Age Rating: 10 +
She was on her way home. Her long brunette curls were streaming behind her as she skipped; humming to the tune she had made up, as she made her way down the vacated sidewalk. Her eyes were filled with pure joy. She had never been scarred by anything or hurt by anyone. She never knew what it was like to feel pain, until, that is, she heard a voice calling her.
“Hey…” the voice whispered.
The girl looked from left to right. She had no idea where the voice was coming from.
“Hello?” she asked hesitantly. Her skipping had stopped, however she continued to walk.
“Come here…” said the raspy voice.
The girl walked slightly faster, thinking that she was hearing voices.
“In here,” said the dire voice.
The girl looked around again, but was disappointed to not find anyone. She knew she was not allowed to talk to strangers, let alone look for them, but the girl’s extreme curiosity got the best of her.
“Where are you?” she asked dubiously.
“Over here,” the voice said eerily, “Follow the sound of my voice…voice…voice…”
The voice echoed through the streets, and the girl, though she her parents would not countenance this kind of behavior, ran down the sidewalk, excitedly searching for where the voice came from.
She ran down the street faster and faster. She searched the streets for a person, but nobody was there. She picked up speed as she turned the corner and passed the many stores.
“Voice…voice…voice,” the voice continued.
The girl became exhilarated as she began to pump her legs harder and zoom down the street. She studied every store, every building, every street, even, for a person; but there was nobody.
“I can’t find you,” the girl shouted in no particular direction as she continued to propel her legs.
“Follow the sound of my voice,” the voice repeated.
The girl continued to run down the street. Finally, at the crossroads, she sighed and flung her backpack on the ground. She plopped onto the ground and leaned her back against her beaten bag. She knew it was hopeless. She knew she would never find where the voice was coming from.
Hugging her knees, the girl whispered once more, “Where are you?”
“Here,” she heard the voice say.
The girl whipped her head around and saw a dark figure standing in the alley.
“Who are you?” the girl asked politely. The girl stood and squinted, trying to see into the dark ally, but of course she could not see a thing.
The figure lingered in the ally and didn’t reply.
“Who are you?” the girl demanded once more.
The figure remained silent and stood there eerily.
The girl tilted her head to one side and began to walk toward the figure. The girl reached out her hand. The startled figure jumped backwards.
“I won’t hurt you,” the girl said in a motherly tone, one much like her own mother’s.
The girl crept toward the lofty figure, until she was just feet away. She could make out that the figure was a man, now
“Don’t worry,” the girl said sweetly with a smile, as she continued to make her way toward the person, “I wouldn’t do something like that.”
The girl’s attention was focused on the man’s hands. They pulled his jacket tight around his body to the point where his knuckles were white. His fingers were long and bony. His hand had something goopy dripping from it. She could not tell what it was, but whatever was trickling from his hand he was trying to hide, because he immediately shoved it into his pocket. The girl silently reached for his wrist and delicately removed his right hand from the pocket. She realized his hand was dripping with blood. Automatically she thought the man had hurt himself somehow.
“Don’t worry,” the girl said tenderly, “Everything will be ok.” She started to rub his hand with both of her hands, realizing that they were ice cold. She got blood on her hands, but she did not mind.
Once the man’s hand was warm the girl patted it and stuck it back in his pocket.
“There,” she said, “Good as new.”
The girl wiped her bloodied hands on her uniform kilt and began to fix the man’s rumpled coat, “You should take better care of yourself. Your hands were bitterly cold. You should wear gloves to keep them warm, or else you’ll get frostbite.”
The girl then removed her hands from the collar of his coat, “My momma says that frostbite is bad. It can make you have to get a limb cut off,” the girl looked up at the man’s face, which was turned away, “Have you ever gotten frostbite?”
The man quickly lashed his head around and looked at her with beady, malevolent eyes. They were black as night and full of hatred. His mouth had a detrimental smirk across it. He had a scar extending from his nose to his left ear that screamed of an untold nightmare that had happened, or that was just about to.
The girl jumped back, startled by his scary scar and eerie eyes and malevolent mouth. The man grabbed the girl’s arm. The girl let out a high-pitched, terrified scream.
