I stepped into my old bedroom and felt an old, familiar feeling. A depression feeling, one that I had had for so long but was able to break away from less than a week before only to be caught in its driftnet and pulled back. I ran my hands across my head, still having the sensation that my hair was long enough to pull into a ponytail but it wasn’t. Going to a wig store was not out of the question.
Everything in the room still screamed my assigned name, Kristopher. I had left it like that with the intention of not returning to it anytime soon. I would have preferred to stay in another room in the house—we had three more after all. Perhaps I could ask to move to another room and start again, like back at the dorm.
I sat on the edge of the bed and laid my backpack down. My cell was not found with me and neither was my ring. Once again, I was a refugee, even in my own home. The reflection in the mirror didn’t look like me; it was some kid with marks on his neck and a military style haircut. He looked like Hell and wouldn’t stop staring at me.
“Looks like you’re alive again, Kris. Flipping wow to that,” I said as I got up from the bed and walked to the dresser. “I’ve always hated you. Always.”
He stared back at me with a burning hatred in his eyes.
“You were my biggest problem. I wanted you to go away, just go away and never come back. Yet, here you are again. Thought I got rid of you.”
He looked sad for a moment and refused to look at me for a moment.
“However, you have helped me; there were times when we both wanted to die; but you wouldn’t let us. Had me think about your friend, our friend, Micheal. Thanks for introducing us.”
Kris smiled slightly but then frowned.
“Will we ever see him again?”
He didn’t answer.
“What can I do, Kris? What do I do?” I asked.
He only looked back at me with the same blank expression I had.
I looked down at my dresser—devoid of any make-up, no twists for my hair, only a comb and some pictures from Prom that I didn’t want to remember.
I walked out of my room and took a slow walk through the house, as if I was specter haunting the halls. The house seemed alien to me—like I didn’t really belong there. Perhaps at one time, but not then. I had nowhere to go though as I had no means to support myself at the time and getting a job at my dad’s place meant working at the airport throwing boxes this way and that, not that he would let me work there unless I applied without him knowing.
Mom was reading in her study.
“Did you see your room?”
“Yeah, just as I left it.” I replied as I was about to continue my walk.
“Sit down, let’s talk,” Mom said as she closed her book and set it aside.
“About you, Kristi.”
“Did you really call Michael?”
“Yes, he said he would try to get here as soon as possible, but-Did he really lose an arm?”
“Mmm-hmm” I said with a nod as I sat in a chair on the other side of the desk.
“That’s terrible. He did sound like he was in good spirits.”
“Yeah,” I replied.
“What is it?”
“I’m trying to understand you and dad, since he can’t seem to understand me and you, mom—”
“Yes?” She asked.
“You’ve been in my corner, kind of, and I appreciate it—you wouldn’t believe what I had to put up with this past week.”
“I do believe it, I’ve read every letter that’s come home.”
“But has dad?”
“Your father fears change. He has a system, a plan, and when things don’t go as planned, we get Sherman at Atlanta.”
“He’s Just so hard-headed.”
“Like father like daughter, right?”
“Funny,” I replied as I looked ay my bruised-up arm.
“Hello?” A familiar voice rang out through the halls.
I ran to the front door to see my grandmother standing in the middle of the foyer.
“The traffic in this town is horrible. No one knows how to drive.
“Kristi, come here.”
She didn’t have to say it twice as I ran to her and gave her tight hug.
“Are you okay?”
“I am now. Thank you.”
“Rosemary,” Mom said as she walked up behind me.
I took my grandmother’s jacket and hung it in the closet as Mom guided her to the hallway.
“Oh, Kristi, I have something in the car for you, could you be a dear and go get it, please?”
“Yes ma’am,” I replied as I opened the door and walked out to the front porch. Grandma’s car was parked on the far side of the driveway so I had to walk a considerable distance to get to it. I got to the car but the doors were locked.
“She probably forgot she looked them,” I said to myself as I turned back to the house to see someone with a backpack standing on the porch.
“Even without hair, you’re still a heartbreaker!”
I sprinted to the front of the house and jumped every other step until I was standing in front of Michael.
“I’ve missed ya, Kristi. Come here.”
He didn’t have to say anything more. I wrapped my arms around him and buried my face on his neck.
“I’ve been. So. Lost without you.”
“I’ve felt that way too and when Danny told me what happened to you.”
“What did happen to me? I asked as I took a step back and held onto his hand with both of mine.
“Well, Danny came into the dorm because he felt something was wrong and didn’t trust Richard and he met up with Jacob and Amanda.”
“Why were they were?”
“I think ‘Manda said something about thy felt wrong about what had happened to Heather and they were going to the memorial service and wanted you to know when all three of them heard you scream inside the door.”
I gripped Michael’s hand tighter.
“Jacob and Danny slammed on the door, knocking it in. They grabbed Dick and Amanda went to you and I guess you fainted.”
“What happened to Richard?”
“Well, he had his pants kind of at his knees and he went down pretty hard when they tackled him. Let’s just say he isn’t gonna be doing any kind of modeling or whatever he used to do with his pretty face.”
I started to cry because I remembered what almost happened.
I was ready to do whatever Richard wanted me to do to get out of that room, even if it meant degrading myself to him; I just wanted to make it out alive. His hands moved in slow motion and I feared that no matter what I did, he would still find a way to hurt me even more. I was almost about to reach out when the door broke open and they were there: Danny, Jacob and Amanda. The guys grabbed Richard and slammed him to the floor. I could see Richard’s eyes flutter as they dog piled him to the floor. Amanda yelled my name and I know I looked at her but then fell forward.
“I’m story,” I whispered.
