The Vampire Diaries

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    Mailbox Meeting:

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    Sharon Salvatore

    Posts : 721
    Join date : 2011-06-20
    Location : Canada

    Mailbox Meeting:

    Post  Sharon Salvatore on Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:44 pm





    Casandra Rodgers was sitting in her parents kitchen, her father was making his famous french toast. "My compliments to the chef..." she said, a giggle escaping her. Her father, set down her plate, "Oh and I can't forget.." topping it with strawberries and whipped cream.

    "I can't believe I am not fat..with all this" Cassie said, digging into her breakfast. Her Dad looked at her,"Not a problem if you were..., all geniuses need a good breakfast."

    "I don't know how much of a genius I am but I will never pass on this," as she continued to eat, her Dad sat down across from her, "You will do fine on that Algebra test kiddo, you know it."

    Cassie let out a noise of frustration, "Ugh, math is not my subject..." Just then, her mother walked in. She had a business suit on and was rushing around. She complained how she was late for a meeting, "Good luck sweetheart..." with a kiss on her daughters head, "Baby, you have such beautiful hair....take it out of the pony tail?"

    Cassie just gave a look, and her Mom dropped it. She bid farewell to her husband and off she went. Cassie stood up and was finished with her food, she cleared her plate and rinsed it clean as her Dad kept his focus, "It's Friday, just keep that in mind..."

    Cassie smiled back, "We should make a banner and put it up every time it is." Her dad laughed, "Make it a holiday."

    Cassie smiled again, how much she loved her father. They always found humor in each other, "I like your optimism....I better get going." He gave a nod, finished his coffee and drove her to school. he parked and she kissed his cheek and hurried up the steps, going to her locker.

    "Why the rush..doing the walk of shame to school, whore?" said a blonde walking by Cassie's locker, which caused her to look back. Julie Branson, considered the most popular girl in school and of course, her goal is to make Cassie's life a living hell.

    "I think secretly, she wants you..." said another voice, she glanced to it and her smile returned, "Well, Alexis should be her object of affection..., have you seen her today?" She asked her friend, John Wesley. He was on the swim team, popular but completely in love with Cassie. This she always knew but never felt the same way, "No..can't say I have."

    Cassie shut her locker door and they walked through the hallway, making way to their first class. "I have sent over 4 texts so far..."

    "Cassie..it's Alexis, you know she'll show when she shows." They took their seats, "I just hope she is okay...,couple nights ago haven't been the best for her. She can't see her Dad this weekend and she won't admit it's bothering her...,no, instead she does a couple shots of tequila and posts half naked pictures on facebook."

    "Ah, that will win over Daddies love." John said, he was always a smart ass. Cassie glared at him, "You know she's not really like that..."

    "No but I think it's sweet how much you care about her, now...enough with me being corny and back to the stud I am." He said, sitting back in his "cool" pose. Cassie laughed, "I'll let you know when I see him..."

    John tossed her books to the floor playfully off her desk, causing her to say "Hey..." laughing some more as she picked them up.

    ------------------------------------------------------

    It was finally lunch time, as Cassie finished drying her hands in the bathroom. She looked in the mirror, she didn't wear a lot of make up. Her mother always said she was so naturally pretty, she tidied up her hair and that is when her phone started to ring, she answered seeing the name," Finally...did you forget it's still a school day?"

    She heard a groan, "Wow...can you not talk so loud? I mean, I love you but silence is golden." Cassie rolled her eyes, "I also know you rolled your eyes...young lady" She concluded, "Nice psychic abilities, I bet I can predict your Algebra grade..."

    "Oh shit, the fucking test...Cas, look,I slept in and kind of just in a place for school today. I just wanted to say hey and party at my place tonight." She said, "You mean your brothers place..." Cassie corrected her.

    "Okay, so party for two..but I do have the beer." Alexis admitted, Cassie gave a sigh and finally agreed, "Fine, I am also bringing the homework you miss today..."

    Alexis let out a slight groan but then finally spoke "Thanks girl, you're the best...see you later."

    "Bye" Cassie said and both girls hung up.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    4 p.m. and her Dad dropped Cassie off at Alexis's, he didn't like the building but he trusted his daughter,"I'll pick you up around 10..." he said to her, as she grabbed her bag and leaned over to kiss his cheek, "Okay,bye Daddy..."

    She hoped out and headed into the building, her Father stayed till she saw she was in safely and drove off. Cassie went over to the mailboxes and took out a spare key, figured Alexis didn't get her mail yet. The lobby was not very big, she almost didn't even notice a boy standing right near her, looking slightly and then away.

    She glanced again, at the boy. He didn't have shoes on and his clothes looked really worn out. She could only see him from the side but when he looked over to her, she looked away quickly.


    Last edited by Sharon Salvatore on Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:27 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    PuppyWithATutu

    Posts : 936
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    Mailbox Meetings: The Story of Cassie and Tate

    Post  PuppyWithATutu on Thu Feb 21, 2013 5:51 pm

    Tate Anderson



    The sound of wooden furniture being dragged from above stirs me from my sleep, and cursing under my breath with every movement, I let my eyes drift toward the ceiling. It’s Mom’s floor, the one she shares with Greg. Greg Harper, to be exact, and their two daughters, Eva and Chloe. I’d give a description, but sadly, I don’t know much. I’m not allowed to. I know their ages and that’s about it. Chloe, she’s the oldest. She’s five years old, with eyes that were molded from the same blue of my mother’s and with hair as fair and as blond as hers, too. Eva, three, is a spitting image of her big sister, albeit the hair. It’s a deeper golden tone, almost brown in its color, resembling the long, unruly locks that belong to her dad.

