Axes to Grind

Sam, Clarissa's best friend is found murdered... What does Clarissa do? She cries, cries some more, and gets back up.
After a little time she works out that this is not what she was supposed to do and she goes on an investigation. Can she find the right suspect on time?

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1. Chapter One

     Bang! Bang! Bang!

    I jump, yanking the toothbrush out of my mouth. “What?” I yell, spitting a glob of toothpaste spit out on the counter.

    “Mom wants you to hurry up and get to the kitchen or you’ll be late!” Dad shouts back. I sigh and spit, rinse out my mouth and toothbrush and head out, going back in for a minute to clean off the counter. As soon as I get out of the bathroom I yell that the bathroom is empty, luckily I did because before I even got out of the hallway I hear the bathroom door close. On my way to the kitchen, someone runs past me and punches me in the shoulder.

“You're it!” Tanner yells. I race after him and grab him around the chest and hold him while walking to the kitchen. We enter like that, with me holding on to him and him screeching and laughing trying to get out of my arms. As soon as Mom looks at us I let my arms drop though. Mom points her spatula directing us and telling us what to do. She tells me to set plates out at the table so, that's what I do. When breakfast is ready we all sit at the table and the food gets passed around.

As I eat my eggs I look around at the people at the 12 seater rectangle table. At one end of it is my mother, then to her right is my father, then my older sister by four years, Alison. To her right is my cousin Matthew, then his little sister Mackenzie. The next person is on the other end of the table, which is me. To my right is the maid, to her right is my other older sister, Sadie. The next seat is left empty. It is in front of Tanner, who, when he was younger he threw his food. Thank the lord that he seems to have grown out of that stage. The last seat is Mabel, the current foster child my mother is taking care of.

My mother clears her throat and we all turn our attention to her. “I have an announcement.” She pauses, looking upset, “It's about school.” She says, making everyone but Dad, me and Mabel graon. Suddenly she smiles, “School is canceled today!” Everyone starts clapping except me, because I actually like school believe it or not. Even Mom is clapping and grinning, mind you, she is an english teacher. When breakfast is done I help Mom clear the table and bring the food and dishes into the kitchen. I start putting the empty dishes into the dishwasher, and Mom gives me  a weird look.

“What?” I ask her.

“Your actually doing work!” She says, putting more dishes into the sink.

“It's better than going out in the cold.” I tell her. She just smiles and continues. On her way out of the kitchen I see her roll her eyes at something. All the other kids are outside playing in the snow, which I can see because I can see the living room window from here. Dad comes in and grabs his phone off the counter and goes into the pantry. When he comes back out he is snacking on a snack sized bag of chips. He smiles at me and walks out. When I turn my attention back to watching the others outside I see Mabel sitting on the ground just watching Matthew and Mackenzie with an expression I know all too well. I try to finish as quickly as I can and run up the stairs and into my room that I share. I grab a pair of black cargo pants, a blue hoodie and my pair of snow boots. I run through the house and am outside.

I sit next to her and thankfully she doesn't seem to even notice, which is good. I use my right hand, the one farthest from her, and grab a handful of snow and wham! It explodes all over her shoulder. Finally she starts to smile again. Soon we are having our own little game and we are having fun. I think that is when Mathew noticed what I was trying to do. He threw a snowball at Mabel and joined into the game, and because of that, everyone else joined in.

The adults, (Mom, Dad, Sadie, and Violet) came out to watch. Violet, the maid, walked up hiding a snowball and threw it at me, hit me in the face. After that everyone ganged up on her and she was in our game. The others joined in a few minutes after that. I was enjoying myself until Mom calls me away and pulls me away until I am out of hearing distance from everyone else. She surprised me with a hug, and for am few moments all I can do is think, what happened to my mom? When she pulls back she is smiling,

“Thank you.” She says.

“For what?” I ask her, even though I have an idea what she's talking about.

