As I walked up to my room I could not help but wonder where my sister Ruth was. I decided to check her room, since I figured she just skipped school again and was probably sleeping.
I knocked first, a couple of times but there was no answer. I decided to knock louder, yet still there was no answer. Normally, at this point, I would just leave it alone, but I couldn’t help it; I just kept knocking and yelling out her name. There was still no answer. I tried the door and it was locked, so I took out one of my bobby pins and picked it until it opened.
She wasn’t there and her window was wide open. Her room was even more of a disaster than it usually is. It looked as though a hurricane had gone through. Even all her draws were open and all kinds of papers and clothes were scattered everywhere.
I ran over to the window as a sudden gust of wind burst through, making it shake vigorously. It started to downpour and the wind picked up even more. The air became very humid and sticky; there was definitely a big storm on the way. I poked my head outside the window just to be sure she wasn’t sitting on the roof. She wasn’t, so I slammed the window shut and locked it.
At this point I started to panic. It wasn’t as if this hadn’t happened before, but I was still scared. Maybe it was the storm, but I knew in my gut it was more than that. Just as I was leaving her room, my sister Christine came up to me and asked what all of the racket was about. “Oh, sorry I was just looking for Ruth.”
“Well you know how she is. She is probably just at one of her friend’s places.”
“Yeah, I know, just there is a really bad storm, and I have an awful feeling.”
Christine looked at me, as if she had the same feeling but shrugged it off, and said, “I am sure she is fine Liz. Like I said, she does this all the time. And we have had tons of storms like this. It is normal here- nothing bad will happen.” She tried her best to reassure me. She even tried to give me a side hug while she was pep talking me but I was not convinced. There was something wrong; I could feel it.
“Well, I am going to go ask mom, maybe she knows since she usually has to tell dad where Ruth is.”
“You know she lies 90% of the time right? Actually, she usually doesn’t know where Ruth is. Even if she did, you know how mom is; she would forget and have to make up something anyways.”
“Hmm. How do you know she lies?”
“I thought everyone knew Liz. Well, I mean I have asked Ruth where she has been, and it usually wouldn’t even be at a friend’s, or it would be a different friend than mom said.”
“Oh. Well, it couldn’t hurt to ask.” I said shrugging my shoulders then slowly making my way down the hall.
“Well, it might. You don’t want mom to be even more paranoid than she already is Liz.” She said as she put her hand on my shoulder to stop me from walking away.
“Yeah I know. I won’t say why I am asking, I will just ask for curiosity purposes, you know?”
“Okay, but do me a favour. Relax, like I said, I am sure she is fine. She is just going through a rough time right now, and doesn’t want to be around dad, even more than us.” She now was standing in front of me with both of her hands on my shoulders, and staring intensely into my eyes.
“Okay, yeah, for sure. But I am still going to ask.” I pushed her arms away gently, then poked my head in my room to check the time. It was 5:15, 15 minutes until dinner time, and my mom was in the kitchen. I scurried away down the stairs, making sure to catch mom at a good time. Christine gave up trying to talk me out of it and watched me leave.
“Hey mom, can I ask you something?” I asked nervously, not wanting to hear the answer that was coming.
“Uh. Sure Lizzy, but I am kind of busy here,” she took another gulp of her wine and then poured some into the pan.
“Yeah, I can see that, but it’s just a simple question.”
“Okay, what is it? But, be quick - you can’t expect me to solve all your problems. You kids always want me to do everything for you and solve all your god-damn problems. Well, you are all old enough now. You can solve them on your own. I shouldn’t even be making dinner for you.” She said as she chucked some vegetables and spices into the pan haphazardly.
Tired of her rambling and lies, I interrupted her by grabbing one of her shoulders and pushing it back so she would be facing me, “Mom, mom, relax, I was just going to ask you if you knew where Ruth was.”
She shrugged me off, as if I was infected, and walked over to the other counter to start chopping even more vegetables that we didn’t need. “Ruth? This is about Ruth. God girl, don’t you know where that girl is? She is on a different planet, that one. She doesn’t want to be with us, and makes me lie to your dad. I could care less where she is right now.” When she started to wave the very large knife around I started to regret even asking.
