CyanA Story by Lina Rivera
A story I wrote years and years ago about a girl and her unique perspective on things.
The only thing worse than having Analy Howsor as a mother is having Perry Owen as a brother. Only that she’s not my mother and he is not my brother. Simply put, Analy and Perry unofficially adopted me one week before their wedding. So what if Perry is my father’s other child. He isn’t my mother’s therefore I see no need to acknowledge him as my brother. My mother, sadly, is my mother, but her mental state has led me to believe that not acknowledging her as such would be better for my social health. I still remember my mother’s excitement as she burst into my bedroom the day before the wedding and told me she was getting married.
“Yes I know, mother,” I said putting down the book I had been reading. I was still in bed, but I was sitting up with the cover pulled to my waist. I had decided to not go to school that day. There was no real reason for my decision except that it was Friday and I really felt like giving myself a three day weekend.
My mother sat on my bed, “Who told you? I wanted it to be a surprise.”
“You told me. About a week ago when we went to the lawyer’s office so that Perry could adopt me.”
“Oh yes, I remember. That lawyer was a strange man. He had such a hard time understanding.”
He had a hard time understanding? I had a hard time understanding why Perry, who is only four years older than me would want to be a father of a fifteen year old girl. I knew he wanted a family, but I found the whole situation a little ridiculous. Perhaps it would be appropriate to explain how Analy and Perry met.
It all started when my mother married my father. Analy was the first born Howsor in the United States. The earlier Howsors were all born in Canada. The Howsor family had decided to move because of the weather. They wanted a warmer climate so they moved down here to Florida. In commemoration of the move, Analy’s parents named her after the people who gave them a place to stay-Ana and Lee. It was her father’s idea to spell it A-N-A-L-Y instead of A-N-A-L-E-E. He said it looked prettier. So Analy Howsor grew up here in St. Petersburg. It was when she was a junior in high school that she met my father. He was her chemistry teacher. They married after graduation and I came to be about a year later. Two years later they got divorced when my mother found out that he was also married to another woman and that they had a son together. Then a few months ago, Perry came to tell me that our father had died. It had been some freak boating accident. Only that there was no boat and there had been no accident. Apparently, he had intentionally jumped off a dock, but misjudged the depth of the water. It was only two feet deep, and unfortunately there’s not much fate can do when you dive head first into water that’s only two feet deep.
I wasn’t shocked or saddened by the news. I had always felt that my father was dead. It’s not that I didn’t love him or anything. He was always there for me and cared for me very much. I just don’t think he was happy being a chemistry teacher.
Perry figured that he needed to assume the father figure role for me. So, he offered my mother to be her husband. I guess that explains the adoption. Perry always thinks that he needs to take over. When his mother disappeared off the face of the earth, he took to cooking the meals for dad and cleaning the house. He even baked cookies for dad’s chemistry class. It was only natural for Perry to become dad when dad died.
Many people wonder why my last name is Wittig and Perry’s last name is Owen. Perry took the name of his mother at age ten when she mysteriously vanished. I have my father’s last name. My father also gave me my first name, Cyan. He said it was his favorite color which I don’t believe because most people aren’t even sure what color cyan is.
Perry looks like dad did. He has dark brown hair and almost black eyes. He’s a little under six foot and not very muscular, but he still has an impressive physique. He’s always tanned. I look like mom: light brown straight hair, light brown eyes, very pale skin, a little overweight, but not to the point where I couldn’t hide it.
On one Saturday evening I had been sitting outside looking up at the sky waiting for a shooting star to fly by. Except that I had never seen a shooting star and wasn’t sure if I would be able to identify it once I did see it. But I was pretty convinced that a shooting star was one of those things you could see once and know just what it was. The night sky reminded me of what the marina by my house looked like at night, but without the boats. The boats at the marina were held up by their own night sky which is why I was kind of scared of it. My best friend Pepper Dixon always tried to get me to go skinny dipping in the marina, but I couldn’t because I felt like was caught in a weird oblivion between two skies. The poor little stars that went into the sky would disappear every day, and I knew that the same thing happened at the marina at night. Pepper said that she swam at the marina at night often, but I knew she was lying. It was just her way of trying to make me go with her because she didn’t want to do it alone. Perry joined me in the course of the night and sat beside me.
“Your mother and I are going on a trip.”
“To try and find your mother?” I asked, not taking my eyes off the stars.
“Yeah, we want to find her. We need to find her.”
Perry and Analy always say they’re going to try and find Perry’s mother. Analy got it into her head that Perry’s mother was really just her soul.
