• Keya Allen

The O’Donnell’s

The O’Donnell’s

There’s something too good to be true about the O’Donnell’s.

Maybe it’s the way they moved in so many years ago, abandoning their starter condo on the side of town everyone was itching to get away from—now, a hubbub for young up and comers eager to be in the right place at the right time, the good start to the origin story—to arrive on the cul-de-sac. It was just Willa and Callum, fresh from college, eager to prove themselves—fresh in to Willa’s inheritance, but rule number one about both the O’Donnell’s and the cul-de-sac, is to know there is money, but you don’t ever discuss how there’s money.

And just like that, they arrived. In to number 48, the end of the cul-de-sac, barely able to claim anything other than the zip-code and the view into the Lauridsen’s backyard. They were nobodies until they were somebodies, Willa and Callum O’Donnell, barely making ends meet one moment, and the next arrived the fancy car, the home renovation and then the daughter.

The daughter who jumped ship the first chance she could get, but always managing to return in the winter with a guy on her arm. The guy is always faceless, nameless, a bit of a smudge. It’s a wonder she can find so many guys with that same forgettable factor to them—the kind of face where you forget what it looks like unless you’re looking directly at it. Maybe it’s done on purpose—a family like that, they’re always looking to be the center of attention. It’s always her, on the centre stage with the spotlight beaming. She sounds like a summer month, Juniper—and if caught on a good day, she’ll even respond to June.

Their whole thing is 95% pretending to be a functioning family—the only family nice enough not to come chasing about the pound of flour they borrowed you the one time you forget to pick up a new bag at the grocery store. They even attend PTA meetings, though they’ve never contributed a good idea that doesn’t involve them front and centre, occupy the two best seats far away from the creaky air-conditioner and still donate sour smelling perfume in scuffed jars found in the clearance section—of which store, no one wants to guess—that end up being left in the corner all school year.

They’re a funny lot—the O’Donnell’s, managing to manipulate it over the years to make it seem like they chose to be on the edges of Aspen Court instead of being ousted of a bidding war for prime location number 60 by the Vargas’. Now, they brag about being closer to the newer, trendier families moving in from the city into the new complexes that have been in construction for the past seven years. They did that on purpose, they think they’re too good for the rest of the cul-de-sac, everyone knows they want to get out—but no one gets out.

You lose your spot in the cul-de-sac? You’re nothing. Say goodbye to the summer barbeque at the Lauridsen’s, or the fortnightly poker night that no one’s supposed to talk about. Aspen Court is prime real estate, as far as anyone important enough is concerned. They don’t know how lucky they’ve got it—or maybe they do, it’s hard to gauge what game they’re playing. Look at the Portillo’s. All they’ve got left is the butchers, and those kids—those kids aren’t of the right sort.

Just like the other O’Donnell daughter.

It’s easy to forget about her, as bad as it sounds.

Juniper’s the kid the O’Donnell’s were ready for, popping her out as soon as Mr O’Donnell finished with law school. Bright red hair, just like her mom, and she’s got a way with her words like her dad, that’s how she does it. Picture perfect, the three of them, starting off all humble like before the money started rolling in.

The other one, Nora, Noah—Nova, that’s it. She’s the one they had so there’d be an even number—to try and stop themselves spoiling Juniper. Even she knows it, poor thing. She’s not quite a a trainwreck, but she’s awfully close to getting there. It’s the competition between the girls, not healthy at all.

How do you raise two daughters so close in age who are always competing for attention? In a town like this, with a family like that?

The other 5% of the O’Donnell’s is them pretending to be a functional family with healthy methods of communication that doesn’t revolve around the seasonality of seeing their own children and having to spend time with them at the end of the cul-de-sac.

It’s easy and safe to assume they didn’t raise their daughters at all.

Look what happened to Juniper, poor girl.

It’s just the runt left.

#JumpOffPoint #mywriting #prologue

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