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The soft pattering of rain wakes me from my light slumber. I have grown used to running off of a mere three hours of sleep after an extraneous and restless night. I roll onto my side groggily, yank up my shade, and trudge to the bathroom. My over-sized tee has somehow bundled itself into the rim of my undergarments, exposing my pale, fleshy thighs. I tug at the corner of the fabric hastily before yanking on a pair of faded jeans and retreating downstairs.

The air is crisp as it seeps its way into the open windows, the kitchen illuminated with the welcoming glow of the rising sun. I shield my eyes from the light as I step onto the porch. An array of cigarette butts litters the banister regardless of the empty ash tray resting only a few feet away. I scoop one up and check to see if there is any part left to spare. Trash, I conclude as I flick the waste onto a patch of crabgrass. I scoop up a handful of dandelions from the yard and collapse into the car. My bony hands struggle to successfully place the keys into the ignition. Finally, I take off down the forlorn road at full speed.

My phone rings before I merge onto the highway. I can already assume who it is before even answering. “Hi, Mum.” I mutter into the receiver.

“Are you up?”

“Clearly.”

“You haven’t forgotten to-”

“No, Mum.”

“Caroline.”

“I’m on my way now.” I snap with sudden irritation.

There is silence for several heartbeats. “Give her my regards, will you?”

“I will.” I murmur before hanging up and tossing the phone behind me. It lands casually on the backseat. I pray silently that it doesn’t redial.

The sun has risen completely by the time I park along the outskirts of the familiar residence. The area is desolate, all inhabitants basking in a peaceful slumber. I cradle the pile of wilting dandelions in my feeble hands as I march across the freshly mowed grass. The ground is wet with a fresh coating of rain and it squishes playfully beneath my sneakers. I scan my surroundings for several moments before my eyes settle on a familiar silhouette in the distance. I progress towards her home and stand by nervously.

“Hey, Sis.” I choke the words out. It’s hard for me to speak. “I just wanted to come by and check up. See how you were doing.” I peer down at the dandelions, the vibrant yellow now turning a disappointing shade of brown. “I brought you some flowers, since it’s your birthday and all. I would have gotten something a little more special but I sort of ran out of time. I figured you wouldn’t mind though. Mum told me to give you her regards and to tell you she loves you, but you already know that. It’s the same speech every year.”

My eyes fixate on my frayed sneakers. Traces of fresh grass stains coating the edges catch my attention. “Anyway, I just wanted to say I’m sorry.”

It’s as if my surroundings melt away instantaneously, it always seems to happen that way. My fraying sneakers transition into a pair of bunny slippers glued excitedly to the carpet. The moist, crisp air is now replaced with the cozy warmth of a crackling fire close behind me. The room smells of pine and ginger and squeals of enthusiasm reverberate off of the pastel walls.

“Me first, me first!” I chime as I scramble towards the tree.

“Now, wait just a moment. Why don’t you let your sister open her presents first?”

I barely hear her as I collapse onto my hands and knees. I crawl beneath the pine, my behind knocking a red ornament off of the lower branch. It crashes to the floor and rolls a few feet behind me. Anticipation itches at my fingertips as I snatch the closest box. I ogle the nametag to find it isn’t addressed to me. I grab the next one only to discover the same outcome. I repeat this action five or six times before crawling back out beneath the tree and sitting in a huff.

“Where are all of my presents?” I whine.

“I’m sure there’s something under there for you.” My mother says casually before turning to my father. “Roger, grab the camera will you? Make sure to get some good shots. Fran, get a present out for her.”

I watch as my aunt pulls a large box out from beneath the tree and hands it happily to my sister. Her eyes are two bright saucers as she analyzes the colorful wrapping. I watch irritably from my spot on the hearth as my parents flock around her, snapping pictures and cooing as she tears the paper off of the box handful by handful. My aunt kisses her nose as my mother leans over and adjusts her pink cap, pulling it carefully back on top of her shimmering scalp.

“What about me?” I snap. I can feel the tears welling up in my beady eyes. “Hello?”

“Not now, Caroline.” My mother waves me away with one hand while she takes a picture with the other.

