Shades of Twilight Chapter 4

Chapter 4

The next day went pretty normal as far as days go. I cleaned up, ate, and picked up my home as best I could, all the time watching the clock as my shift at Peach Tree drew closer and closer. Sarah had almost the same shift that I did. We were both waitresses as was Debbie at one time before she had ‘moved on to a better life’ a she called it. Personally I’m not sure living at home and going to community college qualified as that. Sure, she had big dreams for when she finished her education, and I really hoped they would come true for her, but to go back home and live there so she could concentrate on her schooling was just a little too much for me. I spent seventeen years trying to get out on my own, why would I willingly go back unless I was forced to?

I really did love my family, they were great, and the word dysfunctional never even came up in my family. In fact, I think I was in middle school before I even knew what the word meant, and even then I would never have applied it to my family. No, they were as close to normal as to make them impossibly boring. The true vanilla American family right out of Brady Bunch TV. So my life was always stable and even. This year was the first time in my life that everything was in flux. Getting this job, finding my own place, paying the rent and power, and all those fun things you actually get to do when you’re first out on your own. There really was a sense of accomplishment in it for me, and I’m sure Debbie would have a hard time understanding that, but I relished the challenge of being on my own, and right now I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

That being said, the shift itself was one of those days that I questioned why I was forcing myself into this insanity. The tables were full all night, the people were grumpy and demanding, and never happy with there service, and since it was a Wednesday night they weren’t very good tippers to boot. So when I saw the clock and the fact that my shift was about to end, I could never have been so happy. In fact the last half hour was like bliss, and I hardly noticed the lousy tips or the rude patrons. I was all smiles as I clocked out and walked into the night. Summer was still here, but the sun was already down by the time I walked out of the restaurant and looked out at the traffic driving by.

Peach Tree was only a few blocks from my duplex, so I never had to drive. Sure, I might drive in the winter here and there to avoid cold or really wet and windy days, but generally the weather is pretty mild here, so I save gas and money by walking to work and home. Besides, I wasn’t too sure how many miles were left in the old Honda I had picked up on my sixteenth birthday. It was cheep and good on gas and I instantly fell in love with it the first time I saw it. Over the couple of years that I had it, somehow its cuteness wore off, just like its coat of paint, and I was beginning to think that the honeymoon was over.

Several cars sat in the Vancouver Bowl parking lot as I slowly cut through it on my way home. I say slowly, because even if I was happy to be off and heading home, my feet were quite sore after standing for eight hours. I could see people were still bowling this late, and I really couldn’t see the draw. I understood there were some people that really enjoyed that game, in fact Debbie’s folks were regulars at it, but for me, flinging a too heavy ball down an isle hitting a few pins for hours on end just didn’t do it for me. Not when I could be at home sitting on a soft couch sipping a hot hazelnut coffee, or maybe even a warm Oregon Chi tea with whip cream on it, reading whatever romance book caught my fancy on my trusty Kindle, yeah that would be heaven right now, and after a warm bath I was thinking that’s just what I was going to do.

Leaving the parking lot behind me and crossing the street I headed down my little dead end road. NE 6th ave was quiet except for the dim roar of I-5. The freeway was the only part of living here that was somewhat annoying. I know just in the short time that I had been living here, many of my neighbors had moved on to somewhere else, saying they couldn’t take the constant roar of the nearby freeway. Myself, I found it served as kind of a white noise. It drowned out all the other noises that could be an irritation, and I found it easy to sleep to when I moved into the duplex. In fact there had been times late at night when I had woken and wondered what was wrong, only to realize that the freeway was empty of sound because the traffic had run out. The change in sound had woken me up, and I couldn’t help thinking how silly that was.

Now, however as I walked onto my street, the white noise was at full intensity. The street itself was almost completely dark, which was a bit strange. There were normally a couple of street lights on at this time, but for some reason both of them were off. To top that off, no one seemed to have left their front porch lights on, and it was uncomfortably like a scene from way too many movies and TV shows I watched over the years. The perfect example of a street someone like me shouldn’t be walking down alone. I paused, and looked around, hoping to see someone I might know standing on a porch or coming home from the nearby Seven-Eleven, anything to stop the willies that were running down my back as I looked down my own street.

