“No fair!” Summer wailed. “That’s not a real move”
“Yes it is, you just don’t know anything about double checkers” I laughed back. This was the fifth time in a row I had beat her and Kim at the two vs. one version of checkers I played. As always, I was by myself, and the twins worked together to try to beat me. My parents had given up playing me years ago, because I was just a checkers champion. They had realized that they could beat me at most other board games, so they didn’t get too competitive when I challenged them again and again.
“Is double checkers even a real game?” Kim whined. Neither of my siblings like to lose, but I only played double checkers with them. They always called me a meaner, but I just told them that it’s so they don’t get a big ego. Even though they were both 13, they could be so stupid and childish at times.
One quiet sob caught my attention from over where my mom was going through the mail.
I watched as silent tears streamed down my mothers face as she read an official-looking parchment she held in her hands, until she threw it down on her old desk and fled from the room. My sisters and I fallowed her, burning curiosity raging in the pit of my stomach as to what could make my mom act that way. I knew I was the smartest of my siblings, thought they always denied it, and I knew that something was very wrong.
I listened to Summer and Kim, my twin siblings, chatter quietly behind me and exchange a quick glance with one another.
“Hey Kim, what do you thinks wrong with mom?” Summer whispered to her Twin.
“Maybe she isn’t feeling well “she responded in a quiet voice.
“Perhaps…. What do you think, Lupa?” Summer turned her round of questions on me now.
“I think you should stop making guesses until we know for a fact what going on, “I spat in a clipped tone. Sometimes my siblings could be such idiots. They didn’t seem to realize that something was going on, and I wasn’t in the mood for their stupid questions. My mom was a tough woman, and she didn’t cry over stupid things, so this must be serious. I hated suspense. I wished this would just be over and done with so that I could go back to beating the twins in a game of Double checkers. Again.
I slipped down the hall, and pushed open the cracked door, where my mother sat on the edge of the bed, crying, her face all puffy like she had an allergic reaction to something. She looked up when I stuck my head in the door, her eyes a midnight black, and over brimming with tears.
My little brother, Henry, came rushing down the hall and pushed past me, and climbed up on the bed next to my mom. He was only 7, but I thought he should still be a little bit more intelligent than to just run up to her like that. But then again, what did I know. Maybe it was some little boy voodoo that just charmed my mom, because a hint of a smile touched the corner of her lips, before fading into a deep frown of agony.
“What’s wrong, Mama?” he asked looking up into her dark eyes.
Instead of answering his question, she looked up at me.
“Lupa,” she said, her voice breaking on that single word. “Will you go get Mimi for me? We all need to sit down and talk.”
I turned and looked meaningfully at Kim, who scurried away, only to come back with my nine year old sister, Mimi, who was easily the most flexible of us all, because her slight figure was rail thin for an unknown reason, and her eyelashes didn’t match, because one was jet black, and the other was a creamy white.
All of us came in and sat on the old, worn wooden floor in front of my mother. Curiosity burning me alive at the moment, so much it felt like it would rip through my chest and whirl around the room like a tornado, destroying everything in its reach.
“ok guys…” my mother started “ I have something I need to tell you…”
“NO” I cried leaping up from my place on the floor, shaking my head back and forth wildly in attempt to dispel the impossible words out of my head. “No! It can’t be!”
“What do you mean? “ Summer whispered softly. “There’s always been the seven of us. That can never change. You promised!” The shock, pain, and anger was starting to fill all of us, but i had just reacted from the tormenting words the fastest. It felt like someone had flung burning knives at me, letting them rip holes in my soul. Pain ripped through me like a shooting bullet.
Kids’…your father’s not coming home. I tried to keep it from you before, but I can’t do it, not anymore, now that it’s official. The Sheriff has been looking for 3 weeks now. The letter came today; they’ve given up the search. I’m sorry kids, but your father is dead
. Those impossible words were ripping me to pieces; I felt like I was having my worst nightmare, or close to it.
A million flashbacks tore through my brain. Me sitting on the tire swing in out shabby little backyard, my dad pushing me so high I felt like I could soar. Sitting on the makeshift porch watching my dad walk down the street, coming home from fishing in the ocean at First beach, where I would run to him and he’d catch me as I flung myself at him, laughing all the time. I remember hiking in the woods with my family, and when I fell and scuffed my knee, he would pick me up, kiss the top of my head, and tell me to be brave, because little wolves don’t cry over a little scratch.
I ran out of the house, sobs racking through me. I looked up at the sky, tears streaming freely down my face. Why? Why did this world torment me? What happened to the legends of wolf guardians, who kept out tribe safe, and the good healthy and alive? My father was one of the nicest people on the reservation, and now he had been declared dead. The saying “life’s not fair,” seemed pretty accurate right now.
“Lupa?!?!” I heard the cry from my house, but I didn’t turn to see who it was. I didn’t want company, and not from any of my siblings, who were too young to understand truly what was going on.
I lurched out into the woods that lied behind my backyard, stumbling over a tree root and landing on my hands and knees, before pushing myself back up and running faster into the cold, wet mass or plants and bugs that buzzed annoyingly around your head. Thorns and brambles slashed my skin, and sap from the heavy leaves fell onto me, but I kept running, faintly hearing my name called out behind me, but ignoring it all the same.
