The beginning of my life began with a crash.
It began on a sunny day where a series of unfortunate events played a critical part in the outcome of my day and everyone else’s.
I rolled out of my more-than-comfortable bed in the morning with high ambitions. My plan for the day was to go to school, take the two exams I had studied for the night before and spend a few hours in the library, catching up on some reading. I had no peace at home with my brother’s friends coming over almost every day and causing a ruckus with no consideration of anyone but themselves.
Connor’s best friend was an asshole and while I tolerated his other friends, I simply didn’t have the desire to stick around to watch them make fun of me.
I wasn’t in the popular group at school but I also hadn’t been a complete outcast. My brother’s high position on the football team shielded me from being the main target of bullying but that didn’t mean my days were peachy all the time.
In fact, had it not been for the books in my hand, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get out of bed and go to school on a daily basis. I struggled with the most mundane things most of the time because I just hated the way my life was going.
I took a shower and completed my morning routine in record time, trying to be early for once. I was on an honor roll. My academic success meant everything to me because it determined my future and whether I stayed in this hellhole or not. So I tried to do well because I really couldn’t stand the thought of attending a community college with most of the kids who were popular at my school.
None of them had any ambitions. They would be perfectly satisfied with staying here for the rest of their lives, doing mundane things day after day. Living in their perfect bubble of repetitive routines and stuck in boring old jobs.
After I got dressed in the skinny black jeans that got a bit tight on me lately, I pulled out my favorite wool jumper which would perfectly hide the new weight I gained from binge eating Oreos every night for two weeks straight. It was a nervous habit of mine that I couldn’t shake. I ate Oreos when I was stressed.
Although I was tall and people would sometimes make fun of my skinny legs, it had been my stomach that normally gained the weight. If I ate too much, I could look like a pregnant lady without even having to try. Still, if nobody else loved my body, it was up to me to accept myself.
Once I grabbed my books and put them in my bag, I got my things and went downstairs to the kitchen to make myself some breakfast. I heard a commotion around the house and with a quick glance at the clock, I determined that my brother was still asleep. Looking outside in an attempt to determine what had been the cause, I noticed a moving truck parked outside of the neighbor’s house. I couldn’t see who it was as the truck had been parked with no indication of anyone around.
Looking over to the other neighbors, I saw Mr. Hemshway trying to lift up the trash can he toppled over. It had been obvious he had caused the noise but that was no longer my main focus. I wondered if my parents knew who our new neighbors were.
Our old neighbor Mrs. Engerine was a really obnoxious, angry lady. Whenever she talked, her loose dentures would put up a fight and did their best to try and fall out of her mouth, along with most of her spit. She always had nasty things to say about everyone but at least she had the guts to say it to your face.
My brother hated Mrs. Engerine because she spent all her days complaining to my parents about his friends. I suppose a part of me liked that about her. Unlike me, she wasn’t afraid of speaking about her feelings even if it made her seem irrational at times.
Nobody was surprised at her passing but we weren’t invited to her funeral either. All her belongings apart from the house were sold and went to the animal protection organizations, leaving nothing to her children. In the end, she died exactly as she had lived. Alone.
Snapping myself out of my thoughts, I reminded myself to keep on going with my day otherwise I wasn’t going to be early anymore. I got the milk from the fridge and grabbed a bowl to put my cereal in.
Just as I poured all the ingredients in, my brother appeared out of nowhere and snagged the bowl from me.
“Thanks,” he said before he also reached for the spoon I left on the counter. Then he plopped down on the barstool and began eating.
I bit my lip and didn’t say anything, once again silencing myself. I hated confrontations. I hated not having the courage to stand up for myself, a part of me always freezing.
“What are you doing up?” I asked, glancing at the clock again, determining yet again that it was far too early for him.
“You’re giving me a ride. Dad’s getting my car fixed today and Matt’s not available,” Connor replied, stuffing his face with the cereal he stole from me.
I hated Matt. I hated him in a way that I used to have a massive crush on him but all he did was just hurt my feelings over and over again. I was no one to him. Worthless.
Matt being unavailable was definitely code for him being with his girlfriend. I bet he was going to skip a period or two in a classic Matt Jackson move. He was so predictable.
“I’m meeting Diana and Addie,” I pointed out, trying to tell him that he wasn’t invited and I wasn’t going to cancel my plans just to drive him to school.
“So? You can meet them at school and be lame there. Besides, I already talked to Mom and she said you need to take me.”
“You went to mom before asking me first?” I raised an eyebrow, gritting my teeth.
“Yeah because I knew it was the only way,” Connor replied with a mouth full of food. Disgusting.
“There is another way. You take the bus,” I said, clenching my firsts. I needed something to occupy my time so I made myself another bowl of cereal despite my appetite completely disappearing.
