The Silent Waters (Elements #3)


by Brittainy C. Cherry

Moments.

Humans always remember the moments.

We recall the steps that led us to where we were meant to be. The words that inspired or crushed us. The incidents that scarred us and swallowed us whole. I’ve had many moments in my lifetime, moments that changed me, challenged me, moments that scared me and engulfed me. However, the biggest ones—the most heartbreaking and breathtaking ones—all included him.

It all began with a rocket ship nightlight and a boy who didn’t know me.

July 8th, 2004 — Six Years Old

“It’s going to be different this time, Maggie, I swear. This time is forever,” Daddy promised, as he pulled up to the yellow brick house on the corner of Jacobson Street. Daddy’s soon-to-be wife, Katie, stood on her front porch watching our old station wagon pull in the driveway.

Magic.

It felt like magic, coming up to the house. I’d moved from a small place to a palace. Daddy and I had lived in a tiny two-bedroom apartment all our lives, and now we were moving into a two-story home with five bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen the size of Florida, two and a half bathrooms, and an actual dining room—not a living room where Daddy set up TV dinner trays at five in the afternoon each night for supper. Daddy told me they even had an inground pool in their backyard. A pool! In their backyard!

I went from living with one person to becoming a part of a family.

The family part was nothing new, though. Since I could remember, I’d been part of many families with Daddy. The first one I hadn’t really known, since my mama had walked out on Daddy and me before I’d even spoken my first word. She’d found someone else who made her feel more loved than Daddy, which was hard for me to believe. Daddy gave his all to love, no matter how much it cost him. After she left, he gave me a box of photographs of her so I could remember her, but I thought that was a weird thing. How could I remember a woman who was never even there? After her, he became good at falling in love with women, and oftentimes, they fell in love with him, too. They’d move into our tiny world with all their belongings, and Daddy would tell me it was forever, but forever was always shorter than he hoped it would be.

This time was different.

This time, he had met the love of his life in an AOL chat room. Daddy had his share of bad relationships after my mama left us, so he thought trying to meet someone online would’ve been better, and it worked. Katie had lost her husband years before and hadn’t dated until she signed online and met Daddy.

And unlike all the times before, this time Daddy and I were moving in with Katie and her children, not the other way around.

“This time is forever,” I whispered back to Daddy.

Katie was beautiful like all the women on TV. Daddy and I watched television when we ate our supper together, and I’d always notice how beautiful the people were. Katie looked just like them. She had long blonde hair and crystal blue eyes, kind of like me. Her nails were painted a bright red color that matched her lipstick, and her eyelashes were thick, dark, and long. When Daddy and I pulled into her—our—driveway, she was waiting there in a pretty white dress, wearing yellow high heels.

“Oh, Maggie!” she cried, rushing over to me and flinging the car door open so she could wrap her arms around me. “It’s so nice to finally meet you.”

I raised an eyebrow, wary about hugging Katie back, even though she smelled like coconuts and strawberries. I never knew coconuts and strawberries went together until I met Katie.

I looked over at Daddy, who was smiling my way, and he nodded once, giving me permission to hug the woman back.

She hugged me so tight and lifted me out of the car, squeezing the air from my lungs, but I didn’t complain. It’d been a long time since I’d been hugged that tight. The last time had probably been when Grandpa had come to visit and wrapped me up in his arms.

“Come on, now. Let me introduce you to my kids. We’ll stop by Calvin’s room first. You two are the same age, so you’ll be going to school together. He’s right inside with a friend of his.”

Katie didn’t bother putting me down, instead carrying me over to the steps as Daddy grabbed a few pieces of our luggage. As we walked through the front door, my eyes widened. Wow. It was beautiful, something straight out of Cinderella’s palace, I was sure. She took me upstairs, to the last room on the left, and opened the door. My eyes fell on two boys playing Nintendo and shouting at each other. Katie placed me down on my feet.

“Boys, pause,” Katie said.

They didn’t listen.

They kept arguing.

“Boys,” Katie repeated more sternly. “Pause.”

Nothing.

She huffed and placed her hands on her hips.

I huffed and copied her stance.

“BOYS!” she shouted, unplugging their video game system.

“MOM!”

“MS. FRANKS!”

I giggled. The boys turned to face us, utter shock in their stare, and Katie smiled. “Now that I have your attention, I want you to say hello to Maggie. Calvin, she’s staying with us, along with her father. Remember me saying you were gonna get a sister, Calvin?”

The boys stared blankly at me. Calvin was clearly the blond one, who looked identical to Katie. The boy sitting next to him had dark messy hair and brown eyes, along with a hole in his pale yellow t-shirt and potato chip crumbs on his jeans.

“I didn’t know you had another sister, Cal,” the boy said, staring my way. The more he stared, the more my stomach hurt. I stepped behind Katie’s leg, my cheeks heating up.

“Me neither,” Calvin replied.

“And, Maggie, this is Brooks. He lives across the street from us, but tonight he’s sleeping over.”

I peeked around Katie’s kneecap at Brooks, who gave me a small smile before eating the crumbs off of his pants.

“Can we play the game again?” Brooks asked, going back to his controller and staring at the blank television screen.

Katie snickered to herself, shaking her head back and forth. “Boys will be boys,” she whispered to me as she plugged their game back in.

I shook my head and giggled, too, just like Katie. “Yeah. Boys will be boys.”

Next, we stopped by another room. It was the pinkest room I’d ever seen, and a girl was sitting on the floor, drawing, wearing bunny ears and a princess dress, and eating Doritos out of a pink plastic bowl.

“Cheryl,” Katie said, walking into the room. I hid behind her leg. “This is Maggie. She’s gonna be staying with us, along with her father. Remember I told you about this?”