To Those Afflicted

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Summary

Is she crazy? Are you willing to let go of your sanity to believe? What is wrong with Kanyin? That is the question that Snow—Kanyin’s little sister—reflects in a personal journal first in high school, then as a junior in college, and finally in her young adult years. Doctors, psychiatrists, and jurors all diagnose Kanyin as schizophrenic. Despite what others say, she tries to understand and help her older sister even as she experiences an unsettling feeling when around Kanyin and the sinister dark shadow that Snow dismisses as her overactive imagination in her older sister’s room. The longing to confide in her sister is interrupted as Snow enjoys academic and athletic success in high school and in college. It is only when Snow finds herself divorced and alone in a house far from her family with a dissatisfying job, that she remembers what gave her life purpose. She finally allows herself to open her eyes to the real reason for her sister’s bizarre behavior. Neglecting the life she believed she wanted, Snow decides to finally put her life on hold and focus all of her attention on helping her older sister.

Genre:
Horror
Author:
Jodie Blankenship
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
4
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
13+

Chapter 1: Healing Springs High School

Monday, January 20th

“He did it.”

Kanyin remained nonchalant with her accusation. My mother, on the other hand, failed to share Kanyin’s unemotional demeanor. Anger, shock, and helplessness all wrestled in Mom’s emerald green eyes. Kanyin stood with her arms at her sides, with a, what are you going to do about it, look. My sister appeared to be relieved, finally letting go of a deep, dark secret imprisoned inside her tiny, young body for far too long.

“You were the only one in the house,” my mother said lightly, her speech, more air, than words. I feared Mom might be on the verge of crying.

Kanyin, knowing she could not talk her way out of this mess, slumped, her identical emerald green eyes looking down, and her hand emerging from her side to nervously twist her chestnut perfect locks, an action she continues today whenever she is worried or uncomfortable, which is most of the time. My angelic five-year-old sister, impulsively twisting her hair around her left pointer finger, and shockingly clean, contrasted sharply to the black soot coating the walls behind her serene face. Tiny black particles suspended in the air stung my eyes, but my curiosity forced me to look beyond the innocent-looking girl.

It appeared that someone stuck a fan inside our fireplace and blew all of the contents onto the hallway walls from the living room all the way to the front door. How Kanyin reached the ceiling with the black ash without getting any on her, only my older sister could tell, and by looking at her tight, pursed lips, no more words would be coming out of her mouth any time soon.

Mom carefully stepped towards Kanyin, grabbing my sister’s arm tightly as the soot puffed up around her shoes.

Turning to me, Mom strictly advised, “Snow stay right there.”

Even though I was only a toddler at the time, I obediently stood outside peering into the house. I wanted nothing to do with the tiny irritants that burned my eyes and tickled my throat into uncontrollable coughs.

How unfortunate is that? My first memory is about my sister Kanyin. Of course, it is one in a lifetime of examples of the disorder that tends to follow her.

I waited in the doorway until Mom came from Kanyin’s room upstairs after just a few moments, her belly starting to show the first signs of my baby brother Boz. Mom and Kanyin look so much alike, sharing the chestnut hair, bright, almost glowing green eyes, and a beautiful face that, unfortunately for Mom, looked tired already. Kanyin’s episodes of terror started well before my first childhood memory.

Mom scrubbed and scrubbed to get the hallway walls, floors, and ceiling clean before Dad arrived home from another long, Colorado winter workday of snow removal, a job he still performs today. I stayed outside until Mom finished smearing and wiping and wringing out washcloths until the walls finally went back to their eggshell white. The dark and cold of Colorado at night did not bother me. I preferred not to go into the awful hallway until the air was clean enough to breathe again.

The December sky had been dark for some time when Dad arrived home around 6 pm. I followed him inside. Mom told him about Kanyin and the mess she painstakingly just finished cleaning.

“Not again,” Dad mumbled as he started up the stairs; Mom followed. The relief on his face was obvious, replacing his usual jovial expression, as he glanced up and down the walls, seeing no remnants of Kanyin’s hallway “art”.

Kanyin ended up in the hospital shortly after. The first of many times Kanyin went away. The doctors remained suspicious of the bruises on her arms. I never heard Kanyin scream when Mom took Kanyin to her room right after finding her daughter amidst the mess nor when Dad and Mom went up later that evening, but a broken leg appeared as well as bruises and two broken ribs with one of the broken ribs close to puncturing one of her lungs. Kanyin’s hospital stay may have only been a couple of weeks. To me, the time felt like years.

If Kanyin left for the hospital that night, I do not remember. All I recall from the aftermath of my first memory is hushed conversations at the hospital as doctors interrogated my parents. My parents asserted the same story again and again. The hesitant reality emerged among the doctors and my parents that Kanyin hurt herself. From that time on, I knew something was different with Kanyin.

Growing up, I chose to play with my little brother rather than idolize my older sister like all the other little sisters I knew. Kanyin, for the most part, remained inside her room, isolated from the world, in endless trouble. Perhaps her preferred solitude persuaded me to be with Boz.

Kanyin’s chilly igloo coaxed me to steer clear as well. Her upstairs window, always open, invited the blowing snow. Any normal individual wants the security of the home’s warmth, shutting the window to keep out the elements. Kanyin invited in the cold.

Always Kanyin sang. Even now. I do not recognize the songs. The lyrics are almost riddles, making little sense and sounding a bit like twisted nursery rhymes.

“The cow hides behind the moon. Everyone sees the moon’s glow. The cow works below.”

I do feel a little odd writing about my sister especially since Kanyin’s senior writing teacher, Mrs. Rivers, is also my English 1 teacher. Kanyin is now a senior, almost done with school. I am just finishing my freshman year with summer break only a few months away.

I think this entry should be enough for today. The experience of writing down all my thoughts is not as liberating as I expected. I am just thinking more about everything in my life with no resolution. My observations of the peculiar actions of my sister remain restated and unanswered.

Tuesday, January 21st

I am supposed to write every day for English 1. Mrs. Rivers is awfully particular. I considered writing something much more critical about Mrs. Rivers, but she is going to read this so that would be pretty senseless, and I do not want to threaten my current perfect grade point average in my first year of high school.

Like clockwork, Kanyin got in trouble last night. She came home after 10 pm on a school night, which is only the start of her evening of misbehaving.

A phone call from our closest neighbor, a quarter mile away, came shortly after Kanyin’s late arrival home. Apparently, Kanyin disliked the color of the neighbor’s evergreen dwarf Australian pines in their front yard. She carefully, only spraying the pine needles, transformed the green of the needles to onyx black. Cynthia and Gregory Nire pulled up to their yard with Kanyin standing there—the spray paint can on the ground, and the needles in the altered hue.

The friendship between the Nire’s and my parents goes way back, ever since I can remember being eye-to-eye with their gigantic chocolate lab and his big bark during barbecues they invited us over to throughout the summer. So that may be why the Nire’s did not want to press charges. They stayed up late with my parents last night discussing if removal of the paint would do more harm to the plants than just leaving them in their changed state. My parents offered Kanyin to pay for any trees lost from the new dye job.

Kanyin received an earful when the neighbors left. Once again, my parents sent her to her room. Kanyin did receive a new punishment last night. She is grounded from cheering during the basketball games Friday and Saturday night.

The cheerleading punishment appeared to hurt Kanyin more than any other past reprimands. The simple, rhythmic chanting somewhat resembles her bizarre riddle songs, and the hollering must boost her attraction for the “sport” of cheerleading. Being in volleyball, basketball, soccer, fast-pitch softball and any other sport that actual takes some skill, I find it difficult to call clapping and singing a sport. It is an activity, no doubt, but sport, I am not convinced.

My muscles are starting to get use to the two-a-days that started back up last week. We begin basketball practice before school starts at 6:30 am and return to practice after school at 4 pm. I let myself splurge a little too much over the Christmas break, and I am now finally recovering from the intense workouts. It is really inconvenient for basketball to start before Christmas break and then stop for two weeks where we cannot practice with the coach at all (at least not let anyone know we are practicing in that timeframe). After the break, we are then expected to be ready to continue playing at the same intensity we were competing at before Christmas.

I think I am going to check on Kanyin before practice starts. She is really upset. Maybe this time the punishment is enough to make her realize her antics are just not worth… Forget that idea. I just saw her walk past my classroom with the principal.

Wednesday, January 22nd

Inadvertent accident? When it comes to Kanyin, I find that very hard to believe. That is, however, the outcome from the events occurring yesterday. Somehow, a chair caught on fire during chemistry class. Of course, Kanyin was the closest to the fire. Nobody really saw what happened. The theory is that a spark from the Bunsen burner ignited the wooden seat of the chair. She was lucky to be able deflect the blame because expulsion is the penalty for an antic like that. She received the latter of punishments, and her suspension from school is for three days. It appears, whatever the sentence, Kanyin just does not care.

With Kanyin in her room last night, I helped Mom clean up after dinner. Yeah, we are one of the few families that still have dinner at a table and not in the living room where the television dominates the family conversation. I brought up my suspicions of Kanyin not being mentally all there to Mom. Shockingly, Mom did not dismiss the notion. Mom actually talked to me like an adult, explaining when Kanyin was little, psychological evaluations as well as numerous other tests were conducted on my older sister. An MMR, CAT scan… the works, all took place after Kanyin’s attempt of charcoal interior design. No abnormalities were found.

Mom explained that my sister was gone for almost a half a year for all the examinations. I always thought Kanyin only left to go to the hospital to recover from her wounds.

Mom reasoned, “I’m willing to deal with the messes and troublemaking. That is what a parent is supposed to do. I was not ready for self-inflicted physical abuse.” Mom’s green eyes became glassy, appearing to release tears at any moment. Taking a deep breath, she continued, “I just cannot see my baby do that to herself.”

Kanyin continues to go to a therapist today. Even though the tests found nothing, Mom is comforted that the therapist’s sessions halted Kanyin’s bodily harm.

The only assumption made by the psychiatrist, after an excess of ten years of evaluation, is that Kanyin has split personalities, suffering from schizophrenia. My sister never acknowledges doing wrong; she now clams up when blamed, saying nothing. Doing those deeds when no one sees her is a way for her to deny responsibility, reinforcing the split-personality mental illness theory.

The one fault in the theory is that no other personality has ever appeared either in her psychological sessions or with Mom, Dad, Boz, or me. If she suffers from split personalities, the other personality is awfully shy.

Even now, in her senior year, Kanyin still sings her riddles in her room. I heard her last night, grounded again for her newest chair inflaming exploit, singing, “The moment the moon rises the sky gets darker, don’t shine too bright, because the dark hides behind the light.”

Thursday, January 23rd

With all her problems, I am so jealous of Kanyin. The jealousy is unwarranted. I have a 4.0 GPA; Kanyin does just enough to pass her classes. I made varsity in every sport I tried out for freshman year. Kanyin started cheerleading this year, and I think she made the squad because of her looks rather than from her cheer-“screaming” talent.

At Healing Springs High School, like any high school, boys gear the jealousy, of course. I like to think that I am good-looking and any boy is obtainable with some work by me. However, Kanyin attracts the boys with no effort on her part. She is like a Greek goddess who lures men to their deaths. Constantly, she is surrounded by guys, treating them with neglect as if they are an annoyance to her desired isolation. The boys do not care though, coming back for more punishment, more eager than the day before of their last dismissal.

Kanyin is beautiful with naturally highlighted light-brown hair, tinted with red hues, big green eyes, all stunning features. Boz and Kanyin both have Mom’s features. I joke with Boz and say once he gets into high school the boys are bound to follow him like they do Kanyin. He finds little humor in that joke. He is in 8th grade and, being the stereotypical boy, his green eyes sparkle with little dirt bikes for pupils.

I guess I am the odd one out of the kids. My dark, wavy brown hair curls even more once humidity touches my thick strands. Some might say it is closer to black, but black is so bland so I refuse to call my hair that color. My dark, brown eyes fail to exhibit the inner light like Kanyin’s or Boz’s, or Mom’s, for that matter. In this region, it is taboo to associate one’s self as Mexican. It is either Hispanic or Spanish. I prefer Mexican. I am proud of my mixed American boiling pot of nationalities. I just happen to look more like the Mexican ethnicity than the other mixtures. Luckily, Dad is a decent looking individual because I most resemble him. Fortunately, I am the feminine form of Dad’s features.

It is lightly snowing outside. Hopefully the storm does not get too bad and keeps us from going over the pass for Friday night’s basketball game. A small miracle must occur for the cancellation of school tomorrow, either upwards of four feet of snow or the electricity going out are the few occasions when the glorious “school is cancelled” phrase is legitimately announced. That is one drawback living in the mountains especially the Alma Mountains, school goes on no matter how much it snows.

It looks like a dusting of snow is on the ground right now. January has been abnormally warmer than prior first months of the year. The temperature can drop as low as 20 degrees below zero in January. So far this year, the temperature has only dropped one degree below zero, and that has only occurred once. February is on the way so more snow is hopefully in the near future.

With a warm January, the ski area snow is horrible. I enjoy riding when there is some powder. The snow is Healing Springs’ lifeblood. When the snow becomes packed and icy, our existence becomes questionable because there is no snow to entice tourists to visit the area and shrink their fat wallets. Crusted over snow is not very seducing.

I better pack some extra clothes if we do travel over the pass tomorrow. Lobo Arroyo Pass may close after we are on the other side. Who knows when it will reopen? Hopefully this is a good dump of the white stuff. If we do travel, I must put off the joy of riding in powder until Sunday. My Saturday schedule is immersed in basketball. The fresh flakes most likely are going to pack down a bit after sitting a few days on the mountain. I will take advantage of the newly fallen snow as soon as my busy schedule allows. The blessing of decent snow is a missing necessity to my well-being. My mind has tried to occupy itself with other thoughts like school and basketball for almost three weeks, distracting my brain is becoming a harder and harder feat every time I go a day without riding in some decent powder.

