It seemed like everything had just piled up to lead to that fateful day. I was at home, watching my two-year-old brother for my mother and father, who stepped out to buy supper that night. They didn't come back. My nine-year-old sister and I sat up until midnight, wondering what had happened to them; they wouldn't answer the cell phone. The baby was in bed, and my sister was as well, when I got a phone call at two in the morning, still waiting for my parents.
"Hello. Sorry to call at this late hour, but are you the daughter of Darren Michaels and Elena Michaels?" a voice says into the phone.
My voice cracks and I respond. "Yes, I am. I am Evelynn."
"I'm sorry, but your parents have been in a car accident." Silence.
"Are they okay?" I ask, my heart racing in my chest.
Another moments' silence. "No," the person answered honestly. "They died on impact. I'm sorry…" After that I ceased to listen. My parents were dead and I was only seventeen, not even out of high school and my parents had died. What would happen to my siblings? The person's voice came back through the mist. "We'll send someone over right away."
Within ten minutes, a police officer was there, comforting me quietly, listening to me cry and helping me. I don't know what time it was that I fell asleep; all I know is that when I opened my eyes, the sun was shining through my living room curtains. Nobody was awake yet, and the nice woman who had come to my house had fallen asleep on the other couch. I got up as quietly as I could and went upstairs, not believing what had happened only six hours earlier, and checked my parents room. Empty.
My brother, Darien, awoke, talking to himself like he always did. I went in and half-heartedly wished him a good morning. Pulling him out of his crib, I set him down on the ground and followed him into the kitchen, where my sister was already making herself breakfast. "Where are mom and dad? I thought they'd be home by now," she said and pulled out the box of Cheerios.
"Chrissy," I said slowly and walk over to her, patting her dark head. "Mom and dad aren't coming home. They uh…got hurt last night in an accident." It was harder to say it then I thought it would be.
"Oh…that's okay. There'll be here for my birthday tomorrow," she said, blissfully unaware of what had transpired. I couldn't ruin it for her, not right now. I let her eat her breakfast and then the officer came upstairs and I offered her a cup of coffee, which she took thankfully. "Who's that?" Chrissy asked.
"That's a friend of mine," I explain, and choke back the tears. Why did this have to happen to me? For someone who has gone through four deaths in the past four years, I was handling this pretty well, I thought at least.
First, my biological mother's husband died in a plane crash, coming back from Barbados, and then my step-mother died of cancer not too long after that, and now this: my father and his wife. I sat at the table and put my head into the palms of my hands, and breathed deeply. In and out. In and out. That's all there was to it. The phone rang, and Ms. Beakley, the officer, picked it up.
"Hello? Michaels residence," she said and listened carefully. "Yes, it is. Yes, of course. Right. Okay. Thank you, sir. Goodbye." She turned to me and knelt down next to me, whispering in my ear, and I shook my head. There was no one else who would take us in, that I could think of. My birth mother almost had no time for me, my grandmother and grandfather were in California soaking up the sun, my aunts and uncles all had jobs and/or children to take care of and couldn't afford another set of mouths. We'd all have to be separated or go into a foster home.
"I need to tell my sister first. It's her birthday tomorrow," I say to Ms. Beakley, looking at her with my blue eyes. I look to my sister, Chrissy, as the policewoman leaves to watch television with my brother. It was amazing how alike my sister and I looked, although we had nothing in common; we both had different parents. She had dark brown hair and I had light brown hair. She had olive skin, I was pale and crisped in the sun. She had dark brown eyes and I had light blue eyes. She was part Russian, and I was part British. How opposite could you get? "Chrissy? I know it's your birthday tomorrow and all, but how would you like to spend some time with Aunty Anna? We haven't seen her since Darien was born, and we can celebrate your birthday in Vancouver for once."
Christine (aka Chrissy), shoveled some cereal into her mouth and looked at me, confused by my suggestion. "Are mom and dad gonna be there?" she asked and swallowed.
I swallowed as well, but not because of cereal. "No. They're uh…" I sighed, not knowing how to say this. It was hard, but with her, I had to be blunt. "They were in a car accident last night. When we were waiting for them. They…didn't make it."
She stared at me like I was crazy, letting the words sink in, and then, that little face of horror that I had been dreading appeared. "They're dead?!" she wailed and jumped up from the table, hitting her leg in the process and spilling her cereal all over the ground. "They can't be dead! I was turning ten tomorrow! They can't be dead! What about having a big party for my tenth birthday?" I grabbed her to keep from hurting herself and held her, comforting her, the way Ms. Beakley did for me. After ten minutes of that, she calmed down and all I could hear was her weeping.
