Chapter 6: Trenton, North Carolina - September 30, 2017
Trenton, North Carolina was the same little town I rolled out of I realized as I rolled back into it. The storefronts hadn’t changed much, Mr. Eugene’s Grocery still had the same cracked window where PJ Andrews had shot a BB through it when we were fifteen. I watched out the window of the truck as Dad passed places I hadn’t been to in years. People were mingling outside, enjoying the October afternoon as they did errands. Trenton was so small, most people walked to do their shopping. If you couldn’t get to it on foot in Trenton, we didn’t have it.
Pulling down Central Avenue, Dad parked in front of the maroon colored house I grew up in. The wrap around porch was the same dark brown color I had painted it in my senior year as well as the shutters that were the matching color. The tall maple tree in the backyard seemed taller, the swing still hanging there from the lowest branch. A set of white rocking chairs were on the front porch and I could just make out the patio furniture around the fireplace in the back. Opening the truck, I gazed out at my childhood home and smiled. It felt nice to be able to see it again with my own two eyes rather than pictures. I hadn’t been back here since I left, Michael not being too big on the idea of going back.
“I’ll call the boys to come help move your stuff over to the storage unit in a little bit. Why don’t we go find your grandmother?” Dad asked, walking around the front of the rental truck. I nodded, following him up the steps of the house with my duffle bag over my shoulder. Pulling open the screen door, he pushed open the heavy wooden front door and stepped inside. “Ma! You here?” He called. I stepped in as well, taking in the room. The living room was an average size room with light blue walls. On one side of the room was a three-cushioned couch made with light blue fabric. You wouldn’t know that though seeing as a floral couch cover was draped over it. Next to the couch was my Dad’s recliner. It was the oldest thing in the world, made with faux leather that was pretty much all worn away. The other side of the living room housed the television and the entertainment center. When I had left, a larger bodied TV had been there. Due to recent technological advances and it crapping out, a flat screen had taken its place. Instead of getting a new entertainment center, my father had instead lowered the one that’s been in here since the 90’s, chopping the wheels and the legs off.
“Dad, what the hell did you do to this thing?” I asked, smirking at him. He shrugged, looking up the hallway.
“It wouldn’t fit so I made it fit.”
“I see that.” On the walls, the same pictures of me growing up hung there. The only difference was that my wedding photo was there as well as a framed prayer card from Mom’s funeral.
“She must be next door still. Why don’t you go unpack some of your stuff while I round her up?”
“Sure.” He gave me a quick peck on the cheek before walking out the door again. It shut as I made my way up the hallway. My room was on the first floor of the house. It’s always been there and it has aided me in many late-night adventures I took a part of when I was a teenager. I stopped outside of the white door and took the knob in hand. Turning it, I pushed it open.
When I was seventeen, I was really into the punk thing. Only because Michael was and I wanted to be someone that he would like. That would be why the walls of my old bedroom where a blood red color. It was almost blinding as I stepped in, my feet sinking into the dark grey shag rug on the floor. My queen size bed was in one corner of the room, the bedspread covered in moons and stars folded on top of it. The bed wasn’t made but all the components were on it. The walls were covered with band posters, drawings my friends had done and pictures of my friends and I from various times throughout high school. It was quite the throwback as I glanced around. The dresser on the opposite side of the room was white but had words carved into it. Groaning, I saw typical teenaged words like PAIN and DYING on the sides of it. If I could go back in time and slap the sixteen-year-old version of myself, I would for being so stupid.
I tossed my bag on the bed and walked over to the bookshelf in the corner of the room. It was shoved to full capacity of binders, titles written in sharpie on the side of them. These were all stories I had written when I was a teenager. Back then, I thought for sure I was going to be a world-famous author with numerous best sellers. Lightly, I touched the largest binder and wondered what story was written in it. I had written so many over the years, it was hard to keep track of them without flipping through the pages. I made a mental note to do just that later when everything was settled in.
I was unpacking my bag into my dresser when my father stuck his head into the room. “Look who I found.” He said, pushing the door open fully. Stepping aside, I saw a thinner elderly woman standing beside him. White curly hair was on top of her head and chocolate brown eyes twinkled at me as my grandmother smiled. My father’s mother was the only grandparent I really had in my life. My mother’s parents had died before I was born and Dad’s father had passed away shortly after my second birthday. I had no memories of the man, leaving Grams to fill in the role for four people.
“There’s my grandbaby!” She exclaimed, holding her arms out. I walked over and let her engulf me in a tight hug. I returned it, careful to not squeeze to tightly. About three years ago, she was diagnosed with the very early stages of Parkinson’s disease. Thankfully, it was moving very slowly through her body and hadn’t affected her as badly as the doctor’s thought it would by this point. Her memory has been slipping lately but like my father had said, it might be due to the fact she was 83 not some other borderline issue.
“Hey, Grams. How you’ve been?” I asked as she held me at arm’s length.
“Lot better than you, kiddo. I’m really sorry about Michael. Your father told me what really happened. He’s lucky he is where he is or else I would have put him there myself.” She said, winking at me. I nodded, not quite sure what to say to that. “How as the trip? Did he make you stop at that sleazy burger joint on the other side of Philly?”
“It’s not sleazy! It’s the best place for a Philly cheesesteak in the entire city.”
“Sure, it is, dear.” Grams said, shooting me another wink. She shuffled out of the room, leaving Dad and me.
“I called the guys from the shop. They took the truck over to unload it for you. They left your clothes and some of the boxes you wanted here. You sure you want to keep your old bed? Pretty sure it’s the one your mother and I moved here with.”
“Yeah. It’s fine. If need be, I can buy another mattress. Thanks for letting me stay here, Dad. I appreciate it. Hopefully I figure out what I’m doing soon and will have my own place.”
“Honey, you can stay here as long as you want.” He picked at one of the pictures on the wall above the light switch. “Have you put any thought into what you are going to do while you’re down here?”
“You mean for like work?” He shrugged, shoving his hands into his pockets.
“Well yeah. I was also thinking you could stop in and see Dr. Mazer tomorrow morning.” I looked at him confused.
“Dr. Mazer? The psychiatrist?”
“Yeah. I called and let him know that you were coming back to town. He said he would love to catch up with you.” I sighed, pinching the bridge of my nose.
“You want me to see a shrink, Dad.” I replied flatly, turning back to the dresser. I shoved the last of my jeans into a drawer and slammed it shut.
“Don’t get offend, Abz. I just think it would be a good idea to talk to him about everything that’s been going on.”
“I’m fine. Honestly, I don’t need to talk to anyone about anything. All I need to do is forget everything that happened and get back to the old me. And I can do that without having to pay $75 an hour to Dr. Mazer.” My father sighed, pulling his hands from his pockets.
“Fine. But just promise me that you’ll get help if you think you need it. I would hate to see you go down the road your Momma did.” I gave him a soft smile.
“I promise, Daddy.”