Friday, January 24th

We received about 18 inches of snow down here last night. It is lightly snowing now, but it is dumping on the pass, amounting to 30 inches so far. The road remains open though. We may just get over Lobo Arroyo Pass before it closes. Most schools think twice before risking students’ lives when travelling to a school event in this weather. Not here. The busses chain-up and off we go. I did pack some extra clothes just in case we get the splendid luxury of staying overnight in the Fria Valley, which is appropriately named.

I think a breakthrough occurred between Kanyin and me last night. Well, as much of a breakthrough one can experience with her. After her last couple of tirades, I decided to go talk to her in her isolated cave. I know she is really hurt from being grounded from cheerleading. Having to stay home alone all day, must have gotten awfully lonely even for my sister. I decided to go see if she wanted to go ride this weekend with all that powder beckoning.

I knocked loudly, hearing her muffled voice sounding like “come in”, I opened the door. Kanyin sat on the bed, staring out the open window at the falling snow. She looked so serene, almost normal.

From the corner of my eye, something instantly took my breath away. My stomach jumped, churning uncomfortably, as my mind tried to interpret the sight my eyes saw for just a split second. My eyes must have needed to adjust to the dim light. I am still a little puzzled why the low light created such an unsettling image. In that quick, millisecond, I thought I saw a being created in a Hollywood movie, but much worse, because my eyes were telling my brain it actually saw the hideous creature in the dark corner of Kanyin’s room. It happened so quickly. I will try to write down as much as I can remember.

The figure was the size of a man—a big man—shrouded in dark cloth with only a small portion of a pale face exposed. I could not make out any details from the face because the shadows in the room were too dark and too numerous. Once I entered the room, the door opened completely, allowing light to hit to where I thought I saw the creature. Kanyin’s closet appeared with only her piles of clothing in the now illuminated corner. My sister is not known for possessing many personal items just clothes and one unnecessary personal item—a blanket from her infant years.

My face must have signaled to my sister of the unsettling image I thought I saw.

“Is something wrong?” Kanyin asked with a look of restrained hope; her left index finger halting its endless twirl.

I thought her expression odd, which allowed me to forget the disturbing figure. She has looked forlorn. Lost. Angry. But never hopeful.

“I just wanted to see if you wanted to go ride this weekend,” I stammered while still glancing at the closet, unfortunately remembering the being I thought I saw.

“Sure, if Mom and Dad permit me to go out,” Kanyin answered, her eyes pleading for me to say something else.

Settling beside her on the bed, I decided to ramble on for a bit. I hoped Kanyin’s silent begging meant for me to keep on talking with her and not pleading for me to leave her to her icy lair alone. I certainly did not want to be in the same room for long periods of time where the dark casts demon shadows. So I talked, Kanyin listened, for almost an hour.

This is the first I mentioned a word about the odd occurrence in my sister’s room. I think Kanyin enjoyed my visit, a sensation I do not think I ever experienced from her before last night. I lasted as long as one can in a creepy room. My excuse to leave was that I needed to pack for the possible overnight stay after the basketball game. I left with her looking out the window again. The snow fell, but was now not visible with the sky darkened.

Monday, January 27th

Through a small window, we made it over the pass on Friday just before the inevitable avalanche closure that later prevented us from returning home as scheduled that night. Talk about spooky; the small avalanches were insanely close to the road. The highlight of the trip for me was driving through an avalanche on the way home on Saturday. Over ten feet of snow, recently blasted, barricaded us to one lane for about a half mile as we headed down the pass on our way home in the bright orange bus.

The snow stopped sometime Saturday night. Dad drove us to the ski area early Sunday morning. I am still amazed how quickly all the avalanches on the roads were cleared up even after a two-day snowfall of 57 inches. Boz and I met up with our friends at the ski area. I tried to get Kanyin to go, but she showed little interest. I think she is still bummed about cheerleading. Boz was stubbornly opposed to Kanyin going with us.

Oh the game, I wish I could forget the horrible mess. While luck was on our side for us to make the 140-mile northeast trip to Gateway, there was no fortune for us during the game. We lost by a basket to Gateway. I do not take losing well. Playing in the snow Sunday almost made me feel better after the Friday night defeat. I am still fuming about the loss.

Tuesday, January 28th

We were almost homeless after last night. Luckily basketball practice ended early, and I arrived home a half-hour sooner than usual. Mom and Dad were both at work. Boz was working on a project at his friend Milo’s house.

My Marilyn Monroe colored-hair, but extremely conservative hazel-eyed sophomore childhood friend and fellow basketball teammate, Em dropped me off at my house. At first, I dismissed the smell of smoke to the multitude of fireplaces from houses trying to keep warm from a chilly day caused by fresh, blanketed snow. But then I saw a plume of smoke coming out of our bathroom window.

Without thinking, I ran inside.

“Kanyin, are you here? There’s a fire in the bathroom!” I hollered not waiting for her to reply.

I raced toward the bathroom. Then stopping, I ran to the kitchen grabbed the biggest bowl from the dishwasher, filled it with water from the kitchen sink then ran back toward the bathroom, testing the bathroom door handle, I then carefully grabbed the handle to open the door.

The wooden cabinet of the bathroom sink was ablaze. I threw the contents of the bowl on the fire, making an impressive dent to the flames. I flew to the kitchen again, filling the bowl of water, and came back to splash the bathroom fire. Repeating this action a few more times, I stopped once the blaze looked doused.

Breathing heavily, I watched the sink for a half an hour, confirming that the flames did not decide to spark from the badly burned sink.

The cold from the bathroom’s open window stirred me away from my instincts of dousing the fire and back to what all transpired. If I did not get home early, this house, is gone. I looked again at the open window. An open window is always a great indication of Kanyin being in the immediate vicinity. I slammed the window shut and marched up to Kanyin’s room.

“What the hell Kanyin? I just put out a fire. Where were you?” I belted, as I crashed through her door.

Kanyin sat on her bed, like always, looking calmly toward her open window. Once more, I glimpsed something lingering in the dark shadows. The peculiar shadow, this time appearing in a dark corner inside the closet, rustled, then, no movement. My mind decided to devise an excuse in an attempt to dismiss the unsettling effects of Kanyin’s room. I decided the movement must have been the breeze moving papers caused by the open window.

“Did you start that? Were you trying to burn down the house with you inside?” I accused, ignoring my growing stomach discomfort.

Kanyin raised an eyebrow, “Why would I do something like that?”

She noticed me glancing into the now shapeless corner. For once, I saw an expression, not restrained, but of pure hope.

“I did not hear you come in,” she said plainly.

“Good God Kanyin. I don’t understand…” I stopped, hearing the crumbling sound of rubber tires moving on the icy gravel driveway. “I think Mom and Dad pulled up,” I headed toward her door and out of the disturbing room.

My parents seemed shocked but hesitated to blame Kanyin for the potential disaster to our home. They suggested a wire in the wall caught on fire or something else, steering any accusations away from their eldest daughter.

Wednesday, January 29th

I once used Kanyin’s excuse. When I was seven, I was playing with Mom’s makeup like most little girls do at that age. For some reason, I decided to make her and Dad a mural on the living room wall. I splashed lipstick, eyeliner, and mascara until I had a sizeable masterpiece. When Mom came into the room, carrying Boz after retrieving him from the menacing anthill in our backyard, she almost dropped him when she saw my scribbles on the wall.

“He did it,” I said referring to no one in particular just like Kanyin accused years earlier.

To this day, I never will forget the hurt in my mother’s green eyes.

As quickly as I said the first sentence, I responded, “I’m sorry. Mom I’ll clean it up.”

Relief settled in her eyes as I grabbed a rag and water to clean up the mess.

That hurtful look I got is the same one Kanyin receives at least once a week from Mom. I do not know how Kanyin can continue to make Mom feel that way again and again. I have always been angry with my sister, lacking the patience of my parents. She hurts them with her malicious antics and does not stop. She does not care about what she does or who is victimized.

Thursday, January 30th

I am starting the game Friday night. Hannah, our senior point guard with her cat-like reflexes, matching cat-colored hazel eyes, and wild light brown locks, is on academic probation this week. I am next in line. I prefer taking the position away from her outright, but I will take the starting roll any way I can. Coach Metzer probably is not too leery to start me this upcoming game because Coveton is not very good this year. This will be a quick 45-minute ride west of Healing Springs so I will not have to worry about being stuck on this away game since we travel over Amarilla Pass, a baby compared to Lobo Arroyo.

I wonder if I might upset the teacher if I used curse words in this journal. It is my journal, but it is Mrs. River’s class. I am such teacher’s pet sometimes…well most of the time. Okay here is the extent of my rebellion. We are going to kick some ass this weekend!

Wow, I thought I might feel more liberated to curse in my writing. It actually feels pretty petty.

Friday, January 31st

I was insanely busy last night studying for a test for C-Block in Mr. Riza’s Physical Science class. I think Kanyin wanted to talk, or I should say, she wanted me to go to her creepy room, and I babble while she sits on the bed. I am still upset about the whole house on fire debacle.

Keegan wants to go riding with me this weekend. He is a junior and drives around in his parents’ red Subaru. I think Mom and Dad will let me go if we take Boz with us. Luckily, Boz is not like other little brothers who are annoying and stupid. I am unsure how serious Keegan and I are. We are still at the whole just friends phase, but hanging out with Keegan alone is what I prefer happened much more often. If practice did not consume all of my time, I easily foresee me getting caught up with boys, being the typical girl wildly chasing any male that walks in front of her. Kanyin sure has the boys chasing her. Sometimes I do envy her.

Monday, February 3rd

We won, we won, we won! I just love writing that. We killed Coveton. I even scored in double-digits. I cannot brag too much though; I barely reached double-digits with ten points. We are short on the bench with Hannah on academic probation and Autumn, a woman bred from giants with wavy, brown hair and brown eyes and Natalie, a gangly, hazel-eyed straight strawberry blonde-haired, skeleton, all battling injuries. I ended up playing the whole game. It helps my point total when I am in the whole time.

My legs felt like stumps with my chest heavy on Saturday, but Keegan, Boz, and I went snowboarding anyway. I think Keegan was a little agitated I declined to do any strenuous runs that involved a hike. He thinks that just because football season is over and he does not start baseball until spring, he can use all his energy on snowboarding.

My parents decided to both go up to the ski area that same day. I saw them walking up to get my dad’s ticket while Boz, Keegan, and I ate outside on the deck. Mom does not even snowboard or ski so I assume they were just checking in on me. It is not like I do anything wrong, ever, but they do not know what to expect from Keegan who they have yet to meet formally.

Keegan is impatient when something does not go his way, but he sure is beautiful—tall, dark, and handsome, a girl’s dream. I remind myself constantly not to get in over my head with him like all the other girls at the high school with their guy obsessions.

Sunday I finally just sat around, talking on the phone with Keegan for a couple of hours. It sounds like another storm is coming, starting sometime late tonight. Right now, it is partly cloudy. The snow forecast is just in time for Local’s Day on Wednesday at the ski area. I wonder if I can take off school, head up to the mountain, and not get in trouble with Coach Metzer. I will test the waters at practice tonight and ask some of my teammates about ditching school on Wednesday.

Tuesday February 4th

The storm hit us early. By the time I got out of practice and home at 7, eight inches of snow already covered the ground. I shoveled out the driveway for an hour and a half. I am tired today. It is funny how I can run and run, but shoveling snow kicks the crap out of me. Boz attempted to help me shovel, but he wanted to complain more than anything else. His help is much better than Kanyin’s though. She, of course, stayed in her room. Every time I looked up at her window, she peered out. I caught her singing one of her rhymes a few times.

One of the riddles went something like, “The wolf loves the sheep, the sheep, the sheep. The weak, sheep wonders why.”

Her other rhyme was really eerie. “The world is cruel, the world swallows, and…die.”

It sounded like she left something out in one part or I failed to hear it with the wind starting to pick up.

I could have sworn I saw someone with Kanyin in her room the one time I looked up while shoveling the fluffy flakes. Possibly, Mom or Dad? Whoever was in the room was clothed in the same dark clothing I thought I saw when I visited Kanyin’s room after the bathroom fire last week. Mom and Dad never wear any clothing like that. Who knows? Maybe Kanyin is singing to her demon friend.

Speaking of demon, Kanyin has failed to get into trouble for this entire week—or I have not heard about anything yet. That is truly amazing for her. She commits some sort of act at least once a week. Maybe she decided to change. God can only hope.

Wednesday, February 5th

I found a weakness in the system. If I go to this class and B-Block, I can take off at lunch up to Lobo Arroyo and ride for a half day today. Lucky Keegan took the whole day off to go ride. Eligibility for games tomorrow and Friday is not a concern for him, like for me, so he gets to ride freely all day.

Another foot of snow fell last night. All my hard work of shoveling is now gone. It is sure going to be fun to play in all that new snow. Hannah is taking me up. For someone on academic probation, improving her grades is not a priority, which inevitably increases the time she will not be able to play another game. It is all good for me though. I think, even if she does get her grade up in Senior Speech, I still start as point guard. She lacks my skills. Wow, my narcissism is horrible.

Thursday, February 6th

“I’m pregnant”

Kanyin told me after I returned home from practice last night. It had been a long day. I rode for a couple of hours then hauled my ass (wow what a rebel I am becoming with this cursing and ditching of school) down the pass with Hannah to get to basketball practice by 4 pm.

I arrived home just after 7, like usual. I smiled to myself when I saw the driveway already plowed, knowing I just might be able to go inside and relax. Well, at least, I thought relax.

Kanyin’s lack of trouble for over a week stirred my curiosity, curiosity that overshadowed my fear of Kanyin’s creepy room. I knocked on her door, waited a good, long while after she said for me to come in, ensuring sufficient amount of time was allotted for all her demons to hide and then, I stepped inside the chilly room to find Kanyin on her bed staring out the window like always.

