In Memoriam

I have a habit of downplaying things, accepting it all as normal. It's how I cope. But he knows it isn't normal. He's the only one who listens in my own private dystopia.

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4. A Vacation

A vacation is meant to be relaxing. 

The slapping noises and moaning wake me up at six. I roll around and see her white, drawn face, eyes big, terrified.

They're having sex. The fucktoys and my brothers. In the same room as little sister and I. Whether it's oral or vaginal, I can't tell and I don't care. I grab her arm and pull her down the stairs where my grandparents are eating calmly beside my parents.

I whisper in my father's ear, embarrassed, 

"They're having sex."

He mildly says, 

"Oh, so that's where they are. I was wondering. I'll call them down for breakfast."

The fucktoys flounce down, telltale signs of white around their mouths. Oral.

I take a couple more tylenols and give my boyfriend a kiss. I'm not feeling good at all, maybe it's because of how I was woken up. I go down to the beach, but the wind is blowing hard off of the salty wave and it gets under my skin and I get chilled, so I come back up and lie down.

"She's always sick," my mother rolls her eyes. I point out to her how my lymph node in my neck is as swollen as a plum, protruding under the skin. I'm concerned. She ignores it, says I'm always sick again. 

Every time I feel chills in the next several days I take tylenol. I start to think it's in my head. My throat gets scratchy, so I drink lots of tea. Probably just a head cold. And every morning, the slappings and moanings wake little sister and I up.

By the fifth day, the day we leave, I just want to get in the car and drive back home and sleep in my own bed. My throat is very swollen. Cough drops and tea aren't helping. I tell my mother I don't feel well. She tells me that I'm always sick and it's probably just in my head.

The parents decide that it is absolutely mandatory that we visit Biltmore Estate and spend two days in transit instead of just driving back up in one day. I've visited Biltmore three times already.

 But we stop at my Uncle's house in Georgia after five hours of driving, and he gives us dinner. I can't swallow anything by this point, but I try to gulp down a small amount of soup. They let me lie down in their bedroom. I hear from the other room,

"She's always quote-un-quote sick! Most of the time it's just in her head though."

My aunt comes to check on me in the middle of my nap. She notices I look flushed, so she makes me take my temperature. It's 102.2˚F. I can barely swallow. My throat is swollen and it's starting to constrict my airways.

"She is very sick," she tells my disbelieving parents. "You need to take her to the clinic."

Immediately my parents go on a tangent about how they didn't know and how I didn't tell them anything. They take me to the clinic and I'm diagnosed with the worst case of strep throat they've ever seen. I have to take three pills a day for the next two weeks. And then tylenol.

My parents still drag me to Biltmore, and we spend Easter in fourteen hours of traffic.

When I get home, I go to bed. I sleep for two days. It takes me another two days to walk without shaking from three days without food, but my parents still expect me to drive everyone to swim practice and school.

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