One with the Earth

So it occured to me that, if I’m posting new “scraps” from Write Away!, I might as well share some of the older ones too. This one is from… November 2011, I think; I generally don’t post in-progress stories for all to see, but I didn’t intend to go any further with this one, on account of I was worried about drifting into self-parody with the whole young guy protagonist + supernatural girl + romantic tension thing. Still, seeing as the gender reversal of said setup has been topping the pop fiction charts for about the last three years, maybe I’ll do something with it again (consider this an opening-page preview if so). Your call, really!

One with the Earth

“You can do it,” Ken said, following me down the sidewalk like a celebrity consultant on the way to a press conference. On any other day it would’ve been annoying, except this time, I’d asked him to come.

“Yeah, I can do it,” I replied resolutely. “How’re my teeth?” I flashed him an over-exaggerated smile.

“Good enough for a toothpaste commercial,” he said.

“Hair?”

“Great.”

“Shirt?”

“Well, it’s a little late to change that, but… I’ve seen uglier.”

“Thanks,” I huffed. There was a lump rising in my throat, but I pushed it back down with little difficulty.

We turned a corner. “So how did you meet this girl, again?” he asked.

“I haven’t—that’s the thing. Online dating, you know.” I noticed the weeds were pretty unkempt around here, and it occurred to me yet again that it had been a good idea to bring a friend when I’d never been to this part of town—and of course, for moral support.

“What’s her name?”

Something Gage,” I said. “Or Gavin. Shows you how well this is gonna go that I can’t remember. She just messaged me about a day after I put up my profile, and then vanished.” I considered the scrawl of an address upon the paper in my fist. “I think… is this…? This is it.”

“Holy what?” Ken said as I looked to confirm my assumption, and my sentiments immediately echoed his. The house we stood in front of was an abstract and blocky mix of stone and wood at least four stories high, like God dropped some of his Jenga bricks. Meanwhile, the lawn was nearly as tall as it was wide, and I could see everything from sunflowers to what looked like a crop of marijuana growing amongst the untamed grass. Through the windows visible, there were either drawn curtains or a meticulous grid of fishbowls and potted plants.

I went to the mailbox, as if hoping there would be a letter sticking out explaining exactly how I was supposed to react to this. Instead, there was just a name painted neatly on the side:

“House of Gaia.”

“What?” Ken said, still mesmerized by the bizarre estate.

“That’s what it says on here.”

“Okay,” he said. “Well, it might look weird if I answer the door with you, so… I’m just gonna hide behind this banana tree and make sure you get in alright.”

I nodded, and began my walk down the dirt path, walls of foliage on either side. I delivered two knocks to the maple door and waited, checking my breath as I did.

A series of scuffing steps increased in volume, there was a metallic click, and the door opened.

“Oh, hi!” The girl said.

Hey,” I replied uncertainly.

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