The car slowly drove down the gravel road, kicking up dust and startling some of the horses in the pastures when it gave a loud noise. Outside, the sun was shining brightly and it felt like it was one-hundred degrees outside when really it was only eighty. The air was hot and humid and fluffy white clouds dotted the sky. My skin was slick with sweat and periodically I could see my Mom glancing out of the corner of her eye at me.
I jiggled my leg up and down, studiously avoiding her eyes. I hated that we were moving to Long Beach, Rhode Island. Long Beach was a secluded little town on the coast of Rhode Island and was filled with farmland on the outskirts, and a small town bordering the beach. My grandparents owned one of the farms and I could remember that when I was little I used to help take care of the chickens and the horses and now they also owned four of the businesses in the little seaside town.
Mom turned onto a paved driveway and I crossed my arms over my chest. “Whitney, could you please try to be nice this summer?”
I glanced at her. Nice? When I was here against my will and wanted to be back in California? No, I was okay with having a little bit of attitude.
“Whitney, please,” Mom pleaded as she pulled up to the garage. “Your cousins are staying this summer and I want you to get along with them and the other inhabitants of the town. Please, just knock it off with the attitude.”
“I don’t want to be here,” I countered, “Why should I have to be happy when I don’t want to be here in the first place? I want to be back in California with my friends.”
“You know why we can’t go back to California, Whitney. Now please, please, just be good for the summer.” Mom murmured, staring at me with sad eyes and I could feel my will crumbling.
“Fine,” I grumbled, throwing the door open and climbing out of the car.
The house was white and had a light blue door. The porch had two rocking chairs on it and several potted plants hung from the railings. The lawn was neatly manicured and a flower bed was along the side of the house. The flower bed was dotted with roses, peonies, lilies, tulips, and daisies. The sickly sweet aroma of the flowers caused my eyes to water and I sneezed.
I shifted on my feet, noticing how the curtains floated in the breeze and how Mom straightened up and tugged at her blouse when the doors to the house opened and out came my grandparents. Grandma was a stern looking old woman with curly white hair and a small stature. She was a little pudgy and always wore dresses or skirts, and always had a cross necklace hanging around her neck.
Grandpa had very little hair and warm brown eyes, his skin was tanned and rough from being outside all of the time, and his cowboy hat was a permanent fixture on top of his head. He was tapping his feet against the porch and staring at us with a small smile on his lips.
Grandma descended the steps and held out her arms for Mom. Mom quickly walked towards her and the two embraced, tightly. The two rocked back and forth a little and I slowly walked towards them. I wasn’t too keen on being hugged by Grandma since her hugs were so tight and her kisses were so sloppy. Mom broke the embrace and grabbed my wrist, tugging me forward.
“Mom, this is Whitney,” Mom said smiling at Grandma and she quickly hugged me and kissed my cheek sloppily.
“The last time I saw you, you were about this big!” Grandma said, holding her hand up near her waist. “And now look at you. You’re so pretty.”
I managed a small smile, “Thank you.”
“How long are you guys staying?” Grandma asked as we made our way to the back of the car to gather our luggage.
I glanced at Mom interested in what she was going to say because I hadn’t heard how long we were staying here. I hoped that it would only be the summer and not much longer because I didn’t want to be stuck in the country; I wanted to be back in a big city where there were so many students in the schools that you could have a little anonymity. Where you could be popular but not very well-known by others. I liked that. I liked having a big circle of friends but not being too popular or too unpopular. I had found the perfect balance at my old school and now, I would have to start over.
But I didn’t want to start over here.
“Um,” Mom said slowly, “We will be staying for the summer and possibly the school year.”
“What?” I asked, whipping my head towards her. “The school year?”
“Yes Whitney, the school year,” Mom answered her voice terse. “We don’t have the funds to really move somewhere else and send you to college, so it would just be easier for us to stay here and for you to go to school here.”
I crossed my arms and jutted out my lower lip. I knew that I was pouting, I knew it, and yet I still didn’t care. I couldn’t believe that we were staying here for the next year! What about all of the plans that I had had with my friends? I was supposed to go cliff diving with them and go on a road trip and go to Los Angeles. We had all of these great plans for the summer and for senior year and now those plans had just flown down the drain.
