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Can't Forgive, Can't Forget

By: Livelovecats


Can't Forgive, Can't Forget
By: Danielle

    "Owen!" I shouted happily, running into my brother's arms but carefully making sure that the paper I was holding stayed out of his sight. "You won't believe what happened today!" I told him.
    "What is that?" he asked me, holding my hand as we crossed the street away from my school.
    "We did this cool project in art with watercolors," I told him. "And I made this for you," I said showing him the paper.
    "Wow," he said automatically. Then a second later his eyes lit up and he repeated it. "Wow."
    Usually "Wow" was followed up with "Great. Now, what is it?" But today he actually looked impressed at my painting.
    "It's you and me," he commented. "And is that Fifth Street Treats?" he asked me.
    "Yep. Normal paint is hard to use but this was easy."
    "I think you are a natural Kitty," he replied. I smiled up at him, leaning against his shoulder.
    Several minutes later we arrived at Fifth Street Treats like always. I ran inside knowing exactly what I wanted.
    "Are you going to get a White and Brown or a Classic today?" Mr. Temp asked me. He was the owner of Fifth Street Treats and always knew my favorite candies.
    "Hmm," I said, putting my fingers in an L shape on my chin as I pretended to think. "It's a difficult choice," I told him.
    Mr. Temp and Owen exchanged a look as I picked up the obvious choice: White and Brown.
    Owen handed Mr. Temp fifty cents, picking up a Classic bar for himself. Then I skipped out of the shop with Owen following behind me.
    As we walked we unwrapped our quarter candies and ate them, mine the White and Brown and his the Classic.
    I took a bite into mine revealing the brownie inside of it. It was called a White and Brown because it had a brownie and white chocolate. The Classic was like any average bar- Chocolate, peanuts, and caramel. Therefore, the Classic.
    Owen ate his in only one bite while I took smaller ones to savor the flavor.
    Soon we were home and sitting on the couch. Owen flipped through the channels until he found Cat Attack which was our favorite show to watch together. It featured humans and cats trying to plan sneak attacks on each other.
    This episode was one I had seen before in which the cat repeatedly tries to surprise his owner by sitting behind him on the couch and jumping onto his lap. When the cat was sleeping on his cat tree the human would tap him, making him wake up as revenge. Hilarious.
    An hour later my parents arrived home and mom bustled around the kitchen attempting to make dinner. She wasn't the best cook so usually we would close our eyes while she worked. No need to see what disaster the kitchen was turning into.
    Dad went right to his office to work like always. He was a workaholic and mom hated it. The only time he was willing to talk and be distracted from his work was dinner time, though sometimes if it had turned out burnt or bad he would say he was too busy to eat at the moment and sneak into his office to order himself a pizza. He probably doesn't know that I know that.
    Turns out that dinner was baked potatoes. Extra crispy. Yum. If you can't tell I was using sarcasm, which is something Owen taught me.
    I ate half of mine and excused myself.
    "You don't want dessert?" Mom asked.
    "Depends. What is it?" I asked her.
    "Homemade chocolate cake!" she said excitedly. I had known Mom for eight years. Homemade means burnt, nasty, and unsavable.
    "I'm good,"  I replied.

