A/N: Another one already!? Indeed…I’m trying to get out as many as I can before winter break ends. This chapter is fairly long, so be mindful of that. It also has more cursing than usual. Oh yes and the song here is “Mad World” by Gary Jules. Anyway, enjoy!
“I heard the last straw was when she tried to talk him into having a foursome.”
“Oh shut up, you know you’d like that!”
“Would not! Anyway, I heard she was sleeping around. Ever noticed how chummy she is with the guy’s soccer team?”
“Doesn’t she play soccer though?”
“Um yeah, but on the girl’s team! Duh!”
“Whatever, you guys are both wrong. I heard he broke up with her after hearing she caught an STD from sleeping with her second cousin!”
Just pretend you don’t hear it. Just pretend you don’t hear it. Don’t say a word. Don’t move. Don’t draw attention to yourself. Just pretend-
“There she is now.”
“Oh my god, gross. Don’t look at her!”
“Shit, do you think she heard us?”
“Who the fuck cares? She doesn’t care. Do you, Tamara? You don’t care because you know it’s true, right? Stupid slut.”
Just. Pretend. You. Don’t. Hear. It.
“How could you do that to Trey anyway? You had everything! Sick, dumb bitch. He lov-”
“I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!” I suddenly shrieked, rage boiling within me as I launched myself at the idiot brunette who just wouldn’t fucking shut up.
“Get her off me!!”
“I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING! It’s all lies! Fucking lies!” I continued to scream as I punched every inch of her as I could. I yelped as she pulled my hair, struggling to claw her face as I felt hands try to move me off her. “STUPID FUCKING LIAR!” I yelled as two pairs of hands simultaneously wrenched me away. “LET GO!” I spat, spinning around to look at who picked me up.
“Tamara…..” Catherine said, her eyes wide. Andrew stood next to her, hands up in surrender and eyes just as wide. We all jumped then when we heard the sound of a very familiar, deep voice.
“TAMARA! KAREN! Get into my office, NOW!”
Fuck. My. Life.
All around me are familiar faces.
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for the daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
I laid perfectly still on my bed, not allowing myself to feel anything. Suspended. I was upset at first…until I recognized that it was actually a blessing in disguise. I wouldn’t have to hear their whispers, their giggles. I wouldn’t have to endure their taunting, their endless aim to trip me, to throw things at me, to make my life miserable.
Trey was being treated like a king in mourning. They all believed his lies. They all believed that it was my fault. All my fault.
But maybe it was? I shouldn’t have gone to his house that day. I shouldn’t have dressed the way I did. I should have seen the signs. There were so many signs, but I ignored them all. I trusted him…and he violated that trust in the worst way possible.
I shuddered, eyes burning with tears. No, no, don’t cry. Don’t give him the pleasure of it. He’s not worth it. He’s not worth it. He’s not worth it.
….god, I’m not worth it.
I’m a stupid fucking sap. A stupid, fucking, dirty sap.
Their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I wanna drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow
I can’t stop crying.
I am the most pathetic creature that has ever walked the planet.
And I find it kind of funny, I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it’s a very, very
Mad world, mad world
“Honey? May I come in?”
“Please?” my mother implored, desperation clearly evident in her voice.
“I SAID NO!” I shrieked, and then immediately regretted it. “I’m- I’m trying to sleep,” I added quickly, stumbling over my words.
I’m such a piece of shit.
It was the twin’s birthday today. Dad forced me out of my room. He didn’t show anger very often, so when he did, you listened. I can’t blame him for being angry though. No one understands…because I haven’t let them understand.
I need to stop thinking. The twins grew up nicely. They’re not pieces of shit like me.
It was Lynn’s birthday too.
She’s so carefree and cute. I envy her naivety.
She’s a daddy’s girl.
Just like me…but I can’t tell him about this. No. Nor Mom either. I can’t make the words come out of my mouth, so they stay stuck in my throat, driving me mad.
It was prom today.
Everyone looked nice.
Catherine was worried. I don’t know why.
I should have known why. I’m useless.
Mom made me go.
I got into a fight.
That means more time spent with Lynn, but I don’t mind. She’s sweet.
I hope she never meets a stupid boy.
