Chapter 1 - Part 1
Five years ago…
Streams of sunlight shone brightly through the car window as shadows of the passing trees flickered across Paivi Anderson’s face. Next to her sat a woman she knew well, but as she glanced around she was slightly confused. Looking over her shoulder into the back seat she was surprised to see that Michaela wasn’t in the car. Though they had been friends forever it was rare that Paivi was in the car with Michaela’s mother by herself. Mrs. Brown, an older version of her daughter, hummed along with a song on the radio. She seemed unaware of Paivi sitting next to her.
In an instant the car slammed to a violent stop and Paivi pitched forward in her seat. Glass shattered—small pieces rained down on Paivi’s face and she could hear the horrible sound of crunching metal. Mrs. Brown screamed in the seat next to Paivi, her face twisted in pain and bloodied from the flying glass. An oily smoke filled the car, surging through the vents. Her lungs burned as she gasped for air, choking and sputtering. She looked down to see flames licking at her feet from under the dashboard. She was frozen, unable to move as the scorching heat raced up her legs. Then a deafening explosion shook them, rocking the car.
Paivi screamed and thrashed in pain, trying to free herself from the flaming wreckage tangled around her. She didn’t want to open her eyes, terrified of what she would see. Cool hands grasped her arms and in the distance she heard a familiar voice.
“She’s having another dream, John!” Mrs. Anderson’s voice was panicked as she wrestled with the tangled mass before her.
Paivi opened an eye and saw her room.
“Help me! No, no, no!” she screamed, fighting against the damp sheet that had woven itself around her limbs and clung to her body. Her pajamas were soaked with sweat and she could still feel the heat from the fire, despite being aware she was no longer in it.
Mrs. Anderson frantically attempted to untangle the sheet from around Paivi’s thin frame.
“Sweetheart, what’s wrong? Are you okay?”
“No, Mom, I don’t know, it’s Mrs. Brown.” Paivi was rambling⎯she couldn’t collect her thoughts. Finally able to sit up, she gulped hungrily at the air, struggling to find her breath. Mrs. Anderson put her arms around Paivi, and smoothed her sweaty hair back from her forehead. “I saw her in my dream. There was some kind of accident. In the car. But I don’t think she’s okay. You have to do something!”
Mr. and Mrs. Anderson exchange concerned looks.
This wasn’t the first time their young daughter had experienced such a vivid dream. It became difficult for Mr. and Mrs. Anderson to stop Paivi from making connections as she got older. Her ‘dreams’ came true all too often. She often shared them with her parents, but she had never envisioned such a tragic event. Mostly they were trivial things, such as finding a lost bike or watching herself earn an A on an upcoming test. Paivi had at first felt uncomfortable in her dreams. She didn’t like feeling helpless⎯unable to interact with people and frozen to the spot. Over time she became accustomed to the sensation.
Mr. and Mrs. Anderson supported Paivi’s visions and never made her feel different. Little did she know it was because they were comforted by the thought that other adults would merely look upon her as a precocious child with an over-active imagination. This would keep her secret safe from the citizens of St. Andrew, Illinois. Besides, Paivi was, in most respects, a normal little girl from a happy family and that’s all anyone really needed to know.
Mrs. Anderson spoke softly, “I don’t know if there is much we can do.”
“What do you mean Mom? Dad, you’re a policeman. Please do something! We have to call them! I have to call Michaela!” Paivi screamed hysterically. She fought against her mom’s arms with no success. Mrs. Anderson only held her tighter.
“Paivi, I am so sorry,” Mr. Anderson said. “Sometimes we see things we wish we couldn’t, but there is nothing we can do. When the time is right, your Mom and I will explain this all to you. But right now you need to trust us. You’ll need to be there for Michaela. And you have to promise us that you won’t tell anyone about your dream tonight.”
Mr. Anderson knelt down beside her and took her hand. Paivi was sobbing so hard that she could not respond. Gulps and shudders were now the only sounds she could manage.
Paivi took some deep breaths, her body still shuddering from sobs.
“Okay,” she whispered. It was all she could manage.
Paivi sat up crying for a few more hours before falling asleep, exhausted, in her mother’s arms.
Stay tuned for the next installment of INTO THE SHADOWS, coming Friday!