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Grade
11

The Traveler

 

    Drowning.. only drowning, the distance to far to break now… It sits, drowning in the modern world, with no way up…. Outdated, rotting, sinking, yellowing exterior, missing shingles; it sticks out like a sore thumb. No longer inhabited, the house sat for what seemed years, without so much as a second look. With window eyes that stir the soul, eye contact is highly avoided. No one ever enters it’s interior, not one dares step on the lawn; afraid they will be cursed. Afraid; that their children will vanish, that anyone could be swallowed by the house or by the mere blade of grass at their feet, that within it still resides a maniac murdering child, that the interior is stained with fresh blood from the victims kept in the basement.

 

Mikage knew all of these superstitious rumors to be false. There aren't any murderers or victims or even blood in the house. And children no longer vanish. Straying from his manuscript, his eyes wander to the window. To the thick flakes of white falling softly, to the drowning house among them. Seeking something, he leans back in his office chair, capturing a glimpse of a swing in the neighbor's backyard. It moves with the wind, abundantly flowing over each gust, rising higher and higher. He catches a glimpse of something- no, someone- rising with the swing. A girl in a patterned dress with a head full of blonde. At the sight of her, Mikage spills his beverage all over himself. With the startling heat of the drink, Mikage crashes to the floor. Quickly placing the cup down, he frantically examines the damage. Only to find hot chocolate seeping into his stripped vest, soaking into a lake shape stain. Choosing to forget it, he presses against the window. Through the fogging glass he eyes the yard again. The swing sits still and empty.  

…………………………………………

 

"Mikage? What happened?  What was that noise just now?" Mrs. Ashton,  Mikage's mother, stood in the doorway, a hand rested against the frame with a face of exhaustion and a voice laced with worry. He hated seeing her in such a state, as if she expected him to break so easily.  He was fourteen now and it had been four years since their move here. On top of that two years had passed since he'd recovered from his weak state of health. So she needn't worry. Surely he could manage a little fall on his own.

 

"Nothing mother." He didn't plan to tell her of the nightmares. "Nothing at all." He slowly sat up as he spoke and rubbed the back of his head. "Just didn't realize how small my bed was." He looked up at her from his spot on the ground. Mikage saw how fragile his mother appeared in her silk violet night gown. The light from the hall streamed in around her and across his floor. Her limbs were thin and useless, skin porcelain like, hair piled lusely on her head with strands astray and just enough rouge to tempt workaholic father to bed. She was very much a worry wart when it had come to him.

 

He crawled back in bed, rubbed various hurt places and pulled the covers to his chin. His mother had come up beside him, her presence wavered like that of a ghost. She was delicate and didn't always seem all there to him.

 

"Good night Mikage." Mikage continued to face the wall, worried about just that- the night. He could not remember the last time it was a good night.

 

…………………………………………………...

 

The dark swirls in Mikage’s new hot chocolate gives little comfort as he settles back at his desk. They swirl in dark curls, giving off an appearance of another world beyond it’s sweet taste. Once you get to the bottom though, it composes of clumps of  powder and is hard to swallow with its bitter taste and dry texture. Looking into it different shapes appear, swimming in and out of focus.  He sees something that resembles a face, with dark eyes and a lighter structure.  Someone familiar, someone from a dark dream. Someone from a nightmare. Seeing the face looking up at him reminds Mikage of the nightmares he used to have as a boy.

 

`The crying, that always came first. Dreadful,  fearful, begging cries. Cries of children. Mikage recalls that then he was just a teenager, and those cries resembled that of children his age. The crying continues, but piercing screams join them. He was always surrounded by darkness while both were going on. Though soon after they start, the darkness would part, revealing the all too real carnage that belonged to the screams and cries and above the piles of ripped up boys was the most beautiful beheld beauty. Drenched in glistening blood like a dress and fangs for teeth that were just as red. Even with powerful beauty, there was always an air of an allusion. She was hiding something, but she always just smiled at him, hand extended.

 

Mikage should have connected the nightmares to reality then, but now it no longer mattered.

 

…………………………………………………………….

 

Mikage stumbled down the spiral stairs in a rush. He had less than ten minutes before the bell rang, defining him tardy and he hadn't even left the house yet. His mother had her back to him as he entered the kitchen and seeming to sense his entrance she twirled to him. His lunch dangled in her manicured fingertips while she stretched over the counter. Snatching it from her, he stormed for the door.

 

"Be careful Mikage. Come straight home and don't speak to a soul." He didn't bother replying knowing there would be more. "Recently there have been disappearances... all of boys your age. Please be careful on the way home Love."

 

"Yes, mother dear." He was hardly able to get the words out. His breath had caught at the mention of missing boys. Visions of blood splattered piled bodies raked chills through him. She didn't seem to have noticed the rigidness from his back for she said nothing else. He was out on the wooded path to school in an instant.