She told me about her pregnancy in her same unemotional tone. My eyes bulged.

The first thought I stammered out, “Does Mom and Dad know?”

“I don’t want it,” she replied still without emotion.

“What? Do you mean abortion?” I questioned, getting more and more shocked every time another phrase escaped her full lips. Moreover, what with the wording of calling the baby “it”? Is Kanyin that detached from life that everything, even an innocent child, is an “it”?

“Kanyin, Mom and Dad are Catholic. You know an abortion is totally wrong with them. Who is the father?”

Ignoring my last question, Kanyin responded, “They don’t have to know.” I am still pondering whether she was talking about Mom, Dad, the baby’s father, or all of them.

“Kanyin you could regret this decision for the rest of your life,” I felt my public service announcement tone taking over as I lectured my sister.

Remembering back, when Kanyin mentioned she wanted to talk last week, I apologized, “I’m sorry. I should have been in here a lot sooner. I would have been if I knew.”

I continued convincing her not to have an abortion and my persuasiveness appeared to be an effective ploy as I swayed Kanyin to tell Mom and Dad before making any life-changing decisions. She promised her conversation with Mom and Dad would take place tonight. I offered to skip my game to be there for her. She reassured me she would to talk with them, and it was okay to go to my game.

With all my negotiating, she still did not divulge the baby’s father. With the barrage of boys courting her, the father could be at least four or five different guys that consistently beg at her feet. I need to schedule an appointment during break for her today. I already hear the doctor’s office receptionist skeptically questioning my appointment for a “friend”. It is a small town so Kanyin must tell Mom and Dad soon or they are going to hear it from someone else.

I am a little excited becoming an aunt and having a little baby around the house. I must remind myself that Kanyin is the mother, and I must question whether she is really fit to be a parent. Maybe a baby would force her to grow up, forcing her finally to take responsibility for her actions.

It is really going to be hard to concentrate against Mountain View tonight. Luckily, the game is in Healing Springs and not 70 miles east over Lobo Arroyo Pass. I can go home immediately after the game to see if she actually tells Mom and Dad.

Friday, February 7th

Kanyin kept true to her word last night and told Mom and Dad. Once I got home, I knew Kanyin told them by their worried and weak faces. Dad thanked me for convincing Kanyin to tell them about the pregnancy. I feared I might be in trouble for not telling them the day I knew, but it does not appear that way. Kanyin has a doctor’s appointment next Thursday at 4 pm. Mom is getting off of work, waitressing at Lena’s, to go with Kanyin to the appointment.

I decided to make it a point to talk to Kanyin every night no matter how late basketball kept me from getting home. I debate whether it really helps, but this is her longest stint of being out of trouble. Who knows, the baby on the way may have changed her? With my visits, I can at least monitor her daily, ensuring she does not hurt herself or the baby on one of her down days, which is bound to occur with my sister.

Oh yeah, we won last night. If we win tonight, we are the number one seed for districts next week. We then get a bye Friday and only have to play Saturday.

Monday, February 10th

My promise to visit Kanyin every day is much more difficult than I first optimistically planned. I realized Kanyin’s room is not spooky. Wherever Kanyin goes, the creepiness follows. After riding Saturday, Keegan dropped me off at my house. With some luck, I managed to get Kanyin out of her room to lounge in the living room.

Mom was pulling a double-shift to make up for the day she will miss on Thursday for Kanyin’s appointment. Dad keeps pretty busy all winter long, clearing snow on the pass. Lobo Arroyo received eight inches of snow Friday night, and so the ongoing task of clearing mountain snow consumed Dad’s time yet again. Boz left for his junior high wrestling meet in De Leon, a 100 mile trek west of Healing Springs, that morning and his return was going to be sometime in the evening. Kanyin and I were at the house, alone.

I plopped some peanut butter and jelly on some tortillas to snack on, one of my favorites. I would have proposed making Kanyin’s favorite snack, but she really does not have one. She does not really have a favorite anything: food, games, television shows, books… My list could go on indefinitely. She likes cheerleading, which might be the only item on her list of passions.

Since NCAA basketball was on and Kanyin did not care, we watched an assortment of games for a couple of hours. I kept up on my beloved Arizona College Gatos with updates while watching the big market games. When the main game was on, I rambled to Kanyin about petty ideas that crept into my mind. Usually I am not the talker in conversations, but with Kanyin, the silence between the two of us potentially had the capability of driving me insane. My promise to hang out with Kanyin every day likely would have ended with a few of those feared short, silent meetings.

I told her about Keegan, what she missed on the mountain when she declined to ride with me, and basketball.

Oh yeah, we won against Mission Valle, our arch rivals nestled in the Fria Valley, 100 miles due east of Healing Springs over my beloved Lobo Arroyo Pass. So we took the number one seed going into districts Saturday.

Anyway, I joked about Kanyin being in the sunlight downstairs and questioned whether she might melt in the living room. She did not seem offended, but she did not laugh either.

With her in the room, the air seemed heavier. My stomach felt almost upset but more light, my insides flipping in haste attempting to get away. Once silence tried to creep into the room, I quickly started talking about anything at all. I think I once discussed how I liked wheat bread better than white bread. Yeah, I stretched for anything to scare away the uncomfortable silence.

The sound of Mom’s purple Chevy Blazer pulling up the driveway sent Kanyin in retreat to her room. With my sister in her room, I did not pass up the chance to call Keegan and set up a time to snowboard on Sunday.

Keegan and I hiked all day Sunday where all the skiers and riders neglected to go, finding some great fresh lines. It was an excellent day. I cannot get too attached to him. I must resist clingy-girl syndrome.

Tuesday, February 11th

Just when I thought I might be creating a relationship with my sister, something always seems to push me away. Whenever I am behind her, she slams the doors closed so that I have to reopen the same door we are both going through. It is really ticking me off. I almost cancelled my visiting hours with her. Then I reminded myself I must remember the baby. She has yet to tell me to go away, but I definitely have the feeling that I am not wanted.

Wednesday, February 12th

Hannah is off academic probation, but I am still the starter. It is not very often a freshman is starting on varsity especially going into districts this week. The small town clichés and upperclassmen favoritism usually keeps juniors and seniors on top even if they lack the skills of the underclassmen, oh, high school politics. Our team is a force to be reckoned with now. The injuries Autumn and Natalie nursed all season are no longer keeping them on the bench. We are a full team again. Coveton and Nevava played last night because they are tied for the worst records. Nevava won so we play Coveton, again, Saturday morning.

Thursday, February 13th

I wonder if insanity is genetic? I accept the fact that Kanyin is not all there. That is as lightly as I can put it. Am I also on the brink of losing it as well? What I think I saw last night is something my mind is denying as possible, but my memory will not allow me to forget that haunting image.

Last night, I forced myself to continue my ritual to visit Kanyin. Everything went like usual; she sits and stares at the dark sky as I ramble on about the happenings of the day. Just about the time I decided to reveal my observation to Kanyin how her belly was starting to show her pregnancy, (something I failed to mention to her before because of my uncertainty on how far along she was, feeling horrible if she was only a month or two along) the lights went out. Kanyin’s room is never well lit, but when all light is gone, the room is completely horrendous.

“What the…” I heard myself start to say, but I failed to utter any more when I saw “it”.

Previously I dismissed the image I saw in Kanyin’s room as a matter of my mind playing with my fear brought about by the awkwardness of Kanyin. The “thing” I saw last night is hard to be excused as an illusion.

It seemed so real.

The grim reaper comes to mind when attempting to describe the being standing in between Kanyin and the window. The darkness intermingled with the black cape almost concealing a pale, lifeless face, but the full moon lit the room with just enough light, an illumination I never saw prior. The pale blue eyes, icy, drooped along with sagging skin, creating wrinkle upon wrinkle of half-circles below the eyes, appearing as decades, maybe centuries, old.

Transfixed, unable to move, I only stared.

“Snow?” Kanyin questioned, awaking me from my nightmare.

“Kanyin let’s get the hell out of here,” I weakly muttered, trying to tear my eyes off of it.

“Mom and Dad should have some candles downstairs,” I was already at the door when I finished.

Kanyin nonchalantly walked behind me as I ran toward the candlelight downstairs. I stayed silent once I reached the safety of the light. The awful feeling seemed to smother the living room where Mom, Dad, Kanyin, Boz, and I camped out in the candle-lit room. Kanyin hung around for about an hour then went back to her room. Once she left, the cold, chilly, heavy air and my distressed stomach departed as well.

I really do not know what to think. Am I insane? Is this how it feels to go crazy? Will I become Kanyin?

I am reassessing whether I will continue my visits with Kanyin. She is pregnant though. I have to think of the baby’s own well-being because I do not think Kanyin will. I am at a loss as to what is wrong with Kanyin. Some hope lingers. Her lack of troublemaking is one promising sign. If insanity is genetic, will Kanyin pass her genes to the baby? I hope not.

While my insanity questions remain, some answers may be answered because her doctor’s appointment is today. I think she talks to her counselor after the appointment.

Oh, I found out this morning that some guy from out-of-town, driving too fast, slid on some ice, and ran into an electrical pole, taking out electricity for most of Mosca County. The electricity came back on at 2:44 am. I finally fell asleep after fighting the horrid image I saw previously that night when suddenly all the lights came on, and my radio began blaring the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.” Very fitting.

Friday, February 14th

Kanyin is four months along. I did not expect that. I thought she was starting to show, but I guessed her only to be a couple of months. She is almost half-way done with her pregnancy. Kanyin is determined not to announce the baby’s father and remaining adamant of not wanting “it”.

I heard Mom and Dad talking about what to do late last night. They mentioned adoption and sending Kanyin somewhere where she is under constant surveillance so she does not hurt herself or the baby. I think Kanyin’s counselor came up with that suggest. Tonight is the night the discussion with Kanyin takes place on her and the baby’s future plans, which is just great because I leave for Mountain View this afternoon for district’s basketball.

I escaped Kanyin’s demon lair last night and got her to hang out in my room. Whether the room is hers or mine, wherever Kanyin goes, she brings something unnatural with her. I think she enjoys our get-togethers even though she never admits it.

Monday, February 17th

I almost died from shock last night. Keegan asked me to a belated Valentine’s Day dinner tonight. That is nothing like him. Until last night, all I counted on was a lingering uncertainty between us. I am still stunned he wanted to do something for Valentine’s Day. With me heading to districts in Mountain View, we bypassed an uncomfortable actual day of forcing a proclamation of our relationship. I must say it is nice to know what our relationship is now. Keegan is like opening an oyster shell. I do not know what to expect from him one day to the next, a slimy, oyster, decayed and smelly, or a pearl. Apparently, he is a pearl this time.

From my assessment of Kanyin and I’s sporadic conversations over the weekend when I arrived back Saturday night, (we went undefeated at districts and are hosting regionals Friday and Saturday) Kanyin is not keeping the baby but putting the infant up for adoption. I was getting excited about having a baby around and putting the thought of Kanyin being the mother to the back of my mind. Would that be the best thing for the baby if my sister were the mother? Probably not. Kanyin looked relieved that the baby is not a permanent fixture in her life. How can she be so heartless?

Tuesday, February 18th

Keegan’s sometimes impatient attitude did not ruin our belated, casual, Valentine’s Day dinner last night. He brought a single rose which I think is much more sentimental than trying to buy my affection (or something else) with an attention-demanding bouquet of a dozen roses. I think I am much happier that he did something I wanted to do, like going out, rather than me agreeing to go along with whatever he wanted to do. He did something for me once.

Wednesday, February 19th

Kanyin has been inquisitive about me lately especially last night.

“Don’t you ever get tired of being on the go all the time?” she asked.

“I didn’t really notice,” I responded. Pausing, I then determined, “We are just polar opposites. You are content staying home doing nothing. I like to be out. I guess that is my way of living.”

I wonder whether I should have said the last part that sounded like I lived and Kanyin was not even alive.

Kanyin thought about her response for quite a while. Finding the words she thought suitable, she carefully stated, “You play with the cards your dealt. Everybody can’t always do what they want.”

I am uncertain if she was talking about being pregnant, but she has been a recluse for as long as I have known her. We did have a breakthrough though. Her mentioning of cards led me to suggest playing them, and shockingly, she agreed. I love cards and collect them whenever I get the chance. We played war and speed but settled on rummy for most of the night.

Thursday, February 20th

Practice was awful for me last night. Let me rephrase that. Everybody practiced awful last night. If it was not me screwing up a play then Autumn posted up when she needed to swing to the wing. I think we are all getting a little jittery just before regionals. Some pretty big schools from the Denver Metro District that come from insanely competitive regions arrive tomorrow. They are mainly private schools that recruit the bigger public schools. At least that is what I hear. How nice it would be for a rural Colorado team to come out over a Denver team. If I lived up there, I wonder whether I might be one of those players the private schools attempted to recruit. I need to think like that or I am going to play awful this weekend. Bad thoughts are not allowed right now. I must remind myself that we are good enough to play on the same court as those metro schools.

Friday, February 21st

Kanyin is going away. Again. I so am angry, sad, and utterly confused. I finally found something we both enjoyed, card playing. It is all lost now because she is leaving. She agreed to go up to Denver with 24/7 surveillance while pregnant. What it really comes down to is that Kanyin did not say “no” to the idea of leaving when my parents suggested it to her.

She looked at them, unemotional, and said, “Whatever you think is best.”

I felt my heart pounding loudly, and before I blew up in a hurtful, angry rant I knew I could not contain, I ran to my room, taking my frustrations out on the door as I slammed it so hard that the bang echoed in my room. Kanyin came up the stairs shortly after I stormed through the house.

Before she got to her room, I screamed out to her, “Why did you say you would go?”

