“You need to know how I hurt my wrist,” Jordan said, decision in her voice.
“You told me you fell.”
“Yeah, but the reason I fell and how. That I didn’t tell you. Come in and have something to drink. My folks won’t care.”
Brian hesitated. His mother might, but he felt comfortable with Jordan and her house gave him a sense of calm that he hadn’t had for a long time.
The walls were covered with all kinds of strange pictures and symbols. Rainbows, crystals, plants, stained glass—all this and more assaulted his senses when he entered the house. The furniture was sparse and had an Asian feel. Woven mats graced the hardwood floors instead of carpet. The whole house smelled like lavender and sage.
Brian inhaled deeply, the sense of calm overwhelming him. He’d never experienced anything like it. It was as if he’d just come home. In fact, his own home didn’t feel as good as Jordan’s.
“Want something cold to drink? We might have some sodas. Mom usually only has healthy stuff, but Dad sneaks in some Dr. Pepper. Or I can make tea.”
“Anything. I’m not picky.”
Jordan found two bottles of Snapple and Brian opened them with a quick twist.
“Have a seat.” She gestured to the bar in the kitchen.
Brian slid onto a tall stool. Jordan, who was a lot shorter, had to climb up and perched on the seat like a little girl.
“So, the wrist.” She paused. “I’m only telling you this ’cause I know you won’t think I’m crazy. Based on the crap you’ve seen, this isn’t that big a deal.”
Brian nodded, smiling encouragingly.
“It was back home—our old house in Pennsylvania. I was home by myself. Mom and Dad were out being Mr. and Mrs. Popularity. I was coming down the stairs from my room and when I got about halfway down, it felt like someone shoved me. I fell down the steps and landed at the bottom. I was lucky I’ve had gymnastics training and know how to fall. I relaxed into it and came out with bumps and bruises instead of broken bones.”
“You’re sure you didn’t trip?” He held up his hand to still her protests. “I’m not being a hard ass. I’m serious. You’re certain it was a push?”
Jordan shoved his shoulder. “It hit me that hard, right here.” She reached her hand over her shoulder, tapping her back. “You can’t tell me it was an accident. I was the only one home and I’m very careful where I put my feet.”
“I don’t disbelieve you. In fact, I felt like that when I fell in the mud puddle. My feet got all tangled up.”
“I didn’t tell you everything about the bus stop. When I was on the way there yesterday, something else happened. I saw fog in the woods—pretty normal. But it started moving, forming kind of a wall. The wall rushed at me, trying to close around me. All of a sudden, this dog jumped in front of me, barking and growling. The fog moved back, drifted away and left. The dog stayed with me until the bus came.”
“Was she kind of silvery looking with a ridge of fur down her spine?”
“Right color and the fur stood up, but it was decidedly a male dog.”
“Dude, even a social pariah knows the difference between boys and girls.” She rolled her eyes at him, laughing.
“Well, then that means there’s more than one around, because the one that helped me was female.”
“The people you contacted, did they have dogs too?”
“Yeah. They had a male and female too. Just like us.”
“This is really freaking weird, Brian.”
“Hey, you want to stay for dinner?”
“I really can’t. My mom’s blind and I have to be home to help her fix the meal.”
“Oh, sure. I was thinking maybe we could do homework together.”
“I could probably come over after dinner. Mom’s okay on her own. She just can’t cook a meal successfully. She tends to burn stuff or undercook it.”
“I understand. That will probably be okay. I’ll call you once my mom gets home.”
“Cool. I guess I’d better get going.”
“Yeah.” She smiled up at him. “Thanks, Brian. It’s nice to have another social pariah as a friend.”
“It sure is.”
© 2016 Dellani Oakes