Chapter 3: The Gift

25 Sep

Chapter 3

The Gift

 

       More
terrified now than ever before, I laid there for what seemed like years, when
in actuality it was just moments. I waited patiently for a sound that I was
hoping would never come . . . when it did.

          “In
the name of Jesus, girl, you ok? You just about sent this old man to meet his
maker,” he said with extreme concern etched upon his face.

          “I’m
sorry – I just sat down for a minute. I must have fallen asleep,” I lied,
clearly remembering that I hadn’t fallen asleep as I sat down; the vision
hitting me like a ton of bricks. I wished, now more than ever, that I had taken
the day off.

“Seems
like it. Must have been having some pretty bad dreams too, by the way you were
screaming and thrashing around on the ground like that. You sure you’re ok? You
need a drink of water or something? I have a little on the bus.”

“No,
I’m fine. Thanks, anyways. I’ll be ok in a minute or two.”

By
his expression, I could tell that he really didn’t believe what I was saying,
but that didn’t stop him from pushing himself up to his feet. A half a second
later, I was wishing that he’d never moved. The huge gaping hole was now
present, that Mr. Olsen’s massive frame once filled, became an irresistible
opportunity for the shouts and stares to begin from the bus full of my fellow
students.

To
make matters worse, the downpour of rain that I was so happy to fall asleep to
just last night, instead of having to be objected to Samantha’s drunk ramblings
to herself in her bedroom next to mine, had turned this little make shift bus
stop into a small shimmering pond.

Already getting myself mentally ready to deal with the
onslaughts of laughter, I realized I had to handle it all soaking wet. If my
embarrassment wasn’t bad enough, I knew that once word got out about the girl
who screams and shakes on the ground like a psycho to a school so small that
everyone knows everything even before it happens, my life would never be the
same.

Mr.
Olsen was kind enough to help me to my feet, and after slightly patting me off
a bit with a comment on the condition of my soaked clothes, he made his way
back onto the bus. Sinking down into his oversized seat that appeared to be
pushed back twice as far than normal, he caught his breath. He still hadn’t
fully recovered from my thrashing. He finally looked down on me, still standing
on the first step of the bus.

“You
coming?” he wheezed. “Or you waiting to dry off?”

Deep
in thought, not even really caring to reply, I finally mumbled out, “Yeah
sure.” I grabbed the railing, making my way into what at that moment I
considered Hell.

“Well,
let’s go, then. This little fiasco of yours already put us behind. How much
more time do you expect us to waste?”

          Before I could even move up to the
second step he was closing the doors, slamming Hell’s gates behind me. Walking
through Purgatory, I tried to keep my thoughts on that mirror I just – well, I
guess fought. I figured thinking about that was better than paying attention to
the names I was sure I was being called.

The
only thing I could ever really count on every day as I made my way to that Hell
of a school was there being a spot saved for me to sit by my best friend, Faith
Glimmers. I don’t even think I could ever count how many times I would have
just walked if it wasn’t for her.

She’s
been my best friend for as long as I can remember. Having her as a friend
placed her in a soft spot within my heart. She was a little taller than me,
black hair and green eyes, your typical teenage girl. Faith had developed much
quicker, and certainly better, than I had. All the boys seem to gravitate
around her, but she never fell into those kinds of games. There was never a boy
that she would ever allow to come between us.

She
always stayed true to her name. Faith, it was perfect for her. Living with the
family God decided to drop on my lap, having her around all the time made it so
much easier to deal with the likes of Samantha, certain kids at school, and
well, basically my entire existence.

We
did everything together. Some of the best times I can recall in my life were
having sleepovers with her. We’d stay up all-night, or at least as late as we
could. We’d hide under the blankets with little flashlights; we could never
have enough of them. We’d spend most of the day leading up to that night trying
to gather up every last one that we could get our hands on.

After
turning them all on, we’d come up with our best, and corniest, stories that our
little minds could produce. Mine, well they were never very good. But Faith, on
the other hand, would always be able to come up with some kind of fantastic
world filled with incredible beasts. There would be Witches and Warlocks,
enchantresses, wizards, trolls, and a foul-looking dog that she always called
Scraps.

