• Chapter 1: Lonesome

    One teardrop hit my knee. I watched it roll down my leg and fall to the blue comforter that was wrapped around my ankles.
    Stop it! I commanded myself. Feeling sorry for myself would not do any good because when I was done my situation would still be the same, crying would do nothing. I wiped the wet streaks from my face, blinked my eyes a few times and slipped out of my bed. I had chores to do and I was determined to not screw it up this time.
    First I gathered up my laundry, my niece’s and nephew’s laundry and tossed it into the large blue bucket in the hall way. When it was full I carried it off to the laundry room and put a load in. I went to my room and cleaned. I had not cleaned my room in a good month and it seriously needed it. My bed was unmade, there were clean clothes thrown everywhere, my bed was crooked and my bedside table was turned sideways. It took me two hours to get it all cleaned up. I stood in my doorway and surveyed my work, perfect. Then I realized that it was silent, it took only a moment to realize what was missing; the washer was no longer running. Dang it, I’ve forgotten the laundry, again. Why could I never learn? No wonder my sister didn’t think I could be responsible.
    Okay for you confused readers: I live with my sister, Lisa, her husband Levi, their six-year-old son, Jake and Jenna, their two-year-old daughter. I have lived with her since June 8, 2005, that’s two years. My mother, Anita, and I have never gotten along well, but in the last few years before I moved she had started drinking more. She has always been an alcoholic, a mean alcoholic. Whenever she gets drunk her temper flairs and she yells about everything and occasionally becomes violent, and most of the time her temper was, and still is, directed at me. Everything is always my fault. So two years ago, after a particularly nasty fight, my sister asked me if I wanted to live with her. Of course I was thrilled; I mean I love Lisa more than anyone else on the planet. I immediately told her that if she could get my mother to agree that I would move in tomorrow-only the tomorrow part being a joke. She called up my mother and made it sound like it was for her. She said that “it will be better for you, if you didn’t have to worry about Nikki then you could get a life, and besides if the two of you did not live in the same house then you might be able to salvage what’s left of your relationship. If you two weren’t always fighting over stupid stuff then you could focus on the important stuff, besides, mom, you need a brake.” Lisa, God bless her, got my mother to agree, and so I moved in with her, Levi, and Jake. I have lived there ever since. Now it is June 12, 2007 and I am fifteen, as of April 13.
    I had finished switching out the laundry and so I went to go drain the pool since it had turned green with algae. On the way out I passed a floor length mirror. I paused looking at my reflection. The girl I saw standing there was around 5’6”. She had lightly tanned skin, the girl there was slender but not pretty, she had sad green eyes framed by short lashes and curly brown hair with a touch of red. Her lips were a dull red and her forehead seemed to be bigger than her whole face, though I knew it wasn’t really that big. I sighed. It was no wonder no one talked to me and those who did often ditched me. Stop it, right now! I found myself telling myself for the second time that day. I moved on to outside.
    I wandered the yard until I found the water hose that had the pool drain on it. I connected the drain to the pool and drug the hose to the back of the yard, letting the water pour out.
    I made my way to the house, collapsing on the couch once inside. My depression griped me again as I thought of my friend Jessica Newman who had ditched me for one of her other friends, leaving me alone.
    Lisa and Levi were both at work and it was my week off so my niece and nephew were at Roxanne’s house. During the summer I watched Jake and Jenna every other week and Roxanne watched them the opposite weeks. Roxanne was Lisa’s best friend.
    I thought about Jessica having fun with whom ever she was with. It made me angry. I am a person too. I deserve to be treated like one, not tossed to the side like nothing. The depression and self-pity had faded in wake of anger.
    I stormed outside, slowing only enough to grab my phone and a bottle of water. I started running once I got outside until I reached the tree line behind my house. Once in the trees I followed the slightly worn path that I had carved over the years. The path led to a meadow in the forest, but I didn’t want to go there so instead I veered off the path. I slipped between the trees, ducked under the thorny vines and jumped back and forth from side to side across the creak, forgetting my troubles. I was always happy and free under the leafy green of the forest. It wasn’t long before the creak led me past the cave I had been looking for. I slipped inside, and I do mean slipped, the entrance was blocked by vines and to try to move them would be stupid. They were all tangled in each other so I could only slip in between them. The cave was dark, but not so dark that I couldn’t see the slight shape of the sleeping wolves curled in the back. Yes, I said wolves. They are some of the only friends that I have.
    There are three of them, Gris, who was mostly grey with a little black, Blanco, who was completely white, and Shadow, who was black. I had found them a few months after I moved here. One of them, Gris, had been injured. I had tended to him for the weeks while his paw healed. During those weeks all three wolves had come to trust me. I told them everything. They were more intelligent than wolves should have been. When I talked they stared at me intently, listening to my every word. I’d sit in this cave for hours stroking their fur, sometimes laying with them, and occasionally playing with them.
