Out In The Woods

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Out In The Woods by Namrata Satija | ThinkwizardX

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It was the worst night of his life. There was nothing holding him back tonight. He kept on
walking hoping he would find her. She walked out the front door early morning. It didn’t make
sense as everything she owned was still home but she wasn’t.

He thought to himself “She wouldn’t run away without her things”. This was strange, sudden and particularly transparent.

Melina has always been a mysterious person to him but nothing this alluding had ever happened.

Suspicion arose to his mind, a month back when she suddenly became this extremely happy
and creative person. Melina’s characteristics included moody behaviorism, extreme small
moments of happiness and constant sadness. Within this one month she has been more sappy and lost. The love for herself had risen to an extreme level which included spending more time alone and being downright numb to anyone’s feelings.

Stiner recalls Wednesday night, he entered the house and it was completely dark. He found her in a room full of papers lying all around. There were so many stapled papers on the floor, he picked every one of them while walking towards her. Every collection was a chapter to the previous one and it was all numbered on the top of every first page. He leaves her with the papers alone and goes to the kitchen to get some food for both. He heard the shower run. Melina came down for food and talked about work. She didn’t say a word about the papers. When he tried to inquire about it, her only response was “It’s related to the magazine work”.

All this was useless, thinking about it isn’t going to help, he says. He runs to the neighbors and rings the doorbell asking if they had seen her around in the park or the confectioner’s store. The neighbors never saw her at any of those places. Although one of them mentioned seeing the lights switch on in the room around five o’clock in the evening. This just seems hysterical to him. There are a number of questions going through his mind. He goes back home and calls all her friends he had come to know so far. A lot of them hadn’t heard from her in two months and no one in the magazine knew where she was since the past two days. For a moment he thought she left him for good. But he couldn’t help but think that she might have gotten in an accident and died on him. This fear became the primary reason to know the truth.

After calling the police and most of the common people they both knew he decided to ask her family. He also thought about asking friends from her old town about any trouble she was facing. Old friends always know something more than the present ones. Melina hadn’t been her usual self in the past one month which also bothered him deep down. Tensed and afraid he decides to pay a visit to her hometown and gather information that would help find her.

Although he isn’t sure if anyone in the town would recognize him. He had never paid a visit
there and this being his first time with bad news shall make a bad impression of him. He is
particularly worried how her parents might react. Yet he decides to go and books a train ticket.

Stiner is nervous as he travels to meet with her family across town. He recalls stories told by
Melina about her family. Those stories were downright sad and he wasn’t sure how to tell them her daughter was lost. He assumed that her parents would definitely know if this disappearance wasn’t the first or some reason for it. The rest of the train ride he just lay there reading a book, keeping himself from thinking a lot about everything. The weather started to change, black cloud formation and then rain. Stiner loved rain while Melina hated it.

One time he just stood there in the middle of the roof as it rained and called out to her. She refused to come forward and as he took two steps ahead he fell down. It was an amusing and hurtful moment as he started to laugh and she just stood there finding an umbrella to finally help him get up.

After two hours the weather became clearer and he finally reached the stop. He got down and took a cab to the house. Melina lived in a small house with just two separate rooms. Luckily being the only kid, she had her own room. A knock on the door was unusual for Mr. and Mrs. Brown. They hadn’t heard anyone knock since years. Mrs. Brown opened the door,

Stiner said – “Hello! Are you Mrs. Brown? Melina’s mother?”

She said yes and asks who he is? He introduces himself and she invites him inside. Mr. Brown enters the room in his blue trousers and white shirt with a small stain to the back. He tells Stiner to have a seat and sat down on a chair as well. Mrs. Brown inquired about Melina as she didn’t see her along.

In a very low voice he says, “She hasn’t been home since two days”.

Mrs. Brown said “Well she will come back, Melina is a grown up and she knows how to take care of herself”. She told him not to worry a lot and just wait a day or two. ​Stiner tried to dig more about her past and asked what she was like in high school? Mr. Brown answered stuttering she was a sweet innocent girl. Bringing home all her friends and studying all night for tests.

