The teapot was screaming in my kitchen as I sprinted in to turn off the heat. It was dark outside, with only the large pendant lamp fixture over the table creating a soft glow. The tile of the floor was cold on my bare feet as I moved swiftly as I had done a thousand times. I pour the hot water into two mugs and everything feels so quiet and peaceful.
I’m leaving Jack waiting eagerly at the table for the tea.
I quickly add a pinch of sugar to both cups, despite Jack hating anything sweet, and give the dark mugs a swirl as I make my way over to the old wooden table.
I place the mug in front of Jack and in return he smiles at me.
“You are always the sweetest, is there anything you won’t do for me?”
His grin always had a way of putting me at ease, his eyes looking at me like there’s nothing he can’t make better. We had been seeing each other for about a year now and everything has been perfect.
I smile with a slight blush. There really wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do for him. He had been there for me at my lowest point.
“We have to get rid of Anna,” Jack says abruptly, still smiling.
I sit for a moment. Here in this kitchen, I had completely forgotten other people existed. It felt like this particular moment was isolated from the world and there was only Jack and I…
Anna. Who is Anna? I stare blankly back at Jack.
“Rachel, I need you to do something for me,” Jack is still smiling as he says this, however his smile is different.
I freeze. The room seems to shift before my eyes and an uneasy feeling starts creeping in. His eyes are no longer comforting. I notice how hollow and emotionless Jack instantly looks. I'm unable to breathe. The air is being sucked out of the room.
Simultaneously a chill slowly creeps down my spine as I realize this kitchen is not mine, this table, these mugs are all unfamiliar. With a sudden panic I notice how cold I feel. But above all, I’m terrified. Terrified about what Jack is about to ask me to do.
I woke up with a sudden jolt. I’m soaked in what I come to realize is the morning dew on the grass.
“Where...” I slowly mutter to myself as I’m taking in my surroundings.
Grass, patio, green chairs, large oak tree... I realize I’m in my backyard.
The sun is still buried behind the mountains so it must be sometime before 6 AM which means my parents will still be asleep. Thank God.
I slowly pull myself up to my hands and knees to take stock of my body and belongings.
After things with my sister, Kayla, I’ve had a rough couple of years. This wouldn’t be the first time I’ve blacked out, although waking up in my backyard is a first. I’ll have to tell Anna, she’ll get a real kick out of this.
Purse, check. Old Samsung phone, check. License, check. So far so good.
Last time I lost my iPhone, my parents had had enough so they got me a Samsung flip phone circa 2006 until I could prove I was responsible enough for an expensive phone. I don’t love it, but there were certainly pros to the Samsung my friends had lovingly named ‘Flippy’. For one, there’s no such thing as “find my friends” or any location tracking apps where my parents can religiously check where I am. With every previous iPhone they insisted on knowing where I was at every single moment. If I ever turned my location, there were consequences.
With Flippy, they had to put their trust in my vague “I’ll be out for a bit” in exchange for saving some money.
I start to slowly move myself to my feet and I can’t help but stumble a bit. Ouch. This is going to be a bad hangover. My parents had become accustomed to my rebellious behavior and lack of presence on Sunday’s due to my Saturday night activities.
Sundays used to be a day where my mom, dad, Kayla and myself would always be together. It ranged from Sunday hikes, Sunday dinners, Sunday beach outings to just binging Game of Thrones. It was Kayla’s favorite day until she went missing… STOP. I can’t think about this right now. The thing about hangovers is with all the discomfort in your body, you tend to let your mind wander in order to distract itself. Not today. I can’t.
I make my way to the backdoor to find the key I hid under the mat. Not my parents favorite spot, but better than being woken up by your drunk 17 year old daughter banging on the door.
With light feet, I tip toe my way upstairs, past Kayla’s closed bedroom door and into the safety of my room.
I flip on the light as I head into the bathroom Kayla and I used to share. I can smell the booz on my breath, so a shower it is.
I stop to glance at myself in the mirror.
What a site: my light brown hair in clumps from the grass mattress, my mascara running down my eyes and what’s this? A nice little cut across my face! My parents will love that.
I continue my self judgment down my body, a nice bruise on my ankle, my clothes soaked and muddied from my night time sleeping spot and.. this isn’t my jacket.
I stop at the light blue jean jacket. This isn’t my jacket. I take it off and scan it over. There’s a scribbled ‘AM’ on the tag and I realize I’m wearing Anna’s jacket.
When did she give me this? In fact when did we separate last night?
I’m now coming to realize I don’t remember a whole lot from the night before.
Typically with a night of this caliber, Anna and I will sleep at one another's house.
All well. I grab my phone and shoot her a quick text to let her know I have her jacket and call me when she wakes up.
I shower away the night before, slide into bed and check my phone hoping for a response from Anna. Nothing so far. She probably went home at a decent hour and is sleeping like a normal person. Despite this, a pit in my stomach begins to form.
As I’m about to put my phone on my nightstand, it buzzes with a text from Jack.
“Hey beautiful, did you make it home okay?”
Kind of an odd time for Jack to be awake given it is about 5:45 in the morning.
“Sort of.. I had a weird dream about you. It kind of freaked me out.”
It takes him a few minutes to respond back, “Rachel you know it’s just a dream”.
I put my phone back up on the nightstand, unable to respond.
I try to close my eyes to get some sleep, but I can’t shake the feeling something is wrong. I’m not sure if it's the hangover or the less than comfortable sleeping arrangement from earlier, but either way, something doesn’t feel right.