….I hope she never ends up being a stupid girl.
God, I hate myself.
“That’s it! We can’t take you moping around here anymore!” Mom suddenly cried, waking me up from the nap I was taking on the couch.
“Don’t send me away!” I blurted out immediately. Mom and Dad had been threatening to send me to a rehabilitation center of some stupidity or other to “cure” me. Ever since I had tried to be better, I really had. “I’ve been better!” I cried, voicing what was on my mind.
“You’re still not the Tamara we all know,” Dad said quietly, his eyes sad as he looked at me.
“That Tamara is gone,” I muttered. Gone with the rest of my self-worth.
“That’s why we’re sending you away,” Mom interjected, much to my horror.
“NO! YOU CAN’T! I WON’T GO! I-”
“…..what?” I whispered, looking up at my parents in confusion.
“Egypt,” my dad repeated. “With Catherine.” The only one I ever kind of spoke to. “Oh, and Daniel. Have to have someone of age watching you guys, and we’re busy with work and Lynn.”
“You’re sending me to a clinic in Egypt?” I asked incredulously.
“No,” Mom said with a small smile. “On a vacation. You need to get away from here for awhile. You need to get out and enjoy yourself.”
“And we know you’ve always wanted to go,” Dad chimed in. “I figure you’re old enough now. You’ll be an adult in less than a month.”
“You leave tomorrow. Consider it a birthday present for you two…and I guess a belated for Daniel.”
“Yeah,” Dad said sheepishly. “We didn’t really know how to bring it up to you and well, kind of ran out of time at this point. Just had to go with it.”
“Besides, it won’t take long to pack and there’s always-”
But I was no longer listening to my parents, my eyes blank as my mind ran a hundred miles per hour. I was going to…Egypt?
Now that I did not expect.
The better part of me was completely resentful that my parents were making me go, simply because I hated leaving the house for any reason nowadays, but there was a tiny part that was a little bit well….curious.
I tried to ignore any feelings of hope though, not wanting to let myself down, and it totally worked…until I got my first glance of Egypt outside of my plane window.
My first thought when I got off the plane was, “Wow, this place is beautiful,” my second thought was “Wow, it’s really hot here and my sweater seriously isn’t helping.”
My sister must have felt the same way, because the first words out of her mouth were, “Hey, let’s change before we go exploring.” I wasn’t exactly sure whether or not I even wanted to go explore, or just mope around in camp, but either way I agreed with changing. It must have been about a hundred degrees outside.
“Everything okay there?” Catherine asked, wondering why I had stopped dead in my tracks on the way to my tent.
“Uh….I think so….”
“Hmmm….you’re not venomous, are you?”
“What are you doing?”
“Are you sure? You’re acting a little-”
“DON’T COME CLOSER YOU’LL STEP ON IT!”
“Step on whaaaoooooh! A python!”
“IT CAN STILL BITE YOU!”
“OH MY GOD, DON’T-”
“What the hell is going on here? Why’s everyone screaming?”
“Our sister has officially gone insane.”
“Jesus, Catherine, that isn’t nice. She’s clearly been through a lo-WHAT ARE YOU, INSANE!?”
“Shhhh, you’re making him sad,” I cried, soothing the bright yellow python wrapped around my arm.
“SAD? Tamara, you’re holding a freaking PYTHON!” Catherine shrieked.
“Hold on,” Daniel said quietly, pulling Catherine aside (though I could still hear them clearly…) “This is the first time I’ve seen Tamara smile in months. Maybe we should let her keep it.”
“What?” Catherine hissed. “But-”
“Leave it. Besides, look how friendly it is. I bet it was someone’s pet before. It would have bitten the crap out of her by now.”
“Just let it go.”
“When you’re done talking about me within earshot, I’ll properly introduce you to Sunflower,” I said in annoyance…but I couldn’t stay angry long, a small smile pulling at my lips.
Maybe this trip wouldn’t be so bad after all.
“Hey, did you guys see this board?” I asked after we’d changed, nuzzling Sunflower as she slithered contently down my arm.
“I can’t watch you put that thing next to your face like that,” Catherine said, purposefully looking away.
