It had been a long day. The atmosphere of the funeral still engulfed the air she breathed in. Rest would pause her constant struggle to keep from crying.
Luckily, Amy had already found herself concealed in heaps of blankets. Her soft mattress coushioned her heavy thoughts, allowing sleep to come easy.
She liked to pretend sleep was death. It was a soft tender release. It lasted minutes, but felt rapturous.
As expected, she didn't dream. Was that the best part? To allow being swallowed in satisfying darkness and be nothing? See nothing? Feel nothing? Hear nothing?
It was her moment to not worry about making mistakes and just enjoy herself.
Her safe place...
Yet her safe place gets interrupted, when someone creeks open her bedroom door.
Her tired eyes flutter open, attempting to see the intruder. Her brother stands at the entrance of her room, keeping his distance.
"Dustin," Amy yawns, "What are you doing?"
His fingers trace the wood-work of her door, before running them in his dark hair. "I was just checking on you."
This same comforting situation had been repeated in the past years. It triggered a wave of sweet memories, giving Amy warm goosebumps.
As children, she always found Dustin in her bed. Everynight the stories would vairy to sensible fears or outrageous excuses. Some nights it would be thunder, other nights it was the need to cling on his little sister.
With a sleepy tone, she asks, "Shouldn't you be home?"
Dustin had already flew from the nest. The nest that dad had painstakingly made. It was abrupt and shocking. The moment he turned 18, he took off. For a short period of time, he didn't tell anyone. Just simply disappeared and came back with a large amount of property and a house.
"Mom thought I should stay for a few months." Dustin briefly explains, while closing the door behind him.
He cautiously walks deeper inside her room. He takes large muted footsteps, to avoid stepping on objects that blended in with the twilight night and the darken floor.
With great effort, Amy lazily sits up and watches Dustin crawl in her bed. Almost like a child, he sits on his knees and waits for Amy to completely wake up.
"Wait, why would she want that?" She lightly shakes her head, trying to keep her sleepy eyes open.
"They are worried about you. Do you not want me here?"
She hadn't realize how blunt her voice was becoming. She felt as if her brain was halfway asleep and mistakenly snapped.
"Oh no!" She quickly corrects herself, "I want you here! I just don't know why mom thinks I can't handle myself."
His cocky smile exposes his ivory white teeth, "Cause you can't handle yourself, dummy. You freaked when our hamster died."
Amy could help but chuckle. She was a very emotional little kid. Emotions steers the worn-down rollercoaster, she's been trapped on since birth.
"If you were my little girl, I would've gotten you ten more hamsters." His remark causes a sinister spark to ignite, in the depths of his colorless eyes.
"Oh shush." She ignorantly ignores the fire growing inside of him, and plays it off as playfulness.
"Amy." Dustin reaches out and clutches her hand, "I need you to listen."
He looks up at her, his eyes slightly hidden by his stubborn hair. His jawline tenses, as he battles his inner thoughts.
"I'm sorry." He spits out, "I should've never disappeared. It was immature of me.. I thought if I left, I could clear my mind."
In shame, his eyes dart to the floor. He felt unclothe. Opening up was not the norm for him. If anything, it was unheard of. Was Amy this important to him, or did he have to get this off his chest.
She was dumbfounded, but not completely blind. She knew this was a once in a lifetime to express her anger in him.
"Clear your mind? Of what? Everything seemed fine. You graduated highschool and just took off!" She spoke, starting to make herself a little upset, "For weeks Dustin!"
"I-" He stops himself and reconsiders his future words, "Of mom's sickeness, dad's sturness, and you.."
He rubs his face in irritation, unsure how to express his disturbing emotions. So far, everything was irreversible lies.
"Me?" Amy's heart drowns to the bottom of her stomach.
Was she the reason? Dustin left and she was part of the problem? The same excruciating guilt she felt at the funeral, was back. This time it manifested inside her own home.
"No." She carefully cups Dustin's chin and looks into his dead eyes, "You never have to clear your mind of me. I'll never hurt you. I'm here to support you."
A ball of air escapes from his lungs, and out of his partially open mouth. He was truly lost for words.
Amy was foolishly too innocent to understand his intentions through words.
