“Home” is for a lot of people a place where they can be their true selves, for others, it is a person, and for others, it is just a word that awakens a lot of nostalgic memories. A house is made of wood and brick, but only love will turn it into “home.”
I was sitting on the grass, at the back of my house, reading from a book that I have started just the day before. I was enjoying the sun and the good weather. I didn't have time for myself lately. I was preparing for the end of the school’s year. It was the final year of high school. I had near me some university brochures, but they belonged to Crista. I haven’t touched them yet.
“Crista! Jo! I brought you the papers.”
“I’m coming, aunt Nadia!” I exclaimed from the back of the house.
Aunt Nadia was the woman whom my sister and I owned everything. She took care of the business of our parent, from the moment they died in a horrible car accident. Nadia was mom’s sister. She was a woman full of energy, short and she also had short hair. She looked confident since she’d dyed her hair red.
“Hi, Nadia! Thanks!”
“Where is Crista?” she asks.
“She remained at school to play tennis. She is making the best of this month. You know she is melancholic when it comes to the last year of high school.”
“And you, Jo?” she asks.
“I am not that excited to go to college. I’m thinking of taking a gap year, to decide what to do with my life. Maybe in this year, I will learn some things from you, you know, about taking over the family business.”
“I understand. You let me see what you decide, and I will help you.”
“Do you want a coffee?”
“I have to go, thanks. I have to pick up Robert from one of our customers.”
Robert was her husband. A big and bitter man. He and Nadia were a perfect match. Nadia hugged me; then she left in a hurry. I wasn’t an affectionate person, but I hugged her back anyway because that was the polite thing to do.
After that, I made a cup of coffee, and I sat on the swing that was near my doorway. I was wondering what was the right thing to do, to go to University like Crista, or to take a burden off Nadia’s shoulders and handle our part of the business.
My parents had a business in the construction domain, with Nadia and Robert. After the tragic accident, Nadia tried to help us and to take over all the responsibilities, for us to have a financial source in the future. Everything was going excellent, but I thought that it was time to take the matter into my hands because she had done enough for us.
Crista was a young and dreamy soul, appropriate to an eighteen years old girl. At my twenties, I considered myself mature enough. Nevertheless, we were both finishing high school together. The idea of crushing her dreams about University was not on my mind, so I didn’t think to ask for her help with the business.
Crista was shorter than me. Her long and dark brown hair and also her green eyes highlighted her beauty. We were different. In fact, I was different from the rest of the family, from every point of view. I was taller than her, and my hair was shorter and lighter. A few strands of blonde hair were lost in my head for a while. Neither at the eyes, we weren’t the same because I had brown eyes.
While I was reflecting on these life’s problems, a car stopped in front of my house. George was behind the wheel, Crista on the front seat and Deborah in the back. We were friends with George and Deborah since childhood. George was a tall and dark-haired guy. Every time I saw him I wondered why was he single because he was good-looking. He was a freelancer and had his schedule, translating acts from different languages. Sometimes, Nadia applied to his services, when she had foreign customers.
Deborah was a tall girl, with brown and gorgeous long hair. Her green-brown eyes reflected her entirely mean girl personality. She never had a good relationship because of her impulsive character. She was very pretentious too. She was living alone, and she had her money. However, I never had any problems communicating with her, and we got along very well. I’ve always seen beyond her badness mask, and I considered her a sensitive person. Of course, I never told her that because I never wanted to risk a fight full of contradictions.
“Hey, Jo! Do you have any coffee left?” asks Deborah.
“Sure. Come on in!”
“You should have stayed to play tennis with us. We had an excellent time!” says George.
“Next time. I promise!”
“We’re not going to stay long here. We just came to take more tennis balls”, says Deborah.
“Yeah, someone thought he was a professional and all of them ended up over the fence. We didn’t find them”, grumbles Crista pointing at George.
George was staying across the street since we were four years old when we moved into the neighborhood. Then we befriended with Deborah, at the kindergarten, and we went together to the same school and high school. They were always feeling like home at our place. While we were drinking our coffee, someone rang at the door. Crista hurried to answer.
“Sabrina! Come on in!”
“I came to tell you that I am organizing the final party of the year! I am so happy that after all those years, I can finally host a party! Even if it is the end… Never mind, I don’t want to become melancholic. Tomorrow night, at eight, I see you at the Orin Lake. It will be a beautiful thing with drinks, food, tents, music, crazy stuff… you know.”
“See you there!” says Crista.
“Ok, bye!” exclaims Sabrina.
After she had left, we remained with some stupid smiles on our faces. She was a classmate and a good friend, since the beginning of the high school. She was a favorite girl, but she wasn’t very good at organizing parties, and this was the reason for which nobody let her organize anything. I don’t know how she convinced anyone to let her host the final party, but I had a feeling that I didn’t want to know.
“Where is Cora?” asks Crista.
Cora was our dog, a Golden Retriever. We had her for seven years, and we loved her very much. I trained her, and this was the reason she didn’t listen to Crista, a fact that made her angry sometimes.
“She was outside when you came”, I say.
“Ok. I will give Cora something to eat, and then I think we will go again to play tennis. Do you want to join us?”
