Page 5

 Tara Brown

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“I know sweetie, its okay now.”
Her voice cracked, “Where is Rebecca?”
“The doctors need to see you Hanna, they need to examine you.” He pulled her back and looked her in the eyes. His piercing blue eyes filled her hazy focus, “Everything is going to be different but I promise you're safe now okay.”
She nodded curling into him. Something about him made her believe the things he said, even though she knew they could never be true. She found herself smelling him, her mind questioned it but her body wouldn’t listen to reason.
He put her down on the cot and she was suddenly filled with the cold air that rushed between them. The paramedics stepped in to examine her. She watched the police officer who had carried her, as the other men strapped her into the cot for transport. She watched as they closed the doors to the ambulance, ending her view of him. In the small gap of the closing doors she caught a last glimpse of the dreaded forest. She wished she never had to see again, but couldn’t help wondering how they had ended up there in the first place. It looked just as it had in her dream. She shivered and tried to relax into the cot.
The doctors examined her at the hospital, everyone was excited about her survival of whatever had happened. She knew they would find small traces of GHB. She knew she looked underfed from not eating. She hated the fact that it had helped her look as if she were truly an escaped captive.
When grilled about the events by the young handsome blue-eyed police officer, she played the part well. She was devastated about her dear friends death and sickened by her lack of memories. She was generally no help what so ever, as she recalled nothing they could use. She didn’t have to lie, she remembered nothing. It wasn’t like they would ever believe she had turned into a horrid monster. She didn’t even believe it.
She lie in the bed quietly looking out the window at the city of Portland wondering what she would do to start the search for answers. Lost in thought, she hardly noticed when her aunt and uncle finally made their first appearance.
She felt her eyes watching them, studying them. Her father believed them to be behind it all. He believed them to be evil.
Her aunt's face looked truly relieved. She was genuine, as tears rolled down her grief stricken face. She sat at her bedside and sobbed, “Oh thank god. We thought you were dead. We thought they hurt you like your friend.”
Her uncle squeezed her hand, as his lower lip trembled, “What can you remember love? Did they hurt you?”
She shook her head, “Nothing, I remember nothing.”
He looked down at his shoes, he looked sickened. He truly looked upset by it all. She knew her father had wanted them as an easy culprit. After watching them she had no doubts in her heart, her aunt and uncle had not done it. They never even knew a thing about her father, beyond his lack of parenting abilities. They wouldn’t know how to make her become like her father. They had no reason to do it.
“Are her parents okay?” She asked trying to focus on Rebecca.
Her aunt shook her head, “No, first the brother and now her. No.” The words burned her soul, what remained of it.
She nodded, “I will need to see them.” She needed to punish herself, she needed the horrific pain the sight of them would bring. She also knew that if she truly had no knowledge of her best friends death, she would be there for them. She would feel their loss with them, it was her loss too.
“Well when do you get to come home?" Her uncle spoke softly.
Something happened in that moment that caused her some doubt. An exchange between them occurred, she didn’t know what it was but something stood out. His tone and her eyes darting at him. They knew or feared something.
"So soon?" Her aunt asked looking confused.
Hanna smiled sweetly, “Yes I’m very excited to come home.” Again their eyes exchanged a look. It was so subtle that had she not been looking for it she would have missed it.
"The doctors don’t think that maybe you should stay in?"
She frowned at her aunt, "No. There is nothing wrong with me beyond a slight concussion and malnutrition."
Her aunt pasted the fakest smile on her face, it was rigid, "Well you get some sleep sweetie. We will see you at the house tomorrow."
She frowned as they both walked toward the door, "Will you pick me up?"
Her aunt shook her head, "Oh of course. Silly me. Yes we will be here in the afternoon."
He uncle nodded along, "Night Hanna."
Their incredibly short visit and strange behavior made her suspicious. Her father could have been right about them. Something was up, of that she was certain.
Roland came to visit her directly after they left, as if he had been awaiting their departure.
He looked handsome for an old man, in a white golf jacket and black chinos. She smiled at his inability to look casual.
He smiled back at her sweetly, “Well good to see you on the mend then.”
She nodded, “Yes, my head is starting to feel better, slight concussion they said.”
