Grasping at Straws

Yellow Pages 
#1
As soon as the police department had gotten her report and went through all the paperwork, they’d dropped her off at her car. Exhausted, she’d made her way back to her apartment in Crestview. Locking the door and then triple checking every door and window lock in the place. She’d then proceeded to turn every single light on before a sob escaped. A hand came up to her mouth as Natalie made her way to the shower, trembling and holding it in all through getting clean, before getting into the comfiest sleepware she could find.

It was when she was stuck in her room, under the covers completely above her head, that she cried her heart out. She’d been so naive and stupid. The events of the night kept flashing in her mind and it was only 4am. Natalie hugged her legs as close as she could to her chest as her body would allow.

So stupid.

Somehow, she’d passed out and lost two hours. When her eyes gazed out of the blankets, it was 6am. Her phone lit up with a notification and she lazily picked it up. Nothing, but an email.

She burrowed back into her blanket nest, phone in hand, as she clicked on the first contact she could think of. @Amber Bray. The first one that she knew wouldn’t patronize her. It was too early to call on a Saturday and so her finger hovered over the keyboard for a few moments. She wasn’t sure what to say.

Hey
Sweetie9_symbol_heart_red

When you wake up please text back
Sweetie9_symbol_heart_red

Natalie remembered they were supposed to go to the library today. No, that wasn’t going to happen. She had no intention of leaving her home today and the school would be lucky to even see her Monday.

I had a horrible night, we need to reschedule
Sweetie9_symbol_heart_red

I’m sorry :(
Sweetie9_symbol_heart_red

Why was she sorry? It wasn’t her fault! Anger coursed through her out of nowhere and she wanted to chuck her phone just because it was there. Instead, she hugged herself, a moment of calm. Out of nowhere her legs surged forward, kicking at everything, pillows vaulting to the floor as she yelled out in frustration. Taking a few deep breaths Natalie tried to calm down, but that dipped her back to where she was before she’d fallen asleep.

It’s kind of a long story.
Sweetie9_symbol_heart_red

Her gaze went to her wrapped fingers and the teeth that’d caused them. Amber wasn’t a vampire, she’d hung out with her in the sunlight, but maybe this. She’d seen the picture of the jaguar and Amber had seemed excited to have caught it on camera. That could merely be because it was the one jaguar in the area though.

Be honest with me?
Sweetie9_symbol_heart_red

I won’t tell, but I need you to be honest
Sweetie9_symbol_heart_red

God, she sounded insane. How would she even phrase asking if Amber was a shifter without seeming accusing to someone she was just starting to know.

Never mind, just ignore me, I’m kind of frazzled. Just take that back.
Sweetie9_symbol_heart_red

Just, I’d really like to talk to you and
Sweetie9_symbol_heart_red
She was so scared. She wanted to see a familiar face that didn’t want to eat her. Natalie didn’t want to be alone either.

I’m scared, sorry I probably sound ridic
Sweetie9_symbol_heart_red

Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
1

#2
Amber awoke to a consistent buzzing from her phone. She had silenced her notifications, hadn't she? Ohmygosh what if it was the google alert she installed? Did Leonardo Dicaprio finally get married and settle down? She had to know.

It was Natalie. Texting her so late and night and clearly in distress. Something really serious must have happen for her to keep jumping back and forth between emotions, all the while asking vague questions. Amber was on the alert.

I'm up. What's going on Sweetie? You sound frazzled.
Amber

Was it something bad? Are you okay?
Amber

Ugh. Why wasn't she responding? Pinching her eyebrows together in frustration, she texted again. Clearly Natalie was distressed, and Amber was here to provide comfort. She just needed answers first.

What happened?
Amber

Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

#3
While she waited for texts back or a call or something, her gaze shifted to the covers over her head. The pattern of the stitching faded from her direct attention as memories were welling up. Her panic, feeling trapped, seeing teeth and claws right at her face. All of a sudden she felt super suffocated and pulled the blankets off of her, inhaling cooler air. Instinctively, hands went to her neck, assuring her she was fine while looking around the room. It was still just her with the lights all on while the first dawn streams of light were peeking through the curtains.

