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Who do you blame for your parents divorce? Them? Yourself? Or a glass ball with horrifying powers?

A strangely powerful ball has taken over Vanessa’s life. She knows, in order to save her relationships with her parents and friends and keep what’s left of her sanity, she must find a way to destroy the ball and she thinks she’s found a way.

Chapter 5



I tiptoed down to the kitchen, my nose following the smell of fresh brewed coffee, a regular morning ritual in either home. I didn’t know what time it was, just that it was morning and Gloria and Camille were still sleeping. I stopped at the bottom step when I heard my Mom’s voice. It sounded like she was deep in conversation with someone. Curious, I stepped closer and eavesdropped.

“She’s had nightmares two nights in a row now. Last night she woke up screaming. I’m telling you something’s going on. I really think this separation is much harder on her than either of us imagined it would be.” Silence followed for a minute before she went on. “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and I was wondering what you might think about all of us going to counseling?” Her words were very soft and low. I could almost see her twirling her hair nervously around one finger while clutching the cordless telephone in her other hand. Every few seconds, I could hear her murmur “Mmm-hmm” as if in agreement with what she was hearing.

Counseling? Me Us? The word counseling made me feel kind of sick to my stomach. It made me feel like I was broken or something. Worse than that, it made me mad! I wasn’t included in the decision for my family to separate, but my parents wanted to include me in counseling? How was that even remotely fair?

I didn’t really want to hear the rest of the conversation, and I didn’t want Mom to find me lurking around the corner, so I turned around and tiptoed back upstairs. This day wasn’t feeling so exciting to me anymore.

It wasn’t bad enough Mom and Dad had split up, because they were having problems, now it seemed I was adding to their problems. I was just one more problem in a whole barrel full of problems. First, a rotten marriage, next, a broken home, and now a cracked kid; I was beginning to wonder if we would ever be able to put all the broken pieces back together again. The more I thought about it, the sadder I became. I was really on a roll with this feeling sorry for myself thing. I flopped down in my computer chair.

“Are you crying?” Camille was rubbing the sleep out of one eye while questioning me with the other. Her voice startled me, because I hadn’t realized she was awake already.

“Um, no,” I said as I quickly swiped at a tear. I turned away and tried to look like I was searching for something on my desk.

“You are too!” She crawled off the bed being careful not to wake Gloria.

Camille sneaked up behind me and gave me a quick hug. “I know it’s got to be hard for you. I mean, I can’t imagine what I’d do if my parents split and I had to move.” I kept my head tucked down while she talked. “I wish you weren’t so sad.”

I felt a lump growing in my throat. “Sometimes I want to just run and, then, keep running,” I rested my head against the warm glass of my bedroom window, my eyes looking into the trees from the neighbors yard. “I hate that Mom and Dad are split up, and I hate not being in our old house.”

I played with the strings that raised and lowered the mini blinds for my window. Sadly, I batted at them with my hand, swinging them into the windowpane and watching as they swung back out.

“So what are you going to do?”

I shrugged, not really having any idea. No idea at all. I knew I wanted things back the way they used to be. I wanted my Mom and Dad back together and all of us living in the same house. I wanted to wake up in my old room where I knew every sound, every smell, every everything when I woke up in the morning. I wanted to turn back the hands of time and have everything go back to the way it was. That wasn’t happening though.

“What can I do? It’s not like I have any choice in all this.” The anger I felt bubbled its way up inside me. I pushed myself away from the window and started rummaging through dresser drawers for some clothes to wear. Just thinking about it hurt. But here I was, in my new room, feeling really sad. I shut it out of my mind and changed into a pair of jeans and a t- shirt.

Camille got dressed, and we woke Gloria. Today, the three of us were going to the public pool to swim, and we wanted to get there before it got too crowded, so we could get a lounger to sit in. Lying on a beach towel on hard concrete just wasn’t as cool.

