Sunday was about as uneventful as it gets. Mom and Dad were on a date, so Quin and I had the house to ourselves. We spent the day watching B-rated movies in the living room and making fun of the horrible actors. Then again they got paid a lot of money for that sub-par performance so I guess they're laughing all the way to the bank.
As night fell, the phone in the kitchen began to ring. I looked at Quin and said,
“You should answer that, just to freak them the hell out.”
“You watch too many ghost movies,” She said as she picked the phone up.
“Hellloooooo?” She asked sarcastically over the phone. There was a pause on the other end of the phone before I heard,
“...Hi...?” Came my dad's voice from the other end of the line.
Quin froze for a moment. Her whole body tensed up at the possibility of being heard by him. “Mr. Isaac's dad?...” She squeaked quietly.
“...Quin?” He asked back.
“You can hear me?” She asked.
I couldn't quite make out the next few words but it sounded more or less like an emotional “yes.”
Quin started to cry a little.
“No.. No I'm fine,” She said. “I'm just so happy you can hear me.”
There were more mumbles from the other end.
“Yea I'll tell him. Before you go, can I speak to mom... I mean, Amelia?” She asked.
There was a shuffling sound on the other end before I heard my mom's voice. Just like before, Quin was heard. The call lasted for half an hour before she finally hung up the phone and wiped little tears from her eyes.
“Well that was certainly a surprise,” I said.
“...*Sniff*...N'yeah...” She said. “Can we take a walk?”
Just like that, we were walking through the park in the middle of the night. I'm sure I looked suspicious out here in dark clothes, a hoody, and “talking to myself.” We walked and talked about my parents for over an hour. She asked me what they were like growing up, and I told her. She asked if they were happy together, and I told her. She asked if they would love her, too...
...And I told her, “They already do.”
I've come to realize that we are not just the family Quin needed, but we needed her, too. I pushed the thought out of my mind. It's not something I wanted to think about today.
We walked for a while longer before coming to a clearing in the trees. There was a fountain with benches wrapping around it placed neatly in the center of it all. I wasn't surprised to see Tessa sitting there, alone. It's about that time I suppose.
“You should go talk to her,” Quin said. “I know you have some weird deal with always being in the center of things like this, but look how lonely she looks.”
“It's not “some weird deal,” I said. “It's a curse, and talking to her will only make it worse.”
“Did talking to me make it worse?”
“...” I slid my hands into my pockets, and slowly walked to Tessa.
She looked up as I appeared next to her, and said,
“Figures it would be you.”
“I'm guessing you were hoping for someone else?” I asked.
“I was hoping that if I came here to be alone, I would have the luxury of being by myself. At least it's not Logan,” She said. Poor guy can't catch a break.
“Do you come here and sulk often, or is this a special occasion?” I asked. She looked up at the sky as she mulled over the question. The moonlight lit up her blue eyes and its silver light cascaded across her hair. The midnight hour definitely suited her.
“I come here when I need to,” She said with a sigh. “I would rather be anywhere else, but being alone here is somehow different than being lonely at home.”
“You sound like the kind of girl that writes really bad poetry,” I said as I took a seat across from her.
I noticed her pushing a small pen and notebook beneath her leg as I said this. Called it.
“So why are you out here, then?” She asked me.
“This is where I normally hide the bodies,” I explained.
“I always knew there was something sketchy about you...” She said, and with a very discreet smile I might add. I guess my work here is done. I started to get up, but saw Quin standing a few feet away with a stern look in her eyes. I sighed and shifted my weight to a more comfortable position.
“Want to confide all of your painful secrets here and now, then go to school tomorrow and pretend like it never happened?” I asked.
“Are you asking to be my psychiatrist? That's kind of weird,”
“Yes, OK, but how does that make you feel?” I asked pompously.
Tessa eyed me thoughtfully for a few moments before finally saying,
“If you're going to be hanging around for a while, I may as well tell you before Riley does.”
I let my head rest on my hands and waited for her to begin. Here comes the typical teen sad story of a dad who's away on business, and a mom who works late at night and doesn't have time for her.
“My mom and dad met in the military. He was in the Army, and she was a Navy doctor. It's cheesy but one day he needed a boil lanced, and she ended up being the one to do it. Disgusting, I know. Somehow they fell in love, and fast forward a few years and I was born.” Her smile faded as she continued. “He got out to take care of me, but she stayed in. About four years ago, in Afghanistan, the hospital she was in was bombed. The whole building collapsed, and her remains were never found. She was classified as K.I.A. And received a mock burial. Full honors.” Tears were coming full force.
“Dad swore she was alive. He said he could feel her. He begged for them to keep searching, but they said there was nothing else that could be done. Dad is hard headed, though. With the money he had saved up, he went over there with a group of his old Army friends, and started looking. Each time he came home, it was empty handed, and a few times he was almost killed. Now no one else goes with him. He's over there alone right now and I can't help but be afraid that one day, I'm going to be all alone.” She cried.
Her cheeks were wet with tears, and her eyes held so much pain and sadness within. Quin had moved to her side, but It meant nothing. I was the only person here who could do anything for her. She needed someone to tell her everything is going to be OK.
Regardless of how much different this is from what I was expecting, it was still a trap. This is the moment shared between two people that bonds them for the rest of the story. Despite what my heart is telling me, I know better.
