Lizzy Parsons, Pt 2/3: Face the Music

Back at the dorm room Lizzy shoved what clean clothes she had left into a duffel bag along with her mp3 player, headphones, and a book. She never knew what interactions to expect when she went back home. She hadn’t quite told her dad that she was agnostic, or that she’d been learning about Wicca, but he was a preacher. He just had a sort of sixth sense for these kind of things. On her last visit, he’d given her a gold cross necklace as a gift. She fished it out of her jewelry box and clasped it around her neck. Jenny’s BFF necklace caught her eye, so she grabbed it too and stuffed it in her pocket. She wasn’t sure why she’d grabbed it, but it just felt right.

She closed the duffel with a decisive zip and shouldered it, then hefted her laundry basket and headed out and down the old stairs to her car. The laundry and duffel just barely fit in her trunk, so she needed these bi-weekly trips back to podunk to keep the washing to a minimum.

Lizzy started the car and headed east towards her hometown of Harriet. Driving down the long stretch of highway alongside the river as the sunset pinked the sky was usually a peaceful experience, but Lizzy’s mind was troubled by the dream and the call. She thought about searching for the cave from her dream, but definitely didn’t want to be out there after dark.

Before long she was pulling into the driveway of a little 1950s prefab house, a relic from when the town of Harriet thought it might one day become a true suburb. Her teenage brother bounded out the door to greet her and even helped her carry in the laundry. Her dad watched quietly and held the door as they came inside. She stood, duffel over one shoulder, staring awkwardly at her dad, not knowing quite what to say. He eyed the cross necklace then broke into a grin.

“Good to see you, Lizzy,” he said before pulling her into a hug. She hugged him back firmly and said, “Good to see you, too.”

Her brother Johnny stood a few feet away smirking and just barely suppressing laughter. Lizzy glared at him but that only increased his mirth. Finally her dad released his embrace and asked what she wanted for dinner. She knew her dad wasn’t much of a cook, and since her mom passed away it was mostly tv dinners for him.

“Let’s walk down to Harper’s tonight,” she said. “I’d like to see Tizzy if she’s working tonight, and we can ease you into ‘real food’ before I cook tomorrow.”

“You don’t have to cook for me, besides I don’t have any groceries.”

“Well then, let’s stop at Quigley’s too. It’s the least I can do and I can’t have you forgetting what a real vegetable looks like.”

He averted his eyes before replying, “Alright I guess you talked me into it.”

Lizzy shuffled a bit and gave a quick ‘be right back’ before stashing her bag in her room. She found a light jacket still in her closet and put it on, both astonished and grateful that it still fit. She stepped out of the room to rejoin her family, but practically ran into her brother Johnny.

“Don’t worry, I won’t tell dad,” he whispered. She nodded and they walked down the hall back to the living room. The trio headed out and walked down the sleepy sidewalks as the sun slowly set behind the river, leaving them in dusky light lit faintly by streetlights.

Dinner at Harper’s was greasy as ever, but that’s what they liked about it. It was a small family diner, run by Tizzy’s uncle Paul. Unfortunately Tizzy had the night off, so Paul’s ex Janice was filling in. Lizzy had hoped to get a chance to talk to Tizzy about the dream, since she’d known Jenny too, but that would have to wait.

After dinner they hit up Quigley’s, the local grocery store, for ingredients for spaghetti, pancakes and sausage, and premium BLTs. Johnny joked that she must be getting old since she was too big for cereal, but she knew he appreciated having hot breakfasts on the weekend as much as she did.

The evening was quiet and uneventful but there was a peace to it that Lizzy loved. She hoped it would stay this way, but still didn’t know how she could ever face her dad if he really knew her. For the night, she kept those thoughts to herself. The bright moon overhead shone comforting rays down on her. For the moment, she forgot about the unsettling events of the past day and allowed herself to enjoy the company of her family.

The next morning, Lizzy was up early to make the pancakes and coffee, a new vice for her since going off to college. The little family ate happily while dad read the paper, and Lizzy and Johnny watched cartoons. Later in the afternoon, Mr. Parsons started reviewing his sermon for the next day. Johnny took this opportunity to ask his sister to take a walk through the woods and she agreed. She told him about the weird dream she’d had, followed by the call. Johnny thought it was nonsense, but insisted that they should go check out the cave to put her mind at ease.

