April 20, 1999

It was three days before my thirteenth birthday. Not that my birthday had ever really mattered, but it still sucked that it all started then.

I had just gotten home from school and, as per my usual custom, had made myself comfortable on the couch of our upstairs living room to watch TV. Today it was reruns of MTV's The Real World: Seattle. I had already watched the whole season when it aired the previous year, but enjoyed watching all the drama unfold. I was too young to be on the show, but always wished that my life could be more like the ones depicted on TV. My own life was full of more than anyone's fair share of drama, and I would happily take any opportunity to escape from it. And even though I loved the opulent lifestyle of my Beverly Hills address, I wouldn't mind being whisked away to London or Paris.

For my whole life, my mom and dad were parents in name only. To say they were negligent might be an overstatement, but they weren't exactly the most attentive either. Sure, they bought me toys, kept a roof over my head, and made sure I had food, but never once had they attended a school function or shown interest in me. They didn't even call me by my birth name, though for that I was thankful. I was fairly certain my mom had gone through some random hippy phase when she had named me Bright Celestial Summers, especially since the only name they ever called me was Celeste.

My older brother Kyle was the same. Except, where my parents just ignored me, my brother took it upon himself to tease and torment me whenever it suited him. One of the more memorable times was when I had found him in my room ripping all the heads off my Barbies. Once he realized I was in the room, he looked right at me and threw one of them at a wall as hard as he could. One of her arms had snapped off and her head sent flying. At least I got all new Barbies after that though. As bad as that was, it still wasn't as bad as the time he cut all my hair off while I was asleep. After a trip to the hair salon, I had barely half an inch of hair left. I was teased for looking like a boy for almost a year while it grew back. My parents had a deadbolt installed on my door after that which kept him from breaking into my room or hurting me in my sleep, but it didn't stop him from tormenting me while I was awake. Our parents never punished Kyle for the things he did to me. I think that's why he always got away with whatever he did. Man, my brother sure did hate me.

Anyway. No point dwelling in the past, the present sucked enough without the memories.

The show cut to commercial and I headed downstairs to the kitchen for a snack. The sound of my parents arguing came from inside the kitchen. I stopped short of entering, knowing that it would only make things worse if they saw me.

For as long as I could remember, my parents never really seemed to like each other. They didn't even sleep in the same room. My mom had claimed the master suite as hers, while my dad was in the upstairs guest suite. I often wondered why they were still married. So many of my friends' parents were divorced, and it seemed to be the better option. Though I guess all it would really do would change my parents ignoring me in one house, to ignoring me in two.

I figured by now that the show had started again, and decided to forgo my snack until my parents had stopped their fight. As I took the first step, something my dad said caught my attention.

"Dammit, Amanda," my dad shouted. "What the fuck have you gone and done this time?"

"Oh, like you haven't knocked up your share of whores."

Her response was crude, but from it I gathered that she'd had yet another affair. This wasn't really anything new. Neither of my parents had ever been faithful to each other. The only thing that proved they were married was some stupid piece of paper. They didn't even wear their rings.

"Bitch. You think I'm gonna let you keep it?"

Keep what? I wondered.

It was odd. My parents rarely yelled at each other. Mostly they would simply give each other a cold shoulder and the silent treatment. Something had to have changed for them to be interacting this much.

"Who said you have any say in the matter? You're not gonna take my daughter from me again."

What was she talking about? Again? I was her only daughter. Wasn't I?

"You think I want anything to do with some asshole's bastard?"

Bastard? What did that word mean again? Rather than staying to hear more, I turned to head back upstairs. As I reached the bottom landing, I was met by Kyle coming down, a large duffle bag over his shoulder. At seventeen, he was the spitting image of our dad at the same age. The age he had been when he'd gotten our mom pregnant and then married her. The only real distinction was that Kyle had brown hair and our dad's hair was black. Both Kyle and I had inherited our dad's brown eyes, but I had our mom's blonde hair. I always wished that I'd gotten her blue eyes as well. I hated how mismatched blonde and brown looked. The only thing I had found to be good about the combination was that people would often tell me that I looked like Britney Spears.

Kyle had constantly talked about how he was gonna run away. I guess now he was finally acting on his word. Indistinguishable shouting came from the kitchen behind me.

"You know they fight because of you."

He sneered. His contempt for me plainly visible on his face. All my friends said it was normal for siblings to not get along, but even so, I was never really sure what made him hate me so much. "They never fought before you were born."

A knot formed in my stomach. I knew he was right. What little interaction I had with my parents, they rarely missed an opportunity to complain about how bad their lives had gotten after I was born.

"Shut up, Kyle." I didn't really have anything more witty to say. I never did have a good defense against his constant ridicule.

He just shrugged. He wasn't up for taunting me either. Though I was a little amazed that he let me go so easily. He grabbed the keys to his BMW and walked out the door, never to be heard from again.

I fought back tears as I charged back up the stairs and threw myself onto the couch. I buried my face in a pillow and willed myself not to cry. What was the point? No one would comfort me. I took a deep breath as I willed my emotions down and sat back up to continue watching TV. The Real World had ended and TRL was now on. My parents shouting came up through the floor, so I turned up the volume to drown them out. I hugged the pillow to my chest as I settled into the couch, hoping that the Backstreet Boys would make the countdown.

The first video had just ended when the front door slammed followed by my dad shouting and something crashing against the wall in the kitchen. I pulled my knees tighter into my chest and focused my attention back on the TV.

"Celeste! Get your ass downstairs now!" My dad's voice boomed through the house.

I shuddered. I didn't want to face him in this mood. The house was big enough. I could easily hide from him, but I knew that would only make things worse. I turned off the TV and made my way back down the stairs. He was in the foyer, pacing furiously as he yelled into the phone. I stood quietly until he acknowledged my presence.

