Chapter 3 - Welcome To My Life

 Chapter 3
        Welcome To My Life

“To be hurt, To be lost, To be left out in the dark, To be kicked when you’re down, To feel like You’ve been pushed around, To be on the edge of breaking down, And no one’s there to save you, No you don’t know what it’s like. Welcome to my life.”
             Simple Plan, “Welcome To My Life”

I woke up to the sound of Gram yelling my name.
“Evan, you have to get up now!” That had to be the fifth time she called at me. Finally I decided it was time to stop ignoring her and just roll out of bed. I took a deep breath and stretched, well, tried to stretch, I was stiff, and felt like crap. I tried to stretch once more – bad idea. My bones made disturbing crack noises, that couldn’t be good, they were probably permanently damage. I turned my head to the right. Crack-Ouch. To the left. Crack-OUCH! Damn it! My whole body hurt. I glanced around and saw the window opened. So I slept with no covers, the window opened and in the same position the whole night. This made my stupidity official. Not only was I long gone from the valley of sanity, but I was also heading right into the valley of idiocy.
I got myself inside the first jeans, shirt, hoodie and sneakers that came across my path and made my way down stairs.
“Good morning,” I said to gram.
“Wow, just look at you, with those bright clothes and that big grin on your face, it looks like the sun came out just for you!” she said in the most cheerful voice she could manage. I frowned, glancing down at myself. My shirt and hoodie were grey, my jeans were a standard-blue and black sneakers, last time I checked these were not bright colors, but I hadn’t exactly been a part of the world lately. Is grey the new yellow? And if so, then what’s the new grey? Gram chuckled. Ah yes, she’s fluent in sarcasm.
She placed a plate of scrambled eggs in front of me. “Here you go sunshine,”
“Hello?! Mrs. Julia!” a vaguely familiar sing-along voice called from outside, the sound grew louder as the person whom the voice belonged too stepped into the house. I turned my head to see who it was. Dakota Johnson.
She stopped dead the moment she saw me, taking me in from head to toe. “Evangeline?” She said, eyes wide as a plate.
“Hey,” I said, waving my hand awkwardly, not sure on how to proceed.
“Oh My God!!!!” She squealed, her shock long forgotten, wrapping me in a huge hug, swinging us both from side to side.
 “Oh my God!” She said again, unwrapping herself from me but still holding me by the shoulders “It’s you, It’s been so long, I didn’t even recognize you! It’s so good you’re finally here” She grinned and hugged me once more. Dakota and I had once been amazing friends, Best friends actually, but then I moved to San Diego and, well, we all know how it goes; things change, people change and friendships fade. This was almost amusing, she had been a very constant and solid presence of my past until she was only that, my past. Now she was here, quickly becoming a part of my present. Funny how life works.
“Hey Dakota,” I tried to give her a smile, but I doubt I was succeeding since I couldn’t seem to order the muscles in my face to do it. “You haven’t changed much.” She was the same Dakota I remembered from eight years ago, curly blonde hair, big bright blue eyes, sweet looking face, and disgustingly enthusiastic.
“I asked Dakota to come here and take you to school, she lives two houses up the block, and she has a car, which you don’t, so I’m guessing you girls will have a great time and won’t cause any trouble.” Gram said, joining our lovely friend reunion.
“Don’t worry Mrs. Julia, I’ll take care of Evangeline, I’ll go start the car” she said right before heading back outside, but not without giving me an encouraging smile. I looked down at my place, no longer hungry. I turned my gaze to Gram and gave her a pained expression.
“Oh, come on Little Bear, don’t give me those eyes,” I groaned “and Dear, don’t smile until you’ve regain total control of your face, you.” Wise words. “Good luck Honeybee, take care, everything will be ok.” She soothed my hair, I loved it when she did that. It made me feel like that four year old, flying up stairs. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, push it aside, and no one will notice.
“Love you Gram.” I said, giving her a quick kiss on the check, and starting to make my way outside. I caught a glimpse of the worried expression on her face, it was the one that most people had given me lately, at first, it was the general look to all of us, the poor little people, they all lost the ones they most loved look, the pity look, and then, they started noticing me, the only one who didn’t cry, couldn’t. The only one who wouldn’t say a thing. My sorrow and my pain were visible when paid close attention, but I couldn’t make myself cry. People cried all around me, had breakdowns and such, like they were all playing a part in this huge play, everyone had a script but me. I would have been glad to play my part, to cry, flip out, say something or scream. I would have be so happy to read my lines and proceed, anything that could have made it easier, but I didn’t knew how to. I was given a role that I never knew when to play or how to act. So people started to avoid me, everyone else was simpler to be dealt with: Hug. I’m sorry for your loss. Move on. When I didn’t cry, people just, didn’t know what to do with me, so they avoided me, and left me alone, and I was ok. But people like gram, knew better, she had cried, in a quiet way, It was almost as if she didn’t notice her tears. She knew I wasn’t ok, and the uncertainty to know if I would even bee, was painful to her. . . and me. I wanted to go back and hug her and tell her not to worry about me, that everything would be like before, that I would dance and laugh like I used to. But I can’t, because it’s not true.
I stepped inside Dakota’s car, and as soon as I was in she started babbling about people from school and asking if I remembered them, which for the most part, I did.
“Oh My God Evangeline, this is going to be so much fun, you and me, together again” she said. Stupid grin and all.
I cleared my throat “Just call me Evan.”
“Oh… okay. Evan ten. It’s good you know, ‘cause, truth is, Evangeline is kind of long.” She said all of this in a really quick way, like she was running out of oxygen and had to get it all out.
I tried to ignore her, but her annoying happiness was making it hard to do so. I wanted to slap the smile out of her face, but I couldn’t do that, somehow in all that happiness, there was hope. Hope that there were still things left to be found, just not for me. Everything was too painful, the simple act of breathing hurt, and in some way, I was glad for that, It was my reminder that I once had a father, a life, that it all didn’t simply disappear, and I would welcome that pain with arms wide open, anything to know that there once had been a forever for me, stolen now, but it was there. I had only my sadness left, and I would hold on to it.
“So. . .” Dakota ventured “Do you have a boyfriend? Someone interested?” she said in that girly tone of hers.
“But. . . I thought you were dating someone, I think his name was Jim, James, or something?”
