Outside the tinted windows of our cramped black truck, I could see a sign that said “Welcome to Charlotte, North Carolina” in big white letters. The sign came right before the sketchy neighborhood that we were about to enter. The houses were falling apart and there were no people outside. After a few minutes of driving, I finally saw a man sitting on his front porch drinking a beer, without a shirt on. He was the only living soul present out of the twenty something houses we must have passed. If all the people in this neighborhood look like that guy, I don’t want to see any more, I quickly thought. I was happy to end the long drive from my grandparent’s house in South Carolina when we finally reached our new “home.” Most people would be excited about moving into a new house, but when you are forced to go from place to place at least every month, it’s not anything to look forward to.
It was pouring down raining when we stopped the car. Of course I ended up stepping in a huge mud puddle with my barely worn, cute brown boots my grandma got me last Christmas. I have the worst luck, so it was no surprise. Looking at our new house didn’t make me feel any better either.
The siding on the house was a dark blue color and some of it was hanging off. The front door screen was ripped at the top and there were police sirens going on in the background. The grass was brown in the small front yard, even though it had rained a lot the past few days. The gray, wired fence surrounding the backyard was broken. Most of the surrounding houses looked the same as ours, although they were different colors. My house was the only blue one in the neighborhood so it was easy to find.
I almost fell through one of the three small stairs leading up to our front porch due to some broken wood. The screen door creaked as I opened it for the first time and the door knob looked like it was a hundred years old. As soon as I opened the front door, I instantly walked to the back of the house to look at me and my eleven year old sister Shay’s new room. It was equivalent to a prison cell, probably twelve by ten foot in size. The walls were white with chipped paint and mysterious holes scattered all around. I could only imagine how they got there. My parents had already moved us in the weekend before so it was all set up. Well, as much as you can be with limited resources anyways. The furniture was sparse. There was one twin sized bed for and my sister to share, a small dresser with a fifteen inch TV on top and a tightly spaced closet for what little clothes I owned, along with my sisters toys. I sighed with disappointment and began rubbing my headache away when my mom started yelling for me to check out the rest of the house.
Following her orders, I walked around to look at the other rooms. There was a kitchen that was separated from the living room. We had one couch that we rented from some furniture store and an averagely sized TV that was also rented. The living room wasn’t that bad looking, despite the same paint chippings and holes in the wall like the ones in my room and some stains on the carpet from what looked like the result of spilled drinks. At least I hoped it was spilled drinks.
Inside the kitchen, there was an old, white refrigerator, a stove and a table with four chairs that was coming apart because of a fight my parents had gotten into. My mom’s boyfriend Chris pushed her down at our old house and she landed on the table. Her fall broke one of the legs, so now it wobbles. Shay and I are the only ones that use the table though, so they don’t really care that it is broken.
“Rosalynn, come in here,” I heard my mother yell from her bedroom.
My parent’s room was a little bit bigger than ours. However, it contained basically the same amount of furniture; a much bigger dresser with a mirror connected to it, a queen size bed and a small closet. The only difference is they didn’t have a TV, but that’s because they always take control of the one in the living room. The smell of cigarette smoke filled their room as Chris lit one up on their bed. I couldn’t stand the smell of smoke, which my mom was well aware of, so she suggested we go to my room to talk.
“Well what do you think of our new house?” my mom asked as soon as we stepped into my room.
“It’s okay,” I managed to say without flinching from lying. I usually don’t tell lies very well, so it’s really hard for me to maintain my calmness. I felt I did a pretty good job in this situation considering our house was a total piece of crap and I just told my mom it was okay.
My mom looked at me and smiled and walked back into her bedroom. Thank God she believed me, I thought.
It was around eight o’clock when we arrived to the new house, so it was already pretty dark outside. After eating dinner and showering, I decided to head to bed a little early for the first night here. Lying in bed, I couldn’t quit thinking about how nervous I was to start my new school tomorrow. Even though it’s the beginning of a new school year, everyone will still know each other and I’m going to be the new girl, again.
Will I make new friends? Are the people here nice? Will I have to sit at lunch by myself again? All of these never ending thoughts made me shiver.
I pulled my covers above my head in an attempt to calm myself down. It must have worked because I believe I passed out right afterwards.
