Me and Mom Fall in Love With Edward
Beige is the color of safety.
It's the color that sells a home. If you put away your knick-knacks, any personal symbols that remind others that you've actually been living in the place shedding your dead skin cells all over everything, the house is more likely to sell.
I shouldn't have painted the ceilings red. Except for the one I painted yellow. Bright, bright yellow. And the failed attempt to paint Renee's bedroom ceiling to look like a cathedral, that was really not successful…those cherubims…from hell. I meant well.
But I blamed her and all the refrigerator art she hung over the years, sheathes of painted and crayoned works of art, three thick, defying the weaker refrigerator magnets, papers so frequently dislodged when she'd be talking while cooking and she'd slam the refrigerator door cause she got worked up when she talked about her work, well she encouraged me to keep…creating, is what I'm trying to say.
Being a teacher's aid in the middle school classroom where the degenerates were sent, that's only what she called them at home, at work they were called special students needing special assistance, but being that, she was often frustrated and loud while she went on…and on about the preposterousness of the academic system she was caught up in.
Bunch of little bastards is what I called them because she is my mom. But my point, she got worked up when she talked about them and slammed the doors and dislodged artwork. They, the students weren't the heavies, well a few were, but the administration, now they were worthy of the firing squad. Or at least a good tee-peeing like we did last Halloween. Mother and I and her horny friend Alice, fellow aid at the halls of debauchery and shame.
They were tipsy and I was their designated driver. We tee-peed the principal's house. It was obscene, let me tell you, those two crazy old bats throwing the rolls all over the place, and not getting caught. I was sweating bullets, the sad adult in the mess, while they did this. And I ended up helping. Peer pressure from my own mother. But it was funny. Well I was doubled over laughing at one point when the principal came to the door with a paint-ball gun. We got the hell out of there and the two splatters of yellow were on the trunk until we had a real good freezing rain.
And yes, I'm twenty-seven and still putting artwork on the fridge..because I live with mom and until that movie came out a few years ago, Failure to Launch, I didn't know I had failed…to launch. I remember Mom brought that home and I heated up the pizza and brought it in to the table and there we were two munching bunnies and we figured it out soon enough as Matthew McConaughey's character got revealed…he'd stayed too long…with Mom and Dad. He was hiding. I hadn't even finished my pizza that night, and that never happens. It was embarrassing to realize I was such a cliché they'd made a movie about me. But Mom was quiet too.
So I went right out the next day and found my own apartment.
I should say up front, it's summer. Late summer. Nothing much happens around here since the murder next door seventeen years back set the bar so high. After Freida was killed, dear Freida who made me popsicles since I was three, maybe two, or one perhaps, after that, her murder, no one wanted to buy her house and so the earth took over and weeds grew through the bottoms of the kitchen cabinets.
Things don't sell quickly in this town, that's for sure. But with the murder, no one wanted Freida's haunted house even though it was repainted beige and all personal nick-knacks were long gone. Such as blood spray on the walls, Dexteresque, very now. No one wanted it really.
Mom said it was all about the missing granite counter tops, the missing stainless appliances, the missing cabinetry and hard wood floors and livable floor plan.
Too much HGTV for my mother and me. We're practically real estate agents. And decorators. And from the Food Network, yeah we're kind of chefs, too.
Yeah on that one. I mean yeah for real.
I work at home evaluating ingredients on government labels on packaging for the food industry. I have a boss, and I work for a company, I just don't ever go there. Well hardly. The city is an hour away and people…not my thing.
So imagine my shock, or dismay I should say, my gasping amazement when he moved in. I saw him over the fence. I went out there because the squirrels kept stealing my sweet corn and I only planted four short rows. So I went out there to whack a stick at the squirrels and I saw that rental truck in front of the place and no sooner did I think about that and here he came from around the back of it holding a big box full of…beakers and bunson burners maybe.
Right off I was interested. I mean, who buys a house where…who does that?
And why I started to think about myself, right then…like my bare feet with the chipped polish on my toenails, and my hairy legs, my cut-offs, one leg whacked off a couple inches shorter than the other—not my leg-legs, but the legs on my cut-offs, why I was thinking about it…who knows. And the funny stains on my shirt, on the boobs, the food-catching ledge God stuck on the front of my body…ha-ha. Hair? The hair on my head I mean…brushed…when?
I don't wear make-up, but maybe…mascara? I always forget I'm wearing it and rub my eyes. Always. So…I don't even try.
I don't have any zits, but a quick probe connects with sand in my eyes.
I am disgusting. So now I am tip-toeing through the scraggly grass that's thinning like an old man's hair cause we haven't seen rain in a month and it's been hot enough to rend hope from the soul.
But I'm oohing and owing my way to the backdoor cause, no shoes, and I am nearly there when he calls out, in a very handsome voice, a voice so nice I would know it belonged to a very handsome man if it's all I had to go on. And he is handsome. I knew that at the three second glance when he'd first manifested from the back of the rental truck.
The closer he gets the more right I am. And I have to make myself not bolt. I am so painfully shy it's like keeping my eyes open when someone's wanting to poke me right in the pupils. I need to hide.
But here I am, caught during squirrel duty. I'm still holding a stick even. Well I need to stay far enough away that he can't make out my details. I hate to disappoint him right off. I would have liked a minute to digest all this, but no such luck. However….
"Hello," he says.
I just make a sound, my fretting sound I can never quite trap in my neck before I make it.
"Hello?" he says again, still approaching, though more hesitant what with all the…growth along the fence, some of it his, some of it ours, a shared landscape disaster. Yes, Mom and I are also occasional, uncommitted landscapers. T. V. again.
But I can't think of it now with this…human being peering at me through the wild cherry tree and the milk weed and unfortunate bamboo plant experiment from back in 2001?
It's absolutely blowing up my mind to see a human coming from the direction of Freida's. It's been so long. He has no idea. And then, this human. Even through the beard and the explosion of hair growing from his head, I can see he is possibly even more striking than I first imagined. In a good way? I don't know! What am I? I'm angry.
I'm really pissed off at him.
"What are you?" I say.
He smiles, and he's got his lips pursed to repeat the 'what.' I don't give him time.
"I have to go in." That's me.
Is that the best I can do? Yes it is. I go in the house and close the screendoor and the heavy wooden door with the curtain and the shade because Renee is an over-doer, and I pull the shade too and lean on the door, then think, no, I can't put my back to this, so I run through the kitchen and the living room and up the stairs to the second floor and hurry to my room and my window, and I lean next to it and huff and puff because it's been ages since I've jogged, then I peer out my window, after I move all the crap obscuring my view and he's not around. Thank God.
What did I say to him exactly? I said something like…what are you? I said that. It didn't…sound intelligent. He couldn't answer. That is exactly what I did. People made a bid, and I slammed the door shut on any attempt anyone made to take a step toward me. Well…tough toenails. I'm not apologizing. She was killed there…and he shouldn't…how dare he. I had only gone out to see to the squirrels. And speaking of, one is running across my yard with a whole ear of corn. The whole ear in his little mouth and he's trying to run and hold onto the ear and I laugh and say, no at the same time. And now…now I don't' even have the freedom to do anything about it because this damn new…person has invaded my…life and it's not like a continent…my life…it's relatively small and he's moved into it…uninvited…yes.