“Mmm…she’s kind of hot,” Daniel said, his eyes focused elsewhere as well.
I rolled my eyes, grabbing a sheet of paper off the board asking for help. “Whatever. First of all, I’m going to let the snake go. Second of all, I’m going to see what this lady needs, alright?”
That got Catherine’s attention. “But I thought we were going to go to the market first!” she whined.
“I’ll meet you guys there.”
“Hell no, Dad said he would beat me with a 2 by 4 if anything happened to either of you. You’re not leaving my sight.”
“Ugh, fine, but don’t be long and keep your cell phone on at all times, okay?”
“Okay,” I said with a smile, eliciting one from my brother as well, who looked like I just told him he’d won a million bucks. It was weird how my smiles were having that affect. Had it really been so long since one had crossed my face?”
Pushing the thought out of my mind, I made my way to the address on the paper, which was an awesome looking home with a lady standing outside of it. I wondered if she was the woman listed on the paper. Taking a deep breath, I strode confidently up to her, trying to make it look like I knew what I was doing.
“Salam!” the woman cried as I approached her, a good-natured smile upon her face. “Hal beemkani mosa’adatuk?”
“Umm, I, uh…”
“Oh! English?” she asked then, looking at me curiously. I nodded, my face flushed with embarrassment. “Not a problem. How can I help you?” I mutely held up the piece of paper, a questioning look on my face. “Ahhhhh, you wish to help me. You are so young….”
“I know,” I finally said, finding my voice. “But I’m…I’m really smart? And brave! And well, you said you were looking for someone brave to help you out. So I figure, why not myself?!” I said, giving a small nervous laugh.
“Hmmmmm,” the woman said, studying me closely. I held myself up a bit taller, hoping that my good posture would somehow convince her. “Okay. Sure. I was exploring in a tomb and lost some important papers there. It is quite a trip for an old woman like me, so I’d like you to get them for me.”
Papers then. Well…sounded easy enough.
I arrived at the place on the map she gave me within the hour, still surprised that it was so close to our campsite. When I asked Inji why I hadn’t noticed it, she only laughed and said the best hiding place was often right in front of your eyes. Old people and their sayings…..
Anyway, I did find it, hidden behind a bunch of overgrowth and “guarded” by a fence. I guess they weren’t trying too hard to keep people out….
At first glance, I thought the tomb was just a single room with some junk on it, but then I noticed the dark void ahead—a staircase.
Creepy…but oh well. What’s the worst that could be down there?
Not letting the skeleton phase me (I was kind of hoping it was fake), I trudged onward until I got to a large door…which happened to be chained. Great. I stared at it for a long moment, willing it to open, until I noticed the peculiar crescent shape hole beside it. Not to mention the chest sitting in the middle of the room. It was either a horrible trap filled with scarab beetles or something, or a test—only the brave shall enter?
Well, that settled that. I marched right on over to the chest and voila, one crescent shaped key!
This was too easy. In fact, the entire tomb was simple. Footsteps on the right button, clearly marked stones, a discolored doorway, and a shimmering chest?
Either someone didn’t give a shit whether or not they kept their stuff, or this was just a little tourist attraction. I was banking on the latter as I fetched my prize—a small stack of papers.
After returning the paper, Inji set me off again to talk to another person…who told me to gather rocks…who told me to talk to more people, and well, by the time I got back….
Everyone was asleep.
My siblings would be pissed, but to be honest, I kind of didn’t care.
For the first time in months…I finally felt alive again.
Before the sun even rose, I crept out of the camp, leaving behind a note and racing toward my next destination—the Pyramid of the Burning Sands. To say that the pyramids were large was an understatement. I felt like an ant next to the Empire State building. How on earth did anyone ever manage to build such a thing?
A little push on a seemingly sealed door…and voila! Really, Egypt? Try to challenge me for once.
Okay…so maybe this tomb was a bit more challenging. My back, legs, and arms ached, my shirt clinging to my body as flames burned around every corner I turned. The very pyramid itself seemed to be infused with heat, seeping through the walls and floor and essentially creating one extra large oven that I was now venturing deeper and deeper into.
