Quinn's fingers were numb as she picked up her tablet, and checking the screen, saw that Toby had not responded to any of her messages. July had turned into August, but she had not seen Toby since she had arrived back in Oklahoma City at the sweltering end of the month, and watching him walk away, felt the air in her lungs follow him out of the airport like a cloud.
She picked up her tablet, and unable to take a deep enough breath to fill the space in her chest, shakily dialed the number for Toby's landline. The phone rang several times, the silence between each ring reverberating in her ears. On the fifth ring, someone picked up.
"Hello." Cass said, her voice sounding softly surprised to find that the landline had woken from its long slumber.
Quinn heard a tremor in her own voice as she asked, "Hello, Cass? It's me, Quinn. Is Toby home?"
"Hi Quinn," Cass said, sounding a bit baffled. "Toby is home, let me get him."
"Thanks," Quinn murmured.
A moment later her heart skipped a beat as she heard the scrape of the phone being picked up on the other end.
"Quinn?" It was Cass's voice again.
Closing her eyes, Quinn answered, "I'm here."
"I'm sorry," Cass's voice was warily apologetic. "It appears that Toby is not taking calls at this time."
"Okay." Quinn whispered.
After hanging up, Quinn was tempted to slam her tablet down on the ground, but instead she laced up her shoes and headed outside for a run. A few angry looking clouds were littered across the blue expanse of sky, the heat draping about her like a cloak from the moment she stepped outdoors. Her chest burned as her feet pounded the pavement, covering familiar ground that somehow felt as foreign as any of the places she had travelled over the summer.
She slowed as she approached the street where Toby lived, but instead of running past as she had on other occasions, Quinn turned and jogged slowly in the direction of his house. Her arms hugging her chest, she walked quickly up the path to his front porch, and rang the doorbell. A few moments passed and then Cass opened the door.
Cass raised her eyebrows ever so briefly at the sight of Quinn. Before Quinn could speak she said, "I'll let Toby know you are here."
Cass left the door open as she disappeared back into the house. Quinn stared at the empty spot where Cass stood a moment before. The beads of sweat along Quinn's hairline raced down her neck and chest, giving way to gravity the moment she stood still.
She sensed Toby's presence before he was in her line of sight. Her first glimpse was of him buttoning a thin white shirt over his chest as he rounded the corner, feet bare against the floor beneath the hem of loosely fitted slacks. His hair was messier now than she remembered it. It was cut close in the back, but grew longer and thicker in the front, pieces of it falling over his eyes.
He walked past her without stopping, and strode out onto the walkway that led up to the house, turning to face Quinn. His arms were crossed over his chest, his broad shoulders rigid as he stared, blinking slowly.
"Why won't you talk to me?" Quinn asked, hating the begging sound in her tone. "I sent you a million messages, and you won't even respond. I don't understand."
She saw a muscle move in his jaw, locking the hard set of his features in place. "No, I don't think you do understand, because you were in your position and not mine, which is one I never would have put you in."
The color rose in Quinn's cheeks. "I don't know what you're talking about." She murmured.
"And yet there is that hint of recognition on your face." He said, his eyes narrowing. "You blushed Quinn, such an odd thing for you."
YOU ARE READING
A Singular WitnessScience Fiction
Quinn wants to escape her claustrophobic hometown after her father dies unexpectedly from a rare parasitic infection, and an internship filming feed in cities around the world for a software company developing a virtual running game seems like her t...