The day that Perry and Analy went to find Perry’s mother was the day of my geometry test. I walked into my class and sat down taking my notebook and geometry book out of my bag. Pepper asked if I was ready for the test.
“What test?” I asked turning around and facing her.
“The geometry test we have right now.”
“We have a test? I totally did not know.”
“Don’t sweat it. It probably won’t be that difficult. Besides you can’t really study for a math test.”
Of course, she was right. I mean, I had never studied for a math test and it was my worst subject. After geometry, Pepper and I went to the locker rooms and changed into our gym clothing. This was always an awkward experience for me. Not because I was embarrassed to undress in front of people, but because I knew that Pepper was checking out all the girls as they undressed. It was just last spring that she had confided in me that she was attracted to girls. The thought didn’t really bother me. After all, I always knew Pepper wasn’t interested in guys.
This could be why it irritated me so much that during gym, Gavin Westlake kept his eyes fixed on Pepper’s breasts that were shaped nicely by the tight shirt that was part of our gym uniform. Naturally, the shirt wasn’t tight on me. It just hung on me wanting to be filled out kind of like an inflatable toy without enough air. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason Gavin was interested in Pepper. Sure she was cute and blonde and tan and blue eyed and all those other things you had to be to apply for goddessness, but she was very crass and outspoken. I liked to believe that Gavin wanted and needed someone nice, demure, and mature--someone like me.
Gavin, like most of the boys around these parts, was a beach bum. His beach sport of choice was volleyball and he had the tan and the body to prove it. His hair was golden from all the time he spent in the sun and whenever he didn’t have his sunglasses on you could drown in his eyes which were the same color blue as those clear beaches in the Bahamas you see on postcards. But Gavin wasn’t interested in me. He was interested in Pepper, and if I wasn’t such a great friend, I would go up to Gavin and tell him about her.
After school, Pepper and I would go to the marina. We would usually stop at 7-11 along the way and grab some sandwiches and drinks. Then we would take it all to The Aspire. The Aspire was owned by Pepper’s parents. How they acquired the large yacht is a really interesting story which I will have to tell once they actually do acquire it. But as of now, Mrs. Dixon is a telephone operator and Mr. Dixon bakes donuts fresh every morning. Pepper and I always go up to the observation deck of The Aspire where we sit on the folding chairs and sunbathe. Of course, sun bathing for me only requires taking off my socks and shoes. Pepper takes everything except for her underwear off. My favorite thing about The Aspire’s observation deck was the view. I could see the Westlake Bait Shop without any obstruction. Gavin always went there after school. He would help out his father, Mr. Westlake, for a couple of hours before taking off to the beach and playing volleyball. The store wasn’t named for Mr. Westlake. It was named for Mr. Westlake’s father who ironically was also called Mr. Westlake. This was all very convenient for Mr. Westlake when the business was handed down to him. Unfortunately, Gavin won’t be able to own the store until he gets older and people start referring to him as Mr.. Westlake. Gavin’s mother doesn’t do much.
Pondering the melody of my first name combined with Gavin’s last name, which I do often, I noticed him hauling a big barrel into the shop. Out of nowhere I got the urge to go fishing. I hadn’t been fishing in awhile, and if I went fishing then I would need bait, and that would give me an excuse to get a closer look at Gavin. I nudged Pepper who had fallen asleep.
“What radio?” she asked as she jolted up.
“I don’t know. You tell me,” I said as I began putting my socks and shoes back on.
“Where are you going?” she asked me while rubbing her forehead.
“We’re going to Westlake’s.”
“You plan on fishing?”
“Hadn’t thought of it, but that would be a cool idea. We haven’t fished in ages.”
Pepper started putting her clothes on which didn’t mean anything except that she was done sun bathing. After she was done, she sat back down on the chair. “I don’t know if I’m in the mood for fishing.”
“Can’t we go to Westlake’s anyway?”
“Wait, you just want to see Gavin.”
“So? Cyan, that is completely pathetic. I can’t believe you let yourself be totally influenced by what he does.”
“Huh? Where are you getting that from?”
We ended up at Westlake’s anyway. It was Pepper’s fault. She had to get a copy of the newspaper for a class project due the next day. Once inside the store, I began searching for Gavin. Pepper sat on a table and crossed her legs which made her already short cutoffs ride up even further. She was surrounded by tuna as she began dissecting the paper. Not seeing Gavin I went back to the front of the store where I noticed Mr. Westlake was staring intently at Pepper. I noticed the barrel that Gavin had brought in and opened the lid. Inside there was shrimp.
“Are those tiger shrimp?” Mr. Westlake asked directing his intense gaze at me. I shook my head and answered that they looked like jumbo shrimp. “I send that boy to do one thing and he can’t even do it right. All he cares about is that stupid game he’s always playing.”
