Thursday, April 27, 2017

Tragedy at Rainbow River

This sudden euphoria led Rory to do all kinds of things she’d never even thought she was capable of. She and Peter vacationed. Beaches, mountains, forests. All places Rory once feared traveling to.

When she and Peter returned from their trip to a ski resort in Colorado, their fifth vacation of the month, Rory crashed upon entering her apartment. Peter was terrified and began barking loudly to gain Ellen’s attention.

A few seconds later, Baker Shefield from apartment 204 was standing next to Rory’s still body. He had heard Peter barking. Peter remembered Baker’s scent from the socks he dropped on the sidewalk.

Baker pulled his cell phone out to call an ambulance.

Rory opened her eyes and was confused to find Baker standing over her.

“What happened?” she asked.

“I’m not so sure,” Baker responded. “An ambulance is on its way. We’ll get you to the hospital and have everything checked out.”

By this time everyone in the Victorian was awake and in the lobby trying to figure out why sirens were growing closer to the building. Some tenants had never seen Rory before and were disappointed to find that she had been the cause of the commotion. Others whispered about the few times they’d noticed her.

When the EMTs arrived Baker and Rory approached them.

“The last thing I remember is reaching to unlock my apartment door,” Rory said. “I feel fine now. I don’t even recall falling.”

“I could’ve sworn you weren’t breathing. I rushed down here when I heard Peter,” Baker said.

After a routine physical in the back of the ambulance, Rory was cleared to continue on as usual. The lobby was still crowded by those carrying on conversations, not ready to return to their apartments.

Rory hadn’t walked Peter that night, so she decided to do so then. Baker offered to walk with them, worried that Rory may faint again.

“No, thanks,” Rory said. “I feel great, and it’ll be a short walk.”

Baker was still worried, so he followed a behind Rory and Peter at a safe distance. About five minutes into the walk, he realized Rory seemed to be having trouble balancing and would stumble every few steps. Rory also began crossing the street randomly.

Rory and Peter turned around to head toward the Victorian after making it to Rainbow River. When Baker looked up, a car was approaching and Rory, who stood in the middle of the street, had released Peter’s leash. As the driver turned the corner, Rory was hit and fell into Rainbow River. Not a scream escaped her mouth.

Baker recognized the driver.

“It’s the animal hospital employee,” he thought.

He knew the investigation of this accident would tear the Victorian apart.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

New Rory?

Rory’s first day on the job was easier than expected. The owner of Vietyum gave her permission to keep Peter behind at her side all day.

On her way from work, she noticed a large crowd gathering in the park. Rory decided to walk over with Peter and take a look. The lawn was covered in blankets and sleeping bags, which confused Rory until she saw the large screen showing the last scene of “The Little Mermaid.”

Suddenly, Rory grew weary and anxious. In her curiosity, she managed to navigate her way through the large crowd, but now there seemed to be now escape. Panicking, Rory began running through the crowd, trying her best to run in the direction with the least amount of people.

While she was running, she realized many of the people she passed were pointing to the sky. Rory stood on the edge of the park and watched as the moon turned bright orange.

In the next hour, Rory and Peter found themselves nearing what they thought was the spot St. Cecilia’s stood. Rory sat on the singular pew in the place of St. Cecilia’s to catch her breath. Peter stood alert by her side.

Rory stretched out on the pew, lying on her back.

“Peter, things have been different,” she said.

She couldn’t exactly pinpoint what was different, what inside her had changed, but she knew something did. And that it was a good thing.. She thought.

As Rory and Peter walked home, Rory hummed. This odd behavior and sound originally frightened Peter. Why was Rory happy? Not even Rory could answer that.

Somehow her fears dissolved, and the possibilities were endless.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Branching out

Rory woke up and checked the calendar hanging above her waist high stack of water bottle cases in the kitchen. It was Tuesday, meaning her weekly meal with Peter would happen that evening. Rory hadn't planned to do much during the day. Her usual early morning walk around town with Peter is all she ever has planned, aside from their weekly lunch.

After returning from their walk, Rory changed clothes. The two sat on her cot waiting for time to pass. At noon, they left the Victorian and headed for Vietyumm. Sitting in their usually booth, Rory ordered for herself and Peter, something she was never questioned for doing. The owner of Vietyumm had always welcomed Peter.

Ten minutes after they got their food, another customer walked over to the jukebox and selected some songs.

