This story is like The Rose and the Thorn, Alternate version, but after about the tenth chapter, it is strikingly different, and that big, dark mistake is absent here. I actually regret writing that Alternate version, and will probably remove it. This one will start out sad, but progressively get brigther, though the tension becomes unbearable. :D don't we all love that?
Young teacher, the subject of schoolgirl fantasy... She wants him so badly, knows what she wants to be... Temptation, frustration, so bad it makes him cry (Don't Stand so Close to Me, The Police)
Would you dance
if I asked you to dance?
Would you run
and never look back?
Would you cry
if you saw me cry?
And would you save my soul, tonight?
-Hero, Enrique Iglesias
Her pencil tip pressed against the paper. Her eyes went to the chalkboard, scanning the scratchy, yellow handwriting. Mr. Fields paced toward his desk, thankfully having finished his lecture, during which he'd used an upbeat tone that made her head throb. Bekah's gaze went to the closed door. Why the hell was she even here?
She lowered her head to the desk, then forced herself back up. Her throat felt dry. Dry like her tear ducts. During the past month, a persistent fountain had soaked into her pillow. Mornings crept up on her far too quickly, and she would find herself seated behind another desk, waiting for the day to end so that she could go home. Home to her mother's tears and father's silence; but at least there nobody stared at her while she struggled to hold back sobs.
She inhaled, and her heart seemed to roll in her chest. If only she hadn't been so selfish, Kristin would still be alive. If only she'd been the loving, big sister she was supposed to be, her parents wouldn't be suffering! If only, if only! How many times could she ask herself that question??
She cocked her head. Mr. Fields was standing nearby now, his tie loosened, his hands behind his back. "Are you going to take notes or stare at the door all day?" He asked.
Stare at the damn door, now leave me alone! "Sorry," she muttered, lifting her pencil again, and words trailed across her paper. Shallow, meaningless drivel. Only words.
The bell rang, and the students swarmed like bees into the hallway while she slowly lifted her books and stood to her feet. Two girls stood in front of Mr. Fields' desk, grinning like idiots and talking about God only knew what, and the teacher burst into laughter.
Would she ever laugh like that again? Or would she dwell in this nightmare for the rest of her life, replaying that night over and over in her mind, beating herself for not allowing her sweet little sister to enjoy the game?
Sometimes when she closed her eyes, she'd see black streaks invading red rose petals, and vases of flowers sitting on a grave. She'd see the Raven from the poem "The Raven", and hear its inhuman voice repeating over and over, "Nevermore, nevermore. You'll see Kristin nevermore."
She shivered on her way to the door, and her spoken name made her stop. Mr. Fields approached, his eyebrows drawn into a frown, hands in his khaki pants pockets. His short, brown wavy hair was a little mussed. He stopped about a foot from her, eyes scanning over her face. Everyone who knew about Kristin's death gazed at her like this at times. Did he know about Kristin?
She shifted her eyes to the flag in the corner of the room.
"Miss Rose, I'm concerned," he began. "Why don't you pay attention in class? And why haven't you been turning in homework?"
When she didn't reply, he continued, "You've been in my class for the past month, and I've received what… three assignments from you? I've been trying to reach your parents about this, by the way."
She shrugged. "Go for it." They're too hurt to even care.
"Hey, Mr. Fields," a boy said as he strutted into the room and smiled in their direction.
"Hey, Scott, what's up?" Mr. Fields asked, but he still didn't sound as sickeningly cheerful as he usually did. "I'll be right with you, OK?"
"No problem," Scott said, behind him now.
When she noticed no more kids filing through the door, she realized this must be a free period for Mr. Fields. Free for tutoring.
Free for flirtatious female students who loved tall, young teachers with chocolate eyes and broad shoulders.
"Listen, Girl, I'm seriously concerned," Mr. Fields continued. "What's got you so down?"
"Why do you care?" Not even Kristin's death could change her boldness, but at least she rarely spoke to anyone anymore, so-
"Don't throw that kind of bull back at me, just answer the question!" He ordered in a level tone of voice.
She squeezed her books tightly and sent him a frown, which he dismissed with the shake of his head. "I think you need to see a counselor."
"I have to get to my next class now. See you tomorrow."
