This is where it begins. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe I am where I am considering how this happened. It’s a blessing to be able to tell you this story. Oh, ‘Present Day’ isn’t today. It just means recently. Enjoy and leave a comment after your read. And if you spot an error don’t hesitate to tell me. Remember, I’m a good STORYTELLER not an author.
Brea was motionless, eyes closed listening to the crashing waves as they bombarded the door in front of her. Only she wasn’t near the ocean. She was using her imagination. She had the best imagination, because she was still a child. A child’s mind is an infinite blank canvas and they wield paint brushes like knights wield swords. Because unlike the body which grows with age, the imagination is largest when you are born, as people know nothing about anything. Brea Eve’s imagination never shrunk or lost its sharpness.
She stood four feet tall which is short for an adult, but perfect if you’re 13 years old, which thankfully she was. Her dark blonde hair brushed the shoulder blades of her thin frame when it was down, but mostly it was tied to the back of her head because of how hot it was outside.
How did I get here? Brea wondered to herself as she stood on a terrace of a high white stone walled mansion that she had never seen. If only my mother were here, she thought. I’d even take my father at this point. She fiddled with the key her mother gave her that hung about her neck as she often did when she was nervous. With her free hand Brea reached out to knock on the door, which swung wide open before she could touch it. She clasped her hands to her sides.
If Brea was fair skinned, the woman who stood inside the doors was white as ocean foam. This was Brea’s grandmother in all her splendor. She stood tall and wide with a face that was sunken farther than the oldest treasure. She looked tired, like an angry shadow of what she once was, filled with anger as hard as her eyebrows were sharp. Her clothes were far fancier than Brea imagined anyone she knew would be used to. The clothes however didn’t seem appealing to Brea. She’s dressed like a lamp shade a thrift store owner wouldn’t sell.
“You have arrived 15 minutes late. Please follow me and I will show you to your room.
It’s a pleasure to meet you too, Brea thought as she began walking. The house had more rooms than anyone living by themselves needed.
Her grandmother noticed her looking around.
“No need to stare, you will get to know these rooms soon enough. Your price for being a burden and my responsibility will be paid in full by cleaning these rooms,” Brea’s grandmother said without turning her head.
She had almost no memory of her grandmother at all, and certainly none of this house. No memory of the drab dated wallpaper or the creaky floors. Her feet did not recall any familiarity to the path they walked now.
“What shall I call you?”
She stopped and turned. “You shall not call me anything until it is I who have spoken to you.”
She leaned in close enough for Brea to see her eyes were two different colors, brown and browner. “Grandmother or Grandma or Lady or… didn’t they teach how to properly address elders in school?”
“You know not how to appropriately address me?” she said with a shake of her head.
Appropriate for you, I’ll go get a Zoo brochure and you’ll get a new name each day.
“There is one very important item I am to mention. Stay away from the last corridor, that area is off limits. If I have to repeat myself or find you near there, you will be sorry,” she said, looking like she meant it more than anything else.
She moved in close enough to give Brea an Eskimo kiss. The though of which caused her stomach to knot, “Is that understood?”
“I understand. I will not go down there”.
“Good girl. It looks as though your mother did a half decent job in raising you before her passing,” she said. She led the way back down stairs.
“You must maintain an exemplary grade average for your studies. A C grade is average. Look around you, I don’t accept the average,” she said. She pointed around the house at all the nice things she owned as if it represented her life. Things like, gold silk curtains, big red leather chairs, which rested on both sides of a deep cherry wood coffee table, and thin polished lamps with dark shades that cast dull shadows.
“Because the school year has started already, I will take the liberty of finding a suitable tutor for you,” said Grandmother.
She moved towards the phone and reached into the desk near it, pulling out a long book with several pages. Brea began remembering her first day of school seven years ago when she was six. Her mother had packed her lunch and walked her to her first class. That day was easy to remember because they had matching yellow dresses on. Why isn’t she here for me now? She knew what happened to Dad would happen to her. I only had her. Now I have no one.
“…well, will you give Professor Morris my message then?” she said looking as excited as her prideful manner would allow. “Make sure you let her know that I am a former student, not that I could be forgotten, and a continuing donor to the school. My granddaughter will be most pleased when she arrives promptly to her room at 3pm on Monday.” She hung up the phone.
“After school on Monday you will go to room P.A. 4 and see Mrs. Morris who will be tutoring you. She was my teacher and she knew how to get the best of students by any means, and should have you caught up soon enough. I wonder why I haven’t seen her at any alumni meetings? Probably busy shaping young minds. Anyway, the school is close enough to walk so I expect you will. Don’t think about not going though as I will find out and you will pay.”
“Yes Grandma Eve.”
“Oh, that sounds nice,” she said. She passed Brea and made her way up the stairs in the center of the house. She signaled for Brea to follow her as she passed her by waving her round finger towards the stairs.
