Carter had a secret
I knew from the way he was holding his lips tightly trying not to smile. He was five years old, so it was probably a mischievous little, harmless prank, like he'd hidden a set of keys again. But an unusual hint in his eyes made me wonder if this time, it was something more.
Whatever it was, he definitely didn't want Dad or Gwen to know. He didn't say a word as Gwen ran around making sure every thing he'd possibly need was in his Star Wars backpack. Dad strolled in and kissed our heads. My twin brother Calum was siting next to me
"Have fun in kindergarten" he said ruffling Carters hair but not too much because Gwen had already put hairspray on his coper colored hair. Really. Hairspray on a five year old. Boy
"Enjoy your first day in senior year, Jade, Cal" he said to us then winked. He kissed Gwen on the cheek and grabbed his case and garment bag, and left. I could tell Gwen was bothered that Dad was missing drop-off for Carter's first day of school. But he had a plane to catch. A plane that brought him to meetings that paid for things that she liked. So she kept her big mouth shut.
Carter stopped staring into space with that mysterious expression and turned his attention to his bowl of Cocoa Puffs, which he stirred vigorously. He often refused to take a bite until the milk had magically turned into chocolate milk. He did this every morning. On any random person it would be annoying. But on Carter, it was cute.
My mother died when i was eight. Dad remarried three years later and after thirteen years of being only me and Cal, Carter popped out. While Gwen was pregnant, I was not looking forward to the new addition to the family. My life had been suckish enough. I scolded every time they would talk about the baby. I spent the whole baby shower locked in my room. Even though every one knew that the baby was a boy, I always referred to Gwen's bump as "it". Calum however was really happy.
Then when Carter was born, in the hospital, they sat me in a chair and carefully placed him in my arms. It was time I'd held a real baby. I think my baby dolls weighted more than he did. He was wrapped tightly in his little hospital blanket, a blue hat on his little bald head. His eyes were wet, glassy, and without focus. But they were staring at me. Almost as into lurking into my soul. And all the hatred, anger, and selfish thoughts evaporated into the air and turned into nothing but love. Love for the tinny creature in my arms.
I'm seventeen now. I'd be going to college, next year. It was now Carter would be an only child. We'd miss him and he'd miss me, and Calum. He was a cool little dude. His favorite color was purple, because most boys picked blue. He liked being different. He loved to make his own dance moves when me or Cal blasted music. And Modern Family made him laugh so hard that you'd think he'd wee his pants. Though Gwen always seemed to need a horse tranquilizer, I wasn't worried about Carter making friends. He'd beam that award winning smile of his and the kids would share their LEGOs.
Me on the other hand...
"You exited for school?" I asked pointing at him with my spoon
"Yeah" his face lit up "when i went to the open home-"
"House" Gwen corrected rinsing a plate "open house" Cal rolled his eyes at Wen
"They had a ton of toys in the classroom" Carter continued "way more than my school back home"
"This is home" Gwen said
My finger tightened around my spoon. "He meant our old home" I fought the urge to say "obviously". I hated how she was always correcting him.
The town I'd grown up in was in South East Texas almost to the Mexico border. My house was small and compact. Our closest neighbor was about half a mile away. My old HighSchool was small this years graduating class only had thirty students. I'd always dreamed about living in a large city. With great schools, and big malls, and actual fun stuff to do. I'd begged my dad, year after year, but he always said moving wasn't and option. We could sell our old house but it wouldn't be enough money to buy a house in one of these towns.
So color me shocked when Dad and Gwen called a family meeting during the summer and telling us we were moving to Sydney. Now. When I only had a year of school left. The timing made their motivation obvious. Carter was about to start kindergarden. And our old town's school system wasn't good enough for him, even though they had made it clear over the years that it was good enough for me. I wasn't bitter over the reason just happy it was happening. My mom was from Australia, and Cal had got her accent, I how ever was plain American.
Gwen got a job as a night-shift nurse at a hospital here in Sydney that payed a lot better than her old one. And Dad worked from wherever since he traveled rather than going to an office. He sold data systems. Whatever that was. But still I wondered how all of a sudden we could afford it.
Our new house was big and beautiful, pale blue with black shutters. White trellises climbed up either side, ivy snaking through the latticework. Our old house alway needed something needing a fix. The new house was perfect. The only change Gwen and Dad had done to change, was add a carpet runner on the main staircase. Gwen thought hardwood stairs were unsafe for Carter.
I stood up and placed my bowl in the sink and walked upstairs to my bathroom. I brushed my teeth. When I walked back into my room. Carter was seated on his favorite seat, my purple bean bag.
"Hey buddy was up?"
"I need to tell you something" he said
Ah the secret.
"Okay, is it about school?" he slowly nodded
"You nervous?" Cal popped his head in
"Yes" I frowned. "Why would you everyone loved you back home?" He looked at me and I exchanged a look with Cal who shrugged. It was funny we were a weird family. My dad was in his late 40's and he had an undying love for the Beetles, and his outfits totally showed it. Cal and I loved the same bands, and we mostly always wore band T-shirts. You'd think its weird for us to share shirts, but it wasn't for us it was like out Twine-thingy. He had recently gotten blond highlights, on his black hair, and I had dyed my hair close to the color of a electric blue. Carter an Gwen dressed more like normal people.
"But what if kids here are different what if they don't?" His voice was sweet and innocent. Wow almost thirteen years apart and we worried about the same things. "Don't worry bud they will love you" I assured him. His eyes drifted to my black box I always kept on my drawer. "Your pretties" I turned my attention to them. "My gemstones? What about them?". I collected gemstones and crystals, something I had gotten from my mother. She was a jewelry designer. Some that I had were inherited from her, some I bought. "Do you have one that make people like me?" I had spent a lot of time with him explaining him the meanings and origins of them. I first showed him when he was two and he couldn't say gemstones so he called them pretties. Now he knew the word gemstones but pretties had stayed.
"Bro, believe me if there was one for that I would wear it every day" Cal said now leaning against the door frame. I glared at him. "No,but I have just what you need". I walked to my box and took out the gemstone I was named after. Jade. Protector of children. It was a pedant, I placed it on his neck and tucked it under his shirt. Normally I would trust any five year old with any of my gemstones, like you'd trust a thief with your bank account, but I knew I could trust Carter. Cal had left probably to get his book bag. "Thanks Jade" Carter gave me a kiss on the cheek. And turned and skipped to the door but returned like he'd forgotten something.
"Oh, yeah I will tell you know" What?! I thought being nervous was what he wanted to tell me. He looked out of my door left then right then closed it.
"There's a girl in my room" his voice was just above a whisper
"A what?!" I whispered-yelled
"A girl" he repeated looking down at the hardwood floor. "Like now?" I pointed my finger to the direction of his door. "No, just like sometimes". I stood with a shocked expression, but then it became clear. "Oh, like an imaginary friend?".
He shook his head. "No, this girl..." He paused like he was looking for the right word in his vocabulary. "She's...umm see through... yeah thats the word... she's see trough"