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Hope for Rain
The air was hot, barren, and arid. My home wasn’t close at all. When I took one step out of my school, I felt extremely hot as if I just entered a preheated oven. Going straight home with my two friends, Menalosa and Jessie was what I wanted to do, since our homes were in the same direction.
Once again, both of my parents wanted me to go out of my way to go pick up my little sister, Rain, who was in elementary. Home was six miles west of my school and Rain’s school was three miles east of my school. So, isn’t that like…out of my way or what??
I admit, I loved my sister and I would do anything to protect her. Honestly, our parents were getting a divorce and none of them paid any attention to us. Rain and I were being neglected by our own parents, but I was sure that they still loved us dearly.
Just before I could face the east side of the school, Menalosa approached me from behind with a smile, “Hey there, girl. Tomorrow is the last day of school. Are you ready for summer vacation or what, girl??? Hahaha.”
I grinned at her and shrugged my shoulders, “Well, I guess I am. Are y’all ready?”
“Sure am,” Jessie nodded and also smiled. “I am so ready for summer. I’m trying to get the blazes out of here, people.”
“Yeah, I’m ready,” Menalosa pat my shoulder. “I’m staying over at Jessie’s house tonight and most of the summer.”
“Yeah, would you like to come and stay over too, Amara?” Jessie asked me.
As much as I wanted to go with them two, I knew that I couldn’t, unfortunately, even though they gave me a notice ahead of time. I felt guilty that I couldn’t go with them, because I knew that I had to babysit Rain the entire summer.
“Sorry, girls,” I shook my head once with a guilty grin. “Mom sent me a message on my phone just before the bell rung to pick up my sister. Remember, she’s in year-round. Plus, I have to babysit her the entire summer again.”
The two girls moaned with disappointment.
Menalosa sighed, “Again, Amara? It’s been your daily routine ever since Rain started school. It seems that you don’t have much time to spare, but…it is life.”
“I know,” I nodded, wiping off the sweat that trickled down both sides of my face. “My apologies. Maybe next time…later..? Uh, maybe sometime next week when I bring Rain over?
Jessie nodded once.
“Anyway,” I turned to face the east side of the school, “you two should head home now. This heat is ridiculous. It feels like mid-summer, but even hotter than last summer. See you two tomorrow, Ok?” I started to walk in that direction as the three of us departed.
“Bye, Amara!” Jessie waved. “See ya!”
“Tell Rain I say ‘Hi lil’ girl. Happy Birthday,’” Menalosa added.
“No problem!” I called back to her and then said in a mumble. “Let’s hope that I make it there…”
I didn’t say anything else after that. Unfortunately, I ran into nobody else as I walked to my sister’s elementary school. As I walked, I wondered why our parents put Rain in that school. Oh well, who knows? I wished that someone was with me to pick her up…I wanted someone to have a decent conversation with, not just to walk in silence.
Ah, what the hell? Not all mattered anyway…
More sweat came out of my body and loosely ran down to my shoes. Luckily, I was wearing a skirt that day; otherwise, I would’ve collapsed by now, right on the sidewalk. If I had collapsed, who else would be able to pick up my sister? Not me…
Slowly approaching the rural side of Umay—the small country we live in, I threw my head back with relief. My sister’s school wasn’t far at all. I looked around at the land; I barely saw any green. It was like a desert. The grass was either brown or black (from fires). Either that or there was no grass at all. To be honest, weeds in the grass were the only things that were green sticking out of the ground.
“Amara!” Rain, my little sister, rushed out of the school along with the other students. “You’re here! Whew, it’s so hot out here.” She ran up to me with a smile and then she hugged me tightly.
“Happy Birthday, Rain. Menalosa says ‘Hi lil’ girl. Happy Birthday.’ Anyway, I don’t have your present right now. When we get home, I’ll figure out something. Is that Ok?”
Rain grinned at me, “Mhm!”
Rain and I finally strolled back home, headed west. Nine miles. Wonderful. Brilliant! In the heat!
Both of us remained silent until we passed by my school.
I looked down at Rain; she kept a huge grin on her face as she held her head up high with pride and excitement. She then glanced up at me until our eyes met.
“Are you Ok, Amara?” Rain asked, slightly dropping her grin.
“Yes,” I looked straight ahead, “I’ll be fine, Rain. I was just dreaming…and thinking, that’s all.” In my mind, I pictured both of us sharing a smile with both of our parents and enjoying each other’s presence.
“About what, Amara?” Rain asked again.
I didn’t reply back. I only dropped my head and glared down at the ground below me in silence. Like any other day, it wasn’t my day at all. At least I had someone to talk to and walk home with for a little while.
After two hours of walking in the heat, Rain and I made it home—where it was forty degrees cooler…Thank goodness!
Just when we entered the house, our father silently walked downstairs, past us, into the living room with a thick book in his hand. He gave us no eye-contact; he didn’t even pause to say “Hey girls” or “Welcome home, girls.” Of course, that didn’t bother me much. What got me was that morning when none of our parents said Happy Birthday to Rain. I was going to let it slide, hoping they would at least say it to her when we got home…
No one said Happy Birthday to Rain once we got home.
That made me furious, but I decided to stay calm as I walked into the living room.
In the living room, Mom sat in a corner in her rocking chair, drinking booze. She said nothing. She only stared into space. Dad was on the other side of the room in his chair, drinking the same thing.
“Hello, Mom and Dad,” I walked into the room with a smile. “It’s really hot outside today, so Rain and I are going to be in here.” I faced Rain, who was standing at the entrance, watching both of our parents drink. I decided to raise my voice and remain respectful to get our parents’ attention, “MOM…DAD, its Rain’s birthday.”
Dad looked up and glanced at Rain, and then he continued reading his book. Mom only coughed.
What the hell..? I thought to myself as I balled up my fist, wanting to punch one of them…
I shook my head and walked out of the living room with Rain, “We aren’t coming home tomorrow. I’m takin’ you out.”
Rain followed me upstairs to my room. I gave her my very first and only handmade necklace with a genuine gem at the end. At first, I made it for Mom, but she tossed it in the trashcan years ago.
“Here, Rain,” I said. “You can have this, but take good care of this. Happy Birthday, Rain.”
Rain looked up at me, smiling, “I like this necklace. It’s so pretty. Thank you so much Amara.”
“Amara, where are we going?” Rain rushed out of the house with me the next morning. “We’re supposed to be goin’ to school, remember?”
I didn’t have on my school uniform; I only had on my weekend clothes which are denim shorts and a regular shirt with no collar or buttons.
“Forget school for today,” I said, approaching a bus stop just outside of our neighborhood. “I’m takin’ you out for a day. Today is the last day of school; we don’t have to go.”
She stood next to me with a face of uncertainty, “Well, if you say so, then. But where are we goin’, Amara?” She then coughed, because the air was still dry. There was little—very little— oxygen.
I also coughed, pointing at an approaching city bus, “There’s our bus, Rain. We’re goin’ to the other side of Umay. Then we are goin’ to the beach. Is that Ok?” I grinned at her.
Rain lightly gasped and then she smiled back at me, “Mhm! I wanna go to the beach!”
“Good,” I nodded once, holding up my small backpack that had our swimsuits and money in, “that’s why I’m bringin’ our swim suits and money. Who knows? We may go shopping before or after.”
Our city bus stopped right in front of us and the two doors flung open. Rain went inside and sat in the front, away from the other people who sat in the back. I followed her inside, placed the money inside a box and then sat down next to Rain in silence.
“Amara?” Rain glared out the window just when the bus started to head out of the city area.
“Hm?” I closed my eyes and leaned back.
“How far is the beach from here?” she asked.
“Around two-hundred-fifty miles,” I answered with confidence. “We will be there in approximately four to five hours.” My phone suddenly vibrated in my shorts pocket, which gave me a mini heart attack and made me jump.
Don’t you hate that???
I took out my phone and looked at it. I had a text message from Menalosa. The message said, “‘Amara, where are you? You’re not comin’ to school today?’” With a groan, I turned off my phone, completely, and then I closed it before I could put it back into my pocket.
Rain’s hand landed on my wrist. Quietly, Rain leaned against me with a yawn. She closed her eyes and went to sleep on me just before our bus could actually exit the city.