 

…………………………………………...

 

Mikage is drawn back to his manuscript laying patiently on the desk.  He needs to get writing since it's do next week. Though looking out the window again he eyes the swing. It's empty seat, longing for a companion as it swings faintly with the breeze. The girl flickers into existence at his thought of her. She was always there, just swinging. Seeming to not have a care in the world. Now just a figment of his imagination.

 

…………………………………………………

 

"Sandee May Scarlet." The name resounded around the room. Not a face showed recognition to the name. No one replied. Mikage looked at the other faces in the room as everyone else did. Silenced ensued till the teacher taped her papers against the desk. As she started marking the name absent, crashing outside caused the door to rattle violently. It slide aside just as violently revealing a girl hunched over huffing. One hand gripped the door for dear life. Blonde locks reached for the floor as they concealed her face, a few strands were pulled back in a tiny braid by her face. The other hand clutched at the straps of her bag that was flung over her shoulder. Her dress was dotted with all kinds of flowers, printed over a deep red. Without looking up she released the door to hold up her hand.

 

"Present!" The class instantly bursted in an uproar. They laughed hysterically from their seats, not even attempting to conceal their boyster behavior.

 

“Ms. Scarlet! Its the first day of school! What kind of impression were you thinking of making?!” The teacher’s voice was a shrill siren that made everyone cringe and retreat to murmurs. Ms. Scarlet or Sandee May looked up at the sound of her voice with a red complexion that continued to crawl to her ears. She was a mystic beauty and Mikage was in love at first sight. She had freckles that dotted every inch of her face, complimenting her wonderfully. Her eyes were turquoise fires; sparks flying and a heat growing in Mikage’s chest. She never glanced in his direction.

 

“It won’t happen again.” She dashed to an empty seat in the corner overlooking the view of the sea and the light house. She wasn’t ever late again.

 

He tried having purposed in counters with her. In a few short weeks he knew the routes she took throughout the school. In a few short weeks he'd gone from a sickly healthed nerd to a healthy stalker nerd. He couldn't believe a girl was capable of driving a man crazy. Except for her path home, he knew her routes. Tonight he thought he'd change that. After the bell, she swiftly left the room. If he didn't watch closely she'd be gone without a trace.

 

In the forest Mikage cautiously followed her. She swiveled gracefully through gnarly tree to the next, almost like a fairy. He wouldn't have been surprised if she sprouted wings. A snap from behind him echoed in the large forest and Mikage instantly turned towards it. Three senior boys stood close behind him. They watched him with devilish grins. Mikage thought they looked like they were hungry, here to devour him whole. One of them grinned wider and licked his lips seductively.

 

Sandee May was probably far out of range in order to hear a desperate scream. Mikage needed to run. He wasn't strong, but he needed to try to get away. No one was going to be able to help him, but himself. He turned swiftly and headed in the direction he'd last seen Sandee May disappear.

 

The forest was a corpse except for the crunch of debris as Mikage and his pursuers raced through. Mikage felt bullets of sweat trail down his covered forehead. He was never one for physical activity, he'd barely been out of the hospital by the age of ten. He lived in the hospital since he was born. The crack of twigs became louder and he felt himself running low. Something gripped onto his hood and then Mikage was flying. His skull vibrated at impact and the lights went out.

 

"Hey there." Pain shot through Mikage eyelids as he peaked up at the speaker. Blonde locks hung like a curtain around his face. Turquoise fire like eyes shined down on him, a subtle smile spread upon a mouth. Freckles dotting every inch of skin. "You are Mikage right?" Sandee May looked down at him, the object of his love and he had nothing intelligent to say.

 

"Ah, yes?" He slowly lifted himself to a sitting position and Sandee May settled in front of him, her legs tucked beneath her. She spread her fingers across her thighs smoothing out her dress. “I mean- yes, I am.”

 

“I’m Sandee May. Nice to meet you.” Her hand stuck out between us like a peace offering. He took it and she shook heartly,a grip like steal. She stared into his face, awkward silence filling the small space that he suspected to be her room. Sandee May’s face glowed with innocence and her eyes smiled with a secret. “So, we should be friends! Want to be friends?” Her smile grew even wider as she released his numbed hand.

 

……………………………………………………………………………………….......................................................................................................................................

 

Mikage watches the snow thicken with its descent, slowly covering his neighbor’s abandoned home. He remembers the days they spent together in it’s decaying interior. The laughs, the cries and the fights. He’d gotten to know her so well since that fateful day. He grips onto the mug tighter with the memories pouring in.

