After one last dinner with Tim, Gloria and Peter—this one thankfully not accompanied by me being sexually assaulted—they left. Of course, they spent the night afterwards, but they were planning on leaving so early in the morning that I wouldn't have a chance to say goodbye.


There was no relief at their leaving, though, mostly because Erma had already told me that someone else was coming, due to arrive within hours after their departure. Which basically meant that I was stuck on the couch for at least a few more days.

Erma had me get the Parker's their fish once dinner was over, and David and I watched from the side as she presented her God-given gift and smiled good-naturedly when Tim promised that this one wouldn't end up dead on the floor. They went back into my bedroom to finish packing up, and I followed Erma into the kitchen, still studiously ignoring David. This had been going on for two days, ever since he dropped me off at school and I had had to spend twenty minutes trying to find my bike, later finding it shoved into a Dumpster. Then I had had to find a janitor to help me lug it out of there.

"I'm sure you'll like Marisol," Erma was saying to me, smiling. "Her brother actually stayed with us before—you remember him, Ernest?" I shook my head. Erma sighed in an annoyed way. "Anyway, she sounds like just a doll. And she said she'd be staying for three days or so."

"Awesome," I said, unscrewing the lid to the milk.

"She did mention, however, that she's a very light sleeper, so I think I'm going to let her have the guest bedroom on the top floor so she won't hear anyone in the kitchen…"

"Where will he go, then?" I said, jerking my head towards where David was standing like a wraith in the doorway, his hands shoved into his pockets.

"Well, he'll go into your room, Aurora," she said in a slow voice, like I was dumb. I glowered.

"So I'll still be on the couch?" I summed up.

"Aurora Levithan," Erma began, putting down the pot she was washing. "You make it sound like I'm asking you to sleep on a bed of nails. Please, stop being a drama queen."

"Well I'm just wondering how many nights you've given up your bed for a homeless stranger," I said, gulping down the rest of my milk.

"If such a circumstance arose, I would—"

"Because I can count the number of times that Martyr Erma has given up her precious bed on one hand," I butted in.

Erma opened her mouth, her face red, and I knew that I was about to be lambasted and most likely grounded, when David spoke up.

"I'll take the couch," he said from behind me.

"That's not necessary," Erma said, giving David a fawning expression. "Rory here just needs to learn the lesson of giving without expecting anything in return."

"Maybe," I snarled, "if you didn't offer my possessions up and let me decide for myself for once, I would be more willing."

"Stop being such a petulant child," Erma said. "It's been made quite clear by now that I have to force you to do any acts of charity in this house."

"Of course you do!" I said, throwing my hands up in exasperation. "Because, since day one, you've never taken any of my feelings into consideration!"

"Aurora, there are people out there blessed with much, much less than you have! You'd think, considering what you're coming into in the next year, you could suffer a night on the couch in silence!" And there it was. Erma's foolproof excuse for everything. I should gladly accept every inconvenience she sends my way, because I'm rich and they're not, regardless of the fact at the moment I'm no better of than they are.

"Because it's not one night, Erma!" I said, ignoring her barb about my inheritance. "All I ever do is give while you take all the credit for it!"

"Oh, I take all the credit for it, do I?" Erma laughed, like I was being funny. "People would thank you just as much as they thank me if you didn't walk around with a look on your face like your parents just die—" She abruptly stopped, her face pinched. "Look, I didn't mean it like that—"

"Take the goddamn room," I mumbled to David, turning and walking out of the room, shouldering past him.

"Aurora, I'm sorry," Erma said, following me out. "That was completely out of line from me."

"You got what you wanted, Erma," I said, hurriedly wiping my wrist under my eyes. "You got what you wanted, so stop apologizing. I gave up my room, didn't I?"

"It's not about the room!" She said in exasperation. I looked away from her face, which was oddly frightened, but only saw David looming behind her, an uncharacteristic look of concern on his face. "Just forget about the room! I'm talking about what I just said."

"What did you say?" I mumbled, turning away.

"You know what I said," she said softly. "Look, I understand that it hurts when I bring them up, but especially when I said it in that context. I know how you're feeling, Aurora. Believe me, I do. With Floyd—"

"Shut up about him!" I said thickly. "In case you didn't know, that death was all your fault!"

Erma's mouth tightened into a thin line, but all she said was, "your parents wouldn't want you to—"

"You don't know the first thing about my parents!" I said. "You don't even know how they died!"

"And you do?" She said.