“Come on, Melissa, this is your street. There’s nothing to worry about.” I told myself out loud, but even still, something in my gut said turn around, as I took my first step into the middle of the road, trying to make a quick walk to my home. I considered running, but the tight fitting work shoes were already killing my feet, and if for some reason I did have to run, I decided I should save most of my strength for when I needed it. I know, silly, why would I be thinking thoughts like this in my own neighborhood, right? I mean the entire street couldn’t be more than three blocks in length, and there were no other entry roads to it, yet something didn’t feel right. I walked as fast as I could, as I watched shadow after shadow seem to shift and move everywhere that I looked. Twice I thought I saw the figure of a man coming out of the shadows at me, only to realize it was a bush, and then a tree that I had seen time and again before in the broad daylight. Still, I couldn’t help it. My heart was beating frantically in my chest, and my breathing was becoming frantic. Halfway down the street, I heard a man’s laugh, more of a chuckle, so I stopped and spun around in that direction, sensing something but seeing nothing.

I was about to run full board home, when I saw someone back on the main street pass by the 6th Ave opening, heading towards the nearby Seven-Eleven. I realized my imagination was getting the best of me, as, really, I most likely heard that person’s voice carrying on the wind. I shook my head, and chuckled to myself as well and started heading for my home. I really wasn’t sure what was getting into me tonight. I couldn’t remember seeing anything scary on TV recently, so I couldn’t figure out what had me all rattled.

I heard a nearby trash can crash to the ground as if something had knocked it over. I froze as I turned around and scanned the nearby area, looking for anything that could have caused the sound. Not a good fifty feet behind me rolled the empty trash can, as it wobbled into the street then arched back to the side of the road it had came from. I scanned the side of the road for anyone or anything that could have knocked it over. It was at that moment that I decided once and for all that I was going to go to the store at my earliest convenience to buy me one of those mace flashlights I had seen there before.

I strained my eyes but for the life of me I couldn’t see anything. There was no movement, and no sound except for that damned freeway. It had to be a dog or a cat, I thought to myself. If there was someone here with me, they would be too big to hide in the dark this close. At least that’s what I kept telling myself, as I slowly began to back up towards my duplex. I was more than half way there now, and I was beginning to think that a quick dash would be a good idea at that moment. The headlights of a car turned onto my street, lighting the entire road as it did do. My eyes frantically searched for any signs of life around me thanks to the cars help. To my relief and shock however, there was no one and nothing nearby.

“Melissa?” Michael’s voice broke through to me. I looked over to the now stopped car, and recognized the sound of the engine. Mike was standing outside the open door calling my name. I felt a great sense of relief when I saw and heard his voice. I ran to him as quickly as I could fearing that at any moment my unseen enemy might leap out and grab me, and drag me off without a moments notice. I threw myself into his waiting arms. This close to him, his strong, musky scent filled my nose. My body tingled as he held me in his arms, and I didn’t want him to ever let me go.

“Melissa, what’s wrong?” I was sure he could feel my body shaking as he held me. It really was silly, I thought, there was no one there. Mike’s headlights proved that, and yet up until this moment, I hadn’t realized how scared I really had been.

“Nothing really. I guess I just missed you.”

He smiled as I looked up at his face. A sense of joy filled me, and temporarily drove my fears away as I looked into his eyes.

“Well, why were you standing in the middle of the road and in the dark?” He began to search the area with those beautiful gray eyes as he continued to hold me and rub my back.

“I think a dog spooked me, is all.”

“A dog?” He squinted and looked a bit harder. “I don’t see any dog.”

“It must have run off when you arrived.” A sense of embarrassment ran through me. I was really starting to feel stupid and child-like. I couldn’t tell him I was afraid of nothing but the dark. What would he think of me?

“Could we just go?” I asked him. He looked down at me for a moment. I began to think he was looking right into me and searching my innermost thoughts, until he nodded and walked me around to the other side of his car and helped me in. My feet still hurt, and it felt so good to sit down in his car. I kicked my shoes off and closed my eyes to relax.

“Where are we going?” He said as he climbed into the car and shut his door.

