Destiny Ever-changing
Author: Tasha Ivey

Chapter 7
Laura - Lost and Found

Laura:

 

Those suspicious footprints are truly concerning me. It appears that someone came directly to Nana’s house and turned around. Perhaps, I am simply overreacting; someone could have made it their turn-around point just as I did with the stairs last night. What if I am wrong, though? Nana did say that she prefers keeping everything locked up because there are a lot of odd people on the beach. It just doesn’t make sense to me. It would have had to be someone that was out walking in complete darkness last night or just before sunrise this morning. I don’t know who it could have been unless . . .

Brooks?

Surely, it wasn’t him. After witnessing his mood last night, I wouldn’t be surprised if he were still sitting right there on that step. I’m extremely baffled by him. I hardly know him at all, but he has an certain allure that I can’t put into words. I feel an attraction to him, but just when I sense he may feel the same, he acts completely uninterested and detached. There is something mystifying about him, and that makes me uncomfortable. Of course, I appear to be going for the wrong type of guy again. I think I need to follow my gut and stay away from him. Not a single one of these mixed-up, rambling thoughts explains whom I saw on the beach last night, though.

I glance down at my watch and realize that I‘ve been out here two hours. I’m amazed that Nana hasn’t been out looking for me to come eat breakfast; I realize she’s going to be forcing meals down my throat. I head back up toward the house and dust the sand off of my legs and feet before ascending to my room. I pull out the only two changes of clothing that I brought in from my car and settle on the most comfortable, since I know that I’ll be unpacking my things from the car all morning. I slip on my favorite t-shirt, an old pair of ripped jeans, and flip-flops, and I head over to the house to check in on Nana.

“Nana?” I call out as I enter the front door.

“In the kitchen, Laura,” she replies. “Come on in here. Breakfast is almost ready.”

As soon as I walk toward the kitchen, savory aromas fill my nose, and my stomach immediately growls fiercely. I step through the door, and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. The granite countertop is set up buffet-style with several platters and bowls filled with homemade goodness. There are steaming, fluffy biscuits, a bowl of scrambled eggs, a plate of thick-sliced bacon, a bowl of sliced fruit, a platter of French toast, and a gravy boat filled with warm gravy.

“Nana, what are you trying to do to me?” I ask, laughing.

She shrugs her shoulders. “I can’t help it. It’s my right as your grandmother to spoil you; besides, I thought it would cheer you up a bit. I made all of your old favorites.”

“I can’t say that I’m upset about it. I’m absolutely ravenous right now!”

“Well, then,” she says as she shoves a plate into my hands. “Dig in!”

We both pile our plates full of food and sit quietly for a few minutes as we eat. I need to have her teach me how to cook like this. Nothing I ever cook tastes even remotely this appetizingit’s no wonder I stay so thin. On second thought, maybe I don’t need her to teach me her secrets if I want any hope of keeping this figure.

“I saw you out on the beach this morning,” Nana breaks the silence.

I nod. “Yeah, I woke up just as the sun was rising, and I felt a sudden urge to go watch it. After that, I guess my thoughts carried me away for a while.”

“Are you getting anywhere with those thoughts of yours?”

“Would you consider going in circles getting anywhere?” I ask. “I keep thinking the same things over and over again, and I can’t seem to get past all of that.”

She reaches across the table and puts her warm, soft hand on mine. “You will, Laura, but, first, you have to realize that there are some problems that you won’t be able to solve. You just have to learn to let it all go and forgive yourself and anyone who hurt you, but it won’t be easy. Trust me, once you tear those walls down, you‘ll be able to get to the core of what it is that you want and need out of your life.”

“I’m sure you’re right, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do that. I don’t know if I have any amount of forgiveness in me right now, especially for Alex.”

Nana smiles. “You can’t expect to figure everything out in a couple of days, so just take your time. There are people that are never able to forgive and forget, but those people are bitter and discontented their entire lives. You can’t move on with your life if you’re clinging to the past, honey.”

“I know you’re right, and I truly hope that, someday, I’ll get to that point. I want to move on, but I think part of the problem is that I’m terrified of what I’ll be moving on to.”

“Life is all about taking chances and hoping for the best in every situation,” she says as she stands up. “I married your grandpa, didn’t I? I still think I deserve a bravery medal for that, but it was the most rewarding risk that I ever took.” Quietly snickering, she pats me on the head and walks out of the room.

