I pull on my headphones mindlessly as I scribble down yet another signature on a nearby check. Some Katy Perry song was blasting in my ear as I try to keep myself calm and sensible.
Every time I paid a visit to Hank's house it always played out to be the same situation in different variations. I was always greeted with bratty children and a few snide comments that made my blood boil and I always left with a migraine and the sudden urge to run out into the middle of Oxford street and get hit by a semi-truck. But the ever so often visits to my father's house was like getting your tooth pulled; it was extremely painful, but necessary.
It was hard to focus on something as simple as bills when all of my half siblings were screaming in my ear. Even with the headphones on full blast, I could still hear their high pitched squeals and giggles. If I hadn't of known better, I would have thought that the little demons were doing it on purpose.
Due to contrary belief, I didn't hate my younger siblings. Highly disliked seemed to be the most appropriate word for my feelings towards them. Maybe it was because they were part of my dad--who I also highly disliked-- or because they were apart of their god forbid mother-- who I actually hated. Maybe it was both?
"Can you guys keep it down?" I tried to keep my voice low and calm so I wouldn't attract any attention from Carol in the other room. "I'm trying to do some work."
"Whatever. You aren't our mom. We don't have to listen to you." Regan, the oldest one, stuck her tongue out at me.
I was surprised I could hear her clearly over Katy belting out the chorus for "Firework". This song really wasn't suiting my current mood.
Curling my hands into fists, I tried to keep my anger in check and my storming thoughts at bay. You better freaking be thanking the Lord I'm not your mother because I would keep you all down in the cellar.
It was hard to hide my annoyance when my teeth were clenched so tight, I thought my jaw was going to break under the pressure. "Just shut up or I'll tell Hank to ground you."
"Whatever!" Regan sang again.
I finally yanked my earbuds out in frustration, running my fingers through my dirty blonde hair. They were useless anyways, with all of the demons running around.
Brock--one of my half-siblings-- was playing with his Power Rangers on the floor, making the loudest exploding noises a 4 year old can possibly make. His face and fingers were covered in Cheeto dust. Everything he touched, he had left a smudge of orange.
Regan--my other, and most annoying, half-sibling--finally had settled down on the couch and was now channel surfing at a constant speed. She had a smirk on her face, knowing she had accomplished her mission of driving me insane.
Regan and I had never gotten along. Of course, we hadn't had a lot of time to bond, given the fact that I moved out of my dads house before she was born, but she never liked me no matter how hard I tried. At least I was civil with the other two demons.
Amy--my newest half-sibling--had now woken up and was screaming at the top of her lungs. That factor didn't really help with the whole "growing migraine" situation.
The place was a madhouse and I was regretting agreeing to meet Hank. I had planned on spending my day watching Gossip Girl on Netflix and eating a whole tub of Ben & Jerry's "Chunky Monkey". Today was supposed to be my lazy day before Hank called me and guilt tripped me into coming to this god forsaken place. "Your mother would have wanted you to spend some time with me, Emmy." He had said on the phone this morning.
Thinking about it gave me a new found wave of anger. Something about this family always made me pissed off and in a generally bad mood. Reason #975846 why I shouldn't have shown up. As if on cue, Hank and Carol appeared in the doorway with some random teen trailing behind them.
"Okay Amanda, these are my kids, Brock, Regan, and Amy. We shouldn't be gone for too long, but I left my number on the fridge just in case." Carol waved her hands around the room as she spoke.
I stood up so abruptly from my chair, it fell over. Hank and Carol turned to stare at me with concerned looks as I stared right back at them, wide-eyed. I could hear Regan giggle as I regained movement in my body and bent down to pick the fallen chair back up. Breathe Emma. Just breathe.
Once the chair was back in place I spoke, "Hank and I aren't going to be that long Carol. You don't need to get a babysitter if you can't watch them all yourself."
Carol shoots me an odd look before looking up at Hank who seems deeply interested with his coat pocket, "Honey, you didn't tell her I was going with you?"
My anger bubbles up inside me as he just shrugs his shoulders in a careless way, completely unconcerned. He knew I didn't like Carol. It wasn't just because of what she did to my family, but she ruined my life. It had taken me three years to finally stand to be in the same room as her.
"We're just talking about my apartment contracts. Nothing you would be interested about." I forced a laugh out and tried not to look pained.
Carol studied me for a moment, before waving her hand as a cue of dismissal. That was another thing I hated about her; she actually had trained her children to leave the room with hand signals. What kind of mother did that?
"Amanda please put Amy down in her nursery and then play with the little ones. We would like to talk to Emma in private."
When everyone else left the room, they both sat down on the couch and waited for me to do the same. I remained standing with my arms crossed.
Hank cleared his throat with obvious discomfort before taking Carol's hand in his, "Emma. I have been thinking of doing this for a very, very long time, but I couldn't imagine what your reaction would be. I know your mother was very important to you and what I did to her was unforgiveable. I also know that you resent Carol because of it, but I think we have come to a place where we can discuss this like civilized adults. Even though you are only 17, I think of you as a much older person and I wanted to include you in this decision... We want your blessing in our marriage."
"Emily, sweetie-" Carol begins.
"My name's Emma." I whip around to face her and Hank from their front lawn. "And I don't even know why you're telling me this or asking for my blessing. It's not like you asked for my blessing when you slept with my father or had your three devil-spawns. I'm emancipated and everything's fine. Stop trying to include me in your happy family life. I left for a reason."