Darien came running in then, his baby fat bouncing, and I smiled weakly. He looked up at me with his adorable bright blue eyes and smiled. "Where mommy?" he asked.
"Daddy gone, too."
He couldn't understand what I was saying, so he ran to the sliding door, which looked out onto the front porch and driveway and sat on the floor with a large thump. He didn't know they weren't coming home. Christine went into her room and lay down in her metal bunk bed, and cried until she fell asleep. My boyfriend called, asking if I wanted to hang out, and I denied unwillingly. I really needed him to hold me, to comfort me, but right now was not the time.
Him and I had been going out for almost a year, since I was in grade ten and he was in grade nine. We were exactly a year and four months apart, and I loved him dearly. It was hard to deny him a day, but today just wasn't that day. I promised him some other time.
"You need to think of someone dear," Ms. Beakley said, holding my hand gently. "What are you going to do when summer ends and you go back to school? You can't be expected to stay here in your last year of high school. And what would you do for money? Is there no one who can help you?"
I thought hard, telling her to give me some time. I needed to get out of the house, and somewhere where I could be alone and think things over. This was a hard decision for a seventeen-year-old to come up with on her own. Luckily for me, my grandparents from California had come home yesterday and got the message their son had passed on, and they said they'd take all three of us in.
The next week, both my parents had had their funeral, and I was still wearing black, in mourning of their passing and sat in the little room I shared with my sister at my grandmother's house. All of my things weren't even packed yet, having left everything at the house I used to live in. I had my cell phone turned on, sitting on the bed-side table when it vibrated, showing that someone was calling me.
"Hello?" I said into the receiver, my voice cracking from all the crying I did.
"Hello? Evelynn? This is your mother," a woman said, replying to my questionable greeting.
"Mom? What? Like Elizabeth mother? The one I haven't talked to in almost three years mother?"
"Yes, the same one. I'm sorry to hear about your parents."
"Yeah. What do you want?" I was very unhappy to talk to her, especially at this point in time. We hadn't talked in almost three years, and that was because I wanted to apologize for her husbands' death, even though he was the biggest jerk who ever lived.
"I was calling to give you some news. I got a job up in Kamloops, where you live, and I've been told you don't really have anywhere to stay."
"Uh-huh?" I didn't like where this was going.
"And I was thinking you could come live with me!" she said ecstatically. You could tell she was excited, just by the way her voice went up in tone.
"Uh…I'm living with Nana right now," I explained, using the name for my grandmother that I had known since I was born. "But thanks anyways."
"What are you going to do when Christine wants her own privacy? How about when Darien grows up? Are you still going to be living with Nana?" Elizabeth asked. I could tell she was trying to persuade me to live with her. Knowing her, she'd probably go to court and get legal custody over me. Sure, it was only about ten more months until I turned eighteen and became a legal adult, but I'd have to live with her for more than three-quarters of it.
"Yes, I will," I said and hung up the phone, and threw it onto the bed in front of me. And then you know what happened the week after that? You guessed it! I was in the courtroom, listening to the judge declare my death sentence: living with my mother. Great! 'Death Row! Next in line speaking!' was the saying that shot through my mind at that particular moment. I was given two weeks to pack up everything in my room, and in the house that I wanted, and to move in with my mother.
It was hard going through all my parents' stuff, knowing they were gone, but thinking I'd wake up any moment now and realize it was just a dream. It was like that when my step-mom died of cancer, going through her stuff. It was easier with her, because I didn't know her that well, and my dad couldn't do it so I was strong for him. But when he's gone, you don't have to be strong for anybody.
My brother and sister were going to live with my Nana until something else could be arranged. In the meantime, I was to live with Ms. Bitch from Hell! Within those two weeks, I had a suitcase filled with all my clothes that I needed and the moving truck would show up in three hours to put stuff in. My mother picked me up in her Ford F150 and drove me down the street to the next part of town and helped me carry some luggage up to the third floor of the "cute" condo she bought. I had to admit, it was kind of nice. Two bedrooms, one bathroom with shower and bath, porch with screen door, it was large, but not as big as my house.
"This will be your room," Elizabeth said, directing me to the room near the bathroom, and what appeared to be the bigger room. She breathed with excitement and kissed me on the cheek. "Welcome home honey."
Yes. Welcome home.