End of the LineChapter One Lauren
watched Lauren fall asleep near her brother and his friends. I hated her at that moment. There really was no other way to express the feelings I had towards her at this moment. She had someone with her that she knew; family. Not only that, but a group of people while I didn’t. I was alone. She had her brother while I had a man who wanted my head on his wall as a trophy. Looking at this strange cluster I suddenly wondered why I was even helping them, just like Lauren had asked earlier. Even the mere thought of questioning my action, as it seeped through my mind, made me sick to my stomach. How could I look at them, especially the two kids and doubt my decision.
I was never friends with Lauren. We had been on the same bus since kindergarten, until one of my buddies began to drive me in High School. She and I had a few classes together over the years. Lauren was the silent one in the class, with the high stack of books, not daring to leave them in her locker because you might need one of the textbooks in class that day. You know the student that was always prepared for a class with a sparkling record throughout their school years. She could be absolutely annoying. Was being a perfectionist really, honestly necessary? In my handbook of life; no.
Yet when I heard another person’s cry for help after watching my parents being crushed as they tried to run for the house for their own safety, I had to help. I saw it all happen as I was sitting on my window sill with my window wide open so I could hang a leg over while I was thinking. I was overheating and needed some air, mom didn’t like when I sat like this, but I’ve always found it relaxing. Then in the distance there were bizarre shapes in the sky, and in a blink of an eye, scattered rocks the sizes of houses or bigger were heading towards the earth.
I closed my eyes quickly and shook my head to get the images out of my mind. I was so not ready to face that. It was the first time a major feeling of guilt and horror took over me. The only family I really had, and known had been killed before my sight. They had put up with me, more then they signed up for.
Listening closely to the air blow by, trying to make sure that no one was coming, I looked over at the six of them and I felt my heart race. Trying to calm down I hung my head low to try to get my breathing back to normal. How did this whole mess happen? I just became an orphan for the second time in my life. The first time was miserable enough, but a second time? I possibly just lost my all my friends. I was stuck with Lauren and her luggage. After what seemed like forever one of the kids started to move, which made Lauren come around.
She sat up looking like she hadn’t really slept either. Her eyelids looked heavy with dark circles, not all of which seemed to be from her make-up. Lauren rubbed her head then stretched her limbs a little. Her jean blue eyes met with mine and they were filled with pain, as she remembered what happened. I noticed because it shined in her eyes and I was sure she could see the same shimmer in my own irises.
“We should go, so wake them up and we’ll be out,” I spoke softly.
She nodded and started to wake them up gently. I remembered when my mother did that for school or if I was sleeping in too late on the weekends and she feared I wouldn’t be able to sleep that night. That would never happen again. She would tenderly rub my back until I made signs that I was alive. The two littlest ones started to stir then got up, looking confused. Almost like they forgot that they fell asleep on the ground instead of their beds. That yesterday was all, but a nightmare instead of reality.
Next, the other three woke up. Thus we started moving, as the two little ones wondered where breakfast was. This made me remember when we were learning about all the tragedies throughout history. I think it was right before the French Revolution when the teachers focused on the reasons the parents did the things they did, because they couldn’t take hearing the agonizing cries of their children who were starving. This was definitely going to be a long day, the first of many to come; I could feel it.
Lauren was walking in front with me as she held the two littlest ones by the hands. I could tell she wanted them to walk the longest they could because she wasn’t going to be able to carry both of them for too long. Meanwhile, the three in the back were quiet, but James gave me death glares every once in awhile. I could sense his glare on the back of my head, and I would turn my head as I felt the pricking. Our eyes would meet and we’d both scowl. I still couldn’t figure out what I did to him.
“I want pancakes!” Sean pipped up, nearly skipping.
“Waffles!” Paige spoke, challenging Sean’s food choice.
“Paige, Sean, there aren’t waffles or pancakes available right now,” Lauren commented, sounding upset about them being hungry.
“But it’s time for breakfast! I woke up, so it is time for food!”
I grinned, suppressing a chuckle. I really liked the little boy’s logic. I watched as he looked up at his sister with a straight face, which made me want to laugh even more. I had a feeling that this was a normal relationship for the two of them.
“I know, but we have to wait a little longer for food.”
Those two weren’t the only ones hungry. I was starving too! I kept glancing at the two of them as they each swung from one of Lauren’s arms. Lauren looked tall next to the two of them. She always seemed smaller at school. Was it because we were always sitting in desks, not near each other?
