NOT COMPLETE. Emerson learns to find her place in a family she's only seen pictures of.
|She was already dialing the mover's hotline as we pulled into my dad's driveway. I watched as her perfectly manicured nails tapped away on the touch screen of her phone. Within minutes, a white mover's truck parked behind my mother's black Range Rover. A tall, tan man walked over to my mother's tinted window while another stood outside of the truck's door.
"Where do you want us to put everything?"
"Take all of the boxes and furniture labeled "BEDROOM" upstairs to the last room on the left. Then, take the rest of her belongings to the basement, into the room right off of the stairs. And if you could Dear, do it with a bit of a rush. My flight for Chicago leaves fairly soon."
We walked into the charming house. My mother sat on the wood stool in the kitchen, anxiously looking at her watch. Yet, at the same time, she managed to scan each tile and curtain with a disdainful look.
"My, it seems Ray and Barb have redecorated. What a lovely, country like feel, it could be called. If it were me, I would have updated this Paula Deen kitchen with marble countertops, chrome appliances, and taken off the chicken tile. Oh well."
The two movers walked into the kitchen just as my mother started critiquing the wine glasses in the cabinet. She slipped both of them a tip and a wink before spinning on her heels towards me.
"Alright, Darling, I am going to take off. Ray said he and Barb would be home early. Oh, I nearly forgot, I bought this for you."
She handed me a small box from within her Gucci purse. I went to hug her but she was already walking towards the front door. With the click of the door, she was gone. I walked up the carpeted stairway to my new room. Or rather, my old room. It once held my small, twin bed with pastel, purple sheets. The soft, pink walls had been transformed into a sunny, country yellow. Instead of dolls and crayon boxes meticulously stored, boxes rested in the corner near the window. I sat on my queen size bed, looking at all of the foreign familiarities. I finally remembered I was holding the small, wrapped box. I carefully pulled on the bow and let the ribbon fall to the ground. I slipped the box out of the perfect wrap to reveal a robin blue box. The top glided off. Inside, there was a classic Tiffany's heart charm bracelet. I starred at the shiny chain links until I heard a soft creak from outside my door. I saw a flash of shiny, chestnut hair and pale skin. I peeked outside the door to see a short, crystal blue eyed ballerina peering into the hall closet. This must have been the glorious Hannah Thomas- the most talented ballet dancer my dad has ever seen. She turned my way and jumped from a fright, placing her petite hand over her chest.
"Oh, my, I didn't know you were there. You must be the lovely Ms. Emerson. Daddy has been so excited to have you move here. Anyways, I'm Hannah. It's great to finally meet you."
I paused for a moment to register everything she said. "Yeah, you too."
"I thought I would surely meet you at the wedding. It was such a bummer your mom wouldn't let you come. What was it you were busy with?"
"Oh, umm, I don't remember. I think I had a piano recital."
"Oh, cool! Do you sing as well? I love to sing. I'm even a part of the Memorial High School Jazz Choir."
"Um, no. I'm a terrible singer."
"I bet you aren't. Anyways, I have to run to ballet rehearsal. I'll see you at dinner."
I waited until she skipped down the stairs, leaving the slight scent of vanilla lingering in the air. "Yeah, see you later."
I looked at the tiny, blue box that sat on my bed. In an instant, I ran over to it, picked it up and threw it against a pile of boxes. Heaving, I kicked the baseboard and door.
"Daddy"? Did she really just call him "Daddy"? She met him three years ago when he and Barb began dating. While he hasn't seen me in over eight years, he became "Daddy" to another girl. I dug through several boxes to find my chocolate brown sheets and beige blanket. I make my bed meticulously and lay down to write in my leather journal.
After writing an entry that included tears and rips in paper from pressing too hard on the pen, I stared up at the ceiling. I fiddled with a thread that hung off of my cream blouse. I brushed a strand of my bangs away from my eyes repeatedly. Finally, I threw my blanket onto the floor and dug through a box to find my makeup bag. Inside the inner pocket lay a shiny, perfectly sharp, blade within an old blush compact. I lowered my black slacks to expose my artwork on my inner thigh. I placed my friend next to a confidant I made the other day, placing pressure against the cool metal, feeling the thick warmth spread over my skin. I watched it bleed in a smooth line. With a few tissues and a large bandage, my secret was sealed and hidden from the world. My heart had finally stopped racing, to which I could lay back into my bed and drift into a peaceful, lovely sleep. I woke to a soft and familiar knock. I rolled over and saw my dad standing in the doorway. After sitting up, he nearly ran to give me a hug.
"You've grown up! My little angel has grown into a young woman. The time has sure flown by. Anyways, Barb made tuna casserole and potato salad for dinner. We'll be ready to eat in about a half hour. Oh, I'm so happy to have you home. When you come down, I'll introduce you to everyone."
I smiled as he hugged me again and kissed my forehead. As he left, I felt as though I couldn't breathe right. I started to think about meeting Barb and her son, Andy. I would also see Ms. Perfect Hannah. I took a few deep breaths before reaching into my purse for a small, black flask. Before Mom dumped me off at the Hally/Thomas household, she stopped at the liquor store to refill my flask with straight scotch. After a few sips, I tucked it away into the my Couch bag.
Soon, my anxieties melted. I dug through some plastic totes to find a casual brown dress with a cream-ivory waist belt that a friend bought for me. Before I went downstairs, I styled my fiery-red hair into a soft bun with a flower clip, changed into the dress, and slipped on low styled heels. Just as I was spraying my favorite perfume, a woman with a sweet as honey voice called up the stairs "Kids- dinner's ready." I heard fast, heavy footsteps bounce down the stairs, followed by a slow, melodic foot pattern. I looked into the mirror and sighed.
When I walked into the kitchen, I smelled fresh flowers. In the middle of the table sat a huge floral arrangement filled with nearly every flower imaginable. Dad's arms were wrapped around a short, blonde’s waist. She pulled plates from the cabinet as Dad kissed the top of her head. Hannah faced the cabinet that Mother had closely examined only hours before, grabbing beautiful, embossed glasses. At the end of the kitchen stood a muscular, shaggy haired boy, picking up silverware and napkins.
I stood near the door, watching each of them from the sidelines. After Dad kissed the blond on the cheek and mouth, he turned around to deliver the casserole to the table and saw me.
"Oh, good, you're down here. Everybody, this is Emerson. Emerson, this is our family- Barb, Hannah, and Andy. I'm glad you can finally meet everybody."
Barb put a pot of peas onto the table and gave me a hug.
"Oh Sweetie, I'm so glad you're finally here. We all have been so excited and have been counting down the days until you could be with us. Here Dear, sit down and relax. You must be exhausted from your trip."
I sat down next to Andy. On the opposite side, Dad sat beside me. He winked at me and squeezed my hand. Barb set the potato salad in front of me so I put a few scoops onto my plate and had a bite. In mid-chew, Dad tapped my arm and whispered "Sorry, I forgot to tell you. We pray before we eat." I quickly swallowed and blushed deep red. Andy chuckled.