Chapter 02 – A
“Sorry about your parents,” a kind middle-aged man in black suit said, “Richard Remil. He was such a nice man. To have to die so young in a car accident like that…”
“Thank you for your help with the funeral, Uncle Kheel,” I bowed down to the kind gentleman, “I really appreciate your support. Without your help, we wouldn’t be able to set this up.”
“It’s no big deal. Your father helped me a lot. This is the least I can do in return,” said Uncle Kheel, “…So…I assume you are living with Kelly, now?”
“…Yes. We can no longer afford the apartment we were living in previously so we had to cancel the rent contract. I’m just glad the owner pitied us and didn’t charge us any contract termination fees.”
“Look Auria. If you ever have any trouble, give me a call, got it? I’m always ready to help a friend’s daughter,” Uncle Kneel placed his right hand onto my left shoulder.
“Yes. Thanks you for everything,” I politely bowed to him again.
“Well then, I’ll be going now. Take care.”
He waved goodbye and walked away from the cemetery gate.
The stars are still shimmering in the dark sky but the night has become more silent than ever. With both of my parents passing away from the unfortunate event, everything is not going to be the same as before – I could just tell. The kind man whose embrace makes me feels safe and secure is gone. So is the kind lady who is always there for me when I am feeling down. That feeling of losing someone who has been with you for your whole life – You can never get used to it.
I walked back to my sister – my only remaining family member – who is sitting on a stone bench just outside the gates to the cemetery. Her face is lifted upwards, gazing into the starry night sky.
“…Let’s go,” I said.
“Bro Lynus isn’t coming?” she asked back without looking at me.
“He said he got an errand to run tonight. We’ll have to walk,” I replied.
Lynus was very kind. He helped me with all the procedures required for arranging the funeral – relative contracts, scheduling, and many others. Our friends and relatives helped donate some money for this event, but Lynus was the major contributor. He filled up the rest of the cost that the donation could not cover from his own pocket.
“……Hey sis,” the girl spoke up without looking at me again, “Do you think mom and dad are up there?”
“Maybe. They said once someone dies, their souls go back to the star ocean, doesn’t it?” I replied, looking up to the starry sky as well.
“Do you think…they are watching over us now?” she asked some more. The girl was obviously trying to drag on our conversation. Knowing her my whole life, she is not a type to be asking such a hypothetical question.
“I’m sure they are. We are their daughters after all,” I replied with a groundless answer.
The girl said nothing more. She just sat there and remained quiet without saying another word. I knew exactly what is on her mind, so I did not bother asking. Instead, I sat down next to her, waiting until she is ready to talk.
“…I don’t wanna go back to Aunt Kelly’s,” she spoke up after remaining quiet for a couple of minutes.
I knew I don’t have to ask.
“I know,” I replied, “I…want to run away too.”
“So let’s just run away! I don’t want to stay with her any longer!” she started sobbing.
“I actually thought the same too,” I told her, “But we can’t just barge out without a plan. I mean…where are we gonna go after we leave that place?”
“I don’t know…But ANYWHERE is better than her house!” she cried.
“Now now. Let’s settle down for a week and look for other way outs. We will leave that hell hole before this month ends. Is that okay with you?” I suggested.
She seemed reluctant at first. But later on, she gave me a nod while wiping her tears.
“Now. Let’s just go back. I’m getting really tired,” I said.
The two of us got up and headed down the streets back to Aunt Kelly’s house. It is a white two-stories town house, settled in line with other white houses on the avenue.
…On a second thought, I don’t think ‘white’ is the best description. The sunlight and rain heavily wore the outer peel of the house. Right now, it looks old and shabby, standing out among the other houses on the avenue. But being unique does not always mean it is a good thing.
As soon as we entered the house into the living quarters, the first thing we saw is a blonde lady in a red bath robe, sitting on a big comfy orange couch, watching TV.
“You girls are late. Didn’t my brother teach you girls to come home earlier?” the blonde lady turned her face to us.
