Home Sweet Home
2020 - Jade
There’s always been something so soothing about driving down an empty street at night. It feels like reality disappears, giving way to the inner depths of your subconsciousness, the part of you that believes that you shouldn’t have a care in the world. I wish that part of me would come out more often. The streetlights glare straight into my eyes, giving me an unsettling feeling of distress and I quickly snap back into reality. I direct my gaze first to Lindsey, who is sitting in the driver’s seat, and for an unsettling moment I could see her lips moving, but I couldn’t hear what she was saying. Luckily, this feeling didn’t last for long, as I soon realized that Lindsey wasn’t talking, but rather singing along with her radio. It appeared as if she was in her own trance as well, except I got the feeling that hers was filled more with Beyonce than of thoughts floating through her subconscious; as shown by her rhythmic tapping on the steering wheel and the bobbing of her head. I guess I got entranced by her uplifting music and started keeping the beat on my own. Although Lindsey and I have quite different music tastes, I’ve learned to tolerate -- and even enjoy -- some of her tunes.
Yet, much to my surprise, the car suddenly started to slow and eventually came to a halt. The distinctive hum of the car’s engine had ceased and my thoughts were interrupted by Lindsey’s voice.
“Hey, Jade, we’re here,” she said gently after turning her body to face me.
Before opening the door, Lindsey stretched, relieved that our long ride was finally over. She looked over at me, waiting for a nod of approval, which, after a few seconds, was given. Lindsey got out of the car first and headed to the trunk to grab my bags, which I would soon carry on my own.
When I finally opened the door and stepped out of the car, I was greeted by a crisp breeze that flowed against my skin, creating goosebumps as it traveled up my arms. I began to search for Lindsey in the darkness and found her waiting at the top of the driveway near the open garage with one of my bags in her hand and the other strapped around her shoulder. As I walked towards her I noticed her father standing under the brightness of the garage light. I took the bag from her hand but was interrupted as I was about the take the other one off of her shoulder.
“I got this one. You should go inside and set up your bed, I’ll be in the garage talking to my Dad” she nodded towards her dad, and I gave him a friendly smile before looking back to Lindsey and giving her a soft nod. I then started walking along the stone pathway that led up to the front door of her house. “Come back out when you’re all set” she shouted in my direction.
The feeling of the cold hardwood floors stung the soles of my feet due to the change in temperature from the warmth of my boots to the unpleasant coldness of the house. My foster father was obsessed with keeping his house pristine at all times, and apparently, that meant reducing the temperature of it to a near-polar degree. I’ve always understood the need for his obsession though. He has a pristine reputation to keep up, and a messy house won’t assist him in doing so.
As I made my way up Lindsey’s grand staircase, I set the intention to grab the sheets from the small closet at the top so that I could make my bed properly. I was always used to going straight to Lindsey’s room and finding my bed already set up, but because of my time away, Derek, Lindsey’s dad and my foster father, had put everything back into their original places; the places that they had been stored before I started staying here.
After making my trip to the closet and walking a little way down the hall to my left, I pushed on the door to Lindsey’s room with my sheets and blankets draped over my arms, and it swung open with ease. As soon as I caught a glimpse of her room, my heart filled with joy knowing that I was finally in a place that I could call home, a feeling that I haven’t felt in what seemed like ages. The carpet that lined the floors of the room was incredibly plush, something that I’d never noticed before. I guess that staying in a house with filthy tile all-around had made me forget what actual carpeted floors felt like.
First, I placed my rather large duffle bag on the floor next to the ladder that led to Lindsey’s bed. My mattress sat directly under and perpendicular to her loft bed, but it was comparably smaller than the mattress that sat on the loft. I carefully placed the fitted sheet over my mattress, followed by the loose sheet and the fluffy comforter, something that I really missed the feeling of. The grey fabric was a bit worn, but still in good condition, and the comforter itself was thick and able to keep whoever was using warm, no matter the surrounding climate.
It didn’t take long before I finished making the bed, despite how much I got distracted from the nostalgic feeling of my surroundings. I have been eager to go to sleep after our treacherous car ride, but my presence was still needed in the garage, both to collect my second, smaller bag, and to show my thanks to Derek for letting me stay at his humble abode once again.
After getting set up once again, I slowly made my way down the stairs. I wanted to take in this moment just like I had done it all of the previous times, slowly and deeply. I imply that as if I haven’t experienced this moment much before, but it’s quite the opposite. Despite how many times I leave, I always find myself coming back here, where I feel most comfortable. The truth is, I’m not sure why I don’t just ask for Derek to adopt me. I guess it’s because I don’t want to go through more heartbreak of having to say goodbye when their time is up.