“We’ll walk over those hills and see if that town is up and functioning.”
Lauren agreed by nodding her head as we headed over the hills and I helped her with the two little ones when they almost fell. Once they were standing next to me, I assisted Lauren by pulling her hand to give her some balance. Her hand was smaller than mine, it was strange seeing long clean nails on my hands, yet in school I never really noticed or thought of her.
Moving on quickly to snap out of it, I helped the two girls. I really needed to learn the rest of their names. I doubt that they would want to be referred by numbers. James didn’t want any help and because I had found the weak link in our group I let him stumble over the rocks on the slant.
“Aaron we have a problem,” Lauren spoke
I looked at her, confused, as I went up rest of the way to the top of the hill where e as she turned to look at me. she was. My eyes went wide and my jaw dropped, not believing what I was looking at before me. Only a couple of feet below us water covered everything with only a few things sticking above the new water line. I thought I saw someone’s satellite poking out. This was definitely not looking good. I turned right and left seeing that the water stopped along the hills, but this couldn’t stay forever. We had to move before it rained or something, it looked like the ocean line had increased, any more water would be much worse for us if we didn’t start heading in a new direction. Small waves caused a current in the new water zone which made me feel uneasy. The scene appeared to be unstable.
“Aaron does this mean the ocean was hit with one of the asteroids?” Lauren asked in a murmur near my ear so the rest wouldn’t panic.
I couldn’t speak, just shaking my head, shrugging my shoulders in disbelief. This couldn’t be happening! This was getting more awful by the second. Just when I didn’t think things could become stickier, they did.
“Hey look Paige the beach came to us!” shrieked the little boy by Lauren’s side, with his hands shooting up into the air.
He was about to run over to go into the water yet I was able to grab him by the back of the shirt before he could make his leap. My heart almost leapt out of my chest, for I feared what would have happened to this little guy if I didn't get to him in time. I wasn’t sure how Lauren would react to see her brother dive into the wet unknown. Lauren grabbed him from me and held him close to her with her eyes closed tightly.
“Lauren, I can’t breathe, you are hugging me too tight!” the little boy squirmed in her embrace, using his small arms trying to push his sister away from him.
I smiled at the little guy as I picked up the little girl with dark red hair (who must have been Paige) just in case she tried what he had failed doing. We really didn’t need to anymore attempts.
“Sean you can’t do that! You don’t know how to swim! Stay by my side and don’t leave me!” she nearly cried, her hold on him didn’t seem to loosen.
I was a bit taken aback by this. I had never seen anyone that caring over a sibling. I was adopted and didn’t have siblings. I looked at her practically killing her brother with her hug, because the fear of losing him was too much to bear. I was resentful of them. I was attached to my parents since the time I was with them at age six, and I was envious of these two.
“Lauren, we should probably keep going,” I said quietly trying not to sound bitter, attempting to push those feeling deep inside of me.
We headed down the hill slowly, trying not to kill ourselves from the tilt. I kept a close eye on Lauren carrying her brother, and the youngest of the other three, since I was carrying the other very small child in my arms. Once we were on our way again we changed our direction so we were heading not south or east, but rather west. If the water levels were this bad here, south was nonexistent.
“Lauren, what are everyone’s names?” I asked, kind of embarrassed to take so long to even ask.
“This is my brother, Sean, and the one you are holding is his best friend Paige...both are six. The one that has black hair a little shorter then her shoulders is Jill, and the other girl with very short brown hair is Mandy. Then there is James, and you know me from school.”
“What are the others ages?”
“James is sixteen, Jill is fifteen, and Mandy is nine.”
Nine wasn’t too young, so the only ones we really had to worry about were Sean and Paige. They would need the most help and attention.
“So, oh dear saviour, what is plan B?” called out a voice reeking of bitter sarcasm.
I turned to glare at James stopping everyone in our little group from keep travelling forward.
“Listen to me you little piece of-“
Lauren slapped me on the back of the head. I felt so stupid, as I stood there in shock with my mouth left wide open. She hit me!
“Listen you two! We have to get along if there is any chance for us to stay alive! One person alone can’t survive out here so we have to work together and stop fighting with each other. We don’t know what is out there so come on you two, please get it together! Furthermore, no cursing, there are little kids around us!” Lauren ordered, I almost felt like I was back at school with her scolding us.
