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The Bittersweet Sisters
“I can’t believe you’re making me move!” Mari complained for the millionth time. “It’s not fair. I had a ton of friends in New York City and now you’re making me move to Concord, Massachusetts!” Mari continued to ramble while her father ignored her and drove the van. Mari’s mother and her sister, Esme, were not fortunate enough to have to the excuse of driving to ignore her.
Mari Foster was a seventeen year old high school student. In Mari’s old school she was often called “Miss Perfect” because to them she was perfect in every way. She had golden blonde hair and sapphire blue eyes. She played as many sports as she could, and she excelled at every one of them. She also earned her title because she was one of the smartest people in her whole school. Her family knew her to be a drama queen though, and they tended to ignore her once she started on a rampage. Once in awhile though, Esme would try to reason with her.
“You should look at this as an opportunity, Mari. Concord sounds like a lovely town, and a lot of famous writers lived there in the 1800’s.” Esme told her sister.
“I don’t care if Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp grew up there. I want to go back to New York!” she shouted in reply. Esme sighed in defeat and just looked out the window.
Esme Foster was sixteen years old and in the same grade as Mari. In New York, not many people noticed Esme, but she was okay with it. She had her true friends, and that was all she needed. She was rather plain looking at a glance with brown hair and eyes, but with a closer look, one could see hints of red in her hair and flickers of green in her eyes. Esme was often clumsy and not nearly as smart as her sister, but she still won the adoration of several people through her kindness. Her parents did not seem to care for her as much because Mari stole so much of their attention, but they really did love her.
“Mari, please don’t shout in the car. I know you are not happy about our transfer, but we could not pass up this opportunity. I promise your father and I will make this up to you.” Mrs. Foster said cajolingly.
Mr. and Mrs. Foster were American Literature Professors at Columbia University. They were very happy with their jobs until they were offered jobs at Harvard University. They couldn’t let go of an opportunity like Harvard. They decided within a week that they would move to Concord, so the girls could get away from city life. Not to mention, they could live near Walden Pond and the home of so many amazing American writers.
“Alright ladies, we’re here.” Mr. Foster announced as he pulled into a drive way. Esme and Mari suddenly looked up to see their new home.
It was a quaint yellow house with a wrap around porch. The house was two stories with a bay window on the second story. There was a narrow brick path that led to the front door. On both sides of the path, there were flower beds of daisies. The yard was an emerald green sea with scattered shade tree islands.
“Wow! It’s really pretty.” Esme said as she was stepping out of the van. Her parents smiled at her in relief. Mari just sighed and started walking up the path.
“I suppose it could be worse. We could be out in the middle of farmland without a neighbor for miles.” Mari said dramatically while walking through the door. Her family just shook their head and followed her.
“Esme, you see that big bay window?” Mr. Foster asked and pointed to the window.
“Yeah, what about it?” Esme asked in reply.
“That is your room. It’s not much, but your mother and I think you’ll like it.” He told her as they were walking through the foyer.
“I’m sure it is fine, dad.” Esme replied and headed upstairs to her room. She quickly found the room with the bay window.
It was a bit smaller than her old room, but it would work. The walls were a nasty green color and peeling. The floor was a light ash hardwood floor that needed polishing. There was a window seat in the bay window, but it almost looked like it was lapsed. The seat was completely bare, and there were dingy white curtains in front of it blocking the sun. Esme walked farther into the room. She looked out her window to see a nice view of the front yard and the street.
“So how do you like your room?” Mrs. Foster asked as she walked in to the room.
“It’s okay. I think I’m going to definitely paint the walls a different color and fix up the window seat.” Esme replied with a shrug and a smile.
‘I’m glad you don’t mind this.” her mother said gesturing to the room. “I didn’t want to give this to Mari and have her complaining even more”.
“I understand. I’ll just get a job somewhere and get money to fix the room up nicely.” Esme told her.
“That sounds like a good idea, but if you want money for supplies, I can give you plenty of money.” she said walking out of the room to get her purse.
“No, mom. I don’t need your money. I would rather get a job. I should get one anyway, so I can save up money for college.” Esme said quickly as she followed her mother. Mari suddenly came up to them in the hall.
“Mom, can I have some money to paint my room a different color and buy new curtains?” Mari asked.
“What’s wrong with the color of your room and your curtains now?” her mother asked in reply.
