Author: Layne McCray PM
Money doesn't exist in Centa's world. There are strict rules that you have to follow, and the fact that Centa's father is a drunkard doesn't help either. After a devastating fire that destroys everything, Centa must find a way to keep her family alive.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Romance - Chapters: 8 - Words: 36,748 - Reviews: 18 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 03-16-12 - Published: 12-28-11 - id: 2983340
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I stare at the front door, pondering about numerous events in my life. My father should've gotten home a while ago; I don't know why it's taking him so long. Perhaps there's a hold up somewhere. Or he can't find the specific food I told him to. I notice I small slip of paper on our rustic dining table and walk towards it. My father's grocery list. I groan, exasperated. This isn't the first time this happened.
"Where is he?" I murmur under my breath, crumpling the slip of paper.
Suddenly, the front door flies open and there's my father, drunk, carrying an armful of alcohol. Anger bubbles inside of me, but I can't let it show, otherwise he might punish me.
"Off to bed father!" I say in the happiest tone I can muster while grabbing his arm, and pulling him up our stairs. I guide him to his bed and as soon as I let go, he falls onto the bed, face-first, and begins to snore loudly. I cover him up as best as I can and turn around to leave the room. But I stop when I see a familiar thin face covered with freckles. I smile nervously.
"Hi Nickie," I start to say. This is the fourth time he's caught father like this. "Isn't it past your bedtime?" I finish, ruffling his wavy brown hair.
"Is father sick again?" he asks, perplexed.
"No," I can't figure out what to say. "He's just... tired that's all."
"Oh," says Nickie. I know that deep down, my little brother doesn't believe me but he doesn't ask any more questions. He trots of to his room and closes his door and I walk quietly to my own and collapse on my bed. A mixture of anger and fear floods through me as I look at the bottle of alcohol that I still clutch in my hand; Nickie saw it. Cursing under my breath, I get up and place the bottle firmly against my bedside table.
"Centa?" says a small voice behind me. I spin around and yell "WHAT?" as loud as I dare. Nickie's looking like I just slapped him. I can see the tears starting to flow down his cheek and kneel down to embrace him.
"Sorry Nickie," I say sincerely. I feel so guilty it's not even funny." Why are you out of bed?" I ask.
"I forgot to say goodnight," he whispers in my ear. I don't know why but I start sobbing into his shoulder. Whenever my little brother does things like this, you know, like being the innocent child that he is, I get emotional. At least I know that there's some innocence in this world. Whenever I have these moments I reflect on the past 15 years of my life. I get flashbacks of my mother dying of some unknown illness with my father weeping by her side, Nickie suffering with pneumonia while I nurse him and the day my father decided to start drinking. The memory I always remember is when I was around 11. I was sitting by our fireplace with the 5 year old Nickie climbing on my lap. My mother was there too. Her long brown curls covered the left side of her face while she smiled. In the past, this was "story time". Mother would always tell us stories about how our world changed over time. The story on that night was: Money.
To you money is essential. Without it you starve. With it you can live and can possibly have a luxurious life. We don't have money in our world. This might come as a great shock to you, but it's true. You might be asking yourself: How do they live? Well...we can barely make a living. We only have several large cans of food every week. How do we get them? Every Sunday the Head of each family is allowed to go to the Store to get one thing for each member of their family. Unfortunately, they only provide cans there. How do they get cans there in the first place? The truth is, no one knows. We all come up with predictions, but we're not sure if they are right or not.
You might have noticed, but all of our names relate to money. My name is Centa. My little brother's name is actually Nickel, but everyone calls him Nickie. My father's name is Bill and our mother's name was Dolla. My mother wanted this so that we will never forget about money. Heck...she even changed her own name for the sake of it.
Back to the present, I come to my senses and wipe my face with my sleeve.
" You okay?" says Nickie. His face is filled with worry. I nod my head and get up slowly. I have to stop losing control like this,I think to myself. Nickie stares at me for a few seconds.
"Goodnight Centa." says Nickie. He seemed satisfied enough. He walks to my bedroom door to leave. Suddenly out of nowhere, I hear a rough, resounding sound.
Someone is knocking our door.
Nickie freezes in mid-stride and his eyes dart up to mine for a few moments, then I shuffle down the stairs to the front door, Nickie right at my heels. I open the door slowly, unsure of who, or what to expect.
"Who's there?" I whisper.
"I don't know," says a familiar but hoarse voice outside. I sag my shoulders in relief. I open the door completely and I see Kevin standing at the door.
"Hello, I came to see Miss Kendrick-" Kevin jokes sarcastically. I cut him off with a scream that I couldn't hold back. His clothes are ripped and blood soaked and, well, I'm no doctor but I think that his nose is broken. His bright blond hair looks like it's been attacked by an animal, well it always does, but this time it's different, and he looks as pale as a sheet of paper.
"What happened?" I cry. I know that Kevin is trying to act humorous and strong for my sake but he can't fool me. I know him like the back of my hand.
"Attacked...n-not feeling well," he stammers clutching his stomach and completely giving up on the "act strong and funny" thing. Nickie runs to Kevin's side and we guide him to our patched couch and he sits down, taking deep quivering breaths to steady himself.
When I first met Kevin, we were 7 years old. I was helping my mother gather strawberries. Pretty much 75% of the strawberries went into my mouth but I got a decent amount anyways.
"Ahem," said a voice. I looked up immediately to see a boy, around my age with bright blond hair, staring at me.
"You want some?" he asked, offering me a large purple fruit.
"Why should I trust you?" I said cautiously. My mother always told me to never trust strangers, so I had to be careful.
"Why should I trust you?" he mimicked in a high-pitched voice, doing some kind of Scottish dance. The next thing I knew, I was literally in my basket of strawberries laughing my head off. He helps me get up, laughing too. I decided to trust him. I took an enormous bite out of that purple fruit and immediately a surprising, but pleasant taste flooded my taste buds.
"My name's Cen-"
"I know what your name is" the boy smiled warmly. "Your name's Centa Kendrick,"
"What's your name?" I said in between mouthfuls of the fruit. I ignored the fact that Kevin might've been stalking me.
"Kevin," he answered.
"What's your last name?" I pursued.
"I don't have one," he muttered, almost shamefully. I blinked several times trying to take that in. "I don't have a family," he whispered so quietly that I could barely hear him. " I found that fruit tree a while ago and I've been living on it for a while," concluded Kevin. He looked like he was about to cry so I changed the subject.
"You know that creek with the broken bridge?" I asked. Kevin nodded avoiding my eyes.
"I live right by it, the house with the big willow tree beside it," I concluded.
I suddenly heard my mother's frantic voice calling me.
"Don't hesitate to come by for a visit." I called while running full speed towards my mother, my long hair flying everywhere. At that moment I knew that Kevin and I would be friends for a long time.
Kevin places his shaky hand on mine.
"Centa...the cow-" Kevin faints abruptly with his head resting on my shoulder. Two days ago, Kevin found a milk cow and has tried many times to tame it but I guess that something went terribly wrong today. I specifically told him that it was dangerous; now look at what's happened to him. Nickie and I stare in silence at Kevin, then quietly, Nickie leaves the living room and comes back with a large bowl of water and a clean towel.
"We'd better clean him up a bit...we don't want father to think that we've brought a criminal into the house." explains Nickie. Nickie grabs the towel and washes some of the blood off Kevin's face while I attend to Kevin's wounds the best I can. We work for around 10 minutes until I freeze in my tracks.
"What?" asks Nickie.
I could not hear snoring anymore.
I suddenly realize that there was a shadow bearing upon us. I look up and there was our father looking as angry as ever.