XX. Difficult to Accept
Finally, it came.
Crystal stood in front of me.
I poured my face into my palms and after a moment of silence, I looked up. “What do you want to do now?” I asked.
Crystal got expelled from elementary school.
“Homeschool. I want to be homeschool.”
Homeschool. An option we never had.
“With what money?” I question. I pinched my lips, “With what money?”
Crystal small fingers curled inward, “I don’t need school. All those kids are a bunch of phonies anyways. They pretend to be nice to me in front of the teacher and then, they say shit about me.”
My eyes widen when I heard Crystal cursed for the first time.
I stood up, “Where did you hear that word from?”
Crystal puckered his lips and looked away.
I kneeled and grabbed her shoulders. I wish I can shake some sense into this little body. “Where did you learn how to speak like that?”
She didn’t respond to me.
“Crystal! You know you’re not supposed to say those things!” Not at this age anyways. “What would you do once your dad hear-”
Crystal sucked in her red cheeks and slapped my hands away. “Who cares?! Haven’t you heard?! Dad is dead!”
Without control, I slapped her.
She stood there in front of me with her head tilted to the side. When she looked at me with widen eyes, I noticed how pale her skin had become. She haven’t been playing outside like she used to.
Crystal’s eyes narrowed and a spiteful look made its appearance. Her small fingers curled inward, “I hate you!”
I know she doesn’t mean it.
“I wish you weren’t my mom!”
She doesn’t mean it.
“I wish dad was here instead!”
When Crystal noticed her words, she covered her mouth. Her eyes widen once more, but with a different reason.
Neither of us spoke.
It was a hard pill to swallow - the truth. The reality that maybe, things would’ve been better if I was the one who disappeared instead of Emerson.
Emerson would’ve known what to do in this situation. The solution had always been easy for him.
My eyes went everywhere - anywhere except the fragile body in front of me. The tears escaped and I quickly wiped it away. I gripped firmly onto the sleeves and bit my lower lip so hard - it bleed.
Crystal reached for me, but retracted her hand. She hid it behind her back and looked away.
I know she didn’t mean it.
It was merely a burst of anger.
I took a few blinks to wash away the tears, but it didn’t work. “You’re right,” I whispered. “Maybe, it would’ve been better if your dad was here instead of me.” I stood up, and made my way towards the bedroom.
I know I should’ve talked with Crystal. To somehow reassure her that everything will eventually be okay. How the pain will pass.
But, I couldn’t do it.
The pain is still there.
I closed the bedroom door and slide downward. A low cry made it’s way into the silence.
I should be strong.
I want to be strong.
My body curled inward, “Emmy. Emmy. Where are you?”
How hollow it felt with time.
It simply didn’t make sense. People told me that it will pass. How everything will be okay.
But, it’s not okay.
If I didn’t feel okay, how could I tell someone else to feel it?
That, in itself, also does not make sense.
The music plays into the other bedroom. It must be Crystal. Recently, she would turn on the music in her bedroom whenever she wants to be left alone.
It’s her way of coping with the pain.
Lay in bed, close her eyes, and listen to the songs Emerson and her would dance together.
I can imagine it right now - what’s inside her mind.
Emerson is inside the bedroom. When their song is on, he would lift her in the air and swirl her in circles. Her arms would spread out and her head swung back.
Then, he would hold her close to his heart and whispered: “I love you, my Crystal heart.”
I would stand beside the door and smile wildly with their interaction. Crystal would notice me and reached out her small hand. Once I’m in a close distance, she would grabbed me by the neck and hold us close.
But, of course, daddy would get all the kisses.
When I opened my eyes, it was dark outside. A warm body cuddled closer to me, and when I move - Crystal did too. Her arms would curled into my arm.
It’s her way of apologizing.
But, she wouldn’t admit it.
With a low sigh, I moved my body and adjusted Crystal’s into my arms. Steadily, I made my way into her room and tuck her in bed.
When I got ready to leave, a small hand grabbed the hem of my shirt. I look down to see her eyes still closed - it twitches.
I settled back on the bed and run my hand down her wet hair. She must have been crying. I tucked the hair behind her ear and she moved towards my thigh.
The silence is generally poison for us; the silent argument in who will break first.
But, tonight, isn’t one of those nights.
When Crystal breathed steadily, I slipped away from her bedroom.
I passed by Dustin’s room to see him fast asleep inside the crib. Mom must had fed him and put him in bed earlier. I tucked the blanket over him and checked the baby monitor before I left the room.
Once I made my way downstairs, I called out: “Mom?”
I should apologize for what happened between Crystal and me earlier.
When I made it into the kitchen, I saw a note on the fridge. Mom went to Tyler’s house to help Vinny.
I lean against the fridge and the note drifted between my fingers.
I admit, it does hurt to know that you’re not the most favored child of the family.
Parents doesn’t admit it, but they always have a favorite. And when all their children grow, they either stick to their favorite or find one who they’re most comfortable to be with.
And that child isn’t me.
I don’t know when it started.
It may had started before I was born or maybe, it developed while I grew up. Maybe, it has something to do with culture or maybe, its happens indeliberately.
But, I can’t blame her.
There’s been alot of negativity in the house and even if there isn’t, she wouldn’t be here.
Mom and I aren’t that close. It’s a sad fact, but its the truth.
I rested my head against the glass table and stared at the fireplace.
Mom must had started the fire before she left. She knew I would go downstairs later.
I may not be the favorite, but she loves me.
The bell rang and my body straighten out. I glance at the clock - 9pm.
Steadily, I made my way towards the front door and peeked through the hole.
Who’s dropping by so late at night?