    I was an early waker-upper. Always have been, always will be. So I was awake that morning just like always when Owen was getting ready to leave for school.
    "Good morning Kitty," he told me, plopping down at the table. I could tell he was in a hurry due to the speed of his motions.
    He grabbed the box of Rice Crisps and poured them into his bowl, only half of them making it in. The same thing happened with the milk. "Darn it," he sighed. "I'll just clean it up later."
    He ate his breakfast wicked fast, polishing it off within a minute. Then he grabbed the cereal and the milk, forgetting I hadn't eaten anything and put them away in the wrong spots with the cereal in the fridge and the milk in the pantry. Yep. He was in a big rush.
    Then he glanced down at his watch. "It's broken!" he shouted. "It is not four fifty-six!"
    He picked up his watch and tossed it onto the table. Then he grabbed his backpack and flew out the door mumbling "I hope I don't miss my field trip."
    I sighed, using a towel to wipe up the spilled cereal. In the doing so I laughed aloud, seeing that his watch was on the timer setting. I hit the button and it stopped, bringing it back to normal time. It was too late to catch Owen though since he had already run out the door and was several houses down. So to make sure his watch was kept safe I slid it on my own wrist.
    The school day went by pretty fast. In art, I made another watercolor picture which had me and Owen sitting on the couch watching tv. We had math in the morning, followed by language arts and lunch. It wasn't until the afternoon, right after lunch when things start to turn around.
    "Hello, students and teachers. This is Principal Neal. I would like to announce that due to some things that have happened we will be having early dismissal. Buses should be here in less than five minutes."
    Then the announcement turned off and everyone started screaming and hollering in joy. It happened within seconds surprising everyone.
    In the bus loop, the buses started arriving and I wondered about Owen. Would he be picking me up or should I ride the bus? Maybe I should wait here. But what if his school wasn't having early dismissal? Then I remembered that he had a field trip today. Bus it is.
    As we got on our buses several helicopters flew over our heads at a quick speed, too fast for me to get a look at them. A minute later more flew by. Where were they all going?
    When I got back home I ran inside shouting "Owen? Owen are you home?" I knew he probably wouldn't be but I wanted to know why we had early dismissal and if he had seen the helicopters.
    I checked every corner of the house before deciding that I would have to wait for him to come home. I turned the tv on and flipped through the channels.
    Usually, I didn't watch the news but today I did because I saw a picture of the Sam Austen building on fire. Sam Austen was one of the biggest businesses in Nellsburg, Michigan and I was surprised to see it burning down. It was a manufacturing business that made all sorts of things like household items. I didn't know a ton about it besides the fact that part of it actually made the things and the other part of the building came up with ideas for making them.
    "The Sam Austen building just caught on fire three hours ago and is still burning. It is in the process of being put out, and local authorities are trying to find a cause for the fire," the reporter who was a tall blonde woman announced.
    On the screen behind her, the Sam Austen building was engulfed in flames with fire trucks pouring water on it from all sides.
    "Several firefighters have gone in but haven't been able to find any survivors other than the ones that made it out at the beginning. Many are still searching. Now for a short break."
    The screen changed to a commercial for shoes which were apparently on sale at some store. But I didn't want to hear about that. I wanted to know more about the fire.
    Soon it returned to the new and the lady was back on.
    "Welcome back to the local news. As a review, the Sam Austen building has caught fire and we are waiting for more information on it. Oh, is that it?" the lady asked as a man stepped in next to her handing a folded white paper to her.
    She carefully unfolded it and looked at it. "We have received word about the cause of the fire. Apparently, a class of ninth graders was on a field trip to the Sam Austen building and one of them, a boy named George Boscar put a firecracker in his father's mailbox who worked at Sam Austen as a prank but it turned into a fire. We will be trying to find a list of the names in the class soon but until then...oh, nevermind it's already here," the news lady said as the man handed her another piece of paper.
    It took her a minute to unfold the paper in which I started thinking. Owen went on a field trip today. He said it was just for his class since his teacher Mr. O'Brien was the best according to him. He was also in ninth grade meaning it was possible that…
    I slapped myself hard in the cheek. "Ow…" I mumbled. Then I realized that a couple of names had already been called and started to pay more attention.
    "Linda Montana, Mira Nasha, Vincent Connor, Jack Michaels…"
    I recognized several names. Mira Nasha was the girl who Owen had had a crush on since fifth grade. And Jack Michaels was his best friend. Where they...dead?
    "Cole Goldieton, Owen Brohoski…"
    After that, I hit the off button on the remote. I sat still, not knowing what to do. A tear rolled down my face, and then another and another. They poured down faster and faster until I told myself that something must be wrong, that lady must have been wrong. She was lying, he was still alive, he had escaped the fire. Or even better had never been in it.
    I cried for hours, knowing that was all wishful thinking. My parents eventually came home Mom sat down next to me asking what was wrong.
    "He's dead," I sobbed.
    "W-what do you mean?" she asked me slowly.
    "The news said that he d-d-died in the fire," I cried.
    Within a second Dad had run into the room and plopped down on the couch next to us. "He's not dead. He just didn't get an early release like you and stayed after school. I think…" Dad said, trailing off.
    Then Mom was showing him something on her phone, tears falling out of her eyes. "She's right," Mom sobbed. A minute later Dad joined in, grabbing us in a big family hug.
    "Owen is … g-gone … forever," I finally managed to cry out.
Six Years Later
    "Mom!" I whined as I walked in the door, tossing my backpack on the table. "You said that I could make dinner tonight!"
    "Sorry but I found this great recipe for Chicken Parmesan and it will be delicious," she told me.
    I sighed. I was tired of my mother's meals since they all had turned out terrible. She had recently entered her "Italian faze" and had been stuck in it for two weeks so far. You wouldn't think it was possible to burn spaghetti, but I assure you that it is.
    I just went right into my room and laid back on my bed. Deep breath in, deep breath out. That simple tactic helped me through life, every up and down of it. Well, for the most part.
    Deep breath in, deep breath out. Is something burning? Sure smells like it. Yep. Mom did it again.
    I ran into the kitchen just in time to see Mom pulling out a big black tray full of black chunks. Leave it to Mom to accidentally cook the chicken at six hundred degrees instead of three hundred. She always says that if it is on a higher temperature it cooks faster. This is why Mom failed the cooking class in college.
    I helped her wave away the smoke which left us both coughing.
"What is that awful smell?" Dad asked, coming into the room.
"Parmigiano di pollo bruciato!" Mom replied in an over excited voice.
"Burnt chicken parmesan," Dad translated. Mom nodded her head and sighed as the smoke alarm started going off. I quickly hopped up on a chair and hit the off switch. This had happened before many times.
Then Dad started to laugh, picking up his phone. "Pizza is still Italian, so are you guys ok with that?" he asked us.

