The glare of headlights in my rearview mirror contributed to the unevenness of my heart. I gripped the steering wheel and squeezed back tears as I sped through the summer night. Ahead were specks of light that sprung up. The tears in my eyes dried as I slowed to a stop.
A couple women stood in the middle of a parking lot and they turned as I pulled up beside them.
“Hey,” one of the women said as she swished towards the car.
“Hi.” I smiled.
“Welcome?” She shook my hand.
“It’s good to be back in civilization. I’ve been driving for days.” I said.
“So what’s your name?” she asked as her manicured nail rested under her sharp chin.
“Nice to meet you, Destiny. I’m Wanda,” she said. The sound of another vehicle as it swung into the lot stole our attention.
“Oh look, another newcomer.” The other woman said.
“Interesting, Anette. We don’t usually get many new faces around here.” Wanda replied. Another woman emerged from the jeep. Her dark hair covered part of her face and when she looked up at me our eyes locked. I quickly looked away and pretended not to notice her intense gaze.
“So what’s your name new girl?” Anette said as she crossed her arms.
“Grace,” the girl replied without a smile, then directed her attention back to me.
“Well, Grace and Destiny make yourselves at home.” Wanda grinned and led us inside the salon. My eyes grew wide with astonishment at all the young people chatting and drinking inside.
“Is everyone in this town in their twenties?” I asked Wanda.
“Yes” Wanda replied, and placed her hand on her hip.
“Weird.” I muttered, then I felt something grip my wrist. I turned to see Grace. We stared at one another for an entire minute before she spoke.
“We need to get out of here,” Grace whispered.
“Why?” I shook my head.
“These people are dangerous.” Grace gritted her teeth.
“How do you know this?”
“Don’t you find the whole set up of the town suspicious?” She leaned in closer so no one else would hear.
“If anything you’re the weird one. You followed me on the road. Your brights were blinding me.”
“Someone has to look out for the naive.” She frowned.
“Oh, so that’s how it is. You stalk and defame me?”
“I wasn’t trying to be mean. I’m just really concerned about you.”
“Because I am.”
“You’re a complete stranger,” I said. Grace turned and walked off, but Anette stopped her.
“Hold up Gracie, you and Destiny will be roommates.”
“What?” I said.
“Oh, you girls didn’t think you were just going to stop by and leave. Stay with us.”
“I don’t have enough to afford rent.” Grace answered.
“Don’t worry, you can stay for free.”
“What’s the catch?” Grace said.
“Nothing.” Anette replied. Both Grace and I exchanged glances and followed her to our apartment complex. It was spacious enough, and had a simple design. When Anette, shut the door Grace grabbed hold of my hands.
‘I’m telling you, we need to leave,” she said.
“I still don’t see why.” I pulled away from her. “I’m going back out to explore.”
“Wait!” She tugged on my shirt, but I moved away.
As I walked through the streets, I noticed a bus at the station and I crept closer and watched as a group of basketball players got out. Then I saw Anette and Wanda deep in conversation with them. I plodded towards them.
“Hey Wanda!” I said. She turned and narrowed her lids at me.
“Oh hey, Destiny. I thought you and Grace were in for the night. You seemed a bit flustered by everything.”
“I’m a night owl.”
“Oh okay, well meet our familiar strangers.” She pointed to the team of guys they were now staring at the both of us.
“Hi” I waved shyly. One of them grinned.
“Destiny, I was thinking I could give you a bit of a makeover.” Anette said coming up from behind.
“I don’t think I’m in the mood.”
“Trust me, when I say that I can give you the red carpet look.”
“You’ve got to be kidding?”
“I used to work as a makeup artist in Hollywood before I relocated.”
“I don’t know,” I said.
“Go on, try it. Anette is amazing at what she does and she’s quick.” Wanda winked.
“I guess.” I sighed. Anette led me inside and seated me in an empty chair. My heart started to rage again. I tried to ignore it as my hand tingled. Anette applied foundation, and she resumed her conversation with one of the guys as he walked inside to see her. I was nervous since there was no mirror. Then she stopped, and I stood up confused.
“Anette,” I interrupted her.
“What?” She scowled.
“You didn’t finish.”
“I’m done,” she said. The guy she spoke to gaped at me, and the pounding of my heart grew worse.
I rushed to a mirror and my mouth dropped at the sight. My face glimmered as I now possessed the look of many of the women I would fawn over on television, but something was missing. I couldn’t place it and no matter how glamorous I looked, I was disgusted. Then it hit me, it was my soul.
I backed away and dashed to the apartment to collect my things. There Grace waited cross armed.
I ignored her and continued to pack my bags.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” She snatched my bag.
“Because it’s none of your business!” I snapped at her. She tackled me, and I elbowed her in the face. She fell over and I sprinted outside. A tow truck dragged away my car.
I tore down the street as the entire town was now outside including Grace. Their eyes were solid black as they surged towards me, and I ran out of the town with only the wilderness to hear my cries.