Chapter Four: Awkward Turtle

I snuggled my face into the warm dark pillow. The sunlight was streaming through the blinds warming the room, giving it a pleasant feeling that made me happy to wake up in this new place. I rolled over onto my back and felt the slight pain that always lingered there. I swung my feet out of bed onto the carpeted floor. I rubbed my shoulders with the opposite hands and balled my fists into my eyes. I reached drowsily into the drawers and pulled out one of my pain medications and took a sip from my water bottle, downing the capsule.

Once I'd dressed, I heard yelling and screaming from the top of the stairs.

"You're not coming!" a male voice screamed.

"Yes I am!" a female voice yelled back.

"You'll shop for hours! You're not coming!" The voice I identified as Josh's roared.

"If you're going shopping for Miss I-don't-know-my-ass-from-my-elbow, then I'm coming with you because I wouldn't trust you to buy clothes and accessories for my pet turtle, never mind my new sister!" Trish yelled back. I smiled. I liked the thought of being Trish's new sister.

"Fine, then you can take her, because I will not, I repeat will not, shop with you!" he hissed.

"Then don't. I'll just take your girlfriend out for clothes." I could practically hear the smile in her voice.

"She's not my girlfriend!" he yelled back.

"Whatever! I'll go wake her up so we can get going!" She ran towards me and almost slammed into me, but before I could hit the ground strong feminine arms enveloped me keeping me upright. "You okay, Chica?" she asked, concern in her eyes.

"Yeah, I'm fine," I said breathlessly. I almost wasn't, because chances are, had she not caught me, I would have fallen on my back, ripping open my wounds.

"I'm assuming you overheard. I'm taking you shopping and trust me, those boys at school will be drooling by the time I'm done with you," she bragged.

"Okay " I nodded.

"And speaking of Sheldon, he's in Zack's room. He bit him last night." Josh said.

"Sheldon?" I asked.

"It's her 'purse' turtle," Ryan said with air quotes coming down the stairs throwing something green towards Trish and grabbing an apple from the bowl on the counter.

"Yup." She nuzzled the turtle.

"Right " I said dragging the word out.

"How are you feeling?" Josh asked, giving me a soft hug.

"Much better, thanks." Trish came back down with a big pink bag that said Juicy in fancy script with a little turtle on the side.

"Do you want to eat first, or we can get McDonalds?" she asked, throwing stuff in her bag.

"McDonalds!" I shrieked, hopping up and down. She nodded and grabbed her keys off the shelf.

"Alright. McDonalds it is. Tell Ryan I'm taking his car." She grabbed my hand holding me up. I was happy because there was no pain, but I knew once the meds wore off I'd be extremely sore.

"Bye, Josh!" I called over my shoulder. He waved, but he had a look of extreme worry on his face. I saw a deep shiny purple car with no top on it.

"Ah, I love his car." She brought me over to the passenger's seat then jumped into the driver's seat.

"Okay, so we're gonna stop at Bed Bath and Beyond, then we'll head over to the mall." I readied myself for the jump. She turned the key and the car roared. Surprisingly I stayed seated. The car took off over the tranquil hill to the average world below.

Town was beautiful. It had many delicate buildings and cute little stores. We were whizzing by far to fast for me to really get a good look. I saw a very large box-like store up ahead. She pulled the car in between the yellow lines and the car came to a stop.

"I didn't go to fast for yah, did I?"

"Nah, I'm fine." I know it sounded stupid but I was actually nervous. I'd never been to one of these store things before. We walked up the steps to the large metal doors. She took my hand so I wouldn't stumble like the clumsy person I was. I went to push the door open but it opened before I could touch it. "How'd it-"

"Magic." She spread her hands out to emphasize the whimsicalness. The store was huge. There were people everywhere. All of them pushed odd little things on wheels containing a bunch of random items. "Okay, the paint section." We walked over to a large set of steps that were moving on their own.

"More magic?" I asked jokingly.

"You're learning." She nodded playfully. "Okay step on and don't move." I lifted my foot and placed it on the same moving stair as she in synchronization. We were soon moving up toward the next floor. I nervously watched as the level we had just left get smaller and further away. I held tighter to Trish's hand.

"It's okay, Ana." She whispered. We stepped off the moving stairs. We walked through more isles.

"Bed, bed, bath bath, bed bath." I could hear her muttering under her breath. "Beyond!" She said aloud. We walked through an isle to a section with stacks of large cans.

"What's your favorite color for the door? I think the only colors that would go well in that room are white or light blue."

"Or maybe a light purple." I closed my eyes and imagined my room in my head.

"That could definitely work." My favorite color was blue but I wanted a more vibrant color in my room.

