The Big Gate Crash
It was a lazy Sunday morning in the picturesque town of Austere Ville. The lanes and shops were isolated as everyone in town were still huddled up in bed, except for a few like the Romero’s. Dressed in her denim jumpsuit, Francesca sat glued to the television in the living room. Munching on her favourite potato chips for breakfast, she watched the repeat telecast of the wrestling match that she loved so much. Taking the last chip in hand, she shoved it in her side pocket, saving it for possible emergencies, like starving to death while going shopping with Gia.
"Frisca, you aren't starting your day with a healthy breakfast," Tori lectured her from across the dining table, in the kitchen behind her.
He continued, "According to a survey, your cholesterol level increases and damages the heart..."
"Oh Mr-Know-It-All, will you please give it a rest," she replied from the couch and increased the volume of the television. “I’m trying to concentrate on the match! So be quiet,” she warned him and stared at the screen.
"That’s what I call a dumbass show, It’s all scripted, the whole thing is a big lie you’re watching" Tori complained and began getting on her nerves again.
"Says who?" she made a face
"Says I." He wrinkled his nose and switched off the television with the remote control. Frisca shrieked and turned around to give him a nasty stare. Seeing him stick his tongue out to tease her, she sprung off the couch to attack him. “Give me that!” She demanded when suddenly their mother, Sophie Romero came in the middle.
"That’s enough! Both of you behave like other normal siblings for Christ sake," Sophie, their referee interrupted and stopped the two before they could get their hands on each other.
"And Tori stop bugging your sister all the time," she frowned at him as she spread the grocery bags on the table.
“Eh! You heard the man of the house, didn’t you? Now hand over the remote control,” Frisca raised her brows sarcastically and smirked as he reluctantly pushed it across the table.
"You always take her side, I wish I wasn’t born in this house," he murmured and started peaking inside the bags for goodies.
"Well, you aren't. You're adopted, didn’t you tell him mom?" she commented and looked in his direction.
"I hate you!!" Tori stormed out through the back door and climbed inside his treehouse.
"Oh, God! What is it with the two of you?" Sophie sighed as she sat down to arrange the bills.
Tori was Francesca’s kid brother or say Frisca’s as everyone liked to call her. For others, he was her brother, but as she would like to put it, he was a virus, born especially to ruin her mental stability. According to her, his main intention was to annoy her with his plethora of bookish knowledge, thanks to his high IQ level that set him apart from other kids his age. Sophie however, was the typical concerned mother & peacemaker in the family. Ever since their father died in an air crash, Frisca had been shouldering the responsibilities with Sophie. She had seen her go through a lot in life. she was just eight back then when her mother was pregnant with Tori. Having turned seventeen recently, Frisca lived in their humble home with just Tori and their mother, Sophie.
"Frisca! Get ready dear, you promised to deliver the wedding cake at Ms Shaw’s house," Sophie reminded her.
"What! Today?!" Frisca cried and frowned. “But her house is so far, I know you don’t have the heart to send me all the way up that hill?” she protested and fluttered her eyelashes. The Romero’s lived in a small town called Austere Ville, which wasn’t far away from the main city in Alabama. The hill where Miss Shaw resided was part of the forest reserve that crossed their town.
"I’ve promised Ms Shaw," Sophie paused. "Be responsible, you’re already aware it’s her wedding today, aren’t you?" she remarked sternly.
"She is so old, probably 60 plus, why is she getting married anyway?" she sulked and glanced at her reflection in the kitchen window. The black colour of her hair had faded at the roots, revealing her naturally brown hair at the crown. She wasn’t the type of person who was conscious about her looks, yet she never minds letting Gia experiment on her. She was often praised by Gia for being born with a lovely pair of dove-shaped eyes. She however never knew how much of that was true? All she ever saw was a pair of black marbles staring at the aimlessly at the mirror. Maybe she’s just being nice to me, or so Frisca thought since she never considered herself attractive.
“Francesca Romero…” Sophie gave her a very deadly look and snapped her out of her daze. The look got Frisca marching out to complete her duties.
