I was getting tugged by my collar by Aubrey, her coy hazel eyes looking at my features as she shook me left and right, waiting for me to wake up. I didn’t stir, until she began to pull on my hair.
I jerked away and scowled at her, slapping the back of her hand away from me. Aubrey grinned at me and I glared back. “Come on, get up,” she whispered. “It’s morning.”
“I’ll get up whenever I’m ready.” I retorted back, shoving my head back underneath my cotton pillow. The smell of the fabric stenched of old wine smell, but I really didn’t care. I just wanted the devil’s messenger to leave me alone, but of course, she wouldn’t. She pulled on my hair again and I sat up.
“Quit bothering me! What time is it, anyway?” I shouted from the bottom bunk. I could feel my loud voice was waking up Annabelle above me on the top bunk, her pale hand falling out from her sheets and leaning off the edge.
“It’s time for you to get up.” Aubrey snorted.
I blew my frizzy, blonde hair out of my face, unimpressed by her immaturity. She was the second oldest sister, me being the youngest, and Annabelle being the oldest. Annabelle looked the part definitely, with her chest-naught coloured hair, always wearing a fine emerald dress. I didn’t have the energy to fight Aubrey this morning, so I got out of bed anyway.
The sun was shining brightly through our shutters of the window, hitting the floorboards and tainting every detail with a shadow. I pushed my feet into a pair of fuzzy house slippers and approached the window, opening the shutters. Annabelle winced from the light, but I heard her covers shuffle as she sat up in bed.
Aubrey went to rush Annabelle out of bed as I left our room with two bunk beds against the left and right walls to the bathroom. I fixed my brown collar with two purple oval, tear-dropped shaped patches sewn onto them. On my shirt were two four petaled flowers, that were purple too, sewn on by my hands. The petals were really rounded.
I stopped in front of the mirror and stared at myself. I was ugly, a pretty ugly. I opened a drawer and began to comb out my long hair, then I parted them into two pigtails. I reached deeper into the drawer and put a hair clip, a flower, in my hair. It was plastic and decoration, but I liked it. My sapphire blue eyes stared at me while I got ready for the day.
Annabelle and Aubrey were having an argument back in our bedroom as I walked out back into the hallway and I parted open the door slightly, seeing Aubrey yelling at Annabelle from the bottom bunk.
“Stop yelling at her, Aubrey. Just get out of the room so we can let Aunt Maerie make us breakfast.” I approached.
Aubrey shot me a dirty look. “Whatever, Melissa.” She told me, shoving me out of her way. She left to the hallway and probably soon to the kitchen, I assume. I looked up to Annabelle and climbed up the side of the bed frame.
“Hey,” I whispered softly, sure not to hurt her ears. Annabelle was really sensitive and I really didn’t like to bother her this early, but there wasn’t really a reason to let her sleep in if everyone else was awake and ready to start the day.
“Melissa?” Annabelle groaned, still shook a little by Aubrey yelling at her. She picked at her scab on her chin, moving her brunette hair behind her ears.
“I know Aubrey’s annoying, but you have to get up eventually.”
“I understand, I just wish she wasn’t so… mean…” Annabelle sighed. I climbed down back to the floor. I told Annabelle I’d be in the kitchen, so I left to go there.
Once I entered the kitchen, I saw that Aunt Maerie was missing and Aubrey was toying around with the microwave, trying to get it to work. She was making oatmeal and I rolled my eyes at her, aware she was already doing it wrong.
I approached the kitchen counter, my feet cold against the white tiles of the floor and picked up a grocery bag and a small note. I read the note before I searched the grocery bag, which was full of food, I assumed.
I’m going to be out for a bit, so don’t be alarmed if I’m not home by lunch! I’m visiting a friend’s house across town, for a bit of me time. I’m sorry this was so sudden, but I went ahead to the marketplace and got you girls more supplies for food.
Love, Aunt Maerie
I lowered the note and placed it back on the counter and I pried open the grocery bag. Inside was a loaf of bread, a milk carton and bacon. I quickly took the milk carton and rushed to the refrigerator, I wasn’t sure how long it was out, but I definitely didn’t want it to spoil. Aubrey groaned and looked to me.
