Chapter 1

Copyright© 2020 by Olga Chinka

My favorite moments can be found in the simple things in life. Curled up in my favorite chair by the window, reading my favorite book. Outside, big snowflakes carpeting the ground in a glistening blanket. School had just ended for winter break and I was looking forward to a break from the responsibilities of eighth grade.

This year has been tougher than I had anticipated. The homework was endless. I was always rushing and always late. Late on the bus, late to class, late to turn in my homework. Being able to wind down and just sit and read my book was a welcoming break.

“Rachel!” I heard my sister shout. “Rachel you get down here, we are late!”. I groaned and rolled my eyes. Of course, we were late. We are always late.

“I’m coming! Give me a minute!” I shout back as I roll off my chair and head to my closet to find a sweater.

It is a week before Christmas, and that meant it was time for rehearsal. The church that we attend puts on a big Christmas play every year. Every year my mom signs my sister and I up for a role and every year I hate it. I hate the endless practices, and I hate the feeling of having hundreds of eyes on me as I stutter through my lines and try my best not to vomit.

I head downstairs, ready to go to practice and get yelled at by the teacher. My mom is decorating the Christmas tree while my sister Jane is waiting by the front door. Arms crossed and looking annoyed, she and her boyfriend Steve already have their coats and shoes on.

“The house looks great, mom” I look around at the transformed house. Lush green garland hangs over every doorway. The ceilings are lined with Christmas lights. Carols are playing on the radio and the smell of baked apple pie permeates the home.

Christmas is the most important holiday to my family. My mom takes pride in her decorations and tries her best to make it festive. Our tree is always enormous with thousands of ornaments. Every wall is decked out with decoration. Our house looks like something out of a hallmark movie, and it all makes my mom deliriously happy.

I put my shoes on and grab my coat, following my sister and Steve out the door. Jane just got her driver’s license this year. The ability to drive legally has gone to her head and she revels in the privilege to drive my parent’s old car. My parents are just happy that they now had someone else to take me places.

Off to practice we go. All three of us have roles in the play. I was a shepherd while Jane and Steve were Mary and Joseph. My old doll was baby Jesus this year.

Sitting in the backseat staring out the window, I smell smoke in the car. I look to the front to see my sister and Steve smoking cigarettes!

“Gross! I’m telling mom you are smoking around me!” I threaten Jane. She rolls down both windows while laughing. “Relax, it’s only a little smoke. Don’t be such a brat.”

Steve turns to face me, “do you always have to be such a downer?” he asks with a disgusted look on his face. “This is why no one wants to be around you, you’re such a baby.”

Feeling my face turn red with anger, I look him straight in the eyes “at least I’m not a loser without a job! You’re twenty and still live with your parents? Still need my sister to drive you around town because you can’t afford a car?”

“Shut up Rachel!” my sister yells out from the front. “You don’t get to talk to my boyfriend that way. Just wait until mom hears about what a disrespectful little brat you are being. You’re lucky I even let you in my car with that kind of attitude.”

“It’s mom’s car” I mutter as I slump back in my seat with my arms crossed. This was so unfair. Steve was the one who did not belong! He’s the one being a brat.

But I knew my mom would believe Jane over me. She always believed Jane. My older sister is on the honor roll at school. She is team captain of the cheerleading squad at her high school and she’s a competitive swimmer. She was the perfect child.

I was flunking algebra and refused to do any extracurricular activities. What was the point? I would rather spend my time relaxing and not having to deal with the extra pressure to be someone better than who I am now.

Looking out the car window I felt Steve’s eyes on me. I glanced his way to see him glaring at me. “You’re going to regret that” he snarled. “You don’t know who you’re talking to.”

I rolled my eyes and mutter “whatever” as I turn my attention to the view from my window.

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