GOOD LUCK, KATARINA
I was with my family and my friend Mariela, on vacation in New York……Before everything happened. I can still faintly remember it.
I was an only child, 13 years old with long, chestnut-colored hair, and clear, fair skin with few freckles. I was thin, and a little short, but we were rich. Filthy rich. My parents bought a huge house, with an amazing in-ground pool. They got me the best wardrobe, with everything from designer brands. I was really popular, friends with anyone who’s anyone, and all the guys. I was an honor student. Teachers loved me. The only thing was, people also disliked me. I got a lot of people saying I’m mean, and bratty, or snobby or something. It was true though. I did have a slight attitude, and I was really good at comebacks, but I tried hard not to be mean to actual people. Guess I didn’t try hard enough.
“We’re here!” I heard my father say. I moved his hand off my eyes and gasped. Our hotel room was amazing! I dropped my suitcase, and skipped to the first bed. “Soft, isn’t it?” He asked while I placed my hand on the red, silky comforter. I nodded. Then there was the rest of the room. Dad showed us the mini-fridge (which was filled with snacks and soda), the TV, bathroom, and lastly, the awesome view. Mariela and I were standing in front of the window for about ten minutes, just staring at the breathtaking scenes just outside the hotel. But eventually, it was time for us to eat dinner.
“I’ve never been to New York City before!” Mari screeched as we climbed into our Mercedes. I rolled my eyes. Mari is only my friend because her older sister is really popular. She’s the cheerleading captain, and she’s in high school. Mariela is Spanish, because her mom was born in Spain, and came to Massachusetts as a teenager. She met Mari’s dad somewhere around here, and they had Mariela and her oh-so-popular sister Esperanza. Mariela has dark brown hair to her waist, and it’s usually up in a ‘poof.’ She is tall and skinny, but artsy and optimistic. The only bad thing is she’s poor, which means she probably gets her clothes out of dumpsters, and her food from McDonalds. Eew.
I pulled out my portable, pink, digital camera from my Chanel purse, and held it out the window. I had this ‘thing’ where I absolutely have to take pictures wherever I go. Mari and I laughed as we snapped pics of all the street performers and landmarks. There was this one guy on a platform, completely covered in aluminum foil, and we thought he was a statue, but then we saw him jump, and the crowd screamed! Then, I turned the camera around, and faced it towards me and Mari. We both smiled and I pressed capture.
Then the car stopped. I leaned out the window and looked ahead. I put my hand above my eyes for effect.
“More traffic than usual.” I said casually. Mari sighed.
“How much longer till we’re there?” She asked.
“About 15 minutes. We really need gas.” Mom replied.
Mariela sunk down into her seat.
“Hey, turn up the radio!” I beamed. Then we heard Fall Out Boy’s Dance Dance play. “Dance Dance! And these are the lies, you’d love to lead!” I laughed. I turned to Mari, but she wasn’t singing or laughing. “Don’t you know this song?”
“No.” She frowned.
She probably doesn’t have a radio, I thought. We’re probably offending her by turning it on! “Mom! Turn it off! I absolutely HATE this song! Their band broke up anyway!” I watched Mom’s fingers turn the dial all the way to the left.
BEEEEEEEP! Dad honked the horn.
“Is there an accident?” Mari asked.
“Ugh, we really need some gas.” Mom cried.
“How much is left?” I inquired.
“Two miles!” Mom shouted.
I felt the car speed up again.
“Finally!” Everyone sighed of relief.
“WE NEED GAS!” Mom shouted, slamming her fists on the dashboard.
“I KNOW!” Dad barked at her.
Dad sped up, and turned a sharp corner. We all leaned to the left.
Then we slowed to a halt. I peered out the window and searched for the station.
“Where is it?” I wondered aloud.
“Not anywhere nearby.” Dad sighed. I bit my bottom lip.
“Well, we ARE in New York.” Dad laughed. “Most people just walk.”
“We already did. Last year!” Mom said.
“We could take the bus!” Mari offered, pointing to a sign just outside our window.
Dad squinted at it. “I guess.”
I sighed, and pushed open the door on my side.
We all waited for the bus.
“Kat?” I heard Mom whisper.
“Listen, when we all get on the bus, we’re going to sit down in the front, immediately. Don’t talk or stare at anyone, even if they look really weird. Even if they’re bleeding everywhere, DON’T STARE!”
“Don’t stand up until the bus stops near the restaurant. Daddy’s going to get off first, at the gas station, okay? He’s getting gas for the car, and he will meet us at the restaurant later.”
I nodded again, and glanced at my camera.
“No pictures, Kat!”
“Okay.” I frowned.
It felt like we had been waiting for hours when the bus finally stopped in front of us. It was long, and the windows were tinted. Two sets of doors opened, and I watched as a handful of people stepped off both ways. Mom grabbed our hands, and pulled us through the crowd. We stepped up and I blew my last kiss to the Mercedes.
Mari and I sat down right behind the driver, and then Mom did.
“We’ll be there in about twenty minutes.” She sighed. “I can’t believe this.”
Mariela looked out the window. I looked at my fingernails. The polish was chipping off. I bit my lip more.
“Mariela, is this your first time on a bus?” Mom whispered.
