I had fallen asleep that morning, after a horrendously large pile of pancakes, and not given any thought to anything else. I was awoken sometime later to my grandmother’s face hovering over mine. Her permed hair, her purple eyeshadow, and her lingering scent of cheap hotel soap ravaged my vision and blocked my sinuses.
“VernaIamsohappytoseeyoucomehereeee,” she breathed in one long stretch of a word, grasping me, still half concious and strapped down into the seat, once again unable to escape the confines of truth. We had arrived.
“Betty, good to see ya,” I said grumpily, “Now shove off.”
“Oh Verna, I haven’t seen you in so long,” she breathed, stepping back to take a look at me.
“Oh Verna, Verna, Verna,” she babbled, pacing back and forth on her driveway, “Come out of that car, and come inside. I have cookies. You’re father’s been unpacking his books for the past hour, come join us.”
“That bastard didn’t even wake me up…” I grumbled.
“Come now, Verna, I have cookies!”
“Betty, I’m not five. Besides, cookies are immoral…or something. I’m just going to lie in your lawn and meditate, if you don’t mind,” I said as I struggled to untangle myself from the seatbelt deathtrap.
I rolled myself onto the fresh gas in her prizewinning yard, and breathed in the strange smells of chicken manure, hybrid toxic flowers and rusty sprinkler water. So, this is what suburbia smells like. I could probably kill for the rancid smells of overflowing dumpsters and vodka sodden hobos right about now.
“Verna?” Betty said hovering over me, “We’ll be inside, whenever you’re ready, I had the movers put your stuff in the attic. I know how much you love it up there.”
“Hoorah,” I said in my most unenthusiastic tone. Betty waddled her way into the house and I remained where I was, drifting off into the sky like the clouds above me. This had to be the single most ugly house in the world, I thought, sitting up to look at it in all its granduer.
It was an old Victorian home, painted the most virant shades of purple. There were pink flamingos and lawn gnomes carpeting the yard. I guess it had its kitsch factors, but it was almost as if it was screaming that we lived here. Every other home in the neighbourhood was of simple, white, colonial revival style, so our house could pretty much be seen from space.
I lay back down, moaning in agony against this wretched stinkpot. I had barely closed my eyes and drifted into a peaceful midday lawn nap, before I felt a shooting pain in between my eyes.
“F@#%!!!” I shouted, sitting upright in a flash. I had been hit with some kind of dart gun, the rubber meshing into my flesh. I heard a window quickly close shut across the street.
If there was one thing I hated, it was being disrupted during a nap. It was a well known fact that waking me up from one of any duration meant a death sentence. I had seen the bastard who did it, a flashing blur of a face, hiding behind a window. Really brave…
I yanked at the safety orange piece of malicious rubber. It was suctioned to my face, and left a ridiculous circular dent on my head. There was hell to pay.
Disregarding any social order known to suburbia, I stormed across the street, up the lawn, climbed the steps, rang the doorbell and waited impatiently. A frail looking woman in a pink cardigan answered the door.
“No thank you, we don’t practice Sadism here,” she said cheerily, slowly closing the door.
“Don’t you mean Satanism?” I said curiously.
“Yes, well…bye now,” she said with a cheery wave.
“Hey!” I shouted. She pulled the door open a crack and stuck her head out.
“Do you have children by any chance?” I said holding up the hideous rubber dart. She smiled cheerfully.
“Luke!” She screamed ferociously into the house, while still maintaining her dazzling smile. It was eerie, in a creepy Stepford Wife kind of way. There was a shadowy form that surfaced behind her.
“Luke, you are seventeen years old, when are you going to grow up and stop shooting the neighbours with that pesty dart gun! Now apologize to this young Satanist before I take away your Star Wars action figures!” She quietly warned the shadow with such practiced form. She dissapeared and soon pushed the elusive Luke through the door and shut it behind him.
He was gangly, almost looked underfed. Which could possibly be blamed by his creepy mother and her punishment threats. His hair was a tangled brown mess that hung over his eyes, which were hidden behind black rimmed glasses. He wore a blue Star Wars tshirt that looked like it had survived many years of washing and rescues from trips to the trash can.
“Um, um…” he said, awkwardly shifting around.
“You still play with dart guns?” Was all I could say.
“You’re a satanist?” he asked with disgusted wonder.
“Agnostic,” I corrected.
“Me too,” he said, his expression perking up, “Except if I told her I’d probably be lobotomized.” He motioned towards the door and stared at it a moment as if it were a half eaten deer carcass that had been rotting in the sun for two weeks.
“Who are you?” He finally asked. I pointed over to the hideous purple house.
“That,” I said hopelessy.
“You are Betty’s granddaugher?” He asked curiously.
“Christ, does everyone know everything around here?” I said, annoyed, crossing my arms.
“Um, sorry,” he said, casting his eyes once again down to his torn Converse, “And, um, sorry about the dart gun, for a second I thought you were that cheerleader, Hillary.” I gave him a look of complete and utter annoyance.
“Do I look like a cheerleader?” I said, motioning to what I was wearing.
“Yeah, you’re right,” he agreed.
“So, what’s the deal with the cheerleader?” I inquired curiously, there could be fun in this…
“Oh, well…she…she…its not important,” he stammered, adjusting his glasses nervously, “So, what’s…erm…what’s your name?”
“Verna,” I said sternly.
“Weird,” he mumbled, “Never heard it before.”
“Um, thank you?” I said feeling slightly bad for this poor guy. He seemed so nervous, as if speaking to other humans was agonizing for him. I knew how he felt, but in a less awkward way.
“So, what school do you go to?” I asked, “I’m supposed to start at Bayridge or something…not like it really matters, they’re all institutions right?”
“I go there, I hate it.” He said, sticking his hands in his pockets and shuffling his feet.
“Hey,” I said, setting all my pessimistic behavior and angst aside, “You wan’t to walk to school together?”
“With you? A girl? Really?” He said, eyes widening.
“Suuuure…” I said, rolling my eyes.
“Oh, okay,” he said, a little grimace of a smile peeking out.
“Yeah,” I said, taking the initiative to make at least one friend, I wasn’t going to be stuck without a partner in crime, “Maybe we can hang out, or whatever people here do…something deck.”
“Yeah…wait, deck?” He said, looking clueless.
“Nevermind,” I said with a frown, “I should go unpack before Betty starts rummaging through my crap telling me I should wear more purple…”
“Right,” he said, nodding. I walked down the driveway, slinking my way home. I turned back to yell at him.
“Monday morning sharp!” He gave me an enthusiatic thumbs up and stood there watching me go.
“And Luke?” I called, “Use the force!” He smiled broadly before running full speed to the door and slamming it behind him. I crossed the street and hesistated before heading into the house. It smelled like cookies, pine-sol, and potpurri, I gagged.