Chapter Two: Flickers - The Second Day

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I awake to shuffling movement, blinking the sleep from my eyes as I watch my mother gathering things up and stacking the mats to the side of the couch.

"April, get up." Her voice is tense, and I sit up, peering about the room. Jeremy is awake, watching cartoons on TV again. A bowl with leftover milk sits on the coffee table. Hair mussed up, he looks half awake.

"What time is it?" I rub my face and untangle my legs from the blanket. I'm still wearing my jeans from last night, afraid we'll have to make a run for it in the middle of the night and be caught in jammies.

"It's about seven-thirty." She pulls my blanket from around my feet and begins to fold it. Her hair is pristine, as if she's already primped herself for the day. I'm wide awake, and I wonder if I'm the only one who couldn't sleep last night.

I groan. "Why are we up already?" Normally, we'd have school this morning, but with the state of things, it wasn't going to happen.

"Can't sleep all day. We have to make provisions. Plan... map out a plan." Her repetition spikes my curiosity, and I finally notice Randy is missing.

"Wait... where's Randy?"

At the mention of him, my mother stiffens. "He's gone to help some friends. He'll be back soon. He just wanted to make sure they were okay and ask if they want to join us on our trip to the cabin today."

I scratch my head, the tangles catching on my fingers. I reach for my purse and yank out my brush. "Did he tell you the address of the cabin?"

She freezes, drops the blanket and pales. Her eyes widen, and I wonder if she's going to pass out.

"Mom?" I realize why she's shocked. "You didn't ask, did you?" I shake my head and sigh. Of all things to not know, she doesn't know where the cabin is and Randy, our only link to it, is now gone.

"What if he doesn't return, Mom? What if something happens to him? And you didn't think to ask him exactly where we were going? What if he can't get back here? What if he leaves without...?"

"He wouldn't do that," she snaps and glares at me, but I'm already seething too much to even be upset at her stringent words.

"Maybe. But if something bad happens to him, we're fucked!" I stand up, squeezing my lips into a tight line.

"You will not speak to me like that."

I don't say anything else, but I feel the fight in me struggle to stand still. I move away from the living room and up the stairs where I shove the bathroom door and slam it shut. I decide to hit the shower to calm down. Might as well. It could be my last since our chance to escape just blew off into oblivion.

Afterward, I sit on the lone step into the living room. I'd sent Jeremy to take a shower, too, feeling the dread of the days ahead creep up on me.

"Well, if he can go help his friends, I want to see if I can get Sarah."

"No." My mother doesn't even look up from what she's doing, or not doing is more like it. Her fingers twist the end of a handkerchief over and over again. It belonged to my father, but I know he's not on her mind right now. It's Randy who has taken that spot.

"Why not?" My whining makes even me cringe. I hate this confinement. It makes me feel like a caged animal. What irony, to think the beasts are out there now, free, while we sit here inside the prison.

My mother, Helen, doesn't answer me. Her long, shiny, golden brown hair is woven into a braid sitting over her shoulder, the victim of her endless torment as she alternates between the hankie and the end of her braid.

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