Letter One

-

"Ai."

I hear my name so naturally I turn around and there's Elizabeth—my older sister—staring at me the way she always stares at me. Like I'm wasted space. I don't think she means to, I just think that's the way she looks at people she's too comfortable around. But really that's just the theory I use to make myself feel better.

This is where I'm supposed to say, "Yes?" Or, because she's my sister, I guess I could say "What." And have a little attitude when I say it. Like—a: you're bothering me because we're related, type of tone. But instead of taking any kind of initiative, I kind of just stand there staring at her all stupid. Because this is how I deal with Elizabeth.

And to this she becomes even more irritated with me …well, existing. Like usual. But, I got to hand it to her. I mean, for the first forty-five minutes of my arrival, she'd tried to be as sweet and polite as possible—which, for her, isn't exactly sweet more than it is less sour. But like I said, I'm alive, so naturally, she's annoyed. I'm pretty sure I invented that emotion the day I was born.

"If you're not gonna help then move." She snaps before pushing past me, shoving me to the left as she does. Yes. Despite what you may have thought about my family—they cuss. I know you were convinced, Nana, that the people in my family were perfect—but they're not. Really if anything I'm proof of that.

"Elizabeth Millard Malloy do notpush your sister aside like that."

Elizabeth stops, and in a cringe because she's just been called by her full name; and with box in hand she slowly turns to meet the angry eyes of Sage. My older sister.

"Why not? she wouldn't move—so I made her." Elizabeth's tone is sharp as she shifts the box she's carrying to ride on her hip. And that's when I see the label of said box. It says "Winter Sweaters." Yes-Nana-yes it's that box!! Of course Elizabeth doesn't know that "Winter Sweaters," is code for—well you know. I won't go into detail because this is a letter that passes many hands before it gets to you. I mean, people may not read this—but I don't know that for sure so I'll just play it safe and not…mention what's…in the…

Moving on:

"What was that..." By this time Sage cannot believe Elizabeth has had to audacity to question her in any way. …Which I'm kind of surprised by because Elizabeth does this sort of thing to people all day long.

"Yeah, you heard me. I will push whomever I damn well please. Unless you can give me a good reason why not to." Oh Elizabeth is a bold bold girl. And now I'm kind of fearing for the safety of my box, so slowly—ever so slowly—I start edging towards Elizabeth.

"Why? Why ask why?" Sage quickly snaps back—and right when she does, I'm thinking Try Bud Dry. Remember that old commercial? Where the jingle goes Why ask Why? Try Bud Dry? You probably remember it because you're older than me so yeah. I was thinking that. But let's not forget about the edging—I'm still doing that too. Oh, and the praying—that I've just begun, so don't hurt yourself trying to remember where I mentioned it before.

The praying I've begun is for Elizabeth—not so much for her but for her balance. I want her to not lose it so that she doesn't drop my box. Because it looks like Sage and Elizabeth are going to go at it again. Those two are always fighting; I suppose with Sage being the oldest she feels it is her duty to always fix whatever's wrong with any of us. And since (in Sage's mind) Elizabeth is always "broken," they are always at each others throats about how Sage might go about "mending" Elizabeth's er…brokenness. But that always leads to the fighting. So basically Sage's ideal Elizabeth has yet to take any type of physical form.

Okay, let me stop in the middle of the "family drama speech" to go over something that you may or may not have noticed. Our names are kind of strange. Well not so much Elizabeth's. She lucked out with finding a theme-fitting name that happened to be normal too.

…Okay, okay, now you're probably wondering—what the hell am I talking about. Yes, I cuss too. But not a lot I know how you don't like swearing—especially from girls. So I'll try and censor myself when I remember, okay? In that aspect you remind me of my mother—you know that?

But anyway, our names. I'll go over this briefly because really, you could write a paper about the origins and decision-making time my parents went into naming us. Sometimes I'm sure, that my parents had children, not because they wanted babies so much as they wanted to name some.

