Monday, October 15, 2012
Genre: YA - Paranormal
Title: Barely There
Nothing could’ve prepared me for seeing my own name etched in a cross on the side of the road. The blood drained from my face at the sight of the treated two-by-fours nailed in the shape of a cross. My sophomore picture from last year sat on the ground next to red roses, my favorite yellow carnations, an orange and brown stuffed cat, and several teddy bears. Balloons, tied to the cross, bobbed in the breeze, the helium no longer kept them above the overgrown grass and weeds. Someone had written Phoebe in puff paint on a yellow ribbon attached to the balloons.
I bent and reached for one of the teddy bears leaning against the cross. My hand tingled as it permeated the stuffed toy. I gasped and tried again, this time with the balloons. My fingers coasted through the ribbons connecting the balloons to the wood. This had to be a dream. Flicking a balloon my fingers tickled their way into its middle while it kept shape.
I surveyed the area. The guardrail had some slight damage to it. People needed to pay attention to where they were going. Probably someone texting or putting on make-up while behind the wheel. Stupid.
My eyes followed a bird flying overhead in a cloudless sky. It swooped over the water rushing in the river below the bridge. Yet, that wasn’t what caught my attention. The tire tracks from the guardrail into the water did.
My heart stuttered into overdrive. I never texted while driving, or put on make-up. I learned my lesson after popping a tire while changing the radio station two weeks after receiving my driver’s license. One more accident and my truck would be gone. That was the threat, and my parents always stuck to their word. Incident free for six months now.
A car sped past plunging into a puddle. Water splashed onto the cross, stuffed animals, and me. That’s it. My head snapped up watching the car disappear around the bend. I would stop someone and ask what happened. San Angelo’s not that big, someone should know.
When the next car rounded the bend I jumped out into the middle of the street. My heart hammered as the car approached with no signs of slowing. I waited until the last possible moment before jumping out of the way.
The lady driving gave no signs of seeing me. As if I was invisible to her. I ran my fingers through my hair. It was dry. My clothes they were dry. They shouldn’t be after the douse of water they got.
Crap! Oh, crap! Maybe she really couldn’t see me. Pacing up and down the hill beside the river I couldn’t remember anything substantial. My memories fused together leaving me bewildered as to which was the most recent. I didn’t remember an accident, or anything bad, the cross just appeared before me.
On the verge of hyperventilating I needed to calm down, then I would find my brother and ask him what was going on. He would know.
I closed my eyes and pictured the garden of waterfalls by the San Angelo Visitor’s Center, my favorite peaceful place to relax. When my eyes fluttered opened I stood next to one of the waterfalls.
One second I stood by the cross, and the next, miles away at the heart of San Angelo by the Concho River. A little oasis in the middle of West Texas where cotton grew, cattle roamed, and tumble weed actually tumbled across the flat highways, which stretched for miles and disappeared somewhere beyond the horizon.
Shaken to the core my feet to carried me to the banks of the river. A soft, barely noticeable breeze blew past. The water hardly rippled in response which allowed for flat smooth reflective surface. Beautiful.
I glanced into the water, no reflection. Nothing. The sixteen year old girl with big chocolate eyes and medium length straight brown hair everyone recognized as Phoebe did not peer back at me.
I gulped back the fear rising inside and took a deep breath to relax.
I stuck my hand in the water. Strange, the sensation of cool fluid eluded me. Instead, a gripping cold rushed from my toes to my neck. Gasping for oxygen I tore at my throat with my free hand as my airway constricted. Stars sparkled at the edges of my vision and I fell onto my back. With my hand out of the water, my breathing returned to normal and the icy grip released me.
My eyes stung – tears threatened to burst free. I blinked them back, refusing their escape.
“Hey, are you okay?” The guy’s voice behind me could have frightened me to death if I wasn’t already dead. It was the only explanation for why no one could see me. Out of habit I blinked back the tears so he wouldn’t see them. Not like he could see me anyways.
My heart sputtered to a stop when I turned around.
He was ruggedly cute, around my age, wavy dirty blond hair tousled, long baby blue board shorts and a loose fitting white t-shirt. I looked at his feet and as suspected, he wore sandals – plain black ones. He was the surfer version of my laidback cowboy brother. What baffled me was the fact that he stood there looking right at me.
Waiting for me to answer.
“Um, do you need help?” He stepped closer. I stared, no clue what to say.
Yet, he could see me, talk to me, so maybe I wasn’t dead after all. Hope the size of Texas swelled in my chest.
“You must be new.” His mouth drew into a sympathetic smile.
I opened my mouth to find I could only spit out one word – when I really wanted to ask a bazillion questions. Such as, who are you? How can you see me? Are we dead or alive? What day is it? Do you know what happened to me? Instead the only word that came out was, “New?”
“Yeah, that is what some of us call it. New to the afterlife, or whatever this is.” He shrugged as though it wasn’t a big deal.
“Afterlife,” I stated, all hope dissipated. He nodded and took another step, closing the gap between us.
“I’m Finley, but you can call me Fin.” He extended his hand to shake mine. I averted my gaze to his hand and slowly extended my own. The sensation of touching his skin sent warm currents through my body. His hand was the first thing I could grasp all day and I didn’t want to let go. Even when he tried to pull free, I stared at his hand, and held on for dear life.
“This is the part where you tell me your name.” His clear blue eyes sparkled in the light.
“Uh, I’m Phoebe,” I sputtered releasing his hand. Immediately something was missing, his touch, I needed it back.
Fin glanced at the water, then back at me. “I see you have found we don’t have a reflection.”
My eyes dropped to my hand – his touch made me feel so alive. “So, what do we do now?”
He sat by the water’s edge and patted the ground next to him for me to sit. “Well, that’s up to you.”
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