“No.” Mari laughed. “I’ve been on a bunch. I take one to the mini-mart sometimes, and pick up a few things we need.”
“Oh. This is Katarina’s first time.” Mom smiled.
I glared at her. Poor mom makes fun of people who don’t have cars. I shook my head.
The bus quickly stopped. I looked across from me, where Dad and an old lady got up. She had long blond hair, and a big nose. She wore a huge, torn up, purple dress, a green jacket, and a dirty grey baseball cap. I cringed. She looked at me, and I quickly turned back to Mari.
“Look at that creepy lady!” I whispered. I tilted my head towards her, so she would know where to look. Suddenly, I realized I made a huge mistake. What if they’re related or something! Oh my god, Mari could be her niece! Uh-oh She’d hate me forever! I’d never be able to talk to Esperanza again!
“Kat!” I heard Mari say. That’s when I knew it was over.
“Kat! That’s a mean thing to say, she probably doesn’t have a job, or a home. She probably doesn’t have any family left! That’s very unfortunate, and yet it happens to hundreds of people everyday!”
“Becoming a hobo?!?!” I shouted.
Mariela gasped, and turned away. I turned back around.
I felt everyone’s eyes burning into mine. I bit my lip. Mom grabbed my hand and pulled a thin wire that went around the whole bus. I heard a ringing sound, and the bus slowed to a stop. We stepped onto the sidewalk. Mariela followed.
“We’re walking the rest of the way.” Mom growled.
“Why?” I whined. We stopped.
“Do you realize what you did back there? You offended that poor lady in the dress, and probably many others on that bus, and EVERYONE heard you! LOUD AND CLEAR!”
I looked back at the bus, but it wasn’t there anymore. We were on our own.
“What Mariela said is very true, Katarina. Many people lose their jobs, homes, or family everyday. There are so many homeless people in America, and it’s very horrible. You should be grateful for everything you have. Especially a home, and a family that loves you.”
We were finally at the restaurant! It was a small building on the corner, and there was a red carpet that started at the entrance. I peered inside to look for Dad, but couldn’t see him.
“Can we go inside?” I bounced up and down on my toes.
“I guess.” Mom sighed.
Mari and I skipped into the restaurant, and inhaled the powerful scent of pizza.
“I know what I want!” Mari giggled.
“You know what’s on the menu already?” I asked.
“No, silly! I can smell the pizza!”
I shuddered at the thought of a slice of steamy, fattening pizza, dripping sauce on my white miniskirt.
“Don’t you watch your weight?”
“That’s stupid! I’m twelve! I have other things to worry about.” She flipped her hair and smiled.
I heard footsteps behind us.
“Mom, where should we sit?” I turned, then gasped.
“Hey, you’re the little girlie from the bus!” The purple hobo realized.
“Hey! I’m not little, I’m a teenager!”
“Oh, my bad.” She chuckled. “You know, my sister used to work here.” She smiled, and took off her cap. “She made so much money working here. She helped me pay most of my bills with it. But then she was fired.” The woman bit her bottom lip, then I stopped biting mine. “We had a fight. After a few days, I went to go apologize, but she wasn’t home. That’s when I knew I was going to lose everything.”
“Aw!” I heard Mariela cry.
She walked toward a booth. I peered back out the window, and Mom was still standing there, with her arms folded across he chest. I slowly tiptoed to the woman’s booth. I heard Mariela following me.
“Why was your sister fired?” Mariela asked. I stared at her.
“Leave her alone!” I whispered.
“It’s okay.” The woman laughed.
We sat down across from her.
“The owner here believed my sister stole all the money out of the register. We both knew she didn’t though.”
“Why couldn’t she just tell the owner that she didn’t steal anything?”
“Oh, believe me, she tried. Sadly, the owner didn’t buy it. After the third accusation, she fired my sister. Then, I told her we both needed her to have that job. I said she should lie, and admit to taking the money, but my sister said no. I kept yelling at her. Then after a few nights, I knew how selfish of me that was. And I went to apologize, but the house was completely empty. Like nobody had ever lived there.”
“Can’t you get a job?” I heard myself ask. We all leaned forward.
“I never finished high school.” She admitted. “I really should’ve though, because now I can’t afford nothing.”
“Did they ever catch the person who took the money out of the register?” Mari asked.
“No, but he left a note that said ‘D. A’ Which aren’t her initials.”
“I bet you were really happy when you heard the owner apologize.” I smiled.
“Actually, she didn’t. That’s why I still come here. I promised myself I wouldn’t leave this horrible city until the owner apologizes.”
Suddenly, I saw Dad outside. I quickly stood up, and brushed myself off, as if little dust particles sat on me as we were waiting. I pulled a small gold wallet out of my purse, and placed a ten dollar bill on the table. The woman smiled, and put the dollar in her hat. I smiled, too.
“Her name was Janet.” I heard her sigh as we raced toward the entrance.
“DAD!” I cried, and jumped into his arms.
He put me back on the ground. I heard a sniffle, and faced Mom. She had mascara running down her cheeks.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“The car’s gone.” Dad said.
“What do you mean?” Mariela slapped her hands over her mouth. I bit my lip again.