The pizza was the first decent dinner we had eaten in months, and even Mom agreed to let me cook for a little while.
"You know your cooking is bad when you set off the smoke alarm," she informed us. "For the third time in a month."
After dinner was done I turned on the oven's self-cleaning which made it clean itself. It was one of my favorite things about the oven. Other than that all the oven did was help create Mom's kitchen fails.
So I was quite happy when I fell asleep that night, especially since it was Friday and the weekend was finally here. I never expected anything after that, just a quiet, calm weekend. What happened was the opposite.
I woke up feeling dizzy and hot. I tried to sit up, but my head hurt so bad I had to lay it back down. But when I did all I felt was empty air. Then I realized that I was moving, being carried.
What was happening? "I got her," a man said. "She's the only survivor. I think she passed out because of the smoke, probably won't remember a thing when she wakes up."
"Yep. We will get her some medical attention," another man answered. I felt myself being set down on something flat, with things all around me. It was hard but I was so exhausted that it didn't matter. Before I knew it I was asleep again.
I don't know how long I was asleep for but it must have been a while because when I woke up I heard excited voices.
"She's awake! She's awake!" someone whispered loudly.
"She is? Great," someone else answered.
I slowly opened my eyes, seeing two people hovering over me. They buzzed questions at me like "How are you feeling?" "Are you hungry?" "Do you feel well rested?"
This made my head hurt and I put my hands over my ears but they continued. "Are you ok?" "Does your head hurt?" "Are you sure you don't want anything to eat?"
"Stop," I mumbled and their voiced ceased. Then when I was sure they had stopped I sat up, seeing a plate of soup beside me. I quickly picked it up and devoured it, gulping it down. It must have been a few days since I had eaten.
"What happened?" I asked them, wanting to know why I was here, in this plain white room on a bed … wait a minute. I was in a hospital. How did I get here?
"There was a fire sweety," one of the nurses told me. "Something happened, although we can't figure out the cause. Your entire house burned down and you are the only one who made it out."
"W-what?" I asked them. "M-my parents are d-dead?"
"Yes sweety," another nurse answered.
Tears rolled down my face. How could this be? I did leave the oven on for cleaning but it usually turns off after it is done. Something must have gone wrong with it…
"If you are feeling better we can bring your new foster parents in sweety," one of the nurses told me.
"F-foster parents?" I asked.
"Yes. All your family relatives are either dead or can't take you in, so yes, foster parents. I will send them in."
The nurse then left the room, the other two following behind her. Then in came a man and a woman. They sat down on the bench to my right and introduced themselves.
"I'm Jamie," the woman told me, extending her hand.
"And I am Carl," the man said doing the same as Jamie. I reached out my hand and shook both of theirs.
"I-I'm K-Katie," I told them.
"So we have heard. You will be coming to stay with us," Jamie told me. She seemed nice enough, having a very motherly way of speaking. I had a feeling that I would like her.
And then I started to think about my parents, my mom who could never cook no matter how hard she tried, and the dad that valued his work and his family more than anything. They were gone. I glanced down at my wrist and saw Owen's watch which I always wore. He was gone too.
"Well, we'd better let you get some rest," Jamie told me standing up to leave. "We will come to pick you up when you are feeling better and take you to your new home."
It turned out to be Sunday morning. I had been asleep for an entire day which was quite a while. I spent the rest of that day sleeping and reading a book that someone had left on the bedside table called "The Rocking Horse."
By Monday I was fine. I occasionally coughed up some black dust from the fire but was no longer dizzy. Jamie and Carl then came to pick me up from the hospital.
I got into the back seat of their car which turned out to be a police car. "I'm one of the local city police," Carl explained. I wasn't too pleased to have to ride in the section of the car with iron windows. I wasn't a criminal.
Their house was a small white two-floor house with a driveway on the right and a path that led to the front door bordered with flowers. We pulled up next to a small grey car which I guessed was Jamie's.
Inside the house was just as nice as outside. Almost everything was white giving the house an overall peaceful look. We had entered the living room and they led me past it, up the stairs and into a hallway.
"You will be staying up here," Jamie told me. "We sleep downstairs right across the hall from the downstairs bathroom. To the right here is Matt's room, I suggest you stay out of it. He is big on privacy. In front of you is Quinn's room, and to the left is yours."
I walked into my room and saw that it was absolutely amazing. The walls were decorated pink with flowers, the bed matching the walls, a white dresser already stalked with clothes that were my size, and a white desk that would be perfect for just about anything.
"I love it," I told Carl and Jamie giving them both a hug.
"Well, the boys will be back from school soon. You will be going tomorrow as well. Don't worry, it is the same school. Things around here have a schedule and you will get used to it. By the way, six o'clock is always dinner," Jamie informed me, her and Carl leaving the room.
I laid down on my bed, comparing my room to my old one. This one could work, I could easily make it seem more like mine. I just need some watercolor paintings on the wall and everything would be good.
Then I thought about my first watercolor painting, the one that had sat on the fridge since the day I had made it for Owen. I loved that picture because it meant so much to me. If only he was still here…
Soon Quinn and Matt got home. Turns out that Quinn is fifteen, only one year older than me and Matt is sixteen. Matt seemed very quiet while Quinn was very outgoing and talkative. They both seemed to know that I was coming before I came.
"So… how do you like it here so far?" Quinn asked me, trying to make conversation.
"Um. Well, I haven't really been here long and tomorrow I am starting school so…" I trailed off with a fake laugh.
Quinn just nodded and passed me the butter since he saw that I was staring intently at it.

For the evening of my first night at Jamie and Carl's house, I didn't speak to anyone unless I had to, keeping mostly to myself.
I excused myself early in hopes that I could just shower and relax but no matter how much I wanted to I couldn't sleep. All I could think of was my own bed, my own house. I would do anything to be there, even eat Parmigiano di Pollo bruciato cooked by my mom.
How much I longed for my parents was probably normal in cases like this but in a way, I knew my case was very different from Matt's and Quinn's. I bet that neither of them had lost their brother, the best person in the entire world to a fire as well as both their parents. Maybe I couldn't stop the first fire but the second one I was the cause of. If I hadn't put that oven on cleaning mode it wouldn't have burned down the house. At least, I am pretty sure it was the oven since that was on and could be a huge fire hazard since it was.
Finally, around two in the morning, I drifted off to sleep.

School probably felt the same for everyone else in the world except for me. For all the people on the bus it was just a new person riding, for all my teachers it was just giving a student who had missed a day of school her missed work, and for Jamie, Carl, Matt, and Quinn it was just a day with a new foster kid in the house.
To me, though it felt like I hadn't walked into my classrooms in months and that I was an alien.
The entire day everyone ignored me as usual, which isn't saying much since they always did that and no one else knew I no longer had any parents or that I was in foster care. My teachers might have but that's just about it.
I also had no friends to talk with so I sat alone at lunch as always.
    When school was over I walked to the bus, looking down at my feet. I sat alone just like I had been for the last six years and just fiddled with my hands.
    I was surprised when someone sat down next to me, and when I saw that it was Quinn I muttered a quiet hello.
    "How was your first day back?" he asked me.
    "Good, I guess," I replied, turning towards the window.
    "Hmmm…" he wondered aloud.
    I looked over to see him rubbing his chin, and when he saw me looking at him he grinned.
    "I think that someone needs a little cheering up," he told me, opening up his backpack. He pulled out two of my favorite candies, White and Brown's.
    I stared at them, knowing he must have gotten them from Fifth Street Sweets. I couldn't remember the last time I had eaten one, probably the day before the Sam Austen fire.
    "No thank you," I told him. I didn't want to go down that road again-I had spent a large part of last night in tears and I really didn't feel like crying in front of him.
    "Really? You don't like them? That's surprising, I didn't know that was possible. They are my favorite candy," he told me.
    "Mine too," I mumbled, not loud enough for him to hear.

