A very loose shot at the beginning. I hope you like it. Please comment!
The day Hannah found the boy in her closet was the day that she stopped smoking. Dusk light was leaking in through the window, although the thick velvet curtains had choked most out. The dark wood floor was whorled with age and tilted only slightly, as if in attempt to parallel the ceiling, which met the floor in a strangely shaped corner alcove. Large squares of darkness patterned the wall where portraits had hung. And of course, there was that obnoxious mirror, still hanging on the wall over the enormous bed. They were the only pieces of furniture left. Hannah was standing on a particularly large whorl and slowly surveying the blank canvas of room. The flare of the cigarette cupped in her palm, flickered eerily in the enormous mirror as she sat with a resigned sigh on the end of the bed.
It was a sad place, this house. Hannah had decided that as soon as they had pulled up to the front walk. It sagged like it couldn’t even handle one more family, one more drama. Her mother clasped her hands in front of her face rapturously, eyes dancing, “Oh James. It has such… such… character!” Hannah restrained a contemptuous cough, “What a depressing play that must have been.” Mrs. Cray looked at her daughter quickly and then away, trying to keep a neutral expression. Her voice was quiet when it came. “It’s not so bad. And I bet there are tons of rooms to pick from.” Hannah ignored the hurt that came through so clearly and shouldered her messenger bag, carabineers clanking against each other. She was up the walk and in the door with a confident step and wary heart.
Florence hadn’t been so bad. Sure it was hot in the summers, steamy enough to cook a lobster without assistance, and rumors flew around town like they h ad wings. But it was home. Everyone knew each other and ultimately looked out for one another, even if it meant they would simply turn around and tell their neighbor what they’d seen while looking out. It felt busy and lazy all at the same time, buzzing with news and slow with the gentle lull of a small town. Hannah had watched it fly by without complaint, legs sticking to the cracking leather of the car seats. James Cray, architect and generally oblivious father figure, chattered on about New Hampshire and how it would be so excellent to “get out of this blasted heat”. Ellen Cray nodded, fingers dancing with the radio dial, never really settling on any one station. Her daughter watched the perfect nails and contemplated the situation.
Cray hadn’t held a contract for two years. Ellen was leaving behind a salon with her name stamped proudly on the front. But only one salon. Once a two-shop chain, Cray-Zy Hair was back to it’s original one, which even now was standing empty. All of the familiar split ends swept away and mirrors taken down as it slowly morphed into an Internet café. Who needed an Internet café in Florence anyway? Hannah liked the “blasted heat”. It reminded her of that thick cigarette sweetness on docks at midnight, friends who would push you into the water if you didn’t try one, boys who tilted their heads with admiration when you did. She felt in the pocket of her jeans, tattered and covered in Sisterhood-esque stamps and writing. It was there, that last pack from Seb.
He was the boy. The one who tilted his head just right, whose eyes watched her every second on that first draw… and release. The only reason she didn’t choke was because she could barely breathe. Just as she could barely breathe when they’d first kissed, on that selfsame dock, for the entire world to see. Florence was in juvenile uproar for a full hour. Just as she could barely breathe when the house was foreclosed, when her father, with sad blue eyes, pronounced they were moving.
Moving where? New Hampshire. A universe and a stone’s throw away. Grandma Cray had just “passed on” to put it politely, and Hannah could easily recall that first night of tears caught in her mother’s throat when the letter came. Life did things like that, coming at you all at once. But there was the underlying blessing/curse to her grandmother’s passing. A big house in the boondocks of New England (is that what they called them there?) with a large amount of money left behind it. They wouldn’t have to pay anything on it. The dead made decisions for the Cray family.
Hannah took a glance at herself in the reflection of the rear view mirror. Her blonde hair was gold and brown with moisture, blue eyes framed in beads of sweat that ran riot with her eyeliner. Or maybe it wasn’t sweat. She turned away and, hand out the window, she let the summer of Florence slip through her fingers for the last time.
Just to let the evil little work stealers of the world know, this story is protected by my personal writing copyright. And for everyone who bothered to read it? Thank you!