Welcome to Whisper Pines
Author's Note: Ok so two things, one from now on this story will be posted on Mondays. The second is that I'm going to try something new, which is to use a new picture with each chapter. The pictures that I'll use are going to have some connection to the chapter. Or least that's the plan. I'll get them as close as I can :D. As for this chapter itself, I'd once again like to thank ashleigh for her great editing :)
“What’s that?” asked my sister, looking over my shoulder.
After leaving the cow at the diner, I decided to get into the back seat of the car. Sara had the choice to take shotgun but she loved the freedom in the back. I was feeling a little sleepy. The back seat allowed more room to lay down if I needed it. The new car was another bit of contention with us. Dad used to be seen as semi-cool because he drove a Mustang. It was one of those sleek, shiny newer models. It only had two seats, though. It was the reason he ended up selling it in favor of something a little more family friendly. Which meant our current vehicle---a 2017 Hyundai Accent. A big downgrade from the Stang if you ask me but seeing as the Mustang would never fit all three of us, it was necessary.
The only good thing about the Accent was the roomier backseat.
Sara poked my arm. “I asked you a question”
“Oh sorry,” I said, showing her the pendant I was currently holding. “I found it near the cow”
Sara took it from me, looking it over closely before handing it back.
I shrugged. “Maybe not to you but to whoever lost it”
“You’re going to try to find her aren’t you?” she asked in a mocking tone, I shrugged again. “Be her Knight in Shining Armor”
Sara started laughing then went back to her music. Just as well, I really didn’t want to talk to her anyway.
I looked back down at the pendant in my hand. It didn’t look brand new which meant someone probably had it a long time. It was a little worn too so that told me someone also gripped it in their hand, probably rubbed it a few times. It was definitely a cherished item. Not only that it had an inscription. It meant something to someone. Not just one someone either. There were two girls out there that this necklace and pendant had meaning too. Someone had the twin and I wanted to make sure that whoever they were, that everything was made right again.
Maybe I was just over thinking it all, though.
Maybe it meant nothing.
I didn’t really know all that much about friendships, to be honest.
I didn’t actually make my first friend until after Mom passed away.
His name was Doug. It was all rather a strange set of circumstances that led to our first meeting. I was on one of my many walks in the city proper. I rarely went into the city because I hated a lot of noise and tended to avoid large crowds whenever possible. Unfortunately for me at the time I had no choice. The online store I ordered my comics from didn’t have my current issue in stock. At least online anymore. Apparently, they had a physical store in the city, which sadly forced me to make the trip. I took the bus and dreaded it almost immediately. The way I look is always a problem, well at least to me. People liked to stare because they thought I was sick or an albino or something. It was all pretty strange. I mean not even Mom was as pale as I was. Don’t even get me started on Dad. Anyway, the bus was a mute point. It took me to the city, I got off a block from the comic book shop.
I met Doug inside.
I would never have given a guy like him the time of day, to be honest. He was tall, with broad shoulders and a buzzed head. He looked so out of place in there. Except of course for the Batman t-shirt, he was wearing. Our meeting was by some weird chance. We were both actually there for the same comic. I hated meeting people for the first time because of the assumptions---I was short, pale and had my hair. Everyone just assumed I was a girl and treated me like one. Not Doug though. We both reached for the same comic and he said, “Sorry Dude”. I was thrilled to finally be seen as the guy I was.
Our friendship grew from there.
It turned out we actually had a lot in common.
Then we moved.
Doug had my cell number of course. He also had my Skype contact information. Like with Fiona though, I knew it was only a matter of time before we stopped talking. Such was the way with things. I would try my hardest to keep in touch with him but I knew already how it was going to end.
Which reminded me…
“Hey Dad, can you pull over for a second?”
Dad looked in the rear view.
“You should have gone before we left the rest stop”
“What no, not that. I want to get my laptop out of the trunk”
Dad looked at the road. There was no one on it but us. Nodding, he pulled the car over to the shoulder and stopped. It only took me like a minute or two to hop up. He popped the trunk and I found my laptop bag right where I left it, wedged between Dad’s golf clubs and my school backpack. I grabbed the pack as well and carried both of them back to the car. I was about to get back in when I noticed we were close to one of those fences. On the other side, I saw a bunch of cows. They were off in the distance, though. I couldn’t help but wonder how many of them had blue eyes like the one at the diner.