“Jules.” I corrected.
“That’s right! Jules, what happened?” she glanced at me.
“We broke up.”
“Oh, So you no longer see him?”
“He’s no longer here” and that’s when she gave me the look, the look, which meant she understood that I was not just referring to him not being here in this city, but not being here at all. She knew.
She fell silent and placed all of her attention on the road. I saw that she was uncomfortable, but if her being that way meant she would stay silent, then it would be a price I would gladly pay; her bubbly demeanor disappearing in one world. Just like my word had. Looking out the window all I could think of was that a second ago we were having a conversation, and then nothing. Just a few weeks ago I had a family, and then, nothing.
The school was really pretty. It was a beautiful structure that resembled more a small town than an actual school. On the left side of the hallways you found the lockers and classrooms. On the right side, pillars that held the structure, and through the spaces between them was a simple square shaped lawn were many students could be found resting, studying or simply enjoying the feel of the grass beneath them. Many walls were covered in stones of different shapes and sizes, the walls that weren’t decorated were painted either deep brown or light peach. My former school made you try to remember what crime had you committed in order to end in such a place and why were you being punished in such a way; grey all around you, bars on every window and door. To say that I had been pleasantly surprised with how the new school looked would have been an understatement.
Once we were walking through the hallways I couldn’t help but think that a) everyone seemed too damn happy. And b) that Dakota had become pretty damn popular. The whole walk was filled with “Hi Daky!” and “Hey Dakota, how was your weekend?” Which was being not only annoying but also an inconvenience to me, because once the damn happy people finished greeting Dakota, they would have their gazes fall on me and ask “Evangeline? Is that you?” No, I wanted to answer. I am a fragment of your stupid imagination you damn happy person. I didn’t answer that though; I simply nodded and gave them the best smile-cringe I could manage.
“Oh look!” Dakota pointed and some people coming our way. “I want to introduce you to some of my closest friends.” She grabbed my hand, making sure I would follow and we stopped before two strangers, both guys. She told them my name and told me their names, launched into this story about how they arrived to Samson Valley a few years after I left and blah blah. They both smiled politely and welcomed me, I just nodded and smiled-cringed.
They kept on talking while I counted all of the lockers along the wall. Somewhere during my counting, Dakota asked me a question.
“What?” I asked.
“I said, what’s your schedule?”
I searched for it in my messenger bag, and then handed it to her.
She began scanning the schedule. “We have AP English together right before lunch! And I think you also share a few classes with. . .” She kept talking and I pretended to listen to her, mercifully, the bell rang at that moment, I mumbled a ‘see you later’ and headed off to my first class.
When I entered the classroom I was surprised to see that there were no separate pupils, instead there were tables with space for two in each of them. I picked an empty seat and waited to meet my partner. A guy came and took the seat the next to mine. He looked at me and smiled.
He had been one of the guys that was earlier with Dakota. He was reasonably tall, olive skin, short brown hair, dark eyes and a lean body. “Hi.” I said, turning my head to the front of the classroom, not really wanting to start a conversation.
“So, how you liking this place so far?”
“Good.” I replied curtly.
“Yeah, it’s a nice place. You used to live here right?”
I simply nodded, not even bothering to look at him. Awkward silence began to fill the air between us.
I could tell he felt stupid. I would have felt stupid had he been the one blowing me off, still, I did not do anything to comfort him, said something like it’s not your fault, it’s just that my dad and friends are dead. I mentally slapped myself. I had been wanting to tell everyone what had happened. I didn’t get it, it made no sense that I wanted to share something so private to me, that they probably already knew, just to make them uncomfortable. A test maybe, to see if they could give me some answers, if someone would say something that would enlighten me instead of just giving me their pity. But then I also wanted to keep it all to myself, because it wasn’t any of their business, and because, by knowing, they also wanted to ask questions, questions I was not willing to answer. The contradictory emotions made me want to hit someone, or hit myself. I wanted answers but not the questions. I wanted to take, take and take but never give, but in order to keep the balance, both had to be exchanged. Which is why, in that moment, I decided I would go with silence. No answers, no questions. No gain, no loss, only a small space in between created for myself where I could not move forward
The teacher made her entrance at that moment, making my task of ignoring him much easier. She started to tell us about what we would be learning through the semester and such, including the many project we will be doing in pairs, at which point she says
“Which means that the person at your side is now your permanent partner for this course, I hope you chose wisely.”
I tensed. Great, I had been a total bitch to my now permanent partner. I slowly turned to look at him. His body was turned towards me, his head leaning against the first of his right hand, which was placed over the table, a smirk on his face.
“Well, that arrangement’s going to make it a little bit hard for you to ignore me.” He said, there was no trace of resentment in his voice, in fact, it seemed like he was laughing at me.
“I wasn’t ignoring you.” I quickly denied.
“Sure you weren’t,”
“I just don’t know you and I don’t usually talk with people I don’t know.” I explained lamely.
“And how do you expect to know me if you don’t talk to me? I bet you don’t even remember my name.” he said all of this in that same mocking tone.
“Yes I do.” I lied.
“Really?”  his surprised was pissing me off.
“Well then, what’s my name?”
I thought about it for a moment, what did Dakota said his name was?
I thought again… ah! I remember! ”It’s Steven.” I finally said.
He sighed “It’s Dylan.” Dylan?
“Are you sure your name’s not Steven?”
“I’m pretty sure I know my own name, besides, Steven was the other guy.” He explained. Oh. Steven was had been the tall black boy standing beside Dylan, well, I was close.
“So what, I bet you don’t even know my name.” I lamely replied.
“Evangeline,” He quickly replied, “but everyone calls you Evan.”
“Fine, you have a good memory, I’ll grant you that.”
“It’s not so much of a good memory, more that I actually pay attention.” Before I could argue with him that I pay attention to everything the teacher began her lecture, leaving me feeling frustrated through the rest of the class.