In the matter of time, I was asleep, too.
Later on that day, I was being awakened by Rain who gently shook me in a whisper, “Amara! Look at this! We’re crossing a big bridge!”
I quickly sat up in my place and looked out the window with her. I suddenly gasped at the sight of a gigantic bay below us and the bridge! Man, it was amazing and breathtaking! If I’m not mistaking, we were approximately a thousand feet above the bay.
“Wow,” I chuckled, “this is awesome! We aren’t far from the beach at all.” I dropped my smile when I spotted a huge, dark storm cloud—that probably covered two oceans—headed in our direction. “Oh.”
“Is it going to rain, Amara?” Rain asked me with a worried face expression. “Maybe we should just wait.”
“Yeah it looks like it,” I nodded, “but at least it’s goin’ to bring some rain. Rain brings fresh water to our land. Rain makes everything green, as long as it doesn’t give too much. It’s been a long while since we had rain, Rain.”
Rain gave me an innocent chuckle.
“Anyway, we can swim in the ocean before the shopping.”
Rain shook her head, “Shopping first.”
“Ok; Ok, shopping first,” I said. “The swimming can wait till next time then. After shopping and if we still have time before it rains, we will go swimming at the beach. If not, we’re goin’ back home.”
Another thirty minutes had passed ever since we had crossed the bridge above the bay. Rain and I got off the bus just two blocks from the mall.
“Um,” Rain started to skip on the sidewalk as we walked, “do you think Mama and Daddy will be mad if they find out about this?”
“Hm, maybe. Most likely so if they find out. But I don’t care. This is another birthday present from me since they were bein’ idiots yesterday. Plus, I was gettin’ sick of bein’ stuck at home on the west coast.”
“You are so nice,” she grabbed my hand and held it. “You are a good sister, Amara.”
I grinned and continued walking towards the mall. It was true…I didn’t care about how would our parents feel or react if they had found out that Rain and I skipped school just to spend the day over two-hundred miles away from home. At the same time, I kind of cared, because if they blamed me or yelled at me, I knew it was all for our safety. They care, don’t they?
We had finally reached the mall within fifteen to sixteen minutes. Both of us were excited since we hadn’t been there before. Just before we could enter the mall, a woman nearby took out her wallet so she could use a pay-phone.
I watched her carefully just when a guy came out of nowhere and mugged her.
I stopped at the mall’s entrance and waited for the guy to come near our area. Come to find out, he didn’t leave the woman’s area empty-handed. He had her purse and her wallet. The woman was on the ground, trying to get up. Big mistake…He shouldn’t have left her on the ground like that. As the matter of fact, he shouldn’t have mugged her from the word “go”!
As the guy ran by us, I snatched the purse and wallet out of his hand and kicked him from behind. The guy collapsed onto the concrete and groaned in pain.
“Hmph,” I nodded once and went over to the woman who was looking dead at me, shocked. I said nothing; neither did she. I just held out her purse and wallet as she stood up.
Once she was up on both of her feet, I handed her the two items.
“Why,” the woman took her stuff and glared down at me and Rain, “thank you so much.”
I nodded once and then faced Rain, “Come on.” We went back over to the mall entrance until Rain ran over to the mugger and kicked him twice while he was trying to get up.
“Yeah, I’m just like you, sis!” Rain cheered as she ran back over to me. “Yeah! YAY!!!”
“Where would you like to go?” I asked Rain as soon as we entered the mall. “There are lots of stores in here. You can pick any place you want to go.” She and I paused in a corner just to have a glimpse of our new surroundings in the mall.
There were so many stores!
“To the bear shop,” Rain pointed at a shop that had teddy bears for sale. “I wanna look around in there.”
“Sure,” I led her inside the store. “Go ahead and look around. I’ll be over here. Go find what you like.”
“Mhm!” Rain stormed over to the shelves that held over fifty teddy bears. “I’ll be back, Amara.”
Sighing with relief, I leaned against the wall and stared into space, away from the other kids and adults who were also in the store. No one bothered to come near me to start a decent conversation.
The woman from earlier—who got mugged—came into the store, talking on her cell phone, “Ah, yes. I’m here right now. What kind of bear did Joseph say he wanted?” There was a pause, letting me know that someone on the other line was talking. “Oh, red tie with black dots? Ok. I’ll be home soon. Tell Joseph to go to bed on time, ‘cause I’ll be home tonight. Thanks, Hannah.”
I silently watched her place her cell phone into her Capri pocket. She saw me from the corner of her eye and then she turned her head to face me with a small inhale.
Both of us said nothing.
She went over to the far shelves near the back of the store where there were teddy bears for boys. She picked up a teddy bear that had a red bowtie with black dots.
“Amara!” Rain approached me with a small bag just the size of her hand. “I got something!”
“Where did you get the money?” I asked her.
“My lunch money was in my pocket,” she chuckled nervously and rubbed her head. “Heheheheh, I forgot about the money.”
I shrugged my shoulders and walked out of the store, “Oh well. Come on, then. Let’s go to the other stores.”
I didn’t even notice that Rain lagged behind until I heard her running footsteps coming up from behind me. “Wait, Amara. I got you something.” As I began to slow down for her, Rain finally caught up with me and took out a necklace with a pig face at the end. “I found it so…I thought you’d like it since you love pigs.” She held up the necklace.
I gasped and grabbed the necklace, “Like it? I love it, Rain. Why, thanks. You are all right.”
At the moment, I felt extremely proud to have a sister like Rain. I was delighted…no joke. So, I guess it was a good thing that we skipped school to be over here for a day, far from home.
The fire alarm of the mall went-off with a long and loud beep, startling me in my place. The alarm went-off as soon as we heard a loud crackle of thunder from outside, which kind of shook the entire mall.
Rain and I were in our fifth store in the mall when everybody in the mall ran to the nearest exit doors, screaming.
The security guards called out, “Get out of here now!” “The mall’s been struck twice!” “FIRE!” They were rushing all of us out of the mall, didn’t even realize that they were separating me and Rain.
“Amara!!!” Rain called, trying to reach for me in the crowd of people. “Don’t leave me!”
Suddenly, she was being pushed and nudged by people who were rushing out of the building. Growling deeply, I completely turned around and headed the opposite direction of where the people were going to get Rain off of the floor.
“Come on!” I helped her up and ran outside with her. All of us stopped in our tracks and glared up at the dark and cloudy sky, gasping.
There was no rain…only thunder, lightning, and strong, gusty winds. It was so dark like the night sky, but it could only be lit up by lightning for everybody to see. Unfortunately, there were only cloud-to-ground lightning—which are truly dangerous, no doubt. So we weren’t safe at all.
Within ten seconds, the winds started to pick-up badly. It was to the point that the winds were picking up and tossing trash cans, plants, and motorcycles!
“Where should we go now?” Rain held onto me tightly as we helplessly watched many people scatter out in many different directions. “I’m scared, Amara.”
I turned around to face the mall; black smoke rose high above the building. Surely enough, we couldn’t go back inside for safety.
“Let’s find another place to keep shelter until the storm passes,” I grabbed her hand and stormed away from the mall, trying to find another store or shop where we could be safe for a few hours.
So far, we had no luck. The condition of the storm worsened, especially the winds. It felt as if we were caught in the middle of a tornado or a hurricane.
I started to lag behind as Rain and I ran. Rain was ahead of me. Gasping for air, I suddenly tripped over a plant that had been tossed in my direction by the storm. I collapsed onto the ground, bounced off of the ground three times, and rolled down a steep hill in the middle of an empty street.
“Amara!” Rain called from up the hill. “Are you Ok?? Get up!”
I was on my side when she called to me. I hoped my cell phone wasn’t damaged. Weakly holding onto my chest, I looked up at the hill; Rain was gone! But a car was being blown down the hill in my direction!!!!
I gasped and closed my eyes, releasing a tear, “Oh! No, no, no…! Rain!” My heart began to beat against my chest faster and harder, causing immediate pain all around the chest area.
Just like that, I was being pulled away by a woman who held Rain’s hand in the other hand. As she pulled me into a restaurant, she started to pick up the speed as if she had no problem pulling me.
The three of us were inside a dark, empty restaurant, safe and sound. No one was around except the three of us.