“C’mon idiot!” shouted Sara, leaning out her window.
I walked back to the car, trying not to think about cows again.
We got back on our way in a couple of minutes. I was back in the front seat with Dad. I didn’t like it when Sara looked over my shoulder when I was doing things on the laptop. Especially when I was trying to call Fiona. I brought up Skype, waited as it called her number. It was taking longer than it usually did for some reason.
Dad must have seen me getting frustrated.
“We’re three hours ahead of her now, she’s probably in school”
I shook my head. “We...I mean they had a three-day vacation”
It was President’s Day weekend after all. The reason Dad wanted to go now so we wouldn’t miss any more school than we had too. Of course, we’d still miss school when we got to our new house. We left home---well our former home----Friday morning and it was now one o’clock on Monday afternoon. Eastern Standard time. The time zone change took some getting used to actually. It was still a little confusing actually. So I knew where Dad was coming from. No, Fiona and I had made a promise to one another Thursday night. We knew a long distance relationship would never work but we promised to still remain good friends. She also promised she’d be available today around this time to Skype with me.
I tried calling her again.
She finally picked up on the third time.
The Internet here in the middle of nowhere wasn’t all that great, to be honest. I was actually kind of surprised there was any at all. I’m not sure but we must have been driving through a Hot Spot or something. At least the picture wasn’t fuzzy or anything. Fiona’s smiling face appeared on the screen, just as beautiful as I remembered. Not that I could forget it, of course, especially seeing as we spoke last night in the motel. It was nice to see her again, look into those green eyes, admire all that auburn hair again.
“Hey Greek,” she said, with a smile.
God, I loved that smile.
It was this little thing we had. It actually wasn’t our doing. Fiona and I actually met at the school’s week-long Cultural festival. It was in October and as a Freshman, I wasn’t even sure how I got roped into it actually. It was a big thing though apparently. Each country had a table that represented their culture. The school tried its hardest to assign kids to tables with nationalities they represented. Most of the tables though were just manned by random students. Greece had been one of those tables for years apparently. That is until the Student Council sought me out. With a last name like Kanenas, it was hard not to know I was Greek.
Unfortunately for me, I was the only Greek kid in the whole school. I ended up having to main the Greece booth through the whole festival. Fortunately for me, though, the Ireland booth was right next to mine. The school didn’t really put the booths in any concrete order. There were also a lot of kids who manned the booths around me. Fiona was luckily one of them. We didn’t actually know each other’s names because the Student Council member who introduced us said “He’s Greek” and “She’s Irish”. So that’s what we ended up calling one another the whole time. We eventually learned each other’s real names but those names stuck with us as a little inside joke.
‘Where are you, your connection is a little slow?”
I groaned. “New York now. Not too far from our destination”
“I miss you”
“I miss you, too”
Our relationship wasn’t a very long one actually. We’d been friends for only a few months before she decided to ask me out. It was last month that we made it official. It was during Winter Break, we were at one of these indoor ice skating rinks. Fiona was a figure skater or was one in training I guess. She liked to spend what little free time she had---outside of school and practicing---at the rink. We were skating around together when she stopped me in the middle of the ice and asked me if I was ever going to ask her out. It took me a bit by surprise actually. Not that I didn’t like her, I really did. I just never really thought of her as girlfriend material. She took the next step though and asked me out, before kissing me of course.
That’s the way she was.
Not that I minded in the least of course.
“So how goes training?”
Fiona had a big competition coming up. She wasn’t the best in her class but she wasn’t the worst either. She’d been practicing this new move and she was getting pretty confident that she could pull it off. At least she was pretty sure last night anyway. Most of our conversations were about her skating, which I didn’t mind. She had a lot more going on in her life than I did. Me, the only thing I was ever able to contribute was a few quick things about the current comic I was reading or the game I was playing. I liked them a lot but I wasn’t nearly as passionate about them as she was her skating. She could talk for hours about it and I had no problem listening. Maybe that’s what made me such a good boyfriend?
“It's going great. Madame Olga says I’m ready”
Her teacher was this strict Russian Slave Driver. I should know, I’d had my fair share of run-ins with her. She called me The Distraction. If anyone was happy to see me go, it was probably her. She had made it known many times that Fiona did not have time for a boyfriend.
