Even before I opened my eyes to my roommate’s alarm clock I knew it was going to be a bad day. My own had not gone off and now I was late before even reaching waking a state. As quickly as I could I rushed through my usual morning routine. Scrubbing myself raw in the shower I tried rack my brain and clear away the clouds and cobwebs that still surrounded it from my sleep. Wake up… Wakeupwakepwakeup.
My hair was still almost soaking wet as I dressed and prepared myself for the run to my classes. Quickly swallowing down a muffin that Can-Can had made in her quick breads class the day before and half a glass of juice I was soon out the door heading to my first class. My first class whizzed by and soon my second class started followed by my third and before I knew it, it was time for lunch. But that’s easier said than done and it didn’t go as smoothly as that. First class I forgot my paper right on my desk back in my dorm room. Second class it was my textbook, probably sitting next to my paper. Third class I had a fifteen minute break in between class so I decided to grab a cup of coffee from one of the vending machines in the mezzanine level lounge and went outside with it only to sufficiently spilled the hot liquid all over my hoodie. Great now I have to run back and change. I gritted to myself as the coffee seared through my clothes and burned my skin.
Then I was late to my next class even though I ran the whole way to my dorm room and from it. By the end of the day I was a bit high strung and irritated. All I wanted to do I was hide under my blankets until tomorrow and not deal with anything else that could go wrong. But inside I found myself outside in the court yard waiting for Can-Can do get done with her classes so we could go to the cafeteria and grab some lunch when I spied Sanguinello hanging outside by himself. An almost rarity in sight him alone, as he was usually with his two friends Mr. Hat and Ms. Grey. Of course they probably had names and if I was a little more outgoing with other people maybe I would know them too. But for now they were just Mr. Hat and Ms. Grey and I was just fine with that.
As Sanguinello walked towards me he grasped the frayed knitted shirt that he wore between his fingers as he probably subconsciously played with the unraveling yarn. “Why are you always so fudging nervous?” I snapped at him as he continued to fidget nervously with his clothing; the constant fiddling was beginning to grate on my nerves just a bit.
“You’re just scary to talk to sometimes, even after you called me a pink elephant and drunkenly serenaded me your first night here. It made you more perfect to me than I’d thought you’d be before when I just saw you across our campus. So yes you are scary sometimes. There I said it! ” He said with a wave of his hands exasperatedly before walking away “Scary Starry”
Great, just great. There you go again Starry. And did we really meet my first night? Or better yet did I really serenade him with one of my favorite childhood songs? I began to obsess embarrassedly in my mind in such a way that would put Shadow Sea to shame, but was interrupted by my cell phone. I don’t even know why I have one of these. It’s not like anyone besides family calls me on it anyway. "Hello?"
“It’s me.” A muffled voice came through which thoroughly surprised me. I couldn’t remember the last time or even if there was a last time that my sister ever called me. I might as well have some fun.
“It’s me who?” I asked knowing fully well how much my sister had a short fuse when it came to berries playing dumb.
“For fudgesakes, Starry you should know your own sisters voice or look at the caller ID before picking up.” She snapped back at me immediately, her voice came loudly enough through the phone to make me hold it away from my ear.
“Oh it’s… you. What do you want?” I asked still keeping up the charade as I didn’t have to feign my displeasure in receiving a phone call from her.
“I umm need you to come home. Please you’re seriously the last person I would call but mom’s not here and I can’t get a hold of Indigo. Grandma is in the hospital and I really need you home right now. Please Starry.” I heard her plead with me first going with being her last option and then finally admitting that she needed me.
There was something in her voice that made me promise that I would be on my way before hanging up and immediately take the next train back home. Something was wrong and for the first time my sister was reaching out to me. Grant it I was her last choice, but still somewhere in the back of my mind in the dark recesses echoed my mother’s words about family and sticking together that she would often say whenever Wisteria and I got into one of our fights. It was about an hour later when I finally arrived on my doorstep. For the first time I was unsure if I should knock or if I should just open the door and stroll in. I hadn't lived here since before school started though my room still remained the same. But Wisteria made that decision for me when she quickly opened the door and grabbed me pulling me in.
“I don’t care Fade! She can die alone for that matter. Besides she has Ashen there.” I heard my father practically yelling in his office while on speaker phone with my grandfather Fade. “Do you see why I called you home?” my sister Wisteria said quietly “I’ve been trying to get everyone to speak to our father since he refuses to go see our grandmother.”
