It would seem to me life has always been the same, one roller-coaster ride after another. Some rides have been my fault while others have been a pulling if the wind, like some out of control forces just pulling me along, a whirl wind chaos.
The day started normal or at least normal for us I should say. For the most part I didn’t leave the house anymore, I hadn’t even been enrolled in school sense we moved here just over two months ago. I had overheard dad telling some lady I was a few years older than I was and that I had already graduated high school. I did bother asking him why he had lied I knew that I already knew that, he was hiding me in a way and covering his track too.
Four small towns in just about a year that is how often we had moved lately, sense I messed everything up that is, in a real way I was starting to really feel like we were gypsies. This town was a rather small rural town I hadn’t known existed any longer, right in the middle of Missouri. Most of the town was old dirt roads, the only real roads were in the middle of town near what was quaintly called the town square, and yes it was all a square around the city hall and police station in one, it was also where the small court house was held.
Just across the street stood the local market, the only real store unless one wanted to drive two hours to the closest big town, the market took up a good portion of the side of the street, and on the other end is a dinner that most in town brag has the best pie in town. The only other things really around the square is a bar, a so called antique shop that really is just a thrift store, a book store and a feed and bait shop. This was the kind of place where good folk raised cattle and horses rode horses and had town get together, in fact all over town I kept seeing flyers about a carnival this weekend.
“You’re going into town today,” dad had asked me during breakfast; he looked over at me and squinted his dark eyes my way. I knew it wasn’t his real eye color, no they were really light, almost scary clear, it wasn’t the first time he chose colored contact’s to change his eyes, it seemed every time we moved he changed his eye color, his hair color, hair style, whatever he could. It wasn’t really a strange thing to me for dad was one of those guys who took great pains to keep his appearance up, some would have called it anal behaviors, others called it metro sexual, guys who put as much and some times more care into their appearance then a woman did. Neither description would surprise me, I personally thought he was compulsive, the way he washed his hands in a particular manner, how he had to have his meals prepared and served in a particular way, even his laundry had to be folded and put away precisely.
“I was going to the market,” I told him, “why, was there anything you wanted for diner or desert maybe?”
“No, just seeing what you were doing,” he said.
“Oh,” I said, “maybe I’ll stop in the library and see about borrowing a book or two.”
I talked nervously for no matter how used to his rather erratic moods I still didn’t know him enough to know if he was talking to me or trying to catch me in something, not that I had anything to hide anymore, but when has that mattered? The truth was I knew he held no trust for me.
He left and I dressed for the day, my wardrobe was far from glamorous, mostly jeans and t-shirts and the occasional dress or skirt dad bought me. Then I walked down the long dirt road to catch the bus that would take me into town.
I don’t think I had been walking around the market long before I noticed Andy Grey pushing a cart around also, I know he noticed me too, the way he smiled my way with that flirty little smile of his.
Andy Grey was a boy maybe nineteen years old, with dark brown hair and bright green eyes, his father owned and ran Grey’s diner.
“Oh sorry,” Andy said as his cart hit mine, “don’t worry I have insurance, unless you want to settle out of court, I mean I don’t think either of us are hurt or anything.”
“it’s cool,” I told him as I looked away shyly, the last thing in the world I should be doing is flirting with any boy or man after everything I did, besides no matter where I was or why I didn’t feel my heart belonged to me anymore, no every fiber of it was already in the hands of Sam, though I hadn’t seen him in just over a year now.
After the last time I saw Sam, after everything I did or put him though I wouldn’t be surprised if he hated me, he should now.
“That is a pretty locket,” he told me, lightly he touched it.
It was the locket Sam got me for Christmas a few years back when we first started seeing each other.
“Thank you,” I told him.
I couldn’t help that I felt uneasy standing there with this young man. I had more than enough reason to not get involved with anyone really.
“Teresa,” Andy said, “um, are you going to the carnival this weekend?”
“I uh, I really don’t know,” I told him honestly.
“Well maybe if you do, if I see you there, well maybe I can talk you into riding the fairies wheal with me or something,” he asked?
“Maybe,” I said knowing very well it was a lie.
I looked around feeling eyes on me, it was nothing new, every time I came to town I felt as if the locals curiously eyed the new comer they knew nothing about.