He winced, “I wish there had been another way.”
She shook her head, “No this is perfect. It's exactly as it should be.” Her eyes misted, “I deserve at least a smack on the head.”
He frowned, “No you deserve to be rid of this curse, which is why I’m here.”
Confused, she tried to imagine what he was talking about.
He looked at the floor momentarily and nodded as if arguing with himself, “Against my better judgment I bring a message.” He cleared his throat nervously, “A Mr. Marcus Dragomir would like you to accompany him to out tonight.”
She frowned, “I’m not allowed to leave here until tomorrow.”
He nodded, “Yes he will take care of that.”
She grimaced deeper, “Marcus Dragomir, the man from my fathers stories that took place in the 1800’s? The one whose blood had healing properties according to my deranged father?”
She shook her head, "What? It's too much Roland."
He nodded once sharply, “He will pick you up at eight sharp.”
She sighed, “I have nothing to wear but a hospital gown. I'm not leaving here with my ass to the wind.”
He picked up a large shopping bag, she hadn’t noticed he had brought it in with him.
“Stop cussing. Everything you need is in here.” His eyes grew very serious, “I can't advise you on this and god knows your father never listened to me, but I would be very careful with him if I were you. He is not what he seems to be. His plans always benefit him, even when they seem to be helping you.”
She nodded, “Thank you Roland. I will be very careful.”
He leaned in and kissed her forehead softly, “Goodnight miss.”
He walked to the doorway but looked back at her, “Your aunt and uncle, did they betray you as we suspect?”
She nodded, “I believe they have an agenda. I don’t know what but something is off with them. I need to know how they knew to trigger it and why.”
He nodded, “Very good.” He walked from the room leaving her feeling confused.
The moment was all she got as the young policeman entered smiling. He brought her a tea, “Hi.”
She smiled not able to help herself, something about him made her happy, “Hi.”
“How's the head?”
She sighed, “Sore but not nearly as sore as my back from laying in this bed.”
He laughed, his laugh sent a shiver up her skin, “Yeah these beds make you want to get better.” His dark blond hair and blue eyes gave him the wholesome boy next-door look she enjoyed. She assumed he was within a few years of her age.
“So I need to go over your statement again.” He spoke softly.
She nodded wrinkling her lips, “I don’t think I recall anything else.”
He nodded, “I just want to make certain, the first few hours are usually the best.”
She winced, “Wow then we're screwed.”
He laughed again, sending a shiver over her body, “Well either way lets try shall we?”
She watched as he pulled out a pen and a small pad of paper. He looked at her and smiled, “So you were seen with Miss Macmillan the night you both disappeared, can you recall where?”
She shook her head, “No. We always did the same things though so if I had to guess…”
He stopped her short, “No guessing. If you don’t recall its okay.”
She shrugged, “Nothing then.”
“Okay well you were at a Starbucks. You were caught on video camera around eight in the evening. It’s the last place you were seen.”
She smiled lost in the thought for a second, “The pumpkin spice latte.” The words were a whisper.
His eyes jumped in surprise, “You remember?”
She realized she did, “Yes, we went to Starbucks because it was the first day of the pumpkin spice latte. It was her favorite. She always got a latte on the first day of that one.”
Her voice cracked as she realized tears trickled down her cheeks. She stared off into space not blinking, recalling the evening, “We went to my aunts house. Rebecca called her mom and dad because we wanted to go to the movie, but they weren’t home. My aunt made cookies, pumpkin chocolate chip.”
“Did you have a latte too?”
"The drink, I'm just trying to see if you both ate and drank the same things."
She shook her head, “I don’t like espresso. I had an Americano.”
He chuckled, “That is espresso.”
She blinked, sending more tears down her cheeks, “Its coffee.”
He shook his head, “Espresso and boiling water. Its what they made in Italy for the Americans who hated the espresso.”
She frowned, “I didn’t know that.”
He smiled, “What happened after the cookies and coffee? Did you make it to the movie?”
She shrugged, “I don’t know. I remember not feeling well, I was sort of sick or something. I told Rebecca I couldn’t do the movie, my stomach hurt. I don’t think we went to the movie.” She bit her lip searching her mind.