“Where is mom?” I asked her surprised that my sister had called me of all people home. “She’s on her way back from the farm and won’t be back for at least another hour. They don’t know if Grandma is going to make it through the night and all she has been asking for is dad. Mom says that ever since his grandmother came back into his life before she passed away he hasn’t had the greatest relationship with grandma. Apparently dad’s real dad’s lawyer finally broke his confidentiality agreement and told him a few things about him a few years ago after he retired. ” She explained quietly as we walked through the living room to the kitchen, all the few feet there we could still hear our father arguing with our Grandpa Fade. “Mom told you all of this?” I asked in surprise as our mother was usually one to keep things in control and under wrap. “No, I overheard her talking to our other Grandma one day when I was home sick while you and everyone else were at school.” My sister answered honestly as I wondered what other things she might know.
“Who was by my father’s beside Fade? Who? Did you know that he asked for me several times to her? And she refused him. Did you know that Fade?” Our dad implored loudly as he paced back and forth loudly in his office. “No, I did not. But I am sure that your mother only did so to protect you.” Grandpa Fade answered tiredly; his voice had taken on an irritated tone as my father briskly shut his office door. But it did nothing to diffuse the sound of his voice as it penetrated through the walls reaching us in the kitchen
“Protect me? I was a fudging adult when that happened and capable of making my own decisions. I was twenty years old when he died and living on my own. Protect me? No, it wasn’t ever to protect me. More like protecting herself since she had just as much to lose as he did if anyone found out. He begged her and told her to name any price. Admitting that I was his son? Fine, he was in the process of having the papers drawn up in his will that would have named me as his son. But she still said no and now she wants me to come to her. I don’t know what’s more messed up, that or the fact that on his death bed he still loved her enough to respect her wishes no matter how much they hurt him or me.”
I’ll never know what she said to him but as soon as my mother came home she glided past us in the living room straight towards our father with little acknowledgement as she nodded to the two of us. Dad was leaning on the counter looking out the window to the backyard but from our view in the kitchen it didn’t seem like he saw a thing outside the window from his trapped thoughts. Her footsteps barely made a sound before she reached him. Quietly she spoke to him words that we could not hear as we watched his shoulders sink down in defeat and it soon felt as if our watching was intrusive on a private moment in which our father who seemed so strong to us growing up now seemed like that image was about to break. In a shaky and unsure voice I asked “Hey Wisteria how about we go grab some takeout from that place in town that opened up last summer?”
In the end there was no yelling, no theatrics or anything that might have suggested that my grandmother made decisions that affected my father’s whole life. While we sat outside her room as he said his goodbyes to her barely a word could be heard from their conversation. Our grandfather Fade distanced himself from the rest of the family while Uncle Ashen looked distraught as our Aunt kept her arm around him while trying to hold on to their infant Juniper Dust. It was only an hour after my father emerged from the hospital room that my grandmother passed away. The life of one of the most infamous Berrywood Scarlet’s had come to an end.
The funeral was rampant with berries attending, fans watching alongside of the paparazzi trying to take their photos from behind the wrought iron fence hoping to get one last glimpse of a woman that helped mark an era in Berrywood film history. It was oddly a sunny day, a break in the usual overcast skies. The sound of camera flashes could be heard almost echoing throughout the quiet graveyard as we said our final goodbyes. I never experienced anything like it, having my picture taken by a bunch of strangers that tried to get my father’s attention by calling his name and asking him questions as we tried to leave. “Parasites” He grumbled under his breath while the limo crept slowly towards the sprawling city away from the graveyard.
After the wake it was revealed that my grandmother had left me an apartment that she had ever since she had come to the city since I was the only one to show an interest in her beloved city and had needed to be in it as much as she had so many years ago. Which shocked Fade most of all since it was something that she was supposed to have sold years ago when my father was a toddler and they moved into my father’s childhood home together. “I don’t get it why did she keep it after all these years?”My grandfather questioned after her will had been read.
My father wanted nothing to do with it when I asked him after we got back to our house what I should do with it. You’d think me being 18 years old with a two floor apartment with a beautiful view of the city would have thrilling, but instead it made me nervous. I didn’t have a job yet I was still in school how would I even pay the bills on the thing? “I’ll take care of everything kiddo, until you are done with school.” My father assured me with a distant look in his eyes as my mother shook her head to let me know not to press him about it anymore.
