Authors: Amber Garza
“Okay, it was amazing.” I smiled, sipped my hot coffee.
“Where’d he take you?”
“Oooh, I love Fat’s. I hope you got the honey walnut prawns.”
“Totally. They were incredible.”
Grandma got up from the table, and put her dish in the sink. “What are you plans for today?”
“Well, I was hoping to borrow your car this morning and run some errands.”
“Or I could go with you.”
“Uh, no that’s okay. You don’t have to do that. It’s just boring stuff anyway. Deodorant and things, you know. I won’t be very long.”
“Yeah, okay. That’s fine.” Grandma eyed me suspiciously.
I smiled innocently as I set my mug in the sink. After getting the board I’d have to stop at the drug store and pick up some deodorant now. I wondered how I would sneak the board in the house without her noticing. As I got ready, I formulated a plan.
It didn’t take long to find the Ouija boards. In fact I was surprised that they were located right on the shelf with Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders. It was embarrassing though when I plucked it off the shelf. A woman with two little kids shot me a disgusted look. The clerk also gave me a funny look as he rang me up. You’d swear that no one had ever bought a Ouija board before.
On the way home I stopped at Rite Aid to pick up some deodorant and a dark towel to wrap around the game in an attempt to camouflage it.
Luckily when I did arrive at the house, Grandma was too busy gardening to take an interest in what I’d purchased. I raced inside and hid the game under my mattress. As anxious as I was to get on the board I couldn’t risk Grandma walking in, so I decided to be patient and wait until she’d gone to bed for the night. To pass the time I called Haley.
“I’m so glad you called,” Haley said when she picked up. “We haven’t talked in like forever.”
It was true and I felt bad. I hadn’t returned her last couple of calls because I’d been so busy.
“So, you and the hot neighbor boy must’ve made up.”
“Yeah, we did.” I sat on the edge of my bed, staring out the window. Isaac’s house was still and quiet, blinds closed. I wondered where he was.
“Well he must be keeping you pretty busy for you to just blow off your best friend.” She added a lighthearted laugh but I could tell she was hurt.
“I’m sorry, Hales. I didn’t mean to blow you off.”
“I know. Anyway, spill. Tell me all about…what’s his name again…Isaiah?”
“Isaac,” I said. “He’s amazing. I’ve never met anyone like him before. I think I might be falling in love.”
“Oh my gosh, you’re totally sleeping with him.”
“No, I’m not! We haven’t even kissed.”
“Seriously. He’s a total gentleman. The most he’s done is hold my hand once.”
“Are you sure he’s, you know, straight?”
“Haley! What’s gotten into you?”
“Me? What’s gotten into you?”
“I guess I’ve changed. I want a real relationship like the one you have with Derek. By the way how are things going there? Did you ever find out why he was acting so strange?”
“Oh good. So you worked things out?”
“Not exactly. We broke up.”
“He started seeing Chelsea.”
“Chelsea? You’ve gotta be kidding.”
“I wish I was.”
“Oh, Haley, I’m so sorry.”
“Yeah, well, boys are scum. What are you gonna do? Speaking of which, I saw your mom out with some guy.”
“I’m not surprised. She was definitely talking to someone before I left.”
“I don’t know. This was different.”
My stomach clenched. I stood up, paced my room. “What do you mean?”
“Well, they were having coffee but something seemed off about it. It didn’t exactly look like a date.”
“What did it look like?”
“Sort of intense.”
“Haley, I don’t understand what you’re saying.”
“I don’t know how to describe it. The guy looked sort of strung out or something and they were deep in what looked like a heated conversation.”
“You don’t think my mom’s doing drugs, do you?” My chest tightened with fear.
“I don’t think so.”
After hanging up, I immediately dialed my mom. I had to know what she was involved in. Of course I got her voice mail. She never answered when I called. As I left a message, I pictured her out with some druggie and it brought back memories of Trent. I shivered when I thought of Mom’s ex-boyfriend’s bloodshot eyes and roving hands. It definitely wasn’t one of Mom’s shining parental moments. I really thought she learned her lesson back then.
At around ten o’clock, Grandma went to bed. I lit a couple of candles in my room and pulled the Ouija board out from under my mattress. After peeling away the glossy cellophane, I discarded it and opened the box. I pulled the board out and set it on the floor and then placed the planchette on top. Crossing my legs, I took a deep breath and placed my fingers on the pointer.
“Hello,” I whispered into the room.
I felt a tingling under my fingers like a vibration as the planchette began to move.
The air around me turned ice cold. My heart beat like a drum.
“Wesley? Is that you?”
It worked. I was able to conjure him on my own board. Now that I had him here I needed to ask some key questions. I knew how quickly he could vanish.
“Wesley, what’s my full name?”
“When’s my birthday?”
I chuckled. Evidently, spirits had a sense of humor.
“How old was my mom when she had me?”
“Are you my dad?”
“I don’t know. You tell me.”
The candles flickered. A breeze blew through the room causing a paper on my dresser to flutter to the ground. I glanced over at my window, which was securely closed. My pulse quickened. Sweat broke out on my forehead. Both candles simultaneously went out blanketing my room in utter darkness.
