My brother's burp rang loud around the silence of the supper table. I looked up at him, disgusted and looked back down at my plate to continue playing with my potatoes.
"Josh," my mother tsked. "How many times do I have to tell you not to do that at that dinner table? Or anywhere for that matter?"
John looked up and grinned, unaffected by any awkward situation, as always.
"Sorry mom but you have to admit that it's not as bad as what Caitlin did." My younger brother looked over at me and wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.
I looked down at my plate and continued to play with my potatoes; I so did not want to have this conversation now. After all, the ever ending argument had finally stopped, or at least now I was only being given the silent treatment, and a lifetime's worth of grounding. I groaned.
"This isn't about Caitlin, besides she has already been informed that her actions were wrong and has been punished," my father's deep voice sounded around the circular brown table. Disappointment rang throughout his voice and although he was speaking to John I could still tell that his feelings were aimed at me.
"I'm leaving," I muttered under my breath and got up from my seat abruptly. I scraped the small wooden chair against the plain linoleum and turned on my heel towards the door.
"Oh no you're not, I thought we already agreed?! You're grounded, for as long as you are under my roof!" My father yelled, from behind me. I heard his heavy footsteps start towards me and I made a quick jog for the door, hoping to finally leave my past behind.
"You really think you can stop me?" I snickered. "For as long as I am under your roof? I may as well leave; I have no life now anyways." I shouted, slamming the old screeching door behind me and running down the creaking steps of my porch.
I ran out of my driveway, away from the only home I had ever knew and started to escape towards wherever my two feet led me. I trusted them; it seemed like they were the only ones I could trust. I continued to move for a while; my panting was my only music as I traveled farther and farther away from Fair Oaks, California.
The sun that had lighted up my small kitchen eventually fell from the sky, leaving a pink glow around the blossoming trees and finally the sky turned to black with only small stars as a light source, and the old street lamps.
I shuddered, but not from the cold, no I doubted that it ever was cold in California. It hadn't gone below five in my seventeen years and that was saying something. I was shivering from the loss of my family, and the scary thoughts which were now making themselves known in my brain.
I slowed my pace, now walking at a comfortable stride as the night grew dark. I passed many small businesses and parks. And I was always careful to avoid the alleys and places where any crazies could be gathering. My body always made sure to stay just a little way away from the main street but far enough away that no one could find me if they were looking for me.
The warm breeze surrounded my body like a familiar friend, one that would always protect me and I was warmed by its presence – and not only on the outside. I saw a small dog park begin to show before my squinting eyes as I continued to walk north, I could always tell where north was. It was one of the first things that Nick had taught me.
You have to find the little pot. He had told me, guiding my eyes with one of his large hands and pointing at the sky while the other lay comfortably on my back. It's called the little dipper. Now find last star on the handle, it's the North Star.
My eyes had scanned the night sky repeatedly before I admitted my faults to Nick. I can't find it. Where is it? I had asked, sighing with frustration.
Its right there Caitlin, look just close one eye and follow my finger.
At the time I had thought that this was romantic but now I realized that these skills could really come in handy. Nick had shown me just how to find the star anywhere in the night sky. Then, he had instructed me to draw a line from the North Star to the ground and that way was north. It always was.
I walked into the park and was overwhelmed with the smell of fresh cut grass. I inhaled deeply and filled my mind with the sweet sensation. I walked slowly towards the bench while the green grass tickled my toes and slowly, I lowered myself onto the rotting piece of wood. My back lay against the scratchy wood and I looked up at the stars. I found the North Star easily; it was the star that I had always looked for whenever I was lonely. Nick had told me that it was our star, which it always would be.
I allowed a small tear to trail down my cheek as I watched the same star over and over again. It brightened remarkably suddenly and I imagined Nick's smiling face winking at me with his aquamarine eyes. He was always smiling, or he had been, when he was alive.
I miss you Nick, I thought towards the star like, he could hear me.
I felt my hopes rise as I saw the star brighten remarkably again, like he was giving me a sign from up there in heaven. I took in a sharp breath before I realized that it was just a stupid plane hovering over our star.
Get out of the way, I pleaded. I want to see Nick.
