“Are you sure you should be driving Zak” I said as I uneasily opened the door “We’ve both had a few too many”
His face showed no concern or fear.
“Man just chill, it’s only down the road”
“We’ll be fine”
As soon as my feet stepped inside Zak’s piss smelling car I knew for sure it wasn’t a good idea; I always thought the danger would come from his reckless beer-blinded driving. But I was wrong.
The solitary car sped down the 30mph unlit road; its headlights illuminated the heavy rain as they drifted round its sodden corners. Zak’s face was electric as he reached 90. Mine just felt numb as I stared at my feet – a mixture of pure terror and elation. The adrenaline tightened my veins as it pulsated around my still body. My hands clenched tighter around my thighs as a reminder that I was still alive.
The rain was beating down faster now as Zak continued to push his foot further onto the acceleration. Not even the noise of the grumbling engine was enough to disguise the droplets unwelcomed attacks. I finally looked up at road and that’s when I noticed it – the small figure in the distance. Close enough to conclude its species (definitely human) but too far away to distinguish gender.
I tried to alert Zak but with the mixture of the tired engine, heavy downpour and his elated screams I had no chance. We were getting closer now.
“FOR GODS SAKE ZAK, SLAM ON THE BRAKES”
She was getting closer, yes it’s a girl. This was an observation my brain had somehow managed to conduct during my panic. The road was too narrow and I knew one thing for sure, we would hit her.
“ZAK LOOK AT THE GOD DAMN ROAD”
Still no response; I grabbed the wheel. My actions were enough to make him crash down onto the brakes. Everything went quiet. The car had found itself spinning into the shallow ditch at the side of the road. I opened my eyes, expecting smashed glass and painful limbs. Instead I only saw her. Her bright blue eyes caught mine as we stepped out of the car. Her pale, almost ghastly face possessed small droplets, the salty kind, not the rain. Her shoulders shook with sadness as her crying continued. The tears stuck strands of her long brown hair to her cheeks. Her voice whimpered as she spoke.
“Oh..my..god, are you..okay?”
We took it in turn to answer.
“Yeah, it’s okay”
“We’re both fine. Did you get hit?”
“Are you okay?”
Her crying became distressing; her tears just rolling from her eyes. I instantly knew this wasn’t because of the crash. Her words became sobs.
“Hey, please don’t cry. What’s wrong?”
“P…pl…please help me; I’m looking for my mum. It..it’s really important. I need her”
Her voice was so still when she spoke. Her vacant eyes still gazed at mine looking for hope. The rain fell as fast as her tears; I now had to shout above the downpour.
“Okay okay calm down, it’s okay, please stop crying it’ll be alright. Come on get in the car”
We waited together, the girl and I, as Zak reversed the car back out of the ditch. He made it look easy. Only the noise of the engine and the rain accompanied us, the silence of speech was haunting until it was broken with sobs.
“There’s no need to thank us, we’re not just going to leave you here in this state. We’ll get you home safe.”
Her shoulders were no longer shaking from her sobs but from the biting cold wind that was now blowing her hair from her damp cheeks. I offered her my overcoat. It was nothing special, just an old camel coloured mac that was passed down from my dad; definitely not a fashion piece. It had spent 3 years in the boot acquiring a dog like stench and moth holes in its hood, barely as waterproof as it once was. She seemed grateful as I assisted her in wrapping it around her skeletal frame.
The car was finally parked neatly at the side of the deserted road; the heavy rain bouncing off it furiously as I cautiously opened the door for her. Luckily, there was no sign of damage from the crash just a few scratches on its front bumper. Zak still seemed fearless as he took to the wheel. We were only a couple of miles away from the girls stop but I could tell those miles would be never-ending. I was the sensible one, what should I say? We still didn’t know her name, what she was doing in the middle of the road? Why was she still crying so painfully? I observed her from the rear view mirror; she was staring, longing out of the window watching the rain drops race down the glass.
“So, what’s your name then?”
I had to ask her, the silence was unbearable now and she was too beautiful to just refer to her has ‘that girl’. Her long dark hair was beginning to dry now; framing her face. Her eyes still red and teary she calmly replied.
“My names Evie”
She didn’t seem willing to chat so I didn’t question her. She seemed so empty, her pale skin almost transparent. Her eyes, no longer vacant, seemed hopeful as Zak sped down the one lane road. We were almost there now.
Houses emerged from the woodland surrounding the lane; little cottages that still managed to look pretty in the harsh weather. Damp ivy crawled up the walls whilst delicate hanging baskets swung violently in the wind. Evie seemed at peace now. Her gleaming eyes seemed calmer, less lifeless; the apples of her cheeks glowed pink, less transparent. There was no evidence of rivers running down her newly pink cheeks. She was eager to flee; she sought for her house amongst the terraces, her eyes latched on to it. She spoke so enthusiastically now.
