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By Rachel Diener
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2013 Rachel Diener
All rights reserved.
Gasping, there was only darkness to hold on to. Water filled my lungs. Legs and arms doing nothing to help pull me to the surface. Hair washed in front of my face to leave me temporarily blind. Above glistened the moon with a shade of silver. It stood at my targeted hope.
Looking down there was nothing. Only death. Darker than the night sky with no stars to glow protection from harm. Until my anchor came into view.
It was my father.
Fingers pale as bleach held tightly on to my foot, feeling colder than the melted ice we were sinking into. Eyes of frozen fear bulged out of their sockets. A screech was belted out only to be have been filled with salty sea water.
Grabbing and tugging I tried to pry the hand off, but there was no budge. The moonlight began to fade away as we sunk to my watery grave.
I shot up in my bed. Pleading for air my fingers clawed to my neck. Relieved, shattered breaths choked out. It was only a dream.
Damp sheets from sweat sat under me. My forehead felt cold on the back of my hand with chills running down my spine. The temperature switched from hot to cold. A blanket wrapped around me but then the burn of hot flashes took over. Frustrated, I tossed the blanket.
Leaping out of bed the clock blinked 2:19 am. The window framed a full moon hanging in the twinkled sky covered with slashes of gray dust. The moonlight shined into my room, making all of my walls an airy silver, looking vacant and numb. Those chills spiked in my body again. The blanket wrapped around my shoulders.
Turning on the bedside lamp I pulled my laptop onto my lap. A double click on Start. Click on Videos. Pressed Play.
Wiping sleepy eyes I thought back to the car crash about a month ago. Fuck cows. They didn't need to live. Who needs milk, or beef, anyways?
In the living room with Mom watching whatever was on TV the phone rang. Mom got up from the couch and answered the phone. Greeting with a strong and happy voice it suddenly turned frantic. She asked in a horse shudder what happened before tears soaked her cheeks.
Quickly, I rushed to her side. "Mom, what's going on?" Her body quivered under my touch. With her hand on mine she looked at me with hazel eyes. A groggy thank you came out of her mouth before hanging up.
Walking blindly to the couch I helped her sit down. A small pool of tears soaked through the carpet.
"Mom, what's the matter?" My voice was shaky. A knot formed in my stomach. The only thing that could have made her act this way was death, but my mind couldn't bring that up. Mentally, I wasn't prepared for this.
"Your father," she answered, gulping with a dry mouth. Her eyes kept to the floor. "Your father ... is ... Dead."
"What ...?" A wave of fear plus anger, and a cold sweat, swept over me in half a second.
There it was. The one thing on the top of my list of most awful things that could happen.
This couldn't have happened, though. Dead? That wasn't possible. Dad couldn't die. He was dad. Dads were suppose to be the strongest men that a little girl knew. They could fight through anything. They couldn't go anywhere except work and dinner dates with Mom. That's how it worked.
I stood there for a few seconds, trying to get everything that was reality into my brain before busting up to my bedroom.
Slamming the door it echoed between my ear drums, the walls vibrating. I wept, slumming down to the ground against the door. My knees pulled in to my chest trying to constrict myself into a ball. I wanted to go away, to hide somewhere, and wait for him to come back so he could make me waffles in the morning like every Sunday.
I knew that my mom was bereft and so was I. My heart sank down into my butt where it hid in the basement. It felt weak, yet heavy, where a hole began to form. Anger, sadness, every emotion was beginning to come up all together.
Blinking, the world went back to the facts of existence. At the computer screen my dad and I were making macaroni art like any other three year old. Glue smeared all over a piece of paper. Macaroni was put in random places with glitter, beads, and other things I could stick to glue. He gave me a huge smile, along with a big hug as my macaroni art was plastered to the fridge.
The laptop slapped shut. Wiping a fictiontious tear I looked at my dry hand. I hadn't cried ever since the night of the accident. Cliché as it sounded, I was all dried up. Nothing else was in me anymore.
My bed sat in the middle of my four wall extent with it's crumpled sheets and stain smeared pillows. It was three o'clock in the morning. Sighing, I went over to the window sill that was full of pillows covering the piece of wood, making it just bearable. Dad wasn't very much of a handy man when it came to lumber. A blanket wrapped around me, even though it was the start of June.
No clouds dusted the night sky. All of the stars ever made were visible. The heavy ball of pounded ground graced against the open area. Even though it was dazzling the moon still seemed cold. Crickets chirped in the grass below. An owl hooted in the big tree. The air started to feel stale. Opening the window, my lungs filled with a clean supply.
A blunt found its way to lips from my bag. The tip lit from a lighter's magic. Smoke drizzled down my lungs like acid hovering over a land fill with just one quick inhale. My senses were easing down, slowly getting to know what it felt like to be calm and peaceful again.
