“Lettuce Leaves” by Anonymous

The shade felt cool on the back of my neck. Everything felt at peace and the cool breezes were like nature’s song, nearly lulling me to sleep. I didn’t feel like sleeping, so I kept my eyes wide open and looked out at the open world. I stayed there, leaning against the tree for what felt like an hour. The hill I was perched upon looked out over our neighborhood, my sight grazing the tops of brightly painted houses and going out to the fields which lay beyond the homes. I decided it was time to go home now. After all, my mom would be arriving home with my sister any minute. My mother’s arms full of grocery bags and my little sister’s hands full of small pebbles she had discovered throughout the neighborhood. I needed to be there to help my mom with the groceries since she and my father are divorced, and she is having a hard time managing things on her own. I smiled thinking about it; something about seeing my mother’s tired, but still shining eyes and my sister’s warm, glowing smile made me feel like the luckiest girl in the world. I stood up, taking one last look at the fields, seeing the sun dip down under the horizon. Besides, another thing I should add, my sister’s birthday was the next day. I had to help my mom prepare and also entertain my sister for a long enough time to keep her off of my mother while she was wrapping presents. I smiled even wider, hoping that my gift would make my sister’s smile shine even more brightly.

I made my way down the hill towards my house, the long blades of grass swaying in the wind and moving me along down the hill. As I made it to my street, I skipped along the sidewalk, feeling as happy as I ever could. My house was on the corner of our street. It was painted the color of dull daisies. It was a one story house and had the aroma of cinnamon and spices that my mom was always cooking with, the smell that always made me feel at home. Our yard was a small fenced area. We had a small garden bed and grew different varieties of small vegetables, mostly lettuce as it was a family’s favorite. My little sister and I always spent a large portion of our time picking the lettuce and finding pebbles around the yard for my little sister’s collection. As I approached my house, I paused for a minute. The car was in the driveway, so… they were home. But the car doors were still open and there were still groceries inside.

They’re probably just waiting for me to get home, I thought, feeling happy that my family waited for me. It made me feel wanted.

I walked through the gate and the open door.

“Hey mom!” I called, shutting the door behind me and flicking on the lights. “What are you guys doing in here with no lights on, you dorks?”

When I didn’t get an answer, I just rolled my eyes.

“Oh, hardee har har,” I joked. “You guys are really funny. But seriously, enough joking around. If we don’t deal with the other groceries, they’re going to go bad.”

When they still didn’t answer, I just sighed and went back out to the car to get another bag. As I headed into the kitchen, that’s when I first noticed the smell. And the red.

It smelled of metal and the air seemed to  have a bitter, malicious taste to it. My throat felt like it was swelling up as I stepped closer to the kitchen, my arms feeling weak. When I was close enough to fully see inside the kitchen, I dropped the bag to the ground. I covered my mouth with one of my hands. It was a terrifying image that I would never be able to forget; my mom and little sister, sprawled across the ground, blood in small pools on the ground, making it seem like a deathly rain had fallen. I fell to my knees, the tears hot in the corners of my eyes. I was hysterical, moving my mouth and making no sound, moving my eyes around frantically trying to find a phone to alert the police. I was not in the right mind, my thoughts clouded with sadness and shock as I grasped my mother’s hand. It was cold. My sister was next to her. In her hand, she held a piece of lettuce that she had pulled from our garden bed. When I was somewhat in my right mind again, I stood up, shakily, and grabbed the phone. I called the police, and they told me that they would be right over. Despite them telling me to stay on the phone with them, I dropped it on the ground and lifted my sister’s head up onto my lap. It was then that I had finally found my voice and I screamed. They felt muffled as my sadness was clogging my throat, making it difficult to breath, let alone speak. My screams echoed throughout the house. No one heard them. I was alone in my home, alone with nothing but my screams and the distorted voice of the dispatcher on the dying phone.

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