I didn't mean to eavesdrop, but it was kinda hard with how loud he was. From what I could make out, it sounded like he was on the phone with a lawyer. Guess he and Mom were finally gonna get that divorce. But where would that leave me? What would he do now that it was just the two of us in the house? Did he even realize that Kyle had left too? Would he kick me out of the house? Put me up for adoption? My mind raced with possibilities as my dad continued to talk.

My dad finally hung up the phone and turned to face me. I cowered.

"Go clear all the crap out of your room. You're moving into the guest house."

"Wait? I'm what?" My words fell on deaf ears as he walked passed me back toward the kitchen. The phone was already to his ear as he made another call.

Well, that certainly wasn't the worst-case scenario that I had come up with. But the guest house? Why was he kicking me out of the house, but still letting me stay on the property?

I shrugged. Like so many things, I tried not to dwell on it too much as I once again trudged my way upstairs. I often found that it was easier to feel nothing than to allow the pain and reality of things set in.

I opened the door to my room and did my best to not think about how it would no longer be mine. Instead, I put on my Backstreet Boys CD and set to the task of packing up all my things. It didn't take me long to realize though that it would be challenging to move all of my stuff without boxes. The best I was able to do was pack as much of my clothes into my suitcase as I could.

Once I had done what I could with my clothes, I began to work on clearing my walls. Like any girl my age, well any girl who kept up with all the trends, my walls were covered in posters from various teen magazines. I was quite proud of my collection, which included: the Spice Girls, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Britney Spears, and of course my favorite the Backstreet Boys.

In the battle of the boy bands, I had always sided with team Backstreet. It wasn't that I didn't like *NSYNC, or any of the other bands, but lines had been drawn among my peers and they were not to be crossed. While Nick was technically my favorite, my friend Tabitha had claimed him as her favorite. And since we decided that none of us could like the other's favorite, I had picked Brian as mine.

I took special care not to rip each poster as I took them down and carefully removed the tacky from the back. I lay them all in a pile on top of my bed. When all of the posters were off the walls, I rolled them up and secured them with one of my scrunchies.

I had just propped the tube against my nightstand when my dad burst through the door and looked down in contempt at the sight before him. That was the first time he had ever set foot in my room. At 33, the years had not been particularly kind to him. He had taken up smoking shortly after I was born. He was a man who resented the life he had to live. Yet strangely, he still seemed obligated to live it. Perhaps that's why he hadn't completely kicked me to the curb. He turned and spoke to someone in the hallway that I couldn't see.

"Make sure you get this room too," he said to the mystery person before walking away. Taking his place in the doorway were two men. One in his mid-forties, the other looked like a college student. Both were dressed in a uniform that indicated they worked for a moving company.

Well, at least dad hired professional help to evict me. I rolled my eyes at the idea.

The two men walked into the room. The older one gave me a warm smile as he set down a stack of boxes.

"So, where you guys moving to?" he asked. He assembled a box and began to pack it with various toys I had around my room.

The younger man didn't speak as he tore the sheets off my bed, folded them, and put them in boxes.

It would seem that my dad hadn't explained to the movers that only I would be going anywhere.

"Dad got transferred to London," I replied, hoping he wouldn't see straight through my lie.

He gave me a puzzled look but didn't question my reply.

"That sounds exciting."

"Yeah, it is."

We continued to work, mostly in silence. Any time he would try to start up a conversation, I would give him a brief reply and he wouldn't press for further explanation. They worked efficiently, and in less than two hours my whole room was packed up in boxes that other movers began to take downstairs.

Standing in the middle of my empty room, I clutched my pink oversized floppy-eared stuffed rabbit to my chest. It was the only thing that hadn't been put in a box. I took a deep breath, still trying not to let the full reality of the situation sink in. With one last look to the bare walls and empty floor, I turned to walk back downstairs.

In the foyer were at least half a dozen men and more boxes than the ones that had come from my room. I guessed that my dad had them pack up my mom's and Kyle's things as well.

"Those boxes go to the guest house out back," my dad said, pointing to several of the movers as they picked up the boxes from my room.

The man who had helped me pack up my room gave my dad a puzzled look.

"You're moving your daughter into the guest house?" he asked. He looked back at me, knowing that my story of moving to London didn't add up.

"Yes, and I'll thank you to mind your own damn business," my dad replied as he slipped each of the movers a few hundred dollar bills to buy their silence. He always did love throwing money at problems to make them go away.

With newfound motivation, the movers picked up their pace, and in less than thirty minutes, all my things were in the guest house. I was left alone to unpack them as the movers continued to pack the rest of the boxes into the moving van.

I glared at the stack of boxes that contained my belongings. I was tired, and in no mood to do more work, so I decided to put it off until the next day. Still holding tight to my bunny I explored my new home. To most people, the two-bedroom house would seem normal-sized, but to me, it felt cramped and stifling. It was already furnished, and each room had a bed, so mine hadn't been brought in. I walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge to find it mostly empty. My stomach growled. The pantry had a few snacks in it and I grabbed a box of Frosted Flakes to munch on. I hoped that my dad would at least remember to have the maids come and take care of me.

Well, on the positive side, I have the whole space to myself. I thought as I went to decide which of the two rooms would become mine.

So there you have a glimpse into Celeste's past ^_^ There's more that I may add later, but this is what I have for now. It was written around the same time that I did Death of Phoenix and What's in a Name?, but I kept putting off posting it because I couldn't think of a good title O.o If you think of a better one that I came up with, let me know. ^_^

If you enjoyed it, I would greatly appreciate a quick review. Thanks so much!

To follow Celeste on her latest adventure, check out my story Lost Afternoon.