I threw my old beat-up brown leather purse on the granite counter and stormed into
the living room and up the staircase.
"Norah!" I yelled at the top of my lungs.
"What do you want!?" she yelled back from her room.
I barged in without knocking.
"What the hell, Kat?" she screamed and jumped out of the computer chair.
"Why did I just see some guy leaving our house?!" I yelled, infuriated.
"Because Ryan came over." she mumbled.
"And what is Mom and Dad's rule about having boys over when no one is home?" I asked
"Wow, Kat! Stop being such a little suck up to Mom and Dad. Seriously? You follow me
around all the time and demand to know where I'm going whenever I leave. Mind your
own freaking business!" she screamed.
I rolled my eyes. "What was this Ryan guy doing here with you?"
"What the hell?! What do you think we were doing? Having sex?"
I crossed my arms. "Mom and Dad will be hearing about this." I walked out of the
room and slammed her door behind me.
I started walking to my room when it happened. At first, I thought I was just dizzy.
Then the shaking got more violent, and I lost my balance and fell.
"Norah!" I yelled. I heard her scream. The crystal chandelier that was hanging right
next to the staircase, right above the living room, snapped and fell. It crashed into
the wood floor; the sound was deafening. My ears were ringing and the blood was
thumping in my temples. I crawled my way back down the hallway to Norah's room. Just
as I was about to grab the doorknob, one of the picture of me and Norah from when we
were young that was hanging in a glass picture frame on the wall, fell down on my
head. I immediately lost consciousness.
I was staring at a wall. It was a Saturday afternoon, and I was staring at a
wall. If it was a regular Saturday, I'd probably be at the beach right now, soaking
up the California sun with my friends. But ever since the earthquake, nothing has
been the same.
"Kat?" someone knocked on my door.
"Just a second." I got up off the huge king-sized bed and walked over to the door.
This room that I was supposed to call my own, was probably as big as half of our old
house. Most kids would have loved living in the Chester mansion like my family is,
but I hated it. Robert Chester owned a huge corporation that manufactured airplane
parts. He was a billionaire. His daughter, Laurie, was friends with my little sister
Norah. After the quake, anyone who's house wasn't destroyed offered rooms to everyone
who was now homeless. So until we can find a new house, I'm stuck living in this
non-cozy mansion. I knew my parents hated living here too, but they would never
complain. Norah was obviously having the time of her life. I doubt she even missed
our old home.
Before I could even get to the door to open it, Laurie opened it and stepped inside.
Laurie and I never really got along, so we tried to stay out of each others way's. It
certainly shocked me to see her here.
"Uh, hi Kat." she said.
"Hey Laurie. Can I help you?" I asked.
"Yes, actually you can. I need you to cover for me and Norah." she said, nervously
shifting her weight to her other leg and crossing her arms.
"Cover you? For what?" I asked.
"There's this party at my friend Derrick's house. And I know Daddy wouldn't approve
of it. We're not going to be drinking or anything I swear! But, I cannot miss this
party! And I doubt anyone will even notice we're gone. But just in case, I need you
to convince whoever has suspicious that we're here somewhere or we went out for
coffee or something." she said, biting her lip.
"Why isn't Norah asking me this?" I asked.
"She thought you'd say no." she said, staring at the floor.
"She's right. Give me one reason why I should do something for you and Norah." I
said, impatiently tapping my foot.
"I don't know." She slyly put her hand in the pocket of her green plaid shorts and
took out something and closed her hand around it.
"What is that? I'm not in the mood for games." I said.
She opened her palm. Inside was a necklace. A very expensive looking gold necklace
with a ruby pendent.
"Are you trying to bribe me?" I asked.
"Duh." she said.
The necklace was beautiful. And the ruby was my birthstone... What am I doing?!
Getting bribed? To go against my morals?
I laughed out loud. "No thanks Laurie. Hey, I'm sure you and Norah could watch a
movie or something tonight." I started walking back over to my bed.
"Wow. Norah was right. You are a really boring person!" she slammed the door on her
I laughed to myself.
Later that night at dinner, my family and the Chester family were sitting in their
dining room. I had definitely lost some weight. Why couldn't we ever have a pizza
for dinner one night? Every night it was some fancy-shpancy meal that I just picked
at. Like tonight for example. We were having Pork with Clams in some weird sauce. I
like pork, and clams are okay in a chowder form, but together? I think not.
"What's wrong Katrina dear? You've barely touched your food." Mrs. Chester asked
"I'm just not very hungry." I said, staring at my plate.
"Do you not like it?" she asked.
