I entered the living room for the third time. My mother sat calmly on the couch, her blue eyes skirting across the open newspaper in her hands: Seventeen-Year-Old Genius Detective Solves Crime. I cleared my throat to grab her attention; mutely my mother looked up from the paper and glance me over.
"No," she chirped after several seconds before shifting her attention back to the story. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply as a sharp stitch of fury arose in my gut.
"Tell me you're not serious," I cautioned through clenched teeth. I prayed she couldn't see the muscles in my jaw flexing or hear my inner voice shouting profanity at her. I placed my hands on my hips, leaned forward, as an effort to keep my temper, and stay as composed as possible. It was the third time I had changed into an entirely different outfit, and she still wasn't satisfied. "What's wrong with it?"
"Too casual," she replied nonchalantly. I could feel the air tense and my mother preparing herself for my approaching argument.
"I'm going to school, not a royal ball," I snapped incidentally, heightened to the point where I had begun to rub my wrists, an unconscious habit I had developed as a child.
My mother chose not to respond, but instead buried herself in the newspaper article again, as if I hadn't said anything. Fury welled inside me. Nonetheless, I turned on the ball of my heel, stormed off to my room, and slammed the door. The carpet, however, slowed the fast moving door, so when the door shut, it sounded as if a five-year-old child was gently closing it before naptime.
I swiftly stripped my clothes off and threw them onto the floor, not even giving them a second glance as I opened my closet door and began to scan the contents. I pulled out t-shirt with a picture of Mickey Mouse on the front and a pair of old, faded jeans that ripped at the knee. When the complicated part was over, I wrapped my honey-colored hair back in a bun. I snatched my phone off the nightstand and held down the power button until the screen came to life; the date read September 6, 2013 and the time was six-thirty, half an hour before I was supposed to meet Kay outside to go to school.
I threw open the door, after shoving my phone in my pocket, and entered the living room for the fourth time. My mother was standing in the middle of the living room, her phone pressed tightly to her ear and her voice hushed. The paper had been thrown onto the arm of the couch and my mother began pacing back and forth, biting her thumbnail nervously.
"Well?" I questioned her, extending my arms, showing the full scale of my half-done outfit, curious as to why I had to get her approval. My mom twisted to face me; her hand, along with the phone, slowly coming down to her side. My mother looked me up and down, a perplexed look of deep sorrow ridden on her face. Vigorously she shook her head as an answer to my short question.
I was about to open my mouth in infuriation, to say something witty and clever, but she got there first.
"Change," my mother demanded before I could manage to question her. All the sympathy I was beginning to feel toward her vanished.
I crossing my arms across my chest and pursed my lips. "No."
My mother's mouth fell open and her eyes widened in offense look.
"Change," she repeated, her tone more noticeably strained. She gave me a stern glare that all mothers gave to disobedient children; that look that could make anyone cower back.
"No," I repeated stubbornly, not wavering under my mother's unyielding glare. Her eyes flashed, her fists tightened, and her jaw set in place; for a moment, I was afraid that she might explode, and then I remembered that I could really care less.
"Lilly," my dad smiled as he entered the room from the kitchen. His head was down, fixated on getting his watch on his wrist and his black hair was slicked back to fit his tall, muscular build. He stopped abruptly when he saw our showdown. For a moment he was silent, looking between my mom and I, who had locked eyes sometime in between. "Christina," he addressed me finally, "what's going on?"
"Nothing," I answered, breaking my mother's stare and flashing my dad a rather convincing smile. "Mom was just complementing my outfit."
My mother opened her mouth in denial, but dad interrupted her before she could even begin. "I think it looks fine."
Triumph spread through me as I flashed a victorious smile at my mother. She shot him a murderous glance, but picked up her purse from the coffee table, the bright silver bracelets on her wrist flashing as the purse tugged on her sleeve. She gave my dad one last look, almost, if I wasn't mistaken, of hatred; then she turned to me, her eyes hard at first but gradually getting softer the longer she looked at me. A corner of her mouth tugged up a little as she turned to the door, threw it open, and, in all her silence, stormed down the hallway before we could even blink.
"Remember," my dad cautioned as my victorious smile faltered out of guilt. "We won't be here after school. I'm taking your mother out to dinner."
"Make sure she dresses up for the occasion," I sneered, still feeling slightly guilty that my mother had stormed off in such a rush.
