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The Lake House, Chapter One
This was the new tradition, I assumed, ever since my mother moved us here to Seabrook. We had landed in a small, little hick town in South Carolina. It was our first Memorial Day here. We’d arrived just after the year before and I soon got a job. My Mom had to have something to do every holiday. So that was why I was here at The Lake. I had no clue the official name of the water because everyone just called it ‘The Lake’. Seabrook was right on the coast, but, for some reason, they had built a lake, too. Smart ones.
The water was a blue-ish shade of green and not very pretty. I’d spent enough time here to realize that you didn’t really want to take a swim in the nasty, murky water. People dumped very rank things in here. It was more of a hangout place than a cool off place. Everyone had swimming pools if they wanted to swim, or just get wet and cool off.
I looked down at my mother. She was sitting next to a guy I had never met. He had blonde hair that was in a crew cut. The guy looked to be about twenty-five to her forty-three. He was sort of cute, but I could tell he wouldn’t be around long. She was plain, before. When she and my father--I couldn’t call him that. When she and Craig were together, it was a medium length, mousy brown bob. A size ten and a few smudges of eyeliner. After they’re outrageous divorce, very disagreeable, she went cougar. It was hair extensions and platinum blond. My mother went after the young guys and stayed out later than me; sometimes all night. It was like I didn’t even know her anymore.
The way she looked up at me, the desperate, needy flirting clear in her eyes. I didn’t know this woman. “Can you go get me another drink?”
“Yeah.” Better to agree and just leave, she wouldn’t notice--it was her fifth drink. Heck, she was probably trying to get me to go away.
I walked away from her with my flip-flops in hand. they were an aqua blue, the same color as the birds on my bikini. The same color as my eyes. The same color of Craig’s eyes. I should really get some contacts. I used to think my eyes were beautiful, but now it just hurt to look into them.
‘What can I get you Ma’am?” The sleazy bartender asked me in his deep, raspy voice.
“Just a refill.”
“Whatever you want, babe.” This was disgusting. Hew as at least forty-five. The bartender handed my back my drink, not even checking for ID. He was one of the easy ones. All I had to do was stand there. He wasn’t content with just being a verbal pervert, as I reached for my drink, he made sure to brush his fingers on mine and add a wink. Full on deviant.
I turned around and looked back down the beach, my mom was gone. She and Mr. Crew cut were MIA. I’d find some way home. Hopefully.
I took a drink and felt the burn as it trailed down my throat. I barely even noticed the burn anymore, and my mom never noticed her diminishing supply. She just didn’t understand. I didn’t want a hip best friend as she put it. I wanted a mom. It was cool the first few months, but when I finished practice after school or was scheduled for her to pick me up from work and she didn’t show up, it was embarrassing. I soon learned not to depend on her for anything from keeping tabs on me to keeping money in the checking account. I got my own account, so she was on her own when she over drafted and was on the cold-check list at all the shops in town. She was still halfway a mom before we moved here.
“Moving to Seabrook will be great!” My mother told me about a year ago. She spoke and unfamiliar. The blond hair looked strange and out of place around the naturally pretty face. “It’s just what we need.”
Back then I still trusted her, believed her. I soon realized that she meant ‘It’s just what I need.’ She couldn’t stand to be anywhere near Craig, after what he did. I didn’t want to be near him either. We moved here because if she couldn’t stand him, I couldn’t be around him either, even if it was court ordered.
“Mom, I’m going to have to leave all my friends.”
“I know honey, but you’ll make all kinds of new, great ones. Don’t worry.”
“You really think so?”
“Honey, Melissa, you are a bright and smart individual. You will do fine. No problems.”
Ha! And I believed her. What a lie! All the people here were stuck-up snobs, I didn’t really have that many friends. One or two, but I didn’t really even like them. None of the other girls really liked me either. That wasn’t to say the guys didn’t--they did. Especially the ones with girlfriends. My reputation wasn’t the best.
My stupid mom. I hope she’s freaking happy with herself. Dating all the guys ranging from 25-33. It was disgusting. I’ll go get with the bartender and send her pictures just to see how that makes her feel. I doubt she’d even care. She’d either ignore me or find a positive, ‘He’s got a job!’
