Withered White Roses
The swing moved back and forth, going faster and faster with every push. Innocent giggles could be heard, coming from two little girls.
"Faster, Lee! Faster!" A young voice from a five year old demanded.
"You got it! Better hang on tight, May!"
The redhead, the big sister, pushed with all of her might. Her blonde sibling hugged her other sibling, the brunette she loved more than even herself, as she was sitting on her lap while on the swing. May giggled as Marie leaned her head on her, their cheeks close together.
A flash clouded their sight for a second. The girls got off the swing. Marie felt dizzier than when they were on it. "Mom, could you please warn us next time?"
Mrs. Kanker giggled. "Sorry, dear. You three looked so cute, I had to take a picture!"
"I'll say." A man's voice was heard, though not quite as enthusiastic.
"Daddy!" May ran to where Rod was. The man ruffled her hair. Lee and Marie soon followed suit, and hugged him.
"How are ya, kids?"
The girls sat down to eat the lunch their Mom prepared. Mrs. Kanker was ever happy her husband had decided to come after all. She hoped their situation would take a turn for the better now, as Rob hadn't been around much because of business matters, as he would say.
Lee cleaned May's mouth, covered in bread crumbs. Marie finished her sandwich. The three sisters kissed their parents to thank them for the meal and ran together to the grass. They laid down on the grass, one next to the other, laughing and enjoying their time together. Soon after, the three fell asleep.
Life had never been easier for them than at that time.
"You got your lunch?"
"Yeah, and I got the quarters, Mom. I'll call you if anything."
"Ok then," Mrs. Kanker breathed out, relieved. "You girls have fun at school, okay?" She kissed her three daughters. "Mommy has to go to work now."
Though sad, Marie waved goodbye to her Mom as she drove away. She wished things could be just like three years ago, when she could play with Lee and May as much as she wanted, and know she had Mom close by. As she walked to their living room, she saw the picture frame which had the photo of that day.
She remembered, smiling, how she would ride the swings with her baby sister. She remembered Dad would be around with them more frequently, but now he would only come by the house every two weeks or so.
A horn sounded. The school bus had arrived.
"Marie, we have to go. Come on…"
"Coming, Lee!" Marie answered eagerly. She couldn't wait to see her friends at Apple Stream elementary-middle school. Once the three girls got out of the home, Lee locked the front door with the key Mom gave her. She tried to open the door to make sure it was locked well. When she was certain nobody could barge in, she and her sisters made her way to the school bus stop.
It happened when they were walking to the cafeteria.
"But, Lisa, isn't he a bit… I don't know… weird?"
The girl laughed. "What are you talking about, Lee? He's cute!"
Lee smiled. "But he talks to himself."
"Not to himself," Lisa was quick to correct, "He can talk to aliens! Isn't that awesome?"
"I don't know. I think he's too short."
"Yeah, listen to Lucille. Isn't he too short for you?" Lee asked.
"I really don't care, you know? My mom is just a tiny bit taller than my dad!"
"I'm just saying. I wouldn't want a boyfriend who could look like my little brother, if I had one that is…"
The girls laughed at Lisa, who just pouted. "So what do you want, Lee? An old man?"
Lee made a face of disgust. "Eww, no! I'm not looking for someone, Lucille! Besides, aren't we too young to—"
Just as Lee was talking to her friend, she bumped a tall boy as they were turning the corner.
"Watch it!" He said, smirking at Lee, and continued on his way, laughing along with his friend. The redhead stared at the boy who had addressed her, turning her head to see him walk until he was out of sight.
"Lee? Lee… Lee!"
"Sorry. What were you saying?"
The trio kept talking as they headed to have lunch at the school cafeteria.
"Who can give the answer to the question?"
She bit her pencil a bit. When she came up with the answer, she raised her hand.
"Three fourths plus five fourths is eight fourths, which is two!"
The professor smiled. "Excellent, May! Good job!"
Applause was heard behind her seat at the front. May turned to see her two friends cheer for her.
"Great job, May!" said Michelle.
"Oh, I almost had it!"
"Sorry, Samantha…" May apologized.
"No, no, you won fair and square…" the girl said, acknowledging her friend. "I'll beat you next time!"
May laughed along with her two friends. The professor let them laugh for a bit before she spoke again.
"Okay, okay, quiet down. Let's continue, shall we?"
She was just about done. The sky needs more color.
The bell rang. "Okay, kids. Pass your drawings to the front."
The children hurried up to pass their drawings and soon after took their belongings and started to leave, glad the day was over.
"Umm, Marie… come here one second please."
"Yes, sir!" Marie made her way to the teacher. "What is it?"
"I gotta say, this meadow drawing you made is really good! You have a lot of talent!"
Marie giggled. The brunette valued the opinion of her professor, a nice old man, very highly. He was the first to introduce her to drawing and, because her Dad would be home sporadically, there were times in which she saw him as a father. "You think so? Thank you!"
"What I don't understand is why you colored the sky with a darker blue shade than its normal color…"
Marie shrugged. "… That's my favorite color. I thought it looked better like that."
"It doesn't look bad at all, though, it's original! Well, the bus is going to leave you, you better go now…"
"Yes, Mr. Johnson, thanks!" Marie said as she ran outside.
She was puffing. The girl was very tired, but she was proud of herself. She had beaten all of the girls of her class. She was finally going to make it first to the finish line on their school track and field practice.