* * *

Once morning classes were over we headed off to the cafeteria, by ‘we’ I mean Dakota and Liam/Ian. Our small journey there was filled with more greetings from my former peers, to which I kept giving the same tight smile and the same words, in fact, I had begun to get the hang of it. Mostly though, Dakota and Liam/Ian chatted animatedly while I followed close behind.
We grabbed lunch and found a table for us. Dakota and Liam/Ian on one side, still lost in conversation, and me on the opposite side. Alone.
“Are you two together?” I asked them. They both stopped talking and looked at me in confusion, their every brows furrowed, they then looked at each other. Once my question sank in and they understood, their eyes went wide.
 “God no!” Dakota said/yelled, “Well, yeah, I mean, he’s a really nice guy,” She turned her body quickly to Liam “you’re a really nice guy.” She told him, “But no.” she turned to me again “I do love him though, he’s my best friend” she quickly turned again to him “You’re my best friend.”
“I think she gets it,” Liam/Ian said “besides, I’m not the one you’re interested in.” he said, raising his eyebrows at Dakota, at this, she punched him in the arm.
“Sorry, I just thought you and Liam were a couple.” I said to Dakota
“Me and who?” she raised one eyebrow at me in confusion.
“Um, Ian.” I pointed at Liam/Ian.
She looked at him, then at me “Me and Dylan.”
Liam/Ian/Dylan, what was the difference? “Yeah, him.”
“There you are!” Said a voice from behind me, the owner of the voice soon came into view once she went around the table to sit next to Dakota. “I couldn’t find you, why did you sit in the back? Ugh, forget it, it’s all my fault, I really need a cellphone.” I knew this girl, she had really long wavy hair the color of dark chocolate, light green eyes and a deep voice. Her gaze rested on me for a moment, taking me in.
 “Evangeline?” she asked.
“Monica? I asked back.
“Yes!” She said excitedly, “I can’t believe you recognized me, my goodness, it’s been what? six, seven years? I can’t believe you knew who I was!” Her amazement was because she had twin sister named Melinda. Funny things is, even though they were identical, you could always easily tell who was who. There was just something in each of them that made it so easy to tell each apart from the other.
 “I never really had trouble differentiating you. How’s Melinda?” her smile dropped with my question.
“She’s ok, she’s a transferred student in England, she traded with Michel over there” She pointed at a guy 2 tables down with his back towards me, so I couldn’t really look at him. “She’s doing well though, enjoying the experience.” It’s clear that Monica misses her. I hadn’t really met that many twins before, but I had encountered a few others here and there, and they usually didn’t get along, which is why it always came as a surprise to see that Monica and Melinda genuinely got along with each other. They each were the half of a whole.
“That’s good to hear.”
“Yes but, hey, how have you been, how’s life treating you?” Such a simple question, such a complex reaction. I saw Dakota’s and Dylan’s eyes immediately turn to me, trying to guess my reaction. The air around us felt thicker, the whole atmosphere becoming darker. Monica began to stammer and try to offer variations of the same question, never actually getting out a clear sentence.
I didn’t answer. I wouldn’t have known how to answer nor would I have wanted too. Assure her that it was okay? That she shouldn’t worry? I couldn’t. Tell her and all of them the whole story? That was impossible, not only because I couldn’t say it, but because they all already knew it. It was too much of a small town for such complicated truths.
“Um, I heard we’ll be doing the documentary project this semester with Mrs. Greenblatt, I can’t wait for it.” Dakota interrupted quickly, forced enthusiasm in her voice. Dylan joined quickly the conversation, Monica looked uncomfortable but she slowly eased into the conversation. Eventually Dylan left to join his jock friends and Monica’s question was forgotten. She and Dakota continued simple conversation through the rest of lunch, not once did I joined them.
* * *
The day went on after that, until the moment I was back in my big hollow room, the curtains closed so that no light could pour in. I look around at the boxes and think I have to unpack. I go to the nearest box and open it, finding a bring pink photo frame with a picture of Clary, Em, Mel and me, all of us laughing. I remember that day, the memory was clear in my head, it had been the last time we were together.
“Evan! Hurry up it’s going to star raining!” Clary called at me.
“I’m coming!” I yelled back, I was standing outside Happiness, a dress store with the most beautiful dresses I had ever seen. I ran after Clary, Em and Mel “Did you see the white dress, it was gorgeous” I said to them.
“I know” Em said, nodding her head enthusiastically in approval, intertwining her arm with mine “Can you imagine when we go to prom, it will be amazing.”
“What makes you think we’ll be invited to prom?” Mel asked.
“Can you believe someone NOT wanting to invite us to prom? I mean seriously, take a look at us, who wouldn’t want to go with us?” she said in a fake diva tone that was hilarious, we all started laughing.
“Oh yeah, all the guys in school will have to fight with themselves in order to get a date with us.” Clary said, mockingly.
“But seriously guys,” Em said, “Imagine us, at prom with our dates, wearing those beautiful dresses and the leaving to New York. It’ll be like we always wanted, just what we imagined.”
“It’s perfect,” Mel said, “So perfect we need permanent evidence.” She took out her camera from her purse extending her arm so that it was placed in front of us. We all stopped walking and leaned forward, smiling at the camera. “Say prom!”
“PROM!” The four of us said, bursting into laughter as the picture was taken.
“You guys will be going to the lake, right?“ I asked
“Yup” Clary said “It will be the best trip in all of forever, and probably our last one before college”
“Great, I was afraid you’d ditch me like last year.” I said, not unkindly.
“Hey, that was for reasons beyond our control, we’d never leave you alone on purpose. Besides, we’re four here” Em said, pointing with her finger at the four of us. “We’ll all go together.”
“Besties forever,” Mel said.
“and ever.” Em assured. It started to rain then, and we all started running, laughing and even dancing, enjoying what we had, the rain, time. Us.
 Remembering that hurt, a pain hard to describe, no longer just emotional, it was physical. A pain so real it left me breathless. We had a future planned for the four of us, a future that had felt so real and so sure. I could almost taste it, feel it, reach out a hand and touch it, but now, every time I tried to reach out for it, it vanished, sliding through my fingers, no longer something I could grasp.
I left the picture and opened the curtains slightly, letting just a little bit of light in. The sun hid behind dark clouds, making it all look pale, giving my room a soft and faint glow, the light blue walls and white furniture blending in perfectly. I glanced around, noticing every empty space, and I began to fill them, step by step, box after box. Registered & Protected

Chapter 2 - Home Lost

 Chapter 2
        Home Lost

“Stranger than your sympathy, All these thoughts you stole from me, I'm not sure where I belong, Nowhere's home and I'm all wrong”
-The Goo Goo Dolls, “Sympathy”