They wandered through the woods for a bit before coming to the creek. Lizzy hadn’t been back to the creek since that day; she’d never had the courage to face it alone. All her childhood fears and guilt came rushing back and she burst into tears. Johnny pulled her into a hug and let her cry it out. Jenny didn’t come back.

With Johnny’s encouragement she found her strength and was able to carry on to the cave. When they reached the mouth of the cave, Lizzy stared blankly into the darkness, wondering if they would have ever found Jenny if she had been here. Just then, a cold breeze seemed to come from the cave and she shivered.

“It’s really dark,” she said. “Maybe we should come back with a flashlight.”

Johnny didn’t respond. She looked around and realized he was missing.

“Johnny? Johnny!” she called, but still he didn’t answer. She felt dizzy, and sick to her stomach. She grabbed ahold of a tree to steady herself. Just then, a figure appeared behind her, and leaned in close to her.

“Liiizzzyy…” the voice whispered, “I’m going to get you!”

Lizzy shrieked and turned to face her assailant. She reactively shoved the figure away from her, toppling it in an instant. The figure doubled up on itself in the grass and leaves, howling with laughter.

“Dammit, Johnny! Why would you scare me like that?”

“It… was… funny…” he choked out between laughs.

Lizzy put her hand out to help him up and Johnny accepted, but Lizzy jerked him up by the arm so fast he nearly toppled over again. She muttered a ‘let’s go’ and dragged him away towards home.

Lizzy Parsons, Pt 1/3: The Caller’s Cues

Lizzy’s Diary
April 30th, 2004

Last night I had the strangest dream. I was standing by the old creek with my friend Jenny. We were walking along logs and skipping stones, just like we were that hot summer day years ago… I was there in my 6 year old body, and she hadn’t aged a bit either. Then I was in my body now, and there she was looking older too but that would be impossible. Because Jenny drowned in the creek that day.

Still, in my dream, there she was all of 19 years old, giggling and splashing in the water at the bank. Then she climbed on a slippery log and beckoned me to follow. I begged her not to go but she wouldn’t listen. She just danced playfully atop the log, calling, “Liiizzzzyyy…” to me in a teasing voice. She started to slip and I grasped for her but the farther I reached, the farther away she became until she slipped beneath the water’s surface. I sobbed violently, knowing that it had happened again as impossible as that should be. Then slowly she floated back to the surface, her hair soaking wet but floating around her, bits of algae caught in it. She stood up in the water, now only waist high on her older body, and laughed.

“Come on, Lizzy,” she said. “What are you waiting for?”

Hesitantly I followed her across the creek to a hidden cave. I’d seen it before as a kid, but never ventured inside–today, I followed her all the way in. A small fire cast the only light against the cold walls of the cave. A brief moment of panic washed over me as I thought we must have missed her that day, she never died, she just wasn’t found and somehow she’s been in this cave the whole time! But, then I realized I was dreaming.

They say that if you know you’re dreaming you can control your dream, but I guess that’s not the case with me because what happened next is the weirdest bit of all. Right before my eyes, this new 19 year old Jenny changed back into a 6 year old child, her bright yellow dress a stark contrast to her blue and bloated skin. Her smile grew thin and wicked like a twisted vine.

In a singsong voice she taunted me, “Liiiiizzzyyyy… Why didn’t you save me Lizzy?”

I couldn’t respond. I just stood there, frozen on the spot.

“She took me, Lizzy. Why did you let her take me? Why didn’t you save me?”

I shook my head. This wasn’t right. Sure I felt guilty but there was nothing I could do.

“We can’t be friends anymore, Lizzy,” she said. She raised her hands to her neck and carefully pulled her necklace over her head. She dangled it in front of me, like a piece of particularly disgusting trash. The little gold heart with a red gem centered in the middle flashed cheerfully at me in stark contrast to the overall mood. She walked slowly over to me and I found myself sticking out a hand. Jenny laid the necklace in my palm.

“Leave now,” she said with disgust plain in her voice. “But come back tomorrow, then you can see her. You can see what she did to me.”

She cracked a forced smile again and giggled in the most unsettling way. I closed my eyes and shuddered with cold and fright. When I opened my eyes, Jenny was gone, the fire burned down to mere embers.

When I woke up, I fished around in my jewelry box until I found the little necklace with it’s tiny red heart. On the back was scrawled “BFF”. I gave it to her at her 6th birthday party, a testament to our undying friendship. When they finally fished her body from the creek, she was still wearing it. Her mother asked me if I wanted to keep the necklace, and I had agreed. It’s the only thing I have left of her.

