Death-Wish Kids


Friday came too quickly for any of our likings. The Alexander household was subdued and in an uproar simultaneously. Ryder charged through the house slamming doors and Noah pretended it wasn't happening by losing himself in the Star Wars movies. His bags were packed around him, but he barely even noticed. My father consoled and thanked us, promising that three days would fly by and we wouldn't have to go back for a long while.

I held Micah in my arms as I tried to quickly gather the rest of his things together. Traveling with a child was much harder than just three teenagers. He needed absolutely everything. As I stuffed another outfit into his duffel bag, my dad came into the room and shut the door, barring Ryder's yelling on the other side.

"Are you almost ready?" he questioned, walking over and taking Micah from me, "I told your mother that I would get you guys on your flight on time." He glanced at his watch. "Which is in thirty-six minutes, by the way."

"I'm almost finished," I rebutted, "Go hurry Ryder along. She obviously needs it." I pulled Micah back from him and gathered his two little bags before lifting my own backpack and duffel from the floor to take downstairs.

The airport was only minutes away, but getting the four of us all willingly into the car took another five. Dad promised Ryder that she could participate in her school's senior skip days, and happily bribed, the 18 year old hopped into the front seat and pushed her earbuds in to drown us out.

Noah climbed into the far back of the vehicle and blinked his curly hair out of his doe eyes as the rest of us clambered in and we took off towards Liberty Airport. "What if the plane crashes?" Noah questioned, "What if we all die and you never see us again, Dad?"

"Noah, stop it," Dad replied, "You'll be fine. It's only a 2.5 hour flight. You'll be to Mom's in no time," he said. He wasn't oblivious to the fact that Noah hardly knew our mother, but instead he willingly ignored it, happy to believe that everything would be okay if he wanted it to be.

Noah settled into the back and quieted down after another warning that he might scare Ryder and cause her refusal again.

"Okay, guys," Dad started, yanking Ryder's headphones off, "Listen, I want you to be good for your mom. She's very excited that you're all coming and wants to make the best of the next two days. Show her some respect and treat Warner nicely too."

"Dad, we're not hellions," Ryder said, "We're just going to do our time and get the hell out of there. Warner means nothing to us."

He nodded, secretly pleased by the admittance. He glanced in the mirror and I looked away, trying not to see his gaze. He called my name anyways. "Cyren, this trip is about family, okay? These two days are meant to be spent with your mother and Noah and Ryder as well as Micah. I expect you to be where ever they are."

"Got it." I nodded, handing Micah another bite of dried fruit.

Ryder rolled her eyes.

At the terminal, our dad hugged each of us and sent us on our way, promising to meet up back here in two days. I carried Micah and Ryder held Noah's hand and the four of us boarded the plan, bracing ourselves for the alternate universe we'd be surrounded by when we stepped out on the other side.

Our mother was different from our father in almost every way possible. Her physical appearance, while similar, held subtle hints of less that were noticed only by those who knew them both well. Her hair was brown, but so many shades light that it seemed boring and flat and her eyes were blue, but somehow managed to see even less intriguing than the intense brown of our father's.

While she'd had three kids and gained her place as a mother, she never acquired any of the traits she needed to actually raise us. Her own self-loathing had made it obvious that she hated every piece of our father that was passed down to us and longed for one of her children to face the world with the view she had of herself.

When we left the plane side by side, we looked for the woman who was supposed to love us and were astonished at the sight of her actually waiting not too far away. At her side was a man who was older than her with a rounder physic and more honest expression.

Ryder, assuming the big sister role, led us over to our mother. "Felicia," she greeted, staring harshly at the couple opposite us.

The woman, dressed in an oversized green sweater and a pair of jeans that could've been Warner's, smiled but didn't move to embrace us. Her eyes stopped on Noah and she peered at him, searching for any sign of herself in him, much like she had done with Ryder and I.

"You've gotten so old," Felicia spoke, peering to see the color of his eyes, "I can't believe that my little boy is already this big."

Noah smiled politely and nodded his head.

