Sarah Ellison stormed out of her boyfriend’s dorm, ignoring his calls as she pushed the door to his hall open and stepped outside. He came after her of course, as she knew he would, but he stopped at the steps, standing with his barefeet on the cold concrete as he called out her name and asked her to stop.
It wasn’t even seven, the sky above campus the dull orange of early morning. A few people were milling about, and they watched as Sarah fought back tears and kept walking, turning a corner and soon unable to hear Chris calling after her.
The break-up had been building for a while, she knew it and she was sure he had as well. She had spent the night in his dorm, which wasn’t allowed of course, but his roommate was visiting a sick parent out in Nebraska, and Chris had asked her to stay even though they had one of their blow-up fights just a few days previous. He had surely been planning a night full of sex and pizza and then more sex, but instead there had been fighting, talking about their feelings and finally the break-up.
Sara was twenty, and as she hurried to where she had parked the night before, she couldn’t help but think that her life was already turning out much differently than she had thought. First there had been college itself, where she had met Chris the year previous, her freshman year. She aced her classes, things were looking up.
Sophomore year rolled around however, and things had changed. Well, if Sarah was going to be honest with herself, she had changed, school had remained the same. No longer sure she wanted to follow in her geologist father’s footsteps she had left school last semester, and moved into her father’s home once more.
Her dad hadn’t been thrilled at the news, and his requirement for her moving back home was that she had to be working, and so she had found a job at a store in the mall, a mall which was clearly going the way of almost all of the other malls in America, it could be hours in between customers there, and Sarah passed her time bored and confused and wondering just what the hell she was going to do with her life.
When she got to her car she sat behind the wheel without cranking the engine and let the tears come. They weren’t for Chris, at least, not all of them, everything that had happened in the last year or so was catching up to her. She had lost her best friend growing up right after her freshman year to a drunk driver. She was sure that was the start of it all, the worry that she wasn’t getting what she wanted out of life. She still had bad dreams often, she still lay in bed after they woke her up, unable to get back to sleep.
When the tears had stopped falling she reached into her purse and pulled out her cell. She called her father, knowing that he was up, he got up at six every day, and had for decades.
“Hey,” he said when he answered.
“Chris and I broke up,” Sarah said. Her dad was truly one of her best friends. It had just been them growing up, her mother divorcing her father and moving across the country when Sarah was only two. She told her dad everything.
“Good,” her father grunted. He had never liked Chris, he found him crass and juvenile, which was certainly true, but he was also devilishly handsome. That had been a big plus in Sarah’s eyes, but had done little to endear him to her father. “You working today?”
“No, I’m off,” Sarah said.
“Good, I’ll take off and we can grab some lunch. You coming home?”
“Alright, love you sweety,” her father said,
“Love you too dad,” she replied and then hung up.
As she started the car there was a strange sound, a high pitched whine that Sarah at first took to be her engine, as though something else was going wrong, and the car wouldn’t start. But it had started, and had done so without issue. The whine was nearer than the engine, and when Sarah looked down she saw a strange white glow underneath her shirt, at her chest.
She had worn the necklace for nearly ten years, ever since her father had given it to her. It was a plain silver chain, delicate and pretty, and at the end was a white crystal, beautifully cut and nearly clear. As the whine continued, high pitched and almost like the sound of nails going down a chalkboard, she pulled the necklace from beneath her shirt. She gasped as it came free from her neckline and she saw that the crystal was indeed glowing, it’s light pale and pulsing.
Then, without warning, the light faded and the sound died away.
She looked at the crystal, waiting for it to glow again but it did not. She tucked it back under her shirt, remembering the day her father had given it to her.
It was her tenth birthday, and she had a party at home, inviting a few of her best girlfriends over for a sleepover. They ate pizza and ice cream and watched movies until they had fallen asleep, and then the next morning after the girls had gone home her father gave her one last present.
“I saw this and thought of you,” he said smiling. His name was William Ellison but other scientists knew him as Dr. Bill. To Sarah however, at age ten, he was always daddy.
“Thank you daddy!” she said,taking the long box. He smiled, the bottom half of his face covered with a thick black beard, his head bald and shiny and often red from the sun.
“Open it, open it!” he had said, and she had done so, revealing the beautiful necklace.
Thinking back on that memory filled Sarah with a happiness she hadn't felt in a long time as she drove to her father’s house.
When she got home her father was sitting in the living room, a scientific journal open on his lap, the news on the television. His beard had turned mostly gray in the last few years, and he was as bald as ever. Dr. Bill had also put on about ten pounds, but he still looked fit and strong, his shoulders wide.
His daughter couldn’t have looked any different. Her hair was long and blonde, the color of wheat growing under the midday sun. She was petite but had long legs, her best feature and most of her boyfriends agreed, she liked to wear thigh high stockings in bed, and it drove each of the three men she had been with wild. Her eyes were hazel, her features sharp but pleasing to the eye. Chris had always told her she looked like a model, and though modestly never allowed her to agree, the young man was right.
“Hey daddy,” she said as she sat down.
“Hey Bean,” he said. He had called her bean since her birth. Sarah didn’t know why he had chosen this nickname, but she had come to love it. She watched her dad finish the article he had been reading and then he pulled the glasses from his head and set them aside. They sat chatting for a long while, since it was still hours until lunch. When it was finally time to leave Sara told her father she would drive separate because she wanted to go see Helen. That was the mother of Sarah’s best friend who had died.
Her father looked at her over the top of his own car.
“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” he asked.
“Yeah. I haven’t seen her in a while,” Sarah said. “I want to check in on her.”
“I just know you’re still going through your own stuff,” her dad said. “I don’t want you to go backwards, I think you need to keep working towards… I don’t know how to say it, not getting over it, but becoming okay with it.”
Sarah smiled, knowing her father was just looking out for her. “I know dad, I think this will help,” Sarah said.
“Okay,” her dad said, and he smiled and got into his car. She followed him to the restaurant.
They had been sitting at a table for half an hour, their plates in front of them, when the whine started up again. Heads in the restaurant swiveled to their table, anxious to see what the annoying sound was.
“What is that?” William asked his daughter as she pulled the necklace from inside of her shirt. His eyes went wide when he saw the crystal glowing. “What the hell?” he asked no one in particular.
“It did it earlier too,” Sarah said, and even as she was speaking the crystal stopped glowing and the whine died down. “Why is it doing that?”
“I don’t know,” WIlliam said. “I… I’ll have to take a look at it,” he said, and then he held his hand out.
“Later,” Sarah said. “I want to go see Helen, and…” she didn’t finish. The truth was she felt as though the necklace was her good luck charm. She wanted the visit to go smoothly, she was nervous about it, without really knowing why. Her and Helen had been close, the woman had been something of a surrogate mother for many years, but after her friend had died, Sarah had just stopped staying in contact with the older woman. The idea of seeing her without the familiar crystal around her neck, resting upon the flesh above her breast bone, it wasn’t one Sarah liked.
Her father seemed to understand all of this without any other words needing to be said and he returned his hand to his fork and nodded. “Alright,” he said. “Later.”
The rest of lunch passed without incident, though Sarah could see her father’s scientific curiosity was killing him. Surely he had never seen a crystal glow like that, or make the sound, and Sarah was eager to understand what was happening too. She almost decided to put of seeing Helen, but she had already talked herself into finally going, and she knew she couldn’t do that. Sarah, of course, had no way of knowing she would never reach Helen’s home.