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Forever & Always
Author's note: Another book inspired me to write this book. In the book a boy and a girl are best friends, but I decided to make my characters fall in love. My best friend has encouraged me to continue with this book and but my heart and soul into it! Thank you Amber! I hope that people discover from this novel that sometimes the greatest sacrifices you make, whether or not they are good outcomes or bad, there could be consequences and you'll never know they are right around the corner.
I awoke to the clean crisp air of Pennsylvania. Toto was beside my bed looking up at me with those big blue eyes. There was a cool chill in the air that ran up my body in the morning. I eventually made my way out a bed and walked over to my dresser and pulled out clothes to wear on this fine Monday. I threw on my blue and white plaid shirt and ripped up jeans. Toto and I headed over to the bathroom and I looked at myself in the mirror. Who am I? Am I the girl that always follows the rules and just lives her life without no complaining? Or am I the perfect daughter that goes out on the rim for adventure? What adventure will I have? All I know is that I’m just lucky that our rooster, Duran, is lazy and is never up for the sun so I sometimes get a good licking from Toto, or Miranda comes in and screams at the top of her lungs just so she can have the enjoyment of seeing me fling out of bed with messy hair.
I threw my hair into braids around my face and washed up. I walked downstairs and laced my boots up tight and took Toto out to the field with me. I made my way to the barn and saw Yankee standing there with delight on his face. I walked into his stall and put his rope on and pulled him outside to the open. I grabbed the hose and soap and started scrubbing him with the sponge.
“Morning Bud,” I whispered to him. Yankee winced at the thought of waking his body up on a Monday morning but he knows I love him anyway. I finished bathing him down and rinsed him off with the hose. I started drying him with the big towel. I held the brush in my hand as I brushed his coat down his back. He made the slightest sound as if to let me know he loves me right back. I finished up with his back legs and saddled him up after I fed him his gourmet breakfast of hay, apples, and water. Toto followed us to the field again and I took the stool and carefully swung myself on. We started walking up the hill with Toto by my side. The fresh air hit my face and blew back my braids, protected by my hat. I didn’t know what to think. Lately I have been thinking about myself. Me and only me. I couldn’t help the fact that I don’t know who I truly am. I wish I could have an adventure. One with the perfect person. The perfect place, the perfect time.
“Yankee, go to the forest,” I replied with the gentlest voice I had in me. “Ya!”
He ran fast from the sounds of the cows mooing into the beautiful sound of the birds chirping. To be honest it’s kinda nice that there is such thing as different sounds that make each thing unique in this crazy mixed up world.
I kept riding as fast as Yankee could carry me. The scrubs and shrubbery hit against my face hard, and left scratches. We finally got out into the open woods and stopped. Neither of us knows why we do that. We just run. Anywhere we want to go on this land we can ride. I took a deep breath and looked around. We were surrounded by trees. This wasn’t good. If an animal were to come by, a vicious animal, they would have us surrounded. They would have the opportunity to kill us if they took it. I sensed something was in the trees. I could feel it. I heard something growl, something mean. Mountain lions.
“Yankee…….” My voice trailed off while trying to catch my breath, “Run,” I finished.
Yankee and I ran as fast as we could go, faster than before. We finally got back to the barn. I hopped off, without the stool. I pulled Yankee into his stall and closed his gate.
“Love you baby,” I said as softly as I could. I moved quickly and smoothly. I did what Daddy did when this stuff happens with him. After I locked Yankee in his stable, I closed the front door and latched it. I said goodbye to Yankee one more time then I ran out the back door and locked it as well. I had to run about a mile to get back home. Just the mire thought of running that far made me feel sick. I kept going and my foot slipped down a hill. I started falling and tumbling down into the long hard grass that struck against my body. I struggled to keep myself from falling any further, any harder. I finally reached the end and looked up to see where I had fallen from. I got back on my feet and jogged behind a bush to rest. My bones hurt and I realized I was bleeding. The side of my stomach was torn apart. The skin lashed out into pieces. This was probably from tumbling down those hills. I thought I had hit something sharp, most likely a rock. I heard something bark from the forest, back the way I came. Mountain lions don’t bark, dogs do. I realized I was behind this bush alone. Without Toto.
I remembered I had an old towel in my back jean pocket from washing Yankee. I pulled it out and wrapped it around my waist. It was painful but durable. I had to make a decision. I couldn’t leave Toto, he wouldn’t survive. I couldn’t survive without him. I started running as fast as my legs could carry me. I got back into the forest feeling great fear yet courage. I knelt down behind a bush and peeked through the leaves to see the clearing.
Then it hit me. Daddy always said that those lions where smarter then they appealed! They had set up a trap! The open space of dirt surrounded by trees was their own trap to attract prey! They were trying to trap me as soon as I walked out of the bushes to grab Toto. They were in the trees; and you could feel it. It was the most disturbing feel I had yet to grasp.
Another decision came upon me. I had to rescue Toto but it wouldn’t be any use to me if I got my life taken away by disgusting beasts. I was not going leave untouched without him. He was lying in the clearing with his leg twisted the wrong way and his head to the floor. He wasn’t dead because the lions knew if they killed him I wouldn’t come back for lunch!
I ran out of the bush and grabbed Toto. But nothing happened. I didn’t want to wait and see which left me the option of running back out of the woods. I dashed past the trees and they hit me hard like when I was riding Yankee. Mountain lions don’t just disappear out of nowhere. They hide. I didn’t want to waste any time waiting and watching.