Suddenly, she heard someone running behind her. The steps started to sound closer and closer as the seconds passed by. She saw in disbelief that little May Kanker had passed her, yet again, as she made it to the finish line second, arriving about three seconds after May.
"Yes! Yes! Yes! We did it, Sam! We're the best, the best!"
May hugged her friend, who was too tired to even smile. Or at least, that's what May was thinking.
She was making constant, fast noises as she sliced the tomatoes on the chopping board.
"We made it first again, Mommy! The coach even complimented us on our speed!"
She forced a smile. "That's great, honey."
"And Mr. Johnson complimented my drawing!"
"Really? Good, sweetie." She was getting desperate. "Could you girls go wash? I'm almost done with lunch…"
May and Marie raced each other to the bathroom. Lee was about to do the same.
"Mom!" Lee ran to see her mother. She had cut her finger.
"I'll bring you a Band-Aid." She said, and ran to the first aid kit.
She dropped the knife on the table. It was not fair. He hadn't called her as he promised a week ago. Rod had started to make himself more and more scarce. We're supposed to be a family! She couldn't help it. Tears started to fall off her face as she almost let out a whimper.
"Mom? Are you crying?" Her first born asked with worry.
Mrs. Kanker quickly cleaned her cheeks. "… No, honey, why would you say that? Did you bring me the bandage?"
"Yes. Here…" Lee said, as she handed it to her.
"Thank you… Now, why don't you go wash so you can eat, honey?"
But Lee remained in the kitchen. "I'd like to help you, Mom, so you can eat with us…"
Mrs. Kanker turned around and hugged her child. "You're such a wonderful girl, Lee…"
Lee smiled. "Are you sure you're okay, Mom?"
The woman decided to open up a bit. "Yeah… I'm just… concerned that we haven't heard from your father in some time… boy and girl problems, it's not something you need to understand right now…"
Lee nodded, and helped her Mom with the tomatoes.
They checked the box. Only two were left.
"Sorry girls, I forgot to go to the store… you eat them, I'm not hungry anyways…" Mrs. Kanker said, as she had barely managed to finish half her dinner. Lee handed one to May, intending to give the other one to her other sister.
"Here you go, May!" But, as soon as May grabbed the cupcake, she handed it to Marie.
"You eat it, Marie, I'm not hungry…" She said, even though she really wanted to eat it.
Marie knew her sister had a sweet tooth, but still she decided to decline on the dessert as she gave up her cupcake to her! "Aaww, May!" The brunette hugged her little sister, ruffling her hair. May giggled.
"I got an idea," Lee said. "Let's cut it in half, that way we all can eat some!"
May whooped, Marie smiled.
"Oh, divide them in three parts, Lee. I don't really…" But, seeing the puppy eyes on the faces her three daughters, Mrs. Kanker decided to grab the remaining half.
She sat with her friends at one of the tables.
"And then, he said they're coming to take our cows! What would they want with our cows?"
"I don't know, Lisa. Lee, what do you think?"
Lee gave it a thought. "Well, I always liked a good milk shake…"
The three girls laughed. Suddenly, the door to the cafeteria opened. A boy entered, laughing. Outside, a professor ran, soaked in water, passing by the library. He talked to one of his friends sitting nearby. He started to laugh loudly.
"I'm tellin' ya, man! He had it coming!"
Lee started intently at the boy. It was the same one she stumbled upon the day before. He looked really happy, even when he had pulled a prank on the teacher. The redhead stared for too long as her eyes met with his. He smiled to her, and then turned his head to talk to his friend again.
Lee felt her face grow warm. Her cheeks were rosy.
"Lee? Lee, you're spacing out again!"
The girl turned. "Ah? What is it?"
Her other friend noticed her. "Lee, are you okay? Your cheeks are red…"
"Yeah, yeah I am."
"You're not falling sick are you?"
Lee reddened even more. "N-No! No, why would you say that?" She considered those words. She wasn't falling sick, that's for sure.
"Now, for your project…"
Almost everyone groaned. Marie simply stared intently.
"I want you to draw what you believe defines your essence, using the techniques of shading and gradients we have learned. This will be due in a week, so please, start as soon as you can…" Mr. Johnson said. He brought his handkerchief to his forehead to clean his brow for the fourth time on that hour.
Marie smiled. She thought about it for a few seconds. She imagined herself and her sisters running in a field of flowers. If there was one type she loved, it was the white roses. She grabbed a canvas, picked the white and green paste, and started to draw. When the bell rang, she dropped her brushes and headed out. She had managed to finish three flower stems and was beginning to draw the first white rose petals.
Mr. Johnson, seeing the girl leave, addressed her. "I can't wait to see what you're gonna come up with, Marie!"
The girl smiled. "Oh, I hope you'll like it, sir! Good bye!"
The three of them made their way inside the house.
"Is Mommy home yet?" May asked.
"Let me check…" Lee said, as she made her way to the kitchen. "No, she isn't here yet." She then addressed her two siblings. "Wash your hands, girls. I'm going to warm up the food."
"I'm kinda getting tired of chicken…" Marie said.
"Well, I just ordered pizza, if you girls wanna wait…" They heard a man's voice behind them. May ran to Rod, who lifted her off the ground. As per usual, he ruffled her hair and did the same to the other two girls who were excited to see her.
