Author's note: This is something I wrote about two years ago, but tell me what you think!
(December 22, Friday)
I take my sisters hand as I watch them lower the casket into the ground. She wipes a tear from her cheek as the preacher stands up and says a few words. Two stocky men pick up shovels.
“Wait!” Katelyn calls out.
I give her a puzzled look.
She ignores me and digs through her giant pocket for something I can’t see. Her bright yellow rain jacket, purple high tops, pink dress, and blue leggings stand out among the black clothes of everyone
Though I didn’t understand, and probably never would, I’d let it go.
Now she pulls out an envelope. Everyone watches as she suddenly drops it into the hole.
I finally realize that it’s a letter. I’d seen her writing something for the past couple of days with Max, and that’s what it must have been.
I look up through the mist with a worried look.
All of a sudden, Katelyn rips her hand from mine, covers her mouth with her hands, and bolts into the woods.
I’d been expecting this. “Crud.”
“She needs you.” The shadowed hood says from next to me.
I nod and start to run.
(October 14, Friday)
I like to think of life as a mirror. You can see your reflection inside, except for when it’s dirty. So you polish it, and it’s nice and clear. But sometimes...it cracks, and there’s no way to put it back together. Even if you glue it, you can still see the exact line where it threatened to shatter. Life, too. Sometimes...it cracks.
“911 operator, what is the nature of your emergency? Police, fire or rescue?”
“Rescue.” I quickly answer, the panic rising in my throat. I tap my foot against the wall and call down to my sister. “Nicki? How’s mom doing? Is her head bleeding?” I knew I didn’t have to ask, I could smell the blood.
“Yeah.” she calls back nervously. “And she’s breathing, but she’s unconscious.” Her voice is shaky.
“Hello, this is a rescue agent. What is your emergency?” My fingers are shaking and I re-grip the phone.
“My name is Katelyn Angell, and I was home with my mom and my sister Nickol and our mom fell down our cellar stairs and she hit her head and it’s bleeding a lot. She’s not conscious but my sister said she’s breathing and I’m really scared.” I say in one breath.
“Okay, your mother is going to be okay. Just stay calm. Are you with your mother?”
“No, my sister Nickol is because I’ll pass out if I see the blood.” Just saying it starts to make me dizzy. I grip onto the wall for support and try to concentrate on the small tack mark in the wall where our calendar used to be. Mom probably forgot to get one for this year, seeing as she forgets almost everything. I remember last month Nickol and I were late for school because she couldn’t find her keys.
“Girls?” My mom had called up the stairs, “You’re going to be late for school!”
“Coming!” I shouted back, pulling on my sneakers with one hand while trying to tie my hair back with another. “Nicki?” I asked.
“What?” She answered from the bathroom. I walked in to see her leaning across the counter, inches away from the mirror, putting on even more eyeliner. “I’m coming.”
“Okay...” I said. I continued down the stairs. Even though Nickol and I were close, I had to admit that she could sometimes be a little self-centered. Mom said she was just going through a phase.
I had come downstairs to find mom running around the house, frantic.
“What are you looking for now?” I asked, slightly exasperated. “We’re going to be late. Can’t you find whatever it is later?”
“My keys...we can’t drive without my keys...” she says absently.
“Mom.” I said, trying to get her attention. I followed her into the kitchen. “Mom, there in the fridge.” I wasn’t sure how I knew, but I just had this feeling. Both Nickol and I always knew where her missing things were, for some reason. Must be a mother-daughter thing.
And opening the door to the fridge, I found her keys on top of the milk carton.
Nickol walked down the stairs as my mother mused, “Oh. Well, I wonder how they got there.”She scratched her forehead.
We’d ended up making it to school on time.
Just thinking of the memory makes me want to cry, and a new set of tears well up in my eyes. I try to hold it together.
“Do either you or your sister know CPR?” The person on the other end asks, startling me.
“Yeah, we both do.”
“The ambulance will be there in a few minutes, okay? Just stay on the phone with me until they get there.”
“Okay.” I start to hyperventilate. The smell of the blood is stronger now, and it’s making me dizzier.
I practice my breathing. In through the nose, out through the mouth. In the nose, out the mouth. In, out...
The minutes seem like hours. I listen to the soft ticks of the kitchen clock and continue breathing as calmly as possible.
Finally, the ambulance arrives. They barge in, and ask me where the cellar is. I point to the door. They bring down a big stretcher, all of them dressed in white clothes, smelling like a hospital. One lady says to me that she is going to go and get my sister and take us somewhere to figure things out. I nod.
When my sister walks up the stairs, and I see all the blood on her shirt and on her hands, the dizziness takes over. Everything starts to blur around the edges, and the wall tips sideways. Before I know it, everything is black.
