Ava Elisabeth

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4/18/2019 10:19pm

Dear Diary,

It was really, really late or really early depending on when you had woken up. The air was dewy and the streets were quiet.

Officer Tavin sat at the counter of the diner gulping down a beer. It wasn't her first and it wouldn't be her last. No one else was in the diner, but Julio who wiped down the tables and vinyl benches of the booths. In front of Officer Tavin was a notebook filled with scribbles of angry handwriting. I peered in from the outside. My feet nervously kicked around the gravel of the unpaved parking lot. I had followed her here.

I contemplated whether or not to walk in. I knew I needed to talk to her, but the knot anxiety in my stomach beckoned me to look anywhere but the diner. My eyes glanced over to The Capricious Canoe. Caroline was reading behind the desk. The neon creating a bright halo around her head. She looked beautiful.

It was an inviting image.

So I looked away from the diner. I looked away from Officer Tavin
and I walked into The Capricious Canoe.

Ava Elisabeth

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4/10/2019 9:51pm

Dear Diary,

The campfire crackled softly and cast shadows across the sullen faces of the Mercurial Police Department. Sheriff Agité leaned towards the fire and poked it with stick. He was a sturdy man with a square jaw and heavy brow. His skin was uncharacteristically pale for the Arizona heat, but understandably so in the Mecrurial fog. He wore a big cowboy hat and old, but dependable clothes.

The air about them was unsteady and stagnant. The all of the officers were skittish and nervous after the day's events. That is everyone, but Sheriff Agrité and Officer Tavin.

"It isn't right," Officer Tavin said. The group groaned and mumbled against her.

"C'mon! I had to say it," She looked around the officers who all held their heads low. None of them met her gaze. She shook her head.

"Officer Tavin, We've talked about this," Sheriff Agrité's speech was clear and calm, "We can't be chase after every fool who leaves Mercurial,"

"This is our promised land!" She stood. Her stance was as strong as her conviction, "These sheep keep leaving! Keep coming to take away our people! And I am supposed to sit by and watch the town I love be destroyed?"

"Office Tavin," He said in a scolding tone, " As I've said before, if any of y'all have a problem with the ways I'm enforcing the law, you can take it up with the Mayor,"

Officer Tavin shook her head and silently plopped back onto the log she sat. She snorted, "You don't think of anything, but the Mayor's will,"

Sheriff Agrité's jaw clenched and his eye's narrowed. His tone became severe, "And you only think of idealistic poppycock. Is that my fault, too?"


He didn't give her time to speak, "The girl ain't gonna leave, Tavin," The officers tensely looked at the exchange, "I've been Sheriff for longer than you've been alive and I know a believer when I see one. She is the exact type of soul who wants to get lost,"

Officer Tavin looked to her feet.

"I'm not gonna start being a tyrant just to keep a couple fools in. If they can't recognize this place as it is, they don't belong here,"

Officer Tavin bit her lip, then shook her head.

"You got something to say?" Sheriff Agrité barked.

She scowled, "Well I do! The reality of Mercurial could be the reality everywhere, but your too busy thinking small. You are content with Mercurial slowly dying out, but I'm not and somehow that makes me a bad guy,"

"Leave, Tavin. You're gettin' hot headed,"

"Oh, Am I too much for you, old man?"

"Leave, Tavin,"

"And this isn't tyranny?" She gestured at the circle of tense officers, "You're off your rocker, if you think they are silent because they respect you,"


"They're only scared 'cuz they know what you do with people you don't like, but I'm not," She sneered and leaned towards the Sheriff, "I know your secrets Agrité and I could tell them all right now,"

He stood and yelled, "LEAVE,"

Two officers grabbed each of her arms and scoffed.

"I don't need this," She shook them off and stepped over the log.

"We don't need you,"

She shook her head and walked out the deep wood and back into the town.

Sheriff Agrité thought Tavin would come in the next day with hat in hand and a quick apology. He didn't regret anything.

Officer Tavin? She knew he would.