The woman sighed with relief and sat down at a table not far from me. “Whew, if I hadn’t shown up, who knows would’ve happened to you with that car? What a day.”
“Thank you, miss,” I turned to give her eye-contact until I had let out a gasp, suddenly recognizing her. “Huh?”
The woman also gasped when she looked at me directly in the eyes, “Oh…! You’re the girl who saved me earlier outside of the mall. And I saw you inside Teddys Shop.” She closed her eyes and smiled. “What a weird day, huh? We just keep running into each other.”
“Yeah,” I nodded and looked away, “weird day. Wait..,” I remembered her trying to use the pay-phone, but inside the mall, she was using her cell phone, “…you tried to use the pay-phone outside of the mall, but you came into the shop, talking on your cell phone. Uh, why?” I gave her a confused look.
“Oh,” the woman replied, “I decided to save my money. My phone was out of service for some reason until I went inside the mall. When I entered the mall, I received service.”
I thought about my cell phone. Quickly, I took out my cell phone and turned it on. Luckily it was still working and it didn’t have any cracks.
“Ah,” I leaned against the counter right next to Rain, “look, Rain. I have sixteen missed messages from Menalosa, ten from Jessie and two from Mom and Dad.”
“What did they say?” Rain looked down at my phone. “I wanna know.”
“Well,” I opened up Mom’s message, “Mom said: ‘Won’t be home till late eleven tonight.’ And Dad said: ‘Will be home tomorrow morning.’” I closed my phone and dropped it onto the floor. “Is it that bad?”
Rain said nothing…
I got up onto my feet and went over to the window to watch the storm. Objects were still being tossed around like small pieces of trash. Believe me, those objects weren’t small..! Still, there was no rain.
“Let it rain; let it rain,” I sighed and closed my eyes. “For goodness sake, let it rain.”
I was on the phone with Menalosa and Jessie that night shortly after the winds died down. The winds died down around ten-forty that night. The three of us were stuck inside the restaurant most of the day.
“So,” Menalosa asked, “you and Rain are on the other side of the country? Luckily this is a small country, girl; otherwise, you two wouldn’t be home till the next week or two.”
“Yeah, true,” I nodded with a sigh. “But honestly, it’s been fun until the storm arrived. It was scary at first, because a car was comin’ down the hill while I was on the ground. I was saved.”
Jessie joined into the conversation, “Where are you, then?”
“We’re at a restaurant now,” I turned back to glance at the restaurant as I sat on the sidewalk in front of it. “Rain is asleep now though. The woman is…well, I don’t know.”
“Please make it home safely,” Jessie replied.
“I’ll try,” I coughed due to the smoke that lingered in the air from three to five different fires. “Our parents didn’t text back yet ever since this morning, saying they won’t be home till later.”
“Well,” Menalosa said, “both of their cars are at your house right now. They didn’t come and ask us about you two.”
“Oh..,” I dropped my grin into a frown with great disappointment, feeling hopeless, “…I see. Thanks for tellin’ me. Eh, I’ll text you two tomorrow as soon as we head home, Ok? Bye.” I closed the phone and cut it off to save the battery. Dropping my head, I got up and went back inside the restaurant.
Rain was asleep on top of one of the tables.
The woman was also on her cell phone in a corner, “I’m sorry, Hannah. I don’t know when I’ll be home. I’ll pay you triple when I get there.” There was a silence. “All right, goodnight, Hannah and thank you so much.” She hung-up her phone and lifted up her head to glare at me. “What’s your name?”
“Amara,” I sat down on the floor. “And her name is Rain.”
“Oh,” she chuckled, “how old are you two?”
“Six and twelve.”
“I’m Whitney Serauskas,” she nodded. “But you can call me ‘Whitney.’ I have a son named Joseph. He’s five years old. I’ll be gladly to help you and Rain get home. How far do you live from here?”
“We live on the other side of Umay…we live in Hedden,” I answered. “But we will be fine. I’ll get us home. I’m the one who brought us here. It’s my responsibility.”
“But that’s over two-hundred miles away,” Whitney exclaimed. “The bus stations are closed. How are you going to get home? As the matter of fact, why are you two here??”
I shrugged my shoulders with guilt.
“You don’t know?” Whitney found her way over to me. “Why don’t you know? Like you said…you’re the one who brought your sister here on this side of the country.”
“I do know,” I glared at the floor of the restaurant, refusing to give her any eye-contact. “I just don’t know what I was thinkin’ yesterday or today. Things just angered me back at home yesterday. The things that angered me back at home are the reasons I brought Rain here to the other side of Umay.”
Whitney was still quiet.
“Yesterday was Rain’s birthday,” I continued. “Our parents told me to pick her up on my way home from school, but our home was six miles west from my school and Rain’s school was three miles east of my school. I wanted to go straight home with my friends because of the heat, but Rain was still at school because of tutoring so she had no other way home. Come to find out, none of our parents said Happy Birthday to her. They gave her no kind of attention. So I decided to take her out for a day and skip the last day of school. Of course, you can see how it turned out.”
“Oh,” Whitney sighed, “I see.”
“Yeah,” I glanced at Rain, “by the way, you need to get home to your son. He needs you.” Once I tried to walk away, Whitney grabbed my wrist to keep me in that spot.
“Just for your safety,” she stated, “I’ll escort you and your sister home. For now you two are my responsibility.”
Since I barely knew her, I knew it was difficult for me to trust her. Well, if we wanted to go home, we had to take our chances on trusting a stranger who saved our lives.
I gave her a nod, accepting her to take us home. “A’ight, fine. I want to sleep now.” I went over to Rain and pat her back gently before I could climb onto a different table to sleep on. “Goodnight, Rain.” I whispered, closing my eyes on the table.
Then finally, I went to sleep.
Rain woke me up the next morning, “Amara, its morning now.” She gently shook me out of my sleep. “We’re going home today, right, Amara?”
I slowly sat up on the table and let out a yawn, “Oh, hey, Rain. Good morning. How was your sleep last night?”
“Pretty good,” she shrugged her shoulders. “I miss my bed though.”
“I don’t blame ya,” I agreed. “Me too.”
“So where’s the pretty lady?” Rain looked around the empty restaurant.
Slipping on my flip-flops, I slowly walked over to the window to glare outside. Whitney was nowhere to be found. “Oh, her name’s Whitney. She’s gone. Well, come now, we’re goin’ to the beach before it storms again. Then we can walk home.”
“Mhm!” Rain gave me a cheesy grin.
“Now,” I grabbed the small backpack, “let’s put on our swimsuits and put our clothes over ‘em.”
“Ok, Amara,” Rain took out her swimsuit from the backpack and then she rushed into the restroom near the back of the restaurant. “I’ll be in here.”
I also grabbed my swimsuit and ran into the restroom with Rain to switch. Later on, Rain and I walked out of the restaurant and strolled around the quiet and empty streets of the town to find a beach. Still, there were no signs of Whitney or other townspeople.
The town was abandoned!
It was still cloudy and hot. Even though there wasn’t any more smoke, it still had its after-scent as if the fires were still here.
“Where’s everybody?” asked Rain.
“And why did they leave?” I added a question.
It was quiet—too quiet.
Within thirty to forty minutes, both of us made it to the beach where no one was about. Tiny waves were in, splashing against our ankles as we stood at the shore.
Rain quickly slipped off her clothes, only leaving on her swimsuit, “Race you to the water, Amara!” She placed her clothes on top of the fence away from the sand and the water, and then she ran passed me again, into the water.
“Hey!” I called out to her just when I took off my clothes, only keeping on my swimsuit too. “Rain, that’s not fair!” I took-off with high speed into the ocean waters.
Rain wasn’t anywhere in the water by the time I jumped into the water.
“Rain, where are you?” I searched the water until she came up from underneath me and pushed me up. “AHH!!!” I fell into the water onto my back, finding Rain laughing at me. “Don’t do that…!” I tried not to laugh but I did anyway.
“You did that to me in our pool,” she continued to laugh.
“That was then,” I stated, “and this is now. Plus, our pool didn’t have fish and sharks. Why did they throw away our pool?” I leaned back and sighed deeply.
Rain stood up in the water and held up a baby sea turtle, “Look! I found a baby turtle, Amara! Look here.”
