The Way Out of the Dark - Book cover

The Way Out of the Dark

G.L. Holiday

Chapter Two

On my way home, I thought about how I’ve walked to and from school everyday. I walked alone every time and nothing ever happened to me, nothing malicious.

I mean, I’d slip and fall on my ass in the spring because of the neighbors sprinklers. People would laugh but nothing beyond that.

Someone could have scooped me up from that puddle and taken me straight to Mexico. I would’ve never thought that if Lexi hadn’t made me paranoid.

I reached inside my pocket and fished around for my house key and suddenly felt anxiety.

I looked down the street that I had walked and looked to the other end of it and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. No strange men in black or cars tucked behind a bush, out of sight.

I took a deep breath and made my way inside. I locked the door behind me and pulled on it to ensure my safety.

I went upstairs to my room to change into comfy shorts and a tank top, throwing my clothes back into my drawer.

I figured what was the point of washing something I only wore for 6 hours. It’s only a quarter of the day I spent out of the house.

My house seemed a little nicer than most. There were two floors and a basement, two bathrooms, too.

I’m sure my parents thought that the luxury of the house would make up for the high cost and that they’d be able to pay it off in no time.

But then I was born, and the cost of luxury was getting uncomfortable. Loans were granted, mortgages were taken out.

For my mother and father, the house was a ball and chain of debt and a constant reminder of the house’s facade.

I remember I couldn’t go to Lex’s house that day because my mom said she wanted to talk to me.

For most kids, that would imply some kind of reward for making it through school with average grades and nearly perfect behavior.

For me it was probably my mom telling me to move out or that her and my dad were getting a divorce.

As I stepped out of my bedroom doorway, I heard a noise from downstairs. It sounded like someone hitting glass.

I reached under my bed and took out a baseball bat. I remember stealing it from one of the JV baseball boys after we broke up.

I crept down the stairs, trying my damnedest not to make a sound.

As I moved down, the sounds from outside became more apparent. It was coming from my back door window. I followed the sound through the kitchen and then it abruptly stopped.

My heart was racing a thousand miles an hour, and came to a complete stop in a matter of seconds. My breathing quieted and my head felt like sparkling water.

The entity that was on the other side of the door began to fidget with the knob. I wound my arms back so when it opened the door, I was ready to beat the hell out of it.

I didn’t expect what walked through the door.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” my mother shouted. The air my body had sworn against breathing filled my lungs. I lowered the bat and sighed in relief that it was just my mom.

“I’m sorry Mom, I was just paranoid, I thought it was someone else,” I confessed. She shook her head and walked through the house.

“Who did you think it was?” she asked, seemingly annoyed.

“I don’t know! A creep or a stalker… Or murderers,” I said, thinking about what Lex said earlier.

My mom glanced at me for a moment, and looked at me with a sort of glare. She rolled her eyes and opened her secret liquor cabinet.

I remember she was bent over, paused, like she remembered something.

“Oh, Taryn,” my mom said and I turned to her. “Your father and I are going out tonight.” I just stared.

“Why’s that?” I asked, curious. The way she said it made it sound like it was some sort of date night. I couldn’t remember the last time my parents went out on a date.

“I don’t know, your father said we were going out on a date to celebrate. Probably for my year of sobriety,” she said. She winked at me and snickered.

I sighed and dropped my shoulders. I thought maybe they were going to do something for me. Surprise me or at least talk about my future.

I felt a little selfish having that thought, for wanting my parents to be proud of me. But now I know that, that was a completely valid feeling to have.

Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t hate my mom. That being said, my mom wasn’t my favorite person in the world. She had this way of holding me under her thumb that I didn’t like very much.

Like the way she winked at me, it was her way of telling me that her secret was safe and she knew it. It was just a little scummy.

“When are you going out?,” I asked, wondering if I could possibly sneak over to Lexi’s and get back before they came home.