“I need some mace.” I said without opening my eyes. He didn’t say anything for a second, before turning the car around and taking off.

I peeked out of my right eye as we pulled out of 6th Ave, a shiver ran through me as I took one last look down what, until tonight, had been my home street. A place I always had felt safe, and a place that I had always looked forward to seeing as the last stretch of walking before I got home.

“So, any idea where you want to get this mace?”

I looked over at him, and studied his face as he waited for me to answer. I wasn’t sure, but I thought I had detected the presence of something in his voice as he asked that question. Was it anger? Or maybe fear? Whatever it was, it had been so brief that it had been virtually obscure, and even as I sat there I began to doubt I had ever heard it.


“Oh, yeah, sorry. Um…I suppose Wal-Mart might have some.” I looked out my window and watched some people crossing the street as we passed through 78th street intersection.

“So what do you need mace for? Are you expecting that dog to come back, or was it something I said?” He chuckled.

I looked down at my toenails and I could see that the polish was already chipping off. Serves me right for not taking the time to put multiple coats on it and letting it dry properly. I tried to cover my toes under my shoes as I thought about an answer. Mike tilted his head a bit and I watched as his eyebrow cocked slightly as he glanced over at me. His eyes washed over my hidden feet. It was really nothing, I know, but some part of me didn’t want him to know that I wasn’t perfect, and those nails screamed that right at the moment.

“I don’t know. I think I would feel better if I had a weapon of some sort. At least some way to defend myself.” I said as nonchalantly as I could.

He nodded and didn’t argue the point. That was good, as so many people I know would have thought I was being extra paranoid, and I had to admit…sitting in Mike’s car driving down highway 99, the entire dark street thing seemed like it was a world away. The more I looked at it, the more it seemed like I had just freaked over nothing. Even so, it really wouldn’t hurt to have something to carry with me just in case something ever did happen one lonely night. Pulling into Wal-Mart, Mike accompanied me into the store. I had expected to just run in and run out. Instead I couldn’t find anything like what I wanted, and in the end Mike had to grab a clerk and ask for help. Once he had done that, it was only minutes later we were pulling out and heading back to my home. It occurred to me at that moment, why was it that he had just shown up? He hadn’t called or even told me he was coming over, and for him to show up right then seemed awfully strange and coincidental.

“I’ve been calling you for hours, Melissa. You just haven’t been answering your phone.”

“No way, I always carry my phone with me, even at work.” I reached into my purse just to prove my point, only when I checked, it wasn’t in there. I was still picking up the contents of my purse as Mike pulled up to the front of my duplex. He sat there and watched me finish picking up the last of it with a little amused smile. If my being spooked wasn’t embarrassment enough tonight, now I must really look stupid as I finished picking up what I had dumped out.

“What are you doing tomorrow night?” He asked, smiling at me once again. A part of me wanted to shout at him that I was glad I so amused him, but that was just a small part of me. That scared little girl that was always fighting and trying to be heard. A part of me that housed all my insecurities and self doubts. Luckily, that part wasn’t in control tonight, and the calm reasoning part of me was. Well, mostly, anyway.

“I got to work tomorrow night.”

“Until what time?”

“Nine.” I said, and found myself blushing as he looked at me. I have no idea why I was feeling embarrassed as he looked at me, but maybe it was because I was so excited that he still wanted to be with me tomorrow night after how crazy I was acting tonight.

“You want me to pick you up there or here at your home?”

I would need time to get ready before we went anywhere, so I decided that he would pick me up here. He looked happy and in good spirits as I shut the car door. He even insisted on waiting for me to get into my duplex before he would go. I have to admit, I really liked that, as I wasn’t too certain I wanted to be outside by myself tonight, especially because my porch light wasn’t on.

I waved to him as I shut my door and locked it. I knew he could see me because of his headlights, but I couldn’t see him if he waved back. They were quite bright. I could see him sitting outside for a few seconds after I was inside, and I almost opened the door again just to see if he needed something, but I heard his car pull out right as I was reaching for the doorknob.

I should have been hungry as I walked into the front room, but after tonight, all I felt was tired. I showered and threw on my most comfortable PJ’s and jumped into bed for the night.


~ by targoun on September 18, 2010.

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