I stood up and went over to her and the turtle. The turtle was squirming for its life. “It’s cute, Rain. But from the looks of it, he’s tryin’ to get home.”
“Where is it?” Rain held the turtle close to her heart. “I wanna see its home.”
“In the ocean,” I pointed down at the water.
“Aw,” she whined, sitting the turtle back into the water with her bottom lip poked out, “I wanted it to come home with me.”
As she watched the turtle swim away, far out into the ocean, I looked away feeling guilty of letting Rain put the turtle back into the water. It was painful and heartbreaking to see my sister upset. Seeing a little child like her cry isn’t as funny as it seems…seeing her cry is like me watching a cute little puppy with a broken leg!
I paused and looked back at her.
She was still standing in the water staring at the sea.
“ROAR!!!!” I yelled out, hunching up my shoulders. “I’M A GIANT SEAMONSTER WHO WANTS TO EAT A SAD LIL’ GIRL!!! ROAR!!! GET OVER HERE!!!”
Rain turned around with a smile and started fake-screaming just when she ran passed me to head back onto the sandy beach.
Once I caught up to her, I snatched her up off of the sand and swung her around until I had gotten dizzy. I saw five to six of the same objects, but they all were scattered around, making me confused on which objects are real.
I finally collapsed into the water after ten seconds of walking in a circle. Water was splashed into my face, immediately snapping me out of the dizziness. Unfortunately, some of the salty sea water entered my mouth through the cracks of my lips. It was salty and disgusting! It was like gargling hot, salty water back at home, but addition to the salt, there were wastes and bacteria!
“There you two are,” Whitney approached us with three different backpacks. “I’ve been looking for you.”
“You have?” I gasped and coughed, standing up in the water. “I thought you left us. We were about to go home once we woke up, but I kinda promised Rain that I would take her to the beach before we leave.”
“Where are the people?” Rain went up to Whitney.
Whitney answered in a low, calm voice, “People started to evacuate down south because of the number of fires that were reported from all over northeastern part of Umay. Fortunately girls, down south, there are no fires…only green and grasslands. Amara, five-hundred people in northeastern part of Umay were found dead due to the fires that were caused by lightning, tanker truck explosions, and campfires. Since our lands are dried up like a desert, it’s really easy to start and spread fires.”
“W-What about the west side?” I asked.
“There were no news reports on that one yet,” Whitney said. “My home is approximately thirty to thirty-four miles west of here. We’ll stop by my place first just to check on my son and the babysitter, alright?”
Rain and I nodded.
The three of us finally had hit the road shortly after Rain and I dried off and slipped our clothes back on, over our swimsuits. Walking back home was going to be a long, boring, and risky trip. Ugh…Walking…Oh my goodness. I wasn’t ready for this long trip. I preferred taking a bus…
To keep myself occupied and to keep myself from worrying and going crazy about the long journey back home, I took out my phone and started texting Menalosa and Jessie silently. No words came out of me. I stayed behind Rain so I could keep an eye on her as I looked down at my phone.
The silence grew louder.
Probably forty-two minutes had passed ever since we left the beach. We were just approaching the bridge above the baby by the time we saw our first lightning of the day. The rumble of thunder was deep and loud to the point it startled me, making me drop my cell phone.
Taking a deep breath, I picked up my cell phone and continued walking in silence. My eyes were focusing on the screen of my cell phone, but I had a third or fourth eye somewhere. I could see Whitney turning her head to look back at us.
Briefly, I took my eyes off of my cell phone to give her eye-contact for a short amount of time. When our eyes met, I moved my eyes back onto the cell phone.
“You know,” Whitney broke the silence, “if you two get hungry, there are some food or snacks in there…in your new backpacks. Drinks are in there too. Are you hungry?”
I shook my head, “No, I’ll be fine.” I then faced my little sister. “Are you hungry, Rain?”
“I’m thirsty,” she answered, taking out a mini bottle of water. “Thanks, Miss Whitney.”
“Just call me ‘Whitney,’” said Whitney with a wink. “So what do you two like to do for fun?”
With pride, Rain answered, “Draw, dance, and spend time with Amara!” She gave Whitney a proud smile.
“Hm,” I said, “text, sleep, draw, and spend some time with Rain and my friends.” Purposely, I had left out singing, because I knew she would beg me to sing for her.
Whitney also asked, “Rain almost looks like you, Amara. Why?”
I shrugged my shoulders, only focusing on texting my two friends.
“‘Cause I wanna be like my sister,” Rain jumped up and down with excitement. “I wanna be Amara.”
Whitney chuckled, “Awww, that’s so sweet.”
“Now, now,” I stated to Rain, “you can’t be me. You can always be like me.”
We heard laughter coming from Whitney just when we made it onto the bridge that stood above the bay.
Someone or something zoomed by me with great speed that I couldn’t tell who or what it was. Suddenly, two guys dressed in black blocked our path to go across the bridge. Three more guys appeared behind us to prevent us from escaping.
Without saying a word, I scooted myself over to Rain to protect her.
A guy stormed up to me, trying to reach for my two backpacks. He was close to grab them until I stood aside at the last second, tripped him and then flipped him over onto his back.
More guys charged over to us at once and brought the three of us down onto the ground with force. They snatched some of our belongings. Two of them ran off.
Angrily, I forced myself up onto my feet, lifting one of the guys into the air. “You people are messin’ with the wrong people!” I then threw him over the edge of the bridge.
I fought the last two guys that held Rain and Whitney down by punching and kicking them in the back of their heads, immediately knocking them out.
“Amara,” Rain called to me, “the others have our stuff.”
I was already running down the street with high speed, going after the last two muggers. Luckily I was catching up to them in the matter of seconds.
The two of them were getting ready to separate by the time I had gotten three feet away from them.
My dark side began to show on the outside. Flames filled the inside of my eyes with anger and frustration. Then, I found myself roaring like a real, angry lioness, and tackling down one of the guys—who fell on the other.
“It looks like we need to find a shelter or a place to stay for the night, girls,” Whitney lifted up her head to glance at the gray sky. “We haven’t been on the road long at all, but it’s dangerous right now…It’s too dangerous to keep on walking.”
The sky was still dark and gray. The storm clouds were thick and scary, probably filled with lightning that was ready to come out and strike us down. Out in the distance, in the direction where we were going, three different lightning showed up all at once with one of them as a cloud-to-ground lightning.
“Are you sure?” I asked her. “I’m sure that we can travel another two to three miles. We are really tryin’ to get home.”
“My feet hurt,” Rain sat down in the grass. “I can’t walk.” She yawned.
“Well,” I checked the time on my phone, “it’s getting pretty close to your naptime anyway.”
Whitney sat her backpack down and then she knelt down, “Here, Rain, I’ll carry you piggy-back. Climb onto my back.”
Rain nodded and carefully climbed on.
I said nothing, only picked up Whitney’s backpack and continued walking. This time, Whitney was behind me because of the weight.
“Let’s stop at the rest area ahead,” she said. “Most of the people should have evacuated by now.”
Ahead, about half a mile away was a small building with reddish-brown bricks that could be seen from a mile away. From the looks of it, there was only one person there, because there was a car parked there. I remained silent outside of the building, allowing Whitney to talk to the owner of the building. I was outside for only ten minutes by the time they had finished their conversation.
“Thank you for letting us stay here for the night,” Whitney spoke to the owner. “We owe you a whole lot.”
“All’s swell,” the owner replied. “No need for money. I do admit, Miss Serauskas, it’s really kind and generous of you taking the girls home even though it’s time for evacuation. You’re doing a really good job, keeping the girls safe and all from the storm.”
I only took two steps into the building to see where they were. Whitney’s back was facing me as she stood in front of the counter with the owner. None of them noticed that I was there. The owner was packing up his suitcase and Rain was asleep on the lobby couch.
“The west side of Umay?” the owner continued. “I haven’t heard much about that side yet, but it’s still safe for now. No one is hurt there…no fire, no anything. Jee, we haven’t had any hope or rain for over ten years. Look at it now. Most of the north and east have to leave the dry conditions. If my wife was still here, she would be outside praying for rain right now and I would be right next to her.”
For some reason, that reminded me of our parents’ relationship. Our parents weren’t compatible, unlike the owner’s relationship with his late-wife. A tear came out of my eye. I had never realized how much I would miss home and our parents.