“Come on, I’ll show you.” Mari replied in an exasperated tone before leading them to her room.
The room was a light mint green color. Her floor was covered in a chocolate brown colored carpet. The curtains in front of her windows were a pale blue color. Esme walked to the window and looked out. The view from Mari’s window was far better than Esme’s window. Through the window Esme could see their back yard full of grass, autumn cherry trees, and Arapaho crape trees. She even thought she could see Walden Pond in the distance.
“I think your room is very nice. Why do you want to change it?” Mrs. Foster asked Mari.
“All my bedding is orange or bright pink. The colors will clash very badly.” Mari stated as if it should have been obvious.
“Well… I suppose I can give you the money since Esme wants to pay for the changes to her room on her own.” her mother said just so she didn’t start griping again. “You’re sure you want to pay for your own things, Esme?” she asked just to make sure.
“Yes, I’m sure. Like I said, I need to get a job anyway.” Esme replied politely. Her mother looked disappointed but did not say anything else.
At the beginning of the next week, Mari and Esme had their first day at the new school Concord Carlisle High School. Mari easily developed a fan club of boys and a following of girls, and Esme actually made friends quickly the first day. Mari soon became the star of the school and Esme was simply blending in very well. Esme also quickly got a job and was saving up for the renovations for her room. They spent months there before Mari’s dramatic and self-centered nature was truly revealed to the school.
It was a Wednesday afternoon in the cafeteria. Mari had just gotten her lunch and was walking to her table when a freshman girl accidentally ran into her. All at once, the girl fell to the floor and Mari’s tray landed on her and her white blouse. Mari wobbled a little but managed not to fall. Ravioli and strawberries were all over the floor and the poor girl.
“Stupid freshman! Watch where you’re going! Now I have to go and get another lunch!” Mari shouted at the top of her lungs and walked away. Everyone in the lunchroom was stunned. Mari had not seemed to be particularly nice before that day, but they had never thought she could be so mean. Esme caught Mari not to far from where the freshman still sat on the ground in shock.
“Mari, it was an accident. You should apologize.” Esme tried to tell her.
“Why should I apologize? She ran into me!” Mari said furiously before walking away. Esme shook her head in shame and walked over to the girl. She held out her hand for the girl to take. The freshman nervously took Esme’s offered hand and stood up.
“Why don’t you go to the restroom and wash up a bit? I’ll clean this up and come see how you’re doing in a minute. Do you have a shirt to change into?” Esme asked soothingly. The girl just shook her head “no”. Esme saw tears of shame in her eyes. “Well I have a gym shirt that might fit you. It’s not exactly clean, but it’s better than a ravioli and strawberry soaked shirt.” she said kindly.
“But Mr. Daniels’s golden rule is “have your gym clothes”. You’ll probably get a detention if you don’t have your shirt.” the girl pointed out.
“I’m sure he’ll understand if I explain what happened. You just go get cleaned up now.” Esme told her kindly before giving her a nudge in the direction of the girl’s restroom. The whole lunch room quietly watched as Esme cleaned up the floor, went to get her gym shirt, and walked into the restroom to help the poor freshman.
After that day many more students wanted to befriend Esme. She really was charming and very kind to everyone. She was always there for her friends and even people who were not her friends. Mari still had her following, but that was all it was now. The people she spent time with only admired Mari’s beauty, brilliance, and strength, but they were not interested in true friendship with Mari. The Foster sisters did not notice the change themselves until a party a few weeks later.
Mari had driven Esme and herself to the biggest party of the year. Mari was excited because the most popular boy in school, Jared Irving, had asked to talk to her at the party. Mari was almost positive he was going to ask her to prom and was pretty excited. Esme had just tagged along because her best friend, Alexa, had told her she had to come. Mari quickly found Jared in the party, and Esme found Alexa.
“I really should be at work right now.” Esme told Alexa.
“Why? Don’t you want a night off?” Alexa asked.
“Yeah… but I almost have enough money to start remodeling my room. It is really not pretty right now.” Esme told her.
“What’s wrong with your room?”
“Besides peeling nasty green paint and an unfurnished window seat, nothing much is terribly bad.” Esme replied with a shrug.
“Why didn’t your parents fix it when you moved here?” Alexa asked confused.
“Cause Mari wanted to have her perfect room redone because it did not match her bedding and I didn’t want to waste their money.” Esme answered in an annoyed tone.