John Gorka’s “Branching Out” began playing. Just as the sing began, Rory watched the sky turn dark, and rain started falling. Soon enough, there were loud crashes of lightning and cracks of thunder.

The second a lightning strike touched down, the power in Vietyumm went out.

“I’m goin' reach, I'm gonna reach
I'm goin' reach, till I know why”

Rory was shocked to hear Gorka’s voice. How is the jukebox working when the power is out?

Soon enough, Gorka’s repetitive lyrics got to Rory.

“I’m goin' reach, I'm gonna reach
I'm goin' reach, till I know why”

Rory began to reflect, realizing that soon enough, she’d have to branch out.

Within five minutes power was restored. At the end of their meal, Rory and Peter got up to leave, but the owner stopped them.

“Rory, you’re here so often,” he said. “You know this place front and back. Would you like to start working here?”

Shocked at the offer, Rory stood there unable to respond for a minute or so. Then, before considering the possible consequences, such as interacting with people, of accepting the job, Rory said yes.

On her walk home, Rory became super excited, humming Gorka’s lyrics all the way.

“I’m goin' reach, I'm gonna reach
I'm goin' reach, till I know why”

The following day she’d start her new job and branch out.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

No escape

Rory and Peter were out on a walk when they began to hear chirping. Both turned toward the source of the sound. At first glance it looked like a large multicolored cloud was headed in their direction. Soon enough, Rory realized that the cloud was actually a flock of parakeets. Peter remained calm, but Rory panicked. She sat down on the curb, unable to move. Peter laid beside her. One by one birds surrounded Rory and Peter. None moved in close enough to touch, but there was no way for Rory and Peter to move. They were trapped. The birds did not even flinch when Peter sniffed them.

The birds did not leave. Rory and Peter sat there for an entire hour waiting for an exit. Eventually, the birds on one side of the circle moved, creating a walkway for both Rory and Peter to leave. This shocked Rory. She expected to be sitting there all evening. As soon as she noticed the opening, both she and Peter hopped up and darted out of the crowd of birds. Groups of birds began to take off, flying towards the Victorian.  

After exiting the circle, there still seemed to be no escape. Rory wanted to go home to her apartment without wondering if she and Peter would be trapped again. When they reached the Victorian, the birds lined the top of the building. One sat on Rory’s first floor window seal.

They entered the Victorian, then apt. 2 and prepared for bed. Rory realized that during the hour she spent trapped in the middle of 200 parakeets, she had learned something about herself. She decided that no matter the situation, she would not always search for an exit. She decided she’d stop trying to change her fate.

She wondered how long this “promise” would last.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

What will come, will come.

Rory and Peter decided to take a walk when the 4 AM train woke them up. Rory was grateful for the unexpected alarm that helped her to avoid people. She assumed others in her building were shaken by the train as well, but unlike her, they’d decide not to leave the Victorian.

Rory exits the front entrance of the Victorian and turns onto 45th St. She has a view of the tracks and notices Munny Pang hanging on to the caboose. The last thing Rory expected was to see one of her neighbors out at 4 AM. Rory quickly turned around and headed for the park. She didn’t realized how foggy it was until they passed by the cemetery, but that didn’t bother her. All of her worries vanished with the recognition of time and conditions. No one could see her, which meant no one would talk to her.

As Rory and Peter walked through the cemetery, the fog seemed to grow. It was fairly silent until Peter heard a crunching sound. Peter sped in that direction, ripping his leash from Rory’s hand. Without hesitation, Rory ran after Peter. With the fog preventing her from seeing clearly, Rory tripped over a gravestone and landed face first. She rolled over to sit up but stopped when she realized the arm of a cross stood directly above her. And from that arm hung a silver necklace with a jade pendant.

Rory could hear Peter growling off in the distance. She could also feel warm surrounding her right ankle. Rory glanced at her foot and saw a mixture of mud and blood covering her white boot sock. She got up and limped in the direction of Peter’s growls. In that moment, she noticed a woman running through the cemetery away from Peter. The only thing Rory could see was the woman salmon scarf draped over her neck.

Rory had seen the news about someone disturbing graves in the city but wasn’t sure if the woman she saw was a suspect. She grabs Peter’s leash and they walk back towards the Victorian.

A few hours pass and Rory and Peter leave the Victorian to have lunch at Vietyum. After eating decided to go to the park near Only Way street. As soon as Rory entered the park, an old man shouted “What will come will come. Even if I shroud it all in silence." His yell startled Rory. She glanced at the little boy standing near the old man. He only shook his head as if to say “Don’t stop.”