When I returned to school a few days later I dragged Can-Can, who in turn dragged Melon, who also brought along some girl named Mai Tai with Froot trailing along to the Butterfly Espade on the north side of town. It was one of my grandmother’s favorite places before she got famous and on the rarity that we got to visit our grandparents she would take us there. I was well through my first year at school now though I had yet to come here even once.
But there were also other things besides my grandmother’s death that were on my mind. The fact that San had called me Scary Starry was sticking out like a sore thumb in my mind. “If you had to describe me with one word what would be the first one that pops in your head?” I asked curiously though I wasn’t exactly sure that I wanted to hear the answer. Melon was the first to speak up after a moment of silence “Abrasive.” Froot then chimed in with “Cranky” While Mai Tai said “Quiet.” And Can-Can answered with an apology “Jaded. Sorry Starry you did ask.”
Fudge, well that settles that. I thought to myself as Can-Can thankfully changed the conversation after giving me a look that said we’d be talking later about it. One of the perks or rather cons of having Can-Can as a roommate was that she was highly into my life. Sometimes it helped when she teaching me how to cook but in turn there was the usual girly things that I had liked to avoid. In the beginning of the year Can-Can and her overzealous hormones seemed to have her crushing on a different guy a day, but lately it seemed like that was the further thing on her mind. I guess people could change. I could change or at least that’s something that I’ve been trying to do this whole year though rather unsuccessfully. Maybe I could be a little nicer to others?
A few weeks later right before spring break I was out in the court yard again trying to work on still life project. As I sketched a few pictures of the bowl of fake fruit in front of me from the corner of my eye I could see him with his friends. I could talk to him. I tried to reason with myself but only failed. Or I could stay here trying to look I don't need anybody.
The guy that always wore the top hat was writing something on his hand while his girlfriend Ms. Grey laughed. For the past few weeks we had gone back to the same song and dance of randomly catching glances from each other. Only to turn away from the other with burning cheeks and a yearning like I never felt before. A few times I almost went up to him but just as I was about his words echoed in my head and I knew that I would just end up putting my foot in my mouth again. So I just did as I always did, continuing to watch from the sidelines as the world past me by.
So I went back to writing in my sketchbook for a moment brushing it off before Sanguinello came over to me. “Umm… Hello!” he said really loudly almost yelling which startled me and once again I looked up into his blood orange tinted eyes. “Uhh hi…” I replied to him once I composed myself again as he looked down at his hand as he began to talk.
“Ok let me try this again. My name… is Sanguinello Moro. I… really like you and… made you… this picture. Hand over the picture…Oh… I mean here I made this for you.” Sanguinello said before thrusting a piece of folded up paper at me. As I unfolded it a little bit impatiently at first I began to finish unfolding it a little more carefully when I saw that it was a drawing. It was a hand sketched drawing of me only it wasn’t me, but a really pretty version of me though it was a fantasy wavy haired pirate one. “Thanks but that’s not really me.” I said to him after I looked it over for a moment, the girl in the sketch's face captured my own eyes. “It is thought. Or well it’s at least how I see you. I mean not really as a pirate or whatever. I got a little distracted when I was drawing it.” Sanguinello said quietly as his face turned from its normal shade of pink to red as a small smile tugged at the corner of his lips as he looked at the ground.
“What was so different about the night I first met you besides me being sober?” I asked curiously as I adverted my eyes feeling my own face turn as red as his, while Sanguinello stood tentatively in front on me. “I don’t know you just talked to me, gave me the time of day. You treated me like I was norm… Never mind you probably had a ton of friends back home didn’t you?” He asked almost bitterly while he looked at the building behind me. The water sparkled down in the late afternoon’s light.
“Actually no I didn’t. I didn’t have any at all.” I answered quietly as he looked at me in surprise before I changed the subject at hand. I didn’t want to talk with him about my lack of a social life back him, it embarrassed me and I didn’t want him to think that I was some loser. “So what made you decided to give me a sketch?” I asked as I looked over it again memorized by the details he put into it. It was far more impressive than anything I had ever drawn and all it consisted of was mere loose leaf paper and pencil markings.
“I debated over giving you flowers instead but then I thought who in their right mind would want to receive something that’s dead? And that it would be really morbid of me to start off our relationship by giving you dead things.” He replied the most unusually answer that even I couldn’t keep from smiling at as he sat down next to me. “So you assume that we would have a relationship?” I teased even though my face began to redden involuntarily as I tried not to stumble over my words or put my foot in my mouth. Be witty and cool I thought to myself in my head. Don’t mess this up. As he answered “Not assumed, but hoped because I kind of really like you... a lot”