Amazing Kids! Magazine

Red

By Jacqueline Gu, age 12, Massachusetts, USA

 

As I open my closet to the hush of tiny raindrops hitting the roof and running down the windows, I bore my eyes into the maze of gray, black, and white clothing. Admittedly, it should be pretty easy to match up an outfit in the morning, but sometimes the colors become boring. I guess it’s what I get for trying to hide in the crowd every day. I take a deep breath before I force myself to glance at the corner, where my lucky red scarf always hangs. I’m planning on wearing it to school today – to wear a bright color. Around my neck, not hidden. It’s going to be out there for all to see. Noticeably.

It’s one of the only colorful items I own. I always wear something red (but subtle) every day in addition to my normal black and white clothing, for luck. Because I’m just that superstitious.

My face curves into a frown as I realize that the hanger is alone on the wall, without its bright red companion. The one day I’ve finally built up the courage to wear something that colorful, it’s in the wash.

Well, at least I have more than one item that takes on my lucky color. I search for the hint of red from my plain leather flats, hiding amongst the dark shadows of several pairs of worn down, all black boots. After pulling every pair out of the corner, looking inside each boot, and going down to check by the front and back doors, I had to admit defeat. This was definitely not going to be a lucky day.

In the bathroom, I brush out my medium-length, fine brown hair. I glance at my pale reflection and icy blue eyes in the mirror. In the dreary Monday morning light, they look more gray than blue.

Before I leave, I call goodbye to my mom and dad. I wait for a response, straining my ears in case I miss it. After a second, I realize they are probably out at work or doing errands. It is unusually early, but I’ll try not to think too much of it. I close the door hesitantly, giving one more chance for someone to call, “Goodbye sweetheart! Have fun at school!” or “Make sure Aidan doesn’t get into any trouble!” Needless to say, I close the door to a silent house.

I walk down to the bus stop with Aidan, my five year old younger brother. I try to avoid the splashes of water he makes when jumping in the puddles. Still, a car manages to soak my entire left side as it speeds by. Sighing, I trudge the rest of the way to the bus stop, mud coating my dark boots.

By the time I get to the bus stop, my hair is stringy and I somehow managed to get mud on my face. With frustration I whip my wet hair back and rub the mud off my face until it’s red. I hug Aidan tightly before he gets on his bus to Riddle Elementary. It makes me smile in spite of everything else.

I climb into my bus and sit alone in my normal seat in the far back, separate from the normal pandemonium going on. I watch sympathetically as the bus driver attempts to yell over everybody, but only to give up in the end. He sits back down and starts the engine, rubbing his temples.

I let out the breath I’ve been holding when the bus finally pulls up in front of my school, Celeste Hill Middle School. I’ve always done well in school. Walking to my locker, I hope that working on some algebra problems or writing an essay would help clear my mind.

If that was what I was hoping, I was sadly mistaken. Quite frankly, the opposite took place. We got homework in every single subject, which would take a total of four hours to do. We also had a substitute in math, who was downright awful. Math is usually my favorite subject, as I loved Ms. Rosewood. But today, we had Ms. Ginovsky. She mispronounced my name six times! Six times! I mean, how hard is it to pronounce Briana Rosenfield? She also spelled it wrong. No, it’s not Bri-anna. No, it’s not Ross-enfield. No, it’s also not Rosen-filed!

She taught the algebra incorrectly, but either no one else noticed or the whole class was too shy to speak up, like me. She also refused to take my quiz when I handed it in ten minutes early. She didn’t believe me when I said I had already checked through it twice. I’d already finished! I ended up sitting at my desk, staring at the word “the” for fifteen minutes. Finally, when the next person went to hand their test in, I got up and slapped it on top of Drew’s.

Stomping up the stairs to my apartment, I grumble to myself, “This day couldn’t get any worse.” I crash into the comfort of my bed, pulling out the first piece of homework. Just as I’m about to write the first sentence of my essay, I hear a soft tapping on my door. “Mommy wants to talk to you,” Aidan whispers. I can barely see him, as he seems to be cowering behind the door. “She says it’s really important.”

I’m definitely not in the mood to listen to my mother give me a lecture about how I need to make more friends, but I pull myself out of bed anyway. “Yes Mom?” I ask as I walk into the kitchen. I stop when I notice both of my parents sitting at the dining table, very carefully not looking at each other. “What’s… going on?” I ask carefully. A million things flew through my mind. My hand immediately flies to my arm into a mock vibrato. It’s a nervous habit and it drives everyone insane because I do it all the time.

