The Essence of Sin

Chapter 4

That night, I was versing Marco at Super Smash Bros. My fingers earnestly tapped the yellow arrow buttons, making Kirby fly back onto the floor of Hyrule Castle. I positioned myself over Samus and turned into a rock, falling to the ground. Unfortunately, she rolled out of the way and kicked me, sending me flying off the screen again. I heard the little ping that signaled Kirby had died. I screamed in frustration and slammed my controller on the ground. Fuck this shit.

“I think she’s PMSing,” Polo whispered quite audibly to his brother. Oh, was I, now? Well, he was absolutely right! I threw the controller at his face and stomped off. Upon entering my room, I slammed the door shut, locking myself in. The soft, feather-filled pillow absorbed my weight as I limply fell onto my bed. However, not even the comfort of darkness could smother out the feeling of choking. I scrunched my eyes shut, and angry tears began to slip onto my pillow.

Why? Why was I so worked up about seeing my parents? I hadn’t had a thought about them in years, but now I was suddenly thinking all the time. What if . . . what if I missed them? What if I wanted to see them again? They didn’t hate me; that much was apparent from this afternoon’s little display. I had told myself that they didn’t want me anymore to solace the fact I ran off and discarded them from my life without just cause. They didn’t want me, so I didn’t want them. But I saw love in their eyes today. My mother even recognized me even though my body had changed dramatically from that five-year-old little ghost of the past.

No! I couldn’t have such heretic thoughts. My gang was my family now. They were the ones that raised me and took the roles of my parents and siblings. They watched me grow up and, and in turn, I watched them. I was being stupid for even thinking that I wanted to see my biological parents again after everything Jared and the rest of them had done for me.

Someone knocked at the door, making my body go rigid with dread.

“Princess? Dinner’s ready.” It was Gio.

“I’m not hungry!” I shouted, burying my face into my pillow and shutting him out.

“Come on, Princess! You love Gio’s spaghetti!” Caleb.

“Yes! It smells really good this time!” Polo.

“I don’t think she’s coming,” I heard in a softer voice. Marco.

“If she’s going to be a brat and starve herself, I say we let her.” Shaun. What did he know? I would have liked to see him meet with his parents after eleven years and learn that they still wanted him. I’d just like to see him deal with that.

“Don’t be so harsh, Shaun. She has to eat sometime.” Lenny.

“Mmmm! This is some awesome spaghetti, Gio! If only a certain someone would come share this with me, it would taste that much better!” Ryo. As if that was going to work on me. Not a chance. I wasn’t a fucking two-year-old for god’s sake!

“Come on, Princess! You can have chocolate for all I care! Just eat something!” Jared.

See? They were my true family. Everyone was here for me. Everyone was worried about me. They cared about me. But your parents looked like they cared about you back there. They ran after you and said they had been looking for you, a little voice in the back of my head said to me. Thank you for making everything so damn complicated, creepy voices! I applaud you on making me miserable. And possibly schizophrenic.

“Go away! Leave me alone!” I shouted, silencing all the noises coming from the hall and in my head. I heard something click, and the door swung open, revealing eight boys standing at the doorway. Why the fuck did they put a lock on my door if they could pick it and waltz in whenever they wanted? I sandwiched my head between my pillow and mattress and continued to ignore the boys who had seated themselves around me.

“I guess if you won’t eat, we won’t either,” Caleb’s voice said loftily. Fine. If you all starved, I didn’t care. Do whatever you fucking wanted to do.

The smell of steaming hot spaghetti wafted to my nose, forcing violent pangs of hunger to surface. My mouth watered as I saw a steaming plate set next to my head. Damn them. . . . But I was not going to give in! I was not going to eat, and that was that!


Traitorous stomach! I knew without looking that everyone was smirking in triumph. Why couldn’t they leave? Why couldn’t they see that I just wanted to be alone?

Someone was typing, and I automatically guessed it was Shaun. Genius man over there without his laptop was like a polar bear in a tree: impossible.

“Guys, I think you might want to see this. . . .” Shaun said slowly. He sounded spooked. Or surprised. Or something not good. “Kara, quit sulking and look.” I slowly stirred and sat up, glumly staring at the brightly glowing screen. Suddenly, a mass of sound erupted form the laptop speakers as Shaun pulled out his headphones.

“—who ran away from home in 1996 had finally been spotted by her parents at the local Super Target. When the girl’s parents confronted her, she ran off with an unidentified man. Dan Harper, who was just recently promoted to chief deputy officer for the county, has put top priority to locating his missing daughter. If anyone has any information regarding Kara Harper or the man she was seen with, please call—”

I tuned out everything after that.

Shaun snapped his laptop shut, staring me down with enraged and cold eyes. The room was silent as everyone looked at me with worried expressions.