At that moment. Gavin emerged from the back room wearing short black shorts and a white T-shirt. Mr. Westlake started yelling at Gavin, “I asked you to bring back tiger shrimp!”
“I did!” Gavin came over to the barrel and saw the shrimp. He picked one up, then put it back down and re-covered the barrel. Then he and the barrel disappeared. Mr. Westlake continued grunting. Pepper and I left with a small package of bait. We headed back to The Aspire and got the fishing poles. We then went to the end of the dock and started fishing.
My parents returned a couple of days later with a small present. It was a post card of Miami. Analy had a tan and looked much happier. Perry also looked somewhat healthier. They hadn’t found Perry’s mother, but I knew that things were going to go well for a couple of weeks. Perry happily trotted off to school in the morning. He was trying to get a college degree in chemistry. Analy happily went to work at a department store. She loved spraying samples of perfume on people which caused some complaints since she works in the home appliances department.
Mom came back from work one afternoon while Pepper and I were in the kitchen making waffles. Pepper was sitting on the counter rambling about how we had to go to this club where some girl she had a crush on worked. Mom was humming some tune as she glided into the kitchen.
“You know what we should do today, girls?” she asked with an over enthusiastic smile, “We should go to the beach. It’s such a beautiful day.”
So off to the beach we went. We stopped along the way to pick Perry up from school. Once at the beach, Analy and Perry ran into the water. Pepper and I decided to sunbathe. Of course, Pepper decided the best place to do this was next to the volleyball court. As much a she complained about my infatuation with Gavin, Pepper always tried to put me in a position where he would notice me. It didn’t take long before Gavin decided to come and talk.
“Hey,” he said sitting beside Pepper.
“Hey, yourself,” she said back.
“So, um, would you like to go grab something to eat?”
Pepper propped herself up on her elbows then looked over at me, “Are you hungry?”
I nodded my head yes.
We went to this pizza place across the street. It was filled with beach combers who were wearing the required shirts and shoes, but who only had a bathing suit for the bottom. Actually, the place reminded me of some weird dimension where The Godfather got mixed together with Beach Blanket Bingo. The tables had red and white checkerboard print cloths and there was a candle in the middle. On the walls were pictures of waves, surfers, and girls in bikinis.
“So a friend of mine is throwing a party tonight,” Gavin said taking a bite from his cheese stuffed breadstick, “Wanna come?”
“We’re not into parties,” Pepper said matter-of-factly, “In fact, we were thinking of going to this small club tonight.”
“Oh yeah, what club?”
I just stared at them as they talked about what we were doing tonight. It was sickening how he stared at her. By the time the pizza came, they had decided to meet at the club at around eight thirty.
It was eight thirty and Pepper, Gavin, and I went into the club. After Pepper found out that her crush wasn’t working tonight, she decided we should leave. I was dancing with Gavin at the time so I convinced her to stick around a little longer. She agreed, but it proved to be a mistake since Gavin danced with Pepper the rest of the time.
We then decided to go to The Aspire. Gavin fooled around on the upper deck pretending he was going to jump off. Pepper nonchalantly said that it wasn’t a bad idea. She went to the back of the boat where she took off all her clothes. She then positioned herself on a ledge and rather gracefully dove in. Gavin followed suit by disrobing and diving in after her. I sat on that same ledge and thought about the earthly black sky that they had jumped into. It was so vacant, yet it made so much noise. I didn’t know what exactly was in there, but I had heard stories about how people mysteriously disappeared in it. Panic struck me at the thought that I may lose Pepper or Gavin. So now I had to make the choice, sit here and watch them be taken away by this inexplicable black liquid, or I could join them and be sucked in as well.
Instead, I decided to go home. As I walked home a sense of dread overcame me. I knew that I should have gone with them. I knew that they had been caught up in the substance. It had taken a firm grip and not let them go. The police cars racing by me to their direction affirmed my feeling, and I knew that I had just lost Pepper and Gavin.
I didn’t go to school the next day. I stayed in bed mourning the loss of my friends. I didn’t cry, but a stream of sadness was pouring from my heart. I put on my CD player and found the most depressing thing I could fine. Analy came into my room, dressed for work.
“Honey, Pepper is here to see you, and don’t forget to wash the dishes.”
Poor mother. She hadn’t realized that Pepper must have been a ghost. Analy could see things that other people thought didn’t exist. She had a special gift for it. When I was younger and I had aches, Analy would know what was causing them. She could look at me and see the actual pain.
Pepper walked in the room looking radiant. She was wearing a close fitting white shirt and a short white skirt. I was so happy she had made it to heaven instead of hell.