"When'd you get here, Daddy?"
"About an hour ago. Where's your Mother?"
Just as they spoke, they heard the front door unlock. Perfect timing, Rod thought.
Both Marie and May ran to Mrs. Kanker. "Look who came back, Mom!" Lee called out to her.
"Rod? Oh my God, it is you! You've been gone so long!" The woman ran to hug her husband, who tried his best to follow suit. The blonde man needed to be on her good side.
"I just ordered Pizza. Wanna wait for it?"
The family of five sat down on the sofa as they engaged in conversation.
"And then he said I had what it takes, that I could be an excellent salesperson!" Rod told his story. The three children and Mrs. Kanker were excited to hear him. "So I asked him,"
The bell rang. He was quick to take the chance. "Um, girls, could you go pay the guy? Lee, give him this," He said, as he handed the redhead a $20. The three children ran excitedly to the door.
Mrs. Kanker looked at him and smiled. "I've missed you…"
Rod arched up his lips. "And I did too… But you know, I have to make sure I can pay for the well-being of our daughters…"
Mrs. Kanker smiled brightly. She didn't remember the last time she had been so happy. Here he was, Rod, a man who had given her a child, May, but had been kind enough to understand her troubled youth and offered to see that her other two children would have a good upbringing. She couldn't understand, and didn't want to, what is it that she had done to deserve someone so wonderful. May and Marie were growing up. Soon, she would be able to tell her daughters of her past and they would understand then, that even though they're not fully related, the five of them are a family nonetheless.
"…so you have to take business trips that your job requires, I know. I just wish you could spend some more time home…"
The man almost scoffed at her nagging. Nobody could ever understand his free spirit. "I promise, this is going to be the last time. With this new project, our company will be able to sell to more people than we can number! I'll be the star, and of course, I'll get my cut from bonuses for every client I get."
Mrs. Kanker wasn't a greedy person, but she relished on the possibility that soon enough her husband would be around to stay, and she wouldn't have to worry about taking late shifts and extra time to cover for her and her daughters' living expenses.
"Only that," He snickered, as he scratched his head. "This trip is going to require I invest on my persona. Only a few expenses to make myself look better before my associates and our investors. I was wondering if you…"
Mrs. Kanker looked at Rod. "Expenses? I… What happened to the money I gave you a couple of months ago, Rod?"
This woman… I should've gone long ago before having to resort to this… "I had to spend it, dear. You know, I needed to invest in advertising to gather up clientele. My business is like that, you gotta invest capital on it before you see it come back. But when it does, I promise you I'm going to give you back every penny I've asked for… and more. C'mon, what do you say, sweetie?" he said, as he caressed Mrs. Kanker's cheeks and hair.
She giggled. Money was tight, and they had a few bills to pay, but she just couldn't say no to him. "I… I'll see what I can do. But please be very careful, okay?"
"You have my word."
"Hi, kids. My name is Josh, and I'll be your substitute teacher for the day." A dull guy, around his twenties, addressed the class. Marie was surprised. She expected to see Mr. Johnson today, but instead they were getting a substitute.
"Your teacher, Mr. Johnson, has taken the day off today, so I'm filling up for him. Now, please continue with what he assigned you to do."
That's odd, he never takes a day off, Marie thought. She reasoned with herself that she would ask him tomorrow when he comes back. She grabbed her brushes and decided to continue her drawing.
"Okay, gather up girls, gather up!"
May joined her best friend to sit down by the coach, forming a circle around him.
"As you know, we're going to have a match against Pineapple Riviera elementary this Saturday. Only one of you will be able to compete in the race…"
Every girl crossed her fingers. May was very excited. "I hope you get picked, Sam!"
Me too, the girl thought.
"And I want you, May, to represent our school. Your speed is gonna win us first place for sure!"
May was really surprised, but she wasn't the only one. Samantha felt her heart sink. I have spent a lot more time on the field than her, I should be picked!
"But sir," May intervened, "But coach, Samantha has been here for longer than me, she could do this…"
I could do this, Samantha thought, with only regard for herself, not even thinking that her friend was looking out for her.
"But you're faster, May. You've proved it. You have more stamina, you're clearly the better runner. You will be the one representing us on Saturday." And with that, the coach had his students run laps to warm up.
"Sorry you didn't get picked, Sam." May said to her friend, sad for her.
She rushed back inside her classroom. Desperately, Lee headed to her desk, and breathed out in relief when she found her protractor. Once she stored it away, the redhead made her way out, running to catch the bus.
It was unfortunate that she had to crash with him.
"Hey!" the boy complained, as Lee bumped against him. The girl hadn't been able to watch where she was going with all her haste.
"Sorry! I'm in such a hurry, I…"
"This is the second time you stumble upon me." The boy smiled, leaving Lee speechless. "I'm Dave, what's your name?"
He was talking to her. Lee Kanker could not believe the boy she saw the last couple of days was actually talking to her! "… Lee. Lee Kanker." She bore a hint of blush on her cheeks.
"Nice name! You're in fifth grade, right?"
Lee was wide eyed. "H-How did you know?"
"I have a lot of ears around here." He said.
Lee was surprised Dave had taken the trouble to know in what grade she was. "As a matter of fact yes, I am in fifth grade." She said, trying to sound sophisticated and mature. Dave just chuckled. "And you…"
"I'm in seventh, little girl." He said, teasing the redhead. Lee pouted at his words.