I open the door to the garage to find Lindsey and Derek chatting about their weekend. Lindsey always finds the best places to go to for her job. This weekend, she went to Utah to go hiking in their many state and national parks. Even though she only stayed for four days, she managed to visit 10 parks in total. Each of which she would later talk about on her blog. I have a huge amount of respect for her. She shares her stories to people who can’t experience them on their own. That in it of itself is beautiful. As much as he wants to, Derek is almost always unable to travel with Lindsey. He made a promise to his wife to not go to many beautiful places without her, and with her working a hefty night shift at the hospital, it’s hard for her to find free time. Instead, Derek finds himself staying home with his younger son, Emmett, and giving him the best life possible. Before Emmett was born, Derek was an engineer, but when he found out that his soon-to-be-born son had down syndrome, he decided to quit his job to stay home and take care of him.
I step down the smaller staircase and onto the concrete of the garage. “Hey, Mr. McLaughlin” I say in a tired tone.
“Jade! How’ve you been, sweetheart?” Derek is a cheerful voice. He wraps his arms around me in a friendly embrace and later pulls back. “How many times do I have to tell you that you can call me Derek?”
“Sorry, I haven’t seen you in forever. Just trying to be polite” I smile at him and look over at Lindsey. She is grinning from ear to ear. Despite how many people she’s friends with, she’s always extra excited to hang out with me. I never understood why. “I’m doing pretty well. I’m more worn out than anything,”
“Mandy should be home soon. After she gives you a much needed momma bear hug you’re welcome to go bed,” Derek says.
“What time is she supposed to be here?” I ask.
“Eleven o’clock,” he says, “She called and says she running late though. In the meantime, what do you think about some hot cocoa?”
“Yes please!” Lindsey exclaims.
“I guess I’ll have some, too,” I say.
“Two hot cocoas comin’ right up!” Derek says, “I’ll let you know when they’re done. I’ll leave you two to chat for now.”
Lindsey and I start talking about school. Despite living here on and off for the past few years, I’ve never gone to the school here.
“First day is tomorrow!” she says, “Aren’t you so excited! You’ll have to let me know if my favorite teachers are still there.”
“For sure, Linds. Is it big?”
I’ve always had a fear of big schools. Not for fear that I would get lost in the school, but rather because as someone who doesn’t like talking to strangers, I’m afraid that I will get lost in the wave of students and just be another “new girl”.
“Kind of I guess.” Lindsey shrugs, “It’s average I think. It’s definitely not small but I don’t think it’s that big.”
“Great... more students to have to introduce myself to.”
“Jade, you’re one of the most outgoing people I know. You’ll be fine!”
Suddenly, bright lights shine into our faces, causing us both to squint our eyes. They shut off within a few seconds and when the car door opens, Lindsey jogs up to it. I smile at the sight of Mrs. McLaughlin. She’s been the only mother figure in my life for a while and despite not being around her much, I know that’s she’s one of the most whole-hearted people I know, and it shows.
I see Lindsey give her mother a huge hug, and over Lindsey’s shoulder is a big, bright smile while she’s looking right at me. Of course, I smile back and wave. Once Lindsey releases her, she jogs to me with open arms, which causes me to giggle.
“Jade!” she squeals. Once she gets into the garage I move closer to her and she gives me a huge hug and doesn’t let go, rocking me back and forth. “My baby! I haven’t seen you in so long! You don’t even look a day older! Oh, I missed you so much!”
I hear the garage door squeak and Derek peaks his head out. Once he sees that his wife is home. I does a little dance with our hot cocoas in his hands.
“Mandy is home!” he exclaims.
She then lets go of me and goes to give Derek a peck on the lips. After greeting his wife, he tells us all to come sit down for some hot chocolate.
“Bedtime!” Derek says after we all chat for a little bit and finish our delicious hot drink. I give Derek and Mandy a final goodnight hug before making my way up to bed with Lindsey.
My night is concluded with a soft “goodnight” from Lindsey, and a final comment.
“Get some rest. First days of school are always exciting.” she whispers.
I grin in the pitch dark and finally let my eyes close. In 152 years of going to high school, this is the most exciting year so far.
This story is about to get a lot more suspenseful...
Chapters will be longer in the future, but I just wanted to get some introductions done in this one :)
My story is also available on Wattpad!