“It doesn’t matter to me,” she spoke in her usual detached tone.

“But… I thought… We… Never mind, I guess it doesn’t matter if you don’t care.” I thought of saying I cared, but if she did not, why should I?

Taking a deep breath, I asked Kanyin if she wanted to play cards. She nodded with no change in emotion on our face, and we spent the night with our new but ending bond of rummy.

Monday, February 24th

My feelings are so mixed. We went undefeated in regionals this weekend, and we now head to state in Fort Weaver, which is on the other side of the state an hour north of Denver. Our first game is this Thursday. If we keep winning, we play all the way to Saturday for the state championship game.

Unfortunately, Kanyin is traveling to Denver for a different reason Thursday. Her counselor managed to pull some strings. My sister’s bed is all set up, and she will be locked up to be monitored at a psychiatric hospital. I pled with Mom and Dad not to send her, arguing Kanyin’s ability to stay out of trouble is evidence she is changing. I even suggested that I would do the monitoring at no extra cost, money saved I knew they did not have. My arguments bore not fruit.

I talked to Boz about it. He failed to share my conviction for Kanyin to stay.

“Snow, she is weird. I don’t think it’s a good idea if she is not watched,” Boz said while cleaning the .22 he used to get his first mule deer doe this year.

“It is not hunting season. Why do you have that out?” I hollered as I ran out of his room.

Is it only me that wants Kanyin to stay? Maybe I am insane.

Tuesday, February 25th

The school is abuzz now. I think everyone knows Kanyin is pregnant. People come up to me, students I never knew before, asking about my sister. I fail to understand their curiosity about Kanyin; girls get pregnant at this high school all the time. I know two girls in my grade about ready to pop a baby out at any moment. Why is it so different with my sister? Oh yeah, how can I forget, Kanyin is different. A lot of upperclassmen inquisitive questions about the baby’s father are starting to get old real fast. I simply reply to their pressuring curiosity to ask Kanyin about that.

Wednesday, February 26th

After all my attempts to try to keep her here, she repays me with a slap in the face. The stomping and pleading for her to stay is thanked by my sister almost killing my boyfriend. It happened sometime yesterday afternoon. I was at practice, of course, so I only know the story from Keegan. Kanyin remains silent, like usual, like with everything else.

Keegan says he remembers walking off the campus, heading toward the parking lot. He felt a sharp pain on the back of his head and then everything went black. He thinks he was not knocked out for long because he woke up with Kanyin standing above him, calmly starring down at him, hands clasped together holding something. He looked around and saw a piece of wood siding from, who knows where, lying at Kanyin’s feet.

“Did you just hit me with that?” Keegan demanded while he tried to get up. He said his head still pounding from the impact.

“I…” Kanyin hesitated, dropped the item in her hands, and took off across the campus green.

“What the hell is the matter with your sister, Snow?” Keegan questioned me as he walked me to Hannah’s car. I managed only an open mouth with no words to reply.

“She hits me on the head, knocks me out, and then leaves a note that says ‘Take care of my sister when I’m gone’. Snow, I probably would have done something I would have regretted to her if I could have gotten up,” Keegan explained, rubbing the back of his head. He has a horrible bump on the point of impact.

“Why did you do that?” I interrogated my sister when I got home, finding her sitting on her bed staring out the window.

“You could have killed him. He didn’t deserve that. Were you mad at me because he wants to be with me and not be another one of your mindless boy followers? Kanyin, I spoke up for you. I made this huge dramatic scene when I heard you were leaving, and this is what you do in return. I don’t understand.”

Kanyin looked at me with her perpetual unemotional stare. I turned away before I did or said more that could never be taken back.

I think what hurts me the most is she did this a few days before she leaves for who knows how long. Possibly, I must repeat that, possibly, we, with a lot of work, might mend this setback in time. Now, all I will remember when Kanyin is gone is her smacking Keegan over the head with a board.

Mom and Dad just gave me the “I told you so look,” when they heard Keegan’s bout with Kanyin.

“And you thought you could be her watcher-person,” was Boz’s response to the day’s events.

Keegan gave me the letter Kanyin wrote which reads in its entirety, “When I leave for an undetermined amount of time, please take care of my sister. She deals with a lot, responding with a smile. So when you see her smile, what you believe to be may not be as it seems.”

Thursday, February 27th

We are so ready for state. This is my only class today before we head up to Fort Weaver. The team seemed to click at practice last night. With me starting point guard, Autumn and Lark down low, and Hannah and Natalie ready at the wing to kick the ball back out for an open outside shot, our players are officially working as a team. I know that is so cliché, but we all seem to work as one now.

After all Kanyin put me through the past couple of days, I helped her pack last night. I neglected to try to make small talk, and it was a quick interaction due to the scant belongings to pack.

I am uncertain whether I am still trying to keep my promise of visiting my sister every day or I am helping to make sure she is leaving.

Monday, March 3rd

The house feels reborn. I know it is horrible to say, but with Kanyin gone, the dark, upsetting presence is no longer drenching the house. I neglected to notice the feeling previously, but my stomach had been a consistent bother for some time. With Kanyin out of the house, the unsettling feeling also departed.

I am still beaming from our 3A State Championship title we took Saturday. Full court press the entire game wore out the overgrown Holy Faith girls by the third quarter. We ended up winning by 22 points. My 13 steals and 21 points helped along with Autumn’s 20 points. She and I were named All-State.

Oddly, my excitement is not all I thought it would be. With Kanyin‘s absence, my elation is displayed as a whimsy smile, not an overjoyed sense of satisfaction.

I do enjoy getting home at a decent hour with basketball practice no longer keeping me away until well into the night. A snowstorm is supposed to come midweek. We need more powder at the ski area. It is probably pretty hard-pack up there right now.

Tuesday, March 4th

Our snowiest month is here, and guess what, it is snowing. Another storm arrived early. The storm was supposed to hit us Wednesday night/Thursday morning.

Keegan and I are hanging out together a lot. That is all I really want to do, but I force myself to have girl time with Em, Hannah, and Natalie. I refuse to become one of those girls whose life revolves around boys.

Wednesday, March 5th

Twenty-one inches of snow covered the already fallen snow last night. It is so light and feathery. I feel awful so my enjoyment of all the powdery wonder is lacking in its usual blissfulness. I suspect I caught a bug at Fort Weaver. I have not felt well since we got back. I am so sleepy.

For some odd reason, strange incidences started to occur at the mental hospital where Kanyin is staying at in Denver. I overheard a phone conversation between Dad and the counselor at the hospital about some of the occurrences, flooding toilets and other patients waking up with shaved heads. Kanyin denies doing the deeds. However, she is always in close vicinity when an incident occurs.

Thursday, March 6th

I must make it through this week. I still feel sick. Only two more days then I rest for the whole weekend. The congestion in my head feels like it is spreading.

The forecast of snow was not entirely wrong. The Wednesday night storm arrived promptly as predicted. The Tuesday occurrence is the one the weather forecasters missed. Nineteen inches fell last night, and it is still falling, heavily, making visibility extremely limited. My afternoon plans are set after I get out of school, shoveling again. The ski area is probably a paradise right now. I need to rest this weekend though so I can get better.

Poor Keegan, they started baseball practice this week. Their ballfield is the basketball gym until the weather clears up. That is one problem in the mountains, the snowboarding is great, but baseball is always a troubling adventure at the beginning, sometimes for the entire season.

Friday, March 7th

Well I am here. I am unsure how I got to this very spot, but I sit at this uncomfortable desk just the same. Along with my stuffy nose, my head feels like someone hit it with a rock all night long or a board thrown by Kanyin has hit me. I guess that is not very funny. I know Keegan would not find any humor in that joke. I fantasize about being able to sleep tomorrow. My shoveling last night is probably one of the main culprits for me feeling worse today.

It looks like the skies are finally starting to clear up, about time. In the past week, we almost received five feet of snow down here. The ski area’s blessing amounted to 110 inches well over nine feet. I must ignore the urge to ride; I need to rest this weekend.

Wednesday, March 12th

Keegan is so sweet. Well, I guess he owed it to me after he coaxed me into riding Saturday and Sunday. Yes, I neglected to get the much needed rest on the weekend as I planned and ended up extending my weekend and stayed home Monday and Tuesday because I felt so wretched. I feel much better now.

The riding was unbelievable, no need to hike this weekend. Fresh lines were bountiful. On both days, Keegan and I awoke early to hit first chair, riding all day until the chairs stopped. He reminding me about the extraordinary snow was unnecessary, but Keegan did it anyway, convincing me all day Friday that spring breakers would be arriving soon and would take over the mountain. When spring breakers attack the area, locals know not to go up, dodging Texans, Oklahomans, and Californians is not an ideal experience. I believe several schools started their spring breaks, but nine feet of new snow at the ski area is too much for them to handle.

Anyway, I felt the slow, grueling experience of dying Monday morning, turning off my alarm for school; I awoke sometime later to someone tapping on my bedroom door. It was Keegan. He woke up early, before going to school, and brought over soup and crackers. He felt guilty about persuading me to go up to the mountain while I suffered from my cold and wanted to bring over an “I’m sorry” gift. That boy has some glimpses of brilliance.

Thursday, March 13th

Another six inches fell last night. Traffic is horrible. Spring breakers have arrived. Anywhere else, the idea of spring breakers coincides with hot guys and outlandish parties. Not here. The average age for a spring breaker here is 40, and if a guy is mildly cute, do not look twice because four kids are bound to be trailing behind him with a nagging wife, complaining about the slush on the sides of the roads. Yeah, the mountain is not much fun right now.

I thought of taking the rest of the year off from sports, but with Keegan busy with gym baseball, I agreed to join track and field with Hannah. Usually it is soccer season, but I hurt my hand the last day of riding. Yeah, I know a hand is not normally a necessity in soccer. I am a goalkeeper so I am actually one of the few that requires the use of my hands for soccer. I am not sure of what I might be good at in track and field. If I really suck, then my season will be really short.

Friday, March 14th

A dusting of snow softly covered the roads last night. If it stays clear and the pass remains open, our family heads up to Denver to visit Kanyin this weekend. The forecast is not calling for any snow, but our weather is seldom predicted correctly. The five-day Denver forecast displays on television with some decent accuracy. However, a section of Colorado is a blurry spot hardly zoomed in on during the weather forecast. I hope we go see Kanyin; I need to get away from these southern-accented spring breakers.

Monday, March 17th

The weather in Denver was beautiful. Kanyin, however, wanted to stay in her room. Looking out her dreary cell, I watched the visiting families sitting outside, enjoying the balmy Denver weather, picnic tables were full and even some brave souls sat on the yellow, dead grass.

Kanyin’s room looked like what I expected a psychiatric ward to look like, two single beds, one Kanyin’s, the other empty. Luck is on her side with no roommate to share the room or maybe her spooky demeanor scared whoever was previously staying in the room. The off-white dry wall room is cold, exactly how Kanyin likes it. Unfortunately my unsettling feeling in my stomach returned with my older sister’s presence. I forgot how nice life feels without the disturbing sensation around Kanyin.

Kanyin’s absence in my life for a couple of weeks allowed me to notice her pregnant stomach even more during the visit. She said few words, like usual, not informing any of us whether she wanted to come home or stay. I worry Mom and Dad cannot afford the place, but they always put their children’s needs as their top priority. I admire their sacrifice.

The anger with Kanyin and what she did to Keegan made me a little standoffish at first. I returned to my usual self around Kanyin, instigating conversation and staying with her when Mom, Dad and my brother went to grab some food after Boz complained about being hungry. We played a couple hands of rummy until my parents and Whiny returned.

I wonder if Kanyin will ever say who the baby’s father is. Perhaps she is not revealing the father’s name because she sees no need to get married to him, declining to have the Catholic shotgun wedding with a pregnant bride and a wide-eyed teenage groom. My sister may also be acting out of selfishness, deciding not to take responsibility for her, a regular action performed by my sister most of her whole life.

I told Kanyin to call me whenever she needed to talk, or in her case, wanted to listen to me blabber about white versus wheat bread. I question why I try so hard with her. I get nothing out of the relationship. Maybe I want some connection with my older sister like I have with the rest of my family. I sense she wants the relationship too. My understanding gets hazy as to why she just neglects to allow it to happen. She stays locked up inside her head. I did see a glint of hope in her, I know it is there. I am at a loss on how to show her life is more than being cut off from everybody else. Maybe her inability to open up is one reason why she does not mind being locked up.

We arrived home late Sunday night. I do not really feel tired right now, but I know tomorrow I will, and the torture will be in full force for staying up too late.

Tuesday, March 18th

Normally I am an optimist, but when tired, I do not have the energy to waste on pretending to be happy. The Denver trip caught up with me. My eyes feel heavy. I want to go home and sleep. I doubt sleep is in my future any time soon because a hard, icy snow is pelting the ground right now. Shoveling the driveway is my first task when I get home.

We took our Denver trip just in time. It sounds like we are going to be hammered with snow the next few days. The storm drenched San Diego with rain, and snow is greeting Flagstaff right now. When storms come from the south, we are hit hard. Add a wet, heavy snowfall, the outcome becomes slushy boarding and a terror to shovel.

I predict track and field practice is cancelled today unless we head to the gym with the baseball team.

Friday, March 21st

I missed a few days in my journal because the cancellation of school. I hoped the snow days might go right on into our spring break next week but unfortunately no. I am just too greedy wanting more snow days after already two, glorious days of cancellation. The snow continues to fall, but the road crews caught up with the wet, heavy snow just in time for one day of school before a week off for spring break.

The snow is awful to shovel. My body is sore from shoveling in the morning and at night to help Mom and Dad get back and forth to work. The electricity went off early Tuesday morning, very early. I heard Dad scrambling around in the dark because his alarm failed to go off for work, trying to get ready for a long day plowing on the pass. He usually gets up about 3 or 4 am if a lot of snow needs clearing. Unable to fall back asleep, I went downstairs to start a fire. Once the safety net of electricity is cut, the crackling, heart-warming fire is a wonderful reassurance to the mind.

