Ok so bear with me through the prologue I just have to get the OC set up. I am really excited about this story and I hope you guys like it!
They say when you're dying your life flashes before your eyes. I always thought that was kind of stupid until it happened to me. It's actually more like a highlights reel of your life; only showing you the really important things.
Like when I was five and Daddy came home from the hospital with my baby brother, Derek Matthew Carter Jr., but Mom wasn't with him. After I got over being amazed by my new brother's tiny toes, tiny fingers, tiny nose, and tiny eyes that were the exact same celery green color as mine when they were open, I realized that my mom wasn't there. I asked Daddy where she was as he was putting Derek in his crib and I remember how he tensed up and then relaxed like he didn't have anything left in him. I remember how when he turned around and knelt on the ground in front of me his face was wet with tears. I remember reaching out my little hands and putting them on his face, amazed by the fact that the mountain of a man that was my father was crying, as he said "Willow, baby, Mommy isn't coming home. She had to go away and she can't come back."
That didn't make sense to me. Why would she leave when we had this fun new baby to play with? "Like on vacation?" I asked, "Is her car broken? Is that why she can't come back? We can go get her Daddy. Let's go right now." I think deep down I understood that Mom was never coming back because I had started crying too.
My Dad shook his head, shoulders sagging even more as he did. "No baby girl, Mommy can't come home. Her car isn't broken. We can't go get her. Remember how when your fish got sick and he had to go away and he went to fish heaven? Well Mommy had to go away like that. She had to go to heaven."
Or like the first day of school after Mom died and I couldn't do my own hair because the ribbon kept slipping out of my fingers. I asked my dad to help me and I could smell the beer on his breath as he tied the yellow ribbon in my auburn hair. I was only five, but I knew something wasn't right with Daddy then. He always seemed so sad and he always seemed to have a beer in his hand.
Or like when Derek said his first words and when Derek took his first steps. Daddy said I looked like a proud momma hen, clucking over him and helping him and cheering him on. All while Daddy cheered too, sitting down his beer for just a moment to pick Derek up and swing him around.
I guess nothing else that important happened until that day at the beach when I was fifteen and Derek was ten. Daddy was sitting in his beach chair, drinking a beer, laughing at me and Derek trying to build a sand castle. I turned to stick my tongue out at him and when I turned to look back at Derek I couldn't find him anywhere. I looked frantically around the beach trying to find him. I called his name, hearing the panic in my voice rising every time. Daddy realized what was wrong a second later and joined in the search. Then I saw him. He was in the water, maybe 100 feet out, head bobbing as he was whisked away from me. I ran into the water and began swimming towards my baby brother, trying to keep an eye on him at the same time. A few seconds after I got to the deeper water I realized what the problem was. Derek was caught in a riptide and so was I. I could feel the water pulling and sucking me towards open sea. I couldn't see Derek and I couldn't hear his cries for help. I tried swimming parallel to the shore like I had always been told to do, keeping an eye out for Derek at the same time, but I was too tired. I thought I was done for until I felt a pair of hands pull me up and drag me back to the sand. I coughed up water and looked around me gasping for air. Daddy was sitting a few yards away, beer can forgotten on the ground next to him, his mouth hanging open as he stared out to sea, eyes searching desperately for his little boy.
A week after the beach and three days after we buried an empty coffin Daddy and I left Georgia and headed to Detroit. Daddy had grown up there and his mom had left her house to him when she died a year before. I didn't want to leave home, but I also didn't want to live in the same house as my brother's ghost. I could feel him everywhere in that house, so I didn't put up a fight when Daddy moved us to Detroit.
The house was pretty rundown, but it fit in with the rest of houses on the street. There were kids in the street playing hockey and running around. I didn't see any girls my age, but every now and then I thought I caught glimpses of a tall, gangly, blonde boy who looked about my age coming and going from the house at the opposite end of the street.
Everything was ok for the first week of getting settled. Then came the binge drinking. Something in Daddy snapped when it sank in that Derek was never coming back so he drowned his sorrows in booze. He would drink, get angry, yell at me, and then disappear for a few days before he came stumbling back into the house, reeking of alcohol and telling me he was sorry. He never raised a hand to me though.
I handled my grief in a different way. On my 16th birthday, as soon as I found a place that would allow it, I got a tattoo. I got it on my collarbone and it said "I'll Fly Away". It was something Mom always said to me and oddly enough Derek would say it to me. Whenever he got in trouble and I asked him what he was going to do about it he would say "I'll fly away". I cut off my long, auburn hair to a shoulder length bob. I got my eyebrow pierced, nose rings always freaked me out for some reason. I traded in my shorts and bright tank tops for bulky, funky sweaters that swallowed me whole, jeans and clunky, brown military boots.
Dad and I had a routine. He would drink, I would clean up after him, he would disappear, I would cover for him, he would come back and tell me he was sorry, I would forgive him, and repeat. Over and over again.
Until the one year anniversary of Derek's death, two months after my 16th birthday. Dad went a little overboard with the Jack Daniels that day and that was the first time he hit me. That was the day my life changed and it was for the better surprisingly.
I ran out of the house to get away from his pathetic apologies. My lip was throbbing and I could feel the blood trickle down my chin. I knew my eye was probably already turning black too, I always did bruise easily. I stormed down the sidewalk, not caring where I was going, and wiped angrily at the blood dripping from my lip. I winced as I hit the cut too hard and felt the tears stream down my cheeks. I felt the wind cutting through my sweater and mentally kicked myself for forgetting my jacket. As I was thinking about how stupid I was I heard a voice call out to me. "Sweetie, are you ok?"
I whipped my head around, looking for whoever had spoken, and that was the first time I saw the woman who changed my life. She was sitting on her porch, knitting needles in hand, looking at me with concern in her eyes. As soon as she saw my face I saw the concern change to resolve. "Oh dear." She said, shaking her head. She motioned for me to come towards her. "Come inside sweetie. Let's take a look at that eye and see if we can't get you cleaned up a bit."
Now I know you aren't supposed to go into stranger's houses, but I doubted this sweet looking old lady with white hair in a bright blue sweater was going to cook me up in a Willow-pot-pie. Plus, this was the house I had seen that tall blonde boy go in and out of. So I went up to her. "What's your name sweetheart?" She asked me.
I shuffled my feet, trying to regain feeling in my toes, and then looked her in the eye. "Willow Carter ma'am." I said quietly.
"Well Willow Carter, my name is Evelyn Mercer." She said with a smile. "Now why don't we see if we can fix you up some and get you out of this cold."
I remember reading somewhere that just one moment can change your life forever. The moment I stepped into that house was the moment everything changed.
I keep hearing a voice. It's telling me not to leave. It's such a nice voice, but I can't see who is talking. He keeps telling me to hang on, to keep fighting.
I hope you guys liked it! I will update soon. Hopefully you stick with it so you can figure out why she is dying and who the voice is. It will all make sense if you just stick with me. Review if you wish!