mydarrling


Leah’s Diary: New Year’s Ghosts

December 21, 2013


Hey! Sorry it’s been so long! To make up for it, this is a super long entry!
 
WARNING: ahead of time, there may be some triggers in the last paragraph for those of you who need to watch out for them. Also, all the italic section is a memory so when it switches back to normal font, it’s back in the present time for Leah. I hope you enjoy the entry! Love you all! <3 Annee
 
Dear Diary,
 
A Lindsey Stirling song seeps to my ears from my headphones. Thump. Thump.  That’s new, I think, wondering if it was possible that I’d somehow missed two stomps in the song I thought I’d had memorized. Thump. Thump.  Louder this time. No, not possible. I pull an ear bud out in time to hear a third knock on my door.
 
“What?” I groan, hitting pause on my new mp3 player. 
 
The knob turns and Dad pokes his head in. I relax since it’s not Mom coming to hound on me. From the time of my return from Rachel’s, Mom’s been so snappy and overbearing. Dad on the other hand, had been the closest thing I had to a friend. And when Seth wasn’t in his room humming along to love songs on the radios—something weird and unusual for Seth—or out with friends, he’d sometimes come in and talk to me. 
 
“Hey, Lee-bear. I could tell your mom was plotting to come up and drag you to the neighborhood party tonight so I figured I should come warn you. Mom’s not so great at being relaxed and keeping her cool sometimes.”
 
I force my lips into a tight grin. “Thanks, Dad.”
 
“Really though, you should come. I don’t think it will be too terrible. And if it is, you can be my excuse to leave. Or vice versa.”
 
A short laugh escapes me. “I’ll think about it. What time?”
 
“Ten-thirty. And the usual spot. Not the same as last year’s though since this is just the neighborhood, not the council’s party.”
 
“Okay.”
 
Dad leaves and I spend a minute thinking it over. Last year when I went, I was still with Sam. It was just before he disappeared. For a few minutes, I allow myself to remember, knowing it would come in my dreams tonight anyways.
 
I hear the doorbell ring downstairs and then voices as it opens and closes. Sam must be here. I smooth over my dress, straighten my corduroy jacket one last time and head downstairs with my sandals sinking into the carpeted stairs. I watch Sam’s head lift from his conversation with my mother and his eyes gaze across me. He takes my hand at the bottom step and doesn’t let go as I come to stand beside him, not even when my father comes in the room. In fact, he kisses me quickly on the cheek. I blush which makes Sam laugh. 
 
“As long as it’s fine with you, Mr. and Mrs. Clearwater, I’ll take Leah to dinner and then we’ll meet you in a couple hours at the party,” Sam says, looking both my parents in the eye.
 
Dad nods his head once. “Sounds fine. Have a good evening you two. No messing around. And take good care of her, Sam. She’s my princess.”
 
“Always, sir. I would never let anything bad happen to her.” Sam smiles at me. We bid my parents a good evening, and head outside. I laugh when I see the car Sam’s got for us for the evening. He doesn’t have his own car yet and instead borrows from someone. This time he has his mother’s ancient, beat up VW bug. I punch him in the arm and run to escape the teasing I know will come in return.
 
Sam laughs, shakes his head and runs after me. I pull open the passenger door, get in and lock the doors. Sam jogs around to the driver’s side and leans down to look in the window. First, he raises an eyebrow and then shrugs when I give him a challenging look. I grab the keys from the middle console—no one steals cars in La Push— turn the car on and the radio up enough to make the seats vibrate. Looking back at the house, I see my parents and Seth peeking out the windows laughing. I wave and smile before turning back to Sam. His nose is pressed against the glass, his lips drawn into a pout, and his eyes wide, faking sadness. I burst out laughing so hard it takes me awhile to find the unlock button. 
 
Sam gets in the car, turns the radio back to its normal volume and watches me laugh.
 
He smiles. “Well, I certainly no longer regret bringing this car.”
 
“Why’s that? You like getting locked out of your own car? That’s really weird, Sam, my man.”
 
“Ha, ha,” Sam says sarcastically as he backs up the car. “No, not really. But I do love seeing you laugh and have a good time.”
 
I take Sam’s free hand that’s not driving and lay my head on his shoulder. 
 
“I love you,” I say.
 
“I love you more,” he counters, leaning to kiss my head at a stop sign.
 
“Where are we going?” I ask as we head further into town instead of our normal date route towards Forks.
 
“You’ll see.”
 
I close my eyes and breathe in Sam’s smell; sweet, delicious and mature. My stomach does flips even though I’m comfortable with Sam. He’s home to me. 
 
