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The Unfamiliar Box
The tears in my eyes slowly ran down my cheek as I opened the letter. I knew something bad had happened. The last time I received a letter while I was on vacation with my friends was when my father, Henry, told me that my mother passed away. Besides, my step-mother, Jade, never wrote to me while I was out of town. I read the note and swiftly wiped away the crystals falling from my eyes. I felt anger, sorrow, and many diverse emotions. I stood up, made sure my friends were sound asleep, and walked to the kitchen as my legs started to tremor with fear. I approached the knives and slowly put my hand on them. As I admired the sharp blade with my finger, I saw a streak of blood run down my hand. I tightly grasped the knife, but decided to let go. I believed that I still had something to live for, so I stepped away from the dangerous weapons. I took a deep breath and fell on the floor, weeping from distress. As I closed my eyes, I thought of how everything was going to change.
The next morning, while my friends were asleep, I packed my bags and drove off to my hometown, Los Angeles. Just to keep my friends noted, I had left a letter on the kitchen table that read, 'Family emergency, needed to go home.'
After the three hour drive from Palm Springs, I pulled up around a corner and entered the hospital. As I entered the room and saw his pale body on the bed, my legs did not dare to take any more steps. I saw flashbacks of our time together, but to keep myself from erupting with tears, I stopped thinking. I walked towards him and held his snow white hand in mine. For odd reasons, my hands felt like they were burning; as if I had just touched the lava of a newly erupted volcano. Within two seconds, I felt an ice-cold vibe rushing down my spine.
'It's okay to cry Lauren; he was a great dad, and a great husband.'
'Yeah,' I sighed, 'but he's not here anymore.'
I walked out and approached my car. I opened the car door, and slammed it shut. As I inserted the key in the ignition, I adjusted my back mirrors and saw someone with piercing green eyes. She was wearing a deadly black cloak, standing behind the car, and holding a weapon. Terrified, I blinked twice, and the woman was gone. I thought it was my imagination, but when I looked back again, I saw her toxic face. I felt like I was being attacked, so I sped up, and safely arrived home.
I marched directly to my room and slammed the door shut. I lied down on my bed and closed my eyes. I then opened my eyes and reminded myself of the tragedy that was occurring. I walked from one side of the room to the other, pacing myself. I knew I was going to be interrupted when I saw the doorknob slowly turn.
I let out a loud shriek and grabbed what was closest to me, a sharp pencil. I was defenseless, and she pulled out her knife. I let out another sharp scream, and I opened my eyes. The droplets from my forehead were running down my face, my back was drenched with sweat, and I was crying from fear.
'Lauren, are you okay? Were you having a nightmare?'
'Yes, and it was horrible! But its okay, I'm better now.'
I could not sleep that night. I stayed up the whole time watching movies. The following morning, I stepped out of bed, and walked to my mirror. I looked at my reflection and saw my father behind me. I turned around, but he was not there. Suddenly, I heard noises that seemed to come from outside my room, near my window. I rushed to it, but only saw tree branches hitting it. Then, when I turned around, I saw something on my bed. When I walked towards it, I realized it was a letter. I was sick of letters. Disappointed, I roughly opened the envelope thinking it was something horrible. I felt my frown turned into a gentle smile. It was the last memory of my father. I held the letter tightly to my throbbing heart and then read it.
August 31, 2008
I love you with all of my heart. You are my angel. Did you know that? You better know 'cause you're the only thing that matters to me now. I know you feel drained without a mother, but just remember that you always have me and Jade with you. Even though we have not been getting along lately, I do not want you to blame yourself or her. Well, good night my sweet daughter, I must leave. I am not welcome here.
I folded the letter and put it under my pillow. Then, I put on some decent clothes and walked downstairs. Jade saw my puffy eyes full of tears.
'You know Lauren, we were going to get divorced anyways,' she tried to make me feel better.
'Yeah, but getting divorced and dying are two different stories,' her sympathy did not work.
As soon as I sat down on the sofa, the phone rang. I did not feel like standing up, walking all the way to the phone, and pressing the talk button; I had no energy. It seemed like whomever it was wanted to say something important because they kept calling. After a while of hearing the annoying ringing sound, I finally answered the phone.
'Hey Lauren,' it was my best friend Chelsea.
'Sorry, but I'm not in the mood.'
'Oh okay then, I don't want to bother. I'll hopefully see you at school tomorrow.'
