In the Blink of an Eye
By Carrie Carr
Disclaimers This is an original story and the characters are of my own twisted imagination. Theres no sex, no violence, and very few (if any) bad words. I do hint at a lesbian relationship, but its not explicit. There are also nasty relatives, so if that makes you squeamish, I apologize. I want to thank my best friend and partner, AJ, for putting up with me while I scribbled this down.
If you want to see more of these two, or if you think its a ridiculous bit of tripe, let me know firstname.lastname@example.org .
Copyright August 2001 by Carrie Carr
The city limits sign brought several emotions to the dark-haired womans face. Nervousness warred with curiosity as she slowed her 1978 yellow corvette, mindful of the radar traps that were used to catch motorists unaware. Welcome to Podunk, USA she thought bitterly, the old familiar feelings starting to gnaw away at her stomach.
Randi Meyers hadnt been back to her hometown since she graduated from high school almost eighteen years ago, except for the occasional family holiday. But even then, she'd rarely venture from her grandmother's home. Those that knew her then would be hard-pressed to recognize her now. The long dark hair that used to trail down her waist had been cut short and was now liberally streaked with gray. Her light brown eyes were now hidden behind wire-framed glasses, and the once slender girl had become a slightly stockier older woman. With a heavy sigh, she pulled her automobile into the parking lot of a roadside motel on the outskirts of the sleepy town.
"Good afternoon, madam," the smiling Middle-Eastern gentleman behind the counter greeted. "How may I be of service to you today?" The garish Halloween decorations scattered around the small room attested to the next days holiday.
His thick accent reminded Randi of a character on a popular animated television series, and she struggled to keep her laughter to herself. "Ah, yes. I need a room for the next few days," she requested, reaching into the back pocket of her jeans for a small wallet.
"Very good, madam." The middle-aged man flipped open a large notebook and scanned the page. "Smoking or non?"
"Smoking," Randi mumbled, the long drive finally catching up to her. She paid for the first night and accepted her key, nodding as the man droned on about the room. "Right. Thanks." The brunette waved as she left the motel office. Stopping by her car long enough to pull a large duffel bag from the trunk, Randi pushed open the door to her room and tossed the bag onto the bed, her exhausted body not far behind.
Upon waking from her short nap, the still-weary traveler sat up and rubbed her eyes. Deciding to unpack, Randi unzipped the heavy duffel and pulled out several rolls of clothes. She hung up the black slacks and shirt and brushed small specs of lint from the matching jacket. "Looks good enough to me," she mumbled, knowing that her grandmother wouldnt feel the same. The old woman never let a chance to complain pass her by, and when her youngest granddaughter appeared in something other than a black dress for the funeral, there would be hell to pay.
Randolph Meyers was being buried tomorrow afternoon. He had lived a fast-paced and prosperous life, but the woman who shared his name had only met him twice. Randi had vague memories of a man too busy with his many business ventures to ever get married, and who would dote on his nephews while practically ignoring his nieces. She was the sole representative of her branch of the family for the gathering. Her parents had taken a well-deserved cruise and couldnt make it back in time for the funeral. Randis two older brothers were on separate ends of the country, neither one wanting to take time off from their own lives to mourn the death of a man who sent them through their prospective colleges.
Pricks. Uncle Randolph gave them everything, and they cant be bothered with seeing him off. Bitterness brewed in the womans stomach at the injustice of her warped family. She had worked her way through school, taking almost twice as long to get her veterinarian degree because of the lack of money. Her uncle never offered to pay her way, and Randi was too stubborn and full of pride to ask. She walked over to the dressing area of the motel room and looked at her reflection in the mirror. Dark circles still figured prominently under the light brown eyes, and tiny lines had begun to form around her mouth from years of smoking. Reaching into her shirt pocket, Randi pulled out a slightly crumpled red and white pack and pulled a cigarette out with her teeth. Glaring at the stranger in the mirror, she dug into her jeans and grabbed a silver lighter, flicking it open and waving the flame at the end of the stick of tobacco. A few more wrinkles wont hurt anything.
Halloween day turned out to be overcast and humid. Randi winced as her car found another large pothole on the cemeterys graveled road. "Youd think theyd join the twenty-first century and pave the road," she cursed to no one in particular. Her nerves were already on edge from the confrontation with the family at the funeral home.
Trying to slip into the room unnoticed, the tall woman winced as the heavy door slammed behind her. Every head turned, and several sets of eyes narrowed as they spotted the embarrassed woman in the doorway. Two younger women, adorned with prim black dresses, rushed over to the newcomer and shook their heads.
"My goodness, but youve let yourself go, Randi. How long has it been?" one of the women tittered.
"Not long enough," the dark-haired woman mumbled under her breath. Randi removed her sunglasses and raised an eyebrow at her two cousins. "Amy Andi. Doesnt look like either one of you have starved to death, yourselves," she commented wryly. The twins were both heavier than she and neither one were sporting their original hair color. Only three years her senior, they always enjoyed taunting their cousin.
