Chapter 1: Moving day
"Damn it, why do we have to move." Jade screamed, slamming down another stack of books into the brown cupboard box sitting on her bedroom floor. The contents in the box shivered with the force of the blow.
"Jade, watch your mouth." Her mother snapped back placing her hand on her hips and glancing in disapproval at her 14 year old daughter as she stood behind her in her daughter's barren room. This argument had been repeated several times for the last few days and she was getting tired of constantly quarreling with the young girl.
"But why do we have to move the whole way to Pennsylvania?" Jade demanded, turning her tear-filled cornflower blue eyes towards the windows. The wet streets of Orlando, Florida met her gaze. The town of her childhood. Clean crisp air tinged with the scent of newly falling rain filtered through her cracked window making her heart ache. God, I can't believe that in two days, I will be thousands of miles from the nearest beach, my old middle school, and all my friends. Looking at the rain drops hitting the windows, Jade felt a wave of helplessness come over her. Even the sky is crying. This is so unfair, she thought silently. Jade ran her fingers through her long chestnut hair and sighed in frustration. Her mother stood behind her, her foot tapping in annoyance.
"Stop complaining about this, Jade. Nothing you say is going to change our minds. Besides, you know we are moving for Cory. He is getting into too much trouble here. The fresh air and small town atmosphere of Oaken Hills will be just what he needs." Pulling another handful of paperbacks off the countless rows of now empty shelves, her mother moved to place them in the box. Jade yanked them away from her roughly giving her mother a dirty look.
"So you're dragging me the whole way to Pennsylvania just for the fresh air?" Jade asked, bitterness ringing out with every syllable.
"No, we are moving there because that is the only place that your father could arrange a transfer to on such short notice. Besides maybe you will like it in Pennsylvania. Lots of places to hike and bike. I am sure they got a library right in walking distance. Maybe you will learn to love it" Her mother replied pulling another stack of the shelves only to have them yanked out of her hands again. Sighing, she shook her head. "You're not going to make this easy for us are you?" Her mother asked, eyebrow rose.
Jade did not respond to her comment. Instead, she continued stacking the books into the box, ignoring her mother with an expert ease. Giving up, her mother rose gracefully and headed towards the door, deciding to leave her fuming daughter in peace. Reaching the door way, she paused and glanced back. "You know, you shouldn't be so pessimistic. You're her sister after all. You should be happy to do this for him." With that her mother slipped quietly out of the room.
Jade pretended not to hear, but her hands shook with anger as she pulled the last stack of paper books off the shelf. As she looked down at the colorful covers, the pictures suddenly began to blur as tears of rage rose quickly in her eyes. Grabbing the book on the top of the stack, she let out a small cry as she turned sharply and threw it at the door her mother just exited through with all her might. It flew like a missile through the air and hit the center of the door with a satisfying smack before falling onto the white carpet. Jade lowered her face into her hands. Cory, Cory, Cory, it's always about Cory, Jade thought. Growling, she slamming the rest of the books in the box.
Her big brother had done nothing but make her life difficult from the day he turned fourteen. Before hitting puberty, Cory had been the best big brother any little girl could ask for. He was smart, funny and caring. He was always there to help her and protect her. They rarely fought. In fact, she always considered him as her best friend. But once he turned 14, he changed entirely. He began to smoke and ditch school. He donned himself in black and listen to screaming metal music into the wee hours of the morning. At the time, nine year old Jade could not understand what was happening with her brother.
Her parents became concerned. Over-reacting, they forbad Cory to go out and tried to force him to abandon his friends, calling them bad influences. Under the stress of his parents' constant restrictions, Cory became even more reckless. He started fights in school and snuck out often to attend rock shows at local clubs. For three years, Cory's behavior spiraled downward until he reached absolute bottom just three short weeks ago. While out with his friends in a nearby bar, Cory was found unconscious after a local band's performance. He was rushed to the hospital where the doctors found ecstasy in his system. Cory refused to comment. He was brought up on charges for underage drinking and sneaking into the bar, but because of his weak condition the charges were dropped out of pity. The day after Cory was released from the hospital, her parents started the preparations to move.
And now I have to pack up all my things, leave all my friends, and move to a town in the middle of nowhere all because of my stupid brother. I don't want to leave here, to go to a new school. They're going to tear me apart. Jade sighed, this time in sorrow, as she rose to pick the book up off of the floor, feeling slightly guilty for throwing it across the room. I should be more mature then that by now. She thought wirily. Crossing her room, she paused in front of the dark oak nightstand to glance at a silver photo frame she had not gotten around to packing yet. She picked the frame up and leaned against her dresser to study it. Within the shining frame, she and her friend sat surrounded by colorful jars of cosmetics in front of her vanity table. It was taken on one of the many sleepovers her friends had had over the years. In pastel colored PJ's, they smiled brightly at the camera with neon pink curlers in their long hair. Jade stared at the photo, tears beginning to stream down her face. How can I go and leave all my friends behind?
