Getting to Me

Chapter One

“Mandy, honey, you’re going to be late for work if you sleep in anymore,” Suzy Haner said with a chuckle into her eldest daughter’s bedroom, looking in to see a head full of dark brown hair sticking out of the blankets that were clenched tightly around her body. She’d heard her alarm clock go off twice already, and she was due at the grocery store at eight o’clock to open up.

Mandy groaned from underneath her nice, warm blankets and threw them off of her head just enough to look at her mother with a frown before she sighed as she looked at the clock. There was no doubt that she’d be late, but her boss was always understanding about being a few minutes late on the weekends. “Thanks for waking me up, Mom,” she said as she slipped out from underneath the blankets. Suzy nodded as she closed the bedroom door and leaving her daughter to herself.

Just as she’d pulled on the sweater she was going to wear for the day, she heard the loud sound of a car door bang shut outside, and she went to her window to see her older brother and one of his friends walking towards the house. An excited grin formed on her face as she quickly pulled on a pair of pants and ran out of her bedroom and down the hall to see him standing in the living room, snow still clinging to his hair.

“Brian!” She said excitedly, launching herself into his arms. He chuckled at the sight of his younger sister and wrapped his own arms around her in a hug, ruffling her hair, the same shade as his, before holding her at arm’s length to study her. “You’ve done a little growing since the last time I saw ya, Squirt,” he joked, pulling her in for another hug.

“And…who’s he?” Mandy asked, turning to look at the friend that had come with Brian. He had styled coal-black hair that hung slightly over his green eyes and a wide smile, his bottom lip pierced by two lip rings and one hanging from the middle of his nose as well. Though Mandy had never been one for piercings, she didn’t think they looked bad on this guy. He smiled at her and then cleared his throat to introduce himself.

“I’m Zacky,” he smiled at her, offering his hand to shake. Mandy smiled back at him as she took his firm grip. His fingers were callused against her skin, and she noticed that underneath of the hoodie sleeves covering his arms, he had sleeve tattoos just like Brian did. She was curious about where her older brother had met him, but she decided to leave that question until later.

“I have to go to work, so I’ll see you later,” she said brightly as she leaned up to brush her lips across her older brother’s cheek before walking out of the living room and towards her car to drive into town and go to work.


The day was uneventful for Mandy. She was fifteen minutes late to work, just as she’d thought she would be, but her boss had understood the delay when she’d told him that Brian was back in town and that she’d had to spend a few extra minutes saying hello to him. Like all Saturdays, the small grocery store was fairly slow, and she spent her lunch break cleaning the back room so that she wouldn’t have to spend extra time after her shift to do it. When six o’clock finally rolled around and she pushed her punch card through the machine to leave, she couldn’t help but feel excited. Brian had texted her about wanting to see some movie at the theater, and she was looking forward to spending time with her older brother and his friend.

She didn’t know much about Zacky, but he seemed okay. If Brian hung out with him, he couldn’t be all bad, she thought to herself with a smile as she drove the icy road carefully out to her parents’ small ranch. It wasn’t much, just a two story house with five small bedrooms and a basement that had concrete walls with a packed dirt floor, but it was where she’d grown up, and it was home to her.

Brian and her other brother, Brent, were watching TV in the living room with McKenna when she got home. Her father was out checking the water in the horse barn, and her mother was busy getting dinner ready on the stove. Mandy noticed that Zacky wasn’t in the living room, but decided not to ask as she walked upstairs to her bedroom to change into something more comfortable for the movie when they went to the theater in town.

By the time she’d exited her bedroom, she heard loud snoring coming from Brian’s. Smiling when she realized that it was Zacky, she cracked the door open just enough to see his body passed out on Brian’s bed, his head turned to the side and his arms crossed underneath his chest, butt sticking up just a little from underneath the blanket someone had tossed over him to keep him warm in the drafty room.

She giggled at how cute he looked when he was sleeping on the bed. She wondered if he was going to end up having to sleep on the couch, because she knew that Brian kicked when he slept. She closed the door again as she walked down the hallway towards the stairs that would lead her downstairs, smiling when she saw that Brian and Brent were in a world of their own in some video game on the TV while McKenna was calling them both idiots. She laughed at her little sister’s language, no doubt learned from their older brothers before she walked into the kitchen and smiled at her mother.

“Do you need any help making the food, Mom?” She asked, causing Suzy to shake her head and smile.

“No, dear, everything is fine. You go sit down for awhile, you worked all day and you take night courses most days of the week. Just sit down and enjoy some time with Brian. He said he’s back for good,” she said to Mandy, though there was an air of disappointment in her mother’s voice. Mandy didn’t need to ask why to understand why she was upset.

If Brian was going to be home for good, it meant that he’d dropped out of college. And though she knew that their parents would support him with whatever it was he was planning on doing with his life, even if it was just working a dead end job somewhere in town, it couldn’t be pleasing to them that their oldest was dropping out. It wasn’t the best example to set for their other three children, especially since Brent was already planning on not even attending.

“Okay, Mom,” Mandy nodded as she walked into the living room to sit down and watch. She recognized the game as something that Brent played by himself all the time, but she couldn’t remember the name of it. She could tell that whatever her brothers were shooting at were zombies, however, and they appeared to be SS soldiers or something. She shrugged, not taking any interest in the game before a voice from the front of the living room caught her attention. She looked over to see Zacky walking into the room, his pants slung low on his hips and his shirt wrinkled where he’d slept on it. The image of him sleeping came back to Mandy and she giggled as he walked in, sitting down next to her and stretching before looking at her with a grin.

“Not into video games?” He asked, looking down at the book she’d grabbed off of the coffee table to read. She blushed at his question and shook her head, closing the book yet again and then looking at him.