"You know your mother loves you," he reassured, taking my head in his hands and forcing me to look him in the eye.
"Yeah," I laughed bitterly at the irony, shoving his hands off my face with caution. "Sure."
My dad gave me a haunted look, as if looking at me wounded him. His voice shook, but he continued his argument, "You have no idea how much your mother has done for you."
"Besides give birth to me?" I inquired sourly, shaking my head quickly. "Not much."
I pulled away from him, looking around the room with a bored glance, until I came by the mirror. I saw me, staring into the mirror. I saw my dad, watching me with his green eyes giving off an offensive expression. Then there was her, standing in the doorway as if she'd been standing there the entire time, listening. I gave a slight, horrified scream and backed up quickly, tripping on the coffee table and falling to the ground in the process.
"Christina!" my dad screamed worriedly, coming to my side and taking my arm to help me. He began to say something, but I was too fixated on what I'd just seen. I'd only seen a glimpse of her clever smirk, but it had undoubtedly been her. How could she be here? Why now? Why, after all this time, would she come back?
My eyes snapped to the doorway, but she was gone. She may have never been there at all, just my imagination. Nevertheless, my heart was racing and my breathing had become heavy.
"What's wrong?" my dad's voice broke through my worry. I turned to him and smiled slightly.
"Nothing," I stammered, still recovering my wits. "Just-just saw a spider."
My dad gave me a childish look but helped me stand up anyway.
"Goodbye Christina," my dad solemnly as I recovered from my scare; the haunted look hovered in his eyes, like someone who had seen something he wished he hadn't; I could say I knew the feeling.
"Goodbyes aren't forever," I informed him, a horrible feeling seeping into my stomach.
"Some are," he answered as he kissed my forehead, showing the black tattoo on his wrist. My dad chased after my mother without another word.
I stood in the middle of our apartment, staring at the doorway that my dad had gone through. Numbness spread through me and I thought about what my father had said, his voice echoing in my mind like an already distant memory. My thoughts were broken by the vibration of my cell phone.
I drew it out of my pocket and answered the call, "Hello?"
"Hey!" a voice boomed in my ear. I was so shocked I nearly dropped the phone.
"Kay," I groaned, my ear still ringing from her high-pitched greeting. "What did I tell you about yelling in my ear?"
"Not to do it?" she answered slowly.
"Good girl," I praised, involuntarily smiling to myself. "You here?"
"Yeah," she said in her Duh! voice. I really didn't need Kay making me feel any worse than I already was.
"I'll be right there," I assured her, clamping my phone in between my shoulder and my ear. I walked into the kitchen to get something to eat.
There was silence as I grabbed a Pop Tart out of the box and began to take small bites of the pastry.
"There's no need to grab your bag," Kay predicted mysteriously as I leaned down to grab the strap of my backpack. I stopped, my hand hovering over the strap with caution and curiosity eating away at the edge of my consciousness.
"Why?" I probed, straightening up, my bag still left on the ground.
"You'll see," she giggled. The dial tone filled my ear and I ended the call. I stuffed the phone in my pocket and wrapped my hand around the strap, swinging it around to my back and onto my shoulders.
Put it down, a voice hissed in my head as I twisted the door handle. Old childhood nightmares came flooding back and I yanked my hand back from the door and held it close to my chest, holding my arm by the wrist as if I'd been burned.
My body seized up as a cold ice cube ran down my spine and stopped at the small of my back. I hadn't heard that voice in a long, long time and hearing it again made my stomach sink.
I took a deep breath, then another, then another until I was sure I was calm enough to speak.
"Make me," I challenged aloud. A white-hot, searing pain shot up my abdomen, forcing tears to sting my eyes and my knees to hit the ground. My backpack fell from my shoulder and, as my bag hit the ground, the pain disappeared. The voice chuckled triumphantly.
You should've known better, the voice sneered victoriously.
"Fine," I told it, not wanting to contend with a voice in my head. "I'll do it your way."
I threw open the door and sprinted down the hallway, trying to focus on meeting Kay out front instead of my old childhood demon that went with me everywhere I went.
It wasn't hard to pick out the hot pink 2012 Ford Mustang that had Kanye West blasting over the radio sitting outside in the parking lot.
