Today's prompt comes from the amazingly talented TH (or rather, from her writing group). The prompt was given to each member and she has kindly passed it along to me.
Requested by T.H.
"You walk into your house and it’s completely different — furniture, decor, all changed. It doesn’t look like the same house anymore. And nobody’s home."
Gillian turned off her engine and sat texting in her car for a good five minutes before bothering to get out. It wasn't that she was avoiding her grandparents, it was just the scant fifteen minute drive had seen her miss no less than 5 texts, two Facebook messages, 6 tweets and myriad other notifications from various social media outlets.
She was still reading on her phone as she walked towards the white and blue front door she had know all her life. Had she been paying more attention, it may have dawned on her that her grandparents' green minivan was not in the driveway.
The neighborhood was such that her grandparents rarely bothered to lock their door. They had enough nosey neighbors to prevent anyone from trying to steal what little they possessed. The unlocked door was another part of the scenario Gillian took for granted.
It wasn't until she was nearly in the kitchen that she realized something was off. She looked up from her phone for the first time and saw, much to her surprise, that the house, the one she was practically raised in, looked different.
"Grammaw?" Gillian called out in the familiar yet unfamiliar room. "Granpaw?"
Gillian dropped her phone into her shoulder bag and looked around trying to grasp on to what was wrong with the living room.
The furniture. Her brain clicked in. Did they redecorate?
She shook the idea from her mind as it dawned on her that the furniture looked older than her grandparents' comfortably shabby furniture was somehow more outdated, yet someone in better shape.
Gillian reached out to touch the orange fabric of the couch. Two matching armchairs flanked it with a dark brown leather chair to finish off the set surrounding the spindly legged coffee table.
This looks like a Brady Bunch set. Gillian vaguely recalled the reruns her grandparents watched on their tv.
The thought caused Gillian to look for the entertainment center. Instead of the large structure that housed the only modern piece of electronics her grandparents owned, there was another spindly legged piece of furniture. She recognized it as a television only after some thought. It looked to her like an oversized microwave.
She looked around the room, taking in the oddity of the familiar space. Some old family photos were hanging in their usual spots, as well as a cuckoo clock she knew to be something her great grandfather had brought back from his travels, but everything else looked different.
Yet....yet it feels so familiar. Her mind starting dropping memories she shouldn't have had.
She knew in the kitchen she would find bright yellow steel cabinets as well as a formica table with yellow vinyl seats. Her mom had gotten a newly designed kitchen for mother's day.
Newly designed? Formica? The words seemed wrong to Gillian, yet she somehow knew it was correct.
"Gillian! There you are!" An angry girl's voice came from the hallway leading to the bedroom staircase.
Gillian turned to see a plain brunette girl, probably about 15 years old, standing with her arms crossed in front of her. The girl's face was filled with pure hate.
Gillian tried to place the girl. She seemed familiar yet wrong just like the rest of the house. The girl was wearing a gray and black plaid skirt with a plain white button up blouse. Her hair was pulled away from her forehead with a white headband. She wore no makeup, which made her plainness all the more obvious.
"Aren't you even going to talk to me?" The girl demanded. "You won't even try to speak up for yourself?"
Gillian's mouth started moving of its own accord.
"What's to say, Kath?" Gillian heard herself say it, but felt like the words were coming from somewhere else. "Duke and I are in love."
The girl, Kath, narrowed her eyes and flattened her lips.
"Duke only loves you because you put out." Kath's voice was low and dangerous. "He was going steady with me until you started being such a whore."
The word came out oddly from the girl's mouth. It was clear it wasn't a normal part of her vocabulary.
"It doesn't change the facts that we're in love. He could never love you because you're just a child and he's a man." Gillian said. "And we're leaving for Chicago today, going to his uncle's place. I only came back to get some clothes. We're getting married in Chicago."
Kath's eyes widened and started to fill with tears. Gillian felt a pang of sympathy for the girl but couldn't understand what was going on.
"Y...you can't get married." Kath's voice wavered. "You're only 17! Mom and Dad would kill you!"
Gillian felt herself shrug.
"We're leaving and getting married in Chicago." Gillian said. "No one there will care about my age, especially if I tell them I'm pregnant."
"Preg....." The word died on Kath's lips.
"Yes, pregnant." Gillian pushed past the girl and headed up the stairs. "I'm having Duke's baby and he'll never give you a second thought."
What happened next was almost too fast for Gillian to understand. Instead of going up the stairs, she seemed to be pulled backwards, downwards. She stopped hard at the bottom, her face turned towards the white painted ceiling. She knew the fall should have hurt but she couldn't feel anything. She also couldn't move.
The girl's face appeared over her. The brown eyes sparked with triumph. Gillian tried to speak but her mouth didn't move. She could see but her eyelids didn't blink and she couldn't move the eyes themselves.
"Can't leave now, can you?" Kath giggled and kicked Gillian's prone body. "Do you think Duke will still want you once you're rotten in the ground? He won't know though."
