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My name is Kasey.
I'm 17, from Canada.
by Kasey Gregorashuk
It was as if a thunder storm was occuring in my head. Thunder rolling from the back of my head to in between my eyes. Lightning flashing from temple to temple, and all I wanted to do was lay there in the dark of my room and be alone with my storm, hoping it would eventually fade away. Storms like these dont leave rainbows when they're over, they leave my mother nagging at me for being lazy. I layed there breathing, staring at my stucko'd ceiling, wondering who the hell came up with the idea of that shit anyway when the thunder started again, so I thought.
BANG BANG BANG... that wasn't in my head, that was someone banging on my bedroom door. Before I had a chance to get pissy that someone was disturbing me while I hid in the darkness, I heard my sister outside my door.
"Dinner's ready Astrid" the angelic voice called to me on the other side on the particle board door that had a hole in it from my fist. I couldn't get mad at her, it wasn't her fault my head was throbbing. My inability to get angry at my sister was probably why she was sent as the messanger. Whatever, a girl's gotta eat.
So I rolled out of the bed and stood up, apparently too fast because my head spun which didn't help the head ache at all. After I staggered over to my door like a drunk person with one leg shorter than the other, I opened my door to find my sister waiting there for me. I don't need a 8 year old escort to go down to dinner. It's not like she'll be able to catch me if I fall down the stairs.
My sister was like a mini-me, when it came to looks anyways. We were both taller than the rest of the kids our age. Even then at 16 I was taller than the few female friends I had. We both had the big lemon-shaped, deep emerald eyes that belonged to our mother. She had his nose though. So we didn't look exactly the same, nothing a little cosmetic surgery and hair dye wont fix. I preferred my extremely unnatural green hair though. My mom and step-dad hated it (which is why I did it obvisouly). My sister's brown hair was my step-dad's. Dark chesnut with highlights that shimmer in the summer sun. It was the one thing I hated about my sister- her father.
The light in the hall was blinding compared to the lack of light in my room. I squinted and told my sister to lead on. Needless to say, as soon as I safely got downstairs to the kitchen the nagging started.
"Astrid you need to set a better example for Emily! Laying around in your room for hours. People are going to start thinking you're a hermit," she actually stopped to take a breathe, I was impressed. "It's the middle of October and you're pale as a ghost. Most teenagers still have tans from the summer! The black clothing doesn't help your complexion either. My god the brightest thing on you is your goddamn hair..." This is about where I tuned her out. I'd bet my left arm that it ended with "why can't I have a normal teenager?". News flash mommy dearest, there's no such thing as a normal teenager! I just walked past my [loving] mother into the living room to take my spot in front of the tv.
My family doesnt eat like civilized families, we sit at flimsy old "wooden" tv trays so we can stuff our faces and fry our brain cells with mindless prime time sitcoms all at once. Oh joy. I entered the living room to find my step-father sitting in his digusting excuse for an arm chair drinking a beer and laughing at some unintelligent joke on whatever show he was watching. Judging by the automated laughter coming from the tv I was betting on a lame prime time comedy. I sighed and turned back into the kitchen and headed towards the bathroom. My head was pounding and despite my dislike for medicine I reached for the asprin. That was a bad idea.
"What do you need those for?" my mother started. "It's not like you have any stress, you're just a teenager. You don't have to deal with the crap that goes on in this house day in and day out..." Right mom, it's not like you stress me out or anything. My life is just peachy. Stupid bitch. I ignored her and swallowed those white circles of compressed chemicals that would stop the storm. Once again, that was a bad idea. "Answer me Astrid! Why the fuck are you taking asprin?" she raised her voice more than her usual yell for that. It didn't help the head ache.
"I've got a fucking headache ok?"I really should learn to watch my mouth. To add to the already throbbing head ache, I ended up with a red face and tears running down my cheek.I didn't know my mother could move that fast. She had been in the kitchen, a fair distance from the bathroom but with a good view of it.
It all happened in a blur. I don't think I got 'ing headache' out and she had made her way to the bathroom, lifted her closed hand and made contact with the right side of my face.
"You watch your fucking mouth you mouthy little bitch." Speak for yourself. It's something you get used to. Pain eventually stops hurting. It becomes a release. The punch in the face didn't hurt as much as the constant feeling of hatred I got from my mother.