"Where are we going?" I shouted as soon as I had gotten in the passenger seat and cupped my hands over my ears. Smoke filled my lungs and I choked on it. It had been collecting on the ceiling in a massive white cloud, covering the black rook of the car. I rolled down the window and crank the AC, causing some of the smoke to dissipate and clear the air.
Kay's feet were kicked up on the dash in front of the passenger seat and her body nestled in between the door and the seat on the driver's side. She looked calm and relaxed, with a cigarette in her hands. Her head bounced with the beat of the song and she sang every word by memory. Her bright blue hair followed with her head's beat and gave off an unnatural shimmer, giving the impression that she was wearing a wig, with Kay you never knew.
"Kay!" I barked. When she was unresponsive, I reached over to the volume dial on the radio and cranked it down to a bare minimum.
"Hey!" she shrieked, finally beginning to notice my presence. Her perfectly trimmed eyebrows came together in the middle of her forehead and her lips pursed as she shot me a dirty look. "I was listening to that."
"And that was giving me a migraine," I retorted informatively, massaging my temples in attempt to knock the horrid pounding noise out of my head. Kay shot me a cold stare, which gave me an unnerving feeling in the pit of my stomach and made it necessary to change the subject. "I thought you were quitting."
"Tried," she shrugged giving the cigarette a last glance with her lazy brown eyes as she dropped it into the ashtray. As the last of the smoke spiraled up onto the ceiling, she flashed me a smile of her perfect teeth and wiggled her eyebrows up and down, "but I decided it made me look to badass, so I gave up."
I shook my head in disappointment, Kay had been my best friend since kindergarten, but she'd changed since then. In a bad way. I just didn't have the heart to tell her that our friendship was dying.
"Where are we going?" I asked, eager to change the subject once again. Kay's neon yellow nails reached for the volume on the radio and wound the dial up all the way. Music filled the car again and shook the very foundation of the car, which was so horrid that the car swerved slightly over the line and into the other lane before correcting back into the right lane.
Instead of answering, Kay slammed her foot on the gas pedal and shot off like a bullet out of a gun; I grabbed the support handle in utter fear, I was sure that Kay's driving would one day be the death of me. Normally I thought about things while Kay drove through the streets of Manhattan, but I found that today the music was too loud and the speed at which Kay eagerly took on was too fast to be comfortable for any human being. Interrupting my terror was Kay's phone, which shortly buzzed and lit up to reveal a text message on the lock screen. With one hand remaining on the wheel, Kay snatched the phone from its place in the cup holder and unlocked the screen.
"Kay," I scolded as she swerved slightly to the left; I felt my eyebrows come together as Kay's attention turned to her phone and the text message that lie on it. I felt as if I were intruding on a privet, one-way conversation between Kay and the opposing side. The uncomfortable feeling did not fade as her head tilted downward and a slight smile graced her face. "Pay attention to the road."
"Yeah, yeah," she muttered quietly, her eyes and concentration still on the phone screen; I gulped as her fingers slowly found the buttons required to reply to the strange message.
"Kay!" I yelled as the light ahead of us turned from green to red; I drove myself back into the seat, terrified that Kay was going to run the light and kill both of us. "Stop!"
Kay glanced up for a moment in shock, not quiet registering why I was so terrified; she seemed to realize what was going on just in time to slam on the break and miss the speeding traffic ahead. I breathed a sigh of relief as the car came to a hasty stop and released my death grip on the support handle. I glanced over to Kay to see her reaction to the near death experience, but she had begun to type furiously on the phone screen. Fury filled me when the light turned green and Kay took off, phone still in hand. We had almost been killed by her stupid message and she didn't seem to comprehend the significance of the situation. I reached over and ripped the phone out of her hand, then hurled it out the window onto the pavement, where it shattered into little pieces.
"Hey!" Kay barked; without her phone in her grasp, Kay snapped back to the present. She looked at me as if I were a teacher who just confiscated her phone-with utter hatred. "That was important!"
"Don't act like you can't buy a new one," I bit venomously, crossing my arms in contempt and ignoring her piercing stare, of which I had built an immunity to over the long years. I pursed my lips and felt my cheeks collapse inward under her stare, but I refused to back down. "Where are we going anyway?"
"You'll see," she answered, a dark, irritated look in her eye. For a moment, I thought she was mad at me, but her hands tightened to a death grip around the wheel and her back curved to where her body was low over the wheel and, with her eyes fixed on the road, she slammed down on the gas. The car picked up speed and velocity the further we went, Kay gritted her teeth, determined as ever. I suddenly got the horrible gut feeling that I shouldn't have thrown her phone out the window.