The car comes to a stop and I open my eyes to find us parked near the edge of the forest, not our usual place but somewhere I’ve never been. 
 
“Ready?” I don’t answer Sam through words but sit up. Before I’ve got my seatbelt off, Sam is opening my door and taking my hand in his. 
 
We hike through the forest, Sam helping me around and over nature’s obstacles. 
 
“Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea,” I comment as I see our next trial is a large pile of rocks to climb over without a hint as to what’s on the other side. The accumulation of rocks ranges from small pebbles to stones as big as Seth’s head and looks unsteady. I’m more than ready to turn back after watching a squirrel scamper across sending several rocks—of varying sizes—tumbling down to the dirt. 
 
“Nonsense,” Sam replies and scoops me into his arms. Instinctively, he holds me close and I curl my arm around his neck, linking it with my other hand. Sam paces himself and ascends the mound with ease. He’s sure-footed and so natural in the forest.
 
“I thought we were going to dinner anyways, Sam.”
 
“We are.”
 
“What’re we gonna do? Catch it ourselves?”
 
“If that’s what you want. But not exactly what I was thinking.”
 
We reach the top of the pile and after a few steps down, we are on the most beautiful cliff edge overlooking the forest, the rocky beach, and beyond that, the waves of the ocean. You can even see A-Ka-Lat, known by those outside of our tribe as St. James Island. Sam sets me softly on my feet and I gaze around at the breathtaking view. 
 
“How did I not know about this place?” I ask.
 
“Honestly, I have no idea. Sometimes the tribe council has evenings or parties up here. It’s kept pretty quiet though. They don’t want a bunch of tourists or trouble-makers up here.”
 
“We’ll we’d better leave then,” I say, moving to face Sam and thread my arms around his neck again. Our foreheads touch and for a moment we breathe each other in. It doesn’t take long though before our lips meet and Sam brings me even closer to him. When we stop to catch a breath, I pull back a bit and smile.
 
“I miss you.”
 
“You see me every day, Lee-lee,” Sam laughs. 
 
“I know but if it was my way, you’d always be around.”
 
“Me too. Soon. Once we graduate…” 
 
I press my lips against his again, interrupting his words.
 
“I love you, Sam.”
 
“I love you, Lee-lee. Are you hungry?”
 
I turn back to look around the cliff again, wondering if we just came up for the view and Sam still plans to eat at a restaurant. No, there on the edge of a cliff, still ten feet from the drop, a blanket is spread across the wild grass and damp earth. A cooler sits by the edge of the quilt. I raise my eyebrows. I must have been pretty distracted to miss a bright red box. 
 
With our hands linked we go to the blanket and arrange ourselves comfortably. Sam opens the cooler and begins getting out the food. Apparently it’s actually a hot/cold box, with half of it meant to keep food warm for a few hours and the other side to keep things chilled. We sit facing each other as we eat, but I’m not looking at Sam. Instead the view distracts me for the majority of my meal. As the full moon rises, I find myself concentrating more on Sam; the soft brown of his eyes, his full lips, his dark russet skin, his feathery hair. Everyone of his features, I know as well as my own.
 
“What are you thinking about?” Sam asks, breaking the silence.
 
“You,” I answer, setting my drink on the ground and scooting beside him. Sam puts his drink down as well and drapes his arm around me. I rest the back of my head on his chest and tilt my chin up to see him.
 
“So…New Year’s resolutions?” Sam asks, his voice steady and curious.
 
I groan, “Uhh. I hate those. If you want to do something, do it. Why wait for the New Year? I hate that word, goal. Sounds so…Uhh. It should be more like ‘What’s on your bucket list?’ And pick twelve or so; one for each month. Or smaller ones, to do each week.” 
 
From the movement against my head, I can tell Sam is nodding. 
 
“That makes sense. So, your bucket list then?”
 
I think for a minute. “I don’t really know. Maybe we should make one for us to do together,” I suggest, another set of stomach flips arriving.
 
Sam brightens at the idea and and picks up on my own excitement. He pulls out his phone and opens the notes in front of us; ‘Number one: Never go a day without a kiss.’
 
“That sounds achievable,” I smile and move to kiss him. “What else?”
 
“I don’t know. Until you’re finished with school, I don’t suppose your parents would like us to do much more in that direction. Maybe some kind of date adventures; miniature golfing, or scavenger hunts or some stuff like that.”
 
I scrunch up my face in an attempt to look upset but Sam kisses me on the nose and I end up laughing.
 
