Wednesday, June 14, 2017
By Daniel Skye
Shelly Reynolds was all alone in that cavernous, high-ceilinged, two-story Victorian-style house. She sat in bed with several pillows propped up against her back, her legs straight out, laptop resting on her thighs.
Her cell phone pinged. She leaned over and grabbed it from the nightstand.
One new text from her boyfriend, Derek.
Hey babe. Is it true your parents are out of town?
Shelly had cancelled their nightly Skype session in order to binge-watch the latest season of Orange is the New Black. Her friends were all pushing for her to watch 13 Reasons Why. But she had no desire to watch a sensationalized drama about the suicide of a teenage girl that doesn’t offer any viable alternatives to suicide, like counseling or group therapy.
Maybe, she text him back, playing coy.
Her phone pinged again.
Can I come over?
Shelly could read his mind. He was hoping her folks were out of town so he could sneak over for a little Netflix and chill. But Shelly already had her own Netflix and chill session going, and she didn’t want Derek interrupting her peaceful evening.
She text him back. It’s late. And my parents will have a fit if they find out.
Her phone chimed. Aha! So your parents ARE out of town.
She wrote back: I never said that, and added in a winking emoji just to push his buttons.
Her phone dinged. Another text from Derek.
Well are they home or not?
Yes they’re home, she replied to get Derek off her back.
Liar, he text back.
She set her phone back on the nightstand and pushed her laptop aside, unfurling the covers. She rolled out of bed and heard her phone ping again. She ignored it and went downstairs for a glass of orange juice.
The house was warm and cozy inside. Shelly had cranked the thermostat up to seventy degrees. She passed the living room on her way to the kitchen. The floors were a glossy, blonde wood. The place was appointed with modern furniture, which included a glass coffee table and two glass end tables. A pewter vase–sans flowers–served as the centerpiece of the coffee table. The burgundy sofa was sleek and angular, and adorned with tufted buttons that Shelly’s mom found fancy and adorable. Though, Shelly and her dad didn’t see what the big deal was about them.
Shelly went to the kitchen and quickly forgot all about the OJ when she checked the freezer and saw an untouched pint of Ben & Jerry’s. She grabbed a spoon, but no bowl. Shelly wasn’t planning on saving any for her dad, even though he craved Chubby Hubby as much as she did.
She returned to her room with her ice cream and resumed streaming on her laptop. Shelly’s closet was walk-in sized, and she needed it to house all her clothes and shoes. Her walls were covered with posters of bands like Atreyu and My Chemical Romance and Taking Back Sunday. Bands that Shelly proudly still listened to, even though Derek often teased her and joked that she was stuck back in the year 2004.
Her bed was fit for a king and big enough for three people to sleep comfortably. Her bedspread and pillow cases were dark green. No girly colors like pink and purple for Shelly Reynolds. If Shelly had it her way, she would’ve painted the walls of her room jet-black. But her parents drew the line there. Though, they did eventually let her pick another color and she settled on navy blue.
She decided to check her phone again and read Derek’s last text.
I know you’re parents aren’t home
Shelly groaned. “Some guys can’t take the hint.”
Give it a break Derek. I’m not in the mood tonight.
She waited for his reply, which came in seconds. She nearly dropped her phone as she read it.
This isn’t Derek
Shelly regained her composure and text him back: Very funny. Quit messing around.
I’m not joking. Your boyfriend is dead. I took his phone. And I know you’re all alone.
Shelly’s hands trembled as she typed her reply: This isn’t funny anymore Derek. Knock it off.
Paranoia crept up her spine and seeped into her brain. Her eyes darted around the room. She looked over at the windows and saw they were locked. She looked at the floor around her bed and then looked up towards her closet, the doors shut. She glanced at the vanity mirror above her dresser and saw the terror in her own eyes.
Relax, she told herself. It’s Derek. He’s just messing with you. He’s just being a jerk.
Shelly’s nose caught a whiff of something in the air. A vague scent of cologne or aftershave, like something her grandfather would use. She envisioned a little ship on the bottle or something similar.
Her nose twitched at the scent and she raised one hand to her nose to stifle an approaching sneeze.
She checked her phone. One new text from “Derek” that chilled her to the marrow of her bones.