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"Education as a Lifestyle"
I really want to find my mom. I want to be able to figure out why she left me. I just want to know from whom I get my icy blue eyes from. I want to know so many things about myself, but I never was given answers because my grandma doesn’t like my mom or my mom’s parents. So…now, it’s up to me to find the answers if I really want them. I really do want the answers to my questions…even though all I have is the name of my grandfather Arthur Samuel Conrad and a post office box number, and the post office it belongs in; I don’t know a phone number, and I don’t know my mother’s name. It’s the middle of the day, and Zayne, my 18-year-old brother, is off somewhere in the city having fun with his girlfriend, I’m sure. Ridley, my 16-year-old brother, is up in his room playing video games or working out, something guy related. Nikita, my 23-year-old sister, is off with her new husband Kovou, and I, Britley Ann Mavison, am sitting at home with nothing to do except worry if I am making the right decision. I have to talk to Nikita to see what she says, I know that she is going to tell me not to but there is always that slim chance that she might say yes.
“Nikki Nik” I call as I walk into her house. Her house is big enough for her and (gag) Kovou. She always ends up with us at grandma’s house. I think that she and Kovou are having a difficult time adjusting to being married.
“Brit Brit,” she calls back, “Marco”.
“Down stairs. Come over to grandma’s for twenty minutes…Please?” I say as I walk out of the house. She’ll come over; she always does. She is the closest thing that I have to a mom. Her mom died when I was two, so I don’t really remember her. Nik is a constant in my memory.
I walk back to my house that I share with my dad’s parents, both brothers and my pet kit, Midnight. My grandma on the other hand doesn’t think that he is really a pet. I found him when I was walking in the woods with dad and Ridley when I was 10. He is the greatest pet in the world, well I think so. Anyway, I get distracted kind of easily…I need to know what Nik thinks before I go along with this plan.
Twenty minutes later, we are sitting in the kitchen at my house with grandma. Grandma, as un-modern as she is, can make the best triple chocolate cookies. She doesn’t have a recipe for it. She memorized how to make them and then she will only tell one of us, or so she says she will tell only one of us. So while we were eating cookies and drinking milk Nik asked me why I wanted to talk to her. So I start explaining, “I really want to find my mom…and I’m only asking what you think. I don’t want to hear any negatives about my mom; I don’t want to hear why it’s a bad idea; I just want to know if you’ll support me doing this.” I was immediately stunned by the ruckus that they created. Pushing each other up the stairs, knocking on the windows by the stairs, and almost tipping Grandma’s vase over from where it sits on a shelf.
“No you can’t; I don’t want you too! You might leave us for her!” Nik screams.
“No, ABSOLUTELY NOT! I do not want you going anywhere near her or her parents. She is a bad person! I cannot allow you to try this at all!” my grandma tells me rather loudly.
“Guys, calm down I wasn’t asking if you thought she was a good person or a bad one, and I am not leaving my family behind. I just wanted to know what you thought about writing to her.” I said kind of angrily. I can’t believe that they are still being so crazy about this. Why won’t they understand why I need to do this?
“I know that you want to find her and probably have a lot of questions for her, but I do not want you to do this and not get a response. Think about how it would affect Dad if you never told him what you were doing and what if he found out?” Nik tries to tell me, but I brush her off. I run to my room not wanting to see Nik or grandma.
Once I’m safely in my room, I start writing and rewriting the letter. Trying to get it just right; I don’t want to sound like a real brat, but I don’t want to sound like I’m too young and needy either. This is getting overly nerve-racking for me. I need a break. I look outside, and I look at my bow and look out at my targets. I find all my gear and get ready. “Let’s go, Midnight.” I call. He follows me out the door and down the stairs all the way to the backyard and into the trees. I have my targets constantly set up. I walk until I’m fifty yards from the first target. I line up my shot and pull my bow back; I take a deep breath and release the arrow. A perfect shot. I line up with the next target one-hundred yards away; it’s a little bit farther than I would normally shoot, but I get ready and pull back the arrow anyway, another good shot. I don’t know what I was thinking; I relaxed so much into the bow and the shot I was going to make that I completely forgot about my aggravating sister and grandma. After shooting one more target and grabbing my arrows, “Midnight,” I call “let’s go back in.” We leave the trees. I feel so much better that when I get back into my room and put my stuff away, I write my letter perfectly, the right amount of wanting but without being needy.
