My name is Marley, I'm 13 years of age and I live with Mama, Cam, and Louie. My favorite time of the year is when Pompa comes to visit. He's my favorite grandpa and is the funniest person ever. He jokes with us, tickles my toes, pulls my hair and bites my little fingers. We even roll around like puppies. I don't know what I would do without him.
It is late fall, the air is crisp stings my lungs. My toes feel numb as I trudge along. The path home is winding and the trees wave and drop the last leaves off of their outstretched limbs. My feet step rhythmically in the crunching leaves.
I know that I am getting close to our ranch when Coby runs up to me with a big stick in his mouth. Coby is a wild dog so mama doesn't like my brothers touching him. He is dirty from rolling in the rust colored dirt, but he isn't allowed past the fence anyway.
The wind whistles through the Hollow Oak trees surrounding me, the trees are dead and I can tell by the way the moss grows up them. The sky is darker than usual as though it is ready for the night. I can barely feel the cold anymore. My body is too numb, but I know it is there and I know it is going to happen.
Pompa is coming to visit, he would be at the house ready for me to come. That is what I thought, that's why what happened was so shocking.
There he was, sick and still in the bed. He couldn't move and he couldn't speak. I wanted to talk to him, to tell him about everything.. But I knew that he would not respond. So I sat, watched, and waited for him to do anything. The fire crackled from the other side of the room and I watched the crimson flames flap and disappear. His chest rose steady, up and down. I didn't want to look at him anymore, he just wasn't the same. I left the room without making too much noise.
“After I get back I promise, it'll be a late birthday present. We will go on an adventure, just you and me. Anywhere you want.” That was what he told me before he left. I spent the rest of that month researching Peru, Spain, Africa, anywhere that had beaches and artifacts.
I sent him a letter telling him that the place I wanted to go was Brazil, but right now the only place I want to go is to bed.
The next morning, I feel the cold from the window, and see only white covering the ground. A smile breaks across my face; I know that in no time we’d be sledding and rolling about in the vanilla powder. I shake my brothers and grab my boots, and head down the stairs.
Pompa is still sleeping when I go over to him, his chest is still and flat. His eyes are closed and his skin is whiter than the snow. I slide my hand under his and whisper, “It's morning, wake up, let's go pla..”
My words are cut of by a blood curdling scream of agony and despair. I spin around to see Mama with a face of pure abhorrence. I drop Pompa’s hand and run to her.
“What did I do?” Tears welled in my eyes.
“You did nothing sweetie it wasn't your fault,” she reassured sadly.
I could see that she too was having a hard time choking back the stinging tears.
After the ceremony we drive back to the house, the day is a blur of tears and sadness. I'm sure that the first few days will be like this but I hope it will be better soon.
It's about two weeks later now and mama still refuses to get out of bed, I still don't want to go outside and Louie and Cam are still wondering why Pompa isn't back. It's hard to explain to six-year-olds that their favorite grandpa can't be around anymore. Plus they fell asleep at the ceremony and don't really understand what's going on. I think it's better this way though, they shouldn't have to endure the sadness and grief of death.
I'm really concerned about Mama now, she is so frail and tired that she doesn't want to move. Every day I need to force her to eat or else she avoids the concept all together. She seems really sick, all I want is for her to get better. I can't take another loss in the family. But I refuse to think this way.
Today Mama looks just like Pompa did right before I wandered out of that room. It's scary to see her so helpless when she is the only reason that I am strong.
I call in the doctor about an hour later so that we can talk about what Mama needs. The snow is falling like soldiers in the war. After the doctor was finished inspecting Mama, he pulled me aside to tell me that he would need to take her to the office to rest and get proper care. This is not fair to me because I did an excellent job of feeding and taking care of her, and I was sure to let him know that.
After they take Mama away I think about how I need to care for the boys to the best my abilities. Even without Mama I would still have to cook, clean and care for them as though they were not just my brothers but my own two sons. The more I work for them the more I miss Mama and wish that she would be here to help me do the little things in life. I feel like the golden days of 13 years old have slipped my grasp so fast and now I will need to become a mother figure.
I am busy washing the dishes and whistling a tune familiar to the family. Cam and Louie are out on the frozen lake with their snow shovels and toys. Slipping and sliding is their favorite thing to do pretty much anywhere that they can.
All of the sudden the ice made a terrible noise. I could hear it all the way from the house and whenever they moved the ice would make small tinkering sounds, I knew that it was not long before the ice fell through.
I run through the snow in my socks and grab the rope swing attached to the rickety old tree. I told them to walk on their hands and knees until they could reach. Then I pull then onto the solid ground where they are safe again. The ice was melting which meant the earth is heating up.
As we approach spring the ice melts, there is no more snow on the ground or in the sky. The clouds are no longer dark and tired. I am no longer bothered by the sting of winter, I barely feel 13 anymore but who's to say that's a bad thing? I know it's time for me to rest, now that there are no casualties or incidents I must care for, there's only me and my family. And I will care for us until the next snowflake falls.