I laid back on the bed and felt the muscles relax finally. I turned the TV on and decided to flip through the channels. That’s when I saw her. I shot up, almost falling over from the blood rush in my head.
Paula! That’s her! She was on the television, on the news. Talking about something or other in an interview on the 5 o clock news. Something about a new program at the school. Talk about an odd coincidence.
I felt my stomach knot up as I realized how close she really was. I wanted to drive around and look at every house to see if she was outside. I wondered why she was still here in this little town after what happened. Did she stay here? She was weeks from turning 18 when the county came. Why would they have moved me all the way across the country? I looked at her face, she looked a lot like my mother, my real mother.
[i]Mommy was always so pretty, and Paula got her genes. I looked more like daddy. Short and scrawny. Well daddy wasn’t so scrawny because he had a lot of muscles. But I got his facial features, the round face with chubby cheeks. And of course the dreaded dimple on only one cheek, not two like most people. But mommy always said she was jealous of my big round eyes, hers were thinner, more mysterious.
Paula stood in front of the mirror in her new clothes admiring herself. I didn’t really care what I looked like. Mommy said I was always pretty no matter what I wore, so I strapped my sandals that matched my pretty blue sun dress and made my way downstairs for breakfast.
“Ready for your first day of school there squirt?” Daddy asked me. I smiled nervously and nodded. Really I was scared, even though Paula would be nearby and mommy said it was a lot like preschool, I still felt the butterflies in my tummy.
Paula hopped down the steps and patted my head as she sat down. “Shell you excited? You get to come to school with me!” She had said before exploring daddy’s attempt at an omelet.
I ate slowly, it wasn’t really that good. But daddy always seemed sad still so I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. He was much better on the grill or with box dinners, but we didn’t tell him that. Daddy went into the bathroom to finish getting ready for work. Paula began to rush me so we wouldn’t miss the bus.
I remember walking into the big front doors holding Paula’s hand. She ushered me to a big room with long tables and little orange chairs. There were other kids there too playing with toys and chattering. I held tighter to Paula’s hand as we walked inside. Some lady then approached us, “Hello, I am Mrs. Derouin, welcome to kindergarten sweetheart. What’s your name?”
I remember I began to speak but it came out more of a squeak. “What’s that young lady?” The woman asked once more.
“I’m Michelle Lund.” I whispered.
She happily greeted me and showed me to my coat hook outside the classroom. She showed me where the bathrooms were across the hall. Paula knelt down to give me a hug goodbye and promised she would be back when school was over. I still remember feeling very sad though. I could feel the tears sliding down my cheeks as I watched her walk away. And the teacher attempted to console me but I was fine alone.
I got to go home early that day. In fact I didn’t think that I was going to go back. As I sat in the office waiting for daddy, I couldn’t stop worrying. Was he going to be mad? I stared down at my wet dress and socks in shame. They really need more toilets I thought. Especially when everyone was waiting to go potty and there is only 3 of them.
Daddy walked in holding a different dress smiling. He must not be mad then I figured. [/i]
I drifted off to sleep finally, feeling somewhat at peace. My mind finally settled a bit, at least enough for me to close my eyes. “Tomorrow… yeah tomorrow” I told myself.
[i]Paula was so nice to me after my accident in school. She even played things that I like to do. “Accidents happen Shell.” She said, hoping to convince me that I could show my face in school again.
Then there was that one boy who laughed hysterically at me and called me a big baby. I wanted to run over and hit him. I would have to, but mommy is watching from heaven and I know she would be really mad at me if I did, I definitely don’t want a spanking from her when I get to heaven. So I closed my eyes and covered my ears until the teacher led me to the office.
Mr. Rutgers was really nice about it too. He smiled and told me that “It happens to the best of us.” So I just sat there in my humiliation until daddy came. He gave me a hug and held my hand out to the car. I think he felt bad too because he stopped and got us some ice cream.
“Does daddy seem sad Paula?” I remember asking. His eyes began to sink down like a puppy dog. His voice sounded as if he just woke up or he was sick. He also walked a lot slower, pretty much dragging his feet.
Paula looked at me when I said that and I saw a flash in her eyes, telling me not to ask that question. There was something I did not know, nor was I supposed to know. Immediately I felt that knot again eating away at my stomach. Something just was not right. I changed the subject quickly and we went about playing in the sandbox.
The sandbox was like an escape for me I guess. It was where I thought about everything, it was also where all my dreams came true, with imagination of course.[/i]
I woke up to the sound of the TV commercial. I hate it when the commercials are louder than the show. It always makes my heart jump when you are absorbed in a good romance and then all of a sudden a voice booms at you “COME ON DOWN TO OUR WEEKEND CLEARANCE….”
I grumbled and turned the TV off, it was still beautiful outside so I put my shoes back on and grabbed my albums. The air was fresh out, now for most fresh air may not be here. The air here was fresh to me, it was familiar, although a little sticky, it was home to me. The thick smells and the sounds really never changed… only the life of the place did.
I found a picnic table that was somewhat secluded and sat down. I opened the album and began flipping through pictures again, I missed those days so much. Where did I go?
I guess you could say I lost myself that last day I was with Paula, without her I had been incomplete. It was almost like I became trapped inside myself.
I am just glad that I was placed in a decent foster home, after hearing horror stories of some of the crap people do to children. Jackie was amazing to me, she was a great mother. We had our times, and our issues that needed dealing with, but we made it through side by side. Her husband, whom I seen rarely, he did a lot of traveling for his job. Mark was a nice guy though.
Looking through the pictures of my beloved childhood, I began to feel so empty. So I decided to take a break before heading towards those last couple weeks of memories. I walked into the hotel lounge to order something to eat and maybe have a glass of wine.
I sat down in a corner booth and waited for a server. Within 30 seconds a young girl approached me to take my drink order. I ordered just a glass of house wine and the soup and salad. With all the tension the day has brought me, I knew better than to eat food with too much substance.
I looked down at the album, wanting to remind myself of those days, but knowing that it would hurt once more.
[i]I was finally in the 8th grade. Paula was a senior this year and in a different school. Paula and I were still close as ever. Especially since daddy was not doing so well. He had a heart attack last year and his health was failing. It was probably what kept me from trying alcohol or cigarettes. Even though daddy quit when I was born and Paula was little, it still had quite an effect on his body. It was sad watching him deteriorate in front of me. Paula and I did most of the chores since daddy was sick.
I walked in the front door to greet daddy as usual, only to hear his usual “how was your day princess?”
Daddy didn’t look so great today, it must have taken him 10 minutes to walk back to his chair in the living room. I gave him a kiss and told him about my day.
Paula came in after me, she was unusually quiet today and I wasn’t sure why. Paula and daddy kept a lot from me. I wasn’t a blabbermouth or anything, maybe it was more because I was on the sensitive side and had a hard time accepting things.
I followed Paula up to our room, “Are you ok?” I had asked her. She just nodded and flopped onto her bed. I knew she was lying so I sat down next to her.
“Paula I know I am just your little sister, but I love you and you can tell me anything. You know I have your back 110% right?”
Paula nodded and opened her mouth as if to speak, but looked down and closed her eyes, slowly shaking her head.
“Shellz, I’m pregnant.” She had said.
I think I had to manually close my mouth with my hand when I heard the news. Paula? Pregnant? When? How? Wha-?
“Are you gonna tell daddy?” I asked her.
She shrugged her shoulders and nestled into my arms. For once, I felt like I was somebody. I held her while she cried softly until we heard daddy attempting to call us down.
We stood up and she told me to go ahead, she needed to fix herself.[/i]