"Wake up girls, it’s time for school!" my mom yelled obnoxiously loud.
I grumbled out of bed, not sure what to expect for my first day at my new high school, North Brook High. You would think I would be used to having "first days" by now considering I'd been to eight different schools already, but the butterflies and nausea are always the same with every new school.
As I was brushing my teeth, I could hear my little sister yelling, 'I don't want to go to school,' as she was fighting with my mom to get out of bed. I took a minute to scrutinize myself in the mirror before exiting the bathroom.
There I was with my long brown, wavy hair and greenish-blue eyes. I had pale skin scattered with freckles, making me look quite unappealing to the average teenage boy who typically prefered tan girls. I try to do something with my hair to make it look less of a mess, but give up after about five minutes and head back to my room to finish getting dressed.
I put on a cute red blouse my grandma got for me, capris, and my old black converses. "I'm ready to go mom,” I yelled immediately after tying my shoes.
We got in her boyfriend's beat up truck to go to school. It smelled like cigarette smoke and the seats had burn holes in them, which although small, were really uncomfortable to sit on.
Great! Now everyone is going to think I smoke thanks to the cigarette perfume this truck is giving me, I sighed.
The ride to school wasn’t very long, about fifteen minutes. We passed a few farms and nice looking houses on the way. I started to envy those who lived with such privilege, but quickly reminded myself that I am going to college next year and one day will live the way those people do, which made me feel better.
My mom dropped me off first so she could walk my sister into school since she always holds on to the truck door with a death-grip of someone about to fall off a cliff. I seriously think she’d rather sit in a room full of deadly spiders than go to school. Not me, I hate spiders and school wasn’t that terrible. I actually kinda enjoyed it since it was my only escape from my terrible home life.
When we arrived to North Brook High School, I was pretty impressed with its size. It was a large, two story high building with lots of pretty plants and trees surrounding it. There was a statue outside the front that had the head of some guy on top of it with a large plaque underneath. It looked kind of fancy. The front doors were massive and as soon as I walked in, there was a circulation desk, trophy display and a large cafeteria that looked like something off of High School Musical with the balcony overlooking the cafeteria and everything. The school theme was obviously purple and black considering the colors were everywhere, and I’m assuming the mascot was the Knights because there were also knights in shining armor in most of the corners of the entrance.
I got to school right when the bell for first period rang, letting all the students waiting in the cafeteria know that it was time to head up to class. I had to visit the principal’s office before class to let them know that I was the new student and also to find out what classes I had. Despite every effort to avoid communicating with people, I had no choice but to ask a stranger in the crowded cafeteria where the principal’s office was.
I spotted someone who looked friendly enough to ask for directions. “Hey do you know where the principal’s office is?” I basically shouted at some girl with shoulder length curly blonde hair and baby blue eyes. Although her outfit was pretty plain, just some jeans, a pretty shirt and some flats, I couldn’t help but notice the size of her arm muscles. For a girl, she was pretty ripped to say the least, now I’m not talking scary body builder ripped, but definitely abnormal size for a girl, which was kind of intimidating to me considering I had pretty skinny arms.
Actually, pretty skinny everything.
“Yeah, it’s right this way. I’ll show you,” she yelled back at me in a friendly tone.
There were tons of students running around trying to get to class on time, making the cafeteria and hallways loud and crowded.
“Thanks so much. This is my first day here and I have no idea where I’m going. This school is massive.” I couldn’t help but continuously look around at my surroundings, astonished at all the decorations on the wall and the tall ceilings above me.
The girl laughed. “Yes it is. So what grade are you in?”
“I’m a Senior.”
“Me too! Maybe we’ll have some classes together this semester. My name is Lily, by the way.” She held out her hand for me to shake it.
I shook her hand back, having to rub my hand afterwards to get rid of the pain from her strong grip. “Yeah, maybe. Nice to meet you, Lily. My name is Rosalynn.”
Lily pointed me to a door with a plaque on it that read ‘Principal Peters.’ “We have arrived to your destination, ma’am,” Lily joked. She shined her flawless white teeth at me when she smiled.
“Thank you so much for helping me. I would have been lost without you.” Feeling kind of intimidated by Lily’s perfect smile and athletic physique, I gave her a hurried smile and then quickly walked into the Principal’s office.
