Read Ripple Effect: A Novel Online
Authors: Adalynn Rafe
Auburn hair rested on top of the newborns head—a girl, judging by the pink bow. She had tiny little hands and feet, and a tender little face. I wondered who she was.
“What should we call her?” He had a German accent. His brown eyes were forced to be alert, and his brown hair tousled. He seemed like he hadn’t had sleep for a while.
Dimly lit, the room somehow held a comforting feel to it. Even for a hospital room. It smelled like rubbing alcohol and baby powder. On a tray were the remnants of dinner, mainly empty dishes and Jell-O containers. Tops of tables held flower arrangements. Pink balloons sat in the corner, tied to an arm of a chair with teal upholstery.
The woman glowed. “We should name her after my grandmother.”
“Cecily–– It’s beautiful.” His voice filled with emotion. “Cecily Ann Wolf.”
With a smile, the woman nodded tiredly.
“Nina, thank you,” Papa said to my mother. “Thank you for another beautiful daughter.”
“I love you, Luca.” She looked at him through loving hazel eyes . . . the same eyes that I had inherited. “So much.”
Leaning on the hospital bed, Papa leaned down to my mother to kiss her softly. Little Cecily was just born, healthy and happy.
“Momma?” A little girl with brown curly hair held a beaming smile. Dressed in a beige dress with white tights, she was adorable beyond reason! Looking up at her mother, she rubbed her brown eyes with the backs of her little pudgy hands. “Snuggles?”
“Sweet girl, come here.” My mother had a wide smile. She couldn’t move much and could hardly keep her eyes open—the woman did just give birth—but it didn’t matter.
“Adie . . . there is my little girl!” Papa said with excitement. I couldn’t ever forget his kind eyes and animated face. Even when we had grown up, my father still looked at us like we were his darling baby girls. “You want to see your baby sister?”
“Momma,” the young Adie said, pointing at our mother, clearly seeking affection from her. She was only four.
Smiling, my mother held her arms out. They were filled with tubes attached to needles, bruises, and gauze that held cotton balls over puncture marks. A white hospital bracelet on her wrist said
“Come here to me, sweet Adie,” she said with a loving smile, one that only a mother could give to their precious child. “I have a whole mess of snuggles for you.”
Adie’s face lit up with happiness. After Papa lifted her small little frame next to my mother, Adie held my mom’s hand in both of her little ones and curled up, leaning her head on my mom’s chest to listen to the comforting heartbeat. Smiling with content, she closed her eyes.
Tears filled my Papa’s brown eyes, and he wiped them away discretely. His heart melted when he saw the ones he loved, especially when it was his wife and his child. It was all he ever wanted in life.
Cecily began to fuss. Fussing went to crying before turning into wailing. Papa’s eyes went wide and he smiled as he looked toward his newest daughter. The little newborn’s cry was powerful, yet adorable––for now, at least.
“Sweet baby,” he whispered as he raised the child from its resting spot in a clear crib labeled
Papa cradled the baby protectively, his hands ginormous in contrast to the small infant, and smiled down at his newest daughter. “You are hungry, yes?”
Cecily’s rosy face tensed as she cried once again.
“It’s okay, my baby girl. Momma is close,” he promised soothingly, his German accent something I had grown to cherish from the first time he held me.
My mother gently moved Adie off of her chest and settled her on the bed beside her.
“She’s hungry,” Papa explained to Adie with a loving smile. “Babies don’t know what patience is yet.”
Adie smiled back, understanding everything he had just said, beaming like a little angel.
Papa handed the crying Cecily to my mother. She took her newborn infant in her arms elegantly and held her at chest level. She smiled down at the infant, though she wailed like a banshee.
“Baby . . . ?” Adie said with curiosity. She had yet to see her little sister.
“Look at your big sister,” Papa said to baby Cecily. “She is big and strong.”
Adie shook her head. “Papa, I’m not big!”
“Of course you are, sweet Adie. You are my big girl who is strong enough to fight a dragon!” Papa looked down at Adie and smiled brightly. “You can do anything!”
“No,” Adie said seriously. “There are no dragons.”
Papa winked at her before rubbing her small shoulder.
Adie’s big brown eyes glistened as she watched her baby sister, Cecily. As she reached her hand out in curiosity, she waited for her parents to stop her. This baby was not what she expected. She expected a ball of some sort, the same size as her mother’s pregnant stomach.
