"Never Forgiven" A True Story

Ten-year-old Laura West lay on her bed staring at the ceiling. Her soft brown hair was falling out of her ponytail in wisps and it looked disheveled against her light purple pillowcase. Sighing, she rolled onto her left side and squinted at her clock radio. It was a vain effort; without her glasses she could see nothing. With a groan, Laura grabbed the large pink glasses she had chosen so lovingly months before but now hated. They did not fit her complexion or features at all, she realized now, but there was nothing to do but wait until they were broken or her eyes became worse. For now she was stuck with them.

The clock read 10:17 and Laura knew she really should go downstairs and begin the day. But she didn't want to see the people downstairs. She did not want to go down and be greeted by the sight of her grandparents. Laura held them in disdain. She did not like them and they did not like her. Her grandmother was a short woman with blue tinted teeth, glasses, and short hair that was obviously dyed orange. When Grandma laughed it sounded like a cackle. Laura's mother said it sounded like an old hen, but Laura disagreed. She thought it sounded like the Wicked Witch of the West from "The Wizard of Oz." Perhaps this was where the idea that Grandma was a witch first came from. Looking back, Laura could never remember clearly. All she knew was that it served as a logical explanation at the age of ten.

Finally forcing herself to get up, Laura walked across the hall to Adam's room. She stuck her head in and found her brother gone. "Good," she thought, "he must already be downstairs." Laura found it was easier to deal with Grandma and Grandad when she was with Adam; he disliked them almost as much as she did.

Once she arrived downstairs Laura was happy to find not only Adam with her grandparents, but also Natalie. She smiled; together she and her younger siblings would be fine.

Flopping down on the couch next to Adam she heard Grandma say, "Well look who's finally out of bed."

"Morning," Laura answered absently.

Natalie was on the floor playing Trouble with Grandad. She was in a very pleasant mood due to the fact Grandma and Grandad had brought a belated birthday present to her. They had been out of town when Natalie turned six a few weeks ago and hadn't seen the children until that day. Laura didn't blame her for being cheerful despite their unwelcome babysitters; it was always nice to get a present.

"Now that you're up we can decide what we're doing today," Grandad said.

Adam grinned. "Let's go mini golfing!"

"No!" Natalie said harshly, her pudgy face glaring at her older brother. Every time they went mini golfing with their grandparents Grandad tried to teach Natalie how to hold the club correctly with no success thus far. Being both stubborn and comfortable with her unique style Natalie hated the constant orders for proper club handling.

"Yeah," Laura agreed, "I don't want to go mini golfing either."

"Well what do you want to do Laura?" Grandma asked.

Laura thought for a moment. "Let's go swimming," she suggested in an authoritative voice. Her natural oldest child bossiness was evident in her tone and both Adam and Natalie realized it. It would be better to just agree than get in a fight, they knew, and besides, swimming was fun.

"Yeah," Adam and Natalie said together.

Grandma looked skeptical. "Are you sure you just want to go swimming? You can do that any time."

"I want to go!" Adam repeated. His sisters nodded in agreement. It would be nice to spend a few hours at the pool.

"Fine," Grandma said, "We'll go to the pool."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The West children were correct; it was fun to spend a few hours at the pool. They had arrived at eleven and spent several hours playing games and swimming like fish. Natalie was the only one left out a few times; she hadn't learned to swim well yet. Still, it was a nice way to spend the afternoon. The only problem was, by three, they had had enough. After four hours of going down water slides, jumping into the deep end, doing tricks, and having races the kids were spent. But no matter how much they whined Grandma continued to simply say, "You wanted to come to the pool. We've only been here a few hours, you can stand a few more." And then Grandad would chime in, "We spent money to come here and we're going to get as much out of it as we can."

Realizing they were not going to be leaving any time soon, Laura led her younger siblings over to their towels and they sat down. "This is boring," Adam complained. "Why can't we just go home?"

"Because Grandma and Grandad are cheap," Laura answered angrily.

Adam shook his head. "Who cares, let's just leave!"

"Where are we gonna go?" Laura demanded.

