Hello once again, and this time I have a not so long chapter (Although it’s still quite lengthy). It’s another one of those “Sweet” chapters that give just that much more characterization and awesome moments between the two mains. I guess with only 11 more chapters to go, I better hammer down a finale, get some final things in and press on for the “shadow” to finally cover the light. I mean, I never did intend for this novella, novel, light novel, story, thing, to be an open ended ending. Well, It is going to be kind of open ended, but not in the traditional sense of open ended ending-ness(That made no sense….) Anyway, you’ll see. Word count: 37,213. Here you go, chapter 18 of “Home For The Unwanted”.
“Where’s the flashlight?” Ryan asked, unable to comfortably make his way through the dark veil of the forest.
“Flashlight? When did I ever have a flashlight?” Lorna answered with great pride. Lorna raced ahead of Ryan and made a great motion to wave her arms in front of Ryan. Ryan wasn’t amused by the notion, as his eyes had slowly begun adjusting to the darkness of the forest, and could clearly see Lorna mocking him.
“What happened to the flashlight you had the other day?” Ryan asked.
“You mean when Spear brought you guys ghost hunting?”
“Lost it,” Lorna said with her playful demeanor, which made the statement even more infuriating for Ryan.
“Lost it?” Ryan was unsure of how Lorna could lose the flashlight that she could have grabbed from Spear when they were done with the fireworks, Ryan thought. The idea of Lorna possibly misplacing it flashed across Ryan’s head, although he would give her no excuse, as Lorna should have known every room in the building. And placing a flashlight in an empty classroom or kitchen didn’t make much sense to Ryan. To Ryan, there were only so many places a misplaced flashlight could be placed in.
“Lost it. Gone, unused, lonely. Lonely.” The description of the flashlight made it seem like a sad case of forgotten children, Ryan thought. However, that thought was no more than a fleeting breeze, and didn’t give much compromise as Lorna had stated it with a joyful jump in her voice.
“Remind me why I agreed to go with you,” Ryan asked, his patience more than running out.
“You agreed–” Lorna paused before continuing, and circled around a tree. Ryan looked at her with confusion, and noticed that Lorna was hiding behind the tree, seeming to expect something. Ryan walked over, not knowing what she was planning, and once he was a few steps away from Lorna, Lorna jumped out of the tree and landed herself inches away from Ryan’s face.
“Because you wanted to hang out with me,” Lorna said boastfully.
“Right. So please tell me why I want to hang out with you,” Ryan didn’t let Lorna play him into her pace, although, he knew that she would eventually find a crack in his armor anyway.
“You–” Lorna raced around another tree, setting up the same play, and Ryan had no choice but to follow along. Ryan walked over to the tree which only barely hid away Lorna’s bright golden hair, and stepped up. Once he was at the right distance, Lorna jumped out at him again. “Know that hanging out with a beautiful young woman such as myself will let you–” Lorna gave another pause, and then ran towards another tree. Ryan wasn’t sure where Lorna was going with her playful banter, but it did make the rather bland trek through the night trodden forest more interesting.
“Have the time of your life,” Lorna continued as she spun around another tree. Ryan gave her a questioning look, and ran through the implications of “having the time of his life”. That term was not common in his old norm, nor was it really common in his current norm. It was a line that meant many things, and at the same time, meant nothing. What made the statement even more perplexing to Ryan, was how a simple walk through a nighttime forest could equate to a life worth of elation. That thought, was something Ryan was sure to bring up with Walker at another time.
“Not biting?” Lorna said with a slightly disappointed face. She frowned playfully at Ryan, but Ryan continued to stare at her with indifferent expectations. The whole situation that Ryan had found himself in had lost itself within the conclaves of Ryan’s mind. Once upon a time Ryan may have considered the reasoning behind Lorna’s invitation, and may have weighed why he would like to join her on a nightly venture. That time has indeed long been lost, Ryan thought.
“Fine. No fun. No fun.” Lorna pouted at Ryan and raced ahead. She skipped branches, jumped large stones and circled around tree trunks. The natural silence of the forest had intermingled with the insistent laughter of Lorna’s antics, and Ryan couldn’t help but feel conscious about the whole situation.