* * *
(October 14, Friday)
Hours later I wake up to the smell of shampoo and Nickol’s heart shaped face peering down on me with a worried look. Her deep red hair is behind her ears, and wavy as usual.
She’d changed into her favorite green v-neck that is the same bright green as her eyes. Today her eyes are green-blue, which they only are when she’s sad. I suppose only a sister can notice that.
“She’s awake!” Nickol announces.
“Oh, good.” someone says. It sounds like my Auntie Becca. “Honey? Katelyn? It’s me, Auntie Becca. Are you okay? Do you think that you could sit up and talk to me, please?” I see her huge pregnant stomach before I see her face...it wasn’t too long now until the baby was due.
“Auntie Becca? Where is mom? Is she okay? What time is it?” I question without giving her a chance to answer.
“Calm down, honey, your moms down at the hospital. And don’t worry, she’s going to be okay.”
“What’s wrong with her?”
“Well… she broke her leg, and um…”
“She lost most of her memory.” Nickol answers slowly.
“What? No!” I yell, “This can’t be happening!” I start to cry.
“I’m sorry honey; it’s hard for us too.” Auntie Becca says.
“What time is it?” I demand.
“It’s 2:30 in the afternoon.”
“Where even are we?” I ask coldly, turning my face away from them.
“At Auntie Becca’s.” Nickol says to me, quieter, now. I can see the hurt on her face as if she’d announced it aloud. “I packed a few things for you in your bag, although you might need a few-”
I cut her off. “Why? Where are we going? Can’t I see mom?”
She takes a deep breath. “Actually, you can’t.”
“Have you?” I ask jealously.
“No, the doctors said no visitors. Besides, we’re leaving tonight at 5:30.”
“To go where?” My voice cracks. There is a long pause before Auntie Becca answers. I don’t like the look on her face. She reaches down to brush my hair out of my eyes, but I turn away.
“We think that it would be better if you go and live with your separate fathers for a while.” Auntie Becca says warily. “I can’t keep you in my house; we barely have enough money for food, never mind insurance, mortgage, gas, electricity.” She goes on and on and on, but I zone out. Our separate dads? I haven’t heard from my dad in four years and I haven’t seen him in ten! How was I supposed to go see him now?
“Well that just plain sucks!” I scream. This isn’t fair! I’ve never lived without my sister before. I get up and run out of the door without knowing where I’m going. I run down the street and into a forest a few streets down. I fall again and again, and I cut my knees and my hands. I can’t decide if I’m more mad or upset. Finally, I trip and don’t get up. My hair is sticking to my face with mud and it starts to rain. I don’t care.
It’s completely silent in the forest except for the rain pat-pat-patting on the trees. Sadly, this leaves lots of room in my head to think.
My family is kind of weird. My sister and I have two separate dads. We aren’t really sisters, just half sisters. Our mom had Nickol with her dad, Joe Mackey, on September 12, 1995. My mom had me with my dad, Max Angell, September 12, 1997. Which is pretty awesome. I mean, we have the same birthday. I just wish that I were more like Nicki. She’s smart, pretty, popular, the girl everyone wants to be.
I’m just an average person; hate school, and I’m not pretty at all. I’m not tan, and my curly brown hair is so puffy that I have to keep it in a ponytail most of the time.
But, if you asked Nickol to describe me, she would say that I have chestnut curls that fall in perfect ringlets from my face. She would say that I have plump lips that curl into a pretty smile around my straight, white teeth. She would say that my olive skin accents my hair and makes me look older and skinnier. She would say that I am beautiful, but I know it isn’t true.
Nicki has so many friends, and she usually sits at the popular table at school. She’s in ninth grade in high school so I don’t see her during school.
I drift in and out of sleep for what seems like forever until suddenly, I feel myself being picked up and carried out of the forest by someone. I try to open my eyes with little success. It’s pretty bright outside of the tall, dark trees.
I finally look up and see a man that I recognize as Uncle Bob, Aunties Becca’s husband. He has a wet polo on and looks very tired. His face was red and sweaty. I don’t think he realized that I was awake. He smells like mud. Then I realize that the mud smell is me.
He walks me up to the doorway of his and Auntie Becca’s house and stops on the steps. Nickol immediately comes out of the door and tries to take me from Uncle Bob, but he doesn’t let her.
“She’s too heavy.” I hear him say. He shifts my weight to his other arm.
“Fine.” She says to him. Now she looks at me. “Katelyn! Oh, Katelyn. Are you awake? You had me so worried! Why did you run off like that? You know that that was such a bad idea.”Her face is full of relief, and it makes me feel guilty.
“Yes, I’m awake.” I croak.
“I’m sorry, okay? I promise I won’t do it again.” Auntie Becca walks over.