I ran up the hill that would lead into the field. I got to the top and I saw the house. The house reminded me of Mamma’s warm cookies and hot chocolate in the cold and icy winter. The fire place was burning as the steam blew out of the chimney. I kept running and I saw Miranda.
“Miranda!” I screamed. “Help, please help!”
And the last thing I saw was Miranda rushing toward me as I dropped to the ground.
I awoke on the sofa with blurry people all around me. I first saw Junior. He knelt over the side of the sofa yelling words no one could understand. Then I felt a warm goo fall on my right arm. I opened my eyes to take a closer look to my surroundings and Junior was smiling down at me with his big blue eyes and wet face. He had drooled on my arm.
“Mamma, Mamma, Mamma!!!!!” Junior yelled to the open air. And not soon after that I see mother coming around the kitchen corner with a glass of warm tea and a side of butterscotch cookies. She looked down at me and smiled as she handed me the glass of warm tea and set the plate of cookies on the coffee table. She picked Junior up and set him in his baby swing. She sat down on the edge of the sofa next to me and spoke in a loving tone.
“Hi dear. How are you feeling?”
“Okay. My leg hurts.”
“Alright, let me get the extra pillow from the closet to prop it up high. I’ll also grab the ice pack.” She replied.
I lay on the coach looking around. The house was quiet. I didn’t know what day it was and that played in affect of where Miranda would be. I looked over at Junior in his baby swing and tried to smile at him. Mamma came around the corner with a big pillow and a bag of ice. She carefully lifted my leg in the air as I cried out in pain. She pushed the pillow under it and put the ice bag on my lower leg.
“Is that better honey?” Mamma asked.
“Yes, it feels much better.”
“Is anything else in pain?”
“My cheek hurts.” I pointed out.
I ran my hand across my cheek as I winced from the cuts and bruises. There were many scratches and dried blood. Mother came back in from the kitchen with a wash cloth and some bandages.
“Now darling I am going to clean your face up from all that blood and then bandage them up. It may sting a little. Alright?” Mamma said with a cautious voice as if she were afraid that I would try to back away.
She rubbed gently over my right cheek where the worse cut had lain. She was right, it did sting. I tried not to cry though the tears still formed in my eyes. She used special oil that stung even worse though it did disinfect the cut so it wouldn’t become infected.
Once she was done she put a band aid on top of it and laid white bandage strips over top of the band aid. She wiped down the rest of my face with just a wash cloth. Everything looked much better.
“I know everything hurts honey but the doctor is coming right before lunch. He will tell you and me everything we need to know.” Mamma said.
“Mamma where’s Daddy and Miranda?” I asked.
“Daddy’s at work and Miranda is at Jenna’s house.”
“Who is Jenna?” I asked.
“Jenna is Miranda’s new friend from school. They have been hanging out together a lot lately. I really think your sister has found a good friend that…… umm…”
“Hasn’t died,” I said with a sad scratchy voice.
“Yes, precisely,” Mamma said back to me.
Last year Miranda’s friend died. Her name was Lauren and she was a pretty girl. Lauren had long black straight hair and big blue eyes. She was really nice to everybody she met and she was smart too. Lauren always loved to take pictures of Miranda and her to hang in her bedroom. They were like sisters. Then one morning Lauren came over to ask Miranda if she wanted to come to an art show with her. Lauren was an amazing artist. Miranda couldn’t because she had a ton of homework to finish, because she had been sick the week before. Lauren said that was fine and she wasn’t mad; she completely understood. Lauren got back into her mom’s car and drove away. That afternoon Lauren was shot and killed. Miranda was devastated for practically half a year. She has been going to counseling ever since then because she thought it was her fault. Then I think Miranda realized it wasn’t her fault because if she would have gone with Lauren, she could’ve lost her life as well.
Later that morning, the door bell rang and Mamma answered the door. The doctor was here. I hate it when doctors come. They think they’re so smart just because they know what’s wrong with you.
“Hello ma’am, I’m Dr. Charles, how are you?” the man in the door way said.
“Hello sir I am Nellie Smith, I am wonderful thank you for asking. Please come in.” Mamma replied.
“Thank you Mrs. Smith, where is this beautiful young lady I will be taking care of?”
“Oh please, call me Nellie. She is right over here, follow me.”
Mamma led Dr. Charles to the couch where I laid. This doctor seemed nice. I don’t think I would mind him examining me.
“Hello there, I’m Dr. Charles, you must be Annabelle Smith, my patient this afternoon,” Dr. Charles said.
“Yes, that would be me. Nice to meet you,” I said back.
“Well let’s get on with it then shall we,” Mamma said to both of us.
The doctor slowly started giving me instructions to move my leg to see if anything was damaged. He told me that my leg was just severely bruised and my foot and ankle were completely broken. After that he said he had to cast my foot from my toes up to above my ankle.
“Miss Annabelle, I have brought all my supplies with me so that I can perform any task needed,” Dr. Charles blurted out. “What color would you like your cast to be?”
“I guess I will have pink,” I said back to him.
Dr. Charles started wrapping my foot with white soft material and shortly afterwards he started putting a hard pink cast around my foot. It felt weird but it helped with support.
“Ok Annabelle, we now need to examine your hip. It may be painful but it will be over soon,” Dr. Charles said with a caring emphasis.
