“Uncle Frank!” I yelled out in horror. He was currently at the top of an extremely old looking ladder. Sunglasses flipped down covering his wide eyes, his head whipped around at the sound of my voice.
“Franklin!” My mother snapped, stepping out of our truck. Beside her, holding the door open, my father had an amused look on his face. My dad and Uncle Frank didn’t get along too well, so it wasn’t a surprise that he seemed eager to watch him fall.
“Get down this instant,” she continued, screeching at him. She stomped towards him until she was at the bottom of the ladder. “So help me, God, I will shove Clary back into that car and we will turn it around and go home.”
“There’s a bird’s nest,” Uncle Frank explained, his deep southern drawl making me giggle. It was a sight to see, my uncle on a giant wooden ladder that looked older than Lincoln, next to the beautiful plantation styled home.
“Clary,” he called out. I snapped out of my daze and ran to stand next to Mom.
“Yea?” I looked up expectantly.
“Wanna give it a go?”
I knew he was only asking to mess with my mom. She started fussing at him even more and I couldn’t contain my laughter. After a couple minutes, he made his way down, grumbling along the way. My mother pointed out that he had more than enough money to hire someone to remove the multiple birds’ nests, but he insisted on doing it himself.
Uncle Frank was a businessman, to say the least. He owned multiple properties here in the state of Mississippi, and he was well known in this small town named Joyston. It’s, supposedly, the cheeriest town in the southern region with a population of fifteen thousand people. Most of them would beg to differ.
My father and Uncle Frank didn’t even speak to each other as my luggage was brought into the house. Mom was very affectionate, showering me with kisses and hugs before leaving reluctantly. Dad gave me one solid kiss on the forehead and a pat on the back. I snorted as they walked down the porch steps, arguing about whether or not it was okay to leave me here. I grinned up at Uncle Frank who was wearing a smile of his own.
“Whaddaya say we make some breakfast?” he suggested, steering me into the house and towards the kitchen. I sat at the island silently as he struggled.
Each summer I stayed with my uncle for a month or two. He worked so often, I’d never get to see him otherwise. I was an only child with two very busy parents. They hardly cared what I did or who I did it with, but I knew they cared for me. The summers with my uncle were when I got the most attention. He’d plan activities for us, and once I’d gotten older, he let me go into town alone and mingle with other teenagers.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t the best at making friends.
My only real friend in this town, besides Uncle Frank, was my cousin Ada. She was into pageants, socializing, high school sporting events, and I just…wasn’t. I admired her for everything she did, and she tolerated me. She was a year older than I was and was on her way to becoming a senior this year. I knew she had big plans to go to art school in Chicago, and Uncle Frank was wary about that.
“Where’s Ada?” I wondered aloud. Uncle Frank took a break from scarfing down his biscuit to answer.
“Downtown with her friends,” he replied, shrugging slightly. I could tell it bothered him that he wasn’t as involved in her life as he should be. After the death of Aunt Rita, their relationship became harder to maintain. Rita brought their family together. Without her, it became apparent how different Ada and Uncle Frank were. I was often joked to be Uncle Frank’s true child. We both were quieter people who preferred to be observant rather than extroverted. It was especially hard for Uncle Frank considering he had to work and communicate with so many people since he was their boss.
Ada didn’t come home till later that evening. She wasn’t shocked by my presence. She knew I would be coming today. Like I said, she simply tolerated me.
“Hey Ada,” I waved awkwardly. Our rooms were right across the hall from each other. She normally kept her door closed while mine almost always remained open. Her short curly hair was pulled back into a sleek bun at the base of her neck, and she wore designer clothes. She had a couple of shopping bags in her hands, and she wore a bored expression.
“Clary,” she greeted dryly while unlocking her bedroom door. She nodded at me to come join her and I smiled inwardly. She closed the door behind me, and I took a seat on her bed while she sorted her new items.
“How’s lake life,” she asked. She was trying to be nice. She didn’t really care about the answer.
“Michigan’s alright,” I replied. “How was shopping?”
This was as deep as our conversations went.
“Fine, I guess,” she rolled her eyes. “I didn’t really find anything, and Viola was being a total bitch the whole time, but it was fine.”
This was something I’d never understand about Ada. Someone she considered to be one of her best friends was a girl named Viola who absolutely despised me. Sometimes, I thought she hated Ada just as much. They fought like sisters, but somehow worse. It confused me to no end. They were all over each other’s social media, though.
“That’s nothing new,” I conceded.
After a couple more minutes of small talk, Ada told me she’d be busy talking on the phone with her friends, but she’d be going down to the pool before dinner and that I should join her.
I never did.