“Come here.” She coos so soft.
Her voice like silk drifts across the breeze tangling with the babbles of the creek slipping through the ravine. Her hair coils like vines running in sleek black waves down her back and the moonlight glistens across her pale eyes. Her attire consists solely of shadows inching along her body in a flowing black dress. The breeze rustle through the leaves but dances gently around the woman as if to avoid her.
I jolt awake as the car jerks harshly over another pothole. Through my grogginess I hear my mother curse and mutter under her breath about the state of the road. Even with my bleary sight I can see the tears bubbling in her eyes and the redness clinging to her face. I yawn as loud as I can to alert my mother to my conscious state. She instantly sits up and s***s in a sharp breath, her expression becoming stoic once more. I only watch her a while before giving her as much peace as possible while trapped in this hunk of metal by glancing outside.
The world zips past in a blur of brown and green. Tree branches sweep low to graze against the car every now and then. The cool air blasts in the tight cabin of the car, but outside the heat rises in waves off the asphalt, roadkill sizzling in the heat on the side of the road. Once more the car violently jerks. Rather than screaming my mother tightens her grip on the steering wheel until her fingers are white. The pale color is a sharp contrast from her black slacks and blouse. The air in the car becomes increasingly thick with the atmosphere coming off my mother in waves.
We left too soon. We are terrible family members. We should be back in Florida mourning with everyone else rather than heading home. They`ll all hate us as they should. She is…was too good for this kind of treatment.
I know that’s what she is thinking. Her chest shudders with the silent sobs she refuses to release. I wish I could sympathize better with my mother`s guilt and sorrow, but really that woman was wicked in life and probably will continue to be in death. My mother is blind to it, but my grandmother used to be nothing but a foul-mouthed hag with kleptomania. She chased off six husbands- six! – in her life time and managed to snag almost every valuable item her friends and family owned. They found mountains of stuff in her house and shed when everyone went to clear it out after her passing. I didn`t even really know her anyways. For the majority of my life time she has been delusional talking about ghost and fairies and the birds who carried her fourth husband away (he emptied her bank account and fled after week one of their marriage).
While I still cry sometimes in quiet moments when our loss of her can claim my thoughts, I can`t say I feel as terrible as my mother. Maybe I shouldn`t feel as much sorrow as my mother. She knew grandma before her brain started to deteriorate and before she formed her habits.
I shift in my seat to try to stimulate some more blood circulation. Eight hours in a car, especially sleeping, is enough to make random parts of your body numb. My left arm feels like how the world flying by looks, a senseless blur. I try to lift my legs onto the seat for comfort, but, unlike on the way down a few things crowd up my space. As I said they found mountains of stuff in grandma`s house and with so much to go through my mom had no trouble snagging a few things early before we left. Among the belongings we got an ancient looking box with worn down carvings and chipped paint, a handful of tangled jewelry grandma would never wear, and a porcelain based snow globe that plays music.
The box and jewelry are for my mom. The overly feminine snow globe is mine to keep upon my aunt`s insistence and against my protest, for my collection. What I had been aiming to get while there was really the box and I had made a misjudgment of its value by pointing it out to my mom. She took the box and I got the stupid snow globe.
The car finally pulls to a stop in front of our house. We sit on the edge of a quaint town in a tiny, cottage like structure on a massive path of what had once been farmland. Our grandmother`s house, before she moved to Florida, resides on the property as well, a massive farm-house. My mother is against moving in as to respect grandma and that’s fine with me because that means I get to use it for parties. Living where we do with as little money as we do my only way to make friends at school is by exploiting the extra piece of property and its isolation for a great place to hang out without adult supervision. Mom isn`t even suspicious whenever I disappear to there because it is where I stash my ever-growing collection and go to “study”.
I glance at the heart-shaped glass on its pink and white pedestal. School is out so the little trinket will be my ticket to heading out to grandma`s old house. I pick up the dusty thing gently, with two hands just to emphasize its false importance. I slip out of the car and head to the trunk to retrieve my nearly empty suitcase. Mom said pack for a week but with work scolding her before we even left I knew we`d only be there a day or two. I swing out the blue suitcase so the plastic bottom clatters against the ground. I yank the handle up and make my way across the stone path to the front door, my belongings bouncing behind me.
Mom stays in the car the entire time I am unpacking. I rush to the living room to grab the snow globe before she comes in and sees it carelessly left upon the coffee table where Gingersnap can shove it off or Bo Peep can accidentally knock it over. As if on cue the reddish-brown feline leaps onto the table. The glaring sun streaks across her coat as she pads languidly over the glass top. Her twinkling grey eyes lock on the glittering glass and soon she is swiping with her clawless paws at my newest snow globe. Her long, puff-ball tail twitches with her curiosity, but the cat has no patience and directs her attention elsewhere once she realizes the sparkling object it out of reach.
