Hey Kids! Contribute to MANA's “Hurricane Relief Continuing Short Story”

MANA SHORT STORY SERIES: "MINIMIZED" by CHERYL ORTH

Editor's Note: To Read MANA's announcement of its Short Story Series click HERE.


Have you ever wondered what happens to the children left behind from a murder? Everyone has watched those television programs where a killer is caught by a single fiber left behind by a coat. Or a tire track linked back to the vehicle that had dumped a body. But, after the program is over and you sit and think about how horrible human kind is, do you wonder about the ones left behind? The ones who have to go on living with the memory of the murder always looming over their heads. These poor souls who will never amount to anything because after the deaths, funerals, and trials, they are never thought of again.

  Well, I think about it all the time. I, you see, am a so-called survivor of a mass-murdering rampage. When I was eight, my father came into my mother's house during a party and gunned down her, her sister, my twin brother, my mother's drug dealer, the drug dealer's girlfriend, and some guy my aunt picked up at the bar. I only survived because he didn't find me sleeping in the closet. Sable, my brother, and I fell asleep in there earlier. He must have woke up and joined the party. He probably was hungry and wanted momma to feed him. Sable was always hungry. 

I don't consider the murder the only thing that I have survived. I have survived the first eight years of my life with my drug-addicted, battered mother. After the murder, my grandparents on both sides avoided me like the plague. They could not be reminded of the murder or be bothered by my traumatized self. Knowing that your own family didn't want you was an extra blow on top of not having a parent to love you. 

   So, adding to the survival list is twelve foster care homes and three cases of rape. One by another foster kid and the other two were by two different adult males who were calling themselves my foster daddy. Only one of these had been reported. Let's just say no grown man has had to do any time for their disgusting behavior.

   People do not want to think about all of the stuff that happens after the murder. They want to think that the survivors go on to live a good life. Well, I am now fifteen, and I am still waiting for my good life to start. Last week, I confided all of my terrible history to one of my foster sisters. She and I seemed to be getting pretty close. I confided all of my dark, dirty, heartbreaking past to Lizzy Chapman. She simply replied, “Damn, Sabitha, you should probably just kill yourself.” That was it. That was all she could say before she rolled off our bed and left the room. It was too deep for Lizzy to handle. Lizzy Chapman, who has been set on fire by her step-dad and has been in and out of foster care for as long as I have, can't stomach my story. 

   Maybe I should just end it all. Which is exactly what I am contemplating on doing in the woods behind the lake, when I hear a scream.

                                                                     Part 2

   The scream isn't blood curdling or filled with terror.  No, this scream sounds angry or disgusted. But, it still pulls me away from selfish thoughts of ending my life. I stuff the pills in my coat pocket and head towards the scream. 

   At the edge of the woods, I see who is making all of the noise. It is Paige Cummings. She is wandering around the boat launch of the lake. She is muttering to herself and swinging a gun around as she rants. It looks as if she is crying. I can't make out what she is saying, but I can tell she is kind of panicked. She seems very upset and scared. She bends over and starts to cry uncontrollably. 

   Paige is a couple of years older than I. She graduated from high school last year. In our town she is sort of a celebrity. When she was just ten years old, her mother died in a horrible car accident. Come to find out, her father had her brake line cut in their fancy Lincoln Continental. Gregory Cummings was a very successful lawyer. He was going to run for state senate that year. His wife, Julia, must have been too boring for him. He found his hot young intern, Heather Bronson, more fun. 

   Anyways, he and Heather planned Julia's demise for the insurance money. Although Mr. Cummings was a brilliant lawyer, he was not a smart murderer. The plan was found in a journal he had in his office. The insurance money was given to his only child, Paige. It was quite a big bundle of cash. I heard Paige is set for the rest of her life. All she has to do is wait until she is twenty-one, and it is all hers. Right now, though, her Aunt Sheila has her hands on the money. Rumor has it that it is not a very loving aunt and niece relationship. 

   I look at Paige now, crying, horribly upset, and I am amazed that she still looks like she could be on a movie screen. We are a lot alike us two, victims of murder. But, there is more difference than likeness. There is the fact that no one wanted me, but there was a fight among many family members to get their hands on Paige. Even though it was just  for the money, at least people wanted her. 

   Paige's crime story happened a year before mine and made the headlines for about three years after. My crime story, sadly, only made it on the nightly news. No one wanted to hear about an abusive drug addict killing his drug addict ex-wife and party guests. Sable's death had a few interested community members. But, as a whole, not really newsworthy. I think people thought it was a good way to rid the world of some trash.

