Moving day had finally arrived and Violet’s mother, Laura, reached the middle of the staircase at 6am in the morning after getting ready to find that her daughter was already hoisting boxes towards the front door.
She smiled fondly for a second, feeling so lucky and proud to have such a helpful girl as her child. As far as she was concerned, Violet was her world and every day she thanked God that she had kept her, even she had been at the tender age of eighteen when she became pregnant. Again, she thanked God that her parents had been so supportive of her, even if it wasn’t the sort of future they had planned for their Laura in the first place. In any case, they and she knew that she had done just as well for herself in the long run, despite not finishing further education and not having Violet’s father there whilst their daughter was growing up.
Even to this day, Laura wondered where Violet’s father was, wondered how he was doing and whether he was doing alright.
“What time are the removal team coming before we start on the shed?”
Laura snapped out of her thoughts to see that Violet was staring up at her with a questioning look. Her violet eyed daughter, though beside the question she had just asked, seemed to be deliberating what it might be that her mother was thinking about, seeing as she had been staring at Violet for at least five minutes.
“Sorry sweetheart, what was that you said?” Laura smiled apologetically, restraining herself from laughing when she could clearly see her daughter force back an eye roll.
“I said, what time are the removal team coming before we start on the shed?” Violet repeated, her tone slightly impatient whilst she waited for her mother to give her answer. Laura thought for a moment, finishing the walk down the staircase as she tried to remember exactly what time the removal team would be arriving.
“I believe they are meant to be coming at about eight. So hopefully that should give us enough time to move our stuff around before they come,” She started, looking around at all the boxes, not quite sure where to start, “What shall we move first? The heavier ones, maybe?”
Violet also looked at the array of boxes, assessing the logistics of what could be done quicker and what needed doing with two pairs of hands. She certainly didn’t want her grandparents heaving around heavy crates when they came downstairs. In fact if she could’ve helped it, she’d rather not have her mother trying to shift weighty stuff around, even though Laura was still in her thirties.
Shrugging, her gaze returned to her mother and she made a decision.
“Start with the heavier ones. At least those we might get out of the way and done before Grandma and Grandpa come down to help us.” She stated, walking off to find the first box to move. Quickly rushing over to help, Laura gripped the underneath of the box and both she and Violet lifted it with little difficulty before waddling steadily towards the front door. Before long, they were transferring boxes from one location to outside the front door at a continual pace.
Then after about an hour, Grandma and Grandpa Weston came doddering down the stairs to find their daughter and granddaughter moving the last of the boxes outside.
“Oh my dears, you should have waited and I would’ve been able to help!” The matriarch of the family protested, her eyes bulging out of her sockets when Violet picked up the last one by herself and carried it out of the house as though it only contained a few feathers. Laura gave a wry smile as she stepped to one side to let her daughter walk out of the door.
“It’s fine, Mum. Violet’s been an absolute star this morning. I don’t know what we’d do without her.” She sighed when she walked towards her mother, the three adults sharing a mutual look of worry between them. They knew it was usual for Violet to be a silently hard working character. But they all knew that she wasn’t herself, and that she hadn’t been for the past year.
She was quieter, more reserved than what she used to be. Her social life had practically diminished, but the only visible reason for that was because she was throwing herself into her mother’s business and trying to make it more successful. None of the eldest three Westons could pinpoint what was making her this way. Even the hobbies which she had been so passionate about from childhood seemed to be of little interest to her nowadays.
“Is she alright about this move, Laura? I know she’s very mature for her age, but I can’t help wondering if the move might be a bit of a disruption for her.” Grandma Weston murmured amongst the three of them, voicing the concerns that they all seemed to be having over the youngest Weston family member. Laura shook her head helplessly, no wiser of what the answer was than her own parents.
“I did think that maybe it would. But then when I said about moving out, she seemed all for it, y’know, the idea of having a little place of our own, growing the business together and everything. I don’t know – maybe it’s becoming overwhelming all of a sudden?” She whispered back, not really wanting Violet to hear that they were talking about her. If she knew her daughter that well, the youngest Weston would not appreciate her family worrying about her.