"It's good to see you kids," Felicia said, looking over us again, "It seems that so much has changed. I mean, just look at Micah. He's not a baby anymore."

"He's almost a year," I said, "He's growing up.""

She nodded and squeezed Warner's hand. "Well, Cyren, you obviously remember War, but Ryder, Noah, this is my boyfriend, Warner, Warner, these are my children."

The aging man offered a half-hearted smile that seemed to please our mom and then he tugged her hand and she seemed to remember that we had some where to go rather than the terminal of the airport. We picked up our bags and lugged them to the car. Mom carried one of mine and I took the others and Micah, along with his things. Warner carried the car keys.

Our mom had moved since the last time I'd been here. From the little house on 22nd street to an even littler apartment in the middle of the city. We entered the building and climbed a flight of stairs to the upstairs. There were four apartments in the entire building, two on each floor, and the hallway between them was structured like a porch would be, with a couple of outdoor couches and end-tables. Two doors faced each other and the adults led us to the one of the right. Warner unlocked the door and dissappeared inside without so much as a 'welcome' or 'make yourselves at home'.

Our mother kept grinning as we piled into the small apartment. "I got a little busy so I didn't really have time to tidy up before I had to go get you," she said, gathering a couple beer bottles and plates into her arms, "I kind of got my days mixed up, to be honest."

Ryder ignored her and peered around the apartment. The kitchen and living room were combined into one giant square consisting of features of both. There were four doors stemming from there, including the one we just came through.

Felicia pointed to the door closest to the kitchen and the farthest from us. "That's mine and Warner's room," she explained before pointing to the closer one along the right wall, "This is the spare bedroom," she maneuvered around the couch and coffee table and turned the knob of an old door.

The three of us moved up to look. Inside were two twin beds covered in blankets made for children who still played with Barbies and My Little Ponies. The walls were a dirty white but cheap photos hung covering the worst of it. One window sat in thecenter of the fall wall, covered by sheer pink curtains.

"I was thinking that you girls and Micah could sleep in here," she said, "And since Noah is the man of the house, he could take the couch in the living room."

Noah didn't even get a chance to rebut before Ryder stepped in. "We can all stay here," she said, putting on her brave face for the sake of her brother, "Noah can stay here with Micah, Cyren, and me. We'll make it work."

"Ryder, a girl needs her privacy," Felicia argued, "I don't want any of you sleeping on the floor, it's just that I don't have another bed. Larissa at work just gave these to me now that her twins have outgrown them."

"It's fine, really," Ryder argued, "When we go home we can all go back to our own spaces. But for now, we'll make it work."

Our mother faltered, seeing the definite in Ryder's urging, and nodded. "I know that you all have your own rooms at Elliot's," she said, "and you know that I wish I could do that for you here. It's just that property in Florida is so much more expensive than in Jersey. Maybe we can get a bunk bed for the future."

"It's fine, Mom," I said softly, raising Micah on my hip, "We're not going to be here that long anyways." It was a backwards way of making her feel better and I knew it, but I couldn't bring myself to explain or apologize for my words. It was true - we were all just waiting to go home.

Felicia nodded and leaned in to hug the three of us at once, roping Micah in too. "I love you guys," she said, her sincerity and subdued tone surprising me, "and I'm glad you came."

None of us mentioned that Ryder had to be bribed. We stepped back and peered at the room around us as Felicia told us to settle in for the night and offered to heat up a pizza before even asking if we were hungry.

Ryder dropped back onto one of the twin beds. "Well this is it," she muttered, glancing around the narrow room. It was just slightly bigger than the bathroom that we shared on the second floor at home. Rectangular, with a narrow bed pushed against the right and left walls, one nightstand in the middle under a tiny window, and a child's white dresser rather than a closet. Ryder sighed unhappily.

"I'm going to set Micah's travel crib up between our beds," I said, knowing that it would just barely squeeze between, "He can't sleep in bed with me all night, I might roll over on him or something."

She rolled her eyes but held her hands out to hold Micah for me. "Fine," she added, sitting him up on her lap, "Then Noah sleeps with you."

