Age Rating: 10 +
This puzzled me. Not the fact that Heather was a complete stick, and she was on yet another diet, but the fact that Mother made dinner. She never does things like that. Did they forget that I had bought some food from the market earlier that day for this dinner? But, no, they could not have forgotten. This must be because of the “news” Mother and Father needed to tell us. Quickly I wheeled my way into the dining room. Surprisingly everyone was sitting at the table waiting for me.
They all silently stared at me, as I did back.
“Kela,” my mother said nervously, “Please…sit… s-sit d-d-down.” My mother could barely spit out her last few words. Her pale complexion was paler than usual, and her once soft face was covered with signs of worry and regret. Mother’s blond hair-yes, that’s right, yet another person in our family that has blond hair - was pulled back into a ponytail, giving me a good view of her eyes, which are usually covered by her incredibly long bangs-Heather told me Mother is growing them out, but if she is, then she has been for the past three years. A shaky hand pointed to the empty seat between Heather and Lucy. Immediately I sat. The food was already set out in front of me. It looked somewhat cold, as if it had been sitting there for a while. Mother must have done this last minute.
“Now, children,” my mother’s voice was stronger, but even Lucy could tell she was still nervous, “We have something to tell you.” I shifted my weight, causing the old wooden chair my father bargained for during one of his trips to Egypt. Heather whipped her head around and glared at me; I made a face at her. Mother didn’t seem to notice.
“I know this might be h-hard for you to u-understand,” Mother stopped and cleared her voice, “But I-I think -we think- it’s about time you know…” I looked over at Lucy, to see if I could tell what she was thinking, but all I saw was a blank expression. I attempted to study her face more carefully to try to pick up a hint of an emotion, but there were none.
“Now, I would like for you to take this lightly,” my mother continued. The creases in her forehead started to show; right away I could tell she was trying to explain something bad, “After all, you three had nothing to do with it...”
I shifted my weight again, finding the other side of the chair more comfortable, and moved my gaze from Lucy to my dinner plate. I picked through some of the greens on my plate, trying to move the light green ones to one side, and the dark ones to the other. After getting them completely separated I took a spoonful of the dark greens a moved them closely to my lips.
“Please understand that this decision is final,” my mother avoided eye contact with everyone at the table, “And… in some ways we thought it would be for the best.”
To Mother say “this decision is final” made me uneasy. Now, feeling sick to my stomach, I lowered spoonful of greens from my lips.
“I must ask you three not to find this too much of a shock…”
I looked at the spoonful of food with disgust, having now completely lost my appetite. Not knowing what to do with this food, that now I had noticed smelled like rotten eggs, I flicked the food at Heather, whom was peacefully about to put a spoonful of food into her mouth.
She immediately slammed her spoon down, causing a rattling noise to echo through the house. Everyone looked up from their dinner. Even Mother stopped blabbing on.
“Will you just leave me alone?” she screamed. Everyone stared at Heather, thinking she had gone mad; obviously nobody had noticed my flinging of food. Heather’s face turned scarlet, immediately I could tell she was angry. A slimy spoonful of food dripped down her angered face, leaving a trail of dressing behind it. I couldn’t help but smile; this was hilarious.
“Do you think this is funny?” Heather pointed to the food covering her face, “I spent an hour doing my make up!”
“Wow, and you said that I had no fun with my life,” I said smartly, remembering what she had said to me in the bathroom just a few moments ago. I knew I was being a smart-alec, but sometimes I just cannot help it.
Heather immediately stood, “You’re such a dumbass! At least I wear makeup!”
“Heather!” my mother cried, “Stop using such foul words at the table! Please, just-”
I jumped from my chair, “Ha! Me a dumbass? Who’s the one failing a class?”
“Kela, please!” my mother whispered. Obviously, she lost her assertiveness after I mentioned the fact that her first, and most cherished, daughter isn’t perfect.
“Both of you,” she continued, “Calm down, before I-”
“Well at least I have better things to do other than sitting in my room studying all day!” my sister screamed.
