This is the very first scene from my current obsession, DWARFED. Also welcome to my brand new, shiny blog.
A Grade A headache hammered against my temples, threatening to split my skull. I couldn't remember ever hurting so badly before. I couldn't ignore the stomach turning pain, couldn't escape it. If someone were to walk up to me right now and tell me they'd just finished work on a brand new guillotine I would happily volunteer my neck to test the sharpness. The idea of being separated from my skull seemed heavenly.
I pressed my fingers against my temple, rubbing the skin in a futile attempt to alleviate some of the pain. The rubbing didn't do much to alleviate the pain, but at least it made me feel pro-active about my situation.
Without opening my eyes I turned my face towards the sound of my aunt Maggie's voice. ''Yeah.''
Maggie Heyward, one of the two older women in the room, and my great-Aunt leaned forward. Her pale blue eyes were sharp with concern.”Are you okay?”
Normally obvious questions like Meggie's resulted in me rolling my eyes, but, since my brain felt like it was going to leak out my ears I refrained. “I'm fine.” I said, each word sent a fresh, brutal stab of pain into my brain.
“Are you sure? You're awfully pale.”
Maggie's sister, Etna Cheseboro snorted. The sound sent vibrations of pain rippling through my brain and down the back of my neck. Swallowing, I closed my eyes and waited for the nausea to abate.
'' 'Course she looks pale.” Etna didn't bother lowering her voice. ”She's got red hair. She'll probably burn up the second she steps outside. Fool girl, bloody nuisance.” Etna crossed her arms across her chest. “She's probably sickly to, it figures Allison would leave us with a sickly girl who needs all sort of special care.”
Clenching my teeth, I ignored Etna's remarks and answered Maggie. “I'm fine. I just have a headache.“
A chair creaked and I sensed a presence moving towards me. Cracking one eye open I watched Maggie hurry across the dusty living room towards me. “Oh sweetie, I'm sorry.” Her fingers were cool against my skin as she gently placed her hand over my forehead. I leaned into her touch. ”You should have said something sooner. Let me get you something, some water and a aspirin.”
''Stop coddling her'' I couldn't believe the window's didn't shake from the volume of Etna's voice.
Crossing her arm across her stomach, Maggie spun on her heel and glared at her older sister. ”Etna,” Maggie snapped, her own voice growing louder with each word. ”She's a child and she's our responsibility”
Etna levered her bulk out of the chair and took a step towards Maggie. ”She's not my responsibility, I never wanted her here.'' Etna's single watery blue eye swept over me. ''This is no place for a girl like her.”
Spinning on her heel, Etna stormed out of the living room, slamming the bathroom door closed behind her.
Maggie blew out a sigh and placed a hand on my shoulder. ”I'm sorry Grace. Etna, um, well my sister has a difficult time adjusting to change. I'm sure she'll come around, you just have to give her some time.” A small smile bowed her mouth. She moved away from my side just long enough to fetch her enormous mauve purse. Rummaging through it she extracted a small water bottle from its depths. She handed both items to me. ”Drink all of this. Most of the time people get headaches because they are dehydrated. If your headache doesn't go away I'll give you an aspirin. In the meantime, why don't you go upstairs and have a little nap, its been a really long day, you must be tired.”
I don't know which was worse, the headache or the thought of spending more time in the same house as Etna. I looked up at Maggie. ”Um, if it's all the same to you, I think I should probably go check on Adelaide first. She isn't used to spending much time by himself, I wouldn't want him to think I'd abandoned him.”
Maggie pressed her lips together and for a moment I thought she was going to refuse and insist I go lay down.
After a second Maggie's face relaxed. ”I'd forgotten about Adelaide.” Her eyes cut to the closed bathroom door. ”Maybe checking on Adelaide is a good idea.” She pressed the back of her hand against my forehead. ”How's your headache?”
My head still hurt, but the pain seemed a little less intense. ”It's a little better.”
Maggie worried her lower lip with her teeth. She didn't look totally convinced. ”Are you sure you'll be okay. I could go with you, keep you company.”
I shook my head. ”I'll be fine.” I crept towards the kitchen door. If I could just get through the door I would be free. ”If I need anything I'll come get you, I promise.” I loved Maggie, but right now I needed to get out of the house and I needed a few minutes all to myself. Maggie still looked like she was thinking about protesting so I thrust my hand into the pocket of my long cargo skirt and pulled out my cell phone. I held it up for Maggie to see. ”If I get lost I can always call you.”
Without waiting for Maggie to answer I opened the kitchen door and charged through. By the time the door slammed shut I was off the porch, speed walking across the front lawn.
It felt so good to be out of the farmhouse. I hadn't been in there long, about three and a half hours, but during that time I'd actually forgotten what it felt like to be free and alive. Walking across the lawn, with the sun warming the top of my skull and the long grass tickling my bare legs under my skirt, I suddenly understood what it must feel like to be set free after a long prison term.
Walking across the long, unkempt grass I felt like a heavy weight was being lifted from my shoulders. Each step felt lighter than the last. Every time I filled my lungs with fresh air, my headache faded a little bit more. Out here, away from Etna, it was easier to forget that everything I'd ever known had been taken form me and that I was stuck here in Michigan, living in the same house as Etna, for the immediate future.
Out here it was easy to create the illusion that everything was going to be okay.