 

He remembers when he first found out that she lived alone. There was parents in the house occasionally when he spent time there, but he had always sensed something false about them. Like they weren’t all there. His mother had had the same feel about her when he was young, but he realizes Sandee’s parents were never like that. They just never felt real to him and they weren’t. Sandee invited Mikage over one night after school to devour pizza and a movie. But while he was in the kitchen with her mother and Sandee in the livingroom, something happened. Mikage was getting ice for their drinks when he dropped one of the cubes. He searched for it, but couldn’t find it. He had given up and walked back to the counter. Instead he slipped on it and fell head first into Mrs. Scarlet’s bracing arms. Except he went through them, right to the floor. Sandee’s mother combusted into trillions of little pieces, glowing little sparks. After confronting Sandee about it, she confessed that she hadn’t any parents, ever.

 

……………………………………………

 

“So you have been lying to me the whole time? All of it!?” Mikage’s voice rose to barely a defiant whisper. He couldn’t believe he just fell through a ghost or whatever Mrs. Scarlet happened to have been. Chills swam through his petite frame as he felt the room grow colder with the thought of her. Sandee May starred up at him through stray hairs with an expression as if the very parents he spoke of had just died.

 

“Yes Mikage, I have been lying to you,” Her face grew darker and her eyes twinkled mischievously with secrets. It suddenly felt like ice was growing up the walls around them, Mikage’s breath came out in white puffs and his teeth began to chatter. A violent storm began to stir. “the whole time.” He stood frozen to the spot as she stepped closer within an inch of his blueing face.

“Why?” The question escaped his mouth too quick to suck back in.

 

“Why? Why!? I’ll tell you why! To make you trust me! To become your friend! Like I really care, but that’s the thing” As she yelled the storm grew stronger and Mikage’s heart grew colder. He felt numb with every word she spoke. “its the only way to get you humans to come with me.” She said the word as if it were poison, as if the very word was laced with the devil itself. He had nothing to say, nothing he wanted to say and it broke his heart. She continued to scream in his face as he felt his legs stiffen like icicles. “I don’t like pizza! Or movies! Or that stringy covered red food that tastes so good!” Her breathing was becoming quick and ragged as she too started to feel the cold. “Oh! You’ve heard about those boys that have gone missing these past couple weeks right?”

 

“Y-YYYes. Mother warned me about them..” Mikage’s voice was hardly a whisper as the cold crept up his throat. Sandee May thrusted her head back as she cackled heartly. She looked possessed; head lulled, hair flying up around her, face cracked in a smile, and a gusting wind spun around her as objects joined the growing storm.

 

“Did she ever warn you about fairies?” Sandee May’s voice came out a slippery velvet as she looked at him, her head tilted to one side, hands spread out, and fingers flexing with untamed power. The flowers on her dress wilted and crumbled to ash into a circle around her. Mikage’s eyes were sauces at the sight of the blood, red dress dripping with carnage. There was no mistaking it, that was the dress from the nightmares he’d been having since the night they came to this town. That would mean that the girl that stood before Mikage was the “She” from his nightmares as well. Then she killed all those boys and… she was going to kill him too. He couldn’t afford to think like that, there had to be good in her. Did she not feel anything for him when she’d saved him?

 

“NO.” A slow smile spread across his face. He felt his voice come back to him as his throat began to thaw. “No, she didn’t. That’s only because fairies are good, they wouldn’t harm a hair on a creature’s head, even if it were for their own benefit. You are good too Sandee May! I’ve seen it!” Mikage’s heart warmed as the cold retreated it’s grasp. The storm slowed and became softer as if the better to hear him.

 

“You…..really think so?” Over her own storm, she was barely audible. Mikage’s smile widened at her careful question. Why of course he thought so, he loved her.

 

“Yes.” He closed the space between them and held out his arms. She fell into them, digging her face into his bony shoulder. “I know you wouldn’t hurt anyone Sandee May.” She stiffened at his words. He was going to reassure her everything was alright, but the words never left his lips. His airway was cut off by delicate, but capable hands. Stumbling back, he gazed down at her blonde head and small frame. She wouldn’t look at him.

 

“But I have. I have hurt people Mikage….everyday that I’m here I do. I’m not one of those goody-two-shoe fairies you read about in Fairy Tales. I bring children to their deaths.” She lifted her head to look at him with water logged eyes. “I’m in with the wrong kinds of Queens.” He knew she needed him to understand that she was evil, but not by choice. She wanted him to say something, but he needed her to release him. He grabbed at her hands as he felt his face change colors. “OH! My goodness, I’m sorry! You should have said something! Of course you couldn’t I was choking you, hahahaha….my bad..” She was scratching the back of her head as she turned tomato. Mikage swiftly brought her to his chest.

 

“It’s okay. I know you didn’t mean to.”