My meeting with the principal went well; it looked like I was taking a bunch of honors classes this semester, including English, Calculus, US History and Chemistry. I was planning on applying for college in a few months, so I tried to take as many honors classes as possible to boost my GPA. High grades were essential since I had no volunteer work or extracurriculars to add to my applications.
The principal led me to my first class, English honors. On the way to English, I saw a bunch of students scrambling to get to their classes before the tardy bell rung. It was like watching a bunch of animals running away from a predator with their worried faces and sudden ability to run really fast. It was quite amusing, considering the principal was yelling at them the whole time.
As I entered the room, some tan, skinny girl with long blonde hair in the back of the class yelled out, "hey new girl!" Sitting beside the loud, obnoxious girl was a really cute guy with short brown hair and gorgeous hazel eyes that was smiling at me. I couldn’t help but think about how attractive he was and feel kind of annoyed at the girl who shouted at me at the same time. I can only imagine the complexity of my facial expression as I stared back at him.
Feeling my face turn crimson red and not wanting to draw any more attention to myself than necessary, I gave her a fake smile and walked to the desk my teacher appointed me to. Sitting beside me was the girl who gave me directions to the principal’s office this morning.
“Hey Rosalynn,” Lily said as I sat down.
“Hey! It looks like we have a class together after all,” I said with a laugh.
"Okay class; let's get started. We are going to begin with a simple warm up and an ice-breaker game," announces my new twelfth grade English teacher, Mr. Fields.
"Don't worry, I heard from a guy who graduated last year that he's a total pushover and lets you get by with basically anything," my new friend whispered in my ear.
"Well that's good to hear," I replied. Even though English is my best and favorite subject, it’s always good to have an easy teacher.
"For the ice-breaker, we are going to stand up and tell each other a little bit about ourselves, such as our name and something interesting. Let's start with you, Miss Rosalynn Monarch."
Oh geez, of course he would call on me first!
Speaking in front of a class was not a skill I possessed. I always get really nervous and feel like I'm going to throw up when I have to talk in front of a crowd. However, everyone's looking at me by now so I might as well stand up and start talking.
"My name is Rosalynn and I guess something interesting about me would be that I have been to eight different schools and I have two younger sisters." I sat back down in my seat, almost missing the chair at first.
That was a close one, I sighed.
"Thank you, Miss Monarch. Now, Brock Hall, will you please stand up and tell the class something about yourself?"
Yes! The cute brown-haired guy is talking and his name is Brock? That's a unique name. It reminds me of Pokémon. My goodness he is tall!Wait, what am I thinking? I sound like an over-obsessed fan for some major celebrity, like Brad Pitt or One Direction. Besides, it’s obvious that girl with the blonde hair is his girlfriend.
"My name is Brock Hall and I’m on the school soccer team," he said calmly.
"Thank you, Brock.” My teacher looked quite annoyed with his response. I’m assuming everyone already knew this information, even Mr. Fields. However, it was new to me, so at least someone benefited from his announcement. Although I probably could have guessed he played soccer if I would have known he was on a sports team in the first place. He has the typical characteristics of a soccer player: muscular legs and thighs, a small stomach, and he was tall.
The rest of the class finished up their ice breaker activity and then we started on the warm up, which involved finding the grammatical errors in a set of sentences. After we were done, Mr. Fields took up our warm up and let us do whatever we wanted for the rest of the class period. Lily was spot on when she said this guy was an easy teacher. I spent my time talking to Lily. I found out from the ice breaker activity that she was a part of the volleyball team. I guess that explains her arm muscles. I wouldn’t have been surprised if she told me she joined the boys wrestling team as well.
The bell for second period rang and we all crowded into the hallway to find our next class. For me, that was Calculus. Not my best subject, but Lily told me our teacher was super hot, so that should be interesting. In the hallway, there were mixtures of expressions on everyone’s faces. The worried look of those running late or the aggravated look on those who obviously couldn’t remember their locker combination were a couple of the expressions I noticed walking down the hall.
