The day had turned grey and overcast by the time Juliet stepped off the train. The air was heavy, like walking through syrup, and within minutes her skin was hot and clammy. There was no sign of a porter and the shutters were down on the ticket office. With over twenty minutes to spare, she decided to make her way out into the street and have a look around. She found a grocery store and decided to browse around to pass the time. It was an old-fashioned place with not much to see, so she bought a packet of gum.
The streets were wet and small puddles had formed on the footpath. There must have been a sun shower while she was inside. The clamminess had gone, and was replaced with a cool breeze that felt good on her skin.
The first thing that struck Corey, when he stepped down out of the train, was how fresh the air smelt. He was used of city life and the smell of exhaust fumes and greasy odours. Not even the air around his home smelled this sweet, as the breeze carried with it the scent of green mosses and the rawness of freshly washed earth. Once the platform cleared of its few stragglers, he looked around to find Juliet, the girl who described herself as someone with a head of fire. It was impossible to miss her. She was sitting on a bench at the other end of the platform reading something on her phone. Her description was understandable now, but it was nothing like he expected. He had never seen hair that colour. It was like a dark, rich wine that glowed in the sunlight.
“Hey,” he said, when he reached her.
She was too intent on her phone message to notice him approach.
“Hi,” she stuffed the phone in to the pocket of her jeans and stood up.
Corey extended a hand and then withdrew it. That was so lame, shaking hands like some formal grownup.
“I’m Corey,” he felt himself blush under her gaze.
“Juliet,” she smiled. “You don’t look much like a serial killer.”
“What!” Corey laughed.
“Never mind, I’ll tell you all about it later,” she picked up her knapsack and sleeping bag. “There’s a cafe outside the station. We can swap information there and get to know one another better.”
“Great,” Corey walked beside her as she continued to chatter.
Over cold drinks and scones they told one another about their lives. Juliet’s eyes grew sad when she heard Corey’s story.
“God, it must have been awful, the foster homes and stuff,” she said.
“Some were not so bad,” he tried to shrug the memory off. “But some were a nightmare and speaking of such, I was wondering what your dreams are about.”
“It’s crazy, ok,” Juliet said. “I dream of another me,” she played with some fallen crumbs. “I see myself in another place and time. At least, I think it is me, but I’m not sure.”
“Mine are the same,” Corey gasped. “I keep dreaming about the castle and I hear its name in my head all the time.”
“You think that’s weird,” Juliet said. “Listen to this.”
She told him about the night before and the shadow self she saw in the mirror.
“Have you ever seen a giant sort of man thing?” Corey asked. “He’s about seven foot tall and dressed all in black.”
“I thought I saw something once,” Juliet said. “It was in the garden of my aunt’s house, but it was only there for a fraction of a second. I put it down to imagination or a trick of the light.”
“I’ve seen it up close and it’s no trick of the imagination,” Corey grew pale at the memory. “It’s the scariest thing I have ever seen, besides the monster dog, that it.”
“A monster dog,” Juliet’s eyes grew wide.
“It was huge, like a small cow and its eyes were red as fire,” Corey said.
“Wow,” Juliet found it hard to take everything in.
She reached up to twiddle with her hair, something she did when she was stressed.
“Ouch,” she gasped as a nail snagged on the chain around her neck.
“Are you OK?” Corey asked.
“Yes, I’ve broken a nail and it’s snagged on my chain,” she stood and leaned across the table. “Can you open the clasp for me?”
“Sure,” Corey pulled aside a mass of thick, red hair and pulled back the little clasp that held the chain in place.
“Thanks,” Juliet let the pendant fall in to her hand. “Damn, that’s always happening and just when I get my nails to the right length.”
Corey reached inside his shirt and pulled his chain free. The twin phoenix’s glittered in the watery sunlight.
“Juliet,” he whispered. “Look.”