Suddenly, Jade was snapped out of her melancholy thoughts when from down the hall, angry voices rang out suddenly followed shortly by the sound of shattering glass. Jade glanced towards the door and shook her head as she listened to the raising voices of her father and her brother battle it out from just beyond the door. Wishing that she had not packed her mp3 player along with all of her other possessions, she glared at the door before rising with the picture frame still in her hand. Sighing again, Jade placed the picture in her last box and closed the flap.
Sitting back, she stared at the empty walls of what once was her childhood room. Without all my posters, my photos, and all my other decorations, This room looks pretty barren. No one would even know looking at it now that I had lived here. Jade frowned at the thought. If I leave, would my memory fade just as quickly? Stupid Cory. I hate him.
Grabbing the box quickly, Jade rose to glance around the once familiar walls of her room and quietly said goodbye to all her happiness. Then, with teeth grinding, she opened her bedroom door for the last time and exited into the hallway. The house beyond was chaotic. Boxes were stacked precariously from floor to ceiling, waiting for the movers that would be coming later today to pack them in their big vans and drive them to their new residence in the small remote town of Oaken Hills. Across each box, labels of its contents were scrawled in black marker in her family member's various handwriting. Jade placed the last box labeled Jade's books on top of the others from her room letting out a sigh of relief that the task was finally done. Eying the other boxes, she couldn't help but smirk a little when she caught sight of the boxes from Cory's room. Across each one in place of a label several choice expletives marred the boxes brown surface.
At least I know that he is going to hate moving just as much as me, Jade thought smugly. If I have to suffer, then I hope he is suffering too. As if meaning to support that fact, the sharp sound of shattering glass once again rang out from below. This was shortly followed by her brother's enraged voice. "I'm not moving. You can't make me." Jade rolled her eyes. And mom accused me of making things difficult. Glancing around one last time to make sure that she was not forgetting anything, she shut her bedroom door and headed towards the direction of their voices. Jogging down the stairs, Jade paused at the bottom to watch a cup fly across the room and shatter against the wall.
"Stop throwing things right now, Cory, or you will start the year off in your new school grounded." Jade's father threatened, snatching up the other cups he was packing to protect them from his raging son.
" Who cares? Not going to that hick school anyway." Cory said running a hand through his cropped black hair. Without anything to throw, the boys other hand clenched and unclenched at his side as he glared at both parents his brown eyes flashing with anger.
"Now, Cory," His mother began reaching out to put a hand on her sons shoulder. Cory ducked the contact and turned to head towards the stairs. His father followed directly behind him.
"Where do you think you are going, young man? I told you we were leaving shortly. You get your butt out in that car." He said grabbing his son arm and attempting to pull him away from the stairs.
Meanwhile, Jade stepped quickly out of her brother's way before she was bowled over entirely. She knew already who would win this fight just like all the others.
Cory easily broke his father's contact on his arm and whirled around to glower at him. "Make me." He hissed tightly. Stomping up the stairs, he disappeared around the corner. The loud slamming of a door shortly followed.
Jade just shook her head at the boy's behavior and turned towards her parents, "Packing is done."
"I don't understand that boy. What in the world is wrong with him?" her father asked, not even acknowledging his daughters existence. He simply stared at the stairs with a frustrated and annoyed look on his face.
"I don't know. It must be hormones. He is a teenager after all." Her mother answered softly.
"Hello, I said that I was done packing." Jade repeated.
"I was not that disrespectful when I was his age." Her father stated pointing in the stairs general directions before spinning and beginning to pace the hardwood floor. "Well, that was a long time ago things have changed since then." Her mother pointed out trying to still his frayed nerves.
"Are you guys listening to me?" Jade asked shifting her weight to one foot and crossing her arms over her chest. God, I might as well be talking to a wall. At least with a wall I would not have to stand by and listen to them complain as well.
"That's no excuse. We must have done something wrong. Maybe I should cut back my hours at the office. Maybe if we spend more time together this will all just clear up by itself." Her father said with a sad sigh throwing up his hands in defeat.
Her mother put her arm around him, reassuringly, "Now, Cory knows that you do your best. Besides, those extra hours are going to be what puts that boy through college someday. It's not like you could cut them back."
"What I should do is get that boy a job. Maybe that would straiten him up."