    I’ve never gotten a good look at her eyes. She runs whenever I get the chance.

    Today, though, there’s no noise above from the kids. They’re gone. Out with Greg. And Mom is, undoubtedly, wasting away in the upstairs living room in this shithole house, a vodka bottle or two scattered around her and paraphernalia for God knows what she’s taking now left lying on the coffee table two inches from her feet. I sit up a little further when the scraping continues. I hear something muffled, a grunt, maybe, but there’s no telling exactly what awaits me up there.

    My ribs throb and ache in protest when I stand, and I hunch over, my palm to my chest, to catch my breath. My eyes swell with tears that I’ll never think to shed, and I blink them back effortlessly. My limbs move as if I’m wading through water, slowly but surely, and I find myself glad nothing’s broken. I’m walking, and it’s agonizing, but I don’t limp. Much.

    I consider lifting my shirt to inspect the damage when I hear another sound, and this time it’s louder. It’s a whimper. It’s my mother.

    It’s my time to get the mail at this hour of the day, so the basement door is blissfully unlocked. I climb the steps as quickly as I can, noticing that the sounds are growing worse by the second, and throw open the door to get a fresh view of our living room.

    Mom lies on the couch, her legs slack, her nightgown shoved up mid-thigh, and a man looms before her, his hand on the zipper of his jeans. Her eyes are on me. His shoot to mine. I stare him down, open my mouth to speak, but not a word comes out. My mouth is dry, I can’t really remember the last time I’ve eaten besides the scraps Greg fed me, and suddenly I’m facing down a mammoth of a man who’s got his hands on my mother.

    I take a step forward, bracing myself, when her voice stops me.

    “Tate.”

    I don’t dare take my eyes off of the man, who has by now risen and flashed a grin my way. “Mom, did he-“

    “Tate, go back to the basement.”

    I nearly choke. I know she’s messed up, whatever she’s doing these days, but this is too much. Each day it seems as if she slips further and further away from who she used to be, from the woman I used to know. I used to love this woman. She used to love me. We were once a family. And now she’s a ghost. She’s a ghost who looks twice as aged as she really is, her face lined with wrinkles and sadness, and in her eyes is the same deadness I’ve had to face down every day for nearly five years. She shakes her head, almost imperceptibly, and straightens up against the couch.

    “Tate Laurant Anderson,” she scolds me, but there’s no force, no resonance, only a defeated murmur as she stares me down. “Your mama’s fine. Go on.”

    I take a step back. The man smiles as if he’s won, and I want to punch him, but I know I can’t. When’s the last time I really ate something substantial, slept more than three hours, drank something other than a few sips of water? This man’s been well fed. He’s obviously fit. And judging by the twinkle in his eye as he sizes me up, it’s clear he knows it.

    “No.”

    The man straightens and folds his arms over his chest. “Listen to your mama. Go on down. She’ll be alive when I’m finished with her.”

    It all takes so long to seep in. My eyes roam the table covered in drugs, powders, pill bottles and glasses. “Doing what?”

    Snorting as if it’s all been solved, he makes a shooing motion with his hand and leans over my mother again. This time she makes not a sound. Her eyes drift closed. I think I’m going to be sick.

    “Don’t touch her,” I warn, and my voice comes out surprisingly strong when I feel anything but. The man straightens up again.

    “Son, I ain’t about to tell you again. Show your mama some respect. I’m just taking my payment.”

    The drugs. Mom. Him. Not just an attack. She’s payment. “Payment?” My tone is harder now. I’m about to scream. I hardly care who hears.

    I hear metal clicking, and immediately sense that it’s his belt. He slides it through the loops of his jeans with ease, and it drops to the carpeted flooring with a soft thud. His eyes roam my mother’s body, his fingers tracing along her kneecap to the end of her gown. “If you got a problem with it, call your old man,” he shrugs, grinning lasciviously at Mom when her leg jerks beneath his touch. “Good ole’ Greg gave me the okay himself.” His eyes rest on mine. “Take a lesson, boy. You owe, you pay. Ain’t got the money, we’ll take blood.”

    I hear the telltale sign of his zipper being undone, and I bolt out of the room. I’m not allowed in this room, not ever, not under any circumstances, but I don’t think twice. With one twist of the knob, I’m standing in my mother’s bedroom. It smells of pot and body sweat. Somewhere in that closet is where I knew Greg keeps his gun collection, and when I find the door unlocked and practically advertising free guns for the taking, I throw open the door and grab the first one I find: Greg’s prized double barrel shotgun. It’s locked and loaded. Good.

    I run back to the room despite my aching body’s objections and aim it at his head. He stands there in his boxers, his shirt halfway buttoned down, a badly done tattoo of a bald eagle adorning one meaty, freckled shoulder. He freezes when he takes in my weapon of choice.

    “You think you gonna use that?” he goads me, but despite the tough words and ready stance, his voice has gone up an octave or two. I have his attention, at least.

    I grit my teeth, keeping the gun poised right where I want it. “I know I will.”

    He seems to actually mull it over. Then, thinking better of himself, he raises his hands. “Big mistake you’re making, son,” he admonishes me, but I could hardly care less at this point. I want him dead, I want every bastard who’s ever hurt her gone, and I want to live up to the one thing, the one promise I’ve never abandoned. I want to destroy him.

    “Take it up with Greg,” is my only answer, and then I straighten my hold on the gun. It’s heavier than I’d remembered. Greg will kill me for doing this. But my biggest crime to him is drawing the very breaths that I take. Protecting Mom is something to take a beating for.

