Chapter 1-Memories of Mother

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Mother stroked my hair. Her hushed tone indicated it was story time. I remember staring at the white chipped ceiling as her voice dropped to a whisper. 

"Maybe Laura can come over tomorrow, Elaine? You can show her your puzzle or go on the swing. I'll give her mom a call tomorrow, m'kay?" She said, her voice wavering and yet she still smiled while her eyes darted around the room looking for some escape. Not from the present, but the past. Where she belonged and who she really was, it was her calling.

It was coming for her and I had no idea it would come for me too.

"Okay, mom. Goodnight." I whispered. Too young and too naive to recognize the anxiety hiding behind her smile.

"I'll make your favorite pancakes tomorrow, with chocolate chips! My birthday girl you are going to be six years old!" She whispered, closing my door.

I had smiled to myself at that and closed my eyes. I will never forget the soft footsteps I heard that night as she walked to bed. For some reason, my ears knew that would be the last sound I would hear of her. The next morning I would learn my mother had died that very night of a heart attack.

I was too young to know we never had a funeral for her and too young to question why.

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"Elaine! Come down here!" My stepmom hollers.

"Coming!" I yell towards the hallway. I jump out of bed and scurry to my dresser quickly getting changed into my favorite black shorts and light-yellow tank top.

I arrive downstairs to see, unlike me, she is already wide awake and ready to go.

Her unnaturally blonde hair shines like a beacon in the morning sun's rays. She taps her long manicured blood red nails impatiently against the wooden table. Her teeth are yellow, rimmed with scunge. Her eyes narrow in on me, as I slowly open up the fridge.

"Get me a drink of water." She snaps.

"Okay. I was just going to grab some milk for cereal." I mumble.

Dad's at work and my stepmom doesn't have a job. So she stays home with me in the summer, all summer.

"Hey mom, want to go see my sunflowers I planted? They're in full bloom." I tell her with a smile.

"You're sixteen and still playing around with your mom's garden. You must think I pity you, well honey, you're not getting any pity from me. You should get out more, make some friends. Maybe get a job." She tells me while getting up and coming over ot the kitchen. She pauses before opening a cupboard.

"I just want you to be happy, alright?" She adds with a smile that I'm not entirely sure is real.

"But I am happy." I mumble.

"How could anyone be happy after losing their mother?" She snaps. That's one of the only things we have in common. She lost her mother when she was eighteen, I lost my mother when I was five.

"I'm sorry." I whisper with a cringe.

"Just finish cleaning up the living room for me. Oh and can you do the laundry today? I'm feeling a little tired." She says with a yawn. I'm used to this. Every other day she claims she's tired or her feet are sore. I end up as a housemaid to her, all summer long. 

I've watched as she pretends to limp in front of my dad, only to ride her bike or walk to the shopping center down the road. Dad of course doesn't know.

I do pretty much all the house cleaning. My mom does a good job of keeping me quiet. She threatens to make me go to summer school or do online school. Dad and her both know my grades aren't that well, but that's not the only thing they know. a

About two years ago, I started hearing voices in my head. Usually, it's only when I'm outside. It's like I hear random conversations. I had told my parents immediately because I thought I was going crazy.

My stepmom happily sent me to a psychiatrist, however, he said it was just a teen thing. Like teens often have inner struggles and think many things over as they gain more freedom. In other words, neither my parents nor the psychiatrist took me seriously.

After the first couple weeks with the psychiatrist, I pretended I didn't hear voices anymore. My dad believed me and still does. However, my stepmom still is on to me. She thinks I have mental problems.

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I finish cleaning up the living room, my stepmom left an hour ago to the mall. She never has asked me to go shopping with her. I pull on my old sneakers and head out the screen door, into the backyard. Before I'm able to step foot outside, I read a note taped to the door.

"Go back inside and vacuum all the rooms. Don't forget to dust before vacuuming. I'll be back in two hours, I expect everything to be done. -mom" I read out loud. Inwardly groaning, I roll my eyes and step back inside the house, slamming the old door shut behind me.

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