Luckily, I remembered to grab the plug-in phone, replacing our cordless phone. A few hours later Dad called on the landline advising us of Lobo Arroyo Pass’ closure and the cancellation of school. After I shoveled the driveway, I dozed off on the couch while Boz grumbled about having nothing to do.

It is so crazy how dependent one becomes but fails to realize the dependency until the necessity is gone. I woke up a few hours later and almost joined Boz’s grumbling from the lack of electricity. Fighting off the urge to submit to the negativity, I convinced Boz to build a snow fort outside. I know it is childish, but with our television disabled from the lack of electricity, and on orders not to tie up the phone lines in case Dad needed to call, we needed an activity to pass the time.

With only half of the county’s electricity back on by Wednesday morning, school was cancelled again. After I spent my second two-a-day of shoveling, I came in to hear the phone ringing. I hurried and answered expecting the worst. It was Kanyin. She actually took me up on my offer of calling. With anybody else, a caller is either checking up on us or at least has the faintest idea we were being suffocated by a wet, powdery blizzard, not Kanyin. My sister neglects to keep up on current events or even watch television. I talked with her for a few hours, giving her the whole snowy details. She sounded shocked that school was cancelled and that Lobo Arroyo Pass was closed. This area is prone to snow and a lot of it. Therefore, it is a rare treat to have school cancelled and the pass closed. The wet mush pulled through for us students for once.

With the snow accumulating, the county failed to catch up on clearing all the roads for school to resume Thursday. The snow gods blessed us with another day of school off. All and all, we ended up with just over four feet of the wet, snowy slush—horrible to shovel and even worse for avalanche danger. The pass remains closed. Today is probably the first day of blasting for avalanches because the sky finally cleared.

We also used our remaining snow days for school so if any more snow cancellations occur we have to attend either school extra days at the end of the school year or go to class on days we are scheduled off between now and the end of May.

Monday, March 31st

Spring break went too fast. I spent most of the time snowboarding with Keegan. I think yesterday and Tuesday was the only days we did not to go up riding. I do find it a bit odd he wants to still be around me, knowing my psychotic sister might knock him out again. It feels like he forgot the incident with the board, his head injury, and my sister way too fast. Perhaps he suffers from a concussion, and his memory of the day is lost. Oh, Snow that is horrible and not funny. Perhaps his worry is eased knowing Kanyin is far away in Denver. If the blow to the head happened to me, my anger would be all-consuming, causing a fuming distaste for the entire family, and making a personal vow never to forget.

My phone conversations continue with Kanyin. We talked a few times in the evening over spring break. I talk, she listens. The relationship between Kanyin and I is anything but an ideal sisterhood, but at least, we have more together than she possesses with anyone else in her life. I wish we could have had another visit with her this Sunday for Easter. With Easter and spring break together, Mom and Dad’s jobs made getting away a formidable task this weekend. They hope to visit Kanyin in Denver sometime in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, April 1st

Kanyin’s baby came way before her due date! Just kidding, April Fools!

Keegan is acting stranger than usual. He actually appears to be happy to see me. He is never happy. His typical dismal day consists of having to hang out with a girl and be subject to her girlie behaviors for an entire day. I suspect his change in demeanor is a show. My paranoia is starting to frighten me just a wee bit.

Luckily, track and field is occupying my mind and schedule lately. I found a true love, running. The shoveling workout was wearing me thin and causing me to be dead-tired with no semblance of fulfillment especially when I know all my turmoil is covered, literally, with the next snowfall. Actually going somewhere when I run is what my body craves. I like the feel of my feet against the trail, the methodic pulse of my body, the sensation of the cool air as I rush by, and I love the distance I go without the help of cars, bicycles, even my snowboard. Running is all in my head, and I find the exercise meditating. I am decent at track and field events like discus, long jump, and so on, but all I think about is competing in the longer distance running events. While called 1500 meters, I prefer to name the distance that I will likely to compete in as the mile. Blame that on my American roots, and the stubbornness of our country to adapt to the rest of the world’s measurement system. Volleyball may be bypassed next year to allow me to compete in cross-country. The thought competing against myself is a new notion. I am intrigued.

Wednesday, April 2nd

I saw that horrible being again, the one I thought I glimpsed in Kanyin’s room. I really hope I am not going insane along with my sister. As long as I deny the actuality of the crazy thoughts, I may be able to keep my wits about me.

I went to bed like I do most nights now, at about 9:30. I know, way too early, but all that running for track and field re-energizes me to about 9. I then fight to stay awake for another half hour.

In my dream, Kanyin was still at home, and appeared not to be pregnant. Suddenly the lights went out. Mom, Dad, and Boz casually went into the other room that I presume is the kitchen, busying themselves in the dark. I was left alone with Kanyin in the living room’s blackness. She stood in the middle of the room, maintaining her same unenthused manner, her left pointer finger twirling, twirling me into a trance. My vision blurred; she faded to where I could only see a hazy silhouette.

I blinked.

Once I opened my eyes, the demon’s face was all that I saw, clear as day, eyes drooping, a slit for a mouth, and a hood covering the top of its head, leaving a small portion of the pale forehead visible. I saw Kanyin in my peripheral vision still unemotional, finger twirling. All my bodily functions halted, no breathing, moving, swallowing, or even blinking.

Slowly the slit of the mouth opened on the wretched, pale being and a bony finger from its hand (indiscernible whether the white was very pale skin or bone) moved in front of the being’s mouth in a “be quiet” motion. As the hand disappeared in the darkness, a strong voice from the caped-face of death, bellowed, “Sustains me.”

I shot up in my bed, wide-awake, glancing at my clock, which glowed 2 am.

That face is engraved in my memory and I cannot get it out of my head.

Thursday, April 3rd

Keegan and I‘s first couple’s fight is official. Apparently, I am an idiot for suspecting his peculiar behavior. After our practices yesterday, we dined at The Curb where we actually sat down. Joking, I asked him what he did wrong. He came unglued, going on and on about how any time he tries to be nice, he is interrogated.

“Maybe I am the way I am with you because I don’t want to be questioned by the Spanish Inquisition.”

“Oh, I make you act like an ass. I think you do that very well by yourself,” I paused, thinking about his Spanish Inquisition comment. “What’s with the racist remark?” I angrily finally managed to retort.

“I didn’t mean it to be that way,” he responded quickly.

We hurriedly ate in silence then he drove me home. I hopped out of the car before he attempted to try to make up with me, slamming his car door and flipping my hair as I turned away from the vehicle and him, rushing inside the house before I let myself look back.

Sometimes I feel like I am forced to bite my tongue in order to keep our relationship intact. The Spanish Inquisition remark is kind of funny, but I will never let him know that.

Friday, April 4th

It is snowing again. It started to lightly snow when I was on the school bus this morning about 7:30 or so.

My goal is to avoid Keegan today. I shy away from drama. Getting back together is inevitable, and we will undoubtedly act as if nothing happened—at least my ideal way of dealing with the fight would occur exactly in that fashion. I figure Keegan is the same way.

Unintentionally, I have realized that I have neglected my little brother for far too long between talking on the phone with Kanyin in the evenings and hanging out with Keegan. This weekend I should go up to the ski area and ride with Boz. The ski area is only open for two more weeks.

Wednesday, April 9th

The wet snow returned Friday night and failed to stop until Monday afternoon. Fortunately, I decided not to ride Saturday. A blizzard rolled in up on the pass, and two snowboarders from Arizona remain missing. The visibility is not ideal, and the search for the two men stopped this morning. I hate to be callous, but those guys’ recovery from the mountains is most likely to occur sometime in the spring thaw, which could be in another month or two. Lobo Arroyo Pass remains closed ever since the Saturday blizzard night. It may open back up later this afternoon.

I am ecstatic to use the typical movie scenario of good and bad news. With two more days of school cancellation, the good news is we received a super long weekend. The bad news is we must make-up those days with days normally scheduled off between now and May. I heard staff-in-service days, normally for staff to work, might be how we make up the two days when we went over our annually slated three snow days.

The electricity outage, which triggered our previous snow days, was not the culprit for the cancellations this time. The fear of the load of snow on the elementary school worried school administrators. Monday and Tuesday shovels and snow blowers cleared the school’s roof to lighten the accumulation of two big, wet storms in an extremely short time-frame. We received another three and a half feet down here with this last storm. Lobo Arroyo’s base is now over 200 inches. I heard the ski area plans to open a few more weekends because of so much snow this late in the season.

Thursday, April 10th

Keegan and I somewhat are back together or decided to just ignore our last fight. My certainty is fuzzy as to the correct explanation. Our last fight and make up established us as a set couple, I guess. My inner battle persists every time we walk down the halls with his arm around me. The sensation of him so close is unimaginable, a reassurance he is proud to be with me and wants everybody to be aware.

On the other hand, I hesitate with feelings of reassurance if everyone else’s perception of his arm around my shoulder identifies me as his piece of property, signifying his ownership over me. Why do relationships always seem like one has to be the dominant one and the other person the passive eye candy? With me wavering to speak my mind in order to keep the peace between the two of us, I hate to admit it, but I am not the dominator. I see no necessary need for the existence of the dominator in our current times. I just want to be equal. I fear I became the girls I loathe, infatuated with my relationship, blinding me from identifying or wanting to recognize societies’ problems, allowing those issues to continue rather than trying to change them.

Friday, April 11th

Boz appeared kind of sad when I talked to Keegan for a few hours last night. I think he thought I planned to ditch my little brother this weekend. Boz and I are hanging out this weekend. I need time away from Keegan.

Hannah and I decided to watch Keegan’s baseball game tonight in Plateauland, a good 2 hours southwest of Healing Springs. That school’s grass, like many of New Mexico’s fields, is already starting to green and they actually play outside for most of their baseball season unlike Keegan’s team, remaining restricted to the gym for practice. I anticipate our team will not fair well tonight. Gym practice is just not enough edge when competing with teams that play outside the entire season.

Hannah and I plan to stop at the mall after the game in Granja, which is in between Plateauland and Healing Springs, an hour and a half from my house, for some girl necessities, shopping. To be this excited about hanging out with just the girls while still being myself is inconceivable. I promised Boz the trip to New Mexico was not cause for alarm; we were set to get up early Saturday to play on the pass’s winter wonderland.

Monday, April 14th

Our upcoming weekend is set in Denver to visit Kanyin. I know my parents are in need of some full family interaction. It is unfortunate we have to travel to an insane asylum to fulfill that need.

Talking to Kanyin Sunday night, she mentioned she felt the baby kick for the first time. My dream is that Kanyin might warm up to the idea of taking care of the baby especially with the sensation of feeling an actual human inside her. Mom really misses Kanyin. My sister is her problem child. Mom is used to always being at the ready to take care of Kanyin. Dad is constantly looking at the door, I think, in hopes Kanyin will walk into the house at that very moment. Boz shows little interest for our eldest sister. Kanyin and Boz, although resembling one another, are two very different personalities.

Boz and I’s weekend was well worth the early Saturday rise. The superb snow eagerly greeted our boards. Em joined us for the latter part of the day. I think I am more like myself with Boz and Em, which is so liberating. My brother amazes me on what he tries to pull off on a snowboard. Being much more tactful, I enjoy being out in the beautiful pines more so than getting as much air as possible and breaking a body part.

The baseball game turned into a grueling, beat down. The final score, 12 to 1, with the 5th inning rule going into effect because we were getting beat by over ten runs. Our only run came from Keegan, a solo leadoff home run. The guys appeared never to have played baseball outside all year. Wait a minute. The Friday game is the first time they played outside all year. Keegan’s disgruntled mood after the game made me happy he was riding home on the bus and not with me.

Natalie, Autumn, Hannah, Hannah’s friend Jason, and I grabbed dinner at the first sit-down restaurant we saw then we wandered around the Granja Mall for several hours. While Natalie, Autumn, and Jason ran to the restroom, Hannah and I threw away our emptied drink containers.

“Snow, how are you and Keegan doing?” Hannah asked, while shaking her 32 ounce drink to make sure nothing remained.

“I guess okay. It’s just been… He is just tough to figure out,” I replied a little perplexed by Hannah’s interest in our relationship.

Cautiously Hannah began, “I would just be careful with him.”

Instantly my inner-girl defense designated Hanna as jealous of Keegan and me. I managed to ignore reacting on my instinctual thoughts and nodded, remembering she knew Keegan much longer than I did.

“I am always suspicious. I guess I have the whole trust issue, but at least, I know it is not just me. Thanks Hannah,” as I finished, the rest of my crew headed our way. I smiled and greeted them enthusiastically, ecstatic the one-on-one talk with Hannah was over.

Tuesday, April 15th

Our first track meet is today in Coveton that is making me a little worried. I am comfortable playing with a team in sporting activities. I guess our track and field group is sort of a team with all of us girls contributing to our ultimate placing against other schools. However, I run the race alone. At least, the alone time allows me to relieve my frustrations with Keegan and whatever Hannah knows but neglected tell to me.

Wednesday, April 16th

Our team placed second, and I left the competition far behind. Coach McDonald, a light haired slightly balding young man who looks more like a football coach than a track and field coach, was proud with my performance, and was gloating well after the meet. He exclaimed I raced against some of the best in our conference and they were not even close to me. I saw diamonds in his eyes for the rest of our season’s potential.

I think I like practice more than the actual competition. Practice benefits only me. In a race, I force myself to be mindful of those around me. Of course, I race to win, but I must never forget why I run, especially during a track meet, that way I never lose the joy of running.

