Paige O. Holloman

Monday, January 15, 2018

If You Cared for Me

"It's not fair," Melissa Williams whined to her oldest brother Elliott, as they descended the stairs leading to the front door. "Why can't I invite 'KK' over? I've done it before, so what changed?"

"For the last time Melissa, I said no!" Elliott sighed, impatiently. "I'm not changing my mind and you can't make me!"

"Dad!" Melissa screamed running outside to her parents. Melissa's other brother Calem, was placing their parents' suitcases into the family van. Both parents had finished setting up the GPS, spotting their youngest daughter fleeing from the house, face tight.

"What is Melissa?" her father asked, slightly distracted.

"Do I have to stay home?" Melissa pleaded. "Why can't I come to Atlanta with you guys?"

Her mother sighed. "We talked about this," she explained, calmly but annoyed. "This is an adult only business trip,"

"Well can I at least invite a friend over?" Melissa asked, disappointed that her only reply was her parents shaking their heads. "Why? Elliott can have a friend over, but I can't?"

Elliott explained to his sister that unlike her, he and his friends don't cause any trouble. Calem added in a matter of fact tone that Elliott was working with his friends on a history project. Melissa's face burned with rage and embarrassment. The teenager started towards her siblings only to be stopped by her father, believing his children should be mature enough to not have childish arguments. Mrs. Williams sighed as she kissed her sons, lecturing them to behave and look after Melissa, to ensure she didn't fall into trouble. It was normal for Melissa's parents to travel away the weekends on business trips, her three older brothers watched over the young child in their absence. These weekends were torture for Melissa, her brothers had always found a way to torment or annoy the young child. Music blared throughout the house, pranks were pulled, and near the end of the weekend was bickering with her older brothers until her parents came home. Despite everything, the boys always managed to succeed into getting Melissa in trouble for the crimes they commit.

It's not fair! she thought miserably. It's just the same as every other weekend. My brothers cause mischief, my parents come home and blame me! I'm the bad child apparently, when I've done nothing wrong!

Melissa made a final plea to her father to accompany them on the trip. She promised she would not cause any trouble to her parents. Her father, fed up with her complains, reprimanded her, saying she needed to respect her family and other adults. Her mother also lectured that she needed to connect with her brothers, instead of shutting herself in her room all weekend.

The blood rush of anger filled Melissa's cheeks as tears threatened to spill over. Her parents always wanted her to change her attitude; they never seemed to notice the torment and trouble her older brothers caused to make her withdrawn from the family. Melissa ignored her parents as they waved goodbye driving away from the neighborhood out of sight. She jumped as Elliott's arm draped over her shoulders, with Calem snickering close by. He asked his younger sister with a smirk what she wanted to do.

Melissa scowled, breaking away from her brother's grasp. "I want nothing to do with any of you!" she snapped retreating into the house.

Later that night, Melissa's fears were realized. It was past midnight and Melissa was restless; her brothers were all crammed in Elliott's room, blaring music loud enough for their sister to hear next door. She was texting "KK" about being miserable for the next three days. "KK", a friend to all three siblings, understood both sides of their issues, as she also struggled with sibling bickering. She suggested to avoid any conflict with her brothers, but Melissa knew it wouldn't work. She bid "KK" goodnight, using her pillow as earmuffs to unsuccessfully drown out the noise.

The next morning, Mrs. Williams called the house to check on her kids. Elliott assured his mother that he was taking care of his siblings, and the house was still intact. When their mother asked to see Melissa, Calem claimed she was sleeping in, staying up late to text her friends. With a sigh of disappointment, Mrs. Williams hung up promising to call back later. Moments later, Melissa appeared in the living room, groggy from last night.

"Did mom call yet?" she asked, sleepily.

"Ooh, sorry you just missed her," Elliott replied with a sly smile

"Stop texting your friends all night," Calem suggested mockingly. "They have lives too,"

Calem watched, as his older brother laughed coldly at his younger sister. His heart grew heavy seeing her pained face, eyes threatening to spill tears. Melissa retorted that her brothers are the reason she can't sleep, storming up to her room. Calem turned away, ashamed of his actions.

All we've done is harass her to no end, Calem thought bitterly. Is this even fun anymore?

Calem questioned if they were being too harsh on their sister. Elliott was surprised at Calem's question. He attempted to assure his younger brother that they were doing harmless jokes; however, Calem remained hesitant fearing the day will become worse from their next prank.

Hours passed with the sun slowly beginning to set on the horizon, Melissa was reading a book at her desk, earbuds snug in her ears. From the corner of her eye, the door opened with Elliott's head peeking through. He said he was making smoothies, asking his sister if she wanted one. Melissa narrowed her eyes but nodded; Elliott shut her door as she heard muffled laughing coming from the hallway.

They're so childish sometimes, Melissa thought, annoyed returning to her book. Before long, the sounds of the blender and a blood-curdling scream pierced the silence. Startled, the young child bolted downstairs into the kitchen. Her eyes widened upon seeing Elliott; his skin was pale, trembling like a scared kitten, with blood gushing from his left-hand dripping on the floor. In an instant, Melissa was wrapping towels around her brother's hand, comforting him. Elliott grew worse as his body grew limp with his rolling in the back of his head, as both teens sunk to the floor. Melissa's heart raced, losing all moisture in her mouth; her brother lay motionless, unable to shake him awake.

