Her footsteps mimic the pattern created by my own. The sidewalk stretches across the downtown district, separated from itself only by streets and the occasional alleyway. We pass by a man on a bench, his body surrounded by a heavy coat. His head, drooped down, makes no movement. He remains unaware of the strangers invading his temporary sleeping space. Lauren walks faster and sets her pace to match mine. The task given to her was to follow my lead but she refuses to allow herself to have only little control over the situation.
“Where are we going?”
At the corner of the block, I pause to search the road for oncoming vehicles. The morning is still early- workers and tourists have yet to bathe the streets and walks with activity. I cross under an orange flashing hand. The crosswalk leads to a small park. The gazebo at the center shines under the lights decorating it.
I lead to the gazebo, slowly stepping to the top. The wooden planks groan. The memory begins to return. Her ghost stands across from me, her gaze piercing my skin. A chill runs through me.
I think of cupcakes.
Chelsea wants to make panda cupcakes. Add Oreos to the grocery list.
“No one here. Let’s hope your next idea produces better results.”
Right- stick to the objective.
I look to Lauren as she points at my feet. Between them a scrap of paper juts out from the wood. I kneel to take it in my hand and carefully pull it from its entrapment. The handwriting is familiar.
She knew we would come here. Our search has now become a scavenger hunt.
“What’s it say?”