“For getting her to smile.” She says. She hugs me again so I just stand there, hugging her until I realize that I’m not the only one who helped.

“Matthew helped.” I tell her while hugging her.

“Still,” She said,” You started it.” I would have stayed like that for a long time but she backed away, wiped her face and walked off.  Finally I plaster a big goofy grin and walk up to Sadie and throw her a small snowball. We stay out for a couple more hours but the younger ones look like they are going to collapse. Most of them go to change and don’t come back out, probably taking a nap. I change into more comfortable clothes, short leggings, a green hoodie and my favorite pair of black converse.

I head to the bathroom next. I glance at my hair and bend down and ruffle all of the snow out of it. I stand up and grab my toothbrush to obviously brush my teeth. While I do I admire my looks, something I do very rarely. I don't get it, people are always boasting and telling me that I am so pretty and they wish they had my looks, but I don’t see it. I have long wavy brown hair, hazel brown-ish eyes, and tan skin. I might also add my small smile and my good eyelashes. I walk into the kitchen and see my eldest sister Alison, who is four years older than me. She is eating a bowl of cereal. She doesn't even notice me come in. She just stares at her phone.

“Hey Alison.” I tell her while grabbing a bowl. “Just gonna eat then go see my boyfriend.”

“What boyfriend?” She asks, suddenly interested. Congrats to me because she actually puts her phone down.

“My non-existing one!” I laugh give her a big cheesy smile and sit down at the table with my bowl of cereal. When I am halfway done Violet walks in.

“Why are you eating a bowl of cereal at,” She looks at her phone, “6:05? And right about when I am about to heat up dinner?” She sighs and goes to look into the fridge.

“Because I won’t be here for dinner.” I tell her and pick up my now empty bowl. I rinse it out and put it in the sink. I go to go up the stairs and only go up about 5 of them, because Tanner it already bounding down, two at a time. I grab my keys and we head out the door.

“Shotgun!” Tanner yells. I slap my head like I forgot.

“Dang!” I toss my keys to Matthew, who is standing next to the driver's seat, “Here you go, Matty.” I say, grinning. He rolls his eyes and gets in the car. I get in behind Tanner and text Mom that we are leaving. She just says that they will be there but only after they eat dinner. Matthew honks twice to get Callie to hurry up. Two seconds later she comes rushing out with a plastic wrapped dress and a pair of boot. She opens the door, hands them to me and runs back into the house. I look at the dress and looks at Tanner. “Where are your fancy clothes?” I ask him.

“This is what I'm wearing.” He grumbles as Callie gets back in the care with a case. I set the stuff in her lap and look at Matthew in the mirror. He grins. We head off.

On the way there I notice Callie getting nervous so I poke her cheek. She just swat my hand away, rolling her eyes. I look out the window, cross my arms and say, “Well, if you want to be like that then.” She instantly starest to apologize.

“Wait! No! I didn't-” Before she realizes that I'm pretending I, as quick as I can, turn and start tickling her. She squeals and tries to push my hands away, but I continue until she cant breath. When I am done she isn't as nervous. While Tanner and Matthew talk about where to park my mind wanders. My mother actually showed some emotion today! I wonder what happened. All I can think is WOW I can almost not believe that she did. Either way, she must care for Mabel a whole lot.

The car stops and the twins (Oh, and yes, Callie and Tanner are twins) get out. They walk into the school. I move into the now empty seat. “When do we go in?” I ask Matthew. He looks at his watch.

“In about 15 minutes.” He looks at me while I feel myself get all  serious again.

“Good, because I have something to tell you. Mom, I think, has made a connection with Mabel.” I tell him about what happened earlier. When I am done he looks surprised.

“Do you think?.?.” He trails off, but I understand him.

“Maybe not sure. I’m guessing so, do you remember the last time?” I ask him. I look at him while he nods and see a car pull in. “Oh, it's Sam and Alec!” I say while climbing out of the car. I meet them halfway to the car. I hug Sam and high five with Alec.