I looked at the quiet book worm that was now bossing me around and I couldn’t believe I was desperate enough to save her. I knew that was horrible to say, but I could tell this was definitely going to be harder then I thought with this group. She walked ahead of James and me with the other two girls, as I stood there with the little girl in my arms. She looked up at me with big brown apprehensive eyes, almost desperate for any comfort she could get. I was not known for my reassuring traits or my child caring skills; I didn’t know what to do. I had to listen and work with the geek if we had any chance for all of us to survive.
“My feet hurt.”
“Please you two! I don’t think I can carry either of you anymore. I promise we’ll stop soon,” Lauren begged after hours of walking.
I knew we should have been close to
, as I
remembered how long it took when my parents took that trip there two summers
ago and we have been walking for hours. I glimpsed over at her and I could tell
they were all as tired and I was. The lack of sleep was taking its toll on me. Except,
unlike the rest of us, Lauren had the two little ones clinging to her, and they
only wanted her. Holding Paige didn't last very long as she was afraid of me, so
Lauren had one on her back for awhile, with the other in front. After a while, she
made them walk for a bit. They wanted to be held again, but Lauren didn't have
the strength at the moment. I honestly
didn’t know how she held the two of them for as long as she did. Pennsylvania
“How about we take a little break then? We’re not too far from the border.”
I think we are anyway. It was hopeful thinking on all of our parts.
We still hadn’t found a place, that wasn’t affected by the water or the rocks, to find people that were still alive to help us. So, we decided to go to
to see if anyone was there. I had my fingers crossed. Lauren practically
collapsed onto the ground when I spoke of a break. The others followed her, how
much did I push them? Pennsylvania
She curled up on a small patch of grass by a tree. Sean and Paige soon pursued a spot close next to her probably since she was the nearest thing they had to a mother now. Sean was right against her as he held his friend close to him, and then Lauren put an arm around both to keep them secure to her. Mandy went over to Paige as Jill went along with her, leaving James to watch, sitting by a tree nearby. Then there was me, the misfit in the group, watching them.
I sat down observing them not really certain on what to do. I knew I had to form a relationship with them since we would be together for awhile. I couldn’t figure out how to bond with this group so that we could work together. I mean I wasn’t up for playing house with Lauren. The new family in the works had Lauren as the mother...and me, well...the father of these kids. That just wasn’t my style or apart of my plan when I helped them out of the basement. I had only wanted to help them our of the wrecked house. And yet I felt the feeling of need...the sentiment of wanting to be with them.
“Lauren,” the little girl’s voice pipped up from the silence that had taken over.
“Yes, Paige?” Lauren mumbled, sounding half asleep.
“Scary man is looking at us.”
“What scary man?”
Lauren sat up in alarm, and I scanned around. Then Lauren let out a small giggle as Paige started to point to me.
“Paige, that is Aaron, he isn’t going to hurt you. You should probably take a small nap, okay?” Lauren aimed to sooth the girl in a tender voice, caressing the little girl’s cheek as she lay back down.
Great. I save their lives and I am referred as
Not something any guy wanted to hear. I watched as Lauren kept the two close to
her and hummed with her eyes closed. They seemed to fall asleep to her random
tune, and I didn’t realize that I was starting to smile at this small scene in
front of me. I caught myself and stopped
the smile from showing for too long. I really wanted to be near them, but I
couldn’t let myself for some reason. There seemed to be a wall around me that I
wasn’t really willing to jump over. What’s wrong with me? Scary Man.
After yesterday’s break we headed out early the next morning. No one seemed excited to be waking up to continue travelling, not that I could blame the others. By how James acted anyone would think that I did this stuff for fun. That was no the case.
Today the sky was gloomy; overcast hung heavy in the air. The clouds were pronounced in addition to slow moving. Yet the scent in the air was still smoky.
Lauren held the children by their hands while they were trying to play ‘I spy’, Lauren was worried about playing that game because we didn’t know what exactly we would find in the surrounding area. The last thing she wanted was a dead body to pop up.
“I spy with my little eye something that is gray!” Paige exclaimed with a wide grin on her lips.
Scrunching his face, Sean inspected the world around him.
“A rock?” he asked as we drew closer the shambles of buildings and the stacked up boulders that used to hold up bridges and roads.
I, myself, glanced around for something that was gray.