Zayne, that’s who I need to find. Five o’clock, he should be home from hanging out with his girlfriend by now. I hope I can catch him before he leaves for work. “Zayne!” I call out.
“Down in the kitchen, Bam. Going out to my car soon though.” I hear him call back. I hate that nickname and allow only him to call me that. I run down the stairs with Midnight on my heals. I hit the bottom of the stairs and almost fall flat on my ass, but I catch myself on the door frame. I go to the kitchen and, poof, he’s gone. I go out to the driveway and see him getting into his car, a night-sky blue Monte Carlo, and I wait ‘til he sees me. “Hey, will you take this to the post office for me.” I ask desperately.
“Yeah, what is it for?” he asks suspiciously. I want to tell him but not yet.
“It’s for…a magazine.” I say rather quickly.
“Oh…okay. I’ll be home before bed, Bam.” He says, as though I don’t know that he would be. He is always home before I fall asleep. I think that he wants me to know that no matter what, I will always have a support system and that he will always be there to protect me. “I’ll see you later.” I call out to him as he leaves the driveway.
It’s almost time for supper, but I really don’t feel like facing Nik or grandma. So, I go for a walk and contemplate what I am hoping for; a response, a call, nothing? All of it is a possibility and the fact that I’m purely guessing and just throwing it out there is making me nervous. I finish looping around the trees in our back “grove”; it’s really just a stand of trees that are at the back of the backyard. I have finished walking and I am getting hungry, so I walk back into the two and a half story house that is my home. It’s a blue-gray color and has dark-red and white trim. I climb up the porch steps and into the kitchen; I wash my hands at the sink across the room from the door and help set everything out for supper. I don’t mind doing the numbing task as it is routine now. The fact that Ridley does the dishes every night is a bonus. I set the salad and the dressings on the table, along with the bread and the main dish, chicken alfredo with mushrooms and asparagus, that’s all we need tonight. I go sit in the dining room and wait for Nik, Ridley, Kovou (ugh), and grandma. I can’t say that diner is going to be exactly peaceful or a typical “normal” family diner because ours never are. Nik and Kovou come and sit down at the table lost in some conversation about why Nik shouldn’t help us as much as she does; Ridley comes out of his room when he smells the food and grandma comes out of the kitchen after getting her glass of water. We say a prayer (even though none of us are very religious) and start eating; inevitably, the conversation turns to me and the decision that I have made to try and contact my mom. “Soooo…..Britley, did you send a letter or did you decide not to?” questions Nikita.
“Why do you care?” I ask incredulously. “You don’t want me to anyways; this was my decision, and you were trying to take it away from me. My one shot at finding out any answers and you were trying to take it and destroy any chance I could get.” Clearly I still had some anger left in me from earlier.
“Do not talk to her like that; she is trying to do what she sees fit. She is the only mother-figure you have had, and she deserves the respect that you would give your grandma as well.” Kovou interjects into my rant.
“You…You have no right, absolutely no right to try and tell me what I should be doing! I hate you, and I have hated you from the very moment I met you! You are a sister stealing, jackass that has no right to be telling me how I should treat MY sister! You don’t even want her to have anything to do with her own family, yet here you are trying to impose rules on me!” I shout uncontrollably. My anger spiking the moment he tried talking to me. I look over at my grandma who, was as it seemed, stunned into silence. I ask as politely as I can muster if I can go to my room and finish eating. I get nothing in response, so I pick up my plate and leave going up to my room. I can’t believe, even after I told them I wanted their opinion, that they still look at me like I’m a stranger to them now. I honestly cannot wait until Zayne comes home. He will understand what I’m trying to do and why I need to do this so bad.
When Zayne finally comes home, I rush down the front porch stairs to meet him. “Zayne!” I shout as I run down the stairs.
“What’s wrong, Bam?” he asks concerned.
“They don’t understand why I need to send this letter and why I need answers and why I need to find her.” I say in a rush, trying to get it all out.
“What letter Bam? And who are they?” he asked carefully.
“Grandma, Nikita, and stupid Kovou.” I say trying to hold back tears.