“I’m sorry. The stuffs at the funeral kind of dragged on,” I replied.
“Hmph. Having fun turning down other people’s offer for help again, aren’t you?” she asked with an obvious hint of sarcasm.
“Why would I have fun turning down other people’s kindness? I’m actually troubled when I do so,” I replied.
“Oh really?” the blonde lady got up from her comfortable spot, “I don’t understand you really. Many people offered to take care of you, but you chose to turn them down. You even have that hot and cute boyfriend with thick wallet wrapped around your little pinky finger and you did not take advantage of that. How much more stupid can you be?”
We have been talking about this again and again since the first day we moved in here. In fact, the first thing she asked me when I told her about our situation was, ‘Do both of you have boyfriends?’
“How could I possibly abuse the people who are kind to me?” I asked her with an unsatisfied look.
“Is this one of your integrity crap again? Oh honey, don’t you know that integrity isn’t going to fill your stomach? Seriously, at the end of the day, what’s better than having everything spoon fed to you?” she approached me, tracing her index finger from my throat up to my chin, “You got that enticing body of yours. You should learn how to take advantage of rich guys like I did.”
“Sorry. Selling my body for money just isn’t my style,” I told her with a stern voice, as I grabbed Orica’s hand and headed for the stairs. However, all of the sudden, I felt the collar of my mourning dress being pulled from behind. My body was rammed against the wall nearby. Fortunately, I let go Orica’s hand so she was not pulled along with me. My little sister gasped and covered her mouth, trembling in fear as she saw Aunt Kelly shooting her cold eyes straight into mine.
“Our conversation is not yet over, cutey pie,” the blonde lady grabbed my shoulder tightly with her left hand, “…Are you saying you have a problem with our family’s way of life?”
My heart pounded faster and my body trembled in fear. Since her face is only a couple of centimeters away from mine, my nose quickly catches the scent of liquor from her. She is drunk again. You won’t like her when she is drunk. Under normal circumstances, she is an extremely selfish and stingy lady. And when she is drunk, she will transform from a mean lady to a fiend that is incapable of reasoning.
Normally, I would just pretend to agree with her “life philosophy” when she is drunk, so I can avoid getting into trouble. However, tonight is not a ‘normal night’. Until today, I am still not sure what exactly made me mustered enough courage to talk back to her. Maybe it was because of how she said ‘our family’s way of life’.
“Our family’s? Please, if you mean sucking on other people’s property, then that’s YOUR way of life. Don’t dump me to your level!”
“My level?! What are you saying, honey? Your father – MY brother – got your mom only because her family has thick wallet! You seriously think my brother actually loved that whore!?”
…That does it…
“Oh, you’re so full of yourself! You don’t know crap about my parents. They’re the one who taught me not to turn into a pathetic woman like you!”
Suddenly, my line of vision shifted and my left cheek felt numb. I heard Orica screamed in fright as my hand reached for my left cheek.
“Don’t you dare talk back to me like that again, young lady! In my house everything goes by my rule! Show me some goddamn respect or get the fuck out of my house!!!!!”
“Respect? What about you is there to respect!?” I laughed, “Fine. If staying in your house means I have to worship prostitution as a way of life, then I’ll leave!”
With my two hands, I easily pushed the drunk lady away from me. With that amount of strength, a normal person should not even flinch. But for a drunk alcoholic, being pushed in the chest like that probably felt like being ran over by a truck. Aunt Kelly fell back to the floor as I marched up stairs to grab Orica’s and my belongings, which had always remained unpacked since the day we moved here. I knew the day we have to leave this place under circumstances like this will come some day, so I’ve been prepared for it.
“Let’s get the hell out of here, Orica,” I handed her baggage to her and both of us sisters quickly headed for the door.
“You listen to me, little lady,” the blonde drunkard followed us to the front door, “Once you step out of that door, we’re over! You get it!? If you get out of that door, then don’t you dare show your face around me ever again, you hear me!?”
“Yeah. I heard you! I don’t need you. I’m not a weak woman like you are. I’ll prove to you that I can live my own life without having to rely on a man!”
