narrated by: Paloma
It’s been just over a year since Grandma Abby died. Mom put off having Gideon move in, or planning for the wedding until a few months ago. Now he’s living here, and she’s planned for the wedding to be in May, and everything just feels unfamiliar now.
Where it once was Oliver fixing our computer, it’s now Gideon. And where it was me getting Linny off of the bus, now it’s him as well.
I used to be terrified that I’d be trapped here forever, helping Mom raise Linny, and covering the bills she couldn’t. It’s not like that now though, it’s almost as if I’m unnecessary in the family, just a person clogging the drain with her hair.
Gideon goes out of his way to be great with Linny, not that he doesn’t attempt small talk with me, it’s just awkward. I’m too old to need a Dad, at this point I only care that Mom is happy and that he’s good to them both.
When I informed Mom of my decision to move out, she didn’t object like I thought she might, and I wasn’t sure how I felt on that. I would have gone irregardless, but it still hurt not feeling needed.
She didn’t like the idea of me living in South Port, and couldn’t believe that I was old enough to live on my own. Which seemed silly since I’m twenty, and been of legal age for two years now.
If she had any doubts about my ability to live on my own, she didn’t share them. It was all very anti-climatic, with a hug, and her wishing me well. I console myself that she didn’t want to put strife in between us by begging me to stay. Or perhaps, she understood that part of my desire to leave was to escape the memories of this house of Grandma, and the life we’d all shared.
Oliver was as much apart of it as Grandma was though I’d never admit it to Mom. I remember our fridge being empty, and the collections coming, and after the robbery, if it weren’t for Oliver and his invites of dinner, me and Linny might have starved. He would fix things around the house like our toilet and computer, and move heavy furniture for Grandma. They both were such pivotal people in my life over the years, and now I’d lost them both. It just hurt too much to be here.
I found a one bedroom apartment down by Lincoln Park, and quit my job at the country cafe in Millwood. I wouldn’t be able to do the commute without a vehicle, and I was over that gig anyway.
When I was a teen, I thought this moment would be different. For certain, there was going to be Oliver at my side, ether married or maybe not quite, and the apartment would be ours. I figured that it’d be difficult to leave, because I’d know Mom would need me to help, but I’d be rebellious and wanting to break free. And instead it was a quiet affair, of me, going off on my own.
My apartment isn’t large, but it is quiet inside. If it weren’t for the unfamiliar noises of the city and the neighbors, I might feel isolated from the world. I’m grateful that cities never sleep, and that there is always a garbage truck to be heard, even if they originally kept me up late at night.
I saw an ad for Planet Java and was pleased when the proprietress set up an interview with me.
Janelle was down to earth, asking questions like we were old friends. She wanted to know about my family life, and apartment, if I had dreams or ambitions. She was interested in my baking skills, and thought that might come to use, as the baking of the pastries was her least favorite part of owning the coffee shop.
She was sympathetic about the death of my Father and Grandma, and I thought it might have given me some sympathy points with her.
She offered me the position right there, and I was to start with my training the next day.
Despite doing waitressing for a few years now, this is not the same type of job. I’m not actually a barista, I guess Janelle is really picky on who gets to stand behind the counter. I’m mostly a floating, doing odd jobs that need filling or if an employee has the day off, I might cover the hostess position.
Everyone is pretty nice, they poke fun that I’m from the “sticks” as they call Millwood, but it’s not mean-natured.
Nights are mostly college kids and young adults, and generally my favorite crowd to be around. On one of these evenings, I ran into Henry Popper. I haven’t seen him in years, and it reminded me of when I was thirteen, him and Oliver and gotten into some fights over me. I’d been pretty pleased over the ordeal back then. Henry informed me that he was getting married this September, in just a month he would be a husband to some girl named Catherine. I was happy for him, though I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d picked him instead of Oliver, if maybe we might have been the ones getting married next month.
The worst day at the job was when a lady started complaining to me about her coffee being stale, and acting like a loon. No matter how I tried to inform her that I didn’t make coffee, but that she could have a new cup, she just wouldn’t calm down.
It was that night, after being berated for something I had no part of, that I happened to see Oliver standing at the counter.
I would have liked to run and hide, but I know he’d just see me making a dash for it, so I mustered up as much courage as I could, and went to say hi.
It goes absolutely awful, and while he plays his part of being polite, I can tell that he is shocked to see me working here, and that he will visit Planet Java even less in the future, if at all. He did keep the conversation moving, filling me in about his student teaching at the Grammar School this fall. It only reminded me of how we used to be little kids in that building, best friends in the making.
Neither of us talked about seeing anyone else, but I’d heard rumors that him and Meg were seen together a few times. She’d be one happy girl if it were true, she’d wanted him since high school. Maybe our entire relationship was a mistake, and I should have picked Henry, so that when Meg asked him out, he’d been available to say yes.
Once he left, I’d taken my break for the night, and just went out on to the patio to cry. Everything was big, and exciting here, and I felt lost and forgotten in it all. I couldn’t even run back home, because I wasn’t necessary there anymore ether. I wasn’t sure where I was supposed to fit in, and felt lost with my anchors, without a best friend, and a Grandma who’d been like a second mother to me.
Mom called and arranged to have Linny spend the night over the weekend, and then do some dress shopping with me the next afternoon. I welcomed the distraction, and got my schedule shifted around so it could happen.
