Carmen had just finished her shift at work. She hummed a tune while she walked to her old little car. Carmen looked into her purse for her keys when she heard a set of swift footsteps. She turned to see the dull lighted streets and concrete of Austin Texas.
She turned back to her car and flinched when she saw a black bipedal cat on top of the car. It had white robes and a hood with gold outlining. The cat looked at her with its piercing yellow and black eyes.
Carmen narrowed her eyes, “Azriel, what are you doing here?”
Azriel’s tail whipped from side to side and then stopped. He narrowed his eyes at her, “The child is no longer safe in your custody.”
Carmen’s eyes widened, “What why?”
Azriel’s tail swayed, “They have gotten close to the safe house and they know the child’s general appearance—except for height. Her stunted stature is the only thing buying us time. We knew this would happen. Do you have someone else you would prefer the child to go to? You've already been on the ledge by how you've been doing things. If you do not have a suitable candidate by now I WILL take matters into my own paws.”
Carmen sighed, “there is only one, and if this fails. Then have it your way.”
Azriel nodded, “alright who?”
Carmen smirked, “Thokath.”
Azriel’s eyes widened. He fell silent for a moment just staring at her until he spoke, “You... hmmm...this could work. But understand if this goes awry and the child dies.” Azriel narrowed his eyes. Small blades floated from his cloak pocket. They pointed towards Carmen, “It won't be just the child who will have died that day, am I clear?”
Carmen nodded solemnly, “Crystal.”
“Lexy! Breakfast is ready!” Her mother’s voice woke her with a start. She stretched and stood up. The young girl shook the sleep from her eyes as she walked over to the window. She smiled at the scene that filled her eyes. It was a bright and sunny day; birds were singing, flowers were blooming and the grass was lush emerald green.
“Lexy! It’s getting cold!” Carmen yelled up the stairs.
“Coming Mother!” Lexy hollered back. Walking over to her dresser, Lexy grabbed a white t-shirt. In a rush, she pulled the top over her blonde hair. She took out a set of dark blue jeans and wiggled her way into them.
She closed the dresser drawer and reached the top of the wardrobe and grabbed a set of red square goggles with curved edges. She put them on top of her head and ran her hand over the knife case that rested on top of the wardrobe. A soft sigh escaped her lips as she retracted her hand.
Lexy grabbed her light blue hoodie, threw it on, and ran out the door while she zipped it. The smell of pancakes filled her nostrils as she entered the hallway. There were two doors on her left and stairs to her right.
Turning to her left she entered the first of the two. She hummed an upbeat tune as she placed a stool in front of the sink and mirror. Lexy stepped onto it. The blonde looked into the mirror to see her storm blue eyes staring back at her.
She picked up a brush off the countertop. She attempted to tame her wild hair. It didn’t work and with a huff of frustration Lexy put the brush down.
Lexy picked up her toothbrush only to be interrupted by another command from her mother. “Lexy! Get down here now!”
“I am almost done!” Quickly she brushed her teeth and cleaned up. She grabbed a glass by the sink and filled it with water. Lexy opened the cupboard above the sink and grabbed the container with light blue pills inside. She opened the container and took one out. She quickly took the pill and put away the medication.
Lexy left the bathroom and headed to the stairs. She had a pep in her step and she descended the stairs. Lexy inhaled deeply as the smell of toasted bread and maple syrup enticed her senses.
Her mother was in the kitchen, wearing a long blue dress. She had elegant curls that flowed down her back and touched the floor. She was six feet tall and had a slim yet strong build. The woman looked over her shoulder to see Lexy had entered the room.
“Finally sweety, your pancakes are getting cold.”
Lexy smiled at her mother and got out plates to set the table. “Mother, I am so glad you are home. I was lonely while you were gone for a whole month.”
Her mother nodded as she turned off the stove and grabbed a plate of freshly buttered pancakes. While she placed the food on the table, Lexy grabbed silverware and a gallon of milk.
Lexy sat down at the set table. She began pouring herself a glass of milk. She sipped on the cold soothing liquid and then set the cup down and started to enjoy the buttered pancakes. While her mother didn't touch the food.
Her mother sighed, the woman's gaze not quite meeting her daughter’s eyes when she spoke with regret.
“Lexy I am going on a business trip for the summer and I thought it would be good for you to stay with some relatives, ok?”
Lexy pondered for a moment. She was used to her mother going on a business trip, with short notice. However, her mother would usually leave her home alone or with a babysitter. Most recently her mother just left her alone.
Lexy let out a dissatisfied huff. She picked up her fork and began to poke at what was left of her pancakes, “When will I leave, because I have archery regionals next week, remember?”
There was some hope in the statement that quickly dwindled when she saw her mother look away. Lexy knows that look, the ‘I'm sorry but I have to go’ routine.
Lexy rested her head against her hand and laid down the fork she had in her other hand. “When am I leaving?”
Carmen looked at Lexy with soft eyes.
“ I have booked a flight for you. You’re leaving today.” Carmen added with a ‘matter of fact tone in her voice.
