Posts Tagged Boston
He rubbed his face with both hands and then folded them behind his head, leaning back in his chair.
“I know you just got back. I didn’t mean to drag you out to do this.”
“It’s fine. I mean it. How’s that deal coming along?”
Gene and his father had started a business the previous year to restore boats. Everyone in the community owned one, whether for profit or pleasure, and they thought it could be lucrative. It wasn’t the best time to start a company, but Gene was determined to not work for anyone else.
From what Ala had heard, she missed a series of ugly episodes by being in Boston. And she was grateful. She liked thinking of Gene in her own terms. Dashing, arrogant, smart and funny was what she always knew him as.
Ala ordered a whiskey sour from the waitress since, she had some catching up, to do and listened to Gene talk about his sister passing the BAR exam on her first try and his younger brother studying in Korea. She hated to admit it, but he did make her feel a lot better about what she was going through.
She said this and they both laughed. He kissed her on the cheek and her hand brushed his thigh. Normal occurrences in their social meetings.
She felt engrained in this house. As if she stepped out of the cocoon of the walls, went to Boston, returned and slid herself back in the nook she lived in. She realized that this was a sign that she was clinging to her adolescence, and did not want to grow up and have to leave again. The move and the relationship had burned her. She wanted to reset and pretend it never happened. She wanted to sleep in this house until the day she was married and then have her husband take her away from her father. She wanted to the simplicity of tradition.
It seemed that as a child, her parents had wanted her to wait until marriage to have sex. She was expected to attend church every week. She completed her First Communion and Confirmation. She received no lower than a B in every class every year and never received a “Congratulations”. It was expected that her performance would be advanced.
When high school came, she rebelled in every obvious way she could think of. Her mother would cry at the kitchen table and her father would ground her. Soon they became passé on the matter and she tried to think of more ways to rile them, with little success. They assumed she was damaged—most likely already cutting class, using drugs, and probably even having sex. Having no other children to compare Ala to, they would talk to friends at dinner parties, lamenting on her misbehavior and lack of respect. Their friends would reply that Ala was lovely; simply charming, and they were lucky that she was the only child they had to deal with when they returned home. Everyone would then go around the table sharing horror stories they faced raising teenagers. Arrests, expulsion from school, loitering, very noticeable signs of drug use. What they had on their hands with Ala was nothing, they were assured.
She tried to force a normal voice.
“Dad, it’s Ala.”
“Is everything okay? Where is your phone?”
“I forgot it, I just wanted to tell you—” She heard the phone rustle against his shirt.
“Pearl, pick up, it’s Ala.”
Ala could tell her mother picked up from their bedroom, where she was probably packing for the cruise they were leaving on the next day.
“Is everything okay?”
“Well, yes. I wanted to call because I’m coming home.”
“What happened? Is it Jase?”
“It’s everything. I can’t stay here.”
“What about your job?”
The questions of course, Ala was unprepared for, because she assumed they would be thrilled at the news. Her mother wept when she told her she was moving. And her father didn’t want her to live with Jase unless she was engaged.
“I’ll find a new job. I just have to come back.”
“Okay, just calm down. We’ll fix this.”
She wanted them to drive to Boston in their luxury car and pick her up. To tell her not to worry about her things, they could be sent. She wanted to leave that very minute. It then occurred to her that they perhaps didn’t want her to move back into the house.
“I’ll find an apartment. I promise”
“Oh Ala, don’t be silly. We haven’t touched your room. When would you like to come home?”
“Today, tomorrow. Please, anytime I can.”
“Alright, we’ll book you a ticket. Why don’t you go back, pack up whatever you can and have some tea. You sound terrible.”
Everything of course had been fine for the two weeks she’d been back, but something definitely had changed that she couldn’t put her finger on it. She had always been the center of their world. Having no siblings, she assumed her parent’s lives depended on her and her alone. She even felt pressure to have children so her parents wouldn’t be bored. All of this apparently was an illusion though.
Ala’s purse fell hard to the ground when someone bumped into the table. Embarrassed, she quickly picked up every item she could see and shoved them back into the bag. It was now time to go, no doubt. She approached the now drunken Dora and lightly kissed her cheek.
“Happy Birthday, Dora.”
“Thanks, talk soon.”
Ala waved to Gene, who was clearly getting cozy with Myra, and walked carefully down the steel steps. She briefly thought of finding the nerd to see f he won enough money for the men, but decided against it.
Her feet were on fire by the time she reached her car. Peeling the heels off, she saw that her cut skin had bled into her mother’s pumps. They would have to be taken in to be cleaned first thing in the morning. She drove home, wondering if she would ever enjoy those types of parties or the people in them. She wondered what would’ve happened if she stayed in Boston, or perhaps never had gone at all. She wondered what Jase was doing and if he ever just paused to wonder about her. It didn’t matter, of course, because she left him. But still, she could wonder.
Returning home she saw that both of her parent’s cars were in the driveway and all of the lights were on in the house. The doors were unlocked and the radio was on in the kitchen. Ala called for them but no one answered. She went upstairs to their bedroom, but they weren’t there. She went into the yard and spotted smoke coming from the Neely’s yard next door. She approached the ivy covered fence and peered over. She saw a mammoth fire roaring out of the pit and several people, some recognizable, others only faintly so, sitting around it, their faces orange in the light.
Her cell phone rang and UNKNOWN flashed three times on the shiny screen. She decided to not pick up, especially after her weird encounter at the library. Instead, she took the top three boxes from the large stack in her bedroom and began unpacking.
She pulled out several crumbled suits she bought before leaving for Boston, mainly for job interviews. She took put balled up panties and camisoles and arranged them neatly in her top drawer. She took out potpourri sachets that had no fragrance anymore, but reminded her of her mother.
Feeling the tightening of her skin, she feared burning and quickly got up and brushed all of the sand she could off of her legs. She walked back to the house and, noticing neither car was in the driveway, had great anticipation for the hot bath she would soak in uninterrupted.
She peeled off her striped halter-top and denim shorts and tiptoed naked to her bathroom, forgetting to close the blinds. The old claw foot tub rattled whenever she turned the faucet to high heat. She sprinkled lavender bath salts, a gift from Jase’s mother, into the water and watched the pleasant murkiness ripple to the bottom of the tub. She climbed in slowly, mindful of her shin, still sore from a recent biking trip where her wheel skidded over a sharp stone.
The phone rang and she decided to let her parent’s ancient answering machine take the call. She closed her eyes and thought of how it was as if she had never left at all. Everything was the same. The house, minus a few new throw pillows, her friend Sissy sounded the same, her daybed still the same aluminum under chipped white paint.
Lucky for her she had not brought a lot to Boston to have to bring back. Three suitcases, a briefcase and a shoulder bag were it. She knew Jase did not have a lot of room, a closet to herself being out of the question.
This was also perhaps the closest up she had ever seen male genitalia and instantly felt grimy because she was doing so in such a public place. This after all, was a place for the elderly to come and look at the newspaper or children to join the summer reading challenge. Not a place for smut. In fact, even in a town as small as Pilkington, say 30,000, Ala could think of a lot of dirty places where people might exchange and discuss photos such as the one staring her in the face. The parking lot behind the supermarket, where boys wait to collect carts, was definitely a possibility. Also, the park a few blocks over, where tweens had sex in the slides during the night, was also the place for this kind of picture.
She took a few more moments to study the image before reaching around the side of the monitor and pushing the button that shut down the machine. She thinks of telling a librarian on duty, but decides it’s no use. It would only call attention to her and she didn’t want that many people in town finding out she was back from Boston. Being away for less than a year sounded strange, especially in a place where people hardly ever moved away.