December 2013

Red Splotches

     As the family drives away from their red brick home, tears fill her baby blue eyes.
     “It’s hard to believe we’ve lived here for nine years,” she says to her family as tears completely blur her vision.
     “Longest in one place,” Patrick, her father says from the front seat.
     Because of her tears, the house is just one big blur. By now, all that’s left to be seen is one red splotch. A red splotch that she will never see again. A red splotch that belongs to a new family.
     Paige pictures another girl in her bedroom. She pictures her finding the spot in the closet where she wrote the name of her middle school crush in pencil because she was afraid her mother would find out.
     She’ll probably erase it ,she thinks to herself.
     Erased, just like all the other memories she had in that house with her older sister, Darby. Just like all of those Christmas mornings ripping through Christmas presents and drinking coffee with her parents. It was always the one day a year they would let her do so. She felt so grown up.
     Suddenly, she’s lost in her thoughts. She’s back in that moment; sipping coffee and grinning feeling so happily sophisticated.
     Paige feels a hand on her shoulder.
     “Baby, are you feeling okay?” her mother, Deb asks. “You haven’t said a word for over half an hour.
     Paige doesn’t answer, but her heart is running 100 miles a minute. How could she ask that? Does she not see the tears? Does she not realize that everything is lost? She is going to have to make new friends. She is going to have to find herself again.
     She looks down at her hands. They are so clammy. She notices something strange on her arm; a red splotch. Paige holds her hand out and notices splotches all over her body. They remind her of the last view she had of her home.
     Funny how that is, she thinks.
     Her tears flow even harder.
     It really isn’t fair that they’re doing this to her. She hated that she always lost things when she moved from house to house. She hated that her parents never asked her how she felt about moving. Did her opinion even matter to them? Didn’t she get a say in all of this? Guess not.
Suddenly, Paige can’t handle it anymore. She lets out a shriek. It is not any shriek though, this shriek is a shriek that could wake bears from their winter slumber, it could reach the residents of Alaska.
The car comes to a sudden stop. They are all staring at her. Her dad is managed to pull to the side of the road avoiding all other cars.
     “You can’t do this to me again,” she mumbles under her uneven breath. “You just can’t.”
     “What are you talking about sweetheart,” her mother reaches out to touch her again. “We have been planning this move for months.”
     “YOU have been planning this move for months, not me,” she jerks her shoulder out of her mother’s reach. “I am not doing this with y’all this time. I’ve played along for too long.”
     “You’re fifteen,” Patrick mutters through gritted teeth. He does not look happy. That must be where Paige gets her anger from. “Where are you going to go?”
     “Well… uh… I don’t know. Anywhere but here,” Paige replies less powerful this time.
     “Fine. Good bye,” her dad is furious now. “You can go. Go wherever you want.
     He opens his driver side door, gets out, and slams it shut. He walks around the car and pulls her car door open.
     “No one is stopping you.”
     Paige has never seen her dad like this. He has always been on her side. She is a total Daddy’s girl.
     “Daddy?” she can barely hide how surprised she is.
     The red splotches are starting to itch, and it seems like they are just becoming a permanent part of her body. She itches one near her elbow. All while never taking her eye away from her father. She studies the contours of his face. She looks into his baby blues, the ones that she got from him, for any sign of humor. Her dad was the funniest person she knew. Could this be a joke?
     “Daddy?” she say inquisitively with a little more strength this time.
     “Well, what’s it gonna be, Chicken Little? Ready to take on the rest of the world by yourself? Ready to start paying bills and making your own food?” Some of the red has worn off from his face, but not from her arm.
     “I…I…I didn’t mean to upset you,” Paige stumbles over her words.
     “This is hard on all of us. Mom has to start a new job. Your sister has to start her senior year of high school in a completely different place, and I have to watch my family be angry at me for moving them again,” he has only just begun. “I’m doing this because I can’t keep driving a full hour to work and a full hour back. The money from this job is too good to go anywhere else.”
     Paige cannot believe that her father is breaking down like this. What he is saying is all true, so she sees why he’s so upset. However, that didn’t really change the fact that they were moving. Why her family was important to her, Paige could only think about what this meant for her.
     Her dad slowly backs away from her door, and Paige lets him. A part of her wanted to grab him and tell him that she was sorry. He didn’t really deserve Paige’s selfish behavior. She sits up in her seat as she watches her dad round the back of the vehicle to get back in the driver’s seat. She finally realizes what she must do.
     Paige slowly gets out of the car foot by foot and shuts the door. She looks up at the road behind her and starts walking. Paige doesn’t look back, but tears are still flowing from her face.
     I have to do what is right for me. I can do this on my own.
     The red splotches that were all over Paige’s skin have vanished. Vanished like the past, but it’s not really a bad idea anymore, vanishing. Paige doesn’t mind it so much anymore. A smile starts to form on her lips, and she cannot stop. Paige’s outlook on this whole day has completely changed, and she starts jumping from plan to plan in her head. The world is before her, and the bad times behind in the form of a red family van that is still just going through the motions.

—Shelby Adamson

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