“Broken building?” Lauren asked her voice sombre, probably anxious that a six year old would pick that as her object.
“Nope! Lauren you are wrong!” Paige squealed. “Do you guys give up?”
“How about you ask Aaron,” Lauren suggested, smiling as she peeked over at me.
I raised an eyebrow.
“What do you think it is?” Paige asked her voice not as happy as a moment ago.
“Um,” I started not really sure what was gray around here. “Clouds?”
Paige giggled once more.
“Nopes! I win! It’s a bridge!”
I looked up from our path to see a long structure before us. The metal pieces at the top were bent in parts, yet there was our chance to explore for safer surfaces. We approached the bridge with the
Delaware River covered in small white caps
from the now rapid paced current in the river. Yet in the middle of the water,
after what seemed to have crashed through the road of the bridge, was a
smouldering asteroid. The heat of the rock and the cooling water cause steam to
flow around the area like dry ice at Halloween.
“How are we supposed to cross that?” Jill asked.
“Hope there is still area for us to walk on?” Lauren responded with a shrug of her shoulders, but doubt was written all over her face.
“Only one way to find out…” I spoke up, trudging in front of the others.
We were all next to each other long ways walking across the medal grid of the bridge. Our steps were cautious. There were cars abandoned along the bridge, burned up bodies sat in the driver seats of a couple of the cars. The trapezoids that acted as tall metal, gapped walls of the bridge left faint shadows on the ground which we walked on.
Once we reached the middle of the bridge there was a hole that took up the bulk of the bridge leaving only the perimeters to walk on, which would test our balancing skills. I put Sean on my back with Paige on Laurens as we walked carefully with one foot in front of the other. A shuffle that would prevent too much movement so that we wouldn’t fall to our deaths into the rapids. Silence over took us as rushing water filled our ears. I stopped myself from holding hands with Lauren in order to keep her close behind me. My breath was held, hoping that we would all be kept safe. I glanced up at the wooded trees before us. We only had to get through this section and we would be out of harms way for a while.
“Only a little bit further guys!” I yelled over the sound of the water.
The vapours from the asteroid made my eyes water. I felt Sean lean over on my back in order to get a better look at the rock that was related as the ones which ruined our lives.
“Try to stay still a little longer Sean, we are almost away from the hole, once we get off the bridge you can go crazy.”
He listened without a comment as he straightened up on my back. Lauren yelped just as I stepped onto the stable part of the bridge. Just in time for Lauren to catch her balance and for me to pull her against my chest. Her blue eyes locked onto my.
“Lets keep moving before the bridge falls apart,” Lauren spoke up before we rushed off the bridge and into woods not knowing what was ahead of us.
Paige and Sean were running circles around us as Lauren and I were hoping that we were nearing a town. One that would be, well, not completely destroyed. Lauren kept an eye on the children; she seemed to be anticipating for them to fall as she kept her hands out, ready for action. So far finding a safe place wasn’t looking good at all which was worrying us. Well, not the two little ones who seemed kind of oblivious to the situation. I actually hadn’t heard a word from Mandy and Jill since they seemed to be in shock still, not that the rest of us weren’t. It was just that we were trying to make sure that we could find help. In the last couple of days, however, it wasn’t looking good. We were all reacting differently.
“When can we stop for food?” asked James, his voice sharp.
“We’ll eat when we actually find something to eat, James,” I answered, my eyes watching the two youngest ones, trying to make sure I don’t trip over them again.
“We haven’t seen anything for hours,” he growled.
“We did take apples off the tree,” Lauren added, coming into the argument between James and I, her eyes were on James.
She was now carrying a book bag that I found, which must have been left behind by a camper. Yet there wasn’t an owner in sight, nor was there food in the sack. As we continued to travel, we came across a farm; parts were still in a haze from the asteroids. There were still some apple trees that were not completely destroyed. We picked some of apples to fill the backpack, not sure when we would find food once more. The little two, could not fully reach the trees were still eager to hunt down apples. We attempted to try to show them what a good apple looked like and what a rotten or a unripe apple looked like.
“I don’t want an apple,” James grumbled. “I’m fine.”
I wanted to hit him! Before I could get a chance to do anything, I felt something touch my hand. I turn to see Lauren pulling me along with her and the two little ones. This gesture was something utterly shocking from her, leaving me dumbstruck. She started to walk along with me, quiet, as the two little ones then started to run circles between us, her long fingers, interlaced with my own. Lauren laughed making it the first real amusement through this whole mess and I smiled. Maybe there was hope after all.