She had been beautiful. I had seen pictures of her when she was young, before she had me. She could have been a model or an actress. She was tall and thin, with beautiful blonde hair. Blonde hair that I possessed but didn't appreciate and covered with bright green. Another thing she hated me for. My mother had the most deep emerald coloured eyes. A green which has faded to some disturbed shade of grey. She was still tall and thin, but now she was drawn out, tired looking. She looked old but wasn't. Her hair had faded in some spots from golden blonde to almost white. My mother was only 35. To her that was old. She had been a young mother with me, eighteen years old with a beautiful future ahead of her. She can't blame my father for her now terrible life because he left her as soon as he found out she was pregnant, so she blames me. Her mother wouldnt let her get rid of me, give me up for adoption like some pathetic animal. If my grandmother was still alive I'm sure my mother would hate her. Actually, she resents her still. My mother didn't even go to my grandmother's funeral. I went alone, at the age of twelve; alone with family members I had never known because my mother refused to associate with them. She was too bitter for her own good.
As soon as my mother walked away from me, leaving me in pain, crying in the bathroom, a tension left the air. There was always tension when my mother and I were in the same room. I went back up to my room. It was really the only place my mother wouldn't enter. It was my sanctuary when I was in her house. I couldn't even call it home, it was just a shelter from the rain. One day I'll just run away and she'll never find me and she'll never be able to touch me again. I turned the light on when I entered my room. It was a small room, very similar to a jail cell. Who knew a jail cell could be so comforting. It was my dark purple sanctuary. My walls had been painted dark purple, by my choice with my money, so even with the lights on it would be dark.
I was an artist at heart. Paints,brushes and empty and full canvises were scattered about. Paris is calling to me. I starred at the picture I was currently working on. The bright blue of the sky startled me a little. It was my dream captured in paint. A scene in Paris, a girl sitting at a cafe just watching the people around her. A genuine smile on her face.
I walked over to the mirror on my wall. It was one of those full length mirrors, I hated it because it showed all of me. I had pictures of my friends taped up all around the edge of it though. Looking into my mirror was like being with my friends in spirit. We were there, together. They were my family, the only people I could say I loved, except for my half-sister.
I started crying when I saw my reflection. The beginning of a black eye had started to develop. My friends wont be suprised. That wasn't the first black eye I had come to school with after a weekend at home. It was the thought of my teachers and other students that made me cry. I was so tired of being called into guidance. I was tired of people asking me if I was ok. I'm not ok, I will never be ok. I never told anyone but those closest to me about my home life.
I looked at my clock and wiped away my tears. It was 9 o'clock. Not only did we not eat like civilized humans, we ate at the dumbest hours. They ate. It wasnt often I actually made it to a meal. I decided it wasn't worth staying awake. I took one more glance in the mirror and noticed the mascara and eyeliner cascaded all over my face from the tears. Oh well.I undid my second-hand jeans, pulled them down around my feet and kicked them into the general direction of my laundry basket. They hit the floor. I crawled into my single bed and covered up with my black comforter and shut my eyes. Maybe tomorrow someone will find me and take me away from this hell hole.
I woke up to the sound of my alarm clock beeping at me around 7am. I said a few choice words and rolled out of bed and slammed my fist into my alarm clock. That hurt me more than my alarm clock. I had half an hour to get ready for school, because it took me about half an hour to get to school. I could take the bus every morning with the rest of the maggots from my school, but to avoid verbal harrassment I walked.
I rummaged through the clothes on my floor and chose a less wrinkled pair of black jeans. As I slipped them on I noticed myself in the mirror. My eyes were puffy and red from crying before I went to bed. They were kind of burning too. I kind of resembled road kill, with my raccoon eyes from the make-up the day before. I turned away from my mirror in search of a clean shirt. I found my Ramones band tee in the bottom of my drawer and slipped that on and proceeded to the bathroom downstairs.
My reflection wasn't any better in the mirror down there. I grabbed a clean wash cloth and removed the excess make-up, only to reapply fresh black eyeliner, hott pink eyeshadow and black mascara. The make-up didn't hide the puffiness, it just helped hide my general dislike for my face. I actually liked the way my bed head looked so I just brushed my teeth and headed for the door. Luckily enough my mother was still asleep that morning.
