- Leah, Clearwater
I awoke in a fit of sobbing tears, sweat trickling down my brow and my breathing was strenuous and labored – my chest rising and falling at an uneven pace. My fingers clutched at the bed sheet tightly, my knuckles white. I tried to blink the glassy tears away, but they stung my eyes painfully; the images of death and decay from my dreams branded behind my eye lids.
I climbed out of bed, unlocked my door and clambered towards the bathroom. I assumed Seth and mom were still in a deep sleep, unaware of last night’s events. I turned the nozzle, and lukewarm water sprayed vigorously from the shower head. I stepped away to let it heat up and noticed steam covering the glass like sheets of mist.
“I look and feel like hell,” I said to myself, my voice hoarse and somewhat croaky, my throat tight with the twisted images.
Stealing a gaze at the mirror, my reflection was painted in front of my eyes. My face was streaked with dried bands of soft tears, my eyes dim and flat with exhaustion, eyelashes clumped together and dark crescents were visible below my eyes; a symbol of my sleepless night. My lips were cracked and dry. I threw myself away and quickly stripped before stepping into the hot shower, trying to avoid the nipping morning chill dancing over my skin.
I stood still under the jet of scolding hot water for five minutes just to praise the feeling of the knotted muscles in my back relaxing, my shoulders slumping. I grabbed the strawberry shampoo and lathered it in my hair, the smell reminding me of my apartment back in North Vancouver, back to Daniel and his sweet smelling skin. I shook the image from my head promptly.
Walking downstairs after my shower, I ran my fingers through my saturated hair; taking in the smell of bacon and eggs drifting from the kitchen. My stomach growled at my lack of attention towards its needs. “Morning,” I yawned, stretching my arms.
“Morning Leah,” mom said with a sleepy smile. “You just missed Seth. He’s off to meet with the pack at that meadow.” She cocked an eyebrow, before returning her awareness to the spluttering and crackling oil in the pan. My stomach gurgled with vicious hunger again; I clutched my hands around my chest trying to muffle the sound of near starvation. “I thought you would be hungry. Do you want some?” She asked, motioning towards the food.
“Yes please,” I admitted, my gaze never leaving the splattering pan. I bit ravenously into the bacon and felt it hit my stomach; the taste was delightful and more satisfying than the load of pop-noodles I had crammed during intervals between lessons back at college.
“How did you sleep?” mom questioned lightly, watching the chaotic tangle of school children through the kitchen window as they pushed past each other to claim a good seat on the bus to the La Push School.
I choked back my ultimate fear. “It was fine,” I replied. “It’s nice to be back home, I missed this place.” My lie was feeble. To be completely honest with myself, I had left a part of me in La Push, but I had been, and still was happier in North Vancouver. How could I tell my mom that? It would crush her.
“I’m glad you’re back, honey. You cannot imagine how uptight I’ve become from worrying about you up in North Vancouver. Seth being out with the pack most of time and…” her words came to an abrupt silence. My heart plummeted into over-drive.
“Mom, tell me. What’s wrong?” My thoughts were congested with the utmost suspicion.
She gave me a skeptical look, her smile warming like she had pulled off the worried mask. Now a worried and tensed expression played on my face, frown marks appearing on my brow. “It’s nothing bad, I promise,” she said softly, then placed a condoling hand upon mine. “I will tell you and Seth soon.”
“Is there any reason why we can’t know now? You told me about Sam and Emily’s wedding when you shouldn’t have,” I protested, pushing my empty plate away and sipping at the fresh orange juice. “You and Charlie haven’t been arguing?”
My mom and Charlie Swan had been dating for a while, and even I thought it was becoming more than a fling – developing into something more serious and practical perhaps. I’d rather know that they were genuine in their romantic feelings for each other than to walk around hearing everyone’s criticisms about them. It sent my blood boiling to even contemplate the things people had said about my mom.
“Of course not,” she answered, a cold edge tainting her voice. She was quiet for a minute before regaining her natural composure. “Now, the wedding wasn’t that top secret though, darling,” she cooed, trying to coax me from objecting even more. “On another note; Emily’s mother is flying in tomorrow actually, I have to get the spare room ready for her. She’s staying for your father’s remembrance as well. According to Sam, they knew each other for a while.”
