Into the Greyson Valley
By Toni A., Dublin, CA
Author's note: Im writing this with my sister, but I can't seem to finish because I continue to beat myself up... Show full author's note »
Chapter OneI didn't wake up this morning trying to recollect the previous night, not to an alarm clock or some noise from outside my window. I just simply woke up with my face in my pillow, clinging on to the side of the bed with my left leg and arm. My hip was trying a little bit too. My night was dull, and so was my morning. Well, my morning was more painful than anything considering how I actually slept this way. Jayda took up most of the bed, she's tall and likes to spread out every limb of her body to
There. That's better.
As if having a lumpy old mattress wasn't enough, hanging off of it surely tested my body's tolerance to it. The mattress won this battle and every part of me was in pain. I roll on my back so sitting up would be easier, but I land on Jayda's hand, forcing her to retrieve it quick and arise.
"Sorry Jay," I said. She just nods her head and sets it back down into her pillow. "You still have school you know," this reminder only made her grunt and fold her pillow around her face and ears. "Jayda you can't be late again today."
She sprung up at this comment into a kneeling position. "I was never late, those are false accusations and my teacher needs a serious check-up because she has some serious issues that need to be looked at." Her voice was stern and she even crossed her arms for affect.
"Oh really?" I decided to play along as she tried to defend herself, "You're teacher just made all of it up. You being late every day for three weeks and not turning in any homework. All False Accusations."
"Yes, exactly. She's crazy. You just can't be listenin' to crazy people all the time Mina, it's not good for you. You can be misled by false information and then the wrong people get punished." She says.
"How about you get up and get ready so I can do your hair and get you to school...ON TIME. Instead of sitting here playing law and order," She looks at me for a second, then heads for the bedroom door without an argument. I grab my cell phone from the windowsill. I usually sleep on the side of the bed closest to the window in case Ricky stops by to stay the night. I always keep it unlocked for him to come in.
It's not what it sounds like, Ricky's my best friend and there's a perfectly logical explanation to why he crawls through our window at night. Well, not every night, just the nights when his step-father has been drinking and gets a little...crazy. I told Ricky he just come to my place when it's not safe for him there. He doesn't always take advantage of the opportunity but when he does it's usually after things have gotten out of hand back home. But his mom figured out where he's been going, so she would come get him after her late nights working. I guess things are a little different when she's there.
I send him a quick text to see if everything was okay since he didn't stop by last night and if he wanted a ride to school today. After brush my teeth and wash my face he texts me back a smiley face. It indicates that he does need a ride, but can't really text because Chris, his step-father, is trying to talk to him and would be angry with Ricky for trying to talk to someone else simultaneously.
Jayda sits on the bed for me to do her hair. I braid it in two braids that drop down her back. Her hair is very different from mine, but I've learned to manage it. We have different fathers, mine being white, leaving me with shoulder-length, silky, brown ringlets that I rarely ever do anything to besides hydrate it with some kind of spray. My skin is also much lighter than Jayda's as well, but we have similar noses and hazel eyes. When I finish her last braid i give her a tap on the shoulder, she stands up and starts to look for her shoes while I get ready, then we both head out the door. I grab the keys to my jeep and shut the front door tight. Then I gave her a pat on the back as she starts down the street towards the elementary school.
Greyson Valley is perched between two mountains known as The Merris and The Kalina. They were named after the head of the founding families and his wife. The town itself was there last name and it has been carried out through centuries. The founding families tend to be the only families who stay for decades and come back after college, basically because their name offers them property. They all have large amounts of land in either the Archer or Charlotte Hills. Yes, odd names for wealthy neighborhoods, I know. But here every important place is named after a Grayson, and sometimes it can get a little ridiculous.The Valley is very divided, the hills are more up north. Right below them are The Gardens and The Grays, they're both considered suburbs and are pretty small, more of a middle class section. Downtown is plopped in the middle, that's where I live, It's between the two sides and is surrounded by a few homes. And then there's the lower east side and the lower west side. Two very different places. I'm closer to the lower west side, which isn't as bad compared to the east where almost everyone is struggling. Although, west still isn't much of a step up from that. It's just closer to the man-made lake where almost everyone hangs out.
Raven lives on the east side with her mom. Next to Ricky she's the only person I can trust with anything. She doesn't have much but she always finds time to help out someone who needs it. She's too chill for anyone to really hate on. But somehow people still do...just because she's so awesome. We became good friends after Ricky and I met her downtown in a gas station when we were ten. She tried to sneak open a soda really quick but didn't realize it had been dropped and it was ready to burst. She made a mess in the third isle and got caught, but the owner let her off the hook because we told him she was with us. The owner was a good friend of Ricky's real dad that created a good bond between them.
Because she lives so far from the school and her mom shows little interest in getting her there, I offered to be her ride.
And that's where I'm headed, the lower east-side that contains a few ugly apartment buildings, a dump, some warehouses, a couple stores that obviously don't sell anything worth buying...that's legal, and about four different trailer parks. The park closest to downtown is where Raven is. I pulled in on the dirt path that winds into a small semi-circle with a few smaller paths branching out behind the park to more trailers.