I had reflexively drank nearly all of my drink--her drink. The sand beneath my feet was rough and grainy, rubbing them raw. I’d walked a lot farther down the beach that I’d intended to, I could barely see the lights.
She didn’t even go by Alex or Alexandria any more. My mom went my ‘Lexie’. Some one who is forty-three years old, as much as she likes to think she’s not, isn’t supposed to have a name like that. It’s for young people like me. Call me Lexie and her Melissa, at least then it’d sound normal. No wait, that would involve my mom caring about something other than every impulse she wants to act on.
I tipped the cup up for another drink and realized it was empty when all the ice came clattering down on my nose. I threw the cup down. Who cared about littering.
I felt the moisture form my eyes before I knew I was crying. No. I didn’t want to cry over them--I’d done enough of that already. This was why I didn’t drink alone, exactly why. When you’re with a bunch of people, it just helps you forget where you are and who you’re with. If I drank enough, I could be back in Chicago again, with my friends. But if I was alone, it just threw down the wall I’d built inside and let the thoughts overpower me, like tonight. Some nights I let it come, I pondered all the details and really thought about it. But those nights were pre-planned. It had started one Friday night a month and two Saturdays. Now it was down to just one Friday night a month because there is really only so many times you can go over the same information. Same details, same questions. Why did he do that? Why did Mom do this? I wasn’t even sure if she was going to ‘Mom’ much longer. It may just come to be Lexie. But her picture popped into my head instantly when I thought of the word mom. It was always hard to change habits, but I could do it. Just takes some practice. Like she’ll even notice.
The party lights were just a dim glimmer behind me now. I didn’t care. There was a house up here, it looked empty enough. I walked up the porch steps, rang the doorbell and jumped into the bushed and waited two minutes, then repeated. No one home. I wasn’t going to break in, I wasn’t even going to steal anything. If there was a key somewhere near by, then so be it. If not, I’d find a way home. Looks like Friday night might come again this month. Under the chair cushion, nope. Above the door, nope. The most obvious place, you bet. Under the welcome mat. It went smoothly into the lock and I hear the click as the door opened. It’s not forced entry if you use a key. Is it?
I hope not.
As much as I make it seem like I don’t care if I get in trouble, I do. Well, I don’t care if I get in trouble by my mother, I actually like to. It makes her remember she has a daughter. But the police are a different story. I didn’t work so hard the past few years not to get into an Ivy league school. A mess-up with the police would probably make the chances slim to none if not completely cut them out.
School didn’t have any moral grounds. Well, other than cheating, but there was no way to do something completely unexpected. Yes, you could cuss your teacher out on last night’s homework, but that’d be stupid. She knew the questions and answers. The learning was set and you knew what you were supposed to be talking about. Math was the easiest. They were numbers, the same in every county. There was a set in stone answer, unlike the leniency in English. One set formula and everything came out perfect. Math had such an easy life.
I closed the door behind me. This house was nice, I guess. I didn’t see any neighbors around so I turned on a light. Thank goodness they didn’t have an alarm system. The house was large, but the décor a little tacky and outdated. From the outside it looked nice, but now that I could see inside, I knew the truth. But you can’t always see inside. The outside lies.
This house looked as if the owners had spent all their money buying the house ad didn’t have any money left to bring it from 1995 to now. The living room was nice. Personally, I would’ve done my bedroom, the kitchen, the living room, then the guest room, but it wasn’t my house. I found the main remote and sat down on the L-shaped couch. A wall of pictures was to my left.
There was an older couple in one or two of the pictures, I assumed this was their house. There was a family portrait with a middle aged mad, a middle aged woman and a boy about my age. That was probably their grandson because I saw about four other pictures of him on the wall. He was pretty hot.
After couple of hours of television, I decided to check out the food situation. They had gone by my fix-up agenda. This kitchen was very nice. It was better than nice. All the appliances were stainless steel and the countertops were made out of the really nice rock that you can even cut on with no cutting board. They even had a coffee maker that would make just about any coffee related drink that you wanted. But no food in the fridge. Three sodas and a bottle of mustard were all that were there. I looked in the pantry, the only thing there were some cans of soup and Vienna sausages. These people were gone for the summer.
I wasn’t going to tell anyone about this, but it just might be my new home away from home. I had my own vacation house. And it was going to come in very handy.