Thursday, April 17th

I wonder if my new found love of running is the devil in disguise. It allows me to de-stress from the drama of dealing with Keegan. If only running with no drama co-existed, my life is then unburdened, heading for complete and utter capital perfection.

Friday, April 18th

I think spring arrived. Mud is everywhere. Yeah, rain showers and rainbows do not characterize the season of spring in my hometown; we get melted snow and mud. When the snow melts and I battle the mud sticking to my shoes, splattering clothes, forcing continuous clothes cleaning, the wind arrives shortly after. It dries out the mud, but outside ventures become a blistery headache. The mountain snow is plentiful though, probably not melting down to the dirt until May. Some residents are worrying we will get too warm too fast causing our meager Alma River to turn into a monster, hauling high altitude debris through town with the possibility of flooding. Oh, we just go from one weather extreme to another. I love the variety.

All my clothes are packed, and I am prepared to go up to Denver to see Kanyin this weekend. I am curious to see how big she is since she is now six months along. It is unbelievable she is that far along now. Boz is being awfully snoopy. He is just unsure about Kanyin and I’s, somewhat, close relationship recently. Perhaps he is just scared I might forget him. How could I forget about my bud?

Monday, April 21st

Okay, the suspense is about to consume my entire being. Tonight is taking too long to arrive. We visited Kanyin with an almost perfect weekend, if a large portion of Saturday and Sunday occurred anywhere else rather than a nut house. A true family weekend occurred as we spent all of our time together. I mentioned briefly to Kanyin about what Hannah said to me when Dad and Boz left for the restroom, trying to figure out if Hannah’s motives required me to suspect Keegan’s intentions.

“Hannah seemed questionable of Keegan. You’ve known him and her longer than I have, should I be worried?” I questioned, glancing at Mom. Our mother gleefully, sang along to whatever was humming in her earbuds, sprucing up Kanyin’s room.

“Snow I have to tell you something but not right now with everyone here. I’ll call you on Monday.”

Her response set my imagination running madly. My brain is so tired from devising every possible scenario that my thoughts could concoct. Hannah and Keegan are concealing a secret tryst? Hannah is jealous of me because she secretly loves Keegan? Keegan is secretly a woman? Well, he might be, I have never seen him naked even though he is the manliest acting man in high school. A whole school day must pass before I can talk to Kanyin and ease my beleaguered over-worked head.

Kanyin sure is getting big. She is all baby though. I speculated her cheeks may puff out from retaining water but, nope. She is just as stunning as ever besides the unnatural looking basketball shape of her stomach.

Tuesday, April 22nd

Just like Kanyin, to the point and unemotional, “I had sex with Keegan.”

She called around 6 pm. Perfect timing as Dad, Mom, Boz, and I just finished dinner. Her opening line caught me off guard. Before my feet had the chance to run up to my room with the handheld device, I sputtered, “What? You and…? Why didn’t you…? I can’t believe it!”

As I finished my diarrhea of questions, I remembered still being in the living room. I shyly smiled at Boz and Dad.

“It’s Kanyin. We’re going to girl-talk. I think I’m just going upstairs.”

I raced to my room. My mind flew faster than my feet up the stairs. Why did Keegan fail to say anything? I expect Kanyin to be mute, that is her thing, but I attempted or was attempting to establish a relationship with Keegan.

“It was before you and Keegan started seeing each other,” Kanyin explained as I sat down at my desk perplexed.

“I figured that. You were pregnant already before we started to… Oh my God! Is he the father of your baby?” I held my breath as I awaited Kanyin’s reply.

“Snow I never expected you to be this dramatic,” Kanyin replied not really answering my question, but for some reason, her words comforted me to take a breath.

“Yeah, I have never been this dramatic about anything. It is definitely over between Keegan and me.”

As I finished, I glanced up to the note Kanyin dropped after she knocked him out with the board.

“Why did you give him the note? I could understand knocking him out for being with you and now with your little sister, but why the letter?”

“Snow, I could see he really does like you. That’s why I never said anything about our past history. I thought it might work between you and him.”

“Wow Kanyin, I never, ever heard you so sentimental. I am still breaking it off with him, but thank you,” with me being at a loss for words our conversation became pretty stagnate, and we said our goodbyes.

My plan is to keep this break-up as civil with as little drama as possible.

Wednesday, April 23rd

During lunch, the whole break-up unfolded. I have concealed my true feelings about the ordeal during the break up to myself, but I am really upset we had to end the relationship, especially like this.

Hannah, Natalie, Em, and I sat outside, enjoying the ever-increasing warmth of the sun. Keegan and his blunt and self-involved personality came directly toward us.

Once he came within hearing distance, he questioned, “Why are you avoiding me?”

The girls started to get up to leave Keegan and me alone. I shook my head and motioned for them to sit back down. I took Keegan away from the crowd next to the fence, leading towards the sports complex.

“Are you okay?” Hannah asked. I nodded as I led Keegan to the quieter spot.

“Keegan, I know about you and my sister. It’s over,” I said flatly, almost getting excited the break up might occur without a hitch.

The look on Keegan’s face read guilty.

“That’s a…”

“I talked to my sister about it. Don’t lie,” I became agitated for his attempt to deny the truth.

“Honestly Snow can you believe your sister?” Keegan widened his eyes, raising both eyebrows to coax me to rethink my decision of relying on my abnormal sister for facts.

“I expect my sister not to say anything. But you? Honestly,” I responded. “I thought I could expect more out of you. You are so conceited, wanting everyone to feel the misery of your life,” my voice starting to get louder. Glancing around, I saw no one noticing, so I continued, “Was it your goal to sleep with both Zapata sisters? I don’t want my sister’s sloppy seconds. Were you trying to knock up both of us?”

“I didn’t get Kanyin pregnant. Even if I did, which is NOT the case, that would be the best thing that happened to your family.”

“You’re a pig! We’re through!”

Walking away, I felt vindication finally telling him all my thoughts withheld our entire relationship, glad to end the whole ordeal, break-up, relationship, everything. My hands are clean again. I walked alone with no arm around my shoulder to comfort or control me.

Thursday, April 24th

Oh small town gossip gets around fast. Everyone is so shocked Keegan and I are no more.

“You looked so cute together.” “He really liked you.” “Give him another chance.” “Can you really believe your sister?”

I welcomed practice Wednesday enthusiastically. I set my best time of the season. Getting away from everyone and later finding out I might set a school record, I cannot think of better rewards after going through such a dismal start to the day.

Friday, April 25th

I made the big mistake of taking this journal home last night, and of course, snooping, pesky little brother Boz read it right away. Usually I leave this in my locker because I grab it before my first class. After dealing with nosy teenagers all day, I just threw everything in my backpack and left as quickly as possible to get away from the high school. Hannah drove me to my house to gather some clothes for practice. I dropped off my backpack in the room snatched some clothes then hurried back to school for practice.

The couple of hours I spent at practice gave Boz ample time to read my journal in its entirety.

When I got home, I watched television with Mom and Dad until about 9. I decided to head up to my room to get ready for school on Friday. I opened my bedroom door, and who do I find, my nosy little brother. At first, confusion gripped my thoughts as to why Boz decided to go into my room.

“What are you…” I began to ask nonchalantly, but noticing him scrambling to put my journal back where he found it, I screamed, “Benjamin Oliver Zapata get out of there!”
“It’s too late,” he said, standing proudly. “I already finished it.”

“I am so going to beat the crap out of you,” lunging forward, I grabbed the hood of his sweatshirt, pinning him down in no time at all. I guess all of the snow shoveling does have some benefits. Just as I raised my arm to wail on him, I stopped, peering into his scared green eyes. I realized his snooping stemmed from him worrying about me. The thrashing I initially thought he so desperately needed I decided unnecessary. His intentions were not ill conceived but out of concern.

As I started to get up, he assessed, “Man that Keegan is a jerk.”

“Tell me about it,” I said. Then with some clarity, I remarked, “At least I knew about it before I made a real stupid decision with him.”

“Is he the father of Kanyin’s baby?”

“I don’t know. The only one who really knows is Kanyin, and she is not saying a word.”

“Why is Kanyin hanging out with demons?” he questioned abruptly with an intense, look of concern.

“Demons? Geeze Boz, where did you get that?” I smiled at his juvenile comment.

“You said you saw a demon or the devil hanging out with her, Snow,” Boz shot back at me.

“Boz I did not see the devil hanging out with Kanyin. The shadows in her room are horrible. That’s all.” I began to laugh, “Do you think she’s summoning evil spirits with her hidden cauldron to then dance with the demons in the moonlight.”

“Shut up,” Boz exclaimed, embarrassed. His face indicating he was visualizing the thought of Kanyin dancing with demons. He began to smile.

“Let me know if something is wrong though Snow. I can help.”

“You sure can Mr. Investigator. Am I done with questioning now?”

“For now, but there will be more in the future,” he laughed as he headed out of my room.

Monday, April 28th

I question whether this day is capable of getting any worse. Prom posters are littering the hallways. I really regret viewing the poster and its slap of a reminder that I am an underclassman and unable to go to prom unless I go with a junior or senior. My dating of a junior came to an abrupt halt last week. Normally prom is not very alluring for me, but now that I am unable go, I actually want to go to the stupid event. I know finding a date for Keegan is not a problem at all. The dude is hot. Demented, for sure, but super sexy.

Maybe I need to go somewhere once prom weekend arrives. Hannah and Natalie are out for my trip away from Healing Springs, and prom, and Keegan. They are definitely going to prom. Hannah is most likely going with Detrich, a fellow senior, muscular with blonde-hair and blue-eyes. Natalie, unless another break up occurs between her and Adam, a brown, wavy haired and brown-eyed senior, will attend prom together. Their relationship has been a consistent dating and dumping drama scenario for as long as I have known them. Adam is muscular but not to the point of Detrich’s body-builder physique.

I really need to find some friends my age. Most of my friends graduate either this year or next. Em is only a sophomore though. We met before either went to school. Her Mom worked with my Mom at Lena’s before I was even born. Our moms took turns watching us on their alternating days off. Em looks like she still did as a little girl, blonde-hair, appearing almost white, freckles, and hazel eyes. She is still small barely over five feet tall. Em and I might be able to go somewhere. She has the much-coveted license, allowing us to drive away, far, far away from prom weekend.

Tuesday, April 29th

Hannah decided I just must attend prom. I told her my dilemma about being an underclassman, but she would hear nothing of my excuse.

“I’ll set you up. That’s no problem,” she said as we took our lunch trays outside.

“Hannah I don’t want to be some charity case. I’ll just stay home and wash my hair,” I tried to joke.

“You’re not a charity case; you’re smokin’ hot, and it won’t be the same without you there,” Natalie assessed as we sat on an actual lawn of grass in front of the high school.

“Well I really don’t need some guy trying to get into my pants either. I don’t want any pressure like that at all.”

“I got it!” Hannah smiled, giddy with excitement. “Jason is perfect.”

“Hannah isn’t Jason, you know, uh, you know,” my mouth refused to allow the word escape my body.

“Gay? Oh yeah, definitely. That means he won’t pressure you to do something you don’t want to do, and we can all be together. That’s perfect. It’s set,” Hannah giggled.

“Okay,” I said, understanding any additional argument from me would only be a waste of breath. “Prom it is.”

We shop for dresses this weekend. Speaking of this weekend, parent/teacher conferences take place which normally means we would have Thursday and Friday off, but since we must make up our excessive snow days, these two extra days are now required for attendance. The parent/teacher conferences are now scheduled after school and not during the day like previously. A four-day weekend is now only a fading dream.

Wednesday, April 30th

Hannah set up everything with Jason and me. He is cute, black spiky hair, tanned body, and dresses better than I dress. He is shopping with us on Saturday. I know matching my dress with his tux is not an issue.

I am easing myself into going to prom now. I think the event is going to be a whole lot more fun and less pressure. I am still trying to get my head around seeing Keegan with another girl. That is going to be difficult. With me moving on, I must expect the other person to do the same as well.

Thursday, May 1st

This is one of the previously days off on the school calendar. I need to forget that or the next two days are bound to be an unending mess of misery. My mom is all excited about prom. Mom and Dad met Jason last night. I think, with a little shock, but mostly relief of not needing to worry about another daughter’s pregnancy, they enjoyed Jason’s company. Mom really wanted to go shopping with me for a dress. Taking off work is not an option especially with Kanyin’s hospital bills. I told Mom she is the first to see me with my entire prom ensemble. She looked a little bit better after our talk.

I promised Boz, we were both go riding on Sunday. This weekend is the last one where the ski area is open. I can tell Boz is feeling left out. I better make sure I appease him because unleashing his wrath is an ill-advised act. Who knows what his investigation turns up on me next time?

Friday, May 2nd

It is a pretty crappy day today. The wind is howling, and the remaining patches of snow hide in the northern shadows in the lower elevations. The snow melts once the temperatures increase and the warm Chinook winds unite in the spring season. The snow is still plentiful at the ski area. I shop tomorrow. I ride the last day the ski area is open on Sunday.

Hopefully prom is much better than last year. Natalie told me all about it after practice last night. As she drove me home, she began to laugh unexpectedly.

“What is the matter with you psycho?” I questioned, giving her the stare I normally designate for my sister.

“I was just thinking of prom last year. Kanyin and Manuel went together. He graduated last year. I don’t think you knew him. Super-hot, beautifully, thick black hair, brown eyes, sexy tan. Man, I wonder where he is now. I should give him… Never mind about that. Prom was going according to plan...”

“I heard bits and pieces of the story from my parents,” I interrupted, remembering vaguely about the event from last year. “Didn’t someone actually spike the punch? I was caught up in the throngs of junior high so I couldn’t remember what all occurred.”

“Kanyin hung out by the drinks all night so, of course, she was accused of dropping an entire bottle of vodka in the punch. They found the liquor bottle in the trashcan by the punch later,” Natalie continued.

“Accused by vicinity?” I nodded.