Without complaining further, she delicately placed the three tire cake in the back seat and drove towards the highway. It was a long route, but she had the lush reserve park and its inhabitants to keep her company on the way. A raccoon and her baby, sat on the fence, nibbling on their pricy catch as Frisca drove past the reserve that stretched along the highway. As she neared the bend to drive up the hill, she saw how tiny everything looked from a height. She wondered how it would feel like to fly like a mocking jay over Austere Ville. The refreshing cool breeze kissed her face, making the journey more pleasant. She kept humming her favourite song when all of a sudden the car just stopped.
"Come on move it! Please, oh please, oh please...” she prayed as the car engine spluttered, but no matter how hard she prayed it just wouldn’t start.
"Bless it! My Sunday is ruined,” she cussed as she stood there all alone.
“What could get worse than this?” she craned her neck to look up and saw Ms Shaw’s cottage at a distance. “Well, a job is a job,” she sighed and lowered her head. Frisca helped her mother in managing their bakery by delivering cakes for birthday parties and lousy weddings. So here she was carrying a big carton of calories for Miss. Shaw’s wedding, trying her best not to get crushed by any of the vehicles that were driving in the opposite direction.
Finally, after what felt like climbing Mt. Everest, she reached the destination and knocked at the door. Breathing heavily and gasping for air at the same time, she placed down the carton and leaned against the pillar. When the door opened, she was met with a manly figure that just intensified her already ruined Sunday.
‘Hey...What's up? Beckham grinned and raised an eyebrow in surprise. “Had I known you were coming, I would have tried to look my best," Beckham said in excitement, as he stood before her in a black formal suit.
"The delivery!" Frisca sighed and rolled her eyes and showed him the receipt was left to be signed.
"Oh, the cake! Aunt Shaw will be so delighted when she sees this," he smiled gleefully and called the helpers to carry it inside
“Great so the high school jock is her nephew!” she widened her eyes in disbelief. “Surprise! Surprise!” she muttered and recollected the way the sales guy sing those very same crappy lines on the overrated telly shopping show. After getting it signed, she turned to walk away. But Beckham caught up and blocked her way by standing inches away from her face. The strong smell of his cologne hit her nose, forcing her to step back.
"And where do you think you’re going?" he said changing his voice into a deeper tone.
"Do chips act as a subsidy for pepper spray?' she thought as she searched her pockets while his blue eyes kept glaring at her. “By the way, I did all the decorations and arrangements, it’s my new venture to keep me busy during the weekends,” he smirked and proudly ran his fingers through his blonde hair.
He was about to rant more when Miss. Shaw herself came out looking for him. “Beckham!” she screamed and scared the ravens crowing on the roof of her elegant cottage.
"Hey there dear, I am so glad you made it on time," Ms. Shaw noticed Frisca and smiled, as she came from the backyard of the cottage. She looked pretty fat in her clinging wedding gown that ended till her knee, exposing her awful calf muscles that looked like they had been inked with stretch marks. The gown was quite tight, for Frisca noticed how difficult the lady was finding it to breathe.
"Aunt Shaw! Don’t you think we should call her in to join in the celebration?" Beckham winked at her and shifted his gaze on Frisca.
'Why yes! I want the whole town to know that I’m finally getting married!" She replied clapping her hands like a little girl, who had received her presents on Christmas Eve. No sooner did Beckham get a nod from his aunt, he grabbed Frisca’s hand and pulled her inside the cottage.
“Why out of all the boys in town did I have to see Bekham’s face today?’ she wondered as he took her past the main hall and out into the backyard. Beckham Carter was her classmate in high school. He wasn’t that bad at heart, but he had a slight obsession with Frisca since the day she foolishly confessed that she had a crush on him when they were in 6th grade. All thanks to Gia's advice of spitting out what’s in your heart. She still owed Frisca’s for pushing her into this love-struck whirlwind. On his request, she had even dated him once, and it was the most embarrassing event in her life. He still pursued her with the belief that she still had a thing for him, but the truth was that she would rather die a virgin then spend her life with him.
"Look, thanks for the invitation, but I really have to go," she said on noticing how dark the sky was getting.
"But it’s my aunt's...” he paused. “I mean our aunt's wedding. You wouldn't want to disappoint her, would you?" he said and made a puppy face.