    Carl and Jamie weren't home when we entered the house. Matt wasn't home yet- he had gone to hand out with his friends, according to Quinn.
    I had homework to do so I sat down on the couch, pulling it out of my new backpack.
    "So," Quinn said, plopping down next to me. "What's your story?"
    "Hmm?" I asked him, not quite understanding.
    "I know there was a fire and everything, but what before that?" he asked me. "Like what do you like to do, did you have any siblings, if you don't like White and Brown's, then your favorite candy."
    "Oh, that story. Well, I love watercolor," I started. "My brother used to say that I was really good at it, that I was a natural…" I started to trail off but forced myself to continue.
    "I am much better now and I bet he would be even more impressed to see my current work, though I don't have it anymore."
    "How old was your brother?" Quinn asked quietly. I could see that he wanted to know more about me but was trying not to push me too far.
"He was in ninth grades, like me. He was fourteen," I told him softly.
Quinn just nodded than realization dawned on his face, and then question. "Sam Austen fire?" he asked me, an unreadable expression on his face.
I nodded. "Yep," I told him with a sigh. "Six years ago. He should be in college now."
"My dad and brother were also in the fire," Quinn told me in a whisper. "That's why I'm here. My mother died when I was three so they were all I had."
I nodded, feeling a strong urge to give him a hug. I forced myself to fight against it though.
"So your dad worked there?" I asked him. He just nodded, looking at his hands.
"Well we better get our homework done," Quinn said suddenly, breaking the silence. Then he got up and went to his room.
It was then that I figured something out-I wasn't alone. I wasn't the only kid who had lost a brother, a mother and a father. Maybe my story wasn't the same as Quinn's, but in a way it was.
Then I wanted to ask another question   Quinn-what was Matt's story? I couldn't ask him that though because he wasn't the kind of kid who would answer that. Maybe I would wait until tomorrow though.
Matt got home around five, and Jamie and Carl were back by five thirty. Dinner passed quickly, with Jamie and Carl asking us about our days and us replying with simple answers. Quinn was very quiet, probably still thinking about our conversation.
The night was worse, leaving me in despair at my parent's loss. It had taken me six years to recover from Owen, how long would it take me to recover from my parents?
Finally, after several hours of crying, I passed out, tired of being sad and lost.

The next day Quinn sat next to me on the bus. We didn't say much, really we just sat there in comfortable silence. I just hoped the day would pass slowly so that I would have less time until night-my nightmares kept coming.
On the other hand, though there was a question that I wanted to ask Quinn, but I couldn't ask him on the bus.
He came up to me after school, right before I got on the bus. "Want to walk today?" he asked me.
"Um…" I thought. I wasn't sure if I wanted to, but what else could I say? Should I just say 'sorry I'm a boring person I like to ride the bus.' Definitely not.
"Ok, " I told him, and we started to walk.
I had no idea where to go so I just half followed half walked beside him. About five minutes after we had left the school I realized where we were going.
"Oh," I whispered.
"Are you okay?" Quinn asked me.
"Yeah. Sorry," I sighed
"No need to apologize," he informed me.
Then we were there, at Fifth Street Sweets and I looked at the store in uncertainty.
"Kitty?" Quinn asked me suddenly.
"Yes?" I replied.
"Is this…does this place...remind you of something bad?" he asked me uncertainty.
"No," I sighed. "Quite the opposite. Owen and I would walk here after school and get a quarter candy. But I haven't been here since."
I looked down at my feet, avoiding his gaze.
"We don't have to go in," he told me, starting to walk away.
I reached out and grabbed his arm. "Yes, we do. I need to move past this, all of it. It might take a few weeks but I need to get over it."
    "Um. Ok," he asked me, uncertainty still in his voice.
Then I took a deep breath in, looking once at Quinn. Then I stepped inside and looked around, remembering the place all too well.
The gumball machines in the corner, the "Make your own candy bag" station on the right, candy and sugar everywhere, and last but not least the quarter candy table.
I walked over to it and looked at the candies, scanning them. I was able to quickly find the Classic's and the White and Browns.
"These were Owen's favorite," I told Quinn, a half smile on my face as I held up a Classic. Then Quinn held out his hand, three quarters in it. He handed me two and kept one for himself. I grabbed a Classic and a White and Brown, walking over to Mr. Temp.
"Long time no see, Kitty," he told me. I was a bit surprised that he recognized me but I guess I hadn't changed. Same look, same plain brown hair, everything the same. And nothing at the same time
He must have known why I hadn't been here, that Owen was gone because he didn't ask about any of that. He just took the quarter candies, scanned them, then handed them back. Then he pulled one out from under that counter.
"I just got a new shipment and wanted you to try it," he told me with a wink. "I knew you would come around someday Kitty."
Quinn and I ate our candy as we walked, although I didn't touch the White and Brown or the Classic. Quinn noticed this but didn't say anything. Instead, I unwrapped the new flavored candy which was called "Rainbow Blast."
It sure did taste like that, with flavors that reminded me of Fruit Loops. I broke off a small piece and handed it to Quinn. He agreed.
Then we were back at the house, sitting on the couch. I was ready to ask my question.
"Quinn. What's Matt's story?" I asked him.
He looked at me and started to talk. "His Mom died of cancer when he was five, he never really knew his dad, and his grandma took care of him until he was nine. Then she had a stroke and he came to live here," he told me.
"Oh. That's sad," I replied, feeling a bit bad that I had asked.
"He doesn't like to talk about it. His friends know that he is in foster care but he doesn't talk about any of it. I had to get Jamie and Carl to tell me," Quinn replied.