There's blood everywhere! Melissa thought frantically. I can't wake him up! What do I do?! Tears streamed down her face, as her breathing labored. She didn't know how to help Elliott, and couldn't scream due to her swollen throat. That's when his head popped up, startling the frightened child. Calem appeared from a corner laughing. Elliott had been fine all along; they used fake blood to make their sister believe Elliott blended his hand, and was losing too much blood.

"I can't believe you fell for it!" Elliott laughed.

"You should have seen your face!" Calem mocked. "Oh, my brother's dying, let me NOT call for help. You're a terrible family member!"

"I was scared," Melissa snapped. "How would you feel if something happened to me?"

The only answer Melissa received was both boy laughing and rolling around on the kitchen floor. She couldn't move, burning with hurt and anger. They didn't care about their sister or her feelings.

"If you cared about me," Melissa proclaimed. "Then you wouldn't scare me! You wouldn't ruin my sleep, and you would take responsibility and not get me in trouble for your own actions!"

Grabbing her jacket and putting on her boots, Melissa slipped out the door, knowing they would be unaware of her disappearance. As she ran down the street, she could still hear the muffled laughter echoing from the house.

"KK" listened quietly as Melissa tearfully explained the prank her brothers pulled on her. It had been an hour since the incident; Melissa was sitting on her swings at her neighborhood park, sulking while talking to "KK". She also mentioned that her brothers are not aware of her absence. "KK", worried for her friend's safety as nightfall was quickly approaching, tried to convince her friend to return home, knowing Melissa' parents will be worried.

"It doesn't matter," Melissa said glumly. "I'll just be grounded for an extra month, there's no point in trying anymore,"

Melissa hung up on her friend, sobbing bitterly, while shivering bitterly against the cold. She was tired of the pranks and being framed. She wanted to just have a normal relationship, without the constant fear of being berated and labeled as trying to start a fight. She jumped when her phone rang, surprised to see it was her oldest brother Raphael. He was in college, but he used to be her main tormentor growing up. She refused to talk to him, since his departure, but needed someone to talk to. She answered, and when asked what was wrong, explained everything to her older brother.

To her surprise, Raphael didn't mock or laugh at his younger sister, he listened quietly to her issues, comforting her. He revealed to his younger sister that he was fond of her, but jealousy consumed him for years. Once Raphael started college, he missed Melissa, and was struck with guilt by how this affected his younger siblings. Upon hearing, his sister fled from home, Raphael encouraged the reluctant Melissa to return home, promising to rekindle their relationship and talk to their family privately.

Calem, stared out the window concerned as Melissa had bee eerily quiet for the past two hours. Elliott assured that she was fine, and was in her room sulking. Calem disagreed with this, pointing out the fear in Melissa's face upon seeing Elliott, and her anger once they said it was all a prank. His older brother ignored Calem, as he answered a phone call from their parents. He put the phone on speaker, as their parents asked about their well-being.

"We're doing fine," Calem responded nervously.

Mr. Williams, skeptical, asked to speak to Melissa. Calem went to her room, only to discover no one was there. Panicked, Calem and Elliott ran around the house, frantically searching for their younger sister. Melissa was nowhere to be found. Elliott looked at a text from "KK" which read:

What did you guys do to Melissa? She's afraid to come home!

"She left the house?" Elliott exclaimed.

"I knew we've been to harsh on her," Calem muttered, ashamed. He confessed to their confused parents about pranking and bullying Melissa. Elliott hung his head in shame while listening to his parents scold them for setting a bad example for Melissa. They forced the two boys to find their missing sister. Without hesitation, Elliot and Calem piled into Elliott's car, driving off into the dark night.

It didn't take the boys long to find Melissa, who had stayed in the park, too afraid to walk home in the dark. Calem approached his sister, who jumped in his arms crying. She was shaking from the bitter cold, wanting to return home. Calem comforts her, carrying his sister bridal style back to the car. All three siblings drove home in silence.

An hour later, the siblings were back home, sitting quietly in the living room drinking hot chocolate. Melissa stared at her two older brothers, wondering why they came to look for her.

"Why did you come after me?" Melissa suddenly asked.

Both boys stared at their sister confused. After a few moments, Calem took a shaky breath before responding.

"Seeing you have a panic attack upon seeing Elliot," he sadly explained. "I realized you do care for us, and all we've done is bully you with no remorse,"

"We called you a horrible sibling, but we're just hypocrites," Elliott sighed. "We thought it was funny since Raphael did it, but we didn't know you were hurting,"

"I was hurt," Melissa confessed. She admitted that she also talked to Raphael about their rocky relationship. "I always look up to you guys, and I still do. But when I get is teasing and cruel pranks, the trust is broken,"

Elliott apologized for the pranks and allowing her to take the fall for his actions; blaming himself for being the cause of Melissa running away. Calem apologizes for not allowing himself to come to Melissa's aid or stopping his older brothers. Melissa forgives them, and apologizing for not telling them how she felt, and acting like a brat. The boys forgive her as they all hug each other.