Word Prompt: Hidden
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Original or Derivative (fanfiction): Derivative
Rating/Warning(s)/Note(s): T, Shadows
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Prompt: Word Prompt: Hidden
For the next couple months school heated up. All the teachers seemed intent on cramming as much education into our brains as possible before setting us loose on the world. Many of my classmates were complaining, saying this was their senior year so they should go easy on them. They wanted to have fun. I took it as training for what was coming in the next four years. The information on the scholarship didn’t include any expectations of grades while in college, but I decided failing out wasn’t an option.
The weather heated up right along with school, enticing us out of doors and into cooler clothes. Sweaters gave way to t-shirts, jeans to shorts and sneakers to sandals, but every night I slept in my sweats. Sometimes I even added an extra blanket to ward off the chill. There were nights I didn’t remember getting up and getting one, but the fact that it was on my bed was evidence of my nocturnal wanderings. Either that or, more likely, Charlie had come to check on me and gotten it out. I made sure to put the extra blanket away each morning, sure the next night would be warmer.
Every now and then I would see a flash of reddish hair. One time, when Eric was asking me to go to prom as friends, I was sure I caught the hint of a jawline. It was square, the skin whiter than even mine except where the subtle shading of an underlying, closely-shaved beard shown through. It was also clenched tightly, as if under great stress. Eric noticed my distraction and turned to look as well, breaking my obsession with trying to see the rest of this person who so magically seemed to be able to keep his face hidden. When I turned back to look again, after telling Eric that dancing and I don’t mix, the guy was gone.
After graduation he disappeared altogether, or rather, I never saw him. My room grew warmer at night, necessitating me opening the window. Charlie promised repeatedly the previous summer to oil it because it kept sticking, so I thanked him when it slid easily. I could feel my face pale when he told me he hadn’t done it. Until that time I was sure I was imagining things, that no one was watching me. When he said that I wasn’t sure anymore. I looked out the window and couldn’t fathom how anyone could even reach it. Even if someone climbed the tree they couldn’t reach. Regardless, the window was oiled and moved freely.
I still felt watched, but it was different. It wasn’t the redhead. I can’t say how I knew he was gone, that another was watching in his place, other than it felt like something was missing. A small hole formed in my chest that left me confused and longing, as if a piece of me disappeared. There was no way to explain how I knew, but I was positive that when I got to Dartmouth I’d find what I needed. I’d find him.
With graduation came two months of preparing for school. I kept working at Newton’s, the local sporting store that catered to those wanting to explore the wet wilderness. With the stipend I didn’t need the money but it just felt weird to expect some stranger to pay for my move east, so I kept working. Charlie pointed out that I didn’t need to, especially since letters arrived weekly questioning when I was going to access the account, but it still felt wrong.
It was July when something strange, well, stranger, happened.
Charlie and I sat one evening discussing how I was going to get to New Hampshire. He wasn’t happy about the idea of me driving my decrepit truck out there, especially with the gas mileage, but agreed it would be better than being without transportation at school. The next morning the truck wouldn’t start. A call to Jacob, Charlie’s best friend’s only son, had him over in no time. Two minutes after crawling under the beast he rolled back out. “Your block’s cracked,” he said, shaking his head. “It looks like someone grabbed hold of it and twisted. What did you do? Drag race?”
Jacob had grown quite a bit this last year, enough that he began to look at me differently. Thank goodness I was going to be across the country in a couple months.
“Of course not! That truck whines over fifty-five,” I said, swatting his arm as if he were a kid brother.
He grinned. “I know, but it’s shot now. There’s no fixing that.”
“Great, I guess I have to walk to work,” I said, groaning. Newton’s was on the other side of town.
“I can give you a lift,” he offered, looking hopeful in the same way Eric had when he asked me to prom.
“Then you’d have to get up super early and drive over here. I’ll just work it out with my dad.” I trailed my hand down the rusty fender and fought back a tear. It wasn’t a great truck, or even beautiful, but it had been mine and I was going to miss it.
The next morning I received a call from someone who said they represented Pacific Northwest Trust. “Miss Swan?” the bored, yet musical, voice of the woman said, “I’m calling to enquire about your transportation. If you don’t have a vehicle we are authorized to purchase one for you for the length of you education. If you do have one, it will be shipped east for you.”
“I…my truck just died,” I said, confused. This was too coincidental.
“I’m sorry to hear that. I’m authorizing the purchase of a vehicle of your choice on your card. Please do so tomorrow so I can make the correct arrangements for its shipment to New Hampshire. I trust your father can drive you to the airport for your flight out?” All this was said quickly, leaving me in shock.
“I was thinking of driving…”
“Your plane tickets arrive tomorrow, you will be flying.” Pushy much?
“I’ve been instructed to ask you to purchase a car safe for winter driving. An email is being sent to you currently detailing the kinds of cars authorized for purchase on your card. I look forward to working with you again, good night.”
The dial tone sounded before I could say anything. Sure enough, I could hear a ping on my phone indicating an email had come through. Opening it up I read through the list, then carried it over to my computer to read up on my options. One thing struck me immediately, not a single vehicle was less than fifty thousand dollars!
Then I thought of something else. How did she get my email address?
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