“Thank you so much”
That was all she said; there was no long explanation to the questions in my head. She slammed the door and almost ran towards her house. The door closed and that was it. Just like that she was gone. She didn’t even look back. How could she leave me without even a goodbye? Her eyes, her hair, her sobs. I would never see her again. Her beauty was sobering; that night at the pub was forgotten, she was the only thing on my mind now.
My thoughts had distracted me from Zak’s barely legal driving and somehow we were now outside my house. Plain red brick exterior; nothing like hers.
“Come on then mate, let me crash here”
“Grab your shit then”
He didn’t listen, no surprise. I shook my head and opened the boot. Where was my coat?
“Thank you god”
This was a sign. I’d sought after a reason to go back to that house and now I had one. I had a reason to revisit that cottage, witness her beauty. Her pale soft skin, her vacant troubled eyes, her deep brown hair. I wished away the night hoping for morning.
The sun blinded my eyes through the gap in the curtains. There was complete silence until bird song chorused. I parted the curtains, no evidence of the storm the night before. Everything was clear, the sky was cloudless. The sun shone over everything in sight, leaving a golden tint. My brain adjusted to life.
Today was the day.
I silently snuck into the spare room. There was no need to be quiet; my scurrying was disguised by Zak’s abnormally loud snoring. He didn’t need to know about this; by the time I’d get back he’d still be asleep. He’d be oblivious. I quickly snatched my boots from under his bed and began to rush downstairs. No time for breakfast. The weather seemed happy to see me as the sun shone brighter as I walked towards the car. I’m still amazed it came out of that ditch unharmed; she brought us luck.
I sped down the lane just as Zak did that night whilst I was deep in thought. I was outside the cottage in no time. It looked even more beautiful in the sunlight, each flower bright in colour. I was nervous now but my heart knew this was what I wanted. I slowly forced myself out of the car, pacing towards the front door. I knocked.
“Hello there, can I help you?”
I was greeted with a gentle voice. The same blue eyes that I had gazed into a couple of hours ago were staring back at me. But they weren’t hers. Wrinkles lined her face, growing as she smiled. Her wispy grey hair combed neatly into a bun. My heart was pounding, I was unsure of whether my words would surface.
“Excuse me, I’m sorry to interrupt. I’m looking for Evie”
Her face changed. Her eyes looked as vacant as Evie’s the night before. Her expression was empty. Her mouth parted as if to speak, but nothing. A haunting silence. What had I said? I didn’t understand. It felt like forever until her soft voice broke into screams.
“Who are you?! Is this some kind of joke? If it is take it elsewhere, I don’t need this kind of upset right now!”
Jesus, what do I say, how had this upset her so much? Had I got the wrong house? No this was definitely it; the same ivy crawled the walls, the same hanging baskets swung in the light breeze. I had to ask.
“No, no I’m not trying to upset you. I’m really confused. Does Evie not live here?”
Her wrinkles harshened, her face scrunched up in anger.
“Evie is dead! My granddaughter is dead!
Her face began to relax; the memories of her granddaughter saddened her. Tears fell from her eyes, she began to sob.
“Yesterday was a year since she died you inconsiderate trouble maker! Does upsetting the elderly please you?!”
She held her head in her hands her whole body shaking from her crying. I went to comfort her but her frail hands pushed me away.
“Please just leave before I ring the police.”
“No wait I need to explain! Last night my friend Zak and I were driving home. A young girl with the palest skin and the bluest eyes stood in the middle of the road, begging us to help her, crying out for her mother. She said she needed her and that it was important. She led us back to this cottage, leaving the car, saying nothing but thank you. Her eyes were so bright and enthusiastic. She forgot she ha…”
The old woman interrupted.
“Wait, where did you find her?”
“Erm, just at the end of Barnaby Road”
She stared deep into my eyes. Her face changed again. She knew I wasn’t lying. Her eyes were wide with shock.
“I think I should tell you how Evie died. It was last night last year. She and her mother were driving back from the pub. She had just turned 18 and they went out to celebrate. Her mother had a few too many and decided to drive them home, Evie unwillingly got in the car. A rabbit appeared in front of the headlights and her mother was going too fast to stop. She swerved and hit into the wall and the end of Barnaby road. The impact of the hit killed them both instantly”
I was speechless.
“This can’t be true”
“If you don’t believe me then follow me”
The old woman had led me to a forest surrounded cemetery. We walked single file to the lone headstone at the back. I saw something unusual around it in the distance. As we came closer I half knew what it was. I didn’t want to admit it. The thought of all of this terrified me; I had a dead girl in my car last night?! This was impossible. Zak would never believe me. Finally we were both stood facing the headstone.
‘In memory of Evie Fisher’
And there it was; what I was afraid of. My camel coloured mac.
I’d found my coat; still wrapped around her.