“I am really looking forward to finding a town soon," Lauren spoke, changing the topic, sounding tired and a little down on her luck.
“Yeah, same here,” I responded, looking down at our locked fingers.
“Not to sound high maintenance, but I really want to shower,” she continued, oblivious to the fact our fingers were intertwined.
I gave a small chuckle. We all didn’t exactly smell like a basket of flowers at the current moment. I would not blame anyone for wanting to shower, especially since it’s been a few days since our last one in a real bathroom.
“It would also be nice to have an actual bed for them to take their nap.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get you some shoes, too,” I said looking down at her bare feet which were pretty dirty, wishing not to find blood on them caused by all the rough terrain.
“Well, yeah it wasn’t like I planed on needing shoes, so I took them off in the house. Just be happy that the others have shoes.”
“I still feel bad about making you do all this when you don’t even have any shoes on,” I spoke, as her and I raised our arms up like a bridge for Sean and Paige to run under.
“We’ve been walking on grass, dirt, and the occasional puddle, so don’t worry about me,” She answered without sounding fake.
That was when some vapour started to rise up in the air in the distance, we were drawing closer. I held my breath fearing that we had come across another deserted town. A town which would be completely in ruins without a single sign of life. So we approached slowly not sure what to except. Yet the town illustrated no signs of people; the town didn’t look too badly shaped though. Most of the windows were broken, doors askew, and a couple of buildings looked unstable, but not too bad. We headed towards one of the houses with the door slightly open, but it was still connected to its hinges. Letting my fingers loosen away from Laurens, I went in first not sure what to expect.
“Hello!” I called into the hallway, my voice filled the rooms bouncing back to us; the home almost had an air of hollowness.
No reply, so I tried again. Still nothing, so the rest joined me in the doorway in a tight cluster. There was some dust on the floor, but the place shouldn’t have had this much dust. Then I realized it wasn’t all dust, but dirt, the area must had a strong winds from the asteroids from our town and the winds from the new shore line.
“I guess we should stay here for some rest?” Lauren asked.
“Yeah, but stay on the alert the whole time,” I replied eyes still scanning the interior of the house, inside of me adrenaline was ready to kick in.
Lauren watched as two little ones separated from the huddle and started to jump on the couch in the room next to the door, then race up the stairs, their feet thudding loudly. I was not sure where their energy came from. Lauren ran after them, fearing them leaving her sight, and I stayed with the other three.
“We should check the house out and see if they still have food in here,” I finally spoke, trying to break the silence that was filling the downstairs.
We went into the kitchen and saw that the windows were wide open. I thought back to home, my dad was not happy with the electric bill so he turned off the AC and had the windows wide open allowing the fresh air to fill the house. Shaking my head I brought myself back to the present. The refrigerator wasn’t working, but the owners still had food in the pantry.
“Don’t eat all of that now; you can eat a little now though. James, watch them and I'll go check on Lauren with the other two.”
He mumbled something incomprehensible under his breath so I ignored him knowing it wasn’t going to be good. I climbed up the stairs after the three to find them in the first bedroom. It looked like it must have belonged to a child since there were a few toys in there that they were playing with while Lauren laid on the small bed.
“You want to hide here for a few days?” I asked the sleepy Lauren, her eyelids fighting to stay open.
“You think it’s safe?” I asked leaning against the doorway to watch the scene.
“We hadn’t run into Manson yet, so the odds are pretty good we’ll be safe here,” I spoke straightforwardly.
“I wasn’t just referring to him. If everywhere looks like what we have seen, if there are any people left they are going to be desperate and kill anyone in their way.”
“Don’t worry about anything ‘til we run into it. As long as we stay on our toes, we’ll be fine. Just don’t be Chicken Little and expect danger behind every corner,” I said, trying not to make it come out as a snap.
She pushed some of the curly auburn hair, which had fallen in her face, behind her ear. Her eyes were falling heavily to meet the bottom lids even through she fought to keep them open. I watched them fall meeting, then burst open to frankly blink.
“How about you take a shower now since we don’t know when the next time we’ll see one again? I’ll keep watch.”
She raised an eyebrow at me.
“You’ll keep watch?”
My eyes went wide. Not what I was hinting at!
