Status: I will be posting a new story soon, so this one might be delayed a bit.

Rarae Aves

Just Another Day That I Disappointed You

Despite the sheets thrown over her head, Amber could still see the sunlight from her window breaking through. If she stayed there long enough, she could probably fall back asleep. She’d end up missing school, which she didn’t really care about, but the administrative office would call and leave one of those stupid automated messages on the answering machine. How she hated those annoying messages. Some robotic voice would say:

“Hello, this is a message from the administrative office at Southside High School. It has come to our attention that one of our students, (insert the voice of the woman at the receptionist’s desk saying Amber’s name), was marked as absent from one of more classes today on (insert the same woman’s voice saying the date). If this is a mistake, please inform someone at the front office to correct this error. If this is not a mistake, the only way the absence can be marked as excused is if a signed note from the child’s guardian is given to the office or the child’s homeroom teacher upon returning to school. Thank you.

Amber could always just delete the message, but the school usually called all of the contact numbers on file when it came to things like that. Delia, her stepmom, would probably get a call at work and on her cell phone, too. Amber seriously considered not worrying about the stupid phone call or the message and just skipping school. Then, she could just get up to go to her after-school job later. Only problem with that idea was that when she would return home, Delia would throw a hissy fit and chew her head off for skipping school. Amber could imagine it now…

… “Damn it, Amber!” Delia would probably shriek, “What’s your problem? You won’t believe what I got today.” Then, Delia would whip out her pink, jewel laden smartphone and play the message on speakerphone.

Then, Amber would probably say something along the lines of, “Why do you care? I went to work; I did my chores, didn’t I?”

Delia’s face would become strawberry red as she would respond, “Damn it, if they keep having to call about you being absent, all of those people at the school are going to become suspicious! The last thing I need is for some police officer to show up on our front doorstep looking for you. They’re going to think that I’m the reason you don’t go to school. They’re going to think that I’m depriving you of an education. I bet you’d tell them that, too, you little brat! You’d cry and make up some sob story about how you’re a hopeless idiot that can’t learn anything because your mean, evil, stepmom makes you stay home all day!” Next, Amber would find herself wanting to say that some of what Delia said was actually kind of on-point, but more than likely, she’d keep her mouth shut, not wanting to anger her anymore.

Then, after a few minutes of arguing, Delia would then calm down and say something impertinent, like, “Well, it doesn’t matter, anyway. I’m surprised you haven’t dropped out yet. Speaking of…when are you going to?” Yes, that’s right, Delia actually wanted Amber to drop out of school. Amber had heard her bringing up the subject various times in the past. According to Delia, school was “a distraction from all of your other activities.” By “other activities” she actually meant being Delia’s own personal servant. Delia would just explode with joy is Amber were to tell her that she quit school. Then, Amber wouldn’t be able to advance in life and would be stuck living there, doing all the work, forever.

“I’m only fifteen,” Amber would end up telling her.

“Oh, well I’m willing to put money on it that you’ll drop out the day you turn sixteen. It just seems like something you’d do. What, with you having no initiative and all.”…

…Amber snapped herself out of the imaginary scenario. She let out a low, annoyed groan. She had to go to school, she just had to, despite the fact she didn’t feel like it. The main reason she even bothered maintaining a barely acceptable attendance record was because she really wanted to just prove Delia wrong.

She rolled out of bed lazily and rubbed the crusty sleep from her eyes. Just that second, she could hear the sound of a dog barking. “Okay, okay, I’m coming,” she called, rushing out of her room into the hall. She went over to the room two doors over, the room in which Princess and Jack-Jack, Delia’s dogs, stayed. Stepping over the little gate that was set in the doorway to keep the dogs in, Amber entered the room to see Princess barking. “What’s wrong, honey? Amber asked, kneeling down. Judging by the way she was pacing back and forth, Princess needed to go out for a walk. It probably wouldn’t hurt to take them both out, to be honest. “Okay, come on,” Amber instructed, putting their leashes on, “Let’s go.” She opened the gate and they went with her into the hallway. She carried them downstairs and grabbed a few things she’d need for the short trip around the block, including her jean jacket and boots, which she put on once they were out of the house. They got on the sidewalk, which was just a few feet away from the house, and began their trip.