“Hush ya mouth, girl,” the man with the scar hissed.
“Let me go!” the girl wailed, “Leave me alone!”
“I said, shut up!” the man roared.
Tears began to run down the girl’s horrified face. The man grabbed her waist and covered her howling mouth with his gigantic, bloody hands.
“Come with me, now!” the man ordered, “And if you don’t…” The man pulled a dagger from his pocket with the hand that wasn’t covering the girl’s mouth.
The girl’s eyes grew big in panic. Immediately she bit the man’s hand.
The man wailed and, though he grabbed the girl’s arm, removed his hand from her mouth.
“Help!” she screamed, “Someone help me!”
I looked at the girl. Her eyes were wide with terror. She looked at me with pleading eyes.
“Help me!” she yelled at me, “Get this man away from me!”
I looked at her, then the man, but did nothing.
“Please! Do something!” she cried.
I stood and stared at her, but once again did nothing.
“Don’t just stand there!” she wailed. Tears ran faster down her face.
She began to choke on her tears.
“P-p-p-please! D-don’t let him-m t-t-take me!” she cried.
The man got a firm hold on her and started to drag her further into the alley.
The girl gave me a horrible look; a look made of pure fright. Her mouth opened, but she didn’t say anything. She knew I could do nothing to save her.
“Please…” she whispered, “Help…”
I looked at her one last time, and then took off down the street, not wanting to watch what was yet to come. I saw the girl reach out toward me as I ran off, but I didn’t do anything. I wouldn’t do anything. I couldn’t…
I ran down the street at full speed. I wanted to get as far away as possible, because I knew what was coming.
I ran faster and faster, trying to get as far away as possible. From the distance I heard a high-pitched, terrified scream. It echoed through the streets and rang through my ears over and over again. I wished I had done something.
I ran faster and faster and closed my eyes.
“There was nothing I could have done,” I whispered to myself. I began to repeat that phrase over and over again.
”There was nothing I could have done…There was nothing I could have done…There was nothing I could have done…There was nothing…Nothing…Nothing…N-”
Suddenly my eyes flew open and I saw bright lights speeding toward me. I heard tires screech and people shout, then suddenly I was pushed over by a sudden force, and everything went blank.
My eyes shot open. I was dreaming again. But that time I was sure it was real; I was sure I was back on that street and I was sure those terrible things happened again. I pressed my forehead against the window and watched the rain run down the smooth glass. Why couldn’t I just forget? …Why couldn’t I move on and forget those ugly nightmares from the past…?
I sat in front of the window listening to the rain run down the glass. The sound of the rain pouring down on the roof seemed to soothe my nerves.
The TV droned on in the background.
“Mark Kingston here. After having to make several phone calls we have proved the rumors true. That’s right. We are officially at war with the east, and I'm telling you, it's about time.. Anyway, the WU declarred war, after the East bombed several of our port cities. Luckily, nobody was killed. The WU has been discussing the matter of drafting. More updates to follow…”
I reached for the remote and switched off the TV.
Great…A war…Just what the world needs right now…
I mumbled to myself about nonsense as I slowly began to drift back into sleep.
The beige walls of the room I shared with my two sisters seemed to melt together, and the bunk bed Lucy and I shared seemed to be misshaped. The color of the blue blankets seemed to splatter on the walls, and Heather’s bed, sitting alone in one corner of the room seemed distorted. Her wooden bedposts seemed crooked. And her once plain navy sheets started to turn multicolored. Lucy’s many “works of art” that hung on the wall seemed to fuse into one. The room that was only made up of the bunk bed, Heather’s bed, a bedside table and a chair, was normally really spread out, but the walls seemed to be closing in, and the room seemed somewhat crowded. My head felt heavy and my eyes began to droop. Sleep was coming soon. I closed my bright violet eyes and listened to the rain as I slowly drifted off into sleep. Then I heard another yelp from the room down the hall, sending shivers up my spine. My eyes fluttered open and I could not help but worry. My parents were arguing again.
