The Silent Waters (Elements #3)(7)


by Brittainy C. Cherry

“Hey! Eric’s girl! Get off my lawn!” Mrs. Boone hissed, pushing open her screen door with a cup of tea. I’d told her my name hundreds of times, but she refused to ever acknowledge it.

“Maggie,” I said, standing up and holding a purring Muffins in my hands. “My name is Maggie, Mrs. Boone. Maggie.” I said it slow and loud the second time, to make sure she understood.

“Oh, I know who you are, you little rascal! Now get away from my flowers and my cat!”

I ignored her. “Gee, Mrs. B, you got the prettiest flowers I’ve ever seen in your yard. Did you know that? My name’s Maggie, again, just in case you forgot it. You can call me Maggie May if ya want. A lot of my family calls me that. Speaking of family and flowers, I thought I might ask…do you think I can borrow some of your flowers for my wedding tomorrow?”

“Wedding?” she huffed, narrowing her eyes, which were covered in too much makeup. Mama always said less was more. Mrs. Boone obviously said the opposite of that. “Aren’t you a bit young to be getting married?”

“Love knows no age, Mrs. B.” I reached for a poppy, picked it, and placed it behind my ear as Muffins leaped out of my arms.

“Pick one more flower and you’ll never be able to pick another thing in your life,” she warned, giving me a grumpy frown.

“I’ll even toss in some ice cream for the flowers, Mrs. B! I can pick them all now, so you won’t have to worry about—”

“Leave!” she shouted, her voice sending chills down my spine. I stood up straight, my eyes wide with panic and stepped backward.

“Okay. Well, if you change your mind, I’ll be passing by tomorrow, too, before the wedding. You can even come if you want. It will be between the two twisty trees in the woods at five tomorrow night. Mama’s making cake, and Dad’s making punch. You can bring Muffins, too! Bye, Mrs. B! See you tomorrow!”

She grumbled some more as I hurried out of her yard, picking two yellow roses to take with me. I skipped along and waved goodbye to the grumpy lady who probably wasn’t really grumpy, but just liked to live up to the rumors her neighbors made up.

The closer I got to the twisted trees, the more my heartbeat increased. Each breath was filled with more and more urgency, more and more thrill. Each step was a step closer to Brooks. It’s happening. It was finally coming true. I was going to get what Daddy and Mama had. I was going to be his, and he was going to be mine.

This time is forever.

He was late.

I knew he had clocks in his house, and I knew he was capable of telling time, yet still, Brooks was late.

How could we live happily ever after if he didn’t show up on time?

My eyes glanced at my Barbie watch, and my chest tightened.

7:16 p.m.

He was late. I’d told him seven, and he was sixteen minutes late.

Where was he? Was he standing me up? No, he wouldn’t.

Did he not love me the way I loved him? No, he did.

My heart hurt as I walked through the woods, searching the forest for a dumb boy with beautiful eyes. “He’s just by the wrong two twisty trees,” I assured myself, listening to the crunching leaves under my steps. “He’s coming,” I swore, watching the bright sky grow darker and darker.

I was never allowed to be out past the streetlights turning on, but I knew it’d be okay, because I was getting married the next day, and I wouldn’t be alone in the darkness, because Brooks was coming to join me.

7:32 p.m.

Which direction had I come from? And where had the two twisty trees gone? My heart was beating faster and my palms were sweaty as I stomped through the forest. “Brooks,” I shouted, more nervous because I’d lost my way. He’d find me, though. He’s coming. I kept walking. Was I going deeper into the forest? Farther from the trees? How could I tell? I couldn’t find my way. Where were the trees?

7:59 p.m.

The water.

I’d find the water where the boys went fishing. Maybe that’s where Brooks would be. But which way was the water? I started running. I ran and ran, hoping I’d see the water swaying back and forth, reminding me of where I was and how I’d get home, or how I’d find Brooks. Maybe he had gotten lost, too. Maybe he was alone, and scared, and sweaty. Maybe he was searching for me, too. I had to find him, because I knew I’d be okay when we were standing near one another.

8:13 p.m.

The water.

I found it.

I found the ripples, and stones, and calm sounds.

I found the water, and I found him.

“Don’t walk away, please, Julia. Listen to me.”

Brooks?

No.

Not him.

Someone else, who wasn’t alone. A man was there with another. A woman. She kept telling him no, saying she couldn’t be with him anymore, and he didn’t like that.

“We have a life together, Julia. We have a family.”

“Will you listen? I don’t want to be with you anymore.”

“Is this about that guy from work?”

The woman rolled her eyes. “Don’t start this again. This is what I’m talking about. You have all these anger issues. I can’t keep our son around that. We can’t keep doing this.”

He raked his hands through his hair. “You’re fucking him, aren’t you? You’re fucking the guy from work.” Before she could respond, he grew more and more upset, his chest puffing in and out.

The man was someone who made my breaths harder to swallow, and my fear more fearful. I had been less afraid when I’d stood alone by the wrong twisty trees. I should’ve stayed by the wrong trees.

He screamed at her, his voice cracking. “You fucking whore!” he shouted, slapping her hard across the face. She stumbled backward and whimpered, her hand flying to her cheek. “I gave you everything. We had a life together. I just took over the business. We were getting on our feet. What about our son? What about our family?” He slapped her again and again. “We had a life!” He shoved her to the ground and his eyes popped out of his head, as if he was crazy—disturbed.

My throat tightened as my eyes stared across the way, where the man who reminded me of the dark sky wrapped his hands around the woman’s neck. “You can’t leave me,” he said, almost begging her as he choked and shook her. She screamed, clawing at his hands. He shook her. She screamed, trying to gasp for air. He shook her. She screamed, and I felt his hands.