I have a few hours of unpacking to do, so I put my plate in the sink and head out to my car. It’s a gorgeous day outside. The sky is clear, and the temperature is perfect. Unfortunately, I won’t have much time to enjoy the outdoors today. My objective for the day is to unpack everything out of my car and find a space for it in my new room, which could get interesting. Thank goodness, Nana remodeled and added a walk-in closet, but I doubt everything will fit. Especially shoes . . . they are my weakness.

Thirteen boxes, three duffel bags, and three suitcases later, I have everything out of my car. I was even sure to remove the gift from my Aunt Judy this timeI’ll think of a way to permanently destroy it later. My bedroom, however, looks like a sea of cardboard. There are boxes piled in nearly every vacant space of the floor. One by one, I open each box and dump it on the bed, trying to find a place for everything.

I get most of the boxes emptied and put all of my clothes and shoes away, and the room is starting to feel more like home. The closet is full and organized just the way I like it. The dresser now holds a framed picture of me with my mom and dad along with a few of my favorite candles. I have the bookcase full of my beloved books, and the top shelf has pictures of my family and friends. The quilt my aunt made for me rests on the back of the small sofa in the living area. Across from the sofa, Nana has a small TV and DVD player on a stand, where I stack my favorite movies. It almost seems like I have my own apartment again, and it feels great to have some of my independence back.

By two o’clock, my stomach is beginning to growl, so I run next door to heat up some fried chicken left from last night. Nana is upstairs in the loft sewing some new curtains for my bedroom; she insists that the windows need new ones. We are planning to go into town tomorrow to shop for a new comforter for the bed and new towels for the bathroom. She seems to be thrilled by the fact that I am staying here, and her being happy makes me even happier.

After quickly finishing off my delicious chicken and a biscuit with homemade strawberry jam, I run back over to my room to finish up the unpacking. I put two boxes of things to donate to charity into the closet to take later this week, and I shove my empty suitcases and bags under my bed. There is still one box in the floor, and I am unsure what I want to do with it. It’s the box containing my mother’s journal and other things. I pick the box up and set down on my bed, carefully lifting the lid off.

I set the journal aside, and I gently pull out the other items. I put each of the seashells in a neat pile after closely studying each one, and I delicately place the dried flowers next to them. After examining the carnival tickets, I discover that they were from a local fair of some sort in July of 1978. I can’t yet figure out what the loop of rope is for or what it went to. It appears to have been used as a bracelet or something. There is a stack of yellowing envelopes that are tied together with twine. They are addressed to my mother, and there is not a return address. From the sloppy handwriting, I can confidently assume that they are all from the mystery guy.

At last, I pick up the journal. I have been struggling with the idea of actually reading it ever since I found it because it feels like such an invasion of privacy. I’m sure my mother never thought anyone would read it, even though Nana believes that Mom would have happily told me every detail herself. How will I ever know about my mother’s past and what happened with her first love if I don’t read it? I’ll always wonder what took place that caused them to part ways.

Finally, I gather all of the courage I have and yank the end of the satin ribbon, causing it to fall away from book and dangle limply from my fingers. I slowly open the hard cover of the book, and I’m somewhat afraid of what I will find inside of it. I expect to see page after page of written details and private commentary, but I find something much more profound. Stuck just behind the cover, I find a worn, faded photo. It is a picture of my mother with wet hair, a red halter bikini top, and denim cut-off shorts. She is sitting in the sand behind a campfire and is smiling at a handsome man sitting next to her. This must be himthe one she was in love with.

By the lighting in the picture, you can tell that it was taken close to sunset.  The boy is leaning toward my mom with his arm wrapped behind her back. He is shirtless and is also wearing denim cut-off shorts. His physique is tall and thin, but I can see that his stomach and chest muscles are defined and prominent. His shaggy, damp hair is golden brown and is flipping up at the ends. He has a slight smile on his face and is looking intensely into my mother’s eyes. She has her head on his shoulder and is looking up at him. They look deeply in love and completely happy.

She is wearing the locket in this picture. The flickering orange flames of the fire are reflecting off of the silver causing it to appear that it is glowing, and it looks striking against her tanned skin. I reach up to touch the locket around my neck, and, to my horror, I don’t feel it. Frantically, I start feeling around and looking to see if it had just fallen off. I hunt all over the floor in the bedroom, bathroom, and closet. I don’t see it anywhere.

With my heart pounding, I sprint down the stairs into the garage, retracing my steps of the day. I search all over the ground outside, and I look all through my car. Not having any luck, I charge into Nana’s house.

“Nana!” I yell hysterically.

She dashes out of the kitchen. “What’s the matter, dear? Are you hurt?”