Now, I was angry. I could already tell where this was going. Immediately I tried to steer away from this most difficult subject to discuss.
“It’s our room!” I yelled back. Even though it was a lame comeback, it was better than nothing. Mother stared at her dinner plate.
“You two,” she said in a small voice, “Please…” She slowly drifted off. She knew there was no point in continuing. Heather and I were not listening, anyway.
I stiffened my back and stood on my toes, hoping I’d look taller, though, it is impossible to look the slightest bit over four feet with my sister standing as close as she was to me. Why could not have I been blessed with Heather’s towering figure that has gotten her many “Ooh’s” and “Ah’s” as we walk down the street. Sure, I’m tall for my age, but, with Heather as a sister, you always feel out of place. I opened my mouth to continue, but Heather beat me to it.
“It used to be my room,” Heather shot back, “before you decided to be born, you skank.”
I glared at Heather, “Well, either way, even if I wasn’t born, there would still be one more person you’d have to share a room with, now, wouldn’t you?” I glanced at Lucy. She was blankly staring up at the both of us, not saying a word or doing a thing, simply staring. I looked back at Heather, staring harshly into her pain stricken eyes. I knew she would have nothing to say in return. I had caught her off guard, for I too knew her weak points.
Seeing how Heather was not going to say anything, I decided to continue, “See? You forgot about her, didn’t you? You’re nothing but I forgetful, uncaring little-”
“Stop it, both of you!” A voice boomed.
Both Heather and I whipped our heads around. It was our father. I had nearly forgotten he was even sitting at the table. He had neither said a word, nor looked like he was listening, for that matter. He had a newspaper sitting on his lap, and his dinner remained untouched.
“Sit down!” my father ordered. Both of us immediately scrambled to our seats, for if there was one thing you did not want to do, it was to anger my father.
I stared at the pale yellow walls, attempting not to have eye contact with Father. I knew he was angry, but I desperately did not want to look at his angry face, every time I do, I feel sick to my stomach.
The walls seemed dark, as if keeping secrets, and the picture on the wall of our family, seemed to sway with dismay. Even the white curtains that my father brought back from the East seemed depressed. If an inanimate object could be depressed, I mean.
“Now,” he said in a much calmer voice, “Lily, please, continue…”
“Oh, um, right,” my mother said in a quiet voice, “So your father…he…well…this is hard to explain…”
“Well, go on with it then, Lily,” my father said in a stern voice.
I could not help but peek at my father just then. His dark brown eyes looked irritated and his thick, curly, dark brown hair seemed to stick up on the back of his neck- that’s right! My father, the only one with brown hair in the entire family tree, had given me that one gene, that stupid brown hair. Cursed gene pool! He looked like he was about to be sent over the edge. After seeing Father’s face I decided that there was no point in avoiding looking at him. I had already looked; therefore, I might as well pay full attention.
“I’m not sure where to start…” Mother’s voice slowly drifted off into oblivion.
“Well, then start from the beginning,” my father ordered. Mother opened her mouth, and then closed it. It looked as if she were searching for the right words, but found none.
“Would you like me to tell them?” my father asked coldly. He seemed annoyed. Mother didn’t answer him; she just stared blankly at him, as if she had no idea what he was telling her.
“Well?” Father asked in an irritated voice.
“Lily!” Father called. He snapped his fingers in front of her face trying to get her attention, but none came. Mother was in her own world.
“Fine,” Father sighed, “So, as your mother was saying…”
I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my ribs.
“Stop it,” I whispered, as I concentrated on my father. Soon after I felt another sharp pain, this time it hurt more, it felt urgent. I looked down, and found Lucy’s worried face.
“Is Mama ok?” she asked in a quiet voice. I looked over at Mother. Her eyes stared at her dinner plate. They looked dull, cold and opaque. Her once slightly pale complexion was as white as snow. She looked lifeless. I glanced back at Lucy with a worried look and said nothing, then turned my attention back to father.