    Saturday night Sandee May asked Mikage to meet her in the woods at the abandoned tree house after dark. When he had arrived there, he waited outside the entrance. He stuffed his hands deep in his pockets and shivered through the wintry breeze. December was upon them and he'd forgotten a coat. He was breathing in his cupped hands as the first flakes of snow began to fall, when Sandee May showed up. A flower tiara of daisies adorned her braided hair, a Queen Anne's lace dress was snug to her form and she was barefoot.

 

"Thanks for coming Mikage."

 

"Um, you're welcome?” He eyed the old tree house with uncertainty. “But Why did we come here?" By its appearance it could collapse at any moment.

 

"We're meeting here because it's the farthest from the Fae plane portal as possible. I don't want our meeting to come to the Royal's ears." She took hold of Mikage’s hand and lead him into the tree house. Little warm flames ignited at her entrance, just floating in mid air. Beneath the dozens of floating flames was a small table with two mushroom stools. A queen sized bed, covered in the same lace as Sandee May’s dress, sat in the low ceilinged corner and clustered in every available space was human nic-nacs. It looked just like a fairy cove to him. Sandee May released Mikage and practically floated to the bed where she plopped. She lay the width of it, spread out like a snow angel. He sat on the end next to her and waited..

 

"I discovered this place on my first night in this world…  I was running around frantic and afraid, having just been dropped here with no explanation on how to survive.” She closed her eyes and moved her arms around on the lace covers. “When I stumbled upon this tree house,...I felt as though I was seeing a reflection of myself. It looked just as alone and afraid as I was… So I stayed with it throughout the night." A smile sneaked it's way to her face. "I ended up renovating it, after I discovered magic worked here."

 

"Why are you telling me this? Don't you get on people's good side just to end with killing them?" The smile slipped from her mouth and she grew perfectly still. She didn't answer, but he knew she was listening. “Why me?”

 

“I don’t know… I mean… when I’m with you, I feel like a better person. I feel like the person I always wanted to be… ” She flung herself over to face him, laying on her side watching his seaweed eyes. Her face was twisted, like the feelings in her words tore her in every direction. Anguish filled every pore of her freckled face. “You make me want to be the hero!” She was suddenly inches from his face. Her eyelashes fluttered shut nervously. Mikage let her sit there waiting for him to meet her halfway. A smile captured his mouth, pulling the corners up. He slowly reached out to trace the side of her face with the back of his trembling hand. She shuddered at his touch, but then leaned against it as a smile spread to her own mouth. Then closing his eyes he leaned in to capture her lips. As his met with her’s gravity seemed to drop and he was floating amongst the flames overhead. Sandee May’s hands grasped both sides of his face as she returned his kiss. She then pulled away so suddenly that Mikage fell forward with surprise. “I’ve been wanting to do that for a while.” She bit her lip trying to restrain the devilish grin on it.

 

    “Then why did you stop?”

 

    “Because, there is unfinished business for me to attend to.” She rose as she spoke to retrieve a cloak draped over one of the stools. “You have inspired me. I want to be the hero of my own story.” She was grinning from ear to ear as she tied the cloak around her neck and flung the hood over her braid. Turning swiftly she took for the door. Mikage didn’t understand, what was she going to do? What was it she needed to fix, what was unfinished? He rose as well and stalked toward her.

 

    “What is it your going to do?” He held tightly to her wrist, afraid of letting go. Afraid that he would be alone again, that she wouldn’t come back.

 

    “I will be back Mikage and when I do I will explain everything to you. Don’t worry, Love.” As she said that her other hand rested over his before heading out of sight. “I’ll be leaving tomorrow morning, at the swing. “ Then she was masked within the night…

 

The next morning Mikage found himself asleep in his own bed. He looked groggily around his room trying to recall how he had returned. Then having remembered the night before, rushed to his window, flung back the curtains and knelt there, waiting. Sure enough she was there. She sat on the swing, pumping and gliding along like a bird on the wings of the wind. Gathering height, the wind around her began to blur and it became harder and harder for him to clearly see her. As she rose higher than he’d ever seen someone go, she turned to look in his direction, a smile plastered there and suddenly she vanished. He pressed himself harshly to the window, but no matter how many times he blinked or rubbed his eyes, nothing changed. She was gone.

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

 

Mikage opens the drawer under his desk and pulls out a faded photograph. A blonde covered in freckles smiles at him through turquoise eyes. A younger Mikage is next to her, with just as much glee in his expression. He rubs the photo with his thumbs, a smile forming on his lips.

 

    “Mikage? Darling?” Delicate hands slide down his shoulders to cross over his chest and a airy laugh escapes the tender lips at his ear. “Where did you get that from darling?”

 

“Found it in a draw somewhere, forgotten.” He turns to the woman standing behind him. She has blonde locks flowing down her chest and turquoise eyes smiling with secrets.

 

“I’m guessing you're ready for me to tell you everything now.”