“Dad said around nine, why?” she said, pulling out a bottle of tequila.

“Well, I just wanted to know if I could go ov-” I was cut off.

“Nope!” she exclaimed, flicking off the cap of the bottle. I groaned and tilted my head.

“Well, what am I supposed to do? Can I have Lexi sleep over here at least?” I asked, slightly annoyed with the thought of sitting home alone while my parents lied to each other.

If I couldn’t even have Lexi over, it was going to be a long night.

“No, she cannot sleep over,” she said. I could hear her getting more and more agitated.

“Fine,” I said, finally giving in. There really was no purpose or good outcome to fighting with my mom. I either end up losing or not wanting what I wanted in the first place.

I decided to go back upstairs to my room, dragging my bat as I went. I dropped it as I walked to my bed and plopped down on it.

As I stared up at my ceiling, I began to think about my memories of the past few years. How little I’d done for my class, how unmemorable I was, how invisible I was.

Not in a bad way, almost a good thing even. I wasn’t bullied or harassed, only talked to by teachers. But having no one to talk to for three years kinda sucked.

I only met Lexi at the end of my Junior year and that was only because she bumped into me and felt bad. Then she bought me tea and we talked about our hobbies.

Surprisingly, Lexi and I had a bit in common. We both liked drawing and coloring and the same kinds of music. She also liked some of my clothes and we both binged on four seasons of The Walking Dead.

I thought about when we went to a Walker Stalker convention together. She was scared shitless.

I always saw people who had been friends since they were little and felt envious. But then I met Lexi and felt like I had known her forever.

I must have dozed off while reminiscing because when my mom woke me to tell me she was leaving, it was dark outside. She had glittery makeup on her eyes and a reddish-plum colored lipstick.

“Just wanted to let you know we’re leaving so get up.” My mother’s logic was infallible. I sat up with a sigh as she left my room.

She was wearing a short dress; the color or style didn’t matter. I just saw my fifty year-old mother wearing a dress for twenty year-olds.

I walked downstairs and into my kitchen to grab a drink. After staring into the fridge blankly for a while, I poured ginger ale into a glass.

I walked into the living room and sat on the couch, listening to the sound of clinking keys and hurried footsteps.

From the corner of my eye, I noticed my mom come into the room and walk in front of me. She picked up a skinny, black remote off of the coffee table and turned on the TV.

“Watch some TV and order some take out. We’ll be back around eleven,” my mom said and I checked the clock; it was nearly seven-thirty.

I never understood why she said they were going out at nine but left at seven-thirty until now.

“Don’t open the door to anyone, don’t invite anyone over and don’t make a mess.” That last one seemed like more of a threat than a direction.

She walked away and called to my father, who was standing in the door frame of the back door near the kitchen. He finished smoking a cigarette and snuffed it out. He stepped inside and kissed my head.

“Don’t wait up for us, Honey,” he said, smiling. The smile, though, was strange; it was sad, almost painful. He looked like he just heard that his childhood friend died.

I stood up to watch them leave and my father wrapped his arms around me. I hugged him back but it seemed unusual. He squeezed me tighter and longer than he normally would.

Any other occasion, if my dad wanted to hug me, I’d have no vexation. But that night, for some reason, he was acting strangely.

My father kissed my head again and he led my mother out of the house. I locked the front door behind them and watched as they drove away. I sat back down on the couch.

I was texting Lexi when I heard the name of my town from the TV and looked up.

There was a newscaster with blonde hair talking to the camera, standing in the dark.

“If you live in any of these towns, be careful, especially at night. Always be wary of strange looking vehicles and if you see this man, immediately call the police.

“Do not try to detain this dangerous individual,” she said. A picture prompt popped up next to her face.

It was a poor quality photo taken of a man who looked only a couple years older than me. It looked like it was taken by one of the victim's surveillance cameras around his home.

The man on my screen had a well-shaped face with deep hazel eyes.

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