Chapter - 1
I can see her walk towards me. I think she is angry, from the way her heels are clicking on this dirty floor; I don’t need an expert to tell my fate.
I am going to get another round of beating. The main question is why am I getting beaten? I never saw her face as I was not allowed to look up.
Didn’t she promise if I keep quiet, she won’t do anything? Whom am I kidding? She never kept her promises.
“All of this is happening because of you. Why are you not dead yet, you Bitch!” with that whip kissed my skin.
“No!! Please No! I haven’t done anything wrong. Why are you beating me? Please No!!” I was pleading and crying but she was not in a mood to stop.
As I spoke to her without permission; this is going to get me hell. She suddenly dropped the whip and clutched my neck. I could not breathe at all. I started to feel lightheaded; black dots started to cloud my vision.
This is it! I am going to die today.
“Wake up princess! Hey... It’s...all right. You are home honey., Wake up Rhea.”, Someone yelled in my ear and I shot up in bed.
I was drenched in a cold sweat and trembling. I search my room and find my uncle Victor beside me and aunt Mili near the headboard of the bed.
I do have weird habits like the reverse sleeping position means feet at the headboard of the bed and head at the other end of the bed.
Ma and Pa never approved of this weird habit out of all weird habits but then again I never listen to anybody.
My uncle & aunt whom I call Pa & Ma were looking worriedly at me. They knew that I was not going to talk about my freakshow.
Yeah..!! I normally get 1 -2 nightmare episodes every week, but the frequency can be changed. It’s only Wed and I got a high-trick.
“Exactly how many times do I have to tell you that this is the wrong way to sleep?” Ma got annoyed. She walked to my closet, fetched a fresh pillow, and asked me to sleep correctly.
She always changes my pillow if I get my freak nightmare episode; I still don’t understand why? “Good night princess” my Pa mumbled in my ear after tucking me in bed and both kissed me on the forehead.
I was wide awake after that, I wanted to tell my Ma that those nightmares are due to my horrifying past, it has nothing to do with my pillow. But I never dare to say that aloud; not that I am scared but it will hurt both of them.
I have lived in Berkeley since I remember; with my paternal grandparents, uncle, and maternal great-grandma.
Don’t need to give me that shitty face, my parents are alive and they do visit me every month once or twice.
I am the eldest child in my family so I am the most loved also. I have a room in every house with a closet full of clothes; the only person in my family who never travels with clothes.
You know the perks of being the most loved person. It is not the only reason actually; I have weird living habits also.
My maternal great grandmother whom I call Ninny lives in Royal Oak; technically on the outskirts of both cities I guess but her address says Royal Oak. I know I am poor with the location.
Every day I must have breakfast at her place. She needs to see me every morning because I am her lucky charm. We both knew that’s not the reason. She just needs to check how my night was.
After school, I have to go to my paternal grandparents who moved to Berkeley. Mostly my grandpa is out for business so grandma needs help with all other stuff, even though she has Smith’s.
Smith is an extended family; he is a neighbor, friend, ex-army, and farmer. He is the one who spoiled me the most.
He & Lily don’t have kids but we four are his life. Ohhh!! We four contain me as in Rhea, my little brother Rishab and my cousins Alex & Bella.
My nights are not fixed though; I sleep in one of those houses, I mean at Ninny’s, grandparents or uncles. I know I am weird and do not need to recite that.
“Ree Ree” my little devil called me. I peeked at the door and saw my & half-year-old cousin Bella crawling towards me.
This girl changes 3 places every night; everyone has to keep the door open at night. She would be going to turn adventurous.
I got her from the door and placed her on my bed. Those blue-grey eyes were shining in the moonlight. This girl is my solace. I cuddle with her thinking about my nightmare and sleep slowly engulfs me.
“Good morning my girls! Come on Di, it's the last day of your final exam, go and win” Alex said enthusiastically.
Someone, please tell him it’s not a PE exam. I have to sit and write answers. He is praising me like I am going to run in the Olympics.
Well, that’s Alex for you; he just loves exams. I certainly do not hate exams but I hate waking up in the morning, especially if Bella is cuddling with me.
The only person who can hug me without my permission is Bella; no one else is allowed to touch me without permission, not that anyone listened to me.
Alex walked into my closet and picked up clothes for me; if it’s my choice I only wear black.
My Ninny always said to me “Just because Black is your last name does not mean you should wear black every day.”
“Rhea Snow Black, you have only 5 mins to walk down from the room, don't make me come and get you,” Ma yelled from the kitchen and I got up from bed.
The first thing every ‘Black family’ kid should learn is to take every threat from ‘Black family’ women seriously, those are vicious. Don’t count me in that category, I am not only ‘Black’; I am ‘Snow Black’. I have inherited last names from both sides, special cases in the family though no one knows why.
“I will be late” I howled from the door and walked to my car; the drive from home to college is not that long. Once I reached college, I parked at my usual spot and pulled my hoodie cap over my head.
Rhea Black is only some hoodie girl in this school. I never had any friends in my entire life. I am the most socially awkward person.
I am only known for hoodies, Straight A, and am a rich brat. No one ever talks with me but they always think I have some ego because I am from a rich family.
I never bother to correct anyone. I never had time for that. I sat in my place and looked at my wristwatch. It was ticking slowly.
