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- Story Listed as: Fiction For Teens
- Theme: Survival stories / Success stories
- Subject: Death / Divorce / Loss
- Published: 08/09/2010
DESTINYBorn 1991, F, from Framingham, Massachusetts, United States
(Note that this author was 14 years old when she wrote this story.)
Destiny rummaged around her backpack. “Where are they?” She mumbled to herself. This was the second time this week she had lost her keys and it was only Tuesday. She gave up the search and got the spare key from under the mat. When she opened the door to her family’s apartment, she knew something was wrong. Normally when she came home from school her father was answering a very important call, Peanut Butter was barking uncontrollably, and her brother Shane was fast asleep on the couch. Today Peanut was the only one to greet her. “Hello?” She called out. The only answer she got was the echo of her own voice. She picked up Peanut and walked into the kitchen. There was a note sitting on the counter from her dad.
Went to see Kathy. Remember that it is her birthday. I knew you would not want to go.
P.S. Can you start dinner? We will be home soon.
Destiny’s heart sank to her toes. Her mother, Kathy... it hurt to remember. Her warm smile, her out of control laugh. She pushed the memory down so she would not cry. To distract herself she started to chop carrots for the TV dinners so they would not taste so bad. But that did not work. She remembered how Kathy loved to make real dinners and eating home made cookie dough together. That was before it happened. She forced herself to stop thinking about it, since the tears were starting.
There was only a couple of minutes left to get to her bus stop. “Shane quit hogging the bathroom!” Destiny yelled at her brother. “Just one more second!” he yelled back. When he came out, she asked him “What were you doing in there for the last thirty minutes?” “My hair,” he replied, as if it were the most important thing in the world. Destiny’s emerald eyes flashed at him as she hurried into the bathroom.
It was a good thing that she had not taken the braids out of her hair because it was a pain to put them back in in the girls’ room at school. But she would have to wear the same beads in her hair again. That left her face. She fingered her black skin where the scar that ran from her temple to her chin was. The doctor told her she was lucky that she did not cut her eye. But, as she thought about what happened, she knew that she was not lucky. If she were lucky, she would not have that scar. If she were lucky it would not have happened. Her mom...
“Come on Destiny, you’re going to make me late!” Shane brought her back to reality.
“I’m coming!” she called. She grabbed her concealer and put some on as fast as she could. She covered up her scar so no one would see it. So no one could ask. So she would not have to tell anyone about what had happened to her mom, and to her. Even though it happened nine years ago, when she was seven, it still hurt to talk about it.
“I’m coming, I’m coming”. She ran out of the bathroom, almost bowling over Peanut, and started collecting her things. “Where is my...”
“backpack” her bother interrupted. “It’s next to the table.” He could be a jerk, but he was a very organized jerk. Outside the rain was pelting down. They hurried to the bus stop. Destiny covered her face so her secret would not be revealed.
At school Destiny met her best friend at their usual meeting spot next to the vending machine that sells ice cream. “Destiny, where have you been?”
“Hi Babs, Shane was hogging the bathroom again.”
“Are you ok?” said Babs. Babs has been Destiny’s best friend forever. They were in the same playgroup and then eventually the same schools. Their mothers had become very good friends. Babs knew her mother’s birthday had been the day before. She knew what had happened and how Destiny felt about it. Noticing the distress in Destiny’s face and the dark circles under her eyes, she quickly changed the subject.
“How is lacrosse going?” That was their code phrase they used when they got on a topic like that.
“It’s going pretty good. It’s hard to get used to the new coach though.”
“Yeah, I know, why did coach Meady leave anyway?”
“I don’t know” Destiny replied. “I think she ran off with the Spanish teacher and got married” they both cracked up laughing.
“If only I hadn’t broken my leg, I would be able to play this year” Babs moaned. Just then the bell rang.
“Meet me in the bathroom like usual?” Destiny questioned.
“You know it girlfriend, bye De!” Babs said as she clomped down the hall.