Two blond heads bobbed simultaneously. "Maybe," the woman on the left acknowledged. "But our husbands dont seem to mind." Her insincere smile turned nasty. "I dont see a ring on your finger, cousin. Still cant find a man to put up with you?"
One two three Randi counted to herself before answering. "Unlike you two, I tend to be particular who Im with." She looked over their heads at a tiny older woman, waving a white handkerchief their way. "Id love to stay and chat, but it looks like Grandma needs me." Pushing past the glowering twins, Randi straightened her back and steeled herself for round two.
"Good Lord, Randi Sue. What are you wearing?" Although she was in her mid-eighties, Edna Meyers had a voice like a bullhorn, and loved to hear her words echo around her. She held out her arms. "Come give your grandmama a hug, child."
Properly castigated, Randi stepped forward and allowed herself to be gathered into the frail womans arms. She leaned down and kissed the wrinkled cheek. "Its nice to see you too, Grandma," she whispered to the older woman. She almost winced at the harsh words that tickled her own ear.
"How dare you come here in slacks! What will people think?" the old woman whispered angrily. "Youre a disgrace to this family." Edna pulled back and smiled sweetly at the tall woman. "I see the rest of your family isnt here, as usual."
Fighting the overwhelming urge to run from the funeral home, Randi nodded. "Mom and Dad are somewhere in the Caribbean, and I honestly have no idea about Augie or John." Neither of her brothers had returned her calls when she tried to make arrangements to meet them for the funeral. Nothing unusual in that, she thought. Randi hadnt seen either of them for several years.
Edna looked around to see if anyone else was listening. "Of course. Im sure Augustus has his hands full, with his sweet wife recuperating from their last baby." She glared at her granddaughter. "Thats number four, isnt it? When are you going to settle down? Although its probably too late for you to have children."
A man wearing a ministers collar stepped in and placed a gentle hand on Ednas arm. "Im sorry to disturb you, Mrs. Meyers. But its time to start the service." He nodded at Randi, and wrapped his arm around the frail shoulders to guide Edna to the front of the funeral home.
Thankful that she didnt join the family in the limousines, Randi parked her car at the end of the caravan. She glanced at the dark clouds and shook her head as she realized that her umbrella was in her apartment, several hundred miles away. The heavy breeze brought with it a damp and eerie feeling, causing the hair on the back of her neck to stand up. "Definitely Halloween," Randi mumbled as she followed several others to the graveside. Trying to stay away from her family, she stood in the back of the crowd, not even able to hear the ministers words.
A small cool hand grasped hers, causing the dark-haired woman to look down. Standing beside her was a young boy around ten years old. He was wearing a rumpled navy suit, the small striped tie knotted loosely at his unbuttoned collar. "Um, hi," Randi greeted quietly.
Hazel eyes filled with sadness looked up into hers. "Im scared." He squeezed her hand tighter and sniffled.
With a quick glance at the service in front of them, Randi knelt down to become eye level with the youngster. "Why are you scared? Where are your parents?"
He pointed to a clutter of headstones several yards behind them. "Over there." Large tears began to trail down his face. "Kikis scared, too."
"Whos Kiki?" Randi looked around, assuming the child was talking about a pet, or maybe a favorite toy.
The boy pulled her hand until she stood up. "Cmon. Kikis scared." He started to drag her away, unnoticed by the large group of people.
Randi allowed herself to be led through the heavy trees that bordered the cemetery, marveling at how focused the boy was on his task. He still hasnt told me who this Kiki is. After a few minutes of quiet walking, she spared a glance behind them and realized with a start that they were deep in the woods. Randi stopped, causing her young friend to turn around and glare at her.
"Hey! I told you that we have to go help Kiki," he chastised the tall woman. His young face scrunched up into a pout and he yanked his hand away to cross his arms over his chest.
"Look, kid," Randi returned his glare, and slipped her hands into the pockets of her slacks. "I dont know you, or this Kiki for all I know, youre leading me on a wild-goose chase."
He grabbed her arm and pulled. "Kikis my sister, and shes scared." Tears began to roll down his face again. "Please."
Randi felt bad, but was still not completely convinced. "This isnt some Halloween prank? Cause if it is - -" her threat hung in the air.
"No! I promise," he pleaded. "Please. Nobody else will listen to me. Shes really scared."
With a heavy sigh, the tall woman extended her hand. "All right." She looked up through the dying leaves. "But wed better hurry it looks like its gonna rain any time, now."
After walking what seemed like hours, the boy stopped and pointed through some heavy shrubbery, which had begun to die for the winter. "Over there."
"Where? I dont see " Randi strained her eyes until she could barely make out a small crumpled form. "Is that ?" She looked down, but the boy had disappeared. Probably gone on ahead, she theorized.