Just before I could release more tears, I turned away and went back outside to lean on the brick wall. I thought about the time that the four of us—Mom, Dad, Rain, and I—were happy for once before our parents’ relationship came to a downfall.
Minutes later, the owner of the establishment walked out of the building, “Take care of the girls and be safe. Don’t abandon all hope, for there’s still hope for rain one day.”
“Thank you,” Whitney appeared at the doorway and watched him leave. “Be safe too. Drive carefully.” She then became silent once she saw me looking down at the dead grass. “Are you alright, Amara?”
Quickly wiping the tears away, I gave her a nod and went inside the building, “Yes, I’ll be fine.”
Watching over Rain as she slept, I exhaled deeply with my eyes shut and then I prayed. From what I believe, hope is still there no matter what. As I prayed, I hoped for rain, as usual.
I sensed that Whitney was near. I spoke in a low voice before she could touch my shoulder, “‘Don’t abandon all hope’ he said. I miss our home. No doubt that he and his wife got along just fine. Our parents…they’re the complete opposite. They’re gettin’ a divorce. They’re not compatible. Both of them started drinking. Ever since then, they’ve been pretending that we’re not there most of the time. I’m the one who’s been lookin’ after Rain.”
My eyes were filled with tears that wanted to hurry up and loosely run down both sides of my face.
“And..,” I resumed, “I still want to go home at all costs. I don’t know how the child support thing is goin’ to work out…but one parent is better than none…am I right?” I found myself falling down on the floor, crying with pain and sadness.
Whitney sat down next to me and embraced tightly in her arms.
Being embraced by someone I didn’t know felt awkward, but yet, heartwarming. I couldn’t even remember the last time I’ve been hugged or embraced by someone other than my friends and Rain.
Gently pushing myself away from her, I had let out a cough, “Uh, thanks, Whitney. That was very nice of you. I needed that. And why are you so nice?”
Whitney shrugged her shoulders, “Well, I don’t know honestly. I’m a human-being, I guess?”
I nodded, sitting on the floor in front of Rain so I could watch her sleep in peace. She was soundlessly asleep with a tiny grin on her face. She had my smile from when I was her age. My freckles are all gone and my hair is no longer short.
Just when I turned my head to face the floor, Rain rested her hand on my shoulder, “Amara…”
I gave her my attention by facing her in silence.
“I miss Mommy and Daddy,” she softly spoke to me. “I hope they aren’t dead, Amara. I had a bad dream.”
“Don’t worry,” I scooted myself closer to her in a whisper, “we will be home soon. I promise. You and I will go over to my friend’s house when we get home. We will have fun. Do get some sleep now. Tomorrow, we will be walking far.”
Slowly closing her eyes, Rain gave me a nod and went back to sleep for another hour-and-a-half.
That night, after eating dinner in the kitchen area, I decided to explore the entire building. Why? It’s because I felt like it. Plus, I’m a curious person; I’m filled with curiosity and anxiety.
Whitney was reading a book to Rain when I left them to go exploring.
I approached a gigantic portrait surrounded by scented candles that were already lit by the owner. The owner of the building and his late-wife were in the portrait, smiling with never-ending happiness.
“Why can’t our parents be happy?” I asked myself in a whisper. I pictured our family in the portrait; it was heartbreaking and painful from not seeing our family together, sharing the same happiness. “In a situation like this, what would I do?”
Menalosa texted me the next morning asking me where we were at and what was our location. Whitney, Rain and I were already out on the road once again, headed west, by the time she texted me on my phone. So I had no idea where we were at the moment.
No clouds were around us. About ten miles ahead of us were the gray storm clouds, roaring across the distant lands. It was a relief that we finally had the sun above our heads and the land. The sun was out..? Oh man, here comes the heat again! Normally, walking would help us cool down in the extreme heat instead of standing in one spot. Too bad that wasn’t working out for us…
I held onto my chest, hoping my heart would stop pounding so hard against my chest. The pain finally began to spread throughout my entire body from the top of my head to my big toe. My body was filling up with worries and guilt.
My phone vibrated; it was Menalosa’s text message.
“‘OMG, Amara,’” I read the message quietly, “‘there’s a huge wildfire! It’s spreadin’ like fast! We have to evacuate now. Text ya later.’”
Whitney and Rain—who were ahead of me—paused and turned around.
I was dialing Mom’s cell phone number. No one answered after six rings. After the six rings, it went to her voicemail. The next number I had to dial and call was Dad’s. The same thing happened.
I then called our house phone. I crossed my fingers. The answer machine came on: “Hello, we can’t get to the phone right now…” I quickly hung-up, panting for air.
“They didn’t answer,” I shook my head and continued walking.
“Are you Ok?” Rain stood by me. “Are you scared?”
I shook my head, picturing the roaring fire destroy our home. The screams of our parents that were being perished in the fire echoed throughout my head, causing me to have a headache.
“Are you afraid?” Whitney gently pat my shoulder from behind. “It seems like you’re afraid because you got no answer.”
“Afraid of what?!” I scoffed. “There’s nothin’ to be afraid of around here. Ha, it’s just the heat that’s botherin’ me.” I double-crossed my fingers, hiding them from Rain and Whitney. “I’m NOT afraid of anything, Ok?! I’m not afraid of anybody.”
“Amara, it’s Ok,” Whitney held out her arms for me to hug her but I refused by shaking my head and backing away. “Everybody’s afraid of something.”
“Well I’m not!” I grabbed Rain’s hand. “Come on now. We all have to get home.”
I spoke to no one ever since that moment. Speaking to no one…Ha, it was like sitting in a corner by myself with a puppy and a mouse for three days. So it wasn’t something I was used to at all.
My cell phone vibrated.
It was Mom calling! What a relief..!
I sighed with relief and ended the call without answering it. Turning my head back, I faced Whitney who was glancing down at her cell phone. I released Rain’s hand and slowed down to be at Whitney’s side.
“Eh,” I calmly spoke to her, “Whitney, I’m sorry about this morning. I was so…” I paused to sigh deeply. “Um, you were right. I’m afraid. I’m afraid to lose anybody. You see, I’m tryin’ to be a perfect role model for Rain, so I’m tryin’ not to show any fear or experience any grief or total sadness.”
Whitney didn’t reply.
All I heard was the faded ring. After seven rings, Whitney hung-up the phone, “Amara, I’m speaking from experience…being a role model doesn’t mean you can’t show fear or sadness. To be a role model, you have to be there for a person and be a good influence by showing emotions and believe. Most importantly, you have to be a person who could affect people in a way that makes them better people. I’m sure that Rain thinks you’re a wonderful role model.”
I smiled and chuckled as she and I caught up to Rain.
Another three hours had passed before we could arrive at Gotham City—which was Whitney’s home city in Umay. She was excited about stopping by her home until we actually entered the perished city that was literally burned to the ground.
“Come on; come on, Hannah,” Whitney inhaled deeply and dialed a number into her phone, “pick up, please. Hannah, no. Come on; come on, now.” She groaned, tossing her phone aside into a pile of rubble. “No, it wouldn’t connect to her phone.”
“Try callin’ your house phone,” I picked up her cell phone and gave it back to her. “That’s what I did.”
Whitney nodded once and called her house phone. She constantly tapped the side of her thigh as she impatiently waited or someone to answer the phone.
All of a sudden, Whitney took-off, running down the quiet an empty streets, “NO! JOSEPH! HANNAH! NO!” She didn’t even bother to stop to let us catch up.
I held Rain’s hand the whole time while we were following Whitney deep into the place that was once called a city. In minutes, Rain and I found Whitney standing still in front of a perished house.
Four to five firefighters came out of each house on that street we were on. Actually, we couldn’t even call them houses…Piles of burnt bricks, sidings, and junk are what’s left on that street. Everything was either black or gray. Either that or nothing else was left…
Whitney gasped once she saw four men coming out of her house with two stretchers with a white cover over both of them.
“Wait,” Whitney ran over to them, “this is my home. May I?” She pointed at both of the covered stretchers with sweat loosely trickling down both sides of her face.
The brave men stepped away from the stretchers shortly after sitting them down on the ground.
With a light gulp, Whitney slowly removed the white covers.
