Disclaimer: I own nothing.
I'm back!! And am really sorry this took so long to get out. But it's here!
So, I removed Be Mine from the site because I felt it was total crap and I didn't want to write it. So I started Finding A Home and I finished the first chapter. And then it was edited by Rachelly who picked up on all my mistaked. Rachelly is awesome.
The house was quiet when I woke. I could hear Alice sniffling in her sleep in the bed opposite, and my mother's muffled drunken snores, but that that was it. The Phoenix sunshine shone through the curtains in an irritatingly cheerful way. I growled at it quietly, swinging my legs out of bed. I padded across the room to wake Alice, but when I saw her sleeping I decided against it. The more sleep she got the better. She'd wake up soon anyways; the alarm would make sure of that. I smiled at her before I got dressed in jeans and a blue sweatshirt before going into the bathroom. After brushing my teeth and hair I made my way downstairs, the noises my mother was making becoming louder as I neared the lounge. She was there, sprawled out on the couch, a wine bottle resting near her hand.
I started to cook Alice breakfast in the kitchen, after clearing away the numerous bottles on the countertop. They were scattered throughout the whole house, some covered in dust. Sometimes, when I tried to clean up, I would uncover plates covered in mould. Most surfaces were covered in a thick layer of dust, but I didn't have the time to clean. Alice offered to help out some, but I told her to focus on school. On getting out of here.
I looked at the plastic bags by the back door, realizing they were full and that I'd have to stop by the bottle bank after work. I'll be 16 in a few months, but thankfully the corner shop lady was lax on ages, so she hired me. The pay is little, but subsidized with money from Renee's purse Alice and I could take care of ourselves. Alice wanted to work too, but no one would hire her. She's only thirteen; no matter how much she lied she was never believed, most thought she was younger than 13 due to her elfin appearance. It didn't matter too much; I could take care of her. At least, I had been able to.
The corner shop was closing down, and no other places would take me. Plus Renee had finally gotten wise about my stealing and had hidden the money. My mind formulated a plan as Alice came down and ate her breakfast. To conserve money and food I didn't eat breakfast, but that was fine since eating in the morning made me queasy.
I busied myself in taking stock of the fridge as she ate. We would have to shop again soon, Renee needed to eat soon. God knows what the alcohol would do to her on an empty stomach. Not to mention the fact that Alice and I would need to eat at some point too. Thinking of shopping made my mind circle back to thoughts of money and jobs. I sighed and fixed a smile on my face for Alice as we left to walk to school, her hand finding mine as we neared busy streets.
People avoided us everywhere. Most people knew about Renee's drinking, but never did anything about it. They simply didn't care for anything that didn't involve them personally.
But because of this most assumed we drank as well. A case of the child copying the parent. As we walked the two mile walk to school an old woman with her grandchildren crossed over to the other sight of the street hurriedly as we drew closer to her. I couldn't really blame her, we were a sight, dressed in dirty clothes and reeking of alcohol. Alice hid her face in my side to hide from the glares, the sneers and the indifference.
There always seems to be a small space separating us and the rest of a crowd, and if anyone got too near they would quickly recoil with a look of disgust .There wasn't anything we could do to get rid of the stench. The whole house stank of it, why shouldn't we?
Once we arrive at school we had to go our separate ways, but we agreed to meet at lunch, as usual. We're in separate classes because of our age gaps. I hugged her briefly and watched her walk off in the opposite direction to me, her small form hunched in on herself, trying her best to hide. At lunch we sit on the same table with only each other for company, usually in silence or planning out the weeks grocery shopping. Since we were out of the house and alone, I decided to talk to Alice then.
"We need to get out of that house," I told her bluntly as I sat down. She only nodded in reply, her eyes fixed on the table as her hands played with her food.
"We can go to the social centre and accuse Renee of neglect."
Nod. Her lettuce was torn into shreds.
"Alice? What is it?" I asked her softly, stilling her hands with my own.
"We have to leave Mom, I know that. But what if they separate us?" There was a tremor in her voice.
"Alice I will always do my utmost to protect you. I promise you that," utmost
"You don't promise you'll stay with me?" Her eyes filled with a sudden panic at the thought.
"I can't make a promise I don't know I can keep. But Alice, no matter what, if we are separated I'll find you. Because I'm your big sister, and that's what I do," I soothed her. The panic dimmed a bit as she nodded, but I could still see it hidden beneath the surface. I scooted over and she laid her head on my shoulder. We stayed like that for the hour, ignoring the din of the cafeteria, safe inside our bubble of security in each other, before the clashing of the bell disrupted our peace.
The day passed in a dull march of facts and disapproving looks. I contented myself with thinking of how much better it would be when we were free of Renee, when we no longer had to care for her when she drank herself into a stupor. I imagined not having to steal from her purse anymore. It was a nice daydream, and it filled me with warmth to know that soon I would be living it.
A surprise waited for us at home. Renee stood and smiled when we entered. I noticed the matching clothes and shoes, rather than her usual ensemble of sweats and old t-shirts. Her hair had been let loose from the ever present pony tail, and make-up hid the odd color of her skin.
"Mom? What is it?" Alice asked.
"We're all going out! There's a carnival in town and we're going!" her voice was exuberant with no slurring at all.I could see Alice brighten at the sight of her standing upright and no evidence of drink around her. I fought to remind myself how capable she was, how l had found empty bottles behind the panel of the bath. There was nothing to stop her from hiding it.
