Maia Mitchell as Cecilia Collins
Cara Delevingne as Layla Richards
Francisco Lachowski as Eric Daines
Hayden Byerly as Brody Collins
Maggie Gyllenhaal as Renee Collins
Same Jaeger as Michael Collins
Everyone has a shadow and mine just so happens to be you.
I wish I could describe the feeling of being unwanted. I wish I could describe the feeling of abandonment. Sadly, there are no words. The utter feeling of despair just consumes your entire body, until you are numb. Until you feel nothing at all.
It all started when I was six years old and Brody was three. That is when you first left. That is when you packed your bags without so much as a goodbye. You were gone, and there was nothing we could do about it.
“Dammit, Renee! Is complaining the only thing you are good at?”
You see my dad, or Michael as I now call him, was very good at manipulating situations. He always got his way. He never really cared much for taking responsibility for his actions. Maybe that is why he decided that he was going to leave and never come back.
“Excuse me, but I do recall you complaining just the other day all because you couldn’t hear the TV over the neighbor’s lawn mower. You even damn near gave that poor old man a heart attack the way you charged at him. Oh, but I complain too much. Well, sorry! I just wish you would actually help out around this house. You’re such a ghost these days!” She snapped at him.
Fighting was something they were always good at. Despite being in love, they never tried to show any signs of weakness. My mom and Michael were high school sweethearts. They grew up together on the same street and there was never a moment when you saw Michael, that you didn’t see my mom. They could not get enough of each other. They used to be the very definition of nauseating. You know, the kind of in love where they would just sit face to face rubbing their noses together looking into each other’s eyes. Yeah, that kind of nauseating.
It was never odd to hear my parents fight. At the young age of six, I was pretty used to hearing it.
It was odd however, to hear glass being thrown. That is what you heard that night. The night that always seems to creep its way into my mind at the worst possible times.
Shatters of glass echoed the hallway of our home when I ran out to see blood falling from my father’s forehead. My mom threw the glass rose he got her for their five year anniversary, only it did not hit the floor, it hit my father directly in his face.
As he was pulling a sharp piece of glass out of the center of his forehead, I started crying. I had no idea what I was seeing, and I knew that something was not right.
“Dammit... Cecilia!” My mom then ran over to me and picked me up, clutching me for dear life.
“Put her down, you stupid bitch! Don’t use our daughter as a shield!”
My mom would not let go of me. She knew that the moment she did, he was going to strike. I had never heard my dad say such cruel words to my mom. I could feel water slowly dripping onto my cheek and I realized that it was my mom’s tears. I hugged her, burying my face into the crook of her neck with my eyes sealed shut. I didn’t want to look at anything anymore.
It was then that I was yanked away from my mother’s arms.
Screaming and crying I tried to fight him off, I wanted to get back to my mom. Thrashing about only made my dad more angry, and finally he put me down onto the floor.
“Cecilia, go to your room!” He screamed at me, but I couldn’t move. I was frozen.
He realized I wasn’t going to move, so he turned around and grunted as his fist met the wall.
“Is this what you want, Michael? For our daughter to see us like this? You are lucky Brody is still over at my moms due to the flu. Just stop, please. I love you...” My mom was choking back her tears and sobs as she slowly made her way over to my dad. She reached out to touch his shoulder from behind, but her arm was slapped away.
“No. I have had it. I cannot take this. I can’t take you. I can’t take these kids. I can’t take any of it, anymore.” As the words left his mouth, he darted for their bedroom and slammed the door shut behind him.
My mom quickly ran over to me and picked me up. I instantly smiled as I cuddled into her arms. She gently rocked me back and forth telling me that everything was going to be okay. Little did she know, nothing was ever going to be okay again.
Before my mom or I could do anything else, we heard the bedroom door swing open with a loud thud as the handle slammed into the wall behind it.
His footsteps grew louder and louder as he made his way into the living room, where my mom and I were sitting. He looked strangely calm, and a tad bit relieved.
That is when we saw it.
He had a suitcase in his right hand. Keys in the other.
“Michael, what are you doing?” My mother sobbed.
“I need to get away.” Was all he said, before beginning to walk towards the front door to our home. Well, what used to be our home.
I didn’t understand what was happening. I was far too little to comprehend the events that were taking place. My dad was leaving and I did not know why or where he was going. I didn’t know if he would ever come back.
What hurt the most was the small smile that he wore. He didn’t even try to hide it. He said absolutely nothing and walked right past both my mom and me as we were sitting on the floor, her arms still clutched around my small body. He still had blood dripping down the center of his face, despite the small band-aid he managed to place over his cut.
He closed the front door behind him and walked down the sidewalk to his red Toyota Camry, and slowly opened his trunk, throwing his suitcase inside. He slammed the trunk closed and then got inside the front driver’s seat, slowly pulling the seat belt over his body locking it into place.
I immediately darted for the window, pulling back the light blue curtains that hid the outside world from me. Banging on the window repeatedly, all I could cry out was “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!”
“Cecilia! Please come here...” My mother cried, begging me to walk away from the window so she could comfort me. Or maybe it was her who needed to be comforted... I wasn’t quite sure.