At dinner, I think I must have been looking at Matt with an "I'm sorry for your loss" expression because he glared at me, and then glared at Matt.
After dinner, he came up to us as we were going to our rooms. "Why did you tell her?" he yelled at Matt, giving him a shove.
"She asked and she has the right to know," he replied firmly.
"If I wanted her to know I would tell her. And you don't see me doing that do you twerp?" Matt demanded, giving Quinn another shove, pushing him against the wall.
I looked around, trying to find Jamie or Carl. Then I remembered that Jamie was taking a walk and Carl was reading on our porch.
I thought about what would happen if I told one of them. Matt would just come after Quinn again. I should wait.
"So here's the deal kid," Matt continued. He might have been only a year older than Quinn but he was big and muscular while Quinn was tall and scrawny. It was obvious who would win the fight if one started.
"You better not go spreading the news about this around. Got it?" he asked.
Quinn nodded slowly, trying to slide out from under Matt's grip.
"For now though I gotta teach you a lesson," Matt continued. Then he held Quinn against the wall with one huge paw and took the other and started punching Quinn in the stomach, knocking the air out of him.
And then I screamed as Quinn sagged against the wall, gasping for air. I knew that I had to do something, since if I waited then there would be no proof to show Jamie and Carl. I wouldn't be able to prove that this happened, so I must stop it from continuing.
With a burst of energy, I rammed into Matt, who felt like a rock. I rebounded away from him and against the other wall, falling down.
This had only momentarily distracted Matt though because he went back to attacking Quinn.
Then I saw a huge shoe lying on the floor in Matt's bedroom. He had accidentally left his door open.
Two thoughts ran through my head at once: Stay out of Matt's room, the rule Quinn had told me my first day here. The other was a bit more pulsing: Grab the shoe and help Quinn.
So that's what I did. I grabbed the shoe, probably a size twelve since it was humongous and using both my hands I through it at Matt's head.
His reflex was fast, his hand shooting up to his face as he growled, releasing Quinn and turning to me.
Quinn fell to the floor, and I wasn't sure if he had passed out or not. But my problems were greater than Quinn. Matt was now barreling towards me at full speed, and I had to run.
I tripped while leaping down the stairs, and Matt grabbed me by my shirt.
"You need your lesson now," he growled. I could see a black bruise already forming on the left side of his face.
I managed to squirm out of his arms and saw an opening. I lept for the door, running out onto the porch where I thought Carl was. He wasn't.
Then it turned into cat and mouse as Matt chased me around the house. He was like a bear and I the rabbit, him being sluggish and slow and me sprinting for my life.
Finally, I managed to duck into a bush while he ran right past me.
I sprinted back into the house once he was far enough away.
In the hallway, I found Quinn, barely awake and groaning. I could hear Matt still outside but he would find me soon enough.
I pulled Quinn up and did my best to drag him into his room, putting him onto his bed. Then I heard Matt entering the house and stomping up the stairs.
Knowing that I couldn't leave Quinn and that I wouldn't make it into my room I slammed Quinn's door shut and locked it, pushing a chair in front of it.
I could hear Matt trying to yank the door open for several minutes as I stood there, hoping that my defense would work.
"You little twerp," he said aloud. "As soon as you come out I'll get you. Trust me, I will get you."
That phrase frightened me so much that I started crying. This was something that I had never experienced before, a real true fight. And I had brought myself into it, and for all, I knew I was as good as dead.
It took me five minutes for me to realize that Quinn was also in here and I turned to him. He sat up, trying his best to breath.
I went and sat next to him on the bed. "Water," he whispered to me. I saw a water bottle next to his bed and grabbed it, giving it to him.
He drank some and then started to cough. A second later he was gasping and then he was breathing normally. It's a good thing tomorrow was Saturday because Quinn would never make it to school like this. It also meant that, according to Quinn, nothing was scheduled. He told me that Jamie and Carl always went to the farmer's market on Saturday so we would be home alone until around noon.
This also meant the morning would be spent with a bear that had a death wish set out for us. This was not good.
I saw Quinn creep under his covers. It was only eight but I guess he needed his sleep. "I guess you will be sleeping here tonight, Kitty," he told me. I nodded, seeing that the only considerable places to sleep were the bed and an armchair. I walked over to it and sat down, instantly realizing I would never get any sleep on this chair.
Quinn fell asleep several minutes later, and I just laid there thinking about my day-not the bad parts like Matt, but the good parts like the bus ride, school, and Fifth Street Treats. I was glad that I had gone in there, finally over that part of my former life.
Somehow though when I looked over at Quinn sleeping, I felt tired. And so I fell asleep thinking of those things. And then the dream came.

It started with a dream that I had seen before-I was standing in a group with a bunch of other kids, my brother in front of me. He was talking to one of his friends, laughing about something I couldn't hear. He didn't see me.
Then I looked behind me to see a kid sneaking away from the group, George Boscar. I only knew his face from the picture on tv, but somehow it had formed into a person.
He walked towards the elevator and went up three floors, to the twelfth. He didn't see me beside him in the elevator.
Then he walked to a door that read "Norman Boscar, Head of Business Department."
He opened up the door, taking out a firecracker from his backpack. He lit it with a match and then threw it into the room.
It made a loud sizzling sound which set off chaos-exactly its purpose. But then a flame erupted from it, and George's face grew worried. He realized that his joke had turned into something more serious.
Then he ran, and I didn't follow. People swarmed the hallway, trying to figure out what the sound was. The fire then reached the hallway and people started to run to get water. It was a lost attempt.
Then the fire was engulfing everything, everyone. Then the first part of the dream faded away, the second beginning.