"There's a nice lilac over here or even a periwinkle." She held up two cans of paint that I didn't even see her grab. I think my brain had a defect of some sort. I looked at the colors on the outside of the can and decided I preferred the lilac over the periwinkle, plus I didn't particularly care for the name periwinkle. Someone asks what color are your walls, you'd have to respond periwinkle. Who names a color periwinkle anyway?

"I think I like the lilac," I said, reaching for it. It was far heavier than she made it look so it dropped to the floor with a loud thud.

"Me too. Lets just get an un-dented one, shall we?" She returned both cans to the shelf and pulled out a new lilac one. "All right, lets get out of here." She grabbed my arm with the can in the other hand. Once downstairs she led me to some strange counters, sort of like the ones in the Hunter's kitchen. She noticed some cushions and a set of thin blankets that would match my walls perfectly.

She cried. "These are absolutely perfect! We have to get them." She made sure to elongate the words have to.

"I don't want to make your mom spend more money than she has to." I put my head down.

"Money is not a problem. How do you think they can afford seven and now eight kids?" she asked, picking up the cushions, and the white comforter with tiny purple stars on it and the lilac sheets. Then she pulled out her money and paid for the purchases. I was so glad there were commercials. I knew about the exchange of money. Once we arrived to the car I slipped on my seat belt and the car started to life again. We were whizzing off in a new direction on a new adventure.

"Thanks for everything Trish," I said, pushing my curls off my shoulder.

"No, biggy Chica, I'm just happy to have another girl in the house." She drove with only one hand. Soon we were at an even bigger store. I don't think it even classified as a store more as a palace. It was huge! She got out of the car taking my hand, pulling me toward the palace-store.

"Welcome to life." She swung both hands out and looked like she was trying to fly. I looked around nervously at the hustle and bustle of people.

"Okay, first we'll stop at Victoria's Secret and get you some new bras and pantaloons. Then we'll go to Nordstrom's and get you some kickin' new shoes. Then we'll search the rest of the mall for your wardrobe. Then we'll go to Sephora for your make-up." She was smiling so big I thought for a second her face might crack.

"Um okay," I said quietly.

"Great!" She grabbed my hand and pulled me toward a store filled with random semi-naked people revealing bras and panties. I walked over to one.

"Do you think this is appropriate to show your body to the world?" I asked in a harsh whisper. She just stared at me.

"Don't you even have the common decency to respond?" I asked. "Apparently not."

I heard loud laughter from behind me. "What?" I turned away from the women to see Trish holding her stomach and laughing.

"She's a mannequin." She nearly choked between laughing and gasping for air.

"A what?' I asked.

"She's not real," she gasped. She walked over to the women and wrapped on her shoulder and I heard the clack of fingernails on a hard hollow surface. My cheeks went red and I could feel the heat of the blush run all the way down to my neck.

"Here, come here." She smiled and waved me over. She pulled out a minute device and put her arm around the manikin's neck and her leg over its thigh. She pulled me towards her so she had her other arm over my shoulder.

"Smile," she said. I did and a flash snapped in my eyes.

"What was that?" I asked.

"I took a picture and its soooo cute!" she said, giggling and jumping up and down.

"May I see?" She turned the device towards me. The moment that was captured in the picture was cute. We were smiling and the manikin was turned away like "what is wrong with these girls," I laughed loudly and put a hand over my mouth to stifle the sound.

"Okay, while you were yelling at a manikin," she giggled in between. "I went off and bought you some bras and thongs," she said, a cheeky smile in place.

"Um okay, thanks." I had never heard of a thong before but then again there was a lot I'd never heard of.

"I got you the same size as me cuz we look about the same," she said to me on the magical moving stairs into the store called Nordstrom's. In the shoe department she began to throw different things toward me. From things with big wedge like things on the bottoms, to Converse of all different colors, to things with heels, every color flip-flop under the sun, leather boots with heels and leather heels with laces, and even some strange looking waterproof boots with weird patterns on them.

"Get moving. We have a lot of ground to cover," she said wryly.

For some reason she found it necessary to have me buy all the shoes she had picked out, saying something about she's the same size and we could share. We walked all over the mall into different stores. Trish continuously threw all the clothes in the basket and me only having a say as to the color choices. I picked mostly blues, purples, greens and some black, but she made it mandatory my wardrobe contained an advanced section of pink. By the time we made it to Sephora and she had picked out my makeup, my legs were about to fall off, and my back was screaming in protest from standing and stretching. She paid for the makeup and we finally walked back to the car so I could sit down. We had McDonalds after we left Nordstrom's. The fries were soooo crispy and warm. The bun of the burger was so fluffy. It was amazing but it still wasn't cereal.