"Little girl?" She flushed. "What-What does it have to do with me being younger…?" She said, and covered her mouth instantly, realizing the implication of what she was saying. She started to redden.
Dave realized her naiveté. He laughed. "Just kidding! I don't care about age, Lee." He said, to which the girl looked relieved. "Now, where were you going in such a hurry?"
Lee gasped. She ran outside the school, only to realize the bus was already leaving. She was disappointed, and now she had to walk home. At least, Marie and May knew that if she ever missed the bus, they should just take it. At least since their Dad was home the two girls wouldn't have to wait for her outside.
"Oh no! The bus left!"
"I'm sorry, Lee. It's my fault, I distracted you—"
"No, no. Don't blame yourself, D-Dave." Lee said. Dave smirked again. "I guess I'll see you around…" Lee said, as she started walking home.
Dave intervened quickly. "Wait! Allow me to walk you home." He said, as he positioned himself next to Lee. All the while as they walked Lee spoke to the boy, a boy she believed to be too kind, like the ones she would hear about on the soap she would watch with her Mom on TV.
The blonde remained pensive as the bus was arriving to their home.
"What's the matter sis?"
May regarded her brunette sister. "I'm sad for Sam, Marie. You know, the coach chose me for the elementary school race this Saturday…"
"Really? Congrats, May! I knew you could do it! But, why are you sad then?"
"It's... she's been on the team for longer, and I think she deserved to represent the school."
Marie looked at her younger sister. "Aw, May. Don't underestimate yourself. The coach chose you for a reason, right? So if he chose you, you must now try to do your very best, that way you will make Samantha happy."
May beamed. She had never thought about it that way. "You're right! Oh, thank you, Marie! You're always so smart."
Marie hugged her little sister. "Shucks, May, you're making me blush!"
The two sisters laughed as the bus parked on the corner by their house.
It was the third drawer, and nothing! He wondered where she would hide the money. He almost dropped the drawer he was searching on his foot as he heard the doorbell. Quickly, he put it back on the shelf and opened the door.
"May, Marie! Where's your sister?" Rod cursed on the inside. Now I have to babysit…
"She missed the bus, Dad." Marie said. "But she should be home in fifteen minutes or so."
"Good." He said. "Well girls… what do you do after you get home?"
May answered excitedly. "We wash our hands and then Mommy serves us lunch!"
"Well… go wash your hands then, I'll see what I can whip up at the kitchen…"
Both girls raced each other to the bathroom as Rod sighed in annoyance.
"So Lee, what do you think of love at first sight?"
The redhead became so red her face matched her long hair too well. Dave smirked. Lee was too easy to tease.
"I… I don't know, Dave. You?"
"I think that if two people like each other then they should show their affection… what do you think?"
"I… I guess…"
"Guess? You're not sure?"
Lee stuttered. "I-I don't know. I always thought that if two people like each other, they should be around each other… support each other, make each other laugh, be happy around each other… things like that, you know?"
Dave frowned. "Really?"
"Well, that's nice."
They both stopped at Lee's house. "Well, we are here…" The girl was slightly disappointed they arrived.
"Okay then, I'll see you tomorrow!" Dave said, as he said goodbye to Lee and walked away. The girl blushed, said her goodbyes and entered. As he left, Dave made his way to his friend's house.
"Hey, Dave! What's up, man?"
Dave fist bumped with his pal. "Not much, Theo, what about you?"
"Not much?! I saw you hanging around with that redhead!"
"Yeah, about that… I'm changing the bet…"
"C'mon, man! You're chickening out?"
Dave punched his friend on the shoulder.
"I never chicken out! But that Lee… she's a saint. I won't get anywhere with you-know-what."
"So I got a better idea…"
She saw as the blonde scribbled on her notebook. Look at her, so enthusiastic about a stupid Math problem! Her jealousy was starting to reach her limit.
The professor asked. "And this one? One half times one half is…"
May thought about the question. She chewed on her pencil a bit.
And now she's chewing on her pencil! What is she, a… wait. Samantha considered herself dumb for not realizing it sooner. She remembered the principal had an instant photo camera. She was going to need to be very sneaky to pull off the plan she had just come up with…
"Lee, over here!" The girl almost sputtered out her orange juice when she saw Dave was calling her to sit with him.
"Oooh, you go Lee!" Lisa teased.
"Don't worry about us, girl, go!" Lucille insisted. Lee was at a loss for what to do, but she decided to sit with the boy, as that was what she actually wanted to do.
"You know, I've been thinking about you the whole day…" Dave said, confident.
"R-R-Really?" Lee was ecstatic.
"Yeah! What do you say, how about we skip school tomorrow and go watch a movie or something?"
"Huh?" Lee was confused. Dave was asking her to misbehave?
"You don't want to?"
"N-No, I do… but can't we do it on the weekend, so we don't have to skip school?"
"Can't. The movie I want to see stops airing after tomorrow, so that's our only chance."
Lee was nervous. "B-But…"
"C'mon, Lee, only for one day! I promise… you'll have a great time!"
Lee wasn't sure of what to do. She wanted to go to the movies with him so badly, but she didn't want to miss school. Finally, the path of least resistance was left, forgotten.