I gaze at the pile of untouched presents beneath the tree, all addressed to the same person as sudden adrenaline and heat rushes through my body. I can feel my temperature rising and before I know it I am on my feet. I march over to where my sister is sitting with determination and glare at her before snatching the new doll out of her hands. It’s still in the box, brand new. I sneer at the porcelain figurine before throwing it onto the ground and stomping on it with all of my might.

“Caroline!” My mother shrieks and runs towards me. Her grip is tight on my wrist as she yanks me forward. She grabs my arms and squeezes hard, placing me firmly on the couch in front of her. She leans in closely, her breath hot on my face, and shakes her head at me. “What in God’s name do you think you are doing?!”

“Why does she get everything she wants?!” I whine. Tears begin to stream from my eyes and stain the collar of my nightgown.

“You’re being ridiculous!” She snaps and releases my arms. “If you’re going to be like this then you can go to your room.”

I wait for her to turn her back before getting to my feet. “You love her more than me!” I shout.

“Caroline.” She snaps warningly, just barely turning her head.

I run around her and stand in the doorway where I can be seen by all. “You only love her because she’s sick!”

My mother’s face transitions from flabbergasted to infuriated. “Why would you say such a thing?!”

“It’s true! She gets everything she wants. She gets all of your attention. You said she deserved the attention because she was going to die soon. Well that was three years ago!”

“Caroline!” My mother shrieks with outrage and takes a step towards me. I dodge her advances and march over to where my sister is sitting, now staring wide-eyed and innocently up at me.

I point one pudgy finger in her face. “Why can’t you just die already?!”
She flinches at this action. Her bright blue eyes shimmer with moisture while her bottom lip, white as snow, begins to tremble. She lowers her gaze and fixates on the floor. Finally she struggles to get to her feet and wipes her eyes with her sleeve. “I don’t want to open anymore presents.” She cries before retreating out of the room.
I watch as my father and aunt hurry after her. I remain where I am for several moments, analyzing the fire now fading into embers, before my mother marches over to me and grabs my face with one hand. I stare into her eyes unwillingly.
“How could you say such a thing?” She spat angrily into my face. “What if that was the last thing you ever said to her? How would you feel?! My God, How can you be so selfish, Caroline?”

The familiar room fades away almost as quickly as it appeared. I blink at my sneakers still planted on the grass as a fresh raindrop plummets from the sky and lands on the tip of my nose. I shake my head and clear my throat. “I didn’t mean it, you know.” I begin, but it has already become difficult to speak. I struggle to maintain a steady voice. “I was just so young. I didn’t know. I was so ignorant to the consequences. In my head, nothing bad could happen. I mean, I knew it would happen eventually, but not that night.”
I bend down and place the dandelions on the grass a few inches away from my feet. I back up slightly and stare down at the earth. A salty teardrop escapes from my left eye and lands on the ground below. “I’m sorry, Angela. I love you. I always did, even back then.”
I stand there for a long time as the rain begins to fall heavier. I say my last goodbyes before retreating away from her resting spot. The rain pounds the dandelions deep into the earth as I progress down the isolated patch, giving hope that she will be able to accept my final gift, my final regards.

THE END



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This article has 22 comments. Post your own!

live.laugh.spaz said...
Jun. 10, 2011 at 10:36 pm:
oh my god, this is powerful. i think your message of 'you don't know what you have until its gone' is clearly displayed here. maybe you could make it a little more powerful by making it a little less obvious that Caroline is talking to a grave in the beginning, and we figure out that her sister died after the flashback?
 
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Bliss_of_Darkness said...
Jun. 8, 2011 at 8:49 pm:

All I can say is that it is beautiful. I feel for Caroline and for Angela. Caroline probably was sick of the constant attention Angela had due to her sickness. I wish her parents would have given her more attention as well.

Overall, this story is amazing. I hope I can become as good as you one day. ^^

 
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IamtheshyStargirl said...
Jun. 8, 2011 at 12:29 pm:
Beautiful. You captured everything so well. I've never experienced anything like this, but my heart seems to be broken, now.
 