“My Lee-lee,” Sam whispers and kisses me once more. After a few minutes we begin cleaning up our food, folding up the blanket, and storing them both under a tree. Sam says he’s coming back for them tomorrow, so we begin the hike back down. Sam helps me down the sliding rocks again and guides me through the forest by the light of the moon. If it were just me alone in the dark forest here, I wouldn’t have a clue as to how to find my way back, let alone see all the obstacles. It’s almost like Sam has a sixth sense. 
 
Soon we’re back at the car where Sam opens my door for me and waits until I’m in to close it. We check the time and decide to head to the New Year’s Eve party although we’ll be a bit early. Even though there’s plenty of time to spare, most everyone is already there. Our neighborhood usually throws a New Year’s party each year, but this year is a council meeting party—not that that means anyone out of the norm will be there since La Push is so small. The council throws a party every year, but rotates which holiday it’s for. Sam and I make our was to the crowd dispersed among the small grass and mud covered field. Music plays loudly, forcing everyone to talk louder to be heard. We spot my parents with Billy Black, Charlie Swan—actually from Forks but invited anyways since he’s pretty much family—and Old Quil who’s another council member, and head toward’s them. Their circle widens as we join.
 
“Hey kids,” says Billy with a smile on his face.
 
“How are you Leah? Sam?” Old Quil says and shakes our hands.
 
“Good,” we answer in unison. I smile at our jinx and lean against Sam. He wraps his arm around my waist at the same time I fold my arms and grab his other hand. We’ve been together so long now, Dad doesn’t even blink. I know he approves of Sam and how well-mannered he is despite his father’s short comings. 
 
“How has your evening been?” Mom asks us.
 
“Amazing. Sam’s quite a good cook and the view from our picnic spot was incredible. You could see A-Ka-Lat.”
 
“Oh yeah? I bet that was beautiful with the sun setting and stars coming out.”
 
“It was,” I answer. 
 
A slow song comes on through the speakers and Sam knows by the jerk of my head to look at him that I want to dance.
 
“Excuse us,” he says politely and escorts me to where others are dancing. “Your parents and the others are talking about us,” Sam says as we sidestep in a circle.
 
“How do you know?” I ask.
 
“They’re all watching us and I can read our names on their lips.” 
 
I turn to see them and watch as they meet my eyes and all quickly look away. I laugh and Sam joins in; alto and bass, a harmonious sound that blends with the fast song coming on.
 
For a long time we make rounds to friends and distant family, back to my parents and again to the dance floor. We do separate a few times, me being whisked away to the dance floor by my father to swing or slow dance, and Sam chatting with the adults and my mother. By the time eleven-thirty rolls around, my feet are aching and my voice raspy from having to speak so loudly. Sam notices how worn out and tired I am and watches silently for an opportunity to get away. When an older couple takes the dance floor doing a traditional Quiluete dance and drawing most of the crowd’s attention. My parents are watching intently along with the rest of their group so Sam takes my hand and leads me a way into the forest. We go to the trail that runs around La Push, a hundred and fifty yards or so in. In fact, that’s where we usually spend time together, just not this part of the trail. Sam finds a mossy boulder with a bed of pine needles below and spreads his jacket for us to sit on.
 
“Tired?” he asks, already knowing the answer.
 
“Mmhmm,” I murmur, closing my eyes as I rest against his shoulder.
 
“The hike probably didn’t help.”
 
“It’s worth it if I get to be with you.”
 
I hear the crack of his parched lips as he smiles. We are quiet as we rest for a few minutes. A loud crack makes me jump. Sam’s body tenses, his arm curling tighter around me to offer—no, give—his protection. Another snap and footsteps. Hushed voices. We both look around for the source of the noise. Two dark silhouettes stand out and pause as they catch a glimpse of us.
 
“Who’s there?” Sams asks, his voice strong.
 
The figures stop walking and turn to see us.
 
“Um…,” a male voice hesitates, “we’re not really supposed to be here so…we’ll just go.” 
 
Sam stands up and finds the voice’s owner in the darkness.
 
“Who. Are. You,” Sam growls.
 
“Parker. Parker Vance. And my sister, Julia. Please, just let us go.”
 
“Why are you out here? You’re not from La Push.”
 
“No, no. We’re from out of town,” the voice says.
 
“Why are you here?” Sam repeats.
 
When the voice responds, it is thick with the threat of tears. “We shouldn’t be. We—”
 
The girl speaks for the first time, sensing her brother’s trouble finding words. Her voice sounds younger than I thought her to be. “Our mommy and daddy went to heaven and the bad people took us so Parker’s taking us to a nice warm place. Only he forgot how to get there and Madi went to get help, only she got took again. So me and Parker are just trying to find more good people like us.”
 
Somewhere during the little girl’s explanation I stood up. The moon came out from behind the clouds, giving us more light and illuminating the pair’s exhausted and dirty faces. I walk to Sam’s side and touch his arm. He turns and his face softens when he sees the pleading look on my face.
 