    “You know I will,” the man replies, reaching beside him for his shirt.

    Mom sits up and grabs his arm. “Don’t listen to him.” She levels her gaze on me. “Drop it, Tate. Bet you don’t even remember how to use one. Been so long since your dad taught you.”

    I can’t look at my mother for long, or I’ll drop the gun and run through the door. I’ll leave her to whore herself out to pay for Greg’s drugs. I’ll leave it all behind and go – where? To whom?

    I settle my glare on this new man, who’s taken another step back since. “Test me and find out.”

    I don’t lower the gun, even when his back hits the door. He casts a sidelong glance at Mom. “Son’s a fucking psycho, Janice,” he spits, and she doesn’t even flinch. Her lips turn downwards into a grimace meant for me, and as soon as the door slams shut behind us, she brushes the material of her nightgown back down her legs and sits up.

    “You shouldn’t have done that.” She won’t look at me anymore. Her eyes rest on the Zippo at the coffee table’s edge. “Greg’s gonna get angry.”

    With the threat gone, I lower the double barrel and let it dangle in the air between us. No gratitude. Nothing but a reminder of something I already know. I figured.

    “Tell me something new, Mom.” I grumble, and without a glance back at her, I take the gun back to the bedroom, stuff it back inside the closet, and march past her towards the door. It’s time to get the mail.

    I live for these small afternoon outings. It’s only once a day, but just six months ago, I wasn’t even allowed this. The fresh air, the bustle of other lives going on around me, they remind me of what I used to have. Sometimes it’s important to be reminded that the world is still spinning, no matter how stagnant it seems to you.

    Today it’s cold, freezing cold, but I’ve got no shoes. I own two shirts to my name and a single pair of jeans. They’ve got a hole in one knee, and though I do my best to wash them with water and soap myself, there’ll always remain that one dirt smudge that’ll only come out completely when I’m allowed the use of the washing machine. Which will be never. I’m allowed two showers a week, five minutes max, and one of them I’d taken yesterday. I’m relatively clean. I run a hand through my hair and straighten my shirt. It hangs loosely on me now, something that was tight at first when I’d tried it on years ago, and I know it’s because I weigh a lot less than I should. Starving tends to do that to a guy. I take what I can, but my stomach seems to have one endless setting, and that is: hungry.

    When I make my way to the mailbox, located only a few feet away from the cluster of apartment mailboxes nearby, I notice a girl I’ve never seen before. She’s got long, brown waves of hair that cascade freely down her shoulders, a small but full figure, and what I assume are permanently pouty lips. For a split second, I find myself wishing I had a paper and a pencil to capture it. I want to sear her in my mind. I’m not sure why I do, but I do. Badly. She’s breathtaking.

    When her eyes cut to mine, I look away. I look like a creep, I’m sure, but the moment her gaze darts away, I find myself staring again. She runs a steady hand through her hair, parting the silky strands with ease, and my fingers twitch at my sides, envious of that single motion. I bet it’s soft. I catch a whiff of her scent. Vanilla, I think, and a hint of lavender. How long has it been since I’ve truly noticed a girl? And why is this one doing it for me?

    Before long, she’s gone through the mailbox for apartment 2B and closed it shut. 2B. My mind repeats it, as if it’s important. I’m not sure why I haven’t seen her before. Of course, I hardly know anybody.

    I step out of the way to allow her to pass back by me, barely remembering my own mission to get back to the house before my mother notices the time lapse, when a single slip of paper falls from the stack in her hand and drifts to the ground. I’m about to tell her when she spins back around, her eyes darting toward the paper, and I stoop to retrieve it for her when my shoulder collides with hers, and her handbag flies off her arm and onto the floor. From within, an ungodly amount of products spills across the floor.

    My mouth drops. “I’m so sorry. I was trying to-“ I don’t finish. I’m bad at this. I’m worse than bad. I’m terrible. My hand instinctively reaches out to help her collect her belongings, but I notice what this particular item is, and I’m not sure she’d want me handling her tampon. I don’t, either, so I find a tube of lip gloss and start with that. Jesus, this girl carries around a convenience store in her purse.

    When we’re done gathering all there is to gather, we both stand. I’m still awkward as all hell, so I let my eyes roam the concrete walkway in case there’s anything we missed. Sadly, there isn’t.

    I clear my throat. “I hope I didn’t- I mean-“ Kill yourself, Tate. My ribs start to ache again from the strain I've put on them. I hide it well. “I’m sorry.”


    Last edited by PuppyWithATutu on Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:06 am; edited 6 times in total
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    Sharon Salvatore

    Posts : 721
    Join date : 2011-06-20
    Location : Canada

    Re: Mailbox Meeting:

    Post  Sharon Salvatore on Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:00 pm

    Cassie watches the scene unfold before her, the new purse her mother bought her. It was brown and all the girls were wearing them, it was long and you can wear it over your shoulder. It fell to the ground and burst open.

    She watched as the boy helped pick up the belongings from inside, he took her breath away and not in a romantic way. He was skinny, super model skinny is what she pictured. His eyes were brown and they looked,well, sad.

    She took the bag, "It's fine...really, thank you."
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    PuppyWithATutu

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    Re: Mailbox Meeting:

    Post  PuppyWithATutu on Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:10 pm

    I want to tell her my name, to give her something other than apologies, but I can't. There's no use. There's no going out. There's no taking this girl on dates. Even if she wanted to, there's no way. I should be back with the mail by now. I should be back in the basement. Greg will be home with the girls soon. The Bad Man, AKA me, is to be out of sight by then. The consequences are something I don't even want to consider. Being alive may be a large infraction, but the largest one of all would be assuming the role of a son and brother. I'm not family. He makes sure it's known. He makes sure his girls are terrified of me, though I've done nothing to make them feel that way. I'm the Bad Man, the man living out his punishment in the basement, the one who comes out occasionally to clean and grab the mail. I am nothing else. I won't be until I'm eighteen.

