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The Girl In Green - Ch1 Part 2
2

"Things are never quite as scary when you've got a best friend."
-from 'Calvin and Hobbes' by Bill Watterson
******

Downstairs his mother went through a couple of boxes marked 'KITCHEN' and found two glasses. She poured them each half full with water and brought them back to the table.

"You want a sandwich?" she asked before sitting down next to him. "Looks like our would be burglars who suck at burglaring left the bread, jelly, and peanut butter jars intact.

"No thanks. I lost whatever appetite I had," he said, ignoring her attempt at humor.

"Same here. Watching your father kill that thing will keep me from eating for a week. You know, I bet if your father had shot it like I asked it wouldn't have made as big a mess. We're here not even an hour and he's already ruined my walls and carpet."

"Mom, the place was already trashed."

"Be that as it may. I like the upstairs carpet. First thing I've seen that I've liked. Well, that is if you don't count my wonderful super-secret dishwasher."

"Mom, just stop."

For a tense moment she just stared at him grasping for something to say. He kept his own gaze focused on the glass.

"We have a fireplace in the family room behind you. What do you think of maybe nailing it up there, sorta like a homecoming trophy? It'll be the symbol of how much we love our new home."

That time Shawn couldn't help but chuckle.

Beverly smiled. "I really doubt spiders normally get that big around here."

"I would have thought so too Mom, but here we are. Where there's one there's got to be more."

His mother shook her head.

"Nah, I don't believe that. As much food as that thing probably needs I don't believe for a second a whole bunch of them could've survived."

His mother's face suddenly when ashen white.

"On second thought we should spring clean the house tonight. Top to bottom."

"Why?" Shawn moaned. "We just got here."

"Because if that thing was still alive in the middle of March then it's getting food from somewhere. Either there are bugs all over the place or it took care of whatever rat problem we might have had. I want to know either way. But if you don't want to I understand. Just don't expect me to come running to your room in the middle of the night if you find out you're not alone in there. Or, you know, you could play it safe." She let it dangle out there, waiting for him to bite.

There weren't enough words in the English language to fully describe how much Shawn detested spring cleaning. Spring cleaning to his mother was a week long expedition where beds, dressers, TV's, chairs, desks, and whatever else were all moved out into the center of every room so every nook and cranny could be vacuumed, the walls all scrubbed, and the furniture polished. Next would be the carpet washing which meant a week of walking around on wet, soggy floors, followed by the rearranging of all the furniture.

Afterward, Beverly would rejoice in knowing every speck of dust, dirt, mud, and bug were wiped out from existence while Shawn and his father cheered the prospect of being able to rest for five minutes. Yet given the circumstance, he'd be lying if he said that spring cleaning didn't sound like a great idea. Plus, he still wasn't sure what mess what still awaiting him in his room.

"Are you guys going to call the police?" he asked.

"Probably not. Your father and I don't think there's much reason to for now. But if you noticed anything missing let us know."

"I will."

On his way back upstairs he saw his father finishing up scrubbing the carpet in front of his room. He asked his father if he'd checked the room for more critters to which his father 'assured' him the coast was clear. Shawn saved his obligatory doubting this time. He felt he owed the guy for not only taking on such a beast, but also agreeing to be the one to clean it up afterward.

His father gathered the bucket and paper towels and left him once more standing alone on the threshold of his new bedroom. He hesitated reaching again for the light switch. If his father was wrong about the critters, so help him God there'd be some revenge to be paid. With a deep breath he reached and flicked the light on as fast as he could.

He marveled at the size of the space. It was easily twice the size of every single one of his old rooms. This one was long rather than wide and easily ran alongside the length of the upstairs hallway. The mess wasn't too bad, either. His bed and desk sat undisturbed against the back wall and under the window. Both dressers had their drawers pulled out, but with nothing in them yet, there wasn't much to clean. As for the small stack of boxes labeled 'Shawn's room,' only one of them appeared to have actually been disturbed. Overall he was impressed.

"Not bad," he whistled. "For once I'm not flaming pissed about my room."

"You're welcome," his father called from down the hall.

"I was talking to myself, thank you!" Shawn called back.