He started pressing on my upper leg to see if there was any pain in that area but that was not the place that disturbed me to the point where I refused to look down. He told my mother that I need to have a slight operation done to put my skin back together. He said that there would be stitches involved and maybe some staples.
“Your stomach is severely injured and it needs to be operated on or it could get infected. I will be consulting Nurse Eve to see when she can have the operation done. Do you folks have a telephone?” Dr. Charles said.
“Yes, right this way Dr. Charles,” mother said as she led Dr. Charles into the kitchen where the telephone hung on the wall.
The cast on my foot was very heavy. I am glad I chose pink though. My stomach was the worse. I couldn’t dare look down upon it. I was really dreading the whole surgery part of it. Nurse Eve seemed nice by the way Dr. Charles described her.
Mother and Dr. Charles came out of the kitchen moments later.
“Alright Annabelle I have contacted Nurse Eve and she said she could have the operation done this week; now actually,” Dr. Charles said looking me dead straight in the eye.
“You mean her condition is so serious that Nurse Eve can perform the operation right now, today?” Mamma said with a gasp.
“Precisely, this is damage that we need to deal with right now. She needs to be rushed to the hospital immediately,” Dr. Charles said in a quick and quiet tone as he rushed over to the telephone again to dial for an ambulance.
It wasn’t long after Dr. Charles’ phone call that the ambulance arrived in the driveway of the ranch house.
“Okay Annabelle, let’s get you to the ambulance,” Dr. Charles said to me. “Hurry, since your foot is broken I would usually give you crutches but your hip is in great disarray that I shall wheel you out. I hobbled into the wheel chair and Mamma walked right beside me as the older men rushed out of the ambulance. One of the doctors lifted me onto the Gurnee and pulled it up as I laid my head on the pillow and soft Gurnee mattress. The ride to the hospital was long and overwhelming. Yet, Dr. Charles seemed very calm. I decided to follow in his footsteps.
Once we arrived at the hospital the nurses greeted me and I found that none of them were rushing, that made me feel a lot better.
“Hello Annabelle, my name is Nurse Eve, I will be helping Dr. Charles and Dr. Henderson perform your procedure.
What? Dr. Henderson? That’s Carter’s last name! What is Carter’s dad doing on this level of the building?
I decided to keep quiet about my inner thoughts as Nurse Eve wheeled me up to floor two in the elevator.
“So, Annabelle, how old are you?” Nurse Eve asked.
“Fifteen,” I said with a nervous rack in my voice.
“Oh, if you are wondering I am thirty- five, hopefully that will make you feel better that I have much experience with procedures like so,” she replied. “Have you had any type of surgical procedure before?” She asked.
“No, unless you count getting you tonsils taken out when you were seven,” I said with a giggle, feeling much more comfortable around who used to be a stranger to me.
“Here we are Miss,” Nurse Eve said politely as she wheeled me out of the elevator.
“Now Annabelle I am going to hand you over to Dr. Henderson here and you will see me soon in the operating room, alright?”
“Hello, Annabelle,” Dr. Henderson said with a grin.
“Mr. Henderson?” I asked with a surprise.
Then a tall young boy came jogging around the corner. It looked to be Carter.
“Hey Annie, how are you feeling?” Carter asked.
“Carter!” I yelled as I reached out to hug him.
He wrapped his arms around me as I squeezed him with joy. “Carter, what are you doing here?” I asked hopelessly confused.
“I wasn’t going to let you come alone, and my dad said since he was giving you the procedure I should be the one there beside you,” Carter said in his caring voice.
“Awww, thank you Carter,” I said back. I knew that I was pleased that he was there for me.
Mr. Henderson wheeled my bed into a large room with large machines sitting around an operating table. I saw Nurse Eve standing around my wheel chair from earlier cleaning it and getting it ready for when my procedure was over.
“Alright Annabelle I am going to put this mask on your face and you need to breathe in slowly. Don’t worry it will not harm you or hurt at all, you are just simply breathing in a special gas that will make you fall asleep so we can continue with your surgery while you are unconscious,” Mr. Henderson said to me.
Once Mr. Henderson put the huge mask over top my mouth I started breathing deep and slow. I began to feel very dizzy like I was spinning. Yet everyone was standing perfectly still. As I drifted off into my dream world I saw Toto and Yankee safe with Mamma smiling and well. Then I heard Carter’s voice, “Everything will be okay Annie, I’ll be here the whole time.... everything will be okay....”
My eyelids opened and I was in the hospital. I lifted my head off the soft squishy pillow underneath me, and looked about the room. The bedside table was covered in flowers and wrapped gift boxes. One of the tags said “From Carter, your best friend.” As I looked to the right the windows white and fluffy curtains had been pulled aside and the sunshine was shining through. I heard a knock on the door. Then Mr. Henderson walked into the room.
“Hello Annabelle, how are you feeling?” Mr. Henderson asked.
“I’ve been better,”
“Yeah, I bet sweet heart,” Mr. Henderson said with a chuckle. “Have you looked at your presents and cards yet?”
“No, not yet, I just woke up,” I said. “But I will now.”
“Alright I will leave you to your business then, you are sure you are feeling okay?” Mr. Henderson said as he headed toward the doorway.
“Yes, just sore is all, I’ll be fine, thank you,” I said as I waved goodbye hoping and waiting for him to close the door and hear it click in the latch. I leaned over the side of my bed and lightly lifted off the table the present that was labeled “From Carter, your best friend.”