    With all this in mind, I find my resolve to leave her there. As politely as I can manage, I offer the girl a small smile and a nod. "Well, I've got to... I've got to run."

    I'm unwilling to leave just yet, so I do another scan of the pavement beneath our feet. I see nothing left behind. Then, daring to meet her gaze one last time, I take in every bit of her that I can before darting back through the small patch of grass towards my home.

    In my haste to get away, I remember that I hadn't even gotten the mail I'd come to retrieve.


    Last edited by PuppyWithATutu on Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:09 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    Sharon Salvatore

    Posts : 721
    Join date : 2011-06-20
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    Re: Mailbox Meeting:

    Post  Sharon Salvatore on Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:18 pm

    Cassie watches him leave and heads up to see her friend. Alexis opens the door finally and she's in shorts and a tank top. The woman was beautiful, meant for the catwalks of Paris. Cassie made her way in and took off her jacket.

    "What took you so long?" Alexis said, grabbing some cigarettes from what Cassie assumed was her brothers jacket. She lights one and looks at Cassie, who responds after grabbing a bottle of water from the fridge, "I...uh..,was getting your mail and this boy made me drop my bag."

    Alexis looks at her,"Casandra Rodgers...talking to boys in the lobby, describe this potential flame?"

    "I don't think that was the case...,he was really nervous anyways. Not to mention, his lack of shoes." Cassie sat on the couch, Alexis laughed,"Oh,twiggy..."

    "Twiggy?" Cassie said, watching her friend. Alexis gave a nod, "He's...yeah, a creeper. I always see him at the mail box, anyways...what is up with your jacket?"

    "He seemed sad, something I noticed..." Cassie said, looking at her friend. Alexis looked back, "Look, the guy is weird and I don't know much about him. You need to start dressing cuter and you will attract boys who don't lurk around mailboxes..." as she lifted up Cassie's jacket, she never approved.

    Cassie's style was laid back ,jeans and t-shirts. Her leather jacket was her statement piece but it fitted her nicely.
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    PuppyWithATutu

    Posts : 936
    Join date : 2011-06-21
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    Re: Mailbox Meeting:

    Post  PuppyWithATutu on Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:52 pm

    On my way back to the house, I pass Mrs. James, the widow who lives in the apartment closest to my house. She's at her usual post: the rocking chair outside her door, a newspaper in her hand. She rocks steadily, taking up most of the narrow hallway, and yet no one has the nerve to ask her to move it. Not anymore, anyway. They've tried. She won't budge. Personally, I wouldn't try and tell her to do anything.

    Dark-skinned with wisps of wiry, white hair framing her weathered face, Mrs. James doesn't take much crap from anyone. She's got a large family, too, sons and daughters and grandchildren constantly filtering through her apartment door for greetings and goodbyes and dinners. I envy her that. Much of the time, though, she's alone. She doesn't seem to mind that, either.

    I hope to brush past her unnoticed, but nothing goes unnoticed with Mrs. James. "If it isn't white chocolate," she grins, eying me over the top of her newspaper. "Running a little late for your mail run."

    I swallow. Was it that obvious? "Yes, ma'am."

    Her brow lifts. She expects more. Because no one turns down Mrs. James, I idle there, picking at my fingernails. "I ran into a girl. Made her drop her bag."

    The grin turns into a smirk. "Was she pretty?"

    Well, hell. I remember that lavender and vanilla mix on her skin, the way her lips puckered slightly as she focused on opening her box, how her hips seemed to sway to some unheard rhythm before she caught me looking. And I didn't even ask for her name. Sighing, I figure I might as well be honest. I don't get that chance often. "Very."

    "You didn't get her name, either."

    Seriously, how does she know these things? I hesitate. "I, uh... I needed to-"

    I freeze when I catch sight of Greg. He's ushering the girls into the house, and his glare sets on me. Panicked, I go completely still.

    Mrs. James seems to take my cue. She taps my hand, her eyes drifting to Greg as he storms toward us.

    "How about it, white chocolate?" she asks, smiling, but this isn't the real smile. It's forced, and cold, and hard. I've always had the feeling she knows, despite how well I've tried to hide it. When she sees him coming, she drags me inside her apartment and finds something for me to fix. One time she wrenched back the knobs of her kitchen sink faucet until they started to spew water, not caring what damage she'd done. Since I do well around the house, she always has faith I'll fix it all up again. Somehow, I always do.

    Her facial expressions are encouraging me to take a hint, and so I do. I nod. "Yes, ma'am."

    She cuts Greg a look of pure hatred, something I wish I hadn't caught, and tugs me by the hand. "Get to work, then. Pipes ain't gonna fix themselves."

    Greg stands there, staring, his jaws clenched. I'll pay for this when I get back home, but for now, I'm safe. She leads me back inside, I race for her sink for the twentieth time this month, and she slams the door in Greg's face. I wish I could do that. I wish so more than anything.
    -----

    When I get back, he's waiting for me. He's always waiting for me. The girls are sitting at the kitchen table, hidden from sight, but I can hear their laughter. I can smell the familiar scent of Kentucky Fried Chicken in the air. I salivate. I won't be getting any, but my stomach doesn't seem to care. It grumbles, begging to be fed. I try to be as quiet as possible, because if the girls see me, it'll be worse.

