“So, how much you want for it?”
Sicily stared at the object she was holding. It seemed like such a pointless waste of space. She turned it upside down in her hands. The engraving seemed to almost sparkle under the fluorescent lights of the pawn shop. “To Sicily With Love On Your 13th Birthday – Mom”. She hadn’t looked at the engraving in a while. It brought back the memory the first time she saw it…
* * * * *
“Sicily! Wake up! You’re thirteen now! That makes you officially a teenager!”
Sicily opened her eyes and grinned. It seemed like she had been waiting for this moment her whole life! Everything was going to be great now that she was thirteen. It happened that way for her older sister when she became a teenager. That was when Margarette started acting grown up and when everything good started happening for her! And now all the good things would happen for Sicily too!
“Here Sici, this is my gift for you on your special day. I hope you like it!”
Sicily sat up in bed, her body tense with anticipation for the day. She could feel her heart starting to beat faster. Her mom always gave the best gifts, and Sicily knew that this one would be better than any she had gotten before. After all, she was turning THIRTEEN!
She held out her arms for her gift. The box she was given was heavier than she expected, and she almost dropped it. She regained her hold on the present and tore it open anxiously.
“It’s… It’s beautiful mama!” Sicily couldn’t believe her eyes. What she held in her hands was a gold box with sparkling jewels on the top and the sides. She could see specks of rainbow colored light in some of the gems. The sparkling lights held her eyes, mesmerizing her.
“Open it up, sweet pea!”
Sicily carefully opened up the box and a beautiful melody began to play…
* * * * *
“Get out of dream-land girlie! Are you gonna sell it, or what?”
Snapping out of her daydream flashback, Sicily quickly flipped the box back over and put it on the counter for Gus to inspect. She’d known him all of two months, since he had bought the shop from the previous owner. She already hated him. She watched him as he weighed the box in his hands and inspected the tiny bits of diamonds and jade which had been set in the gold with such care. It was a stupid box. So small and worthless, really. Just like herself. Small, worthless and jaded. So what if it was the last thing her mother gave to her before she died. She wanted to forget all of that anyway. She pulled out her wallet to see how much more money she needed.
“Gimme fifty for it.”
“Please sweetheart, you ain’t getting fifty for this. It’s got engraving, probably the only thing I can do with it is melt it down. Thirty bucks, take it or leave it.
Sicily glared at Gus, feeling a familiar rage building up inside her. She knew that right now she could kill him. But she also knew that she needed the money, and she needed it now. Anger wasn’t going to make her pain go away. She needed the numbness. She needed something that could help her forget the meaninglessness of her life. Something that could help her forget all of her failures, even if it was only for a little while. She needed the feeling that only heroin seemed to give her. Sicily forced herself to calm down. “Alright. Thirty.”
* * * * *
“Sicily? Is that you?”
Someone was talking. Was the voice really coming from the ceiling? The walls seemed to be breathing in and out and the voice drifted between them. The room was spinning so fast, so fast… or was it her that was spinning? Sicily felt her knees start to buckle. How did I get home? She wondered. Someone started laughing… and she realized with a start that it was herself. Nothing can hurt me now…
“Oh Sici, not again…”
The disembodied voice was finally connected to a face. It was her sister, looking down at her with a little bit of concern, and a little bit of disgust. Sicily looked up and realized that she was now on the floor. “Margarette! The floor is sucking me down! The rug is trying to eat me! It’s too late for me, save yourself!”
Margarette sighed, and pulled her sister to her feet. “Come on Sici, we gotta get you to bed.”
“NO! I’m not going anywhere with you! Who are you? And what have you done to my sister!?” Sicily started laughing again uncontrollably. God, how did I get to be so funny? She wondered to herself just before blacking out.
* * * * *
“Sici, come on! We gotta hurry or you’re gonna miss the bus!”
Sici pulled back against her sister’s tug, but it was no use. Four years gave Margarette a lot more weight to work with. She sighed and started walking a little bit faster, just so her arm wouldn’t get pulled out of its socket.
“Aunt Jenny is expecting us to make the 12:15 bus, we have to hurry! Start running Sici! And stop your sighing! You’re 13 now, so start acting like it!”
Sicily scowled at her sister. “I don’t WANT to go to stupid Aunt Jenny’s house! It’s my birthday, why couldn’t I just stay at home?”
“Sicily, you KNOW that the party is at Aunt Jenny’s. And Mama is going to be meeting us only a little while after we get there, I think she has another surprise planned for you. So let’s hurry, or you’ll never find out what it is!”
Sicily loudly sighed again, mainly to annoy Margarette, and then started running.
* * * * *
Sicily jerked awake. She was covered in a cold sweat. Her head was pounding and her vision was blurred. “Why, why do I keep doing this to myself?” She pulled herself upright. It felt like every ounce of gravity was working against her at this moment. And what the hell was that noise coming from the other side of her door? It was so high-pitched… God, she had to make it stop! It was driving her crazy! It took all of Sicily’s strength to get herself out of bed, but she was soon up and headed towards the door.