I pulled on my denim jacket, covered with band patches. The weather was decent, being October and all, so that was all I needed. I tripped over the pile of shoes at the front door. Considering there's only 4 people in this house, that's alot of shoes. I kicked several pairs of shoes out of the way in search for my hot pink and black Chuck Taylors.
I opened the door to a brisk breeze and the early morning sun. Autumn was my favourite time of year. Everything slowly dying. Leaves changing colour like an old person's skin as they reached the ages nearing death. Drying up and falling off the trees and blowing away in the wind. I sighed. If only I could just blow away with the breeze and never have to come back. I stepped off my porch and walked down the leaf covered cement path to the road leading to my school.
The walk to school was almost silent. The occasional crunch of leaves under foot and my gentle footsteps were the only noises I could hear. All the other kids were sitting at home, eating a well-balanced breakfast with mommy and daddy before getting on the big yellow school bus to take their lazy asses to school. I caught myself wishing for a car to drive by. Just so I wouldn't feel so lonely. Maybe I should walk in the middle of the road. It was then that the silence of my walk was broken. I heard my name being called from behind me. My heart stopped momentarily. I stopped walking and listened again before turning around. It was a guy's voice. Steve! I turned on my heel to find my best friend Steve running towards me.
As usual he didn't have a backpack, but neither did I. We didn't do homework. He got his work done in class, I just didn't do mine. Instead of a back pack he carried his skateboard in hand so he could run at me. He was such a beautiful person, to me at least. He was just an inch taller than me. His hair was kind of shaggy and a natural dirty blonde. He had piercing blue eyes, that when we got into deep conversations I found myself getting lost in.
"Why do you always walk to school alone?" He asked me when he had caught up.
"Why do you always run to catch up with me?" I teased.
"Because I hate seeing you alone."It was an awkward half a second before I replied. For some reason things had been changing between us. We had been friends forever. We grew up together. He knew more about me than I probably knew about myself. He knew why I had a black eye and why I looked puffy behind the make-up.
"If you didn't run to catch up with me you wouldn't see me, now would you?" Whoa did I just flirt with him?
Our friendship was the kind of friendship you only saw in movies. Girl grows up in house from birth. Boy moves in to house nextdoor when girl is 8 years old. Boy sees girl playing outside. Girl sees boy watching her and asks him to play house with her. Boy and girl become best friends and go through puberty together. Boy meets other girls and falls in "love" a million times. Girl secretly loves boy. Boy secretly loves girl. Neither want to admit it. It made me laugh to think about. Apparently I laughed out loud at that moment because he asked me what was so funny.
"Nothing, let's just go to school".
The silence of my walk disappeared as Steve and I talked all the way to school. We talked about everything. He asked me about the black eye and I told him what happened.
"You know you could live with me. My parents wouldn't mind." He offered, probably for the millionth time.
"Running away to nextdoor really won't help me at all. It would probably make things worse." I replied, probably for the millionth time. "and besides, it doesn't hurt."
"That's not the point." he looked at me earnestly. I could have cried right there, but my face was having enough problems that morning.
"Why do you care so much?" I said, the tears welling up in my eyes. "Noone else does."
"I know you're worth it."He said softly, looking into my eyes. We had stopped walking. He reached for my hands. "You're the most beautiful person I know." I couldn't help but cry when he said that. I had seen my reflection in the mirror, I was far from beautiful.
"No I'm not." I sniffled. "Look at me, I'm a mess. My face is now blotchy from crying, I've got puffy eyes from crying yet again. Not to mention the lovely black eye." I shook my head and began to walk away. I stubbornly couldn't believe that someone, even Steve, could care so much about me. He grabbed my hand and pulled me back to him.
"Yes you are Astrid. You've been through so much and it's just made you stonger." The look on his face was one I hadn't seen before. It was intense and a faint shade of red. He was frowning but looked extremely passionate about what he was saying to me. "You are an amazing artist. You're going to go places with your art." Paris. "Astrid..." He stopped suddenly. It was almost as if what he wanted to say was stuck in his throat.