I don’t know why I dreamt of that last night. It was July when the creek took her, not April. And in truth, I haven’t thought about her much these last few years. Maybe that’s why I felt so guilty. I’ve been through all the therapy and I know it wasn’t my fault. But part of me wishes I’d been just a little more responsible, or stronger, or faster. Maybe then she would have lived.

Lizzy shuffled into her clothes and got ready to face the day. First up were core classes, then on to her shift at the campus radio station. Soon the vividness of the nightmare faded and she had moved on with life as usual. At the station, she was something more than herself. Her radio name was “Dizzy Lizzy” and she had adoring fans. Well, maybe she would have if it weren’t just college radio. Sure, plenty of up-and-coming bands got their start on the campus radio scene, but Bonneville U just wasn’t the kind of hip required for that. Besides, Lizzy’s show was more about the classics. All the cool, new indie stuff went to Ginger, their resident indie fanatic and a senior.

Lizzy let out a quick sigh, donned her headset, then dutifully pushed the button on her intro music.

“Hello, hello! It’s Dizzy Lizzy here, spinning your favorite tunes from the 60s and 70s. Hope you’re having a GROOVY afternoon, and as always, don’t forget to call into 2-GROOVY with your requests. That’s 247-6689.”

Lizzy hit play on the queue, bombarding the campus ears with Elvis, The Beatles, Dylan, and Herman’s Hermits. The day went on much the same until late in her shift, during the last round of calls.

“Liiizzzyy…” came the voice on the other end. Lizzy shivered, suddenly remembering last night’s dream.

“It’s me, Jenny,” said the voice, “Don’t you remember me?”

Finally, Lizzy found her nerve and replied, “Wow, caller, you had me for a second. Who is this? You should come in for Mike’s pranks segment one morning.”

“NO!!!” shouted the voice on the other end, becoming more insistent. “SHE HURT ME LIZZY. NOW SHE NEEDS MORE,” Jenny continued. “Will you let her hurt the other girls too?”

Before she could respond, the call ended abruptly. Ginger had just arrived for her shift but caught the tail end of the call. She jumped in with a laugh, saying prank calls were the worst before helping Lizzy with her outro. Lizzy appreciated the effort but was still pretty shaken by the whole thing. She waited for Ginger to finish her intro, then told her about the dream. Ginger insisted that it was just a sick joke and smiled at her. For a moment, Lizzy was lost in her warmth. When she realized she’d been staring she blushed and quickly looked away, just missing Ginger’s knowing smile in return.

“Go home, get some rest,” Ginger said. Lizzy nodded, grabbed her bag and headed out the door.

Lawrence Manufacturing Plant Burns Down in Massive Blaze

by Jeanette Goodman October 20th, 1995

A fire broke out at Lawrence Manufacturing late Wednesday evening, according to police reports. Firefighters spent 20 hours fighting the blaze, but by all appearances the building has been lost completely leaving only the brick walls behind. This leaves plant workers facing an uncertain future. Lawrence Manufacturing employed over 500 people, many who are residents of Lawrence and surrounding rural areas.

We spoke with James Lawrence, owner of the factory, to find what next steps the company is taking to recover. Lawrence stated that they are filing insurance claims now and will have a response after an investigation into the cause of the blaze and extent of the damage has been completed. Employees have been informed to stay home with a promise of at least 2 weeks paid compensation, but no one knows when they will receive the payout. Many workers are already turning to the unemployment office and other government programs to make ends meet.

UPDATE November 15th, 1995 – Extensive investigations by the insurance company and an independent firm hired by Lawrence Company have revealed that the fire which took down the Lawrence Manufacturing plant was indeed accidental. They also found that the building was not up to code and faulty wiring contributed to the fire, limiting the insurance company’s liability. A nominal payout has been issued to the Lawrence Company but according to James Lawrence, “It’s just not enough. We won’t be able to rebuild [the plant].” They are using the insurance payout to give the promised 2 weeks to former employees, but some have already moved on to new jobs. Many, however, have been left devastated by the catastrophe. The plant’s closing affected up to 1% of the Lawrence County population. This may seem like a small number, but it’s enough to cause a strain on already high unemployment rates in the Lawrence area. Lawrence County consists mostly of suburban and rural areas, with many rural residents seeking employment at the plant.

Anyone affected by the Lawrence Manufacturing fire should seek assistance through the Lawrence County Unemployment Office.

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