “thanks” wasn’t even the beginning of how much gratitude I held for even the thought.

“Your welcome, sweetheart.” She said, smiling and rubbing my shoulder. “Oh, and by the way, Wesley is coming over for dinner tonight.” She said, crumpling up the paper bags and throwing them into the trash can. “Hope you like lobster.”

We spent the rest of the time cooking and preparing the dinner for that night. Wesley, Colleen’s fiancé, arrived shortly after we had half-way finished making the food. As soon as he arrived, he began taking my place as chef’s assistant, while I started setting the table.

I grabbed three plates, which were all Colleen’s fine china, or at least much finer that what we ate on at my grandmothers, and some assorted eating utensils, and placed them on the table, which was basically big enough for a family of ten, not three.

The closer we got to eating, the more nauseous I was getting. I didn’t want to offend Colleen, so I never told her of my vegetarian eating habits, though I probably should have before she went and bought forty dollars worth of fresh lobster. I just decided I would bare it as best I could, and try not to throw it up in front of her.

“So, Colleen told me today was your first day of school. How’d you like it?” Wesley called from the kitchen, stirring a wooden spoon clockwise in a tall metal pot.

I looked at Wesley, thinking of how I should answer. Wesley was a shorter man, a little shorter than Colleen, with shaggy auburn hair, and a matching shadow of stubble that ran evenly down his jaws, circling his mouth. He was a pretty nice guy, very good for Colleen. He was a very nice and generous man. And by the way I had seen him wrap his arms around Colleen’s waist earlier, brushing his lips against her neck as she stirred a pan full of steaming butter sauce, the way she leaned her head onto his shoulder, embracing his loving clasp, I could tell that they really loved and cared for each other.

“It’s a pretty nice school.” I replied, straightening the forks to where they were perfectly in line with the knives.
“I knew you would like it. They run a great system there. They have some pretty good after school programs too. The trouble rate at that school is very slim.”

“Yeah, everyone is pretty nice.” I added, turning back towards the kitchen.

“Much nicer than that school of yours in Chicago, eh?”

I nodded slowly, but not in agreement. It may have been nicer, and I may have been more welcome than I was at my school in Chicago, but I would do anything to go back to my school in Chicago, if it meant going back to the life I had.

“The lobster is almost ready. Is the table set?” Colleen interrupted.

I looked at the long, wooden table that was covered with a plain white table cloth and decorated with candles that hadn’t been lit since the day they were bought, with my pathetic excuse for a formal table setting, which consisted of a three main course plates, soup bowls, bread plates, and several different sized forks and spoons, and different sized cups, all of which were definitely not in the correct order, and probably wouldn’t even end up being used.

“Yeah.” I answered, leaning against the door frame, looking into the kitchen and watching as Colleen and Wesley emptied the food into the dishes.

“Mm, this lobster looks delicious!” Wesley said, piling the three carcasses onto a plate and giving Colleen a soothing kiss on the cheek. I could beg to differ, I thought repulsively.

Colleen grabbed a bowl of the butter beans, and the butter sauce for the lobster, and walked into the dinning room, setting them on the table.

“Oh, Juliet, it looks beautiful in here.” She said, smiling.

I moved out of the way as Wesley carried in the lobster, setting it in the middle of the table in between the two tall candles.

“Wow. It’s like we’re having our own feast.” He said, taking a seat next to Colleen.

I sat down in the seat across from them, staring at the lobster and holding my stomach, which stirred heavily from the sight.

Picking up a pair of tongs, Colleen grabbed a lobster and dropped it on my plate, sending my stomach in a whirl of nausea. I clutched my hand over my mouth in disgust as I watched Wesley cut mine open and stab the inner meat with a thick fork. As soon the smell of it reached my nostrils, I held my breath, hoping that my stomach would calm down as I stared at it and struggled to force some of it into my mouth.

I began to chew it and the terrible taste of meat in my mouth felt like eating slop from a pigsty. The texture and the horrible taste almost made me gag visibly, as I struggled to keep the acid in my throat from bleeding into my mouth.