“What letter and who are you trying to find Bam?” he asks again.
“The letter I gave you, the one that I had you mail for me…” I say through the tears slipping down my face.
“Who was it going to Bam?” he asks as he hugs me.
“My mom.” I say in a whisper.
“I will always support your decisions, Bam; you know that. If you want to find your mom; I’ll stand beside you and help you, always Bam.” He tells me softly.
“I just don’t understand why they are so against me finding her.” I cry. “I don’t want to make them upset, but at the same time, I want them to help me through all of this.”
“Well, who is the most upset?” he asks.
“Grandma was at first, but then Nik asked me about it at supper again after I told her about wanting to write my letter. Then Kovou stuck his oversized nose into family stuff again, and I got more angry and finished supper in my room.” I say in a breath still trying to stop hiccupping from crying for so long.
“Let’s go talk to Nik then; maybe, I can talk some sense into her.” He says lightly.
“Okay….fine but I’m not going to talk to her if I don’t have to.” I say just as lightly. We go back inside and go find Nik, not that I really want to be in the same room as her; but I guess since Zayne is trying to help me. Even though, I still don’t want to have to go talk to her because she is probably with Kovou. I just don’t want to see him right now because I get the feeling that since I put everything out in the open, he is going to try to get me to apologize, and I am really not feeling that right now. Not even Zayne could get me to apologize to that nasty thing my sister calls her husband. I’m trying really hard to be a nice person, but I just cannot be nice to him. I didn’t like him when my sister was dating him, and I really don’t like him now. We searched around inside the house before going outside to find Nik all by herself, which is a relief to say the least. She is sitting on the banister of the wrap around porch looking into the night lost in thought. Zayne walks over and leans against the banister waiting for Nikita to notice that we are waiting there. She looks up and she has tears in her eyes, “I’m sorry I made you upset, Brit, I just don’t want you to get your hopes up and then not get anything back…and I don’t want to lose my baby sister so soon.” Nik says holding back the tears.
“I am not leaving. I just have questions that I need answers to, and things I need to figure out. I didn’t want to make you mad or go behind your back; that’s why I came to you in the first place. I just wanted to hear your opinion; I never said I wasn’t going to if you didn’t like it.” I say quickly and quietly.
“I know that you didn’t want to hear that you couldn’t or that you were forbidden to try to contact her or even see her if you wanted to. I think that grandma took it too far by saying that she absolutely didn’t want you trying to contact her, but I also don’t want to lose my baby cause that is basically what you are to me. Brit, you are mine whether or not it is by blood, I have taken care of you forever, and it blows my mind to think that you are all grown up with your own opinions and a mind of your own, and that you speak whatever you want.” Nik says as the tears slip down her check without her noticing. I go give her a hug and stay there for a while. I couldn’t imagine not having Nik and Zayne and even Ridley in my life. The support that they give me can be overwhelming, but when I need it, it is there in full force.
We all go inside and see Grandma and Ridley in the kitchen eating a cookie and having milk before bed. We each grab a cookie and a glass, and small talk starts between us. We are all up for an hour or so later than we normally would be. Then all the cookies are gone and in the morning we are going to have to get more milk but for now we are the big happy family that we use to be when dad was around the house more. Everyone misses him. We all go visit him as often as we can, but it isn’t the same as him being home with all of us. It’s so hard not having him around. I think that’s why we all lean so hard on each other. It’s not that we weren’t all close before, but now, we have the biggest bond that we have ever had. We all say goodnight to each other and Nik says she’ll sleep here tonight rather than going home this late. She comes up to my room, and we end up staying up for another hour just talking about why I think that I need to do this and why I didn’t want her to know that I sent the letter that I wrote. When we do fall asleep, I get the most peaceful sleep I’ve had in a long time.
