Letters to Romeo: Bad boy good girl

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Scar of the dark night

Julie stood in front of her uncle’s house. It had been more than a minute since the taxi had dropped her, but she was nervous. It was just two days. Actually, it would be less than forty hours, she assured herself, telling the uncomfortable would be over quickly. Taking a deep breath, she made her way towards the house and knocked on the door.

“Who is it?” Julie heard Aunt Sarah’s voice.

“It is Julianne,” responded Julie, and when the door opened, she put a smile on her face. “Good morning, Auntie.”

Her aunt had a square-shaped face with short blonde wavy hair, and she was as tall as her. On seeing her stand at the door, the woman flashed a smile at her.

“I didn’t know you were coming today. Come in,” said Aunt Sarah, stepping aside for Julie to get in.

“I am sorry I wasn’t able to inform you beforehand. I forgot when I sat in the bus and the university-”

“That’s no problem,” said Aunt Sarah. It was less than one minute, and Julie already wanted to go back to Veteris. Two months ago, when she had come to stay here, she knew her aunt wasn’t happy about her coming to stay with them, but she didn’t know how much her aunt wanted her out until she heard her speaking to her uncle. While they walked inside the house, a boy of ten years appeared in front of her.

“Julie!” It was her cousin Joel. The boy was quick to come forward and put his arms around her to hug her.

“Hey, Joe,” Julie hugged the boy back, who was shorter than her in height. “How are you doing?”

“I am good. The last time, you left without saying bye to me,” Joel looked unhappy about it, and she smiled.

Patting his head, Julie said, “I am sorry about that. This time I will be sure to tell you.”

“Julianne,” intervened Aunt Sarah so that her son wouldn’t continue with the subject, “You can keep your things in the upper room. Your uncle is in the garage. Joel, go back and complete your homework.”

“But Julie is here-”

“She’s not going anywhere until tomorrow. Go finish it now,” Aunt Sarah used a strict voice at her son.

Julie saw her cousin puff up both his cheeks while her aunt followed him. Instead of keeping her things in the room, she made her way towards the garage and caught sight of her uncle, who was in front of the car’s bonnet and was working on something.

“It is so good to see you. Is it Sunday today? I thought to come and pick you up,” said her uncle with a smile on seeing her step into the garage.

“It is Saturday, and there’s bus service from Veteris to the town, you don’t have to worry about it. I used the taxi for the other half way here,” replied Julie, walking to him and saw both his hands were covered in grease.

“I tried to call you but the phone never got connected. I later found out that there are rules and restrictions, did you know that before?” asked Uncle Thomas, walking to the side and picking up the dark coloured cloth. He used it to wipe his hands.

Julie shook her head, “I must have missed it when I was reading about the university,” she replied, and he gave her an understanding nod.

“It got me really worried and I thought to come and meet you there, but after I found out that they use jammers so that the students can concentrate I felt more at ease. I mean the walls that are high, it made me worry. How are you doing, Julie? Are the students good there? How are your grades?” questioned Uncle Thomas in worry.

This made Julie laugh, and she said, “I have been doing well, Uncle Thomas.” Not wanting him to worry about other things, she said, “Everything is fine there.”

“That’s good to hear. Come let’s get inside. Your aunt is preparing some chicken glazed dish for lunch. I don’t know what it is, but it sounded delicious when she said it,” said her uncle with a smile. “Did you eat anything before leaving?”

“I did,” answered Julie. “I will rest a bit in the room if it is okay.”

“Of course. Go ahead and let me know if you need anything,” said her uncle, a kind smile on his lips.

Julie went back inside, climbing up the stairs, and she entered the room. Putting her backpack on the side, she walked near the window and saw a few people walking up and down the street. She wondered when the mailman would arrive.

One of the reasons why she had decided to come here was to steal the mail report that had been sent from Veteris. God only knew what details it contained. As unethical as her plan was, she didn’t want her uncle worrying after seeing the number of detention she had gotten into. She also realized she was walking in the footsteps of her letter stealer.

Now that she was here, she would download all the songs that she needed! Her black and white life would fill itself with colour!

She slept for an hour before waking up and getting down the stairs.

“Good, you are here. Lunch is almost ready,” announced Aunt Sarah.

“Do you need any help?” offered Julie, walking towards the open kitchen.

“It is fine. You can take a seat next to Joel,” said her aunt, walking around and placing the bowls on the table.

