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Miranda watched the stars as they floated in the sky and for a moment she pretended as though she was one of them. Beautiful. Purposeful. Lighting up the sky to guide all of those who were below her. Brightening the paths of the people that had busy lives with no meaning to them. She closed her eyes, relieved not to be one of those people.
“Baby,” she heard her mother’s voice, ruining her dream, “We have to go she’s waiting for us.”
Miranda opened her eyes and got up from the ground. She gave the stars one more glance and they shined back at her as if to apologize to her for the way things are. Her mother guided her to a purple tent hidden within the trees. The closer she got to the tent the smaller she felt. Miranda’s mother sat her down in the only chair in the room.
“Mom, I don’t want to be here,” Miranda said but, her voice seemed to be completely gone. She looked down to find she was the size of a mouse in the chair. Turning quickly to the door, she saw that her mother had disappeared. She was alone waiting for...something. She couldn’t remember what they were there. What was she waiting for? Miranda snapped back around in the chair when she heard the sound of footsteps approaching. Footsteps that she knew were not her mother’s. They were too heavy to be her mother’s footsteps.
Miranda tried to get off of the chair, planning to slide down the front leg. Her necklace tightened around her neck until it was choking her against the back of the chair. The footsteps grew heavier. Louder. Closer.
Miranda shrunk in her chair the closer the footsteps got.
Miranda looked around the room, frantic to find some way out. The curtain in front of her opened slowly.
“No! No! I don’t want it stay away from me!”
The dark shadow edged through the door. Miranda closed her eyes and screamed.
Miranda sat up in a cold sweat. She looked around the room, once again in Mei’s living room. She hadn’t had that dream in a while. Miranda sat up and stared at her ringing phone and sighed.
“Hey, Mom,” she answered.
“Where the hell are you?”
“Well were you you going to bother telling me? Where are you?”
“It doesn’t matter I’m not going to be here long.”
“Tell me you didn’t take off your necklace.”
“No, Mom. I didn’t!”
Miranda looked up and saw Jack making their way towards her down the hallway.
“I have to go.”
“Miranda! Come home right now! What do you mean you have to go?”
“I’ll call you later.”
Miranda hung up on her mother and Jack sat down on the couch beside her.
“Was that your mom?”
Miranda nodded silently and laid back on the couch, looking up at the Mei’s Sailor Moon sticker covered ceiling.
“Are you ready for this,” Jack asked.
Ever since Miranda had agreed to let Jack come with her, Jack had been filled with excitement. They had decided to stay in New York for an extra day or two to give Jack time to pack their things and go.
“I think the hardest part of all of this will be leaving Mei”, Jack admitted, “What time is it?”
“5:11”, Miranda responded, looking down at her phone, “Why are you up so early? Aren’t you tired?”
“I was a little anxious,” Jack said, “You?”
“Same,” Miranda lied.
Jack laid their head on Miranda’s arm and closed their eyes.
“I guess we should try to get a little sleep,” Jack said, “Before we choose where to go.”
“JACK! I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’RE LEAVING ME,” Mei wrapped her arms around Jack’s neck and pretend to cry on their shoulder.
“I’ll come back,” Jack hugged back, smiling.
“You should come with us,” Miranda chimed in.
“Nah”, Mei shook her head, “I want to be here. I’m trying to get a gallery going.”
“Good luck with that,” Jack shrugged, “You know I’ll be here when you get that set up.”
“Alright, cool kid.”
Mei pushed Jack’s shoulder and Jack turned towards the front door.
Mei pulled Miranda in for a tight hug.
“Look out for them for me, okay?”
Miranda nodded and Mei let her go.
“If you guys decide to go somewhere cooler than New York, let me know.”
Miranda smiled and followed Jack out the front door.
Miranda watched the tracks as the train pulled up to each stop. Suddenly, Jack stood up and Miranda looked up at them confused.
“What are you doing,” she asked.
“I just have to get something. I totally forgot,” Jack said, their tone completely flat.
The doors opened and Miranda followed Jack out of the train station. She looked around the area confused. She and Jack had been to many places, picking up things that seemed to belong to Jack. However, they had not once taken her here. Obviously it was still a part of New York, it was just a part she had not been to before. They stopped in front of a house and Jack turned around to face Miranda.
“You can wait out here. I’ll be right back.”
“I want to come in,” Miranda protested, “There’s no shade here.”
Jack nodded and walked around the perimeter of the house sneakily. Jack peered through the window and sighed with relief.
“What are you doing,” Miranda whispered.
Jack walked back to the front of the house, pulled out a key and went through the door. Miranda trailed behind Jack into the dark living room.
Jack didn’t bother to turn on the lights and headed straight up the stairs. Miranda followed suspiciously looking around the room for a clue as to where they were.
Jack entered the room at the very end of the hall and turned on the light. The room was white with nothing on the walls and a mattress posted in the corner, sitting on nothing but, a box spring.
Jack was completely silent, sifting through the contents of the room for different tiny trinkets: a star key chain, dark purple lipstick, a case of glasses.
Miranda back out of the room and began to explore the other rooms on the floor. She made her way to a room closer to the stairs and pushed the door open slowly. There was a king sized bed, a flat screen TV and clothes all over the room.