“Evan, are you sure you want to do this? Please, just reconsider, Bruce is a great man, we can be a family again, together.” My mother said. I could hear the desperate plea in her voice, but my mind was already made. When she told me she was getting a divorce and would be marrying this Bruce guy, I decided I would stay with my father, but, you know, since he’s dead and everything, I’ll be going with Gram instead. No question. I would not stay with my mom, she wanted a divorce and she got lucky, she didn’t even have to fight or arrange papers, since the contract says: till dead tear us apart. Congratulations mother! So I would be going to live farther north on California, to a place called Samson Valley, where my grandmother’s house is- a four hour trip on car with no traffic. I grew up there until I was ten years old and my father got a better job here, so we moved to San Diego. And today I was leaving, my mom would stay here, in a new residence, with her new husband, a baby incoming, and the family she always wanted. Lucky you mom.
“I’m sure.” I said in a toneless voice, a cloud of sadness and disappointment crossed her eyes.
“Okay” she said, completely defeated, she took a step back. My mother could have easily made me stay, but after what she did to us - me and my father – and after everything that happened, she owed me this, I had the right to control this part of my life. I placed my last bag on the trunk and headed toward the passenger side door, Gram already in the driver’s side, ready to go. I got in and closed the door; my mom leaned on the side of my door, motioning for me to roll down the window.
“Promise me you’ll call if you need anything or if you change your mind.” she said.
“I promise.”
“Here,” she handed me a pack of dollar’s, from what I could see they were are all a bunch of hundred’s.
“I don’t need this, I –“
“Please don’t, just take it, I’ll call you latter.” I didn’t what her money. I didn’t want anything that had to do with her. I hated my mother, she destroyed our family. She broke me way before I knew what being broken really was.
She kept her hand extended, waiting for me to take the money. I didn’t move. She signed heavily. “Jillian, could you please take this and give it to her whenever she needs it? If I just give it to her now she’ll probably burn it.” Gram leaned on to my side to take the money from my mom.
“Of course,” Gram started the car, we were ready to go.
“Goodbye Evan, I mean it, call if you ever need anything. I love you.” She said.
I was so incredibly angry with her, I wanted nothing more than to be away. I was hurt by everything she had done, yet, I could not contain the next words, “I love you too.” I mumbled. It was the truth, I did love her, but you can love someone and still not want to be with them. And they can love you back and still hurt you. Love is a tricky thing, that’s why I hate it. . .
We got on the road. Gram and me stayed in silence for most of the trip, exchanging a few words here and there regarding stuff of no real importance, such as the weather – it rained the whole ride. I watched the world change completely along the freeway, from tall buildings, to big classic houses, from malls, to nothing but trees, a few glimpses of the sea here and there, which meant we were getting closer. We also drove past the local college, you could see clothes hanging out the windows of the dorms, also glimpses of the mess inside of them through the windows. It was easy to imagine this place in the summer, people running on the sidewalks every morning, headphones pressed to their ears, walking their dogs, all of them unaware of the shift in my life, we shared a planet, but we did not live in the same world.
I could see the ocean clearly now, the only thing in sight for miles and miles, the waves crashed furiously against the shore, persistent. Green signs flying pass on top of me, giving me directions to find my way home, and yet, I felt lost. I kept staring out the window, all I could think of was everything that had happened, my boyfriend broke up and left, my friends left me, my dad left me, my mom betrayed me, and in a way, she left me too. . . now I was alone, and I was heading back to where it all once started. I guess that’s how life works, right? you star at one point, you may grow, move, progress, change, fly, run, whatever you want, any imaginable cliché you can think of, but in the end, it all comes down to the place where you started, everything comes back to that one place were life begun.
* * *
“We’re here.” Gram announced after six and a half hours of driving. I proclaimed war against traffic, making a mental note to curse the goddess of traffic later that night, I was too busy focusing on the house standing before me at the moment. Light raindrops fell on my face as I took it all in, the two story house where my grandparents lived and my father grew up, it was still painted white, though in urgent need of a retouch. It was obvious that the house was ancient, but it looked solid, almost defiant to anyone who dared think the contrary, it would easily handle an earthquake, or another six generations of children. I had spent many summers here before, we didn’t live far away from this house when we were here in Samson Valley. Glancing around I noticed that we had neighbors, years ago this place was the middle of nowhere, now, it was a residential zone, each house had a very generous amount of space between them, and in the backyard, there was nothing but woods, and farther still, far where I couldn’t see, there was the ocean. I picked a few of my bags and stepped inside the house.