“Oatmeal ain’t working, have any substitutes, Melissa?” She asked. I looked back to the grocery bag.
“We could make sandwiches.”
“For breakfast? Whatever, fine. You do that.”
Aubrey sat down at the dinner table that was in front of a large circular window that was a fine view at the lake. It was crystal clear, but deep. I’m real surprised that the lake isn’t in a book record for deepest lakes in America. I wonder how many people have drowned there and how many have survived.
I walked back to the grocery bag and took it, taking out a plate and a paper towel. I placed twelve strips of bacon on the plate and then put the paper towel on top of it. I began to cook the bacon in the microwave as I moved back to the fridge and got out cheese and mayonnaise.
Annabelle walked into view and yawned, rubbing her green eyes with her fist. She wore one of her green dresses, it looked like a nice thing to wear in the summer. It had spaghetti straps and went down to her knees, the seams covered with white lace. To top it all off, she wore her signature, golden heart-shaped locket. Thinking on it, I probably looked the most outlandish out of my two sisters, even Aubrey wore more normal clothes than me. I just guess I preferred the homemade stuff.
“Morning, Annabelle, how did you sleep?” I asked her.
“I slept okay,” she responded, “yourself?”
“That’s good… Making your sandwiches, there? For all of us?”
“Yeah, Aunt Maerie left a note saying that she’ll be gone for most of the day. I think we’d best make sandwiches instead of like, cereal or something. They’re heavier I guess?”
As the bacon finished cooking, I took it out and then made the sandwiches. I put them on separate plates and walked to the table and sat them down. I took my seat at the table and began to eat my sandwich.
Annabelle didn’t say anything as she got up from her seat and went to the fridge to get a glass of water. Aubrey smirked and averted her eyes to look at me.
“So, since Aunt Maerie is gone, want to go on a trip on Grandpa’s canoe?”
I nearly choked on my sandwich as Annabelle turned off the faucet and looked over at us, confused as to why I was coughing.
“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of!” I exclaimed.
Annabelle walked over and sat back down, taking a sip of her drink and then a bite of her sandwich. “What’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard of?”
“Aubrey here wants us to go out on Grandpa’s canoe, without permission, into that creepy lake, and without an adult.”
“What?... No offense Aubrey, but that is really the dumbest thing we’ve ever heard of.” She agreed with me.
“Aunt Maerie isn’t here and we’ll only be out for a minute. Are you two too sissy?” Aubrey asked us, making my face get hot. My forehead burned up, my birthmark becoming slightly visible as a paler patch of skin.
“No, it’s just dumb.”
“You’re a sissy.”
“No, it’s just dumb!”
“You’re a sissy!”
Aubrey looked at me with a look of triumph, as I slammed my hand against the table I stood up, the chair pushing back behind me. She knew she pushed me off the edge.
“I’m not no sissy!” I freaked out for a split moment as I jumped back and grabbed the chair before hit the floor. I stepped out from the table and slid the chair back in.
She looked at me with a cocky smirk, standing up from her chair. Annabelle looked between us like we were crazy, she gave me a look asking me if what I was about to do was a good idea - of course it wasn’t, no idea of Aubrey’s is good. But I don’t want to let that scum make a fool out of me.
“You’re on.” I told Aubrey.
After Annabelle and I strapped our shoes on and followed Aubrey out onto the muddy shore, the sun was being shielded from the water and only a few strands of light bounced off the water of the lake.
Grandpa’s canoe, Mae’s Ride, was standing there at the edge of the sand. It looked so old and rickety, I was afraid if we even stepped a foot onto the poor thing, it’d break underneath our weight. It just, seemed so old. Sorta stereotypically cute, too, it touched me.
We boarded the canoe, both Annabelle and I. Aubrey had gone out into the shed nearby, placed on top of a muddy slope nearby the greenhouse. Aunt Maerie was talented at gardening, she enjoyed to see plants and her favourite flowers were lilies. Or not, I can’t remember. But I know I like them.
Aubrey returned with an oar, to paddle the canoe. She plopped into the canoe with us, making the boat rattle. Annabelle seemed startled, but bothered to not show it. She plunged the oar into the war and began to paddle us out into the middle of the lake.