“Well,” Dad began. “I got the gas, and walked to the bus stop where we were parked, but I guess someone beat me to it.
I guess Dad knew we didn’t understand, because we were standing there with blank expressions.
“I accidentally left the keys in the Mercedes, and someone must’ve taken it.”
I looked at my feet. The tip of my flat shoe was getting worn out.
“Can we just eat now?” I asked nervously. “Take our minds off of it?”
Dad nodded, and put his arm around Mom. We walked the red carpet again, and took a seat in the booth next to the hobo.
I watched a lady in an apron stand near her.
“What are you DOING here, Christine?” She stomped her feet. “Get OUT of my restaurant! NOW!”
The hobo, who I guess is Christine, stood up and stumbled to the doorway. Mariela and I were leaning to the side to catch a glimpse.
The lady glared at us. “NOTHIN TO SEE HERE, KIDS!” We quickly turned back to the table.
“I’m a teenager”, I mumbled.
A few minutes later, a different girl in an apron appeared in front of us. She had blonde hair in a bun on the right side of her head, and wore a white tee shirt with light blue jeans.
“Good evening everyone, my name is Lauren, and I will be your server tonight. May I take your orders?”
I opened the menu, and quickly scanned the pages.
“For you miss?”
Mom sat up straighter and cleared her throat. “The chef’s salad with oil and vinegar please?”
Lauren scribbled in her notepad. “And you sir?”
Dad flipped another page. “The girls and I will have a large cheese pizza.”
I bit my nail.
Lauren scribbled some more.
“Wait, Dad. I don’t want any pizza.”
“Well, what then?”
“A fruit salad.”
Lauren wrote a little, and then stopped herself. “Anything to drink?”
Dad and Mariela said Coke, and Mom and I said water.
Lauren jogged into the kitchen.
“Kat, were you talking to that lady from the bus?”
“Yeah, we were.” Mari interrupted.
“She gave us a sob-story about her sister Janice or whatever.” I huffed.
“People like her always have a story like that.” Mom shook her head. “They lie to get attention and money.”
I frowned. How could I have fallen for that! How selfish of her to trick me like that. And I gave her ten dollars!
The next morning, I woke up to find Dad gone. I climbed into Mom’s bed, and shook her until she awoke.
Mom sat up. She fixed her hair and looked around. “Oh, he said he’s visiting his brother or something a few cities over.”
“Why couldn’t we come? I miss Uncle!”
“He didn’t want us to have to walk all the way. He borrowed a bike.”
“I could learn!” I whined. “Then I would’ve gone!”
“No, Kat. Riding through New York is very dangerous. You could get hurt.”
I frowned, then crawled over to the mini-fridge. I pulled open the door, and pulled out a small can of orange juice.
“Orange juice in a can?” I whispered, then shrugged. I carried it to Mom.
“Can you open this?” I pleaded.
“I would break a nail!” She moaned.
I thought for a minute, then carried it to Mari, who was flipping through the TV channels.
I hope she knows how to use the remote. I thought.
“Can you open this?” I asked again.
Mari nodded, and grabbed the can without looking. Then she flipped the top, and I grabbed it back.
“Thanks.” I said.
“I took a sip, then placed it on the bedside table.
“Mom, what are we going to do today?”
“I don’t know.” She groaned, then sat up again. “Why don’t you look up stuff to do on Daddy’s laptop.”
“Yeah!” I smiled. I pulled out Dad’s computer, and went to Google. I looked up ‘Things to do in New York City.’
Mom appeared behind me and quietly read the list to herself.
“We could see a psychic or go shopping!” Mom beamed. “What do you guys think?”
I nodded rapidly. Mariela looked deep in thought.
“What about breakfast and lunch?” She questioned.
Mom took the computer and looked on Google Maps. “For breakfast, we could stop at Dunkin Donuts here.”
“Then we go to the psychic. After that, we hit this toy store, then go back to the hotel. We could eat lunch at the hotel restaurant.” Mom pointed to the ground. “We could go to all these cute little shops!”
I clapped my hands.
“Get your shoes on girls, but no heels! We’re going to be doing a LOT of walking!”
My smile faded.
“I don’t have any heels, anyway.” Mari laughed.
Duh, they’re pretty expensive.
“Can’t we rent a car?” I cried.
“Your Dad was right, we ARE in New York. We should walk!”
Mom and Mari giggled.
For breakfast, I remember having a croissant. Then we were at the psychic. That’s pretty much where things got ten times worse.
“Oh my!” She cried. We all leaned forward. The woman pushed us back, and covered her crystal ball. She had an eye patch, and her black hair was in a striped bandana. Her fingernails were painted neon pink, and they were disgustingly long.
“Better get back to your hotel room!” She laughed.
“Why?” Mom asked.
“Not for any good reasons, that’s why! And WOAH!”
“What?!?!” We all cried.
“Looks like you won’t be going shopping anytime soon!”
Mom looked at me. She looked very confused. I probably did, too.
“I suggest leaving New York as SOON as possible!” She laughed again. “AND NEVER RETURN!”
None of us moved.
We all rushed out the door.
Then, I remember running as fast as we could through the streets. I had my eye on Mari’s bright green hat. When we finally got to our hotel room. It looked exactly the same.
