The Shake

6 Apr

By Maddison Krass
Denver Online High School

I lay here in my bedroom watching TV. It is just past Valentine’s Day and Carlos, my boyfriend, sent me some beautiful roses. Considering I’m not good with plants, I’ve tried my best to keep up with the whole watering thing. I’m thinking of the stupid fight that Carlos and I had. As I was talking to him earlier on the phone, I could hear his phone vibrating a lot. That’s been going on for about a week or so. Maybe he has someone else on the side. I have no idea, but the idea is really bothering me and it has me thinking twice. All of this is giving me a headache so I go take an Ibuprofen. After that, I lie back down, turn my heating blanket up to high, and try to fall asleep. When I lie down, I see the TV moving. But this is Colorado. It’s impossible for an earthquake to happen here! At least that’s what I thought.

The shake keeps getting stronger and stronger until it’s all I can hear. It’s as if a machine gun is hitting my house. Everything is falling from my shelves, my desk, my bathroom cupboard. Then all of a sudden, I hear my mom scream.

Hearing that makes me realize this isn’t a dream, this is reality. This is really happening. I run upstairs to the kitchen, where I see my mom surrounded by broken plates, glasses, and breakfast. The shake stops. I pick my mom up off the floor and she holds me as tight as she can.

“We’re out of food. There’s nothing to eat because we forgot to go grocery shopping. If only I went yesterday like I planned. Oh gosh, this is horrible!” Mom says to me, bawling her eyes out.

I try to calm her down. “Mom, you’re forgetting the food in the freezer in the garage. We have a stove and a microwave and water. We’re still in good condition. Just take a breather.”

Mom rushes down to the garage and gets all the meat that was in the freezer so it can defrost. I go downstairs to my room, where I see that everything fell but my roses. I put some more water in the vase.

After that, I go back upstairs, where my mom and I sit watching TV. I’ve just gotten a text from Carlos. It’s a picture of us from before I left Albuquerque, and he’s written me a really long note telling me he loves me and he doesn’t want to lose me. I don’t know if he means it, considering all this fighting that has been going on.

Fergie, my dog, is barking. My stepdad, Rudy, must have just gotten home. It’s 8:00 pm and he is usually home by 5:00 pm. He walks in and explains. Turns out he was waiting in traffic for three hours because of the shake. We’ve all had a long day, so we all go to bed early after we eat.

All I can think of is the shake. I keep asking myself, What if it happens again? What happens if I don’t wake up tomorrow? The shake keeps me awake until four in the morning, just wondering. I finally sleep for about two hrs. That’s when it all begins all over again. The shake. The rumbling beneath my bed, the machine gun sounds come back again.

Rudy comes in my room. “Maddy,” he yells, “we need to get out of here! Pack your stuff. Hurry! We’re leaving back to Albuquerque.”

I can’t even process what he’s saying. I sit here with a blank expression. I can tell Rudy is confused about why I’m like this. He stares for a moment and then grabs everything in my closet, gets my suitcase, and packs everything in there. Then he returns upstairs to my mom, who is screaming for him.

There goes my phone, as always, at six in the morning with a Good Morning Beautiful text.

I text Carlos back “Good Morning” real fast, and put my phone down. He has just added to my problem. Now I’m worried about seeing Carlos and wondering if I’m going to die. Love has my mind on him for sure.

After ten minutes, the shake stops. My roses still stand there on my desk. They’ve wilted and some petals have fallen, but I wonder how everything fell except the roses. Is this a sign? The petals? Them wilting? I don’t know. All that my mind can process is that I need to bring them with me when we leave.

I’m thinking, Wait. If we’re going back to Albuquerque, I’m going to see Carlos. I’m anxious because even if I’m there I probably won’t talk to him since we’ve been fighting.

We put all of our stuff in the trunk of Rudy’s car and start heading to Albuquerque. It starts shaking again as soon as we get to Castle Rock. We stop at a gas station until the shake stops.

After five minutes, we’re headed on our way again. Fergie comes and sits on my lap and lies down. I can fill the trembles and chills going though her body. All of a sudden, we get a flat tire.

“Why God?” Rudy says, looking up to the sky.

I look to my right and start laughing.

“Why are you laughing Maddy? This is a serious situation and you’re laughing?!” Rudy says, irritable.