“Okay, okay mom. I get it. I was just curious that is all. I will leave you be now.”
She slammed the knife on the cutting board and replied, “Good! Get out my hair. Ruth? Ha! What rotten kids I have...”
I slipped out of the kitchen, as she continued to talk to herself and stir the food in the pan forcefully. I didn’t want to stick around, listening to her complain about her rotten kids when she should be thankful of how we turned out despite our rotten parents. I wasn’t going to let it bother me today, I had a bigger worry on my chest right now, and that was Ruth.
I decided to go up to my room and wait for dinner to be ready. I knew I couldn’t get away with slipping out of the house now, but I would have to go later if I wanted to find Ruth. As I sat on my big comfy chair by the window, I watched the storm. The wind was so strong that branches were flying off the trees and the rain was blinding. I prayed that the storm would calm down so it would make it easier for me to sneak out later.
I kept thinking of places where she might have gone. The only place that I could think of was her best friend Tanya’s house. If she wasn’t there, at least Tanya could help me find her. Tanya lived in town so it would take me at least an hour to walk there. I could wait until after everyone went to bed and maybe then she would come home. If she didn’t, then I would ask Jamie to take dad’s car, and we would go to look for her. Then again, I don’t think he would take that kind of chance. Often, my father would wake up in the middle of the night and check our rooms, and sometimes stay in Ruth’s. I felt terribly sick to my stomach. I didn’t know how I was going to eat dinner.
I remembered the gifts that Oochoo and Goasila gave me, and couldn’t help but be tempted to use them. I could use Goasila’s gift to stop time, which would give me more time to find her. Ruth would be stopped in her actions, so I wouldn’t risk chasing her around. I could also use Oochoo’s gift as a mode of transportation to Tanya’s house or maybe I could even turn it into a crystal ball to show me where she is. All that would be amazing but I was not sure if Oochoo or Goasila would approve. After all, the lesson I learned today was one of patience, and ironically I had absolutely none at this point. I knew I had to wait until after dinner. She had to return by then and if she didn’t, I would call on my friends from the other dimensions to help me find her.
Sam swung open my bedroom door, “Hey Liz! Stop your daydreaming girl! Dad is home and dinner is ready.”
“Okay, I’m coming.” I first stopped at the bathroom to wash my face. I went past Ruth’s bedroom and the door was closed again. I checked the door, it was locked again. ‘Is she home?’ I thought. I tried to break in again but it had to wait. I ran down the stairs just in time, right before my father sat down.
“Well isn’t it nice to see everyone here for dinner?” My father asked us all sarcastically. He noticed Ruth was not there of course. “I can’t hear anyone. Is anyone going to answer me? Or maybe tell me where your bratty little sister is?”
“I don’t know father.” Jamie answered.
“I don’t know either father,” Matt also answered.
“Girls?” my father asked with a fiery glare. I could see the monster rising.
“We don’t know either, father.” Sam and Christine answered in unison.
“Now, I know the young ones can’t know anything, what about the wife? Oh probably not, she never has a clue, right dear?”
“No. I know what you are going to say. You do have a clue, right?”
“Well-“ She said with her head down and her hands in her lap.
“Well what? Well, no, you don’t know, like usual. How could you know? You are an imbecile. I don’t even know why I married you. You kids probably often wonder the same thing. How could a man so great marry a woman so stupid? Right?”
None of us answered, since we thought the exact opposite. How could a kind woman marry such a monster and then turn into one herself. Everyone lowered their heads, except me. I just looked around at everyone else anxiously.
“You agree with me don’t you Liz? You seem like one of the smarter ones of the bunch.” He leaned over, rested his forearms on the table, and stared into my eyes. If I agreed, I would be on his good side but on my siblings’ and mom’s bad side. I was stuck. I knew he was trying to intimidate me, but I tried to stay strong, and I looked him straight back into his eyes.