After school, Destiny hurried to their meeting spot. It was the girl’s bathroom in hallway A with the toilet that had been broken since Destiny was a freshman. It was a great place if you wanted to talk in private because no one is ever in there. It is probably because the teacher’s lounge was right next door... and it smells a little bit. Still it was the most private place Destiny knew of. Babs has five younger brothers at home and Shane is always listening in on their conversations when they are at Destiny‘s apartment.
When Destiny opened the door to the bathroom, Babs was already there.
“Hey De,” she whispered.
“Are the teachers still hanging out in the lounge?” Destiny whispered back. Babs nodded her head to say yes and put her ear against the wall.
“They’re talking about food” she mouthed. They silently snickered. They listened until the mumbling of the teachers died down.
“Oh, I just remembered,” Destiny said. “ Sam is having a party for the lacrosse people before our first game. The whole team wanted to know if you were going to show up. The coach really wants to meet you too. So, are you coming?”
“Are you kidding, I would love to go!” Babs cried, “I haven’t seen any of those guys since I broke my leg.”
“Great, meet me at my house tomorrow. My dad can drive us there.” Can we get out of here now? The late bus is almost here and it is starting to really smell in here!” Babs complained, holding her nose.
Babs was sitting cross-legged on Destiny’s bed, eating chips and dip. Destiny mumbled something from the back of her closet.
“What did you say?” Babs said. “I could not hear you.”
“I said, ‘do you really think this party is going to be casual?’” Destiny waded out of her closet.
“Destiny,” Babs cried exasperated. “You have been asking me that a thousand times already and my answer is still yes.” Destiny stepped in front of her mirror, holding up one of her favorite shirts. She sighed, throwing the shirt in with the other rejects.
Destiny jumped on to the bed next to her friend and then curled up with a sleeping Peanut Butter. They both surveyed the mountains of clothes littering the room.
“You know I am bad at these types of decisions,” Destiny whined.
“Just wear what you have on now,” Babs suggested.
“Well, I guess so. Come on. I need to get my dad to drive us before he gets too bogged down in his work.”
Babs followed Destiny into the kitchen, which doubled as Mr. Williams’s office. “Hey dad?”
“What is it Dest,” he said, not taking his eyes off his laptop.
“Can you drive Babs and me to Sam’s house? She is having a party.” He turned away from the screen he was studying very intensely.
“So can you?” Babs asked.
In a very annoyed voice he said, “Girls, I am very busy right now. I can’t drive you across town at this exact moment.” He turned back to the screen that was full of numbers that meant nothing to Destiny or Babs. “Can’t Shane drive you?”
“He went some place earlier,” Destiny replied.
“Well Christ. Don’t you have a license?” her father snapped.
Destiny felt cold. It felt as if her heart was a frozen block of ice that had just been shattered into a million pieces. How many times had she told him, her own father, the answer to that question? How many times? It was the same number of times she had failed her driving test. The same amount that she had aced her written test only to start balling when she tried to pull the car out of the parking space. Had he not been listening to her?
“No,” Destiny whispered almost too quiet to hear. She pushed down her anger like so many other emotions, emotions that she had locked up inside her since what had happened to her mother. Those emotions tried to surface at the thought of her mother. Babs saved her from drowning in them.
“It’s fine, Mr. Williams. I have my license. I might not be able to drive with a cast on, but I will make sure that Destiny drives safely.” Babs pushed Destiny out the door. Destiny stopped in the door to the elevator.
“Babs, I can’t do this...”
“Nonsense,” Babs interrupted “You will do fine.” Destiny told Babs everything about her life. But she could not tell her about what happens to her when she gets behind the wheel.
They had made it to her father’s car. Destiny stood petrified with her hand on the door.
“Come on Destiny!” Babs yelled as she got into the car. Somehow Destiny opened the door and got her seat belt on. She put the key in the ignition and... She remembered the shriek of tires and a pain in her temple.
“Destiny?” Babs’ voice was worried. Destiny’s knuckles were white.
“I can’t do this,” she said as she got out of the car in a hurry. “I am sorry.” She ran from the car crying while Babs yelled after her.