"Excuse me! I have only one aunt, and she lives in Ohio," Frisca replied sternly, watching the caterers pass by serving drinks and snacks to the guests.
"No problem, we’ll sort that later.! How about you stay for a while to picture how our wedding would look like," he suggested dreamily and pointed towards the alter.
"Beckham! Don’t start that again," she stared at him angrily.
"I’ve told you there is nothing between us." she grinded she teeth and huffed, but it had no effect on him.
"That’s what I am saying – nothing can come between us," he remarked as he stood on one of the chairs and posed like a warrior.
"Get down!" she said in a hushed voice, as the guests watched them in amusement.
"Boy, you embarrass me to the core,” she grumbled and walked off, as the crowd of guests parted to make way for her.
"And you healed the heart that had gone sore," he jumped off the chair and followed her.
"You know you’re a big bore,” she continued as she took the steep lane that led down the hill faster.
"Hey what else rhymes with bore? He asked as he tried to catch up with her.
"Shut up! That wasn’t funny!" she snapped and started running to avoid him.
"Hey wait, don’t run down like that you might get hurt,” he warned her from behind. "Though I wouldn’t mind nursing you!" he added and smirked mischievously.
"Don’t even think about it" she made a face and skid down the slope, getting her legs brushed in the process. Composing herself, she got up and ran in another direction. But she could still hear him calling out her name.
"Where are you?" He called out as she looked at the wild trees around her
As she kept running, she noticed an old willow tree that had an opening in the foot of its trunk. Taking the opportunity, she crawled in and sat there huddled like a kid. It wasn't long before Beckham came and desperately began looking for her. He failed to catch her hiding in the tree right behind him. Confused and annoyed, he began threatening her when all of a sudden it started to rain. Realising that she wasn't going to come out in front of him, he assumed that she had left and hence walked back to the cottage to attend the wedding.
Frisca heaved a sigh of relief and adjusted herself cosily like woodland creatures waiting for the rains to stop. Seated there, she thought of the possibilities of encountering one and hence picked up a sharp stone for self-defence. "This won’t hurt much," she said. "Just pray my aim is right," she muttered and listened to the raindrops lashing against the leaves.
Frisca’s aim was really bad. No wonder she was rejected from the girls’ basketball team twice. The coach had said that she never focused much and was fit to be a cheer girl. Waiting for the rains to stop, she played with the stone and kept looking out.
“Mom may get worried by now,” she sulked and kept playing with the stone.
To kill her boredom, she took the stone near the bark and tried drawing with it. Out of habit she scratched the bark and tried writing name. No sooner did she finish, a slimy red substance seeped out from her name.
“Ewe! Gross!" she stuck her tongue out in disgust and threw the stone aside. “What is this thing?” she wondered and noticed more red liquid seeping out and pooling around her feet.
"Freak, this tree bleeds," she said out loud in bewilderment and realised that taking shelter inside the creepy willow tree wasn’t a good idea after all. As she got up to leave, she noticed the spot where she had etched her name, it was now peeling off. There was light coming through it, which intensified as the peeling increased.
"Ok, enough surprises for today, Frisca!" she told herself and hurriedly tried to move away, but it was too late. No sooner she moved, she felt something grab her ankle. The grip grew tighter, and she felt she was being pulled inside. She tried to hold all the possible things she could get her hands on, as she fell flat on the ground.
"Help!" she screamed in horror but got no reply, except for the echo of her own voice.
The lights faded, and she went deeper inside as the un-identified thing pulled her in. it continued pulling her in faster. Her pulse increased as she screamed for help. The ravens cried as they saw her being dragged in. she was dying, and nobody knew it. The tree was consuming her or so she thought as she kept shrieking for help until she felt tired and passed out.
"Frisca! Are you alright?" she heard Bekham’s voice but couldn’t react.
"Frisca stay with me, you're going to be alright!" his tensed voice assured her as he tried to bring her back to consciousness. Her body had gone numb. She felt so stiff and cold inside that even opening she eyes caused immense pain to her. She tried to conjure what was happening around her when she heard more voices in the background.