Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The MIdnight Dancers, Part Five

He shut the door, and she stood in the room, hot tears on her face, a rage growing in her that even she could see was out of proportion to the situation. She flicked the fan switch “on,” flung herself on her bed, grabbed her pillow fiercely, and thrust her face into it. Her tears stopped almost immediately, but the turbulence inside didn’t die down. Why is it always like this? He treats me like a child and sends me to my room. Ever since Dad had gotten back from the Middle East … no, ever since Mom died … he just doesn’t know me. He just doesn’t understand.

Her eye caught the black and white photograph encased in a frame sitting on her dresser. It was a picture of her mother, laughing and looking extremely gorgeous in a black dress and pearls. To Rachel, that picture seemed to represent an era of her life that was unreachable. She was beyond wishing that Mom was still alive: she just felt bleak, grim acceptance.

After a moment, she heard the door close softly, footsteps came up the steps, and then thirteen-year-old Melanie Fendelman sat down on the bed. “Hey Ray,” she said in her soft drawl, rubbing her fingers over her older stepsister’s back.

That was Melanie for you, loyal and wanting to help out any way she could. Rachel had known that her younger stepsister would seek her out, and she was grateful.

“Thanks,” Rachel turned over with a sigh at last, wiping her dry eyes. She stared at the sloped ceiling of their rooftop room and listened to the whirring of the fan. “You didn’t need to come up.”

“I know. How are you?”

“Stinky.” Despite her anger, Rachel couldn’t resist a smile as she looked at her young stepsister. She considered Melanie the prettiest of the Fendelman girls. Though not conventionally beautiful, Melanie had a round, still childlike face with amber eyes that squinted easily up into laugh lines, honey-colored wavy hair, and an open demeanor that made you love her as soon as you looked at her. It always gave Rachel a twinge of remorse, wishing that she could be more like Melanie, peaceful and friendly and accepting. She would trade all the Fendelmans plus a few of the Durhams, Rachel thought, so long as she could still have Melanie as her sister.

“What do you think, Melanie? I just don’t get Dad. And he is just clueless about me. What do you think?”

Melanie chewed the side of her mouth. “Maybe you’re just too much alike.”

“Yes, that’s possible,” Rachel said, rolling over. She stared at the ceiling. “Dear God, I just want out of here. I just want out. I’m just sick and tired of it.”

The door to the attic opened again, and Miriam came up, followed by Tammy, one of the Fendelman twins.

“Hi there!” Miriam said brightly. “All full of sunshine and candy?” A bit on the heavy side, she could always be counted on for a sarcastic comment.

Rachel snorted. “Yeah. Sour balls.”

Miriam chuckled and pushed open one of the large windows a bit further, then sat on her bunk bed, bumping her head. Exclaiming, she rubbed her dark brown hair. “You know, as soon as I get out of this house and get a job, do you know what I am going to do with my first credit card?”

“What?” Tammy asked, swinging onto her bed and throwing back her straight blond hair.

“I’m going to buy a huge California king-sized bed,” Miriam said impressively. “I will never ever sleep in a bunk bed again. Forgetaboutit!”

“You can switch with me sometime,” Tammy offered. She and Taren, her twin, slept in their own single beds.

“Oh, come on!” Rachel cried out. “I think bunk beds are so romantic! When I get married, I’ll tell my husband, ‘if you don’t want to sleep in a bunk bed, this is off!”

The others giggled. “He won’t like that,” Tammy opined.

“Oh, I’ll let him choose whether he wants the top bunk or the bottom,” Rachel said generously. She rolled to her feet and sat up, staring around the room. “Come on. Let’s rearrange the room.”

Can't wait to read more? Buy The Midnight Dancers: A Fairy Tale Retold by Regina Doman today!

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