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Authors: Kristina M. Rovison

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I had changed out of my long-sleeve shirt into an oversized t-shirt as soon as I got back to Aunt Rachel’s house- another new development. I never wear t-shirts, for fear people might see the thick scars that wrap around my wrists like permanent bracelets, screaming LOOK AT ME, I’M CRAZY.

             
What I love about Aunt Rachel is her ability to make me feel so at ease. Her carefree spirit makes it easy to forget the troubles surrounding me; she is a complete foil to my mother. How they are sisters is beyond me, with one being so uptight and harsh and the other so spirited and easygoing. It proves blood is nothing more than a human necessity; it holds no real bond between the people it links.

You discover who your family is when they take care of you when you need it. When they look you in the eye and tell you that you’re important. Real families don’t feel the need to hide their shameful children from the public eye. Real parents don’t
send their c
hildren away because they can’t, or don’t want to,
deal with their child’s troubles.

             
Aunt Rachel would be the perfect mother, i
f there was such a thing. She i
s kindhearted
, generous in forgiveness, and easy to talk to. She is very
young, though; barely thirty-three
with her navel pierced and
hair bl
eached blonde. She is beautiful nonetheless.

             
“Did you meet any
cute boys at school?” she asks me a
s she serves our dinner,
a strange concoction of brown rice an
d various vegetables. It smells
delicious,
almost
like I was suddenly transported to Mexico City.

             
I smile
, thinking of Tristan. I
stayed by
his
side as we conveniently
shared every class together ex
cept after lunch
. Tristan skipped a year in math and had already completed his neces
sary credits, leaving him with several
free period
s
to do as he pleased
after noon
. At the end of the day, we parted and my heart fell a little with every step we took away from each other.

             
“I’ll take that as a big fat YES!” Aunt Rachel practically squealed, sounding more like one of the immature teenagers that have surrounded me all day than my temporary legal guardian.

             
I blush a
deep
red, embarrassed at being caught.
I feel like Tristan
should be my own personal secret, but I can’t imagine not telling someone about how perfect he is.
But that’s the thing… I
feel like, if I tell people about him, he’ll disappear and I’ll wake up.

It’s like I was born knowing Tristan, and maybe, in some way, I was. If God wills it to be, then it will be. I trust His judgment; trust that He wil
led Tristan and me to meet. But
I wonder if He overestimated my supposed goodness.

A boy like Tristan is much too wonderful to be tempted by a nobody like me, but maybe this proves he is my angel. God said I would
n’t
expect
him
to
be meant for me. He was right; i
f it weren’t for the prickles and visions, I would never have thought such a beautiful boy could be mine. The fact that I get to see him tomorrow sends a smile to my face, and Aunt Rachel laughs, this time sounding her age.

“Well, when you’re ready to talk to me about him, you talk,
you
understand?” she says, only half-joking. “Gosh,
look at you
; first day at school and already blushin’ over some boy.”

I wonder if she’s happy I’m not acting like a crazy person. I can only imagine the stories my mother told her about how unstable I am or how disobedient and entitled I act. Props to my aunt for being so unbiased towards me.

What she doesn’t know is that
Tristan is not just
some boy
. He is my angel.
The insane urge to correct her is almost unstoppable, but I miraculously succeed.

Chapter 5

             
Three weeks
later, I find myself sitting in the garden with Tristan during our free period. He laughs as I tell a story of me and David from happier days. His laughter is light, natural and comforting. The smile on his face makes me feel at ease, and somewhat proud. I, the unlovable nobody, made this beautiful boy laugh. Pride and cockiness swells in my heart, feelings I am a stranger to.

             
“Who knew you were a rebel?” he jokes, nudging my shoulder with his own, sending prickles up my entire side.

             
I laugh a sound so unfamiliar it almost scares me. I’m not used to being so open with thos
e around me, but Tristan is undoubtedly
my angel. Every night since I met him, I’ve had flashes of him in my dreams. Some mor
e detailed than others, some mak
e me blush just thinking about, and others were m
ore cryptic. Nevertheless, I am
now enraptured with the young
man sitting beside me. After three
week
s
of knowing him, I already feel
myself unraveling, but in a good way.

             
It’s been so many years since I’ve allowed myself to trust. Untying the knots of suspicion does not come easy, but it’s much better to face your fears head on. Tristan brings out the old me; the girl that was not afraid of letting others see who she wants to be. The feeling of being completely vulnerable is new to me; I’ve let
myself be impervious for far too long, never knowing what I was missing out on.

             
In three
week
s
, I have discovered my ability to forgive. Tristan’s unfathomable kindness disarms me frequently, but he is helping me forgive my parents. The best part about this is that he doesn’
t even realize that he’s helping me
.

Not complete forgiveness
, no; the scars are too deep to forgive anyone complete
ly, especially myself. The wounds
run deeper than I have ever thought they would. Not the physical scars of course, although I have plenty of those, too.  No, these scars are the ones left carved into my bones, forcing me to cover them with ignorance and avoidance. No more; there will be no more hiding from my demons. It is time I met my fears head-on, and I know just where to start.

