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Christmas; a time for red, green and white. Red, for the blood that is spilled. Green for the fake cheer that is shown. And white, for the snow that covers what is dying underneath. Thick wool sweaters and fuzzy scarves are worn to hide the scars. Beautiful jewelry and outfits is worn to draw attention away from the pain in our eyes. Presents are bought and gifted in an attempt to rid yourself of the negativity that is eating you away.
I’m sorry… Am I going too in depth? My apologies in advance. I may do that throughout the story. But, I guess I should tell you why you are here.
My name is Jennifer Green, daughter of an Irish man named Mark Green and an Austrian woman named Lea Wallner. Lea took her husband’s surname, so she is now called Lea Green. I have an older sister, her name is Michelle. She’s seven years older and according to my parents, light years beyond my level. She is better than me in every way, shape and form. And my parents accept nothing but perfection, something I simply cannot give them. That is something incomprehensible to them. No matter how hard I try, Michelle will always be better. Why?
She got straight A’s in school; I get A’s, B,s and F’s.
She got a job when she was in ninth grade; I stills don’t have one and I’m a sophomore.
She went to college and graduated with a degree in law; I don’t plan on going to college.
She married a man from Ohio (we live in Idaho) and never dated in high school; I’ve been in two relationships and both of them ended up horribly.
She has no metal conditions; I have ADHD.
To put it simply, she is perfect; I am not.
It’s Christmas break here in Idaho and frankly, I am not looking forward to it. Ten days of pure hatred from my parents and sister. What could be more fun than that? Eleven days of pure hatred from my parents and sister. Our principal had given the students a Christmas gift; an extra day off. Now, I say gift with a hundred percent sarcasm. I have to spend eleven days with my family as they order me around and complain on the fact that I waste space. They’re not wrong; all I do when I’m home is sit in my room and collect dust as I play on my phone or laptop. If I’m lucky, my crush Blake Vaseliev-Moretti will talk to me. He’s a Russian- Italian boy who I share a majority of my classes with and he is the one sophomore who hasn’t drifted off to another group of friends. All of my other friends are seniors who I rarely see, but always speak to.
I walked along the sidewalk, snow lightly powdering the concrete. I was walking home. When I made the turn into my neighborhood, I saw Blake and he waved to me.
“Hey Jen.” He said as he walked across the street.
“Hey Blake.” I said.
“Excited for Christmas?” Blake asked. “How about that extra day Mr. Hanabori gave us?”
“Yeah.” I lied through my smiling teeth. “Can’t wait.”
“Hey, Jen…” Blake suddenly became quiet. “I was wondering if you were free this Tuesday?” This caught me by surprise.
“Uh, yeah.” I replied.
“Good.” Blake said. “How would you like to walk around the mall that day.”
“A date?” Blake finished my sentence. “Yeah. A date.”
“Sure.” I smiled.
“Really?” Blake asked. “You mean it?” I nodded and Blake hugged me for a quick second.
“I’ll pick you up at 4?” He asked.
“Sounds good. But, pick me up at the bus stop.” I said.
With that, we parted ways and i arrived home to my dad throwing a slipper at me. I dodged it and darted up the stairs as I listened to my dad screaming “YOU DAMNED HOUND FROM HELL, FILTHY ANIMAL, IMPERFECT B****!!!” I closed the door to my room and locked it, pressing my back against the door, listening to my mother stomp up the stairs and knock on my door obnoxiously.
“You better get you good-for-nothing ass out of that bedroom before six o’ clock!” She yelled. “Your sister is coming in for the holidays with her husband!” I groaned as I slid to the ground. Why did Michelle have to come in for these eleven days? And why today? Why not the day before Christmas. I stood up and kicked my book bag across the room and sat down fuming on my bed. I do not lie when I say I hate the holidays; every single one. I even hate summer break because three months with my family? No.. I don’t think so.
