"Yeah, you should see a big pink building, it's hard to miss. It has a sign outside that says 'Pink Palace Apartments'. Just park on the side of the house in the gravel when you get here. Alright, I'll see you later, love you." I hung up the phone and got up from my bed to walk downstairs to the kitchen where I knew my mom was working. Both my mom and my dad write gardening catalogues even though they hate dirt. But, ever since my encounter with the other mother they've been gardening with me and spending a lot more time with me. In a way, the Beldam helped me.
"Coraline, I love you but I'm almost finished with the last chapter and I need to get this done before 4 o'clock."
I huffed and sat across from her at the table. She continued typing as we sat in silence, the only sound being the tapping of her fingers on the keyboard. I started moving side to side in my seat, making the chair legs squeak loudly. After continuing the movement for a few minutes she sighed heavily and stopped working to look at me tiredly. I ceased the noise and stared back at her.
"Coraline, I'm trying to finish this, but when you're making that irritating noise it's incredibly difficult." She started rubbing her temples slowly. I clasped my hands together and rested them on the table in front of me. I gave her a smile and hopped up and down in my seat slightly.
"I'll leave you alone in a minute. I just wanted to tell you something," I told her happily. She looked at me with tired eyes and she nodded for me to continue so she could get back to finishing the last chapter of the catalogue. "A certain person that we both love will be here in a few hours. Take a guess!" I was so excited it was hard to stay still and I was grinning so big it was starting to hurt.
"Your Aunt Hilda? Love isn't exactly the word I'd use to describe my feelings towards her..."
"No! Mom, it's Sage- wait, what was that about Aunt Hilda?" She laughed nervously and brushed it off by changing the topic back to Sage.
"What brings him out here? I just spoke with Catherine on the phone the other day and she said they were on their way to some sort of family reunion and they'd be there for the week since it was up in Florida." Sage had told me about the family reunion they were supposed to be going to and he was dreading it. He'd never gotten along well with his family. The only family member he would ever willingly be around or talk to was Catherine and that was because she was his mother. She was a very sweet woman and incredibly beautiful with a light complexion, soft brown eyes and dark brown hair while his father, Edgar, was a rather impolite muscular blonde man of great stature with crystal blue eyes and fair skin. His mother was from France and his father was from Germany, though no one knew where exactly either were from since both were unwilling to talk about their birthplaces. Sage has blonde hair like his father, his mother's smaller stature (her being 5'1" and him being 5'4"), the same light complexion as both of them and emerald green eyes that had been passed down from his great grandmother on his father's side.
"He said they went, but decided to come back early because of his dad. Something about embarrassing them at the reunion and being drunk while speaking to the other family members, or something like that." I shrugged and stood up, "I just thought I should tell you so you'd be prepared to see them when they arrive."
She smiled and shook her head. "Don't you think you should warn that boy you're friends with, oh what's his name... Wyborn! Shouldn't you warn Wyborn about Sage coming to visit? Won't he be surprised or maybe feel weird meeting someone unexpectedly? He seems like he's a bit of a loner. Or he may feel awkward with you two knowing each other."
I thought about it for a minute and thought she might be right so I told her I was heading over to Wybie's to inform him about it. She told me to be careful and not to get muddy as I walked out the door and in the direction of Wybies' grandmothers' home.
When I reached the small house and walked up the few stairs to get to the door I knocked and waited for someone to answer. The door opens to reveal Wybie in his usual worn out jeans, black jacket with silver trimming, skeleton-like gloves and black converse. I could hear laughing in the background when the door opened and got curious as to who it was.
"Hey Jonesy, what brings you to my place? If you want to hangout we can, but you'll have to put up with a few other guys; I have some friends over."
"I'd love to, but I have to head back in a few to get some things ready. I came to tell you one of my friends from Michigan is coming to visit and he'll be here in a few hours. I want you to meet him and my mom thought I should warn you about it." I saw him start to shift from foot to foot and he rubbed the back of his neck.
"I don't know, I'm not that social. What's he like?"