No
matter how far out there her stories may have been, she always had an act for
making them seemly real and frightening. They all seemed to end the same
way. With Faith laughing hysterically at me as I darted out from the hand-woven
blanket with the silver and gold stars made for me by my late grandmother.
Grasping the handle on my bedroom door, throwing it open and making my way into
Samantha’s room, diving under her sheets and holding on to her as tight as I
could, till she’d finally get startled enough to wake up from her drunken
state.

This
would always end the same way too, with Samantha ordering me back to my room
without so much as one comforting word. Faith, on the other hand, always made
me feel better no matter what. When William died she was there when Samantha
would get drunk enough to throw me out for the night, she’d help me sneak back
in. Even going as far as staying there with me until morning.

We were never apart, always and forever together
-inseparable. She was, without a doubt, the one and only stable person in my
life. In reality, this was horrible, considering she was also only fifteen.

As
I made that final step up to the top stair of the bus, pausing only a second to
give Mr. Olsen one last slight smile, before thanking him again.

“Don’t
make a habit of it, you hear? Don’t think I could handle that too many more
times,” he bellowed, adjusting himself in his oversized seat.

Turning away from him, I knew what I had to face. There was,
after all, a full bus of people still laughing, but at least by this point
their stares have turned into little whispers. Back and forth, of course, but
just loud enough for me to hear.

My
ears might have been trying their best to discard and even flat out ignore
them, but my eyes were busy trying to find Faith, my security blanket, you
could call her. Lucky for me, Faith was the first one to get on the bus and she
made sure she had her favorite seat.

Four
rows back, right hand side. It seemed instantaneous, her smiling face meeting
mine.

“I
see your day hasn’t started out so well,” Faith got out before I could even sit
down.

“Does
it ever? I mean, these kinds of things can only happen to me.” My anger
quickly rose to the surface. I could feel my face actually turning beet red.

“First,
Samantha, then that old cheaply made bus stop!”

“Hold that thought!” Faith answered back, her face
letting her warm smile slip away, turning to one of concern.

“I
was thinking more along the lines of you down on the ground, wiggling around
like some kind of worm.”

          She stared at me for what seemed like
an hour. I knew what she wanted – an answer, some kind of reasoning, behind
what she and everyone else on this bus had just witnessed.

“Why won’t you tell me what’s wrong with you? Are you trying
to hide something from me? Destiny!”

Slapping me back to my senses, she grabbed my shoulders to
make sure that we were now eye to eye. Nowhere to hide now, I thought. Should
I? After all, if there ever was anyone on this little blue marble of ours that
would listen, and truly understand what I would have to say, it would be her.

Faith’s
little knock back to reality hit me hard, much more than it should have. Why
should I even question telling her? That’s right – I don’t even believe the
reasons behind me being down on the ground, acting the way I had. How the hell
could I expect her to?

Her
lashes moved gently up and down as her worried eyes started to moist over,
never daring themselves to lose sight of me.

“Please,
tell me. I want to know. It looked like you were having a seizure or something.
I tried to run out to you but Mr. Olsen wouldn’t let anyone off the bus. I’m
sorry for not being the first person out there, but that doesn’t give you the
right to sit here acting like I’m not begging you to tell me what happened! I’m
your best friend, so please, tell me!” she pleaded.

          “A dream,” I said softly.

She was on the verge of crying, and I couldn’t let that
happen, not because of me. Too many times Faith freed me from my tears; how
dare I ever bring her so close to her own! I would rather have this girl
believe that I was crazy, than to have her think that I was keeping something
from her.

“Did
you say a dream, Destiny? Did you fall asleep at the bus stop? You had to be
sleeping to have a dream.”

The
concern over me must have been racing through her faster than the speed of
sound. Throwing more questions at me with absolutely no time for a reply, I sat
there letting her take her worry out on me. When she finally had to take a
breath, I didn’t let the opportunity slip me by. I instantly jumped in.

“Myself
– the dream was about myself. I was getting tortured. I guess that would
explain why you had to see me on the ground like some kind of crazy person.”

Afraid to look her in her eyes, I found myself staring out
the window, almost wishing I could be somewhere else.