Six o’ clock couldn’t have come any quicker; and that’s a bad thing. I walked from my room as slowly as I dared, hoping to make the time seem longer so I wouldn’t have to face my perfect sister. By the time i made it down the stairs, she and her husband were already seated at the table. One look at my sister and I wanted to turn around and bun my eyes with acid so I didn’t have to look at the perfection i could never be. Michelle had soft brown hair that was straight and had waved tips. Her eyes were a brilliant shade of blue and her skin was tanned to perfection. I took a daring glance in the mirror and immediately died inside. My hair was black and just straight, nothing more. There were some stray shades of purple and green from when I had dyed my hair. My eyes were a lighter shade of blue than my sister’s, but they looked a lot less perfect than my sister’s and my skin was pale. Michelle flashed me a brilliant white smile which nearly blinded me.
“Hey Jenny!” She said with obvious feigned liking. “How’s my favorite sister?”
“I’m your only sister…” I growled through gritted teeth, seeing straight through her lies.
“Oh, c’mon you know what I mean!” Michelle said with a fake laugh. “Jenny, meet my husband, David. David, this is my little sister, Jennifer.” I looked over at her husband and he smiled at me. He had blonde hair slicked back and green eyes that looked like grass. He wore glasses too.
“Hello.” He said. “Michelle has told me all about you.” This made me cringe a little but i smiled nonetheless.
“Has she?” I said, glancing anxiously at Michelle. Her smile was kind, her eyes were smug.
“Now Jennifer,” my mother said. “Go to your room and do your homework.” My mother’s words were kind but her tone said “Go to your room and make some use of yourself for once.” I nodded and quickly went back to my room, locking the door behind me. This was going to be a long eleven days. Naturally i had homework, but I left it at school so i could do it all last minute. Of course, Michelle always got her homework done in class. I look at my phone which had just rang and saw Blake’s text message.
Hey, you excited for Tuesday?
I immediately texted back.
Yea, I am, you?
I heard your sister was over.
My heart stopped beating for a minute.
Yeah, she’s here.Why you ask?
Just saying… Didn’t she have like a bunch of awards from the school because she was so smart?
That’s awesome to have such a smart sister.
Yea it is.
He couldn’t have been more wrong, Having a smart sister was horrible.
Well, I gotta go… See ya!
That night, after everyone but me had dinner, my dad barged into my room.
“Get out.” He snapped flatly. “Michelle and David are sleeping here tonight.”
“Well where am I sleeping?” I asked, knowing the answer,
“Basement. Now go. Scat.” I grabbed my things and dashed to the basement. I turned on the weak flickering lights and carefully walked down the creaking steps. I walked through the fallen wood and tools as I made my way to the back of the basement where a trapdoor was hidden behind a mass of well-placed wood and rugs. I moved them out of the way by lifting up door and climbing down before closing it again. I shone my phone’s flashlight to see a small, but comfortable den-like area. I placed down my belongings on the ground and lay on a small pile of pillows, pulling the blanket from a nearby corner and falling asleep to music on my phone.
The night passed by quickly and i couldn’t be more bothered to get up. The stampeding of my mother’s feet and the throaty screams of my dad, demanding I get upstairs. I sat up and my stomach growled.
“Damn, I haven’t right eaten in days…” I muttered as I walked from my small den. My legs wobbled as I opened the door to see Michelle, David and my parents at the table having breakfast. Five places were set up; four had pancake, eggs and coffee. The fifth place had a bowl of cereal. That was my place naturally. I made myself some coffee and sat down to wolf down my food. The bowl wasn’t large enough to feed a puppy, but it’s all i had for now. Later I would go out to town with my senior friends and buy some fast food lunch.
“So Michelle,” My mother said sweetly. “When did you and David meet?”
“Oh, we met a diner.” Michelle said, placing a hand on David’s arm. “He was waiting for his girlfriend but she had stood him up, so he asked if he could sit with me. He even payed for the meal afterwards.”
“Really?” My mother asked in delight. “How wonderful!”
“You were raised correctly, son.” My father said as he took a bite of his pancake.
“Thank you sir.” David said shyly.
“Ah! Don’t refer to me so formally, son, you are family now.” My father said. “Call me Mark.”
