Orange

It was different. I don't remember it like this. The house looks smaller, more square. Whoever owns it now painted the entrance hall red. It was a red you'd see if you got cut. It was the color of blood. The carpet was changed. It was dark green, now it's white. My dad wouldn't allow white. He said we would ruin it. He thought we ruined everything we touched. I entered the old living room. There was a great book case, which reached to the ceiling. The books spoke to me, they always speak to me. I looked at the bottom shelf. The oldest books. Those appealed to me. The owner of the books had a lot of Hemmingway and Steinbeck. I picked up Winter of Our Discontent. I read this book when I was 15. I slipped the book in my bag and moved to the kitchen. It was the same. The exact same. This bothered me. I always hated the kitchen. And here it is. I left the room before the memories came back to me. I looked through my old room. It was a boys room now. The walls were painted blue. The room was very simple, just a bed and a dresser. I wondered if it was a guest room. I left that room and looked at the door in front of me, the last room. I opened the door and looked in. It was still orange. All the memories came back to me.
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I entered my sister's room and sat on her bed. She was reading another Junie B. Jones book. I told her to read better books. She tells me the only books worth reading are the ones you'll enjoy. She says she won't enjoy my books. She's only nine and she talks more eloquently than me. I'm eight years older. After a few minutes she looked up at me, expecting me to say something. When I didn't, she closed her book and she sat up.
'Hello.' She said slowly. I think she was a bit confused as to why I was here. I'm never here on Friday night. I'm usually out getting wasted.
'Hey Junie.' Her name was June, I called her Junie. She looked just like the girl from the books. She had light brown hair that was a little shorter than her shoulders. I always put it up in a bow for her. She was wearing a sun dress with purple flowers. I looked around her room. Her walls were painted a deep orange. My mom and I painted it a few years ago. There's a square on the back wall, it's a chalk board. She doesn't use it though. I drew her name on it before she saw it. She says it's too pretty to change. Her bed has a bunch of stuffed animals, to protect her at night. After our mom died I gave her one every Christmas. My mom used to do that. Junie loved it, so I had to keep doing it for her.
'What are you doing here?' She asked, reaching for her sketch pad.
'Dad called. He's not going to be here tonight.'
'Oh.' She started drawing. She always draws circles. She says it's the happiest shape. Squares are sad, and triangles are scary. I asked her about stars once. She said you can't draw the real stars on paper, so there's no point. If you can't get it right you'll get sad. She always wants to be happy. I guess she's sick of being sad. That's why I take care of her, I'm sick of her being sad too. She was six when my mom died. I was thirteen. My dad never got over it. He doesn't pay much attention to my sister. I think it hurts too much. She looks just like mom. I look more like him. I have dirty blonde hair and green eyes.
'Do you want pizza?' I asked her. She was on her fourth circle. Instead of answering she turned one of her circles into a pizza with a smiley face. I laughed at her and she tried to hide her giggles. I stood up, taking her with me, and carried her to the kitchen.
'Pepperoni?' She asked.
'Yep.'
'And cheese?'
'Of course.' I picked up the phone and ordered it. Dad left me a twenty so I sprung for a medium and garlic bread.
'Meg?' At the sound of my name I turned around to look at her.
'Yeah?'
'Where's dad?'
'I don't know.' Actually I did know, but I don't think telling her he's out getting wasted was smart.
'No, I mean, where is dad?' I looked at her confused. Then I got it. She's asking why he changed.
'Junie, dad is---dad is very busy. His job is really important to him.' Junie nodded.
'I'm going to go draw. Tell me when the pizza is here please.'
'I will.' I assured her. Junie went to her room and closed the door. I shut my eyes tight, trying to stop the tears from falling. It didn't work. These are the times I wish my mom was around the most. It's when I regret things. The year she died, was the year I decided to rebel. The last thing I said to her was that she was a horrible mom. I said she didn't understand me. The truth is, she probably was the only one who did know the real me, and now I don't have her, neither does my sister. My dad is like a walking zombie now. The only time we see him is when he gives us money. He's always at work or the bar. I just wish that I could do things differently. People say not to live life with regrets, but as far as I'm concerned that's impossible. Every time I leave the house I know I'll do something I'm going to regret. That's life though. I turned on the television and watched One Tree Hill until the pizza got there.

I woke up to the alarm clock blasting Kanye West. As if the mornings weren't bad enough. My new conclusion is that people call the morning, morning, because you mourn the fact that you just woke up. I sat in bed and thought about this for what felt like five minutes. I looked at the clock and it had already been ten minutes. I jumped out of bed and got ready. I had to be at work in a half hour. I work at Kat's Koffee Korner up town. I am what you would call a barista. The job pays minimum wage, but it's fun and close. The owner isn't really Kat, actually his name is Randy. The name is just a gimmick. When I got to work I immediately punched in. I was a minute late. Randy came out of his office and looked at my time card.
'You're late.' He said, like I didn't know.
'Sorry.' I apologized quickly and went to the back room to get coffee filters. I thought I got rid of him, but he was right behind me.
'Listen Meg, I want to promote you to Management.' He told me.
'Umm, I was just late, and I'm only seventeen.' I reminded him.
'I don't care. You deserve it.'
'Alright''-- When does this happen?'
'Next week. I have to fire the old manager.'
'You're firing Phil?' I asked outraged.
'Yes. He is slacking on the job. You'll do much better.' With that he walked back to his office. I resumed doing my job and began stacking the cans. I noticed that no one was coming in. It was Saturday; we got big business on Saturday morning. I went up front and saw that the sign was still on closed. Stupid Randy. I switched it over and went back to work.