“So how are things going there?”
I quickly told her about the rest stop and the cow. It was after all the first time I could tell her something cool had happened to me. Not that it was really cool or anything but it was different. Plus how many people could say they say a Blue hoofed, blue eyed cow eating a designer shirt. Fiona laughed of course. When I mentioned the necklace, she agreed with my sentiments. I needed to find whoever it belonged too.
“BFF is for life, Kar. You have no idea how sacred that is to a girl”
When she wasn’t calling me Greek, she was calling me Kar. Fiona was the only one I allowed to call me that. Charlie was after all a nickname. One that I made sure everyone thought was my real name of course. Not that I didn’t like my real name, it was just a little weird. It's not every day you meet a boy named Karolos. Though to be fair it was the Greek equivalent of Charles. It just wasn’t a name one often heard outside of Greece. I wasn’t ashamed of it. It was my great grandfather’s name. I just didn’t want the same ridicule I got when I first started elementary school.
Fiona thought it was the coolest, though. She asked if she could call me Kar and of course, I said yes. It was hard to say No to her.
“I’m gonna ask around as soon as I start school”
“When is that?”
“Wednesday I think”
Fiona sighed. “This sucks”
“Tell me about it”
“I want you here with me.”
“I want to be there with you”
More than she knew. I was hoping Dad would come to his senses soon and take us back home. The odds of that happening were pretty slim but there was always a chance.
“Hey, have you talked to your parents about this summer yet?”
Right before I left, Fiona and I decided we weren’t going to let living on the other sides of the country ruin our friendship. So we came up with this plan. Depending on who could convince who first, one of us would travel either East or West and spend the summer with the other. It was a long shot of course but I didn’t want to lose her.
The look on Fiona’s face wasn’t promising.
“They’re not really keen on me spending the summer with a boy”
I’d forgotten about that little tidbit.
“We’ll think of something, though,” she said with a big reassuring smile.
My Fiona, always the Optimist.
We talked a little more about a variety of things, most of them pertaining to her life. I asked about her friends, about Doug of course. I wanted to know everything going on back home because I didn’t want to forget it. I couldn’t forget it. The more we talked, the more I realized I was really home sick. Thinking about it only hurt more. After about forty minutes or so, the conversation kinda got sour. We said our goodbyes then I closed up my laptop.
“Everything ok?” asked Dad.
I’m sure he was trying not to pry but it was hard not too, what with sitting next to me and all.
I shrugged. “I’m not sure really”
“You two are still friends right?”
“For now I guess. We were going to try getting together over the summer but her parents don’t want her staying with a boy”
“That’s tough. If it's any consolation, we have a spare room in the house”
I suppose there was that. Why wasn’t I happier about it, though? I mean I’d bring it up with her when we talked again tomorrow but I wasn’t very hopeful. I liked her parents but they were pretty strict. Plus they thought I was a distraction too. To them, Fiona should be concentrating only on skating. Not that I was actually distracting her from it, they just felt like I was. Now their daughter was giving something 99% instead of the full 100 like they wanted. It was kinda stupid but I couldn’t really fault them either. If I had a daughter and if she was passionate about something like Fiona was, I’d want her to give it her all too.
I tried not to think about it.
“Hey look at that!” said Dad happily.
I looked and saw. It was one of those green road signs, you know the ones that told you how far you were from a place.
Whisper Pines ½ Mile.
So we were finally here.
Our New Home.
“You’ve got to be kidding me!”
“Sara, it's not that bad”
“Really?” she said, pointing. “Dad that place is selling cassette tapes”
I looked to where she was pointing and sure enough, the sign did say they had all the latest cassettes. That wasn’t what worried me, though. What worried me were the lack of people or rather the lack of men. We’d only been in the town proper for about ten minutes and so far I’d only seen two men walking the streets. The rest were all women. Not that was a problem I suppose but it was kind of weird. Weirder than that though was the town itself. It was pretty small. My vague memories of this place were just that vague. I couldn’t really remember much about the town from when I was five. All I could really remember was grandpa’s farm and his big, welcoming house.
Most everything else was a blur.
It was hard not to be.
