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Cora

July 1, 2009

By Jordan Elizabeth Mierek

Perfect hair the color of liquid dish soap, yellow with white highlights in the long tresses, curled around her dangling crystal earrings.  The other holes accentuating her ears were filled in with rhinestone studs.  Her head tipped to one side, plumped glossy lips parting to reveal straight pearly whites as a bubble of laughter erupted from within.

“Oh my God!  I can’t believe Corny Coral is following us again.”

I dropped my gaze to the cracked, gum-spewed sidewalk. Where did the airhead think I was going to walk from high school when I lived next door to her?

“Corny Coral is such a freak,” her friend squealed in that kind of shrill voice that grates on your nerves.  Couldn’t she come up with something new, something Nicole hadn’t already conjured up in the ten years since we’d been neighbors?  Freak was the first thing Nicole had ever called me.  It was the day she’d moved in.  I’d been jumping on my trampoline, flying through the air.

“You’re a freak!” Nicole had said through the hedge that separates our yards.  “Hey, what’s your name?”

For future reference, you call someone a freak and then ask their name.  Be certain to do it in your most obnoxious, make-sure-to-loathe-me-forevermore voice.

“Cora.”

“Corny?”

Cora.”

“Oh, Coral!”  Hence the nickname of Corny Coral, something she’s never forgotten.

“Nicky, can’t you make her go away?” another of those idiotic friends of hers asked.  In one hand she held up a little mirror.  The other hand was applying black eyeliner…as she walked.  No, those kinds of girls don’t walk.  They glide.

“Corny Coral, go away!  Don’t come back another day!” Nicole chanted at me.  I stared down at my scuffed combat boots, keenly observing the way the skull laces bounced with each step.  They were far more scientifically advanced than Nicole’s heeled flip-flops.

They turned the corner, and four sidewalk-squares later I turned after them.  Across the street there was a rusty truck with two guys leaning against the hood guzzling beer.  Nicole and her posse flirtatiously flicked their wrists at them.

The black-haired dude was downright hot.  The red-haired one was definitely a skater.  They crushed their beer cans against their foreheads.  Wow, like that was hot.  Not.

As I passed, I waved at them too, just to see what they’d do.  They waved back.  I shot Nicole a smile, singing inside at the angry look in her eyes that they’d paid attention to me.

Their slurred voices crossed over the street.  “Hey man, ya know wot’d be cool?”

“Wot?”

“Ya ever wonder if those kidnappin’ ransoms really work?”

“Wot d’ya mean?”

“Ya know, like if we kidnapped somebody, would anybody pay us?”

Were these jerks for real?  They made it sound like kidnapping was a fun sport to do on the weekends.  Hey guys, let’s go play some basketball and then kidnap a little kid out of a stroller.

The sound of a door slamming turned my attention back to them.  They had gotten into the truck and were revving the engine.  They weren’t seriously going to go kidnap someone, right?

I began repeating the license plate to myself, molding the numbers and letters into my brain just in case… but there was no way this was for real.  They were drunk.  They’d sober up and never remember thinking it was a thrill to kidnap a little kid.

The truck pulled up next to Nicole.  The driver door opened and the guy said something to Nicole.  She walked up to the door, one hand on her flounced hip.

They weren’t going to kidnap a little kid.

“Nicole, run!” I yelled, bolting into a sprint.  The guy grabbed her arm.

Nicole rolled her eyes at me.  “You’re such a freak, Corny Coral.”  The next instant she was screaming as the guy hauled her into the truck to his buddy.

“Stop it!” I yelled, running up to the door.  Her pathetic friends had broken into hysterical tears.  I screamed at them to do something as the guy grabbed me by the arms.  The cement left from under my feet.  More hands… elbows… knees.  I was squeezed between the driver and hysterical Nicole.

The door slammed shut and the truck sped down the deserted street.

“Let us out!”  I saw a crushed beer can on the floor.  I saw Nicole half-sprawled on the guy’s lap where she thrashed, rivers of mascara, blush, and foundation running over her high cheekbones.  I saw the torn leather seats.  A pack of cigarettes hung out of the pocket of a jean jacket wrapped around the headrest.  I turned my head to look up at the driver… into the barrel of his glistening pistol.  My brain processed the weapon and my eyes locked with his.

“You aren’t gonna shoot me.  You guys aren’t murderers.  You’re kidnappers.” You’re drunk.

I smiled, but it was more grimacing than flirtatious.  His eyes moved back to the windshield as the truck sped around a corner, tipping precariously so that Nicole wailed louder.  Her head thumped the filthy door’s window.  Was this really happening?  Why had I tried to save her?

“Oh God!  I’m gonna die!” Nicole screeched.  The end was muffled as her captor ground his hand over her mouth.

“Shut her trap,” the driver growled.  I was poked and prodded, my knees hitting the dashboard, head smacking the ceiling.  I was shoved between a smelly drunk and the door.  The drunk grabbed the gun from the driver, waving it between us.  Great, give the drunk running on adrenaline and testosterone a gun.

“Whoever talks gets her head blown off,” he snarled, his venomous words slurred.  Drops of spittle sprayed between us, searing like burning acid.

The truck sped around another corner.  My palm wedged into the handle.  My fingers fumbled for the lock, yanking it up upon location.  Another corner sent me flailing onto the floor, my head hitting the door’s handle.  I was back up the next second, grabbing that handle.