I point to my right and Rudy starts to laugh too. There’s a tire store right next to us.

We get a new tire and head on our way again. I pour some water from my water battle into my vase of roses. They’re turning brown on the bottom. More petals have fallen.

The shake happens again when we hit Las Vegas, New Mexico. Yet again, we stop and wait. This isn’t new to me anymore. I’m thinking of it as a part of my life now. As that’s happening, I look at the roses and it makes me cry. I just got a text from Carlos that said he misses me and loves me. I want to think he is a good guy and that he loves me, but I know something is going down when I’m not there.

Finally, we get to Albuquerque. My mom takes me to my friend April’s.

“Okay Maddy, here’s $30. Use it wisely until we find a hotel, which probably won’t be very long, maybe a couple hours. But stay here with April. Explain to her the problem and I’ll call Shawna, okay? Do you understand?” my mom explains to me.

Tears rush down my face. She wipes them with her shirt and hugs me real tight. I take the money, and my mom leaves with Rudy.

When I ring the doorbell, April opens the door and sees me crying. She rushes me inside. “Maddy, what kind of crazy shit did you do? Did you run away?” she asks.

I tell her what happened and she gives me a big hug.

We eat. Then we go to Walgreens and get some more food. Her sister Jennifer comes to pick us up. Since Carlos lives in Albuquerque, we go to his house to say hi.

When I walk into his house, I go straight to his room. He looks up at me with a big smile on his face and walks up to me and gives me a hug and a kiss. I’ve been waiting for one of his hugs for a long time because they make me feel happy and warm.

“Oh my God! You look amazing, Maddy. Beautiful as ever!”

I see his phone vibrate and I pick it up off the nightstand.

He takes it out of my hand and says, “It’s broken. It’s been spazzing out like that for a while.” I see the lies in his eyes but I don’t say anything.

The only thing I say is, “Well, I hope you get it fixed because it’s been doing that for a while. ALL THE FREAKING TIME, CARLOS!”

His eyes look guilty, but he laughs and kisses me on the forehead.

April grabs chips from the cupboard and says to me, “Lets roll, Maddy.” 

Carlos kisses me as I say goodbye. I take my hand out of his and go to the car.

When we get back to April’s house, we watch a movie and then go to sleep. When 11:00 pm comes, Mom texts me to say they’ve found a hotel and they’re coming to get me in the morning.

I wake up at eight, and Mom and Rudy get to April’s house at 8:30. We go to the hotel and settle in.

Five days pass, and I haven’t watered the roses. Petals have fallen and they’ve turned full brown. Full brown roses can’t be good.

All of a sudden I hear a knock. I open the door and it’s Carlos.

“Let’s go get some dinner Maddy! I am so happy that you are back,” he says.

Yet again, I sit there with a blank expression. Carlos lifts my head up, “Something is wrong,” he says. “Did you find another guy? You didn’t look okay a couple days ago either.”

If I know Carlos after one year, his fear is losing me. While he sits next to me I’m thinking about the past. I remember when we first got together. He always told me, from day one, he never wanted to lose me. Does he mean it? I’ve been through hell and back with him over the past year, and all I can think is that no other can take his place. I don’t want to lose him.

But all I can say is, “Why do you fear losing me? What’s so special about me? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to lose you, but why?”

Carlos pulls a box out of his pants pocket. “Promise me something, Maddy. Promise everything to me, and this ring will mean everything. I guess that’s why they call it a promise ring, huh?”

I stand up, look at him, then look at the ring. I put the ring on my finger. It just looks so familiar, but I can’t think from where. I’ve seen this ring before, and I stand there just gazing at the ring. Am I in shock or feeling loved?

I know this ring isn’t mine, and I can’t help but say, “I need time. Come back tomorrow. Call me later on, okay?” I can’t help but feel so much emotion that I cry.

Tears rush down his face. “I love you,” he says and kisses me goodbye.

His kiss makes me believe he’s the one. Am I sure? Does he make me feel safe? I don’t know. He makes me feel so right, but also terribly wrong or unsafe or regretful.

All I can think of are those roses and Carlos. Not so much him, though. Something bad is going to happen I just know it.

Later on that night, we’re eating at the hotel restaurant, Sadie’s. I sit very quietly and just eat my food. I see April coming toward the table, looking as if she fears telling me something.