Kath's face disappeared from view. Gillian heard the ticking of the clock. She counted 15 minutes out before she heard movement.
"See?" Kath's voice came from another room.
More footsteps before Gillian could see Kath's face as well as a very scared looking teenage boy. He ran his hand through his dirty blonde hair. His green eyes looked terrified.
"And you say it was an accident?" The boy's voice quavered. "She tried to push you?"
Kath's eyes had tears in them. She nodded and looked down.
"She was mad at me." Kath said. "She was going to run away with her boyfriend but I told her I would tell. I couldn't let her go away without letting Momma and Daddy know!"
The boy nodded his head. Gillian wondered if he was going to vomit. She sincerely hoped he didn't.
"You have to help me!" Kathy wailed. "They'll say I pushed her and I'll get in trouble! You have to help me, Joey! Please!"
Kath dropped her face into her hands and sobbed. The boy seemed unsure. A dead body in front of him and a sobbing girl next to him. Gillian saw the moment he made his decision.
"We have to get rid of her body." The boy said. "I can bring my car around and we can put her in the trunk, but we have to hurry."
Gillian was able to see the smile on Kath's lips through her hands. The boy couldn't see the cunning look.
"What will we do with her?" Kath's voice still sounded small and helpless.
The boy's eyes flicked back and forth as he thought.
I've seen that look before. Gillian thought. But where?
"We'll take her to the quarry." Joey said after a moment's thought. "If we push her over the edge, they won't find her. Even if they do, they won't know what really happened."
Gillian felt her body being dragged. She saw the kitchen was indeed the way she imagined it.
Through the side kitchen door she found herself in a closed garage.
"Leave her here." Joey said. "I'll go outside and back my car into the driveway. Just open the garage door for me, okay?"
Kath nodded solemnly.
"I'll take care of things, Kath, don't worry." Joey held Kath's hands tightly before leaving them in gloom of the garage.
Kath looked down at Gillian's body. She smiled.
"You were always a horrible sister." Kath said. "I know Mom and Dad will probably cry and look for you, but I'll have a good story figured out. I'll get rid of some of your clothes and stuff. I'll tell them you came in the house with some rough guy and left with him."
"Duke will probably be upset too." Kath continued. "He'll probably give me a lot more attention, but...you know what? I think I'm going to throw him over. Joey...he's always had a crush on me. After this, I know he really would do anything for me."
As planned, Joey backed his car into the garage and together they put Gillian's body in a dark trunk. She was grateful she couldn't feel pain since Joey didn't seem all that careful about cleaning out his trunk.
Joey? She tried to get her mind to fit the pieces together. Kath? Sister? What's going on? Where am I? When am I? That girl called me Gillian but who was I? Why do I know this but I don't?
Gillian tried to cry, but nothing happened. She had no control over any part of her body. She was simply stuck inside a body she wasn't sure was even hers.
Slowly, little things started to come to her though they didn't make much sense. She knew the people who were driving her body to the quarry. She knew when she was and who she was. She also knew she wasn't supposed to know any of this.
Bright light assaulted her eyes as the trunk was popped open. She couldn't blink or cover them. The faces that greeted her made her want to cry again.
Joey. Kath. Gillian's mind looked at the impossibly young faces of her grandparents when they were only teenagers on the day her Great Aunt Gillian supposedly ran away, never to be seen again.
Please, let me wake up. Gillian begged. Don't let me see this. This isn't real.
Her body was pulled from the trunk and half-carried, half-dragged to the edge of a rocky, water filled quarry.
"On the count of three." Gillian heard her grandfather say. "One, two--"
"NO!" Gillian screamed the word out as she sat up. "Please no!"
"Gilly, dear, what's wrong? What happened?" She felt hands on her, holding her down. She fought them off and pulled away.
Gillian gasped air into her lungs and wildly looked around her. She saw the familiar gray overstuffed sofa she just to jump on as a child. She saw her grandfather's recliner and the dark mahogany coffee table he had carved as a gift for his wife on their third wedding anniversary.
"Gilly, are you okay?" The male voice had deep concern.
She looked into a pair of familiar green eyes with deep lines around them. Her grandfather, Joseph Pinchoni, Joey to his friends, was kneeling on the beige carpet near the stairs and looking with love and concern at his eldest granddaughter.
"Honey, are you okay?" He reached out for her but Gillian scuttled back.
Running footsteps sounded and soon Gillian's grandmother, Katherine, came into the room holding a washcloth and cell phone.
"Joey, is she hurt? What happened?" Gillian couldn't stopped staring at the pair in front of her. The years had taken their toll on the pair, but Gillian could see the pair as they had been when they were her age. She could see the same eyes looking at her with completely different emotions from how they had looked at her long dead aunt.
Gillian looked at both of them and started to scream.
My lofty dreams of being a famous & brilliant writer were literally smacked out of my head. Now I plan to fill the void with copious amounts of subpar writing!