“Just remember, you two,” she began talking to Delia’s pets, “Don’t go until we get to the dog park, okay?” Even though she knew they couldn’t understand her, they obeyed her word often. They were also used to having to wait to go in the park, anyway, for the most part. Sometimes, they would make the mistake of going too early, but it was very rare.

The sun was out, but it didn’t help warm up the air any. It was a chilly November morning; the feeling of the winter that was soon to come was palpable. Amber began to shiver, somewhat underdressed for the climate in just her jacket, boots, baggy pajama bottoms, and loose tee shirt. “You know,” Amber began making conversation as they turned a corner, “Your mommy didn’t come home last night, you guys.” It may have been considered strange for her to be talking to a couple of dogs, but Amber considered Jack-Jack and Princess to be her friends. They were so sweet and fun to play with. Also, it seemed that they both preferred Amber’s company over Delia’s, despite the fact that Delia was supposed to be their owner. She wasn’t much of a pet owner, though; she rarely bothered to take care of them and viewed them more as just fashion accessories than anything else.

“She’s probably with that guy, I guess,” Amber continued, “I don’t know who he is, though. I’ve never seen him. I hope I never do. She’s been seeing him a lot, though.” Then, a fabulous idea played out in her mind. “Oh my gosh, you guys,” she said, still talking to the cute puppies, “What if she decides to move in with him and never, ever comes back?” A smile made its way upon her lips. Everything would be so much more peaceful without Delia around. No more being yelled at or insulted. No more having to stay up late doing the housework instead of focusing on her studies and sleeping. No more of constantly having to feel bad. Then again, Amber probably couldn’t make it on her own without Delia in the picture. After all, Amber was only 15. She couldn’t legally drive, didn’t have a bank account, and only had two measly part-time jobs. So, even though there’d be no drama or stress, things would still end up being difficult, maybe even more so without Delia there to support her. Basically, if Amber wanted a place to lay her head down at night and food to eat, she’d have to “put up and shut up,” as Delia had once told her. The sickening part was that Delia understood all of that, too, that Amber was dependent on her. It was why she treated her stepdaughter like crap, because she knew she could without any consequences. What was Amber going to do? Surely she wouldn’t do anything foolish like disobey her authority and risk being kicked out into the streets. Amber’s smile faded. So much for dreaming.

When they got to the dog park, Princess did her business, as did Jack-Jack, and after Amber disposed of it in the trash, they left in the direction of the house. “Man, I have so much to do today”, Amber thought to herself. Suddenly, a man came into view. It was one of their neighbors, Mr. Jones, and he was going on his usual daily morning powerwalk. As he came close, Amber greeted him with a “Good morning, Mr. Jones.” He didn’t respond; he just powerwalked right past her as if she didn’t exist. Well, not before he gave her a disgusted glare, sneering at her sleep wear attire. Amber tried not to let it bother her. After all, why should she care what he thinks?


“Oh, darn it!” exclaimed Amber, dropping her mop and running towards the stove in a hurry. She quickly turned the dial to the ‘off’ setting and removed the pot of oatmeal from the stove eye just in time. It almost ended up boiling over all over the place, which would’ve been another mess for her to clean. “Whoa, that was a close call.” Ready to eat, she put the hot cereal in a bowl and grabbed a spoon. It was a little too hot, she realized, when the oats hit her tongue. A grunt escaped her throat as the dropped the spoon in the bowl. “Ow, ow, ow,” she whined slightly, sticking her tongue out and attempting to fan it with her hand. “Jeeze,” she laughed at herself once she was feeling better. Glimpsing at the clock, she decided it’d be best if she got back to work.

