Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tumble

Here's a little story I wrote a few years ago. I hope you like it.


Tumble


All I remember is that it was raining. All I know is that my sister is safe.

At six o’ clock that rainy Saturday night, my parents left to visit my great grandmother in the hospital and then go on a date. I told them that it was weird to comfort a dying woman before going out to celebrate their anniversary. It was ironic, morbid, and rude.

My great grandmother Anne, my mother’s mother’s mother, had been cooking her famous jambalaya on her stove, against the doctor’s orders. She had been suffering from early stages of lung cancer after smoking a pack a day for over fifty years, and had been told to stay in bed. She was being treated with chemotherapy and radiation, which were working surprisingly well, but she was old and tired and needed rest. However, she was craving jambalaya, and decided the doctor’s word wasn’t important for just one hour. But as she was standing at the stove, she dropped a slice of sausage. When she leaned over to pick it up, she fell, bringing the pan of boiling water down with her and setting fire to her tiny kitchen. A neighbor had heard the fire alarm and called it in, but my great grandmother had already received burns over 15% of her body. She had now been in the hospital for about a week, and my parents decided that as soon as she was released, they would toss her into assisted living. As an eighty-four year old woman, my great grandmother should have already been in a nursing home, but she was full of spirit and did not have any other health issues besides lung cancer and old age, so everyone found it unnecessary. But my great grandmother, the rebel that she was, had disobeyed her doctor, and would soon find herself unable to get out of bed without a slew of nurses at her side. She didn’t deserve that torture. My parents knew that.

But they decided that it was “for the best”, as they put it, their faces sagging, their eyes wet. And that rainy Saturday night, they went to visit her to tell her what they were planning to do.

They left me and my older sister Michaela home because it would be an emotional visit, and we didn’t deserve torture either.

Michaela was not that much older than me. We were what you would call Irish twins. I was born roughly nine months after her. She was seventeen and I was sixteen. But sometimes it seemed like I was older. She was immature, always choosing the wrong boyfriends, going out to parties and not coming home until two. But she was also very mature when it came to school. When she wasn’t partying, she was doing homework. She was two grades ahead of me because she skipped fourth grade. School was the only thing she did correctly. She led a dangerous life for a seventeen year old girl. She drank a lot. She smoked, just like my great grandmother. She would race her car in the streets in the middle of the night with her druggie friends. One of them actually died the year before in a race, but they still continued, despite their awareness of the danger.

Our parents knew about all these terrifying things she did, and they did everything they could do to help her. They took any cigarettes they ever found with her, but every time we went to see great grandmother Anne, she would just steal some from her. They removed her bedroom door so she couldn’t lock herself in with a boy, but every time our parents went out, she invited one over, and threatened that if I told on her, she would do something terrible to me. I didn’t know what she could possibly do to me, but I didn’t want her to be angry with me, so I never told. Our parents dumped all the alcohol in our house, but she had a fake ID, and bought some. They took away her driver’s license, but she just drove without it. They took away her keys, but she had a friend show her how to wire the car. No matter what they did, she always found a way around them.

Michaela’s current boyfriend, Tom, was the worst, or as Michaela put it, “the best.” He was almost always over when my parents were gone. He was even there that rainy Saturday night.

It was hardly fifteen minutes after my parents left that Tom showed up with weed. He told me to go into my room and turn up my music really loud. Not wanting to listen to what he and my sister were doing, I obeyed. I laid on my bed, reading a book, but I couldn’t concentrate. I was too busy thinking. Tom, though gorgeous as an actor, with his brilliant blue eyes, his sleek brown hair, and his perfect athletic body, was a complete jerk. Michaela deserved better. Or maybe she didn’t.
Only twenty minutes went by, when I heard, over the top of my music, Michaela calling me.

“Nathalie! Nathalie!” She sounded distressed, so I had no choice but to go. Her bedroom door was wide open, and she was sitting on the floor, her legs crossed, with her head in her hands. Tom was gone.

“Michaela?” I stood in her doorway.

“Oh, Nathalie.” She looked up at me. Her beautiful face was streaked with tears.

“He… he hit me!”