“I have to get going I have a few things to do still today,” I said and I walked away.
“Well I hope to see you then,” he told me.
I stood in line waiting to pay and left without really looking at anyone in the eye or trying not to at the least. Then I headed to the bus stop to wait for the bus knowing I had at least twenty minute to wait but I didn’t care really.
“Hay Teresa can I give you a lift home,” Andy asked me from his truck.
I looked around feeling my nervousness rise again and I wanted to say no that it was ok.
“Come on you will be home before the bus gets here,” he said.
“I shouldn’t,” I said.
“Hay this is a small town, I’m harmless, honest, ask anyone,” Andy said with a smile.
“Ok,” I reluctantly said.
Andy got out of the truck and put my bags in the bed of his truck before opening the door for me like a gentleman.
“So where did you live before here,” he asked while we drove.
“A few places,” I said.
He laughed, “you know other then how shy you are I just don’t quite get you and your old man, I mean you’re so different.”
“What do you mean,” I asked?
Nothing in this conversation was helping me relax at all.
“Well you’re shy,” he told me, “Mr. Vaile, or so we in town have learned he rather be called, aint shy, actually before you all moved here when he first came through most thought he was a fruity guy you know.”
“Dad,” I said with a laugh, “wait my father, gay, no, believe me no.”
I couldn’t help it, I laughed, with everything I knew I laughed harder then I had in I don’t know how long.
“What is so funny,” he asked me.
Before I could say anything I saw a car parked in front of my house, a dark blue car, the kind cops drive. Standing on the porch was a black man in a dark suit, he stood there looking around.
“You expecting company,” Andy asked me.
I shook my head, I really couldn’t have explained the feeling going through me, not quiet fear, I almost felt like it was something I had been expecting to happen all my life.
“No,” I seemed to say, not like I was in control of it.
I climbed out of the truck and Andy followed behind me protectively.
“Excuse me can we help you,” Andy asked.
That is when I saw him first, my heart, my stomach, if felt like they all fell to the floor as I stood there, he just stepped off the porch and started my way.
He looked so different from the last time I saw him and it had been just over a year really, gone were the boyish shoulders replaced by brood strong ones, his hair had grown out just a little more then he usually has it so that it covered his ears and neckline a little, to me it seemed as it his blond hair had darkened some if just a little, but those green eyes of his were still the same bright turquoise color as always, more green then blue, like the ocean.
“Sam,” I said.
“Tessa,” Sam said with what seemed a sigh of relief.
I would say I had changed a little in the last year but I hadn’t really, my hair was still the same pail blond with just a hint of a golden hue, my eyes still a dark blue, I hadn’t even grown taller or gained an ounce of weight no for me it seemed time stood still whenever I was away from Sam and our friends. Maybe I truly were the delicate flower they often treated me and without some sense of love in my life daily I just couldn’t bloom, maybe I was really withering all this time away from those few souls that really did love me and I knew it?
With no thought Sam put his arms around me and held me as he cried, “I thought I would never find you, you can’t begin to imagine the things going through my head this last year.”
“Sam,” I cried once more, “what, what are you doing here, how did you find me, how, why?”
“We’ll get into that in time, right now babe I have you in my arms and that is all that matters,” Sam told me.
“You know this guy,” Andy asked me?
“Yes she knows me,” Sam said his eyes suddenly on Andy, “who are you, what are you doing here?”
“Just a guy from town Sam, he just gave me a ride home,” I said as I pulled out of the arms of the only man I had ever loved.
“Sam,” the other guy said speaking up for once.
“Ok,” Sam told him, “please, you promised us, you said you would let me handle this with her?”
“Then handle it,” the man told Sam impatiently.
“Handle what with me,” I asked them?
“You have to come with me Tessa,” Sam said. “Listen that guy is a cop, a detective with the FBI; you have to come with us, we’ll get into the how and why later right now you just need to trust in me and get whatever you need from the house and we need to go with agent Richards here.”
“What, how, why, no Sam, you know I can’t do that, my dad will be furious if he comes home and I’m not here,” I said in disbelief of the situation, my mind just couldn’t see or wouldn’t let me see.
“You really don’t have a choice ma’am, you can either come with us or I can put hand cuffs on you and force you to go with me,” this so called agent said.