With that being said…

All of our names have "purposes," and "themes." And they all stem from different cultural backgrounds…

Yeah, so that's pretty much concludes my explanation about the name thing. I'm so not feeling writing about it anymore. It's seriously like doing homework. Maybe later, but it'd probably put you to sleep anyway. I nearly did when my parents explained it to me. And totally fell asleep when they re-explained to me years after. For the sixteen years I've been alive I've heard the name dissertation maybe four to six times. Our parents really didn't want us to forget about the importance of our names. Either that or they wanted us to realize how cool they thought they were for naming us like they had. Sadly, most parents seem to forget the difference between cool and uncool when they become parents.

Okay back to the matter at hand. My box being treated with no respect by Elizabeth as she and Sage are about to go at it—again. Still don't remember? Seriously Nana that name explanation was so brief. Are you too lazy to just go up and read a paragraph back? Lol. Joke. Nana, I'm joking.

Okay, so quick recap: Elizabeth pushes me, Sage doesn't like that. Elizabeth says mean things, Sage really doesn't like that, and my box is in peril. Remember now? So that's where we left off:

Sage stops to take in a deep breath before finally resolving the situation with, "You know what Elizabeth just drop it."

She means that figuratively Elizabeth, fig-ur-ra-tive-ly. Dear god my box my box.

To this Elizabeth continues to poke poke poke at Sage's pristine-like demeanor. As she is obviously an expert and making Sage go nuts. Really, she should give a lecture on how it's properly done.

"Why." Elizabeth prods, "Why should I drop it? You started it."

"Are you serious?" Sage almost snorts at the seemingly absurd path the conversation is now taking.

Please guys just give me my box.

And, Elizabeth does not stop with the prodding. If fact, she simplifies her question to a never-ceasing loop of: "Why Sage, Why?" In a very sarcastic tone of voice.

"Why Sage why? Why Sage why? Why Sage why?" Yes, just like that. It's as annoying as This is the Song that Never Ends.

Now I've begun freaking out. My hands are over my mouth and I'm planning on how I'm going to take the box away from Elizabeth:

Should I just take it? Hm, if I do that I'd most certainly have to run. For dear life.

Should I be formal about it? Maybe a bit theatrical? How would that go? Maybe I could say…uh…Please, let me have it…um…Milady. I shall take it betwixed my own…burden so that yours is…uh…given fancy to fly! …Wow. Yeah, can't say that either. I'd have to rock a British accent to pull that off—and let me just tell you—no.

Okay, how about I go the sister route and just be all, "Hey freakin brat gimmie or else!" Pffft. Yeah, like I'm going to even attempt something along those lines.

But as I digress—I do that a lot, anyhow arguments usually go on in this family with or without my quiet panicking.

"Elizabeth Millard!" Sage counters raising her voice a notch. Which is something only Elizabeth can get her to do. And the expression on her tilted, tight-lipped face reads,

Why? Quit asking obvious questions, stupid. Because Ai's a freak with no mental stability, that's why.

Okay, I added that last part—but I wouldn't be surprised is she was thinking that in the back of her mind.

To this Elizabeth stops—well, acting toddler-ish—(for just a second) and she juts forward, her neck slightly jutting farther than her torso and the look on her face reads,

Aaaannd? Say WHY exactly (as in out loud), or I'm not going to stop. You stupid monkey butt face.

Yes. I truly believe she's thinking that last part because—it's Elizabeth. She's twenty-three, but really, she's three.

Exasperated by the momentum of the argument (if you could truly still call it that), Sage throws her hands up in the air and waves them all around like she just don't cay-yuh—Sorry. That last part was me again. It's a reflex.

"I'm through dealing with you Elizabeth." And with that Sage turns in all her noble stewing and heads back out to the U-haul truck to finish getting my things.

I don't know why she even rented a U-haul because I only brought about ten boxes. Speaking of boxes—I'm still staring at Elizabeth's hands like she's holding a bomb ten seconds from going off.

"Whatever." Elizabeth mumbles before turning back to me—totally catching me staring at her, so now she's staring at me staring—like I'm the bane of our family. So I move my stare to my shoes. Lots of staring going on here.

"Here." She brutally swings the box into my chest, to which my reply is, "Ouf!" But I end up taking it, gladly.

