Behind me Lyla gasped, I felt her fingers tighten on my arm and felt a shiver move between us. I turned to find her clutching her throat with her free hand, her eyes filling with tears. But when she opened her mouth to speak, no sound emerged.
The shadow girl laughed lightly with Lyla’s voice and again sang her chorus.
“Come on,” I said to Lyla. I wanted to get as far from here as possible and fast. I reached out and she put her hand in mine.
THURSDAY LATE MORNING - LYLA
Josh threw a rock over the edge of the cliff. It didn’t make a sound as it landed in the trees below us.
I tugged his sleeve so he’d look at me. “Hey.” My voice was this horrible raspy whisper. I hoped he could read lips. “What is this place?” It wasn’t what I should’ve been asking, but it was better than why is your hair so white?
“It’s the only place I know where they don’t come.” He pulled his hood over his head and drew his knees to his chest.
“They?” My skin prickled.
“Yeah. I know its nuts. But I see them everywhere, these shadows. Above the lockers, doorframes. One of them… It took your voice.” Another rock.
A shadow took my voice? Was he serious? No wonder Josh never talked to anyone. He was nuts.
“One of them chose you, and now—”
I shook my head. “Just, stop. Okay. I thought maybe you knew”—No real words came out and I sighed, not having a voice was really annoying— “Just never mind. I gotta go.” I stood, wrapped my arms around myself and turned away from him.
“No, Josh! Just leave me alone.” Storming off didn’t have the same effect when you could barely make a sound and it just pissed me off more.
It had to be him. The way he looked at me in English. Sneaking up behind me and slamming my locker shut, making me scream so hard I lost my voice. Josh was a freak, like everyone said. Maybe he’d see now that I wasn’t into this and he’d leave me alone.
I walked home not wanting to go back to school after I’d run off with the class introvert. My parents were both gone for the night and the house was quiet. I went straight to my bed and crawled under the covers.
I dreamed of those crazy green eyes and that pale, pale hair.
THURSDAY EVENING - JOSH
My guilt came back ten fold. All that day I kept hearing her scream over and over in my head. The fearful expression on her face when the Shadow Girl took her voice.
And the way her hand had felt in mine.
Some part of me had thought maybe Lyla was different and maybe I could trust her, but I was wrong. She was no different than any of the others, ignorant and shallow, but still she was in trouble. I knew I was the only person who could help her. If nothing else it would let me sleep at night.
I rounded the corner on her street and a big white house came in to view, the name Nue on the mailbox. The driveway was empty but I knew Lyla would be there. I just hoped I wasn’t too late.
I stepped onto the first slate stone that lead up to the front door when I heard her voice. Lyla’s voice. My back went rigid as cold, shadowy fingers brushed my ankles and swept up the walk. I ran to the door, pounding my fist against it as the shadows slipped underneath.
THURSDAY EVENING - LYLA
A buzzing sound pulled me out from my sleep. The doorbell, I thought, but when I crawled out of bed I realized it was coming from the bathroom. I peeked in the room. It couldn’t be, but it was. My cell buzzed from inside the toilet. Please be Drake. Even a pissed off Drake I would welcome. I looked down at the screen, wavy under water, but unmistakable.
Text from unknown 8:40 PM: I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU
I slid down against the wall, wrapping my arms around my knees. This wasn’t happening. The phone rang from inside the bowl. I wanted to just ignore it; I knew it had to be Josh. But I couldn’t just let it go. I mean, it shouldn’t be ringing. I snatched the phone out of the water and pressed the talk button.
“I only have eyes for you,” the caller said. The voice was familiar. It was mine.
A silent scream tore at my throat and tears poured down my cheeks. I smashed the phone into the tile floor over and over until it was in a million pieces scattered all around me.
It was totally nuts, but maybe creepy Josh was telling the truth. Something had stolen my voice and what if my voice wasn’t all it wanted? Now I sounded as crazy as he did.
Cold crept up my legs, like I’d stepped into a tub of ice water. I tried to brush my hands down my knees to take the chill away but it wouldn’t stop. It kept climbing. Stop, I thought. Stop! I grabbed the sink and pulled myself up. I caught a flash of green in the mirror.
The face looking back at me was like mine, the same nose and arched eyebrows, except her eyes were green and her pastel hair dripped with wet, inky shadows. The girl in the mirror smiled and I knew what she’d say before she said it.
“I only have eyes for you.”
THURSDAY EVENING - JOSH
I banged on the front door until the neighbor’s porch light came on. Probably just making myself more conspicuous, I pulled my hood over my head and crept around to the back. I was breaking all kinds of personal records today.
The back door was locked, but a window was open. It wouldn’t do me any good to call for Lyla, she couldn’t answer. I should’ve just gone home. I had no real reason to care about her. There was no reason why I couldn’t shake off the warm feeling of her hand in mine.
I climbed up to the window and fell inside. I listened for footsteps, anything, but the house was dead quiet. I made my way down a dark hallway to a door with light underneath. It was her bedroom, it had to be, but she wasn’t there. Her bed was covered with shadows. A trail of them led to another door, a bathroom I guessed.
“Lyla?” I braced myself for anything, pulled off my hood and pushed the door open.
A girl with Lyla’s face, I couldn’t mistake her elegant nose, stood starring at me. Her eyes were the same glassy taxidermy green as the locker-top girl’s. And her hair, as colorless as mine, dripped with shadows. She was Lyla, but she wasn’t. I reached for her hand, needing to feel it in mine to know if she was real.
She took my hand, lacing her fingers through mine just like Lyla had. She smiled at me, and in Lyla’s voice she said, “I only have eyes for you.”
Next week we're taking a break for our collective sanity, but we've prepared something new and exciting to share with you on December 27th! Okay. So, it might not be *new*, but it's colorful in more ways than one. Thank you all for reading! We <3 you.
Welcome to Tangled Fiction, where three YA writers collaborate to complete one story!
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday one TF writer will post a piece of the same story. Each of us will be responsible for one beginning, middle, and end in a single month. The fourth week will be full of surprises, we're sure, and we'll share them with you when we know what they are.