Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Chapter 2: The Meeting

It was lunch before Kate was able to find the time to open the envelope and read the contents. She headed to the one spot she knew was most likely to be empty of other people, and thus able to offer her the privacy she felt she needed, the library.

Cheerful rays of sunlight danced with tiny bits of sparkling dust floating in the air as she stepped inside the quiet, cool room. Floor to ceiling shelves lined every wall and rows upon rows of tall metal shelves created a virtual labyrinth of books to peruse. Most of the books were old and somewhat outdated, but Kate loved the feel of the paper between her fingers. She had spent so much of her time here that she had read more than half of the books available.

She took a seat at a deserted table in the back corner glancing around carefully to be sure she was alone before gently tearing open the plain brown envelope. Inside was a set of directions, a time, and a date. Nothing more. She felt almost like she was in the middle of a spy movie, and waited for the paper to set itself on fire or some other equally silly event to take place. She chuckled to herself at the notion of being selected to be a spy. She was plain, ordinary, and nothing really special. She was most certainly not the kind of person that would be tops on anyone’s list for a special mission.

As she sat in the library alone reflecting on the letter and the directions she’d just received, the whole thing just seemed a little too crazy. She was not a warrior. She was not a fighter. She was not the kind of girl who knew anything about fighting. Somehow she felt there must have been some mistake, some misunderstanding. Maybe it was a case of mistaken identity, which made a lot more sense to her than anything else. She tucked the card containing the time and directions back into her backpack with a frown as the bell rang, and promptly forgot all about it.

The rest of the day passed by in a hurry and before she knew it the last bell was ringing. She tucked her books into her backpack and headed home. It was a week before Halloween, and the sky was overcast with huge puffy grey clouds as far as the eye could see. The smell of snow hung in the air and already there was a chill wind sweeping out the warmer fall temperatures.

“Hey, Kate,” she heard a voice behind her say. Turning to look, she was surprised to find Kevin McConnolly walking in her direction.

“Hi, Kevin,” she said in reply. She wanted to say more but that was about all that came to mind at the moment. She couldn’t believe he was even talking to her. She’d been trying to get his attention for the last 4 years without any success. She wondered what had changed.

“I think you dropped something,” he said, handing her the card with the directions. She thanked him and tucked the card into her pocket this time. “You planning to go?” he asked.

“What?” she asked, suddenly very confused.

“Are you planning to be there? I mean, it has a date and a time. I just wondered if you were planning to be there,” he said with a smile.

“I’m not sure. I hadn’t really decided,” Kate answered without thinking.

Kevin’s smile faded a bit and his eyes locked on hers. He suddenly seemed both very serious and very intense. He hesitated for a moment and she thought he was going to say something but then he relaxed and the smile returned.

“Well, I guess I’ll see you around then,” he said as he walked off in the opposite direction. She stared after him, trying to collect her thoughts.

“Wait, Kevin” she said suddenly, inspiration dawning on her, “are you going to be there?” It was too late, though. He’d already turned the corner by the time she got the question out. She hurried to try and catch up with him, but he was nowhere to be seen.

She hardly even noticed the walk home. She was too busy reflecting on the day’s events. She hardly even noticed the absence of the twins in the living room when she got home. She headed upstairs to drop off her backpack. That’s when she noticed that the back pouch – the pouch where she’d placed the card after lunch – was still zipped. There was no way that card fell out of her backpack.

She unzipped the pouch just to be sure. She was right. The card with the directions, date, and time was still in there. She put her hand in her pocket. The card Kevin had given her was still in her pocket. Suddenly things were starting to make sense. She’d bumped into Kevin right after she’d found the second envelope in her locker. He must have put them there.

Part of her was too excited by the thought that Kevin was involved with all of this. She wondered what it meant. Had he chosen her? Had he noticed something special about her? She wondered what it all might mean. Part of her, the insecure part of her, worried that this was some elaborate prank. She wondered if he had figured out just what he meant to her and was now going to use this somehow against her.

She took the card out of her pocket and looked it over. The meeting was at 7 pm on Saturday night in the cemetery. What a weird place to meet for a group calling themselves the Warriors of Light, she thought. Saturday was three days from now. She had that long to decide what she was going to do. Maybe in the meantime she could get some answers out of Kevin. She got up and put the card in the top drawer alongside the letter and shut it firmly. It was time to fix dinner.

The evening went by in a daze, and Kate barely remembered any of the things they’d discussed at dinner. James and John had managed to find work and were pretty excited, and she’d tried to be excited with them but couldn’t help thinking about Kevin. Her mom even noticed how distracted she seemed and asked her about it, but Kate didn’t feel like sharing things just yet. She didn’t know what to make of them, and she didn’t want to share until she did.

