The Return: Part Three
I hunkered down in my room with the door locked and a bunch of stuff piled up against it, in case Zypher tried to knock the door down. I didn’t cry this time, though. I was sick of crying. Instead, I took out a picture of Jen and stared at it for a while. She was smiling in it and her eyes crinkled up, making them look tiny, almost as if they were closed. She was pushing back her dark brown, almost black hair with one hand, her other around a gorgeous Faerie Draik’s shoulders. The Draik looked so young, so happy, so carefree, so unlike that Draik she is today. That’s one of the reasons I hated Jen. Because she forced us— no, not us. Truthfully, “us” didn’t matter that much to me at the moment. No, no, she forced me to grow up so fast, to take responsibility that should not have been mine. I love my family to death, would do anything for them, but that doesn’t mean that I want to take care of them. Jen forced that onto me, something I didn’t want. But something I had to accept.
I grabbed some scissors from my desk and violently cut the picture in half. The cut was jagged and I noted that I had mutilated the arm that was around my—no, the Draik’s shoulder. I felt a cruel satisfaction. I threw the half with the Draik into the fireplace and watched it burn with a savage pleasure. The bright flames licked at the film greedily and soon I wanted to look away. But the hot flames and the burning picture wouldn’t let me. I was caught prisoner in the destruction of that half of the photo. I watched until her entire body turned to mere ashes.
I then took the half with Jen and attached it to my dartboard with a thumbtack. I grabbed ten darts and chucked them at the board with all my strength. I poured all of my rage, all of my anger, all of my sense of betrayal, all of my sadness, all the emotions I had into the darts and threw them at her face, wishing the real Jen could feel some of my pain.
After I had no darts in my hand, I realized that none had actually hit Jen. I stalked over to the board, ripped the picture off, and threw it in the fire, filled with rage. Of course, I missed again.
I had stayed in my room the entire day. Around noon, I heard a knock on my door.
“Kishmaya,” came Storm’s gentle voice, “can I come in?”
She sounded so young, so hopeful, so sad that it broke my heart. It took all of the willpower I had not to get up, shove everything away from the door, unlock it, swing it open, and envelop that sweet, sweet child in a hug.
“Come on, Kish,” I heard Shaz call, “we’re not starting lunch without you.”
I plugged my ears and ignored them.
“Kish!!!” Shaz shouted, banging the door with his fist. “If you don’t open up right now, I’m going to knock the door down!”
I rose angrily, to tell them to go away, but I heard another voice.
“Leave her alone, guys,” Zypher warned softly. “She can’t come down right now. If you keep bothering her, she’ll beat both of you up.”
I smiled to myself. It was a slight smile, but a smile nonetheless. Maybe I was too harsh on Zypheryn before. He did care about me, after all. He might actually be the only one that truly understands me.
“Kish,” Zypher called, “I’m leaving your lunch here. You can eat it if you like. If not, just leave it here. We’ll clean it up later.”
I smiled again in earnest. He had said “if you like.” He hadn’t told me to do anything, he hadn’t tried to get me to leave my room. He had accepted that I needed to be alone.
**Twelve Days Later**
I still hadn’t left my room. I ate all meals inside and the only one that I would see was Zypher. Storm and Shaz had learned to leave me alone. Jen didn’t come once to check on me. Maybe she didn’t care. It was better that way, anyways. That way I couldn’t feel bad about being cold to Storm and Shaz’s Mommy Dearest.
In any event, I thanked my lucky stars that Zypher was my brother. What would I have done without him? He was wonderful.
I felt bile rise into my throat. Had I just thought wonderful? I had never used that word before in my life, and now I do to describe Zypher? Mommy Dearest’s rancid food must be getting to me.
But what killed me inside was that it wasn’t rancid. In fact, it was amazing. Incredible, even. The best thing I’ve tasted since she left. I hated her even more for it.
I looked at the picture of Jen lying on the ground. I walked over to it carefully, as though it was going to explode. I think that, after twelve days of almost complete seclusion, I was going a bit crazy. Just a bit.