“Please don’t let them take us,” Parker says. His eyes are distant and afraid, like he’s remembering something haunting from his past. I turn away from Sam to him and am taken back by how handsome he is.
 
“Come on,” I say. “It’ll be okay.”
 
I take hold of Julia’s hand and begin leading the way to the parking lot, leaving no choice for the others but to follow. I hear Parker’s loud footfalls and have to look over my shoulder to see that Sam is there too, as his footsteps are nearly silent. We reach our car and I grab mine and Seth’s cell phone from the middle console to dial my mother’s number.
 
“Leah? Where in the world are you? You two do not—do you hear me?—not, run off like this!” She continues rambling on, not allowing me a word.
 
I say, “Mom!” several times growing louder each time until she finally stops speaking.
 
“What?” she snaps.
 
“Can you and Dad and Charlie please come to the parking lot ASAP?”
 
“Uhh, okay?” She sounds confused but I know they’ll come. 
 
I watch as three figures emerge from the crowd and walk toward us at a brisk pace. Under the streetlamps, it’s easy to see that both Parker and Julia have not bathed in days. They are so thin; they’re stomachs must be long past growling and now just suffer in silence. Even the skin on their faces stretches tight across their cheekbones. Parker’s eyes have dark circles below them and Julia’s covered in goosebumps, shivering despite the unusually warm night.
 
“What’s going on?” Charlie asks as they approach our silent gathering, surveying the newcomers. 
 
“I’m hungry,” Julia says to Parker, tugging on his arm.
 
He replies, “I know, sissy. We’ll find something in the morning.”
 
Charlie meets Parker’s eyes and when Parker says no more, looks from me to Sam. “Sam? Leah?”
 
Sam answers, “We found these two in the woods. Parker and Julia.”
 
Julia shivers again and I remove my jacket, wrapping it around her.
 
“Let’s go back to the house and we can figure things out,” Dad says.
 
“We brought Charlie from the house and Billy and Jacob so we don’t have enough seats in the car. Do you have room, Sam?” Mom asks.
 
“Yeah, we can take them. Leah…”
 
“I’ll sit in the back with Julia,” I say, exchanging a look with Sam. He doesn’t want Parker to be able to do anything to us from behind like in the movies, and no way would he want me to sit next to him. It may be silly to consider such a thing but I don’t argue with him. He’s protective—which I like—and the last thing he’d want to do is take an unnecessary risk. Charlie retrieves Billy and Jacob from the crowd. Our group departs and gets in the cars to head for home driving behind my parents.
 
For seeming to have lived in the forest for awhile, Parker smells incredibly good. He has a woodsy scent—not like Sam’s forest floor and sea air smell—but a sweet, sappy evergreen aroma. The only sound in the car during the short drive is Julia humming a lullaby.
 
At the house, Sam waits for Parker and Julia to go in first, after Mom, Dad and Charlie and takes my hand as we bring up the rear. Parker and Julia settle on the couch with Dad and Charlie in recliners. Mom busies herself with checking in over the phone with Seth and getting mugs of warm milk and toast for our visitors. Sam and I head over to our usual spot on the love seat and he wraps me in his warm embrace. Only a minute after receiving her milk and gulping the entire glass, Julia falls asleep on a throw pillow. 
 
“All right, kid. Parker, was it?” Charlie begins. “Let’s hear this story.”
 
Parker gazes around at all the eyes on him and then looks down, not saying a word. 
 
“Okay,” Charlie continues. “We’ll start easy. Where are you and your sister from?”
“Seattle,” Parker’s smooth tenor voice replies. The sweet sound of it makes me shiver and Sam gives me a strange look which I pretend not to notice.
 
“And your last name?”
 
“Vance.”
 
“Where are your parents?”
 
This too is only followed by silence. 
 
“Look, Parker, I’ll be honest; I’m a cop. I want to help you two out but I can only do that if you tell me what’s going on. I promise not to let anything bad happen so long as I can. I will do everything in my power to help you out. So either you can answer my questions and I will do that, or I can take you to the station in the morning to answer them,” Charlie says.
 
Parker’s face twists into a look of anguish.
 
Words come from my mouth before I’ve even decided to speak. “They both look exhausted, hungry, and need to clean up. Let’s let them sleep through the night and take care of their needs. Maybe Parker will be more open after a good night’s rest and a full meal.” 
 
Mom agrees and the men instantly know that there is no use arguing against the two of us. 
 
“There’s two beds in my room and Seth’s gone for the night so I can take his,” I say.
 