She tried working on homework, but couldn’t focus. Eventually she gave up and put it all back in her backpack before taking the card and the letter out to read them again. When her mom came in to get ready for bed, she shoved them hastily under her pillow and pretended to be sleeping. It was hours before she finally fell asleep, though.

She left for school a little early the next morning, hoping to find him along the way. They didn’t share any classes, but she kept an eye out for him all day long. She didn’t catch even a glimpse of him. Friday she did spot him briefly but couldn’t find a way to get his attention or get him alone to ask him about the invitation. There was no way around it. This was a decision she was going to have to make on her own, whether to take a leap of faith and attend the meeting or stay home.

She left school somewhat deflated that Friday afternoon. She was a cautious person by nature, and tended to avoid risks when possible. She liked to play things safe and only make moves when she’d had time to gather all the information she needed to make the right decision. She did this in everything, including relationships. She didn’t like the thought of having to make a decision without knowing everything ahead of time.

The house was empty when she got home which, she supposed, was kind of nice. It gave her time to think things over on her own. She trudged upstairs and hung her backpack carefully on its hook behind the bedroom door. Then she reached under her pillow to reread the letter and examine the card for the millionth time. It was as mysterious to her now as it had been on the day she received it. She stuffed it back into her top drawer and went downstairs to fix dinner.

That night, she dreamed again. She was wearing a white gown and standing on a battle field surrounded by tall men in gleaming armor. Kevin was the leader of their group. Ahead of her was a throng of thousands of people and at the front of that throng was a raised platform and a single high backed chair reminding her of a throne. She knew, without knowing how she knew, that they had come to do battle with the man who sat on that throne. At a word from Kevin, they began to move forward toward the crowd. She knew they were supposed to stay together. However, there were so many people pressed in all around her that they soon became separated. She was terrified and began calling out his name, hoping to find him. She spotted a young girl ahead in the crowd. She knew the girl. She called the girl’s name. The girl turned and looked at her, and then suddenly she was that girl.

Kate woke up drenched in sweat. The dream had been so real and so vivid that she could still feel the bodies pressed up against her and the smell of the grass on the fields was in her nose. She looked at the clock. It was 10 am. Her mom had let her sleep in longer than normal. She got dressed and hurried downstairs. The twins were already at the table eating breakfast.

“You must have been pretty tired, Katie,” her mother said as she fixed her a plate of pancakes and bacon.

“Yeah, I’ve had a lot on my mind lately,” she replied. The pancakes smelled delicious and she realized that she was incredibly hungry, too.

“Want to talk about it?” her mom asked, clearly curious.

“Not really,” Katy said as she started eating.

Her mom eyed her curiously but said nothing further, allowing her daughter to eat in peace. The twins looked at each other and nodded as if communicating telepathically. Sometimes Katy could swear that they did read each other’s minds.

“So, any plans for the day?” Kate’s mom asked, trying again.

“Well, actually, there’s this thing that I’ve been invited to tonight,” Kate replied slowly.

“Oh?” her mom asked.

“Yeah, there’s this guy from school. He’s kind of asked me to meet up with him tonight,” Kate said.

“Do I know this boy?” her mother asked.

“Kind of. You remember Kevin McConnolly from 8th grade, right?” Kate asked.

“You mean the Kevin McConnolly? The boy you were so in love with?” her mom asked, arching an eyebrow at her daughter.

“Well, yeah, that Kevin,” Kate said, blushing. “There’s this thing that all the kids are going to at 6 tonight at the park and he wanted to know if I could go with him. Can I go?”

She hoped she wasn’t stretching the truth too much. For all she knew, Kevin had nothing to do with it.

Her mother frowned for a moment, “Well, I guess it can’t hurt. You be back home by 10 pm, okay?”

“Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll be home by 10,” Katy agreed. She wasn’t sure whether to be happy about having gotten permission. She had kind of hoped her mother would say no so she would have a good excuse not to go. Sometimes her mom was just a little too nice.

She left the house at 5:30 pm sharp and headed over to the cemetery. It was just a few blocks over from her house, so she arrived super early just as the sun was going down. She wandered down the neatly manicured rows, keeping an eye on the purple Tinkerbell watch she’d gotten for her 12th birthday. It was comforting to have something familiar with her in such a strange surrounding.

As the time grew near, she made her way to the bench underneath the old oak in the center of the cemetery where the note had said to meet and took a seat. It was almost dark. One by one, kids and adults began to arrive. She recognized some of them, but most of them were strangers to her. The last one to arrive was Kevin. He seemed glad to see her.

He took a seat near her on the bench. “I’m glad you decided to come”.

Thank you for reading Chapter 2: The Meeting. If you enjoyed this, you can continue on to read Chapter 3: The Calling from my Nanowrimo novella: The Chosen.

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