A rosy glow of sun peeked slowly along the horizon and spread up into the ferocious rock and glass structures. It was just like pink lemonade pouring into an empty glass of blue. Some might call it a city but to me it was just a bundle of sticks and stones standing in unison. It could be struck down at any moment just as a tree is struck down by lightning. At least a tree was real though and not man made and at least the sun was pure and clean. I didn’t belong in the city. I didn’t even like it really, and as far as I knew I didn’t belong anywhere considering my “ability.” But here I was…still.
I’d grown up in Sherbourne City from the time I was a baby and moving from one miserable foster home to another but never really belonging to any of the families. None of them could keep me happy.
“She’s too fussy.”
“Her tantrums are too much for us to handle.”
“The other kids don’t get along with her.”
There was always a reason I couldn’t be kept and before you knew it I was taking another ride in the back of that black Children’s Aid van, sitting quietly in the company of another misfit or ill-behaved child.
I stepped out onto the front porch of my new house. Sunlight touched my face and I could taste the airiness of Eucalyptus from the hanging garden on the ledge of the window. This was the event I had been waiting on for years. It had taken a lot to get his far and I was determined to achieve what I set my mind to. I was only seventeen years old but all the trouble had started earlier on and this was my chance. It was my chance to rid myself of the never ending train ride into stranger’s houses, the noise of other children or the awkward looks from the most recent foster parent’s family members. The legal process was a bitch to get around but since I had no family to speak of and my high school reports seemed satisfactory, the court allowed me to received eligibility for financial assistance and a loan for my own place until I turned eighteen. The only condition was that I had to stay in school. School wasn’t a problem. I enjoyed going and there was one a couple of blocks away from the house. Mostly I enjoyed the libraries though. No matter how many schools I switched to over the years one thing always remained the same; the quiet sanctuary of the library. I was what they called a “solitary soul.” Social outings did not appease me, nor did large gatherings. I liked being alone and unbothered.
“Shall I put it down here miss?”
I turned my gaze to the inside of the house. A red truck had pulled up quietly and movers were unloading my small possessions in from the back door. Some middle aged men -who hardly qualified for a job that required lifting heavy objects-appeared in the green framed archway with boxes and the few articles of furniture I had picked up at a garage sale. It was the eww-that-furniture-is-so from-the-50’s-flower-age kind of material but I didn’t much care as long as I had something to sit on.
“Yes, just over there please.” I said pointing to the corner of the small living room. “I’m going to arrange everything later, so a pile there is fine thanks.”
“Will do miss,” said the one. He seemed to be the oldest, and most polite. Perhaps he was the leader of his little pack. He carried in the first box of kitchen supplies and the rest of the grunt work was up to the others. They were short skinny little men with scruff necks and filth smudged hats. They all had holes ripped in their knees and dusty grey palm prints rubbed down their blue work trousers. I was a very petite young woman and it felt a bit sketchy being in a small house with such rough looking men, but I knew if they tried anything I’d have the upper hand and they’d be shit out of luck.
“Excuse me,” another one piped up, “where would you like the bed darlin’?”
It was a plaid fold down futon; cheap and easily prepared into a couch or bed. I looked around considering for a moment. “In the sun room in the back please.”
“Are you sure?” He asked with a look of puzzlement on his face. “It would be no trouble moving it to the bedroom. Besides, it’ll be quite cold out there come night fall.”
“Well then, I guess I’ll have to unload those quilts right way now wont I?” I said managing a fraction of a smile. “The sunroom is fine, it’s where I’ll be sleeping thank you,” I argued with a slight of soft defensiveness to my voice.
“Alright miss,” he said, and set it down.
I went and stood in the middle of the house taking it all in. 629 Arbary Street I thought inside my head. All mine. The white washed walls were plain, drab, and brightly depressing to me. They were freshly painted but I knew I would be filling them up with soft natural tones soon enough. I had found a color palette a few months ago that made me feel automatically at home. Rich greens, and soft colors had to be lovely, especially considering my pickiness around every detail. I’d have to add some house plants to. I wanted everything to feel comfortable and warm. I wanted a real home.