“Wake up!” is the first thing I hear in the morning. I groan and roll over trying to block out the noise that happens to be outside my door this morning. “WAKE YOUR LAZY BUTT UP, BRITLEY ANN!” What I hear next is Ridley outside my door, just a typical Saturday morning in this house. Ridley wakes Zayne and I both up at about 5 o’clock in the morning to go out and shoot arrows and walk in the grove behind our house, it’s a ritual he’s had since I’ve been 10…but back then it was me, him, and Dad. Since, dad has been in the hospital for the last two and a half years with lung cancer, Zayne stepped in for him. I don’t mind the tradition, really I don’t. I’m not a morning person until I get outside and stand in front of my targets with my bow. That’s why Ridley usually gets Zayne up first and then they both come get me up and out of my bed. “BAM! Are you up yet?” Zayne calls to me. Still groaning and covering my head with a pillow. I ignore my brothers that are standing outside my room. BOOM! I hear my door get slammed open. “Grandma is going to kill you guys for doing that.” I say head still covered up by a pillow.
“I don’t care right now, I want you to get up out of that bed and come down stairs so that we can get going.” Ridley says unfazed about slamming my door open.
“Why can’t you be normal? Have you ever tried knocking?” Nik questions next to me.
“Why would you want me to be normal?” Ridley asks incredulously. “I think that actually hurt a little bit Nik. Sometimes I wonder how we are related at all.”
“I don’t think that we are.” She says sleepily.
I get up and out of my bed, lazily walking around my room, slowly getting ready to go outside with the boys. I was putting on layers because it’s cold out in the morning. Nik, still sleeping on my bed, tells me to have fun and that she will see me at breakfast. I grab my bow and my arrows, and then, I look around for my release; not finding it right away. “Ridley Cameron,” I yell, “Did you take my release again? Because it isn’t where I left it.”
“Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t Britley; and haven’t I told you not to call me Ridley Cameron before?” He says easily.
“Maybe you have, maybe you haven’t.” I reply mocking him.
As it turned out, he did have my release and the day went on like a typical Saturday. I out shoot both Zayne and Ridley and they both get mad at me, but shake it off when they stand at 200 yards and hit my furthest target. I make Midnight stay inside this time because he doesn’t know how to stay put by me when there are multiple people shooting at the same time. I felt really bad, about leaving him but at the same time I knew it was safer for him to stay. I don’t really know how the boys cannot out shoot me or why they get so upset about it, but boys will be boys I guess. When we go back into the house, it is about nine o’clock in the morning and grandma is making pancakes, Belgium waffles, French toast, bacon, sausage links, and eggs. Then, of course she went and got more milk, a good thing because I can’t eat breakfast without milk. I set the table; milk, juice, ketchup, hot sauce, and all three different types of syrup that we have. I don’t know why we have different types of syrup, but I put them all out anyways. We sit and the boys dig in right away. I wait for grandma to start grabbing stuff before I grab anything. She grabs the eggs and starts passing everything around. I grab a pancake and some bacon; I wait for the eggs and the rest of the food because I want to make sure I have enough room for French toast and Belgium waffles. I finish those, grab some of the other food, and finish completely. After breakfast is cleaned up, Nik goes home and everything is kind of quiet. I go up to my room and have to clean it because I made a mess looking for my release. It is all Ridley’s fault, but oh well, I don’t mind cleaning very much when I know that I have to. All is quiet for the rest of the day and the rest of the night.
The next morning we all go to the hospital. We went to dad’s room and sat and talked for a little bit, and then Nik and nasty Kovou came in and bugged the shit out of me. I let Nik talk to dad, and then I went back in and wanted to talk to her. She came out of the room, and I asked her if she wanted to get food in the cafeteria. We go and get some random food that the cafeteria is serving today. We sit and talk and then Nik turns to me and says, “You know you should really tell dad, Brit.”
“I don’t really want to but I might tell him eventually, well maybe.” I said.
“No I mean you need to Brit. That you really need to.” She tells me.
“But I don’t know why you want me to.” I say thinking about how he would react, right then my phone buzzes.
Jamie: hey r u coming 2 the fire 2nite?
Me: I wish gma still has us all @ the hospital w/dad. N is trying 2 get me 2 talk 2 him abt sending a letter 2 my mom.
Jamie: Tht sux L wish u could b here.
Jamie: good luck @ home w/all tht the fire isn’t going 2 b as much fun w/o u
Me: try 2 have fun anyway
Jamie: I wont
“Brit, are you listening to me?” Nik asks as I look up from my phone.
“Yeah, sorry. I was texting Jamie back.” I said.
“Who is Jamie?” she asks me like she doesn’t know him.
