Monday, October 8, 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.
I pinched my arm. “Ouch!” There must be some mistake. I didn’t remember dying. I couldn’t have forgotten something as big as death. “Come on, Phoebe, think!” I shouted to myself.
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. Chills coursed my body creating goose bumps on my skin. This had to be a dream. I flicked at a balloon to have my fingers tickle their way into its middle while it kept shape.
I surveyed the area. Nothing struck me as odd, at first. 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. I didn’t remember the water that high the last time I drove past here. Yet, that wasn’t what caught my attention. There were tire tracks, right from the guardrail, into the water.
My heart stuttered into overdrive. No. I never text while I drive. I never put on make-up. I learned my lesson after I popped a tire while changing the station on the radio two weeks after I received my driver’s license. One more accident and I would lose my truck. That was the threat, and my parents always stuck to their word. Incident free for six months now.
I looked back at the cross. It stood next to the damaged guardrail and tracks to the river. It was too much to process.
I shook my head searching my brain for clues. Nothing. I couldn’t remember having an accident. There had to be a mistake, or a coincidence. I mean, there could be another girl in town named Phoebe. Right?
A car sped past plunging into a puddle. Water splashed onto the cross, stuffed animals, and me.
“Jerk!” I screamed after the car.
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.
I stood next to the road waiting for another car to come along. Then I waved my arms like a fool. The car didn’t slow at all and the old woman driving was maybe and inch taller than the steering wheel. She probably couldn’t see me.
I waited another few minutes for the next car to drive around the bend. When it did I waved my arms to no avail. The man driving paid me no attention.
For the next car I jumped out into the middle of the street. This person would stop and tell me what happened here. 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.
“Hey, you could have killed me!” I screamed after the car.
The lady driving gave no signs of seeing me. As if I were invisible to her. I ran my fingers through my hair. It was dry. I looked down at my clothes they were dry.
“Crap! Oh, crap!” Maybe they really couldn’t see me.
I paced up and down the hill beside the river trying to figure out what happened. I couldn’t remember anything going wrong. I pinched myself, several times, and felt it each time.
“It’s just a dream, that’s all.” I closed my eyes and told myself to wake up. When I opened my eyes I stood in the same spot. I sighed heavy and dropped my head into my hands.
I needed answers. How to get them was the problem. As I pondered my options my pulse quickened and my breaths came quicker. 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 I opened my eyes 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.
“Okay, just a new dream. You’ve had plenty of crazy dreams before, Phoebe,” I told myself. “Calm down.” I took several calming breaths before noticing movement out the corner of my eye.
A woman jogging towards me caught my attention. I waved my arms in hopes she could see me, but she made no effort to change course as she neared. At the last possible second I jumped out of the way.
Shaken to the core I allowed my feet to carry 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 had no reflection. I gulped back the fear rising inside. Calm. I needed to relax.
I stuck my hand in the water. Strange, I couldn’t feel the cool fluid. Instead, a gripping cold rushed from my toes to my neck. I tore at my throat with my free hand as my airway constricted and I gasped for air. 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. I refused to let them break free.
“Hey, are you okay?” The guy’s voice behind me could have frightened me to death if I wasn’t already dead. I had to be 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 I could not understand was the fact that he stood there looking right at me.
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