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“You need to quit being such a worrier.”
While I’m pacing the soft, white carpeted floor beneath my feet, she speaks to me. I rub my hands over themselves continuously. She continues to stare at me, growing more and more frustrated by the second. Out of the corner of my eye, I see her fold her arms across her chest as she blows a piece of hair out of her face, tapping her foot and rolling her eyes.
“It’s not like anyone’s going to know!” She continues trying to assure me.
“No, but I will! I will know! I do know! And there’s no way I can go back-”
“Exactly! It’s already done and over with. So just get over it and move on with your life already!”
“You- you don’t understand. I can’t just ‘move on’ from this.”
“Audee, I do understand because I know you.” She says this softly as if it will fix something.
“Then quit telling me to do something that I can’t!”
Holding fistfuls of my hair, I stop pacing and begin to sway on my feet. I try my best to do the exercises my counselor taught me; supposedly they’re to help calm me down. With a gazillion thoughts racing through my mind, I can’t seem to focus on the importance of breathing.
“DeeDee, I can’t do this,” I shake my head at her, words tumbling out with a tremble.
“Yes, you can. You already did.”
I grasp violently at my elbows to stop my hands from shaking and fall to my knees. It’s taking every ounce of control I have left to not scream out loud. Clenching my eyes shut, I bite the inside of my cheeks.
A soft, triple knock came from the closed door of my bedroom. Immediately, I jump up and do my best to make myself seem presentable in the thirty seconds I have until I am visible to whoever is requesting entrance. After a deep breath and a quick swipe of my hand under my eyes, I see that it’s my mother who’s stepping through the doorway. She gives me a look of concern.
“Audee, sweets?” She says in the sweet, fragile voice of hers. “There’s a policeman who’d like to speak with you downstairs, please and thank you.”
I give her a quick nod and a brief smile. “Yes, ma’am. I’ll be right down.”
After she shuts the door, I look at myself in the mirror and practice a calm appearance. I notice DeeDee giving me a death glare. Ignoring the look, I slowly make my way down the steps from my bedroom and head straight into the dining room where the mentioned policeman is sitting with a cup of tea. As soon as he sees me, he stands up and reaches a hand out for me to shake.
“Auden Pierce?” His husky voice rings in my ears.
I shake his hand as he introduces himself as ‘Officer Jules’. Our hands drop to our sides and we both slide into the chairs surrounding the dining table. Just like in the TV shows, he clears his throat before speaking.
“How are you doing today, Auden?”
“Just ‘Audee’ is fine, thank you. I’m doing well. How are you, sir?”
“I’m doing just fine, thank you. Audee, do you have any idea as to why I’m here?”
With a forced look of confusion, I tell him ‘no’ and give a slight shrug.
“Do you know Jordin Mace?” Officer Jules asks, his brown eyes observing me.
“Yes, he’s in my French Literature class. Why, did something happen?” I begin to grow more nervous as his eyes search mine, as if he’s trying to dig deep into the core of my soul.
The officer sighs and his shoulders sag. “ His mother called him in, missing. Someone found his body in a ditch next to a highway later that night.”
My eyes widen and my whole body freezes. My mind begins to race, trying to fit any and all pieces together. The mental puzzle won’t form, causing my chest to want to heave out of
sadness, horror, and fear. I close my eyes after blinking violently and try to inhale the best I could through my nose.
Jules leans in just slightly closer. “Do you happen to know anything about that, miss?”
My hands go up to wipe any tears that are now falling, and I shake my head, trying to breathe. “N-no.”
“Were you at a party this past Saturday? Specifically, the one that Shawna Velce threw?”
“Ye-yes.” My head lifts up and I answer in a shaky breath.
“Could you possibly tell me anything about the party?” Jules urges me to give him anything I could possibly remember.
“Um, well? There’s actually a slight problem with that…” A bird flying into the tree outside catches my attention and I use that as an escape, even if just for that brief moment.
I admire the beauty of his black beak, and notice there’s a small, white speck right at the tip. As he expands his left wing and lowers his head into the crook of it, I can tell that there’s a single blue feather sticking straight up; it reminds me of Alfalfa from “The Little Rascals” in a way. The sight makes me smile and for those thirty seconds, I can breathe freely.
“Audee?” Officer Jules clears his throat. “What sort of problem? What exactly do you mean?” His eyes follow mine towards the bird and his voice softens.
I can hear DeeDee’s voice telling me to do whatever I have to do to not get myself in trouble. Out of the corner of my eye, I see my mother’s shadow as she eavesdrops trying to figure out what’s going on. I decide to go against DeeDee’s words and risk everything. I mean, who knows? Maybe it’ll only benefit me in the end. Well, except for with my Mother…
“Officer Jules?” I catch his attention quickly. His throat hums in response. “ I can’t remember much of the party.”
“Why not?” His eyebrows furrowed together.
Sweat beads form against the back of my neck. “I spent most of that night under the influence of illegal things. My memory of that night has left me completely.”
