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Watching the Clouds
The most beautiful thing about the morning time ... is the sky. When you open your eyes and see the different hues of blue or sometimes gray, it kind of changes your attitude or the way you look at life. Every morning, i wake up and stare into the clouds. I watch to see if i can find one that reminds me of something. Other days i awake to angry drops of rain, pummeling to the concrete and grass, demolishing any hope of happiness for the hour. Its funny how the sky can have that effect. Most people dont think of the sky as anything more than a big blue thing floating above us. But how can you honestly wake up everyday and have no fascination for it? I remember,when i was a little girl.. I used to lay in the fields and watch the clouds with my father and brother, Isaac. Father would make popcorn and Isaac would bring the drinks, all i had to do was point out the clouds. I remember these days the most because they were the highlight of my childhood. Everyday, we would lay out in the field and faithfully , i would find a cloud. The breeze would hit our faces gently, the sun would bless our bodies with enough heat to keep us outside...It was beautiful. It was fun. And i enjoyed it the most because i did it with people that i loved.
"Audrina?" my brother would often say,as if he wasnt aware if i was still alive or not. They often said that the face i make when i watch the clouds,was as if I had died and gone to heaven. And often times i imagined just that. "Audrina, can you hear me?" his sweet, 9 year old voice cooed into my ear. "Yes, Izzy. I hear you." i replied, never taking my eyes off the clouds. I often giggle everytime i remember how i used to say his name. Even though i was advanced at the age of 6, i still had the hardest time pronouncing his name. I could feel his smile as he turned his head toward mine. He put his eyeball right up to the side of my own, and laughed. I turned to him and pushed his face back to the clouds. "Look at that one, Izzy!" i yelled as i became excstatic. "Do you see it? What does that one look like?" i asked as i bared my childish smile. The wind pushed air throughout the holes in my mouth, sometimes it tickled, other times it was annoying. That was the one thing i hated about childhood. Why do teeth have to fall out? If they're in there once, why can't they just grow regularly like everything else? I turned to Isaac as i watched his expression change from playful, to confused, and then dreadfully serious. "Do you see it?" i asked again after he grew silent. He nodded as he reached over to my body. He gulped hard as his fingers wrapped around mine. "It looks like mommy." He said softly.
I don't know why i reminded him of that to this day...Ever since she died, he had never let her name drift from his mouth again. When he was reminded of her, he would often fall into another galaxy, his eyes would draw a blank, as if he had shut down. I remember being at her funeral..God only knows why they did an open casket funeral...and i remember him in the back, ripping at the curtains, knocking over the chairs.. Who knew a 7 year old held so much strength? At the time when i asked him about the cloud, i thought maybe he would have gotten over it by now...I thought maybe he wasnt bothered by it anymore.. I surely wasnt. Maybe it was because he knew her longer, had more memories. I could hear my brother sniffling, he had balled himself up into the fetal position. "Izzy?" i called, as i reached my hand over to his shoulder. Before i could even rest my hand on his bone, he had smacked it away. I jumped slightly, frightened by his sudden aggression. "Audrina," my father began. I could hear his tone was slightly angry. "Why did you have to do that?" he asked as he reached over to pick up Isaac. I remember sitting there, quietly as the two walked away from me. I tried to get another gaze into his eyes, but once he was in my father's arms, he shut them as tight as he could.
Often times, i wake up in the middle of the night, sweating. My heart would be at the brink of breaking down, my eyes as puffy as a blowfish. My palms would be so clammy, and my mind would be mush. I remember waking up and trying to scream, but my voice had gone on vacation. I remember my throat being clogged with a horrible substance, and as many times as i coughed, it would not leave me. I remember making my eyes open, making myself look at the door. I remember the smoke.
That night haunts me. It wasnt until i had grown old enough to understand, old enough to realize what i had done to my brother everytime i mentioned her. Just as i dreamed of that night, i can only imagine that he would dream of it too. My dreams didnt make sense to me, they would always stop after i forced myself to see the smoke. Maybe that was the reason why i was so insensitive to his problem, his feelings. Nowadays, i find myself laying in bed, thinking about that dream..trying to force myself to remember what happened that night. Sometimes i have even questioned whether i should ask Isaac what he remembered... Maybe all we needed was closure? "Father... Please help me." i called out into the atmosphere. "Help me figure out what to do. Is it right that we dont speak of you all? Is it closure that we need? Give me a sign." i asked as i closed my eyes. I waited for a response. Sometimes i felt stupid for talking to the air, wondering if i was really even talking to him. When you go to church, that's what they tell you right? To pray...To talk to God, and whoever else you know that may be up there...? I sighed as i reached for my cellphone. I found his name, and pressed the call button.
