Old Things Die (But Not Us) -- Chapter fourteen: The Beakes' House

Fiction By Madalyn Clare // 8/17/2019

The house was probably the best manicured in the neighborhood. Dad said that Uncle Abe had always been more proper than was often necessary, and it came in handy in some situations. As we drove up to his house, I sort of laughed at myself because however clean I kept my car, it looked so out of place compared to the HOA’s paradise of a front yard. I parked anyhow, still laughing at myself a little.
Maren, however, seemed a little nervous. “I don’t know,” she admitted as she slowly reached for her plastic bag of belongings. “I’ve never really stayed over at someone else’s house. My dad wouldn’t let me.”
I shrugged. “Well, this’ll just be like, I guess, staying at your own house?” I paused. “But everybody’s nice because they don’t know you yet.”
Maren punched my shoulder. “Thanks for making it better.”
We got out of the car and made our way up the walkway to the door. Uncle Abe had a finishing touch when it came to plants- all their colors coordinated very well. There was a rock garden surrounding the base of a short and squat palm tree as well.
Additionally, on the porch stood many potted plants. I guessed it was a Californian thing to really bank on the never ending summers they enjoyed. Attached to one of the pots was a sign that said ‘THE BEAKES’.
I knocked on the door. I waited. I supposed I should have looked for a doorbell.
Then the door opened, revealing a woman about my dad’s age. She was several heads shorter than me and had short hair as well. Her face was kind.
“Hi,” I started, “I’m Levi Cannon.”
Before I could say anything else, she exclaimed her understanding. “Oh, you’re Henry’s son! Of course, come in.” She waved us both into the house, kindly smiling until her eyes weren’t visible.
...
We were asked to take our shoes off (new flooring is a big deal), and then we were escorted through the immaculate foyer to the living room. Maren latched herself onto me shyly, allowing me to be the center of attention. She huddled close to me as she sipped her iced tea.
“I’m sorry it’s been such a long time since we’ve visited,” Aunt Trinh said as she sat in the chair across from us. “I think the last time I saw you, Levi, you were maybe eleven years old.” She grinned brightly. Her deep dark eyes disappeared again. I liked it when she smiled. I smiled back.
I liked when I could smile.
We had caught up in a sort of comfortable yet formal way. Uncle Abe was working in a new architecture firm, and Aunt Trinh was volunteering at a veterinarian’s office. My mind wandered to Josh for a moment, thinking about how much he’d like that.
I caught myself. If I knew what was good for Josh, I’d stay away from him. That’s what was best for him now. I had to be leaving soon. I’d just learn to not need him, and that’d be that. Perhaps, one day, like he said, we’d meet up and get a coffee, talk about life.
I guessed that was the best I’d get, and soon enough, I’d be happy again if I could think that way. I’d heal. He’d heal. One day we would both be happy, we’d grow up and have new people in our lives. We’d forget about each other.
Forget.
I hate that word.
In those moments, Maren had been opening up with Aunt Trinh, and had somehow made a good impression. There’s something about getting girls to talk to each other. The two of them were laughing about a certain video of cats or something.
“Is Matthias in school right now?” I just barely interrupted.
Aunt Trinh nodded. “He just started third grade,” she replied. “I think he’ll be very excited to have another guy in the house for a while.” She winked at me. “Well, your uncle won’t be home for a while, and I have some more work to do here. Make yourselves at home, all right?” As she stood, Maren and I followed her example and picked up our things. She shook her head. “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of that for you. I’ll show you your rooms later in the evening.” After a moment, she said, “There’re some really nice parks around here as well, and some other areas. Here, I’ll take care of these, and you two enjoy yourselves.” She smiled again and I knew she was genuine.
“Thanks, Aunt Trinh,” I called as we made our way to the foyer.
“Absolutely! Oh,” she made her way back to us, “just in case, I want to let you know I’m having some of my friends over in a little bit. Just don’t want you to be caught off guard.”
Maren nodded. “Thank you!”
We made our way outside, and already, it was getting warm. It took me a moment to remember it was still winter. I left my jacket on the rack, content to walk to the park in jeans and a tee shirt.
Maren did the same thing as she marveled at the state of the weather. We walked shortly to a large green park, covered in lush trees and scattered with clean, wandering sidewalks. There was a pond, too. A ways away stood a playground. The two of us slowly walked along, wondering where our feet would take us.
A breeze moved through the air and tickled the trees. The sounds of the area were nothing less than calming. I could vaguely hear children laughing, adults talking in the distance. Geese would intermittently remind us that they were present, and the breeze shuffled through it all.
We didn’t say anything. We just walked.
It was beautiful.
