One

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 I've had the pleasure of working with TELUS again, this time for their brilliant TELUS WISE initiative! I loved working on 'The Bystander' last time and I'm very excited to share 'Winona' with you this time around. Both stories are based on cyberbullying, this one a little bit of a different take. 

Cyberbullying is always there, the majority of us turn a blind eye and pretend like it doesn't happen but it does. And looking away solves nothing and staying silent helps no one, especially yourself. The best thing you can do for yourself, and others, is to speak up.


One

The house was quiet as I walked down the stairs, bag slung over my shoulder. Every creak and groan fell from the house and echoed around the blank space, ricocheting off the walls. Walking towards the kitchen, I stopped in the entrance way. My dad sat at the dining table, his laptop perched on the edge of the surface and his hands filled with papers.

One of them fell to the floor and he made a hazardous attempt to reach down and grab it, almost knocking the laptop off the table in the process. I rushed forward, holding my hand out for him to stop, and picked up the paper, sitting it gently down beside the laptop.

My dad looked up, his hair greying and his face strained but even so, he gave me a grateful yet almost sheepish smile.

"Thanks, Winona," he said.

"No problem," I replied and looked down at the papers, raising an eyebrow at the number of bills there were. "Paying bills, are we?"

"I'm better than this usually, I promise," Dad said with a sigh. "I usually do a Money Monday."

"Money Monday?" I laughed.

"Every Monday I would go online and check all the bills but it seems this month, I've been putting it off for a while. It's my fault. I should have been keeping track of things better."

"I think you're doing fine," I shrugged. "All things considered."

My dad stood up and put a hand on my shoulder, rubbing gently. "Well thanks kid, you're easy to look after."

I rolled my eyes and patted my dad's hand gently before going to grab a glass of water. The house didn't always feel this empty. There was a time where the windows would be open, the sound of birds would carry through, the television would play on or the beat-up boom box now stashed away in the garage would play from its position on the corner table. But the regular noise that came from the Prescott household faded away when my mom left. She swept out of the house with a teary face, a short wave and the sound of birds following her.

I visited her but my home was still the house that she had once lived in. I stood in the kitchen she once used. I did my makeup in the mirror she once used. I sat in the passenger seat of the car she once sat in. Her absence wasn't forgotten easily and my dad and I attempted to forge the perfect family with the white picket fence and the sun shining down on us. I looked over at the stacks of bills on the dining table and remembered that the white picket fences were for some, but not all.

"Are you excited about tonight?" dad asked as I leaned against the counter, leisurely sipping on my drink.

I shrugged. "I suppose."

"Oh, come on, it's the first football game of the season. It'll be fun," he said. "You'll have a good time, just stick with your friends."

"I'm sure it will be fine," I muttered.

"When are you coming home after the game?" dad asked.

"Uh, eleven, maybe?" I winced.

My dad stopped for a moment and I could tell the look on his face immediately. He rubbed the back of his neck and tried to recall every parenting book he had ever seen in the hopes that they would somehow help in this situation. My dad looked at me, opening his mouth, ready to say something but the total torment on his face made me realize that I was the one that had to step in.

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