Her phone buzzed from under the sheets. Shuffling a bit, she managed to get it free. There were three new messages from Amber, one she'd just missed by a few seconds.

Natalie read through them at a steady pace before pulling up the keyboard.

How to answer? Was she really ok? No, not at all, especially if the state of the lights, locks, and her mini-freakout within the blankets was any indication.

I'm...
Sweetie9_symbol_heart_red

Physically, I should be ok.
Sweetie9_symbol_heart_red

Should as in werejag had confirmed she wasn't infected and Amy hadn't turned her. She hadn't checked on the vampire bite yet, but her shifter one was going to take a few days.

Emotionally, not
Sweetie9_symbol_heart_red

How to even explain this was a trial and error. She ended up starting and then deleting messages a few times. Finally, she summed it up to one point, hitting send.

I believe in vampires and shifters now.
Sweetie9_symbol_heart_red

Natalie never thought she'd say this, but it'd happened and now she was literally huddling in her room while shakily holding her phone.
Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

#4
This didn’t answer anything! There were only more questions swirling around her head. Natalie suddenly having a change of heart on the supernatural question was raising serious alarm bells. Just last week she struggled to get Natalie to accept her photo as having a shread of reality.

Hold on. You now believe me? Did you see something?
Amber

I need you to tell me what happened. Can I call you?
Amber

Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

#5
Natalie watched as the little bubbles danced as Amber typed. It was comforting knowing someone was right there to talk to even with the delay between texts. The first one shot in and then the next.

Yes to both, but it wasn't nearly as simple as just seeing one thing. How about three things that could all basically snap a human in half?

Yes, multiple things
Sweetie9_symbol_heart_red

The next one made her stall a bit. Calling would definitely be easier for this, but keeping it together to retell was going to be hard. She sighed. She'd try.

Yes
Sweetie9_symbol_heart_red

Her finger tapped Amber's name, scrolled to the number, and dialed. Bringing the phone to her ear she waited on the dial tone to stop to tell her Amber had picked up.
Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

#6
Amber accepted the call immediately. Time to get to the bottom of this.

Hey, Natalie? You got me a little scared over here. What's going on?
Amber

She forced herself to pause and give Natalie a chance to speak. There was a good chance Natalie was shaken by whatever it was that changed her mind so fast and she might need a little time. A dozen more questions were begging to come out, but Amber kept her mouth clamped shut.
Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

#7
It picked up without much delay and Amber's voice sounded. Well that almost made her want to cry right there, dang it. Taking a deep breath she answered.

Hey, umm thanks for picking up. I....
Natalie

She stopped, trying to find words which was ridiculous considering she was a teacher and always had some. Maybe even too much at times. Bowing her head, other hand tosseling her messed up hair that was still a bit wet from earlier, she figured it out sort of.

I just got home at four after the police dropped me off, I'm kind of wiped out. Sorry if I'm not making sense. Umm, so I... I got.... I met a vampire last night... that and two shifters and it was kind of crazy.
Natalie
An empty laugh escaped her, all air. Mostly a sigh. Oh my geeze, this sounded so stupid. It sounded like some sort of sitcom show, especially summed up like that. That wasn't what had happened. That sounded like what you told parents on a report card, all bows and stickers, language just hinting at that something a bit more happened and they really should make an appointment with the teacher to talk asap.

I don't know how to say this without sounding like I'm going crazy.
Natalie
That came out in a rush, hand now collecting all her hair and just crinkling it super tight together near her scalp.

I went to Chupacabra's after work last night and started talking to a lady that turned out to be a..... vampire.
Natalie
Good, let's start from the top and work our way down. That was how you told a story. Build it from one checkpoint to the next. That helped her mind work through how to organize the night for Amber.
Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

#8
Amber's blood froze. She was at a literal loss for words, and that was never something that happened to her. If there was a rewind button to life, Amber would be pressing it over and over to re-play the last few seconds. A vampire...and TWO weres? That must have been a night to remember, and for it to happen to Natalie? Oh god, no wonder the girl sounded a second a way from a total breakdown.

She had paused, which gave Amber time to tentatively ask her next few questions.