    As I entered the cave they began to wake. Shadow howled slightly upon seeing me. I walked over to where they were snuggled. I sang to my knees, which hurt so I shifted so that I was sitting on my butt, legs crossed.
    Shadow came over to me, and as usual licked my cheek.
    “Hey guys, and girl.” I said looking at Blanco. She nuzzled my out-stretched hand.
    Shadow had his head in my lap, as usual. Blanco and Gris were on either side of me. They were watching me intently. I sighed.
    “Am I so horrible that my own friends don’t want to be around me?” I asked them, my tone caught between sadness and anger. Shadow whined in protest and Blanco nuzzled my arm. Gris looked at me with his large, sad eyes, and licked me. I smiled appreciatively. “I am so mad at Jessica! I was supposed to go to her house and swim today, but I called her this morning and she told me that one of her other friends wanted her to go ice skating. ‘I am so sorry’ she told me. Yeah, right, and I am the most popular person in school.” Extreme sarcasm. I was one of the least popular people in school. I had two supposed friends, the one who had just ditched me and one I had not heard from all summer and who wouldn’t return my phone calls. “My only friends are wolves. You guys are the only ones I can trust. You haven’t ditched me, and you’ve been putting up with me for two years. Thank you so much for that.”
    I was sitting there stroking them when suddenly my phone went off. I answered it and heard the soft, but stern voice of Lisa.
    “I am just walking out the door. I’ll be home in a little bit, do you have something laid out for dinner?” Upon hearing her voice my eyes widened and I thought, oh, crap, I didn’t finish my chores!
    “Um…I was thinking we could have spaghetti.” A complete lie, I hadn’t even thought about dinner.
    “Okay,” she said brightly. “I’ll be home in a little while.”
    “Okay, bye.” I flipped my phone shut, jumping up.
    “Sorry guys. I have to go, Lisa is on her way home and I have to finish my chores.” I dashed out of the cave, not paying attention, so naturally I got a few thorns in me. As I was running through the trees I realized that I would not get there before Lisa. The store that she worked at was only ten minutes from our house; she would get there like ten, fifteen minutes before me. I am so dead! I thought as I thundered through the trees.
    What surprised me, though, was the fact that she was just pulling up as I burst through the trees. Then I remembered Jake and Jenna, of course she would have to pick them up on the way home. I dashed to the back door, forgetting that I had never unlocked it. I sighed in defeat as I walked to the front door. Now not only would I get in trouble for not cleaning the kitchen, but I would get in trouble for going into the forest, which was absolutely forbidden.
    “So do you care to explain to me what was so important that you didn’t finish your chores?” She asked before I had even shut the front door.
    “Um…I didn’t not finish my chores, just the kitchen.” I was trying to distract her from the fact that I had been outside.
    “No,” she said. “You didn’t finish the laundry either,” I could here the anger in her voice now. “And why were you outside, in the forest? You are mistaken if you think I didn’t see you run from the forest.” My heart was thumping in anticipation of my punishment. I could feel my palms starting to sweat.
    “Um…” I knew I couldn’t tell her I had stormed off because I was upset that I had been ditched. She wouldn’t understand, nor would she think it a good reason for going into the forest. She was completely against the forest for some reason she never told me. “…I was bored.”
    “That is no excuse! You know better. No music, reading-that means writing, and no television until you can prove to me that you can be responsible.” I hung my head. She had just taken everything important to me, except for the TV, I never watched TV.
    She shook her head and went into her room to change out of her heels and work clothes. Jake and Jenna had gone into their room so I was standing in the kitchen alone. I sighed and got started on the dishes. I had ruined yet another mood for her. Over the phone, before she had gotten home and seen my unfinished chores, she had been perfectly happy. What is wrong with me, why can’t I do anything right? My so-called friends don’t want to be around me and now I’ve gone and made my sister mad at me. I could feel my eyes filling up with tears.
    I finished the dishes and started boiling some water and heating the sauce. I put some French bread in the oven along with the frozen meatballs.
    My brother-in-law, Levi, got there just as I was pulling everything off and out of the stove. I could tell by the stern look he gave upon entering the house that Lisa had already told him about my being in trouble-he always called her once he left the store and they usually talked until he walked in the door.
    Dinner was a stony silence, at least for me-Jake and Jenna were always talking. As soon as I finished I rinsed my plate and went to my room. I flopped onto my bed. Immediately I called my latest story to mind and let the story run in my head, eventually I fell asleep. I woke to Levi’s soft, deep voice murmuring in my ear.
    “Come on, get up. You have to do your chores. Your sister will be very mad if you don’t do them before you go to bed.” I was required to clean the kitchen after every meal. I groaned and sat up.
    “Alright, I’m coming.” I reluctantly walked to the kitchen to complete my chores. Thirty minutes later I was crawling into bed.