Anger crossed Lexy’s face. She narrowed her eyes and then spoke in a sour tone through gritted teeth.
“But what about regionals? You promised that if I made fifth place or higher in the last archery competition you would take me. I made it first. What about the shooting range so I could practice with the rifles?” Lexy quickly ranted without taking a breath.
Carmen expected this outburst from her daughter. “Deal with it, child. You have one hour to be ready to go. I suggest you not provoke my wrath, you know what happened last time.”
The familiar heat that rolled off her mother in waves, struck fear into Lexy’s bones. She huffed, obeyed, and cleaned up her dishes. Cursing under her breath. She doesn’t understand why her mother cares nothing for her feelings.
Lexy stormed out of the kitchen. Her mother could hear every step her daughter took up the stairs. Carmen only shook her head.
Lexy reached the landing on the second floor and barged into her bedroom. Lexy stomped over to the closet, yanked out her old heavy suitcase. She began tossing her clothes into the suitcase and grabbed the necessities for leaving home.
Lexy let out a long breath, a soft smile reached her face as she retrieved some of her favorite small trophies from competitions as soon as she realized there was some spare space. Gingerly she placed the items in, however, she gave a solute when she looked at the trophies that couldn't fit.
“I shall see you all in three months.” remorse in Lexy’s voice
She then opened the bottom drawer in her dresser that revealed the whole drawer was filled with history textbooks and fantasy books. Lexy lowered her head. “It was an honor for me to be able to read every single one of you. I'm sorry but today is the day the student shall leave to have their adventure. Thank you, senseis.” Lexy gave a short bow, closed the drawer, and stood back up.
Lexy then walked to the bathroom and grabbed her large bottle of prescription pills. Her mother had never told her why she had to take the medication. She stopped questioning after an incident in which she was late in taking the pills, which made her body burn in pain. With the medication in hand, she walked back to her bedroom. She placed the medicine in her bag and closed it with the zipper.
Lexy walked to the knife case on top of her dresser, unclipped the two locks, and opened it. Within the case was an old-fashioned knife with a rune etched on its blade. Lexy looked at the knife with a saddened gaze and purposely left it in the case. She knew the airport nor her mother would let her take it.
Lexy closed the knife's case, grabbed her suitcase, and hauled the heavy case downstairs. She saw her mother had cleaned up breakfast and she could hear the sound of her mother’s car's engine as she walked to the front door. She opened the door to see her mom's old car. Despite her bad mood she couldn't help but crack a smile at the chipped and rusted car.
Lexy walked over to the back door and opened it. The car door opened with a prolonged squeak and Lexy slid into the seat after her suitcase.
Her mother looked at her and gave a soft smile, “ready?”
Lexy nodded, “yeah, I'm ready.” She watched with defeat as the car pulled out of the driveway. Her heart was filled with sad nostalgia as she watched her home disappear into the scenery. The melancholy silence that fell over the two of them, was broken only by the whistling wind and roar of the old engine. The moment they arrived at the airport drop-off, Lexy stopped looking out of the window.
She opened the car door and grabbed her suitcase. The squeak of the car was heard as Lexy closed the door behind her. Lexy shook her head and then looked at her mother as she rolled down the window. The window went down with a prolonged squeak and Lexy couldn't help but laugh.
Her mother smiled and explained,
“Lexy, here is your airplane ticket, the letter is for the household owner, and the cash should cover a taxi, along with snacks.”
Her mother’s expression changed to a serious one as she handed the items to Lexy, “But most important, be careful.”
Lexy smirked at her mother’s comment.
“I'm always careful.”
Her mother raised a brow, “careful? Need I remind you of the gorilla incident at the zoo and how that went?”
Lexy’s smirk fell to a sheepish smile while she shrugged.
“Ok, just careful sometimes and besides, that gorilla was out for my blood. I don't see how that counts as me being the non-careful one.”
Her mom shook her head softly, “Right…. Says the one who jumped into the pen, all for a hoodie. However, I want you to promise to at least try not to get into trouble.”
Lexy groaned, “Fine, I promise to be careful and not jump into any zoo pens. I'll just climb in with a cougar instead, they are much cuter anyway. Besides, the cougar would enjoy my company far better than that gorilla.”
Her mother gave a very unamused look, “No, and just no. I've got to go, and I swear if I get a call that you jumped into a zoo pin just because of this one conversation. So help me.”
Lexy smiled, “Alright, alright I'll stay away from the zoo. But, I make no such promise to be careful.”
To this, her mother shook her head and rolled up the car window. It went back up slowly with a prolonged shrill squeak that even caught the brief attention of a few people passing by.
With that Lexy walked away from the car and she walked through the airport with her suitcase in one hand while the items her mother gave her were in the other. Her attention was drawn to some of the large flat-screen television sets. Some were playing news while others had advertisements and cartoons. The news played with the date of two-thousand fourteen glowing in the bottom right corner of the screen.
She looked at her ticket and her eyes widened. Lexy felt dread pool in her stomach. Her ticket was marked as a one-way flight. She looked back to the drive to see her mother had already left.