I glance around for our little collie, but the pup is more than likely still frolicking around the fields snapping at bees. She won`t come until the sun is down because no matter how much she loves us she loves bees more. The sun is pretty high still, but patches of grey have drawn out long and the golden hue has lessened to more of a honey yellow. It`s still a bit early, not too much past noon, but if I want to meet up with my friends first to start setting up I need to leave now.
I head out to the car to find mom with her head resting on the steering wheel. Guilt clenches my gut up tight, but it`s too late to back out from my plans now. I`d be ruined if I did and someone found out that while they partied I sat at home. I open the back door grabbing the box and jewelry.
“Hey mom,” I keep my voice soft, but even so she tenses some, “I can take the stuff inside, then I think I may head to grandma`s old place, kind of as a last goodbye and to put my new snow globe with the rest.”
She inhales sharply through her nose as water splashes on her pants, tinting them a shade darker. She slowly nods her head, nearly knocking the loose knot of brown hair free. I wait a moment, but she doesn`t speak, I don`t think she can without sobbing. I shut the door and grab her stuff from the trunk, her suitcase much heavier than mine, before heading back inside. I set the suit case and jewelry on the quilt top blanket onto of mom`s bed. I stare at the box for a while and itch creeping up from my hands. In a reflection of grandma`s bad habit I s****h the carved wood and rush out with it and the snow globe.
The grass directly behind the house is short and neat, little patches of clover popping up but otherwise the grass is perfect. The further I go the more height the grass gains. Amongst the sea of green bright wildflowers dot the ground with blue, pink, purple, and white. I wade through the waist-high growth trying my best to avoid snagging thorns of small vines. Several times the sharp points pierce through my jeans to slash a scarlet line across my leg. Tugging through the front way that has no established path takes me longer than expected and the sun has furthered its decent by the time I reach the house.
The house truly is a breathtaking sight, even with weathering and age sucking the color from it. It is two floors with the addition of an attic and finished basement. The basement was done before I was born but is still rather recent. Morning glories are planted on every side of the house consuming the wrap around porch nearly in its entirety besides the two sets of steps. The green vines are bare of flowers now, but when the sun cracks the horizon the vines burst with bright colors. The paneling on the house is a faded sky blue still smooth and unstained against all odds. Grey shutters hide the windows even the single on in the attic. Since the attic is a good bit smaller than the rest of the house it nearly appears to come in tiers, the first slope or roof going in the opposite direction of the first. The path to the house is dirt, well-trodden and lacking top soil to prevent plant growth. On either side of the path stripped carnations bloom, the yellow petals rimmed with a rich pink that seeps down like pins.
I climb the creaky old steps, the wood grey and almost rotting beneath my feet. The morning glories work to shelter the porch from the sun but dapples of gold seep through to the brownish-grey wood. Dark brown splotches remain where rocking chairs and other pieces of outdoor furniture once rested. Before I even make it into the safety of the shadows load yaps assault my ears as large hands clap against my back.
I turn on my heel before the words can even leave my friend`s mouth. “Really Nathaniel?”
“Someone`s pissy.” Eric coos behind me.
“You guys shouldn`t mess with someone who is mourning.” Mutters Andrew who probably has his face in a book.
Nathan lets out the breath he was building up. “I wasn`t messin` with him, just trying to keep him up with a little scare.”
“It`s not scary when you do it every time.” I kneel down and pet the small collie at his side, pink tongue lolling out of her mouth. “Especially when Bo Peep gives you away.”
Nathan shoves his hands into his pocket and glares at the oblivious pup. “Thanks a lot Bo, I nearly had him that time.”
Eric snorts some and makes some snide comment. Despite being closer to Eric I can`t seem to make the words out, yet Nathan redirects his glare over my shoulder. I step aside and turn some to watch the two. Like I am stuck in water I watch the scene slowly melting out before me without hearing the words being said. With a volcanic temper Nathan and Eric fight almost constantly, but this time they are more tense than normal. A creak splits my silence and before I know it a hand is squeezing my shoulder. I find myself looking into Andrew`s glass green eyes when I am forced to face him.
“You ok?” He speaks soft as if to avoid disrupting the argument occurring behind us.
I shrug some. “Seems so.”
Andrew watches me a moment before sighing. “Good.” He turns to return to his book. “Now you can monitor Tweedledee and Tweedledum because mommy and daddy finally moved in together.”
So that’s it. I turn to face my friends breaking down the anger between them. Their parents had been dating for a while and now they have to live under one roof. Hopefully the party will fix that.
“Ok, come on idiots.” I move between the two before the tiff can escalate, a smirk stretches over my features. “Let`s get ready for this party.”
The problem does not initially diffuse, but soon enough we are marching off the property to get everything we need with the box and snow globe left forgotten on the railing lining the porch.