Baby Cecily stopped crying and became completely silent. Adie held still and looked at the infant, confused.
“Baby?” Adie asked, her voice sounding like bells. “Baby too quiet, Papa,” she whispered, staring at her father with innocent brown eyes. She reached her hand out to touch Cecily, but didn’t.
Mother laughed. “Go ahead, sweet girl. You may touch the baby.”
Adie looked at Papa again. He smiled and nodded, giving her the approval to continue.
Lightly, the toddler touched the baby’s foot, which caused Cecily to move a little. Smiling wide, Adie looked at her mother before giggling. After removing her hand from the baby’s foot, Adie glanced up at Papa.
“This is Cecily. She is your little sister,” Papa said to her kindly.
After she touched the infant’s foot again, Adie said, “Cecily. Baby.” She smiled angelically.
Their parent’s eyes filled with tears of happiness and joy.
Cecily began to fuss again, and they knew it was time for the baby to eat. Papa pulled Adie off the bed and carried her toward the wooden door of the hospital room.
“Let’s go get some treats, yes?” he asked his daughter with a loving look.
“Yes,” Adie answered. She hugged Papa around the neck tightly. “And treats for Cecily?”
My mother laughed lightly as Cecily fed.
Everything seemed to be perfect for the Wolf Family.
If only for that moment—a moment that makes all the horrors in life more tolerable, brings ray of hope into a darkened soul, and warmth that is incomprehensible. Only for this moment were things perfect in this adventure we call Life . . . and Death.
The halls of my high school were packed with a bunch of immature teenagers who thought they knew everything about everything, when in reality they were just lost and confused children. At least they had their identities, the only thing that would separate them from the rest of the world––whether it was a bracelet or necklace, a lucky shoelace or unwashed sock, or simply their own distinct body odor.
Let’s face it. High school was like a mental institute; everyone was either crazy or heading there, and the faculty was the caretaker, just trying to keep the mentally insane in check. But to the teenager, that crazy either carried you to the top of the popularity food chain, or it sunk you into your grave before you even reached eighteen.
Let’s start with the hierarchy/high school food chain:
We had the royals (or the elitists), the middle class, and the bottom feeders.
The top of the food chain consisted of the teenagers who were rich, gorgeous, manipulative, snotty, self-centered, and who thought they knew everything. Like most cheerleaders and sports players, the dancers, choir brats, and the major cliques filled with self-entitled people. They claimed that their lives were just like the Real World and Jersey Shore and that Britney Spears and Beyoncé were, like, their BFF’s.
In their world, if you weren’t sleeping with someone or at least lying about sleeping with someone, you were no one.
In their world, if you weren’t wearing Gucci or Bebe, you were a hobo who should be made fun of ruthlessly. Don’t even think about showing up to their parties and drinking their booze, because if you weren’t VIP, you were nothing––nothings don’t go to “awesome” high school parties.
In their world, we all knew that they secretly cried themselves to sleep at night because their lives really sucked. Their tears were just as numerous as the bottom feeders, whose tears only originated because of the top’s brutal hands.
Then there were the middlemen of the food chain, like Hazel and me. The teens that didn’t care about huge parties or drug abuse. Those teenagers would rather spend their weekends watching old black and white movies instead trying to live in a reality TV show. Those are the teens that giggled over boys and shared their fantasies with their besties, usually that forbidden first kiss, instead of seducing boys and having extreme feelings of regret the next morning . . . or nine months later.
Of course, there were the extreme middle class inhabitants. They were the ones who secretly hung out with the bottom feeders and enjoyed it, or the ones who acted like a royal and worshiped the ground that the royals walked on. Those people were called groupies, and they tended to boost the esteem of the royals.
The bottom of the food chain––well, they had been sucked soulless by the top dwellers and some rogue middle dwellers by their negative antics. Their names had been replaced with things like
, and of course,
. And, well . . . they were a little weird, but I had always found it wrong to treat them so cruelly. Usually, that was where the emos, the homosexuals, the transgendered, the mentally disabled, and druggies (not royal associated) were categorized. They were the bottom of the high school food chain.
So, that’s when you felt sorry for the bottom feeders, right?