"I don't know. Does it matter? I just want to get out of here."

Natalie leaned against Laura and stuck her second and fourth fingers into her mouth to suck. She was getting tired and restless.

Laura sunk her chin into her hand and pulled a piece of grass out of the ground, twirling it back and forth in her right hand. Suddenly, she tossed the grass away and smiled. "I have an idea," she said eagerly.

"What?" Adam asked.

"You know how Grandma's a witch?" Laura said. She had revealed her notions to Adam and Natalie when she first adopted the theory. Together the three had weaved a tale about their Grandma using her evil powers to drug their grandfather into slavery (a presumption made from the constant commands she gave him and the helplessness she claimed to possess in every area of life except cooking, the one instance she really did need assistance) and the spell she seemed to hold over the children's father that kept him from cutting all connections from her.

"Yeah?" Adam said.

"Well, I think we should melt her!"

"What?" Adam asked disbelievingly. "How?"

Laura looked at him as though it were obvious. "We have to get her into the pool."

"She's already been in the pool today," Adam pointed out, "and she didn't melt then!"

"That's because we have to put a spell on the water so it can melt her," Laura exclaimed, improvising on the spot.

"What's the spell?" Natalie asked, finally withdrawing her fingers from her mouth.

"Well," Laura hesitated. "We need to put rocks and grass and some dandelions into the water and say the magic words. Then we have to get Grandma into the pool and she'll melt!"

Accepting this as something to do instead of sitting around until they were finally granted freedom, and as a way to get revenge for all the insults and unfair treatment their grandmother had given them over the years, the kids set out to gather what they needed. In truth, Laura disliked Grandma more than either Adam or Natalie, but they didn't feel any fondness toward her either. Over the years Grandma had done many things to earn the honor as Laura's least favorite person. The first things Laura could clearly recollect were Grandma ripping a picture she had drawn of the American flag and Grandma yelling at her for attempting to call her mother one day when they were babysitting. But she had heard stories dating back to when she was very young. Stories of how Grandma had stolen Laura and Adam's Lego people one Christmas. How she got in fights with her when Laura made up her own rules to board games. How she yelled at Adam when he set up Dominos in her hallway and wouldn't let Natalie knock them down. And there were also the many insults she had casually thrown at the children and their parents over the years. When all of it was added up, it made Grandma a very dislikable person. And from this specific excursion to the pool onward, Laura's dislike would slowly grow to hatred.

After tossing the ingredients into the pool and saying Laura's magic words the children stepped back to contemplate just how to get Grandma into the pool. Soon Adam was nominated to persuade her.

Walking up to her, Adam put on a smile that no one could resist. His front tooth was missing and his blue eyes twinkled mischievously. He was very thin and angelic looking. The brown mop of hair on his head had already dried and now stuck up at odd angles. "Grandma," he asked in a voice that still had a baby-like quality to it despite the fact he was now eight, "would you play a game with me?"

"What do you want to play?" she asked.

"I want to play shark," he answered. "I'll be the fishy and you be the shark and try to catch me."

"No," she said immediately. "I don't want to get in the pool."

"Please?" Adam asked.

"I said no."

"Pretty please," he begged, "It'll be fun!"

"No!" Grandma said angrily. "I told you no!" Then, very unexpectedly, she shoved Adam harshly. Adam stumbled backward roughly and slipped off the edge of the pool. Falling at an odd angle he scratched his leg on the sidewalk as he slipped into the pool and began to fall forward. Laura watched in horror as Adam's head came an inch from hitting the sidewalk. Mortified, both Laura and Natalie rushed over to the pool to make sure Adam wasn't dead. Next to them, Grandma cackled as though it were the funniest sight she had seen in a long while. Laura, meanwhile, reached down and helped to pull Adam out of the water. Once he was safely on dry land and presumed fine by his sisters, Laura was able to breath. From the towels she glared at her grandmother and then hugged her brother again, thankful that Grandma had not seriously harmed him. It was the first time Laura had found herself unable to forgive a person, and from there on began a grudge that would only be prolonged by the actions of the same woman in the years to come.