“Your room’s on the second floor right to the left, there’s also a full bathroom right next to it, and there’s another room to the right, it’s yours if you want it, though it has nothing in it. And there’s another one filled with boxes and old stuff, it too, is yours if you want it.”
I turned to look at her, confused. “You’re giving me the whole second floor?”
“Yeah,” she said, placing the last of my bags on the length of the stairs.
“But. . . why?”
“Because I’m an old lady, and I can’t go up and down those stairs anymore, so the second floor is useless to me, think of it as a duplex.” That was hard to believe, since Gram was one of those ladies that, even if they were old, looked pretty solid – The woman carried most of my bags inside, for Christ sake. Don’t get me wrong, I tried to stop her, she insisted. Stubborn Lady.
“I don’t want my own apartment.”
“Well, use the other rooms if you want, don’t use them, I won’t even know.” She shrugged, “go ahead now, since your grandfather died this house had been too big, useless to me, the second floor is just there because it had nowhere else to go.” She gave me a pointed look and started heading towards the kitchen.
“Thank you.” I called after her.
“You’re welcome sweet pea, I will be placing your funds in the fridge, grab ‘em if you ever need them.” I rolled my eyes. The fridge, how original. I just hoped I never had to use that money.
It took me two trips to get all my stuff upstairs. Second door to the left, Gram had said. I stood at the top of the stairs, the narrow corridor looked less terrifying then it did when I was a kid, I used to believe there was a monster living behind each door, hunting, waiting for me, I would run through it, trying to avoid their reaching hands and claws, they all wanted a good grip on me, eat me, tear me up. I headed to my room, the old wooden door creaking when I turned the knob, walking directly into the monsters mouth.
The room was still painted the same light blue I remembered, though it was coming off now, I walked inside, the floorboards complaining loudly with each step I took. It was a big room, there was a queen bed on the corner, a desk near one of the windows, a bookshelf beside it, a vanity, and walk in closet, I pushed the sliding doors aside and stepped inside, there were hangers on either side of me, boxes filled with more of my stuff, and at the end there was this wooden thing, I assumed that it once  worked as a shoe rack, but right now I was sure that if I tried to place a single shoe there, it would come crumbling down. Mental note number two: must buy a new shoe rack. I went over to the bathroom, opening the door and gazing inside, compared to my new room, this was too small. A crowded space with a tiny hand washer, the toilet right beside it and right next to it a tiny shower. One would think that if your room has enough space to hold a vanity in it, the bathroom would at least have a decent bathtub. My hand traveled along the wall, searching for the light switch, after fumbling with my hand for a few seconds and not finding anything, I ran my gaze along the walls.
“Where are you?” I whispered to the missing light switch.
Mental note number three: do not come in here at night, not unless you bring a flashlight or you want to die, the monsters would eat me for sure.
I continued to explore my duplex, mocking the word in my head. Let’s see, first door to the right. (the only door to the right, actually) it was a room even bigger than mine, though most of the space was occupied by a bunch of crumbled old furniture, which included a bright pumpkin-orange couch, a strange box that I should probably be referring to as a television, though by doing so I would be insulting real TV’s, the only way that thing could be addressed as was trash, and a turntable equally as old –and these items were the good stuff. Only one more door to go; I went to the end of the corridor and placed myself in front of the door, I turned the knob and. . . nothing. It didn’t open. I tried again. Nope. I kneeled to take a peek through the keyhole, I used to love this things, the typical door knobs that only existed in movies, all of the doors in this house were like this one, except for the main one at the front. When modernization came along with thieves, so did a modern doorknob for the house. I always asked Gram for the keys, but she didn’t have any, she said they got lost somewhere around the third generation of people living here. There were no keys and no locked doors, which meant that this one was simply stuck. Through the hole I could see that the room was painted in white, dim light pouring through a single window right up front, I couldn’t see much aside from that, few bunch boxes on the corner, all of them labeled with dark marker, an old bed resting on the other corner. And then a memory came to me.

