The Girl in the Pink Dress: Part 1
By Avery Wickersham (TheLorian)
Fallen leaves blow across the pavement of the school parking lot, crunching under the feet of the students buzzing about all things Halloween. Talk of parties, pumpkins, and phantoms spill past their lips, broken conversations echoing around Nate as he walks to his rusted pick-up truck and yanks open the handle. He stares at his peers, frustration churning in the pit of his stomach.
“I hate Halloween,” he mutters to himself, sticking his key into the ignition. The engine sputters before purring to life. Nate pulls out of the crowded parking lot and onto the main street.
Tapping his thumb to the bass line blaring from the radio, Nate turns onto his street, rolling his eyes at the Halloween decorations. He bobs his head in a syncopated rhythm, a little behind the beat, eyeing the décor instead of the road. Nate has a brief thought to drive up on the sidewalk and crash into the life-sized spiders, but he decides against it. Still stuck in his thoughts, he sees a flash of pink in front of his truck, and he slams on the breaks, tires screeching against the rocky asphalt. Nate spits out a strain of swear words under his breath and throws his truck into park, pushing the door open.
“What are you doing in the middle of the road?” Nate yells, running around to the front of his truck. His mouth opens and closes, awfully fish-like, staring at the young woman walking barefoot on the road.
“I’m sorry,” the girl says sheepishly. “I was on my way home.”
“Home?” Nate laughs. “Where do you live? The cemetery?”
The girl laughs, brushing at a dirt mark on her dress. Nate stands with his hands in front of him, clearing his throat as the girl begins to dance in front of him.
“Do you…do you want a ride home?” Nate offers, pointing as his truck.
The girl shakes her head. “No. I’ll be okay.”
“Are you sure?”
A car honks behind Nate’s truck, speeding around his temporary roadblock. Nate rushes into his truck, closing the door. He sticks his head out the window. “What’s your name?”
The girl laughs, hopping up on the sidewalk. “It’s Penny! Penny Hodges.”
Another car honks behind Nate, but before the driver can pull around him, Nate aggressively presses the gas pedal. His truck lurches forward and he stares at Penny in the rearview mirror.
Nate pulls into his driveway, staring at the little car next to him, muttering, “Shoot. I forgot she was gonna be here.”
His girlfriend, Samantha, greets him at the door with a big grin on her face, but Nate’s mind is still focused on Penny.
“I have a surprise for you!” Samantha squeals. She holds up a dry cleaning bag, shoving it in Nate’s face. “It’s a couple’s costume!”
Nate sighs, dropping his background on the ground. “Great. Let the madness begin.”