Back at home Gramps jumps right out of the car to go tell Grandma about holding Joey. I just sit and stare. I can see her in the window and he is gesturing about, they are both visibly excited- why shouldn't they be right? Dad has never really ‘settled’ even when mom was around, he was everywhere. Going away on business, going out late at night with his friends. When I was really little, we used to have a house, I had a pink room with nice curtains, and we had a kitchen and a bathroom and TV and stuff. When mom left though, Dad went a little crazy. He sold our house and bought a small, one room apartment that barely has running water, and no electricity. That was also when he brought me, his four year old daughter, to my Grandparents house- and has yet to pick me up. It’s been 12 years since then, I haven’t heard a word from my mom once in that and barely more than that from my dad- who lives down the road. So really? I shouldn’t be surprised about this turn of events, I shouldn’t be upset that Gram and Gramps are happy. And I’m not really, I just can’t bring myself to feel the same way. I can’t even remember how to make myself feel anything at all.
I finally get out of the car and walk into the house. I try for a beeline to my bedroom, but Gram is already after me with a huge hug.
“Oh Sweetie! I'm so happy!! This is so great!! Aren’t you so excited? A baby brother!” She just keeps going on... I kind of tune out. Untangling myself from her death grip, I start heading toward my room again. I honestly can’t even muster a fake smile for her, I feel kind of bad but not enough to try harder. My energy is spent and I can’t make myself pretend anymore.
“I’m pretty tired Gram, talk to you in the morning?” I say with a yawn for emphasis. I open my bedroom door and find piles of boxes. Everywhere. “Gram? Umm... what is this?” I say as I open one of the boxes to find my sketchbooks and markers in it. What? The next box reveals my easel and paints. The next is holding my books. “Why is all my stuff packed up?”
“Oh darling, I thought that since your father’s house is a bit small right now, that they might want to stay with us for a while until he can arrange for something more suitable for a baby. You don't mind right?”
Her voice is still light and happy. How can she not know that this bothers me? Of course it’s not okay! This has been my room for 12 years of my life! Everything I own is in this room- now stuffed away in boxes like I’m moving out. My dad hasn't spoken to me in months, and before that it was even longer. And now? He is moving into my room? No. No I’m not okay with it. Yes I mind.
How can this be happening?
But I just say, “Oh okay, yeah that’s alright. Can I, um, sleep here tonight though?”
“Of course darling, they should be bringing Joey home tomorrow so we still have time to move the boxes to the downstairs room, and get everything all set for them in your room. Oh I’m so excited! We are going to have a baby in the house!” I think she says something else but I don't really hear it. I stiffly move some boxes to the side, trying to make it to the dresser. Opening the drawer though, just reveals the wooden bottom. My clothes are not in my dresser. You have got to be kidding me. So I rummage through a few boxes to find my pajamas and finally collapse on my bed. Looking at the ceiling, I’m relieved to see that one thing hasn't changed. The stars I painted up there are still shining, and my last thought before I drift off to sleep is that I won't see these stars tomorrow night.
The next couple days just blur by, I am stuck in a funk. Eating less, sleeping less. Dad, his girlfriend (Kim is her name) and little Joey are all moved into my room. I am sort of moved in downstairs… there are boxes everywhere full of everything that I have kept along the years. I am quite the professional packrat, if I do say so myself.
Other than my clothes and sketch pads, all of the boxes are still unemptied. I have decided to open and sort one a day so that I can weed through the years’ worth of stuff. Today’s box is full of all my novels collected over the years. I’m just pulling out my Jane Austen collection when I hear my phone buzz under the growing pile on my new bed. I put the books on the shelf and rummage around the bed until I find my phone under my signed copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, to find a message from Christian pop up.
My best friend from four years old, when I moved in with my grandparents. Chris has been my buddy from next door, technically behind my house, but we spend a lot of time together. He knows everything about me and vice versa. So naturally I told him about the Joey situation. It is way too big to keep hidden from anyone, and especially since school doesn’t even start up for a couple more weeks… I had to get it off my chest.
Ready or not :)
Here you come, I think, smiling as I set the phone down, and move the boxes off my desk chair for him to sit on when he gets here.