Some of these characteristics seem strange to Stiner, for Melina never described herself as so. With courage he asked Mr. Brown if he could see her room once. Mrs. Brown hesitated and asked him to show some proof of being together with Melina. He opened the bag and picked out a picture of both of them together. They walked him to the room. Mr. and Mrs. Brown went up to the kitchen. Finally, I am alone he thought.

Opening some drawers and looking for any old diaries of her. To Stiner’s surprise he was unable to find anything of substance. Just as he was leaving the room his eyes locked onto a box full of old photographs. A small piece of paper mixed up inside the pictures, he picked it up and put it in his pocket. He took away a picture including all her friends and herself. He thought about calling the police and inquire about their search for Melina.
She never mentioned having so many friends or being innocent in high school. Either she is
lying or maybe her parents are. Stiner bid goodbye and left immediately. His few hours of stay is now going to be a whole day in town. He booked a room for a two day stay. He opened the piece of paper as he sat on the bed. The paper contained contact numbers and names of people. He saved all the numbers with their names. There is no assurance that any of the numbers would be valid now. Sleep betrays him from calling and he just lays there on the pillow quiet.

It’s evening, he finally wakes up and washes his face. Dialing the first two numbers from the
paper, he finds one ringing. According to the paper the call has been made to Chris. After
confirming if it really is Chris, he proposes to meet him and tells him it’s about Melina. The man on call agrees to the proposal and they decide to meet at a coffee shop nearby. Stiner leaves from the hotel and walks towards the coffee shop. Chris has brown hair and is wearing a black shirt with bag pants. He’s already seated at the cafe with a laptop in front of him. Stiner comes up to the table and asks “Chris?” he says yes and asks him to have a seat. They begin with a small conversation about who they are and where they worked.

Stiner finally gets to the point and tells him he hadn’t seen Melina for two days. Chris is worried and tells Stiner a story that had happened right after they graduated from school.
It was graduation day, everyone was happy and one of their classmates threw a house party. While everyone was leaving for his place, Melina was completely lost. She was walking down the road all alone. I called out to her but she didn’t listen. The next morning she returned with a small cut on her face and her right hand covered in bandage. He elaborated a bit more, you see there were times she would just go wander around. She used to do this often and had only told Chris about it. I was one of her closest friends, he says. A long time back Melina told me she was seeing a psychiatrist and I was stunned. I don’t think she went for more than a month there, given the expense. He also said that she was usually happy but horribly disturbed at times.

Silence prevails for a while.

Stiner leaves the cafe in shock as he could not believe a word her friend had said. He is
reminded of the time when they first met. She was wearing a white top with a black jeans and her eyes were of the color brown. The short hair suited her just right. They met in a bookstore, Melina was amused by the hidden erotic remarks in children’s book and came to the store to get a good laugh. Stiner knew this as he asked her what was so amusing about one of his favorite children’s book. He recalled how the next few dates went by, from his understanding Melina was funny, an optimist and a creator of some great articles in the magazine. Anything that Chris mentioned didn’t match to the person Stiner knew. This was getting devastating for him but he avoided thinking about it and sat down in a restaurant to eat.

There were a few more names left on that paper, he thought maybe they have a different
perception of her and Chris’s story is all false. It was getting late and it had started to rain as
well.

He wasn’t in the mood to walk about today and thus he took a cab back to the hotel.
Stiner always dressed too formal, a white shirt, grey pants and sometimes a blazer as well.

Getting all tired, he takes off his wet shoes and combs his shiny black hair. He calls up an
employee and stays up till 3 in the morning replying to the mails. Everything reminded him
mostly about her. Whenever he had to work late nights she would put on loud music and sing
along. Then after about an hour of singing she would go to sleep. This act remained applicable for both of them but there was a small difference. He would mimic celebrities instead of
singing. Every memory was a happy one and he couldn’t help but wonder what went wrong?

You can call it the worst nightmare when one sees themselves standing in the middle of the
road with a car approaching towards you. A person can be saved from dying in dreams by just waking up from the fear of it but the same isn’t true for real life. Your reflexes can betray, you can freeze off and then with a swift car accident you may die there and then.
That night sleep didn’t come off easy and when it did, the nightmares killed the relaxation.