The hallway was about as noisy as the sirens going off at my house last night. There were people yelling names to get someone’s attention, couples making out beside the lockers, a line of girls waiting for a chance to use the bathroom, the sound of slamming locker doors and people who were just talking really loudly on the side. The typical high school hallway I guess. A few people standing against the walls of the hallway were looking at me with curiosity. I guess this school doesn’t get new people too often, I thought. I tried my best to ignore their soul piercing glances and hurried to class.
Entering my Calculus class, the first thing I noticed was Brock sitting on the opposite side of the room. I couldn't decide whether or not I should take the available seat next to him, but before I could make a decision, the blonde girl sitting beside him in first period arrived and took my seat. Damn it! I ended up sitting two seats over from him instead. Luckily, Lily was able to sit beside me again.
The classroom was full of corny math posters that had pictures of math formulas and some kid saying, ‘math is fun’ while holding his Calculus textbook. Yeah, right because all teenagers LOVE math. There was a warm up displayed on the front board with some practice problems from Pre-Calculus. I got out a sheet of paper and started working on the answers when our teacher walked in. Lily was right, he was quite attractive. He was a tall, pale guy with short black hair, green eyes and an Irish accent. Call me crazy, but I feel there is nothing more attractive than a good accent.
"Good morning students, I hope you have enjoyed your classes so far. My name is Mr. Lloyd and I am going to be your Calculus instructor for the remainder of the school year. I will start the class by going over the syllabus and demonstrating some basic Calculus concepts."
"Well, no fun ice-breaker for this class I guess," I whispered to Lily.
Lily laughed, "hah, I guess not, which is too bad because it was so obvious you were looking forward to learning more about Broooooock." She mocked me by saying his name in a slow dragged on tone of voice and twirling the ends of her hair, doing some kind of girly-girl impersonation or something. I rolled my eyes at her and turned back around to face Mr. Lloyd because I didn’t want to fall behind my first day.
About thirty minutes into going over the beginning concepts of Calculus, I could hear my stomach growling. Loudly. It sounded like a lion’s roar. I was so embarrassed. I slumped down in my chair and stared at the clock, waiting for it to reach 12:30 so we could head downstairs for lunch.
At lunch, I stood in line for what seemed like forever for some pizza and fries and headed to a table in the corner of the cafeteria to eat with Lily. I noticed that Brock and his buddies sat on the opposite side of the cafeteria. His group consisted of the mystery blonde girl and some other random guys. My pizza was as expected, full of grease puddles and the fries were kind of cold from sitting out for so long. I opened up some packets of ketchup and squeezed them onto the tray for my fries after blotching off the excess grease on my pizza with a napkin.
"Hey Lily, do you know who that blonde girl is that always sits beside Brock?" I asked after finishing a bite of my pepperoni pizza.
"Yeah, that's his wannabe girlfriend Jamie,” Lily said with her mouth full of pizza.
"What do you mean ‘wanna be?’ Also, way to show me all of your food,” I said in a sarcastic tone. We both started laughing at Lily’s lack of table manners. Lily almost choked on the remainder of her pizza in the process, which caused us both to laugh even more. After we regained our sense of “normalness,” Lily finally answered my question.
"She has been desperately trying to get him to notice her for years now, but apparently she's not his type. She is the most popular girl in school and he still won't pay her any attention.” I could feel a sense of relief going through me. Maybe I have a chance after all. “Don't even think about trying Rosalynn, if he's out of her league, then he's way out of ours too." Well geez, way to destroy all my hopes, Lily.
I guess Lily was right about him being out of our league and all, but there is no harm in trying, right? I nervously started twisting the ring my mom gave me, kind of embarrassed for asking so many questions about Brock. I’d never really been the type of girl to crush on a guy so much, especially someone I just met. I haven’t even had a real boyfriend since ninth grade and even that relationship was a joke. Two weeks can hardly be considered a relationship anyways. Some people love those short-lived flings, the lack of commitment, and the lust. Not me.
The rest of the school day went by pretty slow, I had Chemistry and US History, both of which neither Brock or Lily shared with me. After school, I caught bus 428 to head home. After a twenty minute bus ride and a five minute walk from the bus stop to my house, I finally reached my front porch. I walked in to my mom and little sister watching TV in the living room. We couldn't afford cable, so we only got FOX and the other ten channels that came with basic cable.
