By Navrosedip Kundlas
Volume 2 Issue 6
April 14, 2022
Image provided by Navrosedip Kundlas, Canva
May 1st, 1990
He’s going to the military after the wedding. He’s leaving. After the wedding. These words spin in my head over and over again. One month and then he’s gone. I shake my head, this isn’t the time to think about this. I hop back onto my skateboard and steer myself towards Ditch Plains Beach. In the distance, three figures are waiting for me. Bridget, Orion, and Bridget’s boyfriend Dylan. Immediately, guilt hits me, poor Orion had to be the third wheel while I ran late. You’re such a bad friend, so selfish. Closing my eyes, I take a big breath. You got this, Jules. Keep calm. Placing a foot down, I get off my board and reach for the strap under. Slipping the strap onto my shoulder, I take out my earbuds and put up a smile. Act normal. Nothing’s wrong, just a normal day at the beach surfing with your dudes. I repeat over and over again.
“What’s up, guys?” I ask, hoping they don’t notice the hint of red in my eyes.
“Nothing much, ready to catch some waves?” Bridget replies holding out her hand.
After doing our handshake and fist bumping the boys, we head out for the waves. I slip off my shuffle bag and slip off my shoes. Peeling off my flannel and slipping my overalls off, I run over to Orion. Fixing my one-piece, I jump onto Orion’s back.
“Woah! Hold on dude,” Orion laughs.
“Dude, give me a piggy-back ride. Now,” I say laughing.
I shake off the butterflies forming in my stomach. You’ve got to be kidding yourself, Jules. Crushing on your childhood best friend. Nuh-uh. Not gonna happen. Orion grabs my legs and I swing my arms over his neck.
“Hold on tight, don’t want you falling off and scratching your fragile body” Orion teases.
“Shut up.” I demand.
After that one incident where Mom told me to be careful, due to my sensitive skin, Orion hasn’t been able to shut up. Closing my eyes shut, Orion takes off towards the ocean. I feel my legs and arms detaching and then cool water seeping into my body. Opening my eyes I swim towards the rock. Our rock. I climb the smooth surface and sit on top looking out to the horizon, the sun bursting out with shades of pink, red, yellow, and hints of blue. Beautiful.
“Jules?” Dylan shakes me out of my little world.
“What’s up?” I ask.
“Bridget got the boards, ready to capture some of those waves?” He asks.
What if he never comes back? Dies in service. He’ll never catch those waves again. Never take you to swim, orbuy your surf gear. You’ll be left all alone. Alone forever.
“Jules? Hello? Anyone there?” Dylan says, snapping me back into focus.
“Yeah, let’s get to it!” I say, hoping that no one noticed my zoning out.
Orion does, though. He looks concerned and reads right through my facade. Knowing I’ll be bombarded with questions later, I shoot him a look with my eyes. I’ll tell you later promise. He nods but still has some concern in his eyes. You sure you’ll be fine? We can always surf later, you know. I nod, not wanting to ruin the moment. Bridget paddles into the water, ready to get going. I dive back into the water, and swim for shore. Grabbing my board I join Bridget on the waves. After an hour, I paddle back more tired than usual. Everything’s going to be okay. Don’t stress. Drying myself with the towel, I slip my overalls back on, and tie my flannel onto my waist. Orion’s heading over. Breathe in and out, you can tell him.
“Hey, what’s going on? You're pretty off today. Not your usual peppy self” he prompts, waiting for an answer.
“It’s just that Caleb’s heading off to the military after he gets married! And I don’t want him to go. I thought since he was going to get married, he would stay. But no! He’s just going to leave me here, and I just can’t deal with it, Orion I just can’t…” I trail off, too upset to continue. Tears start sliding down my face and drop to my shoulder. Sinking down to my knees, I hug myself. Orion bends down and gives me a hug.
“Dude, listen to me, you're not going to be alone, you have me, Bridget, Dylan, Juliette and Julian your siblingsand the rest of your family. We’re here to support you. I know it’s hard but life’s hard. It might take time, but you’ll get used to it. We’re like what, 14-years old? We can handle it. I know what you’re thinking but it’s not going to happen.Caleb’s not going to die. Okay?” He reassures me.
Feeling a little better, I give a nod and get up.
“Wait. Why did you call Julie by her full name?” I ask, curious, since it was the first time.
“It was a serious topic, so I thought full names would be appropriate” he said with a smirk.
Rolling my eyes, I pack my gear. I drop my board off at our usual stash place and hop onto my skateboard. Waving bye, and promising to talk later, I plug my earbuds back in and skate on home. While Orion lives in my neighborhood, Bridge and Dylan live on the next one over, so the beach is where we regroup. Orion’s got a date, which makes my stomach sink. Did you really think he would like you? Come on Jules, you're being stupid. Shrugging off my disappointment, I skate faster hoping to outrun my negative thoughts. Coming to a stop, I swing my skateboard onto my shoulder and push through the gate. Hopping up the stairs, I slide the key into the lock and quietly open the door. Everyone’s asleep. No one surfs this early in the morning in my house. I close the door shut and tiptoe quietly to my room. I slide off my shoes and take off my clothes. Slipping on my pajamas, I pat Coco, our Australian Shepherd, andsoftly get into bed to crash.
“GET UP!!!” screams Julie.
I remained on my bed and pulled the covers over my head.
“IF YOU DON’T GET UP AND WASH YOUR HAIR, I WILL SCREAM!” screams my 16-year-old sister.
I said (very politely), “If that’s your regular voice I don’t think my ears could handle your real screaming.”