"Great!" He said, as he kissed Lee on the cheek. Dave stood up and made his way out. "I'll see you tomorrow at the cinema. Dress pretty, okay?"
Lee could barely nod, filled with joy.
"Well, I guess bologna will do…" May said, not quite enthusiastic.
"What? You don't like bologna? I think it's the best, I'm sure you'll like this one!" Samantha tried to make conversation once again. She was nervous, and as such she was more talkative than usual. As May raised her sandwich to take a bite, Samantha brought out the camera she sneaked out of the principal's office.
"Okay… smile!" She snapped a photo of May, just as the girl was dropping the slippery meat out of her sandwich.
"S-Sam… I can't see…"
"Sorry, May. I'll show you the picture later, okay? You came out gorgeous!" She said, making her blonde friend smile.
This time, the girl chose a lighter shade of blue. He's gonna like it for sure. Marie couldn't wait to show her teacher how far she had advanced on her assignment. She walked in the classroom and sat down, calmly waiting for Mr. Johnson to come back from the restroom, as she supposed he was in there since he wasn't in the room.
She was confused as she saw the principal enter the classroom. His face was somber, he looked very sad.
"Kids," He said, addressing her and her classmates, "I'm sorry I must be the one to tell you this, but your art professor…"
Marie could hear nothing more. Her eyes widened. She felt warm tears fall down her face as she could not believe what was happening.
"Why are you smiling so much, Lee?"
"I am?" Lee asked her blonde sibling. "I guess… I'm happy." She smiled. "Now, let's see what's keeping Marie…"
As May and Lee entered their sister's art classroom, they found Marie sitting on her desk, the principal next to her trying to comfort her. Her eyes were red from all the crying. Lee ran to hug her sister.
"Marie? Marie, what happened?"
The girl took a long time to answer. "My… my art teacher… Mr. Johnson… He… they found him asleep at home this morning… he was cold…"
Lee put her arms around Marie, who sobbed hard. May did the same as she hugged the brunette.
"I am so sorry about this girls… I will call your parents to come pick you up."
"Honey, you're home!"
"Yeah, hi honey. Did Lee, Marie, and May already ate?"
Rod had no clue of where the girls were. "Actually, they haven't arrived yet."
"What? What could have happened?" Mrs. Kanker asked, as she started to worry.
"I don't know… Listen, honey, about the money I asked you…"
"Oh… right… sorry, I've been so busy these days I forgot." The woman made her way to her bedroom as Rod followed. She removed a small safe from under it and opened it with a key. "Here, is this enough?"
The man counted the bills greedily. Finally he found out where his wife kept their emergency cash. "Yes, dear, it's enough. Thank you…"
The phone rang. Mrs. Kanker ran to answer it.
"Hello, Mrs. Kanker, this is Principal Simmons. I'm calling you to come pick up your children as there has been a problem with Marie…"
Immediately, the redhead woman hung up and ran to get the car keys. "Rod! Our girls, there's a problem at school! We gotta go…" She said as she stepped out of the house.
Rod gave the bed one last look. "Coming…"
It was settled. May and Lee would go to school that day. Marie had begged and begged, and since Mr. Johnson's family was Jewish, Kevura would happen the following day, and she wanted to be present for his burial. She was hurt to think her daughter was suffering at such a young age.
As she left for work, Mrs. Kanker failed to notice her eldest daughter's backpack was bulkier than usual, nor did she perceive the malice in he who thought of as her partner.
Lee made sure May entered school. Once the blonde got in, she quickly sneaked out. Scared, the redhead made her way to the mall, where the cinema was. She figured she could change clothes there. Lee was excited she would have her first date ever with the boy she liked.
Once May walked inside, she could hear chatter and laughter coming from the direction her classroom was. She noticed there were notes on every single one of the lockers. As she took one out to see, she saw with horror that the picture on them was her own, but modified. It made her look like a beaver. She saw the words May Kanker Beaver Girl written on it. Desperately, she took picture after picture to see that all of them had the same thing.
There was only one thing she could do. She ran to where the laughter was coming from. She saw a group of children standing outside the classroom. All of them had one of the papers with the picture on their hands. As soon as the children saw her, they quieted down.
"What… what's going on?" She asked, terribly confused.
Samantha, in between the crowd, yelled the phrase that changed her life forever.
"Hey look! There's the Beaver Girl!"
Soon, most children started to laugh at her expense.
"Look at those teeth!"
"She loves to chew on wood!"
She couldn't prevent most of her classmates to start yelling at her. Almost everyone started chanting, "Beaver Girl, Beaver Girl!" May didn't understand what was going on. Sure, her teeth were somewhat longer, but why would they call her such an ugly name? Tears started to form on her eyes as she felt deeply hurt.
Not knowing how to face the situation, she ran. She ran away out of the school, to hide and cry at a nearby park.
The redhead was wearing a red dress she had taken from her Mom. She wanted to look mature for him. Sure, Mom was an adult, but she always told her she was tall for her age. Lee made her best to walk with the heels she "borrowed". She was excited, so she decided to wait for Dave sitting down on a nearby bench.
Lee's enthusiasm would gradually fade the more and more the time passed, realization hitting her like a ton of bricks.
She had reached the corner. Marie felt too depressed. Mr. Johnson's family had really appreciated her presence, but still she was only there to say goodbye. She started to tear up again as her professor, the one who taught her the beauty of art, was gone. At least I won't be alone right now, she thought, as she knew her Dad was home.