She picked up a purple blouse that sat on the edge of the bed and held it up to herself.
Miranda dropped the blouse back on the bed and started towards something that caught her eye on the bedstand.
A picture of a small, dark haired, caramel brown child sat on the dresser watching her with tired eyes.
Miranda backed away from the picture and slipped out of the room. Making her way back to the space she now knew was Jack’s.
When she reentered the room, she found Jack lifting mattress and snatching a stack of money from underneath it. Jack stuffed the money into their backpack, along with a few shirts from their closet.
“Let’s go,” Jack said and the two escaped the darkness of the house, as quickly as they had entered it.
Miranda watched Jack stare out of the window when she remembered they had another stop they had to make.
“Wait,” she said, “Wasn’t there somewhere else we have to go?”
“Right,” Miranda almost shouted.
“I don’t think we really need anything from there,” Jack said, “I mean it’s the summer. We’re getting a little ahead of ourselves planning to get jackets.”
“What if wherever we go next is cold?”
“I don’t think we’re going to Alaska.”
“Is it always cold in Alaska?”
Jack didn’t say anything and continued to stare ahead.
“We should go to a museum or something then,” Miranda suggested.
“Why don’t we just get out of here?”
“Oh come on,” Miranda said, “The buses will still be there.”
“Fine,” Jack rolled their eyes, “There’s a little cupcake shop near the bus station. If we tried to go anywhere else today we would end up staying at Mei’s for another night.
Miranda sat back, satisfied that she had gotten her way. She looked down at her phone.
12 Missed Calls from Mom.
“That will be 12.63.”
The cashier at Molly Cakes announced.
Miranda pulled out her wallet and took out a twenty.
“Wow, $6 dollars for one cupcake? This better be the best cupcake I’ll ever have in my life.”
“I bet you want to get out of New York now,” Jack said stuffing Miranda’s money back in her wallet and giving the cashier their $20 instead.
Miranda snorted and quickly covered her mouth.
“Shut up,” Miranda said as Jack laughed at her. She pulled her phone out of her pocket again and saw her mother had sent her three text messages.
“Miranda. Answer this phone right now.”
“Do not take off your necklace.”
“Your mom again,” Jack asked.
Miranda stuffed her phone back in her pocket.
“Look, I can’t have someone’s mom following me around so, you should call her back. Whatever you’re running from...at least let her know you’re okay. She cares.”
Miranda looked up at Jack but, said nothing. She gave them two twenty dollar bills and pulled her cell phone out of her pocket.
“You can pick where we go next,” she said.
Jack walked to the window to buy the tickets and Miranda called her mom.
“I’m surprised you haven’t called the police yet,” she said when he mother answered the phone.
“I think my daughter has enough sense to come home before it gets that far.”
“I think you’re wrong...I’m not coming back, mom.”
“Even if you made me come home, I would just leave again in two weeks after my birthday.”
“I just,” Miranda began twirling her necklace with her fingers, “I just need this. I need to get away. I think you owe me that. After everything that’s happened.”
A silence fell between them and Miranda turned around to watch Jack buy the tickets, still nervously fidgeting with her necklace.
“You keep in contact with me,” her mother finally said, “Okay?”
“Yes,” Miranda sighed with relief, “I can do that.”
“I have someone here that wants to talk to you,” said Miranda’s mother.
Miranda’s blood instantly ran cold. Before they even came to the phone, she already knew who it was.
“Hey sweet stuff,” Derrick said as soon as he got the phone.
“Hey Derrick,” Miranda said, her voice completely flat.
Miranda felt detached from the phone, detached from the bus station, detached from her body.
All she saw was Derrick’s face and the darkness.
“When are you coming home,” Derrick pried on the phone. She could still see his facing so clear it felt as though she was standing right in front of him.
“I’m not. I said I’m not coming home.”
“What do you mean you’re not coming home?”
Derrick was getting angry.
“I don’t want to come home...and we’re breaking up.”
Jack was walking back towards her now and the closer Jack got the more confident she felt. She began feeling less like she was alone in the dark with Derrick.
“We’re not breaking up,” Derrick told Miranda.
“We are,” Miranda said, asserting herself a little more, “And we’re not speaking anymore. Goodbye, Derrick.”
Miranda hung up the phone and the Derrick sized burden that rested on her shoulders disappeared.
“Is everything good,” Jack asked.
“Everything is better,” Miranda’s eyes floated down to the tickets in Jack’s hands.
“Where are we going,” she smiled.
And after months of being dead, she felt overcome with an ephemeral shade of yellow that could only be produced in the summer.
Derrick was still in the dark space. He found himself in the same patch of grass that haunted Miranda’s nightmares. Yet he wanted to be there. The tent had the same nefarious air that the darkness had. That Derrick was familiar with. That Miranda wanted to escape.
Derrick entered the tent and sat down in the chair at the table and waited. The dark figure of Miranda’s nightmares creeped to entrance of the door, only slightly visible.
“Is there any way,” Derrick began, “To reverse a spell?”
The dark figure stuck its head out of the door slightly more, as if to ask for more information.
Derrick leaned forward, his face glowing with hatred, “Is there any way to reverse a resurrection spell?”