I could hear her briefly chuckling to herself as she did. It worried me, honestly. I felt like she was planning something sinister, but I couldn’t place my finger on it.
We stopped, floating on top of the mucky, matted water. It was a deep, deep blue. I couldn’t see the bottom of the lake, I leaned out from the edge of the canoe, peering down, to try and look harder. The lengthening rays of the sunlight didn’t even go that far down.
I gulped. I glimpsed to Annabelle and Aubrey next to me, seeing Aubrey obviously made me feel a bit uneasy, but that wasn’t even the half of it. Annabelle looked terrified. She couldn’t swim that well, or, at least she used to swim very talentedly.
I don’t remember what exactly happened to her, though it must of had been traumatizing.
We idly floated on top of the lake for a while, before I looked towards Aubrey. She always had some sort of trick up her sleeve, now I was prepared to find out what it was. I glanced over my shoulder to her, furrowing my brows at her coy expression.
“What gives?” I asked her. Aubrey rolled her shoulders, didn’t respond, but kept giggling. She looked at Annabelle, then back to me. I stared back at her, confused.
“So, it’s a hot day out, right?” She slowly began.
Annabelle glimpsed, pushing her hair back behind her ears. She was crouched where she sat, beforehand, her strands of hair had dropped from her face and covered her eyes. She seemed as unnerved as I was, if not worse.
“Yes?” Annabelle replied, with a bit of edge to her voice.
“Well, I was thinking, since we’re already out on the canoe and stuff,” Aubrey continued, in a bit of a nervous tone. As if what she was planning, she knew she would backfire. It was like she knew what would happen and she was scared of it, I sure knew I was. “Maybe we could…” She added on.
She left a quiet note, momentarily. Obviously to add suspense, as if what she was going to do wasn’t gonna be stupid-
“Take a dip!” She shouted. Next thing I knew, her hands were on me, I struggled the slightest bit, but my older sister shoved me into the water.
The water lapped into my face. My mouth was open as I screamed out into the air, despite the water being fresh, likely, I swallowed some on accident and swore it tasted of iron. I paddled around in the water helplessly, Aubrey knew I wasn’t a good swimmer.
She watched me with a big, goofy smile on her face, expecting me to pop back up from the water any second, or grab onto the edge of the canoe, at the very least.
But I didn’t.
I was too overwhelmed from it. I tried to grab onto the canoe, but, from all my thrashing in the water, I kept splashing water into my face. The wind picked up, as if to change to a suspenseful scene.
The canoe turned in the water, the edge of it smacked my head. I felt a sudden amount of unconsciousness.
Annabelle panicked as she watched me get hit at the side of my head by the old canoe. She grabbed Aubrey’s hand, squeezing it. “Oh my Gods! Mel!” She called out. She frantically searched the canoe, trying to find some sort of rope, or a string, even if it was nylon, or anything.
Aubrey, in realization that I was not going to come back up, began to look desperately herself. Then it hit her, clear in the face. She grabbed the oar she used to paddle us out there on the canoe and dunked it into the water.
Both Annabelle and Aubrey began to try to fish me out with the oar, but, I kept slipping off from it.
I felt weak. I had no idea which way was up, or down, because my eyes couldn’t force themselves to stay open under the water. Right before I got hit by the canoe, I took a deep breath of air, thinking, oh, it’d be fine, right? I could just hold my breath for a long time?
But it wasn’t fine, it really wasn’t. I was tumbling, slipping out from the oar again. I was wrapped in an awkward posture. Despite being tired and exhausted of all strength to stay alive, I grabbed for the oar.
Aubrey and Annabelle up above couldn’t see my struggling, but they tried their hardest. They tried.
Knowing the oar method wasn’t working, Annabelle stood up. She was about to dive back into the water, although having an intense fear of it, her fear for loosing me was larger. Aubrey grabbed her wrist and tightly held her back.
“Aubrey! What are you doing?” She exclaimed, loudly. Her face was a mixture of fear and anger.
“Stopping you from killing yourself!” Aubrey cried, desperately. She was at the verge of tears. She used her other hand to wipe her eyes, “we can’t do anything, we can only hope! I don’t want you to go too!”