'Yeah, maybe, I'm not sure if I'm going to come.'
'Okay then, I'll talk to you later.'
'Thanks for understanding,' I felt like I actually had a friend, one that cared.
'What are friends for?'
The next morning, I was dressed and ready to go to school. Jade drove me to school that day. When I opened the car door and stepped out, I heard someone say, 'There she is!' I knew going to school was a bad idea, but I was tired of hiding.
I walked in my homeroom classroom and the first person I saw was Chelsea.
'Oh my gosh, hi Lauren! I've missed you so much,' Chelsea hugged me and we sat down, class had already begun.
Mr. Lasater, my English teacher, started taking roll call.
''Morgan Preston,' he called.
'Here,' Morgan answered.
'Lauren Robertson, absent?' Mr. Lasater assumed.
'No, I'm here,' I responded.
'Oh, nice to see you again! How have you been doing?' Mr. Lasater asked.
'I've been doing fine.'
'Good! Now let's take out our books and start reading from page 27,' he announced to the class.
After five long periods, it was finally sixth period and I waited for the class bell to ring. It was a matter of two minutes later that the bell rang, and we went outside. Jade picked me up and after a quick chat with her, I realized that we were home. I stepped out of the car and zealously walked to my room. I left the door ajar and played a Paramore song.
Unexpectedly, Jade called me to the kitchen. She told me to clean the attic while she bought groceries from the market. I marched to the attic, stomping my feet on the stairs, and when I opened the door, I felt an ominous sense in the air.
I picked up the duster from the creaky desk and started to dust the boxes of winter clothes, papers, report cards, etc. Suddenly, I came upon a big, brown, unfamiliar box. It was very dusty and was in the corner of the attic. I wiped the dust off and saw my parents' names engraved on it. I opened the box and was confused at the sight of unknown pictures.
They were pictures of my father and mother. Some were from their wedding, others from memorable times they had spent together. Then, I saw a folder that had the word 'Plan' written on it. I opened it and saw doodles of a man and a woman getting murdered. The man had brown, curly hair and the woman had ash brown, luscious curls; they both looked very familiar. The murderer had blue eyes with jet-black hair and was wearing a black cloak. Behind these doodles, there was a hand-drawn calendar. On August 31st, it said, 'This will be the day.' I was frightened to look at the other papers. Then I heard a door open; Jade was home.
I closed the box and tossed it to the other side of the attic. I turned the flickering light off, and tried my hardest to be silent while tip-toeing down the squeaky stairs. I went to my room and paced back and forth, thinking about the box, and who might have been the murderer. When I heard footsteps coming towards my room, I picked up a book and pretended to read, so Jade would not be suspicious.
She walked in my room and as I looked her, I pictured the scary woman in the drawings that I had seen in the attic.
'Will you please come help me organize the groceries?'
I ignored her as if I did not hear her asking for help. I continued pretending to read my book.
'Fine,' she said in a fiercely manner and closed the door shut.
I was not quite sure what to do. So, I decided to research about my father's death. It had to be on Google. After all, he did work for the FBI. I double clicked on the internet icon and wrote in the search box, 'Henry Robertson's death.' When the page was done loading, I gently double-clicked on a link that led to the LA Times website. Suddenly, my eyes froze when I read the headline, 'Henry Robertson Murdered!' I read on, 'Head of FBI, Henry Robertson, was killed on Sunday, August 31, sources say. His body was found in an alley the following morning.' I closed the webpage and realized it was 11:00 P.M. Wow had time flew!
I went to bed but could not sleep all night. I tossed and turned but did not sleep. Then, I heard a tapping on the window. 'It's just the tree branches hitting my window again, it's nothing! I'm not going crazy!' But when I saw the same green eyes I had seen behind my car, I closed my eyes and tried not to think about anything.
I had horrible nightmares that the murderer in the doodles was going to kill me, except the woman's eyes in my dream were green instead of blue. Every single time I woke up in the middle of the night, I tried sleeping again, but as soon as I closed my eyes, I saw the article about my father. I felt like I was going crazy. Then, I heard an awful ringing. It was 7:00 A.M., and it was time to go to school.
During school, I thought of a plan. However, I second guessed this brilliant plan because I did not want to get in trouble with Jade. Though, it did not really matter what she was going to say about it.
