Rolling over with a groan, she hit the stop button on her phone to cancel the alarm. Instead of jumping right up, she laid there, watching the ceiling fan spin. She was sweaty and her body ached from tossing and turning all night. It was always the same nightmare, always the same man. She never could run fast enough. After he caught her, he would force himself on her, always telling her that she was his and that she would never get away.
Realizing that they would be late if she didn’t start waking everyone up soon, she slowly crawled her way out of the sheets that had entangled her throughout the night. She got up off the bed and grabbed some clothes for the day. She went into her bathroom and started the shower. Feeling dirty, she turned only the hot water on. It would scold her, but she needed to wash the feeling of his hands and mouth off her.
After feeling like she washed her old skin off, she hopped out and got dressed. While brushing her teeth, she watched herself in the mirror and decided to put on make-up to cover up the bags under her eyes. She didn’t want to worry the boys. She spent a few extra minutes doing her make-up so the look would feel normal and look complete. She only put on a little foundation, concealer, eyeliner, and mascara but it felt like she had caked on a bunch of other things too. Next, she put her long, curly, dark brown hair into a bun. She didn’t feel like fighting with it today. Her blue eyes seemed to pop out more than usual with the eyeliner that she had applied.
Feeling like she looked decent enough, she checked the time, 6:30 AM. She was up for 30 minutes already and needed to wake the boys. Going to their room, she opened the door and gently shook both boys awake. They both let out annoyed groans, but sat up anyway.
“Alex, Ben. Time to wake up. Start getting dressed and I’ll make breakfast. We have to leave at 7:45,” she explained to them.
“Don’t we have that meeting to start school this morning? We have to be there at 8,” Ben reminded her, rubbing the sleep from his hazel eyes.
“Thalia. Can you make us waffles? I really, really want some,” Alex asked, his green eyes already wide open, as he was an early bird.
“Ben, I know what time we have to be there. And yes, Alex. I’ll make you some waffles, little brother,” Thalia replied while walking out of their room.
Alex and Ben shared a room, as they were close in age and she only had a two bedroom house. They didn’t mind because they were each other’s best friend. She set their room up with elevated platform beds, almost on stilts. Thalia put desks and dressers under each bed, with little curtains so the boys could have their own little space.
Ben, mostly, had art supplies, like an easel with acrylics and watercolor paints. Thalia, also, put a small bookshelf under his area, so he could store all his sketchbooks. He really loved spending his time drawing, and Alex loved putting Ben’s work on display. Ben didn’t think he was super good, and always practised. For a 12 year old, he was talented and good at drawing scenery.
Alex, on the other hand, also had a bookshelf, but bigger. He loved reading, so Thalia made his space look like a little library. He had a bean bag chair, and many, many books. He was, for a 10 year old, a very avid reader.
After both boys got dressed, they rushed to the bathroom. Excites was an understatement. This would be the first normal year they had, and they wanted to look and be their best. Alex brushed his teeth, while Ben brushed his hair. Ben had dark brown, curly hair so he needed a little extra time perfecting it. Sometimes it could be unruly, but as long as it would just not frizz up, he didn’t care. Alex’s hair was easier for the younger sibling to maintain. His light brown hair was straight and he usually ended up just doing a quick brush through.
After Ben was done brushing his hair, it was his turn to brush his teeth. Alex had already left the bathroom and was sluggishly making his way to the kitchen. About two minutes later, Ben also made it to the kitchen. By this time, Thalia had already started the waffles and was working on making their plates. She had set out three glasses and three plates onto the bar, as she hadn’t gotten a kitchen table yet. The boys climbed up onto the bar stools and were patiently waiting for her to finish.
“You boys want milk or orange juice? Pick one,” she asked while finishing up the waffles.
Ben, as he was the oldest boy, quickly hopped down from his stool, and started making the drinks. He knew Alex liked milk with his waffles and that Thalia only drinks orange juice in the mornings. He made two glasses of orange juice and one glass of milk. He hated letting Thalia do all the work. She was basically their mother, but at the same time he felt it wasn’t fair to her to have to take care of them all the time. She was their big sister, and she had done enough already.
Thalia, of course, let him, as he was definitely a big help. She knew that they knew that she loved them more than anything. She would never complain and never had complained. Glancing at the clock in the kitchen, she saw the time and motioned for the boys to finish up. Ben was just finishing his last bite, while Alex shoved a gigantic piece into his mouth.
“Grab your bags and put on your sweaters and shoes. We’ve got to go now,” Thalia said.
Alex and Ben both ran to their room. They quickly grabbed a small sweater each, and slipped their tennis shoes on. Grabbing their book bags, they raced out to the carport door, rushing out to jump into Thalia’s black SUV. Then, they hopped in the backseats, flinging their seatbelts on, and patiently waited on Thalia. Thalia got into the car, after locking the doors to the house.
Driving to the school, Thalia went over everything in her head. The process of explaining why she, a 23 year old, was just now enrolling her younger siblings into this school so late into the semester. It was already late September and they would be a month and half behind. She was especially dreading it, as many people often judged them for who they were and where they came from.
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