“Hay wait no one is arresting anyone here,” Andy said.
“You swore,” Sam told him, “you swore to us you would let me handle her, she knows me, she trusts me, I have known her all her life.”
“Come on Tessa, please I can’t let him do that, please just listen to me,” Sam begged.
“But dad,” I said feeling a little like I was grasping at straw right now.
“Your father is waiting for you at the local police station Miss, Leon Sanders is currently in custody, he is in the local jail right now and the only way he is getting out is with police escort. Now we don’t have the time for this Ashlyn are you coming with us easily or are you going to make this hard on yourself?”
I just looked at Sam in utter confusion for there was only one girl I had ever heard of named Ashlyn and she was dead.
“Babe I’m sorry,” Sam told me, “come on, let’s go in and get whatever you need, though I know your old man will replace everything, there might just be some stuff you need. Then we will go with agent Richards here to the police station and I’ll explain everything to you, your dad, your real dad will too.”
It was all just too much too quick and my mind was refusing, either that or dad had taught me well to only obey him and braking that brain washing was harder than you might think.
Sam took my hand in his and started pulling me to the house, “come on I’ll help you, after were done the FBI has some people that are going to search the property. I don’t know what all has to be done at the police station but Mr. Parker was debating calling the boys when we left to get you.”
Numbly I went into the house with Sam, that agent followed us in; as did Andy who I think was just curious what was going on.
How many times have we moved really, I don’t think I have really unpacked much, those few things I held closest to my heart were in a tin on my bed side table, it was the first to go into my small suit case, then a few pair of pants, a few shirts, under clothes too, what else was there that I needed from here anyhow.
“That it,” Sam asked me.
I just nodded my head.
“Ok then let’s go,” Sam told me, he tried to take the suit case from me but I held it tightly knowing just how many secrets I held in it, the dearest thing in my life I held in it.
When we walked out of my room agent Richards was poking through the house with such a look of disgust on his face.
“What the hell is going on here,” Andy asked me, “who is Leon Sanders, Teresa do you know this guy?”
“Just a guy from town,” Sam teased looking at me with raised eye brows, and then he shook his head and smiled. “it doesn’t matter, after all these years my, our greatest nightmare is finally over, I don’t care about anything else, just that your alive and well and I’m the one taking you back to your old man.”
“Do you know what he is talking about Ms. Parker,” Agent Richards squinted his eyes my way the way dad often did and asked and Andy looked my way?
“yes I know who Ashlyn Parker was, or I’ve heard of her, her brothers and Sam talked about her all the time, she was,” I couldn’t help it, I started breaking down, I started crying as the realization started going through me, I just still didn’t want to see it for myself. “She was abducted and murdered a few years ago by a family friend of the Parker’s. The boys just never got over the loss of their sister, the way they spoke of her, the way they looked after me.”
“Babe it was a lie, he lied about her death, he changed himself somehow enough to not send off any bells or whistles in any of us, I don’t know how he did it but he did,” Sam told me.
Sam helped me out to the car, lord knows I had been numb before and now I felt completely lost so outside of myself I couldn’t even feel much more then the tears that fell from my eyes. I just got into the car, lay my head back against the seat and closed my eyes as I tried in vain to make some sense out of this, all I could do was remember moving in to the little house across from Sam’s.
I could vividly see it as we pulled up outside the little two story house, I would say it was one of the smaller houses on the block, most of the houses had had some renovations through the years, or so I was told later on. Basements became finished off dens or play rooms, a study for a man to gather with friends and no children. Back yards had decks built for family gatherings and barbeques. Some homes had rooms build on for more room.
I remember looking to the end of the street at the largest house on the street, it had to have been three stories with four or five bedrooms, I could remember imagining what the house must look like inside, the black marble entranceway into a nice living room with a large opening to a formal dining room that was only used for holidays.
“What are you looking at,” dad had asked me with the same squint in his eye as he always had when he questioned me about anything?
“Nothing,” I told him honestly, really I had no idea what to say, somehow I was already very aware of his short temperament.