I raised the napkin to my mouth, pretending to cough, while really spitting the terrible meat into its core and hiding it in my lap so Colleen couldn’t see. I did that several times until there was only just enough lobster left to pass off being full, but even if I had not even touched it, I realized that Colleen wouldn’t have even noticed. She was way too busy talking to Wesley.

I threw the napkin on my plate and carried it away into the kitchen, emptying it in the trash and clearing my spot, telling Colleen I would be upstairs. She just nodded, though not paying me any attention, but instead continuing to listen to Wesley and laugh as he reached the punch line of a bowling joke.

I climbed the stairs quietly, holding my stomach as I struggled to reach the top. I was going to be sick, I realized.

Skipping the top step, I ran across the hallway, which seemed longer than usual, and turned into the bathroom, burying my face in the toilet and waiting for the acid to make its way up my throat, then vomiting the little bit of lobster I had managed to swallow accidentally.

Out of breath, but feeling much better as my stomach settled, I flushed the toilet and rested my body against the wall, closing my eyes and waiting for my boiling stomach to die down.

As soon as I felt good enough to stumble back into my room, I did just that, plopping down on my bed and sighing. Perspiration began to gather on my forehead. It was way too hot in here, I realized.

I leaned up, wiping my forehead with my sleeve, and lifting myself weakly off the bed, and hiking up the stairs, making my way up to my indoor balcony and peering off into the horizon. I opened a window, letting the bitter air draft in slowly. It felt much better against my body than the hot, stuffy room below me felt.

In the distance, I could see the waves crashing against the rocky shore below, hearing the violent roar as they pummeled each other. The sound and smell of both the sea and waves was very relaxing, to both me and my stomach, and immediately I felt much better. But as I began to taste the after-taste of both my throw-up and the lobster, My stomach immediately began to become agitated once again. I just kept my eyes on the horizon and my mind off the horrible taste in my mouth.

But as I stared off into the distance, something in my peripheral vision shuffled quickly, catching my eye and making me gasp. I couldn’t see exactly what it was, but by the way it stared at me, its glowing eyes watching me from inside the thick brush of woods straight below, it didn’t look very friendly.

Clutching the railing tightly, my knuckles turning white from the force, and my knees buckling from fright, I froze, keeping my eyes on the tall, black figure that stood directly outside my window.

If I wasn’t mistaken, it look exactly like a bear. As my eyes began to adjust to the darkness outside, I could see it had a long snout, with glowing blue eyes, and black shaggy fur, which was illuminated by the light that poured out through the balcony window.

My breathing started to grow heavy, and I felt an adrenaline rush from the fear. Even though the bear, or whatever that creature was, couldn’t get me all the way up here, I was sure it wanted me anyways. It just watched me with livid, angry eyes, slanted down furiously and pointed straight at me, its breath escaping its mouth in thick, white puffs.

I started to tremble, not from the icy breeze that gusted in through the open window, but from the panic that was running through my body. I had never seen a bear before, and seeing one as close as I was now in person, was both horrifying and exciting for a city girl like me.

As soon as the reality hit me that there was no way this bear could climb this high to my balcony and pound me to a pulp, I began to get more of a thrill from it than fear. I quickly whirled around and ran down the twirling staircase, into my room to find a flashlight. As I spotted on standing up on my desk, I eagerly grabbed it and ran back up the stairs, skipping every other step to reach the top quicker.

Excitedly, I searched for the button on the flashlight, soon finding it and switching it on, then waving it below, where I had seen the bear. But as I searched the ground below with the beam of light, frantically shaking the flashlight around the forest and in the backyard, I realized the bear was not there. It was gone.

Disappointedly, I dropped my shoulders and switched the flashlight off, all the excitement disappearing just like the bear.

Could it have been my imagination? Did I just imagine that a rabid looking bear was watching me with hungry eyes?

With a disillusioned sigh, clutching the flashlight tightly in my shaking hands, I slunk back down stairs. The adrenaline rush had taken more energy away than it had given, and as I reached my room, my nice, full sized bed looked extremely good at the moment.