“BE QUIET,” she snapped, marching out the room.
Reluctantly I got out of bed, heading straight for the shower. After washing my hair, I decide to go eat something. That’s when I realized all hell had broken loose. Shoes were scattered everywhere. Clothes were flung in all places you could imagine. Where was my family in all of this mess? To be honest, I didn’t even know. There wasn’t even any food in the kitchen. Like, now what was I supposed to do? Go grocery shopping last minute? Very funny Jules, focus and find out what’s going on. It didn’t look like a hurricane hit the house before. They’re probably at Aunt Jackie’s house. So, I walked over, hopped the fence, and went over to eat some chow. Hopping from step to step, I finally reached the top. Knocking on the door, I waited patiently. As expected, no one opened the door. So I bent down and plucked the spare key from the third flower pot to the right. Or was it left? Oh well, at least it’s hidden well. Anyways, I opened the door and walked straight into a scene. There was Aunt Jackie and Caleb screaming their heads off at each other.
“Who told you to go on and sign up for the military? Have you lost your mind, boy?! I grew you up in this very house with manners, and this is what you do. We’re not poor you know. We got plenty of money! We’re rich, Caleb! People want the kind of money we have. But no, you still want to join the military. You could have just taken over the family business! What was the point of doing this?!” Aunt Jackie yelled.
“Mama, you know since I was little I wanted to be in the Air Force. I’ve told you a million times that this what I want to do. Serve our country. You know this! I don’t care about money, I’m not doing this for money. I’m doing this as my dream! And you can’t change my mind, Mama. Sorry, but this is what I want to do, and I’m doing it!” Caleb yelled back.
“Young man, you keep your voice down, and listen to me. I’m not approving of this kind of behavior. And what about Amanda? You're just gonna marry her and leave her? What kind of husband does that? You tell me, son. Second, who knows what’s going to happen when you leave? You might die, Caleb! Amanda might leave you, who knows? I just can’t believe you would do something like this, without even thinking it through! Do you have answers for me or no, Caleb?” Aunt Jackie demanded, glaring right at her son.
“No, I don’t have all the answers, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t thought this through. Amanda has given me all of her support, and she won’t leave me. If you have a problem, then fine, so be it. I’m going to get married and then I’m deployed, with or without your approval. You have one month to make your decision. Either you support me through this, or you don’t. Your choice,” Caleb says.
With that he leaves the living room in a fury and climbs the staircase to his room where he slams the door shut. Aunt Jackie sighs and sits onto the couch holding her head in her hands. Dad sits next to her and wraps his arms around her shoulder.
“It’s ok Jacqueline, we’ll get through it. If this is what he wants, then that’s that. We can’t stop him,” Dad softly says.
“I just want him to realize that this isn’t a joke. This isn’t one of his games. It’s real, Jacques. He could get hurt, or god forbid worse,” Aunt Jackie whispers.
Mom gets up from an armchair and heads towards me. Knowing she was probably going to lead me away from the scene, I slip off my flip-flops.
“Hey honey, I didn’t realize you arrived. Took you a while to wake up after your surf. Why don’t you come to the kitchen, and I’ll ask Sally to cook something up for you?” Mom says looking at me.
Nodding, I follow her out of the living room to the kitchen where Sally was cooking up some waffles. Sliding on to one of the stools of the countertop, I notice Julie and Julian were there as well.
“Look who finally decided to show up,” Julie teases, bumping my shoulder with hers.
“Hmmm, looks like Miss Cranky finally got her coffee,” I say teasing right back.
Bursting into laughter, I settle in with the twins. It wasn’t unusual for us to have breakfast at Aunt Jackie’s. With Aunt Jackie’s overdramatic personality and her fights with Uncle Oliver, Dad and Mom usually had to come to keep peace. Which usually also annoyed Mom, which caused her and Dad to have small arguments which were usually contained. Nothing compared to Aunt Jackie and Uncle Oliver’s fights. Sally served some delicious waffles, which I quickly scarfed up. I had to check on Caleb. He was my favorite cousin, and I was closer to him than to anyone else in the whole world. Pushing back my stool, I excused myself and ran up the stairs to Caleb’s room. But on the way, I heard something that caught my breath.
“Look Jaqueline, you know the lines. What’s yours, what’s mine, what’s the others, you cannot cross that boundary. Our family fortune was divided up fairly and squarely. Don’t mess with it. You know the fights that broke out when Dad died. I do not want more chaos in our family. You know our family rivalry with each other. So please stay in line,” Dad said sternly.
“But Jacques, the necklace is missing! What if one of our sisters arranged for someone to steal it from the Paris mansion. You know how valuable it is. We need to find it, before word spreads. Items are starting to disappear from there, but this necklace is the most valuable. If this leaks out, things worse than a couple of verbal fights will happen. If we don’t find out what’s going on in that mansion, then everything our dad and grandpa created will shatter. You know that. Someone’s betraying us, Jacques. There’s a thief among us. And we need to find them. Especially before the wedding. That necklace needs to be passed down to Amanda. If it’s not, then everyone will know, and that’s it, it’s over.”
“I know, let’s keep this between you, me, Oliver, and Victoria. We’ll figure it out,” Dad promises Aunt Jackie.
What in the world is going on here? I never heard of the Paris mansion before. What is Mom, Dad, Aunt, and Uncle hiding? Since when are there family rivalries in the Paris siblings? What necklace are they talking about? With no answers, I headed up the staircase to Caleb, hoping he might have some answers.
Juliana Valentina Paris.