Beep! Beep! Beep! That is all I hear as I ring in my customer’s items. My shift is near the end, and my patient is running thin. However, I am hesitant to go home to continue my fight with my parents about how poorly I did in school.
The look of concern leaves me unable to blame them because throughout high school I got all A’s and B’s. College was an uncommon experience for me. No matter how hard I tried to make friends and fit in. It was useless. I felt lonely and insecure as if I were missing a piece of myself. My grades slipped until I was failing. After being given several warnings and chances to improve, the university kicked me out.
My brother Lucien or Luce, as we call him, joined me. However, he adjusted well by making friends with his teammates and ended up getting all B’s. He’s a personal trainer for a nearby fitness center.
Now that the school year is over, we find ourselves back home. Lucien only joining me because our dad’s mom, Maddison, is very sick, and he wants to be to support my dad.
Lucille, Lucy for short, stayed home for college and received straight A’s, to nobody’s surprise. She works as a day camp counselor for the summer, but also tutors and babysits year-round. Despite being my best friend, I never told her of my struggles.
Lucca, or Luc, also stayed home and went to college with Lucy. He also did well while working part-time as an auto mechanic for a local auto shop. For the summer, he will work full-time. I’m happy for him and all my siblings, despite the feeling that I let everyone down.
How stupid of me not to introduce myself. My name is Laynee Hensley. I live with my parents, Lee and Elena, alongside my two brothers and sister. I work full-time as a cashier for Target after transferring to the store near our house. Once, I’m ready to try college again. I’ll go down to part-time.
We live in the small town of Jackson after moving from Nashville five years ago. The move was so sudden that we left most of our things behind. We live in a modest five-bedroom, two-bathroom house. On the outside, it’s bluish-green with white trim. It’s three stories, with the third floor having all the rooms. The first floor holds an office for my parents, a living room, a dining room, and a kitchen. The bottom floor is where the laundry room is, along with storage and our hang-out.
On our 13th birthday, we moved. Out of the blue, mom told us to pack a suitcase with only the essential items. We fled in the dark of night, never to return. Even communication with our family has been minimal when in the past, we talked to most of them every day and saw each other as much as possible. Since the move, we have seen none of our family.
This was the only year that we didn’t celebrate our birthday, but since it’s been homemade cakes and just us and our parents. The days of bringing our friends home were gone, and we changed our names to Patterson. We tried asking our parents about it. They would always say to be patient and that they would explain it all when we were old enough to understand.
Ever since we turned thirteen, I felt odd, like a piece of me was missing. With every passing year, it has only grown stronger. Every time I mention it to my parents, I get the same vague answer I would understand when I was older. My siblings all share the same feeling as me but are more content than me to wait for the answers.
I enter the house, bracing myself for another round with my parents. Instead, they give me a warm smile. “Dinner is in the microwave,” says my mom, while giving me a reassuring hug.
“Love you, Lane,” my dad says, also hugging me after mom releases me.
“Love you guys too,” I say before they head upstairs, which leaves me able to go eat dinner. My siblings join me with their desserts. As we chat, mom and dad join us in their pajamas while bringing me a slice of pumpkin cheesecake.
The topic shifts to discussing each other’s day. It’s times like this that I feel a sense of normalcy. It’s at moments like this when the feeling that I’m not normal and something missing hits me the hardest. Afterward, my parents head to bed. My siblings and I go into the living room and watch a movie together before heading to bed ourselves.
I get into bed and get comfortable, reading for a bit. After finishing the chapter, I close the book and place it back on the nightstand. As I turn out the light, this feeling of something big about to happen settles into my gut. Not being able to shake it leaves me tossing and turning for several hours. I drift off into a deep sleep, dreaming of glittery light floating into my body, which gives me this strength and a sense of wholeness I never felt before.