The tears blurred her vision as she got to the lobby of her building. She heard Babs’ foot steps running after her. Destiny could not face her best friend right now. She raced to the elevator and pressed the “close door” button. Babs was coming in the front lobby door when the elevator doors started to close.
“I am sorry,” she yelled, in a fit of tears, at Babs again.
When she got to her room, she slammed the door shut and crawled between the covers. She tried to pull herself together as best she could. When the tears had stopped, she leaned over her bed and fetched a shoebox from underneath. She set it on the bed and stared at it for a moment. Then, when she had gathered up her strength, she opened the box oh so carefully. Inside held a dusty photograph and an envelope. Destiny held the photo as if it were a precious jewel. As she wiped off the dust, a younger version of herself and a woman that looked like her smiled up at her. It looked as if the photo was taken at an orchard. Behind the two people were rows and rows of trees. The two ladies were sitting at a picnic table, eating apples. Destiny’s finger traced the outline of the woman’s face. “Mom,” she said, with tears in her eyes. She held the picture up to her chest. She remembered when this photo was taken. Her mother had always taken Destiny apple picking in the fall. They normally ended up eating half of the apples they picked before they got home. She put the picture back and reached for the sealed envelope. Destiny had been given this letter the day she got her stitches out, two weeks after it had happened to her mom. Her father had told her that her mother wanted her to know that she loved her. He had handed her this letter from her mom, then told her what had happened to her. She had never opened the letter. Whenever she tried to, she heard her mother scream.
There was a knock at her door.
“Destiny,” Babs called. “Can I come in?” Destiny quickly threw the letter into the box and shoved it under her bed.
“Leave me alone!” Destiny answered in a sobbing moan.
Ignoring Destiny’s command, Babs barged in. “What is the matter with you?” Babs asked angrily. When she saw Destiny and her tear-stained face, her voice softened. “What is it De?” she questioned. Destiny did not dare open her mouth to answer because she was afraid she would start bursting into tears again. Instead she let Babs embrace her in a huge hug.
“It is OK Destiny,” Babs whispered in her ear. “Let it all out.” At that, Destiny broke down and cried. She let all of her emotions go from what had happened at the car and then some. Babs did not need Destiny to tell her what it was about. She knew that Destiny only acted like this when it was about her mom. She just kept rocking her back and forth, back and forth. Destiny cried for her mother, for what had happened. She cried for Babs and how she ruined her evening. But most of all, she cried because of a memory. A memory that was so vivid in her mind. The memory that prevented her from driving. The memory of what happened to her mom, what gave her the scar.
That night Destiny woke to someone singing cheerfully. She got out of bed and walked slowly down the dark hallway. The singing was getting louder as she got near the kitchen. Light streamed out of the open door and lit up Destiny’s face. There was a woman standing on a chair trying to find something in the top cabinet that was just out of reach. She was singing along to the radio that was not working right. She looked like an older replica of Destiny except with blue eyes and lighter hair.
“Mom?” Destiny heard herself say. The woman turned around, saw Destiny standing in the doorway and smiled.
“Hi, baby girl” Kathy said.
“But...But why...how?” Destiny could not speak. She felt like she had seen a ghost. She must have looked like she had seen one too, because her mother gave her a worried look. She motioned for her to sit down at the table. She handed Destiny a cup of coffee that seem to come from nowhere.
“D, we need to talk,” Kathy said as she sat down. It looked like something was bothering her. “Honey, you need to get over what happened. I know you miss me, I miss you too, but you cannot live in this state of depression your whole life.” Destiny finally found her voice.
“But, I love you,” Destiny hoarsely whispered.
“Oh baby.” Kathy took her into her arms. “I am not asking you to forget about me. I am asking you to remember me but not let it hold you back from being you.” The lights in the room started to fade. Her mother called out one last time. “Go on, go on....”
Destiny woke with a start and fell off her bed in the process. She had been in bed, hiding from the outside world in fear of what people would think of her, what people would say. But most of all, she was trying to hide from herself and what she felt. After Babs had left, she had curled up on her bed and would not go out of her room, even for food. She felt like she could not go back to school because people would ask why she was not at the party. She could not lie any more, especially to her friends.