“Who
was it? Who was torturing you?” she asked, grabbing my shoulder once more and
slightly turning me her way, once again locking onto my faraway gaze.

“It’s
not me, really, but she looks like me. She was in a mirror telling me to run,
to get away, but I couldn’t, Faith. I was so scared that I was frozen in place.
Every feeling I could ever remember having in my life was gone, I felt almost
nothing. Well, nothing but fear, at least.”

          “If u saw someone else getting hurt,
why did you say it was you?”

          Her patience was growing thin on the
half answers I was giving out. I didn’t mean it that way, but I was too busy
trying to place my own pieces together. As her expression turned from concern
to doubt, I readied myself for another onslaught of questions.

“Is
there something your hiding from me? Something you’re not telling me? Is there,
Destiny? You just keep trying to look out that window! Are you even paying
attention to me?”

Throwing herself back into the seat and wrapping her arms
against her chest, and she released a very long and over drawn sigh. I knew
that I needed to snap out of the trance that the events from the last couple
hours had placed me in.

“LOOK!”
 I finally snapped back, so loud that
everyone on the bus had stopped whispering to each other about me and were now
staring at Faith and I. Staring back at all of them, with a look upon my face
that I knew would kill, I waited for them to return to their whispers and
gossip.

“I’m
sorry, ok. It’s just that . . . well, Faith, to be honest with you, I really
don’t even know what going on with me. Nor about this morning with Samantha, my
dreams, or what happened at the bus stop. I’m sorry for being so far away. I’m
just, scared, I guess.”

          “You’re really not telling me
anything, Destiny. You’re saying there’s more going on than what I just saw? If
there is, please just tell me. I’m just worried, that’s all. I’ve never seen
you act like that before. Heck, I’ve never seen anyone act like that before. It
was almost like something was after you, but you couldn’t get away. Just like
you said, I guess.”

Turning
from me just slightly, I could still see the water gathering in her soft eyes,
making its final steps to the surface and flowing freely down her pink cheeks.
Only a few drops at first, but I could tell we were just moments away from a
flood.

“You
had me so scared. I didn’t know what to do. It looked like a seizure, but Mr.
Olsen wouldn’t let me off. The big oaf didn’t even call for help. He just told
us all to sit as he took his sweet time in getting to you and with him in the
way, I couldn’t see you. Look, I’m just glad that you’re ok.”

Throwing
her arms around me, surprisingly with eyes that looked to be drying, she
continued. “You were kicking and thrashing your arms around screaming for
help.”

Quickly
cutting her off, having my own questions come to mind before she was able to
continue, I asked, “I was? You could hear what I was saying? What else could
you hear, Faith?”

          “Not much, really. You mumbled most
of the time. I did make out you telling someone to run, but not much else
besides help.”

           She paused. I could tell that she was thinking about
something. After several moments of silence, and before the awkwardness had
time to set in, I decided to just let it all out.

          “Ok, there is more, but when I tell
you, you have to promise not to think I’m going crazy or something. You have to
promise you’re going to believe me.”

“Destiny,
how could you even say that to me!” she snapped back faster than I could
finish saying it.

“Of
course, I’ll believe you. I always have, right?”

“I
know, Faith, but this isn’t like telling you that Samantha tried to hit me
again. Or that I really didn’t kiss Mark Fergusson, like everyone tried telling
you that I did in the sixth grade.”

She
laughed and said. “Yeah,

I
did put up a fight with that one, but it only happen that one time.”

          Her tears were now completely gone,
replaced with a slight smile. At least the mood was brightening a bit, but with
everything that I was getting ready to tell her, it wouldn’t last.

“Exactly.
And ever since then, you promised you would always believe me, right?”

“Right.
I haven’t doubted you since, have I? I’ve kept my promises. Now, you keep
yours.”

“Mine?
Yeah, I guess I did promise you at the same time that I would always tell you
everything, didn’t I?”

“Yes
you did. So please, just let it out. I won’t judge you, Destiny. I’ll help you.
I would never think that you’re a liar or that you’re going crazy.”

I
spoke her name hoping that it would silence her pleas. “Faith . . .”