    "The hell you think you're doing out so late?" he demands, and he reeks of beer. He's not drunk, but he's crazed. I'm pretty sure it's blow this time.

    No answer is the right answer, but he asked me a specific question. If I don't respond at all, it's always worse. "Sorry, sir."

    He takes a step closer, and my shoulders tense. I should relax a little more. It'll hurt less, then. But I just want it over. "The girls saw you."

    I bite my lip. Further proving my existence to his beloved daughters is bad. As far as he's concerned, I've flaunted it. I've frightened them. "I-"

    I hear the crack before I feel it. My jaw is pounding, radiating heat and searing pain, but I don't drop. I wait for another hit, but it doesn't come. We're too close to the girls for that. He nods once, towards the basement door, and slowly reaches down to undo his belt. That'll be his weapon of choice for tonight.

    "Go on down," he orders me. "Be good and ready."

    I obey, knowing better than to push him with Eva and Chloe so close, and open up the door to the basement. I'm prepared to take the first step, but he does it for me. With a hard shove at the small of my back, he pushes me forward and I tumble down the steps, feeling the aches and pangs of what I'm sure will turn into bruises later. Before I can assess the damage, the basement door slams shut, enveloping me in the basement's cold, quiet darkness.


    Last edited by PuppyWithATutu on Thu Feb 21, 2013 8:21 pm; edited 2 times in total
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    Sharon Salvatore

    Posts : 721
    Join date : 2011-06-20
    Location : Canada

    Re: Mailbox Meeting:

    Post  Sharon Salvatore on Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:11 pm

    It's Sunday and Cassie found myself driving up to Alexis's apartment.The day had been a blur, everything happened so fast. She was awakened and brought to a car dealership. It had taken ages for her, to get her license but two months ago she got it.

    She called Alexis before leaving, saying that they were going out. It was a ford focus, blue and perfect. She couldn't imagine her parents spending their money on it but they were more than happy, she was so happy and it was enough for them.

    She started to honk her horn, coming into the parking lot. Alexis looked out her bedroom window to the street, she yelled out, "Woohoo...look at you."

    Cassie got out, she was in shorts today and a band t-shirt. Converse sneakers to go with and hair tyed back, "Come on...I said I'd be here by 2."

    "I'm coming...jeeze" Alexis said, Cassie smiled and looked to her car again. This was all hers, wow, still not being able to get passed it. She heard movement, looked over and saw that boy again. He seemed to be dragging a lot of heavy bags to the garbage bins, they were outside the apartments and to the side of the parking lot.

    They looked really heavy, Cassie looked away not knowing what to say but she could see he was having trouble. She walked over and looked at him,"Do you want a hand...?"She looked at him, no shoes and he was outside, she noticed this.
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    PuppyWithATutu

    Posts : 936
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    Re: Mailbox Meeting:

    Post  PuppyWithATutu on Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:29 pm

    The bags are heavy in my hands, but it's only hard to move because every breath I take seems to pull at the fresh wounds on my back. They're starting to heal, but it'll take time. Each step, every time I lug another bag into the bin, causes a fresh wave of pain to shoot through my raw back. I bite on my lip to refrain from vocalizing just how bad it is.

    The girl is back, and suddenly the pain recedes to the back of my mind at the sight of her. She's beautiful, just as she was yesterday. It's considerably warmer out, and her jeans have been replaced with shorts. North Carolina, heading for fall and winter, tends to blow either way when it comes to fall and winter weather. It can be the middle of December and freezing, and the next day it'll be a comfortable high-fifties temperature with a blazing sun to top it off. She's obviously taking advantage of the warmth today. For a moment, I'm stunned speechless and the bag slips from my hand.

    Bending over to get it will cost me, but there's no way I'll ask for help. I'm the guy; I'll do the heavy lifting. I shake my head. "Nah, I'm good." When I bend, I do it sideways, my knees dropping toward the ground as low as they can, to release some of the strain. When I grunt, feeling one healing gash in my back reopen and gush blood, I hope she assumes the bag is full of bricks. I'm glad I wore my black shirt today. I can feel the wetness spreading along my battered skin.

    I toss in two more bags and then slam the top shut. She's still looking at me, studying me for reasons I don't even want to think about, and when her gaze rests on my bare feet, I look down, too.

    I shift a little where I stand. Should I even try explaining myself? It seems so impolite to turn down her help and run away. And I don't want her thinking I'm so poor I can't afford shoes.

    Even if that is the case.

    "A little warm for shoes," I shrug, trying for a light tone, but my nervousness shines through. I dare a look into her eyes. Under the glare of the sun, they're brighter than they ever seemed yesterday. They're hazel, more green than anything else, with small golden specks throughout. There's not a thing wrong with this girl, from the perfect nose to the lips to the expressive, curious eyes. And here I am, day two without a shower. Self-consciously, I slick back my hair as if my hand could wipe away the greasy appearance. I hope I don't reek.

    I offer her my hand, glad I'd washed off a bit after cleaning the house today, and smile uneasily when she returns the handshake. "I'm Tate."
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    Re: Mailbox Meeting:

    Post  Sharon Salvatore on Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:36 pm

    Cassie looks at him, thinking how he is being nice and she feels like returning it. She shakes his hand,"Carrying bodies in there?" with a smile, " My names Cassie...,well Casandra, Tate..that's not usual. Wait, I remember a Tate in my elementary school, did you go to River?"