“Life will be different from now on, but things will eventually work themselves out,” Father droned on. He was worse than Mother.
“But I assure you, I cannot do one thing to change what has already happened…”
I looked over at Heather. She was picking at her thumbnail, probably not paying the slightest bit of attention.
Then, she looked up at father, “You know, Dad, my friends are going to be here any minute, so…” Heather rose from her seat, “can’t you tell me when I get home. How about when-”
“You will leave when I tell you!” Father shouted. Heather jumped backwards, startled by Father’s sudden outburst.
“Now, sit down,” Father urged. Heather reluctantly sat. I grinned, Serves her right.
“So,” Father continued, “It makes me much saddened to say” -Father didn’t seem the least bit sad- “that I am going back to the armed forces to serve as a military lieutenant.”
I blinked twice. I was shocked. Why is he doing this?
“You what?” Heather shouted. She had risen from her seat once more.
“Heather, please return to your seat,” Father said calmly. Heather ignored him.
“Daddy, how could you? You promised!” Heather wailed. She stomped her foot and pounded her fists against the table. She was acting as if she were a spoiled child. Even though the circumstances were extreme, I could not help but feel the slightest bit embarrassed.
“It was good money and my company was going to go under, anyway. I know you might be upset, but-”
“Upset?” Heather roared, “Upset? Upset is the least harsh way you could describe the way I feel! You broke a promise! A promise you said you’d keep forever! I thought I could trust you! I thought you were done with this military crap! I thought-”
“Enough!” Father yelled, “Now, please let me finish. I need you to calm down. Now, you all may go up to your rooms and we will discuss this tomorrow, so we can-”
“There’s more isn’t there?” a quiet, yet firm, voice stated. Everyone turned around. And, there she was standing right in front of father, her big eyes flaring with anger; Lucy.
She continued, “You’re leaving out something; something big.”
Father glared at Lucy, but she didn’t move.
“You are, aren’t you?” she said with anger rising in her voice. This was one of the few times I had seen Lucy angry. She never really was a person who would throw tantrums, for Lucy was rather mature from the start. Generally she was happy or sad; but never angry. Never. Father didn’t say a word; he simply stared back at Lucy, just as angry. And then, it happened. I would have never thought it would come so fast. Mother quickly snapped from whatever little hypnotic state she was in.
“We’re getting a divorce,” she announced. Everyone stared at mother at once. My blood ran cold. They were getting a divorce.
I looked at mother. Her face went paler than it already was. If it weren’t for her large eyes practically popping out of her head with fear, I would have mistaken her for the white cushion belonging to the chair. She was not even prepared for her sudden outburst. The room was silent, and everything went still.
Finally father spoke, “You should have said it to them more lightly, Lily.”
“I couldn’t help it,” said mother, “It was just taking you so goddamn long!”
“Me? Long?” Father exclaimed, “You were the one taking ages to explain my new job!”
Mother suddenly turned angry, “Well at least I don’t…”
They were at it again. But, instead of listening to them with interest like my usual self; I couldn’t bring myself to listen to a word they were saying. Every word, every syllable they were saying made no sense. All that I could understand was that Daddy, the one who told me stories of his old adventures, the one who tucked me into bed at night, the one who told me he loved me more than air…was leaving, and this time, he wasn’t coming back.
I needed to get up. I needed to get away from this dreadful place. I needed to get away from home, from life, and, and from them. The ones who ruined my life, the ones who made promises but never kept them; my parents. I suddenly jumped from my chair, causing it to fall to the ground with a crash. It might have broken, it might not have. It was expensive, but I didn’t care. I just needed to get away. Everyone was staring at me. I did not know what to do, so I did the only thing I could do. I ran.
I sprinted down the hall as fast as my legs could carry me.
“Young lady,” Father yelled after me, “where do you think you’re going?”
