The virus broke out before the New Year came, but it was far away in China. Us living in the Caribbean Sea, a small island 261 miles away from Jamaica, of course we thought, “We’ll be fine.” That could not have been further from the truth.
Our government took all necessary precautions once the UK become worse and the US finally started closing their borders. Going out on certain days according to the first letter of your last name, curfew restrictions, closing many nonessential businesses, closing access to our beautiful beaches, you name it. Most of the island was proud of our government really stepping up and how people were able to show love and support for one another, from a distance of course. Many on the other hand just added to the difficulty of the situation. Although I must say I appreciated some of the drama.
By the end of April, we had only had one death. Not one of our own – a tourist who came here with his wife – but we reached about 70 cases by this time. Most of our tests came back negative and the government decided to lift certain laws. The whole island took a sigh of relief as we would be able to go back to some normalcy again. Oh, but little did they know.
It was a nice Wednesday evening that I decided to go for a run with my 11-year-old sister who rode her bike. It had rained earlier that day, but the sun was out and shining and people were exercising and walking their dogs.
“Delilah are you ready,” I shouted to my sister from outside. “I’m going now.”
“Wait Athaliah! I need to get my bike from the back porch.”
“I told you I was leaving at 5:30, it’s 5:40 now. You know the curfew; we’re not allowed on the streets past 6:15. If my running time is going be cut short every single time I go running because of you, you’re not going to go with me anymore,” I yelled at her as she went to go get her bike.
“Look I’m sorry. I got carried away. Chick chicks are a lot of work you know!”
Ah yes, the 2 baby chickens she is raising. They are all over the island running free and she always takes care of every single one she finds hurt, sick, or by itself. I understand her love for animals and adore it, but when she won’t shut up for days about the ones she rescues and what she plans to do with them, I just wish I could drown ’em; they must be something special though as it’s a common thing for tourists to nearly get ran over just to take pictures of our chickens. I kid you not!
We get to the top of the road and on to the sidewalk. There’s not much breeze and I take note of the people walking in pairs. Some keep looking back over their shoulder and they almost seem nervous. I know some rumors have been going around but that’s all they are. Just rumors, nothing more.
We reached the top of the road next to our neighborhood and I take a slow, steady pace. I see a guy around my age jogging in our direction. As he crosses, we give each other a small nod as a greeting. I decide to go down The Shores, a rich folk, waterfront community. We stop by the closed gate and the security let us in, only because less than 10 nonresidents are in there at the moment.
We get to the end of The Shores and take a look at the sun as it starts to set. I love sunsets. 365 days a year and each one is different and so beautiful. Truly a work of art. I take a look at the time on my phone and it’s 6:07. Shit!
“We have to run,” I yell at my sister and she doesn’t question me, well knowing what the problem is. We make it to maybe the middle of the community when I see blue lights coming our direction. Our parents are going to kill us if we make them pay a $3,000 dollar fine and/or go to jail. So I do what I see as my only option: I turn into the drive way of the nearest house.
“Where are we going,” my sister demands. I can hear how scared she is right now.
“Look, you better catch on quick and play your part or so help me, I will kill you.”
To that she just makes up her face and rides up to the big, wooden door ahead of us. I take a look behind to see the police car is several houses down from us and then ring the doorbell. It doesn’t take long for someone to open the door. Judging by what she is wearing and the flour on her face, I can tell she’s a maid.
“Si? Can I help you madam?” She answers us in a thick Spanish accent.
“Please let us come in! Our parents can’t afford to pay the fine or go to jail and we have younger siblings, please let us stay for tonight!”
I put as much desperation and plea into that, hoping it’ll be enough to help us, but she looks terrified. She opens and closes her mouth trying to find something to say. In the background I hear a voice. “What’s going on?”
From behind the door came a Caucasian, tall, light brown-eyed guy, maybe around 20 years old. He looks me up and down with a confused look on his face and then looks over to my sister. He looks almost sad for a second and I can’t understand why.
“Can I help you with something,” he asks with some attitude in his tone. How it is I got into this mess? Why does crap always have to happen to me? And out of all the houses we turned into to ask for help, does it have to be the one with the snobby, stuck up, rich boy?
“I was just asking the maid if we would be able to stay for the night? Our parents can’t pay the fine and we have younger siblings.” If he says “No,” I’m going to punch him in his throat and take my chances with the police.
“No creo que va ser una problema, ellas necesitan ayuda.”
“Dale, pero tienen que ir temprano en la mañana.”
I really wish I didn’t drop Spanish right now, but they both turn to look at us. While the guy walks away with a sigh, the Spanish lady grabs my hand and calls us into the home. “My name is Melda, I take care of this home for the Arden’s family. Don’t mind Demitri, he’s just very paranoid with the virus going around so quickly. You two ladies can stay the night; I’ll take care of you.”
Melda has the sweetest voice and the prettiest smile I’ve seen. I’m thankful but I really wish I could head home. I call my parents to let them know what happened and well, let’s just say after today it will be a long time before I can say I have a life. Completely unfair if you ask me as I did what I had to do for the family. By tomorrow once we’re home, this should all blow over.
We speak for a bit in their overly furnished living room, from our names and age, to our schooling and parents. All the while, Demitri is in the kitchen sitting by the counter listening to our conversation. I notice he keeps going through his phone with a serious expression on his face. I’m assuming significant other issues. After about 3 hours of talking and some finger foods, Melda takes us to a spare room. Of course, they have a guest house, but the maid said she would feel better with us being closer in case if we needed anything. It’s a big room with a its own full bathroom and a queen-sized bed on the first floor to the left of the front of the house. The maid’s room is on the right side to the front and the Arden’s rooms are upstairs, as well as the entertainment room.