My mom shot me a look across the table. The "Be nice or I'll kill you" look.
"No, it's very good!" I said, trying to smile.
"I'll make sure to tell the cooks how much you like it." she smiled.
Suddenly, I felt very sick. "Um, would you excuse me?" I said, jumping up from the
table and running down the hallway. I didn't even know where the bathrooms were on
this floor. I used the same bathroom everyday, the one that was connected to my
room. I ran down the first hallway I found. There were 5 doors. I ran to the
farthest door and flung it open. Thank God, it was a bathroom. I flipped open the
lid of the toilet and vomited. Then I grabbed one of the hand towels with "Chester"
sewed on it in gold thread by the sink and put it on the floor and rested my head on
it. I didn't even feel well enough to sit up; I felt so woozy.
"Miss? Are you alright?" I heard a voice ask from the doorway.
I turned towards the door. One of the butlers I had seen a few times was standing
"I think if I just lay down for a bit for awhile, I will be fine. Thank you." I
"Are you sure you would like to lay on the floor?" he asked.
"I don't think I should really get up just yet-" he cut me off.
"Why don't you just lay down on this sofa?" he asked.
I looked up. I didn't even notice the huge plush sofa chair that was sitting in the
middle of the floor. There's another thing about rich people that I don't get. Why
do they need one of these in the bathroom? To take a nap on?
I dragged myself up onto it and laid down.
"If you need anything, just press the big red button on the wall. Feel better little
lady!" he said, exiting the bathroom.
In a few moments, I was sound asleep.
When I woke up, I was in my bedroom. The silk curtains that were around my bed were
pulled around the bed frame. I pushed them back and got out of bed. I walked over to
my balcony and pulled the curtains on the doors up. The sun was shining brightly. It
was most likely mid-afternoon. Geez, I slept for a long time. I was still wearing
the clothes from yesterday. I felt a lot better so I got dressed. I pulled on some
skinny jeans and an blue v-neck and left my room. I heard giggling in Laurie's room.
The door was wide open so I walked by and glanced in. There were two blonde-haired
guys sitting on Laurie's bed.
"Uhm, hello?" I said.
Laurie appeared from her bathroom and glared at me. "The adults went to go to some
play. So we invited the guys over." she said.
I rolled my eyes. "Where's Norah?" I asked.
"In here." she called and stepped out.
"Norah, leave this door open. Got it?" I said.
She didn't reply. She looked embarrassed.
I walked down stairs. An unfamilar butler was standing at the end of the staircase.
"Miss. I suppose you are feeling better?" he asked.
How did he know I was sick? "Yes, thank you." I said.
"Would you like something to eat?" he asked.
"No thanks." I wasn't hungry. And some stupid gourmet food didn't sound good right
"Miss, you should eat. Your stomach is empty." he said.
"Fine. I'll have something to eat." I said.
"Would you like some brunch?" he asked, leading me to the kitchen.
"Sounds good. How about something simple like toast?" I asked.
He laughed as we went into the kitchen. "Get this young lady some nice brunch." he
said to the cooks, and then he left.
One of the cooks, a chubby women with dark hair smiled at me. "I'll whip you up
"How about just some toast? I'm not that hungry." I said.
All the cooks laughed. I didn't get how toast was so funny. One of the other cooks,
a tall women with red hair said "Just go have a seat in the dining room and we'll
I was starting to lose my patience. I decided it would probably not be in my best
interest to demand some toast so I went and sat down at the dining table. In a few
minutes, the same red haired cook placed a steaming plate in front of me. There was
some kind of omelet, and some kind of fancy potatoes with a bunch of spices and some
kind of sauce poured over them. She then placed a tall glass of milk in front of me.
I had to admit, this actually looked pretty good.
"Thank you." I replied.
"You're very welcome." she went back into the kitchen.
I cut off a nice, big piece of omelet and stuck it in my mouth. I started chewing.
What was in this omelet anyway? Suddenly, my mouth felt hot. I immediately spit out
what I was chewing. Then I cut open the omelet and looked at what was inside. There
seemed to be a bunch of types of peppers, and some kind of other weird vegetable. I
was allergic to green peppers. I drank most of my milk and inspected the potatoes.
There were small green pepper chunks in that too. I left the table and went back
upstairs. My stomach growled. I was getting really sick of this place.