“Yeah. Anyway, the people who can handle their alcohol did fine, but the bible-bangers were a riot. They let loose, making out, grinding, vomiting… It was like some sick prom dance gyration. Nothing like the theme the religious-guys so emphatically designed for the prom—Adam and Eve, with a whole slew of religious icons smothered inside the clubhouse,” Natalie explained, rolling her eyes.

“I bet the smell was pretty rank,” I wrinkled my nose thinking about the stench.

“That’s not even the best part. Somehow, the heat ducts malfunctioned and cold air spewed through, blowing up the long-flowing prom gowns and baring the girls to the crowd. Luckily, I was wearing a tight dress so I did not share the same fate as many of the other girls. Don’t ask Hannah about it. Her dress came clean off when she slipped on some vomit on the floor. The beautifully corseted gown caught on the stairs as she fell and came right off,” Natalie’s maniacal laugh started again.

“Cold-air? Was Kanyin blamed for the malfunction as well?” I asked more to myself.

“Of course, Kanyin was blamed for that as well. Kanyin is the first to be blamed,” Natalie answered, shocked about my innocence in regards to my sister.

Sadly, I am kind of missing Kanyin and her antics. I guess growing up with her acting out accustomed me to be ready for something new every day. Maybe Kanyin finally grew up.

Monday, May 5th

An entire day shopping on Saturday is exactly what I needed to lift my spirits. Jason’s helpful eye aided us girls as we tried on dress after dress. Hannah picked out a skin-tight, full-length white gown with some cute mock diamond earrings with a simple diamond pendant necklace. Natalie and I just smiled at each other when we both noticed the much tighter gown Hannah chose for this year’s prom. Natalie chose a yellow short number, pairing the dress with simple amber earrings and a necklace with a huge yellow pendant.

I picked a wicked red full-length gown, making me look ten inches taller. I decided to wear a cute headband rather than earrings. The thought of buying fake earrings is too troubling of a notion for me to fathom. Failing ever to pierce my ears, the clip-on earrings suggested by Natalie was an unappealing recommendation. I decided on a simple pendant on a clear necklace, appearing like a piercing rather than necklace. It looks pretty cool.

The tux Jason chose is simple, black with an inner red shirt to match my dress. He is going to pick out our corsages Saturday morning before prom so they are fresh for the big day.

This week’s schedule is filling up fast. Prom is Saturday. Friday we finally hold a home track meet. The meet determines if I go to state or not. Oh the pressure is mounting. Keeping myself busy, my internal interrogation for breaking up with Keegan is yet to be over-analyzed in my mind. He is a creep but… No buts, he is a creep. Period.

The last day of snowboarding is always a bittersweet experience that I will have to experience this Sunday. My yearly ritual of saying goodbye to the snow is always hard especially with the unbelievable amount of powder this year. On the other hand, the task of shoveling all the snow is a toil I am ready to set aside for another day. Well, goodbye for this year. I eagerly await the next snow season.

I finally discovered an activity for me during the summer until my favorite season of winter returns. Running. My somewhat backwards preference of winter activities is almost solved. I found an outside activity during the summer. Running is a much better alternative than sitting around and being lazy during the hot months, biding my time until winter arrives to get out and play again.

Tuesday, May 6th

An odd conversation occurred between Kanyin and me last night. I mentioned to her, jokingly, prom last year and the lack of her obnoxious deeds recently, questioning, “Are you just too fat now that you can’t get your evil deeds completed without being seen and can’t convincingly use your ’I didn’t do it line?.”

Now that I write that, my remark sounds more malicious than funny, but Kanyin’s peculiar response is still bothering me.

“I envy you Snow. You can go about life doing whatever you please and everything is okay.”

“You envy me, Kanyin?” shock failed to describe my emotions when I heard that my sister envied me.

“Kanyin you’re beautiful, have guys flock to you and your complete disregard makes them want you more. I have guys come up to me still now, knowing you’re almost seven months along, asking me when the baby is due, and then making sure you are not with anyone else so they can hook up with you once you have the baby.”

“If I displayed interest to any of them, they’d lose their desire for me instantly. My problems are bigger, so insurmountable that these guys could only dream of saving me from my, let’s say, damsel in distress issues.”

“Besides being pregnant, what is the insurmountable problem you have?”

“I guess it is a problem not problems—thanks Snow for clearing that up in my head.”

Now extremely confused, I threw out, “Do you have any concept of right and wrong for what you do?”

I heard her knowingly laugh, “For what, I, do. Yeah, I forgot.”

“You do know you are responsible for your actions. Don’t you? That is basic kindergarten stuff.”

“I am responsible for my actions, Snow.”

Realizing the failure of either one of us being able to understand the other in the current conversation, I changed the subject to the upcoming prom. Kanyin sounded content to leave the discussion of circles.

I totally forgot about the whole Cinco de Mayo shindig. It started with Hannah enthusiastically reminding me of the holiday and demanding the girls go out to celebrate. I think my Hispanic background presented her with an excuse to go out and dance. Hannah, Natalie, and Mary Beth (a wiry curly blonde-haired, blue-eyed southern bell who transferred from a school out of Oklahoma) are a laughable image dancing to a Latino band, an amusing riot but not reality. So we went to Timbers, a bar that allows those under 21 hangout at and dance until 10 pm.

Mary Beth entertained us all with her attempts to dance to any beat other than country music. Natalie sure brings a lot of intensity to the dance floor. She takes her dancing like any other matter, a no-holds bar competition. The girl’s night out is well worth the brutally tired Tuesday that I am currently experiencing right now. Too bad it is the off-season, which means there were no cute out-of-towners to flirt with during our night of cutting loose.

Wednesday, May 7th

My walk on Lake Hill yesterday before practice reminded me about all the great trails right in town; I almost forgot how strenuous the climb up the hill could be. For once, I wandered amongst the Ponderosa pines, alone, with only the inquisitive pointy-eared squirrels accompanying me. I welcome being away from everyone from time-to-time. Some trails on the north side still have snow and ice so I avoided them until they are completely melted later in the warmer months. The feeling of spring is in me now, a rebirth from all the mistakes of the past.

On cue, just after our last conversation, doctors found my sister inside the pill dispensary with pills strewn all over the floor. Of course, she refuses to take responsibility.

Conveniently, all the cameras’ positions failed to catch her in the act. She really thinks of everything when it comes to not being caught from her tirades. Me reminding her about her lack of acting out was just screaming for a rebuttal, and she responded.

Thursday, May 8th

The weather is nice and construction season appears to be starting earlier than usual this year. I spotted a dozen or so houses’ foundations plotted out and some with framing emerging from the ground, and that is just in my meager five-mile running route.

Kanyin’s usual limited self-revelations continue, yet again, in our conversations. I finally received a response from her when I mentioned my new found interest with running.

“How far do you go?” she actually sounded interested.

“I compete in the mile, but I try to get five miles in to keep my endurance up,” I explained, attempting not to display my pride on the distance I built up in the past month.

I am not sure what interested her about running, but I will have to remember this conversation piece the next time our conversation becomes stagnate.

Friday, May 9th

Busy, busy, busy day or weekend for that matter. The track and field competition starts at 2 today. I hope I do well. This is the only time we host the event. If I place at least fourth, I compete at state. Another state title is the ultimate honor especially in an activity I started just this year.

The excitement of prom tomorrow is beginning to stir my usual casual indifference to any occasion requiring formal wear. Detrich, Hannah’s date, comes from a family with some money so his parents rented a limo ride for all of us to use for the entire night, talk about going to prom in style. I really warmed up to the idea of going with Jason now. When Hannah and Natalie get cozy with their boyfriends, Jason and I’s good time continues, joking around with each other and showing off our dance moves to the rest of the school.

Note to self: I must ignore Keegan. I am pretty sure he found a date. Who she is, I am unsure. I never see him hanging around any other girls, trying to make me jealous. My attempt not to notice him at school is hard with a high school of only 350 students. So far, my plan to ignore creepy ex is working.

Monday, May 12th

Where do I start with the unbelievable prom? Jason and I really clicked. I think my mom almost cried when she saw me come down from my room all decked out Saturday afternoon. She began methodically fixing my hair. Our jaws dropped to see a stretch black Excursion driving down our rutty driveway with Hannah and Natalie waving from the top of the vehicle’s sunroof. I live ten miles out of town down a desolate state road in Colorado. The highway is a mess of blind corners, abrupt speed changes, and animals galore. I think my mom loved Jason. He hammed up the attention, putting on my corsage like a professional. Of course, a smorgasbord of pictures greeted our group before Mom allowed us to leave.

The lame prom theme of Romeo and Juliet’s tragic, overdone, story and their not so happy ending adorned the private homeowner’s association clubhouse. Hannah and Detrich’s typical couple bickering about what songs to dance to, at first, made me rethink my decision to go to prom. Natalie and Adam appeared to be on the verge of another break-up. They politely conversed, but neither looked very happy.

Mary Beth also joined the group. Her date, Markus, a shy brown-haired, hazel-eyed, junior is related in some way to Hannah. I think all of us girls, and of course Jason, danced more with each other than with our dates. The fake shock of Hannah forced punch to shoot out of my noise when senior student councilmember Kat Archuleta, my cousin from my dad’s side of the family, announced Hannah and Detrich prom queen and king respectively.

I picked out Keegan with his date, a petite brown-haired, brown-eyed junior. I think her name is Melanie, Melissa, something like that. Every time I tried to steal a glance in their direction, I caught Keegan looking my way. It hurt to observe Kanyin’s correct evaluation of Keegan; he really wants to be with me. My mind is unable to comprehend being with someone who has had a way too intimate history with my sister. It still makes my stomach crawl thinking about it.

After prom, we took the stretch as far as the driver allowed on Lumber Creek Road. Quite a few people followed us up there, about forty or so after prom and younger classmen came ready to party. I think Hannah and Detrich’s alternative plans worked well because they were too eager to take me home at 2 in the morning. After I left, I am at a loss as to what occurred at the party. I need to get answers during break. The last time I saw Jason, he was cuddled up in a mass of party-revelers’ jackets, with a cheap bottle of wine.

I placed first at the track and field meet Friday. Natalie and I go to state now. State track and field is also held in Fort Weaver, close to Denver, so another visit with Kanyin is imminent when I am back up in that neck of the woods. Mom and Dad both want to see me compete. I doubt Mom will be able to go, but at least, Dad might get some time off because snow removal season is pretty much over now.

Tuesday, May 13th

Apparently, Hannah and Detrich kept their party going all the way until Sunday. Detrich’s parents escaped to some private vacation (if only my family possessed the benefit of being rich) so he and Hannah stayed at his place. Natalie and I continually razzed them once we figured out where they both stayed after prom. I guess prom worked miracles for Natalie and Adam too because their hands appear to never want to stop touching each other. Oddly, I harbor no inner disheartened thoughts seeing my friends happy in their relationships. I do miss the bickering and the faint glimpses of content when being with another. Maybe I tried too early for a serious relationship.

Wednesday, May 14th

Coach seems more nervous than the actual competitors during the past few practices. His worry stems from me, a freshman competing at state level. Apparently, he forgot about my state basketball championship. That accomplishment occurred as a team though. I contributed though. I must not let his nerves get to me. Figuring out what to expect from him, I fidget nervously as he barks out conflicting drills. One day Coach Drill Sergeant hollers orders. The next day he eases up, allowing us take breaks which never happened previously. I battle him more than I battle myself, getting me more anxious because of him and not my own nerves.

Thursday, May 15th

I am all packed and ready to go for this weekend. We leave early Friday morning so this is my last journal entry for this week. Rain is a high possibility to visit during our meet. Running in rain, how joyful I am about that possibility. I am being sarcastic. Rain is one element untapped in my training. Wind, mud, and a few stray snowflakes all greeted my strolls. Rain is something new.

I look forward to the Kanyin visit again, now almost seven months along. She says she feels the baby moving all the time. The extracurricular activities from my sister since the pill fiasco have calmed. I guess she needed to provide proof that she still is capable of manufacturing trouble. She needs to grow up. Maybe my visit is an opportunity for me to motivate my sister to change her ill-conceived actions. Yeah, I am definitely an optimist.

Monday, May 19th

Natalie took 3rd in state, and I am a state champion. Everybody dealt with soggy conditions, forcing us all to maneuver with much more careful strides on the sketchy track. I think Coach actually cried a little bit. I never want to see a football-sized man attempting to keep his emotions in check ever again. That was one of the most awkward aspects of the whole competition.

Mom did not get to see my meet. She is picking up double-shifts to pay for the excess trips up to Denver as well as cover Kanyin’s hospital bills.

I stayed with Dad, waving goodbye to the bus in Fort Weaver as it headed back down to Healing Springs Saturday afternoon after the award ceremony. Dad and I visited Kanyin on Sunday.

Kanyin received the much needed grilling from Dad about the pill episode. My sister maintained her indifference to the matter. When Mom is around, Dad is restricted from parenting, making our visits a happy event. Unrestrained, Dad called Kanyin out on her actions. Both Mom and Dad’s parenting attempts never work, but at least, Kanyin knows her actions are not okay. Once everything mellowed out between Dad and Kanyin, we hung out in her room even with beautiful sunny skies in the metro area. I wondered why the skies found the necessity to be cloudy the day of my state track competition and not with our visit with Kanyin.

When Dad went to refill his coffee, Kanyin and I enjoyed our usual awkward conversations.

“Snow, I told the doctor when I have this baby I don’t want to view it at all. If you happen to set eyes on it, do not say out loud any detail about it,” Kanyin explained, peering intently into my eyes

“Okay, Kanyin. I don’t see why that really matters though,” I replied, trying to look away from her intense stare

“I just don’t want to have any attachment,” she forcefully explained.

“Either way, you are not going to forget this ever happened,” I reminded.