I was sitting on my couch listening to the news the day of the Sam Austen fire, but something was different. A boy sat next to me, watching it with me. He was about the same age as I was at the time-around seven or eight, but I didn't feel alarmed that he was there, even though I didn't recognize him.
He watched with me as it showed the fire and saw the names. When the name "George Boscar" was called he burst into tears.
"Is that your brother?" I asked him. He nodded.
"What is your name?" I said.
"Quinn. Quinn Boscar. And my brother is dead," he told me.
Then something hit me, something my mind must have known since the day I met Quinn but was hiding from me until this moment. I bolted awake, looking over at Quinn who was across the room, still sleeping peacefully.
I wiped my face with my sleeve since I had been crying in my sleep. Then I glanced around and saw that some light was streaming through the window. My watch read 6:45. The watch was the last thing I had left of Owen, besides my memories.
Somehow I forgot about the dream; I have no idea how but I did.
I got up and walked to the door, pressing my ear up against it. I didn't hear anything which was good.
I creeped out into my room, relieved when Matt didn't hear me.
Since I was the only girl other than Jamie in the house I had my own bathroom which was attached to my room. I quickly showered and changed before making my way back to Quinn's room.
I opened my door and then instantly shut it and locked it. Matt was standing there, ready to destroy me.
I thought over my situation and realized that I had left the door to Quinn's bedroom unlocked. This wasn't good.
I knew that Matt would figure this out any minute, and I had to warn Quinn. The only way out was the window though.
I walked over to it and opened it up as fast as possible. Quinn's room was right next to mine, and I could see his window when I stuck my head out of mine.
I had no idea how to get there since the only thing I could use was the roof above my head. The worst thing that could happen though as I fell and landed in the bush, probably breaking a bone. I cringed at this but decided to take action.
I put my right hand onto the edge of the roof, feeling it. It had a small lip that went upward which would help me. Good.
Then I swung my other hand up to the roof, suddenly dancing in the air. All I had to remember was don't look down. So I closed my eyes and hoped for the best.
Then I slowly edged myself towards his window, pretending that I was climbing on the side of the monkey bars at school.
I opened my eyes as I saw the window in front of me, and I kicked my foot forward, hoping that Quinn would open his window. He didn't and so I kicked again.
This time it set me off balance, and one of my hands slipped. It took me a couple of seconds to get it back onto the roof, and by then Quinn had opened his blinds and was now staring at me.
He yanked his window open and helped me get in. "What were you doing?" he asked me when the window was firmly closed again.
"Matt was outside my door," I breathed. "I went to get changed and shower and he must have heard me."
Quinn just shook his head.
Then he started laughing. "Oh Kitty, you are a mess," he told me. "First you are stupid enough to break the number one rule-never go in Matt's room, and then you threw a shoe at him. Now you are probably the biggest target in his book."
And then even odder I started to laugh with him. "I guess I am."
"SHUT UP YOU TWERPS," suddenly broke through our laughing. It made us laugh harder.
Matt then started growling at us from the other side of the door, and I had to wipe the tears off my face I was laughing so hard.
"I guess we aggravated the bear," I whispered to Quinn, giggling.
"Totally," he whispered back.

We spent the rest of the morning talking, laughing, and playing monopoly. We were hungry, but we just had to hold out until Jamie and Carl came back.
Then they were back, and we were able to go downstairs and have breakfast. "How was your morning?" Jamie asked us.
"Good," I told her.
"Wonderful," added Quinn. We both then shared a look and started to giggle.
We both gulped down our cereal and then Matt and I went outside to the porch. We both read and I remembered something. My dream.
And when I thought about it, there was a connection between George Boscar and Quinn. Quinn Boscar. The little brother of the kid who had started a fire, a fire that had killed 1,897 people, including firefighters. The little brother of the kid who had killed Owen, my only brother, my favorite person in the world.
Quinn Boscar. I repeated that in my head. George Boscar. Quinn Boscar. They were brothers. Why hadn't Quinn told me his brother had started the fire?
"Quinn," I asked him. "I had a weird dream last night."
"Hmm? And what might that be?" he questioned back.
"It was about your brother. His name was George, right?" I asked him. "And it was about him starting the fire."
Quinn stared at me, his eyes widening. "Oh. That. You…dreamt of him?"
I nodded. "Ya. It was weird."
He just sat there in silence. "Are you...mad?" he asked me, suddenly unsure of himself.
    I paused for a second and was about to answer when he added, "I'm sorry."
    "For what?" I asked him.
    "Just in general. I probably should have told you but...I was afraid you would be mad and wouldn't want to be my friend anymore," he confessed.
I sighed. "Well I would be mad but you obviously didn't have anything to do with it so…"
"You are my friend, right Kitty?" he asked suddenly, a hopeful look in his eye.
I nodded. Why would he assume otherwise? Haven't we been friends all along? Maybe he didn't know that though…
Then we were silent, looking back down at our books and continuing to read.

We managed to avoid Matt for the rest of the day, but a surprise came during dinner.
"Tomorrow we will be going to Nellsburg city," Carl announced as we all munched on our dinner, which was tacos.
"What for?" Matt asked him with a questioning look.
"To sightsee of course!" Jamie said excitedly. "We will just find a meeting place and then split up to explore. We will also give you kids some money so that you can buy lunch and stuff. As long as you stay together it will be fine."
Quinn and I shared a worried look. "Um. I don't know…" I started.
"Actually I already have plans," Matt cut in. "I'm going to hang out with Benjamin tomorrow. We have it all planned out."
Quinn and I both smiled, realizing we had been saved.
"I was hoping you could come, Matt, but I guess that Kitty and Quinn will be able to stick together tomorrow. No splitting up though because it's a big city," Carl told us. We nodded, and then Jamie and Carl started going on and on about the trip to Nellsburg city.

