Chris blew in the front door breathlessly and slammed it shut behind him. He threw his arms in the air, “It’s official! We close on the house on Tuesday!”
I looked up from scraping carrots and put the peeler down. “That is in, like, 3 days.”
“I KNOW! FINALLY!”
“Oh my gosh” I said. “Wow.” I crinkled up my brow at the enormity of it. Our first house that was ours…not rented, and it was going to be a mansion on the beach. How did this even happen?
I looked back up at Chris who was studying me. “You are excited about it, right?” he said.
“Yeah, yeah of course” I said and started to peel the carrot very quickly. I felt like I needed to get this done fast because pretty soon a whole bunch of stuff would need to be taken care of. “It’s just so weird that it actually happened. I was starting to not let myself get excited about it or think about because you said there was such a good chance it would fall through with all the other people interested in it. It’s just, wow, you know?”
“I know! And that carrot is about the skinniest one I have ever seen.”
I looked down to see I had peeled it to a sliver. I put it on the chopping board and my hand was shaking. I looked back up at Chris who was staring at my hand. “What’s wrong?” he said. I looked over at Luna who was putting the chopped potatoes into a large pot a water, and she was also looking over at me, staring at my hand. I pulled it away from the board and rubbed it with the other hand and took a big breath. Luna walked over to me and rubbed my back. “Its only about 5 houses down. I can come there any time you need me.”
I started to feel the gasps building in my chest. How did Luna know? “I just, I don’t even know anything about cooking or cleaning the house.”
“You know plenty,” she said. What are you doing now? Cooking, Odette. You are cooking.”
I nodded and picked up another carrot and began to slowly peel it. Chris sat down at the bar and rested his head in his hands. “Odette, I was really counting on you being excited about this. You said we could do it together remember, at the Fort? You said it would be you and me in this together.”
“We are!” I kept peeling and could feel his eyes on me. “We are” I whispered.
“I can cook and clean,” Chris mumbled.
“I just don’t want things to go back to how they were in Athens, when I could get stuff done for two or three weeks then let everything go for a few weeks, you know? I just don’t want to go back to that.” I threw the peeled carrot in the pot and took the next one.
“We can be however we want to be, Odette,” Chris said, sitting up from his hunched pose. Then he said a little louder, “We can be how we want. Getting all miserable about the most awesome situation isn’t the ‘way to be’. This is how you should be acting right now…Oh my gosh Chris, thank you so much for all your hard work, for going on tour and promoting your music like a dog to get enough money to buy me my dream house so our little family can be happy…
That, Odette, is how you should be acting now. I don’t want to see the quivering and the moaning about oh, poor me, I’m going to have to cook a dinner without constant direction, and heaven forbid, put the dishes in the dishwasher when we are done eating. To be scared about such basic shit is just…crazy.”
I put the carrots down and wiped my hands slowly on my jeans while trying to figure out what to do next. I just needed to not yell at him or freak out on him. I needed to…leave, to get away for a few minutes until I cooled down and could have a conversation that wasn’t brimming with emotion.
“Odette,” he said. “I didn’t really mean that you are crazy. That was a metaphor.”
“A what?” I looked at him like he was an idiot. “A metaphor for what? Crazy is not a metaphor for anything.” I could feel my eyes burning at him. “It is what it is.”
He pursed his lips, stumped.
I grabbed my keys off the counter and walked towards the door. I had always liked the click it made while shutting and I felt a pang of grief that I wouldn’t be hearing that anymore now that we would be moving. And the only reason I could just leave the house right now, leave Zoe with a vexed Chris, was because Luna was there for her too. Freedom was here and now, before the move. I went out to the road and stood and stared at my car. Chris bought me that car. I suddenly didn’t want to drive it, so I walked off down the street and headed towards the bus stop 3 miles down the road, but stopped when I got to Bob and Lucy’s house. Bob’s old VW van was parked out on the street with a for sale sign on it. I smiled. Maybe that was it. Maybe all I had to do was buy myself my own car, then I would be OK with living in Chris’s house. I went and pushed away a few yellow flowers so I could knock on their old weathered, wooden green door.
“Odette!” Bob gave me a big hug. “Come in, child!”
I pointed back at his bus. “I think I want to buy your bus.”
He crinkled up his cratered old nose. “Why?”
I sat there for a minute. Why did I want to buy it? I wanted to buy it because it made me think about Jake. I smiled to myself…and no one would ever know that. “I want to buy it because I need my own car.”
“You have a car, Chris just bought you that brand new beautiful Honda Pilot, your dream car!” He stared at me.
I stood there quietly, my flushed cheeks I was sure would give me away, that I was a terrible person.”
“It is $10, 000 dollars” Bob said.
I jerked forward in utter shock, “what?”
“The surfer kids on this beach love these kinds of cars. I’m only selling it to get some serious cash.”
I stared at him, crushed. I thought I had my answer in his beat up old van but even that was out of reach.
“Can I just drive it around until you sell it?” I said.
“I don’t know.”
He didn’t look happy. I could tell he thought I was going to screw Chris over again somehow by driving this car around. That thought almost made me giggle. He was so friggin protective of Chris it was funny. “I’m not going to hurt Chris,” I heard myself say.
He took a big breath, as if my spontaneous declaration was all he needed to hear. He lifted the keys from a hook next to the door and handed them to me. “Are you ever going to bring this back?” he said.
“What? Of course!” I took the keys and hurried of to the van. I had to really yank the door open and hop up inside. It clunked shut with a clatter and roared to a start. I was happy again. I had to stand up to heave the clutch into gear then jerked it out of the parking lot into the street. I could see Bob’s face at his door, worried as ever. I didn’t even know where I was going, but I felt like I was escaping again. Escaping what…I wasn’t sure, but to roar down A1A in this beautiful blue hunk of junk was just the right amount of exciting. I was a problem solver…problem of being powerless…solved. It took some serious arm strength just to get this thing out of a parking spot. I rolled down the windows and turned the tape player on. He had the beach boys in there and I sang at the top of my voice as the clouds turned pink all over the skies, “Help me Ronda help me get her outta my heart!!!”