Week 6: Monday

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“Birthday for me!” Mandy yelled, running across the living room floor Monday morning to hug Marcie’s knees. Marcie pried her sister off her.

“I know, Mandy. You’ve said that six times this morning,” she said, rolling her eyes. Mandy squealed with delight and clapped her hands together. Marylee finished up tidying the kitchen and looked over to her eldest daughter.

“Can you pick up a birthday card for Mandy on your way home from school?” she asked. “I’d like to have the party as soon as you get home so there won’t be time to grab a card, then,” she told her. Marcie sighed.

“Mom, I have to work after school. I can’t be there for her party,” she reminded her. Marylee frowned.

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“But I thought Monday was your day off?” she asked. Marcie shook her head.

“Nope. Tomorrow is my day off,” she said. Mandy looked at her sister with a very hurt expression.

“You not be at my party?” she nearly whispered, her wide blue eyes filled with tears. Marcie hated it when she did that. How am I supposed to be mean to the annoying runt when she looks at me like that? It’s like a fist squeezing my heart to a pulp! she thought exasperatedly to herself. She sighed and knelt down to her baby sister’s level.

“Look, Mandy, I’m really sorry, but there’s nothing I can do about it, okay? Mom will take pictures for me to look at,” she reassured her. Mandy’s look of hurt did not dissipate; instead, she started to cry and walked away to sulk in her room. Marcie threw up her hands in frustration. “Great! Now I feel like a jerk because I have to work on my kid sister’s birthday! Thanks for the guilt trip, Mandy…” she grumbled. She heard the bus honking from the street and grabbed her bag before running out the door.

Marylee sighed. She had begun to give up hope that her daughters would ever have a close relationship. It hurt to think about. Well, if Marcie’s not coming home until later, we should have the party now, she thought, and took the cake out of the fridge to set it out on the kitchen table. Christopher came out of the bedroom and picked up his daughter.

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“Happy birthday, Pumpkin!” he smiled.

“Yay! My birthday!” Mandy cheered in his arms. He handed Mandy to Marylee, who carried her daughter over to the cake. Christopher clapped, cheered and rattled noisemakers making Mandy clap and laugh.

“Ready?” Marylee asked Mandy. “One, two, three… and blow!” Both of them leaned over the cake and blew out the candles in one gust. Mandy cheered and squirmed in her mother’s arms. Marylee set her down on the floor and once again, Christopher and Marylee stood back to admire just how much their little girl had grown.

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Standing in front of them was a young girl with sun-blonde hair and blue eyes, just like her mother. Now that Mandy was really starting to grow into her looks, Marylee could now safely let out a sigh of relief; her youngest daughter had no unfortunate long gap between her nose and mouth and was in fact, very pretty. She was sure Mandy would be very popular and sought after by the boys in her school when she got a bit older, due to her friendly attitude towards everyone and good looks.

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“Mom, Dad, did you redecorate my room like you did with Marcie’s?” Mandy asked excitedly. Marylee and Christopher gave each other awkward looks. Christopher was the first to clear his throat and speak.

“Actually, Pumpkin, after renovating the living and dining area, and then having to buy a new stove after the fire, we didn’t have the money to finish your room,” he told her. Mandy’s face fell. She wasn’t going to get a special place of her own like her big sister? Marylee gave a small chuckle.

“Oh, don’t look like that, Honey. You’re going to get a brand new room just like your sister’s, just not right away. We should have enough money by the end of today to finish it off. If not, then definitely tomorrow,” she reassured her daughter. Mandy nodded. She supposed that wasn’t so bad; she was still going to get her new room, after all.

Christopher looked down at his watch and sighed. “I’m sorry, Pumpkin, but I have to go to work now,” he told Mandy. She smiled and hugged him goodbye.

“Bye Dad! It’s okay. At least you were here to see me blow out my candles, not like Marcie…” she added sourly. Marylee frowned.

“Don’t give her a hard time about that, Mandy. She feels guilty enough,” she scolded her.

“Marcie never feels guilty about being mean to me…” Mandy grumbled. I don’t know why she hates me so much. I try to be nice to her, but she makes it really hard sometimes, she huffed to herself.

Christopher left for work and Mandy occupied herself with her dollhouse. A few hours later, Marylee walked into her room, all dressed up in her stage outfit. “I’m going to work now, Mandy.” Mandy frowned.

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“I’m staying here a-alone? B-but I don’t like being alone…” she protested meekly, her bottom lip quivering. Marylee gave her daughter a reassuring hug.

“Don’t be scared, Honey. Marcie will be home soon. You won’t be alone in the house for very long,” she reassured her. Mandy gulped and nodded, trying her best to be brave and act like a big girl. “Lock all the doors and windows, don’t answer the phone and don’t open the door for anyone. Your sister has a key. She can let herself in. My cell number and your father’s cell number are on the fridge if you need anything. Bye, Sweetie,” she said, kissing Mandy goodbye and running out the door to her carpool.

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Mandy suddenly felt very alone and very afraid. With no one else in the house, every tiny noise seemed ten times louder, making Mandy jump. I’m no coward! she told herself sternly. I just like having people around! She was scanning the living room in search of something to do to occupy herself until her sister came home and spotted the easel near the front door. Marcie’s always complaining about how boring painting is, but I kind of want to try it and see for myself, she thought. She walked over and picked up a paintbrush, beginning to mix colours and brush them onto the canvas.