Ava Elisabeth

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2/10/2019 7:30pm

Dear Diary,

I am coming to the end of my second week in Mercurial. My time here has been amazing, but today, I am shaken.

I was walking out of the inn. Today it was called "Mary Sue's Bed and Breakfast and Amateur Good Ass Barbecue and Foot Massage" and in fact, did have good ass barbecue and foot massage, but I was planning on visiting the Capricious Canoe and it's next door diner for breakfast.

Caroline smiled and sat me at a booth in the empty diner. She handed me a menu, "I see you like it here. You've been here for about... a month, haven't you?"

"Oh no, I've only been here two weeks,"

"Oh, silly old me," She laughed, "Time just flies in Mercurial, Arizona,"

I smiled and ordered a coffee. I've never really had a taste for coffee, but in Mercurial it's delightful. I looked over the menu for a bit until the bell on the door rang.
I looked up to see the new customer and involuntrarily dropped my cup onto the table.
It spilled the coffee across the table.
Caroline rushed over, "Oh dear!" She pulled napkins out of her apron. I stared at the woman at the door, "Oh darling, don't you worry! Accidents happen,"

Julio left the grill to seat the women. "Thanks, Julio!" Caroline yelled over her shoulder.
"How many?" Julio said.

"Actually, I am meeting someone here," She interrupted in her welsh accent. She glanced around the diner and met my eyes. She pointed to me.
He nodded and walked her over to my table. She slid into the vinyl covered seat across from me.
"While I am hear, could I get you anything to drink, hon?" Caroline said.

"No, thank you,"

"Alright, I'll get you another coffee,"

We sat silent in the booth for a moment.

"Professor Branigan, What are you doing here?"

She smiled, "I've come to bring you back to Psychic High,"

"I've only been gone a little while,"

Her smile dropped, "No, you haven't been,"

"I'll be back in time for fall classes. You didn't have to drag yourself out..."

She interrupted me, "It's not summer, Ava,"

"It's July,"

"No, Ava, Listen to me, you have been her much longer than two weeks,"

"What are you talking about?"

"Tell me, Have you seen anything that tells you it is summer right now?"

"No, but it is just foggy here, so the weather doesn't change mu..."

"You are in Arizona,"

"I know, Why are you so freaked out about this?"

"Ava, If you were in Arizona in the summer, you would be able to tell. Arizona has a daily temperature of nearly 40 degrees Celsius and it is cold here,"

"No, It's just foggy here year round,"

"Okay, then tell me, is there anything physical that has told you it is the summer? A flyer, a calendar, a clock, anything?

"Well, of course..." I paused trying to think of something. The room seemed to get smaller.

"Ava, Why do you think it has been two weeks,"

"I..." I tried to think, but my mind only drew a blank, "No, no, no, it can't be. I know I've been here two weeks,"

"Ask her the date,"


"Ask the waitress the date,"

"I know what the date is. I got here on the tenth. It's the twenty- fourth..."

"Ask the waitress the date,"

I anxiously breathed, staring at Achava for a moment. Her face seemed to just slightly shift every moment. Almost like she was getting younger or older every moment.

"Caroline," She walked over.

"Yes, dear?"

"What's the date?" I tried to smile, but my quickening pulse prevented it.

"May the Ninth,"


"Yes siree, May the Ninth, 1953," She sing-songed
All the air that had been in my lungs left.

"How do you figure?" Achava said.

She laughed, "It's my 8th anniversary working here! I left Virginia April Second, 1945 and got her May Ninth that year,"

"Congratulations!" Achava said. I felt dizzy.

"Well, thanks darlin'! I'll be right back to get your orders,"

"No, no, no," I muttered.

"Ava, don't panic. It will be easier to leave, if you don't panic,"

"What is the date?"

"Please, breathe,"


"I can't know exactly. I am here too. I don't know how long I have been here,"

"Oh my god, Oh my god,"

"I enter Mercurial the first of February. You've been gone about 6 months,"

"No, no, no" I put my head in my hands.