“Hey,” she said as she sat on my bed and crossed her legs Indian style.
“Oh, Pepper!” I cried as I sat on my bed and grabbed her hands. Her hands were so warm and I knew they came from the exposure to “the light.” “How is it?”
“How is what?” she asked with a smile on her face.
“Oh, Cyan, don’t be so dramatic! It’s not that bad. Who told you anyway?”
“I just knew. I had this feeling as I was walking away from the marina.”
“Why did you leave? I thought for sure you would have joined us. After all, it was Gavin.”
I felt a sudden sense of guilt and more than ever I wished I had gone with them. Maybe I would do it tonight. I would join them and we could be together, and that would prove that I was a loyal friend.
“Have you seen Gavin?” I asked hoping he to had gone to heaven.
“No, I haven’t seen him since the police station. We were both there waiting for our parents to pick us up. His parents came first and his dad grabbed him by the arm and yelled at him. It was pretty harsh. When my parents picked me up, they were ecstatic because the police had told them I was with a boy.”
I was very confused by all of this. Could Pepper be hallucinating that she was still alive? I didn’t realize how traumatic death was. Then again it made sense. It was like stories of people who got their arms amputated only to have them replaced by useless phantom limbs. Pepper just had life amputated, but she still felt that she had it. The poor thing, I couldn’t bear to tell her the truth.
“So, since we’re both skipping school,” Pepper continued, “what should we do?”
“You can go places?” I asked, still trying to figure out the inner workings of death.
“Yeah, just so long as I’m back before five.”
So heaven has a curfew for souls visiting Earth. I pondered that thought as we walked to the beach.
A few weeks later, Perry and Analy announced that Perry’s mother had been found. At first I didn’t understand why they had not brought her back, but Perry explained to me that she had entered my mother’s body. Now my mother was at peace with herself, she was completely whole. Analy was a lot happier and she insisted on participating with my schooling events. For starters, she signed on to the committee that was supervising the spring dance. Analy even convinced Perry to be a chaperone at the dance.
I didn’t want to go to the dance, but I decided to for Pepper’s sake. I could tell by her enthusiasm that there was only a short time before she wouldn’t be allowed to make her Earthly visits. We were in a local department store shopping for the right dress for the dance. Once we found a few that we liked we went to the dressing rooms to try them on.
“So do you want Gavin to be your date?” Pepper asked me from her private cubicle.
“I would love for Gavin to be my date. Why?”
“Because he sort of asked me.”
I was pretty upset by the news, but I also knew that he and Pepper shared a bond that no one else did. I could have been a part of it, and I intended to be, just as soon as Pepper and Gavin returned to heaven.
Analy didn’t help out the situation any by insisting that I needed a date to the dance.
“What about that nice Westlake boy?”
That took me by surprise. What did my mother know about Gavin?
“What about him?” I asked wondering what information she might divulge.
“He seems like a nice boy. He helps out his father a lot.”
“How do you know?”
“I’ve been talking to his mother a lot. She’s on the committee.”
Obviously Mrs. Westlake still hadn’t gotten over the death of her son. She was too new to not having him that she still talked about him as if he was still alive. Analy had no idea that Gavin was a member of the dearly departed.
“Gavin is with Pepper, mom.” I said, setting the record straight. Obviously someone had to tell her what Mrs. Westlake wouldn’t admit.
“Oh, well that’s good for Pepper. She needs a good boy.”
After helping Analy with the fliers for the party I met Pepper for lunch at a burger joint across the street from school. We ordered our food and sat down to eat our quick meal. Then Pepper would have to go home and get ready to go to the dance.
“I just don’t understand. If you’re not interested in guys then why did you agree? You’re just leading him on.” I reasoned with her, hoping that she wouldn’t break Gavin’s heart.
“I know, but I can’t go with a girl as a date. People around here are way too narrow minded. Besides, we’re just friends. It’s no big deal.”
“It is a big deal. He really likes you.”
“He does not! We’re just friends.”
“I’m willing to bet he makes a move on you tonight.”
“That’s ridiculous! I can’t believe you’re so jealous and insecure about this. If it bothers you that much I won’t go.”
I realized that I was just being jealous. I apologized to Pepper and urged her to go to the dance with Gavin. I explained to her that I was just a little stressed because I really didn’t want to go alone. She understood and assured me that the night would go well, and that I had absolutely nothing to worry about it.