I stepped into her room, and kneeled down beside her. How could somebody do this to my sister, even if she was an idiot? “Tell me what happened.” I whispered sympathetically.

“I was trying to break up with him, but he wouldn’t let me. And he hit me!” She was bawling now, and I placed my hand on her back to comfort her. It took me five minutes to calm her down, and then she told me something that I honestly did not want to hear. “It’s not the first time.” She gulped. “He’s done it before. He does it all the time. But this time was the worst.” And she was right. A large purple bruise was forming on her right cheek. “He’s so possessive.” She almost relapsed into a crying fit, but she held her breath. “I know this is a harmful relationship. I felt unsafe, so I tried to break it off. But…”

“It’s alright, Michaela.” I coughed, tears caught just underneath my eyelids. “He’s not here. At least he left the house.”

“He said he was coming back. He said he was going to hurt me.” She laid her head back into her hands, her strawberry blonde waves falling back over her bruised face. “I don’t know what to do,” she sniffled. “I don’t know what to do.”
I stood up. “Where are you going?” she asked, looking up at me.

“Hang on. I’ll be right back.” I ran throughout the house, locking all the doors that led outside, and all the windows too, just to be safe. I didn’t want Tom coming in. And I didn’t want Michaela going out.

I went into the kitchen and micro-waved a bag of popcorn, Michaela’s comfort food. I sprinkled it with salt and drizzled it with extra butter. When I went back into her room, she was standing, wiping her face, not sad now, but her face looked more determined.

“He won’t do it again.” She said. “I’m sure of it. He’s probably just worried about losing me and threatened to hurt me if I leave him. So he won’t do it if I just stay with him. He loves me.”

“No, Michaela.” She didn’t deserve this torture. My eyebrows knitted together, and I handed her the bag of popcorn. She refused it. “No, Michaela.” I repeated. “He’s going to hurt you if you stay with him, so you will be scared to leave.”

Michaela laughed once. “I’m not scared!” But her moist eyes told me otherwise. She pulled a pack of great grandmother Anne’s cigarettes and a lighter out of her pocket. She stuck one in her mouth and lit it.

I rolled my eyes. “Michaela, you can’t do this. It’s unhealthy.”

“What? Smoking?”

“Well, yeah. But I mean staying with Tom. He’s dangerous.”

“No he’s not. And I can do whatever I want.” But then we heard a window break. Michaela fell to her knees, clutching me. Her eyes grew large. “Nathalie!” Apparently locking everything did not stop someone from getting in.

Then Tom appeared at Michaela’s bedroom door, soaked from the rain, and holding a baseball bat. She screamed. I did to.

It must have been right about then that I blacked out because I don’t remember anything I did from then until I came back into consciousness.

It was dark. I was outside, soaked from the rain. I recognized the setting as our neighborhood park. I stood on the wet grass near a large tree, but next to me, the ground had been overturned. It was just a grassless area of land, the dirt dark and dry, despite the weather. I looked down at myself and panicked. My hands and shirt were covered in blood.

Holding in my breath, I glanced around. There was no one to be seen. I stumbled backwards, but managed to keep myself standing upright. I saw in the grass, a trail. The grass was pressed down to the dirt, and covered in more blood, as if something had been dragged. I felt my heart pounding in my chest. Reluctantly, I followed the trail. After walking for what seemed like an hour, but was probably only about five minutes, I arrived at the open back door of my house, which was now unlocked. The blood trail continued. I slowly entered and let the trail lead me to the bottom of the staircase, where an enormous puddle of crimson sat threateningly. I glanced up to see the stairs clean. Someone had taken a tumble.

I heard a whimper.

“Michaela!” I managed to yelp. Ignoring the pool of blood, I stumbled up the stairs as fast I could. At the top was a baseball bat. It was clean, no blood smeared on it. The whimpering became a frightened cry. I ran to the source of the crying, Michaela’s room. It was dark.

“Michaela?” I cried, flicking on the lights. Cowering in the corner of Michaela’s room was the rain-soaked Tom. He glanced up at me, his eyes bulging with fear.

All I remember is that it was raining. All I know is that my sister is safe.

1 comment: