“Alexis, honey, could you come downstairs for a minute?” My mother calls to me.
I immediately stop doing my homework and head down the stairs to find my parents sitting at the kitchen table, looking extremely serious.
“What’s up?” I ask, caution in my voice. “Did something happen to Mike?”
My mother immediately gets choked up at his name, she doesn’t like to talk about him to me. When he calls from the Correctional Facility that he’s placed at, I’m allowed to answer, but have to wait until mom gets to the phone, and am only allowed to tell him either that my mother is not home, or that she will be on the phone in a few seconds. I’m not allowed to speak to him, because she does not want to tarnish the ways in which I look at him. She thinks that I look at him with awe, seeing as he is my big brother, but she has yet to realize that now that I am seventeen, I understand what has happened with him. I know that he is a criminal, but she doesn’t think so.
He got arrested not too long after his twin sister died. Carolina died about a year and a half ago from lung cancer. Though I loved and love her a lot, her early death did not come as a surprise to me. My parents thought that the twins were saints, who both got unfortunate and unjust actions taken upon them. However, I know the truth, and I have known for years. Being as I am only a little over three years younger than the twins, I always have been close enough to them to know what was going on in their lives. And they were not saints.
Although I didn’t know until the twins were fifteen, I do know that they got mixed into the wrong crowd at a very young age. They both began smoking at the age of thirteen. When I finally learned of this habit, they were sneaking out my bedroom window, whispering “I love you’s” to me as they asked for me to not shut the window entirely. I knew then that they were getting into worse things than smoking, because they would smoke out on the rooftop. They were going out to do much worse.
This is why I was not surprised that Carolina’s tiny lungs could not handle all of the smoking she had done, and why I wasn’t surprised when Mike got into even harder drugs than before when she died.
“No, sweetheart,” my father responds to me, “It’s got nothing to do with Mike.”
My mother is still choking back tears, but tells me that we will be moving to a new house, because she is unable to handle all of the memories that this neighborhood holds.
I’m actually slightly excited about this. Not only do I always have to handle faces that show sympathy for my sister dying, but I also live in the legacy that is Mike and Cara. Everyone at school knows them, and they are all aware that they were not good kids, so, naturally, it is as though I am not a good kid. My teachers assume that I won’t so my homework because the twins didn’t- even though I hold the number two spot in our class rank- and kids parents did not want for them to be associated with me. After all, I became known as “That Brown Girl” among parents, who do not agree that I should be a very good influence.
Finally, I think, I get a clean slate somewhere new.
“Is that alright, honey? That doesn’t make you too sad, does it?” my mother asks.
Immediately, and extremely surely, I shake my head no. “That’s fantastic!”
My parents show a slight concern at this, but I simply say that I agree with them that this house and school hold too many memories, though, I could not explain myself any further, for fear of ruining their visuals of their children. “Where are we moving to?”
“Well,” my dad begins to explain, “I found a teaching job at this middle school in Pennsylvania. You’d be attending their high-school.”
I think about the prospect of Pennsylvania. Undoubtedly much colder than the weather here in North Carolina, but I am still thrilled at the thought. However, this does not surprise me at all seeing as this is the state where Mike’s Correctional Facility is located, and mom would find any sort of reason to be closer to her “baby boy” as she still affectionately calls him. “When do we move?”
My father looks hesitant, as though he thinks that this is all too short notice for me, “We’ll leave Friday evening.” I look at the date on my phone’s home screen, and see that today is Sunday. “We figured that would give you enough time to pack and say good-bye to all of your friends. Tomorrow morning I’ll go to the guidance office about having your transcripts sent over to this new school.”
I am find myself happier than I was ten minutes ago and immediately begin packing. I hear my parents enter the bedroom beside mine, which previously belonged to Cara. My mother is sobbing at the things in the room as she packs them up, to be taken to Pennsylvania with us.
I also find that it is much easier to fall asleep later in the evening, because the idea of having people just meet me, Alexis, not the sister of drug-addicts Mike and Cara.