Petals of the Rose
Time To Go
Polly and Shade managed to catch the license plate number and rush to the car to try to follow. Ignoring speed limits and running a light, they cruised up Burnside, one of the major arterial roads of Portland and looked out desperately to try to catch sight of the car on a cross street.
Shade shouted “That’s the one!” Peeling rubber and squealing around the corner, Polly managed to settle in to follow them. Heart racing, Shade quipped “Don’t ever do that again! Now drive faster!”
Several tense minutes later, they were parked on a side street very close to Porsche’s home. They had seen her go in, but they were in a quandary about what to do now. Shade wanted to wait and watch, but Polly fretted that there could be a Fetch in there and Porsche could be in grave danger.
Somehow, the discussion became an argument about Pollock’s driving tactics. “But it was red. I like red cars, they just go faster than other cars. You don’t know anything.” She turned on the radio and ignored Shade for a bit, glaring at the house and trying to decide what to do.
Shade furrowed his brow and settled into watching too. He did his best to filter out Polly’s nervous fidgeting next to him, but he was a perfect gargoyle, sitting motionless and patient.
“Oh, do something! Here, I have an iPad. Do that thing you do. Find out who lives here.”
“We’ll talk about where you got this later.” Shade looked over the unfamiliar computer, but quickly made sense of it once he got to a web browser. He looked up the address, cross-referenced it and came up with some useful information. The home was that of D.W. Worthington and A. M. Worthington. The older woman they saw getting out looked a good deal like Porsche, so it wasn’t a stretch to assume this was her family’s house and that would make the woman her mom.
They found a Facebook page for Porsche Worthington, with about eight months of activity. After the first two months, the amount of activity went up, including inane status updates about visits to the Cheesecake Factory (OMG!) and replete with blurry pictures of her showing off her ass in various outfits in the mirror and mugging for the camera with slutty looking friends.
Pollock took the iPad from Shade and sent a friend request. Minutes later, a message came in saying “UM DO I NO U?”
Looking over the recent activity of the profile, Polly smirked and replied “Ya, we met at the Lady Gaga concert. Sry it took so long to find U.”
“OMG, SRY. MUST HAVE SPACED IT. HOW R U?”
“No worries, been a weird month. Where are you?”
“SCHOOL. :( ”
“Let me know when you are out, k?” She put the iPad away in its bag and handed it to Shade.
Throwing caution to the wind, Pollock got out of the car and walked up to the house. She smoothed her clothes and made a plea to Vainglory. She needed to impress Porsche’s mom, and now she was armed with all sorts of information about Porsche’s Fetch.
The doorbell chimed in an extended clip from a classical piece. A moment later, the door opens and the same woman they saw earlier answered the door. “Can I help you?” She peeked around Pollock and squinted, like she was suspicious of anything outside her own home.
“Mrs. Worthington?” Polly felt Vainglory deny her request and fretted for a moment as the magic refused to come to her. “I’m Polly Smirkel from your daughter’s high school, one of the student councilors, and I was wondering if your daughter is here right now?”
Surprisingly, the woman, Porsche’s mother, relaxed her shoulders and said “This must be about her missing school today. She’s upstairs now. I haven’t even found out what she was doing this morning, but why don’t you come in.”
Polly entered the house, sparing a glance over her shoulder to give Shade a conspiratorial smirk. Andrea continued as they entered the foyer and she closed the door. “I’m so sorry about all this. This is so unlike her. Ever since this last Spring, she’s been so disconnected."
“It’s okay Mrs. Worthington, I deal with cases like this all the time.”
“Is this serious?”
“I’m not convinced that it’s past the point of no return. She seems like a good kid. She just needs a little nudge back on track. I don’t want to intrude, but would it be alright if I go have a chat with her for a bit?”
Andrea acquiesced, gesturing to the stairs and then led Pollock up to just outside her daughter’s room.
“Maybe it’s best if I talk to her alone.”
“Are you sure? I know she’s been volatile.”
“Trust me. And I’m sure you’ve handled it well up to now. You seem to be such a good mother.” The compliment, accompanied by a big smile, seemed to soothe Andrea’s nerves, and she smiled wanly.
From inside the room Polly could hear the noises of paper and objects being handled roughly, and an occasional incredulous grunt or shrill screech. Andrea knocked softly. A voice from inside said “What?” impatiently.
“Honey, there’s a lady here from the school district, and she’d like to speak with you. She’s going to come in now.” Andrea waved her hand to beckon Polly forward, and then retreated to the stairwell nearby, where she peeked around the corner. Polly gave one more winning smile and then turned the handle, letting herself into the room.
“Porsche?” Polly pulled the door almost closed behind herself.
The look that crossed Porsche’s smooth white face said a great deal. A wave of remembrance, pain, and relief passed across her visage. Quickly she sprang to her feet and rushed to hug her temporarily forgotten friend. “Oh, my god, I’m so glad to see you!”
When the hug ended, Polly put her hand on Porsche’s shoulder and turned to peek back out the door. Andrea was at the top of the stairs, facing downward, but vacillating about whether to actually go, so Polly pulled the door completely closed.
Pitching her voice low, Polly asked “What are you doing here?”
“I came home. What are you doing here?”
“Extracting your ass from a very bad situation. Sweetie, didn’t they tell you anything at the Shelter? If your fetch comes home and finds you, you could be dead by nightfall.”
“What do you mean?”
“When they take you, they leave something in your place to live your life for you. It’s called a fetch.”
“Something, as in someone?”
“That explains the taste in this room,” Porsche said with a bemused smirk.
“Do you have any idea what’s going on?”
“Apparently not as much as I thought.”
“Oh, sweetie!” Polly threw her arms around Porsche again in a tight embrace. Her friend was unsurprisingly chilled to the touch. Where they contacted, Porsche’s icy coating spread frost onto Pollock’s canvas skin.
When the embrace ended, Porsche looked up into Polly’s polychromatic eyes. “So what should we do?”
“We need to go. You can’t stay here.”
“This is my house.”
“Not right now it’s not. There is another girl living your life and we need to be gone before she gets home from school.”
“Well she’s doing it terribly!”
Polly flinched and grimaced, indicating with her finger that Porche should shush. Reducing her voice to a stage whisper, Polly continued. “Right now, everyone thinks that she’s you.”
Porsche joined her in the conspiratorial whisper. “But she’s not me.”
“But they don’t know that.”
“I would never have taste this terrible. I would never hang out with that guy,” she pointed to the homecoming photo with Robbie LeClerk.
“Sweetie, I know that, you know that, but your family doesn’t know that. And that girl,” Polly said, pointing to the same photo, “is pretending to be you. Maybe she even thinks she is you. But she is dangerous. Trust me, I know you wanted to return to a safe, comfortable place, but right now it isn’t here.”
“So where can I go?”
“I have a place you can stay. Shade is out in the car. Get what you need. We can take you somewhere safer.”
After a moment, Porsche nodded, and went across the room to a trash bag she had been stuffing full. “Can you carry this?”
“What’s in there?”
“Hold on.” Porsche grabbed a duffel bag from the closet and started throwing select clothing and other items into it. A lot of what she grabbed was from the back of the closet or the highest shelves. She paused when she got to a cheerleading outfit, and looked it over lovingly. She stuffed it into the duffel bag, slung it over her shoulder, and held the other bag up for Polly to carry. “Okay, let’s go.”
“What is this?”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“Okay… Oh! Before we go, you should know that your mom thinks I am a councilor from your school.”
Porsche giggled. “Okay?”
“It was the only way I could get in.”
“Okay, okay. I don’t remember my councilors being hot pink.”
Polly took note of her hair, which was indeed hot pink. Looking at it, it settled down to a medium pumpkin shade of orange. She shrugged.
When they came downstairs, Andrea wore a very puzzled expression. Polly was lost for something to say, and Porsche simply called “I’m going out!” as they got to the door. She knew her mom well enough to know that her directness would allow her to breeze past.
Andrea went to the door as they walked out toward the car. “Where are you going?”
“Oh, oh! Okay. Do you need lunch?”
Polly stopped and smiled warmly. “Don’t worry, Mrs. Worthington, I’ll make sure she’s taken care of.”
“Alright, well I’m glad you’re going in, honey.”
They got to the end of the driveway. Porsche stopped, taking the bag from Pollock. She hoisted it into the garbage can with a self-satisfied grin and then dusted her hands at a job well done. It felt good to dispose of the worst sins of fashion and taste her fetch indulged in. The revenge was small but highly satisfying.
Together, they went down to the waiting car, where Shade leaned down to look out the passenger window. “Porsche. Are you okay?”
“Shade! Hi! Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Better than I was when I first got back. Get in. We shouldn’t linger.” The girls piled into the car and Shade drove off. When they got to a red light, Porsche noted that Polly’s hair was rapidly switching between lemon yellow and lime green. Shade said, “We should find somewhere to stop and talk.”
Polly said, “I could use a cup of coffee, like five hours ago.” She thought for a moment, then announced, “I need Moroccan food. And they serve black coffee. Take the next left.”