Alec and his brown hair, brown eyes and thin frame are completely different from his friend Sam, who is my best friend. Sam has bright green eyes, black hair, and is athletic. They both smile at me and wave at Matthew, who isn't really friends with either of them. Something is off about them, I realize. Something is off I wonder- OH! It is their clothes, they are bother wearing each others clothes. I mentally laugh, I forgot about that. Tanner and the rest of us had been playing truth or dare and he dared them to wear each others clothes for a day. Haha.

We all make small talk until we have to go into the school. We make it to the gym as the first people to be let in and we get spread out and save a whole row of chairs. That is 14 chairs in all. Sam and Alec help with that. After about half an hour my family shows up and Alec and Sam move behind me. I end up in between my grandma and Sadie. The lights dim and a older gentleman walks up to the podium. He thanks everyone of the students and the parents for coming and boasts about how amazing the kids are and how talented they are. “And now, I will introduce the music teacher, Mrs. Lamb.” I clap with everyone else in the gym.

An african american lady in a purple shirt walks up to the podium. “I will welcome you again, and if I had gone first I would have been the one boasting but wasn't and Mr. Hawksworth did enough of that. The thing that I will say that he cannot say is that it was an amazing opportunity to work with your kids. And now I ask that the kids walk out and get settled on stage.” Another adult walks up and removes the podium and the kids get onto the stage. She waits for all the kids to get seated before speaking. “The first song we will be paying-” I tone out to the rest of what she says and wait for them to start playing. I listen and ooh and aww with the rest of everyone, but it takes me only three songs to make me have to go to the bathroom.

I tap Mom’s knee, how is on the other side of Grandma, and nod to the bathroom. She nods and goes back to watching the performance. I’m lucky that everyone who I have to squeeze past is my family. I still end up saying excuse me about 50 times. When I pass my dad he winks at me, I just smile back at him.

Luckily I can still hear the music from the bathroom, or Callie might get upset… Again. When I get back to my seat I see the kids leaving the stage and the podium going back up. Mr. Hawksworth goes up and congratulates the parents and the students who came. After his little speech some parents stand and leave, while other families come and take their places. Principal Hawksworth makes his beginning speech again, the one that he made before, exactly. This time he introduces the drama teacher, who makes the same announcement of how she wont boast about the kids, but that it was fun to work with these kids. She then says, “And now I will introduce the Drama class!”

The lights dim again and I see that Tanner is in the middle of the stage with a binder and a couple notebooks in his arms. A small girl walks up to the stage and has a microphone in her hands, “A new beginning, by Jay Mckay, directed by Mrs. Theres.” She hurries off the stage, looking flustered. The lights focus on Tanner. He has his hood up and you can see earbuds in his ears.

A group of boys and girls run across the stage, and a few of them knock his stuff out of his hand, one girl laughs and pulls his backpack off his shoulders. The next few scenes where something like that, tripping him, knocking projects out of his hands, breaking his pencils. Even if I already know how this play turns out I still end up listening. He has me help him with lines. As the story goes on it tells about a boy, played by Tanner, who is bullied but he makes a friend who sticks up for him and is there for him while things go on in his home life. All in all it is a happy ending, but not for the bully, he got put on lunch duty, where he has to help the janitor with pickup duty. I think that even he got his happy ending because he finally learns how to be nice to other people.

At the end all of the kids and the teacher go to the front of the stage and they all link arms and bow twice. The principal walks backup and, again congratulates the parents and the kids. The only difference is that he asks us to put the chairs away. We all clap for a moment and then when the kids start to get off the stage we all slowly get up and start to put the chairs on the chair thingy. We all wait in the gym while Mom and Dad head to the twin’s classes to pick them up.

I lead Sam, Alec and Matthew to the corner of the gym and we all sit down in a circle, knees touching. Instantly Sam starts to boast about his day and how him and his sister brought the new puppy to the top of the hill next to the schools and let her enjoy the first of may snows in her life. Alec went next and said that he sat around like a bum until his mom made him go outside.