“Stupid. You should’ve turn on the porch light,” I grumbled. I switched on the light and peek through the hole again.
With rapid speed, I opened the wooden door then the gated door. “Melody? What are you doing here?”
Melody gripped onto her large bag. “Hi Piper.”
I dragged her into the house and closed the door. Its must too cold and dark to have a talk outside. “Melody. \Why are you here? How did you even get here?” Melody doesn’t live in MistVille, but the other town next door.
Her fingers moved up and down the straps. “I...I...I ran away!”
“Why did-” Her body trembled, “Come inside. You’re cold.” I held her hand and led her into the living room.
Melody sets her duffle bag beside the couch before she sits down.
“Wait here,” I said. I head towards the kitchen and made her some hot cocoa. Once the mug is filled, I put in a few marshmallows and gave it to her.
“Thank you,” she said.
I watch as she blows the top and dipped on the edge. Her eyes wandered towards me, before it dropped into the drink. She sipped on it for a long time.
I placed a finger at the edge of the cup and lowered it. “Melody-”
“May I stay here for a few days please?” She put the cup down and grabbed my shirt, “Please Piper. Please?”
There’s no use in investigating Melody right now because I know she wouldn’t tell me what happened.
So, I have to go with plan B.
I smiled softly, “Sure.”
Melody embraced me, “Thank you! Thank you! You’re the best big sister in the whole wide world!”
“So, tell me all about school,” I changed the subject.
Melody smiled wildly before the rant began. She told me all about her school and how her grades are superior compared to all her classmates. To ease my concern, she explained how her classmates doesn’t think she’s arrogant for having good grades because she helped everyone.
Before Melody could follow her pattern and asked me about my day, I urged her to take a warm bath.
Once Melody was inside the bathroom, I called dad.
Immediately, he picked up the phone. “Hello?”
“Why is Melody here?” I didn’t bother to beat around the bush. My stress level won’t allow me.
Dad exhaled a deep breath, “She’s with Piper.” I assume he isn’t talking to me.
“Why is she with her?” She never changes. I don’t see what dad sees in her.
“Better yet,” I said. “Why isn’t she there with you two?”
“Piper. There seems to be a misunderstanding,” dad replied.
“Misunderstanding? Your daughter, my younger sister, who is barely eight somehow managed to travel into another town! How is that a misunderstanding?” I couldn’t maintain my calmness. I used it all on Crystal and the school board.
“I mean, there is a misunderstanding between Melody and Trisha.”
“Well-” dad didn’t speak any further. I can tell it’s something that isn’t pleasant to hear.
“We’ll come get her right now,” he cut me off.
“No,” I said. I looked upstairs, “It’s getting later. Come tomorrow.”
“I don’t know what’s going on, but what I do know is that I have a depressed eight years old at my doorstep in the middle of the night. Unless you want to drag her home, kicking and screaming, I suggest you come tomorrow.”
Dad exhaled, “We’ll come tomorrow.”
“We’ll come tomorrow.” He’s putting his foot down.
“I’ll see you tomorrow.” I hung up the phone call.
Not too long after, Melody finished her bath. I helped her blow dry her hair and warm up some food for her. I settled on the other side of the table and watched her eat. Once in a while she would look up, but she didn’t say anything.
Melody spin the spaghetti around her fork, “Piper,” she said.
“Are you sad?”
I smiled, “Why would I be sad when I have you here.”
She stopped spinning the spaghetti. “Are you sad that-” Melody looked at the plate again, “Nevermind.”
“No. It’s okay. You can ask me.”
Melody bit her lower lip, “Are you sad that...Emerson is...gone?” She asked softly, “Are you...lonely?”
Those questions hit me harder then I thought it would. Why?
Because no one ever asked me that before.
No one would dare to ask.
“Yes,” I responded. “I’m...sad.”
I nodded, “Lonely.”
Melody exhaled softly, “Mom,” she said. “Mom said I can’t hang out with you anymore.”
I’ve always knew that Trisha doesn’t like me. Out of all seven siblings, I may be the one she disliked the most.
“Why is that?”
“She said it’s not good to be with someone who doesn’t have a good family.” How hypocritical.
Most likely, she’s only trying to find a reason not to have Melody around me. She never liked me and she never liked the fact that Melody likes being around my side of the family instead of hers.
I rest my chin on my palm, “You can come hang out with me whenever you want. If your mom gives you trouble. Call me.”
Melody smiled and nodded, “That would be nice.”
“Is that why you ran away? Because your mom won’t let you hang around me?”
Melody look at me before her eyes went towards the plate and back again. “I don’t like mom.”
I didn’t respond.
“She’s always telling me what to do.”
“Is that all?”
She shook her head, “Mom always say bad stuff about all our siblings too. I don’t like it.”
I got up and sat beside Melody.
She hugged me, “Mom says our brothers and sisters don’t really like me. Is that true?”
I ran my fingers down her hair, “We don’t like you.”
Melody looks upward.
“We love you.”
Melody took a few blinks to push back the tears but it didn’t work. “I know,” she said. “I know what happened.”
It’s easy to be aware - difficult to accept.
But, its bound to happen.
After Melody cried; she fell asleep. I put her in my bed. I grabbed the extra pillow and blanket then went into the living room. Once I’m there, I flopped down and stared at the ceiling.
I have three children upstairs.
Lastly, a baby.
I can tell tomorrow morning will be fun.
The bell rang.
I should be concern about today.
I exhaled sharply and got up from the couch. If it’s my dad and Trisha, I won’t even open the door. After I told them to come tomorrow, they can freeze out there for all I care.
I peeked through the small hole.
My heart stopped.
Immediately, I opened the door.