Haven Shorts – Chapter 8 – Episode 13 – A Stranger Magic
Chapter 8 – Episode 13
The sound of rumbling lawn mowers and weed eaters started early Saturday mornings on Giddyup Lane. Most of the neighbors tried to get their lawn work out of the way before the heat and humidity set in, which occurred about mid-day. This Saturday was no different. Sam listened as he lay motionless in his comfortable bed, staring up at his dragon posters. He was tired; he had stayed up until three o’clock in the morning, riddled with guilt for making his mom cry. He had spent the time cleaning his room. He felt that was the least he could do.
His clothes sat in eight neat piles on the floor. His shoes, video games, controllers, books, and magazines were all painstakingly organized in his closet. His computer sat neatly on its desk with the words UPDATES AVAILABLE flashing in the lower right corner. He had removed mugs and drinking glasses from the top of his dresser. Only the family Christmas picture that they had taken when he was five remained. Sarah and his mother had the same short haircut, and Sam was wearing that ridiculous blue and white snowman sweater.
Sam glanced up at his alarm clock. It was ten o’clock, and the smell of bacon was wafting through the air from the vents above. He could hear the sounds of pots and pans banging around down below. If Mom’s fixing breakfast maybe she wasn’t that upset after all, Sam thought.
He rustled out of bed and grabbed a pair of tan shorts and a blue t-shirt from the organized pile of clothes. He opened his door, turned back, and grabbed the largest pile of laundry he could carry. The robust smell of bacon quickly turned into the smell of something burning as he made his way downstairs. The bottom floor was one big cloud of smoke. Through the smoke Sam could see Sarah running around frantically, trying to open the kitchen windows.
“What are you doing?” Sam asked with a puzzled look as he held his large pile of clothes with both arms.
Sarah stopped in her tracks, awestruck by the sight of Sam attempting to do laundry.
“What are you doing?” she asked with a chuckle.
“I’m doing laundry, but I could help you burn the house down instead.”
“Funny. I was trying to cook you something,” she said through gritted teeth while trying to pry open the stuck kitchen window.
Sam placed the large pile of clothes on the floor in front of the washing machine. He walked over to the stove, turned it off, and moved the pan with the burnt bacon to another burner. Then, without missing a step, he went to the stuck window that Sarah had been working on and gave it a hard yank. The window flew open and Barron jumped inside.
“Out, Barron!” Sarah commanded.
Barron stood there staring at Sarah as if she were crazy, like most cats do when humans talk to them. Sam went back over to the stove and grabbed the pan with the charred bacon. He walked back to the window and threw it out. Barron followed, jumping back out the window to pounce on her crispy treat.
“Hey, that was ours!” Sarah said, looking out the window.
“Really? Were you going to eat that, ‘cause I wasn’t,” Sam replied in a matter-of-fact way.
“See if I ever make you breakfast again!”
“Yeah, what’s with that? Where’s Mom?” Sam asked, heading back over to the large pile of clothes.
“This was her Saturday to work. She took another double at the diner, I guess.”
Sam felt worse now; he had really wanted to tell her he was sorry first thing this morning.
“She looked like she was kind of worried or upset maybe. Did you guys fight?”
Of course Sarah would naturally blame Sam for Mom’s mood, even if it was true.
“Um, no. Why does it always have to be my fault?” he snapped back.
“I didn’t say it was your fault, big hair! I was simply asking! Wow, grouchy much? By the way, when did you start doing laundry? Do I need to call CNN?”
Sam didn’t say a word as he angrily shoved his clothes into the washer. He kept telling himself to calm down and not to say a word.
“By the way, that dork Travis called three times already—once while I was sleeping, and two other times to see if you were awake yet. He said you didn’t answer your cell phone. Really Sam, why have a cell phone if you never turn it on? Anyway, in the future, can you tell your boyfriend not to call before twelve o’clock? I would appreciate it! I mean can’t that guy take a hint? Oh, I can’t get a hold of Sam, so let’s blow up every single phone in his house!”
Sam felt his blood starting to boil, and his scratches from the rosebush were starting to itch. He was in a bad mood already. He hadn’t gotten much sleep, he had hurt his mother’s feelings, and he hadn’t gotten a chance to apologize before she left for work. And now, Sarah wanted to chastise him about Travis. She never stops, he thought to himself. She just goes on and on and on.
“I mean some of us need our beauty sleep,” she continued. “Not that either of you would know anything about that. But I need it!”
That was the last straw. Sam couldn’t take it anymore. Mom was wrong; this she-devil was incapable of loving anyone other than herself, and he was going to let her know!
“Shut up, will you!” Sam said, turning around to face her. “Why do you always have to go on and on? You’re so mean to everyone! Travis has never done a thing to you but like you! But you’re horrible to him, you’re horrible to me, you’re horrible to everyone you come in contact with! So please, just for one day … just one … SHUT UP!”
Silence filled the room, snuffing out even the most infinitesimal pocket of sound. You could hear a pin drop from three blocks over. Barron poked his head up from the porch, eyes wide, and then quickly ducked back down to safety. The air became so thick with tension that it would take a chainsaw to cut through it.
But it was worth it, Sam thought. He had carried that around for so long. It felt like a fifty-pound boulder had just rolled off his back.
Sarah stood there in shock. Her mouth was open, and for the first time in her life she was speechless. The first sound Sam heard again was the birds chirping in the background, followed by lawn mowers humming in the distance.
Sam stood there staring at her. He was breathing hard; his ears were red, his nostrils flared, and his crazy bed head hair was standing at attention.