Did this vampire hurt you? Are you safe now?
Amber

Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

#9
Did this vampire hurt her? Was she safe now? That struck a chord for her and she inhaled sharply before a sob escaped following another one and tears started falling again. She'd been trying not to all out cry, but hadn't been prepared for such direct concerned questions. It made a flash of red eyes, teeth and claws, the feeling of being not in control as well as lightheadedness, and orange cat eyes, fly past her memory, and she wanted to hide from just everything. Could she start over this entire week? Make different choices, perhaps even take that sound advice from several weeks ago about 'hey there are vampires, avoid these areas and generally the nighttime'. She'd still be living in bliss of not knowing about how monsters were really real and just how close to danger she'd been on multiple occasions. But now that she knew, did she actually want to forget that it was a thing and continually be literally dancing with death? No, she didn't.

Yes and I don't know, but I'm at my apartment.
Natalie

She managed to get that out after a shaky breath. Natalie needed to get it under control enough to have a discussion with Amber. What was the use in calling if she couldn't talk? Trying to get a handle on her breathing again and holding in sobs the best she could, Natalie managed another small sentence.

I'm so scared, Amber.
Natalie

Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

#10
The crying is what got to her. Natalie should never be crying, her face was far too cute for any of that nonsense. At this moment, Amber wished she was better at this. Comforting others was so difficult. What should she even say?

Please don't cry Natalie. I'm so sorry.
Amber

She was helpless over here. Natalie had reached out to her, because she wanted to talk to someone? To hear a human voice? Well, she could offer that.

Hey, how about I tell you a story? Get your mind off things.
Amber

Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

#11
Not crying was easier said than done. She’d been crying since last night and her body was just exhausted. It was anger and fear tears, not sadness, and that had always been harder for her to control her reaction for. Still, she tried her best to stifle it as Amber talked, trying to soothe her.

She listened to Amber and nodded, though that was useless considering the girl couldn’t see her. Clearing her throat, she finally voiced her agreement to the idea. The idea sounded nice, if anything it’d get her something else to think about for now.

Ok
Natalie

Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

#12
Buckle up Sweetie. Amber was about to take you on a non-stop ride of cringe and fun.

Alright, picture this: solo road trip to San Francisco. I stop at a rest area to use the bathroom. I'm happy, healthy, and just landed a big freelance job with an ad agency. I'm on cloud nine.
Amber

She remembered that job. Good opportunity and some really great work came out of it. Shame that the company CEO was found guilty of homicide.

So I go in and head to the bathroom. There I am minding my own business when I hear this deep voice next to me start groaning, like terribly in pain groaning. I did not want to get involve, but then they say out loud. "Oh god, I'm having a baby."
Amber

And now pause for dramatic effect. (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧
Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

#13
Out of all the direction that story could go, Natalie had not been expecting THAT. A snort of laughter escaped, surprising her. Wiping at her eyes, she waited to hear what else happened. Where was this ridiculous story even going?

Wait, what? Was she actually having a baby in a rest area bathroom?
Natalie

Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

#14
Amber smiled with all teeth. You sweet summer child, missing an important context clue.

Oh no no no. She wasn't having a baby. He was.
Amber

She barreled on. This was only the beginning.

That's right. I stood on the seat and looked into the next stall, because how could I not? And that's when I saw a young guy hunched over the toilet, pants down, and looking like death had come for him.
Amber

Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

#15
If she’d been drinking something, a spit take would’ve definitely happened. Instead, she just listened with a gasp of wha?

Amber was full steam ahead and of course she had tried to get a better look.

You did not! That’s messed up Amber.
Natalie

She laughed at the thought of energetic girl just taking a peak, literally all up in someone’s business.

That sounds like he was dying, haha
Natalie

Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

#16
Didn't expect that twist now did ya? Amber was pleased with the positive change in Natalie's tone. She wasn't thinking of her horrible night, at least for the moment. Amber was going to try to prolong that bit of happiness for as long as possible.

He was pretty close to dying for sure. I was going to offer my assistance, but first I had to check what bathroom we were in. You have no idea how easy it is to accidentally walk into the men's bathroom and not notice.
Amber

Amber still occasionally walked into the wrong one. She used the stalls every time, so what was the big deal?

Turns out he was in the wrong place. Each stall had the little tampon box, so I know it was the ladies.
Amber

Since they had now established setting, Amber could get into the action.

