I know the sun is up, I know it is. I can feel its heat radiating on my face, a giveaway sign to my second latest revelation:
I sighed in resentment as I pushed myself from the bed, carefully placing my toes on the cool, sanded-down wood of the floor. I let textured rubber fall from my cheeks as I pressed pause on Serenity: A Playlist for Insomniacs and threw my headphones elsewhere. I could feel everything actually. The cotton threads under my body, the strands of an untamed jungle situated on my face, the tremors of the house as Lai’s feet pounded up and down the hallway, most likely to my own room to try and wake me up.
I made a mistake to let her wake me up today. Another new revelation. I wanted to make sure she didn't sneak off to that party to do who-knows-what, but I shouldn't have given her the chance, not on finals day. Now Gabe and Melissa are without a doubt up and about, primed to remedy my every need. I could feel my lips curling in disdain at the thought as I rummaged around for my walking stick.
"Who has a party on a Monday night anyways...?" I muttered to myself.
Just as expected, Lai burst through the door 10 seconds later.
“Hey Jun- whoa, aren't I supposed to be waking you up?!”
“Too late." I smiled at her, "And you forgot to address the elephant in the room” I said as I pointed in the direction of the radiating heat from the sun, "We're late. It's finals Lai. And Gabe and Melissa are probably downstairs just eager to see m-"
“Uh-huh, uh-huh I care…" the bed groaned under her weight as she leaned on the mattress, "so did you sleep last night?”
I sighed, “How many times do I have to describe to you the concept of blindness? Night is night. Day is night. They intermix. All I see is dark. I don’t sleep just ‘cause it’s ‘night." I paused, "Speaking of nights, I hope you didn't go to the party. I trusted you, kid.”
I heard the groans of the bed stop. She was thinking.
“Well… why don’t you sleep 24 hours and your internal clock like, resets?”
I smiled and tried to feel around for a pillow to hit her with, “You answered the wrong question Lai! Stop stalling, did you go?"
"Okay Juna, you're not Mom. Of course i couldn't go without you, I thought you knew me better. "
"Just making sure..." I chuckled.
I loved Lai. She wasn't just my sister. She was the best friend I’ve ever had. Well, actually the only friend I’ve had. Nobody could really enjoy the company of their friend if they couldn't talk about how ugly that one girl's outfit was.
Except for Lai. Lai was cool.
“But alright,” the bed screamed as she put all her weight on it and pushed off in an instant, “let’s go down to get some breakfast,” she said as she started to tug me down the bed.
And I stayed still as a brick.
"I though you knew me better", complained mockingly, "I can't do breakfast with those two downstairs."
“Urgh… Juna!” she whined as she expended the her energy trying to pull me into the hall, “My— I mean our parents, shouldn’t be a problem because if they found you as a lil’ baby on the streets to adopt you, they must love the crap out of you. I know the real reason you don't wanna eat breakfast... you’re afraid of falling to your death down the stairs."
"Yes, that's my conclusion. And I don’t know how you could be worried about that if you use that skill that you showed me one time back wh—“
“Shh! Okay, okay. Breakfast we go! Let’s just make it quick. We still gotta get me ready for school this morning.”
I was seemingly content when I heard her infamous “school is disgusting” gasp.
“How can you even mention school on finals week?!” she groaned.
I laughed at her, “If I can do it, you can do it. Let’s go.”
“Juna! Honey! Lai, how could you let Juna walk down those stairs by herself? You need to carry her!” My adoptive mother’s voice was a horrified shrill as I emerged around the flight of stairs.
Before I could get a good eye roll in and a whine of protest, I felt strong, calloused hands grab under me. I sighed as Gabriel, my adoptive fathers’s hands picked me up to put me in a chair to eat breakfast.
Pity. My parents ooze with it. If there was any discomfort in my life, they wouldn’t let me experience it. It’s the reason I have the fancy upstairs master bedroom that used to belong to them. The reason I get carried down the stairs. The reason that we have family ‘bonding time’ once every excruciatingly long day in a week. They made my life…perfect.
And I hated it.
“Juna,” Gabriel said, while rubbing my back earnestly, “I heard that finals are today. I hope you’ve been studying as hard as you can.”
I slightly nodded towards the voice, using all the self-control I had not to cringe at Gabe’s over-affectionate fatherly gestures. All the time it was the same: lovey-dovey, enthusastic conversation Gabriel and Melissa directed only towards me and for me, to cheer up my day, making sure blind was out of their vocabulary and doing their duty as parents so that I am completely and totally loved.
And Lai asks why I hate breakfast!
“Oh don’t worry her with all that Gabriel, Juna can get past all her… adversities. She knows how to ace anything that life throws at her.”
“Well this is junior year sweetie, trust me, grades matter. It doesn’t seem like much now, but this is the gateway to your future. We just don’t want in the dark later on in life, alright Juna?”
I stopped focusing on my peanut-butter flavoured cereal so I could give my obligatory good child response, “Well me and Lai have been studying very hard. In fact it was Lai who had to help me out with Calculus. Because you know Lai is the smart one. Isn’t that right… Lai?”
I smiled as I heard Lai’s spoon drop into her own cereal.
“Uh…” she said, confused.
I shook my head. It all confused me. Lai seemed to dislike them just as much as I did. She always opted out of family bonding time. Yet she always was so eager to take me to breakfast. It never seemed that she got anything out of this.
“Oh yeah Lai,” said Gabe, suddenly remembering the other human at the table that was his daughter, “how’s things?”
“Psshhh… things are fine… those finals are good as passed. I’ve been studying day and night. Thought it really would’ve been nice to go to that party last night… to take a break from all that studying.”
"Oh Lai!" Melissa's shrill was more anxious than usual, "You should be more focused like your sister. Me and Gabriel were down here watching the news and that little party you're talking about came on. Three dead. Bite marks everywhere. It's still a crime sce-"
I heard Lai's spoon fall into her plate, "Three dead?! How?!" Silence swallowed the room, the only audible sound was Lai's chair screeching backwards, "I have to see this for myself..."
"Now Lai," Gabe protested, "how can you act this way in front of Juna? It's not good for her. Come and sit."
Another round of silence covered the room. I assumed Lai wasn't moving due to lack of footsteps. I hoped for Lai to just once spitefully retort to Gabriel and Melissa's overly ignorant comments. But as usual, another wave of passiveness hit her as she reluctantly listened to him.
"Okay... yeah, you're right." her chair squawked once more as she resettled herself into it.
"Are you okay Juna?" Melissa asked.
I downed the cereal so Lai could take me up. I was gonna scream if I heard my name one more time.
“Mmk, we need to get ready Lai! Let’’s go.” I said as I ignored Melissa
I sighed as pushed up from my seat and felt a familiar hand lightly grip my elbow.
“And make sure you stay with Juna in the shower Lai,” Melissa said as Lai started guiding me up the stairs.
She didn’t do that.