Later that night, we ate a frozen pizza in front of TV in the living room that was showing some old movie that just fascinated Warner. Our mom played house, naming off all the things in the city that she had been waiting to show us, and asking questions about our life back home.

She was hardly attentive between Warner's requests and her own idling, but she was trying more than she ever had before. In the four months that Micah had lived with Felicia, I couldn't remember one time that she hadn't called or referred to him as only 'the baby' rather than his name.

Tonight, she was putting on her best show.

"How does Micah like his daycare?" she questioned over the sound of 70's lingo spewing from the TV, "Your dad mentioned that he bribed you with it to get you back into school."

I shrugged. Micah slept in my arms, his head in the crook of my arm. After he ate, he went right to sleep. Before he dozed, he managed to pull one little sock off his toes and it was now curled into one of his palms as he slept. "Fine, I guess," I replied, touching his fingers, "He's not really old enough to tell me himself, but he seems to be adjusting well enough."

"I'm glad." She nodded. "What about you, Ryder?" she asked softly, "Are you enjoying your senior year?"

She nodded, curling Noah into her side, so Mom moved onto him. "Noah?"

"I'm in the fifth grade now," he answered, "Dad said that if I get good grades all year he'll let me have a party in the summer."

"I'm going to put Micah to bed," I said. I got up and turned back to face my brother, "Noah, you should sleep soon too."

Ryder nodded in agreement and glanced at the time on her phone. "Yeah, No, it's almost ten. Dad wants you to stay on your schedule," she added, nudging him off the couch.

He frantically looked for a clock but couldn't find one. "Let me see," he demanded, grabbing for her phone. When he saw that it really almost was his bedtime, he frowned. "A half an hour more?" he asked, looking at Ryder.

"No," she denied.

Our mom scoffed playfully. "Come on girls," she muttered, "He can stay up a little bit longer. This is practically vacation."

Ryder shook her head. "No," she stated, "Our dad wants him in bed on time. This is not vacation. This is two days in Florida with our mother."

She got up from the couch and dragged Noah with her. She wasn't outwardly angry, but you could see it brimming in her expression. "We're all going to bed," she muttered, leading the four of us away, "See you tomorrow."

"Ryder, wa-"

Ryder pushed the door closed and we were all crammed into the bedroom together. Noah huffed and climbed into the bed that we were sharing. He groaned when Ryder dragged him down to the end by his ankles and demanded he change for bed.

He dressed while I changed Micah and then laid him in his small crib. Noah climbed back into the twin bed and under the covers.

Ryder twisted her finger in a circle and gave Noah a look. He flopped over and buried his face in one of the pillows. Ryder and I changed quickly. She donned and tanktop and shorts that came to her mid-thigh. I grabbed a pair of basket-ball shorts and an over-sized t'shirt.

Noah turned around when we were done. "You didn't give Micah a bath," he said, laying down under the covers.

"He's alright for tonight," I said, "I'll clean him up in the morning."

"But it disrupts his sleeping," Noah murmured, peering down into the crib.

"No, he's alright, No," I rebutted, picking up his dirty clothes from the floor.

"Then why is he awake?" Noah questioned, looking up at me from his spot leaning over Micah's bed.

"What?" I turned quickly and looked down at my son. Noah was right. Micah was laying down with his eyes wide open as he stared at the ceiling. His fingers clenched and unclenched and one of his socks was missing yet again.

Ryder, who had climbed into her own bed, peaked down at him. "He's content," she said softly, "All the moving probably just startled him awake."

His blue eyes fluttered and closed and the rest of us settled into bed. I turned the lamp off and Noah rolled to his side of the bed, leaning back against the wall. I laid closer to the edge, closer to Micah, and for the first time since living with my mother, we our beds were close enough together to hear his breathing as he slept.
♠ ♠ ♠
It's been a whole year.

Or at least it feels that way since I've updated. I'm sorry. :P
I got an amazing comment yesterday, a girl saying my stories inspired her to begin writing again. <3