Things happen, p.1
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       Things Happen, p.1

           Haley Marvil
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Things Happen

  Things Happen

  -Haley Marvil

  “Teagon, I’m telling you, you’re going to love it. Okay? Quit worrying about things so much.”

  It wasn’t that I was worried, it was that I was upset that I had to leave everyone and everything I’d once loved to come here.

  “I’m not worried. Why would I be worried?” My leg is bouncing uncontrollably, like it always does when I’m nervous.

  “Just a hunch.” Riley says quietly. She turns, and suddenly we’re heading down a street I’ve never seen anything like. On my right, there’s a large lake, and it’s beautiful. On my left, there are dozens and dozens of houses lined up, each house we pass better than the last. My hopes go up for a moment, and I think there really is still hope. But I lose it quickly, when I realize who I’ll be living with. My mother. The woman who abandoned me. Who abandoned Brielle. Riley’s the only one who really knows this woman, and insists on not telling me anything about her. Because Riley has lived with her this whole time. I’ve only just met Riley, less than two weeks ago. She showed up when she heard her long-lost father was in the hospital. Mother did not bother to show herself. I imagine she didn’t even care.

  Riley is pretty. She has long blonde hair and bright, big blue eyes. She isn’t tall, but she’s skinny. She could probably be a gymnast. She probably used to be. There are no signs of her being Irish at all, besides her name, which doesn’t say much because girls can be named Riley and not be Irish anyway.

  I, on the other hand, am tall. I have green eyes and a light sprinkle of freckles, and my hair is a bright red orange color. Brielle has the same color hair, but no freckles, and she’s still pretty short.

  Dad’s funeral was the worst. Brielle was balling in the front row, next to Grandma and Grandpa. Riley was sitting awkwardly on the other side of her, not sure of how she should feel, probably. She’s never met Dad.

  Everyone was crying but me, because I’d already cried myself to sleep every night prior to that day, and in that hospital room beside my frail father, on the rare occasions when it was just me and him alone in there, Brielle down in the cafeteria or with Grandma and Grandpa, or even when he was asleep and I was sitting on the couch watching him, thinking, Why do these terrible things have to happen to the good people of the world?

  I never did get my answer to that question.

  Grandma and Grandpa said they couldn’t take care of two children. I am not a child, I am seventeen and just graduated high school. But, Brielle is still fifteen, with a permit, so they would have to take care of her, and they couldn’t. They’re retired now, and they have been planning to sail around the world since the day they both turned forty. We couldn’t interfere.

  So, here we are, on our way to Mom’s with Riley. A young, mature woman we’ve never met before who claims to be our sister. We have no real basic way of making sure, so we’re going on instincts. We trust this girl.

  The house we arrive at is beautiful, as I’d predicted the moment we turned onto that street. It turns out it’s a very long, almost ever-lasting street of beauty, until you have to turn left at the end and you come onto a road that leads to another right turn, and you’re at an amusement park.

  I’m sitting up here on my balcony and I have a strange urge to go downstairs right now and talk to my mother. No, not my mother; Riley, maybe. Because I can confide in her, apparently. At least that’s what she told me. I would, and I probably should, but I just watched her leave, and I’m not going to talk to my mother. Not now.

  So I settle with going down to Brielle’s room.

  “What?” She calls after I knock on the door and let myself in. Her room is huge, too. All the rooms in this house are huge, I’ve noticed. It’s sort of weird, because in our old house, none of the rooms were big. Not even the living room. It was small. The biggest room in the house was our unfinished basement, where we never went. That was the place that held all of our keepsakes and things we never looked at anymore. Photo albums I’ve never seen. I wonder where they’ve all gone.

  “How are you doing?” I sit on her bed, opening myself up to her. Brielle turns around and looks at me as if I’m crazy, eyeing me suspiciously, before responding.

  “I’m pretty are you?” She says slowly.

  “Good.” We sit in silence for a bit. “How’s the unpacking going?”

  “It’s going.” I nod. She sighs. “Listen...could I, like, be alone for a bit...?” I stand up quickly, almost relieved.

  “Oh, alright. That’s fine, if you need anything, I’m upstairs. Across the attic, you know.” She nods. I leave. Shutting the door behind me, I lean back against it. My sister just kicked me out of her room so she could be alone. Brielle, otherwise known as the most outgoing girl I know. She loves attention and loves being with people.

  Before Dad died, that is.

  I walk downstairs and look around. The day is almost over, actually. It should be dinner time. I wonder what we’re eating.

  Walking into the kitchen, I smell something burning. There’s something in the oven, and it smells terrible. I quickly grab an oven mitt off the counter and open the oven, pulling out a large pan with a turkey in it, now burnt. I place it on a cloth set out on the counter and stare down at it. I hear someone gasp and look over.

  “Oh, no!” Mom gasps again, rushing over. She stares at the turkey, unsure of what needs to be done. “The turkey. Ah,” she starts to say something, but stops herself as she looks over at me. “Crap.” She says quickly.

  “Were you making dinner?” This is a stupid question, because she was quite obviously making dinner.

  She snorts. “Yeah. More like burning dinner, if you ask me.” I actually laugh at this, the first laugh I’ve had since Dad died. She shakes her head. “I’m a terrible cook. As long as you’re here, I might as well tell you this now, don’t expect a high-class meal, because that’s just not going to happen. Not unless your sister and Mark come over, that is. They’ve always got something nice out for us.” She sighs.

  Who’s Mark?

  “But Jodie and Justin can get quite aggressive, too, I should probably add. Just as a warning. They’re good kids, but they get a little... rowdy, sometimes.”

  Who are Jodie and Justin?

  “Jamie is a cutie pie, though. So adorable. One of the cutest babies I’ve ever laid eyes on.” Another sigh.

  Who is Jamie?

  Who are these people she’s talking about? And why have I never heard of them before?

  I guess I’m staring at her with an expression that gives away my thoughts, because suddenly her eyes go all wide.

  “Oh, shoot. I’m so sorry. Here, let me just...” Her voice trails off as she fumbles around the kitchen frantically, then stops and looks at me. “There’s a box. Upstairs, in the attic. Full of photo albums, from your house?” How did those get here? “I can’t believe he hasn’t told you anything- that doesn’t matter. Just go upstairs and look for the box marked with your name. That one belongs to you and Brielle.” She sighs. “I’ve got to get going on dinner.” Two seconds later it’s as if I don’t exist, as if I’m not even in the kitchen anymore. I excuse myself, feeling awkward again, and run upstairs. I stare at the attic door, a door that, for some reason, is smaller than all the other doors, thinner, like a closet door or pantry door might be. I open it slowly and step in, the wood creaking beneath my feet. It’s so different from the rest of the house. It’s dark, and covered in cobwebs. The rest of the house is white here, white there, white carpet, white tiled floors. The only color is the furniture. The walls up here, though, one is bright blue, one is bright red, one is yellow, and one is green. Lik
e a kid’s room, maybe.

  It takes me a while to find my box. It’s over against the wall, under a couple other old, dusty boxes. Then I see it, a big box with my name on it in a beautiful script that seems to glide across the flaps that hold the box shut. I notice that the tape has never been cut, which means the box has never been opened. How could this be? If it was from our house, wouldn’t we have opened at least once before? Or wouldn’t have Dad opened it? Even once?

  I hull the box into my room, because I don’t really want to sit in the attic looking through an old box. The thought just gives me the creeps. I put the box down and run downstairs to find something to open the box. I see Mom in the kitchen, still running around, so I let her be. I show myself to the garage, where there’s sure to be at least something sharp I can use. Luckily, there’s a pocket knife sitting on a shelf by the door. I grab it and run back upstairs without Mom even noticing me.

  I stop when I pass Brielle’s door. Would she want to see this? I peek in at what she’s doing. Nothing. Sitting on her bed doing nothing. Literally.

