Looking for a new life

Submitted into Contest #60 in response to: Write a post-apocalyptic thriller.... view prompt

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Thriller Drama Mystery

I had just moved to the peaceful town of FairyLand two days ago and there was still so much to unpack. The boxes remained piled on top of each other, the shelves covered with dust and the furniture covered with white sheets, except for my new bed upstairs on the right.

My eight-month-old baby Lisa was sitting on the floor on a huge round rug, white as snow. It was one of the few things I've had unpacked. The baby was entertained with her rag dolls, although she took most of them to her mouth to nibble, experimenting with the teeth that were starting to come out, so I took the time to clean some of the dust off the furniture in the room, where, I then distributed some of the artwork that I had brought from my old house in San Diego.

This new city seemed perfect for a fresh start. It was calm and isolated. The neighborhood didn't seem to want to show up. I hadn't seen anyone enter or leave the houses in two days, since mine was in the middle of two small gardens with various colors of tulips and some donated wooden benches. I thought that lack of movement outside was strange, but in a way, it gave me some comfort. The fewer people who knew about my move and the reason for it, the better. I was in Fairyland to start a new life, I had no intention of creating new friendships or even finding a new stepfather for Lisa. The last time I tried to take that step, I ended up in a hospital bed with several injuries to my face and body and, miraculously, I didn't die. I knew that the person responsible for this was behind bars, but that gave me no comfort or security. All I wanted to do was keep Lisa safe. Thomas would find a way to get even, I was aware of that. Even though he was in prison, I knew he wouldn't rest until he managed to kill me. Especially now that he knew he had a daughter. I couldn't allow myself to get away from Lisa. She was everything to me.

A very heavy cloud covered the sun and the room began to darken. Lisa was startled by that sudden change of light and started to cry and I had to pick her up to calm her down, but the thunder boom made her cry again.

“Calm down, my love, mommy is here. It's okay, my angel.” I said, kissing her tiny and smelling little head. Lisa was the best thing that had happened to me. Despite being the daughter of a monster like Thomas, she was the sweetest baby I've had ever seen.

When the baby calmed down and managed to fall asleep, I put her in the crib and continued to pack. Five minutes later, someone rang the doorbell. I jumped, alarmed, after all, my life had been a tightrope since I denounced Thomas and made him go to prison. I've always had to keep an eye open. Always be alert. I needed to do it for me and Lisa. Thomas promised revenge, that he would catch me, and I knew he wasn't bluffing.

There was a knock on the door again. I approached slowly and looked up from the door hole. On the other side was a woman in her seventies, with completely gray hair, except for a red streak on her bangs, with a tray in her hand covered with a blue and white linen cloth.

I opened the door.

"Hi, I'm Norma, the neighbor at the front, I came to welcome you." Said the lady, handing me the tray and forcing a smile. I noticed that her eyes scanned the interior of the house until they stopped at Lisa's crib. "Oh, there's a baby..."

I instantly narrowed the space between me and the door, feeling tight. I hadn't seen anyone there for two days, it almost looked like I'd moved to a ghost town, and now this person appeared at the door with a tray of blueberry and white chocolate muffins and seemed more interested inside my house and my baby than getting to know me, the adult in the house.

"Sorry, I invited you in, but I'm still unpacking." I lied. Well, it was not totally a lie. I knew nothing about that woman, only that she lived in front. I wouldn't allow her to socialize with Lisa like that, without having more information about herself.

"Sure, sure, I understand." She said, then turned to go, but gave up and turned back to me, I was already closing the door. "Excuse me?" I stopped, leaving a tiny crack in the door open. "I didn't hear your name."

"Diane." I replied, saying the first name that came to my mind.

“Nice to meet you, Diane. See you around." She left.

I closed the door, locking it, and began to watch her through the window. She said she lived in the house opposite, but ended up turning to the left and I saw her throw something in the black dustbin of the house. She walked to the end of the street and then turned back, towards the front house. Stopped at the entrance and looked over her shoulder at me. Then opened the door and went into the house.

"That’s weird." I said to myself. I was going back to what I was doing before when I saw her pull the curtain away a little and look back at my house. My heart started to race, but I wasn't sure if there were reasons for such anxiety. She was a woman in her seventies, she no longer had the life to be a thug or a murderer. Or was I being naive?