   Well, enough about that. I walk out of the woods to make myself visible so Paige can see me. She stops ranting and turns and stares at me, tears running down her face.

   “Sabitha, is that you?” She asks.

   “Yes,” I answer, “Yes, it's me.”

   Paige starts to run towards me.“ Oh Sabby!” She stops in front of me and holds her arms out, waiting for an embrace.

    “Did you do it?” I ask.
Part 3

   Oh! Did I forget to mention that Paige and I are close? We have a special bond. When her family was fighting over her (her money really), she was in and out of foster care. During that time she was in the same house as I was for about a year. It was the longest time I had ever spent at one house and it was the one where I felt the safest. 

   Paige was a mother hen to me. She took me under her wing and mothered me. She was the cool big sister I never had or will have. Soon after Paige left, the foster couple divorced and all of us foster kids had to find new homes. Paige and I never lost contact though. She seemed to always pop up wherever I was. Either in school if I were placed in her district or at a park or department store. We always stayed close. After all, we were children of murder. We were living with people who didn't love us. 

   Although I could only make one of my rapist pay for his actions, I told Paige about all of them. I knew she would believe me. Later, I came to realize that she would be the only one who would do anything about it. I became very dependent and comforted by Paige, while she felt strong and justified by taking care of my problems. 

   I was just ten years old when the first pig took advantage of me. Well, raped me. Being taken advantage of makes it seem like I was in on it.  I was not aware of anything. The hog crawled on me while I was sleeping. He was my third foster daddy. He took something from me that I could never get back. When I told my case worker about it, she figured that I must have had a nightmare since the hog was a high school math teacher. No one ever bothered taking me to a doctor to try to confirm my accusation. I was just sent to a different house and was labeled a drama queen out for attention. 

   Paige believed me right away. She immediately became friends with his neighbor, Shelly, and hung out there for about a month. She made sure he noticed her. Boy, can she be a flirt! Well, to make a long story short, she made it so his wife caught the two of them kissing. It was only a matter of time before he lost his job, family, and moved out of town. This is the connection Paige and I have. We may seem minimized and small, but we are always waiting for our grand return to be noticed and feel worthy to be alive.

   Paige stops in mid-hug and announces, “Yes, Sabby. I shot the evil witch!”

   “You seem upset and you are ranting. What happened?”

   “Sab, you are always a worry wart. Do you have that psycho's pills?” 

   “Yeah. Are you sure everything went okay?”

   “Listen to me, Sabby girl. EVERYTHING IS FINE!”

   I take in a sigh of relief, but I am still skeptical, “Is Troy...”

   Paige cuts me off, “Sabitha! Come on! Give me a damn break! Now, get back in the woods and keep a look out for your psycho foster mom. She is close to finding her pills missing and flipping out. Is that Lizzy bitch at home? I hope so. It sure will help.”

“Yeah, she has no friends. She's at home.”

“Good, now get your ass in the woods. It's show time little girl!”

   I turn and head back to my spot. Suddenly, I am very nervous and wonder if we have really thought this through. Then, I hear Grace, my foster mom holler for me, 

    “Sabitha!”

Part 4 


   As you can probably figure out, Paige and I are engaging in some criminal behavior. It is actually a very simple plan. So simple and perfect. We have gone over and over it and found no holes or problems. It is solid. Paige shoots her aunt, who is an evil spiteful bitch. Beforehand she sets up a date with Troy, her Aunt Sheila's younger, money-hungry husband. He has had it bad for Paige for years, so he will definitely show up at the meeting point. This is at the lake where I am in the woods wanting to end my poor pathetic life. 

   I conveniently see Troy pull up and supposedly see him throw something in the lake. This all happens around the time my foster mother is about ready for her cocktail of pain killers and Xanax, which we all know I have. She will freak out, and, then, Lizzy will tell her I'm gone and remember the mean things she said to me and…voila! She will come looking for me and see that I am in the woods and that will verify everything that I will tell to the cops. Pretty damn perfect if I do say so myself. 

   So, imagine my confusion when I think about Paige's scream and irritation. Not once, in the million times we have gone over this plan, does Paige scream. There is no reason to. She simply is just going to throw the gun in the lake and scram. Troy won't even wait long at the lake for Paige. Troy never waits for anyone. He will just figure that it is her loss. Where is Troy anyway? I feel so nervous all of a sudden. Why is Paige so upset?

