Cadence Caudill, Writer

The wind rustled across the exterior walls of the house, as if scolding the walls for interrupting its path, though the trees in the forest it was about to enter would soon do the same. A young person sits in the house staring around their room. They were about 5’6” with a pixie cut of red hair, if it had been dyed it looked extremely natural. ‘They’ seems to fit them, they like that term more than any others. They sprawled out across the bed in pajamas that looked like clouds, a bit tattered but they seemed content with the clothes, after all, they were smiling. They must be no older than 18, and though boxes litter the floors, only a few are unpacked. The house was situated just far enough outside of town to feel somewhat secluded. The giant forest to the rear of the house, with its faint air of menace, intensifies the feeling of seclusion. Their name? Their name is Kris! It used to be something different but Kris is more enjoyable.

A man is walking along the street now, he has his hood up, he walks in a stiff manner giving an aura of foreboding. Meanwhile, Kris is on their phone, they are holding it delicately. But then they suddenly turn in a sharp motion. Their phone went off as an unknown number calling. Surprisingly they get a mischievous look and giggles and answers the phone.

A gruff voice comes through the phone, “Hello, I am-”

Kris cut the man off, smirking, screamed into the phone, “Wrong number! Have. A. Nice. Day!” Kris throws their head back in fits of laughter, after all they just screamed a fairly friendly statement slowly at the top of their lungs. Kris clutched their stomach and made a noise that sounded like a squirt bottle from the way they laughed.

Outside the man was stamping his foot on the ground, he was probably the one on the phone, quite obvious to us. He turned his burning gaze at the house and he headed towards it. Everything was oddly quiet now other than small noises of laughter from Kris inside. Though the laughter abruptly halted as he approached. 

The man turned when he got closer to the front of the house and started walking around it. He did it repetitively, again, and again. He would stare at the windows and almost caught Kris’ eye. The next time he paced around the house they were on the phone. On the phone could be the cops. So he, with a string of curses, bolted away from the house not wanting to lose the chance to make her pay. Her? It is they. Not her. Why would he use her? Kris and the man must be connected somehow. 

Yet, he got away through the thicket of the forest and he was right sh- they had called the cops. Interrupting thoughts is hard. He was so insistent on saying her. But why? Can it be seen? He was in the thicket ferociously brushing off branches and things hitting him. “Her. Hah she is an idiot. I tracked her,” he was muttering almost incoherently. “She deserves this. I will get to her. Should have known that leaving me in the dust and then changing her ‘pronouns’ into something unforgivable.” He was speaking with distaste and spitting out the words as if they were catching his tongue on fire. “Those things that do this must be punished.”

That was it. That was why this strange man was there. They must have met before. Kris was now panicking back in the house, the strange man circling around it completely destroyed any sense of safety they had beforehand. Kris was now sitting on the bed they once sat on determinedly now with a dull face, void of expression. From how their hands fidgeted they must be nervous. And there was a knocking bellowing through the house all the sudden. 

Kris shot up and ran towards the door and flung it open. An officer had arrived. “Hello ma’am.” The officer messed up. Kris made a small face but seemed to shake it off. “You called because someone was circling around the house, correct?” 

“Yes, is he still here?”

“He seems to have vacated the premises. Would you like us to stay stationed near for 72 hours?” There was all the sudden another officer, a man this time, beside the first officer, and it was hard to picture if this was usually part of their protocol or if they would just leave. It was a nice offer, curious though.

“I would love that opportunity, thank you so much.” The moment was strange, so friendly, it calmed Kris’ nerves, it seemed… unnatural? Not normal, out of their protocol. But did it matter? Because, afterall, Kris feels better and safer. Kris can head to bed in a calmer state, and that was what they did. It took a bit but Kris headed straight to their room and relaxed. The bed collapsed around their body and they slept the rest of the night.

Sunlight broke through the blinds and made Kris start turning over from their sleep. Their eyes slowly fluttered open and Kris began to furiously rub them. The sun must have not been the ideal wake up call. But Kris continued the rest of the day in a normal fashion though they were not eating as much as they should have. They were still anxious so eating sounded repelling, like it would make them throw up immediately. 

Luckily that continued until around dinner time when the doorbell rang. Kris stared over at the door, weighing out the options of whether to open it or not because the nice officer had her number so wouldn’t the officer text? 

Her? It was the man. His overwhelming presence and grudge why would he hate them for just wanting that pronoun. It makes no sense. It has nothing to do with you so why take offense? Kris had stood up and was headed towards the door. No. Not supposed to happen. They opened it. Kris’ face registered shock and the man’s hands made towards her. Them.  She slammed the door on his hands. No. They slammed the door on his hands. The man howled out in pain. Adrenaline was coursing through Kris as they picked up the phone and dialed the officers who were two minutes away. The man started prying at the door, his tacky pizza delivery uniform shaking violently around his form. His hands were out and now he was mad. But sirens were nearing and Kris had propped chairs against the door at this point. The man would not be able to get in.

And surely enough, he didn’t. He began running too late and one of the officers caught up and dragged him to the car. Meanwhile the officer, Melani, who had engaged conversation first in the previous meeting was comforting Kris. “Hey, hey. We got him. Can I touch you?” Kris was shaking, head in their knees. They nodded. Melani enveloped the smaller form in a hug, such a motherly act that it almost seemed she was. Reassurances were muttered and the man would obviously serve jail time, as well deserved.

It was time to go back now. This one was upsetting. We were supposed to observe what behavior was exhibited. But now, this seems like an invasion of privacy. Watching that, I don’t want to see something like that again. Kris was finally happy only to be given trauma or more trauma. This needs to be left alone, no one needs to know these things except for the people they choose to trust. 

“So, how’d this one go?” My friend, Ichro, spoke with a knowing smile.

“I hate to say it but you were right, this administration needs to be destroyed, to be put to an end.” He finally got me to admit it, we disagreed for so long that he set me up for that assignment. He knew that one would hit close to home and how exhausting it would be to follow everyone. To finally break my resolve. 

He chuckled, “Here’s to that. Finally I can say, welcome to the club.”

To finally break my resolve, he made me watch what happened before this all started to the only parental figure I ever had in my life.