Authors: K. Sean Jennkrist
Tags: #adventure, #mystery, #fantasy, #magic, #young adult, #teens, #social issues, #bullying, #fairytale, #teen issues
Published by K. Sean Jennkrist at
Copyright 2011 K. Sean Jennkrist
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I awoke thinking how dismal the day looked.
November in Ohio does that to a person. Undressed and drab, void of
crisp autumn color, yet untouched by the pristine white of new
fallen snow. It's an in-between existence I could relate to. My
life was like that. I was somebody I didn't recognize, not any
longer. The stable forces in my life had been altered. I was
missing a major one and I didn't know how to handle it. What was I
to do? I had no idea.
"Winter! You should come downstairs for
breakfast. It's getting late."
I heard the call coming from below. Without
a word, I stood up from my chair and gathered my bag and books.
Releasing air to calm my tense frame, I then made my way down the
hall and to the kitchen. School was on the agenda today. I hadn't
been there since he disappeared. And that was two weeks ago. And I
wasn't ready. I wouldn't be ready.
"Good morning! There's bacon, and I fixed
some muffins. They're hot, so be careful not to burn your
I gave Mom an indifferent stare. Who was she
kidding? The I'm-just-fine act wasn't fooling me. She felt it just
as much as I did. Sad, lonely, empty. Losing a dad and husband in
one unexpected moment doesn't heal a family right away. I had a
strong feeling it might never heal. Not that kind of hurt.
"I'd say you have about twenty minutes
before Benny comes to pick you up. So eat. Please." Her tone and
face pleaded with me.
I scarfed down a muffin and bacon within
five minutes, followed by a glass of OJ, and then headed for the
front hall. "I'm just going to wait on the porch," I announced,
avoiding any further conversation.
I sat on the cement step and settled my chin
in the heel of my hand. My mind wandered to places my heart really
didn't want to visit. I pictured the front lawn with me at five and
dad holding my hand. He swore school wouldn't be so bad. I was
crying. I didn't believe him. School wasn't home. I liked home. I
liked my family. I didn't understand why there should be any reason
to leave. That had been a hard point to argue against, but he did
it. And by the time the bus came, I was smiling. Not like
"I sure could use one of your talks, Dad," I
mumbled, just as Benny and the Tribe Mobile drove up. I dragged my
bag, books, and myself off the porch and across the lawn. I heard
Mom's cheery goodbye, and then Benny's cheery hello.
"Good to see you, Snow White," Benny greeted
while tossing car trash from the front seat to the backseat.
I slid into the emptied space and nodded.
"Yeah, well …"
"You don't have to say anything. I know this
has gotta be rough. Just take it
I finally smiled at my best guy friend.
"Okay, wise one. I'll just do that."
"Uh huh. I hear you. If it makes you feel
better, lots of kids have been asking about you. People do care,
I turned my head to study his face. "Lots of
kids. By lots of kids I know you don't mean Tina Ford."
Benny stole a quick glance away from the
road to stare back at me. "Why would you even want anything from
her? I don't understand what's so important that you'd give
Queenzilla a second's thought. A nanosecond even."
I sighed and wanted to laugh at his monster
reference, but couldn't. "I don't. I … I don't even want to think
about her, but she's just there. I can't exactly make her
disappear, you know."
"Give me the word if she messes with you.
I'll take care of her," Benny said.
I rolled my eyes. "You don't need to do
"Protect me. Watch over me." It made me feel
weak. I needed to take care of myself. The problem was that I never
seemed to be able to do that. And now …
Benny swerved the car to the side of the
road and put on the breaks. His eyes locked on mine. "I'm your
friend. And friends watch out for each other. I got your back. And
it's gonna stay that way.
I patted his hand. "Calm down, Benny. I get
it. Really I do. But you can't always be there, every second of
every day." I turned and looked out the window. "Maybe it's too
soon. Maybe you should take me back home."
He laughed. "No way. Putting it off only
makes it worse. Let's get it over with."
"Fine." I settled back in my seat and
figured if I couldn't handle it, I knew the way to the front door,
and my way back home. It wasn't that long of a walk.
I managed first period and the first few
comments. There were smiles and kind words and all of it should
have made me feel better. I wish. The pull to escape overwhelmed
me. I needed air. Between second and third I headed for the
restroom. I decided to stay in there until after the tardy bell.
Then, I could sneak out of the building and be home before anyone
knew I was missing. The solution calmed me within seconds. I smiled
as I leaned against the sink. When I glanced up at the mirror and
saw my face, I drew back. The smile dropped. I didn't recognize
her. The darkened eyes, cheekbones jutting out, the drab, stringy
hair. Who was she, I wondered?
I felt the warm tears pool in my eyes and
trail down my cheeks. A sob welled up inside, ready to burst. And
it did. Loud and scary. I cried until I thought I'd be sick.
