As The World Falls Down

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A Place to Myself

Soon the houses became more and more familiar and when dad turned down our street I couldn’t help but notice all of the changes that had taken place while I was gone. I wondered what the neighbors would think of me, but then again I really didn’t care. As dad pulled up in our drive I thought it odd that the house looked exactly the same as it did the day I left. I could only hope the same could be said for my room.

Stepping out of the car I saw Colby bust out of the front door running up to me. Reaching down I picked him up giving him a huge hug. He was the cutest red-headed little boy I had ever seen. I had been afraid he would be shy around me now that I was home but he acted like today was nothing special.

Walking in the house I came to a halt when I saw Iris walking down the stairs. She gave me a thin-lipped smile as she slightly adjusted her blouse top before continuing down. “Sydney, don’t you look rather,” she shook her head as if she realized what she was about to say was ill-timed, “well never mind we will take you shopping for new clothes soon.”

Looking down I frowned, these were all clothes that she had sent for me to wear while away. My blue jeans were a tad bit faded and worn from being washed multiple times in the harsh oversized washers at the hospital. My blue shirt was a little faded and big on me, even still it was my favorite shirt out of the few I had. My black and white converse was to put it nicely well worn.

“Yes! That sounds like a great idea. We can have an early dinner and take her shopping before we take her to her apartment.”

I jerked my head in my Dad’s direction, “my apartment? But won’t I be staying here? You told Dr. Russell I’d be staying here. ”

Dad and Iris looked at each other exchanging guilty gazes. They had clearly lied to my doctors. I didn’t want to live in my own apartment. I wanted my old room back. I wanted my things. Most importantly I wanted to see my old mirror.

“Sydney,” my dad let out a breath as he walked to the couch and sat down patting the space next to him. I obliged his demand and went to sit beside him.

“We just think it would be better for all of us if you had your own place. I mean you are 21 now. You really don’t want to live with your parents and little brother do you?”

I didn’t bother to answer because the answer was yes. Yes, I did want to live with them. I needed normalcy. I needed safety. Before I even realized it I turned my head staring daggers into Iris, this was all her.

She frowned at me, “Sydney, really now. It’s not like we won’t come to see you. You can watch Colby for us when we go out.”

I could feel my eyes widen and I had to ball my fist at my side to not turn around and cuss that woman for everything that she was worth. Dad cleared his throat gaining my attention again. “I really think you will like the place, it’s not even a real apartment.”

Leaning back against the couch I closed my eyes. I couldn’t deal with this not right now. Colby came and jumped in my lap, “it’s so cool Sydney. Your new place is above the bookstore downtown.”

I opened my eyes, “what? What happened to Mrs. Carrington?”

Iris sat down on the loveseat, “it was really unfortunate. She died. Peter of course kept the bookstore open for a while but he didn’t know what to do with the apartment upstairs. I mean really he has his own house and...”

Dad cut her off, “we know how much you loved going to the bookstore Sydney and Peter thought you would be perfect to move in.”

Sighing I tussled Colby’s hair as I thought about what they had said. It was true I had spent almost every day at the bookstore. Mrs. Carrington would give me books in exchange for helping her clean the place up. I had been to her apartment a few times. It was a simple cozy one bedroom one bathroom setup.

Looking over at Dad I nodded, “I think it will be perfect for me. Maybe I could even get Peter to....”

Iris cut me off, “oh no dear. Peter doesn’t need any help in that drafty old store. He closed it years ago.”

I stared at her waiting on her to continue. She looked down then back up at me, “your father managed to get you a job at the dinner down the road from the store. That way you can walk to work.”

I felt the knot forming in my throat, working at the dinner would thrust me back into society whether I was ready or not. Dad reached over patting my knee, “it will be ok Sydney. I think it will be good for you to be out in the public again.”

I shook my head at him, “and what did my doctor say about this?”

He looked down not meeting my gaze, “Sydney you have to work, we can’t pay our bills and yours too forever.”

Iris excused herself to the kitchen to start dinner leaving Dad and I sitting awkwardly together. I had nothing to say to either one of them, I just wanted to be alone. “Can I go up to my room?”

Dad looked over at me, “we took most of your stuff to your apartment. Iris has turned that room into a craft room.” I hated how he had said that room, it was in that room that I had gone mad.

Dinner was nothing if not awkward. Iris had cooked spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread. I wasn’t surprised that she would make something simple on my first day home. Poking my fork at my noodles I looked around the table seeing Colby sneaking me tiny glances. He smiled at me when I saw him and I smiled back at him winking.

Taking a sip of my tea I winced noticing it was unsweetened. Scanning the table I didn’t see any sweetener. I managed to force a couple of bites of food down, enough to satisfy Dad’s watchful gaze. Dinner seemed to last forever. I was ready to go, I wanted to be surrounded by my things.

I was more than a little shocked at the fact that Iris had agreed to ride with dad to take me to the store and then to my apartment. I sat in the back with Colby listening to him ramble on and on about some cartoon he had watched. I reached out holding his hand and gave him my full attention. Something I feared he rarely got from Iris.

