Adventures, part 2
Sawyer’s car was, fortunately, a minivan. We piled in, and somehow she’d known to have a car seat waiting for Ellie. At least she was prepared. We stopped off at our old car/place of residence to pick up the last of our things, whatever we might need. There was a kind of sadness, leaving it behind: that car was, in a way, one of the last parts of Chris I had left. But I’m sure my emotional breakdowns aren’t the reason you’re reading this. Sorry, back on track.
“So who is your dad? Why are you guys doing this? You do.. know what we’re up against, right?” I forced myself to shut up, I wasn’t sure the barrage of sudden questions would be taken well by our driver.
She kept her focus on the road, seemingly unperturbed. “Well, uh, I know this isn’t gonna sound good, but… I think I’m technically the reason you guys are having these, uh, problems.”
I was glad not to be the one behind the wheel, because that was quite a bombshell. Before I could ask anything else, she continued.
“My dad, he’s a friend of your dad’s. Or, was, I guess, sorry. Anyways we moved back to England when I was ten, and I guess our parents became friends. But by then I already had my ‘imaginary friend’ in the woods. I’m sure you can guess who. He followed us across the ocean. My dad knew, and he believed. It hadn’t tried too hard to come after me, or sent any of its goons, but dad still didn’t want it around, you know?
Anyway, my dad’s spent most of my life trying to find a way to get rid of it, or just get it away from me. It seems to have let up lately, but I have an awful feeling that’s because it’s onto you guys. I think my dad exposed your dad to it, and in turn it leeched onto Elise. I’m glad to see she’s okay, by the way.”
I spent a few minutes being dumbstruck by this. How can you even react to news like that? Davey at least had the presence of mind to put something together.
“So.. it’s like ‘The Ring’?” he asked. “You know, you have to pass it on to someone else to get free of the curse or whatever?”
Sawyer shook her head. “I dunno, I don’t think so. From what I’ve heard, it always seems to come back, eventually.” The grimace on her face didn’t escape me.
“Yeah, I don’t think anyone ever has gotten entirely free of it. It always seems to come back, even in adulthood.” It was a truth I didn’t want to admit, but there was no point ignoring the inevitable.
“Yeah. It’s been following me most of my life. We’ve tried living off the grid, moving to completely different countries, changing names, and it’s still on my trail. Luckily, it’s not too aggressive toward me. There was one time my dad got between it and me… That was just bad.”
I judging by Sawyer’s expression, I felt it was time to change the subject. “So are you even old enough to be driving this thing? I mean, you look younger than me, and I’m only 18 myself.”
She glanced at me for a second before turning her attention back to the road. “Missy, I am 21 years old. My ‘looks’ may be deceiving but I am damn sure old enough to drive.”
I cringed a little. “All right, all right. Last question: Is your name really Sawyer?”
She paused a moment before she answered. “It is right now. It’s not the one I was born with, or even the one I’ve used most of my life. One day a while ago, I woke up and I wanted to be Tom Sawyer, I wanted to be a boy adventurer. You know, courageous, unafraid of whatever’s ahead of them.”
I couldn’t argue with that kind of logic behind a name.
After another hour of driving and friendly conversation (as much as could be, given the circumstances), we arrived at her dad’s house. I’m not going to reveal anymore about where it is, for obvious security reasons, or go into too much description of it or the area. But I can’t deny it was nice to be in an actual house again.
By the time we got inside the sun had just begun to go down. Funny how when you’re on the run you begin to appreciate the little things more, like the security of walls.
“Dad?” Sawyer called out as soon as she crossed the threshold. His voice called back to her, and she led us to the source. He was in the kitchen, which was actually pretty nice for a place they hadn’t lived in that long. Something on the stove smelled incredible after days of 7-11 scavenging, but there was no time to ask what it was.
He was tall, with longish brown hair he’d pulled back, probably to keep it out of the way while he cooked. His glasses were kind of, well, geeky, but they suited his face. He smiled when he saw us. “I’m glad you finally made it! We- well, I was worried.” He turned to us face-on, and that was when I saw the scar along the bottom of his neck. It was wide and jagged, yet it looked like it had been a burn. I remembered what Sawyer had said about him getting in the middle of things before, and had to repress a cringe.
“You guys can call me Theo,” he introduced. We made our own and shook hands. “I’d show you where you guys can crash but I’m a little tied up right now. Sawyer, would you mind?” She shook her head and led us upstairs.
We got settled in just in time for dinner. The food was as good as anticipated, and the conversation started off pretty well too.
At first, anyways. It seemed like Theo was trying to keep things light, but there was no avoiding the truth of the situation.
“Look, me and Sawyer have been dealing with this thing for a long time. And as long as Ellie’s alive, it’s going to follow her, up until the point that it gets her. We’ve learned a few tricks by now, and we want to help.”
“So. How do you propose to help? I mean, it’s not that we’re not grateful for letting us stay here, but as far as I can tell running’s the only way to keep going. It’ll follow us here, I’m sure you’ve realized that,” I pointed out.
Sawyer shifted her gaze from me to Theo. “Well I’m still here, so it’s clear to me that we’re doing something right. You stand a better chance with us than out there on your own. How much longer do you think you can keep running around, stealing to get by? It’s not like you’re a ragtag gang of loveable street urchins in a Disney movie. Shit’s gonna get tougher if you keep trying.”
She was right, of course. There was no way to raise a child in that lifestyle. Most of our money went to keeping Ellie happy and healthy, with whatever we could scrounge up for ourselves. We really weren’t in any position to pass this up.
Davey accepted on our behalf before I could respond. I guess he’d been thinking along the same lines. “Thanks. Really. I mean, you’re right, there’s no way we could actually survive out on the streets like that.”
I agreed. “So, what can you teach us?”
It turns out that was a very broad question. I’m so sorry for not updating before this, but we’ve been incredibly busy. Theo’s been teaching Davey and I self-defense techniques,
in case who am I kidding, when Michelle comes back. At least she’s tangible, which means we can actually fight her back. Sawyer’s been a great help too, she’s been in charge of home defenses. Turns out the irrigation ditch that surrounds the property isn’t just for show: Skinnyfuck has a thing about water. She’s also been an incredible help with Ellie, despite being uneasy with her at first. They’ve warmed up to each other, and god knows I’m grateful for every bit of help I can get.
Lately I’ve been dropping dead (okay, poor choice of words) as soon as I hit the pillow. My days have been pretty strenuous, and I’m so sorry for anyone I made worry. I’m loath to say “things are looking up” because that’s just welcoming imminent disaster, but I do feel so much better about our chances now.