I stood there staring at her. I couldn't comprehend what was going on. We remained silent on the vacant, quiet street. I tried to conjure up some words or thoughts, but they weren't coming out right.
"...How do you know my name?" I finally asked through my teeth. Her answer would stall me to possibly think up more questions to ask and make connections, but I kept hitting walls.
She took a long breath, silently thinking in her mind. She would say something then stop and do it all over again. What was so hard to say? What did she not want me to know?
"I'm going to ask again. How do you know my name Suzie" I asked again, getting angrier by her silence.
"Call me Suzanne"
"What?" I answered, not thinking that being more specific about her name was going to change the serious degree of this conversation.
"I hate when people call me Suzie. Call me Suzanne" she says to me like it hurt her to hear that version of her name.
I tried to calm myself by slowly taking a breath and letting it out. "Okay" I continue very softly, "Suzanne. How. Do. You. Know. My. Name?"
"My fa- my...father. He told me" she finally broke and by her expression she regretted everything she said. Every word. She started scratching nervously and appeared to have sweat on her forehead. If she was trying to make it seem like nothing was wrong, it wasn't working.
"Your father?" I scrunch up my face into a frown. I don't know anything about this girl, and I definitely didn't know who her father was or why he'd know anything about me and my family.
"Yes. He told me everything about you and Sam-"
"What?" I get close to her, ready to attack her. Why did she know my brother's name? Anger built inside me as I came up with the idea that she might have something to do with his strange behavior. Why he is gone.
"What did you do to him?" I yell at her over and over. I began to tremble with pain. Pain that rolled through my whole body. Sammy. My vulnerable, defenseless brother taken away by this girl.
"Listen, I can explain" she yells back with her hands pushed out into my direction as a defense, "I can tell you everything you need to know"
"Go ahead then. Tell me what the hell is going on. NOW."
"Okay... my father told me about you...and your family and this house. The house holds more memory than you know. I used to live here, with my family"
"Wait" I say out loud, although it was meant to be in my head. I continue now that I'm on the spot, "You...lived here?"
"Yes. I did" she answered, moving her fingers through her hair.
"So... what happened? Why aren't you living here anymore? Why does everyone think you're missing?" I asked with suspicion.
"I ran away from home. My father forbids me from coming here and told me…he told me I shouldn't get involved, but I couldn't sit back and watch you and your family suffer"
Everything she was saying confused me and the more she talked the more I felt like I was in the twilight zone.
"Your father forbid you from coming here...who is your father?" I asked craving more information.
"Sheriff" she said and when she did it sounded like she was spitting out something nasty in her mouth. I blinked through memories of him and how I knew something seemed off about him. Who knew it was something this strange?
"Sheriff? Is this a joke?"
"No. No at all. You need to know what's going on. What's been going on this whole time. As crazy as this all sounds every ounce of it is completely true" she said pleading for my understanding.
"Okay, keep going then"
"My brother, sheriff... or john, that's his name, my mother and I lived in what's now your house. We lived there for about a year. That was five years ago. The forest was something to be afraid of, but my father and mother never wanted to believe it." just like my mother I think to myself, "My brother was about fifteen years old. He was a normal teenager. He was normal until we moved here. He became sort of like a whole different person. A whole new appearance... even his actions changed" she says. As I listen to her I couldn't help, but realize how similar our situations were.
"I noticed it, but I didn't know what to do. I was scared...I was scared of him. He started to become off edge and was ticked off about everything. He always had a positive attitude, but it changed into a bitter, controlled one. After a few months of this he became a monster. A horrifyingly monster. His eyes turned blood shot red & he pulled at his lips so much they bled. His skin turned a dark blue like bruises had been made all over his skin. He was practically infused with pure evil. He tried to lock me away in our house. He wanted me to suffer like he was. We believed he was taken over by an evil spirit. An evil spirit that wanted to kill us. We were all mortified. One day, he vanished. He vanished into the forest and never returned...until now"
I was so lost I couldn't even begin to understand any of this. How did this happen? What happened to her brother? Was that what my brother would become...a monster? A monster that tried to kill his family. I look back at my house and wonder if my mother is safe... or alive.
"Your brother... everything you're saying - I mean all of it, it sounds just like what's happening to us. It’s almost like a repeat" I say shaking my head trying to add it altogether and then I got something.
I brace myself for the answer to this question, and spit it out, "What's your brother's name?"
She looked like she knew I had caught on and said, "Jasper" and all the pieces flooded together into place.