After mopping the dining room and the kitchen, she examined the checklist that was posted to the refrigerator. It was written in pink, glittery gel pen, most definitely Delia’s handiwork. “Okay, let’s see if everything’s done,” Amber mused, “Fold all of the laundry-----check. Replace the blown light bulb in the bathroom-----check. Water all the plants in the house and the garden----check. Feed puppies----check. Vacuum and dust the living room----check. Clean the kitchen and dining room floors-----check. That’s everything.” Since the chores were complete, she finally headed upstairs to get ready for the school day.

Within 45 minutes time, she was heading downstairs fully dressed, hair neat, and backpack on her shoulders. “Oh, food!” cheered the 15 year old when she spotted the bowl of breakfast food on the counter, “I almost forgot.” After rushing through eating and doing the dishes, she headed on out, having to run to the neighborhood bus stop due to being a little bit late.

“Wait! Wait!” she called to the bus driver just mere seconds before he closed the door, “Wait for me! I’m coming!” Amber panted and placed her hands on her knees when she got beside the bus, trying to catch her breath.

Mr. Farquar, the bus driver griped, “Come on, kid, either get on or don’t. Ain’t nobody got time for your foolishness.”

“Sorry.” Amber boarded on the bus, and almost every pair of eyes on the bus was staring holes into her.

As she made her way back, she could’ve sworn she heard someone mutter, “Freak,” under their breath.

“Hey, hey, Amber! What’s up homie?” a tall, thin guy with long, poofy hair decked out all in black called to her. It was Mason, one of her good friends.

“Nothing much, man, nothing much,” she answered in that deep voice of hers as she took a sit next to him. The bus took off with a forceful jerk once she was seated.

“Finally, we can head off so I can get you horrible kids to school faster,” grouchy, old Farquar barked from the driver’s seat. Farquar was a 250 pound man with a face full of wrinkles and a buzz cut hairdo that looked like it was done by a four year old. He was always wearing a pair of denim overalls and some form of flannel shirt. His most notable characteristic was his dislike for kids, which bares the question why he even became a school bus driver in the first place. Nobody liked him at all. He always referred to Amber as either “kid” or “you”, where as he always called the other kids “Mr.” or “Miss” and then followed with their last name. Amber figured that it was probably because Farquar still didn’t know whether she was a boy or a girl. That was a reaction she would get often.

“So, what’s up with you, Mason?” Amber asked her friend as she pulled out her math workbook. She had quite a bit of homework to do, and she couldn’t get around to it due to all of the chores Delia had given her before she left to go to that guy’s house. When Amber did eventually get around to doing her school work, she was so tired that she just neglected it and crawled into bed. It was a common thing for her.

“Oh man, Am, you won’t believe what happened in the chat room last night,” Mason started. He was really into online forums, video hosting sites, and blogging. According to him, the internet was a world full of all kinds of people committing social injustices, and it was up to people like him to put people like that where they belong…or something like that. It was actually very rare that Amber, or anyone for that matter, ever knew what Mason was talking about or what he meant. Usually, she would try to listen to him, anyway, because she knew it was something he was passionate about. That, and the fact that once he starts talking, all anyone could do was listen; he could just ramble and ramble away without letting anyone else get a word in edgewise.

“Oh really?”

“Yeah, me and a bunch of guys were talking about Radishman51, you remember me telling you about him, right?”

“Uh, I think s-”

Before she could finish, Mason continued, “He’s that guy that has all those subscribers to his vlogs. You know, the one that’s always throwing radical ideas out there and sicks his rabid fans on anyone that disagrees with him. Anyway, Freddie, you don’t know him, he’s one of my subscribers, he said that…”

Amber couldn’t help it; she was drowning out most of what Mason was saying. She had to at least attempt getting some of her work done. In most of her classes, her grades were at the point where if she got anymore ‘incomplete’ marks on homework, she was going to end up dropping a whole letter grade. If that were to happen, it meant that she’d end up getting an F in Geometry, a D in English, a D in Chemistry, and another F in Civics. Not to mention, her grades in her elective classes weren’t up to par, either. Delia would just love it if Amber’s next report card had a few Fs on it; it’d give her something to laugh at for sure. Then the whole, “Why don’t you just drop out?” thing would happen again.

