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Then There Were Four (Part One)
It was a Saturday night, and raining. Making it impossible to decipher between the sky and the road. My father was driving and I was listening to music in the passenger seat. My sister and brother, Jasmine and Kevin sat in the back. We weren’t worried, yet. We had no reason to be. Our mother had visited Grandmother Tonya and was on her way back home. She had just called and told us to be careful and don’t wait up. I wandered if she meant that literally. We walked inside the house; Dad went straight to the living room watching ESPN. Jjasmine went straight to the bathroom; apparently she had a date and didn’t want anyone to have a chance in. Kevin just went to his room. It was normal, none of us thought about anything else. In the pit of my stomach, I just didn’t feel right.
Two weeks later, Mom’s face was on every Ad, local News Chanel, and on the back of sales papers. She never returned after her trip. Police, News vans, and nosy neighbors flooded our house for at least two months. They suspected that my father, Richard had something to do with the disappearance, but that was absurd. He was innocent and after about a couple of weeks police knew it too. Then without any leads, any motives, and no evidence of an accident the story got old to the public. Even people at church and school stopped asking me if I was alright. Jjasmine liked the new-found attention and sympathy from people. Kevin was overprotective and hardly brought the subject up. My father wore his heart on his sleeve; I could tell if we weren’t here, he wouldn’t know what to do.
“Okay, we are going to move back home.” Dad announced with a forced smile.
“Umm…we are home,” Jjasmine interjected.
“I know Jjasmine, but all of you were born in Mayville and I think it will be better for all of us.” I know this was hard on Dad, but we were all practically grown. Why have dramatic moves?
“Dad, I would love to move back home, but I just graduated and Kevin is going to UofL.” I said trying to defend both sides.
“Yeah, and I only have a year left of high school. You expect me to leave my boyfriend and friends behind.” Jjasmine said. Of course she would have to bring up her boyfriend. Her only reason for existing.
“Listen, we all have to make some sacrifices. Since your mother has been missing you guys know it’s hurting me every day. My friends at work think I’m completely over it just because they don’t see it on the news anymore. I am tired of all the insensitive people around here and want to go back to my old family and my old friends. I would be lying if I thought I could handle you guys in a situation like this.” Dad has never been completely honest like this. I felt my eyes getting moist just like everyone else’s.
“Mayville has a wonderful high school, actually number one in the state. There is a college there as well. I am just saying can we try for just a year? If you guys want to move away to a college that is just fine, but I would love it if we could just stay together until Jjasmine is out of school. Being in Mayville we will be surround my so much family it will help us all.” Having Mom gone, well missing has affected us all and more than I have let on. I have to agree with Dad.
“Okay,” Kevin said. He had tears running down and quickly rushed out of the room. Whether or not we wanted to do this, we had too. I grabbed Dad and hugged him. I saw a couple of tears run down Jjasmine’s face, but I wondered if it was for the same reason.
Granted that Frankfort is not the biggest city in the world, but it’s the biggest city I’ve been too. I saw the city in the side mirrors and felt like crying. So what if I was born in Mayville, Frankfort is all I know. Walking downtown and going to Gibby’s for lunch. Riding the rides and eating funnel cakes at the Expo every summer. Riding past K-State with hopeful eyes of one day going there. At some point I had to come to the realization that I would never come back.
It was a four hour trip to Mayville and Dad put on the radio to a station we could bear with, we all sat in silence. I was the only one brave enough to sit in the passenger seat of Dad’s black Expedition. He was a natural born talker, but somehow he got stuck with anti-social children. (Only towards family that is.) I knew Dad would get all teary eyed and talk about memories of when he was younger. I knew the pain he was going through, but I just wish we had a say in the matter.
“I already told the family we were moving back, that Henderson Boy still lives there.” Dad winked over as if I should be overjoyed. I almost forgot who he was talking about. That Henderson Boy is Tommy. He was my friend back when we were little. I practically grew up with him. We made trips every summer back to Mayville, but once Kevin started high school we kind of got tired of it. Only Dad went back every year after that.