The next morning we had to get up early. Jamie and Carl come upstairs at seven, shouting about how it was time for the day trip.
I didn't know why they were all pumped up but they sure were, sort of spreading the excitement to me and Quinn.
In the car, we discussed our plans, picking all of our destinations that we wanted to see. The first on our list was Harry Stemple's mall since we had some money to spend.
"You might want to expand your wardrobe," Jamie had told me. "I wasn't sure what kind of clothes you liked when I picked them out so now you have a chance to get more."
It also was for other things, like lunch, a treat or two, and other things we might come across.
I wasn't sure where Jamie and Carl were going, but getting me a phone was one of the things they said that they were planning to do.
When we reached our checking point-the parking garage right outside of the mall Jamie made sure that Quinn had his phone.
"Yep," he told her, holding it up.
Then Jamie handed us both a wad of cash, and my eyes widened. "Either save it or spend it. By the way, you also get a monthly allowance of fifty."
I counted the money and saw that I had five hundred. Wow. I would make sure to save at least half of it.
She also handed me a light purple crossbody purse which I stuffed the money into.
"Thank you," I told them, giving them each a hug. Then we split ways, heading towards the mall.
Quinn was not at all pleased when we spent half an hour in the clothing store, but during my time in the dressing room he popped over to Cinnabon which was right outside of the store and got a whole box of six gooey cinnamon rolls.
"If we have money why not spend it?" he asked me.
"You're right. Why not?" I replied, reaching for a cinnamon roll.
We sat and split one since they had at least a thousand calories each and then saved the rest.
"We can give some to Jamie and Carl," Quinn told me, and I nodded.
We also stopped at some other stores, just looking through them and buying a few things. Quinn had three hundred in cash, also quite a bit.
"They give us a lot so that when we go to college and out on our own we have some money to spend. I usually save most of mine," he told me.
We ended up spending the morning in the mall, trying lots of things. We drank bubble tea, split another Cinnabon roll, and ended up eating at a French cafe for lunch.
When we left the mall we dropped our bags off at the car, since we had gotten a set of car keys to do so. And then we continued on our planned out route of the city.
We stopped at the Nellsburg City Museum which held the entire history of Nellsburg, starting in the eighteen hundreds when it was first founded. It also had some more recent stuff from the last couple decades, including the Sam Austen building fire. All it did was state the facts, like how many people died and the cause of it. We ended up spending an hour there before heading off to walk around some more.
We didn't do much after that but instead just scared the pigeons and ran after them, laughing the entire time.
"We should probably be headed back," Quinn told me after the pigeons had flown a good distance away.
I nodded. "Let's take this route though, I want to pass by the Budson Pond," I told him, dragging my finger along the map.
"Ok. It will only add about five minutes and I've heard the pond is really pretty this time of year," he told me.