    She was curious, she remembered a little boy named Tate. As she said, it wasn't a very common name. She played cops and robbers with him, in the playground with the other children. She was always the cop.
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    PuppyWithATutu

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    Re: Mailbox Meeting:

    Post  PuppyWithATutu on Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:45 pm

    No shit. Cassie Rodgers? I find myself grinning. "Cops and robbers, right? You girls always threw me in the jungle gym jail."

    I think back, hoping to conjure up more, but come up blank. Elementary school was so long ago. My worries seem to melt out of me at this point. I'm enjoying talking to her, and it's only been a short exchanging of words. And Greg is out taking the kids to school. I'm relatively safe, for now.

    Still, paranoia sets in and my gaze roams our surroundings before settling back on Cassandra. "It's been so long, I almost didn't recognize you."
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    Re: Mailbox Meeting:

    Post  Sharon Salvatore on Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:49 pm

    Cassie looks at him, his appearance. She didn't recognize him at all, if it wasn't for the name. She just smiled politely, "Yeah..,it's been awhile. I heard you were home schooled actually..."

    Alexis walked out and looks at Cassie, "Okay, birthday girl...let's go for a ride." Cassie smiles,"You know...you're not driving right?"

    "Not even a little bit, I am your best friend.." Alexis begs, Cassie shakes her head. Alexis looks to Tate, she gives him a dirty look but sees how he's looking at Cassie, "Stalker boy coming with...?"

    Cassie looked at the awkward invitation and looked at Tate, not sure on what to say. Of course, no..she doesn't know him but he just seems so lost.
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    Re: Mailbox Meeting:

    Post  PuppyWithATutu on Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:57 pm

    It's been so long since I've gotten an invitation to hang out, I find I've almost forgotten how good it feels. Aside from her friend's dirty looks, Cassandra seems as if she's truly considering it. As if she wants me there.

    But I can't.

    I shake my head. "I'm sorry. I can't." I nod towards her friend, too, hoping to appear a little less harmful with my smile.

    Cassie's birthday. I'm assuming the car was her gift. I wipe my hands on my jeans and watch as they walk off towards her shiny Ford Focus. She looks back at me for a short moment, and suddenly I'm grinning like an idiot. I should get back inside, I know, and not risk it, but I can't. Not just yet.

    Before she can disappear behind the wheel, I call out to her.

    "Happy birthday, Sheriff."
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    Re: Mailbox Meeting:

    Post  Sharon Salvatore on Thu Feb 21, 2013 8:01 pm

    Cassie smiles back at him, she gets in and Alexis beside her. Alexis watches her,"You really like him?"

    "It's not that...,something just feels wrong. He went to the same elementary school, I knew him and thought he was being home schooled, I guess he still is...did you see his face, when you were your rude self and invited him?"

    "Yeah...he looked like he won the lottery." Alexis says,laughing. Cassie looks at her, "You know, you don't have to make fun of him. He seems like a nice guy..."

    Her friend held her hands up in defense,"Cassie...invite him then, I don't care." Cassie shakes her head,"That's not the point...,he looked worried."

    She drove off and they went to the mall, hung out and all the while, Cassie though about the boy with no shoes.
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    Re: Mailbox Meeting:

    Post  PuppyWithATutu on Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:56 am

    I guess it's just one of those days. Greg is gone, Mom has drugged herself into a comatose state, and the girls are at school. These are the days when, if I feel like taking the risk, I head on over to the cemetery. I speak to Dad's headstone, sometimes, as if he could possibly hear or do anything to help. If he were to hear of what my mom has become, he likely wouldn't believe it. Nonetheless, his grave is where I'm headed now.

    Once upon a time, I'd been the popular kid. I was cool with everyone. I had two awesome parents. Dad was the chief of police and Mom was an accountant. We lived in a modest home, but it was enough. My dad worshiped my mom. He never raised a hand to us. He taught me a lot of things about being a man, and I like to think I carried some of his advice on after his death. Not that there's much use for it now.

    My bare feet skim along the grass until I reach his headstone. Marshall Anderson, it reads. Beloved husband, brother, son and father. I let my finger trace the grooves in the stone, every line memorized.

    "I miss you, Dad," I whisper as I run my hand along the smooth edges. "God, it's hard to do what you said sometimes, though. Mom is so different now. You don't see her. But if I leave, Greg loses that... outlet. It's not like there's anywhere to go, anyway."

    It's a large reason why I can't leave. Once I'm gone, what's to keep him from starting on her? On the girls?

    "Dad, I don't know how much longer I can take this," I carry on, feeling stupid with only silence as an answer, and direct my gaze to the ground. Looking at even his headstone seems a little too direct. I can't look at anyone these days.

    Sometimes I like to entertain the thought of my father being alive, just once, so that I could talk to him. He would be my hero just as he was when I was a kid. He'd kill Greg with his bare hands. I'm sure he would. Sometimes, when the beatings are too much to take, I escape to this world inside my head where my father is the law again and he'll do anything to protect me. He'll make Greg suffer for imprisoning me in a cold, dingy basement. I imagine my father avenging me and my mother, blow my blow, with every hit Greg carries out on me.

    It's ironic to think that my father died responding to a domestic violence dispute. The man beat his wife, my father came to save the day, and he ended up being shot in the head for it. The man ended up killing the wife and himself, too. I guess I should be glad the guy's dead. But it doesn't bring my father back.

    Suddenly, I don't feel such comfort in this cemetery anymore. This is what it is. It's not my father. His body lies here, not the man himself. Not his infectious spirit or his crooked grins or his words of wisdom or his jokes. Just his body.

    I give his headstone one last pat, something out of habit, and make my way to stand.

