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I’m nine years old, and sitting in my meadow- the tall grass comes up to my chest when I stand. I’m talking with the birds and listening to the trees laugh at our jokes.
La, La, La, La, La, La, La.
A little girl’s voice comes floating out of the words, sweet but menacing and dangerous at the same time. The hairs on the back of my neck stand on edge, and I stand up to go. The birds and I can finish our conversation another day, but its time for me to leave.
I’m surrounded on three sides by more trees- ahead of me and to my left and right. My house is on the other side, where there aren’t any trees, and I start running in that direction, aware that the little girl’s voice remained only a few steps behind me the entire way, never fading. I pick up the pace, using my arms to push the grass to either side of me, creating a path. I’m looking down, focusing on running as fast as I can without tripping over my feet, for I know-even as one of the most sheltered of nine year olds- that there is something that deceives appearances, something to run from, when I run headlong into-
I’m ten years old, sitting on my patio, reading and the wind picks up. A shadow the shape of a tall man falls across me. I glance up, but nothing’s there, save for the disconcerting feel that someone’s still watching me.
-a man, tall compared to my 4’4 frame. In his 30s, maybe, with long brown hair and eyes a shade of green I’d never seen before and would never see again. He’s dressed in the rags of a homeless person, but his eyes are some of the most intelligent I’ve ever seen. He grabs me by the shoulders and holds me at arms length. His brow furrows as he assesses my panicked state. “Hey,” he says, “Were you singing?” I shake my head, no. He lets me go, and gives me a little shove in the direction of my house. “Get going,” he said, and I do. He stands still, watching me leave-
I’m eleven years old, and me and my two best friends are hanging out with my cousin, Meg. “C’mon,” she taunts, “don’t tell me you’re afraid to go in those woods.” I’m silent. “Scardy- cat,” she mocks. Josey and Jess exchange worried looks- they know exactly why I haven’t been in the woods for two years- I’ve told them. “Actually,” Jess says. “I’m the one who’s too scared to go in. So I’d shut your mouth if I were you.” They glare at each other.
“C’mon, guys,” Josey said, trying to ease the tension. “There’s a movie at three, my brother said he’d take us.”
“Fine,” Meg says, and she stomps off. The three of us exchange an ‘ooookaaay then’ glance, and start walking away from the edge of the wood, behind my cousin.
La, La, La, La, La, La, La.
A little girl’s voice floats out of the wood and my step gets a little quicker.
I’m 16 years old and I haven’t thought about any of this in five years.
I wake up in a cold sweat, but I can’t remember what it is that I was dreaming. I glance at the clock: 4:05 a.m., and in exactly ten minutes I’ll be eighteen years old. Somewhere else in the house Josey is snoring lightly, and I hear noises in the kitchen which means that Jess- our resident insomniac- is up and about (again) getting a head-start on my birthday preparations or getting herself a snack. Yeah, right. I wish it was the latter.
Its summer- July 31st- and me and my two best friends-Josey Watson and Jessica Murphy- are staying in my parent’s house in Maryland. They have taken my brothers, Rhys (who’s 15) and Ben (who’s 11) to North Carolina for the summer, and let me and my friends stay in the house for the entire summer (given that we act like the responsible teenagers that we are. She’s been checking in with the neighbors every day to make sure we’re not throwing wild house parties.), since this is our last summer before college. We have a lot to worry about.
But for now, we’re forgetting about all that and enjoying the summer in the town we grew up in, though I admit that my house is slightly removed from the rest of the neighborhood. It has an incredibly long driveway, down to the bottom of a hill, where our house sits, right next to the wood. I haven’t been in there since I was little, but I can’t remember why.
Ugh, it seems that Jess’s insomnia is rubbing off on me, I don’t think I’ll be able to go back to sleep. I got up and headed down to the kitchen, and sure enough there was Jess. But she wasn’t getting herself a snack, as I’d hoped- she was cleaning. Something that she desperately hated doing when she was in her own house, but that she welcomed anywhere else.
“Hey,” I said sleepily, rubbing my eyes.
“Hey,” she said, happily. Too happily for four in the morning, but there wasn’t much I could do about that. It’s just the way she is. “Happy Birthday, birthday girl.”
I groaned. “Don’t remind me.”
“You know your fear of aging is getting you nowhere,” she said the last word in a sing-song voice.
“You know what?” I said, “I think I just added another request to my birthday list.”
She glared at me. “What are you doing, anyway?” I asked. She looked at me like I was stupid. “I’m cleaning.” “Why?” I asked. “I’m bored,” she replied. I put my head in my arms, folded on the table. “You’re so weird,” I groaned. She smiled prettily at me.
“I’m sorry if I woke you up,” she said, “I’ll get you breakfast.” She started hopping around the kitchen.
“Hm? Oh, no, it wasn’t you. I had a bad dream.”
She glanced up, briefly, before going back to cracking eggs. “Wanna talk about it?”
“There’s nothing to talk about,” I said, “I can’t remember a thing about it.”
“Well, then, maybe it was a happy dream. You can’t know if you can’t remember.”
“Yes I can, Jess, it was a bad dream. Happy dreams don’t wake me up. Ask Jo, she agrees with me.” She frowned at me.
She put a plate of eggs and pancakes down in front of me. “I’m going to go do laundry.” She winked at me. “You can’t go in the laundry room, today, by the way.”
