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How I got in the Trunk

(The following is a section of a story I am working on for an upcoming literary contest. Hopefully I can finish it in time! Until then, enjoy this sneak peek!)

How I got in the Trunk.

It is said that hindsight is 20/20 and though I’m not a fan of your average cliché, when they stare you in the face, it’s almost ironic. In this case I wish I had been a fan, then maybe I wouldn’t find myself stuck in suspended animation, inside this otherworldly box.

How this happened is a story in itself.

The sun had begun to set, Susan and I were cleaning the large bell in the east bell tower of the church. It was an Initiates job and, even though I continued to refuse to take the Vows, Susan was a dear friend and I never minded working with her. We wore our heavy cloaks, cowls drawn up to help stave the wind off our faces. From this height the wind was harsher than on the ground and a false step could result in falling off the rickety beams but the work still had to be done. The cold didn’t bother me as much but I saw Susan shivering.

I loosened my cowl and started pulling it off. “Here,” I stepped around the large bell and held the cowl out to Susan. “You’ll be warmer if you’re wearing both.”

“No. No, you keep it. You may need it.” Susan moved away from me and began furiously polishing the bell.

I followed her. “You’re shivering.” I insisted. Closing the distance between us and capturing her from behind in a hug. It caught her slightly off guard and she faltered forward but was braced by the bell. Susan tried to sound aggravated as she huffed, but I could hear the beaten down laugh that rested within her chest.

Susan drummed subbed nails on the bell, the dull tinkling sound waifed through the air. “Why won’t you hug me normally, like you use to?” She asked.

“Susan…”

“I’m serious,” Susan said. She put her hands over mine; I could feel how cold they were so I tightened my hold. Susan was bigger than me in way of curves. If she hadn’t taken the Vows she would have had her fair share of suitors and probably married by now. “Ever since you’ve come back, from wherever it was you went two years ago, you’ve barely been able to look me in the eye. Or anyone here at the church. The others may be oblivious, but I’m not. Why won’t you tell me what happened? Please, Epiphany.”

Susan was ruining the moment. All I had wanted to do was warm her up the best that I could under the circumstances and she wanted to bring up the past. I didn’t want to talk about it. I sighed into her back and wormed my hands free of hers, taking the cowl and wrapping it around her neck before I moved away. I didn’t answer her because I didn’t know how, instead I went to pick up my polish kit I had left on the other side of the bell.

The wind picked up and, without the protection of the cowl, strands of my golden pale hair freed themselves from my braid and blew up to press across my face. I could feel her watching me and for a moment I felt a tinge of guilt over keeping my friend in the proverbial dark, but I had my reasons.

I put on a smile and stood, even pushed out a soft laugh as I turned to face her. My voice was light and playful as I spoke. “Looks like we’re all done up here, let’s go before we freeze, okay?” I didn’t wait to hear her answer because I knew a scowl and frown were going to be on her face.

Usually, when I stay late and clean the bells, I spend the night in the dormitory with the other Initiates, but after what happened I didn’t think it such a good idea. I quickly put back the polish kit and headed for the entrance. On the way out I crossed paths with Susan. I was right, the frown was on her face but she was concerned as well. Offering up a bright smile I waved to her and left the church.

I continued to smile all the way through the grounds and until I passed by the metal front gates, then I ran. I needed to quickly put as much distance between myself and the church as I could.

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