    Nature, as if to put a punctuation point at the end of this statement, decides to add in its theatrics for this melancholy moment, and it starts to rain hard. Suddenly my bare feet are a lot colder, and there's a chill in the air I hadn't focused on before. I should get home. Maybe I'll be fully dry by the time Greg gets back. Doubtful.

    Hugging my arms to myself, I turn and make my way back down the road towards my house.
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    Re: Mailbox Meeting:

    Post  Sharon Salvatore on Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:13 am

    Cassie was at her locker, wiping away slight tears. Alexis came up and looked at her,"Cassie...what's wrong?"

    Cassie just shook her head,"It's nothing..."

    "What did that bitch do now...?" Alexis demanded, holding her friend by the shoulders. Cassie just shrugged, "You know..hanging my bra and panties outside the locker room, for all the guys to see..with the word whore written in red paint over it. She definitely puts a lot of effort...into her schemes."

    "I am so sorry for taking you to that party..." Alexis said, Cassie looked at her, "You did nothing wrong. Just never again, will I step into the same room as her...unless I'm forced to by the contsraints of school."

    ---------------------------------------------------------------

    It was last August, a huge party was being held and Alexis begged Cassie to come. Cassie had a couple friends, good friends. She was never interested in partying and boys, that didn't interest her. Alexis moved to her town when they started high school and it brought out the inner party animal Cassie had been hiding.

    Finally, she agreed and even was talked into wearing a cute black dress. It was very flowy and summery, her hair was down with slight curls and she wore flip flops. As she entered the house, it was big. Jane's Dad owned a couple businesses in town.

    Jimmy, the high school quarterback watched as she entered. He liked what he saw, never would she fall for someone like him but he appeared to be charming. Told jokes and listened to her dreams about being a photographer and moving to Australia.

    He made her feel special and led her to a bedroom, leaning in and kissing her. She broke off and wanted to get to know him more, it was then he changed and the situation would have turned worse, if not for her friend John.

    He came into the room and pushed Jimmy out of it, since then Cassie had felt like an idiot. How could she have been so naive and stupid? Thinking that was the end of it, apparently Jimmy did not take well to rejection and on the first day of school, everyone was under the assumption that Cassie was home wrecker.

    Little did she know, Jimmy was Julie's object of affection. She made Cassie's life hell, calling her a slut and whore. Every time she walked through the halls, John did his best. He would fight any guy who made a comment.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Alexis looks at her, "Forget her, let's...go do something fun."

    Cassie smiled and nodded,"Come over for dinner, my mom has been dying to talk to you. Watch a movie maybe?"

    Alexis just gave a smile in return, "Sure...whatever you want. Let's go though, I hate standing in these hallways a moment longer."

    The girls laughed and giggled their way to the car, Alexis was opening up about a woman she met recently. Cassie knew her best friends secret and she fully supported it, as she was about to comment, she noticed a figure on the side of the road.

    "Isn't that...the boy from your building?" Cassie asked, Alexis took a look, "Looks like it..."

    "He's not wearing any shoes...or a jacket." Cassie said, appalled by it. Was he crazy? Alexis looks at Cassie, who didn't need to think twice as she drove alongside. Cars zoomed past, she pushed a button and the passenger window rolled down.

    "Hey..., Tate...you want a ride?" Cassie says, looking at him when he acknowledges who it is.
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    Re: Mailbox Meeting:

    Post  PuppyWithATutu on Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:18 am

    I stand there in the freezing rain, feeling embarrassed. More than that, I feel pathetic. How am I supposed to tell this girl that being nice to me will be the end of her? I can't be with her. But, all the same, I'm drawn in. I can't find it within myself to tell her to leave me be. Because I don't want that. It's the last thing I want.

    I mentally do the math in my head. I hadn't taken too long at Dad's grave, and Greg's out, doing what I assume is a deal. I wish I had a watch to see what time it is. I idle there for a moment, looking this way and that, and finally, begrudgingly, take a step closer. She's looking at me expectantly, and I bite my lip.

    "I don't want to get your car wet."
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    Re: Mailbox Meeting:

    Post  Sharon Salvatore on Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:48 am

    Cassie looks at him, "Please...I am heading that way, it's really not a problem." Alexis finally loses patience, "Just get in the car, twig--" not finishing the words, Cassie was giving her the death look. B

    "It's really no trouble..." She smiled and with that, he gave up and got into the back. She drove off, he could tell she was a very careful driver. She still had to build up some confidence on the road but it beat walking.

    Alexis went on with her story, Cassie was still wondering why no shoes on this kid. She just gave a nod and laugh to Alexis, who knew she wasn't paying attention. They pulled up to the complex and he bid his goodbye, getting out and up to the front door.

    "Let's go..." Alexis says, Cassie held up her hand and watched as Tate pulled on the door. It seemed to be locked. He walked around to the back she could see but still continued to wait, "Alexis...something is wrong, don't you get that feeling?"

    Finally, he came back around and saw Cassie was still there. "You can call your parents from my house..."
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    Re: Mailbox Meeting:

    Post  PuppyWithATutu on Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:53 am

    Mom must've decided to get up in a more clear moment of her stupor and locked the door. I don't even want to think about what'll happen when Greg gets home. He has a key, I don't. Once I'm locked out, there is no sneaking in. There's no hiding the fact that I've broken one of his golden rules: no getting out of the house except for the short walk to the mailbox. To make a long story short, I'm screwed.

    I don't tell Cassie any of that, though. I'd sooner die.

    I shake my head instead. "I've imposed enough. Really, I'm sure my mom went out and forgot I wasn't inside." I look towards the sky. "The rain's easing up. She won't be long."