I laid down on the top layer of my blankets, pulling only the thin throw at the end of the bed over my legs, and resting my head on my hands, instead of the soft, down pillows above me. I curled up into a ball and closed my eyes, unenthusiastically waiting for myself to fall asleep, but instead, only growing more awake with each minute.

After what seemed like an hour of laying in the same position just staring at the wall, I heard a car start, and then thrust down the driveway until I could no longer hear anything. Wesley must have left, I assumed.

I lifted my head to peer over my shoulder at the glowing red numbers on my alarm clock. It was pretty late. Colleen and Wesley must have done a lot of talking. Which, by the way Colleen had forgotten I even left the table, not paid attention to the way my face was turning green and my constant coughing into a napkin that had swelled and was obviously full of something, because she was too busy listening to the sound of his voice, I was sure they could have talked for much longer.

Restless and wide awake, I sat up and rubbed my watering eyes.

A sudden stinging pain erupted on my neck, making me gasp in surprise and anguish. I clasped my hands around the burning scar on my neck, squeezing it and hoping the pain would stop. But instead of stopping, it just got worse.

I moaned in agony, shutting my eyes tightly. I couldn’t keep my hands on the scar long, because it was literally hot. It felt like putting your hands on the hot eye of a stove.

The side of my neck felt like it was on fire completely. I struggled to stand up, only managing to roll off my bed instead. More pain began to shoot up my knees and elbows. I clenched my fists and grinded my teeth from the twinge of pain that flowed through my whole body.

I curled up on the floor, not bothering to stand up, not bothering to try and extinguish the fire that I was sure that engulfed my neck. Not trying to yell for help. Just trying to wait out the pain. Trying to pray for the pain to stop.

Though I thought that my eyes were still closed, I was suddenly staring across the room. But I wasn’t looking into my room, I was staring into another room. The pain had faded just enough for me to stand up and look around.

The room was dark, but it was still visible. A small bed sat against the wall in one corner, a small desk and chair in another, with a crescent shaped rug in the middle of the floor. Pictures hung neatly on the wall, with faces in between the frames that I couldn’t depict in the low light of the moon that hung outside the large window.

I subconsciously moved closer to the bed. As my eyes adjusted more to the faint glow that illuminated the room just barely, I could see that there was someone in the bed. And as more seconds went by, a second person appeared, leaning over the bed, whispering quietly to the small person that looked up to him, smiling peacefully.

I squinted, trying to see better, but the faces were still a blur. The person leaning over the bed and whispering, lifted a hand and placed it on the small face of the girl in the bed. She giggled and then rolled over. The tall silhouette that had been hovering over the bed, suddenly stood. He was very tall, very strong looking. The light from the window in front of him only lit up half of his face, but from what I could see of it, he was younger, and very handsome. He looked once back at the girl, who was now snoozing quietly, then glanced at me.

I froze, wondering wether I should say something, or if I should leave.

Instead of asking me who I was, or wondering how I got in or what I was doing in the room, he walked towards me, then passed me, out the door of the room, leaving me alone with the girl. I turned back towards the bed, and gasped, as I looked at the hand that was holding my scar. It was covered in blood. My neck was bleeding!

I lifted my clean other hand to my scar and rubbed it. It too was swathed in blood.

My head suddenly felt light. I closed my eyes, hoping the nausea would pass, and that I wouldn’t throw up in the girls room. But when I opened my eyes, I was no longer in the girls room. I was back in my room, standing in front of the corner in the wall, my hands held out in front of me, with not a speck of the red stains.

I looked around, confused, hoping I would find some evidence that it had been a dream, and that I wasn’t hallucinating. The blanket that I had been covered with, had been kicked off onto the floor, all the pillows on my bed scattered across the room. I looked down at my hands one more time, but there was no blood on them. I wiped my neck, which was neither sore, or bleeding, and sighed in relief.

It was a dream. A simple side effect from the lobster, I thought, nodding my head. The lobster. Right. It must have been undercooked. I must have just had a bad dream from the lobster, which was undercooked. From food poisoning.

With relief, I picked up the pillows and blanket, and covered myself, closing my eyes and hoping to drift off into a dreamless sleep…


The End

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