Heads or Tails
“Heads we get married, tails we break up.” The goofy grin slid back on his face, and he raised in eyebrows.
“Oh not again, Matt. Honestly. We’re not even ‘together,’ so how can we break up, you goofball?” Annabelle Smith finally managed to stuff her arms into the cream-colored pea coat. She grabbed the strap of her purse and stomped past Matt Jones, her friend of two years. He’d been the one to get her her job – her fabulous job – her dream job of writing for the show.
Well, he didn’t get her the job. The Heads (as Matt and Annabelle called the producers) wouldn’t have even considered her had she not some small ounce of talent or gumption; Matt simply brought their attention to her work via her blog. Annabelle often mused, Who knew that that one small (embarrassing) piece of fan fiction would land me here? But here she was writing for one of her favourite shows on television alongside Matt Jones.
“You’re just teasing me again, aren’t you?”
“Oh, Matt, when have I ever teased you about this before? Do you really think you and I would last as a married couple? We work well as a writing pair, but our values are so different; we’d be divorced before we were even married.”
“Annie-bellie-wellie, I love it when you call us a ‘couple.’” Matt threw his arm around her shoulder and squeezed Annabelle to his side.
“First, you goof, I called us a ‘writing pair’ – not the same.”
“Ah, but we are a pair, my Annie-bellie-wellie.”
“A pair of cuckoo birds. Don’t interrupt. Second: for the love of cheesecake, don’t say my name like that.”
“Like what? Oh. Would you rather me sing it? My dear Annie-bellie-wellie!” Matt warbled.
Annabelle punched him in the arm laughing. “Shut up.”
Matt’s own laughter died down. He clasped his hands behind his back as the writing pair walked down the corridor. His eyebrows gathered together – a sign, Annabelle knew, her friend was muddling over an idea. “Seriously though – Annabelle – you don’t think I’m a great catch?”
“Of course I think you’re a great catch, Matt. You’re a marvelous man, Matt Jones.” Matt smiled slightly. “But you and I married? We’d kill each other.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t say, ‘We’d kill each other.’ Maybe sleep in different rooms and never speak to one another again, but, honestly, I could never take an ax to you.” He grinned the Matt Jones grin.
In spite of herself, Annabelle giggled. “Us never speaking to one another again amounts to the same thing as hacking at each other with axes, and you know it.
No. You really are a great catch, Matt. Truly. Just for someone else is all. Maybe you can find a girl who worships cheesecake like you.”
“Ah, I do love cheesecake.”
“You are what you eat.”
“Easy, Smith,” Matt said as he held open the door to the parking garage.
Annabelle stepped over the threshold and stopped. She vaguely heard the heavy door shut.
“What is it?’ Matt said. She then felt him pause beside her. “Ummm.”
“This isn’t the parking garage.”
“A very astute observation. No it is not.”
“Where the hell are we?” Annabelle turned. The door they had come through was still there.
“Suppose we’ve somehow managed to find ourselves on the set of a TV show?”
“Right. So, they’ve moved Parking A and built a set here?”
“Precisely.” Matt turned and yanked on the door. “Okay. Don’t panic. The door is stuck. And by stuck I mean disappearing before our eyes!” The door literally was vanishing into thin air before the pair’s eyes. “Um, Annabelle?”
He took her hand as she looked in astonishment at the space where the door to Parking A once was. “I think we’re in trouble.”
“Don’t take the name of cheesecake in vain.”
“Sorry,” she choked. Annabelle turned the other way to face what was supposed to be Parking A but was now a forest of evergreens. “So. Shall we carry on?” She looked up at Matt.
“What? You mean go through the forest of possible no return?” Annabelle nodded. Matt put on his too big smile – the one that meant, We’re going to fail miserably, but at least we’ll have fun doing it. He said, “I think that’s a brilliant plan. Let’s do it.” He offered Annabelle his arm, and together they crept forward.
Annabelle said, “Do you hear anything?”
“We’re in a forest,” Annabelle continued quietly. “Shouldn’t there be birds chirping or animals chattering? I can’t even hear our feet shuffle along the forest floor.”
Matt paused and looked at Annabelle, his eyebrows gathered.
“You won’t hear anything.”
“D’ah,” Annabelle and Matt both exclaimed as they jumped. Annabelle clung comically to Matt’s arm. To their right stood a girl – maybe – with close-cropped hair wearing strappy green scraps of clothing and looking about twelve-years-old.
Matt sputtered, “Who are you? Where did you come from? Where are we? What do you mean we ‘won’t hear anything?’” The girl stood looking at the pair.
Still clinging to Matt’s arm, Annabelle said, “Maybe you should try one question.”
“Okay. What do you mean we ‘won’t hear anything’? We heard you. I think.” Matt looked to Annabelle who nodded. “We hear each other.” Matt gestured between himself and Annabelle.
“Of course we can hear each other,” the girl said. “But you won’t hear the forest. The forest has been silenced.”
“Silenced?” said Annabelle. “What does that mean?”
“Follow me,” the girl said and turned.
Annabelle looked at Matt who shrugged. The pair treaded carefully behind the girl.
They travelled on following a path that must have been visible to the girl; all Annabelle saw was miles of evergreens.
Matt leaned over. “Where are we?”
“How should I know?” Annabelle said. “And I don’t think we need bother whispering. I’m sure she can hear us.”
“You’re in the Duplicitous Forest,” said the girl. “The forest has been silenced by the king.”
“The king?” spoke Annabelle. “So we’re in the Duplicitous Forest in the kingdom of --?”
“King Havashar. He lives over that way.” The girl pointed to the right as she kept walking. Annabelle looked but still saw nothing but trees. “King Havashar’s wife was stolen and killed. Until her murder is avenged, the king ordered the forest silenced.”
“I’m sorry,” said Annabelle, “I don’t understand. Why silence the forest?” Never mind how you silence a forest, Annabelle added in her head.
The girl stopped short and turned to the pair staring Annabelle squarely in the face causing her to gasp. “When someone dies you show respect for their life with silence. But this was murder, and the king was greatly grieved. His wife was born and raised in the Duplicitous Forest, so until her murder is avenged, the Duplicitous Forest will be silenced.” The girl resumed her walk along the invisible path.
Annabelle looked up at Matt. He put a hand over hers and the pair continued following their mysterious guide. After a moment, Annabelle nudged Matt and nodded to the girl encouraging him to ask a question. She didn’t care to be reprimanded by a twelve-year-old pixie again.
“Uh right. So why are we here? My friend and I?”
“You are the Messengers,” said the girl.
“The messengers?” said Matt. “What does that mean?”
*** My hour of writing is well up. Until next time ***