His name is Sky because of his eyes. Eyes as clear and brilliant as a perfect summer sky. But there is nothing perfect about his life. Not when he's the son of Ian Joshua, the notorious convict responsible for murdering many. And worse of all, scarring his existence. But Sky will learn that there is more to his parents' past then he knew and that not everything is how it appears.
"Always expect the unexpected for it is the unexpected that will lead you to disappointment"
His expression was blank as he regarded the thick, prodigious clouds that rolled over a gray, gloomy sky, killing the last thin stabs of the obscured sun's pale yellow-white rays. In the air lingered the familiar musty smell of approaching rain and the wind howled both harshly and noisily, toppling over defenseless trashcans and spilling their rotted contents across uninhabited sidewalks and deserted streets. The boy laughed humorlessly as his blue-eyed gaze wandered up to the dreary heavens again. Sky was his name. His father had told him that his eyes had reminded him of the sky on the warm summer's day. Clear and brilliantly blue. What would he say now if he were to see such gloomy weather in the beginning days of June? Could he even see the sky where he was now? He sighed glumly and resumed his stroll through the quiet neighborhood. He had hoped to run into someone, anyone, whom he could spend the deadening day with. But he had no such luck. How could he when a storm was about to erupt and bath him and his surroundings with its unwanted shower? Who wanted to step outside and risk getting struck with lightning in their rubber boots?
"What a drag," he grumbled and paused to peek over his shoulder.
As he suspected, he was alone. What did he expect to see anyways? He was still relatively new in town and had yet to meet anyone his age let alone actually make a friend. The small town of Gannings, Oklahoma hadn't been so ecstatic about having newcomers invade their sacred municipality anyway. He had noticed the scornful glares, the mocking hand gestures, the elusive behavior, and the persnickety mannerisms displayed when he or his mother were present in a public outing. It wasn't surprising when you had an infamous convict for a father. He should have expected as much. Expectations. Always expect the unexpected was how the saying went.
"Of course no one is out here," Sky grumbled and kicked an empty trash can in frustration.
It tumbled onto the road with a reverberant thud. What was he thinking? These people never came out of their homes if the Joshuas were out and about in public. Not if they could help it. What did they expect him to do anyway? Pull out a gun and start shooting randomly at the innocent? Why wasn't he deemed innocent? He hadn't killed anybody. He wasn't the one that disappeared into dozens of banks with a black ski mask, a brown sack, and a loaded gun in search of money. He wasn't the one that opened fire on innocent people when he hadn't gotten his way. He wasn't the one the killed the hostages when his plans failed and there was no way out. He wasn't Ian Joshua.
Blood runs thicker than water. One of his father's last words to him before he was sentenced and taken away by the pair of grim-faced officers. What did that mean than? That he was a murderer too because they shared blood? That they would always be seen as the same no matter where they went? Sky shook his head in anger. No. He wasn't like him. He would never be like him. He was Skylar Joseph Joshua. A seventh grader at Pine Bough Middle School. He was a simple boy who wanted a simple life. So why did he have to pay for the crimes of someone else?
I'm not my father, he thought bitterly. I'm not.
His boots thudded loudly against the pavement as his steps quickened their pace. A loud clap of thunder erupted in the sky followed by a jagged flash of lightning in the distance. Sky stopped short and took a deep breath. Might as well go home for now—
"You know that you won't make any friends with such an expression on your face right?" The voice was high and sweet, but laced with a bit of humor.
Sky jumped and whirled around quickly, stumbling back a few feet in surprise before regaining his balance.
The girl laughed and playfully tossed her fiery red hair back over her shoulder. "Sorry," she said and smiled. Her puffy cheeks dimpled from the gesture. "Didn't mean to scare you."
"You didn't scare me," Sky replied with a frown. "You just took me by surprise."
The girl shrugged her shoulder. "What does it even matter?" she responded. "It doesn't to be honest."
Sky frowned again. He'd been around the neighborhood enough times to memorize the faces of most of the kids here his age. But he didn't recall ever seeing this girl or her wild mane of fire-like hair. He drank her in: petite, curvy frame with short freckled arms, thickish stumpy legs, a round pudgy face, and eyes as dark as coffee. She wore nothing but an oversized, plain white T-shirt, denim cutoffs, and muddy combat boots that seemed too big for her feet. The strap of a backpack could be seen hanging on one shoulder and a black Raiders cap was tucked under her right arm.
"You seemed surprised to see me," she said and smiled sheepishly. "I'm Chelsea by the way. Chelsea Tate. Your next door neighbor."
She stuck out of tiny, freckled hand. Sky reached out and shook it. "Um, hi, I guess. We don't know each other but I'm—"
"I know who you are," Chelsea interjected with a coy smile. "You're Skylar Joshua. Your mom, Serena Joshua, works with my mom at the hospital. You're also the son of—"
He didn't get to hear what she was about to say. Sky spun around and stormed off, muttering curses under his breath. Of course she knew who he was. He could possibly guess why she wanted to talk to him. To get to know the murderer-to-be of the family. He heard her call out to him, her voice dripping with concern and confusion. But he paid no mind to it. Another clap of thunder sounded through the air as a sudden downpour of rain showered over him in thick, heavy sheets, their drops pelting him like cold machine gun bullets. When will this end? Why does this always have to happen? Sky let out a frustrated cry before he disappeared down the road in the direction of home.