I held onto Rain as tightly as I could while watching Whitney uncover the second stretcher.
Whitney suddenly dropped to the ground and grieved in massive pain and great sadness.
I wipe a tear from my eye, feeling sorry for her, “I can’t believe this. Why does she have to go through this and lose her own son?” Shaking my head, I slowly found my way over to Whitney with Rain right behind me. “W-W-Whitney? I am so, so sorry about the loss of your son, Joseph. It’s not…anybody’s fault. He will always be in..,” I took Whitney’s right hand and placed it on her chest where her heart sat, “…here.”
The distressed woman opened her eyes, lifted up her head and looked up at me until our eyes met. I delved my eyes into hers, focusing on more of the tears that were developing in her eyes.
“You’ve done your best,” I lastly said to her.
“It’s not your fault, Whitney,” Rain hugged her and pressed her little head deep into Whitney’s chest. She also shed a tear. “We are here too. We love you, Whitney.”
Whitney grabbed us and held us close to her, “Thank you girls. Things just happen. Everything happens for a reason. Thank you, Rain and Amara.”
“If you want,” I carefully stood up and wiped the tears off of my face, “you can stay here with your son or go down south with the other people. Rain and I will head back home. We don’t want to be a distraction to you ever again.”
“No,” Whitney sighed, bringing me back down with her, “you two aren’t a distraction. You weren’t even a distraction to begin with. I will take you girls home. I promise.”
During this time of year, I knew this wasn’t a good time to have someone taken away from our lives. Luckily it wasn’t before or on a Holiday. No doubt, Whitney was given nothing else to lose since her son was taken from her forever. Losing someone important must be extremely painful or arduous.
I wonder how much of Whitney’s heart was taken away too…I will never know…
Not long after grieving about the loss of Whitney’s son and babysitter, the three of us departed the city of ruins and cruised along the highway once again. The sun began to set out in the distance behind the hills and the overpass, casting shadows behind every single object, including us.
“Are you tired?” Whitney asked me.
Even though I was tired, I kept my head and chin up and shook my head once.
“Are you hungry at all?”
“Don’t worry about me,” I said. “I’ll be fine.” I glared down at Rain, who was staring into space in silence. “What about you?” I tapped Rain on the shoulder. “Are you hungry or tired at all?”
Rain answered calmly, “No, Amara.”
“Aye, girls,” Whitney stopped walking with a deep exhale. “Let’s just stop and camp here for the night. I know that you two are tired. Just don’t pretend that you don’t need or want anything because of what happened earlier. It will be Ok.”
“Yes,” I replied with concern, “but you lost someone close to you. How did you get over the loss of your son that fast? Doesn’t it still hurt???”
She gave me a slight grin, “Yes, it still does. I know that this horrible sadness is never ending. But the heaviness in my heart will lighten one day…not today…not tomorrow. I do say, grief is a part of life. I feel angry, guilty and sad—which is normal in a person’s life. Time will heal all of the wounds in my heart one day, but the scars will always be there. Anyway, it’s time for me to move on with my life and live it to the fullest. I just have to learn from and accept the past and the present as I live. I have to live the present and leave the past alone without hiding or running away from it. I have to learn from it.”
“You will see him again,” Rain held up her pinky finger. “I promise, Whitney.”
“Aw,” Whitney wrapped her pinky around Rain’s. “I know. Thank you, Rain.” She then smiled.
The sun and the moon switched spots in the sky. Since the moon was high up in the sky and the sun was already gone below the horizon, it grew dark enough for us to see over thirteen dozen stars in the sky. We made a tiny campfire before we could take out our towels that were inside our backpacks.
“Wow,” I gasped and lied down on my towel, “back at home, I tried to sleep on the roof to look up at the stars. I’ve never seen anything like this before. I only see ten stars back at home.”
“They are so pretty,” Rain also lied down on her towel. “I wish it was like this every night. Look!” She pointed at the sky. “I see a bunny!”
“Oh,” Whitney chuckled, “I see it too. Eh, I see a pig.”
“A pig?” Rain sat up in her spot. “I see it. Amara, your favorite animal.”
“Hm,” I grinned and held onto the pig necklace. “I see it.”
Once Rain lied back down, she asked, “What do you see, Amara?”
“Um,” I gazed up at the starry sky with uncertainty, “I don’t..,” I paused and then inhaled lightly, realizing I was looking at two children and two parents in the sky. I said nothing.
Without saying a word, I poured water onto the fire and lied down on my side with my back facing Rain and Whitney.
“What’s wrong, Amara?” asked Whitney.
“Nothin’,” I rubbed my head. “Goodnight.”
That night grew chilly…What a surprise! It was just about time that one of the summer nights would cool off for once in a lifetime. In time, it grew a little too chilly.
I snapped my eyes open and quickly sat up, finding out I was shivering in my sleep. I needed warmth. Rain wasn’t in the spot where she was planning on sleeping at. Come to find out, she was with Whitney, soundlessly asleep.
At the same time, I felt lonely and jealous just from watching Rain sleep in Whitney’s arms. Hmph…
Just when I was about to lay back down, Whitney called me, “Get over here. I know you are cold.”
I grabbed my towel and went over to her area. I lied down on the other side of Rain, immediately feeling the warmth from both of them. I was able to go to sleep in peace…
The next morning, when the sun finally poked its head out from the horizon, we started walking again, as usual. Covering at least thirty to forty miles was our number one goal that day…Nothing more; nothing less.
Boredom began to spread throughout my system during the morning hours before it could actually settle. I was craving for some entertainment and some fun. I was sure that Rain felt the same way even though she wasn’t complaining.
Both Menalosa and Jessie sent me a text message, saying that they made it to a shelter just miles from our homeland…The shelter was: Van Achthoven Elementary School. They also said that the storm went away and they wished that the grass was softer and greener. Don’t we all?
I admit the grass was getting dryer and dryer each day when there was no rain. Rain needed to hurry up and come.
I took Rain’s ponytails down so I could have her rubber bands to make a double slingshot, “Step aside, lil’ sis and let the old pro show ya how the shootin’ is done.”
Rain bent down to pick up a handful of tiny pebbles or tiny rocks, “Here you go.”
“Ok, let me test it out first,” I took one of the rocks and shot it into the air. “Oh!” I whispered excitedly. “I still got the juice!” I then pointed at Whitney. “Hand me another one, Rain.”
“Amara,” Rain whispered as she handed me another rock, “don’t hurt her.”
“I won’t,” I winked. “I just want to see her hop.”
I took the rock and shot it at Whitney’s rear end. She hopped! Afraid of getting caught, I handed the rubber bands back to Rain just before Whitney could stop to turn around.
She gave me eye-contact.
Silently, I pointed at Rain.
Whitney remained silent, nodded and then she resumed walking.
Rain lightly punched me, “Why blame me? I did nothing.”
Again, I took the rubber bands and made a double slingshot. Another rock was shot at Whitney’s rear end.
Instead of stopping like before, Whitney only held up her fist, “Ok…don’t take advantage of my back being turned, Amara.”
“What are you talkin’ about?” I slammed the rubber bands back into Rain’s hand. “I haven’t done anything. I’m just takin’ a stroll, no?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Whitney sarcastically replied. “Mhm, sure it was Rain who did it, like the first time. I’m warning you, Amara.”
“Ugh,” I crossed my arms, “fine. Jee, you’re no fun.”
I watched Rain make a double slingshot with the two rubber bands. She took a rock and shot it at Whitney’s head.
Whitney uttered a shriek.
Rain swiftly shoved the rubber bands back into my hand!
Whitney dropped her backpack and turned completely around to gawk at the both of us, “OK! Who did it?”
Rain pointed at me.
“Wha-?!” I gasped, dropping the rubber bands and shook my head. “That was not me!”
“You!” Whitney crackled and pointed at me, preparing to come after me. “That’s it, Amara. You are so dead.”
“Ah come on!” I chuckled nervously, beginning to back away. “It’s not what it seems. Rain did it this time. I so promise you that I did nothin’ this time, Whitney.”
Whitney slowly headed over to me without saying anything. She was ignoring me! The face she made kind of scared me. Who knows what she was going to do to me? Whatever she was going to do, I hoped and prayed that it wasn’t going to cause pain. It was too hot for me to get beaten up on the spot.