“I just needed some fresh air, you know?” Lorna answered as she slowed her pace and looked towards the star filled sky. She placed her arms behind her as she took small steps. Her golden hair bounced with each step, and Ryan could almost feel his own breathing slow by watching her.
“And you needed to cool your head as well.”
“Now you do!” Lorna turned around and leaned forward towards Ryan. Ryan’s eyes had since adjusted, and he could clearly see her playfully devilish smile.
“So is your head clear now?”
“Nope!” Lorna had no hesitation in her answer, and spoke proudly of the fact. Ryan had no choice but to simply adhere to Lorna’s flow. After all, Ryan did agree to go out with Lorna, although, Ryan’s train of thought was more on the lines of a late night shopping trip then a late night stroll. Ryan knew that Lorna went out to buy things at night, it was the only time when she could leave the children unattended, she said. Ryan didn’t quite understand the norm of a night life. Ryan had always thought that the nighttime was meant for sleeping. Ryan had never really experienced such a vibrant thrill, and he was lucky that his uncle had allowed him to stay up so late. Ryan found it even stranger that he didn’t really question his whereabouts or who he was hanging out with. Those kinds of facts seemed urgent to Ryan, almost a necessity. Although, Ryan wouldn’t know.
“Say, Ray–” Lorna paused, and waited so that she knew she had Ryan’s attention.
“Do you know who I am?” Ryan stopped, and considered his answer. The question came off as more than strange. It was elusive, and it was endearing to Ryan. Ryan wasn’t sure whether Lorna was playing him or not, and he couldn’t ask her to repeat the question. Ryan just simply had to answer it, and there was only one answer he could give.
“No. I don’t,” Ryan chose to play his cards through a tune even stranger than the one Lorna had played. In all honesty, Lorna was still a mystery, she may have opened up a few times, and may have talked about herself, but she was still a stranger, Ryan thought. The entity known as Lorna, who had created and broken into Ryan’s new norm was still someone Ryan felt far from. Lorna was a figure of hope for Ryan. Lorna to Ryan was someone who he could never replace, and because of Lorna, Ryan has learned many things, and has been through many experiences. To Ryan, Lorna is irreplaceable, and it’s because of this, that Ryan doesn’t know exactly who Lorna is.
“Good answer. Good answer.” Lorna said, looking wistfully up into the star filled sky. Her breathing had slowed, and Ryan could tell that her tone was dropping, without needing to see, he also knew that her eyes drooped down, and that the glow of it slowly faded.
“I don’t know myself, either.”
“You don’t know who you are?”
“No. I don’t know. The only thing I do know, is that my name is Lorna. And that this person named Lorna, is in the present, with nine wonderful children.” Ryan smiled, even more so to the fact that Lorna had lumped him into the category known as “children”.
“I don’t know, and you don’t know. So, what’s the real answer to your question?” Ryan asked.
“The person named Lorna, is a person filled with grief, joy, anger, and pride.”
“And her hobbies?”
“The person named Lorna used to take part in puppetry, but now, she likes watching over children, she’s a babysitter.” Ryan couldn’t help but chuckle at her sentiment.
“And what does this person look like?”
“The person named Lorna, has flowing bright hair, colored like a kid’s sun, and her cheeks and lips are bright red, just like a kid’s blood.” Ryan wasn’t so surprised at her choice of word when describing the color of red. Although, Ryan felt like there was a piece missing in her statement, but couldn’t figure out what it was.
“And where is she now?”
“The person named Lorna, is stuck within a world of everything. She has friends, she has family, and she has happiness. The person named Lorna is in a world all too good for her.”
“And what is this person doing?”
“The person named Lorna, is doing her best to clean up cut strings and chipped wood. ”
“And how is this person doing this?”
“The person named Lorna, is doing this by creating a space where she can cultivate all of her worries, and cultivate all of her regrets. For this person named Lorna, is doing everything she can to make a future, for the people she cares about, and for herself.”
