Even before the arrow left her bow, she was ready to depart. Consecutive plops sounded, but the most catching sound was the peeling of her armguard’s strap. Instead of watching the target, some eyes keenly followed her.
Despite the circumstances, her followers only grew.
“Estelle,” the only courageous soul to speak her name, did. “Can you really not make it before 9 p.m.?” Hazel asked.
The two girls walked out from the Archery Range and headed towards the locker room.
Estelle put out her hand for Hazel to place a phone on it. After scrolling through the calendar, her already flat lips dropped a little.
“I am sorry Haze, but I can skip school tomorrow,” Estelle said.
That was the only time both girls saw eye to eye.
Estelle flung her chest guard open and pulled the shirt over her head. Her clothes were brought out of the locker by Hazel. She sat down on a bench and removed her pants, eyed Hazel, and only then put on her garter belt. Quickly, a pale turquoise-colored cape top was put on, followed by a double-layered skirt.
“Haze, it’s alright if you don’t want to skip. We will still have dinner,” Estelle spoke. She rolled black stockings over her pale legs and attached them to the garter belt. It was truly unfortunate, so she got up and wrapped her arms around Hazel. But before the plight could warm up, the two bodies split.
“Wait, I will drop you there,” Hazel called out when she noticed Estelle was already on her way.
Estelle, however, did not stop. But soon enough, she felt someone lightly grabbing her sleeves. Despite that, the two figures kept walking.
“Estelle, I will bring the car quick. You don’t have to take the bus, it’s not safe for you,” Hazel appealed. “Just come with me to the parking,” a hesitance pause. “ You can drive.”
A light sigh left Estelle’s lips, and she led her follower towards the parking.
Swiftly a white car moved out of the gate. After navigating through the busy streets, it stopped at the side.
“You want to drive?” Hazel asked.
Estelle did not speak. Her eyes were navigating over a black-and-white screen. The car started again and slithered onto the highway.
“Are you reading that book?” Hazel peeked at Estelle’s phone. “Este!” She poked Estelle until the latter replied.
“Yes, there are still a lot of chapters left.”
“You only smile when you read now,” Hazel looked into the distance and continued after some time. “Why don’t you leave your dad and live with me?”
“Did you dump another guy?” Estelle said, still not looking away from her phone.
“He tried to touch me and I accidentally punched him,” Hazel pouted. “My dad laughed at it, but my mom was pretty mad. She cut my allowance, too.”
“Hmm,” Estelle only made a sound.
“Say something Este, you are so mean when you read that stupid book,” Hazel sounded the car’s horn multiple times. She lightly snorted when the car in front gave her a pass. “My dad is nice, unlike yours, who’s gonna kill her daughter,” Hazel’s voice turned serious towards the end.
“What are you saying?” Estelle looked away from her phone for a moment.
“Hmph, you think acting all cool will hide it?” Hazel put one of her fingers in her mouth. After licking it enough, she looked at Estelle, who now resumed reading again. Stealthy, she rubbed the wet finger below Estelle’s eyes.
“Haze what the hell, what are you-“
“Just look at those eye bags! Do you think makeup is enough to hide it? Your eyes seem dead for over two months. At first, I thought it’s you reading stupid books but now I am clear. You go to your dad’s office every day-“ Hazel said.
“I am just helping him with work.” Estelle raised her voice.
“You are breaking Este and you still act cool? Did you even see where your arrows go?” Hazel also raised her voice.
“I hit it every single time…”
“NO, you don’t! Your arrows have stopped hitting the target since last month. The teachers say nothing. Do you know why?” Hazel’s voice boomed in the car. “You don’t know anything Este…”
No more words were exchanged between the friends until the car stopped in front of a sizable glass building. The giant mirror reflected the surroundings.
“Tomorrow, don’t forget,” Hazel managed to say.
Frown emerged on Estelle’s face when she walked inside a small office. Two people in shirts were running about carrying cardboard boxes. A middle-aged man sitting in the corner was rummaging through one such box.
“Dad, what happened?” Estelle walked towards the middle-aged man.
“I can’t have you working in the office anymore. Take this,” the man hurriedly said.
He handed Estelle a car key and resumed looking in the box. The man was wearing a clean, pressed suit but his facial hair was uneven. And the hairstyle was a mess.
“What is happening, dad?”
“Don’t ask stupid questions. Go home fast. Make sure to carry everything in the car inside.”
That was the last time she heard from her dad.
The sky shrouded in darkness swiftly.
Inside a room that seemed small because of the pile of cardboard boxes. Estelle scrolled through the laptop screen. Letters and numbers were reflected in her eyes.
The table in front was littered with various papers and a calculator. Estelle quickly scribbled something on a paper, and her nimble hands danced on the calculator - the result replaced a number on the screen.
The process repeated. Estelle’s eyes turned heavier and closed!
The dead eyes regained life after an unknown amount of time. Estelle quickly checked the time.
‘For how long did I sleep?’ Estelle hurriedly checked at what time the last-entry was made on the laptop.
A sigh of relief left her mouth. She picked up a can of juice from the floor and took a sip. She rubbed her eyes and rechecked the last entry time.
‘I only slept for 3 minutes. I can do it.’ She resumed her work again.
Before dawn, she tallied the last entry with the current time in multiple instances. Every time a horror would grip her and then she would sigh in relief.
The alarm clock rang at 6 in the morning. Estelle did not recall falling asleep over and over again. Unknown to what was happening to her, she stopped the alarm clock and headed towards the bathroom.
‘Time to sleep at last’. She brushed her teeth while looking in the mirror. Annoyed that she was still wearing the pale tortoise top, she removed it. Slowly, her hands moved up and down her teeth.
Suddenly, her head jerked down. When she opened her eyes, she saw blue linen that was lifted only a few centimeters from the base. She squinted her eyes and looked into the mirror again.
She washed her face and makeup flushed down the basin. The sight swirled in her eyes until everything turned dark.
Estelle shook her head slowly and looked straight into the mirror. The pale face with lifeless eyes made her jump back. But she forgot about it the moment she turned away from the mirror.
Steadily, she made her way to the bedroom. The air conditioner buzzed as if calling for someone, something.
Brightness from the hallway was enough for her to see the bed. Slowly, she walked forward, but the scene did not move.
She rubbed her eyes and took another big step forward, but nothing changed!
The clock ticked soundlessly. Estelle made another effort to get closer to the bed. But no matter how much she walked, the distance did not lessen.
All her thoughts slowly burnt away, along with her life. The world drowned in ethereal dark but a sound echoed inside her lifeless body.
“Uncountable worlds, unending lives. For your wish to be true, where do I send you?”