“I shouldn’t have gone to his office alone.”
“He was someone we were supposed to trust, it’s not your fault and Dick wasn’t able to use any of his fancy words to get out of it. Actually, he couldn’t as he was missing a few teeth. Danny and Amanda spoke up for Jacob when security arrived.”
“I wish I could have thanked him.”
“You’ll get to. In June, right?”
“I was thinking more about April,” I replied.
“Of course. But you’re going to be needing something,” Michael reached into his pocket. “I know I got it and, yep. I’m going to need to borrow your other hand.”
I held out my left hand and Michael laid my grandmother’s ring in it.
He then lightly took my right hand and moved my fingers. He then picked the ring up and placed it back on my finger.
“You must have dropped this.”
“Yeah, I guess I did,” I said with a beaming smile.
“And it looks beautiful, just like the one wearing it.”
“You are most welcome.”
“Oh, and we picked in something in Tupelo. Don’t open the pack until you’re in your room, okay?”
“And you’re going to wait for me downstairs?”
“What is it?”
“Can’t lie to ya, it’s a dress. Your grandmother said it was very pretty and I wasn’t going to argue.”
“Okay, I can’t guarantee I’ll wear it.”
“You don’t have to wear anything if you don’t want to.”
“You’d like that.”
“I like whatever makes you happy, m’lady,” he said with a slight bow.
“Okay, I’ll go. For you.”
Michael opened the front door and I ran upstairs to the room.
I closed the door and unzipped the bag to reveal a green version of the very same blue dress I had before.
The color matched the former streak in my hair and at that moment, I saw a bit more color to the room. I looked at the mirror one more time as I took my shirt and jeans off-the only clothes I had left in the world at that time-and felt a bit of freedom. I held the dress out and threw it on in a mad race to quickly look somewhat presentable without anything to work with. I looked back at the mirror and I recognized myself and not my brother. “Nice to see you too,” I smiled back at the reflection.
I clapped my hands in sheer glee. Yes, I had been through a week of Hell.
Yes, life was never going to be the same
But for the most part, I’d have to say I’d do it again...if I could save Heather and could have kidnapped Richard and left him in the Smokey Mountains or something earlier in the year.
I stepped out of the room and was about to run, skip and jump down the stairs when I heard my dad’s voice.
“Mama, what are you doing here?”
“I’m here to see you, Liz and Kristi.”
“How did you get here?”
“Michael drove me.”
There was a slight delay, perhaps it was because he was looking at where Michael’s missing arm would be.
“Fortunately, it’s not a stick shift, sir,” Michael said.
“Well, mama, glad to have you come up, how was your drive.”
“It was fine, Aaron, but enough of the bantering, we have to discuss a few things.”
“What’s on your mind, mama?”
“I’ve been thinking about the future, how I’m getting old and how much I missed when you worked on the farm with your Pa.”
“I know, I know, but you haven’t had a farm operation in quite a while.”
“I’ve been planning to start it back up and eventually hand it to a new owner.”
“You’re selling the farm?”
“Aaron Malone Novoselic, that’s complete crazy talk. No self-respecting southern farmer sells her land, no matter the price.”
“What are you getting at, mama?”
“I’m going to hire out, start with some livestock.”
I heard a set of footsteps walk up the stairs. I backed into the hallway only to have Michael put a finger to lips and then hold his hand out to me with a smile.
“I’ve found a young couple to help me for a few seasons and then, maybe I’ll retire to the coast and let them take over.”
“Retire to the coast?” Dad asked.
“I said I would never sell, doesn’t mean I won’t take an extended vacation.”
“Okay, sounds like a plan. Who are you asking to help you?”
“A hard-working couple. They’ve been given a bit of hard luck in the past but I see a bright future for them, they just need a chance.”
Michael gently pulled me out of the hallway and to the top of the stairs.
“And there they are now.”
I tried to hid my fear and shock as we stood before the three of them. Grandma smiled at the two of us; mom looked like she was near tears and my father.
My father was actually smiling.
Michael led me down the stairs with my arm wrapped around his and I tried to hide the fact that I was looking at my dad’s face but at that moment our eyes were locked with each other’s.
We reached the bottom step and stood in front of the three of them.
My father broke the silence with a small cough as he stepped towards us.
“We need to have that talk I haven’t wanted to have because I didn’t know how to say it.”
“Okay,” I replied.
“I read the report front the school and the more I read it the more I wanted to go back there and throttle a few people, like your history teacher for one.”
Dad cleared his throat and then looked at me again.
“I see you have mama’s ring.”
“Your idea, mama?” Dad asked.
“Of course, dear.”
Dad nodded as he looked back to mom. She made a rolling motion with her hands, as if this was all planned by everyone but me.
“Think you can handle farm life?”
“What about you, Mr. Nelson?”
“What do you plan on doing with the rest of your life, Michael?”
“To take care of Kristi the best I can.”
Dad reached his hand out and Michael took it in a hand shake.
“You do that. You take extra care of my daughter, you hear?”
Dad then turned back to me. And put his arms around me. “Kristy and I love you, little girl, I’m sorry I never said that to you,”
My heart could have stopped at that moment and I would have died happy.
The world could have come to an end, and I would feel elated.
Hath been before, how are our brains beguiled,
Which, labouring for invention, bear amiss
The second burden of a former child!
O, that record could with a backward look,
Even of five hundred courses of the sun,
Show me your image in some antique book,
Since mind at first in character was done!
That I might see what the old world could say
To this composed wonder of your frame;
Whether we are mended, or whether better they,
Or whether revolution be the same.
O, sure I am, the wits of former days
To subjects worse have given admiring praise.
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