1995 ushered itself in with Winter’s frost and chill, jump-starting the worst year of Kaiya Clarke’s life. Filled to the max with unyielding stress and heartbreak, she often found herself wondering when time and the world around her would begin again. Morning skies were as dark as night, gray clouds loomed overhead the few seconds she willed herself to stay awake long enough.
When Kaiya was finally dragged into the company of others, she found herself bum-rushed by nosy relatives who spoke of her as if she were charity, and none of them wanted to partake in supporting the cause. They only wanted to gossip, only wanted to share the negative thoughts they’d been holding on the tips of their tongues for years. It was madness, sent her temper into overdrive, left her wishing she hadn’t been to remain respectful to all adults and elders no matter the situation
And then, she found herself standing in the center of an empty room; her belongings boxed and hauled into a moving truck without a second thought or care. So often she could feel the gentle and comforting hand of her younger sister against her shoulder, urging her to move on… to move forward with a positive outlook. She remained frozen in place for some time, holding back the tears she swore she’d never allow to fall in front of others.
The painful feelings of loneliness and depression consumed her, leading to physical aches throughout her short frame. And when finally carried into the backseat of a station wagon bound for a strange destination, it became all too easy to sleep the hours away as she unwillingly headed to the place that would soon be ‘home’.
Pressed close to the door, Kaiya stared out the window as she and her sister’s aunt drove them from glorious sights of cities to gloomy views of backwoods and country fields. Her thin hands caressed the handle of the car door, pulling at it more times than she could stand to count. To her dismay, the child lock had been activated, and there seemed to be no escape from the thought of the torture her mind created.
“You know he’s going to say something about you wearing all black.”
Kaiya’s words were spoken without urgency, her tone dry and curt as she responded to the sweet lilt her sister offered. “If he wanted me to care about what he thought, he should have stuck around and earned his right to have an opinion on what I wear.” Looking over her shoulder, she let out a low sigh before speaking softly. “I don’t mean to come at you wrong, Emery. I just don’t care about Dad and him suddenly wanting us around. I don’t care about going to some new and exciting place, I don’t care about starting over and moving on. Right now I don’t even care about living, and I’m sure me saying that will hurt your feelings, but it’s the truth. Save your kindness for those who can appreciate it. I can’t right now.”
Re-situating herself, pulling her knees to her chest as she moved closer to the door, Kaiya caught a glimpse of eyes staring back at her through the rear view mirror. A smart-alecky comment forced itself to the tip of her tongue, but she held it at bay, pressing the play button on her Walkman.
The aunt decided to interject, hoping to cheer the teenagers up, hoping to jump start a conversation. The silence between them had become too much to bare. Simply returning a favor owed, she hoped to at least have something good to report when they reached their destination. “I know you girls have got to be so happy about leaving New York. Such a dirty and crowded place. Certainly not a place I feel young, respectable women today should be raised.”
Kaiya remained silent, prompting Emery to speak for the both of them. “We loved New York, especially our home in Brooklyn. Just like you find something special about wherever you live in the south, there are many magnificent things about New York. I’ll sure miss it.”
“We’ll you’ve sure picked up a great style from up there. I imagine you’ll be the prettiest debutante in no time, with all the nice boys clamoring to be in your company. And you, Kaiya-“
“Will continue looking, walking, and acting like a boy. Thanks.”
Emery covered her mouth, dropping her head as she held back the snicker threatening to escape her lips. She nudged her sister gently, urging her to ease up a bit. “The attitude is very unnecessary, Young Lady. I understand very well that you both are going through a hard time right now. But I’m not your enemy. I’m family.”
Both girls thought about the words that slipped past the aunt’s lips. They hadn’t seen this woman a day in their lives, couldn’t even recall her name or face when she approached them just the week before they were scheduled to leave.
Family. The word triggered a question, one that Kaiya hadn’t meant to speak out loud. “Family?”
“Yes,” she smiled confidently, eyeing both girls before she focused on the road again. “I’m a very dear friend of your father. We grew up together, practically brother and sister. We’ve been there for one another through everything. Chickenpox, sandbox fights, graduations, marriages, divorces. We help each other through the toughest times. Push one another to go and do what’s right, even when it’s hard.”
“So why didn’t you push him to attend our mother’s funeral, even if only to comfort us? To come and visit us at any point in the twelve years they’d been divorced? To bring us down south during summers and holidays since it’s so great?” Emery’s expression became one of sadness instantly as her sister spewed off questions, things she wanted to know as well. “To come and pick us up himself since he wanted us so badly? Let me guess, like always he was too busy, focused on something more important?”
The awkward silence returned, and the aunt decided it was best to finish the ride that way. She had no answers for either girl as they stared with anticipation of a response, none that she felt would paint their father in a good light again.
Turning up the volume on her Walkman, Kaiya lost herself in the socially frustrated sounds of Public Enemy. Emery simply stared out the window, counting bales of hay as they passed through another wide stretch of open land.
Above was the intro chapter to a NEW story I’ll be sharing on Wattpad. Updates and future chapters can be found here . If you enjoyed and would like to keep up with Kaiya, Emery and the cast of characters they will meet, be sure to follow the link and check it out as I write their story.