“Wow, your sister is something.” Alexa said.
“You have no idea.” Esme replied jokingly. She and Alexa were talking more when Mari suddenly came over and dragged Esme away without a word. “What are you doing, Mari?” Esme shouted as Mari pulled her over to the car forcefully.
“Just get in.” Mari said in a dangerous tone. Esme did as she was told. She had only ever heard Mari use that tone once when she had been beaten by her archenemy, Tanya. Mari quickly drove away and back toward their house.
“He asked me if I thought you would want to go to prom with him.” she said quietly after a moment.
“Who asked you?” Esme asked her even quieter.
“JARED IRVING!” Mari shouted in anger. “I do NOT understand! You are just so plain and I am as close to perfection as it gets.”
“What did you tell him?” Esme asked hoping Mari had not been really mean to him. Jared did not deserve to be yelled at even if he had asked a stupid question. Esme would have said “yes” to him without a doubt.
“I slapped him, threw my punch in his face, and told him he had lost his mind.” Mari replied with satisfaction.
“Mari! How could you? That is terrible!” Esme said in distaste. Mari was about to reply when headlights flashed directly through the front of the windshield. Esme only got a glimpse of the car before it came crashing into them.
Esme woke up in Emerson Hospital five days later. She quickly discovered several balloons and teddy bears near her. Upon investigation, she realized she could feel everything but could not quite move her right arm and felt pain when she tried to move her left foot.
“Oh thank God.” Mrs. Foster said in relief as she walked into Esme’s hospital room.
“What happened?” Esme asked weakly.
“Mari and you were in a car crash. She is doing fine. She was scratched up a bit and broke her nose.” she answered while walking toward her daughter. “You, on the other hand, got a concussion, broke your arm, sprained you ankle, and have a few minor cuts near your throat from the broken glass of the windshield”. Esme was shocked by the damages her mother just told her.
“How long until I’m out of here?”
“Mari is getting released right now, but the doctors will want to keep you awhile longer because of the concussion you had. You might be out in another few days.” Her mother told her kindly.
Esme did stay in the hospital for two more days before she was released. She was somewhat sad when she was released though. No one had come to visit her while she was in the hospital, not even Alexa. The doctors had given strict orders for Esme to stay home from school for at least the next week. Esme figured if her friends did not visit her in the hospital they probably would not bother to visit her at home.
Once her father had gotten her home, she just wanted to go up to her room and sleep. While her father was helping her out of the car, she looked up to her bay window. She was puzzled when she saw bright colors through the window.
“Dad, why are there… blue pillows in my window?” Esme asked confused.
“You’ll see.” he replied with a huge smile on his face. He helped her up the walk, stairs and to her room. The door was closed, but Alexa was outside it.
“I’ll take it from here Mr. Foster.” she said taking Esme from him and giving her a gentle hug. “I am so glad you’re out of the hospital. Now for our surprise.”
“Our?” Esme questioned just before Alexa opened the door. Esme gasped in surprise. There were about ten of her closest friends and Jared Irving cramped in her room, but they were not why she was so shocked.
Her room was completely redone. The walls were painted emerald green at the top and blue at the bottom with a stripe of white between them. She could still smell the fresh paint. The floor was so polished it was shinning in the sunlight. There were only a few throw rugs scattered around her room. Her window seat had been transformed into the perfect reading niche. There was a huge royal blue cushion for the seat and four blue and green striped pillows. The dingy curtains had been replaced with new ones that would still allow sunlight through.
“Let’s go sit in the window.” Alexa said and helped Esme over to the seat. When Esme looked out the window, she saw at least half the school on her front lawn with a huge banner that read “Welcome Home Esme!” She was so touched by this she started tearing up.
“Thank you guys so much.” she said very gratefully. “What did you do for Mari?” she asked curiously.
“Absolutely nothing.” Jared answered quickly.
“Why?” Esme asked slightly surprised.
“After what she did to that freshman girl a few weeks ago and what she did to Jared at the party, no one even wanted to send her a get well soon card.” Alexa explained to her.
“I guess I can understand why you would feel that way, but I feel a little bad for her now.” Esme said, but everyone just brushed it off and continued with their celebration.
For the rest of Esme’s life she was always put first because of her kind and considerate ways. Mari had quite a different life though. She spent the rest of her life alone. No matter how perfect she seemed, no one could ever forgive her for her self-centered nature.