I clutched my chest and held my breath. Puffs of cold air shot at my neck and down my arms. I hugged myself as terror filled my veins. For several minutes I sat without moving. The air around me seemed to shift and it was warm again. Feeling like it was safe, I stood on wobbly legs. The hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention as I imagined someone behind me. I scolded the thought and flicked on the wall switch. Yellow light illuminated the room and I gulped in air, steadying my nerves. The room was empty, the pointer still. I packed the board away and tucked it securely under the mattress.
inging awakened me. Without opening my eyes, I reached over and pushed the button on my alarm clock. The piercing sound persisted. I opened my eyes and listened. It was the phone. Judging by the amount of times it rang it was obvious that Grandma was either outside gardening or not home. I fumbled for the phone on my nightstand and answered it.
“Hello.” My voice was thick and groggy.
“Hi Kenzie,” Mom responded. “Did I wake you?”
“Yeah,” I mumbled.
“Wow. Must’ve been a late night.”
I glanced at the clock. It was almost ten. Isaac would be here to pick me up in an hour for the lake.
“So,” Mom continued. “I got your message. You wanted to talk with me about something?”
There were a million things we needed to talk about but I didn’t have time to get into all of them right then. So I chose one question. “Do you know where Dad is?”
“Grandma said you’d been asking a lot of questions about him. Why?”
“Because he’s my dad. I have a right to know about him.”
“Yes, but why now? Is Grandma encouraging this?”
“This has nothing to do with Grandma, okay. It has to do with me. I want to know the truth. Is he dead?”
“No. Gosh, why would you think that?”
“Are you sure?”
“Kenzie, what’s gotten into you?”
“Well, that would certainly explain why he’s never gotten in contact with me.”
“Believe me, he’s not dead.”
“Well, then where is he? Why hasn’t he contacted me?”
“I don’t know, Kenzie.”
“It’s because of you, isn’t it? You pushed him away. You didn’t want him in my life.”
“That’s not true. You don’t know anything about it.”
“Whose fault is that?”
“Mom? You still there?”
“I don’t want to fight with you, Kenzie. I’ll talk to you later.” The line went dead.
I slammed the phone down so hard my fingers stung. Tears pricked my eyes and I blinked them back. It was always the same with her. She was never going to tell me the truth. All the more reason I had to find out on my own. Putting all thoughts of Mom aside, I hopped out of bed and raced to the bathroom to take a shower.
“You didn’t tell me that the friends we were going boating with was your youth pastor and his wife,” I whispered to Isaac once we’d settled on the boat.
Isaac smiled, a gleam in his eye. “Would it have made a difference?”
I shook my head.
“Don and Sandy are cool. You’ll see.”
The boat idled out into the water. The warm sun beat down on my back, the scent of fish wafted under my nose. Waves lapped against the side of the boat, which rocked gently. My gaze swept the vast expanse of dark water, the clear blue sky. Isaac’s arm came around my shoulder and hovered like a butterfly before landing tentatively. My heart flipped in my chest and my face warmed. Sandy leaned over Don’s shoulder speaking in his ear as he drove, her short brown hair fanning out behind her head. I found myself fantasizing about Isaac and me like that, and was glad Isaac couldn’t read my thoughts like Rhiannon could. Usually I never let my mind wander down that path in a relationship. I was too jaded to believe in everlasting love. Something about Isaac made me think differently.
Sandy approached, holding out two waters. “Thirsty?”
“Thanks. I closed my fingers around the cold bottle. Sandy took the seat next to mine, tucking her bare feet up under her body. She wore a blue bathing suit cover-up that hung down past her knees like a dress. I felt self conscious in my bikini. I knew I should’ve bought a more conservative suit for today. Wrapping my arms around my body I made sure that my scars were hidden.
“So, are you enjoying your summer?” Sandy asked me.
“Yes. Very much. I’ve made some new friends and been trying new things.”
Sandy studied me, her eyes piercing into mine. Something about her intense stare unnerved me.
Don’t trust her.
The thought that popped into my mind caught me off guard. I quickly averted my gaze. The boat slowed to a stop. The motor quieted.
“So, who’s first?” Don asked.
Isaac peered at me, flashing a dimpled grin.
“Don’t look at me,” I said. “I don’t know how to ski.”
“Okay, I’ll go first,” Isaac peeled off his t-shirt, showing off his muscular tanned chest. I couldn’t help but stare. When I caught Sandy watching me I felt embarrassed.
Don’t worry about her. Just because she’s a prude doesn’t mean you need to be.
I shook my head. Where were these thoughts coming from?
By the time I looked out at the water, Isaac was already out of the boat. He sat in the waves, the tops of his water-skis sticking up and bobbing with the movement of the water. He flashed a thumbs-up sign and the boat roared to life, sped forward. Isaac popped right up, stood on his skis. I clapped and cheered, watching as the boat pulled him. He glided on top, careening in and out of the wake. The wind whipped my hair into my face. I pulled the hair-tie off my wrist and fastened my hair at the nape of neck. A few strands immediately wrestled free and tickled my cheek. Isaac attempted a jump and crashed down into the water. The boat slowed and circled him.
“Great job!” I hollered over the sound of the motor.
He smiled at me as he paddled. Water dripped off his body when he pulled himself into the boat. He sat on the side and pulled off his skis.
“Your turn,” he said.
I shook my head. “No way. I can’t follow that.”
“C’mon. You have to try.”
Sandy handed me a smaller pair of skis and a lifejacket. “There’s nothing to be afraid of. We all had to learn at some point.”
I took the skis from her and looked up at Isaac. “Promise you won’t laugh at me.”
“Okay. What do I do?” I strapped on the lifejacket.
“Get in the water and then I’ll throw out the skis,” Isaac instructed me.