Fern awoke in an empty cold bed. She rubbed her eyes and face, rolled over and for a few moments drifted back into sleep. The sound of a lawn mower roaring jerked her awake and she sat up quickly. Flinging the duvet away, she went to the window, but couldn’t see anything outside, other than a darkening grey sky. She went to the bedroom door and out into the living room, her thoughts still cloudy with sleep, but wondering where the sound was coming from.
She crossed the living room and opened the doors to the balcony. Looking out over the railing, she could see a large motored lawn mower driven by Brook who was cutting the grass in straight lines. She lent on the damp railing and watched him for a few minutes. The sky and air both seemed to threat more rain, but at least the wind had died down. She took in a few deep breath, smelling and tasting sea salt, car pollution and dead fish.
Fern went back inside, showered and got dressed. She searched through her bag for her phone and finding it, saw that she’d a few text messages and missed calls. She sat on the bed and scrolled through, but didn’t reply to any of them. Most were from her landlord, which worried her because they asked where had she gone and if she was coming back and did she know her rent was due now? The others were from the hospital, reminding her about appointments and a meeting with a nurse she had missed. Lastly, there were two texts and a miss call from the only friend she had stayed in contact with.
Fern sniffed, feeling a roller coaster of emotions breaking loose. She rested the phone in her lap and opened the text messages. The first was dated the night Brook give her the blood and the second was dated two days ago as was the phone call. Fern’s fingers pressed against the touch screen and the keyboard come up, tempting her further to reply back. She bit her lip and wondered what she’d even say.
From behind her came the sounds of the lawn mower. She got up and went back to the window. Brook was now cutting the large lawn that had once been marked for a swimming pool and tennis count. Dropping the curtains back, she put her phone on the bedside table and walked into the living room.
She picked up the photo of Brook and Jay from the bookshelf and looked at it. Brook hadn’t changed. His fiery red hair was shoulder length, his eyes violet, his plum lips frozen in a smile that raised his pointy cheek bones and chin. Jay had light brown hair to his cheeks, dark hazel eyes and a cheeky boy grinning face. He looked younger, but only by a couple of years. How long had Brook been a vampire when this photo was taken? If any? So, how old in human years then? And where is Jay now? She questioned.
Setting the photo back down, she went through the apartment quickly and quietly looking for clues. At first, she really didn’t know what she was searching for and just blamed it on the fact that she wanted something to do to take her mind off her phone. In the bottom draw of Brook’s bedside table, she found some photos and a red plastic wrist band. Though the writing was faded, she made out Brook’s and Jay’s names with love hearts either side.
The photos were of them and mostly taken outside the apartment or at the beach. She skimmed through but stopped at the last set. They were kissing. Faces close together and lips meeting. She went to the next and both boys had taken their tops off and were kissing deeper with their arms wrapped around each other. The third was a wide shot of them on the bed together, just in their underwear, holding and kissing each other.
Fern glanced at the bed and tried to decide if it was that same one. She couldn’t be sure but it was most likely. She looked at the photo again and another thought came into her head, who had taken these photos? The camera could be on a stand and timed, sure, but… She looked at the next one, with that thought tailing off. The photo showed Brook completely naked leaning against the wall in black and white. Fern looked closely; there was no mistaking his muscle body and distant looking face.
‘Somebody must have taken this one,’ she muttered.
The next one showed Jay posing in the same way then the six after showed the boys in different love making stages. Fern licked her lips and tried not to nibble them as the innocent photos of teenage boys turned into soft porn. When she reached the last one, she collected them all together and put them back in the draw again. Getting up, the images sticking with her, she looked at the window and saw Brook still on the lawn mower. The noise of the engine blocked all other sounds out as he drove under the window.
Thinking she had only a few minutes left, she went through the rest of the bedroom, but came up with nothing else. Going out, she studied the other two doors along the wall, either of which she had not opened nor seen Brook open. She went to the first door, turned the handle and pushed. The door swung open on silent hinges and she let her eyes adjust to the darkness. It was a bedroom very similar to their own, but less lived in.
The double bed was made, but hadn’t been used in ages, Fern could tell. She stepped in and after a quick look around, began opening the wardrobe and drawers. Everywhere was empty, but it all the surfaces had been cleaned recently. She could smell the faint whiff of disinfected and lemons. Checking everything was back in its place, she left and tried the next one room.
Putting a hand on the door knob and turning it, she felt a slight residence. She pushed against the door and wondered if there was something stuck behind it. She made a gap big enough to fit through then stepped sides into the room. Pausing, she listened to the sound of the lawn mow fading and stopping.
A spike of panic speared her and she hurriedly looked around the room. It was a mess and she could hardly see the carpet. There were piles of clothes and shoes just abandoned and dump everywhere. The double bed was a mass of pillows, sheets and blankets as if someone had slept there recently. The wardrobe was wide open with more things tumbling out of it’s doors. The chest of drawers and bedside tables were open too, there contents pulled out or shoved back in. There was a bookcase and CD rack next to the window and they had been ransacked too. Looking at the floor she saw, books, CDs, DVDs two electric guitars, a boxed keyboard, rolled up posters, notebooks, photo albums and loose photos.
Typical teenage boy’s room? She thought, or is this Brook’s room and he’s just super messy?
In the background she heard the elevator clinking down. Stealing another few seconds, she grabbed the closest notebook and flipped through it. It was a soft, blue cover high school notebook and inside was a scrawling black handwriting.
‘Shakespeare’s The Tempest,’ she whispered, ‘possible exam questions; describe the relationship between individuals or a set of characters. How is magic used throughout the play? Why is the play known as a comedy-romance?’
Fern turned the pages and looked at some of the notes towards the back. In the corner of one of the pages she noticed a date;
‘Tuesday the sixth of May two thousand and three,’ she breathed, ‘Literature of WW1 GSCE Revision Notes,’ she read the title then closed the book.
Putting it back down, she hurried out of the room and closed the door behind her. Rushing to the TV she turned it on and sat down on the sofa. Just before the sound came on the TV, she heard the elevated doors slide up and footsteps in the corridor. Grabbing the control, she put the news on then tried to make it look like she’d been there all along.
The door open and Brook came in bring a wonderful scent of freshly cut grass, damp earth and the beach mixed together. He closed the door and Fern looked at him, keeping her face blank.
‘I had jobs to do before we leave,’ Brook said, ‘you okay?’
‘Sure. I heard and saw you outside, so I thought I’d watch some TV and wait for you.’
Brook nodded, ‘I’ll change then we can go. Do you still want to go to your place?’
‘Yes. I checked my phone and my landlord has sent me a few texts. So, I need to go.’
Brook ran his fingers through his hair and give a small shrug, ‘fine,’ he added then walked into the bedroom.
To Be Continued…