Back in the car as we drove up the dirt hill to the Hunter household, we saw a fluffy pure white cat sitting on the side of the road. How would a cat get up here? I heard Trish growl at it. I had never gotten the urge to growl before but from what I could tell from the Hunters it was a normal thing to do. The cat walked in front of the car and sat down in the middle of the road. Silly thing, I scolded in my head. It could get hurt.

"Stupid cat! Move!" She stopped and blared the horn. Trish was quite fond of doing this. "God, I hate cats!" she growled out again.

"I'm quite fond of them." I sat up higher to look out the front window.

"It won't move!" She yelled getting more and more frustrated.

"Here, I'll get it to move." My wounds screamed no. I walked to the right side of the road. The cat had long silky fur and a pink nose, a long furry tail and shiny blue eyes almost the exact color of my own.

"Scat cat," I yelled at it. It looked at me once then turned in the other direction and stalked off. I got back into the car. Trish drove up and parked the car. She carried all of the shopping bags. How she managed to carry all twenty of them and still move was beyond me. I offered to carry some, and she said I'd just slow her down.

Once inside she ran up to my room at the speed of light, dropping down all the clothes and other items on my bed. I walked in only a minute later and half the stuff was already in its place. Man, she moved fast!

"Ana, go get Josh so you and he can paint the walls. I promised Skylar we could go to dinner tonight." I nodded. I knocked on Josh's door and waited for a reply. I heard his steps and the door opened and I was pulled into a massive embrace.

"I was so worried about you." He kissed the top of my head.

"Why?" He didn't let go but rubbed his face into my hair.

"You never know with that crazy girl," he mumbled into my hair. I wrapped my arms around him.

"Well, I'm fine. Trish told me to ask you if you wanted to help me paint my room?"

"Sure, just let me get changed." He gave me one more kiss on the head and let go of me. Back in my room, I went to my drawers and popped another painkiller, drinking it down with some water. Trish had covered the floor with odd pieces of paper. I went to where the paint was poured into a large tray with two roller-like things sitting in it. I really liked the color, knowing it would give the room a happier feel. True, yellow was a happy color, but just not for me.

"Get Josh to give you some ugly old T-shirt. I don't want you messing up any of our-I mean your clothes." She covered with a smile.

"It's fine. You are welcome to any of it." I grinned sitting down next to her.

"Thank you." She threw her arms around me. "Well, I'm off to get changed and go out with my lover." She turned and went out the door. Then she came back.

"Now remember what I said about the T-shirt," she said seriously.

"I will." I got up and threw on one of the smaller t-shirts had given to me. I didn't really care if I got the pretty lilac paint on my jean shorts. Josh came in, in his baggy jeans low enough to see a bit of his black shorts or boxers as I've heard them called, and a big white T-Shirt with red letters that said Green Field High. I guess that's what my new school would be called.

"Ready to get to work?" he asked.

"Just a second, I want to put my hair up." I took one of the black hair ties that Trish bought in Sephora, and put my hair up in a bun, like I saw Fergie do.

"Here, let's move the bed so that we don't get any paint on it." I was going to help but he grabbed the headboard and pulled it back himself. I stared at him stunned. That bed was heavy, I mean really heavy. And he made it look as though he were moving cardboard.

"Alright, let's get to it." He clicked a button. Music filtered through the room. I bobbed my head, picked up a roller, passed it to him, and took one for myself. We began to carefully paint our way across the wall. Once we got close I turned to look at his face and found those piercing blue eyes. I studied him for about a minute when he looked up.

"What? Did I get some on my face?" he asked, feeling with a clean hand.

"No, nothing." I began to paint the left wall. Once I had the left wall covered, I looked over to see the right wall where the closet, drawers and door were lined up, seeing it already done. He stood smiling holding up his roller.

"What?" I asked.

"No, nothing," he said innocently. He began to advance on me.

"No! No way!" I was cut short when paint was splattered on my cheek.

"Oops " he said quietly covering his mouth.

"Oh, you're going to get it now." I splattered him with paint all over his face and mouth. "Tastes good, doesn't it?" I batted my slightly purple eyelashes.

"Oh, yeah." He flung paint all over my shirt.

"Uh huh." I coated his hair. It was an all out paint fight. It looked like my room was inhabited by people from lilac land. We sat on my floor which was coated in paint and laughed. He reached out and touched my purple hair then smudged more paint onto my cheek.

"I think its time to go outside "

"Huh?" I asked.

"Follow me." He grabbed my hand pulling me to my feet. I walked softly trying not to paint the floor boards. We scurried down the stairs and out the front door and onto the lawn. He then let go of me and removed his shoes and shirt. I couldn't help but stare, he was so muscular. I followed by removing my shoes and my top T-shirt. He picked up some green snake-like thing, and pointed the black part towards the sky. He pressed a button and cold water rained down on us. I yelped and stepped back.