A few more hits and the moon started to turn into a radiant purple. Smothered by the warm air the softness of violet burst into the sky like a blow horn. Maybe it wasn't actually becoming purple. Dreaming was probably what I was doing. The joint just knocked me out it was so strong, or blended with some type of acid.
An alarm clock screamed at me. Startled, I lost my balance and fell off of the window seat. It was just another day of school. A grunt was let out before I dropped my head to the floor. I was not wanting to go one more day of having to face boredom. Watching the superficial, clone look-a-like, drama dragging kids that had to be at that school wasn't entertainment. And I had to share a building with them?
A grin smeared my face.
It was the last day. Last day of being a junior in high school. Last day before running away from textbooks and into the world of freedom. Leaping off the ground like a ninja I headed towards the bathroom. Mary Jane was still between my fingers. I tossed her in the trash as the water in the shower heated.
The shower was probably a world winning record if I had timed it. A pair of jeans, a T-shirt, and some socks covered my body. A hoodie was snatched from the edge of my bed my messenger bag pulled over my head.
Light brown and covered in pins and drawings it never described anyone more than my dad. It was a birthday gift when I turned thirteen. It was love at first sight. It was old, dusty, and used. Things that came from the heart and had a history with it were always the most desirable. So many stoned, adventurous stories soaked in the fibers of my dad's teenage years like coca cola stains.
Entering the hallway I stopped at the picture of my parents on their wedding day. He always gave a big smile when anyone walked by. In the kitchen Mom stood in her stifle lawyer position, reading over files.
Someone might wonder how a nurse and a lawyer had gotten together. How would they have the impeccable time to even do anything? Or even conceive a human being? They certainly did it because some how I am standing on this earth. But my father wasn't like a brain surgeon. He worked with the patients in the intensive care/burn unit while Mom was just a small one town lawyer working on getting known.
Mom's professional look was classy to say she was ready to kick ass in the court room. Her caramel colored hair set up in a business type bun. Her identical nose crinkled in annoyance.
Her welcoming was much more cheery than mine. "Good morning, Cas."
While sipping the last drop of her coffee and quickly closing her folder she slashed on her brief case. "I'm sorry, but I've got to leave early for a 7:30 meeting. See you after school, alright?"
"Have a good last day."
She was headed out the door into her clean silver Mercedes. For a mom that is a lawyer and a dad who was a nurse, we had pretty good money. But they never spoiled me. Working as hard as they do was always on the parenting packet.
In the cupboard a box was pop-tarts were hunted down. One was put in the toaster. I retreated over to my backpack. Grabbing out my Government book I had to study at least once for my final exams. There were only three exams left out of six. Thank God.
The pop-tart hopped out of the toaster. Bouncing the hot pastry in my hand the clock ticked to warn me I was late. My mouth was filled with pop-tart as I grabbed my bag, pulled on my shoes, and went out the door.
A 1965 cream beetle waited in the driveway. It was a bit beat up, but perfect. I bought it with my own money last year before the big one six.
The pop-tart still hung in my mouth as I backed up to head to Jen's. She was only a few blocks away, but couldn't drive this month. Getting caught by the 'rents with pot usually seemed to open a free jail cell at the home. I felt guilty since it was my pot she was holding. For the next two weeks I offered to be her cab driver, free of charge.
We lived in the All American suburbs. My house was similar to hers. The only difference was the mail box number and the color of doors. Anyone could get lost in here if they turned down the wrong block. Feeling like a trapped mouse going through a maze was the usual.
I hadn't noticed before, but the house kind of had a face to it, like it was alive or something. One of their blinds were broken in the window, making the giant face wink at me.
Honking my horn twice the radio sparked on and some rap music began yelling at me. I couldn't really tell the difference between one rap song to the next. They all sounded the same. Turning the dial my ears found a station that I was sure was none of Jen's taste. It made me happy.
The Swine's front door opened. Jennifer came walking out. She's your average-big boobed, average sized waist kind of girl. Long black hair, brown eyes, pink rosy lips, and a little nose covered her head. Her skin was an olive color and her hips were so curvy that they could make any guy swoon when she walks pass. We became friends in the third grade. She offered me a cookie on the swing set where the rest is history.
She jumped in the car, put on her seat belt, and starred straight ahead. Her lips were motionless, not puking out words. Not even her shoulders were relaxed.
I looked at her while the car was put in reverse. She still wouldn't look in my direction with her arms paralyzed to her sides. They weren't even crossed.
No response. Not even a blink of her eyes.
"Jennifer? Heeeyyyy ..." Summoning her was defeated by silence. "Talk, or you won't be able to ride with me for the summer. You'll be fucked."
"It's my parents." she finally surrendered with a tone of annoyance.
I turned down the main street to school. "And why are you mad at your parents?" I asked. A minute passed with no response. Now I was getting annoyed.
"Well, I got a text this morning from Tim Ryan. And he asked me out."
"Cool." I complimented. "Who's Tim Ryan?"
