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There All Along

by Areida


Just a freewrite I did today in under an hour... if there's anything you particularly like or dislike about my style of writing (that you can get out of this jumble of incoherent ramblings... :wink: ) then I would definitely appreciate you telling me. Thanks. :D

“Look, Annie!”

I turn, football clasped firmly in my arms. “Not now, Em!” I call over my shoulder, sprinting toward the makeshift goal line in our backyard.

Hunter catches me from behind and I shriek as he carries me under his arm to the goal line. “Touchdown!” he shouts, dropping me unceremoniously.

I laugh with the rest of my friends and shove his blue jean-clad leg from my spot in the grass. He snatches the football away from me. “You want to snap this time?”

“Sure,” I say, standing up and brushing off my shorts. I try not to sound too eager.

Before I can rejoin the group, however, my little sister Emily runs up to me and tugs my sleeve. “Annie! Come on! I have to show you something.”

I sigh, exasperated. “Look, not right now, Emily. Can’t you see I’m playing here?”

Emily looks hurt, and I lean down next to her ear. “Hunter’s here,” I whisper urgently. “Can’t it wait? Please?”

Emily shakes her head, blonde pigtails bouncing on her shoulders. “No. I have to show you now.”

Torn between not wanting to hurt my little sister’s feelings and my desire to play more tackle football with Hunter, I look over my shoulder at the group, and then back to Emily’s eager face. I haven’t seen her this excited about something in months.

“You coming, Annie?” Hunter calls, football in hand.

I groan mentally, and it takes all my self-restraint not to sprint to where he is as fast as my legs will carry me. “No,” I call, frustrated. “You guys go ahead; I’ll be back in a minute.” I jerk my head in Emily’s direction and shrug, giving him a look that says, “You know how little sisters are.”

He grins and my friends proceed into the first down. Sighing longingly, I watch Hunter for a moment before Emily grabs my hand. “Come on.” She drags me behind Dad’s abundant azaleas and stops at the base of a large oak. “It’s up there.” She point to out old platform tree house.

I shake my head and take a step back. “Uh uh. No way.” I haven’t been up there since the afternoon it happened, and I wasn’t about to go back up now.

“Please, Annie?” her blue eyes fill with tears. “It’s really important.”

I swallow hard, fighting tears, and wish I could just go back and flirt with Hunter.

“Come on,” Emily turns and climbs the ladder to the platform that is our tree house.

My throat burns with tears unshed and I climb up behind her. The second I step onto the platform, I am hit by a rush of bittersweet memories that make me want to curl up and weep. “What is it, Em?” I ask, impatience in my voice to cover the pain. I frown, watching her unusually still form.

She turns her face and her eyes are bright, joyful. “I saw her, Annie.”

I groan mentally. Not another imaginary friend. You’d think that by age nine she’d have outgrown them. “Who?” I ask patiently.

“Mommy.”

My heart stops, then speeds up. “Oh… Emily… honey, no, you didn’t.” I swallow, hot tears filling my eyes.

“Did too,” she protests, putting one hand on her hip and pointing somewhere out in the distance. “See?”

I tear my eyes away from my sister’s face and look out at the sky. The sun is beginning to set, the sky slowly turning pink. I walk closer to Emily.

“See her?” she asks with condescending patience.

I take my sister in my arms. “There’s nothing there, Em…” I choke out, tightening the hug. “She’s gone, sweetie.” I swallow and utter the words I hate to hear. “She’s dead.” She has been for one year—to the day. Did Emily know that?

“No.” Emily shoves me away, determination like steel in her blue eyes. “You’re not listening!” She reaches up and captures my chin in her small fingers, turning my head toward the sunset. “Look!”

I shut my eyes, and push her hands away from me, turning my face from the sky to look into the growing darkness of our backyard. “Stop it, Emily.” I choke. “Please stop.” Does she have any idea what she’s doing to me?