Stiner wakes up in sweat and takes a sigh of relief. He gets ready to meet the other two friends. Francis was just a group project partner from class but she knew a few things about her as she had visited her house a couple of times. She described Melina as a fun loving person but somewhat reserved. Robert was one secret she discovered while working with Melina at her place. He wasn’t from school and was two years older than them. They were both lovers I think, Francis says. Melina only told me this as she wanted to sneak out with him one night and mentioned to her parents that she was studying at my place. Stiner had plans to meet Robert in the afternoon. Francis said disappearances aren’t a common occurrence when it comes to Melina. Her suggestion is to find Melina as soon as possible with a fear of murder or rape incident.

It’s almost ten minutes past one and Robert isn’t here yet. Stiner orders a cup of coffee while
he waits for him to arrive. Someone enters just seven minutes later in the restaurant. Robert is wearing a black jacket with a blue jeans and a black t-shirt. His looks as one may define in the society were of a bad boy kind. He had a tattoo on his upper hand and piercing on his right eyebrow.

Stiner almost didn’t recognize him until he came up to the table and asked Mr. Bates? With a small pause, he finally greets Robert. The waitress breaks the awkward silence between them by placing a coffee and taking another order. Robert cuts to the chase and asks the purpose of the meet. He tells Robert the same story as the others. Stiner’s bewildered by his
appearance and wondered how she went from dating Robert to him. He inquires Robert about his relationship with Melina. The next few stories strike as a complete surprise to Stiner.

The man sitting infront describes how these two young lovers met. He described Melina to be the most wild and dangerous woman he had ever met. The tattoo on her back is one of the
adventurous things she had done with Robert. The description of her in a black dress the night she snuck out with him and stole a bike from a club is just shocking to Stiner.

The man didn’t stop bragging about their love tale and expressed slight concern about her
disappearance. For him he assumes she’s on a trip to another city enjoying bike rides
somewhere. Stiner keeps on stuffing two to three fries in his mouth trying not to get too
aggravated.

He spoke nothing and left the restaurant at once. He’s confused as to who she
really is? So far he had heard four different personalities of her – One of a sweet innocent girl, the other about being a mentally ill person, third of a fun loving/outgoing human and last of a bold wild person. This is way beyond his understanding, all characteristics harmless but completely different. Baffled by all of this he runs off towards his hotel. He makes one last call to the police before leaving town.
While dialing the number he starts panicking and falls to the floor. The phone fell from his hand and went right under the bed. After about half an hour the housekeeper came and knocked on the door. Stiner got up from the floor still very drowsy. He sits back on the bed in silence with no movement or any thought occurring in his mind. It was about time for check out, so he starts packing up his things without thinking about Melina.

After two hours the phone rings and Stiner learns that the police finally found her. Where?
How? And in what condition? No replies to that as of yet. This could mean good news or bad
news. The train is at the station and he is looking at some books. Even if he tried to forget about everything he just couldn’t. In an attempt to throw away the
picture and the paper he picks them out from his pocket. The picture had something written on the back. It seems like perhaps a small quote –

Stories are true, the real a false form.

His mind isn’t ready for another mysterious puzzle and thus he just keeps the picture back in
the pocket. The train ride remains a ride filled with sleep and peace. After reaching back home
he keeps all his things in the apartment and leaves immediately to meet with the police.

Stiner is taken into the woods just a few miles away from town and show him the lake where they found Melina’s body. She had died precisely the same night that she disappeared from home.
He just stood there in shock, his whole life just went from being good to the worst one could
ever experience. There were so many questions like – How she got there? Why did she come
into the woods? How did she die? It was horrible the number of scars on her body.
Completely shocked and utterly depressed Stiner went home for now. There were so many
pictures of them and each one more special to him. His mind was filled with mixed emotions of anger and sadness. Anger as he was left with so many unanswered questions. He sat down on the floor and started to cry. The right hand landed on the stapled papers under the bed. He started to read them and in the first few pages found some answers he could relate to his life.
Every story contained her life and places they had seen together.
The end of her story may give rise to that kind of fear you could wake up from because after all it’s not real life.

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