I lean further over the wall and ask what's up. He keeps on groaning and moaning like a dying whale. I can't help from up there, so I climb over and get into the stall. Dude looked so terrible up close. Now, I'm not a medical professional, but I do remember watching those birth video in Sex-Ed. I assumed the same techniques applied here.
Amber

Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
2

#17
Honestly, this was a crazy story and she couldn’t believe this had actually happened to Amber. If she was making it up, then props to her for being able to weave such a thing over the phone so quickly. If it was real, then well Amber had a really exciting life.

As she explained that the poor guy had the unfortunate mishap of being in the wrong restroom while dying and with having Amber climb down into the stall, she smiled. She had momentarily forgetten why she had been so upset.

Oh my gosh, Amber noooo. You probably scared him to death, the poor thing. What sound advice did you apply here?
Natalie

Natalie’s gaze fixed on nowhere in particular, more absorbed on the conversation on the phone than anything else. She idly played with a loose string coming off her comforter.
Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

#18
Amber adjusted her position on the bed, ending with legs bent and her feet planted on the wall. She let the phone lay next to her ear as she stretched out her arms. Some sleepiness was creeping back up on her and that wouldn't do.

Arms still straining above her head, Amber let out a laugh and continued.

I had him hold my hands and start doing the breathing technique. You know? Breathe in and out all slow and steady. Anyway, in between breaths he tells me he's dying and it will never come out. I'm like "what are you taking about dude?" And he's still pushing, but getting no where. So that's when I start yelling for him to man up and push harder.
Amber

Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

#19
The picture Amber was painting was hilarious. Natalie lost it at the last line. Full on belly laughs.

You know people can actually pass out from that right? You’re probably the only reason he didn’t just fall onto the floor, out like a light.
Natalie

Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

#20
Amber grinned at her phone. The laughter coming from the other end was exactly what she wanted to here. Operation Cheer Natalie Up was a raging success.

She balled her fists and set them against her hips, making the classic power pose. Even if Nat couldn't see her, the pride in her voice should easily come across.

He's still be in there now if it wasn't for my stellar encouragement. I kept yelling, he kept screaming and then it happened! It came out!
Amber

A mischievous smile spread on her lips.

You'll never guess what it was.
Amber

Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

#21
There was sureness and pride in her voice as Amber kept explaining this outrageous situation.

That last part had her tilting her head, a bit confused why it was suddenly an ‘it’. She’d been expecting like an explosion or something.

Wait, hold up, an ‘it’? What was ‘it’?
Natalie

Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

#22
Oh, honey. There was most definitely an IT.

I'll spare you the gruesome details, but the thing causing his agony? The thing blocking up his bowels? It was a massive avocado pit! Dude freakin swallowed an avocado pit and gave birth to it like a month later at a rest stop in a woman's bathroom. It was a medical miracle.
Amber

Amber was a hero to young mothers everywhere. She'd help birth future babies and avocado pits anytime.

I still talk to Steve every so often. He sends me Christmas cards.
Amber

Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

#23
Her eyes got wide at the explanation. How did anyone manage to eat an avocado pit? How did they even not go to the hospital? She had so many questions. The guy sending cards was just icing on the cake.

That's the least he can do! Even better if they are avocado themed.
Natalie

Natalie got a handle on her breathing from laughing, feeling a bit lighter from hearing such an outrageous story from Amber. She could feel the creeping up of reality again though and didn't want that at all right now.

Hey, do you want to maybe come over later today if you're not busy? No worries if you are.... just I'd like someone to laugh with today.
Natalie

And not be left alone in an empty apartment with her thoughts.
Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

#24
Amber rolled off the bed, feet hitting the plush carpet. She was up and over to her closet in a matter of seconds. Of course she'd come over. What were friends for?

Are you kidding? I'd love to come see you.
Amber

Phone tucked between her shoulder and ear, Amber pulled out a loose cardigan from a pile. Where was her small duffle bag? She grabbed a fuzzy blanket and a couple of her favorite items for those self-spa days, then shoved them all inside a giant tote bag from under the bed. Bag slung over her shoulder and phone in hand, Amber headed to the front door.

You know what? Text me the address. I'm heading over now.
Amber

Wehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh



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