“Away from you!” I shouted back. I had to bite my bottom lip to keep myself from screaming. I could not stand this anymore. My father had promised he would not leave us to go back to war. I should have known he would not keep his promises! I should have known that all he said were lies! I hate him! I hate them all!
Shouts and cries followed me as I ran to the door, but I ignored them. All I could do was run faster to the door. More than anything I did not want my family to see me so miserable, especially not Heather. I have had enough criticism from her to last me a lifetime. Each footstep seemed to be a mile as I ran for the door. Once I got to the door I hurriedly grabbed my coat and slid on my boots. I reached out for the door knob and jiggled it, but it would not turn. I messed with it more, but nothing happened. I got frustrated and irritable, knowing if I did not get out fast my parents were going to stop me from my escape. Suddenly I remembered that I had locked the door earlier that day, when I came back from the market. Immediately, I swiped the key from the hook it was kept on and unlocked the door. I swung open the door quickly and with force. With so much force, in fact, that it banged against the wall, but I did not care. I just needed to escape before I exploded. I rushed out the door, and slammed the door behind me. And then I ran. I ran down the porch steps across the yard and behind the house. Then I automatically parted for the woods. I knew I could easily find my way, for I had been there many times, but, for the strangest reason, I felt a surge of energy charge through my veins, as if I were preparing for the worst. I could not help but feel lonely and helpless, for the wind only seemed to get stronger, and the rain had now made me soaked me to the skin. I could not help but stop right before my path to freedom and glance over my shoulder. The lights to my house were still on, but if they cared, my family would have been running after me by now. I felt cold and alone, but I knew I could not stop now. I was too close; too close to my sanctuary; the creek. The creek was the only place I could go to cool down. I put my chin up and slung my jacket over my left shoulder, and glanced over at my house one last time. Then I ran at full speed through the woods.
I ran, and kept running. The woods were cold and dark, but the rain was not as hard as it was in the open, and that was all that mattered. The mud squished under my boots, and the trees whispered. They were taunting me, telling me I was arrogant, that I should have never left, but I ignored them. Anywhere was better than back there. I closed my eyes and pressed my hands against my ears, as if trying to ignore my conscious, who was shouting at me, telling me to go back, but I could not; or, at least, not now. I needed some time to be alone. After tripping through the woods I managed to get to the creek. I threw myself onto the ground, gasping for air. That was the fastest I had ever run. Ever. Then I decided I had waited long enough. Immediately I burst into tears. I tucked my knees to my chest and looked up at the sky. Right above the creek, there was a slight part in the tree branches, giving me a view of the stars; though tonight there were none. They were covered by clouds.
The rain beat down on my face, making me have to close my eyes. I sighed. The rain was refreshing.
“If only…,” I whispered, “If only troubles could be like rain. Only lasting a short period of time, and can easily be wiped away. I wish my family could be like that…” Then my eyes shot open and I looked at the ground. That was a terribly mean thing to say. My family may not be the best, but I still care for all them, or, at least, all but one. I was not sure if I truly loved my father anymore. The father that I cared for seemed to have vanished long ago. But then I bit my bottom lip. Of course I love my dad, after all, he’s my father.I hugged my legs tighter and rubbed them with force. I was cold. Then I looked at my coat, which I had flung on the ground. I picked it up, about to put it on, but then I noticed it was as cold, wet and covered with mud as I was. I flung it back on the ground and sighed. Then I looked into the creek. I could see my reflection easily, for I had created a dam several summers ago, so the water would be still, even if it was raining hard like today. My once clean face was covered with mud, and my shoulder length brown curls were wild and had several twigs caught in it. And my eyes were bloodshot from the harsh rain beating against my face, as well as my crying. I frowned at my reflection. I looked like a wild, homeless bum.