Most of these houses also had nice lavishly cared for yards and lawns. I looked at the rather uncared for tree in front of the small house with the hope it could be saved, how I would love to have a swing tied to it that I could sit on and day dream. I had hope for a lawn to take the place of this loose dirt, something I could lay on, maybe pick those little flowers that grew in the summer, a pretty pink and purple kind of weed, the kind you braid together to make a crown of flowers.
When we pulled up the moving van was already there unloading the truck of our things.
“Teresa sit on the porch and do not get dirty,” dad told me and I nodded.
Oh how I knew he hated to see any kind of smudge on me, dirt or otherwise, the rant he had gone on a few days before at the little motel we stayed at when I came in side from the small play ground with mud on my hands.
I sat like a little lady, my hands folded in my lap, truly I was terrified to move a muscle and anger dad in the slightest way.
That was the first time I saw Sam, Craig, or the brothers, as we had all begun to call the four Parker boys, they were walking down the street holding school books and laughing about something that had happened at school that day, trailing behind them was Sam’s little brother Keith.
I remember looking at them all, every one of their faces, the brothers and Sam’s and feeling as if I already knew them, I already could trust in them and I didn’t know why.
To me they looked my way too, in much the same way I had them, a face frozen in time it would seem.
They looked but never came over to me.
Now days passed in which dad kept such a close eye on my ever move it scared me, he took me and enrolled me in school, at eight I was placed in the fourth grade.
After school one day I was walking home alone and a few boys from a grade older them me followed behind throwing things at me and calling me names.
“That is enough,” Bryan told them, “stay away from her or we will become a real big problem for you punks.”
“You ok,” his brother Chris asked me?
“Yes,” I told him.
I think his eyes lingered on mine for a moment and it felt strange, some mix of fear and nostalgia.
From that day on they had me waiting with Keith to walk home with them.
Day by day I felt as if I was becoming more comfortable with them all, dad I expected to object but he didn’t, he let me go out and play with these boys, though he asked hundreds of questions when I came in at night.
“So where is your mother,” Sam had asked me one after noon.
We were all sitting around the table in his house eating home baked chocolate cookies with glasses of milk.
“She died,” I told them sadly.
“Sorry,” Cody told me.
“How old were you,” Don asked me?
“Zero I guess,” I told them. “My mother died in the hospital giving me life.”
“So you never met her,” Sam said, “how sad, have you ever had like a step mom or anything, an Aunt even?”
“Nope just dad and me,” I told him.
Sam was eleven, he and Chris the same age almost exactly, their birthdays only a week away from the others, then it was Cody who was twelve, both Bryan and Craig were thirteen, and Don was the oldest at almost fourteen, most of the brothers had less than a year between them.
As summer started coming into view all five boys went into the woods not far from our neighborhood to camp out, it was something they had done for two years now they told me.
Those few days they were gone I felt as if I were in suspended animation waiting for them to come back. When they did however I was at Sam’s house for some trip came up for dad out of the blue and he had asked Mrs. Kean to baby sit me for a few days.
One week dad was gone.
For the week after the boys got back we ran around together.
“Let’s go to our house and see what there is to snack on,” Bryan said.
“Ok,” the boys told him.
“Come on Tessa,” Chris said, “hay guys grab swim suits we can go swimming; it is warm enough out there now.”
I shook my head to say no.
“Why don’t you know how to swim,” Sam asked me?
“I don’t know,” I heard myself say and truly I wasn’t sure if I had ever gone swimming before, I felt strange realizing I couldn’t remember ever even placing my toes in a pool of water, not even a lake or anything. one thing I had known, after dad caught me looking over at that big house he forbid my ever going into it, ever, and the last thing I was going to do was give cause to anger him.
“It’s ok to not know how to swim you know,” Sam told me.
“No,” I said, “you guys go ahead I can’t go, I can’t go into anyone’s house without my dad saying it is ok to do it.”
“This isn’t some stranger’s place it’s our house Tessa,” Chris told me.
Oh I felt like crying and I couldn’t explain that I was truly afraid of going near that house, not just because of dad telling me not to, something in me was scared of it in a real way.
“You don’t have to go,” Sam told me, “we’ll stay here, ok, we can play cards or a board game maybe.”
I just nodded my head.
This is really the first chapter of the story as I have been working on for a long time now. I guess you could call it my baby as many times as I have gone through it and fixed something here or there.