Wednesday

It was Wednesday morning, and the sun was blatantly telling me to get out of bed. One day I would remember to close the curtains. Until then, I was stuck getting up at the crack of dawn. It was a curse, but with a hidden blessing. If I wanted to take a relatively warm shower, waking up at half past five had advantages. I also wouldn't have to worry about pouring a bowl of cereal only to find that some little brat had used all the milk, watched me get out a bowl of cereal, and then laugh as I discovered that I would have to eat it dry. Some days, being the second oldest was torture.

Other days, like the day I discovered that my older brother was going to move back from his dorm, being second born was great. I had missed my brother for the six months that he had been gone. Once he left the house, he rarely came to visit, and it broke my heart. We had always been close, what with us being so much older than our five other siblings.

Mom was sixteen when she had Rodney; eighteen when she had me; twenty-five when she had the triplets, Alexandra, Alexis, and Alexander; and twenty-seven when she had the twins, Aaron and Erin. She liked those sorts of names, and confusing people was her forte. It amused me when the twins were born that Erin and Rodney were the only ones to not be born with a name beginning with the letter 'a'.

As I rolled out of bed, landing with a dull thud on the floor, I heard sounds of life from downstairs. How unusual. While I was pondering who was up, I slowly walked to the stairs to head to the kitchen. My pondering was interrupted and answered as I heard my mom call for everybody. She never just called 'everybody'; she always used all of our names.

"Angel, Alex, Alex, Alex, Aaron, Erin, come here!" I was amused by her using the nicknames of the triplets.

How she had managed to think of something so silly five minutes after giving birth to them was beyond me. It was really odd that all three actually liked being called Alex. I had thought that Alexis would have gone for Lexi, or Lexis as a nickname, but she was like mom. Confusing people was fun. Nobody ever expected three kids to come running when my mom called them like that, they usually assumed that she was in a hurry, and needed to pick up her son. the faces people made when they noticed that they were wrong simply amused me.

I was almost to the bottom of the stairs when I heard a faint rumbling noise. A stampede. Immediately, I was awake; and running. It wasn't really that I wanted to beat them to the kitchen where mom was waiting by the abnormally long bar of a counter we had, it was just that I really didn't want to be run over by them. I quickly took a seat at the barstool bearing my name.

Last year, we were each given a barstool, three pints of paint in our choice of colors, a few paintbrushes, and stencils. Mine was black, with my name spelled out in some curvy stencil font in alternating lime green and sunny yellow on the back. I had borrowed paint from my siblings after deciding to share mine with them, so there were also squiggly lines in red, blue, pink, purple, orange, and white along the legs. Even Rodney had agreed that mine was the best looking of them all. The fact that I was comparing with five little kids, and the most boringly personalized chair in the world really didn't matter. Mine was the best.

As the kids settled into their respective seats, mom gave Rodney's empty chair a small smile.

"Angel, I know that you won't be happy with me for making you do this, but I'm going to ask you to move back into Alexandra, Alexis, and Erin's room. We need a room for Rodney, and I just can't throw him in with Alexander and Aaron. I know that this isn't fair, and that this is really short notice, but it sort of needs to happen by tonight…" Mom was sheepishly looking at the floor.

I just stared at her, my eyes were probably the size of dinner plates. The girls were cheering, they loved hanging out with me. The boys were in silent awe at being able to keep their room to themselves while all four of us girls were stuck in one room again.

Our house had four bedrooms, and until the twins were born, I had had the smallest of the rooms. My parents switched around the arrangements, putting me in the room that had previously been ruled by the triplets, putting the triplets, and the twins in the master bedroom, then taking over my old room. This had worked for quite some time. But the youngsters got older, and the adults decided to move us all around so that boys and girls didn't mix.

I'm pretty sure that this was triggered by Alexis and Alexandra begging to have one of their friends spend the night, saying that it didn't matter that he was a boy; they slept with boys in the room every day. That didn't go over well. Not that they were really worried about six-year-olds having sex, but they didn't want them to hold onto the idea that sleeping with boys was okay. In the end, I was put into the master bedroom with the other girls. Rodney took my room just because he wanted to switch rooms, and the little boys ended up in his old room. Those arrangements lasted until Rodney decided to go to college; at that point, I jumped at the chance to have my own room.

Mom must have thought that I would be mad. I had loved living in my own room for the past six months. But I had missed Rodney a lot. She didn't seem to understand how close we were. Rodney wasn't just my big brother, he was my best friend. I would live in the attic if it meant that he would come home.

