Rather long anecdote of Olive's in here, so please tell me what you think!
"Olive Doyle to the front office for checkout." The librarian read, her confusion thickening with each word, her eyes widening. Everybody knew Olive Doyle-she'd always had perfect attendance, was never tardy, and most definitely, over all, if there was no other rule about Olive Doyle there was this one-she never ever got called out.
So every zombie kid, sleeping or awake, opened their eyes and suddenly every eye was trained on her, the sound of her closing her book was a musty snap that almost echoed in the silent library, quiet enough for a pin to drop. Swallowing, she realized her throat was uncomfortably dry. As she walked quickly to replace the volume on the shelf, every head swiveling with her movement, she noticed her knuckles clenched against the hard surface, albino white shocking even against her pale skin. And that's when Olive Doyle recognized the rapid churning of her stomach and named it as a feeling.
She was terrified. And she had every right to be, which was what scared her the most. Not just the possibility that she was in trouble, the sickening almost certainty.
Nevertheless, she managed to pry her fingers off the book and leave it there, safe as she smoothed her skirt and walked away, trying and probably failing to keep the nerves off her face. She took her slip as her pass, ignoring the expectancy in the librarian's gaze as she slid her glasses down her nose.
Because honestly? She didn't have a public-friendly explanation yet.
"There she is!" Her father said, every inch the expectant, loving father.
She forced herself to smile at him. "Here I am!" She consented, allowing her father to wrap one arm around her.
"Wow, you are so nice for doing this for her!" Gushed the secretary, twirling an overly fat black curl around her finger. Olive was honestly curious in one part of her mind, what he had lied about, and in the other incoherently grateful she hadn't told the librarian a different story. She looked up at her father, a smile overtaking her features.
She should really take up acting.
"What'd you do, Daddy?" She asked, gazing up at him with what she hoped was pure adoration, but then again, she hardly had to fake it. She really did love this version of her father, the happy part of him she had never really gotten a chance to know. It was a game they played, the acting stunt with the wager of a broken bone, but it was nice to have a Dad, not just a cold, inconsiderate father. And sometimes she liked to pretend.
He smiled down on her benevolently, relishing in this particular lie. "I got her a new puppy! Her name is Amanda, and she's just the cutest thing. I found her-"
And that's when Olive's blood ran cold.
He chatted away with the secretary, but all Olive could hear was the blood pounding in her ears. It was things like this that sent the whole game crashing down to Earth, and she knew it was all hanging by a string anyway. If she ever had anyone to really explain this twisted mess to, she would probably have to start with the name.
Amanda. When she was four, she thought Amanda was the prettiest name in all the world. It was her great-grandmother's name, and she meant the world to her. Little, naive baby Olivia would prance around the garden screaming it, her Granny watching, content, from her wheelchair. She would bring frogs to her, squealing that if Granny only kissed them, they would transform into mysterious princes and whisk her away into the palace.
And the talks. She remembered the most odd, out of place pieces of her Granny, but the garden talks most of all. Granny would reply to her, "No need, I already have my prince," and gaze up at the sky like it reminded her of something bittersweet. Olivia would laugh and laugh and tell her that Grandpa was gone, and she couldn't be married to someone in the sky, and she would smile sadly and say she could try. Then, inevitably, Granny would ask why she couldn't just kiss the frog herself, and Olivia (poor, sweet little Olivia) would reply quite seriously that she wasn't a real princess.
That was Granny.
And Granny brought her up to sit on her knee and said she would always be her princess, and Olivia said that wasn't enough if you wanted to be in a fairy tale with princes. You had to be real. And Granny just kissed her head and said she was an angel and sent her off to the slide. And every time, they'd have the exact same conversation the next day, until it became routine.
In retrospect, she should've noticed the tired note in her voice, getting stronger with each day. But no one ever does, do they? And so little Olivia played on, until she was exactly five and one half years old. She remembered that clearly because Granny always celebrated half-birthdays, as fully as real ones.
And just after her cake, Granny had to be helped into bed. She was always to weary to comb out Olivia's hair before she went to sleep now like she used to, and she hadn't gone to visit the garden in weeks. The thing Olive remembered the most (because it struck her as odd at the time but was now excruciating to recall) was the last thing Granny did. She grabbed her hands, her wrinkled old ones easily folding over baby Olivia's, and she asked one single question.