“You sure, Leah?” Mom asks, already gathering pillows and blankets.
 
I nod and Parker follows Mom up. Dad scoops up Julia and he follows as well. I stand and Sam comes up with me. 
 
“Leah,” Sam whispers seriously once we are out of earshot. “I don’t like this. Them taking your room? Him?

“Sam,” I argue, “they have no place else to go.”
 
“The couches, Leah. Not your room!” he hisses.
 
I shake my head and go upstairs. We stand between rooms in the hallway.
 
“I’ll be fine,” I insist. “I love you.”
 
“I love you, too.”
 
“Come over first thing in the morning and you’ll see that everything is fine. Text me when you get home.”
 
Sam nods but his lips are drawn tight and I can tell he still despises the situation. Sam retreats down the stairs and I get ready for bed in the bathroom then head to Seth’s room shutting the door behind me. 
 
“Goodnight, Leah,” my parents say, and I hear them head back downstairs. 
 
There’s a soft knock on Seth’s door a few minutes later at the same time my phone buzzes. It’s Sam saying that he’s made it home. I text him back telling him ‘goodnight’ and ‘I love you’ and then open the door expecting Julia to be there. Instead, it’s Parker standing there in a clean set of clothes a bit big for him. 
 
“Hi,” I say, unsure of his reasons for being here. A voice in my head tells me to call for my parents, that Sam has been right but the words that come next from Parker say otherwise.
 
“I was wondering if I might ask you a few things? And perhaps confide in you. You’ve been so kind to us, Leah,” he says in that charming voice. 
 
“Yes, of course. Umm—” I look around at our options of where to talk and remember Seth’s bed is a hide-a-bed. He wanted a couch in his room to make playing video games easier but there wasn’t room for both that and a bed. I go back in, clear my pillow off and fold up the bed. Parker hesitates in the doorway until I put the couch cushions on, and tilt of my head towards the sofa. We sit  half facing each other with nearly a foot between us. 
 
“Why did you help us?” he asks.
 
I shrug. “It seemed like something I should do. I would want someone to if it was me. And our chilly, wet weather already isn’t too fun even with a warm house.” 
 
Parker nods, and goes to ask another question.
 
“Wait,” I interrupt. “My turn, if I may.” I wait for an approving nod. “Is what Julia said true? About your parents and everything?”
 
Parker hesitates before he answers, looking down at his hands. “It started about three months ago. We’d just moved from California to Seattle. Our parents went out to sign some more papers on our house, only they never got there. There was a bad rainstorm and we’re not so used to this weather. Something happened with the car; they lost control and hit a truck. We didn’t know what was going on. It got late and they didn’t come home so we—Madi and I—put Julia to be and then went ourselves.
 
“When I woke up, my sisters were downstairs and there was a stranger in the kitchen an police officers on the couch. They took us to a home, the Bergstrom’s, where we stayed for three days. Then to the Delany’s. As nice as they were, they just had too many kids and it wasn’t home. It was like a combined duplex with two families, both with biological, adopted, and foster kids. We were walking to school one day when these people came and offered us a lift. Julia accepted so Madi and I had no choice but to follow our little sister already in the car. We didn’t go to school that day. I don’t even remember the weeks after that. They’re just gone. Until one day, a few weeks ago, we woke up and they’d forgotten to lock the door. They were in another room so we sneaked out.
 
“For about a week we ran, stealing from trash when we could and collecting rain water. It was clear, though, that we had to keep moving. We have a family friend  who lives just over the Canadian border and if we could just get there…Only Madi started to get sick. She threw up every morning and could hardly keep anything down—not that there was much to eat anyways. She got upset and found a little gas station. She went in to get help while Julia and I hid outside across the road. Then a car showed up. The same one from weeks before. The people went in and only minutes later, Madi was being forced into their car again. We couldn’t go back or get help—I’d turn eighteen and could be charged with kidnapping since we’d disappeared from a foster home. It looked bad so we had to just keep going. We’re running out of luck though. It’s only a matter of time before we starve or freeze or something attacks us,” Parker finished in a fearful whisper. I close my eyes trying to process everything. 
 
“Madi’s your sister?”
 
“Yes. She’s fifteen.” 
 
A tear spills from my eye, sympathetic of their hardships. “How old’s Julia?”
 
“Seven.”
 
For the first time since Parker began his story, I turn to face him fully and look him straight in the eye.
 
“You are incredible for staying alive with your sisters so far. If you remember where the place was you escaped from, I bet Charlie—the cop friend—could help get Madi back.”
 
Parker shakes his head, “They’ll end up back in a foster home. Even though I’m eighteen now, I haven’t graduated yet. I can’t support all three of us. And if we told and those people weren’t located, I can be accused of kidnapping the girls. You can’t tell anyone this , Leah. Not even your parents. No one can know. Okay?”
 