I picked up the picture with shaking fingers. I didn’t know why they were shaking, just that they were. I stared at the girl in the picture. She looked back at me.
I turned the picture sideways so that I could tear it in half. I jerked my fingers in opposite directions so as to rip Jen into pieces. But I couldn’t. My fingers refused to move enough to cause any damage to the photo. I stood there, my hands trembling, the picture jiggling back and forth. That’s when Jen walked in.
To this day, I’ll never know how she did it. But she had. Jen had, in fact, climbed in through my window to see if I was alright. To be honest, it was a little freaky.
“Kishmaya,” she murmured gently to me.
I just stared at her blankly. It was strange, really. There was no emotion when I looked at her face. Just emptiness, a shadow of sadness.
“Kishmaya,” she repeated. “Kishmaya, I’m worried about you.”
I said nothing, I thought nothing.
“Kishmaya, baby, please come out of your room. I’m begging you. Please come out.”
I waited emptily for the words that would get me to accept her back into this family. I had waited for days, but Jen still didn’t say them.
But I pushed the blockade away from my door anyways. It wasn’t for her, though. It wasn’t because she had asked. Later, I told myself that I had left the room because I was worried about my family. But I know that the only reason that I left my room was because it had been starting to smell funny. That was it. I was just tired of my smelly room.
I unlocked my door and walked out of the room. Down the stairs. Into the kitchen. I was like a robot; nothing seemed to matter to me. I looked into the fridge. There was nice food and tasty-looking drinks. I shoved all that aside and looked into the very corner of the fridge. There, there was my target.
I grabbed the Carrot and Pea Omelette and put it on a plate. I munched on it slowly, as though it was something from Kelp. Yeah right. I shouldn’t have even made that simile. Like I could ever know what Kelp food tasted like. I’m way too poor.
I savored every bite of the cold Omelette and followed it up with a glass of tap water. No way was I going to drink any of that fancy stuff in the fridge.
“Kish,” Jen asked from behind me, “do you want something else to eat? I can make you something.”
I ignored her and walked into the living room. A fancy new TV sat in the place where our old, junky TV used to sit. I grabbed the remote and turned the machine on. I watched the moving pictures on the screen, not caring what was going on.
Maybe I really was going crazy. I wasn’t sure. All I knew was that I didn’t care about anything other than food, drink, the TV, and sleep. That’s all. Perhaps Storm or Shaz or Zypher or probably Jen’ll send me to the Cuckoo Hut, the Wacky Shack. That’s where I belonged, so why shouldn’t I go?
I fell asleep while watching TV and I dreamt of cuckoos. The mother cuckoo kept trying to push me out of the nest. She beat me with dark brown wings that sheltered three other young chicks. One a light brown, with dark blue eyes, watching with worried, gentle eyes; one with a deep purple plumage and fierce red eyes. The last had a yellow coat with different color patches. His red eyes watched sadly as I was being pushed out. He watched until I fell from the nest. I fell and I fell, I didn’t know how to fly yet. Just when I thought I was going to die, I felt something swoop under me. The last chick had morphed into a handsome dragon and was supporting me. He urged me to spread my wings but I wouldn’t.
He yelled at me to believe in myself, I told him I couldn’t, but he wouldn’t stop the encouragement so I spread my wings out, just to shut him up.
He grinned as I morphed into a beautiful dragon, the most beautiful in the land. He watched as I flew triumphantly. He left me and flew back to the nest. The dragon turned back into a cuckoo bird and nestled up against his mother. I felt my wings deteriorate and I was falling again. I screamed again and again for help. The handsome yellow dragon didn’t come back.
And so I yelled, “Mom, help me, please! I need you! I love you!”
She looked confused and tried to say something. The words died on her lips.
I knew that two simple words could save me, could give me back my wings, could help me return to the nest. Those two words that my mom didn’t say. I didn’t know if she didn’t know how to say them, if she wouldn’t say them, all that mattered was that she didn’t. And my heart pained with how much I wanted to hear them. So because of her hesitation, I plummeted to the ground.
To be continued...