I'm not a perfect person
There's many things I wish I didn't do
But I continue learning
I never meant to do those things to you
And so I have to say before I go
That I just want you to know
I've found a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
And the reason is you
Sighing, I picked up the only things that held any value to me. I grabbed my bag, putting my phone charger and my writing supplies into it. I pulled my jacket on, grabbing my phone and stuffing my earbuds in my pocket. I crept down the stairs, careful not to stir the monsters that were my family. I quietly made my way to my last stop before I was to leave this place forever. Stopping at the threshold of his room, I quietly pushed my little brother's door open. I stood there for a while, just listening to his breathing. A tear escaped my eye as I knew I'd never get a chance to see him again.
"He's so cute and peaceful when he's asleep, isn't he?" A soft, quiet whisper said behind me, causing me to jump. I turned around just to see my older sister, Megan. She looked at me sadly before sighing and hugging me tight. "I wish you didn't have to go but I know why you are. If only I could do something but I can't and you know that. Just promise me you'll be careful and that you'll try and write me wherever you end up." She said, once she pulled back from the hug. At this point, tears started pouring down my cheeks.
"I promise." I whispered softly, holding back even more tears. I turned back towards my younger brother. I walked towards his bed and got onto my knees. I withdrew a brown teddy bear from my bag and laid it next to him, giving him a kiss on his forehead. I felt my sister kneel down next to me. I turned toward her.
"Can we pray before you leave us forever?" She asked. I nodded with a small smile. She knew how I had turned towards God after my faithful encounter with Him during that dreadful surgery and have prayed ever since. I turned back towards Christopher, closing my eyes and folding my hands.
“Dear Lord, We come to you on the faithful night to seal my sister's fate. I pray you look over her and keep her safe. I pray you lead her to a safe place and towards a better life with you in it.” She nudged me to continue.
“I pray you keep Megan and Chris safe during this time. I know with me being gone, it'll be rough on them but show, them your mercy and forgiveness, dear Father, and just how much I love them. Please help Megan progress towards her career choice and keep Chris with us always. In Your Name we pray, Amen.”
I got up and hugged my sister one last time. "I love you guys. I always will." I whispered, before leaving the room. I grabbed my house key before finally leaving the house. I got across the street and looked back. The house will no longer bring me bad memories.
Walking along St. Joe Avenue at night is dangerous. Especially if God decided, to your dismay, to open the heavens and have it pouring down rain. But nonetheless, I kept walking, knowing from this point further, I was in God's hands and He was leading me to where I needed to go. I myself didn't even know where that place was. I just put my faith in Him and kept walking. Several people whistled at me and offered me rides but I dared not stray off my path. It was only when I came up to Bonneville-New Harmony Road that I knew where God was leading me. I looked up to the Heavens.
"Why, God? Why here of all places?" I questioned, already knowing deep down the answer. I sighed, taking the first step onto the driveway. "Could you at least send him a message so I don't have to wake everyone in his house up?" I mumbled, sighing and looking down. It seemed God had heard me and answered as I looked up just in time to see someone coming out of the house. My breath caught in my throat and my knees went weak when I realized who it was as he turned around. I took a step forward, just to trip over a stray twig. I caught myself, but cursed, hoping Jonathan didn't hear. But he did, as he turned my way.
"Annabeth? What are you doing here? At this time of night? In the pouring rain?" He questioned, walking to me. I noticed his light brown hair had grown to shoulder length since the last I saw him. I shrugged my shoulders before realizing he probably couldn’t see me well.
"I don't know. God led me here.” Jonathan rolled his eyes.
"Of course he did. He just told you to pack up your stuff and go?" He asked, sarcastically. He paused, waiting for my response. When he didn’t receive one, he sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "What are you doing here? You must've had some say." He looked at his phone. His eyes widened and a “shit” escaped his mouth. He looked back at me with annoyance. “It doesn’t matter. I'm on the way to Maxwell's. You remember him, don't you?" I nodded my head, yawning. “Well, if I don’t leave now, I’m going to be late getting him. Do you want to ride along? Or are you just going to stand there, cold and wet?” He asked, sensing I was cold due to the shivering. He narrowed his eyes like he was deep in thought. Then, as if a bolt of lightning hit him, he jumped, quickly taking off his jacket and draping it over my shoulders. I looked at him in shock, as I never expected that. He shrugged his shoulders, running to the driver’s side and getting in. I sighed, walking to the passenger’s side and getting in as well. It’s safe to say, the car ride to Maxwell’s was an awkward one spent in silence.
Ping! I rolled over onto my side and grabbed my phone. I saw it was a text from Jonathan.
Hey, lazy! I’m on my way! Get ready!