The next morning, I woke up with Lisa's cry and realized it was time to change her diaper and breastfeed her. I wiped a white handkerchief with water and wiped the little crust from her eyes.

"Good morning my love. Mommy already feeds you.”

At this, the doorbell rang and forced me to put on a robe and go down the stairs, leaving Lisa alone in the crib upstairs. When I approached the door and looked through the hole, I noticed that the neighbor at the front was at the door looking from one side to the other and trying to watch through the windows. That made me feel uncomfortable, but I deduced that I was just being paranoid and opened the door. The woman composed herself and smiled, a forced and with few friends smile.

“Oh, hello Diane, how are you? I came to get my tray.” She said. Again, her eyes swept the interior of the house and I started to close the space between me and the door. "It looks like your baby is crying." She said, her eyes on the long wooden stairs leading to the upper floor.

“Yeah, I need to go and see what’s going on with her. She is a little grumpy today.” I replied, ready to close the door. There was something about that woman that did not inspire confidence.

“Sure, I understand. My Nelson was also like that when he was a little boy. They are hard at this age. But it also happens in adults. My Nelson is always getting in trouble. He should come home soon, then you will meet him.”

She took a step forward, inviting herself in, but I was quick to think.

"I don't have a couch yet." I replied. “Sorry, can I invite you for a coffee when the house is ready? That way we can get to know each other better.”

She stepped back.

“Sure. I'll be waiting. You give me the tray back another day, don't worry.”

I closed the door and was about to go up the stairs when the doorbell rang again.

This time, I opened the door without looking through the hole. I came across with a couple in their mid-sixties who seemed to have been discussing something before I opened the door.

“Hello." They greeted at the same time. “We are the Parkers. We live two houses from here. Norma said you moved in two days ago, and we wanted to come and meet you.” Said the woman, a very well-dressed lady with an air of dignity. "I'm Lisa and this is Frank, my partner."

“Hi, I'm… Vi... Diane! My name is Diane.”

They looked at each other and then forced a smile.

"Welcome to Fairyland, Diane." Lisa replied.

"We heard you have a baby." Frank said.

I nodded in agreement.

“And the baby's father? Is he working?" Frank continued with the inquisition.

"No. We are separated." I replied, anger rising in my voice. I hated it when they asked me that question.

“Oh, what a pity! I’m sorry." It was Lisa's turn to speak. "Why did you split up, if it is not indiscretion?"

Actually it is. Or do you think I like to talk about my personal life with strangers? I thought to myself, but I outlined a forced smile and replied:

"Incompatibilities." Fast and short. “I'm sorry, but my baby is crying. She woke up a little grumpy today. See you around."

"Oh, okay." Lisa shot while walking away with Frank.

I closed the door and went back upstairs. Lisa was lying with her belly turned to the air, in tears. I picked her up and tried to wrap her up a little, then gave her the breast.

"Well, after eating you will feel better, my little one."

I approached the window, pulled the curtain away a little, and saw Lisa and Frank standing in front of Norma's gate, arguing. At this, Norma joined them and they began to whisper among themselves and cast glances and nods in the direction of my house.

I rolled my eyes, thinking they were crazy. Were they suspicious of me? What were all those questions for? Couldn't they just say "hello" and go? Why were they so interested in us? We were just an adult and a child looking for a new life. What harm could there be in that?

When Lisa finished breastfeeding and burped, I put her in the crib, watching her rub her eyes sleepily. As soon as she fell asleep, I could take a shower and eat something. I was hungry. And Norma's muffins looked appetizing.

I let the water run to temper it and let go of my long blond hair, which fell over my shoulders and hit the curve of my buttocks. I removed the robe, leaving my pale skin exposed and got under the shower, water soaking my hair and making lines through my body until it became a puddle of water under my feet.

I must have spent more than ten minutes underwater, between layers of shampoo and shower gel. When I was finished, I pulled the towel off the rail and wrapped it around my lean body. Then I put my feet, one at a time, on the cream carpet with the phrase "Life is good", put on my slippers and went to my room and removed some black leggings and a red and white striped sweater. I unrolled the towel from my head and dried the tips better, then threw the towels on the floor, got dressed, and went to see if Lisa was still sleeping.