The present was wrapped in orange and red-my favorite colors as Carter would know. There was a red bow tied around the package. I gently unraveled the ribbon and opened the lid on the small box. Inside was something beautiful and valuable. I pulled the chain out of the foam and looked at the locket in great interest. It was shaped as a heart and was able to be opened. I carefully cracked open the locket and inside was a message:
This locket is a treasure that forever belongs to Annabelle Marie Smith; may your life be as special as the adventures we have had together. Forever and Always.
Thank you for everything Annie,
Your best friend Carter
I stared at the message as a tear fell off my cheek. I closed the locket and looked at the front of it again. There was a beautiful and detailed cursive A on the heart shaped cover. It was an unusually large locket, most likely because Carter had to fit all those words into it. But it also was a small font. I lifted my blonde curls off my neck and tied it up high with a hair band I had handy on me. I gently clipped the necklace around my neck and let it hang down.
“Hey curly cu,” Carter said from over by the doorway.
“Hey! What are you doing here?” I yelled back in extreme excitement.
“Just thought I’d drop in and say hey,”
“Well ya did! And I couldn’t be more happy to see you!” I said back as I reached out to hug him. He leaned in and hugged me back. I held onto him for as long as I could. I never wanted to let go. After we released each other he looked me in the eye and said, “You did great, ya know with the surgery and all.”
“Okay….thanks I guess! Of course I did good; I was knocked out the whole time!”
“Did you open your present yet?” Carter asked.
“Yes I did, thank you so much! I love it!” I reached over to hug him again as many more tears ran down my cheeks.
“Now promise me that you won’t go running off like that again!”
I leaned back away from him with a smile on my face. “I can’t promise you that, but you can promise me something…”
“What...” Carter said with curiosity.
“Promise me that you’ll go with me next time! Promise me Carter, please!”
“Okay fine,” Carter said back to me.
I smiled back at him and there was an awkward silence in the room for a few seconds. All of a sudden the smile on my face dropped to a frown.
“Oh, umm Toto is at home, resting. Your mother is taking care of him. Your dad is on his way here right now to tell you how everyone is doing.”
“No, Carter where is he, he has to be okay! I have to leave here, please!”
“Stop! Annabelle please, you have to calm down! Annabelle….”
Carter kept yelling at me to relax as he put his arms around me. He started pushing me back towards my pillow. His hands were cold and felt good against my overheated body.
“Annabelle, he is okay, he’s fine. Really he is doing great,” Carter said as he slowly released my arms.
“Okay, alright then,” I said as I caught my breath again. We were looking in each other’s eyes. He slowly took a breath as if relieved to see me lie back down and relax. His eyes moved closer. They grew even more magical then every time before that we had been together. My best friend had the most touching blue eyes. He leaned closer and our noses touched. Our lips came within centimeters of touching and locking. Then the bedroom door opened as Daddy stood in the doorway with a slight grin of disbelief on his face.
“Uh, uh hello sir,” Carter mumbled as he stood up straight. “I will leave you two to chatting alright, good day sir,” Carter waved goodbye and walked out of the room.
“Hi, Daddy,” I said to him. He sat down on the bed next to me.
“Hey pal, how are you feeling?”
“Uh, good, better I guess.”
“That great sweetheart. So how’s Carter?”
“Ummm he’s good too.”
“Yeah it seemed like it,” Daddy said with some sarcasm. “Well I’ll leave you to resting then.”
“Okay. Thanks Daddy, love you.” Daddy walked out of the room and closed the door. Well that was a relief! I wonder why he didn’t yell and come close to punching Carter! That was definitely the most unexpected thing Daddy could have done! Maybe he has finally realized that I’m not a child anymore, unlike Miranda. Then suddenly the only thing I could see was the inside of my eyelids.
“Good morning Annabelle,” Nurse Eve said. “How are feeling?”
“Fine, thank you,” I replied. “Just tired from all the visitors.”
Well I can assure you that you will be in the comfort of your home in no time,” Nurse Eve said with a smile. “Today is the day you can go home, your parents are waiting in the lobby. Now would you like me to tell you about your conditions?”
“Sure, yes please,” I said with a nervous feeling in my gut.
“Well, to begin, as you may know, your foot and ankle is broken and you would normally be on crutches, but since you just received a minor surgical procedure, you cannot walk normally, for at least a few weeks. You know while you recover. So, in that case we can provide you with this wheelchair. Another thing you should know is that your surgery went great. I’m sure Dr. Henderson or Dr. Charles told you that,” Nurse Eve instructed. “Lastly, when you bathe or shower, just simply put this pre-made bag over your leg, a slip if that makes more sense, here you go,” Nurse Eve handed me a box with a picture of the slip on the front. I laid it on the side of the hospital bed. “Now let’s get you into this wheelchair!”
Nurse Eve helped me hobble across the room to the wheelchair. I plopped myself down in the chair and Nurse Eve put the ‘slip box’ into the basket under my chair. She wheeled me out of the room as I watched what was going on around me. Another patient was being wheeled into the room that would have been next to mine. There were three other nurses sitting behind the desk answering phone calls, and two other doctors standing at computers in the right corner looking at x-rays. We entered the elevator and I did the honor of pressing the button that said “LOBBY”.
“So Annabelle, that fancy young man, Carter I believe is his name, is a fine fellow I reckon,” Nurse Eve blurted out. “You two look so perfect! How long have you two been together?”
