A Warm Welcome
The warm afternoon sun kissed the exposed patches of my skin as I stretched my cramped and seized muscles from the long drive. Of course, I’d be the only one to only get collectively barely two hours of sleep the entire 35-hour drive from New Orleans to Oregon.
“Paisley!” My mother’s screeching is heard echoing through the once again unfamiliar neighborhood.
You see my mom doesn’t just yell. Oh no. She shrieks like an air horn on steroids, and no matter how loud my music pounds in my ears, her shrill could be heard through it all.
I begrudgingly removed the heavenly built objects that allowed the beautiful, angelic form of art called music, to flood my ears. Music is the only thing that can obscure me from the accustomed unconventional routine that is my life. Well isn’t that a mouthful.
“Yeah?” Fatigue plagued my entire body and knots had formed from the folded positions I was forced in from being cooped up most of the drive.
My limbs were sore and there was nothing more than I needed right now than to walk and loosen my seized-up joints before climbing into my reassembled bed.
“Take your father’s last box into his study.” She nodded her head in the direction of the box sitting on the sidewalk.
“Mhm,” I say trudging over to the box and squatting down, my knees cracking from lack of use.
I picked it up and walked back up the few stairs leading onto the porch, through the large white wooden and glass door, and down the small hallway into the open planned living and dining room. The walls are a creamy off-white color that makes the house feel more inviting and warmer, instead of all our past houses that resembled the feel of a sterilized hospital.
After dropping the last box into my Dad’s office, I make my way through the hallway of naked walls, and back out the door shouting out to my Mom that I’m going for a walk with Ace.
Not bothering with a leash since I trust him completely and he’s been trained, he started following close behind me as I walked down the quiet street.
Many people have made several remarks and comments about my habitat of not putting a leash on Ace when I walk him or go out anywhere, simply because he’s a large, blue American Staffy. I don’t get what all the fuss is about, it could as easily be any other breed of dog that could turn violent from terrible training, or selfish and evil intentions.
I get that some can find Ace quite intimidating due to his sheer size but, he’s such a softy. Don’t get me wrong, he can be very protective over me and Tyler but he would never attack anybody without reasonable provocation.
Following the cemented sidewalk that led to the nearby park, I spotted on the drive to the new house. I walk the two streets back if I recalled that correctly. Ace walking brazenly beside me etching in front slightly with a slither of protectiveness that kept him on high alert of our new surroundings.
Plopping down on the cool metal bench positioned a few feet back from the children running through the playground, Ace parks himself to the side of the bench. He lays down gingerly with pricked ears and vigilant eyes.
Watching the small children play amongst the equipment, I slip easily slip into my body and mind consuming thoughts. Reliving my old memories from my… turbulent childhood compared to most others.
It’s only when I hear a small giggle from beside me, that I focus my attention on a little girl kneeling in front of Ace. Ace seemed to be thoroughly enjoying being patted. She stroked his head lightly before I spoke up, pulling her attention away from Ace.
“Hello, what’s your name?” I asked leaning down next to the two of them.
“Peyton.” She looked up at me sheepishly.
“It’s nice to meet you, Peyton. My name’s Paisley and this is Ace.” I said reassuringly.
I noticed Ace had made himself comfortable, resting his head in Peyton’s lap while she continued looking at me and patting him at the same time. Cocking her head to the side before she spoke in a soft voice.
“You’re beautiful” she stated, more as an observation.
“Awe, thank you, but I think you’re more beautiful.” A bright smile had already spread widely across my face. Her presence instantly brightening up my day.
She dropped her head, letting her hair act as a curtain to hide her slightly red tinged chubby cheeks, and continued petting Ace who wasn’t protesting at all to the attention. I let out a small titter at the sight before asking her another question.
“Who’re you here with?”
“My brother, Xavier, and his girlfriend Alex, but she hates me” The smile that etched across her face popping her two dimples when she said her brother’s name made a sense of warmness fill through me. However, that feeling quickly turned cold at the mention of her brother’s girlfriend from the most amount of venom Peyton could put into saying her name – which wasn’t much, as well as frown carved on her face.
“Why would she hate you? I don’t think she could.” I tried to reconcile her smile with the fragments of it left on her face.
“She’s terrible! She’s always mean to me!” screeching her words at me with her utmost amount of belief. Her eyes filled with desperation to be believed by someone.
“Okay, okay. I believe you.” I said sympathetically.
I know I just met Peyton, but I don’t think she’s that much of a handful to be disliked by someone that much. I could see where some might find her annoying because she just seems so bubbly and full of energy, but that’s also just a part of being a kid.
Her face lit up and without warning she attacked me into a hug, knocking me onto to the ground with a thud. Ace started licking her face and wedging himself between us, causing us both to laugh.
“Thank you! I like you.“ She hugged me tighter, as I did the same to her. I pulled back and I’m sure my smile mirrored her own toothy, dimple popping grin.
“Where’s Xavier? I’m sure he’s worried.” I queried looking around.
“He went to get a drink for Alex and she was meant to stay with me at the swing, but, I turned around and she had walked away talking on her phone.” Her voice was soft, and my heart broke when she looked up at me with tearful eyes.
“It’s okay. I’m here now. How about we go and find Xavier, hey?” I rubbed her back and spoke in a soft voice trying to console her.
She’s only a little girl, she shouldn’t be crying. She should be enjoying herself and smiling.
Peyton nodded her head slowly as I raised my hand to wipe away her tears. I pulled her up with me and started walking with Peyton through the park and Ace beside her protectively. She slipped her tiny hand in mine gently before I looked down at her with another smile etched on my face.
“How old are you, Paisley?” She looks up at me, curiosity ignited in her eyes.
“Seventeen, how old are you?”
“I’m eight.” She stated proudly. Her smile was so infectious, I bet she could make anyone smile. Everything about her just made you want to smile uncontrollably.
A loud nasally shrill sounded before the flailing arms and tamed bleach blonde curls followed closely behind. “Penny!?”