"Ava, it's okay. I've been here before too, but you can still leave,"

"It's been six months!"

"Ava, calm down, all you need to do is leave," Achava looked out the window, "Oh no," I glanced out the window. A cop car was parking .

"What's going on?"

"Mercurial will change itself and do anything it can to keep you here," She said standing up, ", but it can't stop you from leaving. All you need to do is leave, Ava,"

The door jingled and two cops stepped in.

"What can I do for you officers?" Julio said wiping his hands on a rag.

"We're just looking for Achava Branigan. She's ran away from home, the little rascal,"

"We've only got two customers, but feel free to look!" The cops looked at Achava and gave a wicked smile, "There she is! Come on, Achava. It's time to go home,"

Achava leaned down to me, "Good luck,". She walked over to the cops and they took her out of the diner.

Then It was just me in the diner.

"So, what would you like to eat, sweet pea?" Caroline said.

Ava Elisabeth

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1/3/2019 9:45pm

Dear Diary,

My week in Mercurial has been amazing and I apologize for not writing. Ever since I arrived last Thursday, this town has been full of mysteries. The friendly diner and the spooky Capricious Canoe guard the town, but the town only has more and more to find.
At Mary Sue's Bed and Breakfast, they always have an additional attraction that appears each morning and disappears the same night.
The first day I came the large sign in front read "Mary Sue's Bed and Breakfast and Small ,but Respectable Wax Museum" and it did in fact, have a Small, but Respectable Wax Museum.
The next day it proclaimed "Mary Sue's Bed and Breakfast and Big Rico's Pizza" and behind the same door, it did in fact hold Big Rico's Pizza.
Then there was "Mary Sue's Bed and Breakfast and Daylight Donuts, Pleasant Grove, Utah," and the donuts were delicious.
On the fourth day, it was "Mary Sue's Bed and Breakfast and 24 Hour Lecture by a Reaction/Gaming Channel You Tuber on the Merits of Being Better Than Everyone Else"
On the fifth, "Mary Sue's Bed and Breakfast and Infinity War Was Overrated, But Whatever I'll Just Shut Up"
And finally today, "Mary Sue's Bed Breakfast, but when anyone says the word "breakfast" it speeds up"
It is both a lovely and puzzling place and is ran by a sweet married couple, Harriet and Mildred who were married in Mercurial's very own chapel, Notional First Church of Mercurial.
When I first came to the oddly shaped building somehow both resembling modern architecture and Victorian style, Harriet with her soft wavy grey hair and patchwork dress covered in bells and ornaments checked me in and then proceeded to walk me up a winding flight of stairs and down a narrow hallway. It took a while, because she walks with a cane, but she insisted on giving me the full "Mary Sue" experience.
"Here it is," she tapped her cane on the placard outside the room. It read "2b" .
When I left the building the following day to explore the town, upon return I couldn't find my room.
I approached Harriet while Mildred was nearby fixing a light bulb in her soft yellow canvas overalls.
"Ava!" She smiled coming out from behind the front desk. Her dress jingling with her, "How can I help you?"
She greeted me with a comforting hug. Harriet is the best at giving hugs
"Well, I can't find my room anywhere. It seems like the whole floor plan has changed,"
"Oh, well let me take a look," She slowly returned to her desk and pulled out her enormous leather book that somehow always hit the desk with a plume of dust. She turned to a page towards the middle of the book and traced her finger over the page "Ah! Yes. Right here,".
She motioned me to look, "See right here, The Sunset Suite,"
"No, I think this is a mistake," I began confused, "I'm in 2b,".
She stared at me blankly, "Oh dear, Mildred,"
Mildred continued working, "What, darling?"
"It's happening again," She turned back to me, "Ava, we always have this issue. Visitors always get lost and confused,"
She walked over to Mildred, "Mildred, can you show Ava to her room? It's the Sunset Suite. My leg is worse than usual,"
Mildred removed herself from her work and rubbed her hands on her overalls, "Alright, Ava follow me,"
Mildred was the near opposite of Harriet. She had a quick spring in her step that I could barely keep up with. Unlike Harriet's round and short stature, Mildred was lanky, but confident and nearly silent as she moved through the eccentric building. She shared Harriet's wavy grey hair, but she kept it up in a low messy bun.
She led me through various hallways, making sure to tell me the directions.
At first, I insisted that Harriet had made a mistake, but Mildred quickly shushed me.
When she reached the Sunset Room, I finally realized it. It was just like the sign outside and the attraction. The floor plan changed everyday.
"Try your key," Mildred said moving out of the way.
And sure enough, it was my room.

