Welcome to the Jungle || Monty, Vieve, & Eve
“Will you two knock it off?”
As if given a cue, both Monty and Sophia turned to stick their tongues out at their brother. Annoyance practically oozing from his pores, Aaron rolled kaleidoscopic eyes. Monty had always been envious of her baby brother’s eyes. She had no problem with her own brown ones, but there was something about the flecks in his that made everyone jealous.
(”He’s going to be a heartbreaker one day,” her dad cooed as they flipped through an old photo album, mugs of hot chocolate balanced on their knees.
“Dad, he’s literally eight years old, stop.”)
Sophia wasn’t too different, on that front. Her eyes didn’t contain quite as many colors as Aaron’s, but she had her father’s stormy gray – or green, depending on the day and mood – eyes, and specks of hazel could be seen, if you looked hard enough. While her brother’s eyes were always annoyed and a little childish, Sophia always looked innocent and regal.
Don’t ask Monty which side of the family that came from, because she couldn’t tell you if she tried.
Sophia giggled at the hard look her big brother threw her way before he put his headphones back in, and she turned back to her big sister. “Give me something,” she whispered conspiratorially. “Hurry up!”
“Okay, okay.” Monty dug through her bag – one of the two that she didn’t put in the trunk – and pulled out a Jolly Rancher. She held it up to her sister, eyebrow raised. “Good?”
Sophia grinned manically, and Monty was wondering if she was making a mistaking in indulging her. “Perfect,” the six year old snickered, plucking the candy from her sister’s hand. She peaked around Monty – why was she in the middle, again? – to make sure their brother wasn’t paying attention. He was staring out of the window, appropriately dramatic for the move.
(Granted, no one was no too happy about their lives being uprooted, but he was taking it harder than everyone else. Probably because of the girlfriend he was leaving back home. Eight was such a difficult age.)
Tongue poking out of the side of her mouth, Sophia lifted the Jolly Rancher to about eye level, one eye squeezing shut as she lined up her shot. Monty slapped a hand to her mouth, holding back a laugh when she threw it. Aaron jumped, eyes widening momentarily before they narrowed at his younger sister. “You’re a child,” he hissed, throwing the candy back at her, twice as hard as she’d thrown it at him.
“Hey, hey,” their mom called from the passenger seat. She gave them a warning look through the rearview mirror. “Knock it off. Not while your dad’s driving.”
“They started it, Mom!”
“Oh, now who’s the child?”
Monty laughed softly, shaking her head at her siblings. They bickered constantly, and she never understood why. She could understand some of it: Sophia purposely provoked their brother, because she wanted him to smile more; Aaron always snapped because she had the tendency to take things too far. But there were times when, even unprovoked, the two would start fighting. Neither of them were even nine yet, and they could be so mean to each other. Part of her hoped that this move would make them be a bit nicer. In a new town, the only thing they really had was family.
So far? No dice.
Monty sighed, glancing out of her window, blinking as something dashed out of the shadows. What was that? And in that next moment, five things happened:
Growling at something her brother said, Sophia threw the Jolly Rancher again. Tears lined her eyes, and Monty had no idea how things could’ve gotten that bad, in less than twenty seconds. Aaron batted the candy away, almost lunging at his younger sister, if not for Monty in between them.
In the front, her mother once again yelled, “Hey!” There was no more playful fondness in her voice.
Next to her mother, Josiah shouted a loud swear, the car swerving wildly, slipping on what must have been ice as he tried to avoid something.
Eyes snapping to the front, Monty saw a glimpse of a large shadow – an animal, it looked liked; almost like a dog, but not… quite – staring at her, frozen just a few feet in front of the car. When had that gotten there?
Josiah failed to take control of the steering wheel, and the car hydroplaned, one, two, three times.
Before it even hit the ground, seemingly hours later, Monty’s world was plunged into darkness.