He grinned maliciously, spraying me from head to toe so that purple began to mix with the water and dripped down my legs. Once I was completely clean, he handed me the snake. I pressed the same button and washed all the purple off him and threw my arms around his neck. He wrapped his arms around my back and slid one down over my bottom to behind my knee as his other arm went around my neck while he picked me up and carried me toward the house.

"It wasn't so bad," I proclaimed once he had carried me up the stairs and set me down gently on the tiled floor. He walked to the closet, and opened it pulling out a dark blue towel and a purple one over a rack that now read

Anastasia

"That's sooooo cool!" I exclaimed, bouncing excitedly.

"I know." He grinned.

"Thank you for the help with my room and the pre-shower." He smiled back, his radiant teeth glistening.

"You're welcome, Ana."

After my shower, I went back to my room and climbed into the Victoria Secret pajamas that were pink with little lime green doggies on them, and Pink written across the cami in the same green. I walked downstairs to find every Hunter gathered around the TV.

"What's going on?" I asked.

"It's Friday," Kevin said.

"And?"

"The game is on," Zack said trying to shush me. I sat down on Ryan's lap. He embraced me. I was completely oblivious to what was going on in this 'game'. All I saw was a bunch of sweaty guys waving a stick at some tiny white ball. Josh came down and sat on the floor under me and Ryan using my legs as a head rest. At some point I nodded off, but was awoken when all the Hunters except Trish and Skyler screamed. "HOME RUN!" I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and told them I was going to bed.

"Do you want me to tuck you in?" Josh asked. I would have liked him to, but he was enjoying the game, so I'd let him finish it.

"No, it's okay. Finish the game and tell me how it ends." He nodded. "Goodnight Ana."

When I entered my room, the first thing I noticed was a lovely white dove sitting on my new comforter. It turned its white head towards me. It had the same blue eyes as the cat on the road.

"What in the world are you doing here?" I asked. It walked closer to me. I kneeled down and cautiously reached out to stroke the bird's head. It inclined its head giving me better access. So, it is friendly. The second my hand touched the bird's silky head of feathers my wrist began to burn like nothing I have ever experienced before. It felt like someone was writing on my wrist with a piping hot stick. I threw my other hand over it, clenching my teeth, waiting for it to stop. I got up and ran to my bottle of water and poured it on my wrist. The burning wouldn't subside. I closed my eyes to block out the pain. I balled my covers in my fists pulling myself onto my bed so I could lie on my chest. The dove took off out the window as its feathers fluffed out around it.

I held tight to the covers as tears escaped my eyes. I held in the scream wanting to rip from my throat. I clenched my entire body. I tried to take in deep even breaths. The burning was slowly lessening and became more like pulsing pain. I pulled myself into a kneeling position on my covers and brought my wrist into my view. In bold black calligraphy was a very clear, very noticeable, 40 penned into my pale flesh. I gasped, tears blurring my vision. I shuddered and choked on the sobs escaping my throat.

"Forty what does it mean?" I sobbed. I never seemed to be the one in this realm to know what was going on. My wrist continued to pulse. My head began to swim. I refused to go back there! I would not. I got to my feet pulling myself up using the white window sill. I sobbed as an explosion of tears barreled down my face faster and harder than before.

"Ana? Ana?" I heard Josh calling me from the doorway. I heard quick footsteps coming to my side. He picked me up and sat back on the bed with me in his arms. I pressed my face into his chest, my tears wetting the blue material of his hoodie.

"It's okay. It's alright I'm here. Everything's okay," he cooed in my ear caressing my bare arms and then dropping kisses on my head. I curled up on his chest holding my injured right hand to my chest like an injured wing of a bird.

"What happened Ana? Tell me. Tell me please." He circled both arms around me protectively. I held up my wrist for his examination.

He looked unfazed. "It's a little pink. Nothing to worry about," he said kissing it.

"What-do you me-an nothing to-to worry about." I choked out through sobs and gasps. A little pink? I've got a bloody autograph carved into my wrist!

"It's just a little tender but nothing to worry about," he shrugged pulling me more into his lap. I tried to pull away.

"How-how can you not see it!" I asked incredulously.

"See what Ana?" he asked holding my wrist up closer. He touched the spot where the numbers lay. I screamed in distress. "It must be more tender than I thought," he mumbled.

" It's not tender, it burns!" I howled, tears falling from my chin.

"Ana, it's okay. I promise it will stop. I won't let anything hurt you," he swore.

"I'm so confused Josh," I whispered pathetically. "Please don't leave me." And he didn't. For about two hours he coddled me like a toddler until I fell asleep. He murmured soft words of comfort, stroking my hair, kissing my head and caressing my tear-streaked cheeks until sleep finally closed in around me taking me to the painless land of dreams.