             
The next day, Sunday
, I write a letter to my father. In less than a page of my cursive script, I tell him everything I have bottled up since the day he sent David away. Every last hateful thought, every loathsome word mumbled under my breath as h
e welcomed guests into our home.
E
verything
i
s written in this letter. I neve
r intended to send it, but I do. It’
s easy, plopping the lette
r into the cold metal box. It’
s like discarding a handful of regrets into a fire, never havin
g to feel their sting again. It feels
nice, the brief weightlessness I’m given.

             
Sitting at the tiny round kitchen table, I’m struggling with my Calculus homework when Aunt Rachel walks into the roo
m. “Hey, Katherine
, what are you up to?” she says, tone a little too light to sound natural. I wonder what she’s up to.

             
Aunt Rachel and I
are closer than I have ever been with my mother.
More than anything, she reminds me of an irresponsible big sister I’ve been forced to stay with while my parents are on some dream vacation. Sometimes, I try to convince myself that that is actually the situation; my daydreaming works most of the time, until I see the thick scars on my w
rists, proof that this is reality
.

             
“Calculus,” is all I respond, not in the mood for conversation. Keeping my head down, I fumble with the tiny keys of my calculator, threatening to throw it across the room and sendi
ng it a mentally silent warning to start cooperating.

             
Aunt Rachel sits down next to me, brushing her long bangs away from her green eyes. This is one thing her and I have in common; our eyes are the exact same shade of emerald green. I once had a boy tell me they were the most beautiful color eyes he’d ever seen, but my inner-critic told me to shut him out and think the opposite, so that’s what I did. That is what I d
id with everyone, but I’m working on my self-confidence.

             
“Oh my, I’ve always hated math, especially calculus!” Aunt Rachel gushed, pushing her cuticles back from her perfectly manicured fingers. I never understood why she acted the way she
did in her free time; so flippant and carefree.
In reality, Aunt Rachel’s job is to be serious. She i
s the town’s only attorney, which shocked me when I came here. It did explain a lot though, like her ability to
buy me the newest gadgets and
a new wardrobe.
I get the feeling that she is extremely modest with her money, which she must have a lot of.

             
Not saying anything, I nod my head, silently wishing she would leave me alone. Instead, she speaks again. “Why don’t you go for a ride today? I’
m going to work in a little bit
and have a date tonight, so I won’t be home until late,” I look up, startled she said “date.” She winks.

             
“Go to the barn! You haven’t been down there yet to meet the horses. The black one- Dino- is the softest one to ride. Do you remember riding a horse when you were little?” She gushed again, grasping at her chest as if she was in physical pain. If she wasn’t smiling, I would’ve thought she was having a heart attack, the way her nails dug into her shirt.

             
“I don’t think so. And n
o,” was all I said. The silence got suddenly awkward so
she patted my shoulder, ignoring my flinch, and left. Moments later, I heard the crappy old car groan to life. When I asked her why she didn’t get rid of the POC (which stood for ‘piece of crap,’) she said it was a classic
that belonged to my grandfather
and she could never part with it. I
had
laughed
internally, wondering what it would take to make her sell that hunk of junk for parts.

             
Instantly, a thought flashes
through my mind. Tristan gave me his phone number, and while I have a cell phone, I never use it. There is one person in my contact list, and it’s Aunt Rachel because she plugged it in for me. I’ve never been one to embrace technology, preferring books to the internet and television.
             

             
Before I lost my nerve, I went into my room and got the phone from the drawer beside my bed. Flipping it open and pressing what I remembered to be the “on” key, I waited for the chiming music to signal me its’ powering up.
Ding
, the phone chimed to life.

             
I opened it and dialed Tristan’s phone number, which I had
written in sharpie on my hand still
. In less than ten seconds, I heard his voice.

             
“Hello?” he said, sounding annoyed.

             
My confidence faltered at the fru
stration in his tone, but I take a steadying breath and force
my mouth to open. “Hi, Tri
stan, this is Katherine,” I say
shyly.

             
There i
s a brief silence on the other end, then a slamming of a door. “Katherine! Hi, uh, sorry about that… How are you?” he said, much kinder and
the flutters in my stomach take
off.

             
“It’s ok. I’m good, but I’m call
ing to see if… maybe… you could, I mean, if you want to,
come to my aunt’s house today and go hiking with me? I’ve had enough calculus to last a lifetime,” I say,
trying to sound uninterested
.

             
Again, a brief silence followed. “Sure, that sounds great, actually. What’s your address?” he asks, sounding genuinely pleased.

             
“She lives at 113 Clingsburge Road,” I say. “I mean, we live,” I correct.

             
This time, the silence on the other side of the phone is even longer. I wait, but still no response. “Hello?” I ask, feeling foolish.

             
“Yeah, sorry. Is Rachel home?”

             
I shake
my head
and then realize he can’t see me through the phone. Rolling my e
yes at my stupidity, I say “No. Y
ou know her?”

BOOK: Pieces of a Mending Heart
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