This was originally going to be the Prologue to Deceptions, but it didn’t add value to the story and got cut. My original intent was to give Barry’s point of view
The sound of screeching breaks reverberated through the paper thin walls of Grandma’s house. I jerked my head toward the front picture window and squinted at the big, yellow moving van that had pulled along the curb. I blindly searched for the remote beside me on the couch, fascinated by the van that came to a complete stop. I stood, turned off the television, and sneaked my way toward the window. The rumors must be true.
“Grandma, the new neighbors are here. They just pulled up in front of Johnny’s old home,” I yelled. I strayed to the side of the window and slowly shook my head at the box van. “Unbelievable.”
Even after ten years since Johnny Matthew’s disappearance, the incident still haunted me. When it became obvious that Johnny would never return, his parents moved away, and the house remained unoccupied until now. Part of me believed the house would never be sold, considering the circumstances. But that was absurd because Johnny wasn’t killed there, only kidnapped. Regardless, the house remained empty by evidence of the various realtor signs that had sat in the front yard.
Well, that was until two weeks ago when I came over to Grandma’s house after school. I pulled into her driveway and glanced at the Matthews’ yard. My eyes skimmed across the realtor sign and a reflection of light caused me to look back. There it stood, reflecting in the sun, a smaller white sign bolted at an angle in big bold lettering: “SALE PENDING.” My stomach clenched as I read and reread those words. Sale Pending. Somebody was actually moving there? My jaw dropped, resting between my thumb and forefinger, and I just sat there dazed.
“Barry, did you say the new neighbors were here?” Grandma Vivian asked, interrupting my thoughts.
“Yes, Grandma, a moving van just pulled up. I’m kind of eager to find out who your new neighbors are,” I said in a hushed tone. Grandma stood beside me and peered out through the screen. My gaze shifted to her. She studied the moving van with such intensity, my heart rate spiked. She sighed as her face slackened and shoulders dropped. The hints of wetness in her eyes made me want to reach out and hug her, but I remained motionless.
“I’ll go fix us some sweet tea,” Grandma said in a flat, monotone voice. She patted my shoulder and then stepped away. I frowned. Johnny’s disappearance had been rough on her, and I hated for her to relive those memories.
“Okay grandma, I’ll be there in a minute.” Shifting back to the window, I felt like a creeper. I shouldn’t keep gawking, but I had hoped to catch a glimpse of the new owners. What if it’s a family with a young boy? I forced my eyes shut and tried in vain to dismiss those thoughts. Grandma wasn’t the only person that had it rough when Johnny disappeared. I would not dwell on the past any longer. Lately, I have been doing well, and I would not dredge up those horrible feelings. But even so, I knew differently. Those memories lay beneath the surface of your emotions and linger for something or someone to uncover them.
I took a deep breath and reopened my eyes. Should I abandon my post or keep watching? My morbid curiosity won out, waiting for the family to surface. Finally, the driver’s door opened and my eyes widened as a middle-aged woman stepped onto the road. Why had I assumed a man would be behind the wheel? The woman walked around the front of the van and glanced over at Grandma’s house. I quickly ducked further to the side and huffed out a breath. I hope she didn’t see me. I waited a few moments and chanced another peek through the sheer fabric. The material made seeing difficult, but I didn’t dare move the fabric away. Then I saw her. Stepping down from the passenger side, a girl emerged—a very beautiful girl.
I straightened and puffed out my chest, standing a little taller. Why? I had no clue; it wasn’t like the girl could see me, but something made being discreet no longer a priority. I stepped closer to the window and dragged the sheers back to get a clearer view. My breath sucked in. A light breeze blew her long, brown hair back, revealing a mesmerizing innocent face with flawless skin; creamy as silk. I stood in awe.
The girl stepped away from the van and cradled her arms against her body. She stayed planted in that spot and slowly eyed the house. Her eyes narrowed as her head shook ever so slightly. Was she opposed to moving here? I pulled my gaze away and focused on the porch. Her mom, I assumed, was at the front door fumbling with the keys and seemed oblivious to her daughter’s disinclination.
