THE ONCE BLAND room has now been transformed into a gorgeous bedroom dominated by a black iron bed frame with fresh, white linens and the mountain of purple and turquoise pillows Mom got me yesterday.
The room feels earthy and bohemian, from the rich brown chest of drawers with crystal gems for handles, to the antique brass lamps on either side of the bed. The white faux fur under the bed ties the room together. On the far corner stands an Alistair chair with a small table holding my favorite picture of Jess and me together.
I wipe the bit of dust that has collected there to reveal my sister and me sitting next to each other in the back of Dad's old car.
I have the biggest smile on my face, proudly showing my missing front teeth with mousy baby hair curling up on the sides of my forehead making it look like I have horns. Jess's hand is wrapped around my shoulder with a much-tamed smile as she looks to the camera.
She was born with perfect teeth and didn't have to wear braces for two years like me, but she never liked to show them when smiling for a picture. I found that so odd.
If I had a smile as beautiful as hers, I'd flaunt it to the world. Like Dad had taught us since we were little, a simple smile can change a person, can change a day, can change the world.
When this picture was taken, I had begged Jess to give me a full megawatt smile but she wouldn't budge and I did the only thing that came to my brain and tickled her. As she couldn't contain her laughter any longer, Dad snapped the picture, catching the bright smile that broke on her face.
It's only when I see a drop of water on the glass that I realize I've been crying. I pick up the corner of my shirt and wipe the tear away, putting the picture back and gazing out my bedroom window to the sight of the ocean ahead.
I can't quite explain the emotions swirling within me. Happiness mixed with sadness is an odd feeling to have. Being free from my parents and Galeton is liberating, nevertheless, scary.
Over the years, I became their precious possession—a project of some sort. They treated me with such care and were very strict at times. Looking back at it now, I can tell they didn't want me to fall through the cracks like Jess. But I wanted to fall and learn from my errors when I was young. Isn't that part of growing up? You make mistakes and learn not to make the same ones again.
Now that I'm grown, I'm scared I'll make the mistakes I was supposed to make when I was sixteen because I never had the chance to learn from them.
Just then, my phone rings. Speaking of the devil and he doth appear.
"Hey, Mom," I answer, a bit too cheery.
"How's everything? Did you like the living room furniture we picked out for you? You still haven't sent me a picture. What about your bedroom, how does it look? And Angie? How is she? When will you be meeting with Mrs. Garcia?" Mom finishes with a much-needed intake of breath.
I laugh. "Mom, relax. Angie's fine. All she seems to do is sleep." I look over at her rolled up in her coral bed. "I'll be meeting principal Garcia on Friday. I'll send you a picture of the rooms as soon as we finish tal—"
"Better yet, FaceTime now. Go!"
"Mom...Mom...?" The line goes dead.
Great, she hung up on me.
I click on the green camera film icon and FaceTime her. Once we're connected I give her a tour of my bedroom—the only room I've been able to focus on and fully decorate. Then, I head over to the living room, knowing that Mom will have a mini heart attack when she sees the couch and the rest of the furniture still wrapped up in cardboard.
She gives the most outrageous gasp.
"Genevieve Peterson! I did not raise you to be this—" she seems to be searching for the right word as her hands move all over the place, "—this austere! Come on, put me down and let me set up this room for you."
My mom is the finest interior decorator in our small town. I must say, the mantra, what would Mom do? replayed in my head throughout the arranging of my bedroom.
"First, before you unwrap anything, let's figure out where we want to put that couch." She touches her index finger to her chin and has a serious expression on her face. She tilts her head left and right assessing the room. Then, she snaps her fingers as the light bulb brightens up. "Got it!"
After about fifty minutes, the room looks great. The mulberry velvet sectional couch Mom and Dad, or I should say, Mom, picked out sits in the middle of the living room facing the coffee table. The color makes the hardwood floors pop out and gives the room a rich and extravagant feel.
An embossed Mediterranean coffee table rests on top of a ruffled rug with magazines and lighted candles. Through the whole hour, Mom lets me know that I needed to buy a bookcase to put all my romance novels on display and a big mirror on the opposite wall of the balcony to reflect the ocean. According to her, it makes the room seem larger.
I made sure to convince her that I'll pass by the store to get the last few details sorted, but to be honest, I'm not into materialistic things like she is.
Having an eye for decorative things is needed when you're an interior designer for a living, but when you're an elementary teacher on a budget, decorating your home is the last thing on your mind. Now that I live by myself, I need to pay rent, car insurance, my cell phone bill and buy the necessities a girl needs to survive, like food.
My stomach grumbles at the thought of food. I should probably pass by the grocery store and stock up on groceries I know I won't ever cook. A trip to Publix sets my stomach at ease and after I've eaten a bowl of spaghetti with from the Deli, I take Angie out for a walk around our new home.
I try my best not to drag her through the grass since she's learning to walk on a leash, but after twenty minutes of teaching her that she walks and I follow, I give up and carry her back home. I place training pads around the house and head to take a shower.
Once in the bathroom, I begin to take off my yoga pants, even though I've never done yoga in my life. I just love the feel of cotton and the elasticity in them. It also makes me look like I work out when all I've done is sit around eating noodles all day.
As I turn on the shower and wait for the water to warm up, my pale green gaze falls on my naked breast with few stretch marks marring the fragile skin. The left one is slightly bigger than the other and sits a bit lower than the right one.
I grab my boobs and squish the bigger breast, trying to get some mass to move over to the slender breast, like those toys that when you put just enough pressure the air moves to the other side, but nothing. My breasts stay the same as before.
I let out a defeated sigh and enter the shower.
As I rub a warm cloth with body wash on my thighs, I notice the spider web stretch marks on the side of my butt and some dimples on my outer thighs. I've never been one to watch my diet. I eat whatever I want as much as my stomach can manage. But I would love to build some muscle and perk up my sad butt.
With warm water cascading down my back, I think back to the tour I had with Alec, the manager of the condominium. I remember going to a gym when he showed me the swimming pool and it was very well equipped. I could give it a shot later this week if I'm not too busy with work.
Getting out of the shower, I pat dry myself, applying cocoa butter to my skin and slip a large t-shirt on. Angie is sleeping in her bed next to mine with a happy tail dancing as she dreams.
Settling on the cotton sheets, I reach for the bedside lamp and turn it off whilst grabbing my phone and tapping on the Bible app, landing on one of my favorite stories of faith.
Just as Job blesses God in his prayers and my eyes become drowsy, a distant shout startles me, making my phone fall on my face and hit my nose.
A door slams hard, making mine rattle with furry. The gated community where I live is divided into numerous buildings with only three levels and two units on each floor. I live on the first floor and the shouting appears to be coming from the second floor. Then, I hear footsteps coming down the stairs accompanied by a door opening and closing and the voices get louder as if they were coming from outside my window.
"Get the fuck out of here!" a male voice yells followed by some shouting in another language. Maybe Spanish?
"You know what? I'm leaving, but this time I mean it. I'm not coming back," a feminine voice says.
I hear a car start and then a frustrated grunt. I have the impulse to stand up and slide the blinds so that I can see the people arguing, but think better of it and fall asleep.