I sighed and leapt off the bench leaving me dizzy and my head spun. I felt my baby kicking inside of me as the circling motion hit her, or him, I corrected mentally. I had always thought of her/him as a girl though, it was just a gut feeling.
It's going to be okay, I patted the baby comfortably. We'll be okay. We can do this – for Nick.
If it were up to my mother the baby would have been out of me as soon as it was in there. I knew that if it had been anyone else's baby I would have wanted the same thing, maybe even if the circumstances were different, except they weren't, the whole world was different ever since Nick had left me. This baby was the only piece of Nick that I had left and I sure as hell wasn't going to waste it.
I sighed, thinking about how leaving my house had probably been the worst decision for my baby but no way was I going back there when they still waited to yell my head off. No, I was going to stay out just a little bit longer. Besides, it wasn't like they could make my punishment any worse; I was already grounded for life.
I started to walk again, although I didn't turn back towards the road, instead I crossed the bright green grass towards the forest. The trees were tall and summery but through the small cracks in the trees I could see that deeper in, it got dark, very, very dark. I shuddered. I started to creep inside the forest nervously. I perked my ears as I hoped that no one else was here lurking.
The trees twisted and winded together beautifully as I made my way through the humid underbrush. It was colder inside the forest than in the outside world, much colder, I realized. I shivered as I was only in a small tank top and short shorts and continued to slip through the forest.
As I walked deeper into the forest the trees became denser and I had to squeeze to fit between the trees. I was right, of course. The trees were worse here, more compact and cold. I tipped my head back to see the stars, nope they were gone too. My pants were already tight as it was, from my baby just starting to grow and so it was difficult to try and make my way through the maze. My cropped red hair tickled my face and I became paranoid as to whether or not it was spiders whenever I passed under a tree.
I shook my head humorously but really, nothing about my situation was funny. I should have never gone into the forest; it wasn't the place for me. I liked sports, sure, who didn't? But the wilderness really wasn't my thing. It was Nick's.
The rustling of water perked my interest as I walked through the trees and I sped up, curious to see where the lonely stream was coming from. My legs moved quicker, in time with my heart beat, as the river's current seemed to become louder.
I kept my eyes on my feet which were fit nicely into a yellow pair of flip-flops in order to stop myself from tripping over the large roots of the even bigger trees. I hopped over one last stump before finally the most beautiful brook I had ever seen in my entire life lay before my green eyes.
It was a small trickling thing, running over rocks and plants like a fountain. I could hear small animals scurrying quietly around the stream but these animals didn't bother me; they were the fairytale creatures. The fountain was magic, just like everything around it.
The ripple of the water, that the movement of the quick splashes made was peaceful and like magic to my ears, after a month full of yells of anger when I probably should have been receiving a shoulder to cry on. Not even my best friend Amanda stayed by my side, of course it was probably hard to since I was grounded. But even at school she avoided me and was sure to stay away, like I was some type of animal since I was pregnant. At school, she was just like everyone else.
I sighed in relief after seeing the creek. Throughout the forest I hadn't been able to see our star but like it was fate the North Star's light shone upon the water like a show light. My slice of heaven was here, just waiting for me to complete it.
I sat down near the river's edge and slipped my yellow flip flops off before resting my feet into the water. I had expected it to be cold yet it was warm like bath water. Paradise, I sighed once again.
I laid my head back and allowed the star light to shine over my features, lighting them all up. My hands rested comfortably at my sides as I allowed the sound of the rushing water to fill my ears.
I exhaled, this was nice. I could stay like this forever. I folded my two hands over my stomach soothingly as I allowed myself to start to fall into a quiet slumber. I could rest here; it was safe here, with my guardian angel looking over me.
Gradually, the trickle of the water started to change into something even better: Nick's voice. His voice was like a lullaby and it was even better than my heaven on earth. It was the sun, after being in the dark for so long.
I love you, it whispered.
I'm not sure if I dreamed it or not but that reminder is all it took for me to keep going, because somewhere, somewhere greater than earth, angel's lay and want the best for all of us. At least that's what my angel wants for me.
AN: Okay, this piece on my computer it is 1,991 words, just fit it in! On fictionpress it usually says it is more but of course that could be my author's note too.
This is my entry for the March WCC on the Review Game forum.