I went home to get ready, before I went to pick up Karly. She is my best friend. We've been that way since middle school. I went into Junie's room to see what she was doing.
'Hey June bug.' She smiled at me and resumed looking through her drawers.
'Hey Meg.'
'What are you doing?'
'I'm sleeping over at Sarah's. Can you drive me over there, please?'
'Yeah. I have to get ready first.' I went back to my room and looked through my closet. I pulled out my favorite jean skirt and a yellow 'Tool' concert shirt. I wasn't really dressing to impress. Besides, I didn't need to, I already had a boyfriend. I applied my makeup and went to talk to my dad. He was in his office downstairs, reading the paper. I knocked on his open door and went in.
'Hey. I'm taking Junie to her friends house, then I'm going out.'
'You want money?' He asked, already taking it out of his pocket. He gave me a twenty and resumed reading. I took that as my cue to leave. I dropped Junie off, after telling her to call my cell if she needed anything. I drove to Karly's house and picked her up next.
'Mego!' She called, reaching my car.
'Hey Karl. You ready to party?' Yes, I really asked that.
'Hell yeah.' She got in and lit a cigarette. 'You want one?' She asked.
'No.' She probably asks once a day and I always say no.
'Call Matt, and tell him to pick us up some Cuervo.' Matt would be my boyfriend. He was twenty, but his best friend was twenty one. Karly had a thing for him. He was cute in a frat boy sort of way. Matt was different. He was strong but not huge; he was skinny but not too thin. He had blonde shaggy hair and dark green eyes. They were blue on some days. He wasn't like all the other guys. He liked to party, but he did it smartly. He's been clean for a year and a half. He still drinks but doesn't do anything else.
'I don't need to. He always does.' I informed her. She laughed and turned up the volume on my stereo. I don't know how anyone can listen to rap. It's horrible.
'Let's go eat.' I nodded and turned in to the Subway parking lot. We ordered and sat down to eat. Just then my phone rang.
'Hello?'
'Hi Meg. I am calling to inform you that I, June, will be coming home tomorrow at 11:00.'
'Okay. Is that all?'
'No. Tonight I am going see a movie with Sarah's family.'
'Okay. Have fun.'
'I will. Bye.'
'Bye.'
I hung up the phone and resumed eating.
'She is so cute.' Karly said a couple minutes later.
'Yeah. People always say that their siblings are annoying. Junie is not annoying.'

We finally got to Ashley's party at 10:00. We went in and sat down in the living room with everyone else. Matt came out of the kitchen carrying a bottle of vodka.
'Hey Meg.' He reached down to give me a kiss and then sat down next to me.
'Hey.' I said back. Then my phone rang. I'm going to tell you right now that this one phone call changed my whole life. This one call had the power to ruin everything.
'Hello.'
'Is this Meg Lenhart?'
'Yes.'
'Could you come to Memorial Hospital, there's been an accident. It's about June.'
'What about June?'
'I can't tell you over the phone. Just come down. I'm Dr. Greene by the way.' And then she hung up. I looked at Matt, who was staring at me in bewilderment. I stood up and ran out to my car. I had to get there fast. It was only six minutes away. I know because I watched the clock the entire time. When I got there I went up to the front desk and asked for June. They said to hold on a moment. I don't have time to sit here waiting. I need to know what happened. I told her that and she made me sit down. A couple minutes passed and a woman in a white coat with red stains came out.
'Are you Meg?' She asked me hurriedly. I nodded. 'June was with a family and they got in a car accident. They got hit from the side by a truck. Unfortunately the side that got hit was the side June was sitting. I'm sorry sweetie.' With that she left. Those four sentences she spoke didn't even register in my mind until I saw my dad. Everything after that was lost to me. The next thing I remember was standing in the hallway staring at her door. My therapist says that I didn't forget everything, I repressed it. I don't understand it though. I didn't choose to forget it. My dad came up to me and stood with me. He smelled like beer and cigarettes. He looked like shit.


'The funeral is today.' He informed me, like I didn't know that. 'Be ready to go at noon.'
'I'm not going.'
'What?'
'I'm not going.'
'Meg.'
'Dad.'
'You have to go.'
'No I don't. I don't want to go.' He gave me a stern look and than sighed.
'I'm just as sad as you are.'
'No you're not. You didn't even know her. You ignored her. You made her feel like she wasn't worth your time. She thought you hated her. You never knew her. How could you be sad? You got your wish. She's not here now. You have fun watching your daughter get buried in the ground. But do it without me.'
'Meg.'
'You don't get it. She was everything to me. She was my life. My life is gone now.' I ran to my room and slammed the door. That day I decided to leave. I left everyone. My dad, Karly, Matt and even Randy.
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I closed the door as fast as I could and ran back to my car. I opened the glove compartment and found the Junie B. Jones book. I opened it up and reached the only picture of June I had. It sent chills down my whole body and before I knew it I was shaking and my cheeks were wet with tears. I thought about my dad. He passed a year after I left. He drank himself to death. I haven't been back to this town in 6 years. Now I knew why.





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