Not exactly. You see, the bottom feeders were picked on and kicked around, but the royals had to deal with the consequence of their actions. They had to pretend to be people they weren’t, just to be liked by one another. Most of the time they did mean things and their guilt was quickly disguised with anger and aggression, and that was when someone was killed. So, in reality, you feel very sad for both of them, or at least I always did.
Yes, the hierarchy had a lot of issues, but it was the way it was. Like Stalin and Communism in Russia, or so my tenth grade history teacher said, things like that don’t change. Things like that go down in history books.
* * *
There I was, standing in the middle of main hall. The school wasn’t exactly huge, but it was big enough to accommodate the couple hundred high school students that attended it. Lining the walls of the hallway were orange lockers, behind them walls composed of red bricks, and below me, a white linoleum floor. End of explanation. That was how the entire school looked essentially.
A door opened in front of me. It’s one of the doors that lead to the main office. Out walked a familiar girl, one that I used to see every day when I would wake up and look in the mirror.
Before me stood Cecily Wolf, teary eyed and depressed.
At least she wore decent clothes, like jeans and a baggy t-shirt—except for the bright colored bra that appeared underneath her shirt. Her hair was up in a sloppy ponytail and her eyes had horrible bags under them, like she was sick or something.
“Trouble in the hierarchy?” Kelly asked, referring to the tears that lingered on my cheeks.
“I think I am starting to remember what was happening. I began having nightmares again, harsh and brutal nightmares, and my mom—who I was not particular of at the time—sent me to the school psychologist.”
“Nightmares of what?”
My gaze left Cecily and focused back to Kelly. “Of dying, I think. Or perhaps I had intentions of dying . . .”
We followed Cecily as she rounded the corner into the buzzing cafeteria. Hazel sat at a long table by herself, dressed in a gray jacket and white summer dress, her nose shoved in a book. Honey colored hair covered half of her face, hiding her green eyes as she read the story that captured her.
Just before Cecily reached Hazel, Sabrina stepped in front of her. Yes, the one who was gorgeous with stormy gray eyes, luscious black hair now braided over her shoulder, and long, slim legs that fit perfectly into designer jeans. Her mother had migrated here from Spain and married her rich white father. Everyone knows her as the duchess of the royals—the ruler of her kingdom. Even the bling on her purple leather coat suggested such. She fancied silver loop earrings, dark makeup, and cleavage exposure.
My question . . . why in the world was she talking to me? To Cecily? We hated each other and always had. Why exactly? I couldn’t remember.
“Hey, um . . .” Sabrina said with forged forgetfulness, flinging her hand in the air. “What’s your name?”
Cecily rolled her eyes. “The name is Cecily.” She bit her tongue from saying more.
Sabrina smiled, fake as usual. “Oh, yeah.”
I knew what she was doing. She was making it seem like we had never encountered each other before. For the sake of her appearance, of course.
“What do you want, wench?” Cecily asked boldly, hands on hips.
Sabrina seemed shocked, appalled almost. “Watch it Wolf,” she hissed.
“Why are you talking to me?” Her eyes narrowed. “Why are you wasting my time?”
Sabrina ground her teeth before forcing a smile on her face. She outstretched her polished hand filled with golden rings and priceless jewels to give me a flyer for a party that weekend. “Thought I would let you know about it. Apparently you’ve caught the eye of the person who is throwing it.”
With mounds of reluctance, Cecily took the flyer from her and looked at it. Of course it was bright pink and filled with bubblegum font letters. In the background, something exploded––like a soda can––and a bunch of idiots started laughing over it.
“Who’s throwing it?” Cecily asked, her eyes glued on the bright paper.
Sabrina moved her head closer to Cecily. “The man who makes the calls. He has a proposal for you,” she whispered seriously, trying to keep it secret. Was that a hint of distress that I heard in her voice? Sabrina smiled, making whatever emotions she had conveyed disappear behind her mask. “I’ll be there. It’s the cool spot right now.”
Cecily wasn’t sure. Sabrina hated Cecily and always made it apparent. What were her motives for inviting her to a party? She looked toward Hazel, and Sabrina quickly stepped between the two.
“You know you want to come . . .” Sabrina instigated. A flash of some other emotion filled her face for half a moment before being replaced with a fake smile again. This was not good. The duchess was never scared or distressed. What was she roping me into?
“I don’t feel comfortable with this,” Cecily said honestly. She seemed so tired.