"What do you want, Audrina?" he asked angrily before i had even uttered a word. "Isaac, you cant keep this up." I said softly as i felt my heart weakening. Maybe i shouldn't have called him. Maybe that's not what my father was saying... "I havent spoke to you in 9 years. I havent spoken to you since that day, Audrina." "I'm aware, Isaac--" "Do you remember that day? Do you remember what you did? Do you REMEMBER how you made me feel? What you made me do?" He began to rant. "Isaac, i didnt do anything," "You didnt? Is that what you honestly believe? Is that all you called me for? To stir up the past?" He continued to question. I sighed deeply as i prepared my response. "I havent even said anything to you yet, and you have already ripped me apart." I could hear him scoff, then chuckle. "Audrina you are so full of yourself. How can you honestly speak as if you had nothing to do with what happened? Dont you remember what you made me do?" He asked again. "No, Isaac. I dont. Tell me since it bothers you so." He chuckled again. "You're still the insensitive jerk that you were then." He said coldly. I could hear him cough, and then clear his throat. "That day, after you mentioned mother... Father left you at home with grandma, remember?" "Yes." "He was supposed to take me for ice cream... All i wanted was ice cream , to forget!" He said as his voice began to shake. "He was angry with you, angry for bringing her up. Angry for upsetting me. He was angry! We.. we were trying to get off the freeway because he missed the turn, we tried to get off but he couldnt see..." I sat there, listening to him blame me for everything. I sat there, wondering why he couldnt see... All i could remember was the rain.. I remember watching them get into the car, and after they pulled off... the rain came. Hard.
"He kept honking, putting his blinker on, trying and trying to get off, but they wouldnt let him.Dad kept screaming for them to move over, but they wouldnt. They cursed him, and he kept trying to clear the windsheild. He kept crying..." Isaac said before he took another pause. It was obvious now that he was crying. "Father turned on the radio.. do you know what song played?" He asked. "No, i wasnt in the car." I said shortly. "Remember the time. You know what was their song. Michael Jackson. When he heard that song, he kept crying and crying... He wouldnt stop crying..." He said before he took another pause. "I dont know what snapped inside of him, but he smashed his foot onto the pedal, and he just kept driving, going faster and faster, turning hard and abruptly to avoid other drivers... until that 18 wheeler pulled onto the freeway from the ramp..." Another pause. By this time, i could feel my heart .. pushing against my chest. My mind was telling me to tell him to shut the h*** up, but i wanted to know. I needed to know what everyone had been blaming me for all this time. I needed to know why my brother never came home that day, why he moved with our auntie to Rhode Island, and i stayed with grandma in Michigan. Why? He was still crying.. harder now. "I'm sorry, Isaac. You dont have to continue if you dont want..." "No , i want you to know what you did to me, to our family." He spat out quickly. I could hear more anger now.. It was almost scary. "He drove into the 18 wheeler... And our car flipped... I dont know how many flips or for how long, but we flipped. I must have blacked out, because when i woke up...The only one who was there to comfort me was Aunt Lisa. And do you know what she told me? She told me that our father was dead. She showed me the picture of the car...The whole windshield was gone and the remains were jagged, the front of the car was pushed in almost to the backseat where i was. The blood.. All over the car...all over his seat. The only reason i was alive , was because of my carseat."
By this time, my heart hurt. My eyes leaked a sad liquid, that barely even wanted to bless my face. I knew not to believe that i was the cause, but it hurt just as much knowing that it started because of me. I could hear the pain in his voice, i understood why he was angry...Some questions had been answered, but not enough. "After they released me, Aunt Lisa told me i couldnt speak to you anymore. She didnt even let me go home to get my things... We just got in the car and drove to Rhode Island.. the whole drive she cursed you, telling me how it was all your fault...And every night since then i have had these dreams--" "Dreams? What dreams, Isaac?" i asked as i heard the keyterm that i needed. "Audrina, i dont wanna talk about this over the phone..." "Then meet me. Meet me as soon as you can, so we can speak on this..." I suggested, hoping that he would accept. "I dont know...Aunt Lisa said--" "Do you still live with her? You're grown up, so get out of the bed, pack a bag and drive. We can meet halfway or you can just ride all the way to grandma's." I said. "So you still live with grandma?" He asked as he let out a slight chuckle. "She's old, Isaac. It's not the same as living with Lisa." "She's your aunt. Show respect." "Excuse me? She cursed me for 9 years, remember? Be happy i even called her Lisa." I snapped as i turned over in my bed. He chuckled again and replied, "I'll be there friday. Dont... Dont screw this up." Before i could reply, i heard a click...and then the light from my phone came on. He hung up.
I smiled to myself as i thanked my father and closed my eyes. This is what we need, closure.