“Oh! Child, you’re a mess! Let’s get you inside and into the shower.”
“Please. I feel disgusting.” I say.
“I’ll go and get your stuff ready, okay? Meet me in the bathroom.” Nickol says. She sniffs and walks away.
“Okay. Can you get me something nice to wear?” I call after her. “I don’t want to make a bad impression on my dad.” What I really want to say is that this is all a bowl of crap, but I hold my tongue. Auntie Becca wouldn’t have liked it if I said that.
Uncle Bob brings me into the bathroom and sets me down on the floor.
“Thanks.” I say, trying to smile at him. I don’t think it works, seeing as he gives me a weird look and leaves the room. When Nickol walks in, I can see her carrying something that isn’t mine.
“What’s that?” I ask, curious.
“Oh, this is just a little something that I bought for you.” She holds it up to show me. “You can wear it with your black leggings and black ballet flats.” It’s a knee length baby blue dress. I can tell that she is trying to make lemonade with her lemons, trying to make it easier for me. But I can see right through her little façade. On the inside, she is hurting. And there was nothing anyone could do.
“Thanks!” I say with as much enthusiasm as I have left.
“Yup. Now get in the shower so you can put it on, okay? I’m going to go and make sure that we have everything packed for tonight.”
“Okay, but who talked to my dad anyway? Does he even know that I’m coming?”
“Um…I called him.” Nickol answers nervously. I blink. She starts playing with her hair like she always does when she knows she about to be yelled at. I try not to be too pushy this time.
“You called him?! What did he say? What did you say? What was he like?” I suddenly think about Nickol’s dad and feel jealous. Nickol’s dad is a very famous actor. He has a lot of money and I think that Nickol is kind of excited to go see him. It’s been two years since she last saw her dad, but she calls him on his birthday and Christmas. He calls her on her birthday, and on Easter. They have their own little schedule. I wish my dad and I did that.
Nickol ignores my questions. “You need to shower. My plane is leaving soon.”
After my shower, I put on the dress. It’s beautiful. I do a little twirl in front of the full-length mirror on the back of the door in Auntie Becca’s guest room.
I’m startled to hear Auntie Becca’s voice behind me.
“Oh, you look so much like your father.” She lays both of her hands on her stomach.
“What?” I ask. No one in my family ever, and I mean ever, talks about my dad. It’s basically forbidden.
“You do, baby doll.” Auntie Becca says, wrapping her arms around me from behind. Well as best as she can, seeing as her basketball stomach is in the way. “Baby doll,” She says again. “That’s what your father used to call you.”
“Yes, yes he did. You don’t remember that? That one time he came to visit you when you were just five years old.” I shake my head, baffled. “Your mother and Nickol went away for two weeks to Paris, leaving you with me. I called your father the second she left, told him to get his Texas butt up here to Connecticut and come and see his baby girl.” I gasp unconsciously, and she laughs. “We went to the zoo.
“He let you watch the monkeys for about two hours, every time he tried to show you the elephants, you would beg for the monkeys, the monkeys, the monkeys. And I would tell him that he had to give you exactly what you wanted, and he did.
“He spoiled you that day, bought you things from the gift shop, and all the candy you can imagine. Popcorn, cotton candy, soda, everything your mother would have never given you.
“But he eventually had to go. Both you and I hated to see him leave, but we had no choice. You don’t remember?”
“No, but boy do I wish I did! He sounds like a great dad.”
“He is, baby doll, he is.”
Just then Nickol walks into the room, interrupting us. Auntie Becca leaves for the kitchen.
“Thanks again for the dress, Nicki. I love it. I wish I had something for you.”
“That’s okay. I’m glad you like it.” Nicki helps me paint my fingernails and toes, and straighten my hair. I feel much better.
I go in the bathroom and play with my hair for a while.
When I walk back into the guest room, Nickol is on the bed, crying. I don’t have to ask her why this time.
I sit down next to her on the bed. She sniffs and looks up at me.
“I’m going to miss you. This is terrible. I don’t even know what I did to deserve this. It’s all my fault.” She wails.
“This isn’t your fault and you know it!”
“Yes it is! I was talking to her and…and then she fell and I watched her but I was too shocked to even try to help her.”
“Stop that, Nickol. This isn’t your fault. There was nothing that you could do to stop her from falling. I’m really upset too, but I’m not blaming myself. You know, that’s a really bad habit of yours, blaming yourself for things that you didn’t do. There was nothing you could do to stop her.” I babble.
It’s quiet for a few minutes. We sit next to each other and cry, both comforting the other.
“It’s going to be okay.” She finally sniffles. I look up at her.
“Promise?” I ask.
She sticks out her pinky and I wrap mine around it.
“Pinky promise.” She answers