"Th-that's not what I meant." He sighs, disappointed that he hadn't made it clear enough for her.
He felt stupid. He couldn't bring himself to express the feelings he had for his sister. Everything was so confusing. He hadn't felt anything like this before. If she knew who Dustin really was, would she run??
It's not fair! He had found love. The one weakness his true mother preached him about.
Slowly, he becomes frustrated with his forbidden and complicated feelings.
"Just forget it, okay?" He climbs inside the covers, and lays his anxious head on a soft pillow.
The sheets shuffle, as Amy swiftly covers herself back inside her blankets. Dustin watches her head lay carefully down beside him. The back of her head, was an invitation to play with her hair. Without a second thought, he starts to intertwine her delicate hair between his fingers.
With one final long yawn Amy whispers, "I miss this."
Dustin smiles. He had missed this too. More than she could ever imagine.
The next morning, Amy finds herself picking at the bland mixture of scrambled eggs and bell peppers. Her fork scrapes the bottom of the bowl, as she picks away the green veggies.
Every morning was like this now. Nasty food, with a displeasing side of water. Since Amy's mother became sick, her father had filled the kitchen with protein and vegetables. It gave everyone false hope, that maybe if she ate greener she would gain weight. This had be going on for a year, but nothing has been improving. Her body slowly wastes away...
She sighs inside of her breakfast. The house will never be the same if another person dies, especially her own mother. How would her father recover? Deep down he had already came to terms with her death. Now, he tries to make everyday her best day.
They would be lucky if she lasted one more year.
"Amy!!" The sound of the front door being eagerly open, makes her jump from her seat. Her sudden movements cause her water to spill across the table.
"Dad, don't yell like that!" she shouts back, and quickly snatches some paper towels.
Her overly-excited father practically runs into the kitchen. Tucked between his arms, was a suspicious purple box. His overjoy unknowingly runs in his muscles, leading him to accidentally squeeze the object.
"What's that?" Amy asks, still scrubbing the kitchen table.
The unruly commotion attracts Dustin. His bedhead and baggy eyes were extremely noticeable. He pretends to ignore the situation, and begins to make himself a large coffee.
"Better be worth waking me up." He groans, still trying to wake up.
"It's for you, sweetie!" Her father hands the box over to Amy.
"For me?" She stops cleaning the table. When was the last time she was given a gift? The house had become so gloomy for so long, it seemed like gifts was the last thing on everybody's mind.
His goofy smile becomes bottomless, as she carefully takes it. It was much heavier than she had expected. She examines the edges and density, keeping her father on edge. The box was a silver purple, with a dazzling red bow tightly tied around it.
Running out of patience, the father squeals, "Open it!!"
She unwraps the bow and pops the top off. Her mouth drops.
A white kitten looks back at her.
Its woolly fur filled up the box, leaving the little creature with no room to move. It's yellow eyes and pinkish mouth, beamed out of a massive field of white. Almost a like a motherly instinct, Amy picks up the cat and drops the box on the floor.
"Dad! You didn't!" She shrieks, holding the cat close to her heavy-breathing chest.
"I did!" He replies, and like two little girls they jump around the kitchen. Both of them took turns holding the fur ball.
Dustin, who had stopped drinking his coffee, had a sour look on his face. He white-knuckled held his cup, letting some anger steam off of him.
"Really dad?" He scoffs, "A cat? Where did you even find it? It looks filthy.."
The jumping stopped and the father rolled his eyes at his son's expected negativity.
"I found her scampering around a gas station." He enlightens, holding her up to his face.
The cat purrs, when it discovers how scruffy his beard was. She rubs her head under his chin, letting his facial hair scratch the top of her head.
"That's disgusting. Your gonna let that grimy thing rub up on your face?" Dustin showed complete repugnance with his distasteful words.
"Dustin!" Amy says shocked, " She didn't have a home! We can't just leave her on the streets!"
He looks into his unflavored coffee and growls, "Yes we can."
The coffee mug successfully hides his smug comments, leaving Amy to go back to cooing at the cat.
The kitten was just another annoying obstacle, to Dustin....
Another attention grabber...
It's all just more work for him...