Ever since Lucy was born my parents never seemed to stop arguing; at first it was just small arguments, like what color to paint the bathroom, but lately it’s been worse; much worse. Shouts seem to shatter the windows and the sounds of slamming doors seem to echo through the halls daily. Poor Lucy, being only being five years old, has never seen my parents the way I did when I was young. They were happy as a couple could possibly be.
But, then again, the arguing was not that bad until my dad joined in the war; a civil war. The war was mainly between the North and the South, however, toward the midway point of the war, the war spread throughout the entire west. The war ended with a simple treaty stating the west needed a common form of government, the Western Union. We still use the WU to this very day.
My dad, when the war had ended, seemed to know everything. I’d constantly pester my father about war. When I was little I’d always ask him to tell me stories about his travels. War seemed to fascinate me when I was younger, but now, I know better. My mother said that war was a terrible thing filled with uncoordinated governments, hatred and arguments. Of course, at the time, I’d never experienced war, but now, I know what my mother meant when she said how horrible war was.
My father thought we should basically bomb all of Europe and Asia, thinking that they can cause nothing but trouble. Mother, however, thought differently. Being the peace loving person she is, she thought there were better ways to deal with our enemies than with violence. The different ideas on war, however, only were the beginning of the arguments. Suddenly, everything went wrong. Mother and Father argued about anything that could possibly have two different opinions. Then Heather started making friends with the “not-so-friendly” crowd, if you know what I mean. Once Lucy was born the problems in our family only got worse. Heather would stay out later and later only getting in more and more trouble. Lucy started having trouble sleeping at night. My parents would not shut up with their stupid arguments. And then, there is me. I think I have been affected the most. For, since my parents started arguing, I was changed for good. But, then again, I don’t think my parents arguments were the cause of me changing, but they added on. My drastic change in personality and lifestyle began with a terrible event that had caused me to silently dread others. I became more logical, down to earth, more reserved, even. I’m not an outcast at school, or anything like that. No, I’m far from it, actually. I’m a very outgoing person, but when I’m at home, life seems to drift on like a wisp in the breeze. Darkness seems to overthrow me, and it’s like a mask is removed from my face, revealing a different me. But, now more than ever, life at home seems to be more like an exile than a bit of time off. Personally, I’m happy school is starting tomorrow. But, not only does school mean time away from home, but, also, school means Faith. Faith has been my best friend since we started school. We do everything together and now, we’re both fourteen years of age. Faith and I, we’re complete opposites. Faith jumps into things quickly and approaches things with a positive attitude. No, I’m not saying that I’m a pessimist or anything like that, but you know, since about 6 years ago, I am not really sure who I am, let alone my personality.
Though, surprisingly enough, Faith and I haven’t seen each other since the last day of school last year. Why? Well, she’s been off with her parents during the entire summer in some exotic country. Her parents study plants and animals and stuff like that. Which, personally I find boring, but, of course, Faith thinks differently. Unlike my family, Faith’s is well kept and organized. Faith is an only child, and most of the time her parents are working, though they work at home. I like Faith’s house, it is peaceful and quiet, but she claims it is too quiet, but even Faith must agree that my home gets a little out of hand. It seems that there is always a problem, a crime or a slamming door in my house.
Speaking of slamming doors, someone has slammed one rather loudly. I quickly tip-toed from my spot at the windowsill and closed the burgundy curtains, until they were like how they were before; lifeless. Then I quickly kneeled by the closed door of the bedroom and pressed my ear against the door. Silently, I listened.
“Will you just listen to me, Luis?” I heard my mother’s voice shout. I could tell they were probably arguing over something pointless, again. Maybe it is about what color they should paint the shutters. No, wait, that argument was last week.
“I told you, for the last time, Lily, my mind is made up!” my father shouted back. I could hear the anger in his voice slowly rise.
“Don’t you care about the family? Do you have any idea what this could do to us?” my mother seemed like she was pleading more than arguing. Obviously she had grown desperate; whatever they’re arguing about must be somewhat important. Maybe mother suggested the house should be painted pink again, that makes dad nearly throw himself out of the window.