“Well, the security video was pretty blurry, so it doesn’t seem likely that anyone will be able to recognize the both of you,” Lenny murmured, a hint of doubt lowering the volume of his already quiet voice.

Wow. I thought this took guilty to a completely new level. Because of me, Jared and I couldn’t go out in public anymore. We couldn’t go to the mall, or the racetrack, or the clubs, or anywhere. And all of it was my fault. There were so many rampant emotions stampeding through my head, the inside of my mind was just a flash of cascading thoughts. It was too much.

Although it went against my good judgment, I started crying right in front of my gang. My eyes emptied themselves out into my pillow, quietly wallowing in misery. I faintly remember five pairs of arms wrap around me, and I felt the heat of their bodies warm me up. Their large figures were a tangible barrier to shield me from the rest of the world. All that existed was them and me, and nothing else mattered. Before I fell asleep, Jared, who was lying next to me, whispered something into my ear so quietly that none of the others could hear.

“Don’t worry, Princess. I’m going to find a way to fix this. I promise.”

* * *

“Are you sure all this is necessary?” I asked the group of boys surrounding my chair. I looked uncertainly in the big mirror. My hair had been chopped off, leaving only two inches of locks remaining. Instead of black, my hair was now auburn. Yippie. . . .

“Do you want to be able to go outside without the coppers mauling you?” Ryo whispered in my ear. I had no argument to that so I just glared icicles at him. This new haircut was going to take a lot of getting used to, that was for sure. I heard Jared whining in the chair next to me.

“You had to make them bleach it?”

I peered around the hair stylist and laughed. Jared’s hair had been cropped short to his head and was now a light blonde color. He was pouting in the mirror and looking at it from different angles. Yes, this would definitely take some getting used to. I hopped out of my chair and thanked the woman who had done my hair. Yeah, thanks for mutilating my beautiful hair. I really appreciate it. We walked out of the parlor and into the mall, me silently fuming. Jared looked down at me.

“Hey, at least you look pretty! Look what they did to me!” he exclaimed. I stared with a glare in my eyes. I looked pretty? Was he blind or something?

“You both look fine!” Ryo exclaimed in frustration, throwing his arms up. “Quit whining!” Polo bounded up to me and grabbed my arm. He started pulling me towards a very girly looking store. He wasn’t thinking—Aw, hell no!

“You need a new wardrobe, Princess,” he said as he dragged me in. I looked around and almost screamed. There were flowery skirts and dresses hanging from every mannequin and shoved into every shelf. And pink. Oh, so much pink. . . . I think I twitched.

“I will not get clothes from here! Polo! Hey! Are you listening to me?” But the lanky blond was talking to the girl at the counter, ignoring me completely. Asshole.

“Hey, Rita. This is my cousin, Ashley. Can you hook her up with some clothes?” Polo asked. Ashley. Wasn’t that the name of his last girlfriend . . . ?

“Sure! Anything for you, Polo,” the girl swooned, batting her eyelashes at him and flipping her teased brunette hair over her shoulder. My eyes almost bled when I saw the extremely thick line of silver glitter eye-liner that covered half her eyelid. It was girls like her that made me ashamed to share the same hormones as them. I thought I was going to puke at Polo's horrible taste.

Not that I had anything against the boy—he was one of the coolest guys I knew. He had very light blonde hair—it was almost white. He kept it short, as opposed to his brother, Marco, who kept it shoulder length. Polo was the louder of the two twins and the more childish one. Marco was a bit more laid back in everything he did, opting to act cool—the perfect ladies man—while Polo provided enough obnoxious behavior for the both of them. Whether it be sports, bench pressing, or number of girlfriends, Marco beat out his twin. Really, the only thing that Polo had over his brother was gaming. Polo was the one to beat in every video game we owned, and we had over fifty of them across our various consoles. I loved both the twins dearly, but even they had flaws. They were true players, or pimps if you will. I didn’t mind it so much because they never flirted with me. They treated me like a normal human being and not some sex object, so I tolerated them.

“So, Ashley, what kind of clothes were you looking for?” the whore asked me in a singsong voice. Well, nothing in this dump you called a store. But I wasn’t about to say that out loud. I scanned the area, looking for something slightly decent, but nothing appealed to me. I turned towards the exit, but Polo came up next to my ear.

“Look, she’s giving us a discount, so don’t even think about goin' somewhere else.”

Damn Polo and his player skills. Why did he have to flirt with the chick that worked in the girliest store at the mall? Remind me to thoroughly bash his face against the wall when we got home. I looked at Rita, who was smiling sweetly at me, waiting for an answer.

“Um . . . nothing too flowery,” I finally said, sighing and eying the store warily. I guess that excluded everything here! Let's go home!

“Oh, I know just the things for you!” Rita exclaimed, leading me towards a wrack of skirts. I shot Polo a look of complete loathing and he just smirked and ushered me along.