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Author's Note:
If you find this to be a bit convuluted, it is partly because this is a part of a novel in which I'm trying to write. This part is where the protagonist speaks about her past like a mini story, so it shouldn't be too hard to follow. Thank you for the review.






"You've got to leave with me. Look, Nerissa! He never made you bleed before!" I exclaimed.

"It was an accident. He didn't mean to, Kia."

"Kiiaaannnaaa! Get out here and help me with these groceries!" Sandy yelled. I could hear her lugging plastic bags through the front door.

As I cleaned a gash on her back, Nerissa looked back at me with wide eyes. "She's back! Did she say groceries?"

"At least it's not crack," I said, disgusted. If Mom can spend her life with her friends, then I'm sure as hell going to take my sweet time. I put down the bottle of hydrogen peroxide and dabbed the wound with a cotton ball. So, he's finally made one of us bleed. He's taking his problems out on us, Nerissa, can't you see? He doesn't love us, why can't you believe me?

Nerissa made quick seething sounds and began flapping her feet against the mattress. "It burns! It burns!"

"Don't be such a baby."

"Hey, I barely cried when it happened." She laid her cheek against the old mattress and looked into the wall, as if she was replaying an event that had made cuts and bruises on more places than just her body.

"Ok, ok." I gently blew at the wound to ease the burn. Finally, I placed a piece of gauze over the gash, taped it down, and patted Nerissa's back. "All done."

"Kiana! Get out of your fucking room and help me!"

Christ, why the hell does she even bother coming back? She's never home when it actually counts. I jumped off the bed and paced towards the door.

"Kia?" Nerissa calld as she put on a faded shirt. "Do you think Mom will stay tonight?" She sat on the edge of the bed, arms hugging her legs to her chest.

She wouldn't stay even if someone paid her to do it. I couldn't help but roll my eyes, "Like that ever mattered. I'll be back soon." For someone who has gone through the things she did, it's unbelievable that she can still be that innocent. Then again, some of that innocence didn't come for free. But it's better I pay the price--better me than her. I let out a heavy sigh and left.

Suddenly, I heard the front door slam shut, sending rumbling vibrations across the living room windows.

"Nice to see you around," I said sharply as I paced into the living room.

"Watch the attitude, girl." Her eyes didn't even meet mine. All she did was light a cigarette.

"Nerissa's bleeding! I'm the one taking care of her. Where were you when she needed you?"

Sandy blew smoke over my head.

"Hey, don't smoke in here." I reached for the cigarette.

Sandy lifted her hand out of my reach. "What are you, my mother now?"

"Don't smoke around my sister."

"Fine, fine. You win," she said, going back to the porch.

Yeah, it was so nice to see that she was doing well. She had the same slender body, long legs, and jet-black hair that streamed around her shoulders--the perfect oriental beauty had her skin not been ghost pale. I could tell without looking behind the shades that her eyes were bloodshot. Her nose was running, despite the fact that it was the middle of the summer, and the onslaught of her current lover's cologne didn't hide the fact that they were getting high again. Of course, she would try to cloak it and, knowing her, nothing she wore was ever cheap--they were unmistakably designer brands. With dark sunglasses that masked her eyes and a summer dress that flowed with the breeze, she looked as carefree as I've ever seen her. For the fourteen years of my life, this was my mother who hasn't done a damn thing to contribute to the role.

The urge to stare into her eyes has never been so strong. I found my fingers itching to rip the sunglasses off her face. How can she be so carefree when the rest of us were suffering?

Seeing Sandy cast against the summer scenery outside, I couldn't help but feel as if I was looking at a painting--she was distant, inaccessible--and I was hurt and angry, and a million things in between. She didn't fit in with the neighborhood, which was middle-class, calm, orderly. The sun was shining outside, making the flowers glow with colors. Trees outlined the curve of the road and swayed with the breeze. Several kids skated down the street as an older couple jogged with their dogs. Sometimes I wondered if our house was the only black hole in this place.

I bent down to pick up all three bags of groceries and brought them inside.

"Hey, you missed one."

"You get it," I smirked. Avoiding the shattered beer bottles that littered the carpet, I tiptoed to the dining room. As I walked through the room, I couldn't help but look at it with disdain. The close drapes kept any light from shining through, making the place look even more dilapidated. After setting the bags on the table, I turned the two chairs that were knocked over from last night back upright. After all, I didn't want to give Sandy any ammo to bitching.

Sandy took one last drag before smashing it onto the floor, which was already a sea of cigarette butts. She grabbed the bag and paced into the room. As she dropped it on the table, she made a noticeable effort to swallow the anger. What resurfaced was a forced composure as she took off her sunglasses and shook her hair loose. This act was a habit, but one that caught the eyes of many. "This shithole never looks any better," she sighed as she ran her fingers through her silky hair.

What the hell was she complaining about? She doesn't even live here anymore. But then, why would she when she has other people's beds to run to?

"Where's your father?"

I leaned over the table and asked suspiciously as I shuffled through the groceries, "Where'd you get all this food?"

Sandy took the food from the bags and marked to the kitchen, tossing them into the refrigerator. "Michelle."

"Who's she?"

Silence.

"A friend of mine."

I restrained myself from asking "Just a friend?" and settled for, "You're not staying tonight, are you?"

Sandy stiffened at the question, as if she could feel the weight of my glare pushing against her back, and she quickly waved the question aside, "I asked you a question, where is your father?"

A tension of silence suspended in the air. I sat on the chair and watched her fix a meal for herself in the kitchen. She placed a pot over the stove, plopped tomato soup from a can into it and stirred rigidly. After this meal, she would leave like she always did, but nevertheless, I could feel her evasion fuel something within me. "He's not here if that's what you mean. So don't worry, I'm sure you'll be long gone before he gets back," I spat.

Suddenly, Sandy slammed the cover shut onto the pot, whirled around and yelled, "I'm bringing food home, aren't I? What more do you kids want? I bring homes clothes and toys... I don't make rules like most moms do! Hell, some kids don't even have moms!"

Her voice became one indiscernible blur as she listed away her goodwill. So what if she brings us clothes, toys, or food? She's supposed to do that! And it's not like she did these things because she was worried about us. She never gave a damn about us! Only herself! The only reason she came back was because she had another guilt trip. She doesn't care what he does to Nerissa... what he does to me! Isn't that right, Mom? Hatred seared through my body as I shook from the effort it took to keep from strangling her, but then I lashed out before I could stop myself, "How 'bout being a goddamn mother! Or let him fuck you for once!"

"I don't need this...I don't need this!" Sandy stomped towards me and grabbed her purse and sunglasses. "This is exactly why I shouldn't come back! Nobody appreciates anything I do!"

"What you do?!" I jumped off the chair, threw off my shirt and screamed, "Can't you just look at me? Look at Nerissa! You know what he does!"

But Sandy never looked. Instead, she grabbed her things and stormed towards the door. "Everything I do is NEVER enough!"

"This is your fucking family!" Each step of her stomping away echoed louder and louder in my mind. "MOM!" No matter how many times this has happened, I could never get used to the feeling that a part of my world was being ripped away from me again. "It's not like you cared about us anyway!" My chest heaved as tears welled in my eyes. "Mom," I sobbed wistfully, "don't leave."

Under her breath she muttered "ungrateful sluts" before slamming the door shut and disappearing into the world outside.

As her footsteps grew faint, the undercurrent of utter desolation washed over me and my legs gave way. I crumbled down against the kitchen wall and hugged my legs close. Why doesn't she at least try to understand? I reached for the box of cookies that was knocked off the table and launched it across the room. There was little satisfaction in watching it shatter all over the place.

The sound of children laughing and chasing an ice cream truck outside seeped in with the breeze. Closer than that, a small voice called my name.

"Kia?"

A pair of small feet stood before me. Nerissa handed over my shirt and sat down beside me. She laid her head on my shoulder as we sat in silence.

I wiped my nose and tears away along my arm. Everything's okay, everything's okay, everything's going to be okay. The summer breeze that came through the window brushed along our faces and dried my tears. Everything will be okay.

------
Stephanie W.



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The following comments are for "Reminiscence - Kiana's Past - Pt. 1"
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