When I arrived home, I rushed to the trunk next to my bed and started searching for a spy kit that my father gave me and the hideous hat Jade bought for me on my birthday. 'Here we go, found it!' I picked up a camouflage camera from the spy kit and the hat. I hid the camera inside the flower that was on the hat. Five minutes later, Jade called me.
'Lauren, come downstairs for dinner!'
'Co-coming,' I replied.
I wore the hat and walked downstairs. I sat down on a chair and waited for Jade to be seated.
'I see you're wearing the hat I bought you for your birthday,' she said as she brought a bowl of spaghetti and sat down.
'Yeah, I-I love this ha-hat!' I said with a tight, phony smile.
Then, when I picked up my fork to dig into the spaghetti, my hands started to shake. I kept aiming for my mouth, but my hand did not follow. Jade sensed that something was wrong with me.
'Are you okay? You seem a little off today, anything bothering you?' Jade inquired.
'N-no, not really, m-my head hurts just a bit,' I stuttered.
'Did you do something?' Jade asked with the look that all teenage girls hate, the eyes that looked like daggers.
'N-n- no, no, well nothing peculiar. I-I-just, I just had a normal day at school, that's it,' I was nervous.
'I know you did something and you know you did something, so just admit it,' Jade's voice was becoming louder and sturdier.
'I-I didn't do anything!'
'You found something, didn't you?'
'What? I don't know what you are talking about,' I lied.
'Yes, you do. You know exactly what I am talking about!'
'Maybe I do know,' I whispered.
'Maybe I do know,' I said in an even more hushed tone which only I could hear.
'I know you killed them! You killed my parents! You're after our money, aren't you? You've laid eyes on my father since the first day you saw him at the convenient store. You ruined my life, my whole family.' I stood up and yelled at her as tears started to flow down my face.
Then, Jade abruptly grabbed a butter-knife, the closest weapon near her hand, put it to my neck, and threatened me, 'And I only have one more Robertson to go. Guess who's next?'
I heard the loud thump when my head hit the top of the wooden chair. My legs folded and my brain shut down; I had fainted.
When I became conscious, I found myself locked in my room and Jade gone. I did not know what to do so she just snuck out of my window and drove to the police station with my camera hat on. I walked toward the front desk.
'Young lady, may we help you with anything?' A police officer nicely asked me.
'I know who killed my parents,' I answered tentatively.
The police officer was in shock. It seemed like he did not believe me.
'Here, I have a video,' I unclipped the minute camera from my hat and handed it to the man.
He uploaded the chip onto his computer and watched every moment of the appalling video. The police officer called his partners and interrogated me about Jade. I told them about the box I had found and I also mentioned that I did not know where Jade is. When the officers went on the search, they finally found Jade in a wig store, searching for a new appearance. They handcuffed her and took her to the police station, where I was waiting. I saw Jade's face and looked into her frozen eyes and said, 'Did you think it would last long, Jade?'
Since my step-mother was imprisoned, I did not have a home. I would have stayed with my relatives, but I did not have any. Both my grandparents passed away two summers ago and none of my parents had siblings. So, I was sent to live with Jade's friend, Violet.
The next day, when I went to school, everything was back to normal. I was self-assured about going to school and seeing my friends again. When school was over, Chelsea's mom took her home, and I waited for Violet. After three minutes, Violet drove by Grant High School to pick me up.
'Hi Violet,' I said as I opened the car door and sat down in the seat.
'Hi Lauren,' Violet replied as she turned her face to me.
When I took a glimpse of her face, I saw her cat-like green eyes, and remembered the incidents the days before. I retraced my memory: from the day at the hospital, to the tapping window, and to my nightmares, I recalled everything. My eyes froze; it took me a while to chew everything down. I took a deep breath, but I could not let it out. I just held it there, like I was playing freeze dance with oxygen. I waited for the music to play so I can exhale, but it would not. I was playing a game with my life, and my opponent was death. I finally came to my senses and decided to try harder to win, to overcome this nonsense, and I won. I started breathing normally and closed my eyes and tried to think of something happy, but nothing came to mind.
We finally arrived at Violet's house. I walked in it and was warmly welcomed by her son and daughter, Jake and Alice. Violet gave me a tour of the house and showed me to my room. It was nice, not as big as my old room, but I was content. I realized that all of my belongings were in boxes, ready for me to unpack. As I started to unpack, I saw an unfamiliar box in the corner of my closet. I blew the dust off with one breath and saw my name engraved on the top of the box.