“No.” Mom said. “I don’t believe it!”
“What?” I asked, just appearing in our doorway.
“That evil woman! She took twenty dollars off my hands FOR NOTHING!”
I bit my bottom lip.
“Come on girls, we’re going shopping!”
Mom strutted to the doorway. Mari and I were still standing near the bed, not moving.
“What are you two waiting for? Christmas?” She laughed at herself.
“Shouldn’t we be leaving now?” Mari sat down on the velvet covers.
“Oh, don’t be silly. Don’t you get it? She lied to us! NOTHING happened to our hotel room! Don’t let that crazy woman ruin our vacation! Come on!”
I looked at my friend, then met up with Mom. Mari soon followed.
We soon found ourselves peeking into the window of a Hollister store.
“See anything you like?” Mom smiled.
“Yes, but I don’t have much money.” Mari sighed.
That’s why poor people aren’t supposed to vacation here!
“That’s okay, I’ll pay for you!”
“Of course!” Mom led us into the store. As soon as we came in, I plugged my nose. Everyone loves the smell of Hollister, except me. I watched Mariela smile. She grabbed a pair of ripped jeans. I nodded at her to tell her they were cute, and she smiled wider. I watched her race into the back, while I sat near the entrance. I picked up a magazine. I squinted at the words, but there wasn’t enough light to see the real truth behind the Jonas Brother’s breakup. I was longing for a breath.
I peered out from under my magazine and Mom was gone. I wandered around the store till I finally found the cash register. Mom and Mari were at the front of the line. I stood next to them and joined the conversation.
“Honestly! I DO have money! I’ll pay tomorrow! I promise!”
“Mom, what’s going on?”
“I lost my wallet!”
I looked at Mari. Her mouth was in the shape of an o, and I realized that we were both thinking the same thing.
“Mom! The psychic!” I tapped her shoulder. She stopped talking.
“You’re right, honey! I must’ve left my purse there!”
I crossed my arms. “No! She said we can’t go shopping!”
For a second, we all just stood there, and thought, but the cashier yelled NEXT, and we left.
Again, we were running.
“MOM!” I stopped in my tracks, and sat in front of a bar. She stopped, too. Mari sat next to me.
“Katarina means the psychic was right.” She said quickly. “She said we wouldn’t be able to go shopping.”
Mom’s eyes got huge, and she grabbed our hands. “We need to get to the hotel room!”
I quickly slipped off my flats, and ran after her. Mari did the same.
I had to keep track of Mom’s diamond earrings this time. They were harder to follow then Mari’s hat, though. There were so many people walking, but not us, we were running. Barefoot after barefoot slapping against the sidewalk. After a while I started to hear a pattern. I counted to the beat of our feet. 1...2...a 1, 2, 3, 4.
“We’re here!” I heard Mari say faintly. I looked ahead. They were waiting for the elevator already.
“WAIT!” I screamed.
I saw the people looking at me, but I didn’t care.
I stepped into the elevator just as the doors slammed shut.
“Oh my god! What’s today, like, National Walking Day?” I sputtered.
I heard little giggles, but barely. We were all breathing heavily, and then we heard the ding. We were on our floor! The doors slowly reeled back, and we hopped out, turning the corner. All the golden doors lay atop a red velvet carpet. Mom raced past us, and then we followed.
My mouth gaped open in horror.
No matter how many times I closed my eyes, no matter how many times I pinched my arm, no matter how many times I told myself, I wasn’t dreaming. This was reality.
I remember the spray-paint on the walls. Those perfect red and white walls, with a touch of gold joy.
The bed sheets, all torn and covered in mud. The beautiful blankets, all red and velvety. Like sleeping on a cloud.
The mini-fridge was opened, and everything was gone, except a bowl of leftover guacamole. Such a convenient little thing, pre-filled with all our personal favorites, I thought. The crumbs from the mini-fridge were sprinkled over every inch of the floor. The soft, fluffy carpet, now destroyed. I almost cried. Even the stains from the soda were everywhere. The glass on the TV was smashed, and all the furniture was turned over. Now the tears came.
“Who’d want to do this to us!?!?” Mom cried. “We’re just a kind, ordinary family on vacation!”
“Maybe they have the wrong room.” I whispered, mostly to myself, but they heard me anway.
I ran inside the bathroom. The sink was on, and the shower was running. I went to the mini-fridge in the kitchen. My fingers found a note taped to the inside of the door. I ripped it off, and held it up so Mom could see.
“Enjoy your guacamole”, I read. A tear dripped off my face. Mariela stood in the corner with her shredded backpack. She rubbed her eyes. I wouldn’t want to cry in front of a friend either.
“Call Dad.” I heard Mom whisper. I grabbed my cell phone from my Chanel. Then, we heard footsteps outside.
“Now that’s just vandalism.”
I turned to the doorway, and saw a young woman with red hair in a bun standing there with a cart.
“Please believe me! We didn’t do this! Call the police! Call the manager! Call everywhere! Just find out who did this! We’ll pay you any price, and you won’t have to clean this up!” Mom moaned.
The woman nodded. “Right away!” And with that, she was off.
I went back to my phone, and dialed the area code.
We heard more footsteps, but this time it wasn’t a maid.