I hike my backpack up over my shoulder and start racing down the block. After they had told me they were engaged, I felt like someone had sucker punched me in the chest. My brain and lungs weren't working correctly and I was swearing to myself that I had heard him wrong. Obviously I knew this day was coming. I mean for god's sake they had been together for over ten years and had three children together. I just never thought that they would include me in it, for obvious reasons.
It was all just happening too soon. I couldn't handle even thinking about that god awful marriage when I was still grieving. The news was creating multiple cracks in my façade of neutrality. I had tried so hard not to hate the two people who had single handedly ruined my life in a matter of months, but now it was all crashing down. Every night I had stayed up crying over my mothers sadness and countless hours of asking myself if I could have done something to prevent this, came flooding back to me. My emotions were suddenly so raw, it shocked me.
And right now, I hated Hank and Carol for more reasons that I had thought possible.
The pounding of my shoes on the cement left me in a sort of trance as I raced down street to street. I didn't really have a destination. The only thing I wanted to do was get as far away from that house as physically possible.
I didn't know how far I ran, but the familiar burning of my lungs told me it was time to slow it down. I sat down on a nearby bench and put my face in my hands. Soon, my lungs are clenched in anger and I feel like I'm bleeding out.
I shouldn't have been this upset about something that I knew was bound to happen eventually, but I hadn't expected it to be so soon. Especially not only a year after Mom died.
Thinking about her passing sent a new wave of grief though me, on top of the anger. Hank should have been more sympathetic to me. After all, I was still coping with the fact that she was gone. He should have been saddened by the fact that his ex-wife of 17 years had practically just died of cancer, not shopping for engagement rings.
I guess I should have expected it. Despite the fact that my parents had been together since they were 14, Hank just couldn't wait to come home and drop the bomb that he had cheated on my mom with his new intern two months after she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Mom had speculated he was cheating after the first handful of excuses on why he was working late, but hearing him say it out loud was different.
I can still remember hearing a crash of a plate breaking and the screams of my mother kicking him out. At the time, I was too young to know what was going on. I just assumed Hank was working late and couldn't come home from the office like he had been recently, but as the months passed I finally asked Mom if he was ever coming back. She just shook her head no with a grim expression on her face and kept eating her tomato soup.
Hank doesn't do anything right. It's not like he tries anyways. I knew how pathetic I was acting right now, but it was hard not too. Sometimes wallowing in your own self-pity made things a tiny bit better.
The buzz in my pocket snaps me away from my thoughts and brings me back to reality. Pulling out my iPhone I see that Faye is calling me.
"Hey Faye, what's up?"
"Ohmigod! You are never going to believe what they just posted on the 5SOS app! You have to get down to Jamba Juice right now!" Faye's breath was coming out in sharp gasps and I could tell she was hyperventilating. What was getting her so worked up?
"Okay, okay! Calm down, I'm on my way."
I hang up before she can respond and quickly call an Uber to take me there. What was going on?
When I arrived at Jamba Juice, I had no idea what would be waiting for me. Faye was a complete mess. Her co-workers told me she had been on her lunch break and then she started freaking out and shaking all over the place. They said she was too worked up to even tell them what was going on.
Now, I stood just outside of the break room, mentally preparing myself for whatever she had to tell me. I had hoped it wasn't that big of a deal when she called, but with all this stuff I couldn't help the dread that settled in the pit of my stomach. What if something happened to one of them?
5 Seconds of Summer were an Australian band that had recently had their big break. They had started a YouTube channel and preformed songs as a band for a couple of years before One Direction had found them and asked for them to open at their next tour. 5SOS had said yes to their offer and had already toured with them last year, gaining major stardom points and letting their band name to be known in Hollywood.
You obviously had to know who One Direction was as well. Everyone who didn't live under a rock knew who they were. They had been a band for four years now and practically every teen wanted to sleep with them. They had liked 5SOS so much, that they had agreed to let them tour with them again on their upcoming Where We Are Tour.
Faye and I had been obsessed with both bands before they had become major stars. We both watched The X-Factor and had seen all of One Direction audition. They all had gotten in and were put together as a band in the first couple of weeks. I had been the one to find 5SOS when I had been looking up singing covers on YouTube. After hearing them cover Next To You by Chris Brown, I was hooked. One thing lead to another and I had become obsessed. What can I say? I was a teenage girl after all.
Finally, I scrounged up enough courage to walk into the break room. As soon as Faye saw me she screamed and practically tackled me in a bear hug.
"We get to tour with them Emma!" She yelled in my ear.
I was too confused to say anything as she bounced up and down on the balls of her feet. What was she talking about?
She pulled away from me, her dark green eyes shining with excitement. "Five Seconds of Summer are having a contest for a fan to go on tour with them on the Where We Are Tour!"
I had opened my mouth to answer, but a sudden scream escaped from my lips before I knew what I was doing.
"Oh my god! Faye, one of us could tour with them!" I squealed, shell-shocked.
"I know! Emma, this could be huge! One of us has to win."
We squealed and hugged for what seemed like forever. I knew my chances of winning were practically nonexistent, but the excitement was all I need to brighten up my day. All of my thoughts of Hank and Carol were pushed away, replaced by daydreams of myself and Luke meeting for the first time...