A year ago, I was teaching 6th grade English, and I gave my students a narrative essay prompt to work on. Whenever I give a writing prompt, I would write with them. I wrote the following story which turned out to be my students’ favorite. They encouraged me to turn it into a bigger story. It then became my first chapter to a novel. I have written ten chapters so far, but I haven’t been inspired to continue writing it in the past couple months. So, I thought by sharing the first chapter, I could see how people respond. This might inspire me to continue the hard work of chipping away at such a long story. Thanks in advance for any replies and likes.
Rainy Days Always Get Me Down
by Heather Gonzalez
Chapter 1 – Amelie
The worst day of my life was when my mom did not come home from work. I got off the bus in the rain and was soaking wet by the time I got into my house. I went to see if she had left me a note on the counter, but I only found her cell phone. Of course, she left it behind again. My mom is always doing that. She must have left it there this morning when she was yelling at me to get to the bus stop on time before she was leaving for work.
I realized that it was the last weekday of the month which means that she got paid. She usually goes to the store on payday. I wish she would come home first and then take me to the store with her. I think she doesn’t want me to use any of her money. At least that’s what she always yells at me when I ask for any money to go out with my friends.
I sat around the house not sure what to do since our internet and cable had been cut off again this month. I decided to read a book on the couch and wait for my mom to come home. The minutes turned to hours, but it all felt like days as I sat there waiting. My mind started to race as I thought of all of the things that could have happened to her. It was almost 8:00 pm, and she still wasn’t home yet.
I abandoned the book and began to pace. I kept looking out of the window. In moments like these, I wished my dad was still around to help calm me down.
I remember when I was nine years old before the war broke out. My dad was the one that I always went to. His scratchy beard always tickled my face when I would kiss him goodbye each morning. The news broke on the television when I was ten years old, even at that young age I knew that something was about to happen. He said it was his duty to enlist. I didn’t say it, but I felt it was his duty to be at home with me. He was the sole provider in our house, and now mom felt obligated to get a job too once he left.
I still remember the day we got the horrible news that my dad wouldn’t be coming home. I was the one who opened the door to see two men dressed in uniforms standing in the pouring rain. My heart sank. Even at the age of eleven, I knew what that meant. They don’t make house calls for good news.
After that, I have noticed a difference in my mom. It took her a few years to stop crying herself to sleep at night. I don’t think she is fully over it even now. She keeps forgetting things like her keys or her phone. Once she even forgot to pick me up from my soccer practice after school.
I had already dealt with all of that loss as well as I could for my age, but there were times when I would overreact to the little things. I would have to remind myself that it isn’t as bad as it feels. So, when mom did not come home I felt like my whole world was crashing around me. Who would take care of me if she never came back? To be honest, since dad was no longer there, I was now the one who was taking care of myself. Mom was not as reliable as she used to be. Somedays I can even smell the alcohol on her breath when I get home. I always stay clear of her on those days.
It was now 8:30 pm and I was beginning to see a noticeable track on the carpet from where I was pacing back and forth. I took a deep breath and tried to count down from 10. It was a technique that the therapist taught me. I don’t go to therapy as much as I used to. I had gotten a better control on all of my issues.
I heard a honk from the driveway. My heart jumped so hard in my chest that I wondered if it had broken one of my ribs. It took my breath away for a moment, but it took all of my worries with it. That one loud noise was the most comforting thing I could have ever heard. My mom always honks the car when she gets home to let me know that I should come outside to help her.
I ran for the front door but tripped over the ottoman in the process. I landed flat on my back, and once again my breath was taken from me. A sharp pain ran up my spine, and I whimpered like a hurt puppy. I took a deep breath and pushed myself back up off of the floor. I walked towards the door and opened it.
I saw a car in my driveway, but it was not my mom’s car. It must be one of her friend’s car. It was hard to see through the rain so I could not tell who was inside of it. The loud honk came again, but this time it was even louder with the door open.
I walked out into the rain without a coat or an umbrella. I was kind of surprised that my mother was not getting out of the car. I reached the car and grabbed for the handle. I hesitated for a second because I realized that the windows were so tinted that I could not see anyone inside at all. I took a deep breath and opened the door.
I don’t even remember what fully happened. It is all like a giant blur to me now. The sound of the plastic wrap and the burning in my lungs is mostly what I can remember. I know that I was swinging my arms and managed to grab something. I could feel something under my fingernails and something wet and sticky on my fingers. Then nothing.
I would like to say that I woke up…but you can’t wake up when you no longer have a body. I did have the ability to see though. I didn’t go anywhere. I could just see again. I saw the car drive away. I saw my mom’s car drive into the driveway an hour later. I saw her stumble out of her car. I could not smell anything anymore, but I knew what she would smell like.
I saw her go into the house and collapse on the couch. I saw it all. Even when she woke up the next morning and when she realized I was gone. I will never forget the way it sounded when she screamed my name and cried.
They never did find me. Then again I am not lost. I am still here watching. Thinking about all of my rainy days.