Dad pulled into the parking lot of a Walmart, it was fairly new, it hadn’t been here before. I had thought Dad would help me find what I needed but he surprised me by taking Cloby to the toy section as Iris and I first made our way to the beauty aisle.

“Do you want any makeup Sydney. You really don’t need it but you might look nice with some.”

I arched my brow at her wondering why she was trying to be nice. Nodding I started grabbing makeup and tossing it in the buggy. Little did she know we had smuggled makeup into the hospital all the time.

Iris didn’t say a thing as I loaded the buggy with makeup, makeup remover, she even grabbed some cotton balls and q-tips and I scanned through some fingernail polish. We finished up grabbing some shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, and basically everything a girl would need for a bathroom.

Next, she took me to the clothes, “you will need some black slacks or a black skirt with white button-up shirts for the dinner, but anything else you want is up to you.”

I eyed her and she tilted her head, “Sydney really now. Why are you looking at me like I’m a monster.”

I shook my head at her, “I just, I don’t want to put you and dad out too much.”

She shook her head waving me away, “your mother sent money to help us with you. Don’t worry about it.” I let out a sigh, I should have known that this wasn’t her kindness.

I made quick work of grabbing a couple of pairs of jeans, some leggings, shorts, different tops, and even a dress before I went and grabbed a few pajamas, some socks, two packages of panties, and a few good bras. God, I hadn’t realized how much I would actually need.

“Your dad bought you some shoes at the mall last weekend but you need to grab some black work shoes and maybe some sandals.”

I nodded at her grabbing a pair of plain black flip flops. Looking at Iris I really hated to ask for her help but I needed her advice, “I don’t know what kind of shoes to get for work.”

She nodded at me, “well you will want to be comfy, I mean after all dear you will be on your feet a lot.” She helped me pick out two pairs. One was a black slip-on that was similar to Toms and the other was more dressy with a buckle at the toe.

Finished we went and found Dad and Colby. Iris let me know she had already bought a few groceries for the apartment. I thanked her glad that at least we wouldn’t have to prolong our stay here. Finding Dad and Colby had been pretty easy, you could hear Colby as soon as you rounded the corner. He had found a Jake and the Neverland Pirate toy he wanted and to Iris’s displeasure, dad had already told him he could have it.

When we checked out my eyes bugged at the total but dad didn’t seem to even flinch as he slid his credit card looking over at me smiling. “Ready to go see your new home.”

I nodded at him, “yes dad, thank you for all of this.” He beamed and I knew he thought he was doing the right thing by me.

Colby whined the entire way to the bookstore wanting to open his toy. Iris had clearly had enough and ended up snapping at him causing him to sit looking like a scolded puppy. I reached out once again grabbing his tiny hand and squeezing it letting him know I was there for him. I wondered if he even realized how much I loved him and what I would do to protect him.

As we approached the bookstore dad pulled up in front of the store. “The entrance from the store is locked from your side, you have your own entrance from the back.”

I nodded at dad as we grabbed some bags and hauled them down the alley and up the rod iron staircase. I had forgotten about the little porch at the entrance, it was only big enough for a chair and the one potted plant in the corner but it was adorable to me.

Dad unlocked the door and I walked in smiling at the familiar room in front of me. The furniture was the same, the only major change was the new tv and a small dining table in the kitchen. We placed our bags on the couch and I walked down the small hall looking in the bathroom, it had been repainted a bright yellow and I honestly didn’t know how I felt about that.

I had never been as happy to see anything as I was when I opened the bedroom door seeing my old bed and my belongings, everything I loved was in this room. Even my mirror. I paused seeing it. It was like an old friend welcoming me back home.

Dad sighed, “I almost didn’t put this stuff up. I mean I was afraid you would regress, or....”

I shook my head at him, “no dad it’s perfect. I have to face my fears.”

He reached out pulling me into his arms for a hug, “I have missed you so much Sydney. I am so glad you are home. I know this is a shock but I really think you will like living here more than with me and Iris.”

I took a step back giving him a small smile, “yes I think so as well.”

Walking back into the living room we said our goodbye. Dad had left me with a debit card that had the remainder of the money my mother had sent me and told me that it had already been set up to have my checks drafted to it. I thanked him again hugging him and Colby bye before I stepped out on my tiny porch and waved at them as they walked away.

When they were gone I walked in shutting and locking the door. I hadn’t been truly alone in 6 years. I was scared but a little excited too, this was my own place. I could do what I wanted, I could stay up as late as I wanted to. I could eat whenever I wanted to. Sighing I unpacked my bag first before starting on the Walmart bags. I was ready for everything to be perfect.

Once done I sat down on the edge of my bed and stared at the floor mirror hanging on the wall. “I’m back,” I whispered to it. I held my breath silently hoping HE would appear before me but no one appeared.

I sighed, I guess I really had gone crazy. Laughing to myself I rounded the corner to the living room and paused. Something wasn’t right. I looked around but found nothing amiss. I couldn’t put my finger on it but I could have sworn someone was watching me.

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