“Okay,” I agree, even though common sense tells me not to. Parker has trusted me and if I can’t explain, maybe I can convince him to tell Charlie something. “I promise.”
 
“Thank you, Leah. For everything. Just giving us a good meal and a warm place to sleep is more than I’d ever thought would happen. I’d wished though, and you made that come true. It’s so much.”
 
“Of course.” We are quiet for a moment so I ask another question. “So, what now?”
 
“Well if we could stay another day or two to get more rest and energy. I know the cop probably won’t let me go too long without answers, so…I don’t really know. I’ll think of something. Just as long as I can keep Julia quiet while we’re around.”
 
“I don’t have my license but maybe I can talk Sam—my boyfriend—into giving you a boost. And you’ll let me know if there’s anything else I can help with?”
 
“Yes.” A yawn interrupts his words. 
 
“You should get some sleep. Just give me some kind of signal if you need or want to talk more.”
 
Parker nods and stands up. “Goodnight, Leah. I’ll never stop owing you for this kindness.”
 
He envelops me in a warm hug, giving me another whiff of his delicious smell. 
 
“Goodnight, Parker. I hope everything works out.”
 
He leaves the room and I put the bed back together. Despite my fatigue from the long day, I have a hard time falling asleep—too much to think about. Sam, Parker, Julia, Madi, Charlie, so many fill my thoughts; It takes hours to find peace and silence in my mind.
 
In the morning, I am faintly aware of a knock and someone coming in but I don’t fully arouse until sunlight streams in through the window and someone sits on the edge of the bed. I stretch my arms and legs and rub my eyes to clear the gunk that settled there overnight. A smile comes to my face when I see that it’s Sam in the room. My parents must be in a good mood to let Sam come up while I’m in bed which is surprising since we sneaked away from the party last night; they must be preoccupied with our company. 
 
“Good morning, beautiful,” Sam says, leaning to kiss me quickly—no, maybe not quickly. There’s no such thing as a quick kiss when it comes to us. “How’d you sleep?”
 
“Pretty good.”
 
“Good. I brought you some breakfast,” Sam says lifting up a tray of scrumptious looking food, equipped with orange juice and a daisy in a vase. I smile bigger and sit up, pushing more pillows behind me and moving to make room for Sam next to me. He hands me the tray and I lay my head on his chest while I eat.
 
“How are you? How was your night?” I ask between bites.
 
“Better now that I’m with you. I’ve been worried. Up most of the night.”
 
“You know you can call me. Or text. I’m fine,” I tell him. “Parker…he’s a good guy. He’s just trying to keep his sister alive.” Sam shrugs and I know he wants to change the subject. “Thank you for last night. I had a good time with you. As always.”
 
“Me too. If we didn’t have school and me work, I’d take you on a date everyday.”
 
I smile for a moment but the thought of returning to school after our break makes me groan, “You had to bring up school.”
 
Sam chuckles. “Five more months. Maybe you should see about doing something over the summer so you can graduate early. Then we could go to Seattle or somewhere together in the fall or winter.”
 
As Sam speaks, already holding my left hand he traces the base of my ring finger giving me chills. So soon. I want it though. More than anything else, I want Sam to officially be mine forever.
 
“Not sure my parents would go for that. I don’t even turn seventeen for another month. And besides, you’ve already been accepted to UW so it’s way too late for me to even apply.”
 
“Yeah,” he sighs. “I just…I wish and hope. I want to be with you always. And not just a date every Friday and Saturday night but every day and night. I…dating isn’t quite enough anymore. Well it is, I just wish…”
 
“I know.”
 
“I’m not sure I’m even going away this year.”
 
“What? Why?”
 
“I don’t want to leave you. I’ll find another job, maybe more to Forks or at least find another house, but, Lee-lee…” I wait as he finds the right words. “Leah, I love you. And I do not want to leave you. I can wait another year for you so long as you’re all mine after that.”
 
I lean up to kiss Sam. “I love you, too. I’ll be okay with whatever you choose, and I certainly won’t stop you from hanging around here.”
 
We chitchat for a bit longer about more lighthearted things as I finish my meal. Sam goes downstairs to give me privacy to shower and dress. It’s nearly ten in the morning when I go downstairs but I don’t suppose anyone has been up for too long because of the late night. Sam is waiting for me, sitting on the bottom step observing from a distance the heated discussion. He stands and puts his arm around me and I assess the situation.
 
Dad and Charlie seem to be pestering Parker for information while he refuses to speak to them, only Mom and Julia. Julia is coloring at the coffee table with Mom on the floor beside her. 
 
