Acceptance and Continued Work

Today was an intense and crazy day! Firstly, I turned in my first chapter to my novel writing class, which means it’s going up here, tonight!

But, as to why it was an intense day! While I was checking my email, I received notice from Rebecca Dyer of The Blue Guitar Magazine that they want to publish “Goodbye, Marla”! So, this fall my story will be published in their magazine! Check out their website here!

So, that’s incredibly exciting, and I can’t express my gratitude enough to the great staff over there!

But, without making this any longer than necessary, here’s this week’s Original Work!

Chapter 1

 

I moved to Seattle for a job. Not for a girl or an ailing family member, but a somewhat better paying job. Since my grandmother died I didn’t have a girl or family member to consider in my decision to move; I just packed up and left Southern Colorado behind.

When I landed in the SeaTac airport with my one carry on bag, a man waited for me. He stood drowning in a sea of travelers save for his sign that read, “Kevin Fox.”

I sighed. Why could no one add another x? Improper spelling aside, I knew it was meant for me.

“I’m Kevin Foxx,” I introduced myself to the man. He eyed my shaggy black hair and Soundgarden t-shirt, judging my worthiness of his services.

“I’m to take you to your new apartment.”

That surprised me, but after a minute I came to like the idea of being chauffeured. We waded through the bustling airport and out to the loading zone. The sun shined meekly through mercury clouds, the roads slick and glistening with the fresh Seattle drizzle.

The sound of a car door unlatching brought me back to attention. The driver, whose name remained unknown to me, ushered me into the backseat of the non-descript black sedan. I tossed my bag in ahead of me and slid into the car. I slipped a little more than planned on the posh leather upholstery. The driver watched me slide around, disdain quivering on his curled lip. So much for customer service.

The silent drive took ages. Traffic was at its worst, with stymied freeways and shifting express lanes.

“What’s your name?” I asked, leaning forward, in an attempt to kill time. He shot me a withering glare in the review mirror, then turned his eyes back to the road. “Ok, then,” I muttered after a moment of silence and fell back into my seat, the leather making awkward squishing noises.

At last, we arrived. The man parked and passed me a set of keys.

“Third floor, unit seventeen.”

“Thanks,” I said, grabbing my bag.

“If you have any questions you can call this number,” he mumbled, handing me a pricey looking business card. I felt like a member of the witness relocation program, or maybe the mob, not the newest employee of one of the nation’s leading marketing firms.

“Thanks,” I muttered.

Of course the elevator was down for maintenance, so I had to take the stairs. Grateful for my lack of worldly possessions I started my three-flight hike. Halfway up a girl of maybe eight came squealing down the stairwell. Not far behind her raced her older brother. Neither of them noticed me; the girl just missed bowling me over, the boy too frustrated to take his eyes off his sister.

Squished against the wall I shook my head as they passed by, and then continued my solitary ascent into a new life.

 

I turned the key in the lock of my new place. The heavy door glistened with fresh red paint. The luxurious apartment had an open floor plan. Every inch of the place felt new, moneyed, and empty.

I dropped my bag in the doorway and adventured through the place. The designer paint and finishings were top notch. I’m sure any HGTV fan would die for the place, but it was pretty much lost on me. Two bedrooms and a bathroom and a half later I perched myself on the kitchen counter. I swung my feet, letting the heels of my old Converse thunk against the solid wood cabinets. I scanned the apartment one more time, before I hopped down to the floor and picked up my duffel bag. I set it on the counter and began removed its contents; a couple pairs of jeans with band t-shirts and three Cosby style sweatshirts, a couple books, my laptop and a single picture frame. The rest of my stuff, mainly clothes, books, and family keepsakes would arrive tomorrow, most of it would stay in the boxes, crammed away in the second bedroom. My footfalls echoed off the wood floors and bounced off the picture windows in the living room, creating a symphony of loneliness as I walked out the door.

Back downstairs I exited the building and chose a random direction; time to get a bed and some dinner. On the lawn the two kids from the stairwell were playing Frisbee in the failing sunlight. As I strolled by the girl, her chocolate hair in a pony, she waved at me. Taken by surprise I gave a short wave back. Thrilled by my response she smiled big, revealing a missing tooth.

“Evie!” her brother yelled, snatching her excited hand down out of the sky. The boy looked at me, a scowl of distrust tinting his features. The girl pouted, giving her brother a heavy dose of silent treatment as I continued my foray into the city.

I spent the next two hours lost in Seattle’s bustling downtown. I managed to find a furniture shop that would deliver a bed with a frame that night. They’d have it to my place within an hour, giving me just enough time to find some food. Two blocks down from the furniture store I stumbled on a Chinese joint with a vibrant neon sign that read “Dim Sum”. The interior seemed shady, with florescent lights that flickered and cheap 1980s tables and chairs, but it smelled incredible. The aroma of sautéed onions and garlic sold me, so I ordered Kung Pao Chicken and a side of Egg Rolls with sweet and sour sauce. In a matter of minutes they made my food and I headed back out into the drizzle.