“NO, NO! Carter and I are not together! We are simply just friends! Yes, just friends. And we have been FRIENDS for ten years,” I shouted quickly after her incorrect statement.
“Oh, I am terribly sorry! But if you don’t mind, you two do look like a couple,” Nurse Eve said again. “Kids these days, trying to hide their real feelings for someone! Crazy I tell you! Crazy. What grade are you in now darling?”
“I am a sophomore,” I replied as I was starting to get more and more frustrated by the minute.
“Oh, so you’re…15?” Nurse Eve said politely.
“Yes, 15 years old on June 12,” I said making sure she understood this time.
“Oh so you’ve been 15 for about three months now, haven’t you. Have you figured out the true meaning of being a teenager yet?”
“I’m not sure. I guess not if I don’t know what it is.”
The elevator doors opened slowly as Nurse Eve wheeled me out. I tried to find the placement for my hands on the wheels but Nurse Eve was rolling me so fast I couldn’t catch them. So much for looking independent.
“My baby!!” Mamma yelled out for the world to hear.
“Mother!” I shouted across the room with my arms open so she could hug me. She flung her arms into mine and squeezed me tight.
“Hi their Pal,” Daddy said as he patted my hair and kissed my forehead.
“Hey Daddy,” I said with delight to see him again.
“Let’s go Annabelle we need to get you back home. It’s getting late anyway! Come along.”
Finally someone was giving me the chance to try and wheel myself! I put my arms on the wheels and rolled. There was one small problem: I wasn’t moving. I don’t have enough strength.
“Here let me wheel you,” Mamma said.
Mamma wheeled me to the parking lot. I hobbled to the car and sat in the seat that leaned back farther than usual. Like a bed perhaps. I stayed there as I glanced toward the window and saw Mamma and Poppa talking about something. Miranda sat in the seat next to me and didn’t say a word. Mamma hopped in the passenger seat and Daddy sat in the driver’s seat as he fumbled for his seat belt.
The car pulled out of the parking lot and onto the quiet rode. I guess I forgot what the town looked like after being cooped up in there like a chicken for a full week. The next thing I knew we pulled into the driveway of our house and everyone was getting out of the car. Mom whirled around the corner and she helped me out of the car. She grabbed my wheelchair and I plopped down into it. I tried to wheel myself again but it still wasn’t working.
“Here, I’ll push Annabelle Mamma, you just carry the bags,” Miranda said in her sweet little girl voice.
“Awww thanks sweetie,” Mamma replied.
Miranda was such a suck up. I can’t stand her. Well apparently I was supposed to miss her while I was gone, but why would I? I enjoyed my relaxation time without her! You know recovery. It was six o’ clock already and we stopped at Chipotle for dinner. Miranda still had her vegetarian taco in her hand while she was pushing me into the house. All I could smell was disgusting beans and rice. Ewww! How could she live on a diet that consists of practically NOTHING!!! I mean she eats maybe only breakfast and dinner every day and her breakfast includes broccoli with ranch and beans. And her dinner includes bread, beans, and rice. Sometimes fruit. I can’t stand the way she eats too! She divides her plate into quadrants and chews each bite carefully twenty times so that it is “suitable for swallowing.” Oh and don’t let me forget what she packs for lunch at school! She eats carrot sticks and strawberry milk. My mother thinks she has health problems. The doctor at school evaluates what she brings to lunch. She ate fine and normal until Lauren died. Now it’s all about appearance.
I was tired already. The mash potatoes were soooo good at the hospital! Now I have to go back to Mamma’s cooking.
“Annabelle, honey, would you like some homemade meatloaf? It’s fresh and juicy! I bet you’re still starving, that hospital food must have been awful! Come in here and have a decent meal!”
“NO THANKS!!! I’m perfectly fine actually, full to be exact! I am going upstairs now!” I replied as I motioned father to come help me.
“Oh I can help you honey and I’ll bring some noodle soup!” Mamma said quickly before Daddy had a chance of taking one step forward.
FOUR WEEKS LATER
The clean ranch house on Dillard Street smelled of honeysuckle and French toast this Monday morning. The whole family is sitting down at the table eating breakfast before Daddy goes to work. At the end seat sits the king Papa, and at the other end sits queen Mamma. I sit next to Daddy on the side and Miranda sits next to me. Across from me is Aunt Becky and across from Miranda is Uncle Eddie. On the corner sits Junior, my baby brother, in his high chair. His real name is Jeffrey but ever since he popped out tiny we’ve called him Junior. Oh dear Lord oh Heaven how can I forget Cousin Greg!!! He’s only four but dear mercy he’s as bad as Junior after he eats beans! Anyhow Greg is at Sean’s house having super and spending the night. God’s doing us all a favor! Personally, I think Greg is too young to spend the night at a friend’s house. Greg is Aunt Becky’s only son rather than the fact that she is eight months pregnant. Greg usually sits on the other corner of Aunt Becky.
“Annabelle have you cleaned the stables yet? Cause if you haven’t you’re gonna be late for school.”
“Yes Mamma I have!” I screamed in an irritated voice, while I was cleaning the dishes from breakfast.
I’ve already cleaned the stables and groomed the horses this morning and since I’m done with washin’ the dishes, I am done with my morning chores. The sun peeks over the mountain top and, like I said sometimes, Duran comes out of his den and gives a big “Cock-a-doodle-doo!”