Maybe we’re moving, I think to myself. Maybe a relative has died. Which, to be honest, I don’t really care about. I have very few relatives, all very old and wrinkly and annoying, whom I’ve only met a couple of times in my life. I can’t remember ever having a nice moment with any of them.

But my life has been the same my entire life. Every routine, every day, I’ve been doing the same for years. I’m not used to change.

The sighs of my parents seem to resonate around the room for hours before my mom, in such a quiet voice I can barely hear her, says, “There’s no easy way for me to say this, but…”

I wait for her to continue, my mind racing, but my father jumps in and says, “Your mother and I are getting a divorce.”

The words hit me, but I don’t process them. I want to laugh, like this is all a joke. I want to cry, and beg them to rethink. But for this moment, all I can do is stand there, staring, mouth agape, as both parents look anywhere but at me or each other.

Finally, it settles – like black tar being poured over me, slapping reality into my face. The first thing I can think to say is, “What about Aidan?”

“Well, we were hoping you could explain it to him since you guys get along so well.”

I stare back at my father. I can see him fidgeting nervously. That tar is beginning to boil.

“But we’re a family! We can’t divide up now!”

“Believe me, your mother and I have given this quite a bit of thought. Neither of us are happy. We can’t continue to live like this.”

“But what about us?! What about Aidan?! He shouldn’t have to grow up with this!” My vision starts to blur and I run to my room without even waiting for a response.

My hands tremble, making it very difficult to lock my door and push a chair up against it, just in case. I ignore the the pounding of knocks that shake the entire room. I curl up in my bed, ignoring the mountain of homework that’s still there. I put on some music and lay motionless, while the tearing screams blast through my headphones and whip me away from reality. I cry myself to sleep, and wake to a tear-stained pillow.

My eyes pop wide open to the ringing of my alarm, but I quickly turn it off as I’m definitely not going to school today. Glancing at my door, I can see that my plain gray desk chair is still securely in place.

I wait until 9:30 to leave my room, to ensure that I won’t see anyone. The house is absolutely silent, so I only hear the soft taps of my bare feet against the cold granite tiles of the kitchen floor as I make myself breakfast. I pretend not to notice the note written directly to me sitting on the dining table. I try not to stare at it as I spoon oatmeal into my mouth. But suddenly, it becomes too much. The second I put my bowl in the dishwasher, I rush back to the dining room and nearly rip the letter in my haste to get it out from under the cookie jar.

My eyes skim the curly handwriting of my mother, followed by the rigid, messy handwriting of my father.

Briana,

We just wanted to let you know that we love you. It doesn’t matter if we don’t live in the same house. We will always love you, and we want you to be happy.  We will always be connected. Through you, through our love for you, and through our once love for each other. We may not be a “traditional” family, but that doesn’t mean our connection, our love, our support, isn’t going to be any less than it once was. We love you and hope you will find a way to live with this. We made this change for the better – for a new beginning – not to be stuck in the middle. It’s time to move on.

Love,

Mom and Dad

I read the letter three or four times before the meaning sinks in. While my body walks at half speed back to my room, my mind is a hurricane of thoughts and new understanding. On my way back, I pass our mantel where two frames are turned face down. I slowly flip them back up, my fingerprints disturbing the fine layer of dust that has settled over the surface. One is my parents’ wedding photo, encased in a beautiful, swirly pearl frame. I see my mother, fifteen years younger, staring into the eyes of my father. Their hair is dusted with soft snowflakes, and their cheeks are rosy from the cold. Even now, I could see they loved each other. I feel moistness in my eyes as I see the glimmer in their eyes, the sparkle of connection between them.

I tear my eyes away and look at the other frame. It’s a double frame of the day I was born, and the day Aidan was born. In that photo, my father is kissing my mother mid-laugh. She’s in bed, holding a bundle of blankets in which a newborn Aidan is wrapped. She’s laughing, with her eyes closed, and she has a look of contentment written across her face. My father is also smiling. His hand is pulling back my mother’s hair.  A tear begins to make its way down to the corner of my mouth, but I laugh quietly to myself as I see my six-year-old self bawling in the corner of Aidan’s photo.

I leave the wedding photo turned down, but I make sure to place back the second frame so you could clearly see the photo and carefully place it in the center of the mantel. I smile at it once more before continuing to my room, with an extra lightness to my step that I’d missed the day before.

I decide to go to school after all, so I hop down the stairs while absentmindedly pulling on some socks. Without even looking, I know they are red.

One comment

  1. Fluffy Unicorn /

    Hey Jacqueline XD

    Awesome story