“I feel a little weird about this,” my sister tells me. “Ms. Melda seems nice and all, and that guy is cute, have you peeped his jawline?” My 11-year-old boy-crazy, sister.
“He’s snobby, it doesn’t matter. Shouldn’t you be thinking about ponies or something?”
“I’m practically a teenager, stop treating me like a toddler,” she says crossing her arms and stomping her foot. Real mature.
“Look, let’s just get to bed, wake up early, Melda will probably make us breakfast, and head home,” I say as I get into bed. Delilah sighs and gets into the bed and cuddles up to me with her back pressed up against me. I rub her head for a bit and try to get some sleep.
I’m awaken by a strange noise outside. Probably some kids testing their luck. I make my way out to the kitchen to get a glass of water, but as I hit the corner to the kitchen, I see Demitri sitting by the counter again, this time with his head down in his laptop.
“Hey, sorry to bother you, just wanted a glass of water,” I say hoping not to get on his nerves anymore than I already have by being here.
He looks up from his laptop looking confused and eyes red and stares at me for a few seconds, eyes squinted. “Oh, yeah sure no problem,” and points towards a cabinet in the corner and puts his head back down. I whisper my thanks and head over to the cabinet and get the glass. As I drink, I look at the photos on the fridge. A family of 4 are all over the fridge, a couple including Melda. The father is a tall man with a full beard, brown hair and hazel eyes. The mother looks like an athletic woman, with blonde hair, and brown eyes. There’s Demitri and a young, blonde haired, and hazel-eyed girl, maybe 13 years-old.
“Is this your sister,” I ask pointing to the picture. Demitri, to my surprise, hears me and looks to where I’m pointing. He stares at the photo for a couple of seconds before he nods his head.
“Is she here? What’s her name?”
I see his jaw tense and he swallows. “Her name was Kayla and she, uh… she passed away 2 years ago. Car accident, she was riding her bike. Drunk driver.”
My eyes widen and my mouth falls open. I think of my little sister always riding her bike. That could have been her. How would I ever smile again? “I’m so sorry for your loss. I can only imagine how you must feel.”
He closes his computer and turns his body so he’s completely facing me. “Yeah, it’s not an easy thing. My parents are actually overseas right now. Since it happened, they don’t spend very much time here anymore. Pass a lot of their time drinking. Everything reminds them of her; I don’t travel much though. I’m studying for my degree online and do volunteer work. Unlike them, I like to remember her. The things she liked to do, the places she liked to go. She loved volunteering at the Humane Society and Turtle farm, so that’s where I go.”
I am in complete awe of his love and dedication for his baby sister. I regret labeling him as snobby, I had no good reason to. “That’s really admirable of you, I’m sure she would be so proud of you.”
He smiles and looks down at his hands. “Thanks… Hey I never got your name by the way,” he says with a sheepish smile.
“Athaliah,” I say and shake his hand. “And my sister is Delilah.”
“Thanks, so what are you studying,” I ask coming to take a seat beside him.
“Business psychology, but that’s not what I’m working on right now. I’ve been hearing about some rumors about the virus mutating the cr-“
He’s cut off by a loud screeching and then the sound of a bang. We look at each other and he pales. I hear my sister scream for me. We both take off towards the room and meet up with Melda who’s trying to wrap her robe around her.
Demitri responds and we make it to the guest room. When we walk in my sister is crying and has the blanket all the way up to her face. I try to sooth her, “Hey, hey, it’s okay. It was just a loud noise.” Demitri makes his way over to the window and tries to see what’s going on. Melda comes to sit by my sister and wraps an arm around her.
“Is it a car? Why would people be out on the road this time of night?”
“I’m not sure, I can’t see. Melda are all the doors locked?” She nods her head. “Alright, bring the pillows and blankets, we’re all going to head upstairs.”
He turns to my sister and bends down so he’s in level with her and speaks softly, “Would you like for me to carry you?” She nods her head and he picks her up with the blanket. I grab the pillows and Melda says she’s going to get us some food and drinks.
We all head up to Demitri’s room that’s quite organized. There’s a big board on the right wall with pictures, schedules, and outlines. There’s a big bathroom and walk in closet to the leftt and his bed is right in front of us alongside a window. There’s a TV stand with a bean bag to the left of the room door and he places my sister on a bean bag. Melda walks in with the bag of snacks and sets it down in a corner.
“Puedes consiguir un peluche del cuarto para ella?” Again with the Spanish.
He goes over to the window and I follow him. I can’t see anything out of place. The maid walks back in holding a stuffed animal unicorn and hands it to Delilah and sits with her. Demitri calls to me and we walk out of the room. He immediately heads over to another window.
“There! I see something.” I walk over to him and look through the blinds. There’s a car that crashed into a giant stone. I gasp and cover my mouth with my hands. There’s no way the driver survived that. “We have to check it out and call for an ambulance, maybe there’s a survivor,” I turn around to go find my phone but he grabs me by my arm and tells me no. Is he insane? “Demitri we have to try and help! What is wrong with you?”
“Look something seems off here. I can’t say for sure but no one is allowed outside. Why would someone be driving at crazy speeds this time of night in a community like this?” I think about it for a moment and shake my head. “I have a feeling he was running from something.”
“Don’t say things like that, you’re scaring me. I’m sure there’s a good, reasonable explanation,” I say trying to convince myself, but the look on his face makes my heart race.
“No, the rumors are true.”
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