I sighed, rolling my eyes and getting out of bed. I stretched and put my phone in my pocket. I walked over to my dresser. A pair of nice jeans and a button down shirt should be good for a get together with friends, right? I thought. I nodded to myself, grabbing a pair of jeans from my dresser. I walked to my closet and grabbed a button down from it. I stumbled in the dark to the bathroom, trying not to wake anyone. Succeeding in doing so, I made it and started the shower. I let it heat up before getting in and relishing in the warmth. As I stood there, I let my thoughts take over. This get together is too late at night. Or should I say too early in the morning? Eh. It doesn’t matter. I thought to myself, chuckling. Many people there will be trying to get drunk anyways. No matter what time it is. My thoughts drifted into something completely different.. To a person, to be precise. I wonder if Annabeth is awake. I wish she’d be coming. But atlas, since her break-up with Jonathan, she won’t go anywhere where he is. I sighed. Which is such a pity, as I bet she’d have loads of fun, I thought, getting out and drying off. I slip on my jeans and shirt, blow drying my hair. I pulled out my phone and texted Annabeth.
Hey, Anne. Are you by any chance up?
I walked to the kitchen, waiting for a reply. I grabbed a water bottle and an apple. As I bit into my apple, my phone rang.
“Oh yeah, I really wanna put a smile on your lips, Like an eighth grade kiss, Put a swing in your hips, come on move like this, Let's sing about the good times, good times, yeah.” I quickly answered it, knowing who it was.
“Hello?” I replied, like usual.
“Hey, troublemaker.” Annabeth’s nickname for me got me to smile.
“Hi, Panda.” I said, unable to hold back my smile. “What are you doing up at this time of night?” I asked, casually leaning against the kitchen counter and taking another bite of my apple.
“Oh, nothing. Just riding along in a car with no one in particular.” I heard a Hey sound in the background followed by her giggle. “Or at least someone which will surprise you.” She responded, making me think. Who would she be with that would surprise me?
“Um, Elmer Fudge?”
“No.” Her cute giggles made me smile.
“Nope.” She replied. Popping the ‘p’.
“Thomas Keith?” I asked, thinking back to that guy Jonathan joked about being.
“You’re getting warmer.” She said, sounding nervous. Immediately, I knew who it was, but I hoped to God it wasn’t.
“It can’t be Jonathan Whitebrook, can it?” I asked, not liking the possibility that if she was with him, they probably got back together.
“Actually, it is. We’re on our way to your house.” She replied, cautiously. I sighed, dismayed.
“Oh, so you two are back together?” I asked, disappointedly.
“No. We are not.” I heard her sigh. “Look, it’s a long story and I don’t want to talk about it.” I let out a sigh of relief.
“Yes! That’s great! I mean….it’s okay. You don’t have to.” I said, silently cheering in my head. I then remembered I had something for her. “So….how far are you guys from my house?” I asked, casually. I heard talking in the background then her soft voice.
“We are about a minute and a half away from you according to Jonathan.” She said, sweetly. I smiled, enjoying the sound of her voice.
“That’s great, I have just enough time. I’ll see you when you get here.” I said, quickly.
“But-“ I hung up before she said anything else. I ran to my room and went to my bed. I got down on my knees and searched around under my bed for it. After a moment of searching, I finally pulled out the pink satin box with the lavender bow. I smiled at it, remembering the day I got it. I was pulled out of my thoughts by a car horn.
Ping! I pulled out my phone and checked the message.
Hey, Troublemaker, get your cute behind out here. Please? *insert puppy dog eyes here*
I chuckled at her message. I grabbed the box, shoving it into my pocket and running outside. When I got onto my front porch, I pulled my hood up and while looking down as to not get the rain into my eyes, I started running to the car. Only, on the way there, I was pushed to the ground by a force.
“Maxwell!!! I haven’t seen you in so long!” I looked up to see I had been tackled into a hug by Annabeth. She smiled and got off me. With that smile on her face, I couldn’t help but smile too. I mean, when someone has a smile like hers, it’s quite difficult not to smile back.
“Hey, Anne.” I got up, brushing myself off. I then pulled her into me. My chin rested comfortably on her head as I pulled her into a hug, my 6’ 2’’ frame engulfing her 5’ 8’’ frame. As we pulled away, she blushed, and I push a stray hair behind her ear.
“Sorry about knocking you down.” She said, all of a sudden becoming shy.
“It’s no problem, Panda. As long as you’re okay, I mean, we can’t have you hurting yourself, can we?” I replied, grinning at her. She blushed.
“Maxwell!” She whined. “I’m not a panda! Do I look cute and fluffy?” She asked, placing her hands on her hips. I chuckled.
“Yes. You are cute. Not fluffy, but adorable.” I boop her nose. She looks down blushing and notices the box that fell out of my pocket.
“What’s that?” She asks picking it up. Just then, Jonathan ran over to us.
“Hey, what’s going on? You left the car door open and now the front seat is soaked.” He said, turning towards Annabeth.
“Sorry about keeping her. We were just talking. We can go now.” I said, turning to walk to the car.
“No.” Annabeth said from behind me. I turned around towards her. “Not until you tell me what this is.” She said, pointing to the box.
“I’ll tell you in the car. How about that?” I would love to stand there talking but I wanted to get out of this rain.
“Ugh. Fine. Lets go!” Annabeth said. “Oh, um….could we get some towels? I am not sitting on a wet seat.” She said, hand on her hip.
“Of course, my lady.” I said, bowing. She giggled, causing me to smile. I ran outside to get the towels then laid them on her seat. After helping her in, I myself sat in the back, waiting for it…..