"Do you think you'll get along okay without me?" Granny was starting to ask these questions more and more, and Olivia was running out of replies. So, she simply laughed.
"Granny, you'll never leave." Because in her mind back then, Granny never could. Granny cracked a wrinkled old smile (her very last) and closed her eyes.
In the morning, Olivia awoke to screaming and white hot pain in her chest and tears and clogged up throats. The thing that stood out was the note, placed perfectly folded on her favorite swing-
You'll always be my Princess, even though I'm becoming your Angel.
And, pinning down the handwritten (because wasn't that just her style?) letter was a ceramic golden retriever. It gazed up at her with dark, sympathetic eyes.
And Olivia cried. She cried, and she begged, and she prayed, and she fought for any glimpse of getting her Granny back. And when that didn't work, she decided she needed a clean slate.
So Olivia christened herself Olive and threw herself into her schoolwork. And one day, she came home to find an abandoned golden retriever, hand painted and staring up at her with betrayal. It tugged at her heart strings, so she tied a ribbon to the space between its collar and neck and hung it on a tack on the corner of her room, and named it Amanda.
Amanda the last.
Jolting out of her daydreams, Olive felt an arm growing tighter around her ribs. The pain was only slight at first, but it grew rapidly into an almost blinding pain that turned her vision white hot and made her bite her lip hard.
Her father only continued to laugh with the secretary. It was amazing she hadn't broken a bone yet, and her subtle resistance was proving futile. Just as she was about to give up and just pass out from sheer physical trauma, the arm released her. Unrestricted blood flow was so dizzying that she almost didn't see the handshake and wink the assistant gave her father.
"Thank you for your time," her father was exceedingly polite, smiles and all. The secretary giggled.
"You better be good to him!" She called playfully after Olive, as all adults are bound to do, and Olive simply replied, never missing a beat, "Of course, he's always so good to me!"
He took her shoulder and forcibly escorted her out, not stopping to look back at the office girl. The second she was outside, he grabbed her wrists, forcing her eye to eye with him. Every time he did this, as cliche of an abusive move it was, she couldn't stop her veins jolting with icy cold fear.
The heavy scent of too much whiskey attacked her as she was pinned against the wall. Always the careful one, even when he was flat-off-his-face drunk, he checked to make sure no one could possibly catch him before snarling, "You promised you'd be home by twelve to clean the house! We have company coming over, Olivia! Probably better people than you've ever associated with, and the house is a mess!"
And there it was again-that desperate, clenching feeling in her throat that she had to swallow, because it meant she was about to cry. And in a fit of irrational frustration she screamed, "School's not even over yet!" And as the surprised gaze of his stormy eyes fixated on her, she was filled with the horrible, heart wrenching feeling of making a huge mistake.
For a moment everything froze. All she could hear was her breathing, a shallow pant, pressed against rough red brick. And then he smiled. A twisted smile that began to take over his whole face, and it was then that she thought, "Sick." And that was her only thought, reeking of sharp fear, as he released her. She heard a dark chuckle, one that chilled her to the bone. And that was it. He let her go, rubbing circulation back into her red wrists as they walked to the car.
It felt like walking to her own doom, walking to the strictly confining rusty red Jeep. And in some ways, it was. She felt her stomach turn at the thought of him driving, as drunk as he was, but waited until the car to timidly ask, "Dad?"
He opened the door, slamming it in on itself as he waited for her. "What, sweetheart?" His pet name was infused with bitter sarcasm, but she swallowed her response. She took what she got.
"I don't think you should be driving." Her voice got stronger with each word, but she almost whimpered with the look she got from him. She took it as a blessing that she didn't.
His voice was steel-cold, hard and impassable. She had fear coursing through her very heart as he said, "Are you doubting my driving, Olivia?" His voice got a tinge of mocking. "I'd never let anything happen to you."
The sheer force of how true that sentence used to be hit her so suddenly she didn't expect it at all, and it clenched at her chest. And with the way her Dad was going, she supposed it would probably be safer to get in the car than to continue to refuse him, so she did. Before she could buckle her seatbelt, he flew chaotically out of the parking spot, nearly smashing into a car. She went lurching forward, but managed to catch herself.
As they pulled out onto the highway, she looked down at her seatbelt, buckling it securely. At the last second she looked up, able to see a blue car hurtling towards them, her Dad's lead foot slamming on the gas. She didn't even have time to scream.
The last thing Olive saw was black.