“I lost Mom’s necklace! I haven’t taken it off since you gave it to me. I have looked everywhere in my room, outside, and in my car, and I just can’t find it. You haven’t seen it have you?” I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I can’t believe that I haven’t had it for a full twenty-four hours, and it‘s already missing.

“No, baby, just calm down. I’m sure we’ll be able to find it. You’ve only been around here today. I’ll help you look.”

We immediately search the house, looking in all the places that I had been and even some that I knew I hadn’t. It is nowhere to be found, and I am really getting upset with myself.

“Laura, I know we’ll find it. We’re just overlooking it. Do you know the last time you remember having it? What about when you showered? Did you take it off then?”

“Oh, no!” I shriek.

“What is it?”

“I don’t remember having it on when I showered last night, so if it’s not around here, I must have lost it on the beach last night! Oh, Nana, it’s probably buried out there in the sand by now. I’ll never find it!” Tears roll down my cheeks, and I put my face in my hands.

Nana walks over and hugs me. “Why don’t you just go for a walk like you did last night? You may come across it if you retrace your steps.”

“I could still see my footprints this morning, so I may still be able to. I’ll try that. I’ll be back in a while!” I call out as I rush out the back door toward the beach.

There must have been a lot of people walking on the beach today, because I can’t see where my footprints were at all. I take off walking, scanning the sand in all directions as I go. Luckily, I still have several hours of sunlight left.

After walking for quite some time, I see the same set of stairs from last night. I’m almost shocked to see that Brooks isn’t still there. I hope that he won’t come down here any time soon, either. I’m sure it would be another awkward conversationgoing from charming and cheerful to standoffish and aloof—although, it would be nice to have a second pair of eyes to help me look.

I turn around at the stairs and turn to head back, trying desperately to look even harder. I feel as if my eyes are bulging out of my head, because I am straining them so hard. I walk very hurriedly in a zigzag pattern in an attempt to cover every square inch of the sand. It takes much longer to make it back home, but I don’t mind. I must find that locket. If I have to, I’ll go buy a metal detector and come out here every day until I find it.

It is nearly five o’clock by the time I make it back to the house. I’m exhausted from practically running the entire distance and back again, but I dart back up to the house anyway.

I burst into the back door. “Nana! I didn’t find it! Did you find it?”

“No, I didn’t, but

“What am I going to do?” I interrupt. “I have to find it. I just have to!” Tears start welling up in my eyes again.

Nana walks up to me and places her hands on my shoulders. “Would you let me finish? Calm down, Laura. I didn’t find it, but someone else did.”

“What do you mean? Who?”

“There’s a package for you on the table by the front door,” she says smiling. “It was in the mailbox when I went out to get the mail.”

Without a word, I rush into the living room to the little wooden table by the door. On it is a little golden gift box with a folded slip of white paper on top. I pick up the note to read it.

Laura, I found a necklace after you left last night, and I am assuming it is yours. The clasp was broken, so I had it repaired before I returned it. If it isn’t your necklace, I guess it is yours now. Best wishes.    -Brooks

I pick up the box and open it to examine the necklace. It is in perfect condition and looks even shinier than it did before. I can’t believe he found it, and, even more overwhelming, I can’t believe he had it fixed. I’m not sure what to think about that fact. A flood of relief overcomes me, and I hold the note and the necklace to my chest as I let out a sigh. I hear Nana come through the door, so I turn to face her. She crosses her arms and leans against the doorway with a curious smirk on her face.

“What, Nana? What does that look mean?”

She shrugs. “Oh, nothing.”

“It’s not what it looks like. I can easily explain.”

“Explain what, dear?” she asks, trying to look convincing. “I have no idea what you are talking about.”

“Oh, yes you do! You think I met someone, but let me tell you, it was absolutely nothing. Actually, I honestly hope to never see the man again.”

She looks quite disappointed and confused. “Explain away.”

We both sit down on the sofa, and I start talking. “Yesterday, I had a flat tire on my way here, and he happened to be there and changed it for me. When I went for a walk last night, I ran into him again, and we chatted for a few minutes. He started acting like he didn’t want me there, so I left. I guess the locket fell off while I was talking to him. It’s as simple as that.”

“So you gave a man that you never want to see again your address?” she asks.

“Of course not!”

“How do you explain his knowing where you live, then?”

I’m flabbergasted. “I can’t explain that. I have absolutely no idea!”

We sit and stare at each other for a few seconds, and then it occurs to me that there is only one explanation.

“Oh my goodness!” I jump up and start running out the front door toward my room.

Nana yells out the door. “Laura! What are you doing?”