When she got out into the hallway, the sound was much louder, and it was then that she realized what it was. It was crying… and it was coming from her sister’s room.
“Start working now!” She commanded of her legs. They felt like two giant pieces of lead.
Finally reaching her sister’s door, she knocked softly, but didn’t wait for an answer. She opened the door and caught her sister quickly trying to compose herself. “Margarette?”
Margarette looked up. Her eyes were now dry, but the redness around them was sign enough of what she had just been doing. “Sici…” She started, and a fresh wave of tears broke through the barrier of strength she had tried to put up. “Sici, I don’t know how much longer I can handle this.”
Sicily felt an icy feeling wash over her. “Mar, what are you talking about? Nothing’s wrong. NOTHING is WRONG!”
“Sici, you know something is wrong. Margarette looked at her hands. When mom…” She stopped for a moment as her body was racked by a few gasping sobs, then continued. “When mom… died… I thought I could handle it. I thought I could take care of you, and myself. I thought things were going to be ok. I didn’t know you were going to start… doing the things that you do. And Sici, I don’t think I can do this anymore. I can’t watch you kill yourself. Things have to change. Things have to change or… I’m going to have to get someone who can help. Or take you somewhere that will make you better.”
Sicily dropped the strands of hair she had been playing with, not believing what her ears just heard. “Mar, I’m your sister. Do you know what they do to people in those places? Mar, I’d DIE in there! And anyway, I swear to you Margarette, there is nothing wrong. I swear that I could stop anytime that I wanted to. And I don’t do anything that bad anyway! I just need a little of something… something that can help me forget. And that’s all it does. Don’t worry Mar, I’m going to be ok. I’m not killing myself.” Sicily’s eyes pleaded with her sister. Don’t send me away…
Margarette sat on the bed for a long time, not saying anything. She was looking out the window, and Sicily thought she heard her singing to herself under her breath.
“It look’s like a clear night tonight,” Margarette finally said, “Do you want to look through mom’s telescope?”
The telescope was the one thing that remained that was a reminder of who their mother was. When Sicily and Margarette were much younger, they would go out with their mother on warm, clear nights and marvel at the magic of the night sky. Their mother would tell them stories about the constellations and the planets, and how when she was a little girl she had dreamed of becoming an astronaut so that she could one day see those stars and planets close up. She even sounded a bit wistful as she confessed that she had only given up on that dream because she had been made fun of by her sister. And now that their mother was gone, Sicily and Margarette were the only ones around to look up at the stars at night, though even they hadn’t done it in quite some time.
“Okay Mar. Let’s go.”
Outside, the night was a bit too cold for Sicily’s taste, but she didn’t let it bother her. She felt like she had years ago. She almost felt like her mother was there too, pointing out the Big Dipper and Orion. Look girls, see that middle star on Orion’s sword? Do you notice that it’s a little bit of a different color? That’s because it’s actually a nebula… a huge cloud of gases… look through the telescope, and you’ll see what I mean.
Back in the present, Sicily looked at her sister, who was now trying to locate that nebula through the finder scope. She felt a sudden wave of determination. She didn’t care how hard it was. She was going to stop herself from ruining her life. She felt that her mother was watching her from that nebula on Orion’s sword, and she was going to make sure her mother could be proud of more than just one of her girls. This was one thing that she was not going to fail at. She could do this. She knew that she could do it.
Sicily and Margarette stayed out for hours before finally putting the telescope away and going to sleep. Sicily quickly fell into her usual restless slumber.
* * * * *
The bus pulled up in front of a small white house. This was where her Aunt Jenny had lived for as long as she could remember. She heard the annoying bark of Buckets, her aunt’s tiny terrier. Normally Sicily liked dogs, but Buckets had bit her a couple years ago and she hadn’t wanted to go near him since.
Margarette yanked Sicily’s arm to force her to go faster and the two hurried towards their aunt, who was waiting on the porch. The bus ride was less than an hour, but to Sicily it had felt like an eternity.
Hey, does it look like Aunt Jenny is crying to you?”
Sicily looked up, and saw that her aunt was definitely crying. And not just crying, she was actually sobbing hysterically.
Margarette dropped Sicily’s hand and took off running towards her aunt. Not wanting to be left out, Sicily started to run as well.
“Girls…” Aunt Jenny grabbed Margarette and hugged her hard, then pulled Sicily into the embrace. “Girls, I have some horrible news.” Aunt Jenny burst into a new wave of sobs before she continued. “I’m afraid your mother had an accident.”
* * * * *
“UH!” Sicily sat up quickly. God, why that dream? Why did she always have to remember that? She looked at the clock and saw that it was not even 6 am. Shivering, she lay back in bed and waited for the day to come.
* * * * *
“How much you want for it?”
Sicily tried to stop herself from shaking. She needed to get that feeling again. She didn’t care about anything else. She just needed to get high. “Seventy-five. At least.”
“Sheeeet, girl, that thing is probably older than my mother. I’ll give you forty for it. No more.”
Sicily looked at the telescope. All at once she hated it. It was the only thing that was between her and the feeling she now needed so bad.
“I’ll take it.”