Morning came like it did every other day. People went on with their daily lives, the sun came out like it normally does, except for rainy days. The birds and other creatures around roamed freely without a care in their own little pathetic world. They were all living their peaceful and happy tale, everyone but me. If I looked like shit the morning before, this morning I looked like the walking dead. I just couldn’t put my head around what I saw, felt and heard yesterday.
I tried to shake off the feeling, but not only was I extremely worried about whatever that was, I couldn’t sleep a wink last night and I was so not in the mood to go to work and do the same bull I do every day and listen to my irritating boss’ absurd requests. Not to mention my job isn’t any more fun than the next one, I analyze and organize data for my company, fun…
“Morning Lai, you look awful” said my dear supervisor with a slight grin
“Thanks, I put a lot of effort on this look, glad you liked it”
She smiles and hands me a huge binder, “I need you to verify and organize the documents, some idiot in the other department made a mess and these files were erased from the system, check if the information is correct and I need you to finish by today, enjoy” she leaves and enters her office to continue filing her nails. I really hate that bitch.
My head was throbbing so hard, this strange sensation just wouldn’t escape my system. I kept thinking that thing could come back at any time and keep hunting me, I couldn’t help but think that a terrible fate awaited me. The words I heard kept ringing in my ear and the image of that figure wouldn’t escape my mind. I’m pretty sure that woman in my dream was speaking Portuguese, but I can’t exactly remember what she said. I was agonizing on those few words, then I remembered, Ren’s husband was Brazilian, and I totally forgot to call her back last night. I reach for my phone ignoring the fact that my boss was giving me a stink eye. I text Ren and waited impatiently for her answer, no reply… I was so anxious I called her before waiting long enough for a respond. The phone rang for minutes, I dialed call after call, and nothing. I was starting to worry, I made another mindless mistake, I didn’t listen to her when she needed me, what is wrong with me seriously, what if something bad happened to her, she sounded pretty scared last night. I bit my nails so hard I drew blood from my skin.
“Lai, a word” my boss called with her arms crossed and a wrinkled frown that disfigured her face even more. I paid no mind to her request and walked towards the exit. I didn’t care if I got fired, I had other priorities right now.
“Lai!!” she kept calling, but I remained firm on getting to the bottom of whatever was happening.
Fortunately, Ren gave me her new address the night of the wedding. I drove all the way to her home nervously pressing the pedals and changing from lane to lane like a demented madman. I dialed her number multiple times on the way, but she never picked up. I was extremely worried thinking this was all my fault. Will I seriously keep making the same mistakes over and over, why am I always like this? Didn’t I say that I would detach myself from whatever made me miserable? Yet I keep worrying and getting involved in such trivial matters. I may not look like the kind of person that cares, but it’s only a defense mechanism to cope with reality and bury my past. I believed that the less involved in people’s problems, the easier my life would be. Ren being so similar to me, became like a trigger to my repressed emotions and by pushing her out of my life I became more engrossed in my past. Meeting her again after all these years was a mistake, now I’m shaken by emotions once more. Maybe that’s why I keep having these weird hallucinations and I keep being paranoid.
I pulled over in front of her driveway. The house was abnormally big, the front porch alone was bigger than my entire apartment. I got out of the car and approached the door. I rang the bell once, twice, thrice, nothing. I knocked and called her name loudly and desperately. What was this foreboding? What an unnerving sensation.
“Ren?! You there?! Open the door please! I’m sorry for hanging up on you yesterday I was…” I was interrupted by a familiar voice
“There’s no one home, there hasn’t been anyone here all day.”
It was Lucas, I was petrified in front of the door, something about him creeped me out. He had the eyes of a predator, “I was looking for Ren, if she’s not here, then I’ll be leaving”
“Don’t you want to know where she is?”
I walked towards him and looking straight in his snobby, yet beautiful green eyes I answered “do you know where she is, is she ok? Why are you even here?”
“One question at a time munchkin, unfortunately I’m in the dark as well. I came looking for my brother, he’s been missing since yesterday, but he’s not home either, something tells me that girl messed up real’ bad”
Ugh…he was so annoying and what right did he have to call me munchkin, I mean I’m short but we’re not even friends, where did that confidence come from?