I clutched the seat for dear life as Kay sped down the semi-deserted roads without a care in the world. Car horns blared at us, not that we could hear them over the deafening music that played over the speakers of the car. Her eyes fixed on the intersection ahead with a wild, insane glint in her eye.
"Red light, red light!" I advised/bellowed at Kay as she drove straight through the intersection and sped passed the oncoming cars. My heart stopped for a few moments as horns blared and cars narrowly missed us by inches. My eyes squeezed shut as we passed safely on the opposite side of the intersection; I took deep, soothing breaths as my stopped heart rate speed up with such ferocity I feared it might burst. My entire body began to sake as my eyes flew open and I turned to Kay, who had not flinched in the presence of near death. "Are you mad?"
"Stop being a backseat driver," she snapped angrily, hunching further over the wheel and forcing the pedal down to the floor of the car, and insane smile on her face. I didn't think that Kay could possibly be mad about her phone, as it wasn't the first phone I'd demolished for our safety, but Kay seemed driven by something unworldly, or at least something I couldn't see.
"I'm not in the backseat," I barked back hotly, gripping the support handle to the point where I feared I might rip it from the car. I felt on the verge of tears; Kay and I had fought before, but she had never expressed any homicidal tendencies towards me.
Time slowed when Kay did not retort back in her usual manner, instead she kept her focus forward and fixated on the next light, which turned from yellow to red in a manner of seconds.
"Red light!" I screamed at Kay again, pushing myself further into my seat, my knuckles white on the armrest. Kay beamed unconcernedly, which terrified me. "Kay!"
She sped past the light, right into the trafficked intersection. We weren't as lucky as we had been the first time; a red sedan slammed head on into my rear-side door and deflected off of us, seeming to be unaffected by the impact. For a moment the world was suspended, everything played in slow motion.
Kay's car flung into an uncontrollable spin and everything loose suspended into the air and floated for a minute before slamming to one side; the car itself jerked us one way, along with the rest of the articles. Everything was chaos and I lost track of what was going on around us, as there was an unbelievable bright light shining in my eyes and dazing me. For a moment I was sure I had died, as the world had seemed to disappear around me, until I was shocked back into reality by the violent collapse of the car ceiling. The windows shattered and the entire left side of the car snapped like a twig. The glass from my window flew through the air and caught the sunlight, giving off an almost beautiful glow of blinding light; several shards nicked my forehead and my cheek, immediately giving off a slight sting from the deep gashes. With unbelievable and terrifying force, my head jerked forward and smashed into the dash, my vision went fuzzy and the world twisted in a spiral of color and sounds that hurt to see and hear. The passenger door caved in, an unexpected and horrific pain shot up my side so agonizing that it felt as if my side were on fire.
All of this, I was told, in a matter of seconds.
Blood filled my mouth, but I was unable to move anything. Darkness reached out for me with its skeletal hand. For a moment I fought, I fought until the ambulance sirens broke through to me. I gladly took the skeletal hand as agony overcame me. I let my head collapse back onto the headrest as I shut my eyes to the sounds of the sirens.
Nothing came to me, not an ambulance ride or a rescue, or even the lifesaving surgery that the doctors claimed they performed. I recalled nothing but darkness.
In a way, the darkness was comforting. Nothing to worry about, nothing to feel, nothing to do. In another, the darkness was terrifying. I didn't know what hid in the dark. Pain? Misery? Despair? Darkness covers what we do not want to see, what we do not want to feel, and what our innocent minds do not gasp.
Was I dead? No, surely not. If death was an empty space, then what was the point of life? If death was nothing but a black hole, why go through the pain and suffering? No, this was not death. I felt the agony and I felt the grief. This was life.
"Internal bleeding, punctured lung, three broken ribs, cracked skull, and a concussion," a male voice listed through the silence of my mind. "This girl is lucky to be alive."
I squeezed my eyes tighter, trying my hardest to shut out the world.
"How long will it take for her to recover?" a woman's voice quizzed. Something inside me stirred, that voice, I knew that voice from somewhere. It wasn't my mother's, but I knew that voice. It was like a magnate tugging at the back of my brain, trying to force an old memory to surface.
