was torn and clung to the wall like burned skin. Yellowed plaster peeked through the holes as if the house itself were spying on me.I turned on the water to the sink, and again, the miserliness of the landlord was apparent.Warm water could only be won by mixing what came out of separate hot and cold faucets in thesink bowl. Cold would suffice. Scooping up water in my cupped hands, I drew it to my face. Iglanced in the mirror and saw a ghost of my former self. Even through clouded mirror, myreflection commanded attention. I stepped back quickly, surprised at my ghoulish image, waterfrom my hands trickling onto the cracked, dirty tile floor. Was that really me? I raised my hand just to be sure and the ghoul followed in kind. I leaned in to look more closely.My skin looked pale, almost transparent, like wax paper. Dark circles ringed my eyes andonly intensified their frigid blueness. My black hair was an eerie contrast to my faded skin. Icombed my fingers through it, and it swirled like smoke around my face. My lips were red anddrawn in a firm, even line. As I studied myself, I thought I looked almost vampiric, like thevictims in those old movies I watched with Mom. I was Lucy, the girl that was always the
bloodsucker‟s first victim, and like her, I saw myself wasting away. If only a vampire wouldshow up and make me forget…I would succumb.
Late fall in East Hemlock is a very dark time. The clouds sleep on the hilltops and the sunforgets to make an appearance. My Texas tan faded quickly when we came here and I think theclouds just added to my overwhelming feeling of sadness. Now you could call me pale, quitepale. My eerie appearance might have been a result of the light bulb, swollen and wart-likeabove the sink, but even in the yellow cast, anyone could tell I was hurting. Disheartened by myappearance, I turned off the water, hit the light switch with my fist, and again entered thedarkness of the hallway. Lightly running my fingers against the wall, I padded back to bed andcrawled beneath the covers.I soon became aware of a strange noise, a soft lament; unbearably and soulfully tender. Atfirst I thought it was coming from inside the walls, so I pressed my ear against the rough stuccoand strained to recognize the sound. Initially, I thought it could have been a baby or maybe achild, but as I listened, I understood and my heart crumbled. It was Dad crying softly, so I
Listening to my father softly sob through the thin wall was heartrending. He held my
mom‟s illness inside him. He hadn‟t laughed or cracked a smile for months, ever since Mom got
sick. He was always at the hospital, hardly ever with me, and I missed him terribly. I was 17though, and able to look out for myself. That was what I had done for most of the past year, andunfortunately, I was getting used to being alone.
We couldn‟t afford to rent
the best house in East Hemlock, or even close to it, so we settledfor this one. Mom had been sick, in and out of the hospital for about a year. Just over a monthago, Dad quit his job to take care of her and we moved here for some experimental treatmentprogram.In Texas I tended to fade in and out of school depending on how Mom felt, but at least I had
friends there who understood. Here, there was no one. This house didn‟t echo Dad‟s laughter
like our old house. It was eerie and silent, as if it a
lready housed the dead. I don‟t know if the bad vibe was because of our family‟s unexpected ride on the cancer highway, or if it was the
house itself. All I know is I hated it here.
Dad spent his days at Mom‟s bedside, at appointments, and waiting for he
r to come out of treatments. He said he wanted to spend time with me, but I tried to be in bed when he got home.
I couldn‟t stand to see him so alone, so tired, and so sad. He often opened the door of my room,