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In the Land of Myrlie
Confusion spreads sporadically across his face, etching deep, cavernous lines upon his brow, before he answers. I'm hoping the answer will be no though, hoping my life won’t be destroyed with a two letter word that will fall out of his lips like a mistake falling from something good.
I met him at a brook by my house, the water was rushing like nothing I’d seen before and I’d tipped over to do god knows what and I’d fallen into the icy waters of Myrlie Brook. Since I live in the town of Myrlie…everyone here is completely oblivious to what goes on and seems to live in their own little personal bubble. So no one really heard the splash. I sat in the cold water, seeing my leather shoes seem to shimmer. Suddenly a fish with its slimy scales swam down my pants; I’ve been a child of nature since the beginging but fish were never my thing. I could feel a warm scream bubbling up in my throat daring to come out when suddenly I realized there was a hand reaching down as an offering almost. What a beautiful hand it was, the lines branching across his palm. My eyes ease up seeing his perfect fingers, long with perfect nails. Suddenly I realize I’ve been staring at his hand for quite some time and although I was in no danger I felt a sudden urge to grab his hand and pull him in with me. Of course I don’t…because that would be absurd. I look up into his eyes and see….annoyance? At first I'm wondering why then I realize…its been at least 1 minute that I’ve been staring at his hand and thinking about random things that have nothing to do with this…stranger. I grab his warm, smooth hand and pull myself out of the water. An awkward silence falls between us like a wool winter blanket. I mutter thank you when I realize how cold it is, I wrap my arms around my freezing body and scurry home in a rush. I didn’t even get a good look at his face I think angrily and curse myself for not looking. I tripped through my front door and I’m hit by heat from the fireplace and see my younger brother Marley tending the fire with his bare hands. I run at him “Marley! What….what do you think you’re doing?” I bark
Marley looked up at me with innocence in his eyes bright as anything “I'm sorry Kassie…I thought you’d be pleased if I had a fire for you…”
He hung his head down in shame, guilt burned into my heart like a fire I couldn’t extinguish and I pulled Marley in for a hug “It’s alright…I know its harder…”
Our mother ran away from us four months ago and it left us with just our dad, who recently left us for a new woman. So now it’s just me and Marley, Marley and me. I pushed Marley playfully “okay it’s time for bed sleepy head”
Something my mother used to say would probably get him to follow what I said. Marley cast me a sad look “but…Kassie….Im still hungry”
I sighed, he always did this with mother “Alright Mar’….but put on your Jammies first.”
I tickled him playfully until he ran to our room to get on his pajamas. I opened our last can of beans and put them on the stove “How about….chillie tonight?” I yelled to Marley
“Do you mean just beans with salt? Again?” he yelled back with a hint of knowing in his voice
I picked up the wooden spoon I kept in the drawer and sighed “Focus on your Jammies you little monster!!”
I knew the laugh I had attempted to laugh had come out more like a choking cat and gave him no hope….or not as much as I wanted to. A fresh wave of guilt surged over me like the ocean, I wished I could give him what my mother could. The love, the food, the health and the experiences. I stirred the now hot beans around and added a bit of salt. Just to surprise him though, just to feel…good I tip-toed up into the attic where I kept a small freezer and unlocked it. In it was a big piece of ham which I diced up into small pieces and threw it into the pot of beans which was now boiling. I went out to our dried garden and picked a bit of basil and threw it into our dinner.
Marley’s blonde head peeked out from the side of the kitchen door, he pointed his nose upwards and sniffed the air hungrily “I smell….meat! Kassie! Kassie…why do I smell meat?”
I just smiled warmly and rubbed his head. Marley jumped up and down estatically “Is it chicken? Turkey? Roast Beef?!”
I picked him up and showed him the steaming pot, Marley peered into it and sqealed “Ham!!”
He jumped out of my arms and ran around the house jumping around. Had I known the simple fact of having Ham for dinner would make him this happy, I’d figure out a way to have a ham ready for him every day. My mother would, she’d have cookies and milk ready for my brother and I when I got home from school. She’d have some royal feast waiting for us, steamy and hot filling the house with the most delicious aromas. She’d have our clothes fresh, clean and layed out for us morning and night. You could say we had the perfect life. My mother was like the glue to our family so when she left, it all fell apart…yet somehow she had left a dot of glue between Marley and I and somehow that little dot hardened and we stayed together.
“Kassie? Are you alright?” I heard Marleys small voice in the background of my thoughts
I looked up and smiled “Of course…why wouldn’t I be?”
Marley motioned me to bend down and when I did he wiped something wet off of my face and tasted it.
“Because you’re crying…” He said quietly, his eyes filled with worry
I gasped and wiped the silent tears off of my face quickly.
“…the onions…were…” I stuttered quietly
Marley raised his small eyebrows suspiciously “Kassie…we don’t have onions to cry about”
I nodded and stumbled over to our cabinet and grabbed our cracked plastic bowls and spooned beans into each bowl.
I pointed to the table “Go sit down so I can give you your dinner.”
Marley obidently sat down at our wooden table and folded his small hands over each other staring down at them because they were so “interesting” suddenly. I pushed the bowl over to him and practically threw a spoon into his bowl. I scraped the plastic chair across the floor and plopped down into it. I picked up my spoon when Marley stood up angrily “Kassie!! Kassie whats wrong with you?!”
He’d figured it out. I thought sadly. He knows that mother left us…that she ran away.
“you forgot to pray” he whispered quietly
I might have overreacted…yes that could be a symptom of guilt (why do I feel so guilty?) and pain. A breath that I didn’t know I was holding seeped out of my mouth like blood.
I folded my hands and closed my eyes “Thank you lord…”
Marley cut me off “for this world, thank you for Kassie, for mother, for dad, for my pet ant Karl, and for my food. I hope that one day mother will come back to help Kassie be happy again. Amen.”
I looked at Marley knowing my eyes looked like they were a dam about to burst open “Amen” I managed to whimper. She spooned the warm beans into her mouth, not wanting to eat them but forcing them down her throat to make Marley happy. Marley grinned “mmmmm! This is good Kassie!!”
I got up from the table “Marley…I’m going for a walk, when I get back you’d better be asleep in bed. If not…the rest of that ham is going in my belly!!”
Marley’s eyes got as wide as sauce pans and he nodded obediently “Okay….alright”
I grabbed my winter cloak and covered my auburn colored hair carefully wrapping my body in its warmth. I entered Myrlie Forest quietly closing my eyes and entering a world of chirps, crickets and water rushing. I was finally at the brook for the second time this day, I shivered as I remembered the freezing water surrounding my body like my cloak was now. I took in a breathe and let it out expecting to hear the sounds of a forest I heard a deep voice “What are you doing here?”
My eyes snapped open and I saw a boy about 14 or 15…my age. I looked down at his hands and saw the same hands I saw when I had fallen earlier today.
I stumbled backwards nervously “I…I was just going for a walk.” Be strong Kassandra, show him you’re the boss I straightened myself up “Why? I don’t see a private sign anywhere around here…”
He raised his eyebrows “Well no…It’s just I never see many people here…sorry.”
Why was I being so cruel? He didn’t deserve it at all…I was just feeling guilty, I cast my eyes downwards “I'm…sorry. I'm Kassandra Darlings, nice to meet you”
I put out my hand and he took it and gave it a firm shake “Ryan Baker. So…I probably should go…home…” he said pointing over the river.
I frowned then realized he was probably feeling pretty awkward “Um…I should probably be going…too….”
We both headed off in opposite directions. It was so weird, did he not remember me from earlier? I felt like he should have, like it was necessary for him to remember me. Of course…that was absurd…right?