"Sure, why tonight? He isn't coming home until tomorrow night." My mom was probably trying to surprise us with his arrival; next she would tell me that she just wanted to make sure that I was comfortable in with the girls so that Rodney wouldn't make me move back, then bunk with the boys where he would get distracted. It was sound logic, but easy to see through.

"Well, if you don't seem comfortable, Rodney will have you move back, then sleep in with the boys. If he does that, he'll get distracted." Her voice was just a little bit off, proving that she was lying.

"Okay, I'll start after I take a shower and eat." Mom nodded, and presented me with two waffles. I hadn't even noticed that she was making anything. The counter was about six inches below the bar, and because they were connected, it was hard to tell what was happening on the kitchen side of the counter. My nose didn't even pick up the scent of waffles. Sad, I could usually smell waffles from a mile away.

I leaned forward and found that all three of our four place toasters were hard at work. Soon the girls each had a waffle or two, depending on how many they asked for, and the boys had three apiece. Alexander asked for three, and Aaron practically idolized him, so he followed suit, not caring that he would have trouble finishing. Usually mom wouldn't let him, but today she did.

Moving all my stuff out of Rodney's room would be no problem, especially with little children who worked as wonderful slaves. Actually they would get paid, but very little. After my shower I bribed the triplets to help me, using a few Tootsie Pops that I had. Apparently my dad stole the twins to go grocery shopping. Two hours later, my things were back in my corner of the master bedroom, and Rodney's room looked very boring. I left him a few posters, because I had seen him eying them the last time he had seen my room. Good thing we had the same taste in music. I took all the posters of hot, muscular, shirtless men; he wouldn't want those. I even left one of the paintings that had been hanging in my room. It was rather large, and showed Dogwood flowers with a misty blue background.

I was walking down the hall to the kitchen when I heard a voice. It sounded like my mom, and I assumed that she was on the phone, I couldn't hear any responses. I crept closer to the food utopia, hoping to hear more, but all that I heard was one sentence. That one sentence proved my earlier theory about Rodney coming home.

"Okay Rod, see you tonight." She quietly hung up the phone, and then I heard her footsteps heading towards the living room.

Once I was sure that nobody was in the kitchen, I walked in, looking for something with a ton of calories. I soon found Slim-Fast in the fridge. Lots of calories, supposed to be good for me, why not? Upon opening at taking a swig, I found out why not. It tasted like strawberry flavored chalk. Not very appetizing. I very quickly drank the rest, amazed at how much the can weighed, and tossed it in the trash. Worst twenty seconds of my life.

After realizing that I had pretty much nothing to do, I decided to go for a run. Zen was at the back door, just begging to go with me, so after quickly changing into sweats and a t-shirt, I grabbed her leash. After writing a note and sticking it to the fridge, I went out to the back yard. After knocking me to the ground, Zen licked my face until it was completely covered in her saliva. It took all of three licks.

My friends were all either scared, or jealous of me having a pit bull. We had almost had to get rid of her, but the insurance company decided that we could keep her. Good thing she had a good temperament. They came up with the no pit bull thing long after we had gotten Zen, and they knew that we had her, but it still took a lot of almost-begging.

After two minutes of me attempting to put her leash on her, Zen finally decided that she would let me. Evil dog. As soon as I had a grip on the leash, I swear that Zen smirked at me; right before tearing off running, jerking me into a run behind her. Upon reaching the gate, she gave me enough time to unlatch it, and the nice little spring shut it behind us. I heard it click as we reached the sidewalk. Amazing how strong such a little animal was. If she wanted to, I wouldn't doubt that she could have ripped my arm off.

"Zen! Wait up! I'm supposed to take you for a run, not the other way around!" It was sad that I was talking to a dog, but better a dog than Erin's Barbies, or either Alex's Bratz dolls.

That reminded me that I still had to get the twins birthday presents. Erin was old enough that she wanted Bratz dolls instead of her Barbies. Aaron was impossible to shop for anyway. Maybe I would get him a skateboard. Yes, a skateboard sounded pretty good. But then Alex would be jealous, so I would have to get him one for his birthday, and it would have to be better. I sighed, completely lost in thought, and not even noticing that we had stopped.

Naturally, Zen had stopped right outside of the shop I needed. I could have sworn that she read my mind. I ducked my head in the door, and smiled at the manager, my uncle.