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msp49 said...
Jun. 5, 2011 at 7:03 pm:
This is honestly the exact type of writing I strive for.  I was able to picture every detail in my head, without trying to.  What I loved about it the most, though, was it was real, and didn't have the typical happy ending.  Definitely keep writing; you're doing an excellent job!
 
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gogreen1 said...
Jun. 5, 2011 at 3:10 pm:
Wow - just - wow. That's a really amazing piece of writing you have there. great job not giving it away that the sister's dead until the very end. You even had me fooled and I can generally foresee a lot of outcomes in writing. Excellent, excellent work. :)
 
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LillyPoco said...
Jun. 2, 2011 at 9:14 pm:
I really loved this...it didn't hit me that the sister was dead until the very end so good job at managing to surprise me! overall it was really great.
 
krarthurs replied...
Jun. 3, 2011 at 6:46 pm :
Thank you so much, I am glad you liked it (:
 
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CarrieAnn13 said...
Jun. 1, 2011 at 7:11 pm:
That was so sad, but it was very realistic.  It was very descriptive and I felt for the characters in your story. Good job!
 
krarthurs replied...
Jun. 1, 2011 at 9:37 pm :
Thank you very much for the feedback. I really appreciate it (:
 
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RFrocker23 said...
Jun. 1, 2011 at 11:22 am:
I loved this! The flashback was my favorite part and I felt that the beginning getting-out-of-bed part was a little unneeded, but overall it was great. Something I kind of noticed was you really like to use the word yank. Just an observation.
 
krarthurs replied...
Jun. 1, 2011 at 1:49 pm :
Thank you very much, your feedback is greatly appreciated. I never realized the usage of the word, but now that you mention it, I really do use it frequently. Anyway, thank you for reading and I am glad you enjoyed it!
 
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WritingSpasms said...
May 31, 2011 at 8:45 pm:
This is some really good writing. I felt the emotions and the descriptions are amazing. The flashback is also a nice touch.
 
krarthurs replied...
Jun. 1, 2011 at 1:50 pm :
Thank you very much for your feedback. I am glad you liked it (:
 
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Garnet77 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 31, 2011 at 11:47 am:
This is so sad! You did an amazing job with describing everything. It really did the job of instilling emotion into the reader. I really, really enjoyed reading this. 
 
krarthurs replied...
May 31, 2011 at 6:55 pm :
Thank you so much, your feedback means a lot to me. I am glad you enjoyed it. (:
 
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youngpilot said...
May 31, 2011 at 11:42 am:

Wow:) its really good! l always love when there is a flashback in a story because it gives much more interest to the story and makes it more 'in depth' and easier to understand:) very nice job:) i only found one thing and that was about the sneakers, you just said "fraying sneakers" twice, and it was just a bit repetitive, but other than that it was amazing:)

If you could please, could you read and comment about my short story "A Daughter's plea" its wierd and wont come up when it it t... (more »)

 
krarthurs replied...
May 31, 2011 at 6:57 pm :

Thank you for pointing that out I probably wouldn't have even realized otherwise. Thank you for the feedback, I really appreciate it!

 

 
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Aderes18 said...
May 30, 2011 at 8:09 pm:

I really, really like that picture too! :)

It's so pretty. :) 

 
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Aderes18 said...
May 30, 2011 at 8:08 pm:

WOW, that is sad!! 

But really, really good at the same time. :) 

Have you read My sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult.

(the sick sister is favored over the other)

Rules by I forget the author's name

(same thing, except the brother is autistic) 

Funny thing is, there's a very sad book called Jacob have I loved by Katherine Paterson. It's about two twin sisters and one is clearly favored over the other because of her beauty, And one of the s... (more »)

 
krarthurs replied...
May 30, 2011 at 9:35 pm :
Thank you! And yes, I have heard of My Sister's Keeper but have yet to read it. The rest i haven't heard of but I'll be sure to check them out. It is a common subject, but it's a very unfortunate and sad issue that needs to be addressed. Thank you for taking the time to read it! I appreciate your feedback (:
 
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