My eyes flutter back and forth, between my mother’s shadow as she gasps, the top of the table, the bird outside, and Jules’ eyes as he sighs in disappointment. I knew before saying anything that once it was said, there would be no going back. My heart has either quit beating or it’s beating so fast it seems like it stopped.
“I see…” his fingers pinch the bridge of his nose.
I watch his rough hand drop into his lap, and there’s suddenly a vibe of exhaustion radiating off of him. Anyone could glance at him and tell that he feels defeated. Officer Jules watches the bird, and the wheels in his mind are turning as he tries to think of what else to do and where else to go from here. The sad man looks at me.
“Thank you so much for your time, Ms. Pierce. I greatly appreciate it. I’ll let you know if I need anything else. Your mother has my number in case something happens to spark some remembrance. Have a good evening, and stay safe, Audee.”
Officer Jules stands up and starts to exit my house, chatting with my mother on his way out. I take that time to escape back into my room. After flinging myself on the bed, DeeDee’s angry voice booms in my ears.
“What exactly were you thinking?! Do you have any idea what you possibly just did?!”
“Jeez, Dee! Could you just stop already? Trust me, I’ve already been freaking out ever since I found out! You don’t think I didn’t consider my options?”
“I was there with you! I know you didn’t!” DeeDee’s words were like a slap to the forehead.
She’s right. I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking over everything; I went straight down there knowing exactly what I was going to do. Although, once her voice piped up in the back of my mind, I at least knew she was right then as well. I should do whatever possible to not completely ruin my life.
As I stare at my reflection from the edge of my bed in the mirror, DeeDee’s eyes bore into mine full of despise. I open my mouth to say something but I am immediately interrupted by my bedroom door slamming against the wall, hinges nearly busted. My hair hits me in the face while I whip my head around to look. My mother’s eyes look empty and dull, her body seeming smaller than ever before.
“What-...” she stops herself. Her head tilts in confusion. “Who are you talking to?”
My arms and legs become stiff, my head feels hard and heavy. My hands begin to shake as excuse after excuse passes through my mind. What do I tell her? What do I say?
“Just say you weren’t talking to anyone. It’s that simple.”
Mentally, I shoo away DeeDee. This is my mother, no matter how much she likes to try and take claim. I am the one she knows; the one who would run to her, crying, because I dropped my popsicle; the one who she dressed up for dances and playdates and halloween; the one who called her ‘mommy’ for ten years; the one who’s going to get in trouble for doing something she shouldn’t have done. I am the one she knows as her daughter, not DeeDee. Although, she has been spotted now and then throughout my pubescent years, thanks to us growing up together.
“Mother.” I stand tall, faking calm confidence. Truth be told, underneath the cloth of my jeans, my knees are as shaky as an earthquake. “Is there anything I can help you with?”
My mother’s eyes scan my room frantically, trying to find whoever she thought I may have been talking to. Her size eight slippers shuffle further into my room. I can hear her breathing hard, even though I am currently five long strides away from her.
“I could have swore I heard you talking to someone. Well, not to someone else exactly because I heard nobody else respond.” Her wide eyes lock onto mine. “Have you gone mad?”
Out of nervousness and disbelief, I let out an airy chuckle. “What?!”
“Auden Mary-Anne Pierce!” Her usually quiet voice fills the entire room. “Do not play games with me! Who were you just talking to?”
“Goodness, mom. Nobody!” I’ve had enough of it. “I came upstairs, laid on my bed and stood up as soon as you busted in. That’s all that happened. No one else is here!”
“Fine.” Her voice completely void of any emotion. “Would you like to explain to me what just happened downstairs?”
I say nothing and just look at her. A growl escapes the back of her throat out of frustration. I know that this is not the moment to let DeeDee take over, but sometimes her anger is stronger than my reasoning.
“What is there to explain? It seemed pretty self explanatory to myself and the officer.”
“What happened at the party, Auden?”
“I already answered that question.” My eyes roll into the back of my head.
“To the cop, yes! But not to me!”
I sit down on my bed and fold my arms across my chest, making it known that I have no interest in having this conversation with her right now. Her jaw drops and I know she’s left speechless.
“Who are you? This is not the young woman I raised!” The older woman looks at me, not able to recognize the person who stands before her.
Even though I look the same, and my voice sounds the same, I am no longer the same person. Not in this moment, anyways. My mother can see and hear me as ‘Audee’, but I think- deep down- she can tell that ‘Audee’ is no longer who resides inside this body.
“Mom, don’t be daft. Of course it’s me, your daughter.” I inform her with a menacing smile.
The wrinkles in her neck move as she shakes her head. As she’s backing out of the room she mumbles, “No. You’re not.”
She’s right, but she doesn’t need to know that.
“You’re only making this worse from me!”
“Oh, jeez. Don’t be such a worry wart!” I snarl.
“DeeDee, I’m the one that has to live with her!” Audee cries out, but I continue fighting back.
“Don’t you worry yourself out, dear. You just sit back and relax; enjoy the ride. DeeDee’s here, and she’ll take good care of everything.”
As a mental image of Auden evaporates, I begin to get ready for bed as well as my new life with a smirk.