The feeling of emptiness is the heaviest feeling of all. The fire that once lit the path of all your passions and desires now struggles to stay ablaze, almost as if a gallon of water had been poured on it. Safina Wells knew this feeling all too well. As she sat on a plane, flying away from her comfortable lifestyle and, more importantly, home in Burlington, Vermont, she couldn't help but think of the leaves falling to the ground as a metaphor for her dying soul. For just seven days, three hours and fifty-two minutes before the spur of emotions on an eight hour flight to Forks, Washington, her mother had been pronounced dead.
Tuesday, September 4, 7:13 PM
The image of her brother having to hold her back from running to her mother's body being wheeled out from a failed surgery as she screamed at the doctors for not doing more as she looked for someone-anyone-to blame would not leave her brain.
Safina and her brother hadn't slept the entire flight which landed at Forks Airport at 3:38 in the morning. Dark circles accompanied both of the siblings' tired eyes from the lack of sleep for the past week as they searched for their father. His tall stature was easily spotted as they made their way over from baggage claim and noticed that their step-mother, Cherie, was also there to greet the two.
Safina couldn't help but remember the last time she had seen her father, which happened to be at his wedding. As much as she had wanted to dislike-to hate-Cherie, she had no reason to and every interaction led her to the realization that Cherie was a wonderful woman with good intentions and a loving heart.
Gabriel and Safina were immediately greeted with tight hugs from both adults. "How are you guys?" the younger sibling's stomach clenched at the question and she felt bile rising in her throat at the simple question her father had asked. Elliot quickly dropped it and seemingly didn't expect an answer after he noticed the sadness on his childrens' faces.
"Are we all ready to go? We promised Mary that we'd be back before 4:30," Cherie's statement confused the two as they wondered who Mary was. Noticing this, Cherie hesitantly answered, "Mary is our, uh, babysitter," the two teens suddenly realized the situation: they had an unknown younger sibling. Elliot closed his eyes in what the two would call embarrassment and made a hand motion, signaling them to leave the almost vacant airport.
Arriving at the car, Elliot stated, "You'll have to sit in the back, the car seats are in the middle," Safina and Gabriel looked at each other: car seats. Plural. They said nothing and got in the back without notifying the two adults of their annoyance.
After about twenty minutes of not talking, Elliot spoke up, "They're fraternal, a boy and a girl, his name is Caiden and hers is Zara," the two siblings didn't say anything as they had nothing to respond with. "They're only eight months old," Safina's face softened along with her body language. Elliot continued, "They were born January second at 2:43 in the morning."
Gabriel asked what both of the teenagers were thinking, "So for more than a year you didn't feel the need to mention that we had younger siblings? Were you planning on telling us at all?" Elliot's face dropped at the accusation.
"We wanted to-we tried to but-" his sentence was interrupted by Cherie's hand lightly touching his forearm, a signal that it wasn't a good time to tell them. Instead, the father just sighed and continued driving.
The house was obviously new, probably designed by Cherie, an interior designer whose contacts included plenty of high end contractors and architects. A stone path led from the long driveway to the wooden double doors that were placed on a large porch encompassed by a stone exterior. Upon entering the house, Safina had to give praise to Cherie on her decorating, the house truly felt like a home, even if her brother and she refused to admit it. The high ceiling hung a glass chandelier as well as a plethora of windows and pictures of the family-even ones of Safina and Gabriel. The two were led to their own separate bedrooms upstairs, each decorated with things people their age tended to enjoy.
"If you wanna change anything, just let me know and we can do that," Cherie's soft smile to the teens reminded them of their mother and sadness struck them again. "Why don't you two shower and get ready for bed and you can unpack in the morning. Oh! Are you two hungry?" they both shook their heads and they weren't lying, they had both eaten the food given to them on the flight despite how much they didn't want to. Their step-mother nodded and gave them hugs, bidding them goodnight before going to bed herself. Their father did the same thing but whispered a quiet apology during his hugs to them. He didn't have to mention what it was for, they already knew.
Following Cherie's advice, Safina walked into her connected bathroom and turned on the shower to the hottest setting she could stand. Grabbing her toiletries out of her suitcase, a picture of her mother, brother and herself caught her eye as tears blurred her vision. She sucked in a deep breath and walked emotionlessly to the shower where she finally let out loud sobs and hugged her arms to her body.
After the sobs stopped, Safina washed her face and body quickly as she just wanted to go to sleep and forget about life for a couple of hours. Wrapping the towel around her body, she grabbed her toothbrush and looked at herself in the mirror. She admitted to herself that she looked horrible. She sighed and walked out of the bathroom and over to her suitcase to find a pair of pajamas. She settled on a graphic tee and a pair of joggers then proceeded to put her curly hair in a bun and climb into the bed. A yellow blanket sat atop the white comforter and provided plenty of warmth for the cold air that bit at her skin. As she drifted off to sleep, the digital alarm clock read 4:47 AM.