I stare at him with uneasiness in my eyes, tapping my fingers on the wooden table, as he took a gulp of his tea.
It felt awkward sitting here alone with him. We were never the type to get along, so it felt strange for him to want to talk to me all of a sudden.
The night moon glimmered through the window, showing the murkiness of the forest and the animals hiding in them.
"Dad?" I finally say, "What did you want to talk about? Where's Emma?"
He doesn't bother meeting my eyes, replying in an even tone,
"Your sister is out with your brother. She wanted to get some school supplies for herself."
My eyes widen with surprise as I think about the situation. So, Jason took Emma to the shops. That actually explains the silence in the house, considering Emma has always been the loudest of us. This was new. I never thought those two would go together like that. She could have asked me to get her some stuff.
"How're your studies going?" Dad asks, but his face didn't show that he is interested.
"The same." I mumble, looking down at my phone, pretending to be busy.
"You know, I heard quite an earful from the neighbors that you're hanging out a lot with your friends." He scorns, rising from his chair and gently putting the dishes in the kitchen sink.
I frown. Always with the neighbors. Why does he have to listen to their crap anyway? It's not like what they said is true. Why can't they just mind their own business or something?
I gnaw at my lips, anxiously, fearing where this conversation was heading.
"Yes, actually I go to the library with them for group studying." I mumble a lie. "Exams are coming up so."
I really don't feel like making things more complicated then they already are. I'm just playing along.
Dad shifts uncomfortably, giving me a quick glance before turning towards a drawer, opening it.
"Em told me your headaches are getting worse." He speaks with some worry.
I groan inside my head. Off course she told him. Off course she didn't bother to keep a secret. I know Emma is just trying to look out for me but the fact that she bluntly told Dad about this really frustrates me.
"Umm, no." I blink at him, acting confused.
But he doesn't seem convinced.
Grabbing a few extra pills from the drawer, he places them on the table and sighs,
"Fine. But just take these from now on daily incase you start to feel…delusional."
How come that word popped in his mind?
I think about the dreams I've been having lately.
About a voice and cries for help.
I don't know what those are. I really want to. But it feels like something is holding me off. And I just can't seem to know what. Who.
My thoughts break as my phone starts ringing in my pocket. I hold it out before giving Dad an excused look, who waves it off with a careless nod, walking upstairs towards his room.
I hurriedly rush outside in the cold dense air, not wanting dad to over-hear me talking. It is a call from Sarah and Dustin.
I receive the call only to hear Dustin yell, annoyingly,
"Took you long enough."
I grin, leaning against the fence, watching Roofus sleeping in his dog house,"Sorry about that. I was talking to Dad so I didn't pick the call."
"How's Mr. Quin doing though?" Sarah asks, her voice expressing a bit of concern.
I smile at her sincerity, "Could be better." I answer truthfully. "But anyway, why are you two calling me? Don't you think I'd be exhausted after putting up with Dustin for the whole day?"
"I couldn't agree more!" Sara snorts.
"Hey!" Dustin snaps from his end of the line, defensively, "I'm not that much of a handful!"
"Yeah, right." Sara scoffs, "You have no idea!"
"What!" Dustin splutters, "Stop messing with me when you don't even have any proof to support you!"
"You want proof?" Sara laughs, gleefully, "Remember the time when you got lost in an amusement park? It took the two of us three whole hours to find you, crying next to the cotton candy stand while you stuffed your mouth with it!"
"That's a lie!" Dustin retorts, "I have no memory of it whatsoever. Stop making things up!"
"How could you remember? I mean it happened five years ago." Sara explains as I imagine her smirking.
"How the hell do you even remember that?" Dustin says in a low-tone.
"I tend to note down all your embarrassing moments."
"You know, Sara, I used to think that you only joke around with me, but now I realize that you really are one heck of an evil person!" Dustin exclaims ti which Sara let's out a cackle.
I take in a deep breath, hearing the distorted arguments of the two, until Sara says,
"Dustin, I think Charlie left us or something."
"Yeah I agree." Dustin shouts loudly in the phone, piercing my ears. "Charlie! Charlie, you there?!"
"Yeah I am!" I push away the phone from my ear, "Stop screaming!"
The cold wind makes my voice tremble, compelling me to miss my warm cozy blankets.
"Will you two quit arguing and tell me why you called?" I ask, a little exasperated, "I'm standing in the freezing cold to hear you guys!"
"Alright, fine." Sara sighs, "We just wanted to tell you-"
"For godsake, don't ruin the excitement!" Dustin hisses, then in a sweet voice, he speaks, "Check the school website! They made a new announcement!"
I scowl, "What?"
"Just check it!"
I roll my eyes at his enthusiasm, opening the school website as they said.
It was particularly made to announce events pr other useless things regarding the school. I hardly ever checked the notification. I scroll down the home page through the old messages until I reach today's.
At that moment, my heat freezes, either with surprise or just the cold, but at that moment, I felt like I'd faint. Not even trying to exaggerate. The message shone from the screen, as I read it about three times before actually conforming what it said.
It said in big bold words,
WINNERS OF THE WRITING COMPETITION.
1. Kyle Grey.
2. Nathan Fuller
3. Charlotte Quin
4. Natalie Wright
I open my mouth to speak but all that comes out are these weird and confused squirms.
"You read it?" Dustin beams.
How in the world…?
What Writing Competition?
I never took part in any competition!
"Surprising right?" Sara reads my mind, "I was as surprised as you are about this."
"How?" I stammer, my eyes glues on the screen, "I never did take part in this!"
"Well, then it's a good thing you have me!" Dustin declares, proudly, "I did this!"
"What?" I whisper-shout.
"Well remember the time when I told you to do my essay homework?" Dustin starts to explain, "Well it wasn't my homework. I just wanted you to take part in this. But I knew you'd refuse like the weirdo you are. So I gave it to Mr.Tremblay to submit and although we aren't on good terms, the dude totally helped me out! So yeah, thanks to me – and I guess him but mostly me – you won!"
His voice mirroring joy by the time he finished talking.
"I…I can't believe this." I stagger on my feet. "Thank you Dustin."
"What's not to believe?" Sara points out, meekly, "You're any excellent writer. No doubt you were to win."
"It's a lot to take in though." I swallow hard at a lump in my throat.
"Then take your time." Sarah replies, softly. "We'll see you in school."
"What?" Dustin rages, "No don't hang up! I deserve to be given a treat now that you won! It's not fair!"
"Shut up!" Sara snaps.
"But-" He tries to protest but I end the phone call before he'd force me to buy ice-cream.
I close my eyes, taking in a deep breath, the cold wind blowing through my hair stings my skin.
This was my chance.
This is an opportunity to improve.
And to grab hold of it and to not let go.
What will this be a bigger step to my success.
And yet, to grasp an opportunity, why did all of it seem so pressurizing?