The friendliness that my parents gave David and Michelle made me sick to my stomach. I couldn’t wait until one o’ clock when I’d be able to sneak out of the house to meet with my senior friends.
At one, I snuck out of the basement window with my skateboard. I kicked off with my feet on the board and flew down the sidewalk. I swerved through pedestrians and walking dogs, keeping to the inner-edge. Once i made it to town, I saw my senior friends standing there, waving to me. I halted my skateboard in front of them and one of them, Nick, patted my shoulder.
“Hey there shorty!” He teased. I pouted.
“Shut up Nick.” I said. My other friend, Rachel, pushed Nick away.
“Stop bullying lower class men!” She said. aggressively before hugging me.
At six, I had to go home, which was something I dreaded. I knew that my dad would throw a slipper or a plate at me and my mother would hit me up and down with a wooden spoon. I sighed as I skateboarded down the street and back to my house through the basement window. I clambered up the stairs after stashing my skateboard safely. A heavy object was thrown at my head and i wasn’t prepared for it. It shattered against my face as blood began to drip down. Another second later, my mom began whacking me with a metal spatula over the head.
“Good for nothing!”
“Hound from hell!”
The beating ceased after five minutes until I was thrown down the stairs by my dad. Each step hit my back and head until I hit the bottom. I sat up and rubbed my sore head.
“Ow…” I groaned as I limped to my small den. I pulled out a mirror and checked over my wounds. “How the hell am I suppose to go on my date Tuesday?” I asked myself as I took some gauze and medical tape from behind a wood slab and began to patch up my wounds.
That night, I snuck upstairs and into the fridge. I grabbed an ice cream bar before closing the door and turning to see Michelle. She had her arms crossed. I wanted to spit on her fuzzy slippers. She looked perfect even in the dim lighting of the kitchen. She seemed to radiate with that perfection I could never obtain. And she was just a reminder of it.
“You look beat up.” She said. “Did your imperfect grades finally hit you?” Michelle sneered with laughter. I shook my head.
“You look like you’re starving; just like your future.” Michelle had to hide her laughter. I gritted my teeth.
“Hey, is that a halo above your head? C’mon sis, did you steal that too?” It was obvious she enjoyed watching me squirm.
“Shut up Michelle.” I said quietly. “I get it; I’m not perfect. I’m not like you. I’m not what mom and dad wanted. So leave me alone. I get enough from mom and dad.” “Now where would all of the fun in that be?” Michelle whined.
I pushed past her without a word and ran down to my basement room, eating my ice cream bar, trying not to cry all over it. I didn’t hate Michelle or my mom or my dad. I hated myself for not being perfect; for not being like Michelle. And for not having the required capabilities to be like her.
The next day was December 24th and everyone was bustling to get ready. My mom was going to the store with Michelle to buy presents because on that day, everyone would be going to a friend’s for a Christmas party of drinking and dancing inappropriately to modern music. They’d be having a blast and I’d be at home. Alone.
“Jennifer!” My dad called down, trying his best not to scream “b****’ or ‘slut’. “Come upstairs and help David with the food; I have to get wine and beer from the store.”
“Yea whatever.” I said sourly before trudging up the stairs. My dad had already taken off David smiled at me from the sink. His hands were busy with the dishes from the breakfast I had missed.
“Hey there.” He said. I smiled back forcefully.
“Good morning.” I said back as I took out some carrots and beets to make a salad.
“Did you sleep well?” David asked me. I shrugged.
“Not really…” I said. “You?”
“I did.” David said before going back to his work. I sighed mentally. At least David seemed nice. Maybe he didn’t believe what Michelle had told him. Or maybe she had lied to him. Either way, I hope he was the only one who wouldn’t ever see the imperfect side of me.
My mom came and called me outside. My dad wasn’t yet home so I went out without a word. Michelle shoved about ten bags in my arms.
“Make some use of your imperfect self.” She sneered before walking inside with her purse and heels her perfect hair flowing behind her. My mom walked past me and slapped the back of my head. I winced and followed them a few paces behind. I couldn’t wait for Tuesday to come. I wanted to get away from this hell as much as I could. Maybe I would sneak out when everyone else was out at a friend’s. That sounded like a good idea. If it meant me getting beaten up, i didn’t really care. Just as long as I got away.
