FACT: Secrets aren't safe in the shadows
There was a little run down house on the wrong side of town that Ethan was more than just familiar with. For a man of his upbringing, it was a disgrace how often he had found himself standing on the front steps, knocking, waiting for the house's only resident to answer.
"Nash!" He would growl into the night, desperate for his voice to be heard between the broken screen panels and boarded windows, "Nash! Man, seriously. I've got the money."
"Liar." The shadows chanted back at him. "Liar. Liar. Liar." They sang.
When the door's latch seemed to unlock itself, Ethan barreled into the same rancid living room had had been visiting regularly (again) for over a year. Nash, a man who was only intimidating in the dark, sat on the sunken middle cushion of the couch, needles with syringes and assortments white powder laid out on the table before him. His eyes were blood shot but the candle in the corner illuminated the whites of them devilishly.
"You haven't paid your debt." He snarled when Ethan got to work savagely tightening a tourniquet around his arm with his teeth. The rubber snapped back as he fumbled with his prize, a prize he had neither bought nor won. "This is the last time." Nash continued. Ethan ignored the gravity of the situation; he was focused on his fix, ready to course through his veins.
"I'll get the money." Ethan promised, just as he had every time before. He pushed the plunger down with haste and threw his head back in a simple ecstasy. From the point of injection his blood began to burn. It raced to his heart and too his head.
"You're broke." The shadows hissed, reminding him too soon. The way Nash's eyes quickly shifted toward the darkest corner of the room told Ethan he heard it too.
"This is the first Christmas we won't spend together." Regina pouted standing adjacent to both Cassia and the apartment building that seemed only vaguely familiar after being away for so long, especially now that her home was anywhere that Brendon was.
"You still have time to stay." Cassia reminded her, "I could really use the moral support visiting the parentals."
Regina threw a longing glare across the early morning street, it settled where Brendon leaned lazily against the bus that had been parked on the street where it looked much too large. He had a purple hood flipped up onto his head and his neck lolled to the side as he listened to the remaining shadows speaking in dark tongues that he didn't understand. There were no messages of unhappiness or doubt that could reach him now.
"I understand." Cassia assured her, "I'm glad Jon's decided to stay here for the holidays too."
Regina's demeanor changed now that she no longer felt like she was letting her best friend down again. She smiled broadly and nudged Cassia's side in playful jest, "Things are going well then?"
"Things are going well," She smiled in reply as Jon approached wrapping his arms around her waist and kissing her cheek.
"You're going to have to let Reggie go soon," Jon warned, "I think Brendon's getting in patient." Sure enough he huffed from his spot near the bus, crossing his arms across his chest.
Regina chuckled to herself, "I'm telling you, sometimes he's a toddler." Cassia laughed exchanging one last hug with her best friend. Hugging Ryan and Spencer, who had just approached with the same message as Jon, she promised to see them all soon. After all, another tour would begin just a week after the New Year. The band's schedule was booked through April.
As the bus rattled away down the street, still dead in the early hours of this Thursday morning, Cassia and Jon fell silent. "Ready?" Jon asked quietly as not to disturb the remaining shadows. Cassia nodded and he slung a bag over his shoulder, intertwined their hands, and walked toward the double doors of the building. So much had changed since she last saw this building.
With the sun's morning rays barely breaking through the think curtains of the master bedroom, Sabrina dusted at the shadows. She shook them from their hiding places and spun them around the room.
"He's in trouble." They taunted.
"It’s the drugs again."
"He doesn’t really love you."
“He NEVER did.”
Her eyes and limbs were heavy. She has been awake for days. But any moment she settles into silence they would begin again, louder and more piercing than before. Cleaning, or any domestic work, wasn’t something you often found her doing but it kept her moving. And at this point, moving was the only thing keeping her sane.
Sabrina had moved on to scrubbing the grout between each of the foyer tiles when the doorbell rang. The shrill ring caused her breath the catch in surprise. Attempting to tame the mess of hair that stuck out in all direction from her ponytail was a quick and half-hearted hesitation. But she was dreaded to identify the two figures that stood on the far side of that door.
A deep breath and hard gulp later, hinges revealed her husband hands restrained behind his back with silver handcuffs and an officer that had seemingly become a regular visitor.
“Officer Stone.” She greeted recognizing Logan immediately.
He didn’t return her sentiment. Instead, he tossed his head toward Ethan, whose hair was ragged and beard had grown scruffy. Sabrina hadn’t seen him in at least a week. “I found him wandering down Sunset Blvd.” Logan explained, “He seems to be a little rattled but should be okay.” Ethan stood his feet nothing but a shoulder’s width apart, his head down and shoulders slumped. He look far more defeated than rattled.
“And the handcuffs?” Sabrina questioned.
Logan shrugged nonchalantly. “I couldn’t have him tearing up the new upholstery.” He chuckled as though the whole situation was a joke. Sabrina couldn’t find a single funny detail in front of her. Ethan’s stoic posture stayed rigid as Logan twisted a small key into the lock of the cuffs, releasing one wrist and then the other.
“Enjoy you night miss, and when Cassia returns to town, please give her my regards.” Logan said with a salute as he turned on his heel. Long strides taking him back to his patrol car.
Ethan snapped out of his trance-like state with a gruff, “Don’t tell Cassia Logan was here.”
Sabrina was taken aback by his order, unsure of the sentiment, or where he had spent the last week since she’d seen him. Before she could even form a question that may give her some small indicator of his whereabouts, or why he had been wandering down Sunset so early in the morning, Ethan pushed past her. His eyes and hands were fixed were focused on tearing apart the drawers of the table that stood in the foyer. With all of its contents scattered at his feet, the emptied drawer in a tight grasp in his left hand, he massaged his brow muttering to himself, to the shadow. “I made a mistake, we need to get away.”
“What going on, Ethan?” Sabrina demanded, hesitantly drawing the curtains so his current state couldn’t be seen by the world.
“We have to go.” He insisted, impatiently jamming the drawer back into place, “We need to leave. There isn’t much time.”
Sabrina stopped him, or at least caused his hesitation as she blocked the stairs with her narrow frame and arms stretched from wall to banister.
“I made a mistake.” He swallowed fear and regret dripping from each syllable.