EPISODE THREE (Caren) - "Detachment"

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story by Mabel Harper & Cassidy Webb

written by Cassidy Webb

"Anak, wake up."

Caren sat up in bed.

"Anak," came Mom's voice again. "Your friend Luke is here."

At first Caren didn't know where Mom was.

Then she spied her petite frame in front of the windows, dressed in the t-shirt and socks she always wore to sleep, bathed in blinding white light from outside. Still, smiling, staring out at something Caren couldn't see for the brightness.

"Luke?" Caren echoed. "Where?"

Mom raised her arm and pointed out the window.

Caren got out of bed, in her oversized sweatshirt and bare feet, stumbled over, shielded her eyes, squinted into the light.

She noticed a shape in the distance, a slender shadow behind all the whiteness...which she now realized was snow, snow coming down in soft sheets, burying everything. Big bright flakes falling—soundless, except for a susurrus of static.

Caren looked back.

The house was gone, and Mom with it. Only whiteness remained, on all sides.

Facing front again, Caren saw the shape had gotten closer—was just a few yards away now, motionless as before.

It was Luke, like Mom had said. Luke in his quilted coat and mittens, wool knit toboggan pulled low over his ears mashing his bangs down flat against his eyelashes. Luke smiling his dorky dimpled smile. Snow falling all around him, and on him, sticking to his hair and lashes, piling high on his shoulders and the top of his head. Smiling, not moving, not blinking, while the surface of the snow crept up his ankles to the top of his boots, over his calves, flake by flake, past his knees to his thighs. Static slowly rising.

Move! Caren yelled, but her throat didn't make the sound.

She tried to take a step toward him, but her feet wouldn't budge. Looked down—saw her own legs buried to the knees in snow. Wiggled them frantically—then hurled herself forward with all her weight, a futile effort to dislodge them.

Raised her head. Saw snow piling up everywhere.

Didn't see Luke anymore.

Until she did. But only his face.

Still smiling. Not blinking.

Surrounded on all sides by the mound of snow slowly sealing over it.

Static roaring.

Caren tried to reach out, but snow pinned her arms.

Luke's eyes were gone now, buried in white. Nothing left but his nose and grinning mouth.

LUKE!

Caren jerked upright, heart hammering.

...Where am I?

Languid half-dark, half-harsh-light. Air dry and hot. No sound but the whirr of a decrepit space heater.

Not Mom's house...not Caren's own studio apartment.

There was a shape next to her in bed, facing away. Broad shoulders. Dark hair.

"Luke?" she whispered.

Then wakefulness dawned, with the knowledge, like a stone settling heavy on a riverbed, that there was no way in hell that was Luke sleeping peacefully beside her.

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