There was only one main road leading into the town itself. We’d been on it since we arrived. It was a pretty wide street, though, on either side were small Mom and Pop stores. They were kind of quaint if you liked that sorta thing. They weren’t the only places, though---I spotted a small church, an old-fashioned movie theater, and a small town hall. The largest building had to be the library which was directly across from the town center, a large gazebo smack dab in the middle of a turn-about. That was pretty much it for the main road too. I could see two roads branching off of it though so there was some promise there.
It felt like we were being blasted into the past.
It was all very old fashion and happy.
All the buildings were brightly painted in pastels and every hedge was cut to look the same. Even the flowers looked happy. If that was even possible. It was like that movie Pleasantville. The only thing that told me we were in fact in the year 2017 were the people. They were dressed like normal ones. Not some crazy Stepford-like pod people I was expecting from the look of the town. It didn’t seem a little odd, though. All the people looked very fit, like Dad, even the women. Ok so they weren’t like body builder grotesque or anything like that but it was clear they exercised a lot.
Dad finally stopped the car near a quaint Colonial looking building. A sign hanging above the porch told me it was the Bovine Delights Bed and Breakfast. Wow. There was an even a smiling caricature of a cartoon cow on the sign. Looking about, I noticed it wasn’t the only place that seemed strangely cow themed. There was a large bronze cow statue right in front of that gazebo.
This place was obsessed.
“What’s going on?” asked Sara, giving the place a weary look.
“The moving van has been delayed”
We both groaned.
“Tell me we’re not staying here!”
“Afraid so, kiddo”
“Dad, the bright colors literally make me want to puke”
“Then sleep in the car,” he said as he opened his door.
Sara let out an aggravated half huff, half scream.
I felt the same.
“I think Dad has lost his God Damn mind” she mumbled as we both got out of the car.
I nodded. “Let’s hope it's not contagious”
Sara laughed. I couldn’t help but smile at that, I couldn’t remember the last time the two of us made one another laugh. She ran ahead of me toward the B&B, I followed closely on her heels. She was through the door by the time I got there and I could hear her groan from the other side of it. That wasn’t promising. Stepping into the building myself, I could see why Sara felt the need to express her displeasure. Someone had taken the cow theme and gone overboard it. There were cow knickknacks and stuff animals all over the place. Now to mention the cow themed paintings on the walls, the cow cushions on all the chairs, even the sign in desk was painted to look like a cow. It was absolutely ridiculous.
“Gag worthy” whispered Sara.
Not soft enough because Dad shot her a nasty glare.
A moment later, a woman appeared from a doorway behind the desk.
She was a knockout.
About Dad’s age, tall with long silky black hair. She was just as fit looking at the women I’d seen walking about and her smile, it was enchanting. Her most dominate feature though were her eyes, I’d never seen eyes that green before. When she walked, I could hear the clack of her heels. I looked to Sara and even she seemed to be blown away by the vision before us.
“Welcome,” she said in a pleasant voice. “This is The Bovine Delight, my name is Rebecca Collins, how can I help you this fine afternoon?”
“I’m Costas Kanenas, I believe we spoke on the phone”
Her face lit up. “Oh of course. How foolish of me. It's a real pleasure to finally meet you in person”
The way she said “real pleasure”, made me roll my eyes.
Dad always had that effect on women. It got tiresome fast.
I watched Dad, waiting for his reaction. He smiled but I could tell he wasn’t into her. Besides, she was clearly too blind to see that Dad was still wearing his wedding ring. What kind of woman hits on a married man?
She turned to us. “These most be your children. My what lovely daughters you have”
Sara scoffed, Dad pinched his nose and shook his head.
She looked from him to us and back to him.
“Did I say something wrong?”
“I’m his son,” I said, speaking up.
She looked at me and frowned. “I’m sorry dear, it's the hair and...”
“I get it all the time,” I said interrupting quickly.
I didn’t need some stranger pointing out my flaws.
Rebecca looked ready to say more but stopped before she did. I’m not sure I liked her, to be honest. Sure she was gorgeous and she seemed kind but there was something else there. Something about her that bothered me. She was too nice. Maybe I was just overreacting because of her one-sided interest in my father but there was more. It was the way she kept looking at me and Sara. I didn’t like it. It was almost as if she was already planning ahead for the future, sizing us up for things she might be able to change.