“Sure, I’m going to change.”
I went to my room to get ready. When I went downstairs, I was ready to play tennis and very excited. I saw everyone bored and waited for me, and Cora was ready to go.
“Come on!” says George. “We’re waiting for twenty minutes!”
“Sorry, I didn’t realize that time flies!” I grumbled.
“I thought that it would be a good idea if I take Cora for a walk too!” says Crista.
“Ok then. Let’s go!”
We got into George’s car and went to the tennis field from the skirts of the town. It wasn’t so far because our town was small and everybody knew everybody. Cora was staying quiet in the back of the trunk. She was used to long rides in the car because I took her everywhere with me.
We got to the field quite fast, and we started to play. I made the team with Deborah, and George with Crista. We won the first set, and we took a break. It passed almost an hour and a terrible headache cut off my playing mood.
“I think I’m going to let you play”, I said. “I don’t feel so well, so I will stay here for a while, then I will go home.”
“I’ll take you” offers George.
“No, thanks. I want to get some fresh air. I’ll walk.”
“Do you want to take Cora back home?” asks Crista.
“Yes, it’s a good idea.”
“I knew I’d remain alone in the team”, says Deby.
“Ha”, I commented.
After fifteen minutes, in which Crista and Deborah played an excellent game, I decided to stand up. George was looking at them bored. I took Cora, and I started walking home. On my way, I saw three houses that were built-up recently by D&M, the company of my parents, that was ready to be lived in them. They looked so good than the other houses, and they awoke in me a feeling of pride.
That feeling didn’t last long because I heard footsteps behind me. When I turned around, I saw Sebastian, the classmate that nobody tolerated. Whatever, almost anyone, because he had his group of less tolerated friends. He had a problem with attractive girls. I was sure that he had a piece of brain missing. He was obsessed with me, and he always found a reason to talk to me. To be honest, this man annoyed me, but he also scared me.
“Jo, wait!” he said.
Of course, I didn’t react, and I continued to walk until he started running and caught up with me.
“Hey, don’t you hear me or are you avoiding me?” asks he with a strange voice.
“I’m in a hurry, Sebastian. I’m not in the mood for your stupid jokes.”
“Why do you avoid me every time you see me? I don’t like to be mocked, especially by a girl like you. So, tell me… do you want to have an evening… how can I say…”
At that moment, I felt a strong smell of whiskey. How was I supposed to get rid of this crazy drunk?
“You’ve been drinking. You don’t know what you’re talking. I’m going to leave now.”
“Not so fast!” he says and grabs me by my arm.
“Let me go! Now!” I scream.
“And if I don’t? What are you going to do? Put the dog on me?” he laughs.
I tried to get rid of him, but he was holding me strongly. He grabbed me with both hands. He had no intention of letting me go. Cora started to bark. All I hoped at that moment was that somebody could hear Cora and come over to see what was going on. When I saw nobody was coming, I started fighting back, and I managed to get myself free. I couldn’t run so far because he threw himself over me and started pulling off my jacket.
“Come on, Jo! Don’t make such a big deal! I’m waiting for you since the beginning of the high school, and I don’t accept to be refused by a girl.”
“Go to Hell!” I scream and scratch him on the face.
At that moment, I realized that I made a mistake. Sebastian’s facial expression changed, and he got very mad. He grabbed me by my neck and took off my jacket, with an incredible force that it tore up. He started plucking at my shirt. The fight was exhausting, Cora was barking, I was screaming, and he was laughing and shouting at the same time.
I don’t know where it came from, but a hand took Sebastian from me and gave him some earned hits.
“Get lost now when you have a chance!” says the man.
He was dizzy and confused, but he finally got up. He looked surprised. Not a lot of people had the courage to get into his business. It was the first time when I saw his scared. He started running and grumbling something.
“Are you ok?” asks the man that saved my skin.
“It was my favorite jacket!” I said trying not to cry and to embarrass myself.
“Where do you live? Let me take you home. My car is here. I was in the neighborhood, and I heard the screaming. You were very lucky.”
“I think I’ll walk home. But thanks anyway”, I say trembling.
“Come on! You can’t bump into two crazy men in the same night!” he says smiling.
“I hope not!” I respond with a smile.
We got into his car after he put Cora into the back. I was not usually getting in the car with strangers, but this time I was pretty shaken, so it was an exception. Above all this, he inspired me some weird feeling of trust.
“Thank you for stepping in. I am Josephine.”
“I am Andy. Tell me, where do you live?”
“Turn right here, then the fourth house on the left.”
“Who was that jerk?”
“He’s a sort of bad boy around here. Nobody has the courage to get into his business. He has a problem with me for many years now. I didn’t give him enough attention. Now he was drunk, and I couldn’t get rid of him. It all degenerated… Thank you again!”
“No problem! Take care!”
“By the way, I haven’t seen you around.”
“That’s because I’m new in town. It’s the first time I come here. Until now, my brother took care of the land, and he bought the house, and now I decided to come.”
“I see. It seems like you had quite a welcome! See you around. Thanks for bringing me. Good night. Come on, Cora!”