Her eyes starred at me with disbelief. She couldn't understand how I only knew a few people. "He sits five seats behind you in History."
I nodded, almost getting the picture.
"And no. Not cool."
"Because my parent's won't approve."
"What? Tim is a great guy ...?" In reality, I had no idea who the dude actually was.
Wait, now I remembered who he was. He was always reading Lord of the Rings and I only talked to him once last year to borrow a pencil. But I always did admire the way he put on his glasses backwards as if it was a new fashion statement.
"Well, they found out I went way over their credit card I stole a few weeks ago. They even mentioned that I need a job."
I wasn't surprised that she stole her parent's cards, again. "Oh, no. A job? What are you ever going to do?" I asked sarcastically.
"Oh, shut up." She smiled with a laugh.
"Well, hey, a job isn't that bad. I have one."
"Yeah, but you work at a hardware store. Seems kind of stupid to me."
"It's okay. We can go job hunting after school. Alright? And my job isn't that bad. I'm just a box boy, I guess. It isn't even that hard."
"Okay, whatever. You know, even if I do get a job, I don't think I'm going to go out with Tim."
"Well I only asked my parent's just to see their reaction to a guy asking me out."
"You're an instigator."
"Are not!" Jen looked at the stereo and pointed to it with an ugly look. "What the hell are we listening to, anyways?"
I shrugged. "A radio station."
"This stuff is crap!" The station turned.
"You always think my taste is crap."
She reached out from her pouting crouch as if she had an idea that could blow anyone's mind. "Also," she slunk back down in the seat just a second later. "They found the pot that was hidden in my room, too. Another reason why I am grounded."
"Yeah, I know." I answered. "You told me last week. That's why I am giving you a ride to school."
"Right. Good stuff by the way. He sells some nice green."
"At least you got to have some before your parents stole it from you." I was really disappointed that I hadn't gotten any. And for that, Jennifer now has to pay me gas money.
"I heard he was a good dealer. I've never seen that guy around our school though. Is he new?"
"Naw, he just stays in the dark corners and cracks of the building. Only pops out to sell his mind soothing pot."
"I bet he sells kid's organs on the side."
"Mmmm, organs ..."
We both laughed.
Jen's laughter went down. "Oh, by the way, I am really sorry and I will pay you back." She had her eyes down. Something was hidden deep under her apology.
"And I promise, promise to pay you back." She pleaded again as she held up her hands in defeat.
"Jen, what did you do?!"
"It wasn't me, it was my parents."
My face fell flat. "What ..."
I waited for her to continue with the apology.
"When they found the pot they flushed it down the toilet." Jen instantly cringed as if I was going to punch her in the face.
"Jennifer!" Her name blew up like a bomb from my lips.
"Jesus!" Pounding the wheel I turned the corner, entering to a stop light.
"I'll pay you back." she pleaded for the fourth time.
"Bet'r." I growled back. I was disgusted that I thought that Jen could keep my things secret in her house when her mother always snoops around like a detective trying to solve a crime. Thanks to Jennifer, and her parents, for making me waste 75 bucks. Now it was making fish have their own whacked hallucinations.
I turned into the parking lot of school. There weren't really that many kids, maybe about 600 in the whole building, so there was definitely parking spots to choose from each morning.
Getting out with my bag flipped over my shoulder there was Aaron Hysman standing right in front of me, almost breathing my air. Products glazed over his hair that made him look like he was trying to hard. He and I had a short thing at a party once. Sure, I took his virginity with the help of him being drunk and me being baked, but he took it more than just a one night stand. The word 'dating' sometimes came into awkward conversations between us and for some reason Aaron didn't catch on what the word 'no' meant. He was just there when my needs needed to be met. Even though he didn't fulfill it with such satisfaction.
"Hey, Cassie. How's it going?" his voice almost nasally. Smiling like a Prozac druggie he bounced on his heels. Caring for him was on the bottom of my list.
"Hey Aaron." I crept away to the front entrance. "Nothing much going on here. What about you?" We headed up to the main entrance. Jen was right next to me, grinning huge. I knew she liked him. But I was never going to say anything about it. I really tried to make sure that Aaron looked her way. People looking at me for a long period of time wasn't something I called enjoyable.
"Well, nothing really. You glad that it's finally the last day of school? I am." He blabbered on like a nervous wreck. Aaron hesitated for a moment. "Hey, I was just wondering, do you maybe wanna-"
The bell rang.
Aaron looked up at the school wondering why on earth the bell would ring at such a bad time for him. I on the other hand was overly glad.
"Aaron, listen I've got to go. How about we talk later, okay?"
His tone was dour. "Oh, yeah, um, sure."
A sigh of relief let go under my breath. I loved the guy for his determination, but once he talked constantly about the most obscene topics, it gets a little irritating. I shook my head at the question that I knew he was going to ask.
Excerpted from Drift by Rachel Diener. Copyright © 2013 Rachel Diener. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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