She grabbed me the moment I tried to run for my life, “Aha, I gotcha now. You were so trying my patience, Amara. You know what? I don’t think we are going to cover at least forty miles today.”
“Please let go of me,” I begged, trying to squirm my way out. My shoes slipped off as I kicked and squirmed. “Oh please let go. I’ll do anything.”
“Oh, no,” Whitney refused, “it’s too late now. And you said that I wasn’t any fun at all. I’ll show you fun. I used to play this game with Joseph.”
I felt her fingernails quickly running up and down the sides of my body, creating a tickly feeling. I suddenly let out a shriek as I laughed and kicked. I was brought and pinned down to the ground when Whitney asked Rain, “Where else is she ticklish at?”
“No,” I laughed, “don’t tell her, Rain.” Keeping Whitney’s hands away was hard enough but keeping mouth shut was even harder!!!
Rain pointed, “The tummy, belly, underarms, and feet.”
“Traitor!” I said.
“On the ‘tummy’, huh?” Whitney started tickling my stomach near my belly. I was doing nothing but laughing and kicking, trying to get her off. “I’m not going to stop, Amara, unless you can find a way how to get away from me.”
Suddenly the tickling ceased.
Only the laughter of Rain and Whitney were heard.
Sitting up, I found Rain tackling down Whitney and tickling her on the sides too.
“Way to go, lil’ sis!” I stood up and ran over to them. “Get her! Get her! Don’t let her get you, Rain.”
Whitney was pinned down to the ground while Rain was busy tickling her.
“Ow,” Rain stopped and shook both of her hands, “my hands are tired. Amara, help me…” She started to laugh as soon as Whitney sat up to tickle her back.
Just to be nice, I grabbed the woman and gently pushed her backwards onto the ground. I decided to fall along with her and Rain. The three of us just lied there, trying to end our laughs, but it seemed to never end.
Man, it’s been a long time since I had that much fun with an adult. I felt refreshed and happier. For some reason, I didn’t feel like going home just yet. No, it wasn’t because that I was still upset about their divorce; it was because this woman, Whitney, is a beautiful, bizarre, and fun woman who actually cared for us even though we just met a few days ago by fate or luck. Wherever she was going after this long trip, I wanted to be with her.
I’m sure that Rain felt the same way about Whitney too.
Not only that we accomplished our goal to cover at least forty miles by nightfall, we went above or passed our goal! Instead of forty miles, we covered fifty-three miles! According to Whitney’s atlas, Hedden—our hometown—was exactly one-hundred-fifty miles away.
Lucky for us, we made it to a small village called Conair. No cars were around, which gave us a clue that no one was about. The hut doors were left open, too.
I didn’t care…I was ready to take a shower. After that, my plan was to get some shut-eye. Of course, it was kind of obvious that it was everybody’s plan.
“Whitney?” I lied down on a bed that I was sharing with Rain after I was done with my shower.
“Hm?” She came out of the second bathroom with a towel covering up the top half of her body. Her bottom half of the body was already covered by her pants. She sat on the other bed across the room from us.
“When all of this is over and when our journey comes to an end,” I sighed, “will we ever meet again? Is there goin’ to be a day we are goin’ to hang-out or spend the day together?”
“Yes of course! Amara, don’t worry about stuff like that.” She chuckled. “We, seeing each other again all depends on you.” She stuck her tongue out at me in a silly way just to make me smile and not to worry about us departing in a few days.
Well, it worked; I let out a little giggle.
She went over to me and gave me a hug, “Aw, don’t worry about us. We will be fine after all of this is over. Don’t always assume the worse of things.”
“A’ight,” I glanced up at the ceiling after she left our area to go back over to the other side of the room.
Rain started to cough in her sleep. I looked down at her as she sat up in bed to catch her breath. The coughing ceased. Rubbing her eyes, Rain moaned, “I can’t sleep, Amara.”
“Just try,” I hugged her and turned back at Whitney.
Whitney bent down to reach for her fallen tank top that lied down on the floor. As soon as she picked it up, her towel slipped off..!!
Rain’s eyes widened and her mouth dropped. I covered her eyes with my hand without saying a word.
“Ok,” Whitney said, “you can open your eyes now. I’m so sorry girls. I should be more careful when I reach for stuff.”
“No worries,” I removed my hand from Rain’s eyes and then lied back down, “I’ll keep it to myself. Better yet, we’ll just pretend that we didn’t say anything, right, Rain?” I nudged my sister.
“Yes,” Rain closed her eyes and rested.
The next day, our next goal was to cover forty-miles, maybe less than that. More signs of sickness conquering Rain’s body started to show up even more. I watched her in silence with concern from the corner of my eye even though I grew even more worried.
My phone vibrated twice. Once I took out my phone, it turned off because I had no bars left. I had to charge it but my charger was left back at home.
We just passed a gigantic billboard, advertising about a new neighborhood of luxury being built in Hedden. At the corner of the billboard, it said: “137 MORE MILES TO GO!”
Do the math; we only walked thirteen miles within two-and-a-half hours. Not bad…
“Rain,” I smiled, trying to see the bright side and trying to lift her spirits up, “look, lil’ sis. We will be home in a few days. One-hundred-thirty-seven more miles to go.”
Rain weakly lifted up her head to glance up at the board. It was like watching a child getting hit by a car, but survives and then walks away.
“Are you Ok?”
She was wobbling from side to side with her eyes closed. She nodded, “Yes, Amara.”
Being skeptical about her health, I knew she wasn’t Ok. “Hm,” nodding once with uncertainty, I slowly turned away on purpose to keep an eye on her. Just before I could turn completely around, Rain collapse onto the ground. “Rain?” I gasped. “Rain!”
Rain was on her side, breathing heavily and slowly. She didn’t open her eyes or make a slightest movement with her head, arms or legs.
“No, Rain,” I bent down in front of her. “Wake up, Rain. Can you hear me?”
She didn’t answer but she was still breathing.
I could feel her bones when I lifted up her arms and legs. There was barely any meat on her…!! What was this?
Whitney rushed over to us, “We need to get her out of the heat. I found an abandoned car. I can hotwire it, and then we could finish up the rest of the twenty-seven miles, Ok?” She picked up Rain and rushed her over to an abandoned car that stood in the shade of a very tall tree. She placed her in the back seat before she could hotwire the car.
There wasn’t much gas left, but it was enough to go at least thirty miles…maybe less. Who knows?
Rain’s condition—health-wise—was getting worse every five to ten minutes. Unluckily for us, no hospital was near. After an hour of traveling west in the car at fifteen miles per hour, we finally ran out of gas. We were in the middle of nowhere this time, where the highway and the dry grasslands continued to stretch as far as the eye could see.
The three of us remained in the car with the air conditioning.
Fortunately, Rain woke up because of the cool air, which made me feel relieved. She wouldn’t sit up though…
“Amara,” Rain spoke weakly, “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it,” I shook my head and handed her a cracker and some water. “Here, you need to eat and drink plenty of water.”
Once she received the cracker and water, she shook her head and closed her eyes. She refused to eat for some reason.
Realizing she was too ill, I gasped and moved to the back with her. I sat her up and took the water and cracker from her hands. “If you don’t eat this, Rain, you’ll get skinnier and skinnier and won’t get any better. Do you want to get better, Rain?”
She nodded weakly as she gazed up at me with guilt written all over her face.
“Drink some water first,” I carefully and slowly poured water into her mouth. Rain swallowed the water successfully, but he next thing she had to consume was the cracker. “Here, eat the cracker. We can’t travel any farther because of your lil’ sickness. If you don’t eat, we can’t get home.”
Rain ate the cracker…Thank goodness. Screw hell…
“Whitney, is Rain all right?” the next morning as soon as we got out of the car to continue our long journey back home, I calmly asked Whitney. “She’s been awfully quiet since yesterday.”
Whitney carried Rain on her back. As for Rain, her eyes were closed and her arms and legs were resting as if she was deep asleep, if you know what I mean…
“Uh,” Whitney faced me and shrugged her shoulders, “I-I don’t know. I’m sure she’s…”
She was interrupted by a mumble, coming from my little sister, “Whitney, I want to walk. I can walk by myself now.”
