“Not like that Emma. More like… “ Lisa let the camera fall to her side. Her brow twisted in consternation or maybe puzzlement. Or maybe both.
Emma kind of thought it was both. No matter what it meant that Emma wasn’t delivering whatever Lisa wanted for this video. Just that she was so sure she got it. What was wrong?
“It’s like Emma’s anticipating too much.” Ben nodded oh-so-wisely. He turned those worried eyes on Emma. “’Cause you know you’re going to get attacked, so you’re already all taut with fear even before Bruce jumps on you.”
“Oh. Yeah.” Emma nodded like a bobble head, caught herself and made herself stop. It’s not like she needed to be so vigorous when she agreed.
“And then when Bruce does jump. You’ve got to be like totally afraid all at once,” Ben said.
“Right. Let’s try it again.” Lisa aimed the camera. “Roll’em!”
Emma tried the staring off into the distance thing they’d been talking about before. It was easier now since the sun wasn’t much in her face anymore, but still seemed kind of pointless to her. Was her character really supposed to be so contemplative? They said not moody, but everything they told her to do was moody.
“Perfect! Now Bruce…” Lisa waved toward him. How did she do that without letting the camera jiggle?
Bruce jumped in from the side. Emma shrank back and shrieked. Maybe it was a little half hearted.
“No, no. You have to look terrified.” Lisa straightened and let the camera swing down in one hand. “Pretend Bruce is really your brother when he runs up behind you.”
Everyone laughed, even Gene and Tracy who had never even met him. Emma laughed, too, but her heart wasn’t really in it.
She hadn’t thought about James in a long time. She didn’t really want to think about him now. Everything was so much better. She felt like she might really come into her own. But only as long as he didn’t come back.
“Emma, turn a little more. The sun has moved. Right like that.” Lisa brought the camera up.
Emma did the moody stare into the distance thing again.
If James came back, would Mom and Dad take him in again? Emma kind of thought maybe not, but she couldn’t be sure. And even if they didn’t, if James was in town, he’d do something to her for sure. She’d be extra sure to lock her window tonight just thinking about him.
Something on the other side of the park caught Emma’s eye. Some guy was staring at her from a van with a weird paint job It was like someone had come along with a chisel and gouged out all the paint. Only bits of color were left along with the white. Like it used to be pretty.
The guy in the driver’s seat was looking right at her. He had a ratty beard and greasy hair, but otherwise he could be a dead ringer for her brother. Right as Emma’s heart lurched to an unsteady race Bruce jumped in from the side.
She couldn’t help herself. Emma screamed in terror. She didn’t even glance at Bruce. She froze right where she was.
“Perfect!” Lisa hooked the video camera to an ipad and played it back for them.
While she was setting it up, the guy in the van drove away.
“Emma? What’s wrong?” Bruce lined himself up to look where she was looking. “Wait. Just now, that wasn’t…”
Emma nodded, not caring a bit if she looked like a bobble head. Her stomach lurched dangerously, but she managed to swallow her fear down for the moment.
“Yeah. I think that was James.”
“Guys?” Bruce raised his voice to get everyone’s attention. “We’re done here, right? I think we need to go to Gene’s house.”
“You mean Mrs. H’s house,” Gene automatically corrected.
“Whatever. We need to go. Right. Now!”
They didn’t argue. They went.
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