My father, well, he was not an ordinary soldier during the war, he, actually, used to be the lieutenant. He would make treaties and travel from place to place, and that is how he knows so much about war and the exotic placed on earth. But, those days are long since past, it’s been at least fifteen years since he’s last been on the warfront. I’d be surprised if he still knew how to put on his uniform. Father seemed to have completely left his military life since I was born; after all, he’s a complete softy. A softy around kids, I mean. Around my mom, well, that’s a different story.
My mother continued to plead, “Please, you can just say that you can’t-”
“It’s out of my hands,” my father interrupted, “I can’t do anything but go with the orders given by the general.”
Wait,Orders? I am confused. “Generals” deal with wars. My father was long since retired, so army was definitely out of the question. Maybe the general is going to make us move for safety, again. I shuddered at the idea. That cannot be it either. What can the enemy possibly want with MY father? Sure, he’s an ex-lieutenant, and all, but come on, what can they possibly do with an ex-lieutenant? He’s got nothing except for his family now. He has no up to date information on the war or any weapons, so, let’s face it, if they’re going to make us move again, I’m going to put my foot down, because, obviously there is no point in moving in the first place. After all, without Faith, who will tell me what my homework is when I’m “resting my eyes” during class? Heather is out of the question, so, obviously, there is nobody.
“Will you please, just try to take a moment to consider this,” my mother begged.
“For the last time, there is nothing I can do,” my father sighed, “We’ll just have to tell the girls at dinner.” Once I heard those words I knew the truth, we’re definitely moving.
“We have to make it quick, though,” my mother’s voice softened, “Heather is going somewhere tonight.”
“Oh, right,” my father turned angry, “Why do you let her go out every night?”
My mother’s voice raised again, “Me? You are the one that said she can go out any day during the summer!”
“It isn’t my fault that…” my father’s voice slowly faded, as did my mother’s replies. After hearing several fading footsteps, I was guessing they were going downstairs to finish their argument. After all it was Lucy’s 5:00 nap time. And she is fast asleep.
Suddenly I heard a small whimper. Well, Lucy was fast asleep. I swiftly removed my ear from the bedroom door and walked over the Lucy’s bottom bunk to tend to her. She was nearly engulfed by the blankets she had covered herself in. If it were not for the small patch of blonde curls poking out the top of the bundle of blankets and pillows, I would have mistaken her for a pile of laundry. I pulled away the blankets to reveal Lucy. Her tiny body was trembling and her dark brown eyes were filled with worry and remorse. Tears ran down her soft jaw line, and her pink t-shirt, and soft silk pants were wrinkled, as if she were tossing and turning. Lucy’s blond curls were tangled and a complete mess. Her bloodshot eyes told me everything; she was miserable. It made me feel horrible knowing that my parents were doing this to Lucy. And, the saddest part was, they did not notice how miserable they were making their youngest daughter. And if they did notice, they obviously did not care.
“They’re d-doing it a-again…” Lucy whimpered as tears dripped down her sorrowful face. I ruffled her curls and tucked her into bed, making sure the blankets would not suffocate her this time.
“It’s ok, just go back to sleep, and when you wake up it will be over,” I said as I sat on her bed and I fluffed her pillow.
“But, what if they don’t stop this time? What if they keep arguing forever?” she cried.
I looked at her with a sad smile, “It will end soon. These things can’t go on forever.”
Lucy sat up from her bed. Her once sad brown eyes flickered with hope, “Promise?”
“Promise,” I reassured, “Now, go to bed, dinner’s going to be ready soon.” Lucy’s tears stopped as she returned her head to her pillow. She nodded approvingly and quickly fell back asleep.
With her being peacefully asleep I got up from the side of her bed and opened the door; quickly I tip-toed down the hall. I slowly made my way through the house, being on my way to the kitchen, so I could try to help make dinner, when a noise caught my attention; it was coming from the bathroom. I stopped in my tracks, and turned the other way. Once I reached the bathroom I quickly whipped my head around the corner and saw Heather.