My suspicions were confirmed about the very walls and floor being infused with heat when I stepped forward and had fire shoot out of the wall at me. I screamed as I ran, trying to avoid the flames, but to no avail.
Luckily, I had come prepared. Thank god for the good ol’ shower in a can….
I really must have been breathing in too much smoke though, because I could have sworn I was attacked by a…well, a mummy.
I know, I know, definitely inhaled a little too much CO2!
But for a nightmare, it was chillingly realistic.
I just couldn’t get the images out of my head…
After that…er, event, I decided to stay out of tombs for a little while, laying low in the market and just exploring nearby. I even tried my hand at snake charming, but I’m not sure a snake was even in the basket as it didn’t so much as peek its head out.
Of course, that could have been because I totally sucked….
Today was a fantastic day! It was the last day of our trip and thus far we had mostly done stuff on our own (Daniel had loosened up a bit), but now, for the end, we decided to spend some time together. We went to the market and had a blast sifting through all of the trinkets. Catherine bought some recipe books (she wants to be a world famous chef one day) and a mummy teddy bear for Lynn, Daniel bought some incense for his girlfriend, and I- well, I laid down a huge chunk of change on a state of the art camera.
Dad would probably kill me, but for now I chose not to think about it.
“So…I’m going to ask Georgia to marry me.”
“Really?!” Catherine gasped as I looked up at Daniel in surprise.
“Yeah. I mean, we’ve been together since high school and I can’t imagine being with anyone else. I was going to ask her sooner, but then….” He trailed off, giving me a quick glance and then looking away.
Awkwardness descended upon us like an owl on a rat.
“I’m happy for you,” I finally said, trying to diffuse the tension. “You two were made for each other.”
“What…what did happen between you- you and-”
“I don’t like remembering,” I said quietly, gazing steadily at the fire. I could feel their eyes on me though, barely breathing as they waited, hoping against hope that I’d tell them. I sighed, rubbing my head. I could feel the onset of a headache and my stomach seemed to be churning.
“You don’t have to say, if you don’t want to,” Daniel cut in, noticing my discomfort. I sat still though, willing my mouth to open. I had to tell them. I couldn’t just continue to bottle this up, and when else would I get such a perfect opportunity as this?
“If I tell you, you have to promise not to tell anyone. I’ll tell who I want when I’M ready, NOT you? Got that?”
“Absolutely,” Daniel said adamantly.
“Of course,” Catherine murmured.
I took a deep breath, looking back at the fire. My heart was pounding.
It’s for the best, Tamara. You’ve got to let it all out.
And so I did.
I was just going to tell them about the event, but I felt that they needed to hear the lead up as well. They needed to understand; to understand me, to understand him. They needed to hear the whole story. And so I told it.
I spoke in a low voice, staring only at the flames. It wasn’t about being a coward though…it was about feeling ashamed.
After that night, that was the single most common feeling that tore me down each and everyday, like a toxin spreading slowly through my veins.
Just shame. All-consuming shame.
“I had no idea,” Daniel said quietly after I’d finished speaking, vaguely poking at the fire. “Otherwise I would have punched the shit out of the bastard,” he added darkly, much to my surprise. Daniel was nothing but loving and kind…it was hard to imagine him doing something so violent.
“I suspected…but I didn’t know for sure,” Catherine admitted in a whisper, her cheeks shining with fresh tears of her own. “He’s such a scumbag. Why didn’t you press charges?”
“I wanted to forget it ever happened…and I was too ashamed. I felt like I let it happen.”
“That’s NOT true! HE’S the one who hurt you, HE’S the one to blame. He NEVER should have done that…EVER!” Catherine hissed, growing more and more heated with every word.
“I know,” I whispered, my voice cracking. “But it’s one thing to say it…another to actually believe it.” Catherine got up and raced over to me as I began to cry, pulling me into a hug. I felt Daniel come up beside me too, wrapping an arm around my shoulder as I completely broke down like an idiot.
But this time instead of all-consuming despair, like what I felt the last time I broke down, I felt a rush of relief like a freed river through a broken dam, and instead of feeling cold and fearful, I felt warm and safe.
I knew then, even in that pathetic moment where three nearly grown siblings held onto each other and cried, that I was finally, slowly…learning to forget.