But all three of the elders were unaware that despite their hushed tones, Violet could hear every single word coming out of their mouths. They really were clueless sometimes when it came what they thought she knew and what she actually knew. As much as she appeared to be somewhat ignorant to what people would say around her, she would be sat quietly listening. It was just that she never felt the need to voice the fact that she was, nor involve herself in the conversation.
Just as she put down the box, she looked up to see a familiar figure walking down the driveway.
“Des.” She stated by way of greeting, allowing the older boy to climb the steps of the porch and gather her in his arms. Des, short for Desmond, was about the only really good friend she had left in the local town. If there was anyone she would be sad to leave other than her grandparents, it would be him. And so she was, as she hugged him back tight, sighing heavily through her nose whilst burying her face in his t-shirt.
“Look at you hustlin’ out all these boxes like a weight liftin’ pro.” Violet heard him say with a chuckle, she smirking in response as they broke apart and looked at each other.
“Guess if I want to keep that, I better make sure to find a good gym in Denver.” She replied, sticking her tongue out when he wiggled his eyebrows at her. Oh the things they used to do when they were back in high school. Sneaking out to the back shed for a cigarette; skateboarding to detention down the hallway; kicking the arses of their classmates when they pissed them off one too many times.
Those were the good days, Violet thought, scuffing her shoe against the wood of the porch before sitting down on the bench fixed against the front outside wall of the house, Des sitting promptly next to her. They watched the sun rise higher into the sky as the minutes of the morning began to disappear.
“Thought you could use a hand before the removal people come.” He commented after a few minutes of companionable silence, taking off his beanie hat and running a hand through his copper brown hair. The corners of Violet’s lips turned up slightly as she looked at him fondly and cuddled up to him, resting her head on his shoulder.
“Thank you.” She murmured, sitting up properly when her mother walked out of the front door and beamed when she saw Des sitting there.
“Des! How are you, sweetheart?” Laura greeted the boy cheerfully, wrapping her arms around him when he got up and hugged her tightly.
“I’m good thanks, Miss W. Can’t believe it’s today that you guys are going though, I’m going to miss your cooking.” Des winked cheekily at Laura when they let go of each other. The redhead mother then gave him a light slap on the arm whilst the two youngsters laughed at her.
“Alright, young man, I know you are not a big fan of my cooking.” She said with an eye roll, though she gave a wry smile with it. Laura was well known for being the family’s resident vegetarian, so her meals were quite healthy and she always made sure anyone who ate her food got plenty on their plate. However, it was a well-remembered memory when Des and a couple of other boys he and Violet knew came round for dinner and could not hide the expressions of disbelief on their faces when she served them up a personal favourite: tofu stir fry.
Violet and the boys in the end of course found the whole thing quite hilarious, and so they always made sure whenever Laura cooked for them, she always cooked up a variation of that meal for them, just to see if it would taste any different.
Des then gathered the two females up in his arms and looked down at them both, a sad smile on his face.
“Aw, you know I love you, Miss W. And you, Vi. I mean it, I am really going to miss you guys.” He spoke softly, the atmosphere suddenly losing some of its light heartedness. It really was a shame to be leaving a lovely young man such as Des.
He was always so helpful to them and he had been a friend of the family for a long time. In fact, he was more like family at most points. If there ever was a time when her mother or grandparents didn’t have any answers or she needed a different form of comfort, Violet often headed straight to Des’ place. Even if it was just to forget about things for a few hours.
The sound of a horn rung in the air when a large van drove up the driveway, the three men seen in the front seat grinning and waving. Laura chuckled and pulled away from Des’ embrace, looking at her daughter’s raised eyebrows with amusement.
“Well, I guess there’s no avoiding it now – and we’ve still got the shed to do!”
And so the morning proceeded with everyone moving left, right and centre in a flurry, packing away furniture, boxes and suitcases galore into the removal van. Violet took one peek into the box she was about to pick up and saw a photo frame sat on top of the contents below it. The picture had been taken when Violet was four, her mother had been sat behind her with a broad smile on her face, and it was one of the rare occasions in her life where she too was also grinning, showing off her first full set of teeth.
