A demonic curse, an inflicted child, only her sister can save her.
"Here you go," Grandma handed me a plate of casserole. It was steaming and warm. I put my hands above it to warm them up. My sister Leona and I had just had a major water gun fight. My hands were wrinkly, and now numb from the warmth. My long black hair was dripping on my grandmother's brown tiled kitchen floor, but I knew she wouldn't mind.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Leona rub her hands together over her casserole, warming them up like I was. I caught her eye and she smiled at me, I smiled back. Even though I was fifteen, I was pretty close to my eight year old sister.
I could see her stifling back a giggle, "What?" I asked her, scooping up a fork full of casserole and putting it in my mouth. I almost swallowed it whole, burning my throat in the process.
"You look like a drowned rat!" My sister put her hand in front of her mouth in a pathetic attempt to hide her laughing.
I looked at her, her curly reddish brown hair now a tangled, dripping mess. "Well, you may not be a drowned rat but you ain't no beauty queen now," I laughed using my famous-almost-accurate Texas accent.
I put another fork full of casserole into my mouth, it wasn't so hot this time and the warm cheesy taste filled my mouth. This was an old family recipe, really old. My grandmother said that her great grandmother used to cook it all the time.
"Rinoa, when you're done, go and take a shower," Grandmother handed me a glass of milk, a cold glass of milk, chilling my hands after I had warmed them up. I guess I did look as bad as Leona had said, otherwise I wouldn't have been forced to take a shower, though I probably would've anyway.
After we were done supper, I headed upstairs to my bedroom. Flopping on my bed, I remembered my grandmother's shower request. I sighed and heaved myself off of the bed again. Sitting there, I rubbed my hands on the green and pink quilt that my Aunt Matilda had made for me.
It had a green border all around the edges, then pink inside of the green, then green inside of the pink and so on. It was so simple, yet exquisite at the same time. Maybe it was the way my name was sewed in the middle. Rinoa in deep purple letters was written in the most beautiful calligraphy I'd ever seen.
I stroked the soft fabric again, missing Aunt Matilda. She had been 94 when she made me this quilt, passing away only two short years ago. I was really close to her, and so was my grandmother. The unfortunate event had actually brought my grandmother and I closer together.
I used to live with my dad, after my mother had mysteriously disappeared, but after Aunt Matilda died, I was a bit depressed. My dad, not knowing what to do with me, brought me to his mother in law's house, thinking that if he put two depressed people together they would somehow get over their depression. And lo and behold, it worked. Very well to be certain, considering the fact that I moved in with her after that, and she welcomed me with open arms.
After a while, Leona got bored of being with the babysitter while my father was always at work, so my grandmother offered her the extra room, and it soon became the three of us, which, even though I love my dad, was way better than living with him. He just didn't understand girls. He didn't mind though, he was actually relieved that we had found a place where we felt comfortable.
"Rinoa! I don't hear that shower running!" Grandma called from downstairs.
I laughed and headed over to my dresser. I opened the top drawer that has chipped paint from when I had the brilliant idea of trying to redo it. I wanted to paint it purple to match my name on the quilt, but grandmother had told me that I would have to strip the original paint off first, otherwise the purple paint would peel. I think that she just wanted me out of her hair for a while. She had given me a paint scraper and set me to work on scraping off all the chestnut wood paint. I finished that one drawer, and then gave up, it having taken an hour and a half just to do that one.
I remember trying to get my grandmother to finish it for me, but her being an if you want it done that badly, do it yourself kind of person, it was left unfinished, has been that way for almost eight months now.
I grabbed my favourite pyjama pants. They were stripes, baby blue, dark blue, turquoise, light green, dark green, yellow and white side by side in a vertical fashion, and a plain white shirt.
I dashed into the bathroom, not wanting to make grandmother yell again. Stripping off my clothes I stepped into the shower. I turned on the water full blast hot, knowing that it wasn't good for my skin, but not caring much anyway.
I let the hot water run down my back, re-soaking my previously wet hair. And when I was done, and stepped out again, I felt like a wet, dried up, wrinkled old pruney raisin.
After slipping my pyjamas on I headed downstairs.
Grandmother was sitting in the big chair that used to belong to grandpa. It was big, deep red and plush. She was sleeping and I didn't want to wake her up, so I went to see Leona in her bedroom.
Leona's room was actually rather small, when she moved in I felt bad for her, having gotten stuck with the room no bigger than a small bathroom. But Leona declared that she loved it.