“I’m not exactly sure yet, but I’ll give you all the details later. I have to get to the bottom of this.”

As Nana shakes her head and goes back inside, I bound up to my room to grab my car keys. I have to go back to that house and find him. It had to have been him that I saw from my door last night, and I want to know why. Just before I start to run back downstairs, I have a sudden urge to clean myself up before seeing him. After quickly changing my clothes and shoes, brushing my hair, and dabbing on a little perfume, I race down to my car and pull out of the drive.

On my way there, I have a strange mix of emotions. I am very interested to figure out why he followed me home last night, and I’m not sure whether I am angry or just freaked out about it. I'm so nervous about seeing him again, and I feel like I have butterflies the size of bald eagles in my stomach. In a way, though, I’m glad I have a reason to. My first instinct will be interrogate him, but I must remember to thank him for having the necklace fixed and returning it.

I promptly arrive at the grandiose beachside mansion. I hope he is working here today, although I don’t see him anywhere out front. I pull into the driveway and come to a stop before I reach the garage. As I get out of my car, I realize that there is a truck turning into the drive right behind me. The sun is glaring off of the windshield, so I can’t tell who is inside the vehicle. The white truck has four doors and is covered in shiny chrome. I assume it is the owner, so I can just ask him if he knows where Brooks is.

The truck halts abruptly just behind my car, and an unfamiliar man jumps out of the passenger side with a big smile on his face.

“I’m sorry to intrude,” I say nervously. “Can you tell me if Brooks is here?”

The man walks toward me and laughs as I hear the truck‘s other door opening. “Now, just what do you want Brooks for? I’m sure I can do more for you than he can.”

“Will,” a stern voice interjects. “Can you give us a minute?”

“Fine,” he says and sulks into the house as I turn around.

I am surprised to see Brooks emerge from the driver’s side of the truck. He looks very different, too. He’s dressed in a nice pair of khaki cargo shorts and a baby blue polo shirt. He certainly doesn’t look like a gardener, and his friend didn’t either. I guess even gardeners have to clean up some time, but something doesn‘t seem quite right.

“Hi, Laura,” Brooks says apprehensively, shoving his hands deep into his pockets.

“Hello.”

He looks at the locket around my neck. “I see you found the necklace in your mailbox.”

“Actually, my grandmother did,” I nod. “That’s one of the reasons I’m here. I wanted to thank you.”

“Oh, you don’t have to thank me for anything.” He doesn’t make eye contact with me. “It’s not a big deal, really.”

“To me it is. You have no idea what this necklace means to me. It was my mother’s.”

He nods and glances up at me. “Like I said, no big deal. If I ever find something that has been lost, I always make an attempt to return it.”

“Which brings me to the main reason I’m here. How you know where I live?”

His eyes widen, and he looks me directly in the eyes. “I . . . you see . . .”

“Yes?” I say impatiently.

“Okay, I’m just going to be totally straightforward with you,” he says as he takes a few steps toward me. “I feel terrible for acting the way I did last night. I should have walked you home to make sure you got there safely. It was so dark. I was so wrapped up in my own problems that I didn’t think of it until you were almost out of sight. I followed far enough behind you that you couldn’t see me, so I didn’t scare you. Once I made it to your house, I recognized it immediately. I’m so sorry if I alarmed you.”

“You definitely did. I thought I saw something out there last night, and I saw an extra set of footprints this morning. Once I read your note, I knew that it was you, and I had to find out why you followed me. I suppose it makes sense now.”

His cheeks are blushing. “I apologize. I know it looks bad. Once I made it back, I saw the necklace, and I was convinced it was yours. I noticed this morning that it was broken, so I wanted to get it repaired for you before I returned it.”

“That was very thoughtful of you, and I do thank you,” I say appreciatively. “Most people wouldn’t have done that.”

He smiles timidly. “You’re welcome, Laura.”

“Well, I guess the mystery is solved, so I’m going to head back home. Thanks again.”

He nods at me, and I turn to walk back toward my car. He just stands there and watches me as if he wants to say something, tormenting over what to say but nothing quite reaching the surface. I open my car door and put my foot inside the door to get in, and he jogs over to the car.

“Laura, do you have a minute?” His hands are fidgeting.

I step back out of the car. “Yes, I suppose I do. Why?”

“There’s something I’ve been meaning to explain to you, but I didn’t think it was necessary before. I didn’t think I’d ever see you again, but we keep running into each other.”

“What is it?”

Brooks looks up at the house and back at me. “Let’s take a walk.”

 

 

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