When we stepped through the thick branches we saw it, the bridge to the sacred forest. It was over 1,000 feet off the ground and the wood slats were weathered. Dave and I looked at each other. Who would cross first? I knew that if I was to cross this bridge with the cocky attitude only acceptable for amatuer I would fair quite well.
…… The best agents in the business, but we are the best talent they have come across. We will show them that we do deserve this chance “
There was a huge applause from the audience and the stagehand gestured to them to let them know that they were next.
The sisters glided to the brightly lit stage, holding hands. At a cue, the music filled the air and Angela started the song. Her sweet voice, giving the perfect accompaniment to the melodious music cast a spell on the audience. Rachel joined her sister and the notes to beautiful song mesmerized the audience. Both of them felt joy rise in their hearts as the song ended and the hall echoed with enthusiastic applause.
They were sure that they would be the winners tonight and would secure the contract as well. But there was an unexpected turn of events ……..
The final act that followed was not what was expected as a young girl and her dog took to the stage. The sisters looked at each other in dismay. How could they compete with a cute puppy doing tricks on command and a child of ten stealing the audience’s hearts? They had practiced so long and so hard, but now with shoulders slumped in defeat, they turned to return to their dressing room, all hopes of a better future in tatters. Sitting in silence they waited for the stage manager to let them know their fate. There was a knock on their door and one of the runners poked his head round it. ‘You’d better come quick,’ he said. ‘The dog’s performed something it shouldn’t and been disqualified. They want to hear you again, but insist you sing this…………..’ He thrust a musical score in Angela’s hand and left the door ajar as he rushed back upstairs. Angela’s face was white as Rachel took the music from her trembling hand…… ‘I can’t sing this………………….’
“This is an aria and I don’t think I can hit the right key!” Rachel admitted.
Rachel and Angela were getting the second chance they had hoped for, Rachel didn’t want to screw it up for them.
Angela reached over and put her hand on Rachel’s. “Listen, you do your best and you’ll reach the right note. We can bring it down a key and work from that. We’ve done it before and the results have always worked out, right?”
“I don’t know. I mean if you think you can do it, then I guess it is worth a shot. I just don’t want to mess this up!”
Rachel and Angela walked again to the side of the curtain, waiting for their introduction. They knew they would be here once, but twice was terrifying. It all came down to this last piece. If anyone had heard their fear they would have laughed it off, knowing that these sisters had the most beautiful voices imaginable. They could harmonize without pause if a key was missed or a note sounded flat. They had been practicing for years and this was not going to be the show that stopped them.
They heard the audience clapping and knew they were on. They gave each other a smile and held hands waiting for the curtain to go up. Angela glanced over at Rachel, wanting one more look of affirmation but when she saw Rachel’s expression she knew there had to be something wrong. Suddenly, as the curtain went up, Rachel….
“Well here we go again. Another day, sitting here alone. Where’d he go anyways? I’m not sure why he won’t bring me. Maybe he thinks I’ll be happier laying here on his bed until he gets home. All I know is that this is bor-oring! He’s lucky I don’t get mad. Oh, I would like to get mad, but how do you look at that little guys face and stay angry?”
“Mommy, can I bring Teddy to school today?”
“No Stevie, Teddy has to stay home. He likes laying on your bed waiting for you.”
“Mommy! He’s gonna get lonely!”
“Now, now. Don’t you worry. He’s only a stuffed bear anyways. Stuffed bears don’t really have feelings like people do. They just make us feel better.”
“Teddy does too have feelings! He hates staying home! He’s gonna be mad at me tonight! Then you’ll see! Then you’ll let me bring him to school.”
As I stood, staring down at my reflection in the mixture of motor oil and water on the pavement, I was unsure of what I was seeing. Were those my sneakers? Why aren’t my feet in them? Where am I?
I could not remember all the details of last night, not once we left the party. I remember Jim, Larry and I showing up at the party. Oh, Meg, what a bitch she is, but what a great party she throws! When we got there Jim whispered, “Do not leave my side even for a minute!” Larry took off the minute his foot hit the front hall carpet.
The house was huge. A colonial, they call it. On the main floor there was a kitchen, dining room, living room, family room, laundry room, two bathrooms, and a pantry. Plenty of space to keep drunk teens in one place, but not necessarily on top of each other. The second floor were the bedrooms, two more bathrooms, and Meg’s dad’s study. That door stayed locked and for the most part I don’t think anyone ever messed with it. The bedrooms on the other hand, that’s a whole different story. At any given time during the night of the party you could hear teens behind the doors, moaning and talking dirty. Sex. It was what most of them came here for. A few of the girls had no problem pleasing more than one guy a night, which was to me utterly disgusting, but fair game for many of the guys. Not Jim, thank God!
After finding a few of our friends in the kitchen we decided to walk out in the yard and see if there was anything exciting happening. The group of us stepped past the sliding door onto an immense stone patio; Meg’s father worked with some of the masons, so he had a lot of work done on his own house. Straight ahead on the lawn there was a fire pit with a blaze that reached near the trees that grew above the house. A few sparks could be seen floating up from the flames, but for the time being no one was playing Pyromaniac, so the fire just crackled away peacefully.
The group was heading in the direction of the fire pit, but out of the corner of my eye I saw someone sitting on a lawn chair, partially hidden by shadows.
I’m not even sure if I remember what happened next. Jim and I were standing by the fire, talking to a few people, then suddenly there was a commotion, people screaming inside the house. We all turned at the same moment, unsure of whether the scream we all heard was of terror or some girl over-reacting with a shriek, probably seeing a spider in the bathroom or something.
Then it’s blank.
Now I’m here.
There is no one around, just me and the rain and the road. No sound, no smells, nothing. Looking around I start to recognize my location. I am standing near the bridge over Samson’s River. Slowly, I start walking toward the bridge. My sneakers do not move, nor does my shadow. I stand within arm’s reach of the railing and look down at the water. There is a machine down on the bank, excavators I think they are called. It looks like they were pulling things out of the rushing water. There is yellow tape just behind the machine, making the machine look like the victim of a crime at a crime scene. But there is nothing else there, just rocks and branches being continually splashed by the moving water. As I turn, I think I see something.
Behind the machine and the yellow tape there is a flatbed tow truck. Tied down with chains and other tethers lay what used to be Larry’s Honda Civic. Now, the civic was upside down, windows smashed, the windshield consisted of only a few remaining shards of glass. The sides of the Civic were badly dented, as if it rolled down a rocky hill. The tires were flat, and I could see that the hood of the car was partly open under the weight of the engine. The car was a wreck, completely totaled. Where was Larry?
Suddenly, from out of the shadows I caught a glimpse of Jim, looking at the car from just behind it. I couldn’t make out his face or his expression, just his shape and I knew his clothing. I wanted to yell but couldn’t. I tried to move but no matter how hard my body seemed to work; it didn’t move from the spot on the bridge. I reached up to rub my eyes, unsure of what was happening. When I put my hands down Jim was gone. I was alone again, looking over the side of the bridge at the raging water. Would I ever know what happened?