By: Dylan Rhea
Genre: Young adult fantasy
Seattle is best known for its welcoming and diverse culture, but Kaden cannot seem to grasp the life it offers. When Megan, Kaden's best friend, decides it's time to hit the night life, it turns into a night they will never forget. Megan mysteriously disappears and Kaden is the only one invested in finding her. Along the way she meets an unusual ally, Finley, who reveals a world beyond the ordinary streets of Seattle. Kaden finds herself pulled into a dark world of fae as the two struggle to locate Megan before it's too late.
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“Working out is so overrated,” Megan said before taking a bite of her Chunky Monkey ice cream. “I mean, these girls are way too skinny. Who wants to be a size four anyway? I know I don’t.” She sat alongside her best friend Kaden who ate potato chips, barely able to keep her eyes open. Megan, seeing her friend half asleep, reached for her couch pillow then slapped her friend across the face with it. Instead of hitting her intended target, she sent several chips flying out of Kaden’s hand and onto the floor. “Wake up! It's only ten!”
“I'm getting too old to stay up this late,” Kaden replied stretching off the couch to pick up the chips which had fallen.
“We're only eighteen. These are supposed to be the best years of our lives…and stuff.” Megan grabbed Kaden's leg and began to rapidly shake her, “We were young! Heartache to heartache we band! Something, something, something no promises!” she screeched Pat Benatar incorrectly.
Kaden kicked her friend on her side, “Stop it, you're embarrassing me. It's a Friday night and where are we? Sitting in my living room watching reality television and eating bad food. I can feel my brain cells dying as we speak.”
“So let's go out! We can go to a party,” Megan took a deep, gasping breath “Or a movie! What about a strip club?! I've always wanted to go to one.” Megan always seemed to get excited by the most outrageous things. She continued to ramble on about different things they could possibly do on a Friday night, but Kaden stopped listening after the mention of her worst nightmare, mini golf. This was the reality of her life. An eighteen-year-old girl, who decided not to continue her life with another four years of schooling, currently looking for a job, but she had one crazy friend. Even her younger sister, Quinn, had a better life which actually involved a boyfriend.
Kaden never really took to the other kids from her neighborhood. Sure, she was good with other people when she had to be, but only if she was forced to. It was hard for her to make friends; she had more difficult things going on in her life while growing up. Normal kids had issues like 'which movie do we go see this weekend' while her problems were more 'what dinner am I making my sister tonight'. Most of her life Kaden had taken care of her younger sister, seeing that their mom was always in and out of the Seattle Mental Health Center. When their mother was home, she spent most of her time drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. It didn’t help much either that their father had left a long time ago. Despite her parents, Kaden and Quinn were always there for one another, no matter what.
Breaking Kaden’s silent thoughts, Megan said, “Are you listening to me?”
“Of course I’m listening to you,” she sighed. “How could anyone possibly not hear your voice? We should go out, maybe tomorrow night. But I'm not going to a strip club. What about.....” The only interesting thing Kaden knew of was some jazz festival weekend at a pub downtown. She had seen a flyer for it at the grocery store just the other day. “What about the jazz festival at O'Brien's? I'm sure there will be a lot of strapping young men for you to toy with.”
“That's genius! We can pretend to be these incredibly intelligent scholars studying the art of music at the University of Seattle. This will be easy,” Megan nodded her head while rubbing her hands together. “Alright, my name will be.....” She sat back against the couch eyeing the room for assistance to come up with a fake identity, “Victoria Wrench.”
“Victoria Wrench? That's what you're going with?” Kaden questioned mockingly. Megan probably had gotten the idea from the Victoria Secret bag which hung on the banister.
“Absolutely! It's sophisticated and sexy,” she crossed her legs Indian style on the couch to face Kaden. “Now, your name should be...” Again, Megan searched the room for help. “Torrey Jackson,” she said squinting at Kaden with an approving look. Kaden couldn’t tell where she came up with that name; nothing in the room had Torrey or Jackson on it.
“Alright then, it's settled. Tomorrow at six you can come over. But we should probably leave around seven thirty so we can get good seats,” Kaden said as she began to clean up the mess of food her friend had made.
“This is going to be so much fun!” Megan cheered, spilling a copious amount of chips on the floor.
By eleven Megan was already gone, leaving Kaden to clean the kitchen where she had found her mother slumped in a chair with a bottle of vodka on the table. Their kitchen was more like a cubicle filled with decrepit appliances left over from the previous owners. Even with just another person in the room, Kaden felt claustrophobic. Her mother sat at the table babbling to herself which was a normal thing. This usually meant Kaden would avoid any kind of communication with her at any cost. What would be the point? She wouldn’t be thinking straight and probably would just end up yelling about something random.
“Ugh, I just don't know anymore,” her mother slurred, sipping the last bit of her glass. Her dark brown hair was roughly pulled back into a disheveled ponytail. The dark circles under her eyes contrasted against her pale skin which made her look like a raccoon.
Kaden was well aware of her mother’s judging eyes following her every move as she put the junk food away. Just as Kaden was about to leave her mother to her sulking, she noticed no one had cleaned the pile of dirty dishes which sat in the sink. Naturally, Kaden took it upon herself to clean the dishes which smelled of old food. “You know,” her mother began, “you always cried.”
“What are you talking about?” Kaden answered in a restless tone as she rolled her eyes. After each plate she scrubbed clean, she then placed them in the drying rack.