    The walk was definitely worth it because when we got there we could see the calm, quiet pond. It was medium size, and if I tried to walk around it at a normal pace it would take me about twenty minutes.
    We sat down on a bench that was underneath a tree and watched as a flock of geese flew into the pond, disrupting the water. We watched them dive for fish for a little while before Quinn stood up and walked away. I followed quietly beside him.
    I figured that he knew the rest of the way, so I let him lead me. But it took me a couple of minutes to realize we were going in the opposite direction of the parking lot.
    "Um, Quinn. I think the car is that way," I told him, pointing to my right.
    "I know. There is another stop I would like to make though. When we get there you don't have to see it if you don't want to," he told me.
    "What is that supposed to mean?" I asked him.
    He didn't answer.
    A few minutes I figured out what it meant. It meant the remains of the Sam Austen building.
    I inhaled sharply when I saw it, the ruble mostly cleared. Now it was sort of a memorial, although not an official one.
    The ground was only slightly charred, the rain from the past years having washed the majority of the burnt bits away. Some grass grew around the burst chunks that lay stuck in the ground. The only thing that made it official of what the place had been was the plague that was in front of the burnt area.
     I took a deep breath and walked up to it, reading it. Quinn stood beside me doing the same.
    This area is where the Sam Austen building stood from October 18, 1987-April 5, 2007. On the 5th of April, 2007 a firecracker which was intended as a prank started a fire, engulfing the entire building into flames within two hours. Many firefighters died in the attempt to put the fire out and after three hours of battling the flames the battle was won but with the loss of  1,897 people including seventeen firefighters, one hundred and thirteen visitors, which included a class of ninth graders on a field trip, and 1,567 civilians who worked in the building.
    This event was very devastating, leaving Nellsburg in shock for several years as the rubble was cleared. The only survivors were the people who had been on the bottom floors at the time. Now we remember those in the Sam Austen fire, hoping that something this tragic will never happen again.
    Quinn and I finished reading at the same time, and I looked over at him. Neither of us said a word or showed any emotion. Something that surprised me though was the fact that I wasn't crying. Maybe I was letting this get past me. That was a good sign, a very good sign.
    Then Quinn reached over and took my hand, giving it a squeeze. I squeezed his hand back and we turned around, walking to the parking lot.
    We got to the car and found Jamie and Carl waiting there for us, smiles on their faces.
    "Here you go," Jamie told me, handing over a brand new phone, equipped with a glittery pink case.
    I smiled back, giving her and Carl both a hug. Then I reached inside the car and pulled out the cinnamon rolls, passing them around between the four of us.
    During the car ride, we told Jamie and Carl about the things we did, leaving out the visit to the Sam Austen building.
    "So you had fun?" Carl asked us after we had finished.
    "Definitely," Quinn told him.
    "Too bad Matt missed out," Carl added. "He probably would have enjoyed this"
    This made both Quinn and I laugh since we both knew that if he had come it wouldn't have ended well. Plus he would have been grumpy the entire time, wanting to be anywhere but here.
    When we got back Matt wasn't home which we took as a good sign, so Quinn and I ran upstairs to work on a lego set we had bought. It was one of the professional ones and had cost us quite a bit, but we figured it would be worth it.
    We had finished less than half of it before dinner, talking occasionally about school. Neither of us wanted to go to school tomorrow, but we agreed that after dinner we would finish our homework.
    Matt didn't come home until after dinner, so we were quite happy to be left in peace. Somehow spending the day with his friends doing who-knows-what had left him exhausted, and he went right into his room.
    I went to bed early, and for the first time since my parents had died, I slept well, without my usual nightmares. In fact, I dreamed of drawing a watercolor picture of a field.
    Then in my dream, I ran to Quinn, showing it to him. He grinned as he looked at it. Then he told me to put it on the floor.
    He continued to smile, grabbing my hand and pulling me so that I stepped onto the picture, but at the same time, I didn't.
    Then I found myself in a real field, just like the one from the picture I had drawn. Grass grew up to my shoulders, and Quinn just laughed and held my hand, running across the field.
    I smiled and ran beside him, finally happy. Then I woke up, looking around my room which was filled with light streaming through the windows.
    I went and looked out the window, smiling. I liked that dream. I can't remember a single dream better than that one. It had left me feeling gleeful and happy.
    Then I realized something. Today was Monday, and the sun was already up quite a bit. I peeked at my watch and saw that it was eight fifteen.
    "Quinn!" I shouted, running into his room.
    "What?" he asked me, sitting up in his bed.
    "We're late for school!" I shouted.
    "What? Then why didn't our alarms ring?"
    "I don't know!" I shouted back. I put my hands on my head, wondering what to do. Then I looked over to Quinn and saw him smiling.
    He was playing with me, I knew he was. But it was a Monday and we were supposed to be in school right now.
    "You know," he started, the smile getting larger. "You did say that you didn't want to go to school today."
    My eyes widened. "You can't seriously be thinking about ditching school. You aren't, right?" I asked him.
    He just laughed and I knew that he was definitely thinking about it. "Don't worry, I've emailed the school to say that we are both sick today," Quinn told me. "We are going on an adventure."
    I just sighed and went into my room to get changed. When I went downstairs I found Quinn flipping pancakes on a griddle.
    I handed him a plate, and he expertly flipped two onto it. On his third attempt though the pancake fell to the floor and I just gave him a questioning look and we both started laughing.
    That was my favorite thing about Quinn-everything was so easy with him. You never had to watch his reaction or be careful around him. He seemed to know me quite well, and I think he felt the same way about me.
    After eating our pancakes which we coated in whipped cream and chocolate chips we just took out monopoly and started playing it.
    This lasted about two hours until he won, having driven me bankrupt. For lunch, we went to the cafe that was next to Fifth Street Sweets, which I had gone in once a few years back with Owen.
    We ran around town for the rest of the day and were back at the house building the lego set when Jamie and Carl came back.
    They didn't know that we had skipped school, but that was probably for the better. We ate in silence, and Jamie asked about our days.
    "It was great," I told her. Quinn just nodded in agreement. She didn't push us any further, so there was no need for lying.
    Matt just sat there, staring at us. He probably knew that we hadn't been at school but he didn't say anything.
    After dinner, Matt knocked on Quinn's door.
    "Come in," I called to him.
    Matt opened the door, an unsure look on his face.
    "Yes?" Quinn asked him, looking up from the almost finished lego set.
    "I'm…" Matt started. Then he sighed. "I'm here to apologize. For attacking you. I shouldn't have and I'm just...sorry."
    "We forgive you," I told him, and Quinn nodded in agreement. Matt nodded back and turned to leave.
    Then he hesitated, turning back around. "Also, I never really showed you guys kindness and I am...sorry for that too," he added. Then he left, shutting the door behind him.
    "Wonder what made him apologize," Quinn asked me. "He's never done it as far as I know."
    I just shrugged and continued with the lego set.
    From then on life was good. Quinn became my best friend, and I also made another friend named Nellie. She came about a month after I did, and was my age. The three of us became a trio, hanging out all the time. She seemed to brighten up the house even more than Quinn. Somehow she always had a positive attitude and was great to be around.
    She ended up sharing a room with me as well, which I didn't mind so much. Jamie and Carl bought us a bunk bed and I slept on the top, Nellie below me. We usually talked all night.
    Oh, and Matt was friendly for the most part. When Nellie came he introduced himself and was nice and everything. Quinn and I still can't figure out what made him start to be a bit nicer, but are just glad that he is.
    Anyway, though, I have started to accept the fact that Owen and my parents were a part of my past, a part that I couldn't run from and certainly couldn't forget. But they were what brought me to meet Quinn, and eventually Nellie.
    And George, Quinn's brother I have somehow managed to forgive. Mostly because if I don't then it will always bother me, but now I actually do feel happy.
    I also have gone back to watercolor, mostly because when I told Quinn I liked to do it he went and bought me some supplies for my birthday. Since then it has taken off, and I am doing it all the time. Quinn and Nellie are also really encouraging, and I couldn't wish for better friends.
    So yea, life is good now. And I have had quite a few adventures since, like how we went on a camping trip shortly after Nellie arrived and we managed to get lost in the woods. But those things have brought the three of us closer, and now I have a perfect life, in my opinion. I wouldn't take back any of it.

Message to Readers

I will accept any type of feedback for my writing, and I would like to know if I should publish another one of my writing pieces.

Peer Review

The idea of how Kitty releases all the hurt feelings of losing her family in the fire was a little surprising for me. It really shows growth in her character.

Does Kitty ever visits Owen's grave? Along with her mom and dad's?

Reviewer Comments

It took me a while to read but when I finished, I thoroughly enjoyed the conclusion. You should make a sequel.