“YOU’RE TALKING BACK TO ME AGAIN!?” the blonde fiend screamed and rushed at me with her fingers curved like an animal’s claw. As she reached for my dress, I ducked down to safely escape her grapple and shot my elbow into her belly, causing her to stumble down to the floor.
“GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE!!!!!!!! GET THE FUCK OUT!!!!!!”
The drunk fiend screamed and began throwing random objects nearby at us. The two of us sisters quickly opened the front door and escape just in time before we took a vase to our faces.
“……That was amazing, sis,” was the first thing Orica said after we sat down on the bench next to the main street.
“What amazing? Don’t you see how my hands are shaking?” I placed my left hand onto her lap. It is evidently trembling.
“Well, but you beat the crap out of her. I’ve kind of always wanted to do that,” Orica confessed, scratching her cheek in embarrassment, “She’s been harassing me almost everyday, asking me why don’t I used my big busts to an advantage.”
“…Ugh…she’s the worst. I don’t even want to count her as a relative,” I sighed. My heart is still pounding in anxiety and nervousness. I have no idea what gave me enough courage to blurt all that out to her.
“So…What ever happened to your ‘we can’t just barge out without a plan’?”
“Well, I’d rather take back my words than let that woman called mom a whore,” I said.
“Nah, don’t get too uptight. I’m just teasing you,” she giggled.
“You still have the mood to giggle after all that?” I pinched her softly. The two of us laughed it off carefreely. Well, at least I still have this girl with me, so everything shouldn’t be all that bad.
“But seriously though, sis…what do we do now?” Orica asked – this time with a more serious tone.
“Let’s just stay at an inn for tonight. I’m too tired to think for today. We’ll think about what to do tomorrow.”
A kind old lady called to me, snapping me out of my flashback.
“Oh…Aunt Melda,” I replied to the old lady from the cashier counter.
“You should go home now, sweetie. It’s getting a little late,” said the kind lady.
“But Uncle Shakov hasn’t come back yet,” I replied.
“Oh, don’t worry. He’ll probably be back soon. I can take care of the store in the mean time,” said Aunt Melda, “And here. Take this with you. It’s my treat.”
The old lady handed me a plastic bag with boxed meal inside. Aside from paying me for my part-time help in the store, she also loves to make boxed meal for Orica and me. At first I was reluctant and even tried to turn her down when she first made the offer, but in the end she insisted that I take it with me since she knew that I need the money for rent among other various expenses.
“Thank you so much for your kindness, Aunt Melda,” I bowed to her, “I really appreciate it.”
“Don’t worry, honey. Now take care of yourself on your way back,” the old lady smiled for me.
“Well then…I’ll be leaving now. Please take care!” I told her and walked off the convenient store.
I took a glance at my cell phone for the time.
“Oh gosh…it’s almost midnight already?” I mumbled.
I normally left the store at about 10 PM or so, but since Aunt Melda’s husband, Uncle Shakov, went out to buy some supplies, I offered to accompany her for a while until he comes back. Fortunately, my apartment is only a couple of blocks away from this store, so it does not take me too long to get home.
I am wearing a white one piece sleeveless dress with a small pocket on the skirt portion. It’s a fairly light dress and allows me to feel the cool night breeze well.
I quickly move down the sidewalk, hugging the areas with streetlights. One of the reasons Aunt Melda doesn’t want me to go home any later is because this area becomes desolated almost instantly after 11 PM. In rural town like this, the streetlight is just about the only light source in the streets after dark. I admit I am a little scared to walk in the dark alone like this. But I know I can handle street thugs when I see one. My parents sent Orica and me to learn some self-defense techniques since we were young. Both of us haven’t really mastered anything, but we are more than capable of taking care of ourselves from nasty street thugs.
I took a left turn at the corner of the block and keep on moving straight. After this turn, it’s only about two more blocks before I reach my apartment complex. However, right after I made that turn, the sound of footsteps echoed from behind, imitating every step that I took.