I stood up, slid my hands back into my pockets, and quietly walked away. I did my best to tune out the sounds of her muffled cries, her face now buried in her knees.
I'm going to regret this one day.
The next day at school, Tessa and I didn't say a word to one another. There was more than just the usual discontent with one another. The air around us had been replaced by a total silence between the two of us. She didn't appear angry with me, or jaded. It was more like an unsettling feeling of distance had wormed it's way into the weird friendship we had unintentionally built.
Classes came and went and the evening bell finally sounded. On the walk home, Tessa went her way, Riley and I went our own. Riley, being able to hear both our thoughts, knew something was wrong. Surprisingly she chose not to speak, and left our silence undisturbed.
When finally home, Riley and I waved to one another before heading inside our homes. I leaned against the door as it shut behind me. I let out a deep sigh, and when I took in another breath, the smell of fresh baked cookies hung in the air.
I turned the corner of the kitchen to see mom, and Quin who had stayed home today, just finished baking. They both were wearing a cute apron and an oven mitt. When mom was in a good mood, she would often bake something for me and dad. I noticed the pan had a few more cookies than normal, presumably for Quin.
I thought of how much love was here in this one moment alone, and my mind wandered to Tessa, and how she missed these moments for the last four years. Her entire High school life, when she would need her parents the most, were completely void of these moments.
No one to come to see you perform on stage, or cheer for you at a ball game, or drop you off at the movies with friends. In spite of all my struggles with this curse, my mom and dad have always been there for me to help me through it, and give me advice when I needed it. I felt my heart breaking at the thought of being in her position.
“Hm? She replied.
“Have you ever been able to help someone in need, but chose to save yourself instead?” I asked.
“...Yes, I have.”
“And how long did it take you to forgive yourself?” I asked.
“... I'll let you know if I ever do.” Was all she said.
Time flew by much in the same fashion until the 19th, Tessa's birthday, was finally here. Once again, we had all met up at her apartment. Riley and I brought our gifts for her, and somehow Quin managed to get a cake baked with moms help. I wasn't sure how all of this was going to play out, but there was no turning back now.
As expected, Tessa wore a smile for us, though her eyes told another story. She unwrapped Riley's gift, a cute scarf for the cold weather to come, then mine, a new pair of headphones that were quite expensive might I add. She thanked us for them, and then an awkward silence fell over her bedroom.
The silence, like a spell, was broken at the faint sound of a key being turned in the lock of the living room door, and the door being opened. A look of confusion ran across Tessa's face at the sound, and then one of worry as the possibility of intruders came to mind.
She stood up and peered out of her own door, and into the living room. There was a hush all throughout the house, and then,
“...Daddy?” Tessa stepped in the hall, and then froze, stock still in place. A look of shock worked across her face.
“...M-....Mama?...Mama!” Tessa dropped the headphones and ran to the door. Riley and I stood in the hall and watched as Tessa hugged her mother, who was sitting in a wheelchair. The woman looked like she had been through quite an ordeal, but the light in her eyes suggested she was still in there. Tessa's father, who had been hugging Tessa and his wife, looked directly at me, and mouthed “Thank you.”
I nodded, and excused myself from the house. As I made my way down the stairs, I looked around, and as expected, there was the black van waiting for me. I walked to it, and climbed in. Lieutenant Shizune, and Logan were waiting there for me.
“You guys work pretty fast when you're motivated,” I said.
Shizune looked annoyed as she spoke.
“Once we met with her father, the things he had learned, coupled with what we already knew made it a breeze to find her. This whole issue should have been resolved years ago. I'm ashamed that it went on for this long.”
“Well, now it's all wrapped up nicely, thanks for your help,” I said.
“Don't forget your end of the bargain,” she said.
I looked over to Logan. “Are you sure you want to do this?” I asked.
He nodded, although he did look nervous. Two weeks ago, I made a deal with Shizune. If they could find Tessa's mom, I would find someone to replace me. If I couldn't or if Logan isn't compatible with their war machine, then I would give in, and help them.
“They said you were born to do this, but I'll do,” Logan said. “Not exactly a confidence booster, if you ask me.”
“Logan, the fact that you are compatible with the system puts you ahead of 99% of other people anyway,” I said. “Not everyone is born to be a hero, but it's people like you, people with something to lose, who CHOOSE to be heroic, that are truly brave,” I said.
“Wow... Thanks man. That really means a lot,” He said. The door of the van opened, and my house came into view. “I guess this is goodbye for a while?” He said.
“Yea, I guess so. Good luck, bro,” I said as I hopped out.
When I asked Logan if he wanted the chance to become a hero, he didn't even hesitate. Not to mention him taking my place. Logan sure is a nice guy.
The van door slid shut behind me, and drove away.
“Man... What a sucker.”
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Isaac was born to be the main character, and
he knows it. Though, were it up to him, that would
not be the case.
He wants a quiet life. A normal life. For seventeen
years Isaac has done everything he can to avoid
the lead role.
Supporting characters practically throw themselves
head on into Isaac's path as he desperately tries to
derail whatever Pilot Episode, Prologue, or Opening
their "Chance Meeting" might result in.
Isaac Gray might not be a bad guy,
but he is certainly
No One's Hero.