Michael glanced back, but his eyes never met mine. He then proceeded to turn the key, which started the car. Hearing the engine roar to life, I knew that this was it. He was leaving us. I let out small sobs as my mom rushed over to me, picking me up yet again. Her comforting words were no match against the pain that managed to slice open my heart. He was my dad. He was all that I had ever known. What was going to happen to our family now? One thing I knew for certain, we were broken.
Or, at least I was.
“Brody, where the hell is your sister?” No one ever knew exactly where I went each time I left the house.
“How should I know? She never tells anyone anything. She’s probably out walking the tracks again.”
The railroad tracks were the one place that I could escape to. The one place where I wasn’t being asked a million questions. The one place where I could pop in my ear buds and blast whatever song I was feeling like that day. I loved it.
You see, the tracks and I were not so different. We were both aged, both alone... both abandoned. For the past ten years, these tracks have been empty. According to my mom, the city of Greensdale has been planning to rebuild these tracks for as long as I can remember. She didn’t like that I spent so much time walking up and down the broken pieces of wood. She always says that I could get hurt or mugged but I don’t care. The scenery is perfect for me.
The steel tracks are rusted and fragile. The wooden planks that line the bottom of the tracks are worn down, some are even broken. All around you can see bushes and trees of an off green and brown color. Vines sprout from the ground covering all of the fences from the backyards of a dozen old houses. I knew that no one could really see me walking up and down these forgotten tracks. In fact, no one ever paid much attention to anything that I did. No one seemed to care.
I walked for what seemed to be hours and then I headed back towards my residence. I can’t call it a home anymore. It hasn’t been home for a long, long time.
“Cecilia, where have you been? Dinner has been done for over an hour. You know the rules.” My mom glared while walking from the kitchen to the living room.
“Sit down, and eat. Then go up and get started on your homework. Why are you such a slacker these days?” The tension in his house is so thick, you would need a butcher's knife just to cut it.
Knowing I wasn’t going to give an answer, she finally made her way into the living room to sit on her favorite recliner. God forbid she misses another episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
As I entered the small kitchen, I sat down at the table and stared down at my plate with my mouth beginning to water as I took my first bite. Zesty Italian oven baked pork chops, buttered corn on the cob lightly sprinkled with salt and pepper, homemade mashed potatoes and garlic and herb toasted dinner rolls. It smells amazing. That is one of my mom’s many talents. She is an amazing cook. Her over stocked book shelves are filled with nothing but different cookbooks that she’s collected over the years. Cooking is like a science to her, or so she used to say. When I was younger, she started to teach me all of her tricks in the kitchen. Of course, like everything else over the years, that stopped.
I am sixteen years old now and in my sophomore year of high school.
Summerton High. Another place that not only made me feel invisible, but also made me feel nothing at all. I walked through those halls as if I had not one care in the world, which I didn’t.
I wore the same thing every day; a pair of skinny jeans, usually blue or black ones, with my oversized black hoodie and my white Converse. My hair is long, but boring. The faded brown locks are always either hanging off my back or pulled up into a messy bun that the hood of my jacket usually covers. My neon green earbuds are the only thing that stands out on me as they are always hanging from my ears. No one ever really pays any attention to me. It is almost as if I am a speck, that everyone tries to scrape away.
Brody is my little brother. He is tall, and has light blue/grey eyes like our mom. His hair is always short and spiked up at the front. I keep trying to tell him he needs to change his hairstyle every once in a while, but he always says “Why fix what isn’t broken?“.
He is thirteen years old and in middle school, thankfully. We used to be close, but a couple years after our father left, things changed as they always do. We grew apart and just like everything else in my life, I had no control over it.
I sometimes sit and reminisce on the old days when we used to stay up until midnight playing our favorite Mario game, praying we didn’t wake up our mom because we would have been in trouble if we were caught up after our bedtime. We used to do a lot of things together. In fact, Brody used to look up to me. Anytime he had a problem or was in trouble, I was the one he came to for guidance. I thought that our bond would be unbreakable, but when you feel like your life is coming apart at the seams; it’s hard to hold onto anything.
That is my mother’s name. She is so beautiful and always so keen on looking her best no matter where she is or what she’s doing. Her exciting, short brown hair is always perfectly curled. There is never a strand out of place. She is a huge advocate for makeup. She works part time as a sales rep for cover girl on the weekends. During the week, she is a lead nursing supervisor at the local hospital. She graduated college with her Bachelor’s and has been just shy of perfect ever since. I cannot help but feel envious of her. It wasn’t enough that her personality is so outgoing and loud, she is also very kind and heartfelt. I only hoped that someday, I could have just a taste of her confidence. Every day she walks through life smiling and happy, despite everything that has happened to her. I mean, she lost the love of her life and pretends as if he never even existed.
How can she do that? I wish I could.
I suppose I was the only one affected by my father’s disappearance.
The next morning, I woke up in bed. The music was still blaring out of my earbuds even though they had fallen out of my ears during sleep. I wiped the small bit of drool from my face and rubbed my eyes, slowly opening them.
I walked into my bathroom and undressed as I turned on the hot water for a shower.
I can tell it’s going to be another beautiful day.