I hear shrieks of laughter from the impromptu football game, and I wish fervently I were down on the ground with my friends. I open my eyes, letting my breath out slowly, swallowing the tears that threaten to spill over. I turn. Emily is sitting on her hands, her legs hanging off the platform, swinging lethargically back and forth. Her eyes are wide, flickering restlessly over the treetops and scanning the clouds where bursts of sunlight reach out frantically from behind them as they disappear for the day.

“I can’t find her,” she says, her voice filled with disappointment, sounding almost whiny. She tugs on one of her braids impatiently, eyes scanning the sky.

I cross the small platform and sit cross-legged next to her. “Em…” She doesn’t look at me, and I take her hand in mine. “She wasn’t there.”

Emily tightens her grip on my hand and turns to face me. “Do you remember what Mommy said before she left?”

“What are you talking about? She didn’t say anything before she left… she didn’t know that she was going to get into a car wreck.” My face contorts in pain.

“You have to remember.” Emily says, scooting close to me, her skinny, tanned legs against my pale ones. I’m almost never outside anymore; it reminds me too much of Mom.

“All she said was that she loved us and she’ll be back in a few minutes.” Who could have known that she’d never come back from a twenty-minute trip to the grocery store?

Emily shakes her head urgently, pigtails slapping against her t-shirt. “No, Annie. Think. What did Mommy say?”

I feel the tears come back as a rush of memories hits me. “I don’t want to remember, Em.” I whisper. “It hurts too much to think about her.”

Emily wraps her small arms around my waist and holds me tight, as though I am the child, and she is the big sister. I put my arms around her and bury my face in her soft blonde hair, the hot tears falling onto her scalp.

Her small hand rubs my back slowly… gliding up and down, just like Mom used to do. I am shaking with silent sobs, the tears dropping rapidly.

Finally, Emily draws back, and there is a sheen of moisture across her eyes, her eyes so like our mother’s. She smiles through her tears and turns her face toward the sky, where the last rays of the sun are bursting through the clouds. “Look, Annie.”

My eyes shift and take in the light streaming in glorious, pink rays, contrasting the purple hues of the sky against the dark outlines of the trees jutting into the horizon. I inhale sharply at the last burst of the sun, which outlines an oddly shaped cloud…

My mother's words come back to me as my sister whispers urgently. "'Listen to me girls,' Mommy used to say. 'Never give up hope; God always leaves a remnant.' Can you see her now, Annie?” Emily whispers. “Can you?”

Suddenly, I am smiling, tears running down my face. “Yes,” I am laughing and crying at the same time. “I can see her.”

Emily is laughing too, salty droplets of water from her eyes running down her cheeks to her neck. “I love you, Mommy!”

I cannot tell whether I am crying or laughing. “I love you!” I join in. Jubilant, we laugh until our sides ache, two sisters sharing in the bittersweet memories of a mother taken all too soon. Our tears blend in a puddle on the wood; it is impossible to tell where the water of her grief ends and mine begins.

The sun is gone now, and darkness descends over our backyard, from the tip of the rooftop to the freshly mowed grass. “Are you going to play with Hunter?” Emily asks.

I’d forgotten all about him. “No.” I reply. “He’s probably already left.” Oddly enough, I don’t even care.

Emily stands, brushing sand off her cotton shorts. “I’m going to make sure the rest of your friends are gone.”

I nod, glad my sister understands I can’t be a hostess right now. “Thanks.”

Emily smiles, wisdom beyond her years in those blue eyes. “Don’t mention it.”

I watch her descend the ladder to rejoin the world, leaving me alone with my thoughts. I lean my head back, stretching my neck, and feeling utterly insignificant in the vastness of the steadily blackening sky. The first stars appear.

I allow the memories to course through me, purging the blackness that has overtaken me since my mother died. I see flashes of her smiling face, glimpses of her joyful laughter. I was angry when she died. I couldn’t understand why she left us. But now, I realize that she’s been here all along.

A smile spreads across my face. “Hi Mom,” I whisper. “I’ve missed you.”


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Thu Nov 09, 2006 11:05 am
Certainly Love wrote a review...



Everything is good. Almost perfect. Ok. MAybe perfect...The only thing that bothered me was that it was in first person...and it was written in present tense. I really don't like reading in present tense, but I am not the one writing it. All in all, everything was...good. Really good.