“Okay Miss Miranda lets get you and Annabelle to school my babies!” Mamma said while brushing out Miranda’s orange hair.
“Ouch Mother!!!” Miranda yelped while Mother pulled back her hair and tightly squeezed it into two low-ponytails.
I giggled in my place and made sure that Mamma or Miranda didn’t hear. I looked at Miranda straight in the face while she was staring out the window, Mamma still fixing her hair, and thought how beautiful Miranda was. I had never seen her like that before. She was normal, unlike me who was a country chick always wanting to be perfect when Miranda didn’t even try. She got everything she wanted, unlike all the others on this farm that have to work for their respect. Her orangey blond hair laid so elegantly on her shoulders, now in two low-ponytails, and waved with a touch that reached you like a cool dip in the lake on a hot September day. She had the most touching eyes that are a grey- blue color just like Mamma’s that glowed at you like you were under a trance. Her freckles were so noticeable in the best of ways. They gave her the personality that fits her so perfectly that it’s scary. I would never let Miranda know I was thinking that about her because she would use that against me for the rest of my long hard life.
“Let’s go Miranda!” I yelled from the corridor. I grabbed my green back pack and slipped on my boots and laced them up tight. Miranda came down the hallway and put on her silver flats that matched her pink t-shirt and jeans. She pulled on her bag that was a violet color and headed out the door with me. She was so stylish when I am plain. Everybody says I am not plain, but what they mean is that I am not as pretty or perfect as she is. But another thing about Mamma is that she always says “Everyone’s perfect in their own special way.” Well in school these days that’s not how it works.
“Love you Mamma,” I said before I walked out the front door.
“Love you too Annabelle sweetie pie,” Mamma replied.
I leaned over and gave Mamma a kiss on the cheek.
“Miranda, come on slow poke,” I hollered to her.
“I’m coming ya’ dang sissy.”
I thought to myself where did she ever hear anything like that? If Mamma ever heard me say anything like that she would have Daddy beat me.
“Now where did you hear that language?” I asked in a surprised tone.
“Nowhere,” she replied with uncertainty.
We walked up to Carter’s house and I rang the doorbell.
“Where’s your lover boy Annie?” Miranda said with a smirk.
“Nobody calls me Annie but Carter!” I yelled back at her.
“Oh I didn’t know that…” she replied with an annoying emphasis.
I moaned at her and told her to stop it when I was interrupted by the front door of the Henderson’s house opening wide.
“Hey,” Carter said with a smile on his face as big as the moon.
“Hi,” I said with nothing but a flirty smile.
“UUUUUUUHHHHHHHH!!! Would you two love birds hurry up already!!” Miranda yelled at us.
“Miranda!!!” I snapped back at her.
Carter looked at me. I don’t think it was because he was flattered, it was because I was turning as red as a tomato! I was so embarrassed!!! I quickly decided to change the subject and said “Let’s head out!”
We started walking down the side of the country road when a bird decided to lie it’s droppings on Carter’s shoulder.
“Oh my!” Carter yelled. I quickly pulled out a napkin from my back pack and wiped the scat off of Carter’s shirt. “Thanks Annie...uh I mean Annabelle.” Carter murmured out.
We started walking again and we finally reached the bus stop. There were other people there that we normally can spot out like Kayla Kormaing and Heather Reargued. They usually work out in the garden on a spring day with their mothers.
“Carter, it’s a good thing you were home on this fine Monday morning ‘cause your girlfriend was getting kinda worried. Isn’t that right Annabelle?” Miranda said in her loudest voice she could possibly find in that throat of hers in front of the whole bus stop.
“Why you little creep!!!!” I squirted back.
I started chasing her through the neighbor’s yard and around the houses and in between the bushes. My hip gave me pain but I know how to deal with it. I was actually kinda excited to see it coming to this because I had really put a fright into Miranda. But then I looked back and saw Carter was chasing after me yelling at me to come back or we’d miss the bus.
“No! Get away from me!!!” Miranda screamed back at me. Then I heard the sound of steaming breaks not but a ways away. It was the bus! It pulled to the curb and stopped to pick up the group of kids.
“Oh no!!” I screamed.
“Run!” Carter suggested.
We started running back to the bus stop yelling “Wait! Please wait!” but no one heard us. Then suddenly the bus drove away with a jerk to the back. I stopped and turned around and looked at Miranda with the meanest look in my eye, and said “You ought a hope you got one more life in you ‘cause your gonna need it.”
“Wait ‘till Daddy hears about this young ladies!”
“Mamma it wasn’t my fault!” I said.
“It was too! You ought a hear a few wise words I have to say to you coward! Why the hell did you chase me!” Miranda replied with frustration.
“Miranda Marie Smith you go to your room right now!” Mamma yelled at her while she was already making her way up the stairs.
“You too missy!!” Mamma yelled at me this time.
“What I didn’t do anything!!”
“Well apparently you did ‘cause Miranda is accusing you of chasing her! Now go to your room until I call Daddy and he comes home from work to punish you both. Then I will take you to school and you can explain to your principal what has happened.” Mamma said as she tried to calmed down.
I was in my room and picked up the phone and dialed Carter’s number. He didn’t answer. Just as I thought. He never answered his phone! I dialed again and this time he picked up.
“Hello, Henderson residents,” Carter said through the telephone.
“Carter it’s me Annabelle,” I replied in an anxious tone.
“Oh hey, so what happened?”