I noticed I wasn’t the best at observing things. I lived too much in my head. The world outside of me was left to those who knew how to observe it. Like Maren, I supposed. She was a romantic. She lived for living in the moment. My eyes floated to her as I thought about it.
Her hair was down, as it often was. The breeze was having fun throwing it in all different directions, hiding her face, showing it again. She wore no makeup, and in that moment I realized I had never seen her wear any. I wondered if she did.
All of a sudden she pulled her hair back over her shoulder. She didn’t look up but continued to look towards the pond.
At that moment I noticed I was staring at her. I was staring and she hadn’t noticed. I tore my eyes from her and surveyed the scene. But just like that I again took note of what I was actually looking at, and it was her again.
I just wanted to look at her.
But was that okay?
We had been walking in silence for several minutes. I didn’t know where we were, and it didn’t look like she did either, but she wasn’t upset about it. We were about to cross a bridge. That’s all I knew. She smiled at me.
I liked that I was with her.
I’m not really sure what we talked about while we were there, or if we did. Honestly, I don’t think I really thought about answering. My brain was nonstop processing how I felt, panicking about it too. I raked my brain for a reason I felt this way now.
The only conclusion I could draw was that I wasn’t too distracted anymore. I wasn’t in my head too much anymore. I had nothing else distracting me from a beautiful moment, a flash of time in which the breeze tangled her hair and she laughed at herself. I only had to be present and that was the issue here.
Not so much a problem. If it was one, it was the prettiest, nicest, coolest problem I had.
...
We got ice cream.
Coming from a state that would label me as pretty crazy for getting ice cream in winter, I was caught off guard that the day remained balmy with a sunny disposition. Both of us were dressed down in jeans and short sleeves, and I had to remind myself that the month was still February.
Maren licked off a sizeable amount of strawberry ice cream before announcing, “So I get that we know each other’s backstories, but do we really know each other?” She gave me a side-look. “Like, for example, your favorite food? Season? Preferred dessert?”
I shrugged as we walked. “Um, in order, I’d think it’s chicken, autumn, and chocolate chip cookies. I suppose I’m sort of classic.” I glanced down at her before taking a bite of my popsicle. “Cats or dogs?”
“Turtles,” she replied immediately.
“Oh? What makes turtles so special?”
She made a gesture to emphasize that it was an obvious decision. “Have you had a pet turtle? They’re like cats- but have more armor.”
I couldn’t restrain a laugh. “How is that supposed to convince me? What did you do to your pets that they needed armor?”
She punched my arm. “Come on, if you were to have any pet in the apocalypse, a turtle would be ideal, okay?” She waved her arms in front of her, emphasizing the imperativeness of the issue. “That’s what goes through a girl’s mind when she’s wanting of a pet.”
I shook my head at her, finishing off my popsicle. “I always thought it was cuteness factor, or something. I’ve never had a pet.”
“Me neither. I just thought a turtle would be the best.”
Time flew and we were back at the Beakes’ house. There was another car in the driveway- a relatively older car, but tastefully kept up. It seemed as if a paint job was recently done in a shiny, neutral grey. All in all, tasteful and not showy.
I had noticed in my days that a car said a lot about a person. I was curious to meet this person, and add their personality to my growing list of evidence to my point.
Still unsure about formalities with Aunt Trinh, I knocked on the door before entering.
I heard voices in the family room. Then I heard Aunt Trinh.
“Oh, speaking of, I think they’re back. Follow me, I want to introduce you.”
Maren glanced at me and smiled as we turned into the room, meeting halfway with my aunt and a few of her friends.
Aunt Trinh gestured to us, then to three women around her same age.
“Levi, Maren, these are my friends from work: Wendy Scheike, Consuelo DePonte, and Grace Jung.”

Comments

I like this chapter!......but

I like this chapter!......but I need to know more!!! Ah!!! I can't wait until the next chapter :D
Thanks for the clarifications!
It made me smile to see all the comments about California's warm winters :) My favorite lines were, “Have you had a pet turtle? They’re like cats- but have more armor.” “How is that supposed to convince me? What did you do to your pets that they needed armor?”

Grace J. | Tue, 08/27/2019

“You are doing something great with your life—when you are doing all the small things with His great love.” - Ann Voskamp

Thank you so much, Grace!!!!!

Thank you so much, Grace!!!!! Gah it makes me so happy to see your comments. I love to read them so much!!!
Hahahaha knowing more will be coming soon!!
I didn't think I clarified in older chapters, so I thought I'd start doing that from now on.
Haha there's something about living in Southern California that gives you a want for seasons but also a contentment with going to the beach and eating ice cream in your Christmas cards ;)
I loved writing those lines so much.... to be honest that's how I feel about turtles.....

Madalyn Clare | Mon, 09/02/2019

Introverts unite!
Separately!
From the comfort of your own homes!

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