   “Sabitha! Sabby, where are you?”

   “Sabby!” I hear Lizzy chiming in.

   I have to think fast. Troy has not shown up. Paige seems distressed. Things are not going as planned. Do I let myself be found? Or do I find out if things are still going as planned? I feel sick. 

   Lizzy, where else could she be?”

   “I don't know. She always hangs out around the lake.”

   “Sabby!” Grace sounds scared. She is within eyesight, and she will find me soon. I wish I knew what to do. I need Paige. 

   I close my eyes and try to picture what is going on when I see her at the lake. She is crying. Why? She hates her aunt, why will she be sad? She is muttering. What is she saying? I can't think.

   “Sabitha!”

   Good Lord. Grace sees me.
                                                                           Part 5

   I cannot grasp what the hell is going on here. Paige is freaking out. The plan seems to be all messed up. What is going to happen to me? What am I going to say to Grace? She’s going to want me to go to a damn therapist. Or worse yet a suicide intervention.  What the hell is going on Paige? Grace is looking at me all teary-eyed. Damn It!
   “Sabby,” Grace sobs, “Are you all right? Did you take my pills?”
   Grace looks so stupid to me. Crying over me! Give me a break! Since when does she care if I live or die? All she cares about is getting her state check for all of her loser foster kids so she can get her damn pills. She’s pathetic. She’s a fat idiot! I need Paige more than ever. What would she do in this predicament? What would she want me to do?
   “Sabitha answer me!”
   Gross! She’s pleading now. I can’t think of what to do, so I turn and run. Grace starts to scream. Her fat ass can’t run down a wide open street so I know she couldn’t make it far in these woods. 
   “Go after her, Lizzy! She’s heading toward the lake. Sabby! Sabby, stop!!” Grace is screaming her head off now! I start to laugh. Lizzy will not step foot out here. As soon as I think this, I hear, “No way! I’m barefoot!” Lizzy’s voice is so whiny!
   I need to go back to Paige. I need to know what has happened. I need to know what to do. As I get closer to the lake, I hear sirens in the distance. Are those sirens heading here? Toward the lake? Good God, Paige, what happened? I cannot think. I should have known something went wrong. Paige was acting so weird. Did her Aunt Sheila find out? I am sweating so badly. 
   I can hear Grace screaming for me. I know she is going to call the police soon. I can feel a lump form in my throat. I can feel the tears build up. I do not want to cry. I am done crying over this pathetic and disgusting life. Paige was my last chance to get the hell out of the system. I know she wouldn’t get her money right away, but I just had to wait until I was sixteen. Then, I could leave and go stay with her. She would be an adult. We knew no one would care once I was sixteen.
   I am always minimized. I’m always put down so small where no one can see me until they need me for something. That’s me. Minimized Sabitha. Never important enough to be on a full screen. Paige was going to change that. But, now, look! She screwed it all up.
   I hear twigs cracking. Maybe Grace is coming out here after all. That surprises me. I need a new plan. A quick plan. I don’t know if I will get into any trouble if, indeed, Paige gets busted. I can’t be sure if she will pull me into this. I can’t worry about that right now. I see Grace tripping and falling only a little way away from me. I take two deep breaths.
   “Sabby,” Grace sounds so sad, “Please don’t take my pills. Please talk to me. We can get help together. Please, Sabby. I’m here for you.”
   Interesting…but does she mean it? I can’t wait around and see. I have to act fast. The sirens are real close, now. The police should be here any minute. If I swallow these pills, Grace doesn’t have that far to go to flag down a cop. I can get to the hospital in plenty of time to be saved. And if I’m not? Oh well. This hasn’t been a great life anyway. And without Paige, I don’t see it getting any better.
   I reach in my pocket and open the pill bottle. Hopefully, I can choke these down. I should have grabbed a water. Oh well, here it goes. I take the bottle and swig it back. I choke down about eight or nine pills. “Grace!” I yell. 
   “Sabby? Where are you, honey?”
   “I’m over here Grace to your left. I’m sorry.” I begin to cry. “I took your pills. I’m so sorry.”
   “Don’t you worry, Sabitha. I’m going to get help for you. Stay right where you are.” She scoots by me and heads down toward the lake screaming for help. Hopefully, it will all work out.


To be continued

   

No comments:

Post a Comment