“Dad!” I screamed, and jumped into his arms. “Look what someone did!” I slipped off of him, and landed hard on the carpet. “Ow!”
Dad sat in the doorway.
“We need to go back to Vershine.” Mom stated.
“When?” Mariela asked.
“Now.” Dad replied. He picked up his suitcase, and went around collecting our things at light speed. We all did the same. I picked up my pink suitcase and my purse, and stood outside in the hall. Mariela was already there with her backpack.
“I’m really sorry about us leaving three days early.” I mumbled.
“It’s fine.” She whispered. “I sort of had fun before…you know.”
I forced a smile. “Me too.”
“We’re home!” I yelled as Dad thrust open the front door.
I watched as a small kitten crept towards me. “Edward!” I laughed, and picked him up. I threw him in the air, and caught him. “How was life without me for two days?”
Edward meowed in reply.
“Aw!” I giggled.
All of us froze.
“Hello?” Dad called.
“Dwight? Is that you?”
“Rob?” Dad flicked on the lights in the kitchen. “ROB!” He laughed, and punched his friend in the arm.
“Lila?” I said hopefully.
“Oh, sorry Kat, I didn’t bring Lila today, she’s at cheer practice.”
I frowned, and climbed up the stairs to my room.
I slammed open my door, and Edward slipped in. I tossed my suitcase onto my white canopy bed, and looked around. Home sweet home. I thought, then smiled.
I hung my purse on the rack on my white door with KATARINA carved on the bottom. I climbed back down the stairs, and met everyone in the kitchen.
“I was just making you a celebratory pot roast!” Rob explained.
“For us coming home? Or the new Mercedes?” Dad wondered.
“BOTH!” He laughed.
He laughed way too much.
Rob was Dad’s friend since their childhood, and they were both rich. Rob is two years younger than Dad, and has red hair and freckles. He’s tall, but that’s not all, he is best friends with the owner of Chanel! Plus, he’s really optimistic. That explains why he’s not all like, “Oh I’m sorry for what happened to your car,” or “It’s a shame about that hotel room.” He’s actually making us dinner!
“What was that?” I asked.
“Oh, my phone.” Rob frowned. “Lila’s done with cheer early! I need to pick her up!”
“Oh, well thanks for stopping by, and starting dinner for us!” Mom smiled.
“It’s nothing, see you all later!” He laughed, and shut the door behind him.
“We should’ve told him we had dinner already.” Dad shook his head.
“I don’t want a Welcome Home Pot Roast, Daddy.” I whined.
“It’s fine, I’ll take it out after my shower. You two should really get some rest, it’s really late.”
“Okay.” Mom and I mumbled in unison, and crept back upstairs.
I pushed the suitcase off of my bed and onto my white carpet. My whole room is white, except my walls which are lavender. Before Dad painted the walls, they were white, and when you walked in, it felt like entering heaven. Now it’s just lame. Lavender is the color of royalty, I guess. I poured some food into Edward’s bowl in my bathroom, then changed into my purple pajamas. They even smelled like lavender.
“The smell of home.” I whispered.
I clapped my hands. The lights turned off and I closed my eyes.
BLEEEEEEEEEEEP! BLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP! BLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!
I quickly sat up, and pulled off my eye mask. Edward was clawing at the door. Which burst open, and pushed him into the doorstop, really hard.
“EDWARD!” I cried and jumped off my bed, landing in front of Mom.
“Honey! It’s Dad! He left the roast and…fire! We need to go!”
“Remember what we practiced if there’s a fire!”
“Grab Edward, the most expensive jewelry, most prized possessions, and-”
“DO IT NOW!” Mom disappeared into the ocean of smoke.
I felt for Edward but I couldn’t find him. I quickly went to my dresser, and grabbed my Aeropostale tote bag. I put in all my pearls, diamonds, and makeup. I slid all of my childhood toys, and trophies inside. I grabbed a small flashlight, and shone it behind the door, where Edward’s limp body was. I pinched myself. Nothing.
Crying, I put Edward on top of the pile, and unhooked my Chanel. Right before I left, I faced my room one last time. I kissed goodbye to my closet, and bathroom. The lavender walls. The fluffy white canopy. My life. I kissed my life goodbye as I raced down the stairs and out the front door. I lay in the grass, and pulled Edward out of my tote. I placed him on my stomach.
“EDWARD!” I kissed his little head, then looked for Mom and Dad. Nowhere to be seen. I kissed Edward goodbye now as I raced back inside.
“MOM!” I coughed. No answer. “DAD!” No answer.
Then it hit me. Dad. The pot roast! Dad never took the pot roast out of the oven!
“DAD! I HATE YOU!” I cried into the smoky house.
“You WHAT?” I heard him faintly from behind me. I quickly turned to him. He had a suitcase with things popping out from all sides.
“You!” I cried more. Tears were everywhere. “The pot roast!” I fell and slammed my fists on the hardwood floor. “Where’s Mom?!?!”
“I don’t know!” Dad yelled at me.
I cried harder. I knew Mom was gone. Her room was right above the kitchen.
“Please get her!” I sobbed. “Dad! Get Mom!” He wouldn’t answer me. “DAD! YOU NEED TO GET HER! DAD, PLEEEASE!”
