Brooke used her car to drive herself and Zoe back to Marla’s house where her aunt and grandparents were worriedly awaiting her return.
“Sweetheart, we were so worried,” her grandmother said holding tightly to her hand. It seemed as if she was trying to keep Zoe from escaping again.
“I’m fine now,” she said and insisted on take her hand back. “I just needed some time alone to think.”
“I’m just glad you’re safe,” Aunt Marla said and just then Johnny came bolting out of the kitchen.
“Zoe, you’re back!” he shouted and ran towards her. He wrapped his little arms around her waist since that was as high as he could reach. Even for a seven year old Johnny was small and looked more like five. “Are you going to help me with my catching?” Zoe remembered that she promised to help him with his little league practice, but after everything that had happened she wondered if it was an appropriate time. She hesitated not know how to answer him. “Zoe, you promised.”
“I think that’s an excellent idea,” Aunt Marla said approaching Zoe. “Maybe you and Brooke could take Johnny to the park.”
“Are you sure?” Zoe asked her.
“I think you and Johnny should go and try to have some fun,” Aunt Marla said and in a way she was right. If she stuck around she knew she would just go crazy. “Your grandparents and I will handle things, so I’m counting on you to look after your cousin, alright?”
“Sure,” she said and looked over towards Johnny. “Let’s go, kid.”
“Yeah, Johnny said and ran to the closet where his ball and mitt were in a box.
Brooke offered to drive them to the park and hang out for a while. Zoe really needed another girl closer to her own age to hang out with. Johnny was excited and ran to the car and waited patiently for the girls. They came out after making a few sandwiches and other snacks.
The park was only a ten minute drive, and even with that short of a distance Johnny could barely contain himself and sat restlessly in his seat. “Are we there yet?” Johnny asked after Brooke had only been driving for less than a minute.
“Relax, Johnny, we’ll be there soon,” Zoe said and turned on the radio. The latest Men at Work song was playing. It was one of the modern bands she actually liked.
“At least something tolerable is playing on the radio,” Zoe said which made Brooke laugh.
“I swear I don’t understand your hatred for pop music.” Zoe playfully slapped her arm as she turned the corner. The older girl laughed and had a good time while Johnny played in the back seat with one of his Hot Wheels cars. It was one that Zoe bought him for Christmas last year. He wheeled the car up and down the seat and up the back of Zoe’s seat and over the headrest making the sounds that a car would make going at high speeds.
Finally they arrived at the park, and Brooke parked the car near the picnic area where there were parking spaces for cars. Johnny jumped out of the car the second Brooke stopped and looked over the picnic area to the open field where he saw some other kids playing ball.
“Brooke, Zoe, hurry up,” he said and picked up his bag with his equipment in it. The girls exited the car and followed Johnny out to the field. Zoe carried their lunch in a cold bag while Brooke carried nothing but her purse which matched perfectly with her outfit.
The girls sat down on one of the benches while Johnny ran out onto the field when he heard some of his school friends calling for him.
Since Zoe skipped breakfast having some time to eat while Johnny played with his friends was a dream come true. Still she felt guilty going on with her life while her mother was dead. There was a sad and sullen look on her face as she bit into the sandwich. She was too lost in her own thoughts to hear Brook’s voice. It wasn’t until the older girl waved her hand in front of her that she grabbed her attention.
“Hey, what’s with you?” Brooke asked and Zoe looked over at her while still trying to keep an eye on Johnny.
“I knew it was going to happen,” Zoe said and Brooke looking confused. “Well, sort of.”
“How do you mean?” Brooke asked and looked at her a little strange.
“I just meant that I had this bad feeling that something terrible was going to happen when Mom went out by herself,” Zoe said and Brooke looked somewhat relieved.
“That’s no biggy, a lot of people have those feelings,” Brooke said, trying to make her feel better. “I did when my mom died.”
“Yeah, but you knew something might happen because she was sick for a while,’ Zoe said and thought back to the terrible dream she had a few weeks before she and her mother left for their trip. “This is different. It’s like I knew she was going to die, and I didn’t do anything to stop it.”
“Zoe, you can’t blame yourself for that,” Brooke said, trying to reason with her. “There’s no way you could have known no matter how much mystical powers you have.”
Zoe burst out laughing. Brooke had a way of making her feel better even if she didn’t want to. “I guess you’re right.” Zoe looked over to see Johnny still playing, but there was a man hanging out by a tree that was near the water fountain that was close to the field. He was standing there smoking a cigarette, and she noticed that he was staring at the kids on the field. Chills went down her spine at the man’s behavior. “I think we should get going.”
“Why?” Brooke asked after only having eaten less than half her sandwich. “Is there something wrong?”
“Just that guy over there,” she said and tried not to look like she was watching him.
“Where?” Brooke asked.
“The one by the water fountain,” Zoe said and Brooke looked over towards the direction Zoe was speaking of.
“Oh, him, he’s cool,” Brooke said and went back to eating her sandwich. Once she swallowed the food in her mouth, she continued, “That’s Lance Baker, Sam Baker’s little brother.”
“Oh, the owner of the pizza place,” Zoe said and looked relieved.
“Yeah, Lance’s is weird but not dangerous, so turn your radar off,” Brooke said jokingly. “I think it’s broken.”
“Maybe, but that guy still gives me the creeps,” she said and stood up. “Why don’t we get Johnny and get out of here. We could take him for pizza.”
“Okay, sure,” she said and stood up and grabbed their cold bag. The girls took off to collect their young charge not knowing that someone was watching them.
To Be Continued…