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Mandy was delighted to discover that painting was fun! It was like she had an eye for knowing just the right blend of colours she needed; the brush strokes came evenly and smoothly. It was almost as if she had learned how to paint in a past life and it was just coming back to her now. Soon, Mandy forgot all about being at home by herself and lost herself in the swirls of brilliant colours and shapes forming before her by her hand. Each shade and brush stroke told a different story to Mandy and she interpreted those stories and transformed them into an image on the blank canvas.

“I’m home!” Marcie shouted, startling Mandy out of her trance. Mandy sighed. It had been such a nice little getaway. “No hug? You’re usually barreling me over the second I walk through the door. What’s up?” Marcie asked. Mandy looked up at her sister, the feelings of hurt from Marcie not being there on her birthday flooding back.

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“You didn’t come to my birthday party…” Mandy pouted, her eyes filling with tears. Marcie gave an exasperated sigh and threw up her hands.

“For crying out loud, Mandy! I had to work! There was nothing I could have done!” she yelled. “And don’t look at me like that!” she snapped; Mandy was giving her the same guilt-inducing expression she had given her as a toddler. It made Marcie wince and want to cry. “Look, I really wish I could have been there, alright? It sucked that I had to work, but I couldn’t get the day off! You’ll understand when you-”

Marcie’s cell phone ringing caught her attention and interrupted her in mid-sentence. She held up a hand to motion for Mandy to be quiet while she was on the phone and answered it. “Hello?”

“Marcie… can you come over? My parents just had a really bad fight… I don’t know what to do…” It was Josiah, and he sounded distraught. Without hesitation, Marcie nodded.

“I’m coming right now,” she assured him, then hung up the phone. She looked at Mandy who had gone back to painting.

“Tell Mom and Dad I’m going to Josiah’s house. I don’t know what time I’ll be home. If they ask, just say he has parent issues. They’ll know what’s going on,” she said, putting on her coat and going to walk out the door. Mandy sighed.

And I’m alone again… she thought sadly to herself.

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Marcie shivered slightly in the night air as she stepped out of the cab and ran up Josiah’s front porch to ring his doorbell. Josiah answered the door. His eyes were bloodshot. He looked like he hadn’t slept much the night before and the rims around his eyes were red, but when he saw Marcie, he tried to keep his emotions in line. “Josiah, what happened?” Marcie demanded, hugging him tight. He sighed.

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“I- I don’t really know…” he muttered. “One minute, my parents were just screaming at each other like they normally do, and the next, I was watching my dad throw my mom to the ground and kick her. She got up after a while, screaming that she was leaving him and ran out the door, crying. I yelled at my dad for hurting my mom and he punched me in the face before he left, too… probably to go drink himself to death…” he spat bitterly. Marcie looked at Josiah’s right cheekbone and gasped. There was a big purple bruise blossoming there. It looked swollen.

“Let’s get you inside and put some ice on that,” she whispered, shocked. When they were sitting on his couch, their arms around each other, Marcie spoke again. “Why didn’t you tell me things were this bad here? I thought your parents just yelled at each other a lot; I didn’t know your dad hurt you and your mom.” Josiah shook his head.

“I didn’t want to scare you away, thinking I had too much drama in my life for you to get involved. I really like you, Marcie. I- I care about you a lot. I was afraid you’d walk out on me and you’re the only good thing in my life…” Marcie didn’t know what to say to that, so she just hugged him tighter.

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Before she had a chance to think about where things would lead, Marcie’s and Josiah’s lips touched. It was a sweet, innocent kiss at first; the kind of kiss you sneak at your parents’ house when they aren’t looking, but soon their kisses became more insistent and heavy until they were both drawing in ragged breaths and tearing at each others’ clothes.

Marcie knew she should stop there, but she didn’t want to; she had never felt anything this strong before. It was like electricity shooting through her entire body. Her clear-headedness was clouded by that strong surge of energy and she embraced it, wanting to experience more. Suddenly, Josiah pulled back for a second and leaned in close to her ear. “Are you sure?” he whispered. Marcie knew exactly what he was asking.

“Yes,” she gasped.

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“Mandy, where’s your sister?” Christopher frowned when he got off of work. Mandy finally decided she was finished painting for the night and started to clean up her paintbrushes and paints.

“She said she was going to Josiah’s house. She told me to tell you he has parent issues,” she said, reciting what Marcie had told her earlier. Christopher frowned and looked at his watch.

“Well, I hope she comes home soon. It’s almost her curfew. I don’t want to have to give her a lecture when she gets dragged home in a police cruiser,” he sighed. Sensing her dad was troubled, Mandy ran over to hug him.

“How was work, Daddy?” she asked, changing the subject. He smiled and hugged his daughter back.

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“Great, Pumpkin! I got promoted to Pastry Chef. The restaurant gave me an Ingredient Eviscerator 235X as a congratulatory present!” he exclaimed excitedly. When Mandy just gave him a blank look, he chuckled. “A fancy food processor, Sweetie,” he explained. “I can chop up ingredients a lot easier and faster now with it.”

“Does this mean I get my new room?” she asked excitedly. Christopher laughed and nodded.

“Yes, Pumpkin. As soon as your mother gets home, we’ll start moving all your new stuff into your room,” he promised her. Mandy cheered and jumped up and down.

“YAY!”

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