The Girl in the Pink Dress Part 2

By Avery Wickersham (TheLorian)

“What do you mean by ‘madness?’” Samantha pouts. “Aren’t you excited for Halloween?”

Nate kneels down next to his backpack, pulling out his notebook and his laptop and tucking them under his arm. “Sam, you know how I feel about Halloween.”

She grabs onto Nate’s arm, accompanying him to the dining room table—a gesture he’s always found sweet. Now, with Penny dancing around in his mind, he finds it a little uncomfortable.

“I know you hate it,” she says, a little dejected. “I just thought you might’ve changed your mind.”

“Sorry, Sam. Did you have fun hanging out with my mom?” Nate asks, desperate to change the subject.

“Okay, so don’t be mad,” Sam starts, “but your mom has plans for us to go to this Halloween party.”

Nate slams his laptop closed, a little harder than he anticipated, and leaves it on the table as he stalks away. Sam shouts after him, but he ignores her.

“I need some fresh air,” he mutters to himself.

He sits on the deck in the backyard, leaning over the railing. He sees a flash of pink along the fence-line, his body perking up. He runs down the steps and over to the fence, staring over the broken slats at the park across the street.

“Penny!” he shouts, trying to get the girl’s attention. The last remaining rays of sunshine filter through the trees, their leaves have mostly fallen. If she hears him, she doesn’t turn around. She wanders along the outside of the playground, children’s shrieks and giggles echoing. Penny sits in a swing, pushing off the ground with the heels of her bare feet.

The other children don’t acknowledge her, but Penny seems unfazed. She continues to swing, pumping her legs, before letting gravity bring her down to stillness. Nate reaches for the gate latch, slipping out of his backyard.

He’s aware of Sam’s shouting behind him, but he feels a pull towards the playground. With every minute, the sky fades from blue to a deep purple, casting a dark glow on the swing set.

“Penny!” Nate calls. She finally sees him walking towards her. Sam calls out his name again, a loud shout that grates his ears. He turns over his shoulder, watching her run towards him. He walks a little faster towards the swing set, towards Penny.

“Nate, where are you going?” Sam asks. Nate breaks out into a jog. Sam screams in frustration, following him.

“Penny, I’m so glad to see you again,” Nate tells her, out of breath. He leans against the pole, seeing Sam in the corner of his eye. “Can we go somewhere more private?”

“I know the perfect place,” Penny tells him. She grabs Nate’s hand, pulling him along with a strength he didn’t expect.

“Where are you taking me?” he asks.

“You’ll see,” she grins.

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