I was four years old, wearing a beautiful white lace dress my mom had bought me just the day before. I was spinning, spinning and spinning and I didn’t want to stop. I was flying, right up to the sun. I could feel my father’s hands around my waist as he carried me around the room, the morning sun poured through the window, we were both laughing and I got lost in his scent, in the perfection of the moment. I could feel bubbling laughter rising inside of me.
“Daddy, I’m Flying!” I yelled.
“You will always fly Evan, always.” he murmured to me, placing me gently on the ground.
“Is this what snowing feels like?” I had always dreamed of snow, and so did my dad.
“Exactly like this, you’ll see. One day, it will snow here.”

“But it doesn’t snow here, dad,” I wined. He kneeled before me and bended just a little so that we were at the same level.
“Oh, but it will, and I’ll be there with you, and we’ll watch it fall from the sky,” he held my gaze steady, like he wanted me to understand something important. But I was only a child.
I blinked. “Again!” I yelled. Dad laughed and stood up, lifting me up and making me fly once more.
                I truly believed I would fly away. That it would always last. That nothing could tears us apart, if only we keep spinning, keep spinning, spinning. . .until the snow came down.
Just another promise he broke.

I jerked away from the doorknob, falling to the floor right on my butt. It hurt, but not so much as the memory did. I didn’t even know I had it, buried deep down. That used to be my father’s room. I took a few cleansing breaths and stood up carefully, steadily. I headed back to my room and went directly to the bed. No covers, no pillow, no anything, it was all still inside the boxes in the closet, but I didn’t care. I began to feel the pull of the pain, the memories, they wanted me to acknowledge them, overwhelming me, I squeezed my eyes shut and send them to the back of my mind. I couldn’t deal with them, not now, not anytime soon. It had been a rough day; I would simply let myself get lost in sleep. Tomorrow I would go back to school, I had missed a few weeks of class back in San Diego. It was time to face the world again, to see kids that had once been my friends and fall back in line to a lifestyle I used to know so well. It amazed me how things could be so different and yet the same. Tears threatened to run free from my eyes, but I also pushed them aside. Tomorrow would be a new day and I was not going to carry my pain on my sleeve for everyone to see.
            “Close your eyes, take a deep breath, push it aside, and no one will notice.” Registered & Protected

Chapter 1 - Six Feet Under

Chapter 1
        Six Feet Under

I hate it. I thought, It’s just so. . .so. . . I hate it. Or maybe I didn’t, it’s just that it was. . . horrible. Really horrible. Completely hideous and yellow. A whole field of flowers. Yellow, hideous flowers: Buttercups. I officially decided I hated buttercups. I wondered who would want to take a picture of a whole buttercup field. Their meaning: ingratitude and childishness. So who on earth thought about putting it in a whole wall? Or maybe it wasn’t hideous, maybe it was just me and my necessity to hate, to blame, something to point at and say ‘Hey, I don’t like you, because you’re horrible!

