1. A w a k e n i n g
Sunday morning I woke up suddenly to the constant sound of rain
thumping against my window. Groggily, I walked over to the window
to see the overcast sky stretching out across the green rolling
hills. My favorite time of day. I tried to relax, but I heard
muffled voices outside my bedroom. I wasn't quite ready to face
the day, much less the constant bickering with my mother. With a
quiet 'tap, tap' my bedroom door slowly creaked open. I jumped at
"Sophie, I told you to stop sneaking in my room!" I hissed.
She gave a timid, apologetic smile and closed the door silently behind her. Shadows danced across her face as she made her way through my messy room. Her dark hair was in a messy bun on top of her head, and I could tell she had been crying. For only thirteen, she acted much older than her age. As she should, for she had been through a lot in the past couple weeks. Most little sisters are considered to be irritating, but I find Sophie completely lovable. She is so much tougher than I could ever dream of being.
"Oh, I'm sorry Soph. You just scared me." I said quietly, "Are you alright? Did you have the dream again?"
Faint outlines of bruises were still slightly visible on her skin. She looked at me and just shook her head slowly. I could see her determination not to cry in front of me as her jaw tightened. Even with her efforts, a few unwanted tears spilled from her eyes. She looked toward the window as she vigorously swiped them away. When I am with her I try my best to be strong for her, so she can feel like she is a normal girl. But when something so terrible has happened to her, I cannot see a normal girl anymore. I see a look of fear glazed in to her emerald eyes that used to bounce with joy over the simplist things. Even as stubborn as she is,she can't keep herself from crying.I walked over to her and put my arms around her, trying to make something, anything better. She gave in and weaped, trying to be quiet so our parents wouldn't hear.
"Sophie, I'm proud of you. You're the brave one, not me." I whispered, but this just made her cry harder. We didn't speak for what seemed like hours, I just sat there and held her.
"I don't want you to leave." She finally said through muffled tears.
Instantly, I felt guilty. For months and months I had been angry about my life, and I was taking the easy way out. And in the process I was leaving my baby sister alone, and scared. What will happen when she wakes up in the middle of her nightmare, and has nobody to talk to? What will happen when it hits her suddenly, the vivid images seared in her mind? She won't go and talk to my mother. My parents are still attempting to pretend nothing ever happened. Being strong for a little girl is one thing, but I can not justify being completely ignorant.
"Ask if you can come with me. I won't mind," I said, dipping down trying to look her in the eye. She just shook her head again.
"That would require them knowing you were leaving," she said sarcastically, her voice bitter.
I just shrugged, and her eyes immediatley softened.
"No, I will just try to come visit. I'll be okay," she whispered, trying to convince me. It sounded more like she was trying to convince herself.
"I'm okay, Peyton," she said a little more sharply.
"Okay. You know, I'm leaving tonight and-" I started.
We both heard the front door slam loudly, making me wince. The car engine fired up , and I couldn't help but feel relieved when I heard the sound slowly fade away in to the distance. I felt Sophie touch me gently on my arm. Looking back towards her, I tried to ignore the long scratch against her neck and not cry.
"Peyton, you're going to have fun. I'll come up soon. I'll even write. Don't worry about me, please. I just want things to go back to normal."
"Oh like Mom and Dad?" I countered, my voice acidic.
She just shrugged and tried to smile again.
"Be safe, okay?" And when she didn't reply, "Okay?"
Sophie nodded and we said our goodbyes. She helped me begin to pack and then left me to my thoughts. I piled everything in to two bags, leaving my room empty and looking abandoned. The closet, drawers, and bed were empty. A few books and picture frames were the only scattered remains. In a few hours, I would be in North Carolina with my grandmother.My best friend in the entire world hadcampe up with the plan earlier in the month.She knew that she would be off to her home town in California, where she had been waiting to go all year long. And I was lucky to have her, because most friends wouldn't worry about leaving me behind. But not Kait,she really does take care of me. But of course, I would be leaving others behind. That's just what happens. Jason, my boyfriend, would be one. And I really would miss him, but my time here was over. And I think somewhere in his heart he knew that, as well. I needed to leave. I needed to leavemy needy, arrogant mother. But unwillingly, my loving father would be left. My beautiful sister who was once silly and young in the heart believed she should stay as well, for her sake as well as mine. Hands down I would let her come with me, but my mother would rip her hair out before admitting that she is slowly being abandoned by her own daughters.
Things happen in life that cause you to change course. And in the past couple months, this time for me had come. I am ready to start over. I need to, because I am beginning to go crazy. Everything was planned out thoughtfully as of a few weeks ago, before everything occured with Sophie. But I have been living for other people lately, never for myself. I have been living to fight with my mother. I have been living to be there for Jason if he ever needed me. I am there for Kait to talk to, and there for Sophie to cry with. I am losing myself. Going through the motions of everyday life, and no longer living. Summer has come, and I need to get away to clear my mind. I am only worried for Sophie, but I know I will see her soon. I also know she is much better than everyone gives her credit for, even the credit I give her. Sophie's independance is something that has always been striking to me, her still being such a young girl. She isn't one to want help, from anyone. No "charity work" under her watch, as she always is saying. That's just the way she has always been, and I know that some part of her is relieved for me to be leaving. Though, this timing was to be considered more than awful.
I said a quick goodbye to Sophie and left three notes in my now lifeless room while my parents were still out. The taxi took me to the airport, and as I sat in front of the terminal, watching the plane pull up, I couldn't help but take a much needed deep breath. I sat there, staring at the plane through the heavy rain and fog of Washington. A few tears began to fall from my eyes as I thought, "I'm not fine". The past couple months, that was all I said. I'm fine, fine, fine, fine. Not good, not bad. I was just fine. But now, I think I may be happy. Nervous. Excited. Regretful, even. But most of all, I have hope. I have hope for a new beginning for myself, and even more hope for Sophie, knowing she is now starting over as well. I smiled assuringly at the flight attendant through my blurred eyes, and sat down in my seat. I plugged my iPod in to my ears to drown out any of my thoughts, especially those urging to go running for the emergency exit. Soon enough, I drifted to sleep dreaming of the three tiny notes on my bed. Unconciously, I released the uncomfortable tension in my shoulders. The three crumpled notes had created a whole new beginning for me, a whole new life.
♦ ♦ ♦
I need to be on my own for awhile without having accusations or judgments on my behalf. I'm safe, Dad knows where I am. Take care of Sophie. Let her come see me soon. Thanks, Peyton.
I'm going to go visit your mother up in North Carolina for awhile. For the whole summer, to be exact. Take care of Soph for me, please. I love you and I'm sorry I didn't tell you, and I think you know why. Take care of yourself and I will talk to you very soon. Thanks, Daddy. Love, Pey.
P.S. Please deliver the note adressed to Jason if you find the time.
I'm being spontaneous as you always told me to be. This is when you should start laughing.I'm spending my summer in North Carolina, and I'm sorry you can't be home for me to say goodbye. We have had great times, and I thank you so much for being good to me. I will miss you, and I am sorry. I know you will understand that I need to be on my own for awhile. Take care of Sophie, please. She really does like you. Thank you Jason, and come see me if you ever want to. Love, P.