I was twelve. I was just about ready to grow up and be a teenager, but I also wanted to stay young and innocent, carefree forever. I desperately clung to my childish, worry free life. Back before I was seven and everything changed for good.

It's not easy to tell you this, Mrs. Tael, but it isn't what we thought...

My mother simply stood there, tears steaming down her face. My older sister, thirteen back then, had her face buried in my mom's embrace. I didn't cry; I was too young to understand, back then.

I'm afraid you husband has been diagnose with leukemia. We'll need to-

My mom and sister hugged me like they would never let go. They simply stood there in the lobby, hugging and crying. I was silent; my sister, older and therefore smarter, probably knew what the doctor meant. I didn't that day. I also didn't know that after seven years of struggling, he would turn into a shadow of the man I loved.

The doctor gave me a lollipop to cheer me up.

One of my last minutes of happiness was that little lollipop. Something so simple; If I had known, I would have saved it forever and ever.

Away from my memories, there was a knock at the door. And of course, I got up to answer it. Fate plays tricks on people all the time; maybe if I hadn't opened the door, none of this would have happened.

A nondescript, unshaven man stood outside the door. He gave me a bright smile and asked me, "Are you Dhalia?" I nodded.

"And that's Catherine?" he asked, pointing to the computer, where Cat was doing something-or-other on the machine. Cat swiveled her spinny-chair around and said "Hi." Then she immediately turned back to her screen.

"Hello girls. I'm your uncie Aaron."

And a year passed, just like that. Everybody around got to know Aaron, and he got to know us. I was twelve still, but verging on thirteen. On my birthday, he bought me my favorite CD. My dad was three years into his illness by then, and my mom would disappear for hours and not tell us where she went or when she would come back. I got mostly B's in school, and Cat got C's in everything except History and Art, both of which she failed miserably. She was getting all PMS'y too. She cussed al the time, expanding my vocabulary a lot.

The only person who didn't like Aaron was Daddy. By then he was confined to a wheelchair, and was still getting used to it. I often heard my parents arguing at night.

He isn't a good influence on the kids. Do you know where he's been all these years?

Daniel, my brother is not a bad influence. he's certainly better than your family.

I know what you mean, Carrie, but you still haven't answered my question.

I stayed up at night these times, mostly because thier room was next to mine. I hadn't slept properly for a whole year, and it showed in my grades.

My mom would go out more frequently, and each time she came back she looked more and more worried. Her mental rope was stretched thin, and one day it snapped. When I told her I had to repeat the eighth grade, she was not happy. Definitely not happy.

"Dhalia, what did you do?"

I stared at the floor, indignant.

"Why did you-" and a half-hour lecture followed. The whole time, she was degrading my sense of worth. My mental rope was pretty frayed too, I guess.

"Are you stupid or just lazy. Maybe they should put you in special ed-"


"I do NOT need a special class, bitch! EVERY single fucking night..." I cussed her out for at least five minutes. She glared me in the eyes the whole time. I stopped talking without noticing, and she gave me a final cold, hard stare. Without a mutter, she left through the front door. I haven't seen her since.

A month after my mom left, my father was confined to bedrest. His wheelchair sat collecting dust in the garage. Christmas that year sucked ass; after all, therre were only three people living in this empty house. My father who hated my uncle, my crazy uncle, and me. Cat was gone at this point; probably to look for our mom, or to escape the pain of the household. My uncle was given custody of me by default.

When my father was unconcious, the evil in Aaron would come from hiding. He would yell, scream, swear, and beat at any inanimate object he happened to have trouble with. I think I remember him calling his door a 'slut'. Isn't that nice?

He would always complain. His favorite topics were how the earth was going to hell and there was too much crime, traffic, pollution, people, whatever. He would rant and light up some drugs at the same time; You might think it's ironic or something, but I think he's an asshole. When he went on a day-long rampage, I usually hid in my closet. I had little boxes of cereal and waterbottles tashed there so I could stay in there until he would chill out.

Of course I wasn't going to school anymore. When everyone says you're stupid, you tend to start believing. When you start believing, one wrong word can set you off like fireworks. I had been expelled from middle school on account of my long list of troubles. Truancy, gambling, posession, threats to kill a peer, threats to destroy school property, actually destroying school property, fighting... these all topped the list. Why the damn school put up with me that long anyways, I'll never know.

The days slowly crept into December again, with me only having one person to talk to. And he was incapacitated most of the time. Whenever he was awake, he howed me that bit of light and love we all strive for in our lives. We would talk for hours, until he would fall asleep and Aaron would start up again. On my fourteenth birthday, he didn't wake up at all.

On December thirteenth, I awoke to screams. Aaron was in one of his moods, most likely high or wasted, probably both. He was holding a knife in my father's head.

A/N: Posting is fun! I consolidated the chapters to make them longer. Hope it doesn't bother anyone.