Featured October Monthly Writing Challenge

Jaysida

Jaysida is not a real person – she’s actually two people. Two friends with cautious parents (prompting the pseudonym) and an equal love for all things books. Reading is how we became friends, but we stayed friends because we understand each other. There was never a specific moment when we decided that we wanted to write, but once an idea sparked, we started and never stopped. We even began writing a book about bounty hunters and dystopian eras and found family. We didn’t really finish, but we will never stop writing. 

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I inhale slowly, staring at the cabin like it’s a demon coming to rip my head off.

I don’t want to go in. 

I look at Noah and force a smile. “Pretty, isn’t it?” I’m being honest, but I don’t mean it. He starts for the front door, oblivious. He’d never met her so he has nothing to mourn.

“I bet the inside will be even better.”

Brittany ducks into the sunlight, pulling her headphones off slowly. She doesn’t want to be here either. 

I glance at Brittany, but she’s looking at her shoes. It wasn’t a surprise; she’s avoided everything for the past three months.

I can’t judge. I had registered to compete in Debate but hadn’t shown in months. It’s junior year and my academics are slipping. My motivation is slipping with them.

The cabin echoes with memories of past vacations. One with my parents and no hopelessly optimistic cousin. But more important: one with my sisters. 

“What should we do first?” Noah chirps expectantly.

Uncle Richard had sent him, most likely at the behest of my parents. Perhaps their nephew could help mend the gap between their daughters. And who was he to deny the couple with the dead child?

Brittany walks upstairs silently, leaving me staring after her.

“We should unpack,” I tell Noah, watching his face fall.

I wander down the hall, stopping at my sister’s open door. I can glimpse her in the windows, in her sunflower bedspread, in her honey-shaded lamp. She had always loved to coordinate things. Clothes, folders, her room– all in yellow. 

Brittany’s seated on the bed, red jacket clashing violently.

“So,” she says, face expressionless. “Here we are. At the cabin. Fixing our relationship.” I sigh. “Brittany–“

“It won’t work,” she says, suddenly venomous, her face twisting in anger. “The only thing that would fix this,” she gestures between us, “is Ivy.”

“Brittany–” I try again.

And if you haven’t noticed,” Brittany cuts me off, “SHE’S DEAD!” 

I freeze. 

Brittany had never–

Brittany had never spoken about it before. She’d always sidestepped the subject.

“Brittany,” I say again, and this time she stays silent. “I know. It won’t be the same–” I pause. It won’t be the same because it will never be the same.

“But we’re still sisters. She loved us, and we love each other. Nothing is ever going to change that. We just need to–” My breath stutters, “to keep living. Keep moving forward, because that’s what she’d want us to do.”

She looks up, eyes watery. “Mom and Dad won’t even talk about her.”

I swallow. It’s true. Ivy deserves to have stories in her name. But none of us have been brave enough to tell them.

I don’t know what to say. I haven’t rehearsed anything else.

“So we need to.”

Brittany’s face droops, and her tears start to fall. I sit down next to her, pulling her to my chest. She leans her head on my shoulder.

We cry for Ivy. Together.

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