Welcome again to YAFF Muse: blog rounds. The ladies of YA Fiction Fanatics have come together for YAFF Muse. To have a little fun, explore different styles of writing and to give you some kick-butt shorts to read. Enjoy!
Photo title: Wooden Gate
My feet flew through the air as I pumped my legs, the swing swaying back and forth. The branch of the oak tree creaked with every movement. I stared at the gate, letting my bare feet drag on the ground to slow me.
“Maybree, come here. Come to us,” my mother’s voice floated from the other side of the fence.
I shook my head. No. It wasn’t Mom. She and Dad deserted me years ago. They left me with Grandma. Besides, Grandma had told me not to go through the gate.
“Maybree, we need and miss you,” Father echoed.
Their sound of despair had me on my feet. And I swallowed hard, wondering what the number 285 along the poles meant. I took a step forward. My heart clamored against my ribs, the heavy scent of roses permeating in the air around me.
A hand touched my arm and I jumped, spinning around.
“You’re not supposed to go in there.” A tall guy, with messy blonde hair and tanned skin told me.
Where did he come from? My face grew warm. “Um—excuse me, who are you?”
He smiled, nearly melting me like a dish of ice cream left out in the sun.
“Julian St. Clair,” he said, holding out his hand. “I’m a friend of your grandma’s. I normally come by once a week to mow her lawn.”
My eyes narrowed. “How come she’s never mentioned you before?”
He chuckled. “I have no idea.” His ivy colored eyes twinkled as he reached for my hand. “But I do know that you shouldn’t be by the gate.”
I shivered as the sound of Mom and Dad’s voices begged me to open the door.
“What’s behind there?”
Julian led me back toward the swing. “A bunch of overgrowth and weeds. And there’s a structure that’s about ready to collapse—it’s dangerous.”
Okay, so she let him go back there, but not me? “Then how come you got to go in.”
His smile faded. “I had no choice. There were things that needed to be taken care of. Some of the flowers and such could be saved, but most of what’s over there is drab and dead. Your Grandma wanted to know if there was anything I could do with it. But there wasn’t.”
“You sound so disappointed,” I said. God, what I wouldn’t do to see his smile again.
He kicked at a rock. “I don’t like to see beautiful things fade.”
“So how did you meet my grandma?”
“At the hospital, when she was visiting a friend.”
He grabbed my hand and walked me further away from the gate. “Yes. I’m an intern there. Fifth year at the university, studying to be a doctor,” Julian said.
Damn, that meant he was probably too old for me. At least tomorrow, I’d be legal. “Sorry, but you don’t look like a doctor.”
He rolled his eyes. “Probably because I started college at sixteen. I’m only twenty-one.”
“Maybree, don’t leave us. Stop! Come back.”
I stopped moving and glanced at the gate. “I—I think I should see what’s behind the gate. It sounds like someone is calling for help.”
“Maybree, your grandma needs you at the house. She sent me down to get you,” Julian said, turning me to look at him. “Listen, don’t tell her I told you, but she’s thrown a surprise birthday party for you and if you don’t come with me, she’ll be devastated.”
His fingers brushed my cheek, and I closed my eyes, his warmth comforting me. “Okay.”
My lids fluttered open to find him staring at me.
“Has anyone ever told you how beautiful you are?” he asked.
I snorted. “Does that line actually work for you?”
He gave me a sheepish grin. “After a few drinks at the pub.”
Laughing, we headed for the house. The sound of incessant beeping filled the air. The surroundings got dark, then blurry. Taking a deep gulp of air, things came into focus. Everything was white, and sterile. Grandma stood over me, tears falling from her eyes, holding my hand.
“Maybree, you’ve come back to us.” She kissed my cheek.
Then I remembered. The party at Rachel’s, the car crash, the pain, the scent of smoke…
“You’ve been in a coma for two weeks dear. I thought I was going to lose you like I lost your mom and dad,” she said. “I kept talking to you, telling you to come back to me to stay away from the gate.”
I’d dreamt the whole thing.
“How is she?” a familiar voice asked.
I glanced up to see Julian, holding a clipboard. He winked, reaching for my hand.
“She woke up,” Grandma whispered. “Just like you said she would.”
“How…” I began.
“Mrs. Davenport, why don’t you go down and have a cup of coffee while I check her vitals,” Julian said.
Grandma hesitated, gave me a kiss, then left the room.
“You were there with me, I saw you.” A lump formed in my throat.
He nodded. “I’m a caller. I call people back from death.”
His hand caught mine and I took a staggered breath. “Then that really was my parents talking to me?”
“Yes. But I couldn’t let you go to them. Not yet,” he said, bringing my hand to his lips. “You will not be number 286. Your grandma needs you here. I need you here.”
With a smile, I watched the sunlight filter around him. Today was my birthday. And I’d received the best presents imaginable. Life. Love. Forever.
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