When Julie was in Veteris, she had forgotten things about the outside world. She watched her uncle enter the room and take a seat at the dining table. While her aunt finished placing the dishes that she had prepared, her uncle had a puzzled look, and he turned to his wife.

“Where is the chicken that you were speaking about?” he questioned her.

Aunt Sarah said, “I realized it needs more time to marinate. We can have it at dinner,” she said with a smile on her lips, and she sat down with them to eat.

Julie behaved as if she didn’t know what just happened. She started to eat and complimented her aunt, “The peas are really good, Aunt Sarah.”

Her aunt looked taken aback, and she offered a smile. Joel made noise as if he wasn’t happy with the meal and Julie noticed her aunt send him a glare.

“So, Julianne. How is your new university? Any complaints that we need to prepare ourselves for?” asked her aunt.

“Sarah,” Julie heard her uncle interrupt.

“What? I was only asking a simple question,” said Aunt Sarah, looking at her husband and then back at Julie.

“It is fine, I don’t mind,” replied Julie. She then said, “The university is great. Uncle must have told you, it is huge and everything there is very resourceful. The teachers are very good at teaching,” and throwing people into detention, came the unsaid words in Julie’s mind. “I have already made two friends and they are very kind. One person lives right next to my dorm in the Dormitorium.”

“Dormitorium?” asked Uncle Thomas in surprise.

“Ah, that’s the dormitory. They call it Dormitorium there,” explained Julie, and he raised his eyebrows before giving her a nod.

“I see,” murmured her uncle, and she smiled. “It is good to hear that you have already settled in there.”

“Make sure to get good grades. And if possible stay away from trouble,” warned her aunt as she took a bite from the salad. “I came to hear that all wealthy family’s children come to study there. So be careful with whom you mingle. There are so many students who are spoiled and then the others get spoiled. Being your uncle and aunt, it is our duty to warn you. Don’t spend your time with people who waste time, especially the rebellious children.”

“Julie knows that. She’s a smart girl,” said Uncle Thomas and Julie smiled at him while chewing on her food.

Trouble and Julie were in a close relationship with each other. Even though she wanted to break up with it, it always came back to her.

Hours passed with Julie, who spent her time helping her uncle in the garage. When it was time for dinner, her aunt hadn’t pulled out the chicken from the freezer. And neither she nor her uncle reminded her. She was sure her uncle was feeling embarrassed by her aunt’s action by thinking why he even told Julie. But Julie kept a bright smile when her uncle looked at her so that he wouldn’t worry what she was thinking.

After going back to the room, Julie closed the room and made sure even her windows were closed. It wasn’t because she worried about her letter thief, but she was worried about other things. She laid her back on the surface of the bed. She could hear the faint sounds of the moving vehicle on the road. She stared at the ceiling, remembering that dreadful night as her eyes slowly closed.

It was a night much darker than this one.

It was around two months ago when she was living with her parents, and she was in her room watching a movie when she heard some noise outside her room. Not knowing what it was, she had stepped out of her room and called her mother, “Mom?”

Her father used to come home later because of his work. It was why it was usually Julie and her mother at this hour. She had gone to her mother’s room, looking for her but had found the bed empty and the blanket pushed to the side.

Walking barefoot through the corridor, Julie had come to the kitchen room to see her father there. A gasp escaped her lips.

“You scared me, father!” exclaimed Julie, a smile on her lips and looked relieved.

“Why are you still awake, Julie?” her father asked her with a severe look in his eyes.

“Tomorrow is a holiday and I thought I would watch a movie before I go to bed. Did you eat? Where is mom?” asked Julie, leaning to the side to see if her mother was in the hall.

“She got a call for the night shift,” replied her father, and he offered her a smile. When she went to turn on the light in the kitchen, her father said, “Don’t worry about me. You should go to sleep.”

“You sure?” asked Julie, taking a step forward, “I can fix something qui-” and that was when she felt something wet and slightly warm touch her feet.

When she looked down, it looked dark red, and she took a nervous step forward and saw a hand on the ground.

Her lips trembled when she saw her mother lying cold on the ground, unmoving with her eyes open and a big hole on her forehead.

“W-what happened to mom?” whispered Julie, her eyes falling on her father, who held a gun in his hand.

“Nothing happened to her. Come here, Julie, I can explain to you,” said her father in a calm voice that only scared her.

“What did you do to her?” her voice trembled, and so did her heart, and she noticed her father raising his hand that held the gun.