“Your mother had a package for you and it has been sent here. It is in your room. I expect you will want to open it, and you shall; right after I get you started on cleaning the rooms. No sense in wasting a whole day.”
A package? I have my clothes and books. What could she have sent me?
Brea Eve was not surprised by the oddity because with her mother there was never much normalcy. Ever since the summer 3 years ago when her father never returned, Brea’s mom seemed to weave in and out of the life she had known pausing only for most precious moments with Brea, but never fully stopping.
Locally, as a family they spent their free time helping those in need. Charity work for whoever would bless them with the opportunity to help. Her parents used the opportunity to show their daughter the value of what she had. Be it only that they had enough to get by, the logic might seem lost on a girl in such a materialistic world.
Brea loved her time spent building houses, cutting lawns, passing out soup at the church kitchen. The things that weren’t tangible were what she desired. These things stirred her heart. Her parents did it right, and Brea felt truly grateful that her mother and father instilled this sense of passion for helping others in her. She loved them for it. But, and very shamefully so, she despised it too. Because, to her parents, what they were doing wasn’t enough.
Eventually her father felt the calling to expand his boundaries. He started leaving for long weekends and then for full weeks. He would return to embrace his family. Tell of his adventures and then be gone again.
As Brea matured she began to ask, “Why can’t we go too?”
Her mother would pass it off, “You can’t miss school sweetheart.”
But Brea would ask and ask. Finally, one day her mother gave a big sigh.
“You need to know this and don’t forget it,” she said. She cupped her face and stared directly into her eyes. “You father is a great man. When we taught you to put others before yourself you felt happy doing so right?”
“Yes,” she whispered, caught in her mother’s gaze giving her the utmost attention.
“What he is doing now is so very important. I cry when he’s gone because he is making such a difference, and I’m proud of him. Nothing will stop him from giving himself to those in need. All we can do is pray he comes home safe to us. Can you do that for me?”
“Yes,” she said with tears in her eyes as she threw her arms around her mother. It was the first time she had felt like an adult and she never forgot that conversation.
It made her proud of her father and mother. But when he left that last time and never came back she knew the worst had befell him. The result of her father’s disappearance didn’t baffle her as much as her mother’s actions afterwards. She picked up where her father left off. Brea saw her frequently traveling, and assumed she was spanning the places he had been to try and find him. She had spent days and then weeks with a family friend going to school and maintaining an existence that didn’t show the anxiety she felt for her mother’s wanderlust. Every day she returned from school hoping to see her mother but not surprised when she wasn’t there. She was surprised however when she didn’t return at all. That was something Brea didn’t expect. She thought her mother would be there to see her grow up. She thought that one day she would come home and both of her parents would be there waiting on the front steps or on the couch of the home she was staying at holding hands and waiting to embrace her. Now that would never happen. Instead she was told her mother had passed. Lost on a trip with only some of her most precious belongings found where she was last seen. This whole ordeal leading Brea here, to a life with complete instability that she wanted to escape but had no means with which to do so.
This package offered some hope. Anything was better than nothing.
“Child, stop day dreaming.” They had arrived at a large room filled with several books and chairs all of which looked old and rich, both in color and texture. “You may start here. I will call you when dinner is ready.”
“What about my package?” she had said it hurriedly and had not meant for it to sound so rude.
“Your package is my package until I see fit to give it to you! I hope you don’t think that tone will be tolerated in…” she trailed off. Brea closed her eyes and pretended her grandmother’s thunderous footsteps were large drops of rain, splashing in an ocean she was swimming in.
After her grandmother left her, she looked around the room then shuffled back and forth. She wondered the second floor coming to the long hall which was the forbidden corridor. Forbidden corridor? What am I, 5 years old? But at the sight of it, her hands became sweaty and she pawed at her key that hung around her neck while slowly walking down the hallway. Her steps became louder as they reverberated in the emptiness by the close naked walls creating an eerie echo as the hair on her neck stood up. What is this? It was so quiet even her thoughts were audible. She stared forward, her pace being slowed by her body as if it sensed something wrong. She couldn’t make out what was drawing her to the end of the hallway…
“GIRL!” her grandmother yelled from across the house.
Startled, Brea made break for the nearest room and shoved her way inside. Just in time too.
“Where were you?” she said from the doorway.
“I’m looking over all the rooms so I can decide which needs cleaning the most,”
“I will decide for you,” she said. She looked suspiciously at Brea.
“Thank you Grandma Eve.”
The old woman smiled slightly as if it hurt her to do so. As they left the room Brea caught a glimpse down the hall way at the forbidden door. The lights were not on inside, but she could see the sunlight spilling through the space underneath the door. Her eyes saw the light twinkle like they reflected off diamonds. She blinked them into focus and the light was gone.