“Isn’t Charles sending you money?” Grandma inquired and Mom stiffened.
“No he isn’t,” Mom answered, her voice filled with tension. “He has become wrapped up in his new family that he doesn’t have time for us anymore. It makes sense since he has three children with his new wife, but-”
“But it still hurts,” Grandma interrupted gently as Mom opened up the truck. “I know Marie-Ann, it’s okay, it’s okay. How much had he been sending Whitney?”
“Three-thousand a month,” Mom whispered, “Every year Whitney would get thirty-six thousand dollars in her bank account.”
“That started when she was two, and now she’s seventeen. Then it isn’t like Whitney will be hurting for money when she’s out of high school. She’ll have over five-hundred forty thousand dollars, Marie-Ann. She’ll be fine and then you just have to worry about getting back on your feet,” Grandma said as Mom took the luggage out of the trunk.
Mom nodded, not replying and I stood awkwardly beside them as Mom slowly took the luggage out of the trunk. I grabbed the two designer suitcases and stalked towards the house. I wasn’t going to wait around while they stood there and chatted about nothing. I didn’t have time for that, although it wasn’t like I had anything to do this summer.
Grandpa held open the front door for me and I breezed past him, heading to the second floor and to the third bedroom on the right. This had been my room when I was little and I assumed that it would still be my room. When I opened the door I was shocked to see another bed in my room and I wasn’t pleased.
They had to be kidding me. I was not going to be sharing a room with one of my annoying cousins, especially not if it was Chelsea. Chelsea and I had never gotten along, even when we were kids; we had always been at odds. She was always so sickeningly sweet and had all kinds of friends and I was the girl who was a bit of a loner. I had friends but I wasn’t going to be overly nice. I told it like it was and people didn’t like that about me, especially not Chelsea.
She hated that I didn’t put up with peoples’ crap and that I wouldn’t lie to spare someone’s feelings. And I hated how she would lie to spare peoples’ feelings and how she would be so sweet to people that she couldn’t stand. It disgusted me. I wrinkled my nose at her bedspread which was pink with white lace and headed over to the bed with a dark blue blankets and a white bedspread.
The door to the adjoining bathroom opened and Chelsea stepped out, a towel wrapped around her chest and head. Her steps faltered when she saw me and I plastered a smile on my face.
“Hey cousin,” I said, my voice falsely chirpy.
“Hi,” She answered back in shock. “I didn’t know that you were staying here for the summer.”
“Well surprise,” I answered back shrugging my shoulders and laying my bags out on my bed. “Why are you here for the summer?”
“Boyfriend got into some trouble, so the ’rents wanted me to spend the summer away from him. Apparently they forgot that there is this little thing called the internet and text messaging, so I can still keep in contact with him.” Chelsea answered going to the closet and I blanched when I saw how many pink clothes were strung up in the closet.
“What’d he do?” I inquired and Chelsea glanced over her shoulder at me.
“Stole some things, got caught with cocaine. That was only one time though,” Chelsea answered, grabbing a pink tank top from one of the hangars. “It wasn’t like he did anything bad, just a few minor things but it was enough to freak my parents out and get them to bring me here along with the little ones.”
I looked away as she changed clothes and fiddled with the edge of my blanket. So far it seemed that Chelsea hadn’t really changed all that much. She was still obsessed with the color pink and still seemed to be overly nice but she didn’t seem to be that much of a goody-two-shoes. Not if her boyfriend was any indication.
The Chelsea that I had known wouldn’t have gone near boys like that with a ten foot pole. I glanced back over at Chelsea and my eyes widened when I saw that the tips of her blonde hair were dyed pink and that she had a small butterfly tattoo near her shoulder blade.
Chelsea turned back around to face me, “So why are you here?”
“None of your business,” I answered shortly and she pouted.
“Aw come on cousin, I showed you mine, so you show me yours. Metaphorically speaking,” She whined and I shook my head. “Fine then, party pooper.”
I didn’t reply to what she had said. If being a party pooper meant that I didn’t want to tell her about my private life then so be it. I would be a party pooper. She didn’t need to know why I was here. It wasn’t any of her business. Even though it was pretty hypocritical of me to want her to tell me why she was here.