More than Words
I didn't like the house. Though I'm pretty sure I was just biased. There was nothing particularly offensive about it; in all reality it was quite cute. It just…wasn't the house I wanted to see.
I glanced to my left to find my sister looking up at the house in much the same fashion as myself. She looked pained, and vaguely like she'd rather be anywhere else in the world at that moment.
No doubt feeling my gaze on her, Felicity looked at me. "Ready?" she asked.
Somewhere behind me I heard a car drive off—most likely the taxi that we had taken from the airport. I nodded.
Felicity sighed, turning resolutely away from me and moving slowly up the front walk. I glanced up at the small white house once more before following in her wake.
The echoing chimes of the doorbell had barely stopped ringing before someone threw the door open.
Our