I looked up from the river and removed my hair tie from my hair. Slowly and steadily I combed through my hair with my hands, trying to get out any twigs or leaves caught in it. After doing this several times I put my hair back up into a neater ponytail and started to wash my face with the creek’s water. Once finished I looked at my reflection. I looked presentable, though my eyes were still red. I smiled, then got down on my stomach and put my index finger in the water, watching the ripples form as I moved my finger back and forth. I then removed my finger from the water and watched the once calm creek turn into a pool of small ripples. My eyes followed the ripples as they slowly made their way to the other side of the creek, and, to my surprise, near the bank of the other side of the river I found the reflection of someone else. I immediately looked up, and noticed at the other side of the creek there was a boy. He looked about my age, maybe a year or two my senior. The boy’s head was tucked between his knees; he was looking down at the ground. His black hair fell on his face in waves. He was wearing a pair of dark jeans, and a t-shirt that was black. I could tell he was cold, for he was shivering. I could not see the boy’s face because his head was bent over, but I could see his nose, which was bright red, probably from the cold. I did not recognize this boy from anywhere, but I could not help but feel a slight connection to him; both of us, teenagers, sitting here in the woods, probably not sure what to do; lost in today’s society.
I looked down at the creek and I examined my reflection closely, making sure I had not gone mad. Positive that I was not dreaming, I looked up again. The boy was gone. I rubbed my eyes, and looked again, but the boy was nowhere to be seen. Was the boy but a trick of the mind? Had I finally gone mad? But no, he had been there sure enough, for he had left behind his foot prints. I was amazed. Who was this boy? And how did he find his way here? I looked down at my hands, and noticed some of my fingers had turned purple. I was cold, and shivering. I was going to get sick. I had to go home.
Next thing I knew I was running back to the house I swore I would never go to again. Once I reached the door step I turned the door handle and surprisingly found that it was unlocked. I opened the door. It creaked loudly, but nothing in the house stirred, for it seemed everyone had gone to bed. Though all of the lights were off I managed to find my way to the staircase, and up I went. Quickly I tiptoed down the hall and up to my room. On my way I looked at the clock in the hallway. 10:30 it read. How could that be? I had been gone for two hours, and nobody was awake or searching for me. I could have died, and yet nobody seemed to care. How rude!
While pondering about why my family could have possibly had an excuse not to look for me I slipped into the furthest room on the left, the bedroom I shared with both of my sisters. The room was dark and quiet. Silently in the dark I removed my wet clothes and put them into the hamper. Then I put on my night clothes and tiptoed across the room. Heather’s bed was surprisingly empty. I could not believe my eyes. Even after hearing this terrible news; she still went off with her friends! Does she not care about anyone other than herself? Then I walked over to the bunk bed Lucy and I shared. Lucy was asleep on top of her blankets. I silently tucked Lucy into bed and kissed her goodnight. I quietly stared at her peacefully asleep.
“Goodnight, Lucy,” I whispered to myself more than her. Then, without another word spoken, I climbed up to my bunk on top. Surprisingly, the blankets were rumpled. Then, on top, I found a note. It said:
I HOPE YOU CAME BACK. I MISS YOU. MOMMA TOLD ME NOT TO WORRIE. SHE SAID YOUD BE BACK SOON. SO I WATED FOR YOU ON YUR BED. AT NIN O’ CLOK MOMMA TOLDED ME I NEEDED TO GO TO BED, COSE TOMORROW IS GOING TO BE MY FIRST DAY OF SKOOL. I WONDER WHAT SKOOL WILL BE LIK.
PLEASE COME HOME SOON!
P.S. I LEFT YU A PRESANT!
Though there were a few spelling and grammar errors, I found her letter extremely sweet. At least somebody cared. Then, surprisingly when I lifted up the note I found a small bracelet under it. It was made of twine twisted together into long strands, then tied together with a knot. It must have taken Lucy hours to make, knowing how hard it was to make things with her hands. I smiled and put the bracelet around my wrist with pride. Lucy missed me. I lifted the corner of my mattress slightly, folded the note neatly and slipped it under the mattress. Silently I laid the mattress back down and smiled to myself. Somebody missed me. Somebody cared.