“Out here! I’ll be out here...keeping watch for the little ones and everything,” I spoke, nearly tripping over my words.
“Are you sure that is a wise move for me to do that?”
“Sure, why not, it’s just a shower then you can take a nice long nap, or attempt to really sleep. You can even go see if the people in the house left anything for you to use. You could actually get shoes.”
She stood up slowly, walked past me to the room next door to this one. I heard the door shut and water start. The other two turned to look at me, finally realizing that I was there, as if expecting me to entertain them just like when a new babysitter comes and they are testing the newcomer to see if they deserve their trust. I was never great with kids. I never knew what to do with them, or what to say. I usually had to watch what I said in front of them. My mouth did not always have the best censor.
“You want to play with us?” asked Paige holding out a stuffed animal Lion to me.
“Um…sure,” I answered nervously.
I walked over, bent and took the animal not sure what to do next. Thinking of what Lauren would do, I sat on the floor with them. I crossed my legs and sat the lion down to look at their dog and raccoon.
“Hello there Mr. Dog, how are you?” I pretended to use a weird voice.
The girl let out a loud sigh of annoyance. Her eyes rolled dramatically.
“The lion is a king so he wouldn’t talk to them like that. Haven’t you ever seen The Lion King?” each of her words were sharp and direct despite her age.
Yup. I was definitely not good with kids. I really wanted Lauren to get out of the shower soon, so that I could take one. Actually I think we all were going to try to take one. I hoped there would be enough water for all of us.
“Bow down to your king!” I tried again in a deeper voice.
“Oh hale King Aaron.”
They giggled. Okay I can handle them. This doesn’t seem so bad.
“Down with the king!”
Whoa! Down with the king?! How did we get to this?! Then the two of them dropped their animals and jumped at me. They both attached themselves around my neck knocking me down to the floor in complete surprise. Their laughter echoed through the house as they sat on my chest and stomach.
“Oh you think that is funny do you?”
They just kept on chuckling. They had knocked a seventeen year old male onto the floor. Being gentle, I flipped us over and started to tickle them, a hand on each of their tummies. Their hilarity and their pleas for me to stop rang through the house as they wiggled about. Their smiling faces as they giggled made me forget what had happened to our lives; a moment of escape from reality. That was when I heard someone else laughing.
I looked up at the door to see Lauren. She was out of the shower now and standing in a pink towel looking wet, unlike us covered in dry dirt. Her hair hung loosely, soaking the rim of the towel, but it was still curly. One hand was holding onto the top of the towel and the other hand covering her mouth to not let me see her being so amused.
“Is something funny?” I asked.
I stood up and headed towards her. She still had the giggles and tried to stop them by biting down on her lips. It wasn’t working and I looked into her blue eyes. A new feeling washed over me as I looked at the girl in front of me. I hadn’t ever noticed her in this way; she was actually beautiful. It is easy to miss something when you weren’t looking, even when it was right before you.
“I was just playing with them,” I continued.
“I can see that. I also saw them attack you.”
She was unable to hide her amusement, as her lips were almost to their limits.
“Are you ticklish like your brother?” I blurted out.
Her eyes widen in fear as her giggles stopped short. She held the towel tighter to her body.
“Sean is your sister ticklish?” I asked without my eyes leaving Lauren’s.
Sean got off the floor and walked up to me. Lauren started to shake her head ‘no’ to her brother. He was grinning real big and I could tell the answer already.
“She is very ticklish. She is even more ticklish then I am!”
Oh this was too easy.
“Aaron, don’t you even think about it!” her voice wavered.
I took a step closer with a big smirk on my face then. She took a footstep back and I had the two little ones as my miniature followers. You didn’t have to bond too long with these two to win them over.
“Get the big sis!” roared Sean.
Lauren squeaked as she ran towards the next closest bedroom. Her long legs were showing under the pink towel as she tried to close the door, but the two were in her way. She was not about to be rough with them.
“This isn’t funny anymore! Can’t you wait ‘til I get clothes on at least?!”
Okay so the situation was a little sick, but very amusing and we all needed a little enjoyment. Any girl should know not to walk around a teenage guy with just a towel on and let him find out she’s ticklish! I ran through the entrance as the two little ones had her cornered to the bed.
“Aaron, stop this!” she yelled, but there was a hint of laughter as she tried to be serious, so she wasn’t thinking of me as a rapist.
