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The Lessons on Living

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Chapter Two

I had only laid in bed for about and hour, and just looked at the ocean. I realized I could open an air vent and decided to do so so I could smell the salty air.

My stomach began to growl and I noted that I had not eaten since that morning. I sat up and moved across the room slowly, grabbing my Chucks and slipping them on. I walked out to the living room and saw Sherry on her laptop typing quickly. She looked up at me and smiled.

“You look hungry,” she said.

I gave a nod and blushed. “Um, yes, I kind of am.”

“Well, okay, let me put this up and get shoes on, and then we can go?” Sherry asked it in a question, as if it were my decision.

“S-sure,” I said, nodding slowly. She got up and slipped her laptop in a cubby and slipped her feet in a pair of flats near the door.

“Where would you like to eat, Jane?”

I gave a small shrug as we walked to her Mercaides Benz. I opened the passenger door and slipped in, sitting quietly.

She plopped down and looked at me.

“What?” I asked.

“You look so much like her,” she murmured.

I blinked, confusion filled my mind. “What?”

“Never mind.”

I furrowed my brow in confusion, but nodded, giving up. That was a bit strange...

“We can go anywhere. Anywhere you want,” she continued, driving down the street. I looked away from the window and gazed at her, her warm, chocolate eyes bright and sincere.

“You choose, you know this place better than I do.”

Sherry nodded and we drove in silence for a little while. She leaned over and turned up the radio. The song that played over the speakers was Journey’s Faithfully. Sherry smile widened and she turned it up louder.

“You like Journey?” she asked me, her voice light.

I gave a quick nod as my face brightened. “I love Journey!”

Sherry gave me a high five and turned into a nice restaurant. She grinned.

“Let’s be going in, shall we?”

I nodded and we walked in, and suddenly I felt very out of place. Everyone was all dressed up in dresses, and suits, and cashmere. Here am I standing with an old The Who T-shirt and tattered jeans. I glanced over at Sherry and she winked, leading me to a back table.

We sat down and I fidgeted in my seat. These people, there were really people like this, with such fine clothing and jewelry... I was growing nervous. That was not just a Hollywood movie stereotype, people really acted like this.

“Is everything alright, Jane?” Sherry asked, her face was filled with concern.

I swallowed and nodded, barely moving my mouth. “People are staring at me.”

Sherry rolled her eyes and glared at everyone around us. “Ignore them, young and old snobs. They are ignorant of difference.”

I bit my bottom lip and gazed at my plate.

I need to calm down, I thought. I need to...

“Sherry! How nice to see you!” exclaimed a loud booming voice.

I jumped and clenched my fork. I glanced up to a large, pot bellied man with red cheeks and white hair that covered his chin and his head. He looked like St. Nick.

“Mr. Richards, how nice to see you!” Sherry said, rising from her seat and giving the man a hug.

“Now who might this pretty young lady be?” he asked, winking at me.

“My niece,” Sherry said.

I narrowed my eyes even more. Niece? My mom was an only child, she told me herself. And Sherry was my foster parent. Nobody else...

I didn’t have any other immediate family.

“Oh, well she looks a lot like her mother,” he said. He frowned and turned to Sherry. “How is poor Andrea?”

How did he know my mom’s name? How...

“Not very well, I am afraid...” Sherry frowned and turned to me. “This is Ocean, Ocean, this is Samuel Richards, he has a grandson named Cole who will go to school with you.”

“So Andrea actually named a child Ocean? Just like she told your mother?” Samuel chuckled and shook my hand. “Your mother loved oceans, she was always there with my son, Marcus, they were an item when they were younger.” He chuckled and smiled at me. “Have a wonderful time here in Darenwood. And if you ever meet Cole, tell him to visit his old Grandpa. His grandma and I miss him very much.”

“Y-yes, sir,” I stammered.

He gave Sherry another hug. “Order anything you two would like, it is on me.” Then, Samuel walked away, leaving us two to ourselves.