“It’s not like I have siblings that I can go have a snowball fight with.” He says, shrugging. They all look at me, Sam has one eyebrow raised.

“So, did you go out in the snow?” He saks, flipping his black hair out of his eyes.

“Actually she did.” Matthew says. He just grins and looks at me.

“What's so funny?” Alec asks. Ah, right, he doesn't know me very well…

Sam turns to Alec. “Little miss clarissa hates the cold! So,” He turns back to me,” Why did she go out in the snow?”

“Um… Well…” I tell them the whole story and Alec looks a little lost.

“Um again, I’m lost.” He says.

“Clarissa’s mom isn't like our moms, she doesnt show any emotions, for her it's all facts and not beliefs. Its extremely important when she does show emotions.” Sam tells him. Alec nods.

“Ok, I get it now.” He says.

“Yeah and last time that happened was when she adopted Clarissa.” Matthew says. I put my elbows on my knees, putting my chin in my hands, I nod.

“I may just end up with a new sister.” I say.

I see something going on behind me but I don't look back until both Sam and Matthew get up. I see a senior who is one of the school “Bullies” in my school taking hold of Callie’s arm. I rush over there while Jared pushes her to the ground. On my way there I am thinking, why is some 18 year old being like this to a 9 year old?

Anyway, I storm up to them. Callies eyes are wide with fear and he still has ahold of her wrist. He is bent over her and doesn't see any of us coming. I’m in front with both of the boys behind me on either side. Alec is behind me, hidden from view most likely. I tap Jared's shoulder, he yanks Callie up with him so he can look at me. After they are both standing upright I hear Callie whimper.

“Will you let go if my sister?” I ask as nicely as I can considering the circumstances. He grabs her wrist harder. She starts to tear up even more and I hear her wrist crunch and he smiles. He face is now in a horrible expression, so I know that the pain is real.

“She said let go.” Matthew says, but to be completely honest it was more like a growl. I step back when he doesn't answer and drag Matthew a few steps back, who I can tell is gonna lose it, and let sam punch Jared in the stomach. His breath comes all out at once and I instantly know why he acting like this, because his breath smells like alcohol. Callie can get herself away from Jared finally and she crashes into me, sobbing. Alec and Matthew bring her back to the rest of my family, who saw nothing and made sure she was ok. I stayed behind and pulled Sam away from Jared before he did more damage to the drunken bully. Mom and Dad got back with Tanner while I was trying to calm Sam down. I walked back to the cars with Sam and Alec behind everyone else while they congratulate the twins. I wave to everyone and get into Sam’s car. I buckle up while the car starts.

“What do you guys want to do this fine Wednesday evening?” Alec asks from the front passenger seat. I shrug, then realize that he can't see it.

“No clue.” I say, while Sam suddenly smiles, uh oh, this can't be any good.

“I’ve got an idea.” He says, and sure enough 4 minutes later we were pulling into the bowling alley parking lot.

“Ugh! Why do you hate me so much?” Alec says. I watch him slouch in his seat. I honestly don't know much about him except the fact that he is smart, annoying, and just moved in across the road from Sam. I wonder why Sam even hangs out with him. We all get out of the car and go into the bowling place. After paying, getting the ugliest shoes on earth, and ordering some grub we all play a few rounds.

Before we even started Sam told us why we were here, “Because I wanted Rissa here,” He points at me, “to have gone bowling at least once before highschool ends.”

Alec gapes at me. “You've never gone bowling?”

“You’ve seen my family, we don't usually do things like this because of how big we are and the fact that we all aren't ever all at home at the same time.”  I tell him and smile, “Today wasn't normal. Our roads were blocked for most of the day.” Sam laughs and we start the first game, but I can tell that they are both going easy on me and my competitive side comes out.