“Give them some time for goodness sakes!” Mom says defiantly. “They were found starving and freezing in the woods. The least you could do is give them a day or two to warm up to us.”
 
“Sue,” Dad says gently, “I’m not against helping them. But we’d at least like some answers what with all the hospitality. We want the answers so we can help them more.”
 
“I can’t just let them stay here and not do anything. It’s against my code of conduct. They’re minors, or at least the girl is, and if they’re missing you can be held accountable for accessory at very least. Now, kid, Parker, just give me a birth date, your parent’s names, something, anything, to work with! I will help you,” Charlie says.
 
Parker shakes his head and glances over his shoulder to meet my eyes. He looks worn and desperate, just wanting a bit of peace to find some rest. Sam looks down at me curiously having noticed Parker’s gaze along with everyone else. 
 
“Sue, Parker, Charlie’s right. We need to at least talk this out civilly,” Dad adds 
 
“Julia,” I say. “I have a box of dolls in my closet if you want to go up and play with them. They’re in a white cardboard box on the left corner.
 
“Okay,” Julia nods looking happy to leave the tense room where her future is being discussed.
 
I walk to my spot from last night on the love seat and Sam of course follows. Mom joins Parker on the couch. Dad and Charlie also take seats but everyone sits on edge.
 
“I’m dying here, Parker,” Charlie says. “I want to help you guys.”
 
“I don’t know that you can,” Parker says, speaking for the first time since I’ve come downstairs. “And I know for certain that you won’t help me do what Julia and I are trying to.”
 
“And why’s that?” 
 
Parker stays silent. Charlie lets out a long sigh and begins to rant out his spiel about trying to help.
 
“Wait!” I interject. “Wait. Why can’t we just let them stay while they need to and then give them some stuff to help them get where they’re going?”
 
Parker excuses himself to use the restroom probably thinking we could talk better without him too.
 
“We can’t do that because it is my duty to do more,” Charlie explains. I feel defeated in a sense and regret ever bringing Charlie into this after his next words. “If I suspect runaways or kidnappings or whatever, it is my responsibility and liability to report them. Any kind of home they may end up in is better than living off garbage and plants in the woods.”

“What if it’s not for them? And what if they’re going where they’re going is better than any of the other places they might end up?” I counter.

Charlie shakes his head and doesn’t speak for a moment. Then in a softer tone, matching the gentleness of Dad’s from minutes ago, “Did Parker tell you something, Leah?”

The hesitation in my reply gives everyone a clear answer. Parker might be out of the room but is he within earshot? No, it doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t tell even if he was on another planet. “I can’t say,” I finally whisper.

“Please, Leah. It will be better if you do,” Charlie pleases with me.

All at once, Charlie, Mom and Dad begin arguing loudly with one another again.

Leah, can’t you just tell them a little?” Sam asks me quietly. “At least a bit more than what Julia told us?”

I shake my head. “I promised him I wouldn’t.”

“Can’t you tell me? I won’t tell anyone else and maybe between you and I we can figure out a way to help.”

“No, Sam.” I don’t even dare consider asking him to give them a ride now. He is apparently on Charlie’s side and would tell after he got back from dropping them off somewhere. They probably wouldn’t even make it a mile; the cops would be all over them.

“Why the heck not, Lee? What’s it gonna hurt? The way he’s hiding it all looks bad you know. Why can’t you at least tell me? Or get him to tell someone? They can’t stay here. That was just for one night.”

Now I’m upset. My voice is raised when I speak again. “Sam, it’s not your house! It’s up to us, not you. And Parker’s not hiding anything, he just needs a little boost. Some food, rest and a warm bed for a few days. Quit being so overprotective and nagging. Parker and Julia’s situation is none of your business.”

 “Yeah, of course I’m going to be protective when we find an agile man in the woods and you bring him home and give him your room and share each other’s deepest secrets! When was that anyways? Did you share your bed last night? Is that what you meant by ‘giving him a warm bed?”

Before I have time to think, my hand flies out and slaps Sam on the cheek causing my palm to burn on impact. His face doesn’t even flinch but his body shakes with anger. The sound had been loud enough to silence the room—or maybe our yelling did that.

“Let me know when her new boyfriend turns out to be a sex offender,” Sam says to Charlie as he heads toward the door.

Seth had got home from his friend’s and stepped into the doorway sometime during all the action. Now the room is so silent you could hear a pin drop. Parker and Julia had also found their way into the other thresholds sometime during the mayhem and now stare silently. Tears gush down my face and I push past Seth out the door. I can’t follow Sam and I don’t know where he would have gone anyways.