          “A couple weeks ago, I had a dream. I
don’t know if it was an alternative world or if ours was just messed up. There
were two guys who kept telling me that they were my brothers, but they could
use magic. Or at least it seemed like magic.”

          Before the conversation could go any
farther, the bus came to a halt. This stop on Evergreen and Maple was home to
the Gray Triplets. If I have ever known hate in my life, it wouldn’t be because
of Samantha or not having a Father. Not even the death of my step-dad, William.

          No, the hate that I have inside
myself comes from these three. Tabitha, Tony, and Terri Gray – The Triplets of
Doom. Or at least, that’s what everyone called them around town, and more
importantly at school, as well. They had other names that people would call
them, behind their backs mostly. Their family would never talk to anyone around
town and pretty much stuck to themselves. They’d greet you with a slight nudge
or grunt if you happened to get to near one of them.

That’s
the rest of the family, anyway. These three, on the other hand, are certified
monsters. When you saw one, you knew that the other two were somewhere close.
Hopefully, they weren’t lying in wait to ambush you. They were inseparable and
had very few things that they truly loved doing besides bullying. Unfortunately
for me, one thing that they enjoyed the most was tormenting me. They did
whatever they could every day to get some kind of reaction out of me, and in
most cases, blood.

Tabitha
was the oldest of the three, something we have all heard here in town almost a
thousand times, by something like forty-five seconds. Must be some kind of
triplet pride thing to be the oldest of the three, as she crams it down both of
her brother’s throats just as much as she crams her fist down other kid’s
gullets.

She
was mean, and I mean that by the truest definition of the word. Ninety percent
of everything bad to ever happen so far in my life was a direct result of
Tabitha Gray, also known as Tabitha the Terrible. Tabitha,
I-just-wish-you’d-go-the-hell-away Gray.
If she didn’t personally make my life miserable one day, she made sure
somebody else did. That’s usually the time when her two dim-witted brothers
would step in.

Tabitha was much taller than me. She always appeared nine
feet tall, but in reality, it was more like six. With dirty blond hair down to
her shoulders, it always appeared as if there was real dirt in her hair.
Out-weighing me by over a hundred pounds, at least, there was little I could
ever do whenever she decided to sit on me and swing till she couldn’t swing no
more. Even then, there was no getting away. She reminded me of a pit-bull,
vicious and hungry for nerd meat.

The
tortures that I’ve been put through at her hands exceed normal bullying that
your typical teen gets at school. She’s flat out abused me. No matter how many
times I’ve run away screaming for help, or how many times I’ve told someone about
what’s being done to me, it seemed that no one was ever willing to listen to
the daughter of the town’s crazy drunk.

Scars
could be seen right by the cuffs on the shirts she wore, which were always
long-sleeved. Everyone guessed, just for that reason. Rumors, which zoom around
here faster than the beatings I take by her own hands, say she does it to
herself just to feel pain. Either that, or maybe for some kind of attention. No
one really knew.

Other
than a few odd scars noticeable, and the very few words spoken in unfortunate
encounters with them, no one really knew much about the Triplets. They talked
within their own little circle, never letting anyone near. And certainly Never
showing anyone a kind gesture, nor a sign of friendship towards anyone but
themselves.

Tony
and Terri were her right and left hand men, always doing whatever she wanted
the instant she said it. Luckily for everyone around, they’ve never been known
for their smarts. They’re followers, through and through.

Tony,
who many considered Tabitha’s general, was just like his sister in almost every
way. There were exceptions, of course. He was much stronger than Tabitha, but
she surpassed him immensely in intelligence. It also appeared to be that
somewhere down deep inside, he had a soul. If the beatings were ever taking too
long, it would be Tony that would call Tabitha off by saying, “Let’s get out of
here before someone comes,” or “I think she’s had enough, save some for
tomorrow.” I never really knew if this was his way of helping, or if he really
did think that someone might be getting ready to walk right around the corner
and catch them in the midst of their deeds.

The
Gray’s seemed to enforce something along the lines of a chain of command, with
one believing their oldest treating the younger one poorly. Tabitha depended on
Tony and she would even listen when he said it was time to go. But when it came
down to it, she was in charge and she had no problem showing him why.