"Or tonight, if I can't get a hold of your parents by phone."
She whirled to find a mischievous spark in his eye.
Alice and Renee had met her after school, as usual; and as usual, Bekah listened to their meaningless chit chat. She'd walk alone if the neighborhood wasn't so dangerous. The damned neighborhood that had claimed her sister's life. If her father had only earned that promotion, maybe they could have moved away from this hell hole long ago! If her parents weren't in so much debt, maybe none of this would happened!
She threw her books to the ground, and papers flew up in the wind, dancing toward the trees and floating loftily down to the slowly browning grass.
"OK, Bekah, we'll help you with that," Renee said, and both girls seized the scattered wood pulp.
"Stop it!" Bekah barked. "Just go home! I'll get it myself!" She dropped to her knees, which protested against the cement sidewalk, and began grabbing the white sheets and shoving them into her folders. Her friends were busily recovering some of the ones that had floated to the side of the road.
"Get away from the road!" Bekah snapped. I don't need anyone getting hit by a car! That would be more blood on my hands!
"Look, Bekah!" Alice shouted and knelt in front of her, frowning intensely. "We care about you, OK, but stop yelling at us like that! If we want to help you pick up your shit, then just shut up and let us! You'd help us, wouldn't you? It has nothing to do with freaking pity, OK?"
Bekah sat back on her rear, and some boys shuffled past them, offering whistles of appreciation. "Gorgeous babes," one of them said, and Bekah felt like throwing a book at him. At one time, she would have relished that kind of admiration.
Now, she hung her head in shame. "I'm sorry, Alice." She hadn't meant to explode like that, and hoped she'd keep a hold of herself in the future.
"It's OK," she mumbled, handing her a thin stack of papers.
Bekah scrubbed the plate in circular motions, then rinsed it and set it in the dish drainer. Dipping her hand back into the dishwater, she lifted a glass. It was the Cinderella glass that used to belong to Kristen. The sparkling, blue gown slowly was peeling away; but the princess' blue eyes were steadily shooting persecution at her for allowing Kristen to die the way she had.
She shook her head to clear these crazy thoughts, but they leapt upon her again like vultures to fresh meat.
It's your fault Kristin's dead… all your damn fault!!
Next out of the water came a steak knife. She ran the dishcloth along its shiny blade, mesmerized by the way the kitchen light reflected off of it- a tiny dot of light on an instrument of death. Her finger ran along the jagged edge, rounding over the tip to the smoother side.
She rinsed the knife and set it inside the drainer cup, staring at the wooden handle that invited her closer.
One more steak knife greeted her out of the murky, soapy water. She pulled the drain to let the dirty water go so that she could fill the sink with clear liquid and finish her task.
Where would be the most effective place to plunge the knife? How could she limit the pain?
She rinsed that knife as well and placed it in the cup to dry. Pills were better. Less mess and no pain.
The doorbell rang, and she jumped back, remembering Mr. Fields' suggestion that he might stop by this evening. That made sense, since her mother had stumbled into bed as soon as she'd arrived home, and Bekah hadn't answered the telephone the one time she'd heard it ringing. No one liked to answer the telephone these days, and her mother didn't have a cell phone, so it was no wonder her teacher hadn't been able to reach her.
As for her father, who knew if the school even had his work number? He worked long hours as a sales supervisor at a computer company, and didn't like to receive personal calls unless there was an emergency. He used to call home around five every day to check on everyone and let them know when to expect him home. Not anymore.
Perhaps the three remaining Roses distanced themselves from one another because they each silently blamed themselves for youngest Rose's death. None of them had set the alarm. But Bekah had been in charge, therefore, she was the main one to blame.
She wiped her hands on a dish towel and stepped out of the kitchen, pausing where the hall that lead to the front door met the living room. Should she wake her mother up first, and then answer the door, or vice versa? Or should she just ignore him until he went away?
Ignoring him sounded like the best idea.
She returned to her work, but the doorbell rang again. And again. Geez, you're stubborn!
A door creaked down the hall, and then she heard her mother's slippers padding across the living room floor. "Who is ringing the doorbell like that?" Kaye Rose asked, but Bekah simply shrugged.
"Hello!" Her mother called, probably after peeking through the peephole. "May I help you?"