When I opened the bedroom door, Lisa was not in the crib and the entrance door slammed. I looked out the window and saw Norma, Lisa, Frank and another couple running away to Norma's house with my baby. I ran down the stairs, crossed the street and knocked loudly on Norma's door.

“Open up, I know you're there. Please give me back my baby! ” I screamed, between crying and despair.

At first, no one opened the door, but I could hear them mutter something and two minutes later, Frank appeared at the door.

"Who are you?” Frank asked, his voice deep and authoritative. Serious and intimidating.

What do you mean, who am I? Were they crazy or what? What the hell was going on? Why had my baby been taken?

“What do you mean? I'm Diane, your neighbor.” I replied, taking a step forward, ready to push and be able to get in to retrieve my Lisa.

"Are you sure your name is Diane?" Frank went on, taking a step forward to stop me from trying to get in. "Why did you came to Fairyland?"

"What the hell is going on? Are you a cop? Is this an interrogation?”

Norma came up behind Frank.

"We know you're not called Diane." She said.

"Ok. Can you give me back my daughter now?” I said, impatiently. Lisa started to cry. "Please give me back my daughter or I will call the police!" I practically screamed.

"Only after you telling us who you really are and what you are here for." Frank insisted.

"Ok. Fine.” I let my guard down. "Can we come in and speak civilly?"

Frank nodded and made room for me to enter.

I sat in the armchair and Norma, Frank and the other couple's wife sat across from me, while Lisa rocked my Lisa and made her laugh to distract her.

"You can start talking." Said the other man.

"My real name is Victoria and that is Lisa." I said, nodding at the baby.

"Is she really your daughter?" Frank asked.

"Yes."

"Why did you lie?"

“I am in a protection program and I thought it was best to move to another city, in a place where I could raise my daughter in peace and start a new life. So I thought it was also better to change my name.” I straightened up on the couch. "And you were strangers, you acted like strangers and I panicked."

“And the baby's father? Did you lie about that too?” Frank looked like an investigator wanting to screw up everything.

"No. We are not together... Lisa's father... is in jail. I put it him there myself.” I replied in a choked voice.

"What did he do?" Asked the other man.

“He raped me, killed my mother and promised to take revenge on me. That's why I told you the first name that came to mind. I don't know you, nor you know me. I am trying to change my life, to start again, to forget the past, and to be here talking about it…” I explained.

"Oh, poor thing." Norma came over and handed Lisa back to me. “We are very sorry. You know, we already had a lot of people coming to Fairyland with very bad intentions, and we were thinking that you could be one more. We have to protect our city from intruders.”

Frank got up and started pacing the room.

"Calm down, dear, she came for good." Lisa said. “And we, as citizens of Fairyland, have a duty to protect them. Now they also belong to the city.” She turned to me. “You will be in good hands here, Victoria. We will take care of you and your baby.”

Frank nodded, as did Norma and the other couple.

"I appreciate it, but I don't want to get you in trouble." I replied.

“You don't understand, Victoria. You are now one of us. I will protect you as a daughter and Lisa as a granddaughter. We will be here for you, anytime. No one will harm you or your life. Believe me, we have this city very well guarded and protected. Only enter and leave whoever we want.”

"Can I ask why did you let me in?" I asked, still a little suspicious, but at the same time relieved to know I could count on them.

“We didn't. We were watching you. But now that you've told us the truth, you can stay with us and start your life over. If you need a job, you can talk to Jonas here" he pointed to the other man, "the factory down the street is his."

Jonas agreed with a nod.

“Thank you so much for everything. Seriously, thank you for trusting me. You don't even know how important it is to me and to my daughter.”

Everyone smiled and surrounded Lisa, who was looking at everyone with her huge black eyes, and laughing out loud at Frank's adventures. I finally felt good in a place. And from what I could see, Fairyland was going to be a good place for Lisa to grow up.

September 24, 2020 10:52

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2 comments

Yvonne Barker
08:24 Oct 01, 2020

Good story but it seemed more fantasy than apocalyptic - unless the meaning of apocalyptic - 'event involving destruction or damage on a catastrophic scale' was meant to be the personal damage caused to Victoria by her rape, and the killing of her mother.

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Susana Franco
18:23 Oct 13, 2020

Thanks for your feedback :-)

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