She loved and respected her mother more than anyone in the world. Laura Weston, despite starting out on her own as a single mum, had done what most had doubted that she could do. She raised her child almost singlehandedly, started a business and was now moving them closer towards the independence she and her daughter had been fighting for over nearly twenty-one years. And Violet in the bottom of her heart knew she would be damned if she would ever prevent her mother achieving her dreams.
Picking up the box, she walked towards the car and placed it in the back seat.
Nathan smirked as he got up from the unfamiliar bed, turning over to see the girl from last night (Veronica, was it, maybe?) lying in her underwear amongst the tangle of bed sheets. This was how college life had been from start to finish. He would go to the lectures, do the bare minimum, and then bang up the weekend with a party, most of which finished with him sleeping with a girl into the early hours of the next morning.
This, of course, meant he had a bit of a reputation. Even in high school, he was known for taking girls as they came and giving them an experience they wouldn’t soon forget. But that didn’t mean picking them up and then dumping them like rubbish. Whilst the relationships were usually short and fun, mostly only on the sexual level, he treated his women with as much care and attention he could manage. He knew that most girls often looked for something permanent afterwards, but he always kept a careful distance.
Slowly, Nathan got up from the bed and started to grab hold of his clothes that were scattered across the room. It wasn’t until he turned after having put his jeans on that he saw the girl waking up from her slumber, only to then flash him a bright smile his way while lying her side provocatively to show off her barely clad body.
“Hey, handsome. That was quite a night, wasn’t it?” She said in a teasing fashion, clearly enjoying the view from where he stood confidently in the middle of the bedroom. Smirking back at her, Nathan continued to dress himself slowly.
“Oh definitely.” He replied, keeping a flirtatious eye on her whilst doing up the buttons on his shirt. Giggling, the girl got off the bed and tottered towards Nathan, pushing her body up against his.
“So when am I next gonna see you?” She asked, clearly confident that she might break the chain of loose living flings that Nathan had with most girls he met at parties. But unfortunately like most other girls who didn’t know him very well, she was about to find out that whilst he was prepared to share the kind of ‘loving’ that he had with girls in one night, she was another case of too many girls, too little time.
“Maybe some other time. But thank you for last night, it was great.”
Shrugging and flashing the girl a lazy smile, Nathan kissed her lightly on the cheek before pulling away and picking up his shoes that were laid amongst the rest of the mess on the floor. Looking slightly disappointed, though she got the message loud and clear, the girl also shrugged. She walked to the bedside table where a pen and pad of paper laid on top of it. Quickly ripping off a small piece, she scribbled down her name and number, wandered back to Nathan and handed it to him. Quickly looking at it, he saw her name written in neat handwriting: Valerie.
Where the hell did I get the idea that she was called Veronica from? Nathan thought to himself, though keeping his face straight before looking back the smiling girl.
“Well, in case you might want to see me again, here’s my number. And thank you. I had fun.” Valerie said sweetly, batting her eyelashes at him. Seeing that it was now time to go before anything else was said, Nathan opened the door of the apartment and turned back to the girl one last time.
“See you later, Valerie.” He stated pleasantly, not missing the look of longing on her face whilst she stood in her underwear. Yep, it was definitely time to make a swift exit. He shut the door behind him and walked off. But then he also felt that whilst it was somewhat of an achievement in the lad books, she was just another in the long list of girls who didn’t quite make him want to go back and get closer to them.
As much as he enjoyed female company, he didn’t want any of them to get too close. Not that he doubted his ability to please them; more that he doubted he could give any more than that. Whether that was because he couldn’t or wouldn’t, he had never been with a girl long enough to have him change his opinion or make him think any differently about it.
Except for maybe one.
She had been the only girl in his life who had rejected him on the first approach. Of course, being considered an expert on how to win a girl over by many who knew him, he had been both stunned and inflamed by her reaction. Never had anyone other than his mother said no to him. It didn’t stop him though. He could remember with slightly embarrassed hilarity that he had drunkenly pursued her for the rest of the evening, with such determination that even he was surprised with how much he had been besotted with her.