The three of us closed in on her as I heard footsteps running towards the room. I was then standing in front of Lauren so very close to her body. I placed a hand under her chin as I drowned in her cobalt eyes. Slowly I drew her lips towards mine and the moment right before our lips touched a noise made us stop and turn to see what it was.
There at the door stood the other three with wide eyes. Mandy started to giggle as Jill was blushing with wide eyes. The stuffed-animal-duo, one looked ready to join Mandy’s reaction as Sean seemed to be ready to make the ‘ew’ facial expression. James, with his fists clenched at his sides, looked angry. The more I thought about it, the more I realized something fast. James liked Lauren. I grinned at this fast recognition. Then I looked down at the towelled girl not even an inch away from me and couldn’t believe what almost happened.
“What happened?” asked Jill.
“There are fresh towels in the bathroom. Take short showers guys since we don’t know how much water is still working in the pipes. Now, everyone out! I’m going to get changed since this seems to be a teenage girl’s room, I’ll borrow her clothes, hopefully, and then I’ll give you two a bath in the other bathroom.”
She shooed us all out then locked the door quickly behind me after our eyes briefly met. Jill ran into the bathroom first slamming the door in a hasty fashion. Mandy waited out next to the door next while James just stood there in the hall glaring at me. Yup, I was definitely right about him liking Lauren. Paige and Sean waited with me outside her door for a few minutes. And finally, the door opened.
She had braided her hair back tight so she could get the hair out of her face. She was now wearing a red tank top that didn’t quiet reach the top of her jeans. The jeans she was now wearing were ripped up and light blue in color. It was apparent that the girl who once lived here and Lauren were not alike or the same height. She held out her hands and the little ones took them as they left to go to another room. I got up and followed them.
She started the bath for the other two who were wearing their bathing suits under their clothes. Lauren explained they were at a party when everything fell apart so this didn’t surprise me. She sat on the edge of the bathtub as the water raised, and I observed her not understanding my feelings towards about her. I mean, the other day she really bothered me and just being around her was irritating.
“So I’ll shower in here,” I spoke up.
She turned around with her eyes wide.
“The line will go faster if we use what we can. It’s not like you’ll see anything anyway. The glass is distorted.”
“Are you nuts?!”
“Possibly,” I responded with a smirk.
I have to admit it will be fun making her squirm by making her uncomfortable like this. I walked over to the shower and started the water. She actually turned around with a look of pure shock and disbelief. I just smiled as I reached for the end of my black shirt and pulled it over my head. She was now looking the other way, twisting the knob ending the flow of water for their bath.
“So,” I paused. “You think wanting to put the clothes through the washer and dyer is pushing anything?” I asked after I got a whiff of what my shirt smelled like.
I blinked a couple of times dropping my shirt onto the floor.
“I don’t think so, right?”
The two little ones in their bathing suits went into the water. They squealed as they splashed each other and I was resentful of them for having each other. Not green with envy enough to be angry with them, just enough that made me wish I had someone with me too.
“Sean, when I said bath, I meant with soap!”
They laughed as I smiled taking off my jeans and leaving them in a pile next to my shirt. I jumped into the shower and threw the boxers over the top. Lauren then left the room not looking in my direction and I could tell through the blurred glass as I saw the back of her head. Then she came back and went back to the bathtub. I finished up the shower then grabbed the towel after opening one of the sliding doors a little. After I wrapped the towel around my waist tightly I came out of the shower and stood by the bathtub as Lauren helped Paige wash her hair. She kept one hand near Paige’s face to prevent the shampoo from going into her eyes.
“We’ll wash everyone’s clothes at once after they are all done.”
She wasn’t looking at me as I stood there in nothing, but a towel. I also wore a half smile.
She grabbed the two towels next to her as she tried to get them out. I grabbed one of them with the towel as they fought us to stay in the tub. She then pulled the drain and the water went down which only forced them to get out.
“Come on. Let’s see if the others are done.”
She walked out of the room with Sean behind her, so I put Paige down and they ran ahead of us to the room with toys. Standing against the wall, Mandy and Jill were in towels with their clothes in their arms. James then came out with the towel around his waist. He looked at me, then down at himself and back to me again, conspicuously. I grinned at him as Lauren started down the stairs.
“Aaron can you keep an eye on Paige and Sean while we are downstairs?”
“Not a problem.”
