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Hidden Secrets

It was raining outside as she was walking home from school; the mixture of wet dirt and fresh pine trees were inhaled through the air as she walked on a familiar dirt road. She carried one large science book in hand, and a personal book she had been reading called, “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer. She wrapped her arms snug around the bundle of books, ensuring that the rain wouldn’t soak into the pages, and she kept her head down along the soggy path. She had moved to Cascade, Idaho eight years ago right after her mother died in a horrible car crash and her father re-married. She had been attending Cascade High School for three years now and had grown attached to her beautiful small town.

After about a two mile walk down the woodland path, a small log cabin started to appear out of the brush. The cabin was a solid auburn color with dull white trimmings along the roof. Located on the front of the house were four large glass windows, also with white trimming, and a miniature balcony was located just below the roof with a small television antenna wired off to the side.

Alexia reached into her pocket and pulled out a small silver key as she continued closer to the front door of her home. She loved living further away from town then any of her friends, it made her feel isolated from people and closer to nature. She considered herself well educated of the land since she had been taking outdoor survival classes for three years.

Once she made her way to the front door she paused for a moment to listen if anyone was home yet, but there was dead silence. She unlocked it, entered into the living room and wandered upstairs to her bedroom.

Her room was not an ordinary room; it seemed to hold many memories and secrets which were stored in a more natural setting. The boxed in walls were completely painted in multiple coats and layers of lush green forests. Green was her favorite color, next to all the other neutral colors she loved, such as: beige, dark brown, black, and grey. The room was not a large room; simplicity dominated in its limited space.

Alexia set her books on her auburn coffee table and hesitated before crashing on her nicely made bed; a tall brown bed with a big green comforter tucked over clean black sheets. She was very obsessive compulsive about making her bed every morning before school. Everything about her bed was neatly organized; no wrinkles, no folds, it was perfected in its surrounding. She let out a deep sigh and jumped on her bed to sprawl out in a relaxing position.

Off in a corner there sits a small glass cage, within the container a little orange head peeks out into the light and flickers his tongue. He basks without a lamp because the room is humid, and sensationally warm. He suddenly becomes timid and slithers back into his cozy rock.

Alexia turned her head towards the cage and mumbled to her pet snake, “You don’t want to move either do you Peanut,” she felt pretty pathetic talking to the glass cage and it not talking back, but she needed comfort even if it was from talking to herself, “It’s not fair. We’ve lived here for half of our lives, well I have, but you know what I mean… well I guess you don’t considering you probably can’t even hear me.”
Just then Peanut poked his head out of his rock again, almost as if agreeing that he could hear her, and flicked his tongue a few times. Alexia smiled and closed her eyes for a few minutes to think about everything that was happening in her life.

Suddenly a loud knock on her door startled her, nearly making her roll off her bed as she lost all concentration.
“Alexia,” the sound of her step mother’s voice disgusted her, “you need to come and help Keith start packing some of our household belongings.” The tone in her voice was impatient and rude.
“Alright I’ll be out in a second.” Alexia tried to keep her voice calm before anger started accumulating up inside. She had zero patience for her step mother and her way of parenting her; she felt it was her dad’s job and his job only. Plus, if he needed help packing so bad then why didn’t he ask her himself. Alexia never understood why Kate always had to act like the mature one when in reality she was no better than either her or her dad.

Alexia slumped off of her bed and made her way to the door. She held her ear up to the door before exiting to listen to her brother, Caleb, crying in the room next to her. Alexia wasn’t a baby person like a lot of girls her age; baby talking, hugging, cuddling, and cheek pinching every dirty dipper butt out there wasn’t her thing.

She opened the door and snuck passed Caleb’s room so she wouldn’t have to comfort his crying, and made her way down stairs into the living room. Boxes were piled up, stacking on one another next to the big brick fireplace and in the corners of the room as well. Alexia stepped into the kitchen to see her dad on his knees pulling utensils out of the cabinets. His hair was a clean cut grey and he had just shaved his bristly beard. Alexia seemed to get most of her height from her dad since he was a tall burly man of 6’6 and Alexia was 5’8.

“Dad.” Alexia called out his name to catch his attention.