“The name’s Lai, and what the hell are you talking about?” I grumbled
“Well you tell me, munchkin, it seems you have something that doesn’t belong to you”
“Stop calling me that, if you’re just going to talk nonsense I’m out” I then mumbled “useless prick”
“Hey munch… I mean Lai! If you don’t want to suffer the same fate as your friend, you better stop digging your nose up in other people’s problems and return…”
I cut him before finishing, “what the hell are you talking about? Did something happen to Ren? Did you do something to her?”
“I’m not sure, but I always believed they shouldn’t have gotten married, they had a weird relationship from the beginning”
“What are you…”
“like I said, you shouldn’t get involved in other people’s business”
I tightly clenched my lips as he caressed my hair and stared at me with his dead emerald gaze. I unconsciously pressed my eyelids to try to evade his terrifying glare. I pressed so hard a tear escaped my eyes. He slowly came forth and whispered in my ear: “para de chorar”. I opened my eyes as wide as the sky, I punched him away, covered my mouth with both hands and ran away from his grasp. I drove off as fast as I could, halfway I stopped the car, opened the door and threw up. What was that? Is he the man from my dream? Am I really going insane? I think I finally lost it. I tried to pull myself together, I grabbed my phone to call Mara, maybe she knew something about it. Before I could even dial the number, there was an incoming call from an unknown number. Trembling I took the phone and answered with a rickety shriek, “hello? Hello?!” A loud static was heard, “HELLO?!” I yelled… From the other line a familiar yet rugged faint voice was heard “Lai, keep it safe, it was calling to you” “Hello? Ren? Is that you? Ren?” The line went dead, and I sat there in shock and confusion.
What did it all mean? What the hell do I have that does not belong to me? What could… No way. I remembered the scapulary Ren gave me. What’s so important about that thing? I hurried back home, on my way back, I got dizzy and when I came back to my senses, I was parked inside the damned tunnel. This can’t be happening again how did I get here? The tunnel gradually became darker till there was nothing to be seen.
Not again, what sense of déjà vu is this? Fine let’s go movie heroin mode to get this shit over with. I walked out of the car, even though it was daytime, I was in the middle of the tunnel so there were no lights, I was completely blind until the same ball of light from the first night appeared. I gulped; I swear I had never swallowed so much saliva as I had these few days. I took a deep breath and followed the light. I mean what was the worst that could happen? Oh, that’s right I die! Keep it together, just stay calm. I kept on walking and the light led me to the other side of the tunnel and disappeared. Are you serious? I was getting pissed, when suddenly I could smell the scent of freesias coming from one of the sides of the street. I decided to follow the scent, I walked inside the abandoned neighborhood and as I did, the aroma became stronger. I walked and walked, for God knows how long.
As I walked on further, I saw a beautiful field of white freesias, so fresh, someone must’ve taken care of them with much attention. It was strange I could smell it all the way to the tunnel, it was pretty deep in the undergrowth, and yet the smell was so acute. I walked inside the serene flower field and noticed a small cottage by the end of the field.
It reminded me, freesias were the flowers from Ren’s bouquet, was that also a coincidence? All this nonsense is getting more and more complicated. I got so dunk with the sweet fragrance, I started to get sleepy. That’s weird, why are my lids so heavy and why am I so sluggish? As I staggered trying to keep my feet on the ground, I stepped on something hard, when I bent to try to see what it was, I noticed it was a cellphone. I recognized the cover immediately; it was Ren’s cellphone. I saw the shadow of a man walking from the distance in direction to the cottage. I began trembling and I heard the boy’s gentle whisper “corre”. I instantly knew that meant run and did precisely that, run.
I ran as fast as I could, cellphone in hand and almost without breath. I fell inches from the car, my face was almost touching the ground, the only thing I could make up was two male Frye boots walking towards me in slow pace and my breath getting heavier and heavier followed by a gentle stroke and a mild “shhh…”
To be continued…
Author’s Note: I’m not fluent in Portuguese, if there are any mistakes, I’m terribly sorry. If you have any corrections, I would gladly apply them and would be grateful for your help.