“And is this person, happy?” Lorna paused. Her tone had slowed Ryan’s pace to a mellow tune, and Ryan was lost drowning in the normalcy of Lorna’s speech and mannerism. Lorna was alluring and captivating, no matter how playful, or how serious she was. Lorna would always be a figure of beauty, Ryan thought.
“The person named Lorna–” Before finishing, Lorna had made a verbal identification of surprise; Lorna gasped, and drew in Ryan’s attention. With two wide arms out and a big smile, she ran out towards a clearing in the forest, and dropped onto the grass without a second thought. Ryan wasn’t sure how far they walked, or where exactly they were, but once he saw Lorna dive back first into the grass, he couldn’t help but feel like he was exactly where he wanted to be. Lorna stretched her hands out in the grass, and breathed in and out the cold night air. Ryan sat down beside her, and lifted his head up into the night sky.
“Is extremely happy. The person named Lorna, couldn’t have been happier in her life. Despite everything, the person named Lorna is so happy that she could die.” Ryan couldn’t tell in the lowlight, but Lorna felt like crying, her eyes watered, and her pulse fluctuated. However, Lorna was smiling, she was smiling at the bitterness of everything around her.
“The person named Lorna, is really happy,” Lorna repeated.
“The person named Lorna, couldn’t have been any happier,” Lorna repeated.
“The person named Lorna, knows that this happiness can never last, and can never be the same.”
“But the person named Lorna–” Ryan interrupted Lorna’s train of thought. Before finishing his sentence, Ryan let his body fall onto the grass, and stretched his arms out, his hand nearly touching Lorna’s. Ryan took a deep breath in and let it all out in one motion. The stars were bright, and Ryan couldn’t help but lift his hand and trace the shining bulbs that lined the darkened sea. He counted as he went along, connecting dots with lines, and created a game with string. Ryan didn’t know the constellations, but he did know what a star was. That fact made him slightly sad. It made the stars lose their sense of mysticism, but Ryan had long been away from that kind of norm, and didn’t mind either way.
“Will always be the person that has brought smiles and hope to so many. The person named Lorna, will always be the same at the end of the day, because no matter what, the person named Lorna, is Lorna.” Lorna smiled, speechless, and simply adhered to Ryan’s statement.
“So why did you ask this question, Lorna?”
“Why indeed. Why indeed.” Ryan could hear a tint of wistful cohesion in Lorna’s voice. Lorna was lost in as much thought as Ryan, but it was strange, to him. It was strange that Lorna would ask such a question. It was utterly strange, and at the same time, Ryan couldn’t help but feel it was absolutely fine.
“Maybe, it’s because I needed to find myself.”
“Or maybe, I just wanted confirmation.”
“Did you get confirmation?” Ryan asked meekly.
“I did. I really did. Thank–”
“Nope. No thanks.” Lorna turned her heard towards Ryan’s playful remark, clearly mimicking her own actions. Lorna couldn’t help but have a big smile on her face, and laugh, and Ryan couldn’t help but laugh as well. They both laughed, and laughed, and laughed under the starry sky. It was almost as if the whole world had stopped for them. They were kids out in the dust, swept up by a storm.
“You really are a ray.” Ryan wasn’t sure what Lorna had meant by her words.
“You’re my ray, a ray of hope.” The wind blew across the fields as Lorna finished her sentence, leaving Ryan unable to hear her description. Lorna had never really spoken to anyone about her naming sense, nor did she ever plan to. She was glad that the wind had blown to cover her voice, and to cover her record. Lorna was never one to open up, but she could try, and unexpectedly, she did. She did so, not knowing, and she didn’t mind at all. Ray, was Ryan, who was a ray of hope. Ray was a ray of hope, not only to Lorna, but to the people around him. However, all rays must fade, whenever there is light, there is dark. Ryan, Lorna, Sunflower, Runner, Winter, Hailstone, Spear, Walker, Carrier, Spark. Where there is light, there is dark. And that dark, will become a shadow so large, that not even the brightest of light can escape. In that case, the only thing left to do is conform, and trace darkness with darkness.