My sister and I have been best friends for as long as I can remember. My mom left us just after I was born, so she played the role as my mother while I was young. I also have a brother, Elijah, but he's never around much. He's usually out doing drugs and stuff like that. My dad is a good parent and everything, it's just that he works the night shift, and I don't see him much. He makes good money though…we live in a nice three bedroom, two bath house in a pretty good neighborhood that settled smack dab in the middle of Charleston, North Carolina.

"Nadine!" My sister Noelle calls from the kitchen. "Yeah?" I yell back, my eyes still glued to the TV. Full House is on. "Your dinner's ready, whenever you want it." I sigh and turn off the TV. I stand up and drag myself into the kitchen. On the counter sits a bowl full of macaroni and a glass of apple juice. "Thanks," I say, shoving a spoonful into my mouth. Noelle doesn't say anything and retreats to the bedroom we share.

After I finish, I rinse my bowl and put it in the dishwasher. I glance at the clock. Full House is over. I return to the living room to get my backpack, then head for our room. I stop outside the door, because I can hear Noelle mumbling something. "Iddle, giddle, widdle, iddle giddle widdle…" She repeats it over and over. Iddle, giddle, widdle? What on Earth…? I hear her let out a long sigh and drop something. I wait a couple minutes. Silence. I then decide to go in.

I turn the doorknob and step inside our room. Everything is in place. Two twin-sized beds on opposite sides of the room, a desk covered with paper and pencils, and a bookshelf topped with vanilla and berry scented candles. The soft, cool, pale-blue carpet feels good under my feet. Like I said everything is in place…except for the fact that Noelle is no where in sight. "Noelle?" I say softy, setting down my backpack. "Noelle?" No response. I find her lying on the floor between our beds. No wonder I couldn't see her. "Noelle?" I say gently, bending down. "Are you okay?" She rolls over and looks at me, a blank expression on her face. "Iddle, giddle, widdle?" I look at her as if she's lost her mind. Suddenly though, she snaps back to reality. Her face regains color and her sanity is back too. "Oh, I'm just tired." I nod and help her up onto her bed, then sit down next to her. She rests her head on my shoulder and I gently stroke her hair. "Any word from Elijah?" I ask, breaking the silence. "Nope," she replies, lifting her head. "Here," I say, standing up and retrieving my backpack. "I'll go study in the living room so you can get some sleep." She doesn't protest. I leave the room and turn out the light. What's wrong with her?

Once in the living room, I pull out my Spanish book. Learning a second language is a lot more complicated than I thought it'd be. I do know a couple things though, like clothing items and food. I can even put words together. Queso barato. Inexpensive cheese. Please hold your applause.

I study until about 10:00 or so. Just as I'm about to call it a night, I hear someone unlocking the front door. I freeze. Elijah. He's home pretty early. I hear the door open. He's not alone. I hear a girl's voice ask him, "Are you sure nobody's home?" Elijah laughs and replies, "Nobody important." I stare at the entrance to the living room, expecting to see him at any moment. He has to come through here to get to his room, where there is a 99.9 chance he is going. Sure enough, he steps into the living room, followed by a girl maybe a year or two younger than him. She's wearing huge black cargo pants and a tight halter top. Her sneakers are a pair of ratty green Converse. Her hair, dyed obviously, is hanging loosely just below her chest. She gives me a shy smile. "Not a word to Dad," threatens Elijah, sending a glare my way. "Not a word," I say casually, overlooking him. He's wearing over-sized baggy pants and a Cradle of Filth T-shirt. His hair is spiked up and almost greasy looking. It's black with royal blue tips. Noelle dyed it for him. Chains sprout from his pants on all sides and an long piece of silver with an arrow at the end occupies the space on the end of his left eye brow. I can smell a faint scent of pot as he brushes past me with his newest sex victim.

I sigh and retreat to my room. I shed my clothes and change into my pajamas in the dark, then crawl into bed. The faint, heavy breathing next to me tells me that Noelle is asleep. I roll onto my back and concentrate on the darkness. Maybe, if I can look deep enough into it, I'll be sucked up. No such luck. I give up and close my eyes, surrendering to sleep, but it doesn't come. Instead, I can hear the grunts and moans of pleasure coming from my brother's room. Every now and then, there's a really loud moan, that I'm sure will wake the whole neighborhood. The whole ordeal disgusts me. I love my brother to death, but sometimes, I just can't stand him and his sick habits. He'll be dead soon though. The drugs will eventually kill him. I tell him this all the time, I beg him to stop and get help, but he doesn't listen. He says all the crap they tell you in school isn't true. It's really too bad that's what he actually thinks…

I eventually get to sleep and awaken at 6:15 the next morning. I climb out of bed and turn on the light. Noelle groans and sticks her head under her pillow. "Come on Noelle," I say, gently shaking her. She slaps my hands away and falls back asleep. Well, if she wants to be late, that's her problem. I grab a lavender tank-top and some jean shorts. I toss my pajamas into the clothes hamper and change. I then brush what gnarls out of my hair that I can, and pull my hair into a ponytail. When I leave our room for the kitchen, Noelle is finally waking up.

To get to the kitchen, I have to pass Elijah's room. His door is wide open, the room vacant. I also have to pass my father's room. His door is shut, but I can hear him snoring. It's been a long night for him.

I find Elijah the kitchen, sitting on a stool at the counter, staring into a cup of coffee. "Since when do you drink coffee?" I ask, pulling up a stool next to him. He shrugs. "'Elijah?" I say, concerned. "Lea' me alone," he mumbles, looking down. I slid off the stool and head for the fridge. I take out some waffles and stick them in the toaster. They end up burnt, so I toss them out and go without breakfast. I then retreat to the living room to watch music videos until it's time for me to leave.

Incubus's Megalomaniac and Evanescence's Going Under are the only good things on. The rest is all commercials or rap. I spend the rest of my time watching the TV Guide.

Finally, it's time for me to get going. I grab my backpack and head out the front door without saying goodbye. It's a beautiful day outside, sunny and warm. I trudge down the street, the sun beating down on my back. The school is only a couple blocks away. I see my brother's friend Marth walking not to far ahead. He's a little older than my brother. A year or so I think, which makes him about seventeen or maybe even eighteen. He looks a lot like my brother. Dressed from head to toe in black, spiked and dyed hair, numerous tattoos and piercings. "Marth!" I yell, running to catch up with him. "Hey er...Noelle. How's it going?" He asks when I catch up to him. "I'm Nadine, Noelle's my sister," I say, rolling my eyes. He's never been able to get it right. "Oh yea, right. My bad. So, uh, where you going?" I let out a sigh. "School, where else?" "Oh yea. School. Heh." He chuckles. "Haven't been there in awhile." I nod my head. He's a dropout. "So uh, how's everything at home, with uh, your brother and stuff?" He asks, scratching his head. "Um, pretty good I guess. He was a little depressed this morning, but he didn't tell me why." Marth just nodded. "Okay, well, I gotta go," I said, glancing over to the open gate leading into hell I had just passed by. "Alright, see you around." And with that, I turned around and headed up the walkway to Donsoler Middle School.

Just as I reach the eighth grade area, the bell rings. Damn. I had wanted to talk with my friends. Oh well. I dive into the mob of students entering the eighth grade building. It's a very ugly building. Aqua walls and moldy ceilings. My classes are on the other end of the hall. I imagine I burn a lot of calories changing classes.

The day drags on and finally ends at 3:30. I walk back home and find Elijah asleep on the couch. I stand and watch him sleep for a minute. He looks so peaceful, so innocent.

I then head to my room. The door is ajar and Noelle's inside talking to herself again.