The media sure didn't waste any time. When Mr.Webb, Mrs.Nora, and Ian brought Olivia home that day there were at least six different news stations swarming their house. There were men in suits with bleached smiles and plastic hair. Women with permanently raised eyebrows and clothes that looked like they were all purchased at "I get paid to invade people's privacy" department store. "Olivia, where have you been for the last two weeks?" "Are they naming any suspects?" "Are you still seeing your cousin?" they shouted, their microphones outstretched as the Webbs tried to make their way toward the front porch. Ian and Mrs.Nora huddled over Olivia in order to shield her from their questions and cameras, while Mr.Webb shouted at the reporters to leave her alone. But they didn't listen.
Soon enough they were inside, hidden from the reporters, the questions, the cameras, the missing time. They escorted Olivia to her room as though she was in a new house entirely. She scanned the room casually, a meek smile appearing on her face. "I would have washed your sheets and comforter if I had known they would release you today, I just wanted to stay with you last night, I never thought" Mrs.Nora explained, her voice trailing. Olivia tenderly placed both of her hand on her shoulders. "Mom, it's okay, it's okay. I'm here" she said. Mrs.Nora hugged her daughter close to her, scared that she could slip through her fingers at any minute. "We're so glad you're safe, I don't know what we would have done if anything happened to you" Mr.Webb said, his eyes looking watery. It was so strange for Olivia and Ian to see their parents like this, so vulnerable, so human. "Well you don't have to think about that" she replied. "I want to catch up with y'all, but would it be alright if I just relaxed for a little bit?" she questioned, a wearisome look on her face. "Of course, take all the time you need" replied Mrs.Nora. "We'll be in the living room when you're ready" Mr.Webb told her embracing her.
Mrs.Nora and Mr.Webb left her room. Ian stood there with Olivia for a moment. "You know it's funny, when you were gone I kinda missed having you bug me when I would try to do homework" he said, scratching the back of his head. "Don't worry, I'll get on that right away" she assured him. "I love you sis" he hugged her tight. "Love you too". He left, closing the door behind him.
She went over to her closet, gently opening the doors. She reached up towards the top shelve and pulled down a purple floral box. She sat down with the box on her bed. She opened the box, laying the top beside her. There was mostly pictures, a few letters, a couple of tickets from previous recitals, ordinary at first glance. Except for one picture in particular. It was taken the day of June's party. Olivia, Sophie, Carson, Meredith, Cassie, and June were all posed, arms linked together, standing in front of the pool. Everything seemed perfectly normal, like a Monet landscape, at least in the focus of the picture. It was the background that troubled her. A person clad in black, looking onward at the scene unfolding, like the narrator of a play. People completely unaware of a stranger's presence. It made her skin crawl. Olivia hid the picture in her night stand drawer, and then she placed the box back up on the top shelve. Slowly she lied down on the bed, resting on her right side. She curled up her legs and softly weep.
"I don't care what you think, as long as it's about me" sang Ian's ipod. Olivia had been in her room for the last three hours, and he was beginning to think she would never come out. The question wasn't really would she come out but what would they do if she didn't. Ian was always thinking ten steps a head, even if those ten steps were highly unlikely.
Ring! Ring! Ian took his headphones off and picked his phone up off of the bed beside him. "Hello?" he answered. "Hi, it's Sophie". Ian sat up, switching the phone to the other hand. "Oh it's you! What's up?" "I was calling to check on Olivia. How is she?" "I'm not sure" "What do you mean?" "I mean we came home, she asked to relax, she's been relaxing in her room for the last three hours" "Has anyone checked on her?" "My mom checked on her a hour ago and found her sleeping".
As he talked he got up to look out the window, separating the blinds tediously. The sun was just starting to set, giving the sky that brilliant tangerine color. "I know she needs some time to herself but Mom's pretty anxious, I mean she had her daughter missing for the past two weeks" he said, letting the blinds snap back together. "Just give her some time, she probably pretty confused right now. I know I would be" she encouraged. "Yeah, it's just hard" "Sorry. I didn't mean to be insensitive" "No, no, you're fine" "Well, I guess I'll talk to you later, tell her I said hello" "Of course! Thanks for calling" "Sure thing". He hung up.
Ian was glad to have her home, but he just couldn't help but think about the past two weeks and what had really happened, whatever that might be. Even if they found a supposed kidnapper how would they ever know the absolute truth? Ian had heard all about these cases where they thought they had the right guy but then several years later they look back at the evidence they have and realize they had convicted the wrong man. And then not only do you have the guilt of putting an innocent man behind bars but then you'll never have peace of mind. Oh shut up Ian, your sister's home, be happy, he told himself.
Ian started to pick up his ipod when there was a shrill scream. He could hear it coming from Olivia's room. He ran towards her, his parents close behind. Swinging the door open he burst in. "Olivia?" Mrs.Nora exclaimed. Olivia was tossing and turning, screaming as loud as she could. They tried to wake her up, but she was in a deep sleep. "It's okay honey, we're here" Mr.Webb tried to calm her. Mrs.Nora rushed out of the room and came back with a wet rag. She laid it on Olivia's forehead. Ian watched them attend to her, not sure what to do. It was like witnessing a car crash and wondering if or when the brakes would kick in. That's the way he had always felt about his sister, even before she went missing. She was the car, and he was a concerned passerby, who seemed to always notice things a little too late.
She started to come to, slightly taken a back by them crowding around her. Mrs.Nora sat down beside Olivia. "Are you okay?" she asked. Olivia rubbed her eyes and blinked a few times. "I guess" she replied. "What were you dreaming about?" Mrs.Nora questioned, brushing Olivia's hair out of her face. "I'm, I'm not sure" she said. "How do you forget your dream two seconds after you've had it?" Ian inquired, his eyebrows arched. "Ian don't press her" Mr.Webb warned. "Sorry" he replied. "You know Dr.Birch said you might have some night terrors, if you continues to have them he prescribed something to help" Mrs.Nora comforted her. "No, I don't need pills" she informed them. "I know! It's just in case you would need them" Mrs.Nora explained. "I watched that ghost hunting show before I took my nap, that's probably what I was dreaming about" Olivia suggested. "Well that explained things" Mrs.Nora exclaimed. "It might be a good idea to take it easy on the ghost shows for right now" Mr.Webb told her. She nodded in agreement. "I made you some tomato soup. Are you hungry?" Mrs.Nora asked. "Yes". Mrs.Nora squeezed her hand and left to get her soup. "You know when you were little that was the only soup your mom could get you to eat" Mr.Webb remembered. She smiled wistfully. "And mom would make you sandwiches in the shape of hearts when you were sick" Ian added. "Yeah, that was nice" her voice far away. "I think I'd like to eat my soup at the table" she said as she pulled back the covers and placed her feet on the floor beside her bed. "Of course!" Mr.Webb said, putting his hands in his front pockets.
She quietly tip-toed out of her room, her father following closely. Ian lingered a moment. He pushed his hair back forcefully, breathing dejectedly. How did all of this happen, he thought. One minute Ian and Olivia are kids chasing each other around the house and in the blink of an eye they're sixteen and one of them gets involved in a cult of all things. This wasn't supposed to happen.
He began to leave when he noticed one of the blinds askew. He started to fix it, but as he put it back in place he saw someone at the edge of the drive-way staring right back at him. He couldn't make out a face. He pulled up the blinds to get a better look, but it was no use. For just as mysteriously as the figure appeared in the same way he or she did leave.