But since I could not go around the world doing that- blaming others instead of myself- I would hate the wall instead. Ugly Buttercups.

I took a glance at my left, then at my right, and it was all the same. A big mass of black moving across the room, lurking shadows, dancing with one another. It had all been this way for weeks now. I had been wearing this exact same dress every single day, the black tights, the uncomfortable shoes, all of it. Black. Just black.

“Evan,” the familiar voice of my mother called from behind me, I turned to face her. “It’s time.”

We made our way outside. The wind felt cold against my skin, so strong I felt like someone had slapped me. Dark clouds hovered, humidity palpable, the grief everywhere, like a blanket over your shoulders that you just can’t seem to shake off and you so desperately want to, like a rope around your neck, getting tighter and tighter, yet not killing you, and you can’t make up your mind on what you want more, for it to loosen up or do the opposite and finish you. You just want it to stop.

We reached the graveyard. I glanced at the faces surrounding me, the ones that had been here day after day. We all carried the same weight, a cold and bitter winter inside our hearts, not knowing when would it go, or if it ever would. We were all here for the same reason, to watch the people we most loved be buried six feet under. And today it was my turn. One would think that when a tragedy like this falls upon a whole town it would bring us closer; sharing such a deep pain making us stand side by side. But it did just the opposite. Maybe, when there is such an incredible amount of sadness, all it can do is draw apart. It’s knowing things won’t ever –can’t ever be the same. And so we became strangers. After all, how many times can things fall before they finally shatter? I looked up at the sky, the furious clouds now completely covering the cementer. A promise of rain and lighting.

As I got closer to the casket, I could start to make out his features. Now soft, peaceful, lifeless. . . My father. The world began to slow down. I started to feel this pressure in my chest, like someone was squeezing my ribs and I couldn’t breathe. Like a piece of hard bread was being shoved down my throat and I couldn’t swallow it. I could feel the panic begin to rise inside of me. Deep breaths, I told myself, it’s the last one. And even though in a couple of more days I would be far away from here, from all of this, I knew it would last. This would accompany me wherever I went, deep under my skin; forever tattooed in me, a haunting ghost that would never fade away. I was gasping, the lump had grown bigger, I needed to breathe and as much as I tried I simply couldn’t. My world was coming to a stop.

We were even closer. My mind was racing and I started to see flashbacks of the different scenes that had been playing in this same scenario. The same caskets, different people in them, all of them just gone. Yesterday, Em, Clary and Mel where being buried here, in three identical caskets, together, It’s what they would have wanted, everyone said. They were best friends, it’s how it was supposed to be. They forgot someone was missing, we were four best friends, four, and three were now gone. They left me alone, how was I supposed to face this? We had been together all of our lives, they were my life. I didn’t know how to live without them. Who was I supposed to be now? The world they left behind was becoming impossible to bear: Clary’s mother falling to her knees in a desperate cry for her child. Em’s stood silent, unmoving, tears flowing down her cheeks like a never ending river, broken. Mel’s mom wasn’t there, she was still in the hospital. The doctors said it was most likely she wouldn’t make it. And as horrible as it sounds, I was terrified that she would. Who would tell her that her only child was gone? That. Her. Daughter. Was. Dead. They left me to deal with everything on my own. I should have been there with them. And the day before, the ones being buried had been my neighbor and his wife, his pregnant wife.

And so on and on, a big part of the community now lay here, everyone that had been in that bus. Bus number 2. Crashed. No survivors. They were all stuck here in this infinite sleep. I should have been with them when it happened, I shouldn’t be here. I should be with my dad, with my friends. . . I should. . . I should.

We took a seat in the chairs that had been arranged under a tent to cover us from the weather. Someone was at the front, a man I couldn’t recognize, though I believed he worked with my dad. He was talking about what a great man he had been, what an amazing father he used to be, what an excellent friend he was, how brave he was. . .was, how, had, was, was, was. . . he will never be again. I looked at my father again, at his face. He would never open his eyes too look at me, to give me that secret look that meant I could go to the party, but that I shouldn’t tell mom or we would both get in trouble. His eyes would never show any emotion, the purse of his lips when he was upset, the turn of his brow, the beginning of a smile. That face would never move its lips to whisper I love you. That was not my father. My father had a beating heart, a beaming soul. That was just a corpse. No one and nothing was going to bring him back. My world stopped.

My mother, who was sitting next to me, patted my back. “Let’s go,” she said, motioning for me to go up front and say a few kind words. I stood up mechanically, my legs moving without my consent. But as I got closer I started to regain control over me, the lump in my throat reappearing, this time completely impossible to swallow. What was I supposed to say? Whatever nice words inside of me, whatever feelings I had left. . . It did not matter. Not anymore. He. Was. Gone. He was never coming back. What was the point in saying thing’s people already knew? Thing’s that should have been said while he was alive and at his face, when his heart was still beating in his chest. Not now that it was too late for him to hear. I stopped walking. My mother noticed and turned to look at me “What’s wrong?” she asked.