Dad seemed to sense something as well because he broke whatever tension might have been building.
“I don’t mean to sound rude or anything but we’ve had a long trip and I was wondering…”
“Oh yes of course,” she said with a giddy laugh, putting her hand gently on Dad’s arm. “Let me show you to your room personally”
“What about us?”
Sara seemed to sense her interests as well.
“Oh yes,” she said, waving her hand. “Connie!”
I heard the slow approach of footfall. A moment later, someone came running down the stairs. Time seemed to stand still as the girl reached the bottom of the stairs. There was no doubt about the fact that she and Rebecca Collins were related. They both had the same long black hair and those piercing green eyes. The best part was she appeared to be my age as well. Well maybe a bit older, she was a little more developed than most girls my age after all. Her jeans hung to her curves quite nicely, though. I’m sure if I’d been lucky enough to go through puberty, something below would have been stirring.
“This is Connie, my daughter” Rebecca put a hand on the girl’s shoulder. “Connie, be a dear and show these two to our best rooms”
“Sure Mom,” she said, all bright and cheery.
I could almost hear Sara groan. I knew what she thought of the perky ones.
I couldn’t help but smile because this was going to be amusing.
“Follow me,” she said, turning and walking toward the stairs she just came down.
My sister and I followed without hesitation. We didn’t have anything else to do. I did manage to look back and see her mother slip her arm through my father’s, leading him off to parts unknown. Something about it pissed me off. I’m not sure why I was so mad she was trying to wrangle in my father. He was a grown man, after all, he was free to make his own decisions. I just couldn’t get over the fact that he was married or rather had been four months ago. It felt like he was dishonoring my mother’s memory or something.
I turned in annoyance, following the two girls.
On the second floor, we stopped for a quick moment as Sara asked some nonsense question. I took the time to take the bottle of mountain dew out of my pack. I was taking a sip when Sara asked a question I was interested in:
“How old are you anyway?”
It was a bit rude but I wasn’t going to chastise her for it because well I was curious too.
Sara just didn’t have any manners.
Connie didn’t skip a beat though when she answered: “Fourteen”
I almost spit the mountain dew all over the back of her head.
Fourteen? There was no way!
“With boobs like those?” asked Sara, grabbing at the tiny bumps on her own chest.
Connie laughed. “What can I saw. Milk does the body good”
“Milk did that?”
Connie laughed again. “Of course not. It's genetics”
Connie started to talk about something science related. I only half paid attention because well science was never my strong suit. Sara seemed to hang on her every word, though. Boobs were important to my little sister and any advice on how to grow them faster, she was all ears.
They were finished by the time Connie in front of a door.
“Here’s one of the rooms,” she said, opening the door.
My sister and I both took a look inside.
It was pretty sparse. It had a bed and a dresser. There was a door I suspected to a closet and a single window. The whole room was decorated in a pale yellow. It looked pretty gender neutral. I suppose if I had too, I could stay in there for a couple of days. I also noticed a desk in the far corner. It was perfect for my laptop. Connie didn’t say anything. She led us to the next room down and opened that door too. Taking a peek inside, I nearly gagged. It looked identical to the last room but it was pink. I’m not talking about a normal pink either, this was like bubble gum pink. There was a lot of frill and lace too. Clearly, this room was meant for a five-year-old or something. I almost gagged, I think I heard Sara actually making the sound.
“Oh c’mon it's not that bad,” said Connie, stepping into the room. “See, I fit in just fine”
“Yeah but you’re a girly girl”
Connie fake pouted. “And what’s wrong with that?”
Sara didn’t have an answer. She did have a solution, though:
“The yellow room is mine!”
She quickly bolted out of the room and I heard the door slam before I could even react. I cursed. The little traitor probably had the door locked already too.
“Well then,” said Connie with a big smile. “I guess this is your room”
“I think if I wear sunglasses, it won’t be so bad”
Connie rolled her eyes.
“What a pretty girl like you afraid of a little pink?”
I groaned. Not her too.
“I’m a boy,” I said miserably.
I was getting tired of people in this town mistaking me for a girl.
The look of shock on Connie’s face was priceless.
“You can’t be...I mean...the hair and the body...”
I shook my head. “I’ve heard it all before. Boys can have longish hair and my body well let’s just say I’m a little late in development”
Connie just stared at me for a few minutes but shaking her head.