"What do you want, little girl?" Uncle Drew never used my name, and always knew when I was up to no good.

"Well…say there was this awesome girl, and she wanted to shop for her siblings, but she just so happened to have a not-so-vicious dog with her…do you think that the manager of the store would let her in with the dog? She wouldn't even use her family discount if he did." I gave him a big cheesy smile.

"He would still let her use the family discount if she let him pet the not-so-vicious dog while she shopped." He smiled.

I quickly thanked him, handed over the leash, and headed to the skateboards. Boy was I glad that I had brought my wallet. Turns out skateboards weren't the cheapest things in the store. I picked out one with the symbol of team Girl for Aaron, vaguely remembering hearing him talking about how cool that team was. For Alex, I picked out one with the symbol for team Element, he talked about Bam so much, soon he would be talking about him in his sleep. I didn't think that that was very healthy, but whatever floats his boat.

When I paid for the boards, my wallet was severely dented. Apparently the cost goes way up when the board has trucks, wheels, and all that good stuff. Never had I been so happy for that family discount.

After rescuing Uncle Tony from Zen, she ran me home upon my orders, where I hid the skateboards in my locking hope chest.

Upon leaving my room, I ran into my mom, literally.

"Oh! Sorry, Angel. Where did Zen run you this time?" She smiled that smile that meant that she knew exactly where I went, but didn't see what I got. I laughed, and looked both ways to make sure that there were no spies, but just incase didn't let classified information into the open.

"I spent a ton of money on your younger boys for their birthdays. Since I'm in the shopping mood, can I borrow the car to shop for your younger girls?" I knew that she was going to make me show her the presents before she let me have the car, but it was well worth the time the car saved. Besides, I was in love with her car. In two months, it would be mine, thanks to a low-paying job at Dairy Queen. My mom gave me the choice of either paying for half of the car's current worth, or half of the insurance. I took the smart path, and decided to buy the car.

"If you show me what you got them, you can have the car all day," Was the half-expected response. I hadn't expected to be allowed to have the car all day long. I looked at my watch. Somehow, it was already four. I always had to have the car back by seven if I wanted dinner with the family.

"Are the twins still out shopping with dad?" I asked as I led mom to the chest, taking the necklace that held the key from inside my shirt.

"Yep, we have someone special coming over at seven tonight, so don't be late. That reminds me, he took the car, so you'll have to take the truck. It needs to run around some anyways," She seemed exited; we hadn't seen Rodney in quite some time. I decided to play along with the charade that I didn't know who was coming.

I opened the chest, and pulled out the skateboards, telling mom who each would soon belong to. She looked almost as excited as the boys would be. I handed Mom the key, and told her to hold it for me while I was gone. She seemed content to look at the boards while I was out.

I swiped my keys off of the table in the middle of the room, and headed to the garage. Once there, Alexis popped her head out of a cabinet.

"Have you seen Mr. Alex?" We always called him that when it was just us two; it made things easier for us.

"Nope, is he supposed to be finding you?" Once he had left Erin in a hiding spot for three hours before remembering that he was playing a game with her. We all decided that it was out of spite for the time she broke his action figure.

Alexis was about to jump out and do something else when we heard footsteps from outside the garage. I shoved her in, closed the cabinet, and pushed the button to open the "hangar" door. My dad called it that because all of the people in our family capable of driving just so happened to be speed demons. He said that we drove so fast, we flew, thus the new name for the garage, and subsequently, its door.

Once the door was open about three feet, I decided that the person in front of it was Mr. Alex. When the figure ducked under it and stood up, I was proven right.

"Have you seen little Alex?" It amused me how many nicknames I had for the twins and triplets. Alexis was the last born of the twins, and Alexandra the first, making Alexander the middle of the middle children. Funny that he was the middle child, he was the only one not to have ever been left behind. It seems that it was just a myth that middle children get left behind at grocery stores.

"Nope, now move unless you want to get hit by this nice, shiny truck. You'll ruin the paint if that happens." That was a rather ironic joke to make that fateful day.

Alex moved, and I hopped in the truck. When I reached for the seatbelt, I was surprised to find that the buckle was actually at the top, not on the floor. Mom had added a button to it. We used to have a button on it, but it broke. This new one claimed that it was Irish, and that I should kiss it. I decided against it.

As I pulled out, I waved to Alex; he was headed towards the cabinets Alexis was hiding in. He wasn't the best seeker; I wondered how long he had been searching.

