Summer Fever

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It all started one summer morning. School had let out a week ago. Former students were texting, sleeping in, and making plans to spend time with their best friends. Girls were already trying to work their ways back into swimsuits that were too tight or too small. Boys were trying to impress every breathing female in a five-mile radius. Yes, summer was fresh in the air.
But if you asked Halle Metropolis how summer was going for her, she might have to look in the thesaurus her new “daddy” gave her and see if she could find a word that went past the meaning of “horrible.” In late May, she would’ve thought the start of her summer would be memorable – intriguing, if you may – but that all changed when she heard that her best friend, Mia, would be leaving the country for the summer, her beloved brother was headed for college soon, and her mother would be eloping with this guy she met two years ago over the internet. Yes, life wasn’t great for Halle.
So on this summer day, as the other teenagers played, Halle sat in her room, staring out of her window and into the bright sun that beamed down light from above. Even though it was past noon, she was still dressed in her silk pajamas, lounging in her bunny slippers, and had her hair in the same loose bun she had it in the night before – except it wasn’t loose anymore; it was more “droopy.”
She stood to her feet and walked away from the window. Then, she collapsed and sighed onto her bed.
Suddenly, there was a knock her door. She looked up to see her brother, Brent, standing there. He was smiling and holding a plate of bacon and eggs with maple syrup drizzled on top – Halle’s favorite breakfast combo. She smiled as he invited himself in.
“Delivery!” he sung as he walked into his sister’s room. Halle sat up as he sat the plate of food beside her on the bed. “Mom’s demanding you to eat.” Brent winked and swished his hand across his face to pick the brown strand of hair out of his hazel eyes.
Halle chuckled and grabbed a piece of bacon off the plate. The syrup on it dripped a little but, luckily, she caught it with her hand. “Sit down,” she said to her brother, who was just standing there.
Brent sat down and helped himself to a piece of bacon. “So,” he said in between bites, “what are the plans for today? The beach? Pool? Park? Or are you just gonna sit here and mope around?”
“Ding-ding-ding! ‘Mope around’ gets it,” Halle said. The sarcasm in her voice oozed out of the words.
Brent looked at Halle, a deep expression on his face. “I know this summer didn’t work out for you so far. But trust me – it will get better!”
Halle scoffed, “Easy for you to say. You’re not spending the whole summer with those two … lovebirds down there.”
“Hey! James is cool! Give him a chance,” Brent answered.
If he’s so cool, then why are you still calling him “James”? Halle questioned him in her mind.
Halle picked up her fork and chopped off a piece of egg with anger. “Why should I? He gave me a thesaurus the beginning of summer and told me to ‘broaden my vocabulary.’ Who does that?”
“Um, educational and wise fathers,” Brent laughed.
Halle looked down. “He’s not my father.”
“I know, I know – but at least he’s here.”
Then, Brent got up and kissed Halle on the forehead. He left without saying another word.
Halle looked up see she was by herself – again. She sighed as she ate another bite of her egg. Suddenly, she wasn’t hungry anymore.
She swung her legs over the edge of her bed and went back over to the window. She looked up at the sky and said, “I wish you were here, Mia. You would understand.”
“I know you miss her,” Halle suddenly heard someone say from behind her.
She turned around to see her mother. She sighed.
“Yes, Mom?” she asked.
Her mom shrugged. “Nothing.” She walked into her daughter’s room. She looked at the abandoned plate on Halle’s bed. “You’re not hungry?”
Halle shook her head.
Silence fell over the room.
“You want to talk?” Halle’s mom asked.
“I just want to go back to sleep.”
Halle got up and walked over to her bed.
Her mother took the plate away and announced, “I’m going to the store, then. Need something?”
A good life, Halle thought but she just shook her head as she crawled back underneath the covers and eventually went to sleep.

One hour later…

Halle felt a sweaty hand on her face and somebody pushing her back and forth to try and wake her up. She opened her eyes to see Brent’s wet face.
She knew something was wrong.
“Halle! C’mon, quick! We’re going to the hospital!” Brent grabbed a pair of nearby flats in her room and pushed back the covers.
“What’s going on?” Halle asked.
Brent yanked off Halle’s bunny slippers and slipped on her flats. Then he grabbed her by the waist and carried her out.
“Brent! What’s going on!? Put me down!” Halle squirmed but Brent held on tight.
They ran out the door with James right behind them, locking the door. Brent unlocked the car and threw Halle into the backseat.
“Brent, what’s going on!?” Halle finally demanded as her brother and step-father piled into the car.
Brent turned around, contemplating whether or not to say anything. “Um, Halle,” Brent started to say, “Mom got into a … a … car … car accident.”
And then, Halle’s world came crashing down.





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