She could hear Mr. Fields' muffled voice, but couldn't make out his words.
"You're her teacher? Just a minute…. Bekah, could you come here, please?"
Damn it. Why was this man so intent on causing trouble, as if her family didn't have enough? How would it help her mother to know that Bekah hadn't been completing her assignments?
She made her way down the short hallway, stopping before her mother, noting the dark lines under her eyes and the ever-present fatigued expression. She wore blue plaid pajamas, her blonde hair was pulled back in a braid, and her skin lacked the radiance that it had only a few months before.
"Is that your teacher outside?"
In this neighborhood, one couldn't be too careful. Bekah stood slightly on her tiptoes, spotting the familiar, brown, wavy hair, which was being scattered by the wind, and the chocolate eyes that gave her a craving for a Hershey bar.
If she lied, she'd only be prolonging the inevitable. "That's him."
Her mother unlocked the door and opened it slowly, and Bekah retreated to the kitchen again. She had no intention of standing there like a dummy while the adults discussed her as though she were either invisible or a child. At sixteen and a half, she was no child!
"Hello, Mrs. Rose, I'm Dan Fields. I'm your daughter's American Lit teacher."
"Nice to meet you. Excuse my appearance, but this has been a bad month for all of us."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
Bekah rinsed off a bowl and laid it in the drainer. The door closed, and their voices drew closer.
"I suspected something was wrong, Mrs. Rose, because your daughter hasn't been completing assignments, and she rarely pays attention- Hello, Rebekah."
She glanced over her shoulder and nodded. He frowned, of course, but she simply turned back to the sink full of sudsy water.
"Rebekah, Honey, I want you to join us in the dining room. And bring Mr. Fields a… What do you like to drink, Mr. Fields?"
Bekah sighed. "Why do I have to join you?"
"Because I said so, Young Lady."
Mr. Fields cleared his throat. "Water is fine."
"Are you sure? We have pop and tea…"
"I am on a special diet, but thank you."
A diet? Why would a man like him need a special diet? He seemed to be in good shape.
She filled a glass with water and joined the adults in the dining room as ordered. To continue arguing with her mother would only upset her further, and since it was Bekah's fault Kaye's baby was dead… well, it was best to just shut up.
She sat opposite Mr. Fields, who removed his black car coat to reveal his white dress shirt- no tie. He accepted the water and thanked her. "I confronted Rebekah today," he said to Kaye. "But she-"
"Ok, I'm right here, Mr. Fields. I can tell my mom what happened."
He cocked an eyebrow at her. "Go ahead."
She folded her hands. OK, at least he wasn't being a total prick. "He told me he was worried that I wasn't turning in assignments or paying attention, and I asked him why he gave a damn."
"Rebekah," her mother shook her head, and Bekah stared down at the table. "Sorry, Mom." They'd always been open with each other, and Kaye rarely complained if Bekah used a curse word here and there; but she'd warned Bekah not to use bad language in front of guests. "It's rude," she'd say, but Bekah didn't care. At least she didn't care what Mr. Fields thought. He was just the young, new teacher at Walnut View High School, the one all the air headed cheerleaders rushed to flirt with every day after classes.
"Mr. Fields," Kaye began, and he lifted his brows. "Our daughter died in August. Bekah's little sister." She pulled a tissue from her pocket and used it to wipe away stray tears that tugged at Bekah's soul.
The wood grains in the table looked like eyes.
"I had a bad feeling it was something serious like that," he said softly. "I can't tell you how sorry I am to hear it."
Kristen stared up at her from the tabletop, and Bekah could 'hear' her sister crying, "Why couldn't you just let me play, Bekah? Now I'm dead and it's all your fault!"
Fresh tears poured down her cheeks and dripped onto her sister's "eyes". I'm sorry, Kristen. Please forgive me.
Her mother squeezed her leg, and Bekah sniffed loudly.
"I know she needs to get caught up with her work," Kaye said, "But this is all still fresh… and… it's not her fault, but she blames herself."
Mom, don't tell him that… it is my fault!
Silence, save for some sniffling, then, "What happened, if it's not too hard to discuss?"
"A stray bullet hit her when she snuck out of the house," Kaye explained.
