By Taharih Rogers (Sun Valley High School, Aston, PA)
“I’ll do anything to take it back!”
The little girl ran into her sister’s room. Not even ten yet, she was the picture of youthful cuteness. Her green eyes twinkled when she smiled, and she was missing one of her front teeth.
“Cecelia, come play with me!” she begged her sister, brown curls bouncing.
“Leave me alone,” Cecelia commanded, pushing her bangs out of the way so she could look at her homework again. Cecelia’s hair was an artificial black, and she wore darker make up than most sixteen year old girls do. In fact, her eyeliner was so thick that barely anyone knew she had brown eyes, not green like her sister’s.
“No! Not until you play with me!” the little girl whined.
“Amelia, I need to do my homework!”
“But I want to play hide-and-seek!”
“No!” Cecelia slammed her hands down on her desk and stood up, glaring at Amelia. “Why can’t you leave me the hell alone, huh?”
Amelia blinked at her sister with tears in her eyes. She was surprised at the complete change that had taken place in her sister.
“I’m telling Mommy!” Amelia said, running down the hall.
“Mom! Mom!” she chanted when she saw her mom, who was busy chopping tomatoes.
“What is it?” the mom asked tiredly. Their mother was a woman in her late thirties, with graying hair and plenty of wrinkles.
“Cecelia’s being mean!” Amelia reported.
Her mother sighed. “And I thought teenagers were difficult before that tragedy…” She turned her attention back to Amelia. “Look, Amelia, why don’t you go out and play until dinner’s ready, okay? Leave your sister alone for an hour or so.”
Amelia whined before running out the door to the back yard. She sat down on the cold concrete of the porch, staring at the forest on the edge of the yard.
Amelia pouted and thought, Cecelia’s been mean ever since she started eating those candies in the orange bottle, and before that, she was always too sad! I hope they taste nasty. Amelia rested her head in her hands.
If Cecelia only remembered how fun playing hide-and- seek with me is, then maybe she would stop being so mean. Amelia smiled. I know how I can make her remember!
Proud of her idea, Amelia ran into the forest with a carefree skip in her step. The broad daylight lit her way so she didn’t trip. Amelia only stopped once she saw the perfect hiding spot. There was a hill with a circle of trees around it, and a door sticking out of the side. The door was round and wide but short, and the wooden planks looked old and gray.
She grabbed the handle and pulled the door open, revealing a dark cave that tunneled down. She walked in and shut the door behind her. Amelia walked a little farther into the cave to explore, but she lost her footing, and fell.
“Where’s Amelia?” her mother asked, walking into Cecelia’s room, with a hint of panic in her voice.
“How should I know?” Cecelia replied, irritated that she hadn’t made any progress on her homework.
“It’s time for dinner and I can’t find her anywhere!”
“Okay, I’ll help you find her,” Cecelia sighed. They practically tore their house apart trying to find the little girl. When they didn’t find Amelia, both of their hearts began to fill with panic.
“Cecelia, what if she’s lost in the woods?” her mother nearly shouted.
“I’ll go find her,” Cecelia offered. “No one knows the woods better than I do.”
“Take a flashlight, it’s getting dark.”
The sun was so low in the sky when Cecelia went out the back door that she couldn’t see it over the line of trees. She ran and checked behind the trees just within the perimeter of the forest, but the sun had fully set. Cecelia turned on the flashlight and prayed that Amelia could see it. The darkness and the silence made her fill with anxiety, and she began running and shouting Amelia’s name. Just when she thought she would explode from worry, her foot caught on a root and she hit the ground.
When she looked up, the flashlight’s beam was resting on a wooden door. Cecelia grabbed the flashlight and yanked open the door. The light instantly fell on a small body sprawled out on the floor.
Cecelia ran and kneeled in front of it before rolling the body face up. “No, Amelia!” Amelia was pale, blood was coming out of her head, and her eyes were staring up at the ceiling, as if in a trance.
“Amelia, wake up!” Cecelia begged, starting to cry. “Amelia, please!” When Amelia didn’t move, Cecelia continued, “Amelia, if you wake up, I’ll tell the doctor to take me off the pills, we’ll play again, I’ll be happy, I’ll do anything to take it back! I’m sorry I’ve been horrible! Just, please, come back!”
Cecelia rested her head on her little sister’s body and sobbed louder than she ever did before. Her crying prevented her from noticing the two figures that stood deeper in the cave.
“I want to go back, Cecelia needs me.”
The taller figure looked at Amelia’s spirit. “You can go back if you answer me one question: What lies beneath?”
“The opportunity to fix mistakes,” Amelia’s spirit answered. Not even a second after she did, her spirit transformed into a shimmering white orb. Undetected, it floated over to her body, before nestling itself within. Color returned to her skin and air flooded into her lungs. Amelia smiled when she lifted her head and saw her sister.
“You found me, Cecelia!” Cecelia looked up at her sister’s face, her make up running down in streaks. She did not hesitate to throw her arms around Amelia.
“I’ll always find you, Amelia; I promise,” Cecelia said, stroking her sister’s hair.
The tall figure smiled at the two sisters, his work done, and he faded away.