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Fourteen


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I pushed open the glass door, my backpack slung over my shoulder, and entered the main lobby, that awful sterile, too-clean smell wafting in the air. A passing nurse cheerily greeted me, "Hey Kelsey! How was school?" but didn't wait for a reply as she strode away.

Dropping my school bag on the floor, I sat down on the hard, garish orange plastic chair, grimacing at the discomfort. I took out a notebook and opened to a clean page, and started to write my English essay, pausing now and then to glance at my research and notes. After a few minutes, I stopped and studied the words I had scrawled on the page: It is important that we save the environment because otherwise plants, animals, and even we could die out. After all, it's not just our planet - we share it with all the other life.

Cringing at my own writing, I tore out the page, balled it up, and tossed it into the trash can. The receptionist glared at me disapprovingly over her rimmed glasses, so I shrugged apologetically. Sighing, I started again. The earth in all its beauty is a precious thing - a jewel in the vast sea of the universe. No. Terrible. I erased it, leaving little shreds of pink, and began once more. How often do we stop to think - no, no, no! Too condescending!

I groaned and let the pen slip from my fingers. How will I ever finish my homework? But then again, what does it matter anyway? Almost angrily shoving it back into my backpack, I let out a low, bitter chuckle. I'm past caring about homework.

Beside my chair was a small little table, with four or five brightly colored magazines strewn about it. On a whim, I picked one up and studied the cover image. A tall, blonde woman with almond-shaped eyes stood next to a brawny, upset man, underneath giant, yellow block letters: WHO DUMPED WHO? Mentally correcting the grammatical error, I flipped through the pages. So-and-so broke up with so-and-so, and this baseball player was found on steroids, and that one died while drunk two nights ago. Exasperated, I threw it back down and slumped over in seat, resting my head in my hands.

"Kelsey? Kelsey!" I jerked awake, blinking drowsily at the nurse before me.

Smiling sheepishly, I mumbled, "Sorry, I think I fell asleep."

"You need to get more sleep," the nurse chided. "I know you teens like to stay up all night long at your little parties, but really. You do have school the next day!" I nodded to get her off my back. "All right, now follow me. He's ready to see you."

She briskly walked down the hallway, and I trailed after her. Soon we reached the pale pink door, which she opened and gestured for me to go inside.

A shrunken, weak man lay in the bed, tubes sticking out of him every which way. Slowly, I approached him, and when I reached the bedside, I quietly said, "Hi Dad. It's me."

He grunted. "Who's that?" It came out sounding like whoozat.

"Me. Kelsey."

Frowning, he thought for a minute. His face uncreased as he suddenly recalled who I was. "Yes, yes." The man coughed. "Where's Sam and Jimmy?" Wheresamanjimmy.

"You mean Scott and Jamie?"

He waved his hand in the air. "That's what I said." Thasutisud.

I pulled up a chair and sat down. "Rachel's watching them, and Clay, too."

The man stared at me strangely. "Who's them?" Whozem.

Patiently, I replied, "Rachel is the babysitter. She stays until six. Clay is the baby."

After a coughing fit that racked his frail body, the man started to ramble about his childhood. He told me in great detail about the farm he grew up on, though I knew he was raised in Chicago. By 5:30, he fell asleep, and I left.

***

I dropped the twenty dollar bill in Rachel's outstretched hand. "See you tomorrow."

Already chatting amiably at her cell phone, she nodded at me and drove away. I closed the door behind her and leaned against it for a few seconds. "Hey!" someone shouted. "Kels! You're home!"

A small, lithe figure darted through the living room, and skidded to a stop in front of me. "Hey," I replied wearily. His twin, Jamie, rushed up behind him.

"We drew pictures in school today!" he announced. Mumbling something along the lines of "how nice", I searched for something edible. "Mine was way better than Scott's."

Scott glared at him. "Was not!"

"Was too!"

"Was not!"

"Was too!"

"Was - "

Slamming the refrigerator door, I whirled around, clutching the carton of eggs. "Stop it! Stop it right now!"

They sulkily studied their scuffed sneakers. "Somebody's not happy today," one of them murmured.

"You got that right," I snapped, yanking the oven on. The twins stood somewhat still for a few moments, before coming back to life.

Jamie grabbed a toy airplane and ran around, making whooshing sounds. "Boy," he suddenly said, pausing his game. "Clay smells something awful."

Groaning, I stared gloomily at the pan of frying eggs. "Well, I can't change him now. Why don't one of you do it?"

The two protested, but I cut them off. "I never see you doing work around the house. Make yourselves useful for once!"

Around ten minutes later, we were ready to eat our greatly over-cooked eggs. "Eggs for dinner?" Scott asked increduously. "No one eats eggs for dinner!"

"Well, you do now." I stabbed the egg visciously with my fork, and winced as bright yellow liquid spurted in the air.

"Eww," the twins exclaimed in unison. They glanced at each other.

"Can I eat at Bobby's house again?" Jamie cautiously requested.

***

I sighed as I perched on the bed. The laundry was cleaned, the house mopped, the spills wiped up, the kids fed, the baby put to sleep, the kids in bed, and I was ready to go to sleep.

Tiredly setting the alarm clock - which now read 10:40 - to 4:00 so I could get to my shift at McDonald's the next morning, I noticed someone had left the closet door open. The kids must have been playing in here again! I thought.

I started to close the door, when I noticed a small envelope. Curious, I tore it open, revealing a short section of white-lined paper. Written on it in unfamiliar, loopy letters was "Happy 14th Birthday, Kelsey!"

Surprised, I placed it on the dresser and then climbed into bed. Staring at the ceiling, in the dark, I began to weep.



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This article has 5 comments. Post your own now!

KeepSmyling said...
Jun. 8, 2011 at 1:43 pm
Aww. I liked your story, but it was so sad. :(
 
samanthab1996 said...
Apr. 11, 2010 at 7:53 pm
Great piece :) The end made me tear up a little, because I'm 14 and I imagined myself in her shoes. That would be so sad :( But I liked this piece alot! Is it a true story, or not?
 
Fredwardness said...
Sept. 12, 2009 at 8:08 pm
I really liked your story i found it interesting, I look forward to more stories by you
 
pinksage33 said...
Jun. 15, 2009 at 8:20 pm
very intreeging. please wright more.
 
Fredwardness replied...
Sept. 12, 2009 at 8:06 pm
you wrote intruiging wrong and write
 
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