Your fathers not coming back…they’ve given up the search…I’m sorry…your father’s dead
. The words seemed to be killing me, even though I was fairly certain that that was impossible. I dropped down on my knees again, and put my hands on the muddy, leaf coated forest floor. I looked at the molted green and brown dirt through streaming tears, and the only sound was my empty sobs. I wondered if the news had finally sunk into my siblings yet, or if they were just as oblivious as before. I didn’t care either way. My dad was declared lost forever, and I didn’t ever want to go back into out little Oceanside house. My father was my favorite person in the world, my hero, and he was dead.
I don’t know how long I sat there, waiting for the world to take me, when I heard calls in the distance. “Lupa…Lupa, where are you!” I used my own kind of common sense. I didn’t want to be found, so I didn’t respond, just stared into the dirt without any kind of meaning swirling around in my head.
Your father’s dead. Your father’s dead. Your father’s dead
. The words danced around in my head, beating me up. “Impossible” I whispered to myself “It can’t be…I don’t believe it” I shook my head, trying to clear it, to make a different sense of the words my mother had spoken, to turn them around so that the impossible was not true.
There was a rustle in the undergrowth behind me, but I didn’t look up to see who it was. I heard a voice, franticly calling my name in my ear, pulling on me, but I just ground my fingers onto the dirt and ignored whoever it was. I didn’t care. It could be King Kong from the old movies for all I cared. Maybe Elvis, returned from the dead. If I weren’t in such a devastated state, I might have smiled at my logic.
The voice because louder; part of me realized that this person must be calling for help. I was still immoveable, holding myself onto the ground. I felt bad for the poor kid who would be tormented for not having the ability to budge me, one of the lightest 15-year olds on the res. But then again, I was probably the strongest, maybe fastest kid here, so maybe he or she wouldn’t get beat up quite so much.
An immeasurable amount of time later, someone came who was strong enough to pull me right out of the dirt. I murmured a silent curse under my breath. I should have run when I could. I wondered if I should kick the person, but then again, they were probably just trying to help. Even If I didn’t want that help.
They carried me home, and laid me down on my bed. I didn’t even look at who it was, or acknowledge their presence. I still didn’t care. I just stared openly at the ceiling for a while until I lost track of time. I wondered idly if my mom knew I was found, and decided probably not. She would have been gushing over me about how worried I had made her, and scold me for hours on end. Ha, maybe she was for all I knew. I wasn’t paying attention to the world around me.
I fell asleep, not knowing ( or caring ) if I was alone or not.
I looked up at the sky, though it held no interest for me anymore. 3 weeks had gone my since I received news that my father was never coming home, thought the words tormented me. Not coming back. Not coming back. Not coming back.
The words were like a sick, twisted echo that never left me, bouncing around in my head like a swarm of bees stinging my brain.
I wondered how much it really hurt my mother though. She tried to be normal for us, but when she spoke of him now, I could see the ocean of pain, behind the mask she kept on her face, in her eyes. My mother and father had never been like the couples who married and divorced the next year. They had been together for 17 years, and they were separated without warning. I wondered if my pain was even a fraction of what hers was.
I turned to see my cousin and best friend, Orcra, staring at me.
“What” I asked my tone a little bit too sour.
“I said, want to go do something later? I finally got my project done, so I was thinking we might be able to go down to First beach later. I heard…” I stopped listening to her chatter and looked up to see a falcon swooping through the cloudy sky above our heads.
“Ok, listen kid” she snapped. She was a year and a half older than me, and reminded me constantly. “I know you’re all down about your father, and you have a right to be sad, but stop moping around all the time. I’m sorry, but you’re getting on my nerves.”
I winced as she brought up the reason behind my pain again. She frowned slightly, but just watched me as I kicked some dirt that was in my front yard.
“Sure, what ever makes you happy, “I shrugged dismissively. I honestly had other things on my mind, so why not let her have some fun while I moped about my issues.
She smiled and kicked me lightly in the shin, then laughed and darted away. I growled under my breath, and chased after her. Even I had to admit, that when Orcra was being nice, she was most likely the best friend anyone could ask for. Though she spent most of her time teasing me, she was always guarding your back when it needed guarding, and was always honest.
She got all the way down to the beach before skidding to a halt. Her eyes widened and she looked over to the side of a huge La push beachside cliff. She had her eyes trained on a spot in the rock where it looked an animal had gouged its claws into the rock, and torn off a huge chunk of it in the process.
“Woah!” she managed through her teeth. She turned slowly to look at me, her eyes sparkling in the dull sunshine that peered through the clouds. ‘Looks like the mutant grizzly bear from our parents childhood has come back to get us. Maybe we should go tell Luke.”
Luke Uley was easily the biggest kid on the res; he tower over all the other kids at a height of 6’9”, and was covered in mussel. I think Orcra liked him, because he was almost all she ever talked now. I rolled my eyes and walked after her, as she was already heading towards his house without waiting for my answer. I laughed without humor, and plodded after her.
She was back at my side before I made it all the way there. A deep dent of worry pressed in-between here dark eyebrows. She looked up at me, and fear glinted in her eyes.
“Lupa, I think something’s wrong here.” She whispered, still looking at me. Even though she was 16 ½, and I was 15, we saw eye to eye, literally.
“You just now realized that now, Orc?” I asked, looking into her dark eyes, and noticed her russet skin was paler than normal.
“No, I mean something’s really wrong here. First you dad, now Luke. He’s gone missing too, Lupa. I’m really scared…” she trailed off, because a wolf that was too big to be a wolf, with coal black fur and angry red eyes was coming out of the woods, and headed strait towards us.