"What brought this on?" I asked warily, pushing away the small spark of hope, clinging on to all the times I had been disappointed.
"Do I need a reason to treat my girls? Now get your shoes on," she bustled out of the room and into the kitchen, the sounds of a bottle opening drifting back to us. And just like that that hope was gone.
"Maybe we won't have to leave," Alice murmured, "maybe she will make an effort this time,"
"Maybe," I said slowly, "but if it turns out to be nothing we are both out of here,"
"I know, but its Mom."
"Renee can't take care of us anymore. I can't take care of us anymore. We need help, and this is the only way I can think of."
Alice looked down, and I could see the tears threatening to come out. I held her in my arms for a bit, until Renee reentered the room. She stood straight, but there was definitely a slight sway to her walk.
We walked to the carnival. This meant going through most of the city, but since Renee was over the limit and nearly drunk, no bus would allow her on board. We don't have a car. It was reclaimed because we couldn't pay the bills for it. Something else lost to Renee's drinking.
It was dark by the time we arrived and Alice's eyes lit up when we entered the carnival, taking in the new sounds and sights. The field it was in was decked out with bright lights, music blared from over head speakers, and the smell of junk food wafted through the air. We walked past it all though, following Renee to the town of caravans shrouded in darkness. Renee walked through confidently, as though this was something she did often.
Something was wrong, I knew it intellectually, but no matter how bad she is, she's still our mother. She might not take care of us, but she would never hurt us, or let anyone else hurt us. She stopped at a caravan somewhere in the middle, and the door opened to reveal a figure framed by a pale yellow light.
"Ms. Swan, welcome. Please come in,"
I stopped with Alice at my side as Renee left us outside. The man turned to us, his expression still not visible.
"Who're you?" I asked, unwilling to go further.
"I am James, head of this carnival. Your mother wished to speak with me,"
"Come inside and find out,"
He turned and left us, leaving the door open. I turned to Alice, asking her a silent question.
"I don't like this," she replied.
"I know, neither do I. but I want to know what's going on."
"She's our Mom. She won't let him hurt us right?"
"Right," I told her, although I no longer fully believed it. I took Alice's hand, feeling her trembling increase as we walked nearer to the trailer. James looked up as we entered, and Renee seemed unaffected.
"Good of you to join us," he said, "Your mother has offered to sell one of you, so who would like to come with me?" His voice was somewhat cheerful, making me think it was a joke. A look in his eyes told me he was deadly serious, and the feeling of unease grew.
I stiffened, my mind going into overdrive. She wanted to get rid of us that badly? Or did she just need more money for booze? James was watching us both curious to what we would do. I turned to Renee slowly.
"Is this true?" she hardly spared me a glance, nodding once before examining her nails with a small smile. I turned to Alice at my side, seeing the tears flowing down her face, and then looked at James. He watched her cry almost hungrily, as if he was feeding off her fear. There was no way I could leave Alice in his care.
I looked back at her and saw the fear I had glimpsed earlier. She knew what I was about to do. I was going to leave her and her illusions about Renee had been shattered. I tried to smile at her, but my face wouldn't comply.
I closed my eyes for a second, telling myself to be strong, telling myself that what I was doing was right. Alice wouldn't survive living under this man, and while I had my doubts about myself, I could do this. I would give Alice the chance to live the life she deserves to live, not the one where she is merely property. I held back a shudder at the thought and concentrated on the good things. I would be away from Renee; I would see new places, meet new people, and gain new experiences. I opened my eyes to see James, and the fear returned.
"I'll go," I told him, keeping my voice steady. Praying that my desire to run and never look back wouldn't be shown in my eyes, I looked at James and examined him as he thought over my answer. I could see his hair was cut unevenly, framing a rugged face. He wasn't bad to look at, but there was a danger lurking in his ice-blue eyes. His only response to my announcement was to nod and hand a single cheque to Renee. A bubble of laughter tired to escape, what happened to a wad of cash? Isn't that how it happened in movies? It seemed ridiculous that my worth could be written on a single piece of paper. My amusement died as he stood and led us all back outside.
His eyes met mine as I got out of the caravan. He was assessing me like I had him. I shivered, thankful it was cold, unable to mask my fear and faint disgust at his stare. The danger I had glimpsed had come to the forefront of his eyes in the dark.
"May I say good bye?" I asked quietly, not wishing to offend the man who was now my caretaker.
"Be quick," he replied briskly, walking away swiftly towards a group of caravans. I turned to my sister beside me.
"Alice you remember what you have to do right?" I whispered urgently with my hands on her shoulders, shooting glances at the woman next to her. No longer even Renee; she is simply a stranger to me now.
"Yes," she murmured with tears running down her face. I glanced behind me to see James walking back with another man.
"I'll find you, promise," I assured her hurriedly, as she clutched at my shirt helplessly. I stroked her back and whispered reassurances, but as I watched the woman lead her away I could see her eyes lose their sparkle, tears falling unheeded. I felt the urge to cry and beg not to separate us, but I denied it and turned to the men behind me, taking in the stranger's appearance.
"This is Edward," James told me, "He'll be taking care of you,"
Yay first chapter!
A warning, I'm going on holiday this week so I won't be updating for a while. Good news is that I'll take my notebook with me and will probably finish the plan for this story. I've got up to 13 chapters so far, I feel so proud.
So like or hate?