CHAPTER 6, BAD NEWS AND WORSE NEWS.
When I woke up, I was looking at Dad in a room of white. My room!
“Dad!” I choked. I watched a tear roll down his face. “Dad! We’re back! Was it all a dream?” I rubbed my eyes. This wasn’t my room. Far from it, actually. Then it came to my attention.
“Dad? Are…we in the hospital?” Another tear. “Is Mom okay?” Dad turned away. He sat in a chair. “Dad! Please talk to me!”
“MOM!” I yelled. “MOOOM!” A woman came in, not Mom. A man came in with her. “Rob?”
“Katarina.” The man said. “Everything will be okay.”
“Why? What happened?” I coughed, then rubbed my eyes more.
“Your house burnt down in a fire. Do you remember that?”
“Your cat got injured.”
I burst into tears. “EDWAAARD!” I buried my face in my pillow. “WHY?”
“It’s okay, Katarina! Edward is okay!”
“Really?” I asked. Now came happy tears. My little grey kitten was alive after all! “Where?”
“He’s in a shelter now, but if-”
“NO!” I shouted. “YOUR GIVING HIM AWAY!?!?!”
“You don’t have a home for him, Katarina! You need a home before you can have a pet! We can try to keep him there as long as we can, but if someone wants to adopt him, we’d have to give him to them.”
“NOOO!” I felt as if someone had ripped my heart out, then shredded it, and burned the pieces. Then the threw the ashes into the ocean, where a shark ate them.
“We have to.” The man left. The woman came towards me and sat in a rolling chair.
“I have more bad news.”
I turned over, and looked out the window. All I saw were clouds and rooftops. “No.” I yelled.
“You need to know that-”
We were quiet. Dad rolled over to me, this time I didn’t turn over.
“Your mother didn’t survive the fire.” He sobbed.
“Dad!” I whispered. “I told you to go get her! Why didn’t you listen to me? WHY DIDN’T YOU TAKE THE POT ROAST OUT OF THE OVEN?”
Dad looked at his feet.
“I did go up, but I couldn’t open her door. My hand would have been burned right off.”
Dad got up, and slammed the door behind him.
“Why am I here though?”
I listened for the woman’s voice, Then I heard her sigh.
“You inhaled quite a bit of smoke. If you had a home, I’m sure you would be able to go there now.”
“EDWAAARD!” I cried. “MOOOOM!”
I heard the door shut again. The woman is gone, I guessed.
“Dad, where are we going to live?”
“I’m working on it now. I’m waiting for a call from my brother.”
“From New York?”
“NO! I don’t want to go back there!”
“Well, there’s nowhere else to go!”
“Nowhere in Vershine?”
“I don’t think so.”
“What about that motel near the high school?”
“I…guess we can-”
“Oh my god! Do you think they’d allow cats?”
“I would make sure of it.”
“Can you go get Edward now? And a motel room?”
“No. I can’t.”
“I can’t, but we can. Come on.”
“Welcome to the Vershine Animal Shelter and Veterinary Center. How may I help you?”
“We’re the owners of that grey kitten that came in yesterday, from the fire?”
“Oh yes! SHAUNA!”
A teenage girl with long blonde hair, and glasses came in, with a girl about my age. She had dark black pigtails, and a tie-dye shirt.
“I’m here.” The blonde said. “We’d like to make an adoption!” The cat in the black-haired girl’s arms meowed.
“Edward?” I smiled.
“No. This is ‘Lil Marissa.’” The blonde laughed.
“What? No, that’s my cat!”
The pigtail girl started crying.
“What’s going on here?!?!” The receptionist asked.
“That kid’s adopting MY cat!”
“I’m a teenager!” She sobbed.
I bit my bottom lip. It’s becoming a habit now.
“OH! You must be the one’s from the fire!” The blonde said. “May I see some ID?”
Dad gave her his ID, and she knelt down next to the girl in pigtails.
“I’m so sorry. We’ll have to pick another kitten for you, Marissa.” She picked up the cat gently, and put him in my arms.
“NO!” Marissa cried. She glared at me, and I turned to Dad. We ran out the door and into our taxi.
“To the Vershine motel, please.” Dad smiled. I looked at him.
“She was going to name the cat after herself!” I laughed.
“LIL MARISSA!” We both shouted, then giggled uncontrollably.
Next thing I knew, the taxi stopped in front of our new place. I shuffled toward our number, twenty-two.
I watched Dad pay the driver, then catch up with me. “We’ll be getting a real home soon.” He smiled.
“How do you know?” I asked.
“I’ve been saving up money for a day like this.”
I opened the door, and tossed Edward onto one of the beds.
“So you have enough money for a house already?!?!”
“Yeah, I need to find a place we both like though.”
“Can we stay in Vershine?” I pleaded.
Suddenly, we heard a knock on our door. I followed Dad to the window, then he pulled open the door. It slid against the carpet.
A woman in a tight green dress and a light purple cardigan stood with a box of chocolates in our doorway.
“Hey! I’m Janet! Just came to say hi to my new neighbors!” She smiled and shook Dad’s hand.
“Well, I’m Dwight, and this is my daughter, Katarina.”
