Chapter 1: Home
"Welcome home, Taylor." My aunt said, smiling sweetly. I cringed at the second word. Home. She said it so easily. I never had a home. A place I loved. A place I cherished. A place I called home.
My uncle walked to his wife and wrapped a hand around her waist. They loved each other. They had an easy life. A happy one.
A seedling of envy blossomed in the depths of my stomach. I scolded myself for feeling jealousy. The past is the past. My mistakes are my mistakes. There's no changing that.
My aunt took my backpack and purse while my uncle smiled at me. She put them on the table. I knew she wanted me to talk, but she knows I haven't opened my yap for 2 years. Every time I heard my voice, it fissured my soul. It made me remember something I buried deep down in my heart. Something I want to forget but I know that I never would.
I was mute, and even if I moved away from the bad memories, I had a hard, memorable copy of it in my brain. Something I can't erase.
Shaking away my thoughts that were slowly drifting towards the bad days, my aunt led me to my new room. I climbed up the stairs at her heels while she tried some small talk. But I refused to talk. It was easy. I have been doing it for a while.
My aunt gave up after a while. She slowly opened the door, revealing cotton-blue walls with a lavender ceiling. The floor was light spruce wood, with a carpet that matched the ceiling adorning it. A neat bed was tucked to one side while a pearly white desk stood by a large window. A modest navy blue closet was by the personal bathroom door and a bookshelf was against the opposite wall.
I smiled. "I painted this room blue. If I remember correctly, you are a fan of the color?" my aunt smiled pleasantly. I nodded. I loved blue a few years back. But that was from another lifetime ago. From a place I hated. From a neglected part of my brain, I liked blue.
I hugged my aunt. She patted my back awkwardly and caressed my head. Pulling back, she forced a warm smile. "Taylor, I'm making spaghetti downstairs for dinner. If you need anything, call me, alright?" I nodded again and she left me alone.
Turning towards my room, I explored it. The blue closet was empty, and the desk was crystal clean. Its white surface reminded me of the hospital. Of mom, laying in the pristine bed, murmuring her last words...
I turned towards the huge window as one wet, salty tear rolled down my cheek. I would not ever set foot near that place again. Ever. Too many memories. Memories that haunt me. Memories that will never let go.
A creak resonated behind me. Spinning on my heel, I faced the person standing under the doorway while wiping the stupid tear away.
It was a boy with bronze curls and clear blue eyes. He was broad-shouldered, almost taking up the whole doorway. He was fit, for sure. He towered over my frame, and I was quite tall for a girl. Even then, the boy made my 5ft 8 frame seem small. He was 6ft 2, to the very least.
He crossed his arms, and I couldn't help but notice the ripple of muscles. Studying his face, I walked towards him, greeting him.
"Uh," he muttered and I suddenly felt self-conscious as he studied me.
"I'm Jack. Your cousin," he said, sticking out a big hand. I took it and gave it a firm shake.
He first seemed a bit surprised, but then smirked. "Strong, aren't you?" Jack murmured. I rolled my eyes but smiled.
"And you are?" I pointed at my shirt. I made it a few years back with fabric paint. In neat cursive, it said 'Taylor'.
"Nice to meet you, Taylor." I smiled, and I knew he took it as a "Nice to meet you too."
"So...you don't talk?" I shook my head. "But you can, right?" I inhaled sharply but nodded. Jack sensed that he shouldn't push his luck and stayed quiet.
After an awkward silence, I walked to the bed, and I heard him following me. I sat down, hugging my new pillow. My cousin sat beside me but angled his body so that our knees were touching.
Jack rubbed the back of his neck. "Look," he started. "I'm in the football team. My teammates...like toying with girls. And we live in a small town, you know? A new girl-you-will stir them up. Don't fall for them." He looked at me straight in the eye. "Especially beautiful ones."
I blushed but nodded thanks. Taking out my handy notebook, I wrote:
Don't worry, Jack. I'll keep out of the way. I don't want to harm anyone, and I don't like bad boys or playboys. Especially boys that are both. Now, that, I will promise you no football player of yours will charm me.
Passing the notebook, Jack quickly read it. Looking up, he smiled with a sad tone and said "Well, here's a warning. their charms are quite powerful. They've probably slept with every pretty girl in town." I grimaced. I didn't want to think about that.
He laughed at my disgust but shrugged. "What can I do? My mum wants me to bring you to the field party tomorrow. There's one every Friday for my team. Just stay out of my friends' way, 'kay?"
I nodded. I didn't want to interrupt Jack's fun. I didn't want to be dead weight. I just wanted to live a life that wasn't haunted. That's all. I wanted to breathe normally, not breathe with such pain it hurt when I inhaled. I wanted to blink, not to blink back tears. I just wanted to live, without fear or agony chasing me wherever I go like demons.
I nodded. He looked at me with concern. In a low voice, Jack said "I can read people easily, Taylor. I can see the pain in your eyes. When you smile, it doesn't reach those sad green eyes of yours. Something haunts you, and that must be why you don't talk. I'm always here if you want to talk...Er, write." He gestured at my notebook.
My chest swelled with a foreign feeling. Love, I think. Not love love, but I loved him for understanding me. But also quite surprised. He could read people as easily as he claimed.
I hugged him, burying my wet face in the crook of his neck. I just met him, but he was such a great cousin and friend. A golden boy, for sure.
Jack stiffened for a second, but then relaxed and hugged me back.
When we broke free, he gave me one last smile and walked out of my room, closing the door.
I looked at the closed door for a while. Sighing, I rose from the bed and went downstairs for my backpack. Taking a shower and putting on new clothes, I went downstairs again for dinner.
Jack and his parents talked and laughed. They sometimes asked me yes or no questions so I could reply with a shake or a nod. They didn't ask about my past, and I was beyond grateful for that. I did not like to visit that place again.
After dinner, I settled in and stuffed some clothes into the navy blue closet. Suddenly drowsy, I fell into a fitful sleep.
The same nightmare, every single time.
Author Notes: Give a review if you want the second part! Thanks for reading.