“Jaycie, JAYCIE!” My eyes fluttered open. I looked around. I was in my bedroom. It was all just a dream. I was safe, nothing was getting blown up. “Mother?” I said, expecting to see her standing there. Instead I saw a boy’s. “Jaycie are you okay? You were screaming and sweating like crazy.” It was Kaleb, my best friend. “Oh, uh, no, uh, yea I’m fine,” I finally blurted out. Kaleb’s green eyes were filled with concern. “No Jaycie, no you’re not. Are you going to be able to go back to sleep?” I looked at the clock, 2:00 AM. Nope. “No, I defiantly will not get back to sleep now,” I mumbled. “Do you want me to stay up and keep you company?” Kaleb asked. This is why I loved Kaleb. Kaleb was the sweetest guy alive, and would do anything for his family. “No, I’ll let you get some sleep... This time,” I flashed him a smile. He smiled back. ‘Okay. Well if you need me, I’m only four rooms down.” “Kaleb, you are the best friend ever,” I said to him. He bent down to give me a hug, and with that, he walked out of my room. I just sat there. I couldn’t read, not in this lighting. If I turned on a TV, I would wake the others. So, I just sat there. I reached for the silver locket that was on my neck. “I really miss you mom. I love you too.” I whispered. It needed to be said. I hadn’t even thought about my mom in so long it felt so weird saying the word mom. I hadn’t dreamt that dream in a long time. My face was uncomfortably sticky from crying, so I tiptoed to my bathroom to rinse my face off. I closed the door and switched on the lights. I looked into the mirror at my reflection. The braid that I had gone to sleep in was messy from tossing and turning. The white of my eyes were bloodshot from crying. I looked at the calendar I always had hanging in my bathroom on the inside of the door. It was July 14th. Exactly 10 years since my mom and everyone living in my house died. I had just had my 16th birthday on June 31st. I looked back at my sink. I turned on the cold water and cupped my hands. I brought the cold water up to my face. It felt so good, considering I was covered in sweat. I grabbed the white hand towel and wiped my face off. Then I looked back at my reflection. I had dark brown hair that went just to right above my elbows. It was curly, because I had just taken it out of that ratty braid. My eyes were gray. They turned gray 10 years ago today and have been that way ever since. They are my reminder that I have outlived a tragedy. I loved my mom, more that life itself, but at the same time, I wish I had forgotten about it all by now. Never remembered that any of that existed. After about 5 more minutes, I switched off the light and got back into bed. It was going to be a long night.
A noise downstairs woke me up. I looked at the clock, 8:00 AM. Wow. Had I gone back to sleep? When? I got up and immediately walked to the bathroom. I looked into the mirror, seeing bags under my eyes and my hair looking like a rat’s nest. I turned away from the mirror and turned on the shower water. I walked out of the bathroom to grab clothes to wear while the water was warming up. I decided on a pair of blue jeans, considering it was about one hundred degrees outside, and a pastel pink spaghetti strap shirt. Not my usual color, but it was cotton and perfect for this weather. After picking out a pair of black converse, I went into the bathroom and got into the shower. The warm water felt good against my skin and the soap smelled amazing to me because I was covered in last night’s sweat and tears. After about 4 minutes I got out of the shower, wrapping a white towel around me and walking into my bedroom to get dressed. I loved that feeling, right after a shower, the one when you feel refreshed and ready to start the day. I felt as if I had cleaned off last night’s nightmare off of me. After I got dressed, I opened my bedroom window, letting the morning summer breeze dry my hair. I had side bangs, which were a pain to do every day, but the wind always makes it easier. After my hair was dry I put them into my usual two braids, letting my bangs hang down. I put on Chap Stick and walked downstairs to eat. I loved this house. It was sunny and open, and felt like a home to whoever entered. It was humble and not very big, but big enough to make you feel at home. The front door was happy and yellow, a choice of Kaleb’s amazing mom. The floors were light and wooden. The staircase was lined with very clean cream-colored carpet. The living room had a white couch, a yellow leather coffee table thing that I loved, a medium sized TV, and behind that, the wall was lined with bookcases. The other 3 walls were lined with wide pieces of very light wood, making the place looked modern- for