Remember When (Suggestions?)
Author: Jewel Heart

Chapter 1
Chapter 1

The ocean is the most beautiful thing in the world. How many secrets it holds nobody can ever find out. How many lives it’s sucked in is another mystery. The ocean is very much like life, in my opinion. It is sad and happy, angry, forgiving—it’s life. It is also pure. When the skies are crying, it takes away the tears and brings out the sun. It allows children of the earth to contaminate it, all the while allowing the little ones to play. The seas can be angry and vengeful, though. When it tires of seeing the sky suffer, it turns on these land creatures, engulfing them so that they can no longer be gleeful. It teaches us all a lesson and if you’ve suffered from it as I have, you realize that it is fair with all in different ways. Balance is the key.

Several days ago, I lost a dear mother to that beauty. She had been out scuba diving with some of her friends, but she hadn’t returned. Mrs. Harrison had been there to keep me calm as she explained. Everyone expected a tornado to seem to pass through my house as I broke every last object and threw furniture around. Every last person that came to visit me was shocked to see how nothing was out of order. I had been too calm for it to be psychologically healthy. What the contradiction. I should have lived up to my name.

“Where’s Mum?” I asked Mrs. Harrison when I found her sitting in my living room, quietly sipping a cup of tea.

She smacked her lips and sighed heavily. A strange knot tied in my stomach. Mrs. Harrison set down her cup of tea on the coffee table in front of her and motioned for me to take a seat. Warily, I sat in the lotus position. Waves of sadness hit me abruptly and the atmosphere thickened.

“Why do you choose to sit that way, dear?” asked Mrs. Harrison. “You’re such a lovely and educated girl. Sit like one.” She was lying through her teeth.

“I’m not too fond of people telling me what to do, Mrs. Harrison,” I snapped. “Surely it doesn’t bother you. This is how some of the wisest human beings regularly rest. Perhaps you should try it too?”

“I would rather not,” she said coolly. Mrs. Harrison had never been too fond of me. She found me to be a rotten child with a mouth too big for my own good. That is not true. My insults are just too subtle for her to call anything but smart mouthing.

“If you would please answer my question this time, I repeat. Where is my mother?”

Her eyes narrowed in annoyance. “Lana drowned.”

Silence stretched and I remained unmoved. Mrs. Harrison held a slightly smug smile which she tried to pass off as sad. She expected me to make a fit now. I didn’t feel like breaking anything. Had I, her nose would look much better. Cherry lipstick stained the delicate cup as Mrs. Harrison finished her tea. How disgusting. Her friend just died and all she can do is smile.

“I see,” I finally said. “You can leave now. But next time there’s some bad news to be said, please have Makani come. If I wanted my home to have such a bad stench fill it, I would let an animal rot inside.”

I stood, not caring to see Mrs. Harrison’s eyes widen in surprise at my indirect insult. This shouldn’t have surprised her. “Excuse me?”

“You are excused.”

“You are such an insolent child. When do you finally plan on leaving this world? You’re a good for nothing piece of shit.”

“What does that make you, then?” I paused at the front door. “Invading my home, insulting me, and refusing to leave after giving me such bad news with a cruel smile? If I am for no other purpose than fertilizer, then you’re the stupid dog that eats me because nobody loves it so nobody feeds it.” Over my shoulder, I met her eyes. My crystal blue pools were icy enough to freeze Mrs. Harrison in place. “Now, either you leave at this moment by yourself, or I kick your ass before throwing it back out on the streets.”

“You think too highly of yourself,” she laughed nervously.

“Would you like to find out whether I am simply stretching the truth?”

After scoffing, Mrs. Harrison picked her purse and nonchalantly said, “I am late for an appointment either way.”

“Sure you are.”

“I must be on my way.”

“Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.”

“I will return in a few hours to speak with you about your mother’s will.”

“Very well,” I said politely. Then, I added dryly, “Let’s hope that something horrible doesn’t happen to you on your way back.” She looked at me stunned, wondering if it had been a threat. My emotionless expression gave away little.

“Excuse me?”

“You have been excused previously.” I held open the door. “Since you have been granted permission, then hold true to your word.”

Mrs. Harrison left tense. You could see the black light emitting from her. I would have smiled, pleased with myself, had it not been for the news. It wasn’t hard to find some theories as to how Mum died while scuba diving. She liked moving away from groups to do independent research. She was probably running out of air and didn’t notice, so while she was looking for her friends, she ran out. Or, her air tank could have been opened and she was too deep into the water to reach surface before she needed to breathe. There were several different possibilities that all involved her straying away.

I didn’t know how to feel. I could feel sad, angry, guilty, numb—anything really. Emotions were coming in short flashes, making me believe that my sanity had finally been erased from the face of the earth. I was sobbing, and then I would scream and punch holes through walls, later I would laugh as tears dried my eyes, and so on. I sat in my mother’s bedroom, looking through her jewelry, remembering each occasion where she would wear them. She always held a perfectly white smile. She always looked beautiful. She was always so kind and loving even towards those who didn’t deserve it.