The walls were white, the carpet was white and the window was white. All the whiteness made it look unfinished when she had first gotten here, but once they moved her bed in there, with its bright red, orange, blue, and green pattern, the walls were needed to tone it down.
Leona was on the floor, cutting up pieces of paper.
"What. Are you doing?" I said, emphasizing the ‘what' as its own sentence.
"Art," she said in a French accent.
"Right," I flopped down onto her bed.
She looked up from what she was doing, "You're just jealous."
And before I could ask why, she answered, "Jealous of the fact that I know how to create a magnificent masterpiece that millions will love, and all you can do is create a replica of the Mona Lisa," She said bringing up the time when in Art Class, we had a project where you had to make a replica of a famous painting as best you could. I had chosen the Mona Lisa, and it had turned out better than I had thought.
I laughed, "Yep I'm jealous all right, because you can cut up paper into a pile and I can't," I said as I picked up one of the tiny pieces of construction paper that had missed the pile.
I crumpled it up into a little ball and tossed it at Leona, it plunking her in the head, getting lost in the mass of curls that I could tell she hadn't brushed, yet.
She brushed it out of her hair without even looking up, "I can't wait for summer vacation, only one more day," She grabbed two more pieces of paper off of the top shelf of her cabinet, a blue on and a yellow one, and began cutting them up.
"You're lucky," She began again, "High school ends for summer vacation a week before elementary does," She frowned and I stuck my tongue out at her.
"Sorry, kiddo, five more years for you," I patted her on the head and laughed, she hated it when I did that.
"Rhino," She mumbled under her breath.
"What did you say?" I asked.
"Rhino," She said a little louder, with a smirk on her face.
"Hmm?" I asked, annoyed.
"Rhino!" She yelled.
"Leona! Grandma's sleeping!" I whisper-yelled.
She grimaced at me, then got up to shut the door.
"Rhino," She said again in a regular voice.
"Ugh," I stuck my tongue out again, but this time in a more rude way. I hated it when she called me that. Rhino. It was because Rinoa, sort of looks like Rhino. And for a while, everyone at school called me that until I out-witted them and made up stupid nick names for them, too. After that, they showed me some respect. But it still bothered me because I couldn't think of any names for Leona. She had ended up with the pretty name. Leona. It sounded so.....royal, and beautiful. When Rinoa sounded like some sort of pasta.
"Ha," She said mockingly and continued cutting up her pieces of paper.
"Whatever," I snapped, and got up off her bed. I walked out of the room without even shooting a comeback at her, not something that I usually did, and she knew it. Well so much for that sister chat.
I walked into the kitchen again, looking for a glass of juice. I opened the fridge. Nothing. I opened the freezer, seeing if we had any frozen mix that I could make. None.
I went back into the living room where grandma was sleeping. She wasn't in the chair, or the living room so I headed up to her bedroom, hoping to find her there.
With luck, she was laying on her bed, reading.
"Hello," She said without looking up.
"Hi," I sat down on her bed beside her.
She didn't say anything so I continued, "What book are you reading?" The cover was black, the spine had nothing written on it, either.
"Old family history," She smiled.
"Can I read it?" I asked.
"No," She said, then seeing my shocked expression, added, "There's a lot missing, it wouldn't make sense."
For some strange reason, I didn't argue, when grandma said no, it was no.
"Okay, tomorrow do you want me to go to the grocery store? We're out of juice," I smiled.
Grandma looked at me, eyeing me carefully. "Sure," She said. "Pick up some ingredients for cake, too, I'm going to make Leona a special birthday cake."
That was right, Leona's birthday was in three days, I wondered why she hadn't mentioned it yet. She was probably expecting a surprise party, a surprise party that she wouldn't be getting.
"Sure," I nodded my head, "Wait, what kind of cake are you making? What ingredients for flavour to I need to get?" I asked her.
"Don't worry," Grandma placed her hand on my arm, "I'll make you a list."
"Okay," I smiled at Grandma, and she smiled back.
"So what's up?" She asked, placing her book on the night stand.
"What do you mean?" I ask. Of course I know what she means, I just don't know why she'd be asking me this question.
"Well, it just seems like you came in here having something more to say," She sat back and closed her eyes.
"Nope," I said and shrugged. "Nothing out of the ordinary, except that Leona's cutting up pieces of construction paper and making a giant pile of them in her room that she calls ‘Art'," I laughed.