I thought about it for a minute. "You don't need to worry, he's super nice and I know he'll like you a lot. He has a bit of an attitude like mine, but that's to be expected since he's my friend. Once you get to know him he'll relax around you, until then just be nice and if you're yourself you'll make him laugh. He'll warm up to you, trust me," I said reassuringly. Sage is actually really nice and sweet, just like his mom. But, I do remember one time when he acted like his dad and I felt bad for the kid who was picking on me. It was 6th grade and an older kid started bullying me when I was waiting for Sage to get done in the bathroom. He must have come out and saw what was happening because the next thing I knew the kid was lying on the floor with a broken nose that was gushing blood. Sage lunged for him, but a teacher grabbed him first and he was suspended for violence. It wasn't like I couldn't take care of myself, but he stood up for me and I appreciated that. It meant he cared enough about me to get in trouble and that just made us closer. But, I'd never wish an angered Sage upon anyone. He's a freaking beast when he's mad and I'd rather not see it again if I can avoid it.
He looked unsure, but nodded anyway. I told him to come by at 7:30 so that gives me 5 hours to get everything ready for Sage (including the time it takes my mom and I to drop off her catalogue and talk to the publishers about it) and greet him before Wybie comes.
I walk back to the Pink Palace and go upstairs to Mr. Bobinskys'. When I knock on the door it creaks open and I call out his name. There's only silence until I see him pull himself over the railing.
"Hello Caroline! What brings you to my home?"
"Well, my friend Sage is coming in to visit from Michigan. I was hoping you could maybe arrange a small circus act with the jumping mice to welcome him. A few other people would also be coming too, but I'd like him to feel comfortable being here and also wanted him to meet you," I said hopefully. I wanted Sage to meet Wybie, but I thought a mouse circus would take some pressure off of Wybie. He looked really nervous and reluctant.
"Of course Caroline! Anything for you devushka," he said. I smiled and thanked him then I was on my way. I went down to Miss Spink and Miss Forcibles'. As always their Scottie dogs were barking at the door before I even knocked. Miss Spink opened the door for me and shooed the dogs away. She asked if I wanted to come in for some tea, but I politely declined her offer.
"No thank you Miss Spink I have some things I have to do today. One of my friends from Michigan is coming to visit and I have to get everything ready for his arrival. I actually came to ask a favor if you wouldn't mind."
"Oh, not at all. What is it you needed deary?" She asked with wide eyes and a large smile. I returned the smile and told her I'd appreciate it if they could tell Sage a few stories about their lives when they used to perform since he also enjoys acting and going to the theater. He always said it was like you could be different people and learn about others through acting. What someone has faced and other people's challenges, getting to experience it and being able to try to relate to someone and tell them you're there for them because you've attempted to put yourself in their shoes. He always was one to care about others and try to help no matter what.
"Absolutely! You hear that Miriam! Caroline's friend loves the theater as much as we do and likes to act! She wants us to tell him some stories about our performances!" She looked back at me, "I'll do something better. We'll tell him some of our stories and we'll have a script ready so he can enjoy some acting while he's here. Do you think he'd like that?"
"Yes! He'd love it so much, thank you!"
"It's no problem dear. What are some things he likes?"
I shifted my weight to one side and tilted my head. "Well, he likes scary stuff. But, in this case I'd do something creepy and mysterious, but also slightly romantic since some other people will be coming as well."
"I have a serious question. Is your friend by any chance attracted to the same gender?" I choked on my spit and started coughing uncontrollably. I calmed down and looked over at her.
"I don't know. I've never asked him before, I didn't think it mattered. Why?" I was curious as to why she would ask me something like that. I don't think anyone has ever been so straight forward while talking about someone's sexuality before.
"I was just curious. Besides, if there's a romance scene then I need to know whether it should be written for two men or a man and a woman. Just details, deary. Can't assume you know someone's preferences, especially if you've never met them."
I nodded my head and told her it didn't matter. After we said our goodbyes I headed back up to my flat and saw my mom was gathering her laptop and her printed chapters of the catalogue into a messenger bag and grabbing her keys.
"Are we leaving now? I'm finished with Sages surprises." She nodded her head quickly and pulled me out of the house and to the car. We made it there and she dropped off her catalogue after discussing a few things with the publisher. Finally, we left and went to the store to get some ingredients for dinner tonight since we were running low on food anyway. While we were out I decided to get something for Sage since we haven't seen each other in such a long time. We do text and call, but there's nothing like seeing someone in person. I'm almost 18 now, it's been about 5 1/2 years and I'm wondering if he looks the same as he used to.
When we get back home it's 6:00 p.m. and I wonder why he isn't here. He was supposed to have been here 30 minutes ago. That's when I hear my cellphone start ringing and I answer it without looking at the caller ID.
"Hello?" I ask. I hear a snort on the other end and smile at the voice.
"I'm here, where's the welcoming committee?"
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