"Steve..." I said carefully. I could feel my heart starting to race. Something was happening there. That day, walking to school, things changed with the two of us. He was my best friend, but I knew there was more there.
"Astrid," he started. Oh my God! What's happening here? "I..." I looked away from him, unable to look him in the face because I was about to break down again.
He reached his hand out towards my face and gently move my face to look at him. My heart was in my throat. I felt as though I was going to be sick. Steve's face had gone extremely red but looking into his eyes I knew he was extremely calm. He leaned in close to me. I closed my eyes and felt his soft lips on mine. Holy fuck! I felt as though I was flying. I was no longer in my body. It was as though I was an angel looking down on us. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. This must be what cupid sees. I put my hand at the nape of his neck and held him close. I never wanted to let go of him. Unfortunately, we had to come up for air.
"Whoa," I stuttered.
"I'm sorry," he started. "I just couldn't find the words to tell you how I felt."
"Do I look like I'm complaining?" I said and started to laugh. I had never felt so happy. So this is happiness. This is love isn't it? This is what it feels like to have someone love you. I threw my arms around him. We stayed like that for a long time.
When we finally pulled ourselves apart he brought me by the hand to the curb and sat down. He had gone from looking so intense to looking sad. Something was on his mind.
"Steve, what's wrong?"
"I want you to be happy Astrid."
"Are you kidding me? This is the happiest I've been in 16 years!"
"More than that. You'll never really be happy here." Just then Steve reached into his pocket and pulled out an envelope.
"What's that?" I asked, confused.
My heart, which had just settled down, began to beat out of my chest again. What is he doing?
"Plane tickets?" I looked at him with one eyebrow raised. "Steve, what are you planning? What is this?"
"Paris Astrid." I started to tear up again. To my suprise I wasn't tired of crying. The last 20 minutes had been the happiest tears I had ever experienced. "I'm taking you to Paris Astrid. I talked to my parents already. They agree that you need to get away and they know how I feel about you. They helped me save up enough money to get us there and survive for awhile." He began to ramble on about how his parents had gotten them an apartment in downtown Paris. Near a cafe! I felt as though I was drunk. I was ODing on happiness. If I had died right then, I would have died a happy woman.
We finally decided instead of sitting on the curb all day that we'd skip school and go back to his house. His parents were always so nice to me. Then again, they were the kind of adults that as soon as their son moved out they would put plastic over the furniture. But they were really nice people, always looking out for their friends and family. I was family. It made me smile thinking about how kind some people can be.
Steve and I walked up the front path. Their house looked like every other house on the block. The only difference between their house and mine was they had a beautiful garden. Our front lawn was covered in weeds and there wasn't the slightest bit of colour. I took in a deep breathe, enjoying the scents of the last of autumn's flowers.
"Mom? Dad?" Steve called when we walked in. "Astrid's here."
His mom came in from the backyard.
"Hello dear! How are you?" She said with a motherly tone, hugging me so tight I almost couldn't breathe.
"Better now." I said smiling. "I can't believe you're sending me and Steve to Paris. Aren't you going to be worried about him?"
"Oh hun, of course we'll be worried." she had ahold of my shoulders. I felt safe. "We're not stupid dear, we aren't just sending you two over there hoping you'll get along fine by yourself, we have family that lives over there."She was smiling at me the way a mother should. " My sister moved over there three years ago. You two will be staying with her for the summer."
My heart sank.
"Oh...just the summer?"
"Oh well yes dear," she cocked her head to the side, almost confused. "You and Steve will leave at the end of the school year. As soon as exams are over."
"What about my mother? How am I supposed to tell her?" I was scared. I was hoping I could just vanish.
"Leave her to me Astrid." she had a glint in her eyes when she looked at me. It gave me hope. Why couldn't I have had a mother like this? "I'll talk to her after Christmas. I don't want things to get bad for you at Christmas." She hugged me again and told Steve and I to get to school.
The leaves began to disappear and the snow came. Every day that passed as Christmas got closer made my heart beat faster. I couldn't look at my mother. I avoided her more than ever. I knew as soon as Steve's mom talked to her it was going to be living hell for me. It was going to be a long six months, but I knew it would be worth it. Paris here I come.