“My best friend…you met him last week when I went to a fire with him.” I say slowly.
“Oh okay, I still think that you need to talk to dad about this Brit, like for real no just skipping it because you don’t think you are going to get a response back.” Nik says yet again.
“Okay fine but not today.” I say feeling done with this conversation. I walk out of the cafeteria without having touched my food that I got. I see Zayne in the hall and ask if he is ready to leave. He says he is, so we go back to the house, Zayne going his way me going my way. I go up to my room, maybe I’ll go to the fire tonight anyway, I think to myself.
Me: hey where is the fire @ 2nite?
Jamie: Mine y?
Me: jw might get there2nite, Z brought me home.
Me: I’ve got windows & I can climb
Jamie: ill meet u at the door
With that taken care of, I tell Zayne that I’m going to take a nap and to wake me when Grandma and Ridley get home. I go back up to my room and start getting ready for the fire. I start with the clothes; a sweatshirt, some skinnys, and boots, next my hair, a ponytail or leave it down and wavy…wavy it is. I get a bag for Midnight’s stuff; food, his dishes, water bottle, leash, and then I put his collar on him. I hear grandma and Ridley come home and then Zayne’s footsteps on the stairs. I jump into my bed to make it look like I’ve been sleeping. Knock, knock. I hear my door open and Zayne walk in. “Wake up Bam. Gram is home and wants to make supper.”
“Okay, I’m up.” I say groggily. I get out of bed and follow Zayne downstairs. I send a quick text to Jamie.
Me: what time is it 2nite again?
Jamie: like 730-8 y
Me: jw how early I have 2 get out of the prison house
Jamie: its not tht bad & u know it
Me: feels tht bad
Jamie: whateves see u l8er
Me: yea yea bye
“Put that phone away right now, Britley Ann.” I hear grandma say as I finish sending the text.
“Sorry Grams.” I say, stealthily sliding my phone in my pocket. “What’s for supper tonight?”
“Veggie Lasagna, with French bread and cheese for on top of both, why?”
“I was just curious.” I say setting the table with plates and glasses followed by the silverware. Anything else we need tonight? I wonder to myself. Nope, I think everything that we need is on the table. Supper is uneventful thankfully; there was no random outburst from the five of us all night. It was refreshing really, but at the same time, I was hoping that there would be so I would have an excuse to leave the table and finish supper in my room. Just the same, we got through supper and had the rest of the night to ourselves. I get out of the house just as easy as I would get in if I didn’t want to be noticed. No one noticed this time either. I just jumped down to the barely there roof and on to the tree. Keeping Midnight with me the entire time, the climb down was easy; it would be the climb up that was hard.
I make it to Jamie’s house in about ten minutes and stay at the fire for a few hours before I feel tired and need to go home. I make the trek back to my house and start the climb back up the tree. I make it half way up and pause to take a breath before climbing the rest of the way up. I finish, and when I get into my room, I put Midnight back on the floor and take his collar off. I change my clothes and get ready for bed. I curl up in my bed for the night; Midnight climbs into the bed and curls up by my legs. I sleep till about nine-thirty the next morning.
I wake up to the sound of the mailman ringing the doorbell. I run down the stairs and hit the carpet sprinting to the door. I make it to the door just before Nik can open it; I grab for the mail and search through it. I find what I was looking for but not letting myself hope for. “Hey guys!” I yell as loud as I can. “Come to the living room! I have something important to share with you!” I hear them all running from different places in the house. They all come to the living room and look at me expectantly. I hold up the letter in my hand. They all look at me with a confused look. “It’s the letter I’ve been waiting for since I sent my letter!” I say excitedly!
“Well open it!” the yell back to me. I open it and the first sentence I read is…
My dearest daughter,
I am so sorry that I haven’t been in your life, I want you to know that there wasn’t a day that didn’t go by that I didn’t think of you and who you would become….I am also sorry to hear about your dad, Simon, I can’t believe that he has been in the hospital for two and a half years! I hope that he can beat the cancer.
The letter goes on, but the only thing I can think of is how happy I am to get a response back from my mom, and how much I want to meet her now after knowing all of this. The bottom of the three-page letter is signed; Your Mother, Haydlyn Sorvenson.