Traffic wasn't too horrible, so I got to Wal-Mart within half an hour. They always had the best selection of decently priced toys. As I was heading to the toys, I noticed the bikes. I had won a raffle on the last day of school, so I had money to spend. I had won $500, and thus didn't need to touch my savings.

I had spent almost $150 on the boys, and thus decided to spend a bunch on the girls too. The rest could go in the change jar back at home.

I found a bike that reminded me of little Alex, and took note of which one it was. It was a purple mountain bike. I decided that I was going to need help from one of the staff members if I was going to buy three bikes. Soon I found a cute pink mountain bike that would take some growing into, but I knew that Erin would love it. All I needed now was a bike for big Alex. She would always be okay with that nickname; she was so skinny that she looked like a bean-pole, so even when she got older and big would be associated with fat, she would be fine with it.

Since I was getting the other girls mountain bikes, I decided that big Alex would also need a mountain bike. I took note that the bikes I had found for Erin and little Alex were both 21 speeds and decided that big Alex's should also be a 21 speed. I spotted a bike at the end of the aisle that was blue. When I went to check it out, it looked perfect. Right speed, mountain, and big Alex would love it.

Now, to flag down a staff member. I was thinking about how the girls would have to grow a little bit to fit the bikes when I noticed that the store was pretty much deserted. Must have been a sale at Macey's. It didn't take me long to figure out that something was wrong, there weren't sales associates, or even ladies at the dressing rooms. Where was everybody? As I was heading to the front, I found them.

They were all huddled over something. I edged closer to the group, and found that they were huddling over a kitten. And to think that I had thought that something was wrong. The kitten was white, and couldn't have been very old. I pulled one of the people wearing a blue vest, and asked him to help me. He obliged and talked about how cute the kitten was all the way back to the bikes.

I have nothing against cats, but at that moment, I wished that the bikes were closer to the front, so that the guy would shut up already. He was very gallant and took two bikes, leaving the pink one for me. As we walked up to the counter, he asked about the bikes. His main concern was that I had three very alike bikes, and was wondering if I broke bikes a lot. I laughed at that. He was amazed that I was spending $312 on my little sisters.

After loading up the bikes into the back of the truck, I headed to Cold Stone. I deserved expensive ice-cream. After ordering an amazingly gross sounding concoction, I ate the yummy food. All I needed now was some French fries to dip in the ice-cream. Oh well, wouldn't want to eat too much before dinner. I took my cell phone out of my pocket as I walked back to the truck, and noticed that it was five thirty. Had I really spent an hour at Wal-Mart? It would take at least another half hour to get home, so the earliest I could get home would be six. Where had my day gone?

I called my mom, and asked her to entertain my siblings across the street at the park (the park was put in two years after we moved in). She was excited when I told her what I had bought for the girls. They loved riding bikes, but were getting too big for them, and my family wasn't exactly rich.

Half an hour later, I backed my way into the garage, watching as the kids had a boys against girls tug-a-war game. They were pretty evenly matched, so I was guaranteed about five minutes to get the bikes to the shed in the back, ten if they called for a re-match.

They called for a re-match, which was good, because I had to move some clutter out of my way. The clutter proved useful for blocking the view of the bikes, and made me happy, because now I didn't need to keep the kiddos out of the shed. They would get suspicious if I volunteered to mow the lawn every week for the next month and a half. Today was May 25th, school had gotten out a few days ago, the twins' birthday was June 2nd, and the triplet's birthday was July 5th.

As I headed across the street, the girls pulled the boys into a puddle and won the game of tug-a-war. From what I could hear of the argument, they had won the first game too. The boys said it was because the girls had a bigger team.

My parents were sitting at a bench watching the kids argue. They were holding hands and smiling. I was about to sit down with them when I heard our phone ring. We had the ringer as high as it would go, just incase we came to the park, and because having seven kids in one house was rather loud at times. My parents looked away from the kids, and the kids stopped arguing, expecting an order to go get the phone. Since I was already up, and not busy determining the world champions of tug-a-war, I decided to get it.

"Got it!" I called before running towards the house to attack the phone that was sitting on the porch.

The road in front of out house has a sharp corner at the edge of out yard, so it was always hard to see if cars were coming. We had eventually learned to use our ears to help determine if a car was coming, and I neither saw, nor heard a car, so I proceeded to run across the street.

I heard a screeching noise from my left, and saw a blue Jeep. That was the last thing I saw.