“Well I guess I’ll leave you alone for a bit then,” she said and started for the door, she stopped before leaving, though. “Dinner is at six, I’ll come get you then”
I thanked her then she left.
Finally, alone, I couldn’t help but groan as I looked around the room. How could there be this much pink fabric in the whole world? Trying not to think about it, I walked over to the bed and dropped my pack on it. Opening it up, I rifled through to find my stash of comics there. I bought several for the trip but then I remembered I had a hell of a time reading in the car. Now that we weren’t moving, I could finally catch up on some well-needed reading.
I dropped on the bed and got to it. The bed spread and pillow were surprisingly comfortable. I was about halfway through my third comic when my eyelids started to feel heavy. Before I knew it, Connie was shaking me awake. Confused for a moment, she giggled.
“I think you fell asleep,” she said, taking the comic from my chest. “Oh Dark Avenger, I’ve seen those movies”
I groaned. “They hardly do the comics justice sadly”
She shrugged. “They were pretty cool to me”
She smiled at me afterward. She had a great smile. Not quite as good as Fiona’s but pretty darn close.
She told me dinner was ready now. I followed her downstairs to find her mother and my family already at the table. There was another person there as well, an older man who seemed engrossed in his newspaper. Rebecca called him “Dad” and told him they had guests. I watched as Mr. Collins lowered his paper and looked at Connie and I as we walked into the room. He huffed and went back to reading his paper. His daughter apologized and then everyone quickly started to eat. No one said Grace I noticed. Not that I was complaining, to be honest. Not that we weren’t religious, we just didn’t really do the whole church thing much. My parents were always too busy on Sundays and it was always a bother to go by yourself.
We did go to the church for Mom’s funeral, though.
I tried not to think about it as I concerned on dinner: Meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Another nice home cooked meal. I noticed that Sara and Dad weren’t complaining. I also noticed that the adults were drinking wine while us kids were either drinking pop---in Sara’s case---or milk in my case. Connie had a glass as well I noticed. Taking a sip, I noticed it was more Whisper Meadows. Well, when in Rome I suppose.
Dinner was a fairly quiet affair.
Rebecca had a lot of questions, mainly for Dad I noticed. She wanted to know about where we were from and why we moved. I tuned out Dad talking about Mom and quitting his job. I also ignored most of his speech about wanting to start over somewhere different. He mentioned something about touring grandpa’s dairy tomorrow but I wasn’t really paying attention. I did pay attention to Rebecca though. While she was still flirty, most of her advances had dwindled since finding out Dad had only been a Widower for four months.
Served her right.
Dinner ended just as quickly as it started, though.
“I want you two to head to bed now” Dad announced as Connie collected the plates. “We need to get up bright and early tomorrow”
Sara groaned. “You’re kidding right?”
Dad gave her a look.
“Go now,” he said, pointing to the stairs.
Sara huffed and crossed her arms as she marched out of the room.
I watched her go but didn’t need to be told to leave. Even with the quick four nap from earlier, I was actually still pretty tired. Thankfully I was awake enough to make it back to my room. I had just about closed the door when there was a knock on it. Opening it up, I found Connie standing there with some folded clothes in her arms.
“Your sister told me your secret,” she said with a smile.
“You pretending to be a boy, of course, silly,” she said with a playful shove of my arm. “You had me fooled there for a second”
I was going to kill Sara.
“Oh she also told me how all your PJs are packed away in boxes, so I took the liberty of bringing you some of mine. We look to be about the same size”
She held out the folded clothes to me. I took them with a quiet thank you.
“I’m really tired now, I’m going to lie down and try to catch up on some well-needed rest”
Ok, night Karrie”
Karrie? Who the hell was Karrie?
Connie smiled and started down the hall. I watched her go then saw Sara’s head peaking around her door, snickering.
Oh God, she was definitely going to get hers.
I closed my door and carried the PJs over to my bed. Unfolding them, I groaned. A pale lavender cami and bed pants.
Sara was definitely dead tomorrow.
Author’s note: As I’m sure all of you know, comments are life blood to an author. I’m not begging or demanding, but I certainly would appreciate anything you have to say (or ask). It doesn’t have to be long and involved, just give me your reaction to the story. Thanks in advance...EOF
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