a farmhouse. I walked down the small staircase and met everyone in the kitchen, decorated with a lot of plant-type things. Flowers in vases were everywhere. Mrs. Smith was a teacher, so she loved to hang work that her students gave to her on the refrigerator and bulletin boards that decorated the walls. Mrs. Smith loved the color yellow, and loved porcelain chickens, which were both everywhere. “Well, look who decided to join us,” said frank, Kaleb’s dad in a teasing voice. “Oh frank, give her a break, she’s 16 now, much too important for us,” said Mrs. Smith, Kaleb’s mom in an even more sarcastic voice. I laughed and grabbed my plate. “So, how did you sleep Jaycie?” asked Mrs. Smith. Mrs. Smith was the most genuinely nice person you’d ever meet. She had Blonde hair and green eyes, kind of like Kaleb’s, but Kaleb was more dirty blonde and his eyes were more of an intense green. I thought back to when I had first met all of them. When my house went up in flames, I ran. I ran as fast as I could looking for a safe house. I walked three weeks, finding water wherever I could and eating tree nuts I could find for food. When Kaleb found me, I was sleeping in the woods behind his house. We were only six then. He woke me up and scared me half to death. He could see that I was underfed and had been walking for days. He led me to his house where his parents welcomed me with open arms to live with him in their house. This is where I’ve been ever since. “Jaycie?” Mrs. Smith asked. I had had a flashback, leaving me silent for several minutes. “Oh uh I slept fine,” I lied. “Jaycie I heard you screaming,” said Elliot. Elliot was Kaleb’s 5-year-old sister who adored me. I was as excited as the rest of the family when she came along. Elliot was short, unlike her parents and Kaleb, with black hair and beautiful brown eyes. She said her favorite color was blue like the ocean, so she wore that all the time. Elliot was extremely pale, which was rare around here. Elliot always wore black ballet flats, which she looked absolutely adorable in. Honestly, to other people, she looked ghostly. I thought she was unique. “Well Ellie,” I responded, ‘I did have a bit of a nightmare but I am fine.” And I was wasn’t I? “Well Jaycie, it’s just that time of year poor thing,” said Mrs. Smith. “What do you mean Mrs. Smith?” I asked. “Oh Jaycie, I’ve told you, Mrs. Smith sounds like a teacher’s name. Call me Madelin.” Madelin. That’s what I loved about Madelin. Even when they found me in that forest, she never asked me to call her mom. She knew I had a mom and only that mom. She had told me once that it was okay to, but said that it was only it I really wanted to, and that she would understand if I did not want to. “Okay I will,” I said with a smile, “But really, what do you mean by ‘that time of year’” I asked again. Everybody looked at me. “Jaycie haven’t you noticed? You get nightmares on the anniversary of your mom’s passing every year, and they don’t stop until you get back into school,” said Frank. I thought back in time. Was that true? Had I really? Wow, I guess I had. “You OK?” asked Braylin, Kaleb’s 2 year old little brother who loved to talk and had an adorable lisp. Braylin was small and active, and a lot of fun to be around. He had a little pot-belly, which I thought was the cutest thing ever on a young child. He loved the color blue. He was convinced that he was Spiderman. He was blonde with brown eyes. Braylin loved to cuddle and loved superheroes and dinosaurs, and had tons of their action figures. “Yes I’m okay,” I said with a smile, not wanting to show pain and upset him or Lilly, who was one. Lilly had light brown hair and green eyes, and loved flowers and the color pink. She would hold you hostage and make you play with her, whether it was dress up, baby dolls, or Barbies. She was also known to get into Madelin’s high heels or my Sunday dresses every so often. She loved anything sparkly and could make your heart melt in one look. Madelin wasn’t stellar with hair, she left Lilly’s down and curly. “These eggs taste great Madelin,” I said, trying to change the subject. She smiled and said, “Well they should, I went out and bought them this morning.” “Mommy! We should just buy chickens so we can get eggs for free and you won’t have to go to the store anymore,” said Ellie, who loved animals. “The eggs wouldn’t necessarily be for free Ellie,” said Frank, “We’d still have to feed the chickens.” “We’ll think about it,” said Madelin. The chat went on for about half an hour longer, (they were listing the pros and cons of having chickens, of course) but I was so zoned out I couldn’t hear any of it. I’m going to have this nightmare for another two months I said to myself.