He slammed the door shut with all his might before hastily kicking off his wet boots and stomping up the steps towards his bedroom.
"Sky?" Serena Joshua's voice sounded from the kitchen, grainy and throaty with care and weariness.
He ignored it. She wouldn't understand his frustrations. After all, it was her idea to move back to her childhood home in the first place without bothering to consult him. She hadn't taken the time to ask how he felt about the move or understand why he hadn't wanted to leave.
Then again, things were so much worse where they have come from. At least people here just ignored you. They hadn't chucked dirty stones through their living room windows with heinous notes attached to them. They hadn't assaulted the exterior of their home with eggs or vandalized it with spray paint. They hadn't been there when his friends abandoned him or when his peers all gained up on him and bullied him for having a murderer's blood in his veins. Worst of all, they hadn't been there to have to face the families of the victims whose lives were so unrighteous taken by his father's hand. He hadn't been able to look them in the eyes that day in court after Ian Joshua was taken away.
What would he have said anyway? No. Why did he have to say anything? He wasn't the one responsible for those cold-blooded murders. He wasn't his father—
"Sky? Sky, honey, please open the door," his mother called as she tapped once more on his bedroom door.
Sky rolled his eyes in annoyance. What could she say that would make everything better? What could she do? Their lives were in ruins, their reputations in shambles. And because of what? Greed? It hadn't even been worth it in the end. Ian Joshua had earned himself a life sentence without possibility of patrol. Where was the accomplishment in that? An orange jumpsuit and a spot in a cell with another dangerous convict? He had been selfish. So greedy and selfish. How had it not occurred to him that it would permanently scar his wife and son? Had he even cared if it did?
"Sky!" Mrs. Joshua shouted. Her tapping turned into urgent pounding. "Did something happen? Come out here and talk to me! Are you listening?"
Sky chuckled humorlessly in response. Okay then. She wanted to talk, then they would talk. About everything. "Mom!" he shouted as he opened the door.
Mrs. Joshua stumbled backwards, but quickly righted herself. She looked as she always did. Colorless and miserly, like a wispy feather in her nurse's uniform with her thin, silvery blond hair pulled back to the nape of her of long, slender neck in a taut bun. Her small, refined features were contorted into their usual expression of worry, guilt, and stress and her bony, miniscule hands were twitching at her sides. She sighed heavily and leaned against the door frame as if to support her gangly form.
"You wanted to talk?" Sky snapped and balled his hands into fists. "Fine. Let's talk about how dad ruined our lives. Let's talk about how we had to move here to escape all the torment we were facing back home. Let's talk about how I can't make any friends here because everyone thinks that I'm just like him—"
"Stop this Sky." Mrs. Joshua's voice was cold and hard like a stone.
"No," Sky hissed. "You wanted to know what's wrong with me. So here it is. Let's talk about how our reputations are in tatters because of what dad did!"
"Stop it Skylar!" Mrs. Joshua cried and covered her ears with her hands. "You don't know what you're saying! I don't want to hear this—"
"You don't want to hear it?" Sky spat incredulously. "Are you freaking serious?"
"You don't know everything Sky," Mrs. Joshua insisted and took a small, hesitant step forward. "There's more to the story than you know."
"Oh really?" Sky argued, anger simmering on the tip of his tongue. "I don't know everything? Then what is it that I don't know and why don't I know it?"
"You're too young to understand," Mrs. Joshua replied and knitted her rickety fingers together in front of her. "Your father did what he did for our own good—"
"For our own good?" Sky howled. "How is going outside and having people avoid you like the plague for my own good? Mom, do you have any idea how horrible it feels to not have any friends? To know that no matter where I go or what I say and do, people will always see me as the second Ian Joshua—"
"I don't want to talk about this anymore!" Mrs. Joshua bellowed. "Stop talking about this! I don't want to hear it!"
"Well try living it!" Sky barked. His body trembled in fury. "Try living like an outcast for something you never did! Try being seen as something you're not because of someone else! Try that on and see how that feels mom!"
"You're not the only one!" Mrs. Joshua retorted hotly. "You think life is grand for me too Skylar Joseph Joshua?"
She stood a large step forward and lowered herself to his eye level. She gripped her son's shoulders tightly. "This isn't easy for me either, Sky. I miss how we were too. But there's nothing we can do about it now. Trust me when I say that I understand how you feel right now and if I could make things any better for you I would—"
"That's just it!" Sky shouted and shoved her away. "You can't make anything better! You can't change anything! It's all dad's fault! Why didn't you stop him?"
Mrs. Joshua sighed and straightened up. "I'm sorry Sky. I wish I could say more, but I can't. There's nothing more I can do."
"Just leave me alone!" He took off again, roughly elbowing past her wide-eyed mother as he burrowed down the steps and toward the front door.
"Skylar! Where do you think you're going? There's a storm out there! Something bad can happen to you!" Mrs. Joshua's yelled from the top of the steps.
Sky paused and shot a murderous glare at his distraught mother.
"It wouldn't be the first time," he whispered sorrowfully. He yanked the front door open and dove into the outside world without a second glance back.