California

“This will be good for you Luna,” her father had said when he dropped her off at the summer camp for troubled teens. Except it wasn’t good for her, she was surrounded by teens who were completely reckless.

Luna is leaning up against a large oak tree, picking at the black nail polish on her fingernails when she hears a voice behind her, “Couldn’t sleep?”

It is a boy she’d met earlier in the week during one of the group activities. She recalls that his name is Aaron.  “Nope,” she sighs, scooting over so he can sit next to her, “What about you?”

His face looks haunted, and when he opens his mouth his breath comes out in a large puff.  “I almost never can sleep,” Aaron states sadly. For a while they sit next to each other, uncomfortably silent.

“So,” the lanky boy slurs, “Why are you here?”

Luna tucks in a strand of her dark black hair, “I fought a lot."  She kicks some pebbles that are near her feet. “I got expelled for fighting, but I only did it cause the jackass was bullying this boy with cancer. He used to call him Leukemia Skywalker ‘cause the boy was a huge ‘Star Wars’ fan.”

“Wait,” Aaron pauses, “You fought a guy?”

She laughs at the expression on his face, he looks completely shocked, which is understandable because Luna is petite and short. “Yeah, and I kicked his ass!”

“Wow,” Aaron mouths, “Remind me not to get on your bad side. How did you learn to fight?”

“My uncle,” she answers, looking back at the lake. There are a few ducks atop the lake floating away from them. “He was a professional boxer.” She tries to school her expression but she is an open book and she knows Aaron can see the hurt all over her face.

“What’s wrong?” he asks.

She sighs, wiping at invisible tears, “He died of pancreatic cancer.”

         Aaron places his hand atop hers, it is warm and large and it makes her feel safe for some reason. She shakes her head, “Enough about me, what about you? Why are you here?”

         He is silent for what feels like an eternity.  When he finally speaks his voice is hoarse, “I shot my dad.”

Luna stiffens immediately, and Aaron must’ve noticed because he smiles sadly, “He is an alcoholic, and he is a ass to my mom and little sister.” Luna offers Aaron her hand and he takes it, looking at her fingers. “He beats my mom and sometimes me. And sometimes I ask myself ‘How much time do I have before he starts to hit Lily?’”

“She’s only six, she’s just a kid,” he stutters, “So I take his shotgun and shoot him, but the bastard lives anyways. He’s like a roach, that won’t die. And of course my mom goes back to him and takes Lily with her and I’m stuck here.”

“I’m so sorry, Aaron,” Luna says and gives his hand a squeeze.

“Yeah,” he chuckles, “Sometimes I wish I can take Lily and just leave the state. Maybe California, Lily loves beaches.”

“I wish there is something I could do,” she tries to comfort him.

“There’s nothing you can do for me,” he looks at her and when she nods he continues, “Stop fighting. Honestly, violence isn’t the answer. There’s always a better way.”

Luna hesitated, then shakes her head, “Okay.”

***

A few days later, Luna wakes up an hour late for breakfast. She quickly jumps out of bed but stops when she sees a herd of girls from her cabin pressed up against the window.

“What’s going on?” she inquires.

A tall girl with fiery red hair and freckles answers, “The police are here, apparently some kid kidnapped his sister,” She raises her eyebrows, “They’re trying to figure out where he could’ve gone.”

© Chelsea Okundolor

 

Bio:  Chelsea Okundolor lives in Los Angeles, CA. She usually spends her time cuddled up with the newest dystopian book series. She loves to cook and write, but you may not have seen her work because her dog likes it so much that he eats it.