Okay, I have to go, but! I will write more and I promise I won't stay in Mercurial too long! I have been keeping really good track and making sure I don't stay too long. I promise I won't be here more than like three weeks!

With Love,
Ava Elisabeth

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9/14/2018 3:12pm

Dear Diary,

Julio and Caroline take turns trading shifts between the diner and The Capricious Canoe. A fact I was incredibly frightened by when I stepped into moody neon glow of the antiques shop to see Caroline sitting under one of the signs. Her swath of kinky curls atop her head casting a witchy shine onto her dark skin.
I jumped in fear and she looked up from the book she was reading with a little laugh, "Oh! I hope I didn't startle ya, hon"
I pressed a laugh out of my lungs. She placed a soft silky ribbon into her book and placed it down on the counter. She smiled than glanced behind me to a beautifully caved grandfather clock.
She sashayed from behind the counter, her a-line dress swinging softly.
"Julio and me take turns,"She grabbed her apron of a hook and pulled a key out of her pockets, "The owner of this place is a shut in, but pays well. I don't know how though. You're the first customer in months,"
"It's rather interesting. All this neon?" I said, not exactly asking a question.
"I suppose so," She laughed glancing at the sign behind her, "it creates quite the image doesn't it?" She said, not exactly asking a question.
She looked me up and down.
Okay, Diary, you're imagining it wrong. It wasn't a judgement look. Imagine it again.
Oh my god no, you're disgusting! It was like a warm hug. Try again.
Are you kidding me? Okay whatever never mind you won't get it. I'll just rephrase it.
She glanced at me with a smile, "I'll be right back hon, I've gotta feed the owner's cat. You can look around and such,"
And she walked off, key in hand.
I stood alone there for a moment. But it was too scary.
No,no,no, not like SCARY scary. Try again.
Really, that's the best you can do? It was like... like hearing a loud noise when you're all alone, but refusing to check it's source. Now do you get it?
Gawwwddd, you're terrible at this.
It doesn't matter ugh, I just left the store and hopped on my motorcycle in search of "Mary Sue's".
Mercurial was turning out to be a rather interesting place.

Misconceived ,
Ava Elisabeth

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8/16/2018 11:53am

Dear Diary,

Mercurial, Arizona is not a place you usually find on purpose.
Before Caroline could leave, a family shuffled in, a mother and two set of twins, one a girl and boy and the other two girls. Their clothing was messy and their hair was greasy. They all carried bags of some sort filled to the brim with belonging. They squeezed into a booth together and the mother announced the children could get anything they wanted.
"Julio will be over in a sec to help y'all, okay?" She smiled after pouring the children hot chocolates and the mother a coffee. Then Caroline disappeared into the fog, cigarettes in hand.
The children were excited and talked among themselves. The mother wore a smile, but her true disposition was shown by her shaky hand gripping on the coffee cup and the way she scanned the room and the foggy outside. She was scared.
I took a deep breath and forced myself to ask her, " Are you okay?"
She did look my way, but then noticed me, "Oh! I'm sorry, we're you talking to me?" she drew the words out all jittery.
"Yeah," I smiled, "Are you okay?"
"Um," she looked around and pushed her smile forward, "I think so,"
The bell on the door sounded and a tall, wide figure emerged from the fog.
The woman jumped up and yelped and in the process knocked over her cup of coffee.
The figure was Julio, the other waiter. A tall, chubby Hispanic man with a kind smile and a bag of oranges and a small hairless cat in his arms.
She immediately began to apologize profusely furiously grabbing paper napkins.
It wasn't really clear who she was apologizing to. Maybe her children. Maybe me. Maybe Julio. Maybe herself.
Julio put the cat down and oranges on the floor.
"No sorrys, you're all good," He said with a smile wiping the coffee up with a rag, "See! Just coffee!"
The woman was so stretched thin that at that moment she had nothing left to keep herself packed together. She began to sob with her head in her hands. Ashamed.
She was trying to be strong for her children.
Julio got down to his knees, "Hey," he said softly, "it is going to be okay. You are going to be okay. You're safe,"
And she reached out and hugged Julio. And Julio hugged her.
After that moment of absolute silence in the diner, Julio stood.
"Now what can I get started for you?"
Soon the table was piled up with all the children's favorites and the mother smiled.
This time it was real.