But, as she was making her way to ring the doorbell, she saw Rod open the door.
"… Marie…" Rod sweated in nervousness. He hadn't expected to see the girl.
"What are you doing with Mom's safe?"
Well, the cat's out, he thought. "I'm taking it."
Rod smirked, and pushed Marie aside. "Because I can…" He said, as he loaded the safe in his trunk. He soon returned the house.
"But Dad? W-Why are you acting like this?"
Rod scoffed. "Stop with the questions."
As Marie saw Rod enter the home, she noticed he was taking out some luggage. "You're leaving again? But-But… aren't you gonna say goodbye to Mom?" Marie asked, even sadder now.
Rod finally got tired of playing the game of good parent. His free spirit could simply not be tied down to anyone. "Listen, kid. I'm tired of playing this game, you hear? I'm tired of playing this role of sweet, caring parent, I'm tired of you kids... My place's not here! I'm made for the road, I can't be tied down to just one woman! And frankly your mother's way past her prime. I'm leaving, and I'm taking what belongs to me..." He turned around to get on the car.
Marie was disheartened to hear what Rod said about them, and how he expressed himself towards her mother. Crying, she managed to run and grab his arm.
"Stop! Don't do this to us, we need you, Dad! We're your family..."
This time, Rod laughed, a long, cackling noise which confused Marie even more. "What? So, she didn't tell you."
"What do you mean?"
What the man said shocked her. "I am not your father, Marie. Neither am I Lee's, only May's. And even then! Oh, how I wish I had put one on then..."
"W-Wh..." She mumbled. Marie could not utter even one word of protest.
"... You kids are the biggest obstacle in my life! I'm leaving because of you, because I can't stand having you around!"
Marie reacted then. She realized, the man she had in front of her wasn't family. He may be May's father, but still, he was a monster.
"I'm-I'm not going to let you hurt my family like this!" She said, as she pulled the man's shirt.
Rod sighed. He moved his arm and backhanded Marie. The girl fell to the floor, hurt.
"And what are you gonna do, Marie?" He laughed. "You're just a little girl, a tiny, frail brunette! What could you possibly do against me?"
He kept laughing until he rode his car and sped away. All the while, Marie remained on the floor, crying, her tears falling off her face, forming a small puddle on the floor. She wished Mr. Johnson could be with her. She wanted someone kind and good natured to protect her. But to her dismay, no one with such characteristics was present.
Her resolve returned minutes later, in which she stood back up. At least, Rod had left the front door open. Marie entered the house. Without remorse of any kind, she grabbed the phone.
"Hello, 911? I have an emergency..."
The brunette did not even ask what had happened to her blonde sister when she entered their house, tears falling freely off her face. Nor did she realize at what time Lee arrived, pensive, as the girl would only look at the window. Hopefully, the police officers who showed up hours ago had already found him.
The door opened again. "Hi girls, I'm home..." Mrs. Kanker called. Both the redhead and the blonde made their way to the living room to receive her, as she made her way to Marie.
"I'm so sorry about your professor, Marie, did everything—"
"WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL US?!" The girl snapped. Mrs. Kanker, Lee and May looked at her with wide eyes.
"M-Marie, what are you—"
"Rod told me."
"HE'S NOT MY FATHER! AND YOU HID IT FROM ME!" Marie was fuming. "Your husband took all his stuff, he took your safe from under the bed, and left!" Then she cried, "He s-s-said he was t-tired of all of us..." She knelt down on the floor, finally sobbing hard.
The woman knelt down to try to comfort her daughter. "Honey..."
Marie slapped her mother's hand away the moment she felt it. "DON'T TOUCH ME!" Hurt, Mrs. Kanker stepped away and decided to check on her bedroom.
Lee and May approached her sister. This time, Marie allowed her redhead sister to hug her. "What did you mean, Marie?"
"Rod left with all his belongings, and took Mom's money with him. He also told me neither you nor I are his daughters... only May is."
Now the two girls were surprised. "What?"
Soon, their mother returned, sadness spread across her face as everything her daughter said was true.
"Girls... I need to talk to you..." The woman then proceeded to tell her three daughters the story of her life. She explained to them, in tears, why they were only half siblings, how men before Rod had taken advantage of her, and why she didn't want them to find out until they could be a little older. Both Lee and May seemed to understand, but Marie still looked at her with resentment.
Soon, the family of four received news that they had found the car which matched Rod's license number. Rod, however, was missing, and all of his belongings were gone as well. The police had recovered the small safe, but this one was open. Only twenty dollars remained inside...
He was laughing with his friends, joking about the bet he had won.
"Dave?" He felt a hand touch his arm. He turned his head but slightly.
"Ah, it's you."
"What happened? I waited for you for hours on the mall, but you never showed up..."
The boy laughed. "And you believed me? Mwa ha ha ha!" Dave mocked her, and his friends did the same. "You really thought a guy like me could ever look at a flat chested child such as you? You're not fun, you're not pretty, you're a loser! What the heck did you expect?!"
As he kept on laughing, Lee would have wished nothing more than to be swallowed by the earth whole. She whimpered and cried, then she turned around and ran away. The teens kept on laughing at her expense, fist bumping Dave and congratulating him on his cleverness.
