The Legend of the Blue Eyes(2)

By: B. Kristin McMichael

Her return notes began with little questions Arianna had always hoped someone would answer. What color were my father’s eyes? What color was my mother’s hair? Was she pretty? Each week, she got answers to her questions: blue like yours; dark brown; extremely. And again she would think of more questions. Last week she finally got the courage to ask the writer to meet her in person. Arianna knew the dangers of meeting a complete stranger, but she had so many questions that remained unanswered and the note-writer had all of the information she could want. There was nothing she had thought yet that he or she could not answer.

Arianna tapped on the full popcorn bowl as she waited for her friends. She scanned the room as always, studying each person. Could the middle-aged man in the corner with the blue button-down shirt be the writer? Or was it the flamboyant woman with bright red lipstick bending over the concession counter, trying to get free food? Arianna studied each person as she waited, but she had yet to see the same person twice at the theater. Not even the teenager behind the concession counter was the same.

“Hey, earth to Ari,” Mary Ellen said as she tapped Arianna’s head. “You were supposed to wait for us outside the theater,” she reminded her friend. “We were going to pay for you this week for your birthday.”

Arianna shrugged as she stopped searching the room. “But it isn’t my birthday yet.”

“Today is close enough,” Tish replied.

“Only forty-eight hours and you’ll be sixteen. Do you feel any older?” Mary Ellen teased.

“Terribly,” Arianna replied. “Soon I’ll be an old maid, just like you.” Mary Ellen pretended to frown.

“You leave tonight then?” Tish asked, sitting next to her friend.

“Yeah. They still haven’t told me where we’re going. They said it’s a surprise,” Arianna complained. It wasn’t that she disliked being surprised, but from the way her aunt and uncle were acting, they were purposely hiding something from her. Arianna hated secrets, and this was a secret, not a surprise.

“Well, you’re still just a child,” Mary Ellen replied, patting her shorter friend’s head. “Children don’t need the details.” Mary Ellen grinned, trying to make light of the situation. Everyone always assumed Arianna was years younger than her friends due to her height.

“You should talk. You’re only two weeks older than me. I may be shorter, but at least I look older than you,” Arianna responded, tugging her friend’s dark brown braid. “The worst of this whole trip is the dress Aunt Lilly bought. It’s pink and shiny and has lots of lace. She said I needed to have a formal dress. I thought she meant something you would wear to prom or homecoming, but instead she brought home this very ugly dress. I’ve no idea where she plans to make me wear it, but when I finally get my hands on it, I’ll have fix it as much as I can. It really seems quite hopeless right now.”

“The lace should be easy to get rid of, but you can’t change the color or fabric so easily,” Tish replied, knowing her friend hated light pink. Arianna had spent years being referred to as a little kid by everyone, including strangers, due to her petite frame; pink didn’t help the situation any. Even though Arianna looked young, she wanted to be treated just the same as everyone else her age.

“We should go find seats,” Mary Ellen suggested.

Arianna stood to follow her friends, but quickly changed her mind.

“Here,” she said, handing her drink and popcorn to Tish. “I’ll be right back.” Normally Arianna waited until after the movie to read the note, but she was too anxious today.

Heading to the bathroom, Arianna ran into the nearest empty stall. She pulled the delicate paper from her sleeve. She carefully opened the note and memorized it.

Meet me at nine o’clock, behind the diner. Offer to take out the trash, and make sure to wait out of view of the back door. Don’t wear anything electronic, or any jewelry, or they will track you.

PS: When you pack your bags for your trip, take anything of value with you.

Arianna threw the note into the toilet and flushed it away. Early on, the writer had informed her that her movements were monitored by an unnamed person. She had always wondered why her aunt would buy her such an expensive cell phone when they didn’t have a lot of money until she found it had GPS tracking in it. The person writing the notes was correct. Aunt Lilly could be overprotective, but Arianna had never given her a reason to be. The only thing that made sense was that it had to do with the past that both her aunt and uncle refused to talk about. Hopefully her mysterious correspondent would answer the questions Aunt Lilly would not.

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