Kickoff written by Scarlet Erkman

Caved Confessions

Ravi finding his dad in an ominous caved mansion.

Ravi had just worked a double shift and had trouble keeping his eyes open. He was rummaging through his backpack for his pack of cigarettes when e saw his stepmother in his one room apartment.

She was a diamond in the centre of a pigsty. Her flawless blond hair curled into an impeccable up-do. A long sleeved, lacy white dress complemented her trim, slim pear-shaped figure. The dirt laundry and Chinese take out cartons just amplified the blue in her sharp eyes.

“I see you’re still barely passing by,” she distastefully pokes a used sock with her pump, “Wouldn’t it be easier for you to just accept money from us.”

Least to say, Ravi did not like his stepmother much, but he didn’t despise her entirely. She was just too harsh around the edges. But he was in no mood to listen to her today.

“What’s wrong?” Ravi closes the door.

Up close he could detect the puffiness and redness of her cheeks.

She stood up from his mattress, patting away invisible dust on her lap, which just agitated him.
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“Aryan is…missing.” She pushed a loose curl behind her ear meekly, a rare sign of weakness.

Ravi’s blood chilled in his veins.
“What! How? Did you call the police?” He hysterically clutches her concealed shoulder blades.

She bit her lips guiltily and grabbed his wrist.

“They didn’t believe me when I called for them.” She dragged him out of the apartment.

They rushed down the stairs, their shoes clanking, like the ticking of the clock. Ravi was paralyzed, barely registering that he was being taken away from Irene, his stepmother. What happened to his soft spoken, timid Papa that the police did not help find him? All sense of exhaustion was replaced with overwhelming dread. The green walls of his apartment complex seemed to be caving in on him as he descended down. They boarded her mica black Porsche on the grubby sidewalk of his apartment.

“What…what happened?” He skeptically asked, when his speech had returned.
She starts the engine, the purr somehow comforting the whirl of
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emotions within. Even though she would never admit it, this family stirred feelings she taught herself to bury.

“He found a mansion in a cave and just disappeared.”
His Papa and Irene were hiking in an area a few miles away from the city. Trelmer Forest was a hiking destination, with miles of untouched grasslands, paths and a low hill perfect for seniors willing to push themselves. The couple despite being well into their sixties, never looked a day over thirty. Ravi always suspected plastic surgeries done behind his back and creams or genetics. He knew people who looked five years younger than they actually were, written in their biological code. Nowadays they were starting to look their age. He noticed the extra wrinkles under her eyes.

Silently they drove through a rocky path, wet dirt fresh in the air.

“So he saw a marble entrance went in to ask for some directions and never came out.” Ravi summarized her story.

“Yes. Basically that. It was locked when I tried to look inside.”
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Ravi sighed, concerned lines scrunching his forehead. He loved his Papa and didn’t ask for a loan because he wanted him to live a comfortable life. Without him, his Papa was an utter mess and this predicament just proved it. Trust him land himself in danger three months after he graduated from culinary school.

Irene stopped the car, momentarily gripping the wheel, with her impressively manicured fingers. A flash of despair crossed her features and Ravi softened under her desperate graze.

“Please…be careful.” She lets go.

“You too.” He opens the car door with a nod.

An ochre marble entrance loomed in the cave. The gleam slick with the cave’s water, as if composed of melting wax. He gulped down the apprehension stuck in his throat and walked to the double doors. Hesitantly, he pushed the waxen doors with a creak. A marble, exquisite hall with oak-wood doors greeted the pair. Lavender and rose candles counter the mustiness of the cave.

“Let’s go."
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