Eventually he had found the girl trying to fight off another guy who clearly didn’t take a hint earlier that she really wasn’t interested. Being a man who didn’t approve of forcing females against their will, he found himself obligated to intervene and within seconds the offending male skulked off when he saw it was Nathan approaching. The girl then looked at him and the two of them stood staring at each other for a few minutes, she clearly stunned that he wasn’t the next in line to treat her like the resident play toy for night.
Then she smiled. Nathan was used to girls smiling at him, and not just for friendly eyes a lot of the time. But this girl lit up the room with hers, like a mask falling away only to reveal something far more beautiful underneath. He remembered what she looked like too then: dark brown hair, olive toned skin and honey coloured eyes. No, she didn’t draw the attention of every man in the room, but her allure was palpable as soon as her eyes beckoned him over.
They ended up getting drinks together, exchanging light conversation and the odd cigarette to pass the time, as everyone danced and raved all night long. But the tension in the air between them had been magnetic, the physical distance from one another so close that only a sheet of paper could have been slid between them.
The kisses had been ferocious from the moment they started. At times they felt more like bites, at least where red marks on their skin were concerned. The world Nathan knew disappeared and not even his friends could drag him away from the mysterious girl he had held in his grasp for the remainder of the evening. But whilst most girls tended to relinquish under his control, this one girl simply refused to let him dominate her. Anyone there as spectator to their bonding could quite plainly have seen where this encounter would lead. Both participants welcomed it.
The staggering tumble towards an empty bedroom was a somewhat amusing memory. The couple could not keep their hands off each other, every wall they crashed into in desperate find of a door would have either one of them pinned to it, the other body pressing against them, grinding. Nathan smiled in triumph the moment that he and the mystery girl found an isolated room where he promptly threw her back first onto the bed.
The episode was hot, fast and furious, the fire so powerful between them that he could’ve sworn he had seen stars dancing in front of him as he had felt her nails dig into his back. And within an hour, they came to a shuddering stop, finishing with the last few feverish kisses before Nathan rolled off the girl to lie down beside her.
Before he ever had a chance to tell her his name or ask hers, she kissed him on the cheek, got up from the bed, quietly put her clothes back on and then left the room without saying another word. He didn’t see her again for the rest of the night, or for any time to come.
Nathan shook his head out of the memory as he reached the bottom of the stairs leading down to the exit of the building. It was no good dwelling on what could’ve have been; if she had anything more, then he was quite sure that she would’ve stayed. But she didn’t, and that as far as he was concerned was the end of the story. He had other things to look forward to.
Like today, he was about to go home to his parents and brother after having not seen them in over several months; at the thought of his mother in particular, he smiled – if there was one person he missed more than anyone else, it was her. Though he’d never admit it, he was a mummy’s boy at heart: not many moments in his life could beat the comforting smell of his mum’s home cooking, the way she’d hug him tight when he would come through the door, and most importantly the smile on her face whenever she would laugh or simply glow with happiness.
Before getting into the car where his belongings were packed and ready to go, he looked back at his home where he had been from the past two years. It was strange to think that it felt like only yesterday that he was here unpacking everything, ready to start his eventful college life. His friends were all going their separate ways as well: flying, driving or taking the train to wherever life would lead them next – he didn’t think it would be anything like leaving high school.
Yet he could feel a slight twinge of nostalgia at the thought of being a grown adult and moving away from the last stage of his boyhood. Suppressing a sigh of longing to stay and cling onto what was, he got into the driver’s seat and started the car engine. Now it was back to his home city, Denver, to start working for the family business with his father.
Driving along the streets of Lincoln towards the highway that would lead him back to Colorado, Nathan cast an eye to a photo of him and his university friends stuck to the windscreen window and smiled. Oh the times he’d had with those dudes! He would never forget them fast, and nor was this a goodbye. In fact, as far as he was concerned, this was the beginning.