“Hi Katarina!” She smiled, and shook my hand. She gave me the chocolates. “Wait! I think I know you! Dwight Aubrey?”
Dad nodded slowly. “How-”
“Oh, I read about you in the news. I am so sorry for your loss.”
I got bored, and went back to Edward. He had little stitches in his stomach. I am so happy your okay, Eddie. I told him in my mind. Then I unzipped my Chanel, and pulled out my iPhone. I sent a forward message to everyone except Dad, saying: Hey.
Then my phone rang about thirty times, and I had to reply to everyone. The longest conversations were with Esperanza and Mariela. They both lasted about 3 hours. By then, I had eaten lunch, and dinner, and was watching TV on my new bed. I smiled. Things are going to get better from here, right?
I wasn’t that happy when Dad brought me back to New York to visit his brother and my cousins. I got to bring Edward though, and a new friend from school, Alicia. She had dark brown hair to her shoulders, and bangs just touching the tips of her eyelashes. She was about my height, and had a cool smile that made her even more popular. She was rich, and I actually liked her. I always had a certain friendship bond with new kids.
We arrived at his house around noon. My little cousins were so excited to see me. They asked so many questions about the fire. The littlest one was really into Edward, and wouldn’t take his hands off of him. Most of the time, we played on the swing set in the backyard, but then we had dinner. Everyone except me voted for pizza.
Dad promised me we wouldn’t have pizza. Broken promise number one. He promised afterwards that we wouldn’t go to the same restaurant we went to two days before Mom died. Broken promise number two. He said sorry, and promised we wouldn’t sit in the same booth.
“Let’s sit here! My cousin Erica yelped.
“Yeah!” Everyone agreed, except me. Broken promise number three.
“CHRISTINE! I’M NEVER GOING TO APOLOGIZE! NOW GET OUT OF MY STORE!”
“Can I go outside for a second, Dad?”
“What? Sure I guess.”
I saw a woman with a purple dress limping away.
The woman turned around. “Girlie from the bus?”
“Teenager!” I giggled, and ran toward her. I stopped in front of her.
“It’s been awhile.” She frowned.
“How’s life been going for you?”
“Oh. Should I ask?”
“It’s okay. Our hotel room got trashed, and Mom’s wallet was stolen.”
“Then we left, and Mom accidentally hurt my cat.”
“Then our house burned down, and Mom didn’t make it.”
“We came back to New York to visit my uncle today. I met an old friend.”
“Cool.” She smiled.
“I wish I could stick around longer, but-”
Suddenly, we heard six loud bangs from behind us. Christine’s eyes widened. She grabbed my hand, and pulled me into an alley.
“What’s going on?” I whispered.
“It sounds like a robbery.” Christine replied.
“DAD!” I yelled, and stood up, but Christine pushed me back down.
“I said don’t move!”
“Okay, sorry, sorry.”
We waited for about fifteen minutes, then we slowly crept back into the store, where a crowd of people had gathered.
“Kat?” I heard a girl’s voice.
“Alicia?!?!” I pushed everyone aside, and jumped into her booth. She hugged me. She was crying hysterically.
Alicia bit her bottom lip, and then I did. I slowly turned toward the booth, and saw little Erica sitting under the table with her brother, Matt.
“Erica! Matt!” I cried. I crawled under the table and picked Erica up.
“Not Matt.” Erica sobbed.
I knew what she meant.
“No Daddy! No Johanna! No Uncle! No Joey!” She buried her face in my shoulder.
Alicia and Christine appeared by my side.
“This is horrible!” Alicia rubbed her eyes.
“That’s New York for you.” Christine sighed.
There was nothing left to do. I sat on the ground and cried. I had nothing except a cat, a best friend, a hobo, and 2-year-old cousin. I still cried when everyone else stopped. I cried when the police and ambulance showed up. I cried when a psychiatrist asked why I was crying, when I heard I was going to live in New York in a foster home with Erica until I get a permanent family, when Alicia was picked up, and I said my last goodbye, when I realized I left Edward at Uncle’s house. I cried when I went to everyone’s funerals, then I let out my last tear as I heard Erica mumbling to herself in our new home 3 years later.
“It was a woman”, She said.
“Who?” I asked.
“The person who killed Matt.”
“ERICA! WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL THE POLICE! THEY COULD’VE GOTTEN THAT MUCH CLOSER TO CATCHING HER AND LOCKING HER UP FOR GOOD!”
“She was talking to herself.”
“The lady was in the corner talking to herself.”
“What did she say?”
“ERICA! YOU NEED TO REMEMBER!”
“Okay! She said that she knew it was you.”
“Knew it was who?”
“I don’t know. She said that, and said she didn’t deserve to really be fired.”
“Wait, anything else?”
“She said she hates everyone, and that she is mad at herself I think.”
“Oh. She sounds crazy.” I smiled. Then, I tickled Erica’s belly, and watched her squirm around on the bed, then fall off the side. After that, it was quiet, but after a minute we were both giggling again.
The next morning, our foster Mom sent us out to the toy store to pick out something cute for her niece’s birthday. She gave us fifty dollars, and then we were off.
It seemed like forever before we finally got to the toy store. When we did, we saw a LOT of things we could buy. After about half an hour we decided on two DS games for nineteen dollars each, and a ten dollar iTunes gift card.