“Let’s see,” Amber thought to herself, focusing on her math work, “At a party, there were 66 handshakes shared. Everyone shook hands with everyone else. How many people were at the party? Wait…what? How am I supposed to know? I don’t even know what to do. Um, what? This makes no sense…” Amber rubbed her temples and closed her eyes. No wonder she was so close to failing in that class. She tried reading the problem again. Still, she was left feeling puzzled. “Maybe I’ll try to do something else,” she figured, hoping she’d find an assignment that was easier.

So, she pulled out her Civics work instead. They were given a study guide in which they had to write down the answers in the blanks provided. They study guide was for an upcoming test, and they would go over the answers that day in class. Despite that, it still had to look like she attempted to answer all the questions in order to get a completion grade. “How many representatives are there in the United States Congress? I don’t know. I mean, I guess fifty would make sense. Yeah, sure. Fifty states means fifty representatives, right? Whatever, I’m writing it.” She would end up finding out in class that day that she was wrong. She ended up writing down the first thing that came to mind for all of the other questions, as well, completely unsure of herself.

“…And, it just so turns out,” Amber could hear Mason’s voice becoming more excited as he still continued to talk , “That he sent Radishman51 an email posing as an underage girl and flirted with him, and the Radish actually responded back, Am. He sent the alleged girl, which was really a guy, but he didn’t know that, pictures of himself naked. Can you believe that? We have proof, too! Once we release that info out, all of the online activists are going to rip him a new one, and…”

“Well, why don’t you just report him, Mason?” Amber asked, surprised that she managed to fit in an entire sentence between all of Mason’s rambling.

“Nah, Am, you don’t get it. The internet doesn’t work that way,” Mason dismissed her question.

“Actually, I think-”

“OH! I forgot to mention all of the proof that we have of him trying to get some anarchistic-type arsonists’ movement started. We were able to dig up stuff on his old website…”

“Yeah, okay,” Amber muttered, mainly to herself, since Mason wasn’t really paying her any mind, “Sure, Mason, sure.” She went back to her homework, or at least that’s what she tried to do. “Crap, I don’t even know what the heck any of this means. Did we actually go over any of this in class?” she wondered, “Not that I’d know what we go over in class or anything. And to think, when I was a kid, I did so well in school…”

It was true; Amber did have excellent grades at one point in time. Her father always encouraged her to have an interest in education. Amber had enjoyed learning, too. Even after he passed away, she still tried to excel in school because it would’ve made him proud. Unfortunately, as the years went by, things changed. As Amber got older, the chores that Delia demanded of her became more and more taxing. Amber ended up having to put her education on the back burner in order to keep Delia happy.

Years ago, when the changes first started occurring, no one worried at first. Not that many people even bothered to notice. The few people that did notice would just say things like, “Poor girl, she’s obviously distraught over her father’s passing. She just needs time to adjust.” Suddenly, the Bs on her papers turned into Cs, and those drifted into Ds (and sometimes even worse). Over the years, Amber became accustomed to her teacher’s holding her back after class, faces filled with concern, telling her to clean up her act. “I think it’d be best if we had a conference with you mother,” they’d tell her. She’d correct them and say that the word they meant to use was stepmom, and that Delia was too busy to worry with anything of the sort.

Even though she hated the worried looks and some of teachers remarked that she was going nowhere, it didn’t bother her all that much. Well, it did, but not as much as the thought of how her dad might feel if he were to see her now. Amber wasn’t sure of if there was really such a thing as an afterlife, or ghosts lingering around, or something like that, but every time a paper came back covered in red marks, she felt strange. Her skin would prickle as if someone were watching, disappointed. Sometimes, she’d find herself thinking, for a split moment, that maybe it might be better that her dad wasn’t around to see what a horrible student and daughter she had become. She didn’t want him to view her that way---a major failure. She dropped her head down low and mouthed the words, “Daddy, I’m so sorry.” Biting her lip, she held in the tears that were threatening to fall.
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Please tell me what you think. In case you are wondering, the picture in the banner is of Hana, and the background is Amber. It will be the opposite in the sequel. Oh! And I added character info.