As Lee ran, she remembered her Mom's words. She wished with all her might then that she wouldn't have had to face the problems of a boy and a girl at her age.
"And now, who can answer this? One third divided by one half is..."
None of her students gave an answer. After waiting for a few seconds, she called out to her best student. "May?"
But as she looked at the girl, she noticed the blonde was looking down, her expression sad and mortified.
She heard someone else answer. "... Yes, very good, Samantha."
Marie sat down by herself at the cafeteria. As she went to throw away her food, she saw the table where Lee was sitting. She noticed both of her friends, Lisa and Lucille, trying to console her sister. Lee was crying miserably. She approached them.
"Lucille? What's going on?"
"Oh, Marie. Your sister is very hurt because of a boy."
Marie was surprised. "A boy?"
"She went to the mall yesterday because Dave asked her out to see a movie. But he never showed up!"
Marie understood. Now that she realized it, that explained why Lee had returned home pensive the day before. "Who is this Dave, and where is he?" She asked, angry.
Lisa pointed to where the boy was sitting, by himself. Marie walked to him, despite the pleas of both girls who were trying to stop her.
"What did you do to my sister?!"
Dave turned, and held the need to laugh upon seeing the small brunette. "Whoa, chill, shorty. Who are you?"
Marie pushed Dave's food aside, making the boy frown. "My name's Marie, and I'm Lee's sister. What the heck did you do to her?"
Dave laughed. "What's it to you?"
"I care about my sister, that's why!"
Dave mocked the girl. "Aww, how sweet. So what are you going to do about it?" He stood up. Marie did not even reach up to his shoulder. She felt intimidated as Dave got close to her face.
"You can't touch me, shrimp. You're too much of a sissy." He said, and laughed as he left the cafeteria. Marie felt her blood boil. She was a small girl, she couldn't do anything. She couldn't stand up for herself or her sister!
She couldn't remove their words from her head. She could do nothing, only take more and more pain. She was powerless, she was frail. She looked too delicate. As she grabbed her brushes, she decided right there and then: things were going to change. She grabbed the brown paint. As she mixed the colors, she finished the flowers she had been drawing. She then grabbed purple and black paint and continued painting. She had to trouble to darken the light blue she previously used, painting the sky to bear a deep, dark purple shade.
Soon, it was time to leave. As she rode the bus, she formulated a plan. When they arrived home, she grabbed her allowance and headed out to the store.
She noticed both of her siblings were too quiet and seemingly angry. She ventured to ask.
The redhead turned to face her youngest sibling. "Yes?"
"I h-have a problem at school. The kids in my class are... mocking me because of my teeth."
Marie turned her head. What?
Lee, thinking of what she wanted to do to Dave, quickly answered. "If you wanna do something about it, May, beat them up. Hit them! They can't hurt you like that without expecting you to do the same!"
May took her big sister's words to heart and nodded. She ran to school.
"Lee... I want to help you." Marie said, guessing her intentions.
"Are you sure?"
Marie smirked. "Yes..." She said. Both girls made their way to the restroom. Lee positioned herself in front of a mirror. She looked at her long locks for one last time. As she caressed them, she shed tears.
Marie watched, amazed, as Lee produced a scissors from inside her backpack. She watched in awe as the redhead grabbed lock after lock and cut each one, leaving her hair at a short length. Due to its length, her locks curled up even more, giving the appearance of a puffed up look.
Marie then proceeded to change herself. She removed the materials she had bought from the store. She prepared the mix and looked at her brown hair for the last time. Even when she had decided to follow up on her plan, she surprised herself as tears fell down her face. When the mixture was ready, she dipped the brush on it, carefully combing herself with it everywhere. She was ever grateful her eyebrows were very thin.
Lee, though ready, was patient enough to wait for her sibling's transformation to complete.
She grabbed her lunch tray. Maybe Lee was right.
"Are you feeling better, May?"
"Yes, Michelle. Thanks..."
Just as she was about to leave the line, she was pushed aside.
"Oh? I'm sorry, I didn't watch where I was going, beaver."
Michelle glared at Samantha. She didn't understand why the girl was acting so cold towards May. The blonde raised her head, furious.
"Shut up, Sam..."
But the obnoxious girl wouldn't take the warning. She addressed Michelle. "See? She's always chewing on her pencil! She's got beaver teeth, and this picture proves it!" She said, as she showed the girl the doctored picture she paid to get made. "Isn't she a crazy castor or-"
The punch that impacted on her cheek stopped her from continuing. Samantha fell on the floor. She cried as she caressed her face. May knelt down as she pocketed the picture Samantha dropped.
"What's the matter with you, you..."
"Shut up, just shut up!" May yelled as she jumped on the now terrorized Samantha, and started to slap her until a professor separated them, taking May away.
"WHO ELSE?! WHO ELSE IS G-GOING TO CALL ME BEAVER?!" May yelled at the group of students who stared at her in fear, Michelle included. As the professor took her to the principal's office, she felt tears fall down her face. And yet, satisfaction filled her insides as she felt good about what she had done.
Dave stepped out of the cafeteria. He wondered who caused such a ruckus. No matter, he thought. The boy made his way to the back of the school, not a care in his world. He decided to hang out on the alley next door. Once he arrived, he brought his hand to his pocket as he produced a cigarette.