When I got to the dance, the room was flooded with energetic kids showing off the latest dance moves to their dates. At that moment, it seemed like everyone had come with a date except for me. Analy had tried to find me several more prospects, but I refused every single one of them. I knew that if I didn’t know the person I was with, I would end up having a really horrible time. The dance was being held in the school gym, and I immediately found a seat in the bleachers. I spotted Gavin and Pepper on the floor dancing. They looked like a really great couple. It was such a shame they weren’t made for each other.
Perry came over to where I was sitting and sat beside me. He looked like one of the kids at school, with his nice shirt and jeans. I knew that it was a charity move on his part, but I accepted it when he asked me to dance. When the song was done, Perry asked if I wanted to dance again. I told him that I was fine and that he could go back to his chaperoning. Sitting back on the bleachers and watching Gavin and Pepper, made me realize that I couldn’t wait any longer. I had to join them like I should have a long time ago. I left the gym and went to the marina. I climbed aboard The Aspire and once again stared at the blackness that supported the ship. Any terror that I might have felt had been replaced by guilt. I slowly undressed and then took slow steps to the ledge. Once on the ledge I stared at the vacant mass below. In a few minutes I would be what Pepper and Gavin now are-happily dead. I closed my eyes and jumped in. When I entered the black sky it stung, but it soon developed into a euphoric sensation. The weightlessness of my body made it easy for the magic of “the light” to draw me near. I slowly swam towards the light and before I knew it, I was being lifted up.
Like Gavin and Pepper, I too thought I still had life. It felt like I was still alive and I still came home to sleep at night. I knew it was only a matter of time before my mind realized that I no longer belonged to this existence.
Pepper came over to visit me the day after I had died. “So you finally did it!” she ecstatically exclaimed.
“Yep, now I’m ready to go home with you.”
“Great, that’s just what my parents need,” she said a bit sarcastically, “another me.”
I then realized that I wasn’t completely familiar with the terminology of the after life. “Your parents? Are they like overseers?”
“Last time I checked,” she said giving me a weird look. She could see right through me and she realized that I had not met my parents yet. I thought that maybe Pepper and I might have the same parents. “So you were right about Gavin,” she continued, “He did try and make a move on me.”
“What did you do?”
“I explained to him that I just wanted to be friends, and then I told him the truth about me.”
“What did he say?” I asked intrigued by any response Gavin might give to a situation like this.
“He didn’t believe me. I had to explain to him why I was so friendly with him, so I told him that I was trying to get you two together since you liked him.”
That news stunned me. She had told Gavin that I liked him. How embarrassing! Now he knew. Now when I saw him again he would totally know, and what would he say? He probably wouldn’t say anything. He would probably avoid me because he wouldn’t want me to think that he was interested. I then calmed my mind down and realized that these were all “living” emotions that I had. Now that I was in the afterlife it shouldn’t matter.
“Does it matter now?” I asked Pepper who was looking through one of my magazines.
“No,” she said rather somberly, “he’s moved on.”
The fact that Gavin was no longer around made me want to speed up my process to stop thinking I was alive. I stopped eating and I slept in the yard whenever I couldn’t fight the urge to sleep. Analy began looking concerned and decided that I should see a specialist. This was very exciting for me since I didn’t know that there were people who could help you make the transition between life and death.
I sat, in this really big office, in a big black comfortable chair. The specialist asked me a lot of questions and I answered her truthfully. I had absolutely nothing to hide. She was very nice and gave me a series of funny tests where I had to tell her what a picture looked like or where I had to say the first word that came to my mind after she said a word. It was really fun even though I didn’t see the point. After the meeting was done, she had me wait outside while she talked to Analy. A long time later, Analy came out crying. She grabbed me and hugged me tightly.
The specialist must have just told her that I was dead and I would soon be moving on. Analy had never held me so close and tight before. That night her and Perry talked about me. I didn’t hear the conversation, but I knew that she was telling him that I would soon be leaving.
That night Perry came into my room, and gave me a really big hug. At that point I knew that this was the last time I would ever see Perry. We sat and talked for a few hours about the most trivial of things. I think he was trying to make up for all the times we didn’t talk when I was still alive.
The next day, Analy and Perry drove me to a very beautiful building. It was made of dark bricks and looked like a modern day castle. At the front was a gate, and I knew that this was it. At the gate, both Analy and Perry hugged me while crying. I told them that everything was going to be okay and that they didn’t have to worry. I then hugged them one last time as the gate opened. I walked through and saw two people standing in front of me in white. I looked around and saw the most beautiful gardens I had ever seen. It seemed like every color imaginable was dotting different parts of the lawn. I turned to the people in front of me and asked if they were my parents.
“We’re going to take care of you now,” one of them said.
I then knew that I had made it to heaven.
© 2008 Lina Rivera
Added on July 12, 2008