“That’s great,” I forced a cheerful smile. “When will we get our bags?” I asked changing the subject. Dad couldn’t bear to pack up on his own, especially going through Mom’s things. We hired movers to bring us our bags. Dad told us to pack a weeks’ worth of clothes just in case.
“Oh, I just got off the phone with Stacy and she told us they already packed up the furniture. Of course there will be no need for it. Our boxes should arrive by Thursday.” Great it was only Tuesday.
“How come we won’t need our furniture?” I asked.
“Well, I was waiting until we got there to tell you guys,” Uh-oh. I knew this was bad. I looked back but Jjasmine and Kevin had their IPods on and gazing out the window. “We are moving into our old house.”
My face dropped. Our old house? I couldn’t even remember it. “Don’t worry, our house had been kept up it’s not like it has cobwebs or anything. I had family to check up on it from time to time and of course I visited.”
“How come you kept this house? Why haven’t you ever sold it?”
“Well, your mother and I tried at first. The only person wanted to rent it was college kids and I just couldn’t afford to have them ruin it. I put a lot of money in that house.” Just as I predicted his eyes got moist. “When your mother got that job offer we couldn’t turn it down, but I didn’t want to let this house go to anyone. She agreed to just keep it. It could be our summer home, but you guys got older and couldn’t stand it anymore.” He chuckled, probably remembering out little fits we would have.
“I promise it will be better next time. We will have much more space, a backyard, pool, everything!” He explained. I like the idea of having more space, but being in a little city didn’t make up for it.
I laid back; I didn’t want to talk about this subject anymore. I officially hated Mayville. If for one second my father would think moving back into the house, befriending Tommy, and being with the family will make everything better. It wasn’t. This was horrible. I just wanted to hide out this summer, not be pestered by family asking me the who, what, when, where, and why of the disappearance. My father believed moving back would make us a normal family again. He had it wrong. Just. Wrong.
We had just been to Mayville a week and already I have been asked a million times, ‘Am I Alright’. They don’t just want to know if I am alright, they want to know behind the story. We have kind of been a celebrity family. Churches having been coming by our door step non-stop giving us food and handing Dad money. Grocery stores all over have little collection cans with our pictures plastered over it. Family have been coming in and out of our houses and staying until three in the morning. I enjoyed not really being alone, giving myself time to think about what just happened to my life. I needed a break.
Monday morning I decided to find a job. I knew it would be easy considering everybody knew me and my situation. I walked to the corner store and talked to a manager, I had an interview the next day. My father went to his old job as a teacher at Mayville College. I decided to visit him. His office was up a very steep hill and I regretted the decision to come. His room 421 was in Hillman Hall. I walked in not realizing that he was in the middle of class. Richard motioned me to sit down. No students even looked up. “Now if Eve did not eat the apple off the tree, how would humanity be today?”
“How does the Bible have anything to do with English class?” Asked a cute blonde haired boy, who looked like he should be surfing instead of here.
“Don’t we study literature in English? No matter what religious belief you have, you can’t deny that the Bible is and also gives us history. Ancient scholars have found a host of information by studying it.” That seems to shut up the cute blonde. “Any more questions?” Richard asked with more confidence. “Okay, thanks to Eric I would like you guys to read the whole book of Genesis. And write a 5 page research paper on one proven fact a scholar has found from studying the Bible. It is due next week. You are dismissed.” A lot of kids shrugged and collect their books and left. I was impressed Dad never been that harsh at home.
“Hey, baby. How was I on my first day?” Dad smiled.
“Well, I did see a different side of you. You were great.” I encourage.
“Thanks. I was a little bit nervous. I’m glad you came dear because I need to speak with you first about something.” I started to get a little worried. What else could he spring on me? We walked into his comfortable office. It had a couch, three chairs, fax, printer, and an elite telephone that must have cost a lot. He had three windows all right beside each other with a view of the most of the campus. People where at picnic tables, some lying on the grass underneath a tree. You even had a view of the girl’s dorm. I couldn’t lie, this place was really beautiful. It was something about being on a small campus that made it feel cozy.