“I just don’t want to know. Okay.” she said, much softer than her previous phrases

“Okay,” I felt a little shocked about her adamant behavior. I never saw her so forceful with any matter before this conversation.

“For someone who doesn’t care about anything, you really seemed to have an almost emotional reason for this,” I mumbled.

“Sometimes determining a reason not to care is just as much as actually caring,” Kanyin responded, her intense stare returning. She always appears as if she wishes to tell me more with her eyes, but she neglects actually enunciating her thoughts to where my ears can hear and make sense of them.

“Do you want to kill yourself?” I stunned myself when I actually vocalized my real thoughts to my older sister.

“Snow, I don’t have to kill myself,” she said flatly.

“I wish you would just say what you want to say. It would keep our constant confusing conversation from reoccurring. There is a whole lot you will not tell me,” I sighed, knowing the response I so desperately desired remained a longing unrealized during this discussion.

“I wish I could as well,” she responded quickly and quietly.

Her nauseous riddling is forcing me to wonder whether my sister just enjoys playing with my head.

Tuesday, May 20th

Kanyin is officially seven months along today. I hate to feel excited about the baby’s development because her child is bound for another family to buy birthday presents, show how to play basketball, watch singing recitals… I am going to miss a whole lot, and I have no control over the matter. The baby’s birth is likely another occasion I will miss. I question if I will ever get to set eyes on the baby at all. I am feeling really dejected about that. Even though track is over, I might go for a run to release some of these cheerless regrets.

Girls’ fast-pitch softball practice starts this weekend. Luckily, the pain in my hand is no longer troubling me so I should be able to pitch. It is unfortunate I missed soccer. I did discover another sport without the need of a team. Running is an accomplishment for me any time, keeping myself in shape in the winter’s off-season.

My sport schedule is set for sophomore year. Cross-country replaces volleyball for the fall season. Of course, basketball is mandated for the winter season, soccer for spring, and fast-pitch softball during the summer. Em says that during cross-country everybody runs the troubling trails, known as Lake Hill (the ones I huffed and puffed walking up). That is intimidating. I walk the trails, but running? I must be a glutton for punishment to choose that type of exercise over jumping and bumping a volleyball.

I do get to spend more time with Em next year though. We hardly hung out my first year in high school. Initially, my excitement raged heading into my freshman year in high school because we would finally be back together in the same school again. Then sports happened, and a half-hour a day together during lunch became the extent of our bonding time for my entire freshman year.

Two weeks of school are left. Summer break is almost here.

Wednesday, May 21st

Reality slammed into my head abruptly during lunch. Em and Mary Beth are the only two friends in high school with me next year. I blabbered about school next year when Hannah and Natalie interrupted my future high school plans, and me and began discussing the colleges they had decided to go to after they graduate this year. I desperately need to find more friends my own age. Mary Beth graduates next year, Em graduates the year after, and my senior year looks somewhat lonely at this juncture. Wow, college, I never thought about school after high school.

Hannah senses are astute, observing my ill mood yesterday and during lunch today. I suspect my moping around for two days was not hard to notice though. She decided for her and me to leave the confines of Healing Springs and travel to Perdido after school, 60 miles west of Healing Springs and the closest shopping spot. We picked up Boz before we started on the hour-long drive. Never to admit it, I know Boz is not keen on being at the house alone.

We grabbed some dinner at the mall, scanned the tiny shopping center, and picked up some summer clothes for whenever the weather decides to warm up. Even with my little brother tagging along, the getaway doused my melancholy over my sister, the baby, and high school next year. Boz became the extra amusement Hannah and I took pleasure in teasing. His crush on Hannah became obvious every time his cheeks flushed with extra blood when she pranced around in a bathing suit, and boy, Hannah knows how to play up the bashfulness of a junior high boy.

I feel a whole lot better today. Yesterday’s trip reminded me no matter how bad it gets, life goes on, and it is up to me to choose how I will approach my current circumstances.

Thursday, May 22nd

My much-needed run yesterday refreshed the drudgery of the past week’s bleak outlook on life. I guess some of my foul mood from Monday needed to be ran away so my pent up thoughts could be released.

All my essays are finished. My final science project write-up is almost complete as well. I just need one more group meeting to finish the conclusions for the project. I am unsure how I was stuck with that portion of the work. I hate endings. By Friday, I close the books on freshmen year, coasting until Thursday and Friday next week for my finals. The necessity for me to over-achieve works out perfectly. My enjoyment the last few days of high school with Hannah and Natalie is worry-free from the burden of homework since everything is complete a week in advance.

Keegan and I have started talking again. It is hard to ignore someone I see every day. Small towns do comprise their fair share of limitations like with my failed attempts to hide from someone. Our discussion consisted of a basic conversation when we both dumped our trays at the end of lunch. I usually like to bring my own lunch, but the end of the year has triggered my inner-laziness lately. Hot school lunch is forced on me until the lunch-making spark returns.

“Hey,” I said, knowing my demand previously for him not to say a word to me needed altering to get us both through the awkward silence at the brown trash bin.

“Hey,” he responded hesitantly, nervously grabbing the orange tray with his hands.

“How are you doing?” I asked conversationally, smacking my tray hard against the bin to empty the remaining inedible food items.

“Yeah, okay, I guess,” he stuttered. Hesitating to empty his tray and ruin our conversation, he continued with reserved interest. “How have you been?”

“Doing pretty well, I’ll see you later,” I responded, trying to make sure the conversation ended quickly but still polite. I heard the disappointing thud of his try against the bin as I walked away to Earth Science.

If I do decide to allow him back into my life, I need to restrain myself from allowing a relationship ever to occur again. Writing that plan down is much easier than actually acting it out because our shared interests are numerous, and the boy is cute. I just need to keep reminding myself he may be the father of my sister’s baby. A notion like that is enough of a reminder to keep my distance. Mary Beth’s crush on Keegan is helpful. I keep him in my life then, but with some space by possibly setting him up with my friend.

I question whether Kanyin’s apprehension of not saying whom the baby’s father is, is because she knows it is Keegan. Her determination of Keegan and I belonging together may be the guiding reason for her to give the baby away and be alone. If that is the case, she is performing one of the most honorable, maybe misguided, selfless acts I do not know if I could ever do.

Friday, May 23rd

The whole Mary Beth and Keegan set up just might work. They went on a date last night. Our outside lunch area expanded, encompassing Keegan as well as his friend Thomas, a brown-haired, brown-eyed jock, finely muscled with a stench of arrogance, and my cousin Pablo, a funny extremely skinny Hispanic guy who thinks he is a gangster from Compton. Pablo’s attempts to be serious amuse me. His attitude and gangsta’ slang is hilarious.

The potential weirdness of seeing Mary Beth and Keegan together is not apparent at all. I am content in finalizing the relationship between Keegan and me. It is over and we are not getting back together again. The realization of me able to still hang out with Keegan without the fear of being lonely and hooking up with my sister’s ex-lover and potentially her baby’s daddy is enormous. I do hope he is not seeing Mary Beth as an opportunity to get close to me. I worry that is the case. Hopefully my conceit is leading me to that conclusion rather than actuality. Now and far into the future, we are destined to only be friends. Any other relationship is unacceptable.

All schoolwork for freshman year at this time is officially complete. Exhilaration is pulsing through my body on the completion of this year. With Monday, being Memorial Day, our last week of school is short. With such a limited last week, the scramble to complete the year during the four-day week is an unnecessary worry. This three-day weekend is perfect timing though.

My plan for a big party at the hot springs on Rock River for Hannah and Natalie after graduation next Saturday is wonderfully orchestrated with the help of Jason and Autumn. Tents, along with other party must-haves, are at the sight for students to party and camp afterward and not drive home plastered. I coined the party the “Booze, Snooze, and Soak.” Mom and Dad’s willingness to allow me to experience and enjoy high school is something I thank both of them for during every event that takes me away from their direct eyesight. They know I have self-inflicted, heavy expectations I put on by myself which I imagine helps ease their worries, understanding my personal drive to never let myself or them down.

Tuesday, May 27th

The awful nightmare returned last night.

This time, I sat at the very desk my rear is placed at right now, writing my journal entry, like right now, but in the nightmare, the lights go out. I look up to see Kanyin walking up to me in the aisle. She fades. I barely see her silhouette. I fear the nightmare’s obvious next moment. The dark figure emerges from the back of the room near the teacher’s desk. The first decipherable images are the pale blue-eyes, peering from the shrouded caped-demon. Then the pallid, drooping, ageless face becomes discernable.

Motionless I watch as it walks closer and closer toward me. Once the creature looms over my desk, I breathe quietly, fearing any sound I murmur leads to my demise. It towers over me, well over six feet. The ashen face closes in as it leans toward me, placing one hand on my desk. The other hand performs the same finger-to-mouth routine with the “be quiet” motion. Repeating the same phrase with its non-existent lips parting, “…

Oh wait, I am being paged to the office, I will be back.

Thursday, May 29th

What an eventful and long couple of days. Kanyin gave birth to her baby! I am serious this time. While writing one of my last journal entries, a page over the intercom called me to the office. Usually messages are delivered at lunch or at the end of school. Seldom do students receive a page out of class immediately so I understood the seriousness of the matter before I saw Mom and Dad both waiting to pick me up in the office. Apparently, Kanyin requested me to be at the hospital when she delivered her baby. Boz stayed with my Aunt Lupe and her husband Miguel until we returned to Healing Springs.

Dad drove quickly to Denver, making the over five and half hour trip in less than five hours. Mom caught me up on what led up to Kanyin’s early contractions, displaying the same worried and weak expression when she first told me about Kanyin’s harmful actions toward herself as a child. She explained Kanyin fell down the emergency stairs, setting her into early contractions, very early contractions. Kanyin is barely seven months along. Her due date is not until early August. Mom’s story and tone gave me the impression Kanyin may have purposely attempted to end her own life and the baby’s when falling down the stairs.

With Mom and me in the delivery room, Dad waited impatiently in the lobby once he knew Kanyin’s condition had improved. He disappeared from the delivery room once my sister started screaming from a contraction. I knew seeing one of his babies in pain was too much for him to handle.

If it is believable, Kanyin looked horrible. Her left eye already puffed out, darkening to a deep purple with every passing moment. A quick, makeshift splint was on her right arm with both her arms, face, and legs littered with bumps, bruises, and cuts. Her left ankle initially appeared okay, but the longer I stayed in the delivery room, the more the ankle started to bruise and swell. A madhouse of bandaging my sister while preparing to deliver an extremely premature baby busied the already bustling room.

I overheard a short, pudgy black-haired, middle-aged nurse tell Mom there was a limited possibility of the baby’s survival this early in the pregnancy especially after such a traumatic fall. I rambled on to Kanyin attempting to ease her wild eyes. Why did I have to mention suicide to her in our previous phone conversation?

Dr. Samson, a short blonde-haired man who looked like a high school student, indicated the crowning of the baby. I grabbed Mom quickly, remembering Kanyin’s request just in time.

“Kanyin does not want to see the baby at all, does not want to know the sex, even know whether if he or she is okay,” I demanded quickly as nurses bumped into our conversation.

Mom shook her head with an understanding, a comprehension only a lifetime of dealing with her eldest daughter could yield.

Back in the game, I watched as Mom quickly braided up Kanyin’s hair, methodically prepping her daughter for the delivery. Kanyin gave a loud scream, and then silence in the room. I held my breath, waiting for a sound. Looking away from Kanyin, I saw Dr. Samson, handling a bundle to the middle-aged nurse who hurried from the room.

“Am I done?” Kanyin questioned out of breath.

“Yes, baby it is all over,” Mom answered, trying to hold back a release of tears persistent to appear.

“Kanyin get some rest. You need it,” I added, looking at her tired, shockingly, animated eyes.

My sister laid back and within ten minutes fell asleep. Once I concluded her to be okay and gave Mom a chance to escape the room for a moment to talk to Dad. I left my family to walk the hallways as Mom and Dad entered Kanyin’s room together.

Wandering the hospital hallways, I somehow managed to make my way to the maternity ward. It seemed like something led me straight to the new promising lives. In the deep recesses of sleeping and crying babies, there was a baby tinier than the other newborns in a plastic square container. The baby could have been any mother’s premature life, struggling on the first day on Earth, but I knew this bruised and fragile child was the same tiny bundle the nurse took away just a few moments before, and this baby was defiantly still alive.

Dad and I drove back Wednesday night. Mom stayed even though the hospital assured her of Kanyin’s health. My sister will be in the hospital for another couple of days, at least, so hospital staff can assess her injuries from her fall. I wonder if Mom will be allowed to take Kanyin home soon or if my sister will remain institutionalized?

Mrs. Rivers allowed me to delay my final journal entry before she graded for the year-end. I think she is curious to see what unfolded in Denver. I write this before class because the final test is likely to consume the entire class. Luckily I finished all my essays and projects last week rather than hectically attempting to complete everything before this Friday.

It is 7:40 am right now. Finally, I am inhaling a deep breath after two days of madness.

I love my sister. Sometimes I debate that love, but I do. I accept she is not normal, possibly tormented with schizophrenia or some type of mental illness. I grew-up with her and am willing to accept that.

I do feel cheated. I never will know what happened to Kanyin’s baby. I am only left attempting to discover a way to relate to my sister, an individual who is anything but perfect. Riddles are her thoughts and full explanations are never obtained.

While our relationship definitely changed this year, I must face reality that Kanyin remains the same person. I fear the relationship between us is only my effort to connect to my older sister and inevitably is bound to backfire, and my concern for my sister will be used against me. My need to connect causes me to ignore the potential harm that my instincts internally warn me about whenever I am near her, an unsettling feeling in my stomach continuously reminding me to be cautious and always keep my eyes open whenever I am around Kanyin.

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Superstar No1: It is an awesome book .Please bring a part 2 . 😊

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Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.