Where are you going Where have you been: Ending
Submitted by erinroyal on Wed, 07/21/2010 - 20:12
She stepped into this new world, blinking at it's brightness, not aware of where her feet were taking her. She felt no fear anymore, as she reached for the handrail, lowering herself to the ground. Arnold Friend seemed to draw her in, suddenly, as if she were floating. Even if she wanted to turn around or cry out, she could not. Her brain was not focused on anything in particular; not the tinkling of her bracelets as she stepped closer to her apparent fate, not the way the warm sun seemed to put a surreal glow around the golden car as if to summon her with its wicked array of curiosity that surrounded it, and above all, not the way Arnold Friend was smiling as if he knew all along some sick joke that she would never find out. Connie was unaware of what her future held, but equally unaware of her past. The only thing she was thinking as the gravel crunched and the three pulled away from her former life was "how did I get here?". The thought was gone as soon as it was there, and she turned up her head and was swallowed by the sky. The rules were simple. Let Arnold Friend have her. Let him dream. Why are you doing this to me? Do you want to stay alive? I guess so. You don't know? No. Then why are you so quiet. I dunno. Just do what I say, okay? Okay. You're kind of weird.. you know that? Yeah. This was how her life was now. Days without end. Lives without future. It wasn't an uncomfortable lifestyle by any means. There was a nice bed, that Arnold Friend never joined her in. It wouldn't have mattered to her if he did. (She has seen a man's naked body at Betty's house from her mothers magazine stash). Nothing mattered to a girl named Connie. Connie's were the kinds of girls that just blended in to the background. Just breathing because it would be too much of a fuss if she wasn't. The three roomed house was located in a remote area, with a creek in the back of the house, down the hill. There was an old mesquite tree in the front yard, that cast a shadow on her pale green wall in the late afternoon. Sometimes she would sketch the tree, not because she was an artist, but just because she didn't know what else to do with it. Arnold Friend sat with her sometimes listening to the radio for updates on outlaws and that kind of thing. Whenever they sat and listened, he would try and talk to her. I rekon i'm gonna go into town tomorrow and get some food.. i'm not bringin' you along, so that means you're gonna be here by yourself..you're not gonna run are you? Guess not. Are you scared of me? No. Why not? I dunno. Do you miss your family? Sometimes. Do you like it here? I like it fine. And he would leave her alone. Sometimes for days. Ellie would be there too, when he wasn't following Arnold around. Connie thought about her mother sometimes, and how much she could be missing her, but that thought never lasted a long time because she knew that those wisps of her past weren't relevant anymore. This was her life now. And she didn't care. She had no real direction or opinion about what could come next, she just let it happen. She let the days come to her, and leave her. Time was now irrelevant. Sometimes Connie tried to think of how she used to be, before Arnold swept her away. She could never really put her finger on her old life. This was who she was now, and she wasn't planning on fighting it. The past was the past for a reason, so she let all of it go. All she knew, was that she needed to feel something real. One day Arnold came back to the house with a small red toolbox that looked like it could belong to anyone but him, a shovel, and some plywood planks. What are those for? I'm building something. What? You'll see won't you. Why can't you just tell me? It's a surprise. I don't like surprises. You'll like this surprise. What makes you think that? I just know is all. For four weeks Connie sat sweating on the porch watching Arnold Friend dig into the earth and build his dreams. She wondered what the hole in the ground was going to mean for her, and quickly contemplated if he was going to hurt her, but then laughed to herself for even caring. Her bracelets jangled in the intermittent breeze. What was she afraid of? On the last day, she sat watching Arnold finish his project and noticed a bird land on the mesquite tree. It glided gracefully down and sat on a branch and looked at Connie. Connie looked back. After a few moments it took a step closer to the edge of the branch, turned it's head, and flew away. She watched it go until it flew into the sun and it got lost in the light. She thought about the bird, and how it might not have known exactly where it was going, but it still went all the same. Arnold Friend finished his project. It was an underground room that Connie could go in if she needed to hide. She didn't want to go near the hole in the ground. It would swallow her whole, she was sure of that.
What do I need to hide from? In case the feds come and try to find you. I don't want them taking you away now. I'm cluster phobic. It's roomier than it looks. So is a jail cell. You have a pretty sharp sense of humor, girl. I guess so. A couple weeks later, Arnold and Ellie went into town and never came back. Connie sat waiting on her bed for a light to shine on her wall signaling that the golden car was pulling back into the driveway late at night, but it never did. She was alone. Connie switched on the radio, and scanned the dial hoping to hear a bit of newscast that had any relevance to the whereabouts of Arnold Friend, but had no luck. It was late afternoon, and the shadows grew long on the walls of the kitchen table. Connie laid her head down on her arms and drifted in and out of sleep. She dreamt of the bird on the mesquite tree and how it must feel to spread your wings and fly away. Except this time, the bird didn't fly away, it just looked at Connie with an expression that she could not recognize. She wondered what that meant when she was startled awake by a voice. The radio was alive with conversation, as a newscaster announced that two men between the ages of 30 and 40 were participating in a high speed chase and the car was ultimately destroyed, killing one man, and injuring another. The injured man was jailed immediately and is currently undergoing questioning and has potential charges of robbery and kidnapping, which would be investigated further as soon as possible. Connie sat up, and tried to fathom what all of this meant for her. She was sure that the two men were Arnold and Ellie. She wondered which one died. She also knew that investigation would mean that at some point, the police would show up at the house and search for answers that they might never find. She found out later in the day that the name of the dead man was someone named James Mason Adelman. He preferred to call himself Arnold Friend, and they were investigating further as to why he had the alias. She sat by the creek while the sun was setting, and leaned against a rock. She thought about where she has been and came to the conclusion that it didn't matter. It only mattered where she was going. The sun went down reluctantly, and Connie sat listening to the sounds of the night until she softly got up, and made no sound as she walked back up the hill. The next morning she got up early. She had already found the accessory she would need for the occasion and left it on the table the night before. As she walked out the door, she picked it up and slipped out the door into the early morning light. She climbed the mesquite tree slowly, as it was rather tall and she hadn't climbed trees since before she got too lazy, reached a solid branch, and stopped climbing. Her delicate fingers twisted the knot until it looked like a nest of sorts and yanked on it to test the weight. She sat for a minute and thought about what was to come. The last thing she thought about before she slipped off the branch was what Arnold must have been thinking about right before he died. The yucca tree shook violently as it collected the entire weight of her dangling body. This time it wasn't the sky that swallowed her whole, it was her mother and June and the hole in the ground and her past. It was the way boys looked at her in the mall. It was the way she felt at home. It was her whole life. As her body went limp, her wrists relaxed and there was a slight tinkling sound as one bracelet slipped from her thin wrist, and fell to the dusty ground. Somewhere a bird flew from a tree into the morning sky.