I couldn’t breathe. I lay on Mum’s canopy bed, feeling as if my long black hair was sliding into place, choking me and digging into my skin. Meanwhile, my stomach was being stabbed by little needles, pouring my emotions out in the form of red tears. Tugs at my heart made it feel as if it was chained down and those chains were pulling it to break it into separate pieces. There were flashes of lightning in my head, destroying the portions which had managed to remain smiling.

A soft knock on my door resulted in my sitting up despite my body’s complaints. I recognized the rhythm and called for Makani to enter. She wore a nice green sundress with her golden hair tied up in a bun and flowers in her hair.

“Hey, kiddo, how are you doing?” she asked softly.

“How were the siblings of those who died in nine-eleven when they found out their loved ones passed away?” I replied.

Makani grimaced. “I tried to keep an eye on her. You know I always do. Nina wanted me to see some starfish though and she escaped me.”

“I would never blame you, Makani.”

She dismissed the subject with a sigh. “Lana left you everything, you know? This house, all her insurance, the money in the bank—but you can't tap into that yet. It’s specifically for your college.”

“That doesn’t interest me, Makani,” I stopped her. “I don’t care for money or possessions. Is it nice to have? Yeah, but I’d rather have my Mum with me.”

“I know, sweetie.” Makani stroked my cheek in sympathy. Her green eyes were rimmed red. She had been crying.

“Who I am living with now is what interests me.”

“Her request was for you not to be sent to your Aunt Maya’s house, but laws state that you must have a guardian.”

“I’m aware. You’re sending me to live with Grandma Maxine?” I asked. “That’s wisest. It’s the only way to honor Mum’s wishes and for me to have a legal guardian.”

“Tornado, you must understand that the woman is over ninety years old—”

“She is family, these are my mother’s pleas, and I can care for her. It’s only a few months until my eighteen birthday. She’ll survive until then. I can get a job in the meantime and live near the state university after she perishes. With the money I’m being left it’s not hard for me to sustain myself.”

“You had this all planned out?”

“No. I’ve just been thinking a lot the past hour.”

“You’re too bright.”

“I’m not bright. I’m realistic. I’m doing what I need to survive.” I stood and quickly steadied myself before the rushing of blood caused me to fall. “I would like for you to arrange my mother’s funeral by this Friday. She will be cremated. And I want you to arrange for a plane ticket to be at my hotel room for Saturday by tomorrow. I want the time to be no later than noon and no earlier than eight in the morning. Last thing I want you to do is to inform Grandma Maxine about my…temporary stay at her abode.”

“You shouldn’t order people around. You should ask favors.”

“These are favors. But they aren’t things that won’t be done. If you don’t do them, then I must get someone else to do them for me. But my mother was your friend and you’re too kind for your own good. That’s why I know you’ll do it whether I ask or command it.”

As I had thought, Makani took care of everything. I took care of selling my possessions and had a real estate agent working on selling my home, which would sell in less than seventy two hours for full price. The cremation had gone well. I hadn’t broken down into tears when I saw my mother’s body be set on fire. I had thrown her ashes into the ocean later. That was when the tears had struck.

I jumped into the ocean and swam around, as if trying to recollect my mother’s essence. I saw a few worried faces stare down at me. I wouldn’t doubt that their first thoughts when seeing me jump in with my elegant dress was a suicide attempt. After they saw me swim around for a few minutes, they relaxed a bit. But the upcoming storm’s promises created enormous waves which made them nag me to get to shore. I ignored them and continued swimming a few minutes into the storm. By the time I had made it back to the hotel room I was staying at, I was freezing.

Sleep was hard to come across that night. My throat was dry no matter how much water I drank and my mind was clouded by the pity of everyone at today’s cremation. Dozens of people had showed up today. I always knew Mum was friendly, but I didn’t imagine for so many people to care for her. Guess that goes to show just how unobservant I really am.

I rolled to my side and attempted to get some shut eye. A long plane ride awaits me tomorrow. There was no sleep tonight, though. Pictures of promising paintings haunted me until morning. I woke up at eight, two hours before my flight left. My bag had been packed the night before as a failed attempt to tire myself. Bram Stocker held no promise for amusement either. Maybe I could get in my cab now and not risk being late to my flight? Yeah, sounds like a plan.

I quickly dialed the number. I didn’t intend on saying my farewells to anyone. I didn’t want to remember this place as somber. I didn’t want to see the looks of sadness and the struggle to not say something that would remind anyone of previous events of the residents of Nihue. It was best to just be a memory. It was best for everyone to think of me as no more than a forgotten ghost that once lived there.

The drive to the airport was no more than forty-five minutes long and I still had an hour to kill. I simply moved to send away my luggage and then get a frappuccino from the airport’s Starbucks. People watching might be of some amusement.