"But I was in charge." Bekah lifted her head. Mr. Fields' brown eyes filled with compassion, and she didn't know why, but she couldn't break her gaze from his. Something about his expression… something more than compassion. His brows curled, then relaxed, and she noticed the bobbing of his Adam's Apple. He blinked, his jaws working, and he released his glass. "I wouldn't let her play a game, and she snuck out of the house."
"You were acting like a normal, teenage girl, Rebekah!" Her mother said gently.
"I was selfish!"
"You're just a kid, Honey, you can't expect too much of yourself."
"I'm not just a kid! I'm …" stop arguing. She pushed the chair away from the table. "I think I need to go to my room, Mom."
"Rebekah," Mr. Fields began, but she did not look up. "I know it doesn't help to hear me say this, but your mother is right. You can't keep blaming yourself for a freak accident."
"Same old, clichéd mumbo jumbo," Bekah said, picking at her jeans with a jagged fingernail. She used to keep her nails neatly filed and her make up applied at all times. Who cared about make up now?
"Cliché or not, it's still true."
She swallowed. Maybe he was right, maybe not.
"I'll admit I'm worried to hear her talking like this, Mr. Fields. So worried that I don't want to leave her alone for even a moment, but I don't get home from work until about five o'clock every day, and her father comes home even later than that. She's distanced herself from her friends, too, so I don't know what to do." Kaye blew her nose and wiped it several times with the tissue before continuing, "If I could send her to a friend's after school, that would be great, but I have no way of knowing she'd actually go there, do you know what I'm saying?"
"Yes, I know better than you think."
So, what did that mean? Who cares? "I need to go to my room, Mom, please."
Kaye sighed. "Go ahead, Honey."
In her room, Bekah kicked a small shelf and several books toppled onto the floor. She then lifted her disgusting, pink pillow and tossed it at the disgusting, pink drapes and ripped the matching bedspread away, throwing it onto the floor. Collapsing on the bed, she covered her face with her hands, allowing the sobs to quietly rack her body. What the hell did the damn teacher care about their situation? He didn't understand. He's not the one who lost his little sister! He's not the one with parents who couldn't stop crying. He wasn't the one who lay in bed every night, hating himself for allowing this tragedy.
He wasn't the one who, every time he opened his eyes, he saw the doll baby sitting on the dresser top, staring back at with those patronizing, big blue eyes. If the lights weren't on, she could still see the shadowy form, and couldn't shake that feeling that the thing was glaring at her through the darkness.
But she wouldn't move it. The doll was special, even if it was agonizing to look at.
Rebekah Rose stuffed a potato chip into her mouth as her friend Alice sent the chubby, little Mario guy bopping across the TV screen, swinging his little arms and legs as fast as a hummingbird's wings. Bekah began to giggle and Alice snickered. "Stop laughing! You're going to make me screw up!"
"I can't help it!" Bekah laughed. "He reminds me of the Pillsbury doughboy with blue overalls and a mustache!"
Alice twisted her eyebrows and Mario fell off of a cliff. "Ugh! It's your fault, Bekah!" She tossed the control onto the floor and leaned against the couch behind them.
Bekah cupped her hand over her mouth in a futile attempt to hide her pleasure.
Alice narrowed her brown eyes. "You're such a brat, Bekah."
"Thank you, and I'm quite proud of myself for that." She lifted her own control and felt a tap on her shoulder. "Yes, Kristin?" She asked, looking up at her younger sister, who stood holding a baby doll that resembled its "Mommy", with its blonde hair and big, blue eyes.
Kristin's eyes pleaded along with her soft, eight-year-old voice, "Can I play, too? Pleeease?"
"No, Shrimp Toast!" Bekah had said, using one of the many nicknames she used for her little sister. "Go play with your dolls."
Surprisingly, her little sister slinked away with her head down, instead of begging to play, like she normally would. Bekah took a sip from her cold can of Coke and stretched her legs out in front of her.
"Can you believe that Troy Lutz stole my bike yesterday just to get my attention?" Alice loved her bike, though she didn't ride it as much as she used since she'd obtained her driver's license a month ago. Riding a bike in this neighborhood wasn't the best idea, anyway, since they lived in the kind of neighborhood where they could hear gunshots fired at night, and people partying in their driveways, blasting rap or rock music while getting high on pot or booze. Alice and her brother did both, and Bekah joined them occasionally for the vodka, but not the pot.
