Faye Gourmont sat in the passenger seat of her mom’s car, staring through the patterns that the rain created on her window at the passing world. She was distrait and all she could think about was Sean. How could he possibly like her when he treats her so violently? She knew deep down that what he did was wrong. He clearly had no morals, especially since she was a girl, she thought. She began to wonder why she even liked him. Maybe it was his looks...
“Let me see,” her mom said, stopping at the light and turning to Faye.
She grabbed her chin, turned her face, and then examined the bruises and scars.
“Ugh, the swelling on your lip is getting worse,” she told her, letting go of her face.
“You should’ve given me some ice or something then,” Faye mumbled, crossing her arms over her chest and staring out her window again.
“I couldn’t,” her mom shouted as she recognized some dry blood in her hair. “But we’re almost home. How did you get blood in your hair?”
Faye’s mom tried to get it out and kept glancing at the road so she wouldn't miss the light. When it turned green, she stopped picking at Faye's hair and drove again. A couple minutes later, she pulled up in the driveway of their house. Faye immediately opened the door and ran to the front door. She didn’t have the key so when she got to it, she wrapped her arms around herself and waited for her mom to come and open it. Her mom got out of the car and jogged through the rain toward the house.
“What’s the matter with you?” she asked Faye.
“Mom, just open the door,” Faye said, facing it.
“I think that boy who did this to you should get expelled. I should talk to his parents, because all of this is just — not right.”
Faye looked up at her mom. “He’s an orphan,” she said gravely.
“Oh,” her mom said the same way. “But…there should be someone who takes care of him, right?”
Faye shrugged her shoulders and turned back to face the door. Her mom unlocked it, and Faye was the first in. She dropped her schoolbag on the living room floor and then rushed into the kitchen. Her mom stepped in and closed the door behind her.
“What did I tell you about dropping your shit on the floor?” she said sourly, picking up the schoolbag. "Make me pick it up behind you," she added under her breath.
She didn’t expect a reply and didn’t get one. She just placed the bag on the couch and turned on the TV. Faye grabbed an icepack from in the freezer and then placed it on her lip as she walked into the living room with her mom and slouched on the couch.
“So, what’s his name anyway?” Faye’s mom asked curiously, walking to the kitchen to start making something for them to eat.
“Who’s name —— what?” Faye asked, turning around to look at her mom.
“The name of the boy who did this to you,” he mom clarified like a question, her voice hinted with attitude.
“Sean Glee,” Faye replied shyly, turning around and nearly blushing at the thought of him. But her partiality disappeared when she remembered what he did to her. “He’s a total loser,” she stated, flipping through channels. “He was about to skip school when I was going outside for recess with some friends, he totally pushed me and said I had problems. I told him he was...bunk.” Part of that was a lie, but her mom knew only what the principal knew.
Faye’s mom's face twisted with slight confusion, chopping vegetables. “What is that, some sort of slang you kids use these days?” She nearly laughed.
“Well, it means, like, shitty and really weird. And then after I called him that, he started to fight me.”
“But you defended yourself?”
“A little I guess. I kneed him really hard in stomach and stuff.”
Faye laughed and stopped flipping through channels, turning around to look at her mom again.
“I already know Katherine’s gone, but where’s Stanley?” Faye asked her, realizing then that he wasn’t included in the car ride home.
Faye’s mom immediately turned around and gasped, eyes were wide and hands on the counter.
* * *
Faye’s mom sped down the road. Her hands were firmly wrapped around the steering wheel. She was blinking away tears from her eyes, staring at the blurry road ahead.
“Mom,” Faye said, staring at the road as well. “How could you have forgotten to pick up Stanley? He’s my twin, when you picked me up, you should’ve seen him in me.”
“J—— Just shut up, Faye!” her mom shouted.
Faye didn’t take her mom’s short fuse to heart. She taught herself not to. She just stared through the blurry windshield, forcing a lopsided smile.
They got back to Faye’s school, and this time her mom was the first out of the car. Faye followed close by her, and they rushed inside to the office.
“Is Stanley still here?” Faye’s mom asked frenetically, leaning forward over the secretary’s desk.
“Stanley who?” Mrs. Field asked lethargically, appearing listless.
“My son, Stanley Gourmont,” Faye’s mom replied impatiently.
“Does he have a sort of after-school program, or ——”
“No, no, nothing like that. Can you maybe call him publically or whatever?”
Mrs. Field gave Faye’s mom a dark look. She picked up the speaker for the P.A. and then called into it. “Stanley Gourmont, please report to the office,” — she glanced up at Faye’s mom, who looked worried; glancing around the room absently — “Immediately.”
She hung up the device and then folded her hands over her work. “Don’t worry, your son will be fine,” she assured her.
“Why isn’t he coming?” Faye’s mom asked desperately, her voice quavering.