“Depends on how you look at it father.” I challenged.
He lowered his chin, straightened in his seat and raised his brow before saying, “How do you mean?”
“Well, how you look at intelligence father. There are all sorts of intelligence. You, of course, are intelligent in every way, and mother is in some ways. So my question is why a woman would marry a man who is more intelligent than her. So of course, she is stupid in that way. But that doesn’t mean she is stupid all the time.”
Everyone gave me the same shocked look they did the day before: eyes bulging and jaws dropped. They could not believe what I said, and I think most of them didn’t get what I said, especially father.
His face and body squirmed as I spoke, and instead of tensing up, he relaxed when I finished. He nodded his head, took a bite of his food then finally replied, “Uh, yeah. Good point Liz, but she definitely is stupid in this case, all of you can plainly see that. Every mother should know where all of her children are at all times. It is just plain stupid and irresponsible not to.” He continued to stuff food into his mouth quickly and messily.
“Yes father, I agree.” I said to reassure him of his ‘top dog’ position. My siblings were totally baffled and slightly impressed, I think. Of course my mother was still lulling over what I said. I think she knew I was saying she never should have married my father, but was probably thinking I was calling her stupid or blaming her for Ruth not being there, but that was not the case. What my father said is true, but he should also know where his children are. So really, they were both stupid and irresponsible, and I think my siblings got that.
After that, everyone was quiet during dinner, which was certainly nice for a change. Instead of listening to bickering I got to listen to the storm that was calming down. As soon as I was done, I rushed upstairs to check Ruth’s room. The door was still locked. I broke in again and shut the door behind me so no one would suspect I was in there. I had to look for clues to where she might be.
I came across a particularly disturbing entry in her diary. The page had been ripped out and thrown on the floor. It read,
Sitting here, my stomach aching, tossing and turning, waiting and waiting
Waiting for more pain and more sorrow
Wanting to run, wanting to hide, nowhere to go
I must die
Die? What was she thinking? Is this a suicide note? I prayed that it was not. I have too written some pretty disturbing poetry, but I never would kill myself. She must have just been writing out her feelings. I know for myself that this practice helps a great deal. But she did not have any other poems in her diary entries. This was the only one. All the rest were complaining about our brothers and sisters or people at school. There actually was not one mention of our parents. The printed writing was done with large and immature letters; except for the poem which was eloquently hand-written. I could not be sure of when she had written it or of when the other entries were made since there were no dates on them.
I took the poem, folded it up, and put it in my pocket. I cracked open the door to see if anyone was in the hallway. No one was there so I quickly got out of the room, locked the door, and shut it behind me.
When I went back into my room it looked different. I could not figure out what it was. I looked around, out the window and even my closet, nothing. Just then, I noticed it, on my desk, a note:
Your beauty and grace will guide you on this journey. Your love and determination will get you through it. Your patience and optimism will help you along. But most importantly, your understanding and compassion will determine the outcome.
Love, your friends
I knew this letter was from Oochoo and Goasila. I understood that I had to look within for the strength to find my sister, even though it would be difficult. Since it did not say anything about the gifts they gave me, I knew I was not able to use them.
I looked underneath the bed to try and find my umbrella. When I pulled it out it popped open even bigger than I remember. It was not mine and in fact it wasn’t even a regular umbrella. I noticed it had a sort of transparency about it with a hint of purplish glow. It was sturdy but light as a feather. I tossed it up in the air and it floated above me. I checked my jewellery box to see if my invisible necklace was still there but it was not. ‘Oochoo must have changed it into this wonderful umbrella’ I thought. Well, at least I could use one of my gifts.
I changed into my rain gear with my new umbrella following me everywhere above me. I again checked the hallway to see if anyone was there. Both of my brothers were standing there looking as if they were talking to each other, but I could not hear anything coming out of their mouths. I then noticed they weren’t even moving! It must be my other gift at work. I looked above into my umbrella and saw both Oochoo and Goasila’s face. I whispered, “Thank you,” and made my way down the stairs and out the door without a worry.