A thin girl of around twelve gazed at a framed picture of her aunt, causing tears to fill her blue eyes as sorrow welled up again. Her aunt leaned against a fountain and her pearly white smile, wispy bangs, and shoulder-length auburn curls reminded the girl of the good times she had shared with her. Sadly, those happy days had passed. The girl mopped her eyes with the back of her hands, not wanting to cry.
“Oh, Aunt Laura,” she sighed. “Why did you have to go?”
Footsteps thumped rapidly down the hallway outside of the girl’s bedroom door. The knob turned and a girl a year younger peaked inside.
“Come in, Hailey,” said the girl sitting on the bed.
“Alyssa, was that my mom’s photo you were looking at?” Hailey asked as she walked into Alyssa’s room.
“Yeah,” Alyssa said as she put down the picture. Hailey sat down on her bed.
“I miss my mom so much I can’t stand it,” Hailey said miserably. “Why did she get that heart attack?”
“I know how you feel, Hailey,” Alyssa sighed as she put her arm around her cousin. “That moment is very hard to get over.”
Alyssa turned to her digital clock and saw that it was eight-thirty. The grocery store would close in a half hour.
“We should get our food now,” said Alyssa. She stood up and walked to her dresser. Her thigh-length, platinum blonde braids bounced against her denim skirt. She sifted through the top drawer and found the envelope where she had hidden her money. She trusted Hailey, completely, but her uncle was not to know about the money. She pulled out fifty dollars from the top drawer. Most of Alyssa’s money had been passed on from her parents after they died as well as given by friends on Christmases and birthdays-except for the previous Christmas. With that money, she and Hailey would buy clothes twice a year, food twice a week, and hygienic items once a month.
Hailey followed Alyssa out of her room and down the steps to the closet. They retrieved their coats. Alyssa pulled on her deep pink peacoat and started to button. Hailey was in a huge rush to leave. She waited impatiently by the front door because Alyssa seemed to be moving in slow motion.
“Hurry up, Alyssa,” Hailey said urgently zipping up her white jacket. “I don’t want my dad catching us…”
“We’ve been doing this for three years,” Alyssa said as she buttoned the second to last button of her coat. “I don’t think anything will happen.”
As Alyssa and Hailey slid their feet into their boots, the door slammed shut, letting not only freezing air in. A heavy breathing hulk of a figure filled the opening. The smell of alcohol dominated the air. The person’s breathing sounded gruff and deep. Fear rose inside both Alyssa and Hailey as they turned around and saw a pot-bellied man with salt and pepper hair, glowering at them like a monster.
“Where do you two think you’re going?”
“To buy food with Alyssa’s money… oops!” Hailey covered her mouth. Alyssa gave her a dirty look. Spilling a secret to an alcoholic? What could have been worse?
“Hailey, that was supposed to be a secret,” Alyssa said sternly. Uncle Bruce hovered over her and harshly grabbed her narrow shoulders as she rapidly leaned back startled. She felt heavy tightness and pain from her uncle’s cold hands.
“Uncle Bruce, please,” whined Alyssa. “You’re hurting me.”
“Alyssa Caitlin Norris!” Uncle Bruce growled. “How could you?! How could you have hidden money?!”
“Shut up!” he yelled as he turned his head towards Hailey. He turned his head back to Alyssa. “Give me the money!”
“No,” Alyssa answered quietly.
“GIVE IT OR ELSE… NO MEALS FOR TWO DAYS!!! I’M COUNTING TO THREE!!! ONE…!!! TWO…!!!”
“Here!” Alyssa shrieked pulling the fifty-dollar bill out of her skirt pocket. “Take the money!”
Uncle Bruce snatched it out of her hands and let go of her shoulders. “YOU GIRLS GO TO YOUR ROOMS!!!”
Hailey and Alyssa sprinted back up the stairs feeling extremely terrified. Alyssa followed Hailey as she dashed into the room and slammed the door. What an idiot, she thought. Giving away a big secret? How dare she.
Losing her temper, Alyssa banged on Hailey’s door.
“Hailey Elizabeth Smith, you open up right now!” she yelled. The door opened to reveal Hailey looking guilty and scared at the same time.
“Alyssa, I’m sorry I…”
“APOLOGY NOT ACCEPTED!!!” Alyssa thundered. “THANKS TO YOU, MY MONEY IS NOW IN THE HANDS OF A MANIAC!!!”
“But you still have more!”
“That’s not the point! I thought I could trust you!”
“I know! But I just can’t hold onto secrets for such a long time!”
Can’t hold to secrets for a long time? Hailey’s words played in Alyssa’s head.
“Then I guess I can’t trust anybody in this house, anymore!”
“Fine!” Hailey slammed her door. Alyssa angrily stomped into her room and sat on her bed. Fifty dollars gone, just like that! To be wasted away at the bar, where Uncle Bruce spent much of his time these days. What else would he spend it on? He hadn’t changed his wardrobe since his wife died three years ago. But what about food? He always ate his meals at the bar. Maybe he’d spend that fifty-dollar bill on one of his meals.