Mercurial, Arizona is not a place you usually find on purpose, but usually it is exactly what you need.

Ava Elisabeth

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8/16/2018 11:26am

Dear Diary

Mercurial, Arizona is not a place you usually find on purpose.
"It was just being trapped, ya know? I really needed this place. It's all mine, not a husband or relative can say otherwise," said Caroline, a bubbly waitress wiping down the counter of the diner, "One day I found him with another woman and I just had to go. I jumped on a bus, trying to get to California, but ya know,"
She spoke in a sweet southern twang and looked straight out of the fifties. She had left her life behind in Virginia, where she had a drunk husband and a critical family to become her own person.
"I found this place, saw a 'we're hiring' sign and well," She paused and put her hands on her hips with a laugh, "Doesn't look I've left quite yet!"
I smiled and she turned around and grabbed a coffee pot from the machine, "Good thing we've got the best damn coffee this side of the nation!" She filled up my cup with a smile, "You take care dear, I'm on break now, but Julio will be over soon!"
"Good luck!" I said. It was two of the very few words I had said few words in our conversation, which might sound unpleasant, but was truly calming. I stared into my swirling coffee cup. My breathing steady and reliable. My heartbeat following its balanced path. I hadn't realized how scared I was until it had melted away. This diner was exactly what I needed.

Mercurial, Arizona is not a place you usually find on purpose, but usually it is exactly what you need.

Ava Elisabeth

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8/9/2018 10:18am

Dear Diary,

It's called The Capricious Canoe.

In the misty, humid air surrounding the half lit neon sign obscured by looming technicolor motorcyclists and a generous dose of fear, I read it as The Caper Cafe. I later found out it was a common mistake and brought in many travelers looking for a greasy meal and comforting plastic booth.

The Capricious Canoe itself was not a diner or a cafe, but instead a curious antiques shop filled to the brim with all kinds odd items. The shop was divided into four sections, each boldly lit with it's own neon sign. They were bordered off messily by paper screens, bookcases, or thrown together cardboard creations.

I followed the winding crumbling road down into the town. It was small, dilapidated and either blessed or plagued by a constant fog that filled the streets. It seemed odd, considering the freeway had been surrounded by dusty, red desert, but it was a welcome change. The coolness of the air felt nice on my burnt skin.

When I pulled up to the antiques shop, I found it with a matching neon sign. This time due to it's disrepair, it only displayed five letters -"The no".

I laughed dryly to myself.

Luckily, next door was a small diner that gained many a customer from the antique shop's poor sign maintenance.

A paper sign was plastered on the front window of the antique shop, many items filling up the little space behind it. "There is no Caper Cafe Food next door, boarding at Mary Sue's" The sign said scrawled in a messy script. I glanced over to see, in fact, the nameless little diner with a decent number customers eating plates of food.

I jumped off my motorcycle and walked towards the little diner, but I looked back.
I glanced at the store and I noticed it.