The girl refused to budge. The way her jaw jutted with such a serious expression intrigued me. Surprisingly appealing, this compulsion to rush to her defense, erase those doubt lines that consumed her face, and offer my own reassurance overwhelmed my thoughts. What the heck? An introduction like that would get me slapped—hard. I blew out my breath. No, I would wait until a better opportunity arose. One thing for sure, I definitely would get to know her…
Memories from the first time seeing Heather swarmed through my mind while I sped to her house. Today was a turmoil of emotions and I wished the day would end already, but I wasn’t going home without speaking to Heather first. The congested traffic forced me slow down as I weaved through the cars. Back at Johnny’s memorial, the mayor had approached Heather and me to offer his congratulations. The vacant expression that crossed Heather’s face when the mayor touched her shoulder left little doubt in my mind that her vision was something significant, and the way her eyes pleaded to me each time someone interrupted us, left little doubt about her own anxiousness.
The steady stream of people made conversation between us impossible. When our chance to talk finally arrived, her mother interrupted us, officially shutting down any conversation geared toward Heather’s clairvoyance. What did she see? I wouldn’t be so anxious, but considering the vision more than likely involved the mayor, I was beyond curious. Questions concerning the mayor have swirled around this town for years, and I’d hoped her vision highlighted a few truths. I sighed and made a sharp left. Once again, my morbid curiosity would get the best of me.
Despite the strange beginning to our relationship, Heather coming into my life had saved me or at least my mental state. It couldn’t have happened without her, but it came at a price. Heather’s price. Each time she experienced a vision, it wore her down. The heaviness in her breathing, along with worry lines appearing underneath her eyes, exposed the truth. But after watching her experience those visions, the observations became easier and my fear had subsided.
I bit my lip and let out a chuckle. The first vision wasn’t easy. In fact, it had frightened me. When her body jerked hard, I couldn’t tell if she was having a seizure or had become possessed. The episode didn’t last long, but after Johnny’s name escaped her mouth, the room spun. Thrown into a tailspin, the fear and heartache I’d suppressed resurfaced with vengeance. Unable to speak, I just stared at her and wondered what had occurred.
Johnny’s disappearance had plagued me for years, but after Heather’s vision led to the discovery of his body, my mind freed. My lips pressed into a taut smile. God, I’m so lame. But it was the truth. I had closure and owed that peacefulness to Heather. I have learned to cope with her abilities no matter how difficult they’d become. The talents she possessed went beyond my imagination. Who knew how far her capabilities reached? Heck, I wasn’t sure she even knew what her own limits were.
I turned onto Maple Grove Street, and Heather’s house came in the view. A rush of defeat swept through me from the empty driveway. I had rushed in vain.
After parking in Grandma’s driveway, my gaze strayed to Heather’s house again. Heather and her mom should be home any minute; they couldn’t have been too far behind. I reclined the driver’s seat and shifted into a comfortable position while I waited.
My eyes closed and I began to relax, but Heather still consumed my thoughts. From the moment I had laid eyes on her, I had been drawn to her. At first, those emotions confused me. I didn’t understand what they meant, but I did now—I loved her. Unlike any girl I’d ever befriended, she evoked feelings I didn’t recognize. But apart from everything else, she made me happy. She loved me too, although she hadn’t voiced her declaration yet. But I could tell. Every time her big brown eyes peered at me, the admiration displayed in their depths betrayed her façade. The warmth behind those espresso-filled browns practically screamed love. I tried not to let the lack of her admission bother me, but I still wondered why she never admitted it. There was a certain reason holding her back and until she worked out her problem, I’d have to be patient.
I jumped from the buzzing of my phone and glanced at the text alert. A smile formed, one that couldn’t be stopped. God, I loved that girl. My smile quickly faded when I read her text “grabbing a bite to eat. Mom’s idea. Be there soon :(.”
I typed back a response and placed the phone on my lap. I looked over at her house and then at Grandma’s house. Should I go inside or wait in the car? I sighed and closed my eyes again. Yeah, I’ll just wait a little longer.