"So what did you do?" Bekah closed her mouth tightly to keep from laughing as Mario did the splits while leaping over a giant turtle- or whatever that thing was with the goose head and tortoise shell.
"I gave him a kiss to get it back." Alice batted her eyelashes and Bekah balked
"You did not!"
"He's cute enough." She shrugged.
"You're crazy. And I'm so friggin happy that I'm not as pretty as you are, Alice!"
Alice giggled. "Bekah, you're gorgeous, and you know it."
"Rebekah Rayne Rose." Alice feigned disdain.
"Alice Marie McCallister." Bekah smirked, secretly happy to have been told many times that she and Alice looked like sisters. Both had long, light brown hair, dark eyes, and stood around five foot six. The biggest differences were that Bekah's layered hair hung to just below the shoulders, while Alice's was wavier and stopped at her waistline; and Bekah's figure was more filled out- larger breasts and fuller hips that earned her plenty of whistles as she walked down the street or the school hallways.
Bekah was not the desire of every guy at school, unlike her friend Renee Andrews, a tall blonde with long legs and a strong, lean physique. Strong and lean because she was involved in sports year round: girl's tennis, girl's basketball, and girl's softball. The boys' attraction to Renee was enhanced by her sickeningly sweet personality. If her little sister had begged to join in the games, the Nintendo control would have immediately been turned over.
How did Renee manage to be such a goody-goody all the time? Why did Bekah like her, despite her contempt for goody-goodies, who are known for their nice clothes, happy-go-lucky personalities, and strong morals which they adhere to at all costs?
Morals, of course, are good things to hold on to; but some people are so damned caught up in their own ideals that they frown upon anyone who doesn't live up to them. Bekah liked people who are "real", meaning they're not caught up in their own fantasy world where they rarely make mistakes, and if errors are made, they're neatly dealt with and swept under the carpet. Like in that old television program, The Brady Bunch. How many times did that program end with, "Oh, Marsha, I'm so sorry. Please forgive me!"
"Oh, it's OK, Jan. I love you so much!!" Hug and make up.
I'd rather poke my eyes out than sit through another episode of that mush!
The computerized music from the video game began to speed up, signaling she was running out of time to complete the current board.
"Where'd your sister go?" Alice asked, and Bekah paused the game. She'd been mindlessly stomping on mushrooms with beady, little eyes, and repeatedly ramming Mario's head against coin boxes.
They both listened to the silence. Bekah's parents had gone shopping, leaving their sixteen-year-old daughter in charge, which meant that if Kristin had gotten into trouble, they'd both be grounded!
"Kristin!" She called while shoving off of the floor and heading toward the hallway, passing one of the kitchen entrances on her left. The back of the house was dark, since it was after nine o'clock on an August evening, and the lights were all turned off. She checked Kristin's room, which was a complete disaster, with toys and baby doll clothes scattered on the bed and the floor. Their mother would be on the little brat tonight to clean up the mess, and Bekah wouldn't be able to sleep, listening to Kaye Rose's shouted orders and Kristin whining while throwing toys back into the box.
Their mother, though mostly patient and loving, cleaned houses for a living, and so she could not abide a mess.
Bekah was about to leave the room, when she noticed the light pink curtain riding a breeze. "Oh crap, not again!" More then once, Kristin had snuck out the window, and so their father had managed to install an alarm on the house to alert everyone of the little girl's escapes. How could they all have forgotten to turn it on?? She lunged toward the window, her knees pressing into the bed, pushing the loose screen out and staring at the side of her neighbor's house.
"Kristin!" She called, throwing her leg over the ledge.
Her shoulders shook, and then she rolled into the grass when she heard the explosion. The echo rolled like thunder through the neighborhood.
After a half an hour of hearing quiet chatter from the front of the house, Bekah made her way across the hall to the bathroom and splashed her face with water. As she blotted her skin with a peach towel- her mother loved all these soft, mushy colors- she heard, "Thank you, Mr. Fields. I hope Bekah won't mind staying after with you, but hopefully she'll be cooperative."
She lowered the towel, meeting her wide-eyed gaze in the mirror.