He closed the door behind him then set his book bag and guitar case down by the desk before searching each of the boxes to make sure their contents were still intact. Satisfied nothing was missing, he moved on to the last box which had been the one already cut open. Inside were stacks of notebooks and loose leaf paper strewn about without reason or order. Shawn felt his cheeks flush, partly in embarrassment and partly in anger at how his most important possessions outside his guitar had been treated. In those notebooks and papers were his greatest creations.

"Dammit," he whispered under his breath. He gently pulled out everything out and started organizing everything back into its rightful place. A few moments later there came a knock as his father opened the door.

"Everything accounted for?"

"They went through my stuff. They just threw it all back in the box without a care in the world. Some of these are scuffed up or partly ripped. It's gonna take forever to copy all of these!"

"They your songs?" his father asked coming over to have a look. Shawn flipped a few of the papers over so he couldn't read them.

"Yeah my songs. And my journals, everything."

His father, pretending not to notice his son's attempt to hide his work from him, picked up a green notebook and said, "Girl in green." He then paused before finishing with, "I remember her."

Shawn went to take it from his father who pulled it out of his reach.

"Just chill out for a second. I'm not going to disturb anything."

"I don't want people to read this stuff. That's why it's in a box. Please give it to me."

"I haven't heard you bring her up in a long time," his father said appearing amused. "Where's she been?"

"She's probably still in one of our other homes you made us leave forever ago. Can I have it back now?"

This time his father let him rip the notebook out of his hand. Shawn knew he'd dished out a low blow and sort of regretted it.

"So, everything else fine then?" his father finally asked after a moment of awkward silence.

"Everything's fine. All my stuff is here. Ruined, but it's here."

"It looks alright. At least they didn't leave it all over the floor like they did the food and all our your mother's and my stuff. I wonder why they didn't just leave it."

"Who cares? Someone out there's read everything I've ever written now."

"You don't know that."

"I do too!"

"So what if they did? It's not like you'll ever run into these people, and if you did they'd never say a word about it or they'd get arrested."

"Just leave me alone, okay? You don't understand anything."

His father sighed and stood.

"Whatever Shawn. Good night."

When he was gone and the door shut, Shawn threw up both middle fingers at the door and mouthed 'fuck you'. He then returned to sorting through his journals and papers until everything was back in perfect order and tucked back into their box. The next hour or so he spent setting up his stereo, loading the CD tower, and unpacking his clothes into their drawers. He worked until half the boxes were unpacked then decided to take a break and lie down in his bed. For a while he let himself get lost in his thoughts as he listened to his stereo switch between albums and start playing the Metallica CD he'd gotten a few days before the most recent big move.

Where do I take this pain of mine?
It runs but it stays right by my side.
So tear me open, pour me out,
There's things inside that scream and shout.
And the pain still hates me,
So hold me.....Until it sleeps......


Shawn yawned and rolled over on his side to stare at his new room. He wondered about the people who'd lived in this room before him. He thought about who they were, where'd they'd gone, and what things they'd done in this room. Every time his family moved he thought about all the different memories of the families that had once lived in those same houses. At times he couldn't help feeling like an intruder stumbling into a place not meant for him. He'd spent more than one sleepless night wondering if homes had memories like people did. What stories would they tell if the walls could talk? What would his previous homes have said about him?

Shawn Keating? Dude was loner, a loser, and he didn't shower more than 3 times a week. Seriously. Dude reeked.

Shawn chuckled at the thought.

"This shit's too deep for how tired I am," he said as he rubbed his eyes. He glanced at the alarm clock on his dresser and realized it was near midnight. Time had gotten away from him. He'd been lying down for well over an hour.

His mind protesting, he pulled himself out of bed and again went to the boxes to get back to unpacking. He was just getting into a box when, thinking better of it, he stopped and went over to the boxes with his songs and pulled out the green notebook labeled 'Girl in green.' He then crawled back into bed and flipped through a few of the pages, scanning the sloppy misspellings and poor sentence structured entries about his adventures with the girl in green. Dad had been right. It had been a long time since he'd thought of her. For the longest time Shawn would get so excited for bed because he'd get to see his friend. Then one day he stopped dreaming about her. In his journals he noticed a couple entries he'd written wondering where she'd disappeared to. Of course there'd never been an answer. Figments of overactive imagination didn't need reasons or explanations, let alone be able to explain them to those they enchanted.