I snorted in annoyance; another person that could get killed because of me, oh joy, I thought to myself. “Why does she have to stay here?” I complained, my voice sounding whiny and more like a five year old.
“She had nowhere else to go, Leah,” my mom answered strictly. “Their home only has one bedroom so I offered her ours until after Friday.”
“Friday?” I said exasperated, catching my breath.
Sue’s face swiftly became pained, she touched her throat lightly where a thin chain held her’s and my father’s wedding rings. “We have set the date for the remembrance. I didn’t think you’d mind,” she mumbled.
An arctic rage coiled within my chest, tightening the knots that had already formed there earlier that night. Each word sliced through me deeper, the wounds bleeding outwards in the way that my face portrayed my deepest horror and dismay.
If I had known the pain and torturing anguish my mother would be in afterwards, if I wasn’t blinded by a red haze of concentrated rage, I would have stopped instantly in my actions. However, my fueling infuriating feelings encased everything and for a moment I even forgot myself. I was rage. I was antagonism. I was the painful reason that would cause my mom so much sorrow.
“How in the world did you think I would react to this?” I half-screamed, using my hands to force myself up from the table. My veins a tangle of red and blue underneath my burning skin, blemishes of fervent skin like a chessboard covering both my arms. This never happened before. Whenever I got angry I never used to get this hot, or even get heat rashes across my skin? What’s wrong with me? I said to myself before continuing.
“Did you just think I would accept the fact that you didn’t include me in discussing the date for my father’s remembrance? Or did you forget he was my father and just thought about yourself,” I ranted, getting hotter and hotter.
“Leah,” she cried, tears strolling down her weathered cheekbones groggily. “How can you say such a thing? Of course he was your father! You need to calm down, please,” she pleaded.
“How can I calm down?” I shouted, gripping my fists and pacing the room. “I am just so angry.” I pronounced each word heavily and on its own, emphasizing my anger.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Leah. Please just stop, I can’t take it. Not anymore,” she begged. “I loved your father. Yes! Your father. Calm your rage and listen to me. I should have asked you first but you must understand we are under immense pressure to get everything ready. Do you understand?”
The image of my mother hanging onto the threads of her relationship with me as she begged me to cool my rage was terrifying. And frightening. Have I just said and done that? The red haze lifted and the temperature dropped sullenly, glassy tears coated my eyes, my emotions were in a disconcerting turmoil.
As I tried to tirelessly to resurface through the waves of tumult, the shell of a pale face and a tuft of dark hair materialized in the pane of the window. My heart raced, the bones of my ribcage re-positioning to the sight of the facial features that my body was jerking immediate responses to. Was I hallucinating? I shook my head and the image was vanquished, but my turbulent emotions still stirred.
I looked at the deathly pale image of my mother, bile rising in my throat when I remembered what I had said. My voice faltered, “I have to go.”
Rushing out of the room on my heels, I forced open the door and stepped into the cool wind and strode straight out onto the streets, a destination already in mind. I had a job to do here in La Push, and I wasn’t going to back down after making my decision.
My concentrating levels were excessively low as I stumbled into the small cafe’, although that was probably due to the mornings baffling events and last night’s terror. Entering, I noticed the familiar figure of Quil sitting by the window with Claire, whose eyes beamed with joy at the sight of me.
I took a deep breath and walked over. Quil’s lips curved into the same impish grin as always when I sat on the opposite side of him. “Hey Leah,” he greeted.
“Hi,” I echoed his greeting. It was actually surreal that I was talking to Quil, we never used to talk. My character’s changed so much since North Vancouver. I wonder who’s fault that is. Is it because Daniel left me? Because I found that wherever I go the supernatural will follow? Therefore I was now adapted to it?
“What’s up? You usually never used to talk to me?” he laughed, trying to hide away his confusion.
Someone walked towards the table and placed a cup of orange juice and one coffee down. Quil thanked the man. “Would you like to order something?” the waiter asked politely.
“Yes, if you don’t mind.”
“What would you like?” The waiter asked with a smile. His voice was like bell chimes and his face seemed somewhat familiar to me, but I rubbed it off.
I hesitated for a brief moment, “A decaf please.”
He walked away with his notepad in hand. Quil eyed me wearily. “You drink decaf now, rather than the normal coffee?”