"Yeah, well, I am just going to go out, sit in the car, and talk to the upholstery for awhile. Probably won't be much different from this conversation. When you are done arguing over the dark prince, you can come out and join me." Jade said skirting the two to pick up the small purple bag filled with some books that she was going to take to entertain herself on the two day drive from Florida to Pennsylvania.
"We have tried that already. Not even a week into the job he got fired for too many absences remember. Even if we throw him in the car and drag him into the building, we have no way of making sure he stays there." Her mother pointed out, giving no sign that she had heard her daughter's snide comment.
"We shouldn't have to baby-sit him. He's sixteen." her father countered.
"Well, what else are we supposed to do?"
Jade rolled her eyes and headed for the door. Her parents did not even see her exit the room. Not even in PA yet and already I have become a ghost, Jade thought miserably beforestepping out into the front lawn. She noticed with a small hint of satisfaction that the rain had stopped. Maybe I will get one more look at the Florida sun before I disappear into oblivion. Heading towards the families sapphire blue car, she gave the house one last long glance before turning back around. Nothing I can do now but try to adapt. Pulling open the car door, she tossed the bag across the worn leather backseat. She started to slide into the seat as well, but paused when she saw several familiar faces coming her way.
"Jade," one of her friends called out as they jogged in her direction.
Jade shut the door and turned with a brilliant smile to face the petite brunette. "Cassie, what are you doing here? I thought you had ballet practice." Jade said reaching out to give her friend a hug. Behind the girl, several of her other neighborhood friends crowded around her.
"You didn't think that we would forget about you, Jade, did you?" Cassie responded.
Jade rolled her eyes and glanced in the general direction of the house. "Why not, everyone else seems to have." She muttered under her breath.
"Aw, well, we wouldn't. We came to say goodbye and to make sure that you remember to email us every day no matter how busy you are." Cassie insisted staring into Jade's eyes with a playfully stern look on her face.
"I promise. But, it won't be to long before to all forget about me anyway." Jade said with a sad smile. Glancing at the faces around her, she tried to memorize each and every one of her friend's features.
Cassie seemed to notice. Shaking her head she took Jade's hand. "Don't you worry? We won't forget you and you won't forget us. We made sure of that." She baited playfully.
Jade's eyes narrowed as she studied Cassie's face for a sign of what she meant. Seeing no clues, she sighed. "Ok, I'll bite. Why won't I forget you?"
"Because we all got you a gift." Cassie exclaimed, digging through a beige bag she had thrown across her shoulder and pulling a colorfully wrapped box out of its confusing confides. She held it out towards Jade.
Jade eyed the box with surprise. "Oh, guys you did not have to do that."
"Yeah yeah, polite nothings, well are you going to open it?" Cassie asked exited.
Jade gave her a sly look before ripping the paper open to reveal a small velvet box. Flipping the box open, Jade stared with wide eyes at the tiny gold locket inside. "Oh, guys you didn't have to…"
Cassie waved the comment away. "Open it."
Jade pried the little heart open and found a picture of her friends, the same picture she was looking at in her room, within it. Tears blurring her eyes, she threw her arms around her friend and squeezed her tightly. "Oh I love it. Thank you so much."
Cassie smiled and squeezed her back once before releasing her. Glancing back towards her house, she gave Jade an apologetic smile. "Well, I have to go now. I'm sorry, but my mom said I could only come over to give you that, but I promise to email you later."
"But we won't be in PA for at least 48 hours." Jade stated as she hugged her other friends goodbye.
"Then you will have lots of mail when you get there to take your mind off moving. I got to go. Love you bunches." Cassie replied as she turned and jogged towards her house. The others followed her, leaving Jade alone at the car once again
Sighing, Jade waved to them as they disappeared down the familiar streets. When they moved out of sight, Jade smiled and leaned against the car, clutching the locket to her chest. At least now I can wear them around my neck while I get trampled by the kids in my new school.
"What I miss the chick parade? Should have called me out, I would have loved to see them run this way. Though I must say their exit wasn't bad. " Cory asked suddenly from Jade's side making her jump with surprise.
"Very funny," Jade said slapping him on the shoulder causing the boy to smirk. "For your information, my friends stopped by to give me a present before we left which is more than you can say."
Cory shrugged nonchalantly and pulled a cigarette from the pocket of his black leather trench coat. "Can't say I blame them. They did not appreciate the big fuss our wonderful parent made at the club."
"If they were really your friends that wouldn't matter. They would have come to say goodbye whether or not you got them into trouble." Jade commented as she watched her brother touch a pitch black lighter to the end of his cigarette, lighting it. "You know, Mom is going to flip if she catches you smoking that."
Cory did not comment. Instead, he leaned against the car and took a deep inhale on the cigarette. Blowing the gray smoke straight up into the air, he paused for a minute before glancing over to his sister. "What they get you?"