Underneath the glow of the neon sign was a old fashioned, chipping, hand-painted sign displaying in bold text,


Ava Elisabeth

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7/28/2018 1:23pm

Dear Diary,

I've begun my ride back to Shelly's Hollow Heart Craft & Hobby.
I stopped at Jimmy's Haunted Used Automobile and Motorcycle behind the Haunted Shipyard and next to the McDonalds and got a used motorcycle.
I went in with the idea to just buy a car, but then I saw a shiny, cherry red motorcycle perched in the showroom and with it's substantially low price tag (not a lot of ghosts ride motorcycles so they are dead weight in the Haunted Automobile business) I had to purchase it.
Well, I didn't have to. I just did.... um.....
There is this van that feel like has been following me? I mean, they probably aren't following me, this is like main road and lots of people.... use it......
Sorry... um
Oh I know what you are thinking right now, "Writing and Driving is dangerous and a crime! How could you do this!? blah blah blah" but I am using speech to text okay?
I am totally..... safe... uhh
Diary, I apologize, I am little distracted.....The van that is behind me, containing two tall people with gruff expressions are now being flanked by a hoard of people wearing pastel polo shirts with fishnet shirts on top?? and they are wearing leather pants? All of them have super bright spiky hair...
which.... you should always ride with a helmet on because... ummm
safety is the number one priority.... umm..........which i am not wearing a helmet,.... um, because I didn't buy one so... shame on me....

They are.... passing peanuts around?? to each other?? um..........
this is........
Uh I am going to pull over into this diner that's coming up, it's called the...the Caper Cafe? Better then nothing. I have some food and check up on journels... okay yeah.

I'll be back!
Ava Elisabeth

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7/9/2018 1:28pm

Dear Diary,
Pancakes are grand. Cold butter hits a red hot pan and sizzles out into a memory of it's former self. Smooth pale batter, with the occasional clump of flour pours into the pan letting off a satisfying sizzle.
Then you watch until exact right moment and slide a spatula underneath to flip the now golden side over. Then again you watch and wait till you can slide the pancake onto the clean, chill plate.
Well, It wasn't exactly like that. I was crouched over a hotplate with fancy, french frying pan, pouring cheap shake-and-make batter frying in an awkward shape.
@Cave Girl Claire politely sewing a new leather supply vest for her cave adventures on a newly made bed. Spiffy curled behind her with Kalingrad snuggled up against her.
I slid the pancake onto paper plate with a plastic fork nearly destroying it. I frowned at it, but nevertheless, stood up with a smile and handed the paper plate to Claire.
"Nah," She dug into the pancakes, distractedly eating her food.
I nervously sat down holding my flimsy paper plate. I had decided to stay the night to help Claire out the room back together and after I saw how she took care of Kalingrad, how she was looking for missing students, when I saw how she was just such a good person, I couldn't just leave. I woke up in the middle of the night sweaty and anxious and I couldn't just leave after this.
So I went to the Student Shop and the only edible things that weren't questionably radioactive were shake-and-make pancake mix, packets of Top Ramen, and a box of mac'n' cheese. Decidedly nostalgic, I purchased the pancake mix and headed back to the dorm.
So there I am. A hot paper plate leaving my thighs damps and too hot sitting on the edge of freshly made bed. The pancakes were a mere formality to me. I wasn't hungry in the slightest. I was just looking at Claire expectantly. She was just sewing and eating with a pleasant contentment. I felt like something was supposed to happen. It was in my bones, under my skin, a buzz of need. I didn't know what it was. I don't know what it is, but Claire was oblivious to it.
I don't know what I was looking for, or why it was from some innocent girl who barely knows me.
But it still pulsed through me the entire time.
Then She stood up with her new entourage of creatures, Spiffy and Kalingrad.
"Thanks for the food!" She smiled, "I'll see you round then?"
"I'll see you round," I weakly smiled, my pancake soggy.
She turned out the door, but then peaked back in.
"Hey Ava?"
"You're gonna be okay," She smiled, "I am too"
"Thank you, Claire"
"Of Course"
My entire body felt as if it sighed. Relief.
It was exactly what I needed.
I was going to be okay.
I am going to be okay.

Ava Elisabeth

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