Julie had bolted from there as fast as she could towards her room. She heard another shot that came right behind her, and she locked her room’s door. Her feet had left a trail of blood on the floor that had made it easy for her father to follow her. Her mind had turned numb in shock and panic, tears rolling down on her cheek.

“Julie!” her father banged on the room’s door. “I will explain everything to you. Julie!” his usual gentle voice turned rough.

“Julie!” Her eyes opened, and she saw Joel standing next to her bed. The dark atmosphere had turned bright, and it was morning. “You sleep a lot. I was hoping we could play frisbee. Come on!” he said in an excited tone.

It took her a while to come out of what happened in her dream.

“I sleep less. Give me ten minutes, Joe,” murmured Julie, closing her eyes, she tried to get back to the present. Her cousin walked near the window, staring at some of the children playing with a ball and washing their cars.

“Some of them are washing cars. Did you know there are people who make lots of money by washing cars?” asked Joel, and Julie hummed in response. “Look there’s the mail truck.” Hearing the word ‘mail’, her eyes opened wide, and she sat up on the bed.

“What did you say?” asked Julie, quickly getting up and walking towards the window. It was indeed the mail truck. She quickly tied her hair and said, “Alright, let us go.”

Her cousin threw his hands up in the air and ran out of the room. Julie was quick on her feet, making her way down the stairs and towards the door. Joel was wearing his shoes when Julie walked past and out of the house. The mailman was about to ring the bell, but he stopped on seeing her.

“Winters’ residence?” he asked her.

“Yes,” answered Julie.

The man handed her the mails and then said, “Sign here please,” he pointed to the box on his notepad for her to sign. Julie signed her name and gave it back to him.

“Thank you,” said Julie. When the mailman turned his back, she quickly went through the mail and found the envelope that was from Veteris. There you are! She folded the one she had wanted, putting it in her pocket while placing the rest of the mail on the table. Taking a deep breath, she finally was able to smile.

She said, “Finally no worries.”

As Julie walked to the backyard with her cousin, the memory of her mother on the kitchen’s floor was something hard to erase.

Her family had been normal. Loving parents, where both of them worked, and they loved each other. Before that awful night, there were many memories Julie had treasured with them. She didn’t know what happened to her father. The police had come home to arrest her father, guilty for her mother’s death, and they had put him in prison.

When the reason for why it happened was asked, her father said he felt like killing her.

Like many other things, Julie had changed her last name to her mother’s family name. Winters. Sharing the same last name as Uncle Thomas and his family.

When it was near to evening, she had packed her backpack and was ready to go back to the bus point where the Veteris’ buses would pick up the students. Her bag was filled with bandages, and some more carried in another bag.

“I can drop you there,” said Uncle Thomas while Julie waited for the taxi that she had already booked.

“It is fine,” Julie smiled at him. Her aunt and her cousin had told her bye when she was stepping out of the house. “Uncle Tom,” she began.

“Hm?” he responded attentively. “Is something the matter?”

“The subjects and the syllabus this year at Veteris’ is a little hard compared to what I have been studying. I will need to spend more time studying. Please don’t be upset with me if I am unable to visit you,” said Julie, it was another reason why she was here. With no source of communication, she wouldn’t be able to convey her message to him.

Julie had sensed the aloofness from her aunt, and it was uncomfortable and awkward. It was possible that her uncle was feeling more awkward than her because one side was his orphan niece, and on the other side, it was his wife.

Uncle Thomas nodded his head, “I understand that,” he offered her a smile. “But if you need anything, don’t forget I am right here.”

Julie smiled, and when her lips parted, she asked in a low voice, “Have you heard anything of him?”

“He’s in prison. He can’t hurt you,” Uncle Thomas promised her, his lips setting in a thin line remembering the man who had killed his sister.

She saw the taxi arrive and stop in front of the house, and before getting inside, she hugged her uncle, “Thank you, Uncle Tom.”

Getting inside the taxi, she waved at him with a smile and headed to the bus point. The Veteris had two different timings for students convenience, and she had picked the earlier one.

By the time she reached Veteris and got to her dorm, it was seven. Her heart felt lighter, and she let out a tired sigh. The dorm was the same as she had left except for one item. The letter that was waiting for her near the window.

Picking it up, she opened the fold and read—‘Don’t have them,’ and below it was another line, ‘Did you get the bandages for Halloween?’

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