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Contemporary Adventure

Yakira Bensaïd grew up on the road. She barely remembered her life before her father decided to move them from state to state, hunting for strange phenomena. When her mother died, Yakira’s father couldn’t handle living in their suburban house and that’s when his obsession with the strange began. He obsessed over everything unusual from Bigfoot to UFO sightings. Anything that would be described as weird or unusual, her father wanted to investigate it. He was determined to find the truth, but as his health began to decline over the last few years, traveling became more difficult. Yakira promised that she would continue his research until she uncovered at least one true event in honor of her father. Much to her maternal grandmother’s disapproval. Her grandmother was a pastry chef in Maine and often called her father when Yakira was growing up to complain, loudly, over the phone about how he was keeping her out of a proper school. Her paternal grandparents were more concerned about their grandchild growing up in an RV. 

Yakira opened her eyes to the blaring morning light from the window. They traveled fifty miles to investigate mysterious sightings of a bear-man in the woods of Rhode Island. Yakira owed it to her father to at least see what was there. Her only hope was if she found something this time. She searches the side of the bed to find it empty with her boyfriend Torin Ó Síorán nowhere in sight. She sets about her usual routine with a hot shower where she sang loudly - and she’s been told off-key - to get herself ready to start the day. She got dressed into a pair of jeans and a simple tan tank top with a flannel shirt over it. The small kitchen/living room smelled strongly of eggs and hashbrowns thanks to Torin who was at work scrambling the eggs on the stovetop. Torin waved at her with the spatula and leaned to the side to kiss her softly. “Morning,” Yakira greeted, after kissing him back, as she took a seat at the island in the center of the room.  

Her best friend Cliona Pérez Ó Coileáin emerged from the smaller back bedroom that had a separate entrance. Her hair was mid-throat in length and had blond and purple strands woven into her dark curls. She had a deep connection to nature with a fondness for moon phases, meditation, yoga, and was a self-proclaimed psychic. She was dressed for her morning yoga and had her phone pressed to her ear, arguing in Spanish with the person on the other end. Her parents divorced when she was a child and hadn’t been in the same room since. Her mother and her half-sister were proud Pérez women that believed in traditions and keeping Cliona involved which often conflicted with her Irish father’s family plans. And often led to very loud phone calls from both sides of her family. Cliona quickly ushered the conversation to goodbye and hung up. “I think sometimes she forgets that I can’t just hop over in five minutes when I’m in a whole other state.”

“Well, at least you have the excuse of being in another state.” Yakira grabs a small round tomato from a bowl and pops it into her mouth. 

“The only thing saving me.” Cliona takes a deep breath. “Smells great. But I am late for my yoga. I was going to do a sunrise thing to rechange my aura but I overslept. Let me know when you’re ready to go search for bear-men.” She grabs a muffin from a bag on the island and begins pinching the top off as she went out the door.

~~

The woods were quiet. Dim light streamed through the branches. Yakira remembered as a child searching the woods for large footprints, fairy circles, and little green men. Her father would give her a flashlight and would narrate lessons about how to track as they explored the woods. Walking through the woods brought her back to those memories. “Find anything?” Yakira asks, shining her light up into the trees. 

“A few very friendly squirrels and some deer tracks. I haven’t gotten any sign from the universe,” Cliona says. She had changed into a pair of jeans and a hunter green t-shirt. She had an outfit for every occasion.

Torin kneels to look closer at a log. “Nothing here,” he says. “This is the area the campers swore they saw the bear-man.”

Cliona’s phone chimes. “No bear-man here.” She walks up to Yakira and shows her a video of a bear standing on its hind legs in the middle of a campsite. “This was two miles from here. Just an average black bear on two feet.” 

“Not necessarily,” Yakira says slowly. “Maybe they saw something else…”

“Doesn’t hurt to look around some more,” Torin suggests. He puts a gentle hand on her shoulder and kisses her on the cheek.

Yakira watches her boyfriend and friend for a moment before following. She thought this time would be different than the other times. All she can do is hope that the next corner they turn will reveal something useful.

~~

Yakira picks up a box out of the cramped closet she shared with Torin. They spent the day in the woods, traipsing after a figment of some campers’ imagination, and came back to the RV with nothing to show for their time. She moved quietly out of the bedroom to not wake up Torin as she maneuvered the box through the door and down the few steps that led to the open concept living room and kitchen. From the laughter echoing from Cliona’s room, she was still awake and had company. She places the box on the table and takes a seat. She carefully pulls out the scrapbooks she made from all of her adventures with her father. Underneath were a variety of bells, postcards, and other souvenirs from the states they went to, along with books on American folklore and alien sightings that date back to Roswell. Some were her father’s that he handed down and others were ones she collected. 

The start of the oldest scrapbook had photos of her family before her mother died. Photos of her first birthday party with both sets of grandparents when they still all got along. Yakira flips the pages of the last happy memories they shared with her mother until the end of the scrapbook that possessed photos of the first trip she and her father took. Each scrapbook was filled with strange sightings and explorations they took from their trips to investigate incidents throughout America's history such as the Battle of Los Angeles in 1942 to the Ellsworth UFO sighting to exploring Ape Canyon - after her father read about the 1924 incident with an ape-man. Every photo found them smiling from location to location that found them making friends with waitresses, UFO hunters, storm chasers, and everyone else in between. She never felt like she was missing out. Even before her mother died, she was quiet and had only a few - what she could honestly define - as friends. Her father tutored her so school was never an issue - except with her grandmother - and every school day felt like an adventure.

Looking back, her father was always smiling but his eyes always looked sad. She pulled out one of his journals and flipped through the pages. He gave them to her when he was pushed to retire from traveling but she hadn’t given them much notice. Something in her kept her from reading them. Her father had maps, notes, and theories written inside but it was the stories about her that caught her attention. She carefully read about how he lost faith in any of the theories of Bigfoot or UFOs but her love for travel and adventure kept him going. Growing up, she never thought about her upbringing as being unconventional or strange because every day with her father felt extraordinary. She always felt like it was okay to believe in the strange but now she wonders if her father was just using her to run from his own grief. She carefully packed the items back into the box and brought them back to her bedroom.

November 17, 2021 22:39

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