The next few weeks were the last weeks of summer. I spent most of my time stuck in
my room, dying of boredom. You would think in a mansion that there would be loads of
things to do, but there really wasn't. I knew there was a game room, library, bowling
alley and movie theater somewhere in this house, but I was too timid to go looking
for them. I also knew there was a huge Olympic size pool outside, I had a really
nice view from it from my balcony. But for some reason, I felt it would be weird
just to jump in their pool. This wasn't home. And I missed our old house so much
that it hurt. Our old house was split-leveled with cute white siding and black roof.
It had a white picket fence around the yard, with a hot-tub and a deck taking up most
of the backyard. The earthquake had completely destroyed it, there was nothing left
but rubble. So my parents were working overtime to put in the new house fund, but it
could take months to get enough money for even a small condo. The price of houses
around here had really shot up after the earthquake. Most houses were destroyed and
everyone was trying to find a new home. Most of my friends had to move out of the
county to go live with relatives. But lucky for me, my school hadn't been destroyed.
But most of the other schools around here had been. So for my senior year, I would be
one out of only a few others who actually went to Kalvin High last year. There were
tons of new students coming in from other towns that are close by. It was like I was
the new student, when I really wasn't.
The night before the first day of school, I was trying to decide what to wear. Most
of my clothes had been lost after the earthquake, and my parents didn't have much
money to buy me new clothes. Of course, the Chesters tried to give us money for
stuff like that, but my parents refused to accept it. They thought they had already
provided us with enough. So I was stuck with only 5 pairs of clothes. I decided that
I was going to start looking for a job tomorrow. As I was deciding whether to wear my
blue tank top or yellow polo shirt, there was a knock on my door.
"Come in." I said.
The door opened and my mom walked in. "Hey honey. Deciding what to wear?" she
"Yeah." I said, scrutinizing the stain on the collar of the polo shirt. I heard the
rumpling of a shopping bag and I turned around to look at my mom. She held up the
"Since there is only one first day of senior year, I decided that you need something
killer." she smiled and pushed the shopping bag into my hands.
"What? Mom! You shouldn't have!" I smiled and dumped the contents of the bag onto
the red bedspread.
"Do you like it? I hope it's your style." she smiled.
I examined the dress. It was a pink chiffon babydoll dress. It was adorable. There
were also some matching pink flip flops.
"Oh my gosh! Mom, this is awesome! Thank you so much!" I hugged her.
She smiled. "You're welcome."
I held the dress up in front of me and looked at myself in the huge mirror that took
up the entire west wall of my bedroom.
"Honey? Do you mind sitting down. I want to talk to you about something." my mom
I turned around and put the dress and shoes back in the bag. "Yeah, of course.
What's up?" I plopped down on the bed next to her.
"Honey, I know you're not very happy here." she said.
"What? Where did you get that idea? I love it here!" I lied.
She looked at my puzzled. "You don't have to lie to me. It's obvious you dislike
everything about it here. And honestly, I do too."
I frowned. "What are you trying to get at?"
"Me and your father obviously have to stay here until we get the new house. But I
was talking to my friend Anne at work. You remember Anne right?" she asked.
Anne was my mom's co-worker at the bank she worked at. The school bus used to drop
me off in front of the bank all through grade school. Then I would hang out there
until my mom got off work. I remembered Anne, she was nice. She always give me candy
and let me sit in her desk while she talked with clients.
"Yeah, I remember Anne." I said.
"Well, I told her how much you hate it here. I told her how you're locked up in this
room all day. And she said that the women who's house was destroyed and living in her
guest room just bought a new house and moved out. She says she feels bad that no one
is using the room anymore, especially since everyone has no place to stay nowadays.
And she told me to ask you if you'd like to move in there."
I considered that for a fraction of a second before my mind was made up. "No. I
don't want to be selfish. I mean Norah loves it here. But you and dad don't and if
you have to suffer here, so do I. Isn't that what being a family is about?" I
My mom smiled. She looked like she was stifling a laugh.
"Hey! How's that funny?" I asked.
"Where does it say that everyone in a family has to suffer?" she asked.
"I don't know." I said.
"Honey, I just want you to be happy. Anne has two daughters and a son that are about
your age. I believe their names are Jessica, Eliza and Justin. I think Jessica is
going to be a freshman like Norah and Laurie, and Eliza and Justin are in your
grade. They have a pretty big house that's right on the beach. You'd love it there."
she tried to smile.
"But Mom... I'll never see you." I said.
"We'll visit, once a week. And I'll call you every few days. It's not like this
arrangement will be permanent. We hope to all be living in a house together again by
May." she said.
"But that means I'll be living there for almost the entire school year!" I said.
"I know you're just trying to take one for the team, but just do it Kat." she
I stared at the floor for a minute. "Alright. I'll go." I said.