I was so excited to see Maxwell, that I couldn’t resist running to hug him which made me forget to close the car door. Which, looking back on, I shouldn’t have done as I seemed to have made Jonathan mad. Jonathan had a tight grip on the steering wheel and a look of anger on his face. I sighed, turning to look out the window into the gloomy and wet night.
“Is everything alright, Anne?” I turned around to look at Maxwell and smiled.
“Oh, uh yeah. Just not liking this storm.” I said, accidentally thinking back to the day I was first scared of thunderstorms. I involuntarily shivered.. He gave me a concerned look.
“Are you sure?” He asked, leaning forward in his seat. I glanced back out the front windshield. I went to turn back around to look at Maxwell, when I saw a doe run out into the road.
“WATCH OUT!” I yelled, pointing at the doe. Jonathan slammed on his breaks, causing us all to lurch forward. At the last moment, Jonathan stuck his arm out in front of me, like a mom would do for her child. After the sudden stop, the car was dead silent. I looked at Jonathan and it looked like he was in a staring contest with the doe and neither would budge. I gently pushed his arm away, but even that didn’t faze him.
“Hey, Johnny? You got a boot stuck up your ass or something? Let’s get going.” I whipped my head around to look at Maxwell, surprised. Never in my life have I ever heard him cuss. It did seem to do the trick though, as Jonathan was pulled out of his trance.
“Right. Um, sorry about that guys.” He said, driving again. A short while later, we pulled into a long driveway. I looked at Jonathan in confusion.
“Where are we?” I asked, gesturing to the large house, more like mansion, as we pulled in front of the house. Jonathan turned off the car and turned towards me.
“We are at a friend’s house. Now, I would like to warn you before we go in, that the people you’re about to meet, they’re not what you have been exposed to. These teens are children of the greatest crime lords of Evansville. So, be careful. You don’t know what they’re capable of.” It was Maxwell and not Jonathan who spoke. I turned to him in disbelief.
“You have to be joking, Max. You can NOT be friends with such people.” I said, crossing my arms. He just shrugged.
“Okay. Fine. Believe what you want, but don’t blame me if something happens.” He said, getting out of the car and heading to the door. Jonathan followed, leaving me alone in the car. I sighed and got out as well. I stared in awe at the huge doors. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Maxwell knocked on the door and a moment later, a tall man in a tuxedo opened the door.
“Ah. Mister Peterson. Mister Whitebrook. Lady Rosebud has been expecting you two.” He turned towards me and furrowed his eyebrows. “Now who is this?” He asked, pointing at me. I placed my hands on my hips and looked at him.
“Don’t you know it’s rude to point at a lady?” I asked, sassily. “And For your information, I’m Lady Annabeth Marie Meritt.” His eyes widened.
“Of the Meritts?” He asked, causing me to look questionably at him. Maxwell stepped forward and whispered something in the man’s ear, causing him to nod and compose himself. “Of course, right this way.” He led us into the big mansion. We followed him down a long hallway and into a large room. There were maybe ten or fifteen teens all together in the room, conversing. A tall, blonde, skinny girl walked over from the crowd.
“Jonathan! Maxwell!” She hugged each of them. “It’s good to see you guys.” She turned to Maxwell. “Father would like to see you. He’s in his office. Do you remember where it is?” She questioned. He nodded.
“Before I go to attend this urgent business matter, Robin, I’d like you to meet someone.” He pulled me next to him. “This is Annabeth Meritt. Annabeth, this is Robin Mishler.”
“Is this the girl?” She asked, looking me up and down.
“We believe she is.” He said, leaning against the wall.
“Right. Well, you better run along now. You can’t keep father waiting.” She said, smiling. He turned to walk away but she stopped him. “Don’t forget to take the girl with you.” She said, glancing my way.
“Oh. Yeah. Come on Anne.” He motioned for me to follow. I don’t hesitate. This place kinda gives me the creeps, I thought, cringing. He led me up a set of stairs and down to the end of the long hallway. He stopped to make sure I was still with him. “Be polite. He doesn’t tolerate bad manners. No sassing him.” I hesitated before knocking on the door.
We heard a “Come in,” from the other side and Maxwell opened the door to reveal a large office lined with floor to ceiling shelves full of books and trinkets. On the back wall there was a huge ornate fireplace, but what caught my attention was the man who sat behind a huge mahogany desk. He looked to be in his late 20’s or early 30’s. He was tall with blonde hair and a little scruff. His hazel eyes had a careful look almost as if a nervous animal had just walked in. “Is that her?” he asks in a deep velvety voice never looking away from Maxwell.
“Yes, sir.” Maxwell seemed slightly uncomfortable. I didn’t have to ask him if he was okay or not because the man tossed a file at me. I caught it, looking questioningly at Maxwell. He just gave me a serious look and pointed to the file, indicating that he wanted me to read it. I looked back to the file in my hands. It was a vanilla colored file with my name in big bold black letters. I slowly opened it, hesitant to see what was inside. My eyes widened and my jaw dropped as I read what was in it. A moment later, the file slid out of my hands and onto the floor.
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