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Tue Oct 24, 2006 3:02 am
Snoink wrote a review...



Areida wrote:
“Come on,” Emily turns and climbs the ladder to the platform that is our tree house.

SEE???


Okay. Maybe that needs to be tweaked. So you get to put a period where a comma is. But seriously... we love sappy writing! And when I say we, that means that all my characters like it. Otherwise, they would simply not exist. ;)




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Tue Oct 24, 2006 1:52 am
Areida says...



“Come on,” Emily turns and climbs the ladder to the platform that is our tree house.

SEE???




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Sat Sep 23, 2006 1:37 pm
Wiggy says...



I didn't see any!!!!!

I like searching for old stories and then commenting on them...it's fun!

Wiggy ;)




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Sat Sep 23, 2006 4:06 am
Snoink says...



XD

What grammatical errors? :P




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Sat Sep 23, 2006 3:58 am
Areida says...



Not even evil grammatical errors???




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Sat Sep 23, 2006 3:38 am
Snoink says...



DON'T EDIT IT. Otherwise, I will sic the pigs on you.




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Sat Sep 23, 2006 3:36 am
Areida says...



Ohh man this thing is so old... I should edit it. *cringes*

But thanks anyway, Mary. :)




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Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:52 am
Wiggy wrote a review...



Awesomely awesome Ari!!!!! I've always loved your work...:D

Wiggy ;)




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Wed Jun 15, 2005 3:47 am
Sam wrote a review...



I don't know what's wrong with me...I didn't get very much out of it. Sorry to be a stinker, but it seemed too much like 'Oh, my mom died and now I'm sad'. Sadly (ehm...sorry for the redundancy) too many stories with this plot are absolute pieces of crap. If we read something new with that same storyline, we automatically think 'CRAP ALERT!' and shut our minds to the style and flow.

That was probably what put me off.

I did love the bit with Hunter...honestly, I've had that feeling before. And put off many things to get that extra minute with- *ahem, perhaps I shouldn't say. :twisted:*




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Tue May 31, 2005 12:40 am
Ceylon says...



Hello, you did a good job, very good job. :) You have a talent for writing.




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Mon May 30, 2005 3:17 am
nickelpickle says...



Areida, this was truly amazing. It was one of the few pieces of fiction that has literally brought me to tears. You did an excellent job on this and I am absolutely amazed that a fifteen year old could bring this much meaning to her work.




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Thu May 12, 2005 2:53 pm
Kay Kay says...



Loved it!! Keep up the good work! I didn't catch any errors...but like Meshugenah said there might be some. Can't wait to read more!




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Thu May 12, 2005 2:54 am
DarkerSarah wrote a review...



"I haven’t been up there since the afternoon it happened, and I wasn’t about to go back up now." - This is just being knit-picky, because I really liked your story, but this sentence seems a little too cliche to me. The whole "the after it happened," at least. Also, you refered to tears being "hot" twice, and while this is again being knit-picky, I'm an editor and can't help but notice these things.

I agree with...whoever said it...that you don't have a lot of description, but that's a good thing. I loathe reading overly descriptive pieces, especially point-blank physical descriptions, but you did a nice job of weaving those into the story.

Admittedly, I was kind of hoping it was going to be a ghost story, but the whole sunset thing really tied it all together. Nice touch. I think this is the first thing I've read of yours, and I'm impressed. Not overly impressed, mind you, but it's a piece of work with skill and wisdom beyond your years. (Now who's being cliche?)

-Sarah




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Mon May 09, 2005 3:01 pm
Kay Kay says...



I liked it...but it was sad. Adorable too. I agree with Shreik..if i spelled that right. Good job though. I can't wait to read more.




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Sun May 08, 2005 3:23 pm
Areida says...



Oops. Yes, it should be "my" not "her"... thanks for pointing that out. :D




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Sun May 08, 2005 3:03 pm
Shriek wrote a review...



