She couldn’t take the continuous noise anymore. With five siblings rattling around the house along with her, the noise just never stopped. Even though the house was large enough to comfortably house eight people, eight people still made a lot of noise and the walls seemed to enjoy soaking up the noise and then projecting it back into the house.
It was annoying and it was really starting to frustrate her. She longed for the relatively quiet of her dorm room. Sure, there had been idiots running up and down the halls, laughing and giggling and yelling, but that was to be expected on a college campus. And sometimes there was something interesting to listen to, like a favorite song blaring from someone’s room or an interesting TV show or movie with funny lines. Yeah, she missed college.
She’d already called all of her high school friends to see if she could meet up with one of them just to get out of the house for an hour. But they were all busy with family business and wouldn’t be free until that night. It seemed that everyone was with their family during the day and would be with their friends that night. She thought it was an odd arrangement, but then her preference was to just mix the two and enjoy as much as possible. It seemed, though, that her idea was being nixed left and right. No one had time for friends until later in the day.
Finally, Valentine couldn’t take it anymore. She needed to get out of the house and do something. She needed some quiet, but some company would be nice, too. She stuck her head out of her bedroom and glanced up and down the hall until she spotted her younger sister, the child who had been born two years after her.
“Hey, Sabrina, want to come for a walk with me?” Valentine called out, startling her sister.
Sabrina jumped, her red hair tumbling from the loose knot on the top her hair to flow down to her waist. “You scared me!”
“Sorry, sis. Want to come for a walk with me?” Valentine repeated as Sabrina muttered to herself and tied her hair back up.
Sabrina shrugged, patting at her hair to make sure it was more securely tied up. “Sure. Just let me go change. I’ll be ready in a minute.”
Valentine nodded, biting her tongue as she did so. Taking her time, she wandered back over to her bed and lay back down, letting her head enjoy the soft down pillows her mother had thoughtfully left for her. Sabrina never took just “a minute.” It was more like two hours before she was ready, but Valentine hoped it wouldn’t take two hours today. Who had two hours to spare on the last day of life? She wished the next younger sister, Calliope, had been the one walking down the hall. Calliope was mellow and quiet, but, on the other hand, almost too quiet. Sabrina’s chattiness wouldn’t be a bad thing to have for the walk, she supposed. They had enjoyed many gab sessions before Valentine had left for college, after all. And having one noisemaker for company was better than having them all echoing in her eardrums.
Yeah, Sabrina would be a good companion. Maybe she would ask Calliope along if they ran into their younger sister. Just as long as they didn’t run into Natalia. The youngest of the family had ADHD and was still prone to running off. That would be more of a job than relaxation. It was the last thing Valentine wanted right now.
“Hey, Val!” a voice called, startling her out of her reverie.
Startled, she lifted her head and propped herself up on the bed, sticking her elbow into the soft mattress. She found herself staring at her two older brothers, Jared and Nathan, the two incredibly handsome giants. But they enjoyed playing pranks too much to catch themselves a steady, easygoing girlfriend. It just made Valentine shake her head. She had always hoped for a sister-in-law that she could get along with, someone who was older and wiser than her that would take Valentine under her wing. It was hard being the oldest daughter with a mother who tended to be more flighty than anything else, loving though Marlene was.
“What do you want?” she asked, her head already buzzing with the multitude of things her brothers might ask her for help with.
“Have you seen Natalia? She ran off with our football and we can’t find her now,” Jared asked, jerking a thumb over his shoulder to gesture off into the hallway.
“Nope,” Valentine replied, letting herself flop back down on her bed. “Good luck, though.”
“Man, where can she be?” Jared asked, his voice exasperated as he and his brother left Valentine alone.
Valentine laughed to herself. That was vintage Natalia, always running around, always causing trouble for her brothers. That was one form of entertainment Valentine had missed.
She had no sooner fallen back to lie on her bed to gaze at the dream catcher she had hung over her pillow back in grade school when Sabrina’s voice called her back to reality.
“I’m ready,” Sabrina announced from Valentine’s doorway, hands on her hips. “Where are we going?”
With a grunt, Valentine once more rose and, this time, got off of her bed. “I thought we could just walk around the neighborhood. I know you would probably prefer the mall, but everything’s closed by now.”
Sabrina nodded and stuck her fingers in the pockets of her tight shorts. Her red hair now hung in a long braid over one shoulder, if only to keep the thick sheet of hair from hiding her body as it was encased in a tight T-shirt as well as the tight shorts.
“Does Mom really let you walk out the door wearing that?” Valentine asked dubiously, her hands running along the hips hidden under her ankle-length pale blue skirt.
Sabrina shrugged. “Mom hasn’t really cared for the past couple of weeks. She said she just wants us to enjoy our lives, so there aren’t any rules anymore.”
Valentine still didn’t look convinced. “Really? Mom said that? She didn’t tell me anything about it.”
“Mom’s been kind of scattered lately. More so than usual. I think she’s scared to die, too. Anyways, let’s get going. We don’t have all the time in the world,” Sabrina said, rolling her eyes. “And I’m supposed to meet up with some of my friends in a couple of hours. Come on, Valentine. Let’s go.”