Chapter Seven~Appassionato: Closer Alike Than Thought
Love is like pastries, it’s not always sweet.
“Vanessa? Why are you here?” Ella murmured
Vanessa was carrying a bag along with a binder in hand looking out of it. All the shy energy from early was gone now leaving a tried shell of a girl. A yawn drew Ella out from her excessive staring.
The awkward silence made Ella feel conscious of herself. Another emotion which has started happening more and more. So to break the silence Ella piped up,“What do you need?”
“My dorm flooding leaving me without a place to stay, before you say anything else I’ve tried everything. It’s just that my parent don’t live nearby and the school won’t have anywhere for me to stay for the next week.” Sighing Vanessa pushed her bag farther up her shoulder before continuing her little speech,“I don’t have any friends other than you since I don’t talk much so I was kinda hoping you would let me stay over.”
Secretly Ella hoped that at any moment Vanessa would think of a better plan than stay with a pretty much random stranger in a seedy neighborhood. Too bad for Ella luck hadn’t been on her side lately and Vanessa only stood still next to the door looking expectantly at Ella.
Moving to the side Ella gestured Vanessa into her house. Ella watched as Vanessa walked in scanning her surroundings combing through the clean house. Another bloom of pride flourished in Ella thinking back to her father’s confession just minutes before.
“Your house is really clean, it looks like you try your hardest to have it well-kept,” Vanessa chattered while still moving around the entrance peeking views into other rooms.
Crossing her arms together Ella spoke, “If you follow me upstairs I will show you where you can stay for the next week.” Vanessa only nodded her head before struggling with her suitcases up the stairs try to follow Ella. Passing her own room Ella opened the door to an empty guest room which had been used as a storage room for the past few years.
Strung around the room was old photos of her family’s happier times and dusty trophies and awards. The trophies and awards must’ve been tossed into the room never to be seen again because they were scattered across the ground.
“I’ll clean up the room before you go to sleep but for now you can just leave your stuff by the door, just be careful not to make too much noise Vanessa. You can head downstairs for now while I clean up.”
A small mumble of thanks could be heard from Vanessa following a pitter patter of footsteps descending the stairs.
Rolling up her sleeves Ella walked in the room starting to pick up some of the sprawled memories on the floor. One of the pieces Ella picked up was a photo of her mother and a younger naive Ella smiling with gaps of missing teeth. Tossing it into one of the cardboard boxes Ella grabbed another handful of other photos, many of trips when their family was still complete.
Something stood out to Ella nearing the finish of cleaning the room, her mother would smile but it didn’t fill her face. It was as if something was missing that she couldn’t get back leaving a hole of emptiness. Maybe Ella was reading too much into, Ella barely knew her know emotions how was she suppose to know her mother’s.
Shrugging it off Ella walked out of the room to the nearest sink to wash the dust and mess off her hands. After she slipped downstairs and told Vanessa that she had finished and Vanessa could now to start setting up the room for herself. Once Vanessa had disappeared upstairs a clatter came from the laundry room Ella walked to the laundry room to find the cause of the noise only to find her father sitting next to the washing machine looking and it in frustration.
“What happened?” Ella asked walking closer to her father
“I think I broke something but I’m not entirely sure,” He sighed while running his hand through his hair. A small puddle started to form on the floor, moving to the back of the washing machine water could be seen slowly leaking out of the tubing that usually pushed water into the washer. Not really knowing what to do Ella just kept looking at the broken tubing and watching the water pour till her father spoke up again, “Did I break it? What should I do? Call the plumber or is there someone special for things like this?”
Not knowing what else to say Ella just nodded ‘yes’, besides it was probably time for the washer to have some sort of problem she had used it for years without a problem this was only to be expected.
“You can call the washer repair guy if you want but it’s probably only the tubing that’s the problem so I’ll head to the hardware store to pick it up,” Ella instructed to her father.
“Alright you go to the store and I’ll mop up this mess as a temporary solution but if you can’t fix it I’m going to call someone to fix the washer.” Ella’s father paused before going on and asking, “Who’s the girl you let stay over? A friend?”
