Swallowed by the Guilt
By Olivia Manno
Chapter One: Premonitions
You can see dust dancing in the air when the occasional street light illuminates the cabin. The only noise is the steady hum of the engine. In the darkness, a silhouette rolls around, arms and legs bound, hair matted down by sweat. I am standing there, looking into the back window, watching the scene unfold before me, but unable to stop it. I see the fear in your eyes, and hear you whimpering. It seems like just 20 minutes ago, you were asleep in your bed, with the covers shielding you like a barrier. Then those unfamiliar hands met your shoulders and thrust you out of the room and into the van. Driving away, I called your name, but only a line of steamy breath escaped my mouth, disappearing into the night, just like you.
One method of waking up is the handy alarm clock. You set a time, and then at that hour exactly, an annoying little buzzer sounds off. However, if you’re me, the only way you’ll experience waking up is some tactic my sister whipped up fifteen minutes before. On a lovely Sunday morning, the first week of summer, the terrifying shriek of a rock song echoed through my eardrums, and I whipped open my eyes and saw her white MacBook on full volume with the iTunes opened. My reflexes were set into action, causing me to thrash my arms around at Caitlin. I five-starred her face so hard that I was sure her normal pigmentation would most likely not return until the end of the week. She ran off wailing, and I was certain grounding was headed my way. What can I say? The girl is a complete pest. Her pathetic group of the people she calls “friends” are the pieces of trash that call themselves popular. They litter their faces with make-up that only causes them to look more clownish. Their “skinny-strips” make daily appearances, and if you even mention curly hair, all hell would break loose, because these girls do everything in their power to maintain their silky, straight manes. Trudging out of bed, I remembered my nightmare. I shuddered at the thought. Caitlin was a drag at times, but those images were more than any sister could handle. I grabbed my computer off the canary yellow desk. Of course no one would be online at this hour. Only my family found it necessary to witness the sunrise every morning. The clock read 7:43 when I logged off, a wave of nausea washing over me. I ran downstairs, my stomach as hollow as Caitlin’s head.
“Dad, why on earth would you be making pancakes at 7 a.m. on a Sunday?”
“Greta, you need to learn that there is nothing wrong with waking up early. Sure, sixteen year old girls need their “beauty rest,” but the morning is inspiring! You should see the sunrise,” he replied, with a goofy grin plastered onto his face.
It was true. Although my family was a group of early risers, I found it necessary to sleep past 12:00 p.m. every day in the summer. I did realize that I was wasting away my days, but after going to sleep that morning, usually around 2:30 a.m., I just had to. I grabbed a couple of fluffy pancakes, drowned them in syrup, and chewed happily. I glanced around the kitchen table for something interesting to entertain me. I spied the paper, but the headlines printed on the Watch Hill Post: Sunday Edition were far from enthralling:
“Watch Hill Mayor Visits Elementary School.”
“Watch Hill Mayor Proposes New Energy Plan.”
“Watch Hill Country Club Announces New Pool Construction, Approved by Watch Hill Mayor.”
“Cocky jerk,” I muttered to myself. The Mayor had single-handedly turned our small Connecticut town into a giant monument dedicated to himself. I placed the dishes in the sink and headed upstairs to grab my things.
“Dad, I’ll be home around noon,” I shouted as I bolted out the door. I had better things to do than deal with my sister, so an hour to myself was a much needed treat.
The small town of Watch Hill looked like something out of a travel brochure. With the four seasons came some of the most breath-taking scenery on the East Coast. In the second week of fall, the trees were flaming red and gold, their leaves littering the cobble-stone streets. I inhaled the sweet scent of molasses, which was one of the benefits to autumn in Connecticut. I entered the Corner Street Coffee House, with the buttery leather couches looked even more inviting, thanks to the cackling fire in the background.
“Hi, a small iced coffee please,” I said, handing over the three singles to the cashier.
I retrieved my drink from the barista and found a quiet corner on one of the cozy leather chairs. Observing people in this town was an old hobby of mine. My dad told me that it was my character, and that I had always been interested in the lives of others. He assured me that it was a great quality, but almost anyone else would just peg me as “nosy.” Today, a harried looking mother dragged her toddler to the counter, coaxing him to stop crying while she ordered a drink. In a chair across the room, a young man had headphones on, with a pen in one hand and blank sheet music in the other. His brisk motions may have been composing the most brilliant song of the decade. That was what I loved: that you never knew about a person. For all I knew, I could be looking at the next John Lennon, Mark Twain, or Anthony Hopkins. The bells on the door jingled, fresh meat for me to analyze, and in walked a man that some may describe as “tall, dark, and handsome.” His clothes were jet black, accessorized with a black leather belt and loafers. Wisps of gray and black hair were strewn around the edge of his black baseball cap, and his eyes were a deep shade of navy blue. Just looking at this person made me feel uneasy, but I knew that you couldn’t just judge someone by their appearance. He could have been a loving father, married with a house complete with a white picket fence and a Labrador, but for some reason, I felt that that wasn’t the case. He also seemed to posses the ability to tell when a person was staring, because his head whipped around, and our eyes met. A chill overwhelmed me, and I immediately lowered my head. The man hurried out, and I followed. It was almost lunchtime, and I had to be home. I did my best to remain inconspicuous, occasionally hiding behind a tree, or casually walking along the streets. He didn’t seem to notice, but my stalking was cut short when the man slipped into a black sports car, started the engine, and sped off down Main Street, leaving my wild imagination spinning as fast as he drove away.
Your shrieking is muffled by the piece of duck tape smothering your mouth. Hands bound with fraying rope tied to the wooden chair in the center of the grimy room, the man paces casually around you. Your watering eyes follow him and the shrieking continues. I am standing in the doorway, watching this event unfurl, powerless and helpless, just like you. We both have the unanswered question prodding our minds: why? Why are you here and why am I? Why, no matter how hard I try to scream your name, and how brutally I pound my fists on the rickety wooden floor, do you never hear me?
I woke up in a cold sweat, the room spinning before my eyes. Why did I keep picturing these sickening scenes? Why couldn’t I stop it? All I wanted to know was the meaning behind these continuing visions. The neon digits on my clock flashed 4:36 a.m. as I forced myself back to sleep, praying for the morning to hurry up.
not even close to done, just need some feedback please.