Stevens Castle by L. Anne Wooley
"But Mom... I want to go to the mall with Chelsea!"
"I told you young lady, your father and I are going to the open house this afternoon, and you have to watch your brother Sarah Grace! You're going to have to call Chelsea and cancel. That is final."
"But..." then I heard the dial tone. Mom hung up on me. It was so unfair! I never got to go out with my friends, I always watched my autistic brother Steven. He is disconnected, could not even communicate. Steven is 12, tall and skinny, with brown hair and matching eyes. His eyes were always moving.
I brushed the hair away from my eyes, wishing for the umpteenth time that I had brought a ponytail holder.
Steven was good at one thing; he could create beautiful works of art out of normal objects or substances. He could create the most exquisite detailed replicas of whatever castle he saw a picture of, and turn it into art. I wondered if he lived far away in one of his castles, where he could be normal.
Today is my 16th birthday. I didn't want to be tied to my idiot brother all day. Then I felt guilty, it wasn't Steven's fault. I could hear my mothers voice saying much the same. Steven was oblivious to my turmoil, or even that it was my birthday.
Malibu was unusually slow for a Saturday morning. I was glad, Steven hated crowds.
I looked at the time on my cell phone, ten thirty a.m. then I noticed my friend Chelsea had texted.
'Were r u?"
I opened up my keyboard and typed "@ the beach. no can go 2 day! :("
"Mom...hav 2 watch Steven."
"Bummer...it bein ur bday :("
"K. Happy Bday!"
I closed my phone, and looked over at Steven. My heart started a slow dreaded thump... pausing... and thumped again. I ran over to Stevens side just as the foot of six foot five inches of pure ugly mean smashed the castle! "Back off Eric. Leave my brother alone!" I locked gazes with him knowing right behind him were his gang of thugs.
"Well well, the retards got a protector," he sneered at me. I got ready to defend my brother. I wish I had my purse close by, it had pepper spray my father had given me.
"Oh Steven isn't the retard here.... He know's more than you ever will," I matched him sneer for sneer.
Eric took his foot again smashing the castle. Steven waited patiently until Eric moved his foot back, and then began rebuilding.
Eric said, "Look at the retard. He doesn't know when to quit" Eric kicked sand into Steven's face, that's when all hell broke loose. Steven hates sand in his face! Steven began keening, an undulating scream that seemed to come from every pore.
I aimed low, charging Eric slamming into his mid section. I went down on top of him, and started using my fists. Eric's buddies decided to take off muttering or calling, "You're on your own Storm."
"Stop Sarah, stop," someone was tugging at my arm, and I looked up into the blue eyes of Erics' twin brother Shawn. I allowed him to pull me up, and I stood shuddering in reaction. Eric was bleeding from his arm, and his nose. He put his arm up, clamping the end of his nose to stop the bleeding.
"You're going to pay BITCH!"
"Eric, you started it. Picking on someone smaller than you, with four others!" Shawn stood face to face, toe to toe with his twin. Eric stood four inches taller, had black hair, and green eyes. Shawn had blond hair, and blue eyes. Eric backed down, unable to cower Shawn. He turned and left.
"Thank you for stopping me," I said quiety. "I'm not sure I could have stopped....would have stopped... had you not intervened. I wrapped my arms around my body, shivering and feeling curiously numb.
"Let me look at your hands," was all he said. He reached out halfway so as not to startle me. I held them out, reluctantly unfolding my arms. I was glad he was watching my hands, because I began blushing furiously. I allowed my hair to fall into my face, covering as much of it as I could.
He then let go of my hands, took off his school jacket, and then his white t'shirt over his head. He tore off part of it, and used it along with water from my bottle to clean my open wounds.
I tried to not look at his bare chest. I had a huge crush on him. He was so unlike the Storm family. His parents were addicts, and Eric had been in trouble since he was 8.
Shawn had a gentle touch as he wiped away the blood. I had to keep my eyes on his chest, I breathed shallowly, my mouth went dry. Oh yea, I had it bad. He ripped more of his shirt as he bandaged my hands.
"There," his voice made me jump a little. I hoped this moment would last.
"You may want to ice these when you get home."
I nodded, unable to speak other than a stammered "Thanks."
Shawn looked over at Steven, admiring the castle. Steven was now happily working away. Oblivious to all that happened.
"Wow, he's really amazing. I'm sorry for what Eric did."
"It's not your fault. Besides Steven will just start making it all over."
Shawn said nothing, but went over to the tools and began helping Steven. I held my breath until Steven didn't make his usual fuss when someone messed with his castles. I went back over to my towel, and sat, watching the man I knew I would marry Picking up my cell, I called Mom to let her know I was probably going to be in trouble, and somehow not caring.