"Freakin help or move outta the traffic zone. You're in the way here." She proclaims before retreating back to the U-haul. "Frankly I couldn't care less if you go or stay."

And I'm left standing in the middle of the room, clutching onto the corners of my box thinking—really Elizabeth, I knew that, already.

---

I've settled into a routine here, for the most part. And now the reality of it all is seeping into my brain. Mental reflection—the downfall to quiet moments, I say.

The truth is that I'm already missing Arizona. Well, not the state, or even the place. More like the people. Brenda, Jaclyn, Hanna—believe it or not—Dr. Gresham and of course you Nana. Of course, I miss you the most…

Okay, okay enough. Let me stop before I get all gooey with the mushiness. You know how I hate mushiness.

Yes I do. Yes I do quit shaking your head like you know me. (You are, aren't you?)

See you always had that wrong about my personality—and that one time I know you're going to bring up doesn't count. I had something in my eye. And though I'm using a blue pen now, that doesn't mean it's because I'm feeling "blue." Kay. It's because I can't find the black one I was using before. So don't even start.

Again, I digress. Right now, I'm staring at the walls of my new prison cell. Or "pre-selected bedroom" might be a nicer way to put it. Sage went ahead and had all my stuff brought over from my old room to this new one. Without consulting me on the matter. She wanted it to be a Surprise. All "Yay!" And stuff. But, no yaying was actually had. Because now old me and new me are sitting side by side…in this room…in box-form.

So here I am…here I've been. Looking at the old me and the new me in boxes—and also the walls when my eyes get sore from staring at all the brown boxes. Isn't that exciting? Okay now cue the happy surprised reaction. Yay.

---

"No Elizabeth." Rustle rustle. "Oh my gosh Elizabeth—because I said so." Rustle rustle.

I'm standing in the hallway because I'm too afraid to make myself known to Sage's eyes. Because she's talking to Elizabeth I'm assuming—on the phone. Because it's pretty late and I only hear one voice talking. Either that or Elizabeth has finally driven Sage into talking to herself. Which, let's be honest I wouldn't be surprised by. And also I'm hiding because Sage said, clear as day, "Freaking gosh." And that's…not a sign of a Happy Sage.

"Because." Sharp slap on the surface of something hard. "Forget it Elizabeth. Elizabeth listen. Listen! For freaking goodness sake LISTEN!"

Uh huh. That's not good either.

This is where I start edging backwards—to retreat back into my boudoir (that's fancy for bedroom). I move slowly because I keep slipping on the tiled ceramic floor. It's so slippery that walking in socks is impossible. Walking fast—or normal that is. It's a pain to wear socks because I have to be very aware of my leg muscles, so that they don't give out from under me. I guess I could do what Sage does and wear slippers everywhere (instead of being bare-foot). Or I could be Elizabeth and—ha! I can't even finish that sentence.

"Look." Sage's voice is substantially lower this time. "I can't. Because…Ai…" mumble mumble mumble.

Wait! Because Ai—what?

Rushing back to at least catch the tail-end of the conversation, I slip and fall on my rear. Hard.

But even though the pain is seething into my very soul, I crawl—like a soldier in war time does—on my forearms, sliding my belly across the floor, until finally I've reached the corner. And I go to turn it, or just stick my head slightly out to—you know—hear better, when my nose runs into a pair of pink bunny slippers.

…Oh awkward. Awkward awkward awkward.

"…A-Ai? Are you okay? What are you doing?"

"Uh…um." I say—to the slippers. "Sorry." And that pretty much sums up my explanation folks. Have a good night!

I'm still lying on my belly but at least now I'm trying to look up at Sage's face instead of focusing on the bunnies on her slippers. White bunnies with pink button-noses that match the pink color of her slippers. And they have three whiskers on either side of their little pink noses, and a little slit for a mouth.

Okay so maybe I'm still looking at the slippers.

"Here Ai." Sage's slippers crinkle as she squats to the ground. "Let me help you up."