  “Um, Bri?” She looks up and sees me. “Do you wanna come up to my room with me? I, uh...I found something. In the attic.” She shrugs. “It’s from Dad’s house, Bri. We never opened it, because it was in the basement.” She stares at me with big eyes before getting up and following me up to my room. We each sit on one side of the box and stare at it for a moment before I slide the knife through the tape.

  Photo albums.

  “What are these?” She asks, clearly confused. We each grab one with a date on it, and I slowly open it.

  YEAR 1993, the front says. The first page there’s only one picture, and it’s of Mom at a younger age holding a baby in a pink blanket. She’s sitting in a hospital bed and she’s smiling down at the baby as if it’s the most beautiful thing she’s ever seen.

  The next two pages are full of pictures, none of which I recognize. She’s still holding the girl in her arms, smiling, but now she’s looking at the camera. She looks young and happy. Next to her is a little girl with long blonde hair, and she has the biggest smile on her face you’ve ever seen. She isn’t very old, maybe three or four. The next picture is of her holding the little baby on a hospital chair, with Grandma beside her, smiling.


  Then there’s another picture, one I recognize. A picture of Dad holding the baby. But, this one is different, because this picture was framed in my Dad’s room. He’s holding me in the picture. I look at the other pictures. Yes, it’s the same child.

  So these pictures are of me?

  There’s one last one, on a page all by itself. Mom is holding me in her arms, with the little blonde girl beside her. Dad is on the other side of her, with his arm around Mom. Grandma and Grandpa are on each side of the picture, Grandma behind Dad, Grandpa behind the blonde girl.

  Is the blonde girl... Riley?

  This picture comes with a description, in the same script that was on the box.

  The day my baby girl, Teagon, was born. One of the happiest days of my life, let me tell you. No drugs were involved in the birth. Date: February 28, 1993. Picture: Me, Claire Harrison, holding Teagon Harrison, Riley Harrison, first born daughter beside me (right). Phillip Harrison to beside me (left). Hannah Harrison behind Phillip Harrison. John Harrison behind Riley Harrison. One big happy family.

  I close the album and grab a new one with the date 1996.

  The first picture is of me and Mom. I’m standing there with some of my hair in a little ponytail, the rest hanging down. My eyes are squinted but you can still see that they’re a bright green color you almost couldn’t believe was possible. I barely have any freckles yet. My hands are clasped in front of me and I have the biggest smile on my face. Beside me, Mom is squatting, her hair down and blown out of her face. She still looks young. The grass below us is green and healthy.

  The next picture is of me and Riley. Either she hasn’t grown since the last picture or I’m already growing, because we’re the same height. I look the same, except not as cheesy in this one, just happy, like a little sister is around their older sister. Riley has her hair in a loose low ponytail. It’s long and blonde, almost down to her butt. She’s completely adorable, with big blue eyes and naturally pink lips. She’s smiling big. We’re standing in front of a tree.

  There’s another one of Mom lounging on a lawn chair on a patio area. She’s holding a baby up in front of her, making a cute face at the child, probably trying to make her laugh. She looks happy.

  Then I see one with me and Dad. We’re both sitting on some wooden steps, and there’s a blur in the top corner of the picture, above me. Dad’s in the middle of saying something, and he’s pointing at the camera. I’m laughing, reaching for the camera eagerly. Right after that one there’s a better one, Dad hugging me, still sitting on the steps. We’re both smiling at the camera. The blur in the picture is gone. I guess it was Mom’s finger or something.

  I can tell they wanted to get every single picture and memory into these albums, because after a few other nice pictures, there’s a zoomed-in picture of Riley’s face, all scrunched-up and excited that she’s getting her picture taken. That one makes me want to laugh.

  But I quickly realize that I can’t, because I’m actually crying.

  I look up at Brielle. She’s crying, too. She quickly wipes her eyes and puts the album she was looking at back. She gets up and leaves. I want to call out to her, to tell her to wait, to sit and talk to me, to tell me what she thought of the pictures. But I can’t. All that comes out is a hiccup-like sound that I can’t explain, and then more tears.

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