Wrong question. What wasn’t wrong?

“No,” I whispered, my throat raw. I took step back “No.” the word came out louder this time, clearer. I couldn’t take it anymore. I ran.

“EVAN!” my mother yelled after me.

“NO!” I shouted. To whom, I was not sure. My mom. My dad. Everyone. The world. I ran even faster, leaving my shoes somewhere along the way.

The house wasn’t so far away, so I just kept moving. Never gazing back, never stopping, just like time, it only goes and goes. Time. Time that left my dad behind.

While I ran, I felt as if I could escape everything. Leave it all behind, like a bad dream that could be easily brushed off in the morning. Like a sweater I could take off when summer time came; like a memory I could bury deep inside me. . . but those always came back.

I was running out of breath, but as soon as the house was in sight I commanded my legs to keep moving. I held on to the illusion that my dad was still inside, waiting for me, his chest rising with every breath he took, with a beating heart. It began to pour, the rain letting itself fall upon me with all its force, trying to stop me. I couldn’t let it. I ran faster.

“Dad!” I yelled, as I hurried up inside. “Dad!?” I was completely soaked, dripping and shaking badly. I didn’t know if it was because of the weather or the blend of emotions rattling inside me “Dad. . .?” It came out as a whisper, my strength drained. I went up to my room, stopping in the center of it, not knowing what to do. The realization that no one would answer me, not now, not ever, hit me. Suddenly my own weight was too much, and my legs gave in. I fell to my knees. There was nothing else to do. So I just curled myself into a small ball and allowed myself to fall into unconsciousness. The last thing I heard was the rain furiously falling against the house, making sure I could hear every single drop of water. banging on the rooftop, deep down to my core.


I opened my eyes and saw that I was in my bed, the covers thrown over me. I got up and noticed I still had the black dress on. I headed over to my closet and pulled out some pants and an oversized sweater. Once I changed I didn’t even bother to glance at myself in the mirror as I made my way down to the kitchen where I found my grandmother sitting at the island with a cup of coffee in her hands. She looked at me the moment she heard me coming towards her.

“Hello sweetie,” she said, giving me a small smile.

“Hi Gram,” I said, I went to take a seat on the high chairs opposite her. We sat there for a moment in awkward silence. I took a deep breath and began, “I’m so sorry-“

“Sh. . .” she said, placing one of her long fingers over my mouth “hush now, it’s fine, everything’s ok, nobody will judge or ask, I promise.” She gave me a reassuring smile.

“Thank you.” Was all I could say, infinitely grateful.

Silence fell over us again. After a moment Gram readjusted herself in her seat and cleared her throat “You do know we leave next week, right?” she asked.

Another deep breath “Yeah,”

“Have you started packing yet?”

“No. . . do you know what mom’s going to do with dad’s stuff?”

“No, but I do know that everything is still in his room and that you can take with you whatever you want. You just have to get it before we go.”

“Okay.” I stepped away from the island and went back to my bedroom. The walls were painted a faded light purple, the color I chose when I was eleven years old. I had a lot of pictures all over the place, memories, adventures, moments, my life. . . or what it used to be. My gaze traveled across every inch of it. I felt lost, what the hell was I supposed to pack? Nothing seemed worth keeping anymore. Would I bring the shattered pieces of my heart? Those didn’t need boxes. Would I bring the pictures on the wall, the memories, the light purple walls? That wasn’t real anymore, none of it was. How was I supposed to keep the memories alive? Prove that it was all real when there was no one around me to give me reassurance? It hurt too much to even think about it. And I was too old to keep light purple walls.

I made my way to my parent’s bedroom and opened my dad’s side of the closet. I took out his favorite jacket and placed it over me. It was a deep brown leather jacket. It seemed black, but when you looked closely, you could see that it was dark brown. It was the reason it was my dad’s favorite.

“Knowing the true color of things is an art, kiddo. One we should all practice more often,” he would say when I asked why he liked it so much. “That and the fact that it makes me look younger.” and then a wink.

I breathed in the scent of it. It smelled like that cheap French perfume with the weird name I could not read, much less pronounce. There was a box with twenty-five more in the basement, apparently in the seventies it was the perfume, so dad thought it would be cool to buy a hundred of them. To make sure it lasted for the rest of his life, he would say.

“Dad, that thing is way old. I bet they don’t even make it anymore.” I would argue.

“That’s why it’s so special,” he would say “It’s. . . how do you kids call it this days, retro? Vintage?” and I would laugh at my dad’s attempt to sound cool.

“Never mind dad, you’re just a vintage man.” and then he would laugh.

It smells so much like him. It was unfair. I just lost him, and I would be moving away, leaving all his stuff behind, things that were once a part of him. It felt like I was being forced to forget about him, to leave him behind. What if I forgot? What would happened when I couldn’t tell if all of this had actually happened?. . . My chest ached, and I realized that I would be bringing this pain, this hurt, all the way, until the very end. Registered & Protected