I don't need help up. What I need actually is for her to call Elizabeth back and repeat that last bit of the conversation so I can hear it this time. But, my stomach is kind of cold from being the floor. So, I guess I'll take her hand.

Sage hoists me up as though I weigh nothing. Either that or she's freakishly strong. "You okay? Something wrong?"

"Uh. Uh-hm." I nod. "I mean no—nothing's wrong." Nodding was bad there. "I was…just…checking on…" Quick what was I checking on! Uh…um...uh… "The trash! To see if it's ready!! I mean," I say dropping my overly excited tone (over trash), "To see if it needs to be taken out." Ha! Ha. Ha… Yes. That works.

"Oh." Sage smiles—non-annoyed—and thrusts a black blurring blob into my chest. "I was about to take it out."

Oh. Great save Ai. Really way to go. "So, okay—I'll take it out. If you want." Please say no I got it. Please say no I got it. Please say no I got it…

"Sure."

Damn!

"Okay," I smile back—annoyed. "Let…me, then." And I take the bag from her outstretched hand and sheepishly make my way towards the backyard.

"Ai."

I spin around, which is super easy—and kind of fun—on the tiled floor. "Yeah?"

Sage hesitates, then points towards the hall that I was just crawling through. "The waste bin is…that way, the garage."

Heh. Hehheh..heh. I've been here for almost a week and a half and I've never taken out the trash before—this is obvious, no? But what's sad(der) is that I've never even washed a dish, swept a floor or um…folded a shirt before, either. Sage has been nice enough to take me in and here I've done nothing. I suck.

As I make my way down the hall (to the garage) I pause and spin again. Because it's fun—and also to catch Sage before she heads off to bed.

"Sage?" I call out as she heads towards her room.

"Hm?" She pauses, her hand on the door knob.

"Let's make taking out the trash—my uh…permanent job." Gotta start somewhere, right?

To this Sage—almost looks shocked and I know she wants to protest by the way her lips have formed into a half-smile. But instead she shakes her head and laughs to herself. "Sure, sounds…fine by me."

I give one firm nod and spin back around (weeee!) and go off to take out the trash. And I have to admit, I'm smiling—just a little.

Smile gone. Smile all gone. Being in the garage for thirty minutes and not finding a "waste bin," does that to you. And I'm in my socks so my feet are really really cold. Luckily I'm wearing sweats and a long-sleeved shirt so the rest of my body is okay. But still—feet cold. Toes…frost bitten. Maybe not really but they feel like it.

After throwing some miscellaneous garage-junk around—before quickly putting them back (come on its Sage's stuff. She'd so know if a picture frame was sitting in a different spot or a pencil wasn't pointing northeast like she left it.) She's very Monica from Friends. By the way—love that show. But you already know that Nana as I quote it all the time. It's the best show ever. Let me tell you. But anyway, after putting all of the things I threw around in anger "exactly how I found them," I decide to venture out onto the driveway. Because maybe she meant in front or on the side of the garage—not actually inside of the garage.

So as soon as I open the side-door my skin is hit by the sting of cold night air. And I'm not wearing a bra—or remember, shoes. So now more than just my toes…seem frost bitten. To be frank, I could cut glass with um…you know. Need I say more? I know your blushing now but we're both girls so I can tell you. I'm sure you know how cold weather affects the upper region of a braless torso. I'm being technical here, for your sake.

I soon find that the "waste bins," are sitting on the edge of the driveway. Yes, there are three of them. Three. One brown, one black and one green. Now I've never seen so many trashcans before in my life. Are all of these used or are the other two just part of a decorating set? Again it's Sage and just like Monica (from Friends: I reinstate: the best show ever), she'd so go waste money on something as frivolous as unused trashcans—if they are all part of a matching set.

And because I'm not used to having to choose a trashcan—I'm at a complete loss. Is there a trick to figuring out which one's trash? Am I just stupid? (Don't answer that). Maybe there's a picture or…something on the trash cans that would indicate where actual trash goes. But it's pretty dark and the outside light is pretty not bright (as in dim) so it's really really hard to read or see pictures on anything. Let alone a black plastic trash can.

