Part 27 – The Morning After

I slid out of my seat and hopped to the ground, grunting as my feet contacted the pavement. I was still sore from my walk into town and the impact hurt. I swung the truck door closed and turned to watch David approach from the other side of the vehicle.

He smiled and motioned me forward, but I paused staring at the building in front of me like a deer caught in headlights. They’d told me Carrie waited inside, but so too were my half-siblings and stepfather. What the hell was I supposed to say to them?

I heard footsteps, and I turned to see Liz approach from the opposite side of the street. We’d stopped and picked my car up, and, given my twist destroyed my license, Liz convinced me it best I avoided getting behind the wheel. I’d tempted fate fleeing Clearville, why take that risk again? So, she’d driven it instead.

“Everything all right?” She asked frowning at me arms folded across her chest.

“Uh, I just… it’s nothing.” I moved forward, my cheeks flushing and my heart hammering harder in my chest the closer I moved to the house.

I stopped just outside the door, licked my lips glanced back toward Liz and David, let out a long breath of air and pounded my fist on the hardwood.

The clatter of footsteps sounded in the distance and a moment later the door swung open revealing an unfamiliar face.

“You must be Calista,” the man smiled his face flushed. His eyes widened after taking me in. I don’t know if it was my resemblance to his wife, the outfit I was wearing, or a combination of the two, but he sure was quick to avert his eyes.

“Yeah.” I peered at his face, he was slender and tall and had the sort of boyish good looks that a lot of women seemed to go crazy for. “Drew, right?”

He pulled the door open all the way motioning inside. “Um, yeah, come in, come in.”

“Liz, David,” he nodded to my grandparents and closed the door behind them.

“I gotta admit, when Carrie told me about this… situation I thought she’d lost her mind, but… now. Well, after getting a good look at you, there’s something to it.”

I peered about and Drew followed my gaze, and as if sensing what I was thinking he threw a thumb over his shoulder. “Care is bathing Amanda, our daughter… I guess that would make her your sister, she got in the fridge and had an accident with the pickle relish.”

“Are the twins about?” Liz brushed past her son-in-law gazing into the next room.

“Uh, they’re out back with the dog, they’re a little rambunctious this morning I thought I’d let them unwind.”

“Probably a good idea.” Liz smiled.

“Uh, yeah, well Liz, David, why don’t you have a seat in the living room. Callista, Carrie wanted to talk with you before you meet the rest of the family.”

I supposed I should have expected something along those lines, but the prospect of meeting ‘Drew and the kids’ had been so nerve-racking I hadn’t even considered Carrie might want some one-on-one time.

Drew motioned to me and I followed him away from the living room and into a hallway. We stopped outside a door about halfway down and he tapped on it with the back of his knuckle. A moment later the door cracked open and Carrie poked her head out. She had dark circles under her eyes and looked like she could use a few hours of sleep, but had a smile on her face, nonetheless.

She slipped out of the bathroom and Drew squeezed inside closing the door behind him.

“Daddy!” a little girl’s voice squealed, and I listened to the sound of her voice my heart pounding in my chest. It was the closest I’d come to meeting any of my half-siblings. I touched the door, listening to her jabber muffled through the wood. I didn’t understand most of what she said, but it was clear she was young.

A hand touched my shoulder, and I turned to lock eyes with Carrie.

“It’s good to see you.” She smiled, and I stiffened when she slipped her arms around me, but melted into them after only a few seconds.

“Mind if we talk for a minute?”

I shook my head, she pulled away but kept one arm around my back and guided me to the end of the hallway and into the room beyond.

It wasn’t much to look at, the only furnishing was a desk in the corner with a computer on it, and a rolling office chair. It looked like they used it for storage. There was a row of shelves with assorted canned and boxed foods and maybe a dozen unmarked boxes stacked against the opposite wall.

“That’s an interesting outfit…” She frowned, both hands on her hips.

I was wearing, a pleated mini-skirt and crop top with a plunging neckline. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best outfit to wear when meeting my new siblings and stepfather for the first time, but I wanted to be as open about my twist as I could and that included the way I dressed.

“I, uh, yeah, my twist messed with my head. I enjoy wearing stuff like this. With my trick, I can produce any outfit I want.” I’d explained all about my trick when I’d told her my story, but it seemed worth repeating.

“I could see that coming in handy.” She paused a moment dropping her hands and folding them across her chest. She shook her head and smiled. “I wanted to tell you. Jonathon Hails called looking for you this morning.”

“What? How?” Mr. Hails knew about Harry Turow, but not that she’d been bent by her twist or that she’d married and taken her husband’s last name.

“It appears we have a mutual friend in the underground, who knew my dead name, and pointed him my way. He was very relieved when I informed him you’d found me and were all right. I guess you gave them quite the scare. He wanted me to pass along to you that no one blames you for anything that happened and that they’re all safe.”

I nodded, biting back tears. “Megan?”

“Your friend? She went through her twist. He didn’t say much, but he believes she’s had some mental changes and may have picked up some compulsions. I guess she’s not too happy about it, but she’s fine otherwise.”

I ran my hands through my hair, pressed my back against the wall and slid down onto my haunches feeling my stomach twist up into knots. If Megan had gone through her twist, there was no telling how it might have changed her. I wanted to see Megan again, but what if she didn’t like girls anymore, or, worse, me? Personality and physical form weren’t the only things that could change with a twist, sometimes sexuality did too. What if she ended up with an abrasive personality like Allison?

“Did he say anything else?”

She shook her head. “Not a lot. He had to get off the phone. Someone was at the door.”

I nodded, swallowing hard. Never in my life had such an innocuous statement had such an ominous feel to it. Things in Clearville had taken a turn for the worst before I’d fled. If someone had been at the door it just as likely to be a package delivery as an angry mob.

Odder still there was no mention of Jeff. It tied my stomach up in knots just thinking about it. Was Jeff dead? I’d never gotten the chance to check for a pulse. There had been witnesses to our squabble and those people or even Jeff himself pointed the finger at me it was my word against theirs. Since I was a ‘twisted freak’ it was far more likely that the townsfolk would side with him.

“He gave me your mother’s number. I talked to her too… It was unpleasant, but very brief. As a mother myself, I – I can’t imagine how a mother could say those sorts of things about her own child.”

I didn’t press her for details. It would have been like rubbing salt in an already open wound, but I had a good idea what Kate had said. She’d already made her feelings known.

“I’ve talked it over with Drew, and I’d like you to come live with us. I know it’ll be an adjustment for all of us, but–”

“Thank you,” I climbed to my feet raced across the room and threw my hands around her. I pulled away a moment later, my cheeks on fire. “That is to say, I’d love to. I just have one question. What the crap am I supposed to call you?”

She laughed and ran a hand through her locks. “Tell you what, you can call me Carrie and we can sort the rest out later.”

In short order, Carrie led me out of the room, and my heart skipped a beat when the bathroom door cracked open and a pitched scream filled the air.