“Maddy, I think you need to hear this. Do you guys mind?” April asks my parents. She’s breathing heavily.

My mom nods her head.

April and I go up to the room. I’m trembling as I put the key in the door. I walk in, turn around, and sit down in the chair next to April.

“What do you have to tell me that’s so important, April?” I ask.

She takes a deep breath and starts. “It’s Carlos. He’s cheating on you, Maddy. I know you love him and all, but I saw with my own two eyes. He was kissing Elian when we were at boxing. Believe me, I’ve been wanting to tell you, but I didn’t know how. Its been going on for about a week.”

I stare at April. Inside I’m fuming with anger, but on the outside I pretend it’s nothing. I knew this would happen. “Well, all I can say is I wish him the best. I just don’t want to let him go, April.” I start to cry.

April holds me tight.

I look at the ring, then look at April. I remember that April had this same ring when she was with Carlos. All that is processing in my mind is how dumb I am. I feel stupid, I feel betrayed, I feel regret and love at the same time. I feel the floor tremble, the bed, and the roses fall. The shake is happening yet again. Not here, not now. Can things get any worse?

April and I scream for help as loud as we can. It’s useless. A crack in the wall is what we see. Glass is shattering from the mirror that stands across from the bed. Both of us feel the cracking moving through the floor. Then all of a sudden, a hole. A hole is in the floor, and April has fallen in. I grab her arm and hold her as tight as I can, until she slips and falls, screaming. The one person I trust more than anybody has fallen to her death. The hotel is collapsing. I close my eyes and hope this is all a dream. I keep opening and shutting them. Open..Shut..Open..Shut!

The hotel has collapsed. Am I dead? I don’t know. I know I just don’t want to open my eyes. I feel somebody grab me. I scream in shock. As soon as I open my eyes, I ssee the last person I want to see right now…Carlos.

“Maddy Maddy Maddy, stop screaming. It’s just me.”

I look at him in anger. I want to kill him, but I still have love for him deep inside. “You cheated on me after one whole year, Carlos. I trusted you.”

Carlos looks at me as if he is ashamed.

“You should be ashamed since you said you never wanted to leave me. You liar! You’re a liar!”

He grabs my arm and kisses me, preciously and gently. I have no feeling or emotion for the five seconds it lasts. I’m kissing a liar and a cheat! I want to leave him so bad, but he might be the only way I can survive through this.

“I’m sorry, really I am,” he says. “Its just Elian kissed me first, but I was thinking about you the whole time. I didn’t like it. All I can say is I love you. Period.”

I look into his eyes and I cannot help it: I still feel no emotion. “I knew you would make up a stupid excuse like oh she kissed me first. But no, Carlos. That is bullshit,” I say as I pull away from him.

I walk away from him through the debris, the bodies, and then I see those damn roses. Why do they keep popping up? The glass is shattered and so is my heart. I’ve lost my best friend, I don’t know where my parents are, and my first love has cheated on me. I know I’ll live my life in depression from this point. Carlos appears next to me and takes my hand, and we walk to his house. I eat and then take a nap. I keep dreaming and dreaming constantly about the shake.

I wake up and see Carlos lying down watching TV.

“What time is it?” I ask him.

“10 o’clock” He tells me.

I want to get away from him, but I’m so caught up in his love. I sit next to him and give him a hug.

“I was on my way to go see you and I saw the hotel collapsing. I thought I was going to lose you.” He buried his head in his hands. “I was just grateful to find you alive.” He gives me a hug and cries.

He sits back up and watches TV. I can’t help but stay there. This has to be my life right now in this moment. But no, I don’t want to live with the guy who I loved no more. The fact that I will be staring at his face from now until forever will make me love him more.

I walk out and realize everything is going to change. Carlos comes to hug me. I nudge him away and realize he is just a stranger to me. Somebody that I used to know, somebody that I know, somebody that I used to love.

I walk back to the old house that my family and I lived in when I was little. I stick the key in the lock, open the door, walk in, and again smell that fresh air of good memories. Ready to take on the world and stand my ground. This is a new life, a new me.

I can’t grasp the feeling that everybody I loved is gone. It was all for a reason though. I’m relieved but still living in regret. Everything was so wrong and right on so many different levels. The shake will live in my memory, but not in reality any more, I hope.


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