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Riding out the Storm by Kat Bourne

Excerpt from book

Chapter 1

             Life is a little bit like the weather; you can never be too sure how things are going to turn out. There are times, even after you?ve heard the weatherperson saying there?s a high chance for showers, you decide to ignore the warning. You leave your umbrella and raincoat at home because outside it?s clear and sunny, similar to the day before. There are days you smile because when you look through the window the sun?s shining away. You step outside, planning to take a nice stroll under the rays, and then here comes the rain, pouring down in buckets, splashing all over you. In life, just when you think you?ve beaten your toughest challenges, you?re tempted to let down your guard. And the moment you do, here comes more rough storms to bear. That?s the way it goes. We all wish life was always fair and joyful, but well, it?s not, not always.

         It?s January, 2006, in South Florida. People think it?s always hot in Florida, but believe it or not; sometimes there are chilly days. On this particular day the temperature had gone below 60 degrees. In some places, that might not be such a huge, huge deal, but in South Florida, folks are used to temperatures between 80 and 90-plus degrees, or at least 70. Anything below 60 was time to bring out the heavy winter coats as if they were expecting snow. In Florida, on Christmas day there?s a possibility of your seeing people hanging out at the beach in their swimming trunks and bikinis, and relaxing under the sun.

            The following morning, Marissa Martin was asleep all snuggled up, cozy and warm under several layers of covers. She had a very comfortable thing going on. She was snoring away. Even though there?d been some strife in her life, she?d managed to have a decent sleep and was at the end of a rather pleasant dream. She had been walking through a field of yellow flowers and swarms of colorful butterflies were fluttering around her. She was holding out a finger where a butterfly was about to land. Suddenly her bedroom door was swung open and then slammed against the wall. Marissa was unexpectedly shaken out of this peaceful moment.

          Marissa jumped and then, confused, groggily woke up. She peeled off some of the covers, moved several hair braids and exposed an eye. Through the blurry eye she could see a scrap of red and blue pajama fabric. Before she could fully wake up, a screeching voice completely got her attention.

            ?Hey, Marissa!? Marissa?s younger brother Roger roared at the top of his lungs. ?Where?s my breakfast??

He was jumping around and flapping the cape of his Spiderman pajamas.

            ?Get it yourself, punk, and leave me alone!? Marissa gruffly yelled, recovering her face and sliding back under the layers. The only thing that could be seen now was a lump under the pink and white Barbie comforter, which was the top layer of the covers. The Barbie comforter had been keeping her warm and secure for several years now. It was at least 5 years old and getting a little shabby, but it was hers.  

            ?Rissa, where?s my breakfast?? Roger bellowed.

Marissa snarled through a small opening under the covers. ?Can?t you hear? Get your own food!?

            ?Mommy said that?s your job. When she?s at work you?re supposed to take care of me. That means fixin? my breakfast and today I want French toast!?

            Marissa stuck an arm out from under the covers, picked up a Sponge Bob Square Pants bedroom slipper, and threw it towards the door.

            ?GET OUTTA HERE!? 

            There was a flash as Roger zoomed out the room.

             Man, I hate this family, Marissa thought. A person can?t even get some sleep around here. Why couldn?t she make her marriage work? Things were going so good when Daddy was here.    She had to go and mess everything up. Now I?m payin? for it. I can?t get any peace and quiet. He?s her son. She?s supposed to take care of him. I?m twelve years old. I?m should be havin? fun, not babysittin? a stupid eight-year-old. This is Saturday and I have to spend my whole day hangin? out with a rug rat. I can?t even do my sports anymore.

           Saturday babysitting wasn't an every weekend job for Marissa. Most weekends her mom did not work, but when another waitress at Pete's Grill called in sick, was getting married, or had an unexpected emergency, she might be called to fill in.

            ?I?m hungry!?Roger wailed from the doorway.

            ?So what!? retorted Marissa. ?I?m not your mama! If you?re so hungry, find something to eat! You?re not a baby, sissy!?

            ?I?m tellin? Mommy!?  Roger whined.   ?You better stop callin? names! Wait ?til tonight!  You?re gonna be in so much trouble!?

            ?Whatever,? Marisa grumbled. 

Her sleep now completely disrupted, Marissa decided to try to rise and shine. Rise and shine. Marissa?s dead grandmother used to say that. Why am I thinkin? about that now, thought Marissa? When she thought about it, for the past month or so, some of her grandmother?s other expressions had run through her mind. For instance, one day she took her time getting to school and missed out on the doughnuts her homeroom teacher had brought in. Marissa could almost hear her grandmother saying the early bird catches the worm. Or, when she smiled for her school picture, she thought she heard cute as a button. Rise and shine. Again that phrase sprang up in her mind. She figured she might as well get on up.

After a brief struggle, Marissa untangled herself from the covers and slung them off. She wiped her eyes and woozily sat down on the bed. Looking out from the pale blue painted walls were entertainers Chris Brown, Destiny?s Child, Bow Wow, Jesse McCartney, Mario, Omarion, boy group B5, and teen country singer, Blaine Larsen, whom Marissa had seen on TV performing ?How Do You Get That Lonely.? Marissa had almost cried when she heard the sad lyrics flowing from Blaine?s smooth voice.

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