Rory exits the park with Peter by her side. They return to the Victorian. Rory did not want to leave her apartment again that day. They’d eat leftovers for dinner.

“So many strange interactions,” she thought.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Not that bad

Rory never interacts much with the other tenants. Every time she walks through the lobby of the Victorian she keeps her head and eyes angled toward the ground. She and Peter decided to go for a walk that morning. Rory knew about the water crisis, of course, but she wasn’t worried. She always keeps cases of water stacked next to her cot as a makeshift nightstand. Even more cases were stored by the fridge.

Rory and Peter walked to Howell Park. She figured since it was early in the day she wouldn’t run into many people. Especially ones from the Victorian. She knew they’d attempt to carry on a conversation. On their way home, Rory spotted a trail of clothes lining Simone Boulevard. She and Peter collected the clothing. When Rory looked up grabbing a shirt, she realized she knew the man up ahead dropping his clothes. She’d noticed him a few times in the lobby but didn’t know his name. Rory weighed the consequences of taking him his clothes. A conversation. Despite her introversion, she decided to chase down the man, Peter running alongside with a sock hanging out his mouth.

As she expected, she and the man ended up having a conversation and she even offered to walk back to the Victorian together.

“What was I thinking?” Rory whispered to Peter.
“Huh,” Baker said.

Rory was a bit startled, almost forgetting that another person had been walking with her. She just told him that she was reassuring Peter that they’d be home soon. He bought it.

“So, why don’t I see you around the building often?” Baker asked as they approached the entrance of the Victorian.

Rory hadn’t been looking at man. Eye contact freaked her out. But today was the day she actually initiated a conversation with someone and offered to walk home with them. Rory looked up and responded.

“Peter and I usually keep to ourselves. In a town like this, you never know who someone truly is.”
Rory hadn’t planned to say that last line. She only thought it until it was out of her mouth for Baker to hear. She couldn’t decide whether she meant it as not knowing the people around her or really not knowing herself. Baker nodded at the statement and waited to make sure Rory had finished sorting out some internal conflict. He could tell by the look on her face.

“Well, I guess I’ll see you and Peter around. Thanks again for my clothes.”

Baker patted Peter on the head and turned to the elevator. Rory knew she’d see him again, just not if she would speak. Baker, on the other hand, made it his goal to figure Rory out.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Dear Peter

A heavy knock woke Rory out of her sleep. She never expects guests, so this came as a surprise, especially at nearly 9 a.m. She peers through her fractured peephole. All that’s visible is the lense of a camera. Rory cracks the door, with its chain still intact.

“Hi, I’m Anica Mathews,” a startling voice shouts at Rory.

The name sounded familiar to Rory, maybe from one of those magazines her mom used to keep in their family’s bathroom basket. She couldn’t remember, but she decided to open the door.

Anica’s crew rushed in.

Peter, who had been sleeping, began inspecting each crew member. Rory crouched on her cot, waiting for Anica to explain why she was in her apartment. Anica’s crew quickly set up their lights and camera, clipped a mic to Rory’s forest green pullover and started filming.

“Okay, first question: What’s your name?”

Rory smoothed down her dark wavy hair and answered. “Rory… Langely. Oh, and this is Peter,” she pointed.

Anica patted the dog’s head and moved on.

“Why do you live here?”

Rory struggled with this response. She had only told her therapist the real reason she moved the this half abandoned town. She and her mother had never gotten along growing up, so when she had the chance, she left.

“Hello?” Anica interrupted Rory’s flashback. Rory sunk lower into her crouch and asked if they could skip that question.

Anica whispered to her crew, “I don’t think we’ll get much out of her. Let’s wrap up.”

As the crew began to pack, Anica asked one final question. Out of curiosity, not for Southern Living.

“When did you get Peter?”

One thing Rory loved talking about was Peter. The 5-year-old brown mutt was the love of her life. Rory adopted Peter right before she moved into her apartment. She knew she’d be lonely, so she figured getting a dog would fix that. A few months later, her therapist recommended that she register Peter as an emotional support dog.

Rory explained Peter’s adoption. She became excited, as did Peter. He knew how much Rory cared for him. This left Anica grinning as her crew gathered their last few items.

“Nice meeting you. And Peter,” Anica said as she closed the apartment door.

Rory lied back on her cot with Peter beside her.

“I’m still not sure why she was here, but at least I got to talk about you,” Rory said to Peter.