Three meandering blocks later I found my way back to the apartment. I took the stairs two at a time and halfway up heard the distinct sound of Styrofoam breaking. Seconds later I felt something wet and hot soak through my pant leg.

“Shit, shit, shit,” I cursed, bolting up the stairs, holding the bag of food as far from myself as possible. I heard a small giggle from down the hall, but ignored it, fighting to get the key in the lock. At last the key turned and the door swung open. I rushed inside just in time for the container of sweet and sour sauce to burst, staining the bottom of the plastic bag bright orange. In seconds the delicious liquid saturated the bag and proceeded to drip onto my shiny new wood floors. Pissed, I threw the bag onto the kitchen counter, where the sauce pooled. Before I could go into a food-deprived rage my intercom buzzed.

“Yeah?” I asked, mashing the button to communicate downstairs.

“Foxx?” A deep voice asked. I assured him I was indeed Kevin Foxx. “We got your bed here.” I grumbled to myself a minute, my eyes shut tight, and then told him I’d be right down.

I helped the guys get the bed up the stairs and then spent another two aggravating hours putting it together while picking at the remnants of my dinner. I only had the remedial tool kit that came with the bed set. You’d think, what with advances in technology, they could make a self-assembling bed frame.

I stood above the finished product, proud of my handiwork, and eager to lie down. I wrestled with the queen size mattress and got it onto the box spring that now rested in the frame. I admired the pillow top mattress for a moment and then realized I’d forgotten to buy sheets. It was past midnight, and I refused to leave the apartment again, so I slept on the bare mattress that night.

Bright and early I awoke to a loud pounding at my front door. I looked at my watch and groaned; only seven in the morning! I slid on the same clothes from the day before, which reeked of Chinese food, and answered the door. The movers had arrived, so I let them in and told them to put everything in the guest bedroom.

I watched the box parade while I made a long list of every day essentials I would need, sheets and laundry detergent at the top of the page. My first Saturday in Seattle would be a pricey one, I decided scanning the list. I looked up to see a muscled man carrying a box labeled “Mom and Dad” in my lousy handwriting. I rushed to take it from him.

“I’ll take this one,” I told him, pulling the box from his grip. I stormed into the master bedroom, closing the door behind me, and tore through the tape. I pulled open the box with care, checking on the fragile urns inside. They were both wedged tight, the way I’d left them, between packing peanuts and bubble wrap; a matching maroon pair. The gold trimmed lids and bases glimmered in the sunlight streaming from the window, as if happy to see daylight again. I swallowed hard, satisfied that the urns were unharmed, and then closed the box and set it on the highest shelf of my walk-in closet.

After the movers left I changed clothes and decided to get lost in the city. I wandered through Pike’s Place Market where I got a coffee at the original Starbucks, before I walked down several blocks past the aquarium and various shops. I ate a fish burger at the 5 Point Café, just across the street from the Experience Music Project, the sun shining off the building’s distinctive metallic exterior.

I headed back home, full and enjoying the city. I was halfway up the sidewalk leading into the building, about to turn a corner, when someone small ran headlong into my knees. The bright sun made the girl squint as she peered up at me. It took me a moment to realize that only one of her eyes could squint. Her left eye, swollen almost shut, had turned a deep purple under a scabbed brow where a cut was healing. Her uneven bangs fell just above her eyes, the rest of her hair in the signature ponytail. She looked terrified for a moment, and then backed away from me dropping her gaze.

“I’m sorry,” she stuttered as she looked away and shrunk into herself.

“Be more careful next time,” I told her, straightening my now rumpled clothes.

“Yes, sir,” she nodded, still not looking at me.

“How’d you get that shiner?” I stood, my 6’2 frame towering above her eight-year-old height, looking down at her, my face stern.

“My brother pushed me down the stairs,” she said after a moment of silence. She continued to avoid my gaze.

“Really.” I didn’t believe a word of it. She looked up at me, gauging my reaction, and then looked away again. When she started fidgeting from foot to foot I knew she wouldn’t be standing there long.

“Evie!” A voice rang out, breaking our silence. Her brother, a boy of about twelve, ran up to us, “what did I tell you about talking to strangers?” His voice squeaked in his concern and he put his hands on her shoulders protectively before looking up at me, “I’m sorry if Evie was bugging you, Mister.”

I considered the boy, “are you the brother that gave her the black eye?”

“What?” Confusion crossed his face. He looked at his sister and stammered, “yeah, but it was an accident.”

“I’m sure,” I told him. I didn’t believe him either. I said nothing more, watching the boy tug his sister around the corner. Before they made it out of sight Evie turned and waved back at me, a sad mixture of hope and pain on her face.

 

 

 

 

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