"How did your first day of school go?" my mom asked as I closed the creaking door behind me.
“Ehh, it was okay. I made a new friend. Her name is Lily. How did your day go, Shay?” I looked at my sister, hoping that she had a good day since she absolutely hates going to school for some reason.
"It was okay. I wish I didn't have to go though," replied my little sister with a frown appearing on her small, round face.
"I can understand that," I muttered.
"Listen, Rosalynn, I can't make dinner for you guys tonight, but there are some frozen meals in the refrigerator. When Chris gets off work, we are going to go to an old friend’s house so you have to watch Shay." She didn’t even wait for me to give her a response before getting up from the couch and walking into her room. She already knew I had no other choice but to say yes, so I don’t know why she even bothers saying anything.
"Alright, mom,” I said as I rolled my eyes at her request.
My mom and her boyfriend Chris were always leaving me and my little sister alone to feed, bathe and put ourselves to sleep. I know that by now I can take care of myself, but my sister too? Besides, I’ve been watching Shay by myself ever since my mom met her new boyfriend, which was around six years ago. Needless to say, I have no social life as a result.
Although I don’t mind watching over my little sister, I absolutely cannot stand my mom’s boyfriend, Chris. Chris is an alcoholic among some other things, such as inconsiderate asshole, pot head, pill popper, etc. Ever since my mom met Chris, I’ve noticed her acting a little bit weirder every day; eventually I caught on to her secrets. My mom had picked up Chris’s habits and started drinking herself. At first it was just a little bit of beer or a wine cooler every now and then, which isn’t bad, but now she drinks straight out of the bottle, all the time, right in front of my sister and I. She gets totally hammered. I’m sure Chris has my mom joining him in some of his other activities as well, but I have yet to catch her in the act of anything other than drinking and smoking pot.
One time my mom and Chris had some friends over and yelled at me and Shay to go to our room and lock our door so that they could hang out in the living room. We didn’t know why they wanted privacy until the smell of what they were doing entered our room from the door crack. I didn’t know what that smell was then, but now I do. They were smoking weed in our living room. In our freaking living room! I was probably around thirteen, which means Shay was only seven years old. I couldn’t believe it when I found out what the smell was. At that moment, I didn’t even want to know what else they were hiding from my sister and I. All I cared about was Shay and making sure that she was always taken care of, even if it had to be by me.
I do have another sister, as I mentioned in class, her name is Rylan, she’s thirteen and has lived with our grandparents since she was a toddler. It makes life a little easier knowing that at least one of my sisters is being treated right, however, I do catch myself wondering what it’d be like if we all three lived together sometimes.
After my mom and Chris left, it was time for me to portray the parental role for Shay. Shay has always been kind of aggressive, hates boys and is really shy in front of people she doesn't know. We don't know why she is this way, she just is and it breaks my heart sometimes to see the way she acts around others. One time, she literally hid behind a trashcan at a park we went to with our dad so that she didn't have to play with this little boy on the playground. I know girls go through the "boys have cooties" stage, but she must think she is going to die if they touch her.
I was continuing to contemplate why Shay behaves so differently than I did when I was her age when she interrupted me with a question in a sad voice, "Rosalynn, wh-y does mom-my leave us alone all the time? Does she n-ot like to spend time with u-s?" She was stuttering as she asked her question, with tears rolling down her freckled filled face.
I really hate having to answer questions like this because even I don't know the correct answer and often ask myself the same questions as well. Shay looked at me with her big green eyes, mostly covered by her beautiful dark red hair, waiting for an answer. "I don't know, Shay. I guess she just wants to do adult things with Chris and we can't go."
I knew very well what “adult things” she was doing out and about all the time. She was at one of Chris's friend’s house getting drunk or doing drugs and expected me to stay home and watch Shay while she relived the teenage life she would have experienced if she didn't have me at seventeen. Of course I couldn’t explain this to Shay because she was so little and I didn’t want her to know about the horrible things our mother was doing, so I left my explanation at ‘I don’t know.’ Which is mostly true. Although I can assume what she is doing when she goes out with Chris, I truly don’t know why she feels the need to do all those things.
