The Pact of Hades: Chapter 2
The SMCL Teen Blog presents the next installment in the original fiction of Shawna Chen.
The Pact of Hades: Chapter Two
I am an orphan. I have always been an orphan. My parents died fatally three hours after my birth, pinned to the ground by scattered debris because of a massive earthquake surrounding the hospital where I was born, crushing the entire building and leaving a huge ripple in its parking lot. I had been found tucked under my mother’s arms, shielded by her body, and I was soon transferred to live in an orphanage, the Grace Homes for the Needy, with my then four-year old sister, Danielle.
The Grace Homes were good to us. Nice, kind workers took care of us, and they all tried hard to find us a family. But no one would take us in. Not many families wanted both a boy and girl; they usually liked to adopt one or the other. So we resided in the Grace Homes for my childhood.
The Grace Homes divided us by gender. Boys lived on one long, never-ending floor, and the girls lived one floor above us. We were further divided into our age groups and then birth months. I was organized into a suite with two to four other boys who had also been born in January and were as old as me. Our room was connected to a gigantic dining/living room, and all the rooms of the other boys born in the other eleven months also extended from the dining/living room. We called this room the “Oval Room.” We sat at the table in this room for dinner, we sank into the sofas of this room to watch TV, and we cheered others on in this room while playing video games. The Oval Room had everything we needed to stay occupied.
The Grace Homes was owned by a rich, elderly man named Mr. Miller. You can usually spot Mr. Miller right away because of his silky white hair. He always walked with a cane and breathed heavily when he talked. He had started the Grace Homes after profiting from his investment in 1903. At first, it was operated just to receive orphans, with only five caregivers employed. However, over the years, after the orphaned, the depressed, the wounded, the homeless, and the jobless started flooding Flagstaff, Arizona, where the Grace Homes was located, he added four other departments to the Grace Homes: a small but well equipped hospital for the wounded, a “temporary house” for the homeless, an office where the jobless could get advice for new employment opportunities, and an advisory clinic for the depressed and confused. Mr. Miller made sure professionals handled each area in his departments, and over time, the Grace Homes became the well-known Grace Homes for the Needy.
For us orphans, Mr. Miller only took those under eighteen, explaining that adults had to learn to fend for themselves. But he hired teachers, aides, coaches, and tutors to teach us what we needed to learn, what we would’ve learned in an ordinary public school. For us, it was the same routine every day: waking up at 6:30 a.m., eating breakfast and cleaning our dishes, and getting to the first class by 7:00 a.m. From there, each one of us was given a fixed schedule of classes and activities to attend between 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. After school, we would trump up the stairs to our individual rooms to do homework, then finish chore assignments before the 6:30 dinner time. After dinner, we would take showers in turn and quickly tuck into bed by 9:00 PM. Every day was packed with very tight schedules so we didn’t have time to create troubles.
Many orphans made friends this way, surrounded by classmates and people who had their same taste, but I was not one of them. None of the boys seemed to especially like me. Maybe it was because I had no interest in video games, girls, or food. Maybe it was the fact that I was one of the few orphans brought to the Homes at birth. I didn’t know, but I liked keeping to myself, so I never tried to find anyone to hang out with. For most of the days, I would just lie on my bed reading my favorite history books while all the other boys fooled around in the Oval Room.
And while many of the boys in my grade grew into fine-looking young men, I, too, was not one of them. My appearance was plain, common. I had floppy brown hair with side-sweeping bangs that irritated me, swirly, glassy-looking hazel eyes that sank under caterpillar eyebrows, and a stretchy, thin-lipped mouth that curved into a crooked dimpled grin whenever I attempted to smile. At least my skin had kept a creamy tone, with no scratches or scars. I had a fair amount of pride in my skin, but how many orphaned boys do you know walk around bragging about their skin?
Danielle had inherited the looks of our parents. She was tall and beautiful with straight, shoulder-length chestnut colored hair; shiny chocolate, almond-shaped eyes; a charming, shy, lopsided grin; and a gorgeous, middle-toned voice that Mr. Miller called the “angel’s song” whenever she sang.
My perfect sister never ceased to lecture me on what to wear and how to impress. I mostly wore plaid or checkered shirts with old, comfy jeans; my favorite outfit was comfortable, simple, and soft. Danielle dressed herself nicely, always bathing her perfect shape in brilliant colors and sizes, always straightening herself to look the best. She believed a good look leads to a good impression, and a good impression leads to respect.
I wasn’t the most eye-catching kid around, but I certainly wasn’t the dullest, either. I liked letting other boys take control of the Oval Room because I knew I couldn’t do that. I was glad to give up my spot at the lunch table to eat in a dark, quiet corner l because I hated being in the spotlight. I liked sitting by myself, accompanied only by my thoughts. My life was an ordinary one; I disappeared into the background, unseen and unnoticed, whenever trouble arose, allowing the natural superiors to grab at the chance of leadership.
But all that changed the day my sister was murdered
Shawna C. is a sophomore at Henry M. Gunn High School who fell in love with writing at age nine and began working on The Pact of Hades at age thirteen. At school, she writes for Gunn's student newspaper, The Oracle, and has been honored with numerous Journalism Education Association awards for her journalistic pieces. At home, she writes for her personal blog, Finding Peace in a World Unrest, and works as a freelance writer and editor. Her short stories have won awards from the Scholastic Art and Writing Contest. In her free time, she enjoys playing violin, reading, and spending time with family and friends.