Oooh, I loved this. It was adorable on the surface, and with a hint of deeper meaning. Although the character of Emily seemed a tad unrealistic (in the sense of 'wisdom beyond her years'), it wasn't enough to detract from the story. I pictured Emily around the age of five or six, so if you had a different age in mind for her, that could be why... But again, it didn't take from the story too much. ;)

Just a few nitpicky things:
I agree with Zentillius, I had a difficult time picturing the actions happening in the football game.

Emily wraps her small arms around her waist and holds me tight

A little confused by this sentence. Should it be "around my waist..."?


Other than that, it looked good to me. Again, excellent job, Areida. ^_^




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Sun May 08, 2005 12:07 am
Areida says...



Thanks very much to everyone. :D




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Sat May 07, 2005 1:37 pm
lon_205 says...



You've left me we a lump in my throat =)




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Sun May 01, 2005 12:57 am
Zentillius wrote a review...



Goodness me. Very nicely done, just as all the above have read. I enjoy reading other's romance pieces to see the different styles and it basically educates me. As before, very nicely done. Can't really say that enough.

At the beginning, Hunter picks Annie up and carries her under his arm. Can't quite visualize that really... Like carring a large partfolio between your side and your arm, perhaps? But that would be extremely awkward to handle and carry someone by.

There wasn't a tremendous amount of description, but that isn't always a bad thing. In this case, it makes it more simple, easy to read. Have more description might had disrupted it perhaps. It was nicely done, and you did clearly show the reader what happened. And the realism as DQ mentioned was near to perfect as brown is to brunette.

Very nicely done. For a third time.




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Sun May 01, 2005 12:34 am
Meshugenah says...



I didn't notice any typos/mistakes when I read this, and if there were any, it didn't interfre with reading. I like this, and it is very good for a free write, and you made me read the entire thing. no skipping lines, either. bravo.




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Sun May 01, 2005 12:24 am
Areida says...



Firestarter wrote:Oh god, I loved this. It actually made me read it all.


*faints in shock*

Wow. Thank you so much, Jack... seriously, that is an EXTREMELY awesome compliment...

Thanks also to Lollipop, Mattie, and Darg.... did anyone else catch more inconsistencies/ typos? If so, would you let me know? Once again, thanks so much to all of you... encouragement like this really helps me continue to write when I'm discouraged. You guys rock.




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Fri Apr 29, 2005 5:14 pm
Lollipop says...



Yeah!! This story was excellent. A really good read. hee hee

~Lollipop~




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Fri Apr 29, 2005 3:29 pm
Firestarter says...



Oh god, I loved this. It actually made me read it all.




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Fri Apr 29, 2005 2:45 pm
Mattie wrote a review...



Very good for just sitting down and writing. I really liked it, I've read a story like this before about a girl being able to see something no one else can't...weird. Anyways! I really enjoyed reading it...hope to see more of your free writes! Just fix those few things some other caught and it'll be all good!




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Fri Apr 29, 2005 3:37 am
Areida says...



Thanks ohhewwo... I fixed it... LOL... I didn't even catch that... sad, huh?

You too, Snoink. Coming from you, that's an extremely high compliment.

You guys are awesome.




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Fri Apr 29, 2005 3:36 am



that..... was AWSOME! really good job with the story. it seems like this could easily happen to somebody, it seemed....real. :)




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Fri Apr 29, 2005 3:25 am
ohhewwo wrote a review...



Yeah, I liked it a lot, too.

It was pretty well put together, for a free write.

In the third to last sentence, you used the word "utter," twice. Be aware that your sentences are getting redundant while you write them.

But, this was a great piece. Nice work.




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Fri Apr 29, 2005 3:18 am
Snoink wrote a review...



I actually liked this.

"OMG??? SNOINK SAID THAT??????!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Yes, I did. It was short, sweet, and to the point. There were some minor problems, of course, but not so much to make the story ridiculous. The beginning was interesting, and I liked how it contrasted with the ending. Two different ways to love! Interesting, interesting. Also, you did what many good writers do, you join the beginning with the ending. For instance, you start with Hunter, but you also end with Hunter. It's a good conclusion.





Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream.
— Mark Twain