There was an abundance of wide space and sound. Echoes reverberated of the clean high ceilings and into my open ears that were freed from the mound of long brown locks that usually hung over them. I was standing in the middle of what would be a small sitting room. The hardwood floors had been polished to shine like a mirror. No rug was placed to muffle the shimmer, and you could smell the tanginess of juicy orange cleaner.
Despite being a small and slightly older house I found the renovations a bit modern for my taste and lacking vegetation, but that could be fixed in a jiff. I didn’t mind grunge, but this seemed to clean. Not that I was complaining though. I didn’t find any curdled milk or science projects growing in the refrigerator. No dirty socks were left behind and there were no stains on the peach toned carpet. No strings of dusty cobweb weeping down from the skylights. The indoors didn’t impress me though. It was the balcony in the front and sunroom in the back that attracted me to the small house.
Outside is where I wanted to be, and as soon as the movers left that’s where I would venture for my daily run. One of the perks about living on Arbary Street was that it was on the outskirts of the city and my new house just so happened to be located with the back door facing an opening into a lush dense forest. I had been given permission to choose where I wanted to live and near nature seemed to be the best call for someone of my kind.
My favourite time to run was early in the morning when the sun was coming up. The move had ruined that chance today, but I was also partial to long runs at night too. It was another one of the reasons I was not welcome in many family’s homes. It was very common for me to sneak out around midnight for a run. It got all of my energy out. I knew staring lovingly into a forest may have seemed a bit awkward but I control my impulses. Nature was a part of me now. I was still new to all of this.
“You know, it’s a dangerous place that forest.” I heard from behind me. “Not suitable for a midnight stroll if that’s what you’re thinking.”
I focused back on my surroundings again.
“I don’t believe asking for your opinion on the matter,” I retorted turning around to face the nosey voice.
My emerald eyes sparkled and flamed at the site. He was beautiful. Not like the men that had come in before. He had deep grey-violet eyes and short chocolaty brown hair. The outfit made up of dark washed jeans and a mahogany-red fitted tee looked perfect on him. There was a strength about him too that should be appreciated, but still, I couldn’t forgive nosiness.
He was holding out the mover’s bill and the key to the apartment which I’d forgotten outside the door.
“Thank you,” I said removing the paper and key from his hands to my own swiftly.
“I’m just suggesting you stick to the sidewalks miss,” He recommended, interrupting my thoughts again. “In case you were unaware, there are animals out there. You’re from down town though. It’s different here so I wouldn’t expect you to know about animal instinct.”
I knitted my eyebrows in disbelief. Did he think I was that stupid? He didn’t even know…
He shuffled closer to me. I could hear his yellow steel toed work boots confidently working their way across the floor. When he leaned in I could smell the scent of Hummer Cologne. There was something about this guy. It seemed to be something familiar. I remained collected and confident until he was finally within a distance in which I could taste the flavour of spearmint gum coolly sliding from his mouth into the air I inhaled. Wow, his teeth we so white, I noticed as he gave a bit of a smile.
“There are wolves out there Miss.” He murmured. “Oh…and once they get a scent on the flesh of a warm body, there’s nothing to stop them from rounding the pack for a game of bloody catch.”
“Are you trying to scare me?” I asked suddenly aware of his little game.
“Just stating a fact Miss,” he smiled cheekily.
“Well, if you don’t mind a city girls take on the subject,” I offered sarcastically. “I suspect wolves not to be the only thing out there. I also suggest that you be careful as well.”
I shut the door, masking his face that was surely still frozen perplexed in its place on the other side.
Humans, I thought. They think they know everything!
I retired to the futon in the sunroom. The time had passed by so fast, and the day was nearly over already. My run would have to wait until tomorrow night. I was tired too, and my first day of school was beginning the next day. Even the most energetic animals needed their rest.