“Something like that.”
Without any more words Ella grabbed her messenger bag and started down the street towards where the cafe and the hardware store sat side by side. Half way through the trip Ella started to hum Killing Me Softly With His Song, wasn’t the best song to sing in such a neighborhood which was ten times more dangerous after dark. At least the sun was setting so Ella had at least thirty more minutes.
By the time Ella reached the hardware store darkness started to spread leaving the only the light of signs and houses to help guide her every step. It wasn’t the first time Ella had been out past dark, it fact it gave her a kind of comfort when stepping into a spot of light making her feel like a singer performing to a crowd. Her heart would speed up and her pulse would quicken in excitement, though Ella knew her father hated being in front of people and her mother was a piano player who would only let Ella and her father listen to her play Ella knew that somewhere performing was in her blood.
Tossing the tubing onto the checkout counter Ella watched the filthy gaze of an older man from another lane stare straight at her, today really wasn’t her day. At least the shoes Ella picked before leaving were her athletic shoes. Grabbing the bag Ella quickly walked away she only got around ten feet out of the store before a large hand grabbed her arm, it was to surprise to Ella that it was the old man from earlier. Ella was about to kick the man in the crotch when she heard someone speak, “What do you think you’re doing to my girlfriend old man?”
The hand left Ella’s arm and she looked to see that the voice had come from. It didn’t take much thought to know that the voice had been Nathan’s, he was lately everywhere around her. Soon enough her could be her certified stalker. Playing along to get farther away from the creepy man Ella went closer to Nathan, “Hey I missed you, why did you leave me all alone when getting supplies for our project?”
“Sorry, I’m here now at least,” Nathan said while opening the passenger door to his car for Ella to hop in. Sliding in quickly Ella watched as the old man slipped into the dark away before it got into a messy situation. ‘Good choice’ Ella thought.
Once starting the car Nathan turned to Ella, “So you going to finally tell me about yourself, I mean I am your knight in shining armor aren’t I?”
Trying to switch the topic off of her past Ella faking excitement asked, “I’d rather you tell me about yourself, I mean you are my knight in a shiny sports car aren’t you?” Ella heard a deep low chuckle come from Nathan making goosebumps crawl up her skin.
“Fine, I suppose it only right to tell you about myself before asking anything of yourself. Where should I begin?” After a few moments of humming acting to be in thought, Nathan spoke again, “Do you remember my brother?” Ella nodded her head. “Well he is actually my half-brother, same mom different dads but nonetheless he’s still family. And he’s really the only reason I stay in line for my step-dad, you know Mason Lykes?”
“You mean the famous pianist turned producer and owner of Fanfare?”
“The very one, he’s my step-dad that’s why I have a different last name my mom and my brother both have his last name while I’m the odd one out. It was his way of always reminding me that I’m not really apart of his family. My real dad apparently walked out on my mom when I was young forcing to her find work. She soon started working as a secretary for the newly rising producing company of Fanfare. At the time, of course, Mason was married to another woman Julie I think her name was, but there was some big fiasco because she all of a sudden disappeared after finding out that Mason was cheating on her with my mom.
I suppose you could call my mom the mistress. Anyway, no one really looked for Julie and my so-called mother decided it was her chance to rise. Around four years later boom they tie the knot and a few months after that Jamie was born. And now to keep the Lykes’ name clean Mason makes me practice, the thing is nothing is ever good enough for the Mason Lykes no matter what I do it’s never enough, it all just feels like an empty victory. Lately, though things have started to have meaning again.”
Silence sweeps through the car and Ella realizes she’s closer alike than she thought to Nathan, they’re both ruined but they both are started to get better. What comes next through Nathan’s mouth makes Ella feel a new type of emotion she just couldn’t put a finger on it, “Ella I’m going to leave after the piano competition a month from now, so let’s do our best on the duet.”
Ella sees a sad smile grace Nathan’s lips on the dull light. She knows the emotion she felt now, it was heartbreak.