    Hoping this girl doesn't have a bullshit detector in her head, I force a smile. "Thanks for the ride, Cassie."
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    Re: Mailbox Meeting:

    Post  Sharon Salvatore on Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:55 am

    Cassie looked at him, the rain seemed to be getting worse than better. "Please get in the car..."
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    Re: Mailbox Meeting:

    Post  PuppyWithATutu on Fri Feb 22, 2013 8:04 am

    I find myself gnawing on my lip yet again. I can't very well tell her the real reason why I can't go with her. I can't do much of anything but stand and stare. Why is she being so nice, to me, of all people?

    I shove my hands in my pockets. "Cassie, honestly... I appreciate it. I really do. But I can't really exp-"

    "Seriously?" I look behind Cassie to find that her friend has spoken. Where Cassie looks wonderfully hopeful, she looks downright annoyed.

    I clear my throat. "I really can't," I clarify. "I have, uh..."

    Things to do? Locked outside of my house? No backbone?

    Her friend rolls her eyes, reaches behind her, and opens the back door. "Quit the goddamn stuttering, Twiggy, and get in."

    My eyes flit from hers to Cassie's, and though she's trying not to, I catch the corners of her mouth turn upwards. She doesn't speak, just keeps staring at me. Her gaze rests on my bare feet for the third time since we've met.

    Sighing, I reduce myself to a defeated nod. "I can't be long," I warn her, but she doesn't seem to mind. Her smile grows to the point of glowing, and it tugs at something deep inside of me. Human companionship. I can't believe I ever used to take that for granted.

    Without a word, she brushes past me to get behind the wheel, and true to my promise, I sit down in the back seat and close the door behind me.
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    Re: Mailbox Meeting:

    Post  Sharon Salvatore on Fri Feb 22, 2013 8:07 am

    They drive to her place, "Your Dad won't like you having a boy over.." Alexis said, jokingly to her friend. Cassie shrugs,"I'll explain...come on." They all got out, her house was white and definitely nothing like Tate's.

    As they walked in, hard wood floors. Everything was up to date and styled, the girls took off their shoes and Alexis excused herself to use the washroom. Out of nowhere, Cassie appeared with a towel and handed it to Tate, "You must be cold..."
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    Re: Mailbox Meeting:

    Post  PuppyWithATutu on Fri Feb 22, 2013 8:15 am

    I'm trying my best not to tremble where I stand, but I guess it isn't working. "Thank you," I murmur, taking the towel and wrapping it around me. The house is warm, inviting, and large. It smells of cinnamon and potpourri. Everything inside it is fancy, but not the kind you're scared to touch for fear of breaking it. This isn't a museum, this is a home. A loved one. As well-kept as I imagine its family to be.

    Everything about it screams safe. I'm safe here.

    Before I can say anything else, I catch her friend out of the corner of my eye. "Hey, Barefoot Contessa," she calls to me, and I turn. She tosses something long and white at me, and only when I catch it in my open hand do I know what it is. A pair of socks.

    "Put those on."

    Leaning against the kitchen counter, I do as she tells me. I don't need to leave any more wet tracks in the house than I have already. I look up and see a bowl of apples, pears and oranges resting as a centerpiece. My stomach rumbles. I look away.
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    Re: Mailbox Meeting:

    Post  Sharon Salvatore on Fri Feb 22, 2013 8:20 am

    Cassie and Alexis look at each other, finally Cassie speaks out. "The phone is in the living room, you can call someone...I'll go grab some popcorn."

    Alexis looks at her friend, "Do you have the salt and vinegar flavor packet thing?" Cassie laughs,"Yes, of course, we have it on stock for whenever you're here..."

    They walked off and busied themselves. Alexis takes a beer out of the fridge and Cassie quickly puts it back, "My Dad is not your brother..."

    Alexis looks at her,"I kind of agree with you...he does seem to be, nervous. You sure we should have invited him in? Could be a murderer..."

    Cassie looks at her, the microwave beeping and she took out the popcorn bag. "I can't explain it but...I just think he needs help, anyways, I know him from elementary school...so he isn't a complete stranger."

    They head back in, "Did you get a hold of anyone...?" Cassie asks him, as they set themselves in the basement. It had a big screen tv, her and Alexis spent many nights down here.
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    Re: Mailbox Meeting:

    Post  PuppyWithATutu on Fri Feb 22, 2013 8:26 am

    I inspect the room, envious. When did televisions get so big? "No," I reply, and it's not a complete lie. I didn't try calling in the first place, but I'm sure I wouldn't have gotten her anyway. She doesn't answer the phone, period.

    The smell of popcorn is doing things to me. It's almost a physical pain, the emptiness in my stomach reminding me just how long it's been since I've eaten, and I try to breathe through my mouth. Greg does this all the time. Sometimes he'll have me sit, starving, while he eats his helping of chicken and potatoes and corn. He'll look up at me and smile. He'll ask me if I want some. But he never means it.

    There's no reason to hate Cassie for that, though. She doesn't know. I decide to focus on the TV instead. It's playing some modern show I've never heard of. I clear my throat. "Thanks again for inviting me here."
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    Re: Mailbox Meeting:

    Post  Sharon Salvatore on Fri Feb 22, 2013 8:29 am

    Cassie of course eats some popcorn and nods, "It's fine...I can always drive you back, when Alexis goes home...do you like this show?" She sees him smile at one of the jokes, he is kind of cute when he smiles.

    Alexis looks at the two of them, finally she can't stand it anymore and asks, "So, what's your story...mystery guy?"

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