Sabrina glanced at someone over Cecily’s shoulder before returning her gaze to her eyes. “Cecily, you have potential. You wouldn’t want to pass this up.”
“How does this guy know me?” Cecily asked. “And why is he scouting female students from a high school?”
“He’s seen you around town,” Sabrina lied, expertly.
“You’re dating him, aren’t you?” Cecily raised her eyebrow and I could hear all sorts of accusing names running through her mind. “He’s a pedophile, isn’t he!?” Her voice was extremely quiet now.
Yet again, Sabrina’s confidence was broken down and her fear showed through her façade. She wiped the look away and snickered at Cecily. “That’s none of your business,” Sabrina snapped, but quickly held an apology in her eyes, for her own sake.
Cecily began to feel unsure of the invitation. She never got attention from the royals, and judging by Sabrina’s actions, something was horribly wrong.
“You hate me, remember? Why would you want me there?” said Cecily.
Sabrina laughed. “We have our differences, but I don’t
Glaring at her arch enemy, Cecily shook her head. “Go to hell, Sabrina. Where you belong.” She went to walk around her.
Sabrina grabbed Cecily’s arm with desperateness. “Cecily, really, you need to come. It will be good for you to go.” Sabrina lowered her voice now. “You’ve had some hard times and you deserve some fun, don’t you think?” There was a hidden meaning in her words. “If not, people will start to make assumptions . . .”
Cecily’s eyes widened and she looked down. “There is nothing to make assumptions––”
“Let’s be honest,
” she whispered in her ear. “I know what happened.”
Her cheeks flushed and sweat gathered on her forehead. I imagined she was clammy. “I’m bringing Hazel,” Cecily said, glowering into Sabrina’s dark eyes. “That is the only way I’ll go.”
“Fine,” Sabrina said, as if she didn’t care. She brushed the hair out of her face and I saw the outlines of a bruise on her cheek. It was ugly and nasty, and I wasn’t the only Cecily that saw it. “You’re making the right choice, trust me,” she whispered as her eyes darted past Cecily.
I flipped around quickly to find nothing but the few souls wandering down the hallway.
Students lounged around the cafeteria, lost in their own little worlds, naïve and oblivious to the dangers around them. Cecily felt sick about it all. I felt sick about it all. No one even knew that something bad was happening.
“Seeing that I am left with no other option . . .” Cecily turned her back to Sabrina.
Victorious, the duchess left the area and blended into the cafeteria crowd.
Cecily plopped across the table from to her best friend. Her shoulders slumped.
“What was that?” Hazel bugged, her sights glued to Cecily. The book still sat open I her hands. “The duchess just spoke to you.”
“We’re going to a party.” Cecily handed the flyer to Hazel before rubbing her eyes with fatigue. “There is no option.”
Hazel stared down at the flyer. “No. I don’t want to go to a stupid royals-only party.” She rolled her eyes in annoyance. “Don’t let her boss you around.”
“It will be . . . fun.” Cecily picked at her nails—she didn’t look very convincing.
“You aren’t really going to go to this, are you, Ces?” Hazel seemed bewildered.
Her eyes gleamed and she pouted. “I don’t want to go alone.”
“I don’t––Ces––I don’t have the best feeling about it.”
Hazel gave Cecily a worried look as she leaned closer. “I know you don’t want to go.” She’d never seen her best friend beg like this, so heartbroken and contrite, yet wanting to go the thing that made her miserable. But why? Hazel placed a bookmark in her book and shut it. “Only this one time will I go with you to a royal party. After that . . .” She slid her finger across her neck.
A forced smile lifted on Cecily’s tired face. “We won’t stay long.” She glanced toward the psychologist’s office and quickly looked down at her twiddling hands.
Hazel’s head tilted and her green eyes held sympathy. “If you open up to ‘them’ you’ll feel better. After my gerbil died, my mom made me see a therapist because all I could do was cry.”
“This has nothing to do with a dying hamster, Haze,” Cecily said calmly.
“I’m talking about getting that emotion out of your system.” Obviously, Hazel had learned something from the AP Psychology class she was taking. “It’s blocking your positive energy.”
“Whatevs.” The bell rang. “Look, I’m going home. Come over when school is out, okay.” Cecily stood up and stretched her arms into the air. She was exhausted.