…I could lift the lids and look inside of them? But what if one of them has something really gross in it? Oh man—what if one's just for the City of Sanitation to dump their trash in. You know—one to those trucks that drives around and scoops dead things off the road. What if…in one of these bins…there is nothing but a pile…of dead…rotting…smushed animals. Smushed rotting zombie animals that come alive at night and feed off of the flesh of braless shoeless girls…what if—

"It's the black one."

"AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!" I scream like a girl (as I am one) at the sound of a strange voice behind me. "Zombie road kill!!"

"…What?"

Did I…just…say that aloud. I didn't right. I didn't…right.

I slowly spin around (and it's not fun to do on concrete) to see a taller shadowed figure standing just behind me. A taller male shadowed figure standing behind me. So, of course, I scream again.

"AAAAAHHHHH!!!"

This is where the shadow keels over, shielding his ears until I come back to my senses. Which I eventually do come back to. And when I do I'm suddenly wishing the city had built a hole conveniently to my left—for me to uh…jump…in…to.

"What the hell is your problem?!" The shadow steps into the light, his hands now semi-flailing around angrily—I believe at me. "It's almost ten o'clock and you cannot scream like that here." Here as in, on the rich side of town. "People take screaming very literally. Someone could be calling the police right now. And because of where we are—" Again I say, on the rich side of town. "—the cops would be here in less then ten minutes!"

After his semi-heated speech made pointed by his very wide gestures, I nod, open mouthed and finally say, "Who are you?"

To this, he sighs and shakes his head. "You don't ask 'who are you,' to someone like that. It's rude." He points past me, and I follow his arm to see what it is he's…um showing me. A zombie?

"It's the black one." He reaffirms in a sharper (irritated) tone.

Oh. Which waste bin. The black one's for trash. Heh. Okay. Yeah.

"I…um…okay." I respond accordingly and also robotically to this new information. Taking very calculated steps: lift lid: put trash in: drop lid: turn back to stranger: nod. Beep-boop-beep-beep.

"Are you new here? What are you doing working this late without shoes on?"

Huh?

I don't answer, so he proceeds with the weird questioning. "Are you a live in?"

Wha?

"And does your employer appreciate you coming out in public without a bra on? And obviously so?"

Eeeek!

I cover my chest and instead of responding to his three questions with what else, "Huh," Wha?" "And Eeek!" I flee into the garage, slam the side-door behind me and dash into the house.

The hallway is dark now, and I've forgotten about the floor. So as soon after I'm in the hall—I'm sliding (instead of scurrying) through it. And to stop myself from sailing the way I am, I claw at the air which in turn, makes me loose my balance. So I fall.

Hard. And, truth be told Nana, I hurt my boobs in the process. That was…so embarrassing.

I turn over so that I'm lying on my back. And just stare up at the ceiling. So so very…embarrassing.

"Ai?"

I can't believe…he…saw my…

"Ai?"

So…embarrassing.

And as Sage continued to tap her foot at my waist—with her bunny slipper—I continued to stare up at the ceiling. Just give me a few more minutes…to get over…what just happened.

Why couldn't there have been zombie road kill instead?


A/N (edit):

7/7/6 Okay I'm going through revamps because I really really want to. I had to edit this first chapter. It was bothering me somehow. I dunno why. I'll get back to WW now. And a super thank you to Julia D. Castwyth, your guilty pleasure, Naomi Shemer, Kitsune Luver, Hell's first Icicle, Mechanical Dolls, strawberry-toast, Chocolate Ninj4, Plinky and Falconer Aysel for reviewing this first chapter!

Sorry for the false update alarm, and most of all Thank you for reading and reviewing!

A/N (Original)

As indicated in my account settings I have created a new (and the last new posting/updating) story. As in: I promise I won't post anymore new stories after this one. To all the people who are so mad that I did. flinches

But I really I wanted to start a less-racy romantic story. And this one has been on my mind for two straight weeks. So...please forigve me! falls to knees and pleads endlessly

And now I will be working on Wrong Way--and possibly later Pina Coladas, for MD and Krista. XD

..and,.if you would be so kind...reviews would be just awesome.