Finally, Sarah gathered her composure. Tears welled in her eyes. She brushed a single strand of hair around her ear and said softly, “I made you breakfast …” She wiped the tear from her cheek and walked slowly from the kitchen.
Sam didn’t say a word as he watched her walk away. She had never walked away before. She had always fought back. Sarah never got her feelings hurt, never. But he couldn’t be blamed; he didn’t know she had any feelings. Sam could feel something growing in the pit of his stomach. Was that remorse? Did he feel bad for saying what his sister had coming to her? But that wasn’t fair; he shouldn’t be the one to feel bad. No, it should be Sarah; she had it coming. Didn’t she? All of a sudden the lines were blurred. Things were not as clear as they once were.
Sam walked to the table and sat down. He stared at the plate she had set out for him and the glass of water that had a long crack in it from top to bottom. Sam was bemused; he had never been in this position with Sarah before.
He had single-handedly managed to make another women cry in the Dalcome household, and he hadn’t even been awake for thirty minutes. Surely that must be some kind of record, he thought sadly. Deep down he was starting to think that this day may not turn out any better than yesterday.
By that afternoon Sam had officially finished five loads of laundry, folded, and hung them all. His room was clean and dusted. It didn’t smell bad either, because he had doused the room in one of his mother’s air fresheners, something called Mountain Mist.
Travis had called four times while Sam was doing laundry, and he had finally convinced Sam to go to the caves with him later that evening.
It was six o’clock when Travis arrived, knocking on the door. You could tell it was him because of his annoying Twentieth Century Fox drum roll knock. It was similar to the one at the beginning of Star Wars.
Sarah answered it before Sam could reach the door. Sam waited behind her, expecting some snide remark to come flying out of her mouth. But what she said instead left him speechless.
“Oh, hi Trav, how are you?” She backed away, and opened the door to invite him in.
Travis stood there, dumfounded. He didn’t say a word. His mouth hung open like he wanted to say something, but he was evidently in shock.
In the all the years that Sam and Travis had known each other, Sarah had never once spoken to Travis that kindly. Never. It was almost like he mattered to her, almost.
Sarah turned and casually strolled from the doorway, as if nothing extraordinary had just happened. Sam and Travis both watched her walk off around the corner into the living room.
There was no way this was the same girl from this morning, Sam thought. Was she acting hurt? She was up to something; Sam’s spider senses were doing more than just tingling. They were screaming RED ALERT!
Sam looked at Travis. His mouth was still open. “Um, so are you coming in?” he asked.
“What? Oh yeah, I uh … what just happened?” Travis asked with his head tilted a little to the left, like dogs do when they’re trying to figure something out. “I mean, you saw that, right? I didn’t imagine that, did I?”
Sam turned and looked back into the house, then back at Travis. Did she mean what she had said, or was she simply trying to prove that she could be nice if she wanted to?
She was evil that way. Sarah always had a reason for doing something, and it was usually at Sam’s expense. Whatever, it had happened; regardless of what it was, it had happened. Sam waved Travis in, and the two made their way through the living room and into the kitchen.
“So, what did you end up doing last night?” Travis asked, as he sifted through the refrigerator.
“Nothing, really. I cleaned my room and went to bed early,” Sam replied, not wanting to relive the whole “I can’t find the words, wish dad was here” disaster.
Travis grabbed a water bottle from the fridge, twisted off the cap, and took a large gulping drink. After three more gulps he put the bottle down. With water dripping from his chin he suddenly realized what Sam had said.
“What, you cleaned your room?” he asked. Travis thought for a moment—you could see the wheels turning in his head. “Yeah right, here pull the other one,” he said, sticking out his leg.
“I’m serious, I did,” Sam said.
“Really, wow, well, that I didn’t see coming. Did you get in trouble or something?”
“No, I just felt like cleaning it. What’s the big deal?” Sam said defensively.
“Well it’s just that I’ve never seen your room clean since … well since … never.”
“Well whatever, it’s clean now,” Sam said sharply.
“Can I see it?”
“Um, no, you said you wanted to go to the caves, so let’s go.”
“Okay, okay, let’s go!”
Travis finished the rest of his water with three giant gulps and slammed the bottle down on the counter top.
Sam, who had already turned to walk off, quickly turned back around, annoyed.
“What are you doing?”
“You got spiders!” Travis said holding the bottle firmly on top of a splattered bug.
Sam walked back to take a look at the spider and saw the same green marks on it that the previous spiders had. He made a mental note to tell his mom about it, not to mention he still owed her a huge apology for last night.
Sam cleaned off the bug guts from the counter and headed for the front door. Before they left he called up the stairs to Sarah.
“Sarah, we’re going to the caves. Tell Mom we’ll be back later.”
Seconds later, Sarah’s voice answered back in a surreal, yet oddly friendly voice.
“Okay, have fun! Bye, Travis.”
Travis looked at Sam with the same “What is going on?” look from earlier.
Sam shrugged and gave him a look as if to say she was crazy. She’s evil and diabolical, he thought. If she thought for a moment that he was dumb enough to believe this bizarre and somewhat childish act, she had another thing coming.
“Let’s go,” he said gruffly.
“Uh, bye Sarah … See you later!” Travis hollered back.
**I will post one EPISODE each week, but there are 50 EPISODE, so this may take a while. If you just can’t wait, you can buy (Just .99) the complete book and the rest of the HAVEN series (More Coming Soon) at Amazon.
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