"Lovely," Grandma grimaced.
"Yeah, I don't know what she's planning on doing with them afterward, kind of a waste of paper if you ask me," I shrugged.
"Yes, hmm, so, have you decided what college you are going to?" Grandma hit me with the most random question.
"College?" I repeated, "I've only just finished grade nine, college isn't for a while," I looked at her.
"Yes, but it's always good to know what you want to do with your future, I knew where I was going in grade seven, your mother I managed to get a decision from her when she was in grade eight," Grandma looked at me, proposing a hidden question.
"But I don't know what I want to be yet," As always, I tried to avoid this particular question. Most teenagers knew what they wanted to do for a living, I didn't, though. I've changed my mind so many times, but all were a little unattainable. Astronaut, deep sea diver, a ship captain, there were none that fit me, none that I actually felt passionate about.
"Ah, but there must be something that peeks your interest," Grandma said.
"No," I disagreed.
"Are you sure," She looked at me, her eyes looking right through me.
"Yeah..." I was starting to become unsure. Grandma had a natural talent with things like that, she could make you think deeply about anything, right up until you aren't even sure with yourself anymore.
She looked at me, one eyebrow raised, the other not.
I thought for a second, if I just made something up now, she'd stop pestering me, "Well, I have taken an interest in, uh, teaching?" I raised my voice at the end, unwillingly making it sound like a question.
"Teaching?" My grandmother eyed me carefully.
"Well, yeah, I'm good with kids, and my grades are good, I have patience, too," I looked at her convincingly.
"Well, whatever floats your boat, you do know that there's a lot of schooling needed for a teaching career." My grandmother looked at me sternly.
"Yeah, but who knows, it could change by tomorrow," I shrugged again.
"GRANDMA!!!" Leona squealed from her room.
Grandma heaved herself off of her bed, and shuffled over to the door. I made a move to follow her, but once she was out of the room, I grabbed the book off the night stand, having had a burning interest in it all this time.
I held it face up in my hands. "Dmetrius Family History" was engraved on the cover. It was a fairly big book, with a plain black covering and yellowed pages.
I opened the cover gently, afraid that if I was too rough with it, it would rip.
I read the first page, it was a journal entry:
September 12th 1887
The "Smith" is scheduled to dock tonight. A bunch of us are going out to sea to meet up with it, though. It has really expensive things on it, with passengers that are very wealthy. Robert says that we'll be able to rob it quite easily, very low security. Anna says we won't get away with it unless there aren't any witnesses left, so I guess we'll be getting rid of everyone. Robert also knows where to get the best weapons. I'll be going with him to get them, and loading our boat with them. I'll tell you how it went later.
I held the book in my hand reading that short journal entry over and over, my eyes glued to the page. It was a gesture of disbelief. I didn't understand it for one thing, ‘we'll be getting rid of everyone.' What did that mean? I assumed it meant they were going to kill them, but I couldn't grasp that possibility considering that it was my family.
I shook my head and turned the page very carefully, half afraid of what would be written, and the other half of worry that the page would tear right from the binding.
More journal entries, I skimmed them quickly, the words not really processing into my brain. I flipped closer to the end, it was filled with historical facts about my Grandma's side of the family. Just as something caught my eye, I heard footsteps outside the room, coming this way.
My head snapped up, and I unwillingly closed the book and placed back on the night stand where Grandma had left it. I looked around rapidly, trying to find something to occupy myself with, to give a reason why I would still be in there.
More footsteps, the doorknob turning. At the last moment I turned to the bed and started straightening the covers where Grandma had been laying.
When the door opened, I was surprised to see that it was Leona.
"Leona?" I asked, "Why'd you come in here?" I added, stupidly. Making it way to obvious I had something to hide.
She looked at me for a second. "I could ask you almost the same question," She walked over to my grandmother's closet and pulled out her bathrobe. "Grandma's taking a bath and asked me to fetch this for her, is that okay with you?" She asked sarcastically.
"Is that okay with you?" I mocked, and walked out the door.
Later that night I lay awake in my bed, staring up at the ceiling, tracing the circled patterns over and over again in my mind. I was unable to sleep, Grandma's book was on my mind, taking up every bit of space there was for thoughts of sleep. I kept seeing the words that had caught my eye over and over again in my mind.
The words Dmetrius family curse rang through my head almost the entire night.