The Echo of My Name: Part One

I stared out my window as the rain trickled down. I’ve always loved the rain. Something about it seemed so liberating. To me, it signified trying to change for the better—washing away all the bad and trying again. It was times like these when I would get lost in my thoughts and just stare. Times like this. I turned towards the clock on my nightstand. I sighed as the big little hand moved to the six.

“Nora!” My mother called out. Right on time, I thought to myself as I slowly pushed off the bed. I stopped by the mirror hanging on my wall before I exited my room. In the orange lighting of the sunset, all of my flaws seem to appear before me. I attempted smoothing out my hair, eventually giving up. I walked out of my room, heading down the hallway until I approached the kitchen.

“Yes?” I said in a soft voice, knowing my dad was asleep in the next room. It’s his routine. Everyone in this house had a routine.

“Be a doll and check my voicemails while I finish up the food. Thanks, dear.” She said while sprinkling parmesan cheese on top of lasagna. I walked towards the phone and pressed the red button.

“Four new messages.” It spoke aloud in its monotonous voice. I sat down on the couch as I waited for it to play the messages. I don’t know why I needed to be present since my mother could very well hear what it was saying for herself. She used to ask me to do this as she took care of

“Hey Rebecca, this is Natalie,” a voice broke me out of my thoughts, “I just wanted to remind you of the baby shower next week! Obviously, you know you don’t have to come if it’s too hard, but I really think it’s a good chance to start socializing again. Even if you don’t come, we can all still meet up after, right? Just think about it hun, we all miss you. Bye.” The recording ended. I heard my mother roughly shut the oven door as she put the lasagna in. The next recording started. I looked over towards the kitchen as a bill collector’s message started. She was holding onto the kitchen counter, looking down with a clouded look in her eyes. She’s been this way for a while now. Busying herself with constant chores to keep the sadness from drowning her and then slowly sinking under when there’s nothing left to do.

“Message 4,” the device said. How long had I been looking at her?
“Hey…”  an unfamiliar voice rang out “Hey, um, it’s Tyler.” My mother looked towards the phone with a surprising quickness. Usually when she went under like that, it took awhile for her to come back to. “Listen, I know this is kind of suddenand I don’t want to add a burden to you or Joe’s...well, listen. My son and I are coming back to town tomorrow for Eve’s anniversary. But for a little while I’ve got to meet up with some guys, so I was wondering if your daughter would be willing to keep him busy for a little while? From around… 5 to 8? I know this is sudden, but I’m asking you ‘cause I really think Nor’ would be of good company to Leo. Call me back if she ca-” The recording stopped before he could finish his sentence. I slowly got up, prepared to walk back to my room.

“Nora?” I turned around, knowing what she was about to say: Why don’t you go wake your father up? Dinner is done. “Be prepared by 4:30 tomorrow.” She said before putting mittens on and taking the food out of the oven. Well, that was unexpected.

“What about dad?” I questioned. She gave me an oblivious look and then furrowed her eyebrows.

“What about him?” She replied. I stayed silent for a moment before shaking my head and going back to my room.


The first thing I noticed was the taste in my mouth. I need to brush my teeth, I thought as I groggily rolled around. The next was the smell. Cigarettes? I sniffed audibly as I tried deciphering the sent. No one in the house smokes, let alone would they come in my room to do it. I quickly opened my eyes, concluding the only other option must be that the house is burning down. But that wasn’t the case at all, and I jumped slightly and let out a short squeal as my eyes landed on a male figure in my room.

“Oh, you’re up!” The guy started with a slight grin on his face. “I was beginning to think you were gonna be out of it for a little bit, so I was about to cozy up and read a book.” He said nonchalantly as he sat on the edge of my bed. I had so many questions.

“Wh-who are you?” I slightly stutterd. Yeah, that seemed like a good one to start off with. He seemed to be about my age, wearing ripped jeans and a leather jacket covering a basic T-shirt. He kind of reminded me of a koala for some reason. I was trying to figure out why when he answered.

“Leo. Pleasure to meet you, as you surely are to meet me.” He gave a small, sarcastic bow while I pulled my blanket further up to over myself.

“That doesn’t really tell me much.” I pushed.

“No, I suppose it doesn’t. Okay, well…” He stood up, pacing momentarily as if contemplating something. “I’m trying to think of a good enough way to introduce myself. A god among men? The reincarnation of Adonis? Your dream come true?” He winked and looked over his shoulder at me dramatically at the last part. I rolled my eyes slightly. “But I suppose another way you could think of me is as your problem for the day.”

I took a moment to try and understand what he was saying. I need coffee. Suddenly, I remembered something.

“You’re Tyler’s son.” It wasn’t a questionthat’s the only slightly realistic reason a random guy would be in my room at… I looked at my clock on my bedside table. 5:26?!?!

I quickly jumped out of bed, temporarily forgetting the young and slightly intriguing man in my room as I opened my bedroom door.

“Mom!?” No response. Of course not, she goes to work at 3. “How did you get in?” I turned back towards Leo, who was skimming through my bookshelf. He wouldn’t find anything of interest unless he liked ethnographies about Islamic women in rural Iraq during the 20th century.

“Your mom told my dad to tell me that the door is open… or at least that’s what’s being heard through the grapevine. Who knows, I could’ve just broken in after you didn’t answer the door after the fourth time I knocked.” He paused and looked at me before breaking out into a smile. “Just kidding. The door was unlockedwhich, if I may add, is probably not a good idea. I mean, if I were to break in, at least the doors being locked would’ve caused me to need to break the windows or something, causing noise which would then get your attention and give you a chance to call the police. With the door unlocked, I could just walk right in.” His eyes slightly narrowed as he thoughtfully contemplated the scenarios.