“Why? Is there presents?” I asked.
“No,” she said. “There’s laundry.” I rolled my eyes at her and she walked away laughing.
“Hey, Jess,” I said. I got a loud ‘uh-huh?’ from the laundry room.
“Eat something,” I said. She peeked around the wall and glared at me. “No,” she said. “Jess,” I pleaded with her. “No, I’m not hungry.”
“You have to be hungry,” I told her. “You NEVER eat.”
“I do to.”
“No, you don’t.”
“Don’t you make me wake up Josey. You know she won’t be happy.”
“It’s my birthday.”
She glared at me and plopped down at the kitchen table. I pushed my plate towards her and smiled at her sweetly, scrunching up my eyes. She picked up a fork and ate a few bites. “Happy?” “No,” I told her. “What do you want me to do?” she asked, her voice rising. “Eat a whole bowl of cereal.” She opened her mouth to protest, and then seemed to realize it wouldn’t do any good. She got up and walked around, and poured herself a bowel of cereal. I watched her eat it.
Jess is anorexic. We’ve been pushing her to get help for ages, and that was the one thing that me and Josey were going to push her to do before we started college, but we agreed to have her let one full month of summer vacation first. We had our date set for August 5th. And it was starting to physically pain me to look at her.
I do suppose that all of us could be considered pretty. Josey has straight, dark brown hair that comes down to her elbows, with bangs, she’s got nice, clear skin that tanned well, and big brown eyes, with a great body. She was 5’7, the tallest of all of us. She was normally dressed very fashionably.
Jess was now getting to look extremely unhealthy, but she still looked pretty. She normally wore really dark blue or black mega-skinny jeans and black or white tank tops during the summer, with lots of long necklaces. She had chin-length dark brown, straight hair that helped emphasize her small, narrow face and dark blue eyes. She was so skinny now that you count all of her ribs and all of her bones were visible right beneath her skin. She was 5’2, the shortest of us.
I’m 5’3, right in the middle. (Though I probably leaned to the shorter side.) I have shoulder- length red hair with side bangs. I’m pretty skinny, but I’ve got curves. I’m really pale and I have big greenish-bluish eyes that change colors depending on what I’m wearing. I normally dress in long, flowing, dark colored skirts and dark tank tops that I layer carelessly, with lots of long, layered necklaces, and bracelets. I have a friendship bracelet from both Josey and Jessica on each of my wrists from when we all made each friendship bracelets when we were 13.
We each have our own personalities, but I think I’ve always thought that altogether we made up one whole person, if that made any sense at all. There was Josey: the It girl, Jess, the rebel, and me- the shy one. I guess, I dunno. That’s the way I’m perceived, anyway. It’s not that I don’t like to talk- I LOVE to talk, really, I do. It’s just that I don’t like to talk in front of a lot of people, so I normally don’t. I guess that makes me come across as shy. Tell this to Jess or Josey, though, and they’ll look at you like you’re crazy and then burst out laughing.
“So what are you planning on doing today?” Jess’s voice broke me out of my thoughts.
“What are we doing today? It’s your birthday. You’re a legal adult now.” She said each word slowly. “Oh,” I said. I shrugged. “I dunno, can we watch a movie?”
Jess rolled her eyes. “NO,” she said. “You’re turning eighteen for goodness sakes; you have to do something special!” Jess is a great believer in parties.
“Like what?” “I dunno.” “Well, I’ll think about it when you come up with something.” “That’s not fair, it’s your birthday. You decide what to do.” “No.” “But it’s your birthday!” “Exactly, and I want you to plan what to do.” This bit went on for a little bit, before Jess resigned herself to planning what to do, warning me that, because she didn’t like me anymore, it was going to be a surprise.
With a loud clump Josey came into the kitchen and flung herself into a kitchen chair, and put her head down on the table with a bang. “I hate you all,” she announced. I glanced at the clock. 4:30, no wonder she hated us.
“Good morning, sunshine,” Jess said sweetly. Jo glared up at her. “I hate you, especially.”
“Ah, that’s too bad, considering I made you pancakes.”
“Pancakes!” Josey exclaimed, happily.
“Ah, say it.”
“Why? You woke me up. I’d say it if you had made me pancakes at a decent hour, like 11 in the morning.”
“Say it, or Melina will be forced to eat the pancakes.”
“I don’t want the pancakes,” I piped up, “I just had some.”
“Shut up, Mel,” Jessica said.
“Love you, Jess,” Josey said, irritably.
Jessica put the plate down in front of her and smiled sweetly. “Love you, too.”
It’s amazing, but even the clothes we sleep in represent just how different we are. On summer nights, Josey normally wears a sports bra and short, short, short shorts (short!!) and in winter, she wears actual pajamas, lacy sorts of stuff. Jess normally wears thin tank tops and underwear during the summer (she changes right when she gets out of bed, normally) and tank tops and pajama pants during the winter. I normally wear huge t-shirts and shorts during summer, and over-sized sweatshirts and sweatpants during summer.
When we were sixteen Josey went through a huge stage where she believed that clothing said tons about who you are, which I suppose it does, for some people. So she told anybody who asked all about themselves just based on what they were wearing. The first time she did this to me and Jess, we were having a sleepover and were already in our pajamas, and Josey claimed that even pajamas represent who we are, and went on to tell us what our pajamas meant.