We finally got to the register, and I placed the items on the counter. I heard my phone ring.
“Yes! It’s been so long, like, a year!”
“I know right!”
“Wow, so how’s life?”
I felt a tug on my shoulder. It was Erica. I shooed her away, but she tugged again.
“Hold on a second, Mari.” I said angrily. “Erica what is the matter with you?”
“That’s her!” She whispered.
“Huh?” I asked.
She pointed at the cashier. “She killed Matt, Katty!”
“How would you know?”
“She wore that hat!”
I peeked at the cashier. She had her hair in a ponytail, and it was pulled into a Yankees baseball cap.
“You mean Janet?”
Then, everything made sense. My whole life played out in front of my eyes like a movie, starting with Christine’s story. Janet was fired, like she muttered in the corner! But why did she say “I knew it was you!”? Why did she want to kill me and my family? Why didn’t Christine mention she was crazy and murderous? These questions made my head spin, and I felt like puking. But then I snapped back to reality. I need to get Erica out of here right now!
“I’ll call you back tomorrow this is a life-threatening situation okay? Bye.” I slowly dialed 911 behind my back.
“Hey! Guess who else you ‘missed?’” I yelled.
Janet turned towards me. “Don’t make me do this”, she whispered.
“What do you have against my family!?!?” I screamed.
Janet hopped up onto the counter, knocking the games onto the tile floor. “YOU RUINED MY LIFE!”
“What do you mean?!?!”
“YOUR FATHER! HE STOLE ALL THE MONEY OUT OF OUR REGISTER! HE LEFT A NOTE! D.A!”
“NO!” I shouted. ”Oh my God! Dwight Aubrey?”
“YES! HE’S THE REASON I LOST MY JOB! HE’S THE REASON I LOST MY HOME! MY DEAR SISTER’S HOME AND LIFE, TOO!”
“YES! YES! YES! YES! AND NOW I GET MY REVENGE! I’M ONLY HERE TO DO WHAT YOUR FATHER DID TO ME!”
Suddenly, the front door burst open, three cops, fully armed, stood.
“Don’t move!” The one in the middle shouted.
“No, Janet. Your wrong! Completely wrong!” I screamed.
The cops moved closer to us, one now with a pair of handcuffs.
“Your sister! She’s alive! I met her!”
“No! Prove it!”
The officer snapped the handcuffs over Janet’s wrists, and dragged her toward the entrance. The door was about to shut when:
“CHRISTINE!” I screamed. Then we raced to the window, and watched Janet get pushed into the car. Her lips were moving rapidly.
“Can you read lips?” Erica asked.
“What’s she saying?”
“She’s alive.” I smiled.
About ten minutes after the car drove away, I grabbed Erica’s hands, and we went on our way back home.
“We didn’t get a present.”
“Oh my god!” I turned to go on my way back, but instead I saw a pet shop. “Hey! What about the pet store?”
In the pet store, they were having a sale on kittens.
“I miss Edward.” I said.
I turned around, and saw a woman at a table with a bunch of kittens behind her.
“I had a cat named Edward, but he died.”
“Edward, like the vampire?”
“Yeah, I was only 12 when I got him, and I was obsessed with Twilight, so…”
“Then you know who I am.” She smiled.
I stared at her for probably a good minute. “STEPHANIE MEYER!” I screamed.
“Yeah! I wrote the series”, She laughed. “I’m selling kittens here for thirty bucks each. Every one comes with a birth certificate signed by me!”
“Hey I have fifty dollars! I’m getting a gift for my cousin, so I guess this would be cool.”
“Alright, pick one.”
I looked at each and every baby cat and finally came to a decision. “Can I have the grey one in the corner. He kind of reminds me of Edward.” I smiled.
I watched Stephanie sign the certificate, and I picked up the cat. A tear rolled down my cheek. Then, I gave her the money.
“Hey bus girlie!”
“Oh. I have bad news for you.” I frowned
“I know. Your Dad ruined my sister’s life, then she killed your family and attacked your sister, then she got arrested and realized I wasn’t dead.”
“Um, yeah, how-”
“Word gets around pretty quickly here.”
“Oh well sorry about my Dad ruining her-”
“It’s okay. I’m glad he did.”
“Oh, Girlie, it’s not the home that makes you happy, or the money. Every morning, when I wake up in the alley, I smile, even if nobody smiles back. I don’t care what people think of me. Even you were creeped out by me at first.”
“That’s amazing.” I smiled. Here come the tears of joy again.
“But sadly, this is the last time we will ever meet.”
“It doesn’t matter if we see each other again. Sometimes friendships can last more than one lifetime.”
“I have something for you.”
Christine took off her hat and pulled out a thin piece of paper.
“I believe this belongs to you.” Christine handed me the paper.
“My ten dollar bill!?!?! You still have it!?!?”
“Of course. Now, go in there and get yourself a kitten.”
“You mean it?”
“Thank you so much!” I hugged Christine, and pulled Erica back into the shop. Shortly after, I came out with another little kitten in my arms. Christine was gone.
I stroked the baby kitten’s small head and smiled. “I think I’ll name you Christine.”
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