"Yes!" I said.


"And my name isn't Aurora!" And then I ran out of the room, out of the house, and into the night.


Their second question is also easy to answer: 'when.' At least, for the most part easy to answer. Because although the deaths of my parents were a single, isolated incident, they did not die on the same day.

My dad, Devlin, died on January fourth, close to midnight. They say he passed quickly, with little to no pain.

My mother, Michelle, died on January sixth, sometime in the afternoon. The autopsy said the frigid cold, compiled with the injuries she had sustained, was what did her in.

That entire week, January third to January ninth, was supposed to be a holiday for them, and so although I was a bit surprised to not hear for them for the entirety of the trip, I didn't get nervous until they failed to get off their designated flight. I was just standing there, by the gate, watching as people reunited around me, and I remember my nanny, Doris, told me that they probably were just getting some bad weather. They'd come on a later flight.

Of course, that never happened.

The dates of their deaths are mostly a hassle for the Coral's and Levithan's, who have hated each other with equal regard since my parents' deaths. Both blame the other family for what happened over those three days, both think that the other family, with their guilty family member of my mother and father, is the reason for the loss of life.

For that reason, the Levithan's visit my father's grave on the fourth of January, like clockwork, and the Coral's visit my mother's grave on the sixth. This unspoken agreement keeps any conflict from entering the graveyard if they happened to arrive at my parents' grave, which are situated right next to each other, and see the other hateful family standing there, too.

Of course, I get invited to come to Rhode Island every year, the Levithan's asking me to please come with them to honor my father's memory, and the Coral's wanting me to accompany them to see my mother. And so, since I refuse to pick sides, my day to visit is always the fifth.

At least, it will be the fifth. In the eight years since their deaths, I have not visited their graves once. Erma offers, but I always refuse. It is a sad but true fact when I say that it can wait, seeing as my parents are not going anywhere. Just away.


I walked around the dark streets for hours, trying to walk off my anger and trying to convince myself that I'm not crying. Seeing as my parents have been dead for almost a decade, one callous, offhanded mention of them shouldn't reduce me to tears.

It was a cold night, and I was wearing shoes or anything over my shorts and tank top. I knew I should be returning to Erma's soon, but every time I turned in the direction of her house the entire conversation would replay in my head, and I'd have to turn away again.

Sometime after midnight, I heard the damned truck chugging along a side street somewhere off to my right, its headlights sweeping over sleeping houses as the dratted engine kicked up enough racket to wake up the dead.

I considered moving off the road, diving behind some houses, but I just kept walking, shoulders hunched, even after David pulled onto the street behind me and slowly followed me. I could see my shadow thrown forward because of the lights behind me, and I watched that for a while, until the truck moved forward and came up to my side. It drove next to me for a while before I turned.

"What? Are you just going to follow me for the whole night?" I snapped.

David just looked at me for a second, the kind of look where he refuses to become irritated with me in any way because he knows I'm just a lonely, confused orphan and I deserve pity.

"Well," he said slowly, "I could follow you the whole night. Or you could come in here with me and we could drive. Either way, I'm going to be with you until we're home."

"I could just run behind some houses," I mumbled, looking away, aware that the street lamps were probably throwing my face into view, and I didn't know if it was covered in tear tracks if I had, theoretically, cried at all. I swiped at my cheeks, hopefully unnoticeably.

David didn't answer, just kept on driving next to me, his tires crunching over the gravel.

"So is this the part where you help me because you know now that I'm a billionaire, and you want to get on my good side?" I said. There was a long silence.

"This is the part where I come and look for you because you're out here by yourself, and Erma is crying, and I was worried for you," David finally said.

I walked for another block, and then I nodded.

"Okay," I said, and then I walked around behind the truck and pulled open the passenger door. I could feel him looking at me as I buckled up, but I didn't look.

Sometime in between the shadows and lights of the street lamps, I managed to fall asleep. And even though you'd think I would be aware of being moved and jostled about, I didn't wake up until the morning, where I was in my bed, in my room, and completely by myself.




All right, I know it's short, but I would like to say:

I had written out almost this entire story when it all got erased after my last post. It's taken me a while to get up the courage to rewrite things to a point that I know the story is going where it was going before.

For anyone reading Three Aspens, I've worked on that a little bit too, and I might be posting something in the near future.

If anyone is still reading this, thank you so much for hanging in there. I really do promise to post again soon.

I need to get to a class, but thanks to anyone who reviewed! It means a lot to me.