“No, I’m not very good with the controllers or anything,” she shrugged before grinning when his own smile widened.

“I’m not much for them either,” he told her. “I’d rather play my guitar than shoot at monsters on TV.”

Brian seemed to have heard him and turned to give Zacky a weird look. “Bullshit, man. You played Nazi Zombies all the time at your place with me. Stop trying to impress Mandy. She doesn’t like musicians anyway,” he grumbled before turning his attention back to the TV.

“Brian said a bad word, Mom!” McKenna called to their mother, who could audibly be heard sighing before she called into the living room to warn Brian to watch his language. Mandy chuckled, though she was confused by her older brother’s answer. How did he know she wasn’t interested in musicians? She actually thought it was kind of hot that Zacky could play guitar, if he could. She’d always liked listening to Brian and her father play, and even though she wasn’t good at it herself, she thought it was an attractive attribute for a guy to have.

Zacky was blushing at being caught in his obvious lie, but it only made Mandy giggle. She thought it was cute that he’d tried to impress her. Although, she doubted if anything would ever happen between the two of them except flirting. He had to be at least Brian’s age, which meant that he was at least twenty five, whereas she was only nineteen. That was a lot of years’ difference for a guy and a girl, and even though it was legal, she doubted a relationship would work. Besides, she was too busy for a boyfriend, between helping her parents on the ranch, her fulltime job at the grocery store, and her night classes at the local college an hour away.

“Kids, dinner’s ready,” Suzy called after a few minutes. Brian and Brent both groaned as they realized they had to turn the game off, but did anyway. Suzy had wandered out of the house to go and get their father, while all five of the others walked to the table and sat down in their ‘respective’ places at the table.

Brent and Brian sat on one table, with Zacky next to Brian, while McKenna and Mandy sat on the other side. Their parents would sit at the ends of the table, and all the food would be placed in the middle so that no one would have to pass anything around, really. It was a convenient set up that had always worked for their large family and whoever else happened to show up to the meal.

The meal was spent in comfortable silence. Their father said grace at the beginning of the meal as he had every meal since any of them could remember, and their mugs were filled with the homemade hot tea that Suzy had made for them. No one said anything for the first several minutes of the dinner, but it was a comfortable sort of silence. The Haners weren’t a family that often argued with one another, though when they did, it was a rather big deal.

“So what movies are you kids going to?” Brian Sr., their father, asked from his spot between bites of food as he looked up with a smile on his face that looked so similar to his namesake son’s.

“Not sure yet,” Brian shrugged before looking at Mandy. “What do you want to see?”

She thought about it for a moment and then shrugged. She too didn’t care what movie they ended up seeing. She was just glad that she got to spend some time with her older brother. It had been six long months since she’d seen him, and now that he was home, she was planning on spending as much time with him and filling him in on her life since he’d been gone.

“I don’t care,” she told him. “Just as long as it’s not something totally stupid like, Twilight or something,” she muttered.


As luck would have it, that was exactly what Brian took them to see. It wasn’t because he, Brent, Zacky, or Mandy wanted to see it, but rather because McKenna wanted to watch it, and none of them could say no to her pouting. Brian paid for the tickets, popcorn, and drinks, except for Zacky’s, and they made their way into the small theater to sit down in the middle section about three-fourths of the way up. Because of the way they were seated, Mandy was seated in between Brian and Zacky, not that she minded. She decided she’d share Zacky’s popcorn since Brian’s was positioned between himself and Brent, leaving McKenna with her own.

It was only fifteen minutes in to the movie before Mandy seriously felt like she was going to fall asleep. There was nothing about the movie that she could enjoy; not even the music score was her preferred choice, and she could usually enjoy that. She looked over to see both Brian and Brent slumped over on their chairs, and Zacky had started dozing off as well. She didn’t want McKenna to be the only one awake to watch it, but the movie was so boring to her that she couldn’t help it as her eyes began drifting closed.

The movie was over before she woke up. McKenna had fallen asleep at some point during the movie as well, signaling that she hadn’t enjoyed it much either. That wasn’t the first thing that Mandy noticed, however. What she did notice was the fact that Zacky’s head was lying on her shoulder, his breath hitting her nose with each soft snore that left his plump lips, and her head was using his as a pillow. Brian took notice as well and growled as he pulled Zacky away from his younger sister.

“Dude, she’s my sister,” he said disapprovingly as he shook Zacky awake with a start. The green eyed man blinked a few times, trying to figure out why he’d been so rudely awoken, before he realized what Brian had said. He shrugged, not too upset over his friend’s outrage.

“Relax, Bri,” he rolled his eyes. “It’s not like I was making out with her neck or anything. I just fell asleep.”

Brian growled, still not amused that his friend had fallen asleep on his ‘little’ sister, but he didn’t say anything else as the five of them walked out of the theater and towards Brian’s Suburban. Brian and Zacky both sat in the front while the other three managed to fit into the back seat, before Brent decided he didn’t want to sit with his sisters and crawled into the cargo area in the back. His snores could soon be heard in the quiet SUV. Brian made sure that everyone except Brent had their seatbelts on before he put the car into drive, and then turned the radio on to some country station quietly.

Mandy was too tired as Brian drove them home to notice that Zacky was sneaking glances at her from the rearview mirror, or she would have returned the glances.
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So, this is my first NaNoWriMo novel, and I’m pretty excited about it. ^_^ I’m really looking forward to this. Also, the bit where I was semi-bashing Twilight is nothing personal to anyone who likes the movie or actors, or the music in the movie. Just thought I’d put that in here to avoid conflict. Another side note is that this story is going to have a lot of cultural references to North Dakota and how life is lived there, since that’s where I grew up and it’s what I know, and that’s something I’ve wanted to write into a story for awhile. Thanks for reading, and comments are always lovely. ^_^