Connor looked horrified at my suggestion, his eyes open wide and mouth dropping. “Do you think I’d be caught dead in a school bus? Do you know how many diseases are in that thing? With all those gross nerds sitting there, their bodily fluids spreading like herpes? Ew, no thank you.”
Connor wasn’t always like this. My brother used to be the most gentle human being I knew. When we were little, he threatened to beat up anyone who ever picked on me. He sat with me during lunch every single day because I had no one to sit with. He would sing me lullabies if I had nightmares and spent the night in my bed when he was sad. My brother wasn’t insensitive until he met Matt.
Then his fragile masculinity started showing.
Despite being twins, the two of us were two opposites. I had struggled with my mental health for years while he seemed perfectly happy and content in his life. I hated the attention I got whereas my brother craved and sometimes even needed it. I spent my days with my nose stuck in a book. Connor spent his on the field with his friends.
“Whatever.” I gave in, knowing I had no other choice since he already discussed this with mom. Eating half of the cereal that I made myself, I pushed the bowl away and reached for my phone to text my friends the change of plans.
“Are you going to eat that?” Connor pointed at my leftovers. I shook my head and he snatched the cereal before I could change my mind.
I grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge that I filled the night before and put it in my bag. “Ready?” I asked Connor, who was almost finished with his breakfast.
He nodded, grabbed his varsity jacket from the barstool and put in on before following me out the door. I unlocked the car and threw my bag on the back seats while my brother made himself comfortable in the passenger seat without locking up. With no regard for anyone but himself as always. I went up to the house and locked the front door after him, then returned to my car and got in.
I rolled my eyes, told him to fasten his seat belt and started the car. We spent most of the drive in silence, him texting someone and me being focused on the road. And then it happened.
It was as if my entire world slowed down. I hadn’t seen it but I felt the impact of another vehicle, sending my brother and me off to the other side of the road where, luckily, the pole had stopped us in our tracks.
I had trouble comprehending what just happened. One moment, I was driving at a normal speed limit, following every rule and regulation. Now I was sitting there, speechless, staring at the car in front of us.
It was a car that I vaguely recognized but my mind was hazy and I didn’t think anything of it. I didn’t even hear the crash but I felt its impact because it threw me and Connor both forward, seat belts cutting into our chests, demanding our breaths to leave our bodies for a few moments.
This was my first car accident ever and I didn’t know how to react. I was not able to gain clarity on what had happened and couldn’t pull myself together fast enough.
My brother and I both struggled to unfasten our seat belts. There was smoke coming from the front of our cars and I had to cough a few times before I could finally breathe again. I opened my car door and almost collapsed. If it was due to shock or the collision, I had no idea.
I checked for any sign of injuries but nothing serious hurt. Suddenly, I heard another car door open and close, but it was not Connor’s. My neck ached when I looked up to the driver.
The driver was none other than Kai Asher, the captain of the football team. He was the most self-obsessed guy I had ever met and I was lucky enough to spend less than one hour in his presence the one time he came over. Kai tried to hit on me once before Matt told him he could do far better than ‘this loser’. That was the one and only time Kai ever bothered visiting my house. He also hadn’t spent much time with my brother and his friends since then, getting a different circle of friends despite being on the football team together.
It was no secret that Kai Asher was good looking. His dark hair and brown eyes were swoon worthy. Maybe it’s the way he smiled, showing his pearly white teeth or the fact that he had been in detention more times than I could count but something was definitely clear about him. He could be on the school’s football team with my brother all he wanted and he could be one of my brother’s buddies but he was definitely trouble.
“Well, this is awkward,” Kai commented, his easy-going smile hitting me in the face like a giant boulder. My insides were shaking and I was surprised by the swirling emotions I felt. Confusion, anger, fear, shock...
“Awkward?” I asked, repeating after him, dumbfounded. Awkward was the last word I’d use to describe our situation.
He ignored my question, running a hand through his dark hair. His voice remained calm, like nothing in the world could disturb him. Not even an accident in which our cars were most likely to be wrecked beyond repair.
“Looks like school’s canceled for the day, huh?” He asked, still smiling as he pulled the phone out of his back pocket and started to place some calls.
“My car is ruined. Oh shit, I’m going to be in so much trouble,” I said to myself when he left, as the situation truly started to sink in. To keep my hands from shaking, I wrapped them around my body.
Looking at Kai Asher – the classmate whom I wasn’t particularly fond of, especially at this moment – I felt rage so wild overcome me. I wanted to smack him so badly and his amusement irritated me more than I would care to admit.
A thought came to me then and I felt horrible for not thinking about him before. My brother. I turned around immediately and barely now noticed he was talking over the phone on the other side of the road. He hastily finished his conversation and then walked over to me as Kai headed our way too.
“Hey, man. Good to see you. I called our parents and the police. They’ll be here any moment now and we’re all excused from classes,” my brother had said which made me frown.
Are you serious?
Good to see you?
That would be the last thing I would’ve said to him right now.