I'm trying my best not to be mad right about now. I don't like to start off the day mad, it makes everything else kind of suck. But it's pretty hard when you're disappointed...by your mom. She said she was going to stop drinking and yet every morning I still find her laying on the couch hangin' on to that last bottle that has that last drop of whatever in it. Arm just danglin' over the edge, no sign of releasin' her grip on that thing. It seems to symbolize her life. It's pathetic, and way too embarrassing. At least I don't have to rely on her to get me anywhere in the mornings. Which brings me to where I am now, sittin' on the steps to a tiny beaten down trailer. Waitin' on Mina, the only person I'd even let near my home. She gets me, she gets things and she doesn't judge. It's about seven-thirty so no one else in the park is remotely close to gettin' out. They're all either drunks, shut-outs, or are just tired because they've been workin' late hours. My mom's along the drunk catagory, and she's the only one in here with a kid.
Or at least that's what I thought.
Next door, I guess you can call it that, out walks this guy. I can't get a good look at him just yet, but I know for sure he's not the guy that usually walks out of that place. He's taller, his hair is long and pulled back. That's all I can really see from where I'm sitting. There's a hideous red truck between my trailer and the one he came out of. So I stand...and stretch. Can't look to suspicious. I peek over, of course he's shirtless. Well, sort of, he's wearing a tank top so torn up he might as well be shirtless. He turns to my direction. I turn away. Pretending to look at something in the distance, but I got a good look at him. He couldn't be more than eighteen. Maybe seventeen, that's believable. He's cute no doubt, but the way he's built, must be an athlete of some sort. Blonde hair, gray eyes that hit the sun just right. Hopefully that doesn't come up later in lyrics.
He starts to say something but is interrupted by a car horn. It's Mina in her teal jeep driving up, I hurry to the car trying not to make eye contact. But I fail. I fail miserably. I look right at him, and not only that, but Mina looks too and he looks right back. I smile like an idiot then turn away and hop in the car.
"Who was that?" She asks. That question was so predictable I almost cut her off to say "Don't know, don't care" but instead I waited until she was done asking. Then I said it.
"Well, he was pretty cute," she says.
"I know," I look out the window, then roll it down, then stick my arm out and let the breeze brush against it. I guess I'm easy to read, Mina could tell I wasn't havin' the best morning.
"Tell me what's up Rave" She demands. "You're not going to sit here with a bad mood in my car, not if I have anything to say about it."
"Take a wild guess," I reply.
"Drunk again?" she takes her eyes off the road to examine me for a second, then turns back to make a left.
"Yep." Having her know this made me feel a little better.
"Well then, I hope you are ready for a great day at school. Because not only do we have an amazing rally to attend, we are going out to lunch at Waltzer's Wieners," she chuckles after saying it. So childish but I did too. She knows that's my favorite place.
"Really, all the way across town?" I doubted this grant.
"Yes, yes indeedy lemon squeezy," now she's just trying to sound like a dork for me. It's entertaining, and a smile sneaks it's way onto my face.
We start heading into the gated community of Cheyenne Hills where Ricky lives. His new pops is pretty well-off, being a descendant of a founding family and all. Mina talks to the man at the window a bit, he seems a little hesitant to let us in but eventually gives in. Maybe Mina's just a charmer. The gate opens and we drive through, entering a maze of overly exposed wealth that drips from every roof top to every blade of grass. It's beautiful in here.
"Why wasn't he lettin' you in at first?" My curiosity slipped out but I guess it didnt matter because she seemed pretty eager to tell me.
"Chris, he doesn't want me near his house remember? So the new guy just wasn't sure about letting me in or not," she was a little irritated I could tell.
It's true, Chris doesn't like Mina anywhere near his house because Ricky confides in her so much. He has for years, even before Chris was in the picture; meaning Mina must know about how he's treated Ricky and doesn't want her to, i guess, witness anything. I don't know, his reasons are unclear. He won't even tell Ricky, he just said to stop talkin' to her. Which ofcourse Ricky ignores. I swear he has some wierd boyish crush on her. It's actually kind of cute.
We park a few houses down from his. Chris' car isn't in the driveway, so he may have already left to work. Not that he really has to. Mina sends a text to let Ricky know we're here and we wait. Less than a minute later Rick starts walking down the driveway, a little more uneasy than usual. He's looking around a lot, and he has his hood and beanie on. Which isn't very new, they cover him more than they have in the past though. He speeds up once he's in the street, and quickly stuffs himself in the back seat of the car.
Then he looks up, we look back at him, and there it is.
His right cheek is bruised up pretty bad, it's red and a little swollen. As if he's been hit. Mina gives him a raise of an eyebrow for conformation. He nods and she turns around to drive out of the neighborhood. Ricky slouches in the back and stares out the window kind of how I did earlier.
The drive is mute for a few minutes, then Mina ends it by blasting her stereo. This has happened before, Mina is trying not to show it but she's obviously frustrated. Ricky didn't try to get out last night when things got heavy. He's completely capable of getting out of that house no matter what happened. Why he didn't, we may never know; it's not something they ever talk about because it won't change anything. Unless Ricky's been badly hurt or died, which we probably would have discovered by now.
There's only two schools in the GV and technically since I'm on the east side I'm supposed to go to school over here. One problem...it's a private school; it's more towards the Archer Hills and only the richest snobs go there. Even if I had the option of going there I wouldn't go. I'd be a pariah. Archer Hills are known for the biggest brats because not only do they have the most expensive real estate, but it's the home of the current Greyson family.
So right now I'm headed to Lake View High, squeezed right in the Gardens on the west side. It's nice i guess, massive. It has almost everyone in it that isn't rich, and a few founder's kids like Ricky, Jannah, Seth, and Valentina. Ricky's new dad didn't want to pay for him to go anywhere special. And the other three just didn't want to be around their kind I guess.