The Twelfth Keeper(10)

By: Belle Malory


She lowered the binoculars, closing her eyes.



The rain drowned out everything, making it impossible to hear her dad’s voice. Like the volume of a radio’s static turned up to its max, his voice was a channel she simply couldn’t tune into. Too far away. Too far out of reach.

She screamed with all her might, fighting her way back to the boat.

Her muscles also screamed. Her body was tired, too exhausted to swim, but she had to keep trying. If she didn’t, the next big wave would swallow her up and suck her into its belly forever.

Desperately, she threw her arms forward, forging ahead. The bed of water violently lifted and leveled with each stroke, jerking her back from any distance she might have covered.

Useless…it felt so useless. She wasn’t gaining any distance. Only pushed farther away.

Her screams sounded desperate now, choked and torn.

Oh God.

She was going to die.

The waves were so big and heavy, like the Goliath to her David. They tossed her around like a rag doll. What was the point of fighting? She didn’t stand a chance. Her arms had grown limp and weak. She didn’t have the strength left to fight.

This was it, her bitter end.

She was going to die.

Something grasped her wrists and she stopped screaming. Her father’s voice was in her ears, coming in loud and clear. “Hold onto me, Kennedy! Hold on with everything you’ve got!”

The urge to cry out in relief overwhelmed her. She wrapped her arms around his waist. A rope was secured there, which her dad used to pull them both forward.

Her head pressed against his back, she held on tightly, refusing to let the waves wrangle her away from him.

She would’ve sobbed if she could. They were going to make it. Her dad would get them to the boat for sure. She just knew he would.



Kennedy wiped the tears out of her eyelashes.

She lived on an island surrounded by the sea, never letting her forget what it had done, what it had taken. Fate’s morbid joke.

Off in the distance, she spotted the colors of Lady Liberty making its way to the docks. Knowing her family was on their way back to shore quieted the storm inside her mind. The one she tried so hard to forget.

They were coming back.

Everything was going to be okay.





Five





The evening had gone surprisingly well. Kennedy supposed she even had a little fun.

Ashley grilled hot dogs, Lincoln dug for seashells in the sand, and everyone else played volleyball. Afterwards, they ate until their stomachs hurt and sang for Reagan as she blew out the candles on her cake.

When the sun went down, everyone took turns playing with the gift Hannah bought Reagan, a sand-combing converter, which dyed the sand different glow-in-the-dark colors for short periods of time. Kennedy spelled out her name in shimmering silver. Hunter wrote his beneath hers in bright green.

Everyone laughed. No one argued (sort of a miracle within the Mitchell family). Hunter didn’t even get annoyed by Reagan’s chatty gossipmonger friends.

All in all, it had been a really good day. Kennedy was exhausted by the time they returned to the house, but in a good way.

A bright red light flashed next to the refrigerator. “Mom, you have messages,” Reagan said, yawning tiredly.

Kennedy headed upstairs and tucked Lincoln into his racecar bed. She smiled, looking down on him. He looked really cute in that innocent way children do while they’re sleeping. She kissed her brother on the forehead, then quietly turned off the light.

Hearing Ashley drop an f-bomb caused Kennedy to pause in the stairwell.

Uh oh.

Ashley only cursed like that when she was extremely pissed off.

“What’s wrong?” Kennedy asked, bravely rounding the corner.

Ashley placed a hand on each hip, glaring.

At her.

Holy mother of God, she would have gone straight to bed had she realized she was the cause of Ashley’s anger.

“You tell me right now, Kennedy Mae Mitchell—”

Kennedy winced, hearing Ashley shout her full name.

“—Did you get your vaccinations and blood work done like you were supposed to?”

Wait…what? “Of course, I did,” she said. “You dropped me off, remember?”

“I dropped you off. I didn’t see you go inside.”

Kenned blinked, surprised by the implied accusation. “Ask Hunter, if you don’t believe me. I almost passed out from those stupid shots.”

Ashley’s shoulders slackened. “Well what’s the problem then?”

“No idea what you’re talking about, Mom.”

“The Medi-Care center sent a message. They scheduled an appointment for tomorrow. I suppose it’s for a follow-up.”

“Another one?”

Ashley nodded. “Are you sure you did everything right?”