“I arrived home and Mamma was surprised to see us, then Miranda and I started yelling at each other and that’s when Mamma got it. She scolded us and Miranda blamed the whole thing on me and I said it wasn’t my fault. Miranda started swearing saying bad words and all and believe it or not Mamma yelled her full name, and then sent her to her room! That part I was happy about until she told me to go to my room too I disagreed and argued with her but she said she was gonna call Daddy and then the principal. What happened to you?”
“My Pop’s grounded me ‘till this Saturday and gave me a lecture.”
“That’s all?” I said sounding surprised.
“Yep. But more things happened to you ‘cause this situation actually was you and Miranda’s problem not mine. I just tried to stop the arguing.”
“Yeah I guess your right.”
“Miranda Marie and Annabelle Marie get down stairs this instant!” Papa screamed from the main floor.
“Carter I have to go. See you later. Thanks for everything.”
And that’s when the phone clicked down onto the receiver and I dared take a foot out of my bedroom.
I took the first step out of my bedroom and turned the corner to go downstairs when all I see is Miranda stepping out of her room at the same time.
“You idiot,” Miranda said quietly making sure that Papa didn’t here.
I didn’t say anything back so I wouldn’t get in trouble. She started the whole thing and I don’t need anymore mischief going on in my book.
I then decided to dart past her and just run down the stairs; beating her so Daddy would have a good impression on me. All of a sudden I glanced to my right and saw Miranda trying to make her way past me also trying to be the first one down the stairs.
“Stop it!” I yelled.
“No you stop it!” She yelled back.
“Girls,” Daddy said with anger.
We both bolted straight up at the end of the stair case and had our hands behind our backs looking like good little girls.
“Explain to me, one at a time, what has happened. Annabelle you may precede first.”
“What Daddy that’s not fair!” Miranda argued.
“You will have your turn miss,” Daddy replied to that snobby comment.
“Ok Daddy I will begin,” I said with happiness in my voice that I got to go first. “It all started at Carter’s door. I rang the doorbell and she was making jokes about how Carter and I like each other and…..
“Excuse me young lady what did you just say? Did you say you and Carter like each other?” Daddy said with a worried tone.
“No Daddy…Well I did but she thinks and everybody else thinks that we do but we are really good friends that’s all. Trust me Papa that’s all.” I replied with fury.
“Aright. You may continue.”
“Well as I was saying after she kept embarrassing me in front of Carter, she started using bad language. Then I kept telling her to stop it but once we got to the bus stop she said ‘Ain’t it good that Carter was home this morning ‘cause Carter, your girlfriend was getting worried that you weren’t gonna be home, isn’t that right Annabelle?’ and so I started chasing her and she kept screaming back bad language and telling me to stop it. Then the bus came and we couldn’t catch it because we were too far away. Daddy that’s what happened and I promise that I would never lie to you. That’s what I remember so that’s what I have told.”
“Alright, now it’s your turn Miranda,” Daddy said with slight delight that my long story was over.
“I……uh……I mean….uh……no…you’re the worst sister ever!”
Then she ran to her room without saying another word. The first thing I thought after she ran was that her story was definitely shorter then mine.
The tears ran down my cheek and the wind blew back my hair and dried each tear in its path. Yankee was galloping through the field. I had my hat on and my sneakers but no saddle. I was riding bareback. I felt free, yet only in certain ways. Mother and Father were two of the most important people in my life and in my heart, but they can be so unfair. Miranda got grounded from seeing her friends and no computer or phone for two weeks. Daddy made her give me an apology but I was out of there before she even had the chance to turn around and look at me. I was running out to the barn and untying Yankee. He can be my only friend sometimes. I even left Toto at home. He had to rest. Then I saw someone in the distance. A boy with his dog. It was Carter! And Scotty, his golden retriever. Yankee trotted over towards him and I stopped. I hopped off of Yankee and tied his leading rope to a tree.
“Hey there, what are you doing out here so late in the day?” Carter asked. He smiled.
“Oh just getting away for a bit that’s all,” I muttered trying not to cry. “Why aren’t you in school?”
“I knew you wouldn’t be in school, so I skipped. My Pops said it was okay as long as I don’t get into mischief. Plus, I have things to think about myself.”
Carter looked at me and saw the tears forming in my eyes.
“Annie, what’s wrong? Did something happen to you?” Carter scooted toward me. We both were sitting on the ground.
“Nothing, don’t worry about it I’ll be okay. But thank you,” I said as I wiped the tears from my cheek. I appreciated his friendliness. He moved closer towards my face. I couldn’t look into his blue-green eyes.
“Annie, you have been so quiet since you got home. Really, what’s wrong?” Carter said. This time it wasn’t a question, it was a demand.
“I don’t need to worry you about my problems. Trust me,” I replied, motioning to get up and leave.
“Annie wait,” Carter said quickly. “Please don’t go, you don’t need to go. Just let me show you why you shouldn’t leave,” Carter held out his hand to me. I took a minute to think about whether I should take his hand or not.
“Okay.” I reached out and grabbed his hand. Carter walked over to Yankee. He stroked his mane and said ‘good boy’ to him. Yankee loved him. Everyone loved Carter, how could you not. He is gorgeous and smart, funny, caring, sweet, and his heart is warm with love. I don’t know how to describe the last adjective. It’s a feeling that only I have I think. But I don’t know the word. We’re just great friends I guess.
