A Trip Across the Snow

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Chapter 3: Sorrow and Heartbreak

She waved him down the stairs and sighed. She stopped and pivoted towards him, but couldn’t bare to look him in the eyes.

Her eyes began to water and her voice quivered. “Oliver, I, I’m so sorry to tell you this, but your mother and father…were in a terrible accident. They crashed into a tree on the way to the city and…and didn’t survive,” Betty said. She leaned into Oliver and wrapped her arms around him. She cried and whispered, “I’m so sorry.”

He pushed away from Betty and stomped down the stairs. You can’t leave now. Don’t go. "It’s business Oliver, one day you’ll understand." I should’ve stopped them!

“It can’t be,” he said. He dashed straight at the wall, but he stopped before he slammed against it. His eyes reddened, but remained dry.

“Oliver, come here,” Betty said. He ignored her. “I know this is troubling, but I don’t want you getting hurt.”

Bang! He bumped his head on the window and and stared at the storm. Thunder rumbled through the clouds as ghastly winds whooshed across the outdoors. Squeak! Squeak! He rubbed his forehead across the window.

“How could you let them go? You saw this coming. It’s all your fault,” he whispered to himself. Betty hastened to his side and tugged on his arm. He resisted, “Stop, leave me alone.” Now I can never prove to them I’m worthy to be their oldest child. I can never show all that I can do and will accomplish. They died thinking poor of me. He banged his fist against the window and lowered his head.

“It’s for the best that you sit down, Oliver,” she said. She set him on the couch and seated herself across from him.

Betty twiddled her fingers. Her eyes tilted up, down, and around, waiting for Oliver. He seemed sick and weary. “Say something. Please, Oliver.” He didn’t turn her way. He sat in numbed silence, frozen as an icicle.

“Oliver, I hope you understand, but you mustn’t repeat this terrible news to your brothers and sisters,” she said. “Do you understand?”

He stood. “Why can’t we tell them? They should know the truth.”

Betty arose from her seat. “They’d be so hurt, Oliver. I’d hate to see them in so much pain.”

“Like I’m not hurt?” He stood and turned to her. “Is it easier to see my pain? Can you not see I’m aching! I’ve got goosebumps running up and down my skin and I’m shivering even though I’m not cold!”

“No, Oliver, I…”

“Does nobody care about me, or how I feel? I feel like I’ve got bumps and bruises putting dents in my head. My head stings like a million bees came and zapped it at once while my stomach throbs as if someone stuck a knife in it. But is all that not painful to you? Does my agony not matter to you!”

“No Oliver, it’s just, well…you’re the oldest.”

“That’s all I ever hear! It doesn’t mean anything to me!” He turned away from Betty and tossed a book to the floor.

“Don’t break something, and quiet down. Your noise may wake your siblings.”

“Quiet down! Break something! Are you aware that you’ve already broken every part of my body? Are you aware you woke me before I could even sleep? Are you blind? I’m crumbling over here and you’re worried about an object. What’s another item, book, toy? Or are things more important than me?”
“No, Oliver…”

“Huh? Does anyone care about me! DOES ANYONE CARE?” He picked up a glass and smashed it against carpet, shattering it to little pieces which covered the ground around him. Oliver fell to his knees and shook his head.

“Oliver! Be careful! Don’t make this harder for any of us. You are just as important as any other person in this house and…”

“Really? Then why did it take fourteen years for someone to tell me!”

“Calm down, Oliver.”

“How can you tell me to calm down? You let me suffer under with this news, but don’t even want to tell the others. Why do I have to suffer when they don’t? It’s unfair!”

“As hard as it is, I know you can handle it. You’re not so gullible and wouldn’t believe us when they never return.”

“Do I look like I’m handling it? And maybe they’re gullible, but they’re not idiots. Those are my siblings you’re talking about, no insulting. They’ll wonder what’s happened to our parents. Don’t tell me they’re that stupid.”

“Certainly not, for they’re some of the smartest children I’ve met. Don’t take my words that way, Oliver. Do you want them to feel as upset as you, or tell them a temporary fib until they’re ready for the truth?”

Oliver plunked himself back on the couch and placed his hands on his head. “I’d prefer the latter, I suppose. I can’t handle their pain on top of my own.”

“That’s what I thought.”

“But, what will we tell them when Mother and Father never return home? We’ll have to have something prepared to say.”

“We’ll worry about that later. For now, we tell the children one thing they can believe for a little while.”

“What is it that we tell them?” He pivoted back to her.

“You’ll tell them the storm has kept your parents in the city for a couple of months,” she said.

He huffed and glared at her. “I’ll tell them, but what will we say after months pass and they don’t return?” he asked.

“Don’t worry about that now,” she said. Oliver shrugged and mouthed words to himself. Tick tock, tick tock. The clock struck midnight.

“What’s going on? Why are you awake?” Ruth asked.

“Ruth, I told him the…” Betty said.

“Rubbish. I will have nothing of it. My parents died too, but I’m not crying. I’m in charge from now on. Oliver, up to bed. Now!” she said. She picked up the dusting broom and hurled it at Oliver. He put on his slippers and buttoned his sweater. “Get over it rich boy, life isn’t perfect. Stop wasting time with those ugly sweaters.” He turned to Ruth confused, but found her chasing him with the broom. He sprinted to his room.

“Poor thing,” Betty whispered.

He entered the dark room before turning on a lamp. He went over to the rocking chair in front of the window. It creaked and rocked before Oliver forced it to stop. The blue walls surrounded and enclosed him. Someone get me out of here! I’m, surrounded by walls, a storm, and a woman with a broom. How do I escape this mess? I want to get out of here and forget everything! But who can help me? I’m doomed! I’m stuck here forever. He grasped the blinds on the windows, but before he zipped them shut, he stared at the storm. “You killed my parents, and now you’re going to lock me up.” He closed the blinds and turned away. He zipped into bed and shut his eyes after turning off the light.

And so, Oliver leaves into a new world of nightmares as the storm wears on. Oh that wrecked car happens to contain Evelyn and James. If it’s any consolation to poor, dear Oliver, we wish him goodnight, though no one can promise that wish will come true.

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