With another yawn, Shawn closed the book, set it on the floor next to his bed, and lied back staring at the ceiling. Soon sleep came to claim him, and he was glad to go.

That night he dreamed, yet it was so vivid in detail it almost felt more like memories than dreams. He strolled through a meadow of high grass, his eyes trained to the seascape sky as he felt the damp kisses of dew between the hugs of his toes. He walked a ways and waited for the light breeze of spring to tussle his hair like a gentle pat on the head. The meadow was silent aside from the soft lullaby of the crickets in the brush somewhere far off.

Shawn walked until he came to a cliff face on the edge of endless blackness as the sun set across the horizon. He then stopped and drew in a deep breath as he heard footsteps drawing close behind.

He'd known she was there long before hearing the footsteps. It was just like it used to be, all those years ago. Somewhere deep in his mind her essence had been retained in what he imagined was an old dusty warehouse of half-forgotten memories. Everything about her came flooding back in an instant: the smell of peppermint, the slight giggle to her smile, the way her strawberry hair hung in such a way that concealed half her face, and of course the green sweater.

"Hello Shawn," she spoke coming to stand beside him.

He didn't turn to look at her, nor she to look at him. The last they'd seen one another they'd been nine years old, two years longer than when he'd become embarrassed and stopped mentioning her to his parents. The humiliating jokes had become too much to bear. Seeing her now, after seven years, felt like it would break the magic. Maybe even break the memories of her, if that made any sense. Shawn wasn't sure how else to describe the feeling.

"Hi girl in green," he replied.

"It's been a long time, Shawn."

"Yeah it has."

They stood side by side for a while, watching the sun gradually set.

"Did that ever bother you? Not having a name?"

"I have a name," she replied with an obvious smile.

"'The girl in green' isn't much of a name, ya know."

From the corner of his eye he saw her shrug.

"Never bothered me any. Did it bother you?"

"Not really. At least not back then."

She reached over and took his hand and squeezed. Her touch was soft, warm, and every bit as he remembered it. He was astonished by how much he'd come to miss her.

"I wish you were real."

"You always did."

He shook his head.

"I wanted to say goodbye."

She didn't say anything.

"I made up a goodbye. I imagined my dad put me in the car and as we drove away you were standing on the sidewalk in front of my house watching us go. You didn't cry or anything, and neither did I. We just kinda watched until we were too far apart. But you know, thinking back on it now, I think I'm sorta glad I didn't get to say goodbye. I mean, I've lost so many friends and shit over the years to the point where like, even thinking about making friends and I'm like, 'what's the point? We'll just be gone in a year or something.' But you, I thought I'd lost you. I thought it was stupid dreaming up some make believe person. I missed you though. I don't think I realized how much until I found that box. In any case, with you..."

"...I can't ever leave you," she finished and gently squeezed his hand.

"Yeah. My only friend in the world is a girl I made up when I was five years old. It's pretty sad isn't it?"

"It is what it is, Shawn. You don't need to feel guilty for that."

"Even if I could I couldn't ever wish you real."

"Quiet with your wishing, boy, or you'll miss the moment."

"What-" he began, but he stopped when she let go of his hand.

"Look at me," she whispered.

"I don't want to."

"That's a lie. I know you do."

"I'm not a child anymore."

"Then stop acting like one. Look. At. Me."

As he turned to do so, she put her arms around his neck and drew him towards her before he could see her face. The smell of peppermint flooded over him, and in that moment he could've sworn she was really standing there in his grasp. He could even feel the soft flesh of her stomach brushing under his fingers as her sweater rose slightly with her embrace. For a few seconds they stood still.Then she craned her head back and leaned towards his ear.

"Shawn...I'm real."

That's when he woke up.


******
The Girl in Green is a horror novel by Scott McCafferty, serialized for web publication through RivalCast Media. Scott welcomes comments and feedback below or through email at scott.mccafferty@rivalcastmedia.com


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