If my heart wasn’t pounding so fast that it ached, I might have studied my surroundings, trying to guess where they were headed.  If I was flighty I might break down in hysterics, but Nicole had that area covered.  In a way, I was thankful for Nicole’s frantic presence.  She kept me level, kept my mind buzzing.  It wasn’t only my life balancing precariously, but I had to work on saving Nicole, too.  I couldn’t do something stupid like open the window and try leaping out.  Nicole depended on me, and despite my utter loathing of her, I couldn’t just leave her.

In most fights, my mind grips reason, the part where I try desperately to use psychology.  Next comes the fighting, be it verbal, or in one swift moment grabbing the hand with the gun and slamming my heel into the driver’s leg.

He yelped, momentarily releasing the gas pedal.  My heel slammed into the brake and the truck screeched to a stop.  I rolled forward onto the floor while their three heads slammed into the windshield.  The fingers around the gun loosened.  I grabbed it as I rolled to my knees, my other hand opening the door.  It swung outward, narrowly missing a convertible in the other lane.  As I jumped down, the guy grabbed me by the back of my shirt.

Cora!” Nicole sobbed, her hand rubbing the swelling welt on her forehead.  Now, in the depths of peril and heartless fiends, she remembered my name.

I swung my elbow back as hard as I could, connecting with the assailant’s arm in a sickening crunch.  I kept struggling, screaming at the top of my lungs.

“Help!  Help me!  They’re trying to kidnap us!  Help!”

In the movies, there is always a magical policeman nearby or a kindly neighbor. The convertible that the door had almost hit kept going.  It was the only sign of life other than a squirrel drinking from a ceramic birdbath.

I swung my arm back again, this time using the gun to connect with his face.   He yelped, releasing me.  I fell rolling out of the vehicle, the gun spinning out of my hands across the pavement.  The truck started up again, the driver yelling to leave me.  His partner slammed the door shut, shouting obscenities at me.  I stood up, ignoring my scraped knees and arms.  As it sped by, I again committed the license plate to memory.  There was a little red car coming, slowing up as it neared my bleeding body.  I ran toward it, running up to the open window to scream at the driver for help.

“You’ve got to help me!  Those guys in the truck, they tried to kidnap me and they’ve still got Nicole!  They had a gun.  I dunno if they have another one.  See, that was the gun they had!”

The man already had his cell phone out dialing 9-1-1.  He handed me the phone, sparing a glare at the blood covering my hands scraped up from the fall.  The moment that the woman said hello I was babbling, still babbling when the policeman drove up.  I was still mumbling over and over again the license plate, the dire need to save Nicole and how much I hated her.  How my name is Cora, not Corny Coral.

I was a heroine in my family.  I’d escaped.  With my information, the police had succeeded in stopping the truck.  On the news, they centered on pretty, popular Nicole.  She was the unfortunate victim of a senseless, random kidnapping.  She was in choir, on honor roll, the favorite among students and teachers.  She came from a dysfunctional family, but she had never let it bring her down.  Now she had a second chance at life.

While she was the victim, I was the girl who called the cops after seeing the license plate.  I was the outcast hardly worth mentioning.  They never even showed my picture.

From the trampoline, I watched Nicole tearfully conversing with the crews from the news channels.  They offered sympathetic hugs.  She held the teddy bears strangers had sent to her, nodding toward the lavish floral gifts decorating the patio.

As the crews walked away, she looked up at me.  She smiled a genuine thank-you beam.   I smiled in return and waved.

“Hey there, Corny Coral!” she yelled.  The screen door slammed shut after her perfect ponytail had bobbed through.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. David permalink
    July 1, 2009 7:10 PM

    Very compelling and detailed story. I loved the plot and the development of the characters and scenery, I could just see everything happening in my mind as if it were a movie. Great story! I want to read more!

  2. Stassia permalink
    July 1, 2009 7:16 PM

    This is a great story. I have known Jordan for a few years and she is an amazing writer. Her imagination is beyond amazing also. I love her stories.

  3. July 1, 2009 7:32 PM

    Hey girl!
    I totally loved the story line.
    Great Start!

  4. Amy permalink
    July 1, 2009 7:47 PM

    Wow this was great! The action was fast-paced and made me feel like I was Cora.
    Although I think you left out “handed” after Nicole is hauled into the truck. But it’s not a big thing.
    Anyways this was a fun read and I look forward to more.

  5. Sam permalink
    July 1, 2009 8:51 PM

    loved it!!! =D

  6. July 1, 2009 8:56 PM

    ZOMG THE BESTEST! ^^

  7. Justine permalink
    July 2, 2009 8:27 AM

    Great story, it keeps you wanting for more!

  8. Brooke permalink
    July 2, 2009 8:54 AM

    You’re an amazing writer. You’re very creative. I think this and Truck Of Jim were both really great. :]

  9. lisa permalink
    July 2, 2009 2:21 PM

    You are so great. Such a great author…. hope you go far in writing.

  10. July 3, 2009 9:24 AM

    Lots of fast action in this story! I had a little trouble believing a couple scenes — for instance, that Coral would hear the guys’ comments about kidnapping and take them serious while somehow Nicole didn’t, and that her friends apparently stood by and did nothing; and how two flailing girls could be captured and constrained in the vehicle by two drunk guys when one of them was driving. But the descriptions of the characters were excellent, and I thought the mood was very well conveyed, too.

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