She looked beautiful as always. Her freshly curled hair-she did not have natural curls like Lucy and I- was perfect in every way. Her blonde curls were shiny, as if they were the kind you find on a new doll, and her violet eyes were filled with concentration as she stood over the sink in the bathroom, with eyeliner in one hand, and a tube of mascara in the other. Personally, I despised makeup more than Ms. Avery, our cranky next door neighbor; but Heather thinks differently.
“It brings out your inner beauty,” I remember her saying to me when I had asked her why she enjoyed putting on the atrocious stuff several years ago. But, covering your face in gook is not my definition of “bringing out your inner beauty.”
I invited myself into the bathroom and leaned against the wall with my arms folded across my chest, watching Heather put down her mascara and eyeliner, and carefully apply her blush.
When she put down her blush I called, “Hey, you missed a spot.” Heather, noticing she was no longer alone whipped her head around and glared at me with her bright violet eyes.
“What the hell do you want?” she hissed.
I smirked, “Nice to see you, too.”
Heather looked annoyed by my sarcasm, “Get out of my bathroom!”
“It’s our bathroom,” I corrected, “And I’m not leaving. I have every right to be in here as you do.” Seeing that she could not say anything to make me leave, I sat on the side of the bathtub and looked up at her satisfyingly. The smirk still remained on my face. She sighed and went back to her makeup. Even she knew it was impossible to change my mind.
Heather, once she had finished, put her makeup back on her makeup shelf. Yup, that’s right, there’s an entire shelf dedicated to her stupid makeup, and not to mention another dedicated to her stupid “medicine”. Though I knew they were far from medicine. They were drugs. Any kind of drug you could find, they were most definitely there. Heather went to her “medicine” shelf and selected a red, tiny bottle. She smiled and carefully placed the vile in her purse.
“If you get caught, you’re going to get in more trouble than you already are in,” I said, not out of concern, but just to remind her of what happened last time she slipped a drug into my parents’ drinks. The drinks at one point got spilled over, and some got into my drink, and after drinking one drop I had completely forgotten what day it was and randomly said, “Heather, why don’t you stay out past your curfew and have fun? Our family dinners are extremely boring anyway.” Right after those words slipped out of my mouth Heather had to clean the kitchen, and do the dishes for an entire week. It was horrifying. Well, horrifying for her; for me it was satisfying.
“So, I won’t get caught,” she said as she tossed her perfect blonde curls over her shoulder. It’s funny how I am the only one in the family that does not have perfect blonde hair. I was stuck with a large mess of brown curls, and not the nice simple big curls, but tiny ones that get everywhere, and turn into a big mess if you brush them for too long.
“Don’t you think you’re taking advantage of the only thing your good at?” I snorted.
“When you have a gift,” Heather said shaking a finger, “Use it.” Heather then quickly threw her compact into her purse and headed for the bathroom door.
“Or better yet, have some fun with your life,” she added. I stood and glared at her as she left the bathroom.
“At least I have a life!” I called after her, though I knew she was too far to hear me.
If there were two things that angered me the most, my parents stole first place with their arguing, of course. Heather, however, is barely behind them with second place. Heather’s complaining is fine, but when she started to talk about the way I live my life it really angers me. She needs to get her own life straight before she can lecture me about mine. And, either way, I personally think my life is fine. Unlike her, I do not run around everywhere starting trouble and getting drunk at parties. Sure, my life may not be as adventurous as Heather’s, but at least my life has some structure to it. Besides, my life is not that boring. I have friends… and, well, friends. And believe me; if Heather thinks those stupid clones of hers are “friends”, then she has some serious issues that she needs to work out.
Suddenly it hit me that I was planning to help cook dinner, before I got sidetracked by Heather. Quickly I ran from the bathroom and went downstairs, I had to make sure that Heather didn’t slip whatever she stuck into her purse into my drink. When I reached the kitchen nobody was there. Pots and pans were neatly stacked in the sink. The bright red walls had no signs of hand marks, or fingerprints, telling me that my mother had done the meal. The stove was clean. I would have thought my family had simply abandoned me if it were not for the little note on the counter. I picked up the note. It read:
I made dinner. I thought you needed a night off. I made the salad that Heather asked me to make, especially for her diet. Come into the dining room.