“Kiddo” He looked up at Alexia and smiled, “How was school today?”

“It was fine dad” she answered in a bum mood, “you know I don’t like it when you call me kiddo.” She paused for a second. She wanted to tell him how she felt about moving but she couldn’t find it in her heart to tell him, she was to crushed for words to speak her opinion about the news. “So would you like some help packing dad?” She tried to put as much enthusiasm in her sentence as she could; she even put on a fake little grin to lighten her mood.

“Oh, well sure, I’d love some help.” He said as he continued to pile more and more junk they’d never used before in their lives in big cardboard boxes.

Alexia nodded and kept quite as she started working on neatly organizing things in her own little box. Minutes were passing and more and more frustration was building up in her that she felt like she was about to cry. She looked up at her dad and saw how content he was with packing, how it didn’t seem to affect him at all. All of a sudden she couldn’t hold her comments back any longer and let a comment slip.

“It’s just not fair.” She belligerently spoke out, but as if she was having another conversation with herself.

“Huh?” her dad looked up to find Alexia with her head down sobbing with her box only half way full.

“Moving” she told him, “this is our home and we’ve been here too long to move now. I have friends here, and our small town is beautiful…” She paused and let out a deep sigh, “and you know how I feel about the city.” The look on her face was full of sadness and helplessness.

“But kiddo, things are really looking up and—”

“Don’t call me that!” she stated impatiently as she cut her father off at mid sentence. Alexia looked at the hurt forming in her father’s eyes, “Look, I’m sorry; I just don’t think we belong in the city. Our home is here, in the free and beautiful backcountry.”

Her dad looked at her and turned his expression to a more serious look, which wasn’t usual for him. “She got the job.” He said.

“What?” Alexia starred into his eyes with confusion.

“Kate,” he said in an assuring voice, “she has been applying to become a lawyer ever since we’ve moved down here and she finally got offered something really big. All her long weeks out of town studying,” he paused for a second and then a smile washed away his serious face, “and, we can finally get out of this town like she’s always wanted. It has nothing to offer us anyways; it’s time to get back into civilization.”

Alexia was suddenly startled by Kate’s presence behind her. She turned around to see an evil looking grin across her face; almost as if her desire was to make Alexia’s every waking moment a living hell.

“So Alexia,” Kate eyes gleaming full of control, “I hear you’re really excited about moving into the city. I’m sure you’ll come to like it, it’s not junk like this town, and it gives us more opportunity for success; A better place for my little Caleb to grow up.” The sarcasm in her voice made her sound like she didn’t even want the job, but just to uproot their family to live in the city.

Alexia stared at her with her mouth slightly open and her eyebrows narrowed downward; she was completely furious now. “Actually no, I hate the fact that we are moving, and honestly I think Caleb would be better off staying here with me and dad rather than going with you to the stupid city!” Words of anger poured out of her like a broken dam.

Keith and Kate were both in shock with what Alexia had to say. She had never ever talked to them with such disrespect before in her life.

“You listen up right now young lady!” Her stepmom suddenly turned into a witch, “You had better get your act together because we are going, whether you like it or not. We will drag your ass all the way there if we have to. No more attending boxing club, no more stupid survival camps, you are turning into a wild child and need to consider becoming a young lady.”

“Kate”, Keith tried to calm her down, “now I don’t think she meant it, she’s just a little upset that she’ll be losing a few friends.”

Alexia stood up to walk off, but before she was at the foot of the stairway she turned around to face her father and stepmom, “You know what,” she said to them with a serious look on her face “if mom was still alive I bet she would agree with me on the circumstances.” She bluntly spoke her piece and stomped off to her room.

Before she was even half way to her room she began to wipe away small tears that were seeping from her eyes. She hated showing weakness; to survive was to stay strong, was one of her mottos she liked to say to herself, but in a situation as this, it was hard for her to hold back her sorrow.

When she got to her room she sat on the short tan carpet and wiped away the rest of her tears; she was glad she was a silent crier and that it was hard to tell whenever she was upset.