Annabelle frowned, but was forced to sit down by Aubrey. Aubrey grabbed her and squeezed her, hugging her hard, still full of hope (mixed with being afraid) I would come back up.
I forced my eyes open. My blue eyes contrasted with the water, feeling that they were stinging. My chest heaved and propelled up, I coughed, loud and shrill. But the lake wasn’t having it. It wanted me down there, this lake wanted me at the bottom.
My lungs were clenched, I could feel them begging me to go back to the surface for air. My hands grabbed through the water, I thought there was something I could hold onto, some sort of miracle would happen; nothing was happening, nothing was preventing me from dying.
My blonde, long hair became unkempt and began wagging in front of my face. The water kept pushing me down with some invisible force I couldn’t describe, but it sure pressured me. It pressured me hard enough to the point, I stopped coughing, I stopped trying to scream.
After all, my screams couldn’t be heard from the surface. They weren’t even that loud. Maybe it was because my ears were clumped with particles floating around in the lake, like mud.
My mouth struggled, but my throat pulsed once more, for the last time. I closed my eyes, my arms that were trying so hard to grab onto something, went soft.
My entire body went soft.
“Oh my Gods” was the last thing Annabelle said, before we stopped seeing bubbles of air reach the surface of the lake. We were stranded in the middle, since I dropped the oar into the water while panicking, crying.
That was what… Eighteen years ago? Yes, I think it was.
What the hell was I thinking? I should’ve been sent to a trial for this, but, I was so shaky and afraid of going to jail, I made up a fib it was an accident. But it wasn’t an accident, it was a full-fledged murder.
I was only joking, I really didn’t mean to actually kill her. I thought she was a good enough swimmer, after all, her and Annabelle always -
You know what? Never mind. That’s not the point. The point is, Annabelle’s hated me ever since. She’s had trouble sleeping at night. The only times she’s ever nice to me is when she’s at the verge of tears, crying, fat, huge rolls of tears going down her cheeks and plopping off her chin.
That’s when I feel like she’s reverted back to being twelve years old again. It’s like she doesn’t remember she’s an adult now, now that she’s someone who has a job and her family to support. She grabs for my shoulders, holds me close and sobs loudly into my shoulder.
It’s like she feels like the event happened just yesterday.
...Anyway… Today is the anniversary of Mel’s death. She died too young. She should be with us right now. We should be happy right now.
But she isn’t, all just because I was a dumb little kid. I was too dumb to think. Melissa never deserved it, she didn’t deserve any of this. She tried to be the kindest she was to me, I should’ve listened to her instead of thinking I was smarter than her.
Melissa was the smartest eleven year old I’ve ever met. She was happy, she was kind, she enjoyed making her own clothes, sewing onto her shirt all the time… Even if she pricked her finger sometimes, she didn’t cry over it. She put a thimble on her hand and fixed it.
I miss you, Mel, you went far too soon…
The water lapped onto the shore, at the other edge of the lake. Sand, silt and more stuff washed onto shore, but so did something else. A body.
It’s been eighteen years since the infamous death of 1986. Yet, this body that floated onto shore, seemed almost alive. Was it alive? The body was a bit bloated, a bunch of water filled the girl’s pores. Her pigtails were matted with mud. Her knees, palms of her hands and her left cheek were caked with the wet sand. She lift her face from the sand, slowly.
Her facial structure over the years had become bovine. She had patches of skin missing from the tips of her fingers, her eyes were sunk into her sockets and her skin was a deathly pale.
“Where am I?” She slowly asked. She had the body of an eleven year old girl, but a bit mature for her size, too. She was a measly four foot… something.
I believe her name was Melissa and she sure was lost. She couldn’t remember anything. She couldn’t get the bunches of water that clogged up her ears out, despite how many times she tipped her head.
She seeks help for someone to plainly assist her. It’s said if you decline her, rudely, she’ll gift you with some sort of karma. You’ll die in a bad accident, like a car accident, per-say. Something someone could fib as an… accident.
However, if you decline her because you can’t help truly, she’ll leave you alone, politely. That was it from there. She hasn’t found anyone to help her out yet.
Melissa waits for the day she can go back home, peacefully.