I was born into a happy family. I had a beautiful and kind mother, a successful and loving father. The world could offer me no more happiness than what was in my family at those moments.
For two years we lived as a normal happy family.
It wasn't until my father started meeting with a woman named Jennifer, did everything go downhill. The once happy family was now full of tension and mistrust. My mother could no longer take anymore of it and divorced him, taking me along with her.
At the age of three, my mother met David. He was cheerful and soft, and an unsuccessful graphic novelist. I grew to hate him for taking my father's place. I was only three after all. He tried to get my attention and hang out with me, but I would have nothing of it. This man wasn't my father, and he never would be.
They married just two years after meeting, when I had just turned five. How could she marry someone after she left my father? Even though I was mad at her, I loved her. She was my mother.
A year later my little brother, Riley, was born. Unlike my feelings towards David, I loved my baby brother. He was born with slightly tan skin and piercing, pale blue eyes. Pale brown hair fell down his face, and a line of freckles went from under one eye, over the nose, to the other eye. I knew then that I would be happy again.
Three years after his birth, Riley and I became best friends. We played games together, talked together, and even taught each other. We would build large castles out of building blocks and blankets, each held a cardboard sword. I told him absurd stories about dragons and mythical creatures. Whenever I entered the room when getting home from school, his eyes lit up like he looked up to me. Like I was his hero. Everyone was happy. I had even grown to like David a little more.
Happiness doesn't last forever.
I learned that a long time ago.
The day had started normally. Wake up, get dressed and head downstairs for breakfast. It was Riley's favorite. French toast lathered in blueberry syrup, scrambled eggs and bacon with orange juice at the side.
I remember laughter that morning. David was telling a story about the other day when his editor had a melt down.
"The man was there bawling in front of his boss, begging him to assign him to someone else. He explained how it was absolutely impossible to put a tiger dragon into a reality comic. Big boss man over at his desk is smirking and holding in a laugh at the guy's expense. He eventually said 'enough' and excused us. Two seconds after we left, the scariest laughter came out of the room. Sounded like a dying hippopotamus."
After breakfast I brushed my teeth and my ink black hair. Today was the day of the week that mom and Riley always went out to go shopping they dropped him off. David was opposed to it that morning. He was worried now that my mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer the week before.
"Are you sure you don't want me to do the shopping? You should rest."
My mother scoffed at that and waved him away.
"That's not necessary, David. I'm fine."
David, still very concerned and now upset, acknowledged my mother's response. She kissed him good bye and in attempts to comfort him.
"I'll see you later." She told him with a light smile. "Have a good day."
She called Riley and I so we could leave. I put my shoes on quickly before help my brother into his own. When we got outside, my mother had already started the blue SUV. Riley and I sprinted to the car in one of our friendly races. I let him win.
"Yeah! Me beat you!" He cried happily doing his happy dance.
My mother climbed out of the car to pick him up to put him in his car seat.
"Mama! I beat Jakey!" He announced with a grin. She gave him a tickle making him giggle.
"Good job. Your such a big strong boy."
She smiled at me, letting me know she knew what I had done.
I got in my booster seat and watched as my mother pulled out of the driveway and onto the road. David watched on with an unreadable face.
The music from the radio boomed throughout the vehicle. I watched as Riley danced in his seat, all the while trying to sing only for garbled words and off pitch notes to come out. Mother swayed along to the music and sang in her melodic, alto voice. A beautiful white smile graced her face, and brown eyes bright. It was a sight I would never forget. The sight before everything went wrong and my memory becomes fuzzy. I remember the phone ringing. My mother pulled over to answer. And then…
And then black…
I woke up in a sickly white room, hurried feet shuffled outside of the room. A loud bleeping was heard at my side, a hand was placed on my own. I looked over to see a tearful David.
What had happened? I had thought.
David ran his fingers through my hair and glanced into my crimson brown eyes.
"There was an accident." He explained to me sadly. Tears pricked my eyes.
Where was mom? Where was Riley? What happened?
I attempted to sit up, only to be gently pushed down by David.
"It's probably best for you to lat down for now." He explained in a soft voice. "I don't want you to get anymore hurt than you already are."
He reached his hand out and pushed a small button on the side of my bed.
"The nurse should be here soon."
I nodded my head to him, still to stunned to speak.
As promised, a nurse walked in within the next five minutes. She was short with pulled up brown hair and big green eyes.
"Hello. How are you feeling Jacob." She smiled and pulled out a laminated sheet of paper with faces on it. "On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your pain?"
I looked at her and then down at the faces. I pointed to a face.
"0, huh? Thats good. The painkillers ate working." She put the sheet down and continued to talk to me. "Your brother woke up not to long ago. I'm sure you'll want to see him."
So he's okay? Riley was okay?
I was so happy, a smile graced my face as I nodded.
"I'm gonna get you a wheel chair. Okay sweetie?"
She left, but came back not long later with a small wheel chair in tow. She and David helped me onto it and I was wheeled to another room.
Before we went in, David lowered himself to my height.
"Before we go in there… I want you to know that everything is going to be okay. You don't need to freak out when you go in there."
I was confused by his words, so I just agreed with him and went through the door.
It was similar to the one I had woken up in. Sickly white. I wheeled my way closer to my brother, he was asleep now. When I saw him, I couldn't look at him. Bandages covered the left side of his face. His head and throat were wrapped as well as his rib cage. A large cast went from his left shoulder to his hand, the same with his left leg.
Who was this? He wasn't my brother. He wasn't Riley.
I grew angry and turned to David and threw my arms around.
"Who is this!? This isn't Riley! This isn't my brother!"
I continued to shout at him. Yelling at him to take me to my real brother. David led me in my wheel chair out of the room and back to my own. He didn't put me back in the bed, he just leaned down in front of me and held me by the shoulders and looked me in the eyes.
"Jacob! Jacob, I'm sorry. That was really Riley, Jacob."
"No it's not!" I shouted furiously, not wanting what he said to be true. "Riley is cheerful and happy and always singing! He's not gloomy!"
Tears started rolling down my cheeks and dripped from my chin.
Why had this happened? Why did this happen to Riley? Why did it happen to me?
And then I realized something.
"David?" My voice cracked. "Where's mama?"
Two hands were placed on the sides of my face, tears were running down the man's face.
"Your mother… your mother is dead. She died instantly. Riley… Riley saw it all.
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