Mom works until nine on Fridays, so it was Gideon that brought Linny over. He seemed to genuinely care about how I was doing when he asked. But there wasn’t anything to really tell, I wouldn’t tell my own Mother about my feelings, let alone her fiance.
My relationship with Linny isn’t what I imagine most sister’s to be like. While I’ve taken care of her since she was little, we’ve never really formed a close bond. Perhaps it’s the difference in our age, or that I’m more like a caretaker, or daycare provider than sister.
But I realize when she’s chattering my ear off, that I have missed her, and perhaps am more fond of her than I’d ever let myself believe in the past. She was always such a setback, a thing that stopped me from doing or being what I wanted, or so I had always thought. But having her in my apartment, I realize that she’s just the same type of victim of circumstance as I am, and that I at least had the luxury of knowing and remembering our Dad.
She was happy. I could tell about how she talked about Gideon, and told stories of their many park and pool adventures, that he would be her Dad at some point. It was pleasant having her company, she watched a pre-teen comedic show, that I didn’t find funny, and it just felt nice to not be alone.
She wanted to sleep in my bed instead of on the sofa. She’s been used to sleeping with Mom all these years, and has been having a hard time adjusting to sleeping in my old room all by herself. She informed me that Mom and Gideon are putting the house on the market, and planning to move before the wedding if they can make it happen.
I felt a range of emotions over it, but mostly, I was plain angry. I felt betrayed that Mom would just throw away our home, and allow strangers to live there, and change it. Grandma had bought it with her hard-earned money, taking us out of a tiny apartment in South Port, and giving us a real home with a yard. I hated that Mom didn’t seem to even second guess this decision.
The next day, I had to ask Mom about selling the house before we left for Zoe-Gen; she only made light of it. I guess that her and Gideon thought it might be nice to have a baby of their own, which annoyed. I’m of the age, that I could realistically get married and have a baby in a few short years, and my Mom is thinking of having another baby? I wouldn’t even know my new brother or sister. But I didn’t say anything, because my opinion wasn’t worth anything to her.
She’s probably too old to get pregnant anyway, at least that’s what I keep telling myself. She’s just plain happy, every time I see her, I can just tell that Gideon is good to her, and I can’t find it in me to be snotty and ruin that.
It’s beyond awkward to go shopping at Zoe-Gen, where Oliver’s Mom, Nicole will be making the wedding gown or giving Mom a free one. It was some pity gift that Nicole felt called to do after Grandma died, basically forcing Mom to feel obligated to shop here and buy bridesmaid outfits here.
I’m mortified when I hear Mom bring up questions on having children late in life. Nicole gives her some natural remedies to give your fertility a boost, and Mom seems to take the information to heart. I wish I could slide between these big dresses and just hide from it all.
I hate the feeling that Nicole will probably tell Oliver that I came in with my Mom, and probably fill him in on my Mom’s plans to get pregnant, and I hate most of all that none of it will bother him, like it does me.
Thankfully, after catching up with Mom, Nicole excuses herself to the second floor to work with some other bride.
It’s tradition for the bride to make the bridesmaid try on ugly dresses, and it’s just exemplified with my own Mother, as she has a tendency to think I look pretty in anything.
She tries on a few nice dresses, and a few very matronly ones. I talked her out of the sleeves, it makes her look too old. Plus she wants a simple ceremony since our family is small, and that style is more suited to a traditional, large wedding, in my opinion.
After the excitement of Saturday wears off, and Mom and Linny are on their way back to Millwood, I climb into my pajamas and just sulk on the sofa. I was right in thinking the place would seem empty without Linny in it.
It brings on morbid thoughs, and I start dwelling on the fact that Grandma is missing Mom’s wedding, and that if she does get pregnant, then Grandma will have never known the new baby. It seems unfair, she’s missing too much. She never got to see how I really turned out, because I haven’t turned into anything yet, let alone Linny.
I feel trapped, and decide to head out with the explicit purpose of drinking too much, and perhaps even hooking up. It seems wrong to still have Oliver as my last, seeing that he’s likely screwing Meg.
There’s a local place that people talk about for being lax, so I give that one a try seeing I’m not quite twenty-one yet. It only takes a few drinks, before everything begins to feel soft on the edges. A guy comes up and lays it on pretty heavy. He didn’t realize that he didn’t have to try too hard.
We danced, and he flirted efficiently, and with the warmness in my stomach, everything was butterflies and and blurred lights.
And afterward, I did invite him back to my place.
He didn’t spend the night, I woke up the next morning with the bed all to myself, and no sign that he’d ever been there. I hadn’t even gotten his name, but that wasn’t really the purpose of that night. And strangely, I found that I enjoyed the anonymity of just hooking up with a nice looking guy. It felt like I was living for the first time.
Notes: Paloma’s want panel was full wants for Oliver including marriage, having a baby, and little ones like flirting and talking. Her spirits were quite low. She rolled the ROS to woohoo 20 times, and so she went out to fulfill that, and found it with Brandon. I actually had plans of who I wanted her to hook up with, but she went the whole way instead with Brandon while I was still busy setting up my plan! So Paloma and Brandon picked each other with no help from me, and he’s quite opposite of Oliver, so I think it’s good for Paloma to try something new.
After her Brandon encounter, her Oliver wants began to disappear, most are silly wants like buy every music instrument, but there are a few that made sense, so I was able to get her into some green aspiration, so hopefully she’s feeling better about the whole break up now, and is finally letting it go.
Thanks for reading!