That night, when Michelle, David and my parents left I snuck out to go to the park and hang out there on my own to hang upside down on the monkey bars by my legs and feel the blood rush to my head before using what upper body strength I had to pull myself up. I skateboarded to the park and did just that. After about two minutes, I felt a presence next to me and opened my eyes to see Blake hanging upside down as well.
“Hey Jen.” He said with a smile. I smiled back. His dark was was being pulled toward the ground.
“Hey Blake.” I said with a grin. “Why are you here?”
“Depends.” Blake shrugged. “Why are you here?” That made me stop breathing and moving. What should I tell him now? The truth? A lie? I sighed and Blake’s heavy gaze weighed me down.
“I’m trying to escape home.” I admitted.
“Why?” Blake asked, now concerned.
“Why do you think?” I asked, avoiding Blake’s gaze, “Because I’m beaten up and laughed at for not being perfect.”
“Perfection is one’s imperfections.” Blake said. I raised an eyebrow.
“Since when did you become a motivational speaker?” I joked.
“I’m being serious.” Blake said. I sigh.
“Yeah, well my imperfections gave me these.” I untucked my t-shirt under my jacket from my jeans and it fell to my face. Scars, both new and old were now fully visible to Blake’s eyes. He reached over to touch my face.
“Why?” Was all he asked.
“Because I’m not perfect.” I mumbled, now embarrassed and ashamed.
“Do you know how perfect you are?” Blake asked. I shook my head. Blake grabbed my face in his hands and there, hanging by our knees from the monkey bars upside down, Blake Vaseliev-Moretti kissed me on the lips for the first time. It was rapturous and full of love and assurance. When he pulled away, Blake looked me in the eyes.
“Come on; we’re calling CPS.” He said.
“A-are you sure?” I asked.
“You can’t live on like this.” Blake reminded. “Just a few more days and it’ll all be over.” I nodded and sighed.
“Thank you Blake.” I said. “For the help and the kiss.” Blake smiled.
“Anytime.” He said and we parted ways.
When I got home, Michelle was standing smug at the door. I glared at her. “What?” I snapped.
“Have fun?” She sneered.
“What do you care?” I retorted. Michelle tossed me something and i caught it. It was a hunk of some mysterious object wrapped in foil.
“Merry Christmas b****.” Michelle sneered again. I ripped open the foil and the trucks of my skateboard fell into my open hands. They were shattered beyond repair and I didn’t know how to react. I looked up at Michelle who was laughing.
“You b****…” I said in a small, menacing voice. “You son of a motherfucking b****!!” I screamed. “Who the hell do you think you are?! You broke my f***ing trucks!” I picked up a rock and threw it at Michelle. It hit her arm and she winced, still laughing. I ran down the stairs and into my den, throwing myself on the makeshift bed and falling asleep, holding my trucks and crying. The one thing that gave me escape… Gone.
I didn’t leave the den for the next few days until the shaft was opened by a stout, round woman. Her dark auburn hair framed her round face with glasses.
“Jennifer Green?” She asked. Even her voice matched her bubbly appearance.
“Yes?” I asked, weak and scared.
“My name is Adelina Rossi and I am from Child Protective Services. I’m here to take you away from here.” I stood up and climbed from the den, not loosing eye contact with the woman. She smiled.
“You’re safe now.”
I hugged the woman tightly, crying in joy.
“Thank you..!” I sobbed. “Thank you…!”
To end this story, my mom, dad and sister were arrested. Michelle and David got a divorce thanks to David after he learned the truth. And, David adopted me and moved into the house that mom and dad lived in, the house I was tortured in. It was put up for sale the day they were arrested and bought straight off the market by David, who took me in as his daughter. Blake asked me to be his boyfriend on our date to the mall. At graduation, he proposed for me to be his fiancé and I couldn’t be happier. We were married six months later in Vermont.
Red for the blood we loose for our loved ones. Green for the cheer we have when we see them. White for the beauty that we really have.