I must admit that i was afraid. Isaac hadnt called since that night, and here i was waiting in the living room.. Hoping that he even remembered what day it was. "You know today is friday.." Grandma said as her voice shook. "I know,grandma. I know." I said as i stared at the clock. 3:46 PM. I placed my head between my hands and sighed...My palms began to clam up again. My heart was beating on my chest as well. And then the doorbell rang. My head shot up as quickly as a piece of bread from a toaster. I quickly exchanged glances with my grandmother as she motioned for me to open the door. I nodded as i arose from the couch and headed it's way. Every step i took, my heart punched the hell out of my chest. I was anxious, scared, nervous... The coldness of the knob connected with the heat of my palms, the sweat. The doorbell kept ringing, he was becoming impatient. I pulled my hand back, bringing the door with me. He peered through the crack, and pushed his hand inside, knocking the door out of the way. He wrapped his arms around me and held me. He was warm. But inside i knew he was still cold. Waiting on someone to melt his icebox. We stood there, in the doorway for a few minutes, holding each other. I missed him. His embrace. His smell was the same, but now with a hint of " axe " eww. His hair was still worn short, buzz cut.. His eyes were still brown, deep brown, longing for love.
We sat across from each other on the couch. He just kept staring at me, as if he didnt know for sure that it was me. "You look just like her..." He said softly. "Isaac, please--" He put his hand to my mouth. "Be quiet, let me finish." He demanded. I nodded and waited. "Every night, i dream of father..and then afterward i dream of mother. I remember that night...That night when daddy was supposed to come home at 8...he beat her after he finally returned at 5 in the morning...I remember it so well." He began. 'How do you know of that?" I asked as i leaned in closer, to make sure i could hear him. "I was in the bathroom. I heard her on the phone with Aunt Lisa... Complaining about how he used work as an excuse not to come home. About how he didnt love her anymore...And then i heard daddy come stomping up the stairs--" "Where was i?" "Bed. He came into their room.. and i heard him strike her. I heard her head hit the wall.. I went out into the hallway and stood at their door. I watched him hurt her. The way he moved was as if he wasnt himself, i heard her scream at him about a bag, she kept saying ' What's in the bag, John? What is it? Some more liquor?' ... but of course i didnt know what in the h*** liquor was... I watched him bash her in the head with that bottle,take his matches and light them... And then he looked towards the door..." "Did he see you?" "No... I got scared, so i ran back to our room... I tried to lay back down and ignore it all, but by the time i got my eyes to close, the smoke came into the room..And that's when you woke up how you did.." "Sweating? Crying and coughing?" i asked, recalling my own nightmares. He nodded as he held his head down. " And then daddy came in the room and picked both of us up, took us to the car, and drove us here, to grandma's--" "This is why he is so angry, Audrina." Grandma cut in. We both turned to her as she began to speak. "He was hurt because he watched it, angry with himself for not understanding what was happening, for not saying anything. Angry because he loved his father, because you didnt remember. Anytime you brought up your mother, both your father and brother went into a frenzy. Your father knew what he did was wrong, but he was a drunken man. After he brought you to me, he never touched another bottle. and i made sure of that." She said. Isaac turned back to me and tried to blink away his tears. "She's right... I have been angry for so long.. Because i had tricked myself into believing that it was my fault..because i never said anything..And then Aunt Lisa made me believe that it was your fault that Father died..." "Isaac, what do you believe now? After hearing me, seeing her? You're old enough now to decide for yourself what happened...What do you believe?" Grandma asked him.
He wiped his face as he glanced at the both of us. He stared at me again. Those deep brown eyes...yearing for love. I reached over and grabbed the back of his head, bringing it to my face. I kissed his forehead and held him. I could hear his barrier breaking, his tears flowing down his face and onto my shirt. "I can feel your heart, Audrina." He said through the tears, the pain. "I can feel it to.." He mumbled as he continued to weep. I looked over at my grandma. She was smiling. And then my gaze shifted outside, past her body, through the windows. I could see the sky. It was a beautiful hue of blue. The clouds were heavy and white, pure and beautiful . I could hear the trees sway, see the leaves ruffle under the breeze. I stood up, still holding Isaac's hand. He looked up at me. "Where are we going?" He asked softly. "Shhh. Just follow me." Isaid as i headed toward the backdoor. His steps were hard, i could still hear him crying. I opened the back door and headed out into the fields. I turned to him as i picked a spot right in the middle. Without a word, we both layed down on our backs and looked up at the sky. The breeze was cool against our tears. The heat was just enough to keep us warm. I sighed deeply as i focused on the clouds. "Audrina?" he asked as if he wasnt sure if i were alive or not. "Audrina, can you hear me?" I nodded as i asked him, "Izzy, what do you see?". He paused for a moment as he scooted closer to me, he lay his head in the nook between my neck and my shoulder. Icould feel him smiling, i could feel his heart defrosting. His body heating inside and out. He sniffled one last time before he answered me, his voice as cheery as it used to be.
"I see father, and I see mother."