"Oh, Daaave..." He heard someone call him. When he turned, he saw two girls, hands behind their backs, approaching him. Recognizing the familiar voice, he called.
"Lee? What did you do to your hair?"
The girl was unrecognizable. She had short, curly hair, which covered most of her face, making her look fierce.
"Who's the girl next to you?"
"You don't remember me? It's me, Marie."
The boy's eyes widened. He saw before him a blue haired chick, with one eye covered, who wore dark make up on her visible eye. She looked sultry, but something told him there was something ominous about her change of look.
"You? What do you want?"
Both Kanker sisters smirked, as they brought their hands forward. Dave froze as he saw both of them had baseball bats.
"What do you think, Dave?"
His cries of pain echoed inside the alley. The girls delivered hit after hit, and from time to time crunching noises could be heard. Marie had never felt so good in all of her life.
"I'm a sissy, huh?!"
"And I'm not pretty?! Tell me, Dave, are you having fun now?!"
But the boy would not speak, only whimper, yell and cry. When they were satisfied, both Lee and Marie dropped the bats on the floor.
"Who's the loser now, Dave?" Lee said, as she and her sister left the alley and made their way back to school.
She didn't even have time to ask for permission to leave. Mrs. Kanker picked up her children at school. May had been suspended. Once Dave's friends found him, they reported the two girls to the principal. Lee and Marie were expelled on the spot. As she drove home, her three daughters didn't say a word. She didn't even know how to scold them, they never behaved in such a way. The woman could only be supportive of them, as she realized they were going through a hard time.
Each of the girls went to their bedrooms as soon as they made it home. She sat down on the couch and cried bitterly. To think that only a few days ago she was so happy with her daughters, with Rod. But now that he left them without money to their name and bills, she could only take one decision. Desperately, she grabbed the phone and dialed a number.
"Dad? Please, I need your help..."
"Michelle, it's for you!"
The girl made her way to the front door. As she stepped outside, she saw the blonde. She felt intimidated.
"Hi, Michelle..." the blonde addressed her.
"What do you want?"
"I... We're moving, Michelle. I'm going to attend another school starting next week." she said.
"Oh..." Michelle didn't know if she should feel sad, or relieved.
"I wanted for us to exchange numbers, so we keep in touch..."
Michelle was hesitant. "I... don't know, May..."
May was in a hurry. She grabbed Michelle's hand and gave her a paper. "Here, this is the number where I'm going to live. Please, give me a call, okay?" May said, and hugged Michelle. The girl only stood in place.
"Bye..." May said, sorrowfully, as she rode the car, to disappear in the distance. Little did she know that in the future, she would wait, and wait for her call, but this one would never come. The telephone never rang for her. May didn't remember when it was she forgot to wait for her friend to call...
"Okay, children, your project is due today. You have five minutes to give it a last touch." Josh said. Several children groaned as they were not done yet.
As he walked around to see what the children were doing, he noticed there was a canvas with no student. Curious, he walked to see it. His eyes widened greatly as he saw the work already finished.
"Who drew this?"
"Marie." Someone said.
He took the canvas to examine it closely. He was marveled at the mix of colors it displayed. But under the purple night it showed, the most prominent feature was in the green meadow. Josh kept thinking and thinking what Marie could have had in mind when she decided to draw three withered white roses.
Soon, she found someone who offered to buy her home at an acceptable price. She made the sale. She was getting tired to live on her parents' kindness, so she decided to move to Lemon Brook, the town next to them.
Rod's abandonment had left her very insecure. She didn't know how she would be able to fare on a new job. And, since she didn't want to go through the process of moving again, she did what she thought best with the money she got from the house sale. Mrs. Kanker bought a trailer home.
The woman was worried about how uncomfortable her daughters would feel, having to sleep together in a much smaller space. But neither of them seemed to mind. She proceeded to fix dinner as the girls started to unload and arrange their belongings.
Marie was working on placing the stuff that would go in the living room section of the trailer. She started placing books and papers on a small shelf, from top to bottom.
The blue haired girl soon stumbled upon a box. As she opened it, she saw it had a lot of pictures. She noticed that, with all the hurry of the move, her Mom had placed the papers from their backpacks inside of it. She was surprised to see that, among those papers, she found the paper with May's picture, the one she talked so much about, the same picture which made her cry a lot. Marie placed all of their useless school worksheets on a separate box which she put away, and was left with the picture on her hand.
Marie looked at the doctored picture with scorn. She wished that she could have been there, when May bopped that pretentious girl, so she herself could do the same. Enraged, she grabbed the picture and ripped it to pieces, which fell inside the box. She proceeded to pick the pieces...
"Hey, Marie! Get a load of this!"
"What?" Marie left what she was doing and went to see what Lee was talking about. The box laid there on the floor. At that moment, Mrs. Kanker made her way to the living room.
"Girls, dinner's ready..." She called, less than enthusiastic. She saw her now blue haired daughter had left a box out of place. She frowned as she put a lid on top of it and stored it away, on the bottom of the shelf.
Notes: Remember, this is only one interpretation of how the Kanker sisters became who they are in the cartoon, although the events here allow this made-up past to relate to my fic More than just a Hullabaloo. Note that it is widely believed that White Roses are a symbol of innocence, so in this case the withering of them in Marie's drawing signifies their loss of it.
Please review :)