"Recover?" the first laughed in amusement. "The cuts and the concussion were gone within' the first hour she was here, and the ribs are now fractured. It's the most remarkable recover I've ever seen in my fourteen years here."
"Right," the woman said dryly. Where had I heard that voice before? "Thank you doctor."
There were footsteps, then the opening and closing of a door.
"Please," the woman mumbled as soon as the door had shut. I heard her footsteps come closer and stop next to my bed. The woman adjusted something dangling next to me, but didn't leave. Instead, she placed the palm of her cool hand on my forehead, and began to stroke the top of my head. Her touch, whoever she was, was comforting and oddly familiar. I felt like a piece was missing, but an invisible force held it back. Yet some of the piece escaped and a soft humming melody began to play quietly in my head. As if on cue, the woman started to hum the tune – a soft lullaby that my mother had sung to me when I was little.
The numbness inside me faded and, for a few moments, pain replaced the numbness before a storm replaced that. I panicked, struggling against the raging storm that threatened to drown me from the inside out. Then the humming from the woman stopped, the old memory faded, and numbness overcame me once more.
"Be ready," she whispered desperately in my ear as her hand stilled on my head. A moan escaped my lips and my head turned the opposite direction of the woman. For a frantic moment, I fought against the bonds holding me back; they had become more of a restraint than a safe haven. "Be ready." The hand drew away and the woman's footsteps faded from the room, until all was still once again. Silence shaded the room and my mind; I thought, perhaps, that I had lost consciousness and was floating through the deepest part of my mind once more – forever lost in my own pain – but the woman's voice sounded through the room in a sweet, but serious, tone, "We will meet again, but, for now, rest."
Sounds of an opening and closing door were barely comprehensible in the depths of my mind, and all became dead quiet.
Minutes dragged by and stretched into hours; there was no time, not for me in my little bubble, as everything was the same and nothing changed – just a constant weight on my shoulders pushing me down, drowning me.
Footsteps entered the room again; two pairs with two low, secretive voices, the owners trying not their best not to wake me.
"How horrible," a woman whispered gloomily, heartbreak seeping through her voice. My heart fell when her voice was not familiar; I had hoped the warning woman had come back to explain her actions – and her warning.
"Yes," answered the other, a disconnected male voice agreed. "As soon as they heard they rushed over. Swerved right off the Lincoln Memorial Bridge; the rescue team hasn't found anything yet."
"And the friend?" the woman inquired, less worry in her voice.
"Still in surgery," a male voice huffed, and then gave off a small laugh, "it's a miracle she survived."
At that, silence entered the room and cut all conversation.
"I have to go," one informed the other after the silence had left, "I have a meeting."
"Very well," the man sighed as his partner left him alone with me. After a series of mysterious shuffles, a warm hand placed itself on my forearm, "Christina."
I moaned in irritation and shrugged the hand off.
"Christina," the man repeated his voice tighter and more serious, "wake up."
I gradually opened my eyes, and then snapped them shut in response to the blinding light hanging overhead. The man flicked the light switch off and I cautiously opened my eyes for a second time, opening them completely. I blinked a few times as I waited for the world to sharpen; when it finally did, I considered the man sitting next to me. His eyes shone with a fatherly concern and an empathetic sympathy; he was older than I was - thirty, thirty-five at the oldest – and his hair was already turning grey on the sides.
"Who are you?" I croaked, yanking my arm from his grasp and quickly filled with boiling anger.
"Miss Davis, my name is Lieutenant Brian Seen," the man breathed, not looking me in the eyes. Formality always came with sympathy and I hated it. He shifted in his chair looking uncomfortable and still refusing to meet my eyes. "I regret to inform you that your parents were involved in a fatal accident on the Lincoln Memorial Bridge."
"What?" I asked, not quiet comprehending what the man had told me. My brain had come to a screech-and-halt and my body had gone numb – I had become strongly aware of the cold hospital around me as a sick feeling spread through my gut.
"Christina, your parents are dead."
Hello all! This is one of my first finished original works, so if it comes off as a little cheesy/clique you know why, that I originally had posted on Wattpad. Recently, however, I decided that I no longer used Wattpad so I decided to upload it here.
Comments and constructive criticism is welcome! I'm always looking to improve my writing. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy!
Find me on Tumblr at silver-phoenix-writing!