Finally, after two hours, I am free from this hell. There is no need to hang around. I have no one to say goodbye to.
I do love this place though. I quickly visited all those places where I had liked to sit and read books.
I am going to miss this place and all these people also. Even though I never talked to anyone, I know them.
They were part of my life unknowingly. These people were my escape from those horrible nightmares. I had seen them cry, laugh, happy & heartbroken also. They taught me that life goes on.
I was about to turn when one nerd called Nora howl for me.
“Hey Rhea, we were clicking photos for the last day of our class, please join us. I know you don’t like us but out of courtesy at least.” I nodded at her.
And said, “Make sure I will get one hard copy.”
“Sure. Please follow me.” She led the way where everyone was waiting for me. That was the first!
The boy who was clicking the photo cleared his throat uncomfortably and said “Umm... Do you mind sitting at the center and please remove that hoodie?” I walked and sat between two girls after removing the hoodie.
After clicking 4-5 photos with different formations, I had enough adventure for the last day. I put back my hoodie and walk out from them.
“Hey, what are you guys doing here?” I asked as soon as I spotted Pa and my cousins near my car.
“Your Ma needs to do some grocery shopping and we need to celebrate your last day of high school. Come on getting in fast, your Ma is picking up old ladies and Smiths for celebration.” Pa said and hopped in the car with my cousins.
My Pa loves to sit in the passenger seat and enjoy the view whereas I love to drive.
Practically, I have nothing in common with any of my family members, and with my social awkwardness, I am inexpressive in so many things. I parked near Dominoes so Pa could order and take pizzas with us.
“How was exam Di?” Alex asked me.
“What is going on Alex? You have been so attentive since morning. Does anything happen?” I asked him. He was quiet at breakfast time also.
“Umm... Well... I was wondering how are you holding up as you hadn’t slept 3 nights in a row.” He asked hesitantly.
“Rate my freak show on a scale 1-10, 1 for low and 10 for high,” I asked him
“For all three night?” he inquired further. I nodded at him.
“6, 5 & 7 for Mon, Tue & Wed respectively. You didn’t wake up when I tried.” He said, looking at his lap.
“I am OK Alex, Are you sad because I didn’t respond to your voice?” I asked him.
He just looks out of the window. Since Bella entered our lives, Alex started to think I won’t love him anymore.
“I am sorry baby! I was in a deep sleep I guess. Alex, I do love you a lot and more than Bella. You know that, don’t you? ” His eyes lit up after hearing that.
Alex and I do have some things in common, like our cheeks turning a shade of pink for every emotion.
“Ok kids! Change of plans. Smith & Lily are throwing a family party for Rhea’s last day of high school, so we are heading to your grandma’s place after picking a list of items your Mom ordered for me. Headfirst to home Rhea!” Pa said entering the car. After getting everything we were driving to grandma’s place.
From the corner of my eyes, I saw Pa & Alex looking at each other worriedly.
“Is there anything you want to ask Pa?” I asked directly. I know they were worried about last night but there is something else also.
“Nothing special... I.. I was just curious how... How was your exam?” Pa asked nervously.
“You should try hard not to look nervous. What did I do last night? You both are looking worried.” I stared at Alex through the mirror.
“You were holding your neck with both of your hands. For a split of a second, I thought..” Pa cut himself in mid-sentence.
“Pa! You thought I would quit my life because of a nightmare. There are still enough reasons for me to live my life Pa. Just some stupid shit in past can’t make me quit.
At least trust in your upbringing, if you do not trust me. I know Pa I can’t escape from them, but I do have learned to live with those shitty nightmares. Those will remain till the end I guess.” I answered his unuttered question.
“Why don’t you visit some therapist? May it help to cope with that shit.” Pa asked hopefully.
“You want me to knock myself out with those sleeping drugs because talking about them did make the situation worse. Truth to be told, I never want to forget what I lost in the past.” I said curtly.
“Please make yourself free from that guilt Rhea. It was not your fault; you did try what you could at that time. Sometimes in life, you have to lose something unexpectedly. It is hurting to see you suffer like that. I am a sorry princess! I have failed you.” Pa said with teary eyes.
“It was not anyone’s fault Pa. It’s just become my constant life companion unknowingly.” I tried to reason with him.
“What happened?” Ma asked Pa as soon as she saw my face.
“Your husband forgot my juice. He only loves you” I said pouting at my Ma.
“Honey! I bought it from the supermarket; there is no need to bring it from the house.” Ma tried to console me.
Ohhh!! I certainly had a wild freak nightmare show; I mean who consoled an 18-year-old girl for a juice woman!
I saw their silent exchange and walked to the table. I am starving and certainly not in the mood to investigate further.
After our pleasant lunch, Lily asked me, “What would you like to eat sweetie?”
“Cupcake,” I said, jumping on the seat like Bella.
Smith smiles & shakes his head and said,” To whom you are asking Love! You already know the answer. You better ask Alex, he knows what everyone wants.”
I just shrugged, picked Bella, and howled to all ‘Sleeping time’. Ohhh... Whoever had found the concept of bed & comforter that person must have gone to heaven. How much I love the bed! All worries and anxiety vanished as soon as my head hit the pillow.
So this is the first chapter, I know it's not that interesting but give this story a try. It will get better after 4-5 chapters.
Let me know what you think about this chapter.
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