Mom already had cereal set out for us, and we rushed through breakfast. Soon, she loaded us all into her small car and drove us to the pool. We had a beach bag filled with swimsuits, sunscreen, books and fruit roll ups. We each had a few dollars on us for drinks and snacks. We thanked Mom as she pulled away from the curb. Flashing our season passes at the ticket window, we dashed inside to claim our seats. Hardly anybody inside yet! We lined three loungers together, neatly laying our beach towels across them and dropping our brightly colored beach bags on the concrete floor.

“Last one in is a rotten egg!” Gloria canon-balled off the side of the pool, landing in the water with a loud kersplash! I looked around to see if the lifeguard was going to blow the whistle, but he didn’t. I jumped in next, both feet first. Cold, clear water bubbled up around my nose as I sunk to the bottom. I kicked off from the pool floor, resurfacing in time to see Camille go rocketing past me to disappear beneath the surface. Her blond head bobbed up a minute later and she swiped her wet hair back from her face.

“Brrrrr! It’s cold!” She squealed as she swam away. The water was cold, but it felt really great after the heat of the sun. We swam like dolphins from one end of the pool to the other, and then we played water tag for a little bit. I did a breaststroke, slowly moving a few inches at a time. I’d dip my head underwater every now and again, and there I’d see other people’s legs and feet, sometimes, another face blowing bubbles as some kid swam past. I turned on my back and floated for a while, my face lifted toward the afternoon sun. Some dumb kid did a nasty belly flop right by me, sending up a tidal wave that washed over my face. I gasped and sputtered, kicking myself back over onto my belly.

Swimming back to the poolside, I pulled my arms up over the edge and rested one cheek on the cool concrete lip. The smell of chlorine tickled my nose, and I sneezed. Then, I let myself just kind of float there for a while, kicking my feet every so often as I enjoyed the moment. All my sad thoughts and feelings from earlier in the morning were gone at the moment. For now, it was just me enjoying a hot spring day with my two best friends. Everywhere I looked there were bikini-clad bodies stretched out, toasting themselves a pretty golden brown.

Some boys close by were making water farts by squeezing their hands together and shooting water out of them, their palms mashing together really hard and fast. Lame! All around me there was splashing, shouts and loud laughter. Though there were signs clearly posted that read “NO DUNKING” there appeared to be a lot of dunking going on. One boy shot up from the bottom of the pool, breaking the surface, choking and sputtering, his feet treading water. The pool sparkled brightly under the afternoon sun, and a shrill whistle sounded from the lifeguard’s stand.

I climbed out of the pool, wrapping my towel around my waist and wringing the water from my hair. Walking toward my friends, somebody behind me stepped on my flip flop and I felt one of the sides give out. Nice. There wasn’t any flip left in that flop. I threw death dagger glares at the girl behind me, which she pretended not to see. I skated my foot along, so I wouldn’t have to carry my shoe and plopped myself down in the lounger.

Gloria and Camille climbed out shortly afterward, and we all stretched out on our chairs, letting the sun bake us dry. On the other side of us, some cute boy was kidding around with three girls. Shielding my eyes with my hand, I watched them, the girls smiling and giggling, whispering behind their hands, the boy obviously trying to impress them with his jokes. It seemed to be working. Another boy climbed out of the pool near the group and shook himself off like a wet dog, sending water spraying over them and us.

Some girls further away were listening to music on a radio, and a couple of them were laughing and dancing to the music. Show offs! A Frisbee came flying out of the swimming pool and bounced loudly off one of the girls’ heads. That had to hurt! She flinched and rubbed her head looking around for the person who’d thrown it. A bunch of other kids were having a splashing contest at the far end of the pool.

Mom picked us up a few hours later, a little worried over replacing my flip-flops and, then, drove us to McDonald’s. I poured big blobs of ketchup on my French-fries and noisily slurped a vanilla shake while Camille and Gloria argued over favorite movies. It’d been a great day, and I was sorry to see it being nearly over. In the morning, my friends would go home, and I would go back to feeling sad and lonely. Sometimes life just sucks. Right now…right now, though…life is pretty good!

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Jeannie Palmer

Albuquerque, United States

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