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An unwelcome visitor An unwelcome visitor
by Katerina Charisi
2016-03-06 11:04:01
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That day Bradford and Michael drove back to New Orleans and my old apartment to empty it. While they were away, I tried to make some extra space in our room and in the single closet, trying to figure out which of my things I needed most and how everything would fit in there. The rest would have to remain in their boxes and stored away. It was a strange feeling and many thoughts flowed in my mind while working on it.

Again, insecurity overwhelmed me, so I had to stop and look out the window, lost in my thoughts about the life I left behind and would be my past from now and the life ahead that would be a future I couldn’t quite predict. Plus the room was just too small. It was impossible to make it fit everything. Only my clothes and shoes were too many for that closet, let alone having both, Michael’s and mine in it. I wondered how Marianne made it in their room. As far as I knew, it was even smaller from ours; but their bed had drawers on its side and that room didn’t have Frances’s bedroom under it, so that’s why they took it when she first moved in, while they left the big room for the single -back then- Michael.

ily01_400God, what did I do? I quit my job, put my life in carton boxes, left my place for good, for... this? A single room with a creaking bed and a closet that didn’t even fit half of my clothes? I didn’t even tell my mother about it; not that it would make much difference, anyway. Oh, you better made the right choice, I told myself.

Marianne came in the room couple of times to ask if I needed help, but I said I was okay and I would manage on my own. Then she went back to the kitchen, where she had put everything on the table to clean the cabinets. Frances came to me too, chirping all the time, telling me of how brave I was, “it must had been a tough decision child, a girl from the big city like you, to come and live up here, yes, yes, I understand, but don’t worry about a thing, look around, all this will be yours one day, well it is already yours, you know that, don’t mind me, feel free to decorate your room as you want and everything will be fine”. She said all this with a single breath and then left.

Her words left me even more insecure, although I knew she was just trying to make me feel better. Everything will be yours, she said and it was hard to picture it. What could I possibly do with all that “everything”? It was easier when Michael and I talked about it in the safety of my own apartment, in my own life, than having it now ahead, a real perspective.

“I would never change it”, said Michael with confidence. “Think about it baby, look around. Where are we now? Between four rented walls, unable to sleep from all that noise, cars roaring all night, your neighbours fight all the time and you live here for how long?”

“Four years”, I said.

“Four years. And I bet you don’t even know the name of a single person in the building”.

Well, that was true. But I didn’t care to know anyone in the building and it was hard to explain that to Michael. We grew up so differently and some things were just too hard to explain. I minded my own business. I had my own life. So did everybody else.

“Don’t you wish for something better in your life?” he asked. “Like having your own home, your own land, raise your kids with love and freedom? How can we have kids when you work all night? Where are they going to play in here?”

ily02_400For a moment I felt he was judging my way of living and made me angry. I felt I had to defend my life but didn’t say a thing. Okay, it wasn’t the best life I could dream of, but all I had was of my own hard work. I didn’t have a house of my own and why would I care so much about it? Having a house of your own would force you to stay forever in the same place. I could go to wherever I wanted. I didn’t have my parents to take care of me, I took care of myself since ...always, I was living alone since my seventeen, and I was proud of myself. I could just manage it well, all by myself.

But he was right, I must admit that. For how long I could live like this? Of course I dreamed of a big house full of children and I wouldn’t be a parent like my parents were. I wanted to be home and take care of my family. My home. It was every woman’s dream, wasn’t it?

A scream came out the small kitchen on our floor and Marianne ran out and dashed the stairs crying. What the hell..?  ThenFrances came up with her arms on her hips, murmuring something, Marianne behind her sobbed like a toddler that someone broke its favourite toy. “It was right there, I saw it!” she cried. I followed them in the kitchen.

“Well?” Frances asked.

“Right there, under the sink!” Marianne pointed out.

It wasn’t hard to guess what had happened. It must have been a mouse. Frances looked in the cabinet, she didn’t find any droppings or a hole anywhere, so she took her head out and looked around, then shook her head and wiped her hands on her apron. “It could be anywhere, Marianne. Go get the trap. You know where it is. The keys are on the chiffonier”. Then she left, she threw a quick glance in our bedroom, for a moment she looked thoughtful about it, and went back downstairs.

Marianne sat on the chair, biting her nails. “Hey, don’t worry, you probably scared it to death with that scream of yours”, I joked but Marianne looked hopeless. I noticed how badly she had chewed her thumb. The skin was pink around the nail with tiny dots of blood on it. Too nervous, I thought. If she went all that crazy with the sight of a mouse, what would she do with a serious problem?

“Will you come with me to get the trap? I don’t want to go down there alone,” She finally asked and looked at me with eyes wide open, like a terrified child, thinking of a monster or something. Oh, she looked funny. But I felt sorry for her. I couldn’t help it and not wonder how she had managed it all these years, since she definitely looked so out of this way of living. I admired her for that. “Of course, let’s go”.


    
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