But that did not matter anymore. She knew what she had to do. She got off the floor, not bothering to change into real clothes. Her feet padded down the hallway until she found her father trying to shake off his morning blues.
“Can I borrow the keys for today?” He looked at her with a blank stare.
“What for?” he finally asked.
“I need to see Kathy.” Her dad looked at her in shock. Any sleep that was in his face before was gone.
“Are you sure?” He knew how hard it was for her to talk about her, not to mention go see her. “Do you want me to come with you?”
“No,” Destiny replied. “I need to do this myself.”
Her dad had reluctantly said yes and given her the keys. As a last thought before she left, she grabbed the box from under her bed. The box that held her most cherished item, her most cherished and her most hated.
She somehow made it out to her dad’s car. It was now or never. She could either conquer her fear of driving and finally see her mom or she could turn around right now and live the rest of her life in guilt and shame.
Her hand tightened on the door handle. Her fingers felt like they were burning. She opened the door and started the engine. She backed out oh so slowly and drove down the road. The curse had been lifted.
When she was on the highway, she let her mind wander back to the memory that haunted her for years. Her mother and she were in the front seats. They were singing along to some ramdom song that was always played way too much on the radio. Laughter filled the air as a bad joke was told. It was a red light and people were crossing the street. She remembered her mother saying that she could have a donut when she got home. Then the light changed...
She found the parking lot she was looking for. The engine turned off and Destiny sat there, looking out the window. Doubt crept up on her and she thought she could not do it. But then she heard her mother’s voice from her dream, “Go on.” She had made it this far. She could not just give up right now. She got out of her car and walked into the cemetery. She looked for her mom in the rows of grave stones. When was the last time she had been here? “Well, never” she thought to herself. When the funeral had started, she had stayed in the car.
Then she finally found what she was looking for. The stone her father had picked out. The stone with her mother’s name on it. There were wilted flowers in front of it, her only birthday present.
...Then the light changed to green. Her mother had pulled into the intersection and over the train tracks. Destiny had laughed when a flock of birds flew in front of the car. Who knew this almost perfect day would turn horrifying in an instant. The younger Destiny looked out the side window and saw her mother’s doom streaking towards them. A truck ran the red light and slammed into the car. The only thing she remembered about what happened were the sounds. There was shattering glass, a pain in her temple, tires screeching, and worst of all an ear shattering scream, and then she blacked out. If only she had not woken up when she did. If only she had not seen the red blood on the pavement. The blood from her mother. And if only she had not seen her mother looking like a crumpled piece of paper. She remembered running through hands that were trying to hold her back. She ran to her mother’s side and held her in her arms.
Her mother faintly said “I love you.”
Destiny lay down next to her mom, still in her pajamas, and watched the sun rise. This was her mom’s favorite time of day. It was always so peaceful in the morning and 'you can actually hear yourself think,' she would say. “Can you see the sun better from there mom?” Destiny asked out loud. She remembered the note in the box. The last unread words from her mother. She pulled open the envelope and in the rosy fingers of dawn, she read it.
They tell me I am dying. I wish I could hug and kiss you and tell you it is okay. But I guess we will have to settle for this letter. No matter what people tell you, this is not your fault. It’s no one’s fault. Destiny, you will grow up to be a smart, strong lady. I just know it. Always remember what I taught you. And remember most of all that I love you.
Love you always,
Destiny cried and this time held nothing back. All the emotions that had built up inside her burst out like a dam breaking. The tears rolled off her face and hit the paper. She loved her mom and she always would, but now it was time to move on. Now it was time for her to do what her mom had always taught her to do: to be herself and to have fun in life.
Before she left, Destiny pulled the picture from the farm out of her pocket. On it she wrote something. She placed her photo in front of the flowers. She wouldn’t need this picture anymore. She had other pictures to remember her mother by. She stared at the gravesite one last time. Then she walked away. The corner of the picture flapped in the slight breeze. Her mother’s smiling face showed over the ground. Under it were the words:
“Happy Birthday. I love you mom and I always will. You are my angel and my hero.