Jade smiled brightly as she held out the locket for her big brothers inspection. "It's a locket with our picture in it, see." She stated, flipping it open for her brother to look inside.
Her brother studied the gift for a moment, before nodding and taking another big inhale of his cigarette. "It's gold." He stated simply, staring at the house in front of them.
Jade made a face at the comment, "And?" Jade asked studying her brother's impassive face.
Her brother turned to look her in the eyes. "You hate gold jewelry. I remember when grandmother got you those gold earrings. You threw a fit." Cory stated with a snort, the corners of his mouth quirked with the memory.
"I was ten." Jade said dryly. "Besides, it's the thought that counts. It shows that they love me and will remember me." Jade said with a smile, pulling the box back into her chest and cuddling it.
Cory just stared straight ahead. "If they really loved you, they would have known that you hate gold jewelry." He stated simply.
Jade's face flushed red as a flash of anger went through her. Crossing her arms across her chest, she glared at Cory before stating. "If you friends really loved you, they wouldn't have left you passed out cold in a bar, half-dead."
Cory shrugged grounding his cigarette into the cars top and cocked his head slightly to the side before nodding. Throwing the butt of his cigarette into the wet grass, he glanced back at her. "Touché, but I never claimed they were my friends in the first place. And the passing out in the bar was just practice for my future life as a "deadbeat, go nowhere, do nothing, bum." he stated, his voice rising to a high falsetto to mimic his mother's voice. As he spoke he pressing a finger in the middle of her chest knocking her against the car and he smiled.
Jade rolled her eyes, but could not help but smirk as well. "So, where are mom and dad anyway?"
"Probably still inside discussing the pros and cons of placing me in a straightjacket and leaving me at the nearest fast food joint." Cory joked.
Jade frowned. Leaning against the car for a moment, she gathered up her courage before she turned again to face her brother. "They are really worried about you. You know that don't you?" Jade ask tentatively, half-expecting her brother to yell at her for that comment. "I mean, the only reason we are leaving is because they think it will help you.
Cory's smile faded as his gaze fell to the ground. His face became sort of sad for a moment before returning to his "I don't care about anything or anyone" mask slid back into place. With his toe he kicked a pebble into the grass. "Yeah, I know," He whispered softly.
Jade sighed and turned her eyes once more to the house. As she watched, the front door swung open and her parents exited. "Well, I guess this is it. I guess we are really going." She whispered as she watched her father lock the door for the last time and turn towards them.
"There you two are. We have been looking for you. Why didn't you tell us you were going out to the car?" Her mother asked as her father went around the back to check that everything was packed securely in the trunk.
Jade resisted the urge to grown at the question, but decided not to comment. Meanwhile, her mother paused in front of them and sniffed the air. Her nose wrinkled slightly before she turned to give Cory a stern look. "Have you been smoking young man?"
Cory rolled his eyes and moved to the other side of the car to get in. "What do you think mom?"
Their mother frowned. "I told you that I don't want you smoking cigarettes anymore."
Cory opened the door of the small car and paused a moment before getting in. "Sorry mom, remind me when we get to Oaken Hills and I will switch to smoking weed." He said with a smirk before sliding into the back seat.
"Very funny, Cory. You know. ."
"Hey mom, look. The girls got me a locket as a going away present." Jade butt holding out the shinning locket. Her mother barely gave it a glace.
"That's nice dear." She said waving her daughter off. "You know, Cory, this is your last chance. If you keep this up you will end up as a deadbeat, go nowhere. . ."
"Yeah yeah, Stacy. Can't you just get into the car?" Cory said cutting her off.
Giving him a stern look, their mother complied sliding into the front seat. Jade followed suit, slipping into the back beside Cory, who had already pulled out an mp3 player and had it jacked up so high that jade could hear every screaming word the lead singer belted out. Her father returned from the back of the car and sat down in the driver's seat.
"Everybody got everything because once we are on the road I am not coming back." He asked turning towards the back seat to yank the ear phones from his son's ears. Cory glared at his father before snatching the ear phones and stuck them stubbornly back into place without answering.
"Yep, I have everything." Jade responded brightly. Her father smiled warmly at her before turning back towards the road. "Alright, say goodbye kids. Two days from now we will have a completely fresh start. With that he flipped on the engine which immediately began to purr and started to back out of the driveway.
Jade gave the house one last look before sighing. Pulling a book from her bag, she turned to an earmarked page. A fresh start. Even with the dread of a new school and the pain of losing her friends, a fresh start did sound pretty good. At a new school I can totally reinvent myself. Maybe a fresh start won't be that bad after all.