The next day goes by in a blur. I don’t see anyone or anything. I alternate between running, sleeping and sitting in random places—the beach, the woods, the streets, anywhere that’s away from everyone I care about.

When I return home, I am exhausted having gone without food or even a sip of water and it is the day before school returns. Inside the house, Dad, Mom and Seth eat at the table with only the sound of their forks clinking to be heard. I go upstairs to my room—everything is back in place; the dolls, blankets, pillows, everything without a trace of Parker and Julia ever being there. Except, there is a crayon drawing laid upon my pillow. It’s a picture of Parker and Julia meeting me and Sam in the forest. Julia’s name is written in the top corner, but someone else has added speech bubbles and pens in black ink. I can hear the voice I’d learned to love to listen to so much as I read the handwriting I know is his.

In Parker’s speech bubble is a long monologue. It reads, “I’m sorry for the trouble we’ve caused you. I never meant to come between you and your boyfriend. I do like you, Leah, but I know better than to purposefully interfere with someone’s relationship. Thank you for not sharing my story. If they continue to pressure you, go ahead and tell, just please give us as much head start as you can. Hopefully by then we will be well on our way to a new home. Maybe our path’s will someday cross again and I hope karma will return the kindness you’ve shown us. Thank you, Leah. Forever in your debt, Parker.”

I wish they were still here. There’s so much I still want to say. I rip the paper up and throw it in the fireplace later. They are gone and I can do nothing about that. Sam, however, is around and if I want him to forgive me, he can’t ever see that piece of paper. That night, I allow myself to think of Parker, Julia and Madi for awhile but I know I cannot continue to dwell on them. 

In the morning, I go to the phone first thing before school to call Sam. No answer. I ditch school and go to his house. No one’s there. When I return home, Sam’s mother’s car and Charlie’s are in the driveway. I hurry inside expecting to see Sam. He is not there. In the living room, my mother is consoling Sam’s sobbing mother. Charlie whispers to Dad in the kitchen doorway. When they see me, they give me a sorrowful look and explain. Sam is missing. Gone. Not here. They are ready with the needle when I go into hysterics.

I shiver as I leave the memory. I wish I could go back and change the past. I don’t know whether it’s easier to face them awake or in my dreams. Either way I cry and scream. Nearly thirty minutes have passed by as I’ve remembered. I don’t want to go to the party—even if it’s just a neighbourhood one—after how terrible last year’s turned out. I sit on my bed as a statue, numb from all the pain that comes with my memories.

The party starts outside yet I hear the front door open and someone coming upstairs. A knock. Not even my lips can move. Seth comes in and sits beside me.

He drops his arm around my shoulder and speaks gently, “No one’s going to make you come. I know it hurts. Everyone there is good. You’ll be okay to just come down and say ‘hi.’ And you haven’t had dinner. You have to eat, so…”

I nod and allow Seth to lead me outside. I’m still not fully aware—the pain is so strong—the evening seems to blend with memories of last year. In every lull of conversation, I hear them. The ghosts of my past. They haunt me as often as I breathe, so long as my heart beats. For a second the thought crosses my mind; maybe if I stopped breathing, if I stopped my heartbeats.The evening really isn’t too bad, though. I even laugh a little, smile, as long as Seth is nearby giving me nods and smiles, promising I’ll be okay and can leaven when I want. I stay until the party is over, having at least escaped my horrid memories a little. They have to return sometime though and they do. That night, I awake nearly ten times screaming and crying and drenched in sweat. The thing that haunts me even more than Sam on this new day of a new year is the realization that I still have never told of Parker’s past, and more than that, I don’t know what’s become of them.

—Leah

The song Leah is listening to in the beginning can be found here.

nyedatejulia,parker,madi

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Annee

Hello! I'm Annee and I love Twilight! I currently reside in The Land of Potatoes, USA, and plan to stay there for awhile. I enjoy reading, writing, laughing, taking and editing pictures, and going to church activities (I'm Mormon/Lds). I have not wrote any books—yet. I love writing though and hope that writing Leah's Diary will help me further improve my skills so that I can do even more!

I first started writing from Leah's perspective in a boring class during school one day and I couldn't stop. I had a twi-hard friend read what I'd wrote, and she told me I should keep writing and publish it somewhere! So I kept writing, but didn't post my work anywhere. Meanwhile, I was an avid fan of Bella's Diary and the other works. It was a wish I never thought would come true to join the talented team of writers, so you can imagine my excitement when I finally did! I love it so much—chatting with my fellow writer friends and talking to my fans like you! I LOVE to hear from you about anything and if any of you ever need to talk to someone, send me a holler on the LD facebook page!
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