“I think I know why you’re so worried. But listen, honey, you’re not the only one,” the secretary said, looking back down to her work.
“Listen, bitch,” Faye’s mom interrupted through clenched teeth, leaning over the desk some more and bashing her fist on it as she said it. “You don’t know my son. He’s strong, he can fend for him damn self, and he doesn’t need,” — her voice broke. She cupped her eyes with one hand, hiding the welling tears from likely spilling out of her eyes.
"Whoa, mom,” Faye said, putting a comforting hand on her mom’s back. “Maybe he’s at home now, waiting for someone to come home and get him inside.”
Faye’s mom looked down at her. Her state made Faye uncomfortable. “OK, let’s go.” She turned to look at the secretary, who was looking up at her. “Sorry for the outburst. If you find him, can you please contact me?”
Mrs. Field nodded, pressing her lips together, appreciating the apology.
* * *
Faye sat in the passenger seat. Her mom sat next to her, concentrated on the blurry road, the windshield wipers swishing as fast as they could. Faye looked down at her hands in her lap sadly, missing her brother and worrying about his absence. But she tried to convince herself that he was waiting at home in the rain. Her mom parked in the driveway, pulled the key from the ignition, and the engine's roar quieted. Her and her daughter said nothing as they sat still for a moment, listening to the sound of pelting rain on the car's exterior.
“What if I’m next?” Faye finally asked, staring out the windshield.
Faye’s mom turned and looked at her. “You won’t be,” she croacked unsurely, but tried to make it sound as believable as possible.
Faye looked up at her mom and forced a light smile. Then, her mom opened the door and stepped out of the car. Faye did the same. They walked up to the front door, and to Faye’s disappointment, her brother wasn’t standing by the front of the house. They walked inside and Faye sat on the couch. Her mom walked to the kitchen to continue dealing with the preparatory food. Faye turned on the TV.
“Your brother is probably at the school, heading to the office to ask that old hag behind the desk what she wanted,” Faye’s mom suggested, cutting up some vegetables.
Faye chuckled as she leaned forward to pick up the remote from the coffee table in front of her, and turned to the news before putting the remote back.
“But it seems that an uncommon amount of children from province to province are going missing,” the newswoman said from behind a desk with a thin stack of papers in front of her on it, and a smartly dressed man sitting next to her. “And these unexpected and completely dire incidents are raising question and anxiety to many adults — not just parents — everywhere.”
“Yes,” a stout woman with long black hair sobbed.
She was a recording from the morning news. According to the caption running along the bottom of the screen, she was in a different part of the country. It was pouring then, rain pelting on the one dark umbrella that the male reporter had shielding both himself and the poor woman with.
Faye turned up the volume so her mom could hear and then placed the remote on the coffe table in front of her.
“My four kids: Abby Windshaw, Louise Windshaw, Mary Clement, and Joe Windshaw, each and every one of 'em, gone, disappeared before I could get home from the grocery store down the block. And in case of any charges I may get, let me just tell you,” — the woman dabbed her tears with a crunched up piece of tissue — “tell you that my eldest, Abby, was — is — 17, but she too is gone. Gone!” The woman began to cry noisily into the shaking tissue in her hand.
The recording cut and it went back to the news station. “Now,” the newswoman continued, “For other news, rain in the Atacama Desert…”
Faye turned around and looked at her mom, who had stopped chopping food and was holding the edge of the counter with both hands and bowing her head. She started to cry noisily.
“Mom, don’t cry, it’s probably just a small thing that the police will take care of,” Faye told her in a soft voice.
Faye’s mom spun around. Her face was red and puffy from crying. “Are you not missing them, Faye!” she shouted. “Do you not care? This is serious, obviously!” She started to cry harder. “I’m hurt, honey. I need them here,” Faye’s mom continued, her voice lowered from the last time she spoke. “I need — them — here!”
“Mom!" Faye snapped, "Your hand, it’s bleeding."
Faye’s mom looked down at it and widened her eyes a little.
“Oh,” she gasped, wiping her wet face with her arm and sniffling, “I need to go upstairs and get a — band-aid.”
And with that, she walked upstairs to find one. Faye turned back around. She leaned forward and picked up the remote from the coffe table and lowered the volume of the TV until it was inaudable, and then put it back.
Suddenly, an invisible force pushed Faye backward into the cushions of the couch. Her eyes widened with surprise, and before she could figure out what just happened, a strong, silent wind blew downward all over the house. It happened to knock things over, break things, and flatten Faye's hair and clothes. After the brief wind, everything that had been affected was wet. Faye was gaping with incredulousness, doused and shivering. Her eyes wandered around nervously and she couldn't move.
“Mom!” she called apprehensively.
She looked up at the TV. The screen was black. At the sight of her reflection, she was even more stupefied. Wind blew suddenly in the house. Faye’s fear-filled eyes widened even more at the TV screen.