Cricket Magazine

The Traveler Part 1

Jamie wandered aimlessly, kicking a broken chunk of sidewalk, following the chip of cement as it skittered and bounced through leaves and off curbs. In a trance, she walked down unknown blocks and around unfamiliar corners, her mind so far away that she didn’t sense the falling night until the chill air pinched her nose and a gust of wind lifted her out of her meandering thoughts.

She found herself in a spooky, rundown neighborhood. Above her a yellow streetlight stained the gathering dusk. She could barely make out the words on the bent sign. Vine Street. She had never heard of it.

Shadows buried the intersecting streets in darkness. Which way was back? Defeated, she plopped down on her backpack. Thunder rumbled in the distance.

The glowing numbers on her watch flashed, as if laughing at her. It was dinnertime at home. Five-thirty sharp, so her stepdad wouldn’t miss his favorite news show. Today was Friday, which meant greasy meat loaf with out-of-the-box mashed potatoes and green Jell-O with canned pears.

She actually wished she were there, or, rather, her stomach did. It felt like wadded-up paper. All she’d had for lunch was pop and a bag of potato chips.

Something swiped across her ankle. She jerked back and looked down to see a pure white Persian cat sitting at her feet. It sat so still it could have been a statue.

“Go home,” she said. It didn’t move. “Go home!” she repeated, leaning toward it.

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