Carter walked back over to me and said “Hop on.” I didn’t know how to react to this. He grabbed my waist as I hesitated, getting the wrong impression.
“On the count of three, jump. 1...2...3!” I jumped as Carter said to and he flung me on Yankee, but not violently, with care. Then Carter put his foot in the stirrup and lifted himself on in front of me as I made room. Oh God, he has amazing strength! Why can’t I stop thinking about the things that make Carter special? I put that weird thought out of my mind as he grabbed the reins.
“Yaw!” Carter screamed as Yankee dashed into the empty field even further. The wind blew back the strands of golden curly hairs back out of my face. I wasn’t necessarily ready for the ride so I quickly grabbed onto Carter, making sure I didn’t let go. Still, holding on with one hand around his waist, I reached back and untied my ponytail, the hair flew around my face and the curls got into my eyes. I swung my head around Carter’s body and the wind hit me. This is everything I have ever wanted. I had something most other girls my age don’t have a lot of: freedom. I was free. No matter what others told me I should do or what I have to do. Doing work is a part of being free. I knew that I was living a dream, and that someday I would have to wake up. I rested my head on Carter’s shoulder and closed my eyes. This dream could last a lifetime, but I would have to work to keep it that way.
Carter pulled up to a short and hidden entry that I had never seen before. He hopped off Yankee and held out his arms to me. I slid carefully into his arms and he lifted me onto the ground. I was oddly surprised that Carter could lift me. I don’t know why I was so surprised by this. He was very tall, taller than me, and he was very strong. He was probably almost as strong as my dad.
He kept his hands on my waist even after I was standing on the ground. He looked me in the eye and I turned away. He removed his hands after that. I don’t know why I was being so foolish and hard-to-get. He grabbed my hand and led me into the forest. He lifted some tree leaves and branches and we both ducked under.
“Here we are,” Carter said.
“Wow, how’d you know this was here,” I said with my voice still in the wow-moment.
“I found it, and I come here when I want to be alone. So, I thought, maybe you’d wanna come here and be alone too. Ya know, you told me you wanted to be left alone, so, somehow I knew this place would make you feel better.” Carter said that with such care and love. “Scotty and I can walk home from here; it’s only a few miles. Have a good night,” Carter started to pull back the branches again and turn to leave.
“Wait,’ I said quickly. “Stay.” I reached out for his hand. It was silent for a minute, then Carter let go of the branches and Scotty sat down.
“Okay,” He said with a smile while reaching out for my hand. I knew he was happy that I wanted him to stay, but, being alone without Carter isn’t being alone. It’s only being alone in your heart. Being alone with him is like being surrounded by the only thing that matters at times like this: a smile.
Carter stepped down in front of me. The look in his eyes said something I didn’t even want to think. They said love. All my life I had loved Carter as a friend, but, maybe now, even more than a friend. I didn’t want to make everything stop completely just so I could think about this. No, I wasn’t going to let that happen.
“Let’s sit,” Carter said as I nodded in agreement. We walked down to the edge of the beautiful creek and sat up against a log.
“So, do you like it here?” Carter asked, making it sound kind of stupid.
“Carter, it’s gorgeous. That’s why I wanted you to stay here with me. This will be our place.” There was silence for just a moment when Carter said, “Annie, thank you.”
“For what?” I asked.
“For being my friend,” Carter was super gorgeous and he was tall, with short brown hair that was cut in a buzz, and he has the biggest green eyes you will ever see in your life. He is so handsome, even his parents don’t understand why I’m his only friend.
I turned my head to look at Carter again, but he had been staring at me the whole time we were talking. Did he have feelings for me? Yes! He has to! He just has to! How can he not. Do I have feelings for him? Uh, Heck yeah! Why would I even ask myself all these questions? Oh well, whatever was about to happen next in this love story, that’s what’s going to happen no matter what. No matter how bad it is. Or how dumb we will be.
Carter leaned in…and in…and so close I could feel his breath. I could barely breath because I was so nervous. But then again, I wasn’t nervous. The feeling I had right now, was want.
Our lips came so close. And then, it happened. Our lips touched, Carter’s mouth tasted like mint. My head started pounding. It was smooth and gentle. It was like Carter. His kissing told you everything about his personality.
Our lips moved closer together. Our faces were pressed together. I turned to face him and he angled his body to the right direction. His hands reached out for my waist, but I leaned in further making it so his hands would get there faster. I was now sitting on his lap, when I retreated a bit so I could catch a breath. The motions I used this time, showed him I didn’t want to over-do-it so fast and that I wanted to go slow. This was very overwhelming. Everything became a blur and so special at the same time. His hands were around my waist and mine were over his shoulders. One, on the back of his neck. He pulled me in closer, and squished my body against his.
We kept kissing as all the actions replayed in my head. How could this be happening? All of a sudden everything felt wrong.
And it only took one thought to ruin everything. Miranda. She was standing outside looking for us. For God’s sake, how could I have forgotten to bring Yankee in here! Now she’d know we were around. She was running her hand along the side of the wall, cause I could hear it. She always does that. She found the entrance. Great. Just great. Carter and I were too shocked to do anything about it. We just sat there with me on his lap and his hands around my waist, with both of our shirts unbuttoned. Miranda stepped into the cave saying “Hello? Helloooo?” Carter and I were just wide-eyed. Miranda got past the branches and stood at the top of the log-stairs staring down at us with her jaw dropped to the floor.
“What the Hell.”