I laughed. It felt good to laugh. After what had just happened it was nice to try to at least forget it, and throw it to the back of my mind, for the meantime. “Being a student sometimes is stressful. Caffeine is needed occasionally, but I stick to decaf when I don’t have to study.”
“Green tea works wonders for stress,” he chuckled, watching Claire carefully as she was close to spilling her cup of juice.
“I’m sure it does,” I agreed with a single nod. Great I’m getting the best wolf-girl health tips from someone that doesn’t know the meaning of health. Quil could eat a hundred chocolate bars and never get fat, I thought.
The waiter came back with my decaf before wandering off. I placed it to my lips and sipped at it cautiously, biting my tongue when it was too hot. I didn’t know how to ask. “Okay…well I need to ask you a favor Quil.” I jumped right in.
He rolled his eyes compulsively. “That’s a first. Alright, I’m all ears.”
I nodded and gave a quick stare around the cafe’, no one seemed to be taking attention to our conversation. I breathed a sigh of relief. “I was going to ask about your grandfather actually?”
“Yeh, what about him?” he questioned casually.
“I was wondering, how he is?”
“He’s fine, Leah. Why?”
This is going no-where. I’m going to be here forever. “I just wanted to ask, that’s all.”
His face became creased and he pinched the bridge of his nose. I could see the veins under the skin of his hand. “If you want something, Leah, you have to ask. You’re being far too cryptic,” he stated plainly.
“Fine,” I admitted, my cheeks burning. “I was going to ask if I could see him one day this week. Obviously not Friday, because of my father’s—” my voice trailed off. He would already know of course.
“I could ask, but he hasn’t been well lately. So I don’t know. Why do you ask?”
“I just want to ask him something about our shape-shifting abilities. While I was in North Vancouver I discovered a few new things. I wanted to make sure they were real by asking him.” So maybe I exaggerated the truth a little, but it was simply needed.
Quill’s face glowed with anticipation and he shot up in his seat. “What new things?”
“I will tell you after I have asked him, if I could?” I asked sheepishly, clutching the decaf tighter as my hope became too much to bare. I needed to speak with him.
My eyes scanned the room again for anyone that might be watching us. No one so far. “Well in that case, hell yes. Of course you can see him. Do you mind if I tell you tomorrow.”
My heart leapt into my throat from exciteent, my heartstrings being tugged on perpetually. I was almost crying, well maybe. “Thank you so much Quill.”
I had sat with Quill for a little longer than expected, telling him about my time in North Vancouver, my new friends – Ben included, but he seemed to cringe when I told him Ben was gay. He was fascinated that by making such a small change, lots could come of it.
“I’m seriously considering following in your footsteps now,” he said with a half-laugh.
I eyed Claire as she tried to lick the remaining droplets from her plastic cup. “What about Claire?”
That had silenced him. Of course Quill couldn’t leave La Push. He had Claire here now. Like I could have had Daniel in North Vancouver.
After saying goodbye to Quil and leaving the cafe, I rounded the corner of my street. The sky had darkened considerably. Something was flashing outside of my house. As I approached I saw flashing lights. Ambulance lights! I felt lightheaded as I picked up my pace and bolted towards the house. I felt like dropping to the ground faintly but somehow I was driven to run faster, and faster.
There was a plump police officer by the front door and I rushed towards him. I must have looked mad with the way my hair was sticking to my face. “You can’t be here, young lady,” he asserted.
“What happened?” I panted, putting my hands on my knees to help regain my lost breaths.
“A woman collapsed in her home, that’s all. Nothing to see now, so run along and play with your friends.”
Everything become black and my heart thudded painfully. What had happened to my mother? Was she alright?
Just at that moment a long white stretcher was being pulled from the front door. I looked hurriedly for the face that I longed to see – to find she was alright and not in a critical condition. Her eyes were shut and her breathing was labored, a mask pulled over her lips to help her breath.
“Leah,” she breathed softly.
“Mom, I’m so sorry,” I wept, choking back my sobbing tears.
1. What was Leah’s dream about?
2. What is Sue’s secret that she is keeping from Leah and Seth?
3. Why does Leah want to speak with Quill’s grandfather?
4. Do you think Leah knew the waiter, or was it a coincidence?
5. Was Sue’s collapse not natural, but rather happened due to a surprise visit from someone?
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