Fighting the sharp branches, Randi finally struggled through and stumbled into the small clearing. She knelt down next to the still body of a young woman, whose long blond hair covered her face. Reaching down, Randi gently touched the small woman on the arm. "Miss?" When there was no response, she began to check over the unconscious woman for any injuries. Her right leg was twisted beneath her and it appeared as if she had been running and fell. Just as she was about to run her hands down the slender legs, the woman moaned.
"Ugh." Blinking several times, the injured woman looked up and saw the concerned face of a stranger looking down at her. "Who " she croaked, then cleared her throat. "Who are you?"
"My names Randi," the dark-haired woman offered. "What happened to you?"
"I was just out for my usual walk, when I tripped at the top of that hill." The blonde struggled to sit up, then tried to straighten her legs and cried out. "Oh, God! That hurts!" she leaned down and grabbed for her right ankle.
Randi reached down and grabbed the other womans hand before it grabbed the injury. "Hold on. Let me see." She tried to pull the leg of the jeans up, but they were tapered and wouldnt budge. Unless this woman has extra-thick socks on, with all the swelling Id have to say its broken. She looked up into the hazel eyes that were filled with tears. "Im afraid were going to have to " Randi pulled out her pocketknife and gestured.
"Go ahead," the blonde agreed. She sucked in a pained breath as the sharp knife sliced through her jeans, feeling the pressure slip away from the swollen skin. "Ow!" she cried, as her foot moved slightly.
"Sorry," Randi apologized. She glanced down at the ankle, which had swollen to three-times its normal size. Definitely broken. "Were going to have to splint this." She looked around the clearing. "Where did your little brother go?"
The tall woman picked up a couple of nearby sticks and used them as a splint. She cut the jeans at the knee and used the strips to help secure the ankle. "The little guy who dragged me through the woods to find you." Randi looked up at the quiet face. "Youre Kiki, arent you?"
If possible, the shocked face became even paler. "No ones called me that in years. Howd you know ?"
"Like I said," Randi explained, exasperated. "This little boy, about ten years old, came up to me while I was at my uncles funeral. He told me that Kiki was scared, and practically dragged me God-knows-how-far to here." She stood up and dusted off her hands. The petite woman on the ground didnt appear to weigh anywhere near one hundred pounds. "Is there someplace close we can take you for help? I think I can piggy-back you."
"Im Katherine," the younger woman whispered hoarsely. "My friends call me Kay." Her expression took on a faraway look. She allowed Randi to help her to stand on her good leg.
Randi could see that the blonde was going into shock. She offered her back and helped the other woman get comfortable. "How far ?"
"I live just over that hill. My car " Kay murmured, dropping her head forward onto the older womans shoulder.
Great, Randi sighed. Making certain that she had a good hold on her cargo, she began the slow process of hiking up the incline.
The bright lights slipped through her closed eyelids and brought Kay out of her drug-induced slumber. She blinked several times and was able to focus on the tiled ceiling. She started to sit up, but a firm hand to her shoulder held her down.
"Whoa," a deep feminine voice ordered. "Calm down."
Kay turned her head and saw the dark-haired woman who had found her. "You?"
An embarrassed smile and a blush made the older woman appear much younger. "Yup. Me." Randi tried to subtly disentangle herself from the hand she had been holding. "Umm they said since you were unconscious when I brought you in, they want to keep you overnight for observation."
"Overnight? But " Kay tried again to sit up, but was promptly held down. She looked down at the foot of the bed, where her right ankle had been cast from the knee down. "Broken?"
Randi looked at her quizzically then followed the blondes line of vision. "Oh, yeah. Two places. They said you should heal up just fine, though." She shifted uncomfortably in her seat.
"How long have I been out?" Kay asked.
"A few hours," Randi admitted. She reached down and picked up a purse, handing it to the younger woman. "I found this in your car, so I brought it inside. Im sorry I had to go through it to find your insurance card."
Kay smiled at her rescuer. "Thats okay, Randi." She held out her hand and waited for the other woman to take it. "I dont know how to thank you for what youve done for me."
The dark-haired woman blushed again. "Umm no problem, really. Id have never found you without your brothers help." She glanced around the room in a panic. "Oh, no! I forgot all about him! I dont know where he went "
"Wait!" Kay squeezed the larger hand and fought back tears. "My brother is dead, Randi. He was killed on Halloween five years ago by a hit-and-run driver." She struggled to keep from crying. "Theres no way he could have brought you to me." She closed her eyes and kissed the knuckles unthinkingly.
Randi felt the hair on the back of her neck stand up again, like it did when she had first arrived at the cemetery. "But " She glanced out the window and saw a young boy smiling back at her. He waved once, then faded off into the misty rain that had begun to fall. Shaken, Randi looked down onto the woman who was holding her hand and crying softly. "Itll be all right, Kay. Ill take good care of you," she promised, leaning forward and kissing the top of the blond head gently.
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