It Gets Better

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
The world can appear to be falling apart when really it's nothing at all, but is that the case when Emma Smith feels the ground shaking beneath her?

Submitted: August 20, 2012

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Submitted: August 20, 2012

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I started to leaf through one of the magazines at the table. Mum had said she wouldn't be long, McDonalds is only 3k's away after all, maybe there's a big line up. It's small at first, then it grows bigger and bigger until I finally properly notice it, the shake. For a moment I think it might be an Earth quake. But of course, we never get quakes in Australia, so I look across the table from me and find the source of the shaking. It's my step Dad, Daniel. His vacant stare points towards the kitchen to his right, and I can tell he can’t see it. His glasses are slightly crooked, like his mouth, which is beginning to get prickly underneath. His face rests in his left hand, his right hand holding a can of Cascade Draught, and his arms rest on the table, causing the shaking. 
"Are you okay?" I slowly ask him, trying to make sure to pick the right words. He looks over at me, but doesn't quite see me, and makes a noise with his mouth that I think is supposed to mean 'yes'. "It's just, you're shaking." He looks down at his arms, kind of surprised at what he's doing yet too upset about whatever's bothering him to care. I look away for a moment, trying to give him a bit of privacy. He's a builder as can easily be seen by the fluro jumper, calloused fingers and permanently dirty skin, he's always been tough. I don't think he really wants to talk to a 17 year old girl about his problems, and I'm not sure if I want to know what's managing to shake him. After a while of pretending to stare at my little brother playing a board game with his teddy, I slowly turn back around to see him trying to roll a cigarette, the tables still shaking. 
"Are you sure you're all right?" he looks up at me again, but I only see half of his tanned face and receding hairline through the flower arrangement he bought Mum yesterday. 
"No, actually. I'm not okay, really." he doesn't say anything else and don't know how or if I really should pry further. 
I wonder if something happened at work today, or if something really serious is going on that no one’s told me. I follow his gaze and look down at my little brother. I feel a pang in my chest. Is Tom okay? He doesn't have to go back to the hospital does he? I don't think Mum could deal with flying him to Melbourne again. Dozens of thoughts race through my head, canceling each other out and bringing up knew worries, opening locked boxes in my head from 6 years ago. I don't think I could deal with Mum flying Tom back to Melbourne. My thoughts are interrupted as Daniel knocks the box of tissues over and grabs it midair. He's trying to pull the phone off its shelf, and the cord must have moved and upset the balance of the box. Daniel must want to make a call in the back room. He manages to pull the phone free, knocking a heap of pens and a bottle of Lucas Paw Paw onto a clattering pile on the ground while he's at it. He picks up the phone book and goes to walk into the back room when the phone pulls back. The cord is tangled and as a result is much shorter; he looks at the knot and can’t seem to figure out what's wrong. I get up to help him, untangling the knot and picking up the pens and tube. I go to walk back to my seat and he's still there. 
"I'll tell you what's going on." he tells me, I nod my head and step closer. "You can’t tell anyone." 
"I won’t." I promise. 
"I promised Mark I wouldn't tell you, but since you saw me like that I should tell you." I nod. "He asked me if he could marry Stacie." 
I kind of half smile, mostly in relief but kind of because of how cute a couple my step sister, Stacie and her boyfriend Mark make. I stop when I see that he's not so happy about it though. "He asked, for my blessing." he stutters out, trying to find the right words. "It's just, she's too young, she's only 18. You understand?" I nod, glad I do now, I'd hate to be caught smiling. "He's a good guy, but..." 
"Yeah, I understand." and I do, no matter how cute they are now, they're nowhere near ready to make such a big commitment. It would fall apart within a year. 
"I'm calling Jennifer, Mark told her too, asked for her blessings. I want to talk to her about it." I nod. He turns to go off then quickly turns back. "You can’t tell anyone." His breath smells of beer and cigarettes, and I try not to take any deep breaths. From what it smells like they must have been out there for a while, unless he started before Mark and Stacie got here, which he probably did. 
"I won’t." I promise again. 
With that he goes into the other room, sliding the door shut. I walk away, heading up towards my bedroom. I wait until I'm far enough away before I let out a massive sigh of relief. Mark proposing to Stacie I can handle, but Tom going back to Melbourne I couldn't. 
"Thank God." I try not to yell. 
Mum gets home soon afterwards with Janet, my little sister, and they put dinner on the table. Mum hands Tom his Happy Meal box before pulling out the KFC. Sliding the living room door open, she looks down at where Daniel must be sitting on the floor. 
"Are you all right?" 
"She's not answering." 
"Who?" Mum bends down and picks up the phone book. 
"Why are you calling your ex? Besides, she's probably not home, Stacie said she’d already asked her to baby sit, she must have got the Grandma to do it." 
"Oh." he gets up and walks into the lounge room, picking up the box of KFC, usually when he's drinking he doesn't eat until he wakes up at midnight. Mum remembers. She looks at him strangely. 
"What's up with him?" she whispers to me. 
"Must be a new ingredient in the beer." I joke, and she smiles. 
We all go into the lounge room to eat, Daniel tells the people on the Block that they're dumb, again, and everything seems to be okay. Mum pushes the memory into a box with all the other stupid things he does while he's drinking, and her face brightens up a bit. Daniel tries to push the memory into a box, but his face doesn't brighten, and I know it's going to take a lot more than yelling at a TV screen to erase what happened tonight. Things will get messed up, Mark probably will propose to Stacie. I don't know what she'll say but whatever the answer, things will never be the same again. The decisions we make today will influence how our entire life turns out. They take our obtuse blocks of clay and mold them, whether the ending result is beautiful or a work of junk that's thrown away. Life is hard like that, but checking out early isn't an option, these little hurdles can turn into high jumps but we've got to keep jumping. No matter how tempting giving up is, eventually you get past it. It does get better. 

 


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