I sat on the chair closest to the desk. “You remember James and Vicky?”
“Yeah,” I rolled my eyes. Vicky and James are Tommy’s parents. “Dad, I know you thought moving back here might get Tommy and me closer but I haven’t even seen him.”
“I know, but you will see him a lot now.”
“What are you talking about?” I raised my eyebrow.
“James and Vicky having been working at that police station for over twenty years without ever taking vacations. They must take a vacation for at least six weeks.”
“What does that have to do with me?”
“They had asked me if Tommy could stay with us. He is taking summer classes and can’t go with them.”
“What? Are you serious? You are crazy!” I screamed. “Ever since we moved back here you have been focused on me and Tommy getting together. Why don’t you just stop!”
“This is not about you and Tommy it is about James and Vicky.”
“Yeah, right Dad and I bet you jumped right on that train.”
“They help me get this job back Anneice it’s the least I could do.”
“When is he moving in?” I completely gave in. There was no use.
“Tomorrow night. I am going to cook your favorite and we’ll have a big family dinner. I promise it won’t be bad.” I don’t believe it. “He can show you around the campus and you will meet new friends. You won’t even know he is there.
It has been a week and Tommy is driving me crazy. He has his daily routine of waking up at 5am and eating breakfast – leaving the mess behind. He goes out until 11pm and locks his door and stays in his room for the rest of the night. He is hardly ever home, but it feels like he is everywhere. This is so unfair.
When the whole ‘big family dinner’ came Jjasmine wasn’t even there. As soon as the chicken legs got fried Kevin grabbed one and headed to his room. When Tommy got to our house it was already late. He walked in with a red and black striped sweater that looked tight, dark wash blue jeans, and red DC sneakers. He carried a light duffle bag that couldn’t possibly be six weeks’ worth of clothes. Tommy barely even said two words to me. Dad showed him the guest room and asked him if he wanted to eat. Tommy already ate before he got here. That was that.
I was a little hurt by the fact he didn’t want to talk to me, we use to be so close. We use to stay at each other houses, play videos games, explore outside, and tell each other everything. I’d admit I have gotten a little girly and hlookd more masculine, but I don’t feel that we have changed that much.
“You should show Anneice around the campus and help her schedule for classes.” Dad said through the receiver. “Yeah, well she and Tommy really haven’t had time to spend together. “
“Who were you talking to?” I asked him while walking through his bedroom.
“Oh, that was just Monica. She had been asking about you on campus and she just called to get your number. You should hear from her soon.” Yeah, because you begged her to show me around.
Monica had texted me around 2pm and I went out her to the College. Just as before it was even more amazing. I schedule my classes having incredible easy classes and a few with her. We walked behind the girl’s dorm room where there is a picnic bench facing a few trees and a small hill leading up to a hiking trail. “Do you ever run into Tommy Henderson around here?”
“Yeah, he is weird.”
“What do you mean weird?” I asked as we sat on the bench.
“Well, he doesn’t really talk to anybody on the campus, just really stays to himself. I guess he thinks he is better than anybody.” Shlookd freaked out. “His sister Kari has been arrested four times for drugs. She has been borrowing money from everybody to banks to check cashing places. They are starting to sue. I don’t like being anywhere near that family.”
“Yeah, he is kind of weird. I mean he lives in our house and never says two words. He gets up before anybody and doesn’t come back until we are asleep. Jjasmine and Kevin are clueless.”
“Well, I don’t want to gossip, but I have been seeing Kevin a lot around Kari.”
“Monica, you know you love to gossip! Where have they been?” I asked.
“I take a class with them English 102, after class they walk around campus and he gives her rides all the time.” Shlookd me in the eye. “I would be careful because she might take her to your house and steal something. Or worse.”
“What could be worse than her stealing?”
“He could be hooked on drugs.”