Bending over the sink, I turned the spigot on and ran cool water
over my face. I grabbed a paper towel to dry off. When I took it
away, I searched the mirror once more, just to be sure. I wanted so
desperately to recognize even one tiny feature, something
"Please. Just one thing," I whispered and
then blinked as the mirror began shifting. Not bouncing or moving
up and down, but like a movie screen or maybe a slide show. One
frame moving to the next. And then the glass began to cloud. I
reached up with the paper towel still in my hand and wiped the
glass. It didn't work. Then, by itself, it began to clear from the
middle and moved outward until it uncovered the image behind it. It
I rubbed my eyes once more as I stared,
thinking it might disappear. It didn't. "Dad?" I managed to say it,
but I couldn't believe it. I reached up and with the slightest
movement I let my fingers touch the glass. "Dad?"
The image smiled and nodded. "Hi,
sweetheart. I've missed you. And it seems you're not happy."
I gripped the sides of the sink, afraid if I
didn't hold on to something, I would collapse on the floor. "It
can't be …"
"Don't worry. You're not hallucinating. I am
really here. At least in a spiritual kind of way. Something told me
to come. And now I know why. Look, you don't have to be sad, or
afraid. Everything will be all right. You'll see. You just have to
I shook my head. "No, it isn't all right.
You left. Why did you leave like that? Without saying a word to me,
or to Mom, or to anybody?" My voice quivered and I felt the anger
coming to the surface. "You had no right!"
"Shhh. Be quiet and listen. I had to leave.
For your sake, you see. It's the only way to keep you safe and away
from harm. I have to do this."
"What are you talking about? This is crazy.
You need to be
with me and Mom. That's what will keep
me safe." I reached up with both hands and pounded on the glass.
"Come home, Dad. You have to come home."
"I'm sorry, Winter. I must do this. And you
must be patient. You'll understand one day."
I watched the image start to fade. It was
like mist and his face disappearing behind it. "Dad! You can't
leave. Dad!" I cried and watched until there was only my face
looking back at me, sadder and uglier than ever. Suddenly, my body
stiffened when I heard a laugh. I turned around and around and then
once more looked at the mirror.
The stall door at the far end opened. "Dad!
Come back, Dad." Tina mocked me.
I froze, not daring to say a word or to
move, though my hand gripped the sink to hold myself up.
"I always knew you were kind of weird, but
this …" Tina laughed and shook her head. "Talking to mirrors?
That's a whole new level. Yeah. You're the insane freak who talks
I finally moved backward as she stepped
closer to me. Not even in my vivid imagination could I have
imagined such a horrible day. I closed my eyes and wished for Tina
to disappear so I could disappear out of this room and this
"So, what's the problem,
Are you so desperate to have friends that you make ones up and talk
to them in the mirror? How sad. How very sad and pathetic."
I refused to open my eyes, but I heard her
witchy cackle and then the footsteps as she walked away. When I
heard the door close, I crumpled down to the floor and let the
tears flow once more. My life was ruined. Before the day was over,
I knew one thing for certain. Everyone would learn how I talked to
mirrors. Everyone would think of me as a freak.
would know because Tina Ford would tell them, her and her
fire-breathing Queenzilla self. She would tell the story with a
smile because that's what she was like. And I hated her for it. I
shivered. And I feared her because of it.
Be patient. Just be patient and in time all
will be fine.
My head jerked up and I stood again. Wiping
my eyes with the back of my hand, I looked at the mirror.
No, not him. Not human, not your average
kind of guy.
I twirled around to glance at every corner
of the room, but saw nothing out of place, nothing moving. "What's
You don't have to talk out loud. I can hear
your thoughts just fine. And you can hear mine. It's nice that way.
A private conversation with nobody listening.
I frowned and decided maybe Tina was right.
I was insane.
Not insane. Besides, why do you care what
she has to say? She's too into herself. Not worth the heel of her
Gucci shoe, if you ask me.
I don't know how it happened, but an image
began to form in my head. It started with colors, pink and green.
And then there was the tiniest dress, a tutu with wings to match.
The funny part was the face. It had the dark five-o'clock shadow of
beard stubble. Not exactly your average guy was right, I
Now I'm offended. I realize I look a little
bit off, but I will have you know as far as fairylike creatures, I
am one of the best at what we do. I can brighten your mood, give
you my wisdom of the ages, and maybe even make your problems go
Huh. Okay, try this. I want you to bring
back my dad. You think you could manage that?
I let my thoughts
Sorry. That is one thing I can't do. You
see, your dad has some important business to attend to. He can't
return until he finishes. But that shouldn't take too terribly
long. In the meantime, I'm here to keep you company.
Oh, well that makes me feel SO much better.
Now, leave, will you? My brain is obviously damaged enough without
letting you overtake it.
I can't do that, either. But I can let you
have time to process all of this. I know it's a tall order, but
All right, all right. I'm going.
My head seemed to clear of the cobwebs and
fuzziness. I felt drained. Looking one more time in the mirror to
see only sad, pathetic, crazy me, I somehow felt relieved. I
under a lot of stress. Anyone would be a victim to
strange behavior in this circumstance. Right? I sighed. I could
feel angry. I had a right to be angry and a whole lot more, I
figured. I slammed a fist against the wall.
"Damn straight, I do." I let the tears flow
again and sobbed one last time before leaving the restroom. "Take
care, Dad," I whispered and let the door close behind me.
Third period class had started, but I had no
desire to go there. Instead, I went to the nurse and complained of
a headache. It was true enough. I stayed there until fourth period
and lunch. Swinging by Benny's locker, I found him and Abby.