After the tryouts, Rachel went straight to the Cabin but found it empty. Everyone was at the Rec Center. She went upstairs and inspected her painting – she’d put it up the next day.
Rachel was drained. She was tired and it had been a long day. But now she lay in her room trying to convince herself that things weren’t off to such a horrible start.
Despite the assurances from her Cabin members, there was part of her that held on to the fact that she didn’t like it here and that she didn’t belong here. It was the stubborn thoughts that latched on to her for dear life. That she wasn’t supposed to like it here.
Frustrated, she put on her sneakers again, and before leaving for the Rec Center, she wrote down some words in her journal:
My own thoughts will be the end of me. They’ve got to be the only things that keep me from being happy here. The reason I hate it here is because I hate my father. And the reason I hate my father is because I taught myself that over the course of 13 years. Well done, Fayne! :/
The glass doors slid open and music filled her ears. Rachel entered the Rec Center. The dim colored lights gave an interesting glow to the environment. Kids were running, lounging on sofas, playing video games, foosball, and mostly talking. It was the constant chatter of the children that made the place itself alive.
She walked straight to the large, dark, wooden doors at the end and pushed them open. Rachel gasped. She had found heaven on earth.
Her eyes lit up, bright like a Christmas tree and a wide grin took over her face. She blinked and her smile, if it was possible, grew bigger. Shelves upon shelves upon shelves of books filled the warmly lit hall.
Desks and chairs and sofas lined the walls and in the very center were 12 long rows of seemingly endless shelves. Genres written in bold black lettering on golden plates hung over each row. And Rachel Fayne … was in heaven.
“Beautiful isn’t it?”
Rachel jumped and turned around to the source of the voice. Jacob Wesson stood behind her, hands behind his back, grinning as well.
It took Rachel a moment to recognize him at first. He wasn’t wearing a crisp suit but instead looked incredibly casual. He wore a red polo, worn out jeans and his hair wasn’t slicked back but to her surprise, was a mangled mess.
Nothing like the Jacob Wesson who introduced her to this place by giving her a speech that barely lasted five minutes and expected to see her in class bright and early, Monday morning.
“Yeah,” she finally answered, “It does kind of take your breath away.”
They stood in silence gazing at the shelves for a couple of minutes, Rachel was still wearing that giant grin and Wesson watched her.
“Come on,” Wesson broke the silence, “Lemme introduce you to the librarian.”
“The librarian?” Rachel scoffed
“Yeah,” he waved his hand in the air, “You’ll like her. She’s fun.”
“Cause that’s what all the cool kids are doing these days. Hittin’ it off with the librarian.”
Wesson gave her an odd look and then bit back a smile. Rachel cringed inwardly, making a mental note to tone down the sass.
Wesson led her to the south of the library where, behind a mahogany desk, sat a woman in her late twenties; thin rimmed glasses perched on her nose as she read a worn out looking classic, her hair falling over her eyes.
“Emma,” he began, tearing her out of the world of fiction, “Meet Rachel.”
Rachel beamed and so did Emma, giving her a warm smile, “Welcome to Jameson, sweetheart.” She had a light melodious voice and a hint of a southern accent.
“Thank you. This place is amazing by the way.”
“Yeah, well, you drop by whenever you want to, okay?”
“Sure, yeah! You’ll be seeing a lot of me.”
Her fingers danced along the spines as her eyes skimmed over the titles, she landed on one and pulled it out.
“Modern Art” Wesson read from behind her.
“Yeah.” She smiled once again, “I kinda have a crazy … obsession with anything and everything that comes in the basic category of ‘Art’.”
“Just like your mother” he said under his breath. Of course, Rachel wasn’t supposed to hear that but the silence of the library was enough to make sure that every sound was audible; even that grim whisper.
And now, he felt like kicking himself for even saying that, “Your parents.” He hesitated, “I knew them. We were … really close. Kinda like family.”
Nate never talked about them, neither did Nanna. As a matter of fact, they both almost avoided the topic. Rachel seized the chance; “Could you tell me a little about them?” her voice was quiet, uncertain.
Wesson sighed, “Well, your mother … she was beautiful. You look a lot like her, you know? She was this artistic, beautiful soul. And, I mean, she was generally a quiet, sophisticated looking person but when she was around family … friends … God,” he shook his head, his eyes almost brimming with tears, “she was a bucket full of sunshine” he laughed, “This optimistic, funny, ray of joy that just thought her purpose was to make sure that everyone around her was happy.”
Rachel smiled, “She sounds awesome”
“Aw, trust me she was much more than that.”
“You guys were close, then?”
Rachel absentmindedly flipped through the book, “And … Dad?”
“Your father,” he snorted, “He, uh, he liked playing the tough guy – total softy at heart though … he was abnormally intelligent – good with numbers … took his job way too seriously. I mean, yeah, he owned the company but … I think he let the company destroy him…”
Rachel blinked, “Wow.”
“I think you have to be the only person who has actually given me an honest answer.”
“About what, your father?”
“Yeah, everybody else makes him seem like this hero and super caring dad of the year.”
“He wasn’t. I mean, he loved you guys. He cared a lot, he was over protective and loving … but things – they had a way of … let’s just say he didn’t wanna lose you guys. He feared it like oblivion”
“Right” she rolled her eyes, sarcasm dripping off her tongue.
“If he really was that loving and caring” Rachel began, repeating the reason of her dislike for her father for the millionth time, “He wouldn’t have abandoned me when I was just three! My mother died and he up and left leaving me with a nanny and a fortune. That’s it.”
Wesson was stunned into silence. Rachel flickered through the pages until he decided to speak again, “Don’t say that, he was a confused … grief stricken guy.” He attempted defending his friend.
“Doesn’t justify what he did to me”
“I know. He … he was wrong and I know that.”
“I just don’t get it. I mean, out of everything – he could’ve left me a stupid note. A nice little, ‘hey honey – I’m gonna disappear for the rest of eternity – love, your father’”
“Enough, okay. He did what he had to do.”
“Like you know the reason.” She muttered.
“I wish …”
“Mr. Wesson, it’s just – I’ve grown to hate the cloud of mystery that’s been hanging over me. My parents are strangers to me and everybody treats them like they were the saviors of the universe.
Okay, so maybe he was a philanthropist or something like that but what was so great about him? Why is there not a single scrap of anything about him anywhere! Not the books, newspapers or even the freakin’ internet! Like, when was the last time Google failed you? ”
“People look at me in this weird way. His disappearance is a pretty big deal and it was a decade ago too – I hate the attention. People expect me to know things about him – to be as great as him but I can’t. How can I even begin to understand an unknowable person?!”
Rachel opened her mouth to rant some more but stopped short. Regret instantly inched its way into her head for trusting Wesson seconds after he gave her one ounce of detail of the parents she never knew. He could be lying for crying out loud! Wesson looked at her expectantly.
“ ... I – never mind, Mr. Wes … I apologize.”
Wesson looked at her like he was hurt, like he felt the pain that was currently pumping through her veins like it was blood. He was sorry for her. But who wouldn’t feel sorry for her? And the sympathy – oh, the looks of pity – Rachel wanted to flip a damn table.
“I’m probably the one who owes you an apology for bringing your mom and dad into the conversation in the first place.”
He dismissed the issue with a wave of his hand and took the book from her hands, placing it back in the shelf, “Come on – it’s probably time for dinner.”