Hopefully they won’t tackle me again.
I walked into back into the children’s room. Their towels were long forgotten on the floor as they went back to their animals from earlier, this time the two weren’t including me. I sat on the ground the best I could with the towel. I heard loud steps coming up the stairs and saw the girl with the dark skin and short black hair, I still couldn’t figure out which was Mandy and who was Jill.
“The electricity works!”
That was the little detail I forgot about when we talked about washing clothes. The electricity worked? I could have sworn the fridge was off.
“Are you serious?”
“Yeah Lauren put the clothes in, then the detergent, after that she cursed under her breath about not knowing if the electricity even worked, then James started it anyway... and it worked!”
“How is that even possible?”
“I don’t know I just know that’s what happened!”
She ran back down the stairs to the others. I wanted to see if she was telling the truth, but I couldn’t leave the little two for fear of what mother hen Lauren would do to me for leaving them. So I stayed with them. I could feel my blonde hair drying and I wanted clothes right away, I didn’t want to spend much longer in just a towel. I didn’t want to flash the little ones. After a little longer of watching the two little ones, I was hit with something. I took it off my head and saw it was my clothes. I stood up and passed Lauren in order to get changed.
I went back into the room that was connected to the bathroom where we gave the little ones their bath. It must have been the master bedroom. Quickly I got changed and laid on the bed seeing that the sky was darkening so that there was just the dim red glow. Lauren appeared in the door frame looking weary. Slowly, she made her way over and lay on the bed, curling up into a ball. Her eyes began closing as her head hit the pillow. She was always tired and I never noticed this, which caused my nerves to pick up.
“Are you feeling alright?” I almost didn’t recognize my voice.
“Yeah just a little tired. that’s all.”
I just looked at her trying to figure out if she was lying or not. That was when the two little ones, holding sandwiches, ran into the room and jumped on top of the bed. Lauren smiled as she gazed at them. Quickly they put the last bite of the sandwiches into their mouths then lay between Lauren and I to fall asleep with the stuffed animals tucked safely in their arms. I knew that Lauren was in a deep slumber, so I went to go check on everyone else, deciding she needed the break. The two girls were in the teenager’s room talking to each other as they were giving into the sandman’s demands. James was in the room we hadn’t gone in, which was right next to the one Lauren and I are in.
He just frowned at me then I went back to our room. The second I walked into the room I saw the three of them were no longer awake. Lauren was still on her side curled up into a ball and the two little kids were next to her. There was just enough room for me in the spot I was in before on the king sized mattress. Slowly, I unmade the bed trying not to wake them and pulled the sheets over them. I went under the sheets looking at them. I guess there was a place for me in this new family after all. Slowly, I went to sleep glancing over at them as we were all close together.
A gun shot was heard through the night, killing all the peace that came over all of us for the first time in a little bit. I quickly got up to look out of the window. My eyes tried to adjust to the darkness. I stood by the wall glancing out into the front yard. There were a few people down in what use to be a street with fire torches and up in front, I recognized the first man with the gun. My heart raced as I looked over to the now awake Lauren and the younger two. The little girl was near tears as she clung to Sean who did the same. Lauren had gotten up swiftly to see for herself what was going on, so she was now standing near me. I turned to Lauren and held her by her shoulders so that our eyes would be locked onto each others. I didn’t know how much time we had.
“Lauren, Mr. Manson’s men are here. Stay calm and listen. I want you to grab the entire group and hide in this house. I’m going to run out through the back to have them after me, but still have some distance from them. I’ll lose them and come back here, but I don’t know how long that will take. I want you to stay here and only move if you have no other choice. If you leave I want you to keep going west so I can find you. Give me a week though, please,” I tried to keep my voice hushed and composed as uneasiness took over my body.
“Alright,” she looked sickly scared as she agreed, knowing neither of us were happy with this plan or believed my stress-free approach to it.
She looked worried, but I needed to get these men away from all of them. My heart pounded, wondering if my rapid plan would even work. I really didn’t know where I would run to, once I left the house. Would she listen? Could I even get away and not get killed by the men? I still had my hands on her shoulders. I pulled her into a hard kiss then ran out of the house hoping this would work before either of us could react further. I dashed down the steps, skipping half them. My feet nearly slipped from under me as I raced to the back. Throwing the door open, slamming the rear door behind me I made as much noise outside hoping they would hear me.