by rugal b.
K.C. gets an unexpected visitor.
|A girl showed up at my door one day. Her brown hair hung loosely around her face, her eyes were red with sadness and she appeared shy and withdrawn.
Sure it had been a while since the last time I’d seen Jelena – about nine months all told since I’d bolted home – but the person that was standing in front of me was almost unrecognizable compared to the gilded girl I’d left behind: golden smile, golden personality, golden everything. I saw none of that.
I had no real idea as to what was going on beyond a call she’d made to me about an hour earlier asking if it was okay if she came over. I’d said it was fine, of course, thinking she’d just wanted to hang out. Imagine my surprise when I saw her walk through the doorway with a backpack and a couple of bags all looking like they were ready to burst.
“How’d you get here? Mom and dad give you a ride?” I asked, not really being sure of what else to say after inviting her in.
Jelena looked at me with those reddened eyes before shaking her head. “I got one from Nancy and her boyfriend,” she answered.
“Okay so what’s all this then?” I asked, gesturing towards the bags she’d just placed on the floor.
Nothing was said for a moment until she finally broke the silence. “You’re going to let me live with you right?” she asked. “I can stay here?”
“Whoa whoa whoa, hold up! Live here? You’ve got a home you know.”
She didn’t say anything but instead just walked across the living room over to the sofa and flopped down. “Do you have classes or anything in the morning?” she asked.
“Like at ten. What’s it matter?”
“I need a ride to school,” she said through a yawn as she closed her eyes.
“What the fuck, Jelena?!” I exclaimed as I stomped over to the couch. “I said you could come over. I didn’t say you could stay over. If you’re going to sleep do it at home.”
“Can’t,” she muttered. “I don’t have a home.”
I looked at her, an uncomfortably silent time passing as my brain tried to process what she’d said. I took a few steps over to the love seat and sat down. I continued to look at my sister for a moment or two unsure of what to really say. Had something happened to Mom and Dad? Had something happened between her and them? Was she just messing around with me? I wanted to ask her but before I could even get the chance I heard her breathing change and I knew she was out.
Whatever was going on with her had left her exhausted.
Knowing I wasn’t going to be getting any clarification I eventually pushed myself up off the love seat in frustration. I trudged back to my room. Grabbing my purse off the bed I took a cigarette from the pack I’d dug out, grabbed the lighter off the nightstand and headed outside. I stood there against the garage silently taking drags before lights from a car turning into the driveway made me throw an arm up to block it out. I saw a silhouette exit the car as the lights cut off.
“Everything good K?” asked the voice belonging to that silhouette.
“You look pissed. Was I supposed to grab food?”
I glared at Zoe Sabin, my best friend since I don’t even know when, for a moment before shaking my head. “It’s fine. Just that my sister’s over,” I stated trying my best to sound neutral. To alleviate Zoe’s concerns that I was pissed at her I guess.
“Yell? It’s been, what, graduation since I last saw her? How is she?”
“Passed out on the couch,” I answered as I took another drag. I offered the smoke to Zoe but she demured.
“Scored some off of Lina,” she said with a smile, one that always looked a bit weird on her otherwise Debbie Downer face, as she pulled a baggie out of the pocket on her hoodie. “So what’s up with Yell? Is she just staying the night?”
“If I can make her go back,” I told her. “But she was saying muttering about ‘oh I don’t have a home’ or whatever.” I must have made some flippant gesture because Zoe’s response was nothing if not blunt.
“You don’t believe her.”
All I could do was shrug.
“Well I mean she’s never really been the all that dramatic right? Like real life drama. Not theater kid drama.”
Again I shrugged. “I guess not,” is all I could say.
That seemed to kill the topic as Zoe grumbled before starting to head inside.
“There’s leftovers from last night in the fridge,” I called out.
“I’ll heat that up I guess,” she said as she walked towards the front door. She stopped for a moment however to turn back to me. “For real you look tense as shit right now K. You wanna relax,” she said as she pulled the baggie out once more, “help yourself.”
I thanked her but didn’t really give her a firm answer. Instead I remained in the driveway, back up against the garage, as I went back to take another drag. It was all so frustrating and I could do nothing but stew as I stood there staring at the street light across the street and listening to the crickets that had come out.
I didn’t hate my sister but I couldn’t help but feel a little resentful at the same time. I never had the best relationship with my parents, especially not with my dad. I guess I was too mouthy, too willing to run out when I felt like it and not come back until whenever it would piss them off the most.
I definitely took my lumps and I’d always have the bruises to prove it; not that I ever said anything. I didn’t want to cause trouble, especially not for the golden child. So much more respectful, so much more creative. That was Jelena. She could paint and play music and she would even act on stage and oh boy isn’t Little Maca going to have such a bright future?
I love my sister, I really do, but some times it made me want to throw up.
Not like it was her fault but even still that always left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. Another box to to check off on the list of reasons I was glad to get out.
Another ten minutes of thoughts like that and I was finished with my smoke, stomping it out and heading back into the house. In the kitchen I saw the pot with the reheated basic-ass curry and rice that I’d made last night on the stove and was relieved there was just enough left for me. I dumped it on a plate and decided to sit down on the love seat. As I did though something caught my eye. I placed the plate onto the coffee table and leaned over.
On the side of Jelena’s face I could see redness. Just below her eye I could see bruising and swelling. My chest immediately felt heavy as I knew what that meant. It’s something I’d seen in the mirror more times than a girl, a child, should ever have to. But what could she have ever done? I didn’t want to think of it. Instead I went into the kitchen and dug around the drawers until I found some sticky notes and a pen. Writing a message I placed the pad on the coffee table in front of the plate.
“Eat up. – Kat”
I headed down the hallway and stopped as I passed by Zoe’s room. The smell of weed had seeped it’s way into the hall and for a moment I contemplated taking her up on her offer. But I decided against it, instead turning and heading into my own room. Not even bothering to change or turn the light on I fell onto the bed and turned onto my back. I don’t know how long I looked at the ceiling for but silently I stared at it until my eyes refused to stay open.
How had I not seen that when she first showed up? How had I missed that? That mark, that bruise was all I could see as I tried to fall asleep. I tried to push the image out of my mind and eventually, mercifully, it started to fade; to be replaced with darkness. In relief my chest began to feel lighter as I drifted off. As I slept that night, as if to reaffirm that my mind was totally blank, I didn’t dream.
I saw nothing.