After 3 games I call it quits. “You do know that I have to be home by 10:00 on school nights.” I say, pointedly looking at Sam. He gives me a “Who-me?” look and smirks. All I can do is roll my eyes and pull my shoes back on.

I race ahead and slap the front passenger seat and call, “SHOTGUN” maybe a little too loud. I laugh with them and jump in as soon as he unlocks it. He and Alec get in but this time Alec is the one driving. We go past my house and into Sam’s driveway, which is my neighbor. I used to think that it was funny how we didn’t meet because of that, but because he was in my P.E. class. Then we found out that we were neighbors. I guess it is because we both live in a small town in the middle of nowhere in Oklahoma. I guess that Evergreen is a small town. A really small town.

I check the time on my phone, it said it was about 10. I guess we got here early. I enter Sam's house and make my way to the kitchen, because I smell hot chocolate. Sam's mom, Ms Everdy, has 4 big mugs all ready for us to drink. It seems to be the only thing that I drink when we are here. Ms. Everdy seems to know when I came over too. I sit on the bar stool in the kitchen next to the counter and smile at her.

I accept the mug and we make small talk until it is cool enough to drink. I drink some and help her bring two of the other ones to the boys, and she gets the last one. I stay upstairs and Lay back on Sam’s bed. The boys are playing the xbox and ignoring me so I grab a random book off of the pile of books on the floor next to their backpacks. I start reading, and suddenly I hear the phone go off. I forgot my phone in the kitchen I think. Oops. I get up after seeing what page I was on and bounded down the stairs. When I got to my phone I see that I missed a phone call from my Aunt Jami.

I go into the living room and call her back.

“Yo.” I say, “Sorry I missed your call. Whats up?”

“Just asking about the kids.” She says.

“Have you talked to them?” I ask, sitting down in the armchair and putting my legs over the arm and laying my head on the opposite one. “I really don't think that you should be asking me.” I tell her, a little upset with her. “You can’t hide from them forever. You gotta be strong.” I tell her, not for the last time.

“But they hate me right now.” She says, almost in a whisper, but adds a little chuckle.

"I know that even though they are mad at you, they do not hate you..." I trail off.

“Um, I think that both you and I know that they do.” She counters. I roll my eyes.

“I'm going to let you in on a little secret. No child can hate their parents, sometimes they even love them after abuse or things like that.” I sigh and sit up straighter even if she can’t see me. “You know of my history?” I ask her.

“Yes.” She says quietly.

“Good, because I want you to know that even a child who was abused and thrown out on the streets still loves her parents. She loves them even after her mom killed herself and her father was thrown in jail.” I can feel my voice go softer. “Give them another chance, give them time. Show them that you still care. Please? Promise me.” I ask. But it was more of a order I guess.

“I can’t promise anything. How can a woman get married and run off into the sunset and not even think about her children? I ran off and didn't even think about them.” She starts to cry after saying that. It saddens me but also it makes me angry.

“At least you get a second chance to make it up to them. Just try please?” I end up repeating myself a lot but I get her to promise to me. I lay back down in the chair and I can tell that I am starting to fall asleep. Thankfully Sam’s house is counted as home for curfew, mostly because our parents are friends and I stay over a lot. I yawn as someone walks in.

“You want me to text my mom to tell her that you are staying over? Alec is staying too.” Sam asks, pulling me up.

“Sure.” I say. We walk back up to his room where Alec is making a makeshift bed out of extra blankets on the floor. Sam gets more blankets and pillows from the hall closet, but I know from past experience that he won't make or let me sleep in the floor. I walk to his dresser and grab a pair of sweats and head to the bathroom. I honestly don't think that he even noticed that I put a pair of my sweats in his empty bottom drawer in the last year.

I change and head back, where the boys are still trying to make beds for themselves. I open his closet and grab a drawstring bag, “I'll give this back tomorrow at school.” I stuff my leggings in and toss it onto the floor as I collapse onto the bed, not caring to even use the blankets.

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