Continuing with the books I find my classics and set them on their own shelf, in alphabetical order for the ones I have already read, and then starting in alphabetical order with the ones that I haven’t. It’s nice to sort through all this stuff again I guess, just annoying especially since I already had them all arranged previously… but I move on to the next genre.
I look up when I hear a knock on the door across the basement and see Chris’ face peering through. I walk over to let him in, forgetting that the door was locked in the first place.
“Sorry, didn’t realize it wasn’t open,”
“If this is a subtle hint, I’m choosing not to take it,” he shoots me a wink, “so what are we organizing today?”
“Books,” I reply heading back to my new room with a sigh.
I go straight to the box as he claims his spot in the desk chair that thankfully got transferred down here too. I’m glad that Grams didn’t think of a reason that Dad- and Her- would need it.
“Ah, the books. I see that most of them have already found their way into their respective places,” he nods appreciatively at my grand collection that is mostly on the shelves, but also has found itself sprawled out across my bed, desk and the top of my dresser. “Anything I can do?”
“Hmm, hang on almost done with these…” I trail off as I finish putting my read Sci-Fi in alphabetical order. He watches me as I put them carefully onto the fourth shelf down and slide in my dragon book end. “Okay, so I’m doing them the way they were before, I’m already through non-fiction, Romance, the classics and now just under half of the Sci-Fi. I turn to look at him and smile, “So, now we just have to finish unread Sci-Fi and then I’ll be needing serious help with the favorites,” I end with a pointed smile at the books that are sprawled everywhere.
My favorite books in the collection are basically the top three shelves, and those are ones that I have read already. I have a strong belief that no one can just pick their favorite book, there are too many great ones out there.
He looks at me with a small grin that turns serious, “How are you really though?” he asks
Honestly I have been waiting for it… but avoiding it like the plague. For the last couple days I have avoided the topic of ‘the situation’, and even limited going upstairs for extended periods of time. I’ve been spending a lot of time at Chris’ house, or out riding, or in my room. But as soon as Her and I are in the same room… I bolt. I can barely look at her without feeling the tears coming. Outside of my encounters with her I am really good at keeping any emotions regarding the subject in check.
I slide down to the floor. Looking up at Chris, I know that I couldn’t have kept from confiding my built up emotions from him for very long anyway.
“I don’t know how I am,” I sigh, “It’s… It’s just so weird, Dad being here all the time, I mean it’s almost been two weeks, the man hasn’t stayed in this proximity for two weeks since… I don’t even remember! And she’s… I mean, she started referring to me as the daughter she has always wanted since day one… What the hell is that right? I can’t stand the way everyone is acting. Like it’s completely normal. Like they have already accepted it as normal. Like I should too.” I end with my head on my knees and unwanted tears sliding down my cheeks. “I just don’t know how I am,” I repeat
“Hey, it’s alright,” He says quietly as he moves to sit beside me on the floor, “I get it, I’m sorry I brought it up, it’s just you have been avoiding it- I know you have, and I think it’s better to get these feelings out there, ya know?” He pulls me over in a one armed hug and I smile,
“Thanks, Chris.” I pull myself together and lean back against the bed. “I’m kind of not in the mood for sorting anymore… got anything else in mind?” I ask, turning towards him with a slight shove.
“Well…” he starts, looking around the room. “Well, I think that its time you painted a little something, look at these walls! It’s almost a crime that you be sleeping in a room with white walls I mean white walls? The Angela I know wouldn’t stand for that color to be the only one gracing the walls!” He ends with an indignant huff and looks over at me down his nose.
“Whoa, sorry paint police, I didn’t realize my walls meant so much to you,” I look at him with a half-smile.
“Okay, you got me, it’s not the walls so much as the ceiling. I mean, where are the stars huh? I miss seeing the constellations up there ya know?” he bumps me with his elbow and I dramatically fall over and sigh.
“I know, it’s just… I can’t see them up there… especially when they are on my ceiling already anyway. You know, my actual ceiling, in my actual room… It’s just not fair.” I look over at him, “I know that sounds stupid, but I can’t bring myself to just move on after He decides to show up again and change everything. Again.” I feel the tears again and lurch up from the floor. “But you are right about the walls, this place needs color... let’s hit the stores” I smile as he accepts my avoidance and gets up too.
“Alright Cooper, let’s go”