"I wish I could go with mommy so that I could spend time with her. I am so bored here," Shay said as she slowly walked away to our room to play with the small amount of toys she still had, tears flowing rapidly down her face along the way. Our mom and her boyfriend always sold the good things we got to the pawn shop so that they could afford their addictions and pay the rent, mostly the first one though. They even sold a birthday present I got from a friend in sixth grade. It was a portable DVD player, a really nice one. We went to visit our dad one weekend and came back home to find it missing. I’ve learned to never get attached to something ever since.
“I can’t wait to go to daddy’s house this weekend!” I heard Shay scream out loud from our room in anger. I knew exactly how she felt. Since our parents divorced when I was in second grade, we spent every other weekend with our dad and his new wife, Natalie. We loved going over to our dads because our sister Rylan comes to spend the night with him too and it’s always all three of us together, which is nice. Our dad and Natalie are awesome and actually like to spend time with us. They also never sell our stuff, leave us home alone, or drink and do drugs in front of us. Sometimes I even consider Natalie more of a mom than my biological one.
I walked into our room, where I found Shay sitting on the floor playing with some old Barbie’s. “Hey, I’m sorry mom isn’t here right now. I know that she will regret not spending time with you when you get my age. If it makes you feel any better, I want to spend time with you and I would do anything to make you happy.” Tears were close to flowing down my face too at this point.
Shay started letting out her last few sobs and then looked at me and said, “I know, Rosie. I just miss her sometimes.” The sound of the sadness in her voice made me hug her as tight as I could.
“I miss her too, Shay.”
Although she quickly pushed me off because she hated hugs, I could tell that it made her feel a little better knowing that she wasn’t alone.
“I’m going to go heat us up some dinner. You keep playing with your toys and after dinner maybe we can watch a movie together in the living room?” I hoped that taking her mind off things would cheer her up a little. It worked. Shay gave me a slight smile and agreed to our plans.
I walked in the kitchen to see what frozen meals my mom was talking about earlier. Opening the freezer door, the only thing in it was a package of frozen lasagna that had enough for two people. I guess this will have to do, I thought as I grabbed the lasagna, leaving the freezer empty as it closed behind me.
I preheated the oven, set the table for me and Shay and made a gallon of tea for us to drink with our dinner, since again, the refrigerator was a disappointment. After an agonizing thirty minutes of waiting, the oven timer finally went off and dinner was ready.
I yelled for Shay to come eat and as soon as she walked into the kitchen, I could tell she was disappointed. “Lasagna again? We had that yesterday." Shay sluggishly sat down at the table and continued to look at the floor.
“Yeah, I know. I’m sorry we have to keep eating the same thing every night. I wish I had a car to go get us something good to eat. I also wish I had money to afford the food in the first place. There is also the fact that I don’t have a license...” I was gasping for breath after rambling on pointlessly, just to come to the conclusion that frozen lasagna really was our only choice considering the circumstances we were in. No car, no money, and no license to drive.
We ate our lasagna in silence; followed by me making sure Shay took her bath as well as taking a shower of my own. The hot water in our new house sucked, as well as the water pressure. I might as well have been pouring cold water out of a salt shaker to wash off with. After our showers, Shay and I watched a movie as planned. We didn’t have a big move library because our parents had sold most of them, but we still had one that fit the mood. My sister put Despicable Me in our DVD player and we sat down on the couch and watched it together. Shay fell asleep about halfway through the movie, so when it was over, I managed to pick up all seventy-five pounds of her and lay her onto Afterwards, I sat in the living room watching late night shows on FOX, which tonight happened to be Family Guy. I wasn’t really paying much attention to the show even though it was one of my favorites. I just kept thinking about how much I wished things were different. I wish I had a mom who cared enough to stay home with me and my sister instead of going out and partying with her worthless boyfriend. Even when she is here, she brings her friends over and makes me and my sister stay in our room. The thought of all of the bad things my mom does makes me want to cry. It makes me want to hurt myself again, but I’m trying not to do that anymore. I’m the only person Shay and Rylan have to look up to and they aren’t going to look up to a sister who cuts her arms when she’s feeling down. The scars on my arm are enough to remind me that I don’t need to hurt myself anymore.
I force myself to stop thinking about the past and continue to watch the last few minutes of Family Guy and head to bed to prepare for the second day of my Senior year at North Brook High.
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