“Oh, I’ll start packing,” she frustratingly whispered to herself “and I’ll never come back if it’s the last thing I do.”
She turned around to face her bed and pulled open her drawer, and grabbed her huge kelty hiking bag. She stood up and started rummaging through her clothes, picking through variety and simplifying what she would put in her pack.
She was lost in thoughts of anger and determination when another sharp knock on her door sent her jumping out of her skin. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath in and exhaled; how much trouble could I be in now? she wondered.
“Who is it?” she called out.
“It’s Dad,” his voice was calm, “may I please talk to you.” He suggested in an understanding voice.
“Come in.” She answered, feeling quite belittled.
He entered the room and peered down to find her on the floor packing some items, “I’m sorry for the way Kate was acting, but you know better than to act like that yourself.” he stated in a normal voice, “You know Kate didn’t mean to hurt your feelings and--”
“It’s fine dad.” Alexia interrupted her father as she kept her eyes fastened to the ground so she wouldn’t have to look at her dad.
Keith hesitated for a second, “Would you mind gathering some of your old camping gear out of the basement to pack? He asked. “We want to get all of that stuff down there packed and out of here first.”
Alexia kept staring into space, “Sure.” She answered in a dull monotone voice.
Her dad shortly left the room and Alexia stood up to leave out of the room.
She made her way down into the living room and out the front door to enter into the bitter air; the sun had shortly set and the moon was playing cat and mouse with the sun. She stepped off the front porch and turned to face the big wooden doors of the basement. The basement was pitch black when you walked down the squeaky staircase, and a dreary feeling would take over your soul as you enter the cluttered room; it was almost a basement you would most likely see in a scary movie.
She yanked open one of the doors and slipped inside the darkness. She felt around in the air above her until she found a small metal string that she pulled to illuminate the room. Boxes full of dust covered the cemented floors, and random objects hung from the ceiling which turned the room into a crafty maze to walk through.
“Yeah,” she paused and looked around at the mess around her, “have fun moving all of this, because I am not helping with any of your stuff.” She said to herself but implying towards her parents.
She didn’t want to go back upstairs with the family so she decided to snoop around some of her parent’s old collectibles; different items such as: her father’s old track trophy’s, piles of old family pictures, creepy clown dolls Kate collected, and more junk Alexia thought was pointless to keep.

She pulled down a small box from one of the top shelves; the box was titled memories with a thick brown sharpie. Alexia sat on the cold dusty floor and yanked open the box; the small light above her wasn’t enough light to view the treasures in the small box, so she crawled over to the foot of the stairs to grab the flashlight on the floor their family kept handy for emergencies.

When she crawled back over to the intriguing box, she fumbled around on the flash light to find the power button.

“Click!” she turned on the small but helpful light and pointed it into the package; there were all sorts of family photos, old letters, and useless knick knacks. Alexia was full of wonder as she pulled out a picture and dusted it off; it was a picture of her mother’s parents. She hadn’t seen them ever since she was eight; they had disappeared right after her mother died. Her dad said they were greedy, and never really cared to share anything with the family; that they were hippies still caught up in the 60’s.

But they look so happy; Alexia thought to herself, they don’t look greedy at all.
“Alexia!” a voice suddenly shouted from beyond the basement doors, which made Alexia jump out of her skin, “Are you about done in here yet?” her stepmom called down into the darkness.
“Yeah,” Alexia called back, “I’ve almost got everything together.” Alexia was angry though, she had knocked over the box of random memories when Kate startled her.

Alexia startled hectically scooping everything back into the box before Kate could have a chance to enter the basement, but suddenly she came across a letter; and what caught her attention was the fact that it had her name on it: Alexia Champlin and the date was 2011 which was only a year ago.

“I’ve never seen this letter before in my life”, she thought with confusion. She scrambled around in the rest of the pile and found a whole stack of letters that had her name on them.

“Hurry up young lady!” Kate called out impatiently waiting at the top, “It’s past everyone’s bedtime now.”
Alexia ignored her impatient calls while almost stumbling as she stood up. She held the flashlight to the small fine print at the left corner of the letter to read the return address. Her eyes widened as she dropped the flashlight; suddenly the world started spinning and thousands of visual memories played on repeat in her head. She was shocked and devastated when she read the words, Christina Wakely at the corner of the envelope; adrenaline had kicked in and her heart was beating louder than she could think. It was her mom, she was alive.




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