“When you were a baby....” her hammered mother paused to collect her drunken thoughts. “You cried all the time. It was annoying,” her joyful giggle turned into a light sob just as the front door swung open and Quinn stepped in.
“I'm back,” Quinn announced, shaking off her rain coat and placing it on the banister. Her wavy brown hair was soaked and frizzy. Kaden noticed her boots had mud caked on them as she slipped them off her feet.
“Quinn! You're home!” Their mom practically sang. “How is Justin?”
“You mean Joe?” Quinn corrected the name of her boyfriend, who she’s dated for the past two years, as she entered the now crowded kitchen.
“Yes, Joe. That's what I meant.”
Quinn was only sixteen but she acted much more mature than anyone her age. She took the bottle of vodka from their mother, placing it back in the liquor cabinet where it came from. “I'm going to go to bed now,” their mother stood up grabbing onto any piece of furniture so she could use it to help steady herself. To their surprise, she somehow managed to make her way up the stairs without face-planting.
“Has she been like this all night?” asked Quinn.
“I don't know,” Kaden shrugged. “I was watching TV with Megan. She must have slipped in through the back door,” she hoped to change the topic before getting a headache. Quinn helped her older sister by drying the dishes she had finished washing.
Quinn and Kaden were practically twins. They shared a love for the same things, knew exactly what the other was thinking, and sometimes even finished each other's sentences. Although they were similar in many ways, when it came to looks they were polar opposites. Quinn took after their mother to the point of being mistaken for her when they went shopping. She was a few inches shorter than Kaden with thick shoulder-length brown hair. Her hazel brown eyes matched the olive skin she had, which was a trait she received from their father. On the other hand, Kaden was the tallest of the family, though she herself was considered short at the height of five-foot-two. Her hair was a gorgeous bleach-blond that matched her grey eyes and fair skin.
The girls basically raised one another. With their mom out of commission most of their life and their dad missing in action, how could they not?
Their mother's depression deprived them of their childhood, along with having a dad who was more focused on himself than anyone else. He spent his nights sitting on the couch watching endless amounts of television with whiskey in one hand and the remote in the other.
The relationship between their parents had always been rough, even before things got bad with their mom. When Kaden and Quinn were young, their parents always argued, mostly because of their moms’ postpartum depression which she developed after Kaden was born. Not long after Kaden was born, her mother struggled to adjust to motherhood. After two years, her father thought it might help her if they had another kid, Quinn. Although at first their mother was better, she continued to struggle with ‘inner demons’ as their dad used to say. Once her postpartum depression turned into chronic depression, it took a toll not only on the couple’s relationship but their entire family relationship.
One Easter, their mother remained locked in her bedroom with the blinds closed. This was right before she went back to the hospital for the fourth time. Their dad hadn’t seemed to care it was a holiday. That or he was too drunk to remember. He had sat on the couch like any other night spacing out to what Kaden imagined was a better life. The night before Easter was always when their mother tried to put toys out in the living room for the kids to wake up to. But this year, since their mother was in a bad place mentally, Kaden searched the house for her old toys to give to Quinn. She’d placed them in the living room to make it look like the Easter Bunny had visited while her father sat watching her, not bothering to help in any way. The next morning, Quinn was so happy her smile had stretched to her ears and her eyes were full of joy.
“How’s Joe?” Kaden asked with relationships on her mind.
“He's good. We walked around the park which was nice until it started pouring. I’m pretty sure tomorrow we're going to a movie.”
“So are you guys going to get dinner near the theater? Megan and I were planning on going to O'Brien's for the jazz thing they’re having.”
“Really? That sounds like fun. Maybe you'll meet someone,” Quinn raised her eyebrows up and down.
“I doubt it,” Kaden grumbled as they finished up the dishes just before they both headed off to bed.
As Kaden slept peacefully in the comfort of her own bed, images began to float through her mind. Her brain flashed vague images from her childhood until landing on her sixth birthday party.
It was a bright October day for Seattle. It wasn’t too cold out yet so she wore her blue fall coat as she sat at the park’s picnic table. The only difference between her dream birthday and her actual one was that there was no one there. Kaden sat alone at the picnic table that had a pink table cloth which blew in the wind. Her cake sat in front of her with six colored candles and each seat had a plate laid out for her guests, even though there were none.
The childless park was so unnatural, so eerie. The lonely slide, the empty monkey bars, and the deserted swings blew in the wind. Even the park bench, where all the mothers sat chatting as their kids ran around playing, was lifeless.
“Happy Birthday,” a tiny girl tapped on Kaden’s shoulder. She jumped at the sound of her voice, half expecting it to be in her mind. The girl had her long black hair tied in a ponytail. Kaden recognized her immediately as her best friend from class.
“Thank you,” she automatically responded. “Where is everyone?”
Megan shrugged her shoulders and took a seat at the table next to Kaden. “I have a present for you,” she reached into her pocket and pulled out a stone, “Here.”
Kaden took the stone and analyzed it. It was a small shiny stone, black with deep red blotches. The six year old Kaden didn’t know the name of the stone, but the eighteen-year-old Kaden who loved learning about various stones and minerals knew it was called ‘blood stone’. “I love it,” she said rubbing the smoothness of the stone underneath her little fingers.
“You won’t,” Megan said.
About Dylann Rhea
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