Whitney’s eyes met mine. In her eyes, I could see the restlessness and agitation, filling them up with worries and concern.
“Go ahead,” I whispered and gave her a nod. “I’ll watch her from over here.”
She gently stood Rain on the ground.
Rain was standing up straight with her head and chin up as if nothing was wrong with her. I do say, it was comforting to see her head up high like before, on our way home from school and on our way to the other side of the country. Still, I wouldn’t take my eyes off of my sister for hours.
She slowed down to my dawdling speed to hold my hand with a smile, “Amara, I’m good. I will be fine, I promise. Someone told me that not all people arrive together at the end of life sometimes.”
I gulped, slightly dropping my mouth, “Rain…no.” That time was coming for her. I then knew, from that moment on, that she wasn’t going to make it home with me; I could see it in her eyes. My heart’s speed began to slow down.
“Remember that song you used to sing to me when I’m sad, Amara?” she asked me.
“Rainbow Moonlight?” I lightly gasped.
“Mhm,” she gave me a thumbs-up. “Let’s sing it together.”
She and I began to sing:
The moon shines over me
Bright and proud.
The light from the moon
Is always bright and is always white
A midnight rainbow flies from the Heaven skies,’”
Noticing that we were singing, Whitney stood aside and waited for us to pass by her. As we sang, Rain grabbed Whitney’s hand and held it with a grin.
The song was coming to its end. Also, Rain’s speed began to decrease. Even her grip on our hands was loosening. She lastly leaned backwards, releasing our hands as she fell.
“Rain!” I dropped right next to her, praying she was going to make it for at least another hour or two. Come to find out, she wasn’t breathing. I rested my hand on her chest to feel her heart…her heart was gone…My own heart suddenly dropped into immediate stress and misery that not even the world’s strongest superhero—who could pick up objects that weigh more than five hundred tons—could lift it back to its rightful place. “No, Rain.” I murmured and sniffed. “Whitney, she’s gone.”
I closed my eyes and held Rain’s hand and the necklace I gave her, remembering the good and memorable times we had spent together. That day she and I skipped school to go to the east coast entered my head. I also pictured the scene when she gave me the pig necklace and the last thing I pictured was when the three of us played on the ground after throwing rocks at Whitney.
Then finally, I found myself bawling with guilt and devastation, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!” The echo of my yelling lasted about five seconds…that was how long and how loud I yelled to the top of my weak lungs.
When I stood up, crying six to seven oceans of tears, Whitney rushed over to me and embraced me tightly in her arms until my head was pinned to her chest. She was crying too.
“Whitney,” I firmly held onto the pig necklace, “my sister’s gone! What am I supposed to do now? I can’t go home without her! Oh, she’s gone, Whitney! Rain is gone forever! Help me, please. Bring her back to me!!”
She grabbed my hand and placed it on my heart, “Shh, she will always be right in here. She’s inside you, Amara. Be strong.”
“How?!” I continued crying. “She’s not here with me. I need her… I need to be by my sister. What am I supposed to do now?”
When my sister died in front of me that day, I couldn’t come up with any comparison to explain or express how it felt or what it was like losing my only sister that I ever loved. All I know was that losing my sister tore more than half of my heart apart. Honestly, my heart was shattered like a mirror in a million pieces. Put it together and we would still see the cracks and the scars. It was extremely painful and devastating. With full honesty, I wasn’t sure how I could stand breathing after her sudden death. If I wasn’t a very strong person, I could’ve died with her. Healing all of the wounds in my heart was going to take some time, but it all depended on how well I took the pain and dealt with the grief…
Just like Whitney losing her son, Joseph, I was given nothing else to lose. Over half of my heart was gone. There was no point on caring for anybody or hoping for a miracle. I lost most of my pride and myself. There would be no other impact made to my heart if I had lost both of my parents on the same day at the same time since they were barely there for me and Rain from the word “go”.
We couldn’t carry my sister’s body for another mile; so we had to cremate her, which was the hardest and painful thing to do. It was a right thing, though.
The day unhurriedly sailed by.
I carried Rain’s ashes and bones in an old water bottle that once belonged to Rain. Then we started walking along the highway for another twenty miles. During the entire time, I held the bottle of Rain’s remains in my hands close to my heart.
The pain lingered for hours.
Every now and then, Whitney would look back at me. There would be a loose tear trickling down on one side of my face every time.
I wasn’t able to sleep by myself that night. No matter what, I wouldn’t let go of Rain’s ashes and bones. My heart still wouldn’t heal.
Whitney and I rested on top of the boulders that night. Instead of sleeping by myself, I slept with Whitney to receive the warmth and comfort from her.
The entire night, I thought about Rain. I miss her so much. I wanted her right next to me where I could see her as clearly as before when she was alive.
Why did she have to die?
Why wasn’t she eating?
I didn’t know.
The yearning of seeing my sister again never dampened. I wished there was a way I could see her again, even if it’s for a tiny moment. The more I had thought about her, the more I cried…Tears rolled down my face as I moaned in my sleep, “Rain, come back. Rain.”
I felt and heard Whitney’s heart beat to a certain rhythm. She held my hand firmly, letting me know that I wasn’t completely alone.
“Ninety miles to go,” Whitney spoke to me the next morning while we were sitting on the boulders, watching the bright sun rise into the sky. “Two more days, Amara. Are you ready?”
It was a bittersweet moment about reaching home; wanting to see a familiar face or two—which were my parents or my friends—was the last thing on my mind. At the same time, I wanted to stay or stick with Whitney. She was more motherly to me and Rain than our real mother. She made the trip fun. She’s compassionate, kind, and warmhearted. She actually loved and cared for us…well, she still loves and cares for me and Rain even though Rain’s time in this world came to an end. I was afraid to explain my true feelings about her so I kept it to myself.
I shrugged my shoulders and answered in a low and calm voice, “Well, I guess so. I guess I am. Should I be? At least I’m able to see a familiar face or two. But I miss Rain so much.”
“Speaking of Rain,” Whitney asked, “what are you going to do with her remains?”
“Uh,” I sighed, “back at the beach, Rain found a baby sea turtle. She released him back into the water. At first, I wanted to put her ashes in the ocean so she could see where the turtles live, but the ocean is far. So, I’ll just pour the ashes in a river nearby that leads to the bay. And the bay will take her to the ocean.”
“That’s a good idea,” Whitney winked. “I’m sure that she’ll love that idea.”
The river nearby was about a mile north from the boulders. The river wasn’t still or calm; it was a fast-flowing river that could carry a human-being to the bay at one-hundred-sixty-five miles per hour.
I knelt down next to the river, slowly shutting my eyes and opening up the bottle.
“Goodbye, Rain,” I then glared up at the sky; gray clouds were closing-in on us. A rumble of thunder was heard, echoing across the land. Lastly, sobbing to myself, I poured Rain’s ashes into the river and watched the ashes head back, towards the east.
“Amara,” Rain’s voice called to me.
Sitting right next to me was the angel of Rain, smiling at me. From my eyes, she was visible and her colors were clear, as if she was still alive.
“Huh, Rain?” I whispered so Whitney couldn’t hear me. “You’re here? How’s that possible?”
She nodded once and glanced up at the sky, “Mhm. Thank you, Amara. I’m going to see the turtles and Joseph.” She started to slowly disappear and her colors were fading away. As soon as she slowly disappeared, it began to drizzle.
I gasped and stood up with Whitney, “It’s raining! Oh my gosh! Yes!”
Whitney opened her mouth to drink some of the rain.
I turned around to look for Rain. Instead of her being on the ground, Rain was in mid-air glaring down at me.
Her voice faded away and echoed as she spoke to me, “I will miss you, Amara. You’re a good sister.” She then grinned at me.
“No, Rain,” I shook my head and went over to her, “You can’t leave me now.”
“I must go,” she replied.
“But Rain, I can’t go home without you.”
“Yes you can,” she was being lifted up into the sky, placing her hand on her heart. “You took good care of me. I will always be in your heart. Home is never far, Amara. Goodbye, Amara. I love you.” She disappeared inside the clouds as the rain poured down.
I didn’t see or hear from Rain after that moment. For two hours, as it rained, Whitney and I stood outside and enjoyed the gift that was falling down to Earth.