“Why did you lie to him?” I asked immediately after he was out of sight.

“I didn’t lie to him,” she said, raising an eyebrow.

“About me being your niece? And how did he know my mother?”

Sherry frowned. “Can we not have this conversation here, Ocean?”

“Don’t call me that,” I snapped. “Who are you? How do you know my mother?”

Sherry sighed and folded her hands on the table and she just stared at me, long and hard, for about five minutes.

“I was am your mother’s sister. Your mother was ten years older than me. She stayed around for about five years, hating that our parents wanted differently for her. She hated me. She ran away with dreams our parents were not fond of.”

“My mom isn’t even from here,” I objected, “She is from New Jersey.”

“No, she’s not,” Sherry said, shaking her head sadly. “Your mom was supposed to get married to Marcus, Samuel’s son, and that day, she left Darenwood, and nobody had heard from her since. The only time we had heard anything was that she was married to this drunk, wannabe actor, and that they had one, little baby, which was you.”

I shook my head, not believing a word. “My dad wasn’t a drunk, he rarely drank-”

“How do you think he died, Jane?” she asked blatantly.

I blinked and pulled back. He died ten years ago... How could I remember? That was so long ago...

But it really wasn’t. I could remember what I wore that day. I could remember the smell of the pancakes on the glass plate that sat on the counter that day, waiting for me.

I remember sitting on the stool eating slowly, upset about the night before. I hadn’t really understood what happened at the time, but I knew Mom and Dad were yelling very loudly and that Dad’s voice was slurred, and that Mom was freaking out about something being all gone. And then Dad left. And he never came back.

I remember Mom pacing back and forth through the house, worrying about my dad. I knew that worried look. She had it when she saw me walk out near the ocean when the waves would grow really bad.

I could remember hearing the doorbell ring, and Mom called for me to answer it. I obliged, only because I was finished eating my pancakes. I walked into the living room and opened the front door.

Two men stood at the door, in police uniforms. I gazed at them, confused. Why were they here?

“Could you get your mommy, dear?” One of the men asked, their voice full of regret.

I nodded slowly and backed away, bumping into my mother. Her eyes were wild and her body was trembling. What was wrong with her?

“Ma’am, we found your husband’s body in an accident last night. He was intoxicated, and as we can tell had some cocaine in his system before he died...”

I remember my mother’s sneer, and how it looked so wrong on her face... Her face used to be so pretty...

“What?” She hissed. She didn’t seem sad at all, only angry.

“Daddy’s dead?” I cried. My whole body was shaking with a fear I had never known.

“Ma’am, we would like to search your house,” the other policeman said sullenly.

“You’re not searchin’ my house,” she cackled.

“Ma’am, it is written in the law, we have every right to-”

“Ocean!” shouted my mother, “You remember that powder? That Mommy told you not to touch?”

I nodded.

“Flush it down the toilet!”

Suddenly my mom tried to make a run for it, but they both grabbed her arms, and she began to flail around screaming and cursing.

One let go of her, and walked over to me and grabbed my arm gently. “Come on... We have to take you-”

“No!” sobbed my mother, “Not my baby!”

“Mommy!” I shouted, but the policeman propped me over his shoulder and walked me out the house, even if I plead and screamed, he wouldn’t take me back to my mom.

“Why didn’t you come for me?” I whispered, staring at her so intensely that it hurt my eyes.

“I couldn’t. My parents were making me go through college, and I couldn’t take you in because I had no experience with children. I wanted to, please believe me, Jane, I did.” Sherry stared at me with pleading eyes.

I started to say something but stopped.

Give her a break, I thought...

“Okay... Can we just go home?” I asked quietly.

She nodded and we got up and left.

The drive home was silent. And I was glad. I hurried into my bedroom and shut the door quietly.

I stared out at the window, the ocean sounded quiet. I bit my lip and pushed away the tears.

I had to be strong, for once in my life, I couldn’t let people who didn’t care about me, get to me.

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