“You’re kind of strange.”

“I’m also kind of bored. So, what’s the plan today?” He had a lighter tone now. In all honesty, I didn’t have a plan. The plan was to wake up around 12 PM to give myself time to think of a plan. I quickly thought of what we could possibly do.

“Umm… we’re going to the library.” Not exactly the embodiment of fun, I know. But he seems very hyper. We need a setting where he can keep calm and busy until it’s time for him to leave.

“Nice try. How about we go to a movie? I hear 50 Shades Freed is playing.” He gave a wink.

“How about you stop being difficult and just give me a break?” I see what kind of guy he is. Full of himself, power hungryalways needs to decide everything… just like my dad.

“Whoa! Where did that come from?” He said in an amused tone, a slight smirk playing on his lips. I stared at him for a while. Something about his expression caused me to just stop and stare.

“Stop that.” I blurted out. His smile slowly fell and a confused look appeared.

“Stop what?”


“What ‘that’...?”

“With your...eyes, and..mouth and...just stop?” I was stammering and I could feel my hands go clammy. He was clearly amused now, no more confusion in his eyes. Since he seems so sure of the situation, I wish he would enlighten me, because I had no idea what was happening to me.

“I wasn’t doing anything!” He claimed with a slight laugh.

“Okay, well..good. Don’t do anything. I know what kind of guy you are.” I was making zero sense at this point. I just wanted to change the topic and convince him to go to the library.

“Oh? And what kind of guy is that?” The kind that goes into someone else’s house and goes into their room uninvited. The kind that refuses to go to the library. The kind that can make you forget your own name by simply looking at you. Wait, not that last part.

“The kind that is manipulative.” I settled for that instead. He lifted one eyebrow and laid down on the bed with his arms behind his head. He kept strong eye contact with me.

“What makes you say that? If anything, I’d say I’ve been completely honest and true with you. You’ve known me for…” He drags off as he looks at his imaginary watch on his wrist,  “10 minutes and you’ve seemed to uncover everything about me. Tell me, what’s my life story? I’m intriguedtruly.” It took me a minute to realize he was actually asking and waiting for a response. Not wanting to give him the satisfaction of me backing down from a challenge, I gave him a quick once-over.

“You’re 18.” I guessed. He sarcastically scoffed and shook his head like a surprised dog. It was a cute image and I almost let out a laugh. Almost.

“How could you tell?” He said, still keeping up his act. I rolled my eyes.

“Well, based off the fact that you’re wearing a leather jacket in the middle of the summer, I can tell you’re the type to always try and look cooleven if it makes no sense.” He probably wears sunglasses inside, too. He gave a breathy laugh then moved his hands to his lap and interlinked them.

“What else?” He gave me a nod, telling me to continue. This was a challenge. I took my time looking over him. I noticed something. Bingo.

“Your dad’s a soldier.” He had dog tags around his neck. I may have made this assumption too hectically since dog tags are some sort of trend and can be bought without actually having anything to do with soldiers.

His expression changed. It was brief, but I noticed despite his efforts to hide it.

“Wow, Nor’... I don’t think I’ve ever been pissed off so fast. Surely this is a new record.” He tried to use a joking tone, but it came off as anything but. If anything, it sounded threatening. Having this thought fill up my mind, I became instantly angered. How dare he randomly appear out of nowhere and completely impinge on my routine, and then have the nerve to get made at me! And how dare he use...

I tried to get the last thought to leave my mind before it progressed even further, into something I couldn't control. Despite all of the thoughts running through my head I couldn’t manage to say anything. Frustrated, I ran out my bedroom door and headed towards the kitchen. It was a rather gloomy day for summeragain. I stopped momentarily to gaze out the window and look at the tiny rain droplets that began to pitter-pat against the glass. I knew exactly where to go, and he wasn't going with me. I looked for my car keys in a rush, wanting to get out of the house as soon as possible. I heard the heavy pound of his footsteps as he came down the stairs but chose to completely ignore his presence. I continued putting all of my focus on finding those keys. Where are they?

I was becoming increasingly aware of him closing in on me. Trying to disregard any acknowledgment of him, I turned around to look in the drawer behind me. I began rummaging through the old receipts and napkins inside. What am I doing? I know the keys aren’t in here. I haven’t opened this drawer in 5 years. Realizing I was just deluding myself, I turned back around. It caught me by surprise to see him less than a foot away from me, though I didn’t jump like the first time. Maybe he was starting to grow on me. I didn’t like that.

We stared into each other's eyes for a little while trying to figure out what the other was going to do next. He began digging in his pocket for something. Following the sound of dangling, he pulled out from his pocket my keys.

“I figured I’d might as well bring them to you.” He said in a steady yet careful voice.

“Ever heard of not touching someone’s things?” I tried to snatch my keys back quickly, but his hold was stronger than I anticipated, and I ended up slightly closer to him from the force.

I pulled harder on the keys, finally getting them out of his grasp. I walked to the front door, grabbing my jacket from the stair railing on the way. I opened the door but paused before going all the way out. I slightly turned my head towards him with my body still facing outside.

“...Don’t call me that.” I softly said. I almost thought he hadn’t heard me due to his prolonged silence. I sighed, trying to keep the memories from coming back. This is why I needed my routinewhy we all needed a routine. Without one, it’s easy to fall back into my recollection of what I’d been trying so hard to forget. I tightly closed my eyes, trying to force the memories to disappear. It was no use. In the back of my head, I could clearly hear his voice calling for me.

Nor...don’t call me that.” Without waiting to hear a response I closed the door. Was it  a good idea to leave a more or less stranger in my home with all of our valuables? At the moment, I didn’t care. There was only one place I wanted to be.

By Alana James

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