There was a family of five: the parents, an teenage boy around my age, a girl of no more than seven years and a newborn baby. The small girl was asking for something from her grouchy father who only snapped at her. Her brother responded to her request sweetly after shooting his father a dirty look from the back. The girl had only wanted to be carried on her father’s shoulders so she could see the people of the airport. How sweet. I grinned slightly, but it disappeared soon.

At a different section of the airport, an elderly lady who seemed only days from her deathbed spoke with a security guard. Her sweet and affectionate mood told me that she was waiting for a family member that she had not seen for a while. She made my chest heave. I calmed myself with a sip of my coffee and searched for some other people.

I went on people watching for about thirty minutes until I finally decided that my bladder could not hold much longer. Washing my hands, I couldn’t help look up at what had become of me. Five years ago was the last time I saw Massachusetts City. So much of my appearance had changed: Before I was such a girl next door. Aeropostale, Forever 21 and Pacsun were my only stores, and my hair had consisted of hip length black tresses with no volume or style. It had just hung down straight and lifeless. Now, it was razored with three layers and straight, heavy bangs brushing the middle of my blue eyes. My skin—it’s still a pasty white after five years in Hawaii. No, it’s even creamier than before.

Would they recognize me when I got there? Would the same people still live there? What would their thoughts be on the new Tornado? My accent—is it still like it was before? I moved to wait outside the doors of the airplane. Out loud, I read the cover for a magazine at my side. No, the accent is still British. Hawaii hasn’t messed with that. But, my personality—I’m such a smartass now. Well, I was before, but it’s magnified after years of annoyance. People get tired of such joy eventually and see past that to what is horrific. After being exposed to something new, it’s hard for it to be unseen.

The flight was even longer than I had anticipated. It seemed to stretch three extra hours. I was glad when I reached the Massachusetts airport. Grandma Maxine, of course, had forgotten to pick me up, so I called a cab and agonizingly waited through a traffic jam.

Grandma Maxine’s house is down in Salem, about an hour away from the airport. I continued to evaluate myself out of pure boredom, but by the time I reached Grandma Maxine’s house, I was self-conscious and nervous of my own Grandmother.

The house was a three family split level which Grandma Maxine owned all by herself. She rented out the three levels and in the meantime, she lived in the colonial home next to it. I couldn’t help wonder if the same people lived there. Before, we had taken the third floor, but that was before dad died seven years ago. I wonder who lived there now.

I walked to the colonial home and rang the doorbell. As I waited for Grandma Maxine to walk her fragile self to the door, I sat in the lotus position and stared at the oak door and brick building. After ten minutes were up, I decided to lie down. There wasn’t anything to do but wait and ring the doorbell with a stick. Half an hour later, I decided to get a cab and find a hotel.

I stood and began dragging my bags to the bushes. Better hide them while I wait, I decided. I moved to sit at the stairway and call a cab. They claimed they would arrive in less than twenty minutes. I doubt that with the traffic jam just a little farther down the road. Exhausted, I heavily sighed. Tomorrow I would return and if she didn’t answer, I would ask the neighbors for help. I wonder…

No, I told myself. That’s the past and you’ve changed. They’re probably the same old people. They’ve probably been untouched by time. What if they haven’t though? What if upstairs, nobody has moved and…Again, I stopped myself. It shouldn’t be any of my interest whether Gabe still sits on the beaten couch playing video games. It shouldn’t matter whether any of my old friends still live in this Salem. This is a year for new relationships and progress, not for me to dive into a pool of memories and forgotten emotions.

I glanced down at my skin once again. I sure have changed…I bet that they wouldn’t even recognize me. Now I wondered what they looked like; what they sounded like. I had heard the guys in in-between states with their voices as they went through the change, but that part of puberty would be done with by now. Several things could have changed about them, and nothing at all could have changed. The day’s been slow enough. Hopefully things will be better by tomorrow.

My stomach growled. “Ha,” I scoffed. “Anorexia for the win?” I muttered to myself. I had barely eaten today and come to think about it, for the past four days. I craved a pizza. I could order room service at the hotel, as one option, or walk around this forgotten city as another. This would also be a good opportunity to piss off some unlucky night shift driver. Then again, my bags…

For some time, I weighed my options. The cab still didn’t arrive, and my stomach was agonizing now. You can't just leave your bags alone like that, I reminded myself. This isn’t a small island, this is an unfamiliar town. I have enough street knowledge to know what not to leave outside alone at night. Another sigh came and I yawned as I stood.

“Could that really be you?”

I jumped 180 degrees to face the newcomer. A male with sleek black hair was crouching at the top of the staircase, staring intently at me. I should have retreated, but I was always up for a good fight if that’s what it comes to. No, he just stared at me, as if searching for something to brighten his day. In the meantime, I was considering battle stances. I miss daily fights.

“Is it?” He tilted his head. “No…” Finally he stood and came down two steps. “Sorry to have alarmed you. I thought you were someone.”

“Who?” I demanded.

My voice stunned him, but he quickly rebounded from his trance. “Someone I knew a while ago.”


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