With
Tabitha and Tony so high on their pedestals, where did that leave Terri? The
Grays were triplets, but it always appeared to be as if they were just twins.
Terri never seemed to fit in with the other two. Tony was a follower to Tabitha
on a certain level. Terri, on the other hand – his whole reason to exist was to
just stand contentedly within his so-called older sibling’s shadows.

I
felt sorry for Terri. Most of the time, I could tell that the things he would
do were not of his own accord, but that of Tabitha’s or at least Tony’s. Terri
was never really given anything major to do by his controlling brother and
sister. His tasks were small things such as stand in one spot and yell when you
see Destiny. If they couldn’t get there fast enough, he might start the chase a
little early. This always turned out to be good for me, as Tabitha was the only
one who could really catch me. The other two, well . . .  NOT A CHANCE.

“Look!”
I said, moments later.

“It’s
the Gray’s stop. I know they’re going to have something to say about my
clothes, and who knows what they’ll have to say after they catch wind of a few
whispers of my little episode. So before they get on, will you skip the bus
ride tonight after school and walk home with me? That’ll give us a good chance
to talk. There’s so many things that I need to tell you.”

          A slight nod of her head indicated a
yes as she kept her eyes trained on the Gray’s. Appearing to be contained in
her own thoughts, Faith remained almost motionless as the two rusty doors on
the bus swung open, letting in Hell.

“About
time, Mr. Fatsen. We were starting to think you couldn’t lift your arm up far
enough anymore to open the doors.”

“Good
one, Tab!”

“Yeah,
way to go, Sis! You got him good with that one,” her two little
followers added in with cold-hearted laughter.

Tabitha, now having received some encouragement from her two
very moronic brothers, continued her verbal assault. “You should probably
secure that seat of yours some more before you fall through and kill us all!”

I
leaned over to Faith and whispered into her ear, “I’m so sick and tired of
having to hear their voices every day. Someone needs to shut these three up.

“Is that someone you?”

I paused a moment to think about it. “No. I didn’t mean me. I
just meant someone.”

“Hold on,” Faith whispered. “I want to hear
what they’re saying.”

          Faith’s wish wouldn’t be answered.
With a few high fives, and Mr. Olsen once again sitting there, defenseless and
probably heart broken, the Gray’s made their way to their usual seat in the
very back. Their last few insults were lost to the background noise made by the
other kids.

“Poor, Mr. Olsen. I can’t believe he puts up with that every
day.”

“You’re crazy!” I snapped back. “Nothing against the
guy, but I have to say it – better him, than me. They walked right past me and
never even spoke a word. In fact, they acted as if I wasn’t even here.”

“You’re right. That was pretty weird. I don’t ever remember
that even happening before. The Gray’s just leaving you alone – this must be
your lucky day.”

          Faith lost herself within her own
thoughts. It was obvious that those thoughts were the same as mine. Out of all
the things to happen to me already today, the Triplets just passing me by – I
don’t think it could ever be explained. Not even by science.

It was their daily routine. They would insult our bus driver,
followed by a few ‘accidental’ bumps into other kids that were just
trying to enjoy a quick breakfast before school, causing them to spill such
things as milk and juice onto themselves. Then they’d reach me. Most days, I
would just hope for a quick insult, but most of the time, I guess they felt a
quick jab was in order. Or they’d rip my books from my hands and throw them
under random seats on their way to the back of the bus. Thus, leaving me to
recover them during the rest of the bus ride to school.

But
not today. They simply got on the bus, took a few quick shots at Mr. Olsen, and
then went off to their own world in at the back of the bus.

“Never
mind them. We have more important matters at hand. Don’t we?” Faith finally
said, coming back to reality. “I know you don’t think I forgot, did you?”

“What today is? I know you remember.
You always do. That’s one thing I know I can count on.”

          I was anxiously waiting for what she
had to say next. After all, it was my Birthday. Not a very good one, so far,
but Faith could very well change that at any given moment.

Reaching into her backpack and
rummaging through it for moment, or two, she finally emerged with a small, and
wrapped, thick square, complete with a bow.

“Here! Happy B-day. I hope you like
it!” Faith almost screamed at me with excitement.

Before I could even remove the little
gift from her hands, Faith, and her emotions, jumped to life. “You would
never believe what I had to go through to get you that. You have to promise
you’ll never let anything happen to it, no matter what!”

          “Ok, Faith, sure. Whatever. Can I
have my present, please? You’re kind of being a tease.”

“Destiny, I’m serious! You have to
promise me. Even if it comes down to me, or this gift, you have to keep this
safe!”

“Faith, I thought I was the one
having issues. Maybe, I should be asking you if you’re ok. Are you?”

Faith still hadn’t released her grip
on my gift and that fact was beginning to worry me. Wondering why she’d get so
worked up over a gift that I still hadn’t seen, my concentration was soon
broken. Faith had finally decided that I could see what it was that she had
gotten me.

Placing my present within my eagerly
awaiting hands, I ripped the bow off and tore the wrapping paper. Perplexed,
the paper opened to reveal a small, square, black box.

“What it is?” I asked with
great anticipation.

“Open it and find out!” Faith
replied, laughing heartily and grinning from ear to ear.

I thought about keeping her waiting
for another minute, or two, just so that I could see how much of a rise I could
get out of her. However, I was just as excited as she was to see what was
resting inside for me. Holding the bottom of the little box with my left hand,
I started prying the black square apart, lifting the top up with my right. A
quick flash of gold, which seemed a little unworldly, greeted my eyes as my
birthday present was finally unveiled.

“A golden hourglass necklace . . .
it’s adorable, Faith. Thanks!” I exclaimed as I started to pry the chain from
its home.

“So, you like it!” Faith
prodded, fidgeting within her seat.

“It’s beautiful. It must have cost a
small fortune.”

I could barely finish my sentence. I
found my thoughts drifting around this hourglass. Examining it closer from front
to back, it did appear to be made out of pure gold. It seemed old, far too old
to still shine so brightly. Two little spikes protruded from the top with no
sand inside. Its golden frame looked to be as if there was some kind of grayish
smoke-like substance swirling around it. The look I was giving it mustn’t have
been very good, for Faith’s upset voice broke my concentration.

Her face now had a look on it that I
would have sworn was pure terror. “What? You don’t like it, do you?”

“Of course, I like it. I love it.
It’s beautiful, Faith. Thank you so much!”

          I thrust the necklace at her, trying
to cheer her up as fast as possible. “Put it on me now, please!”

I turned my back towards Faith. She
gingerly slipped the shining gold hourglass around my neck. It landed across my
shoulders with what seemed to be a slight thud.
It lay heavily upon my neck, almost as if it was meant to be there. It
was as if it had no intent to ever leave.

“It feels heavier now, than when I
was holding it,” I said as I tried to adjust the chain around my neck.

Faith erupted into laughter. “Well,
then maybe it’s the one hourglass to rule them all.”

Her humor was infectious and I was
soon laughing along with her. “Yeah, maybe. Let’s hope that nobody comes after
me now.”

“Thank you, again. It’s beautiful. I
promise you that I’ll cherish it and never let anything happen to it. Ok?”

“You better not. After all, you’re
the one that said it cost a fortune!” Faith continued to laugh at her own joke
about my necklace being like the ‘one ring’.

“If it’s pure gold it had to of,
right?”

“I’m not telling you. Even if it cost
me nothing, remember that it’s the thought that counts. But yeah, it did cost a
lot, so you better be careful.”

          Faith was once again stressing the
importance of absolutely nothing happening to this necklace. It must have cost
her a lot, as I couldn’t remember her ever making such a fuss about a gift that
she’d given me before. What other reason would she have to make sure she got
her point across so strongly?

“No prob. Nothing will happen as long
as I’m alive,” I said, holding my right hand in the air like a boy
scout.

Faith gave off the slight hint of
another laugh, but never said another word. She just sat there looking at the
hourglass lying peacefully on my chest. For only mere moments, I wondered what
she was thinking about. For what would end up being the rest of the bus ride to
school, my thoughts would travel off in their own direction. Eventually, they
found themselves content about on the little golden hourglass, too.

 

 

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2 Responses to “Chapter 3: The Gift”

  1. Charity Parkerson (@CharityParkerso) September 25, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

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