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Is Aleanna There?

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I'm writing this at the bus stop on the north end of Newton. I don't know where I'm going and I don't know why. My instincts told me to run. I'm going to try to explain everything in this notebook so people will understand what happened. I don't know what's going to happen to me. In the end, nothing good. But at least I can leave this for people to read. Maybe they'll understand.

My name is Magda Villapana and I was going to write my address and phone number but I'm never going back to one and threw the other away. I don't know where my next address will be so I can't write that either. Maybe this is pointless but I gotta write it. It's better than just sitting here worrying.

I went to bed like every other night. I woke up tossing and turning. I couldn't get comfortable. I got up when I woke up enough to notice the bed was grass.

I'd been sleep-walking again. I was afraid I'd have to see a shrink about it. Now I'd be happy if that was the biggest problem in my life.

I folded my arms around my chest because I was only wearing the bottom half of my pajamas. Not a good sleep-walking episode. At least this time I was still on campus. It didn't take me long to find out where. When I walked almost smack into a rusty metal sculpture I knew I was behind the Liberal Arts Center.

It was the dead of night and nobody was around. Clearly after the bars closed. I didn't see a soul until I was almost in my dorm. This college is so weird. People don't even stare when you walk home almost naked with grass and dandelion fuzz all over you.

Home. After staring at the mirror a while I laid down on the floor and tried to think until I felt normal. It seemed like a natural response somehow. My mind was so fuzzy. I felt sick in a strange way. At first I thought I was sick to my stomach but then I figured out it was just full. I wasn't just sleep-walking, I was sleep-binge-eating.

After a few minutes or a few hours the phone rang. It was my best friend Joan. I'll try and copy down our whole conversation.

"Is Aleanna there?" Joan asked. That's her roommate. Joan didn't sound very worried at first and I thought this was gonna be a normal conversation. Preferably a short one.

"No," I answered.

"Have you seen her tonight?"

"No. Why?"

"She hasn't come home yet. Nobody we know has seen her. Nobody I can think to call. Nobody who's answering their phone, at least."

"So Aleanna hasn't come home. That's no reason to wake everybody up."

It's getting hard to write. I look at the pen on paper and it looks like scribbles. Abstract art. I understand it when I focus for a moment. It looks strange. Like it can't be English. This is in my head. I hope it's not happening again.

Aleanna. Joan. We had a conversation. Joan told Magda what Aleanna told Joan and Magda told you what Joan told Magda and you are whoever finds this notebook.

I'm better now. I don't think it's happening.

"It's more than that," Joan said to me. This is the conversation. I am again writing about my conversation with Joan. "She called me up a while ago." She is Aleanna and Joan said this to Magda and Magda is me. "She was so scared," continued Joan.

"She's always scared. She's Aleanna."

"She thought she was being followed. Stalked. She was out by L.A.C. walking in between the forest and those crazy sculptures and she kept saying she saw something moving around. That was almost two hours ago and I haven't heard from her since. Nobody has."

I wasn't in the mood to deal with somebody else's problems so I downplayed them. I wasn't just being a bitch. I had grounds for skepticism. "Aleanna overreacts," I began. "This is the girl who went hysterical when a cicada skin fell off a tree and landed on her sweater. Literally went into hysterics and wouldn't stop screaming or listen to any of us for five minutes. Nobody's really stalking her."

This didn't dissuade Joan. "I'm scared," she said. "I know I shouldn't be. I know you're probably right. But she really got me scared. She totally lost it when she told me about the railroad tracks."

"What about the railroad tracks?" Joan didn't realize she left something out until I prompted her.

"I'm not sure I even got the story right. She wasn't talking or thinking real clear. In the second half of the conversation it was just screaming and gibberish with parts that made sense here and there. Then she cut out."

"What about the railroad tracks?" I asked again. Joan finally spilled the rest of the beans.

"She looked over and thought she saw movement behind the tracks." To fill you in, the railroad tracks that run through town are raised up four or five feet above the ground where they go across the dirt by the river. "She looked back and there was a head peeking out and she saw the eyes shine before it ducked back down. Isn't that creepy?"

"An animal or a person?" I asked.

"She didn't seem sure. First she said one than the other. She told me the eyes were like a pair of amber bike reflectors that blinked so... animal? Really neither, I'd say. Nothing outside her head. But I worry I'm wrong."

"And now I'm worrying. Thanks a lot."

"I know. I know. It's probably nothing. But I thought she could be at your place and I'd have peace of mind. Oh! I almost forgot. She never gave me her new number. She called the room phone so I still don't have it. Do you?"

"Hang on," I said. It was such a trivial sentence but I'll always remember it. The last thing I said to a familiar person. "Hang on," a pause, then 10 digits.

You'll never know the horror I felt when the phone rang inside me.

Written by Floyd Pinkerton (Lee Sherman)

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