As Alyssa and Hannah, Tomas’ big sisters grew they couldn’t be more different, while Alyssa was serious and responsible, both in schools and in her chores Hannah was treating school as a big joke and did all she could to escape cooking or cleaning, while Alyssa was thin and careful about the food she ate, Hannah was growing fatter every day, and simply never cared about it. And while Alyssa dressed as conservatively as possible, with as little makeup as possible Hannah dressed whatever she wanted and put on as much makeup ash she could. And before long the two of them started fighting almost all the time, they were literally unable to have a civilized conversation without snapping at each other after five minutes. This made family time extremely awkward, the only times they could enjoy it was when the girls were not speaking to each other at all. This was evident on all the family photos onward, the girls were always on opposite sides of each other, looking as different as possible
Andrew started working at the graveyard and working nights, so he was rarely at home on weekdays, but Tomas knew that he wasn’t working as often as he pretended to be, most nights he just used work as an excuse to get out of the house.
You couldn’t see it in any of the pictures but all of his siblings held their secrets, Alyssa kept to herself why she was so bitter towards Hannah, Andrew didn’t tell anyone whom he was meeting on all of those nights and the biggest and most shattering secret was kept by their mother.
Elena Prentiss, Tomas’ mother was a housewife who quietly did all the work around the house and spent her free time talking to her neighbors Edmund and Ebony. She was always there for her kids, and had devoted her life to keeping her family happy. So it came as a big surprise when she told them she was to run for city council. Tomas’ father highly disapproved but his mother was so persistent that in the end he just gave in and pretty soon Tomas was out with Cocoa putting up flyers with his mother’s picture on them: VOTE ELENA PRENTISS.
There was a picture of one of this expeditions, and as he looked at it Tomas remembered that late summer day with such clarity he wouldn’t believe possible. It was a Saturday and they had spent the entire day going around town, just the two of them. Since Andrew started behaving funny this was becoming a common thing, Cocoa and Tomas hanging out alone, covering for Andrew mostly, but having fun still the same. When they were down to just one flier Cocoa asked a passerby to take this very picture Tomas had in his hand, it was strange that they could be so young, so happy, even though he remembered they were tired and sore all over.
After the picture was taken, and they were done with the flyers Cocoa invited Tomas to the pool to wash the warm day off them. Tomas wholeheartedly agreed, he no longer spent time with Cocoa solely because she was his brother’s older, cool, best friend he really like how smart and funny she was, unlike,any girl he knew and it helped that she had such great legs and a killer smile.
They spent the rest of day together just the two of them swimming and splashing each other, laughing like crazy. As the sun was setting they walked home together, it was like the other hundred times they walked beside one another, until Cocoa grabbed his hand. Her touch was light but it made him stop. Her fingernails were done in two colors, light orange and pink, he noticed before he lifted his gaze to meet her eyes. His heart was beating like crazy and he could not tell why. She wore no makeup but her smile lit her face and made her green eyes sparkle. He remembered how her long black, still wet, hair and fell over her shoulders, he remembered how she smelt, like soap and chlorine. He just stopped there hypnotized, unable to move as she came closer and closer, and his heart beat got louder and louder … When they pulled apart she was still smiling and he grinned at her. She held his hand as they walked home and he was the happiest guy alive.
He put the photo down not sure weather he wanted to smile or weep, it was all so long ago, he was so young, so stupid, well they both were…. But that moment, that day was imprinted in his memory and he was sure he would remember it until the day he died, not just because it was his first kiss, but the sheer perfection of it, before he ruined it all…
What happened next he could never explain to anyone… He liked Cocoa he really did, and that kiss meant the world to him but afterwards she acted as she always did. She sat next to Andrew on the bus to school and smiled to Tomas as he walked by them. She never said a word about Saturday and neither did Tomas, they hung out like they did before, like nothing changed, it confused him, it enraged him, he was a teenager and it was pretty much how teenagers feel he guessed…
For weeks he was debating about weather or not he should ask her out, or try to kiss her, or make her talk about it, or just forget about the whole thing when another strange thing happened.
There were no pictures of these hazy events of the in between, how Tomas later referred to this period in his head, but now that he opened the window of memories they were coming in like crazy.
He was just leaving school when Mya Hoves, Cocoa’s best female friend caught him and asked for a word. He knew if he stayed to talk he’ll miss the bus ride back, and will have to walk, but the thought of watching Cocoa and Andrew laughing together, on their usual seat right in front of him, even though even back then he knew there was nothing going on there, gave him a nasty ping of jealousy, and filled him with some unexplained anger. So he decided to stay and talk with Mya even though he had no idea what all this was about They walked around the building to the playground which had been empty this time of day when everyone was hurrying to get home. The idea that Cocoa’s friend wanted a word with him in private made him weary, it didn’t seem like her to send a friend to talk in her behalf like some girls did, Cocoa was always straight forward with what she wanted but he was eager to hear what Mya had to say, already playing out scenarios in his head, but what happened was something he was in no way prepared for…
Once they had finally reached a place Mya was comfortable to speak in she turned to him abruptly and spoke in a nervous, but determined kind of way :“You want to go out this weekend?”