"Hey, Wen?" My eyes glance up at Harmonie standing in the doorway of the living room. I am currently reading a book while Emerson and Lily play on the floor. The sounds of Milo and Beau playing ninjas outside can be heard through the open front window.
"Yeah, Harm?" I question, sliding my dorky glasses off my face, placing them on the coffee table along with my worn down, torn book. I run a hand through my red hair, brushing my fingers through some tangles as the Irish girl sits down on the couch next to me.
Her blue eyes, filled with what looks like worry and nerves, glances from me down to Lily and then back again. I have not even the slightest idea as to why she is acting this way. She nervously tugs at the hem of her flowing pink top, pieces of her long blonde hair beginning to fall out of the bun atop of her head.
"Have you...does Lily...ugh-" she starts, her eyes landing on Lily as the young girl 'reads' my book to Emerson. He giggles wildly at her imaginative story of pirates and fairies, his dimples appearing with every smile on his face.
Harmonie stares at them adoringly, a small smile setting on her lips. Just as quickly as the smile came, it disappears, worry stuck on her face once again. Her blue eyes seem to grow wider, tears beginning to form on the edges.
"Harm, what's wrong?" I ask, desperately wanting to comfort my friend. I hold her hands in mine, folding my legs in a crossed style, just like Harmonie's. She sits there facing me, not saying a thing, her bottom lip quivering from the sobs that threaten to escape.
"Lily mentioned her daddy today..." She whispers, her accent much more prominent in the hushed tone. I'm somewhat shocked at what I hear, Harmonie nor I ever mentioning Lily's father, let alone her mother.
Neither of us have ever spoken a word about it, the two of us sworn to secrecy. We both turn our gazes towards the two children on the floor, our eyes locking on the blonde haired angel with an unknown past.
"I haven't said anything to anyone, Harmonie...I promised you I never would..." I whisper to her, bringing my gaze back up to meet hers. She just nods slowly, tears slipping down her cheeks.
"She's going to find out someday...and so will her dad..." She explains, her gaze dropping down to her fidgeting fingers.
We sit there in silence, glancing every now and then down to little Lily and Emerson, the two of them only months apart in age. I braid a piece of my long hair over and over again, my eyes never leaving the kids.
"Aunt Mo! Wendy! Come play!" Beau and Milo yell through the open window almost simultaneously.
Emerson and Lily jump up immediately, rushing out of the house in a fit of giggles and squeals. The young Irish girl and I chuckle, glancing at one another before following our kids outside into the front yard.
So this is what it feels like to be totally and utterly alone in the world. I sit on my couch in my living room. Not a sound radiates through the house. All lights are out, darkness taking over the interior of what used to be my home. Now it's just a painful reminder of the lives that have been lost within these walls.
I am now the only living member of my demented family. I never met my father, him dying of a heart attack just a mere week before I was born. My baby brother Todd, long gone now, murdered by his own mother. Speaking of the woman who gave me life, she killed herself off just this morning. No aunts or uncles. No cousins. Grandparents deceased years ago.
I'm all alone.
Wow. It's just me. I'm the only member left of the Rhodes family line. There's no one else to carry on the name. No one else to relive these terrible memories of my past.
By this time, the whole town knows about my mother, the murder of my brother, my broken family. Ill never be able to leave my past behind me, not here. If I were to leave, change my last name possibly, maybe then I could forget the death and misery that have clouded my memories.
"Louis..." I whisper, regret filling my chest at the thought that I let him leave...without me. What was I thinking?
Quickly, I jump up off my couch, sprinting to my room in seconds. I pull out my purple duffle bag, throwing all the clothes, makeup, necessities I can find, into it.
As I go to leave the room, my eyes land on the picture frame placed on my nightstand. I slowly make my way over to it, tears filling my eyes as I stare at the picture. My mother sits on the couch, holding my newborn brother in her arms, a toddler Emalee sitting next to her kissing the baby's head.
I remember that day like it was yesterday, the happiness that I felt, how proud I was of my baby brother. He was my best friend all throughout life. Now he's gone. All because of the woman holding him in the picture.
My fingers barely brush against the frame, my heart telling me to take it with everything else. But my mind says differently. How am I ever to move on from my past with a reminder like that?
Hesitantly, I pull my hand away, whispering a goodbye to my past as I walk out of my old bedroom. Not even a ounce of guilt or sadness fills me as I walk down the long hallways, past pictures of happier times.
Making my way to the front door, I pause with my hand on the doorknob. Am I really ready for this? Leaving my childhood, my memories, my past-my life behind me...is it really what I want?
Turning around, I face it all. My old home, my memories, my past...everything. It's like a flashback to every single part of my shattered life. The more I see, the more I know that this is something I have to do...to save myself. To live my life, not just for me, but for my little brother who left this world too early to even begin living.
With that, I turn my back on my past, throwing away the old Emalee, the sweet southern girl that used to do everything she was told. Emalee Rhodes, my past, no longer exists. She died along with the rest of her family.
I open the front door, closing it behind me with a thud. My car keys swinging in my hand, I jump into my pick up truck, turning on the ignition. I drive away from the place I once called my home, leaving it all behind.
With the windows rolled down, the late afternoon winds blowing back my hair, Kansas sun piercing through the windshield, I feel free. I'm a new woman, leaving the little, scared girl behind me.
My name is Em. I have no past. I'm not going to drift off into the darkness and die...
I'm going to live.