A Nightmare

Knock knock knock. Knock knock—

Lily shut her laptop and got up to open the door. She smiled weakly at her grandmother, who was standing in the doorway as if she was trying to loom. She wasn't trying, Lily was certain, she was just always like that.

"What is it?"

"Just checking in."

Lily stood there for a moment. Her grandmother didn't move, or say anything else. It took effort not to scowl, even though she knew it was stupid to be annoyed. What was she waiting for?

"Do you want to check my room, or...?"

"No. Sorry. ...It's fine, Lily."

She turned around and made to leave as abruptly as she had arrived. Lily stood there for a moment, then followed her out, turning out her light.

"Grandma, it's okay. You don't have to worry about me. But you can say if you are."

"That's not it."

"Well, okay. But, can we talk about that, then?"

"Why? Am I still being too overbearing?"

"No, that's... I don't mean it like that. I want to not be so terrible about it, okay? Because I'm reflecting for more than half a second about it."

Her grandmother suddenly stopped and turned around. Lily managed not to walk into her, and tried to smile. She wasn't sure why she had just blurted that out, but it felt right. She really hadn't thought about what it must actually be like for her grandparents to worry about it. It was all a stupid misunderstanding, but they obviously couldn't know that, couldn't just drop the thought because she told them to. She swallowed.

"I know I've been handling this poorly. But it's not that badly. I don't want to take it out on anyone. I don't want to take it out on myself, either. I know I broke stuff at mom's house, but that was just one freakout. I didn't break that mirror on purpose. I wasn't for a second thinking about killing myself. I don't know how to make you believe me, but I'll try not to snap at you just because you're worried about it."


"I'm really sorry, it must be an awful thing to have to think about. And me getting so mad every time it comes up can't help. So I... I don't know. I want to stop making things worse, this is bad enough."

Lily hadn't managed to keep looking her grandmother in the face. Her eyes were shut, to try and keep from tearing up. But she couldn't help it once her grandmother stepped over and wrapped arms around her. She stiffly moved her arms to return the hug. Her grandmother didn't give hugs, not like this, not for years. It made her feel like a little kid again, but for once it made her feel understood. It seemed to drag on for a while, before eventually her grandmother pulled away. She just managed to notice she was crying, too.

Wordlessly, they walked over to the living room where her grandfather was already sitting, watching the local news. He looked over and smiled, as if he hadn't noticed the tears or heard anything from the hall. Lily was going to say something to him when all at once, everyone looked at the TV. There was going to be a story about a strange clue with a missing person case in Wade. Coming up after a bit. Nobody said anything, just exchanged glances. They all knew it wouldn't be, but...

It took painfully long for the actual story to come around. It wasn't about her mother, but someone else who had gone missing. That was disappointing but also something of a relief. It wasn't the stroke of luck they were hoping for, but it also wasn't a sign of something going terribly wrong. Still, Lily couldn't help but keep listening. Apparently the person had gone missing at around the same time as her mother. The mystery that had spurred the news story itself was that the previous morning, someone had found an unoccupied car stopped in the street. Somewhere not far from her grandparents' neighborhood—or, for that matter, the neighborhood of her actual house. It must have been left there no earlier than the prior night, as it wasn't a disused road. And, obviously given the story but played as a surprise anyways, it belonged to the missing person.

A lead. An actual, useful lead, staring her in the face. After all that deliberate, careful searching found nothing, it fell into her lap. She looked over at her grandmother and grandfather, who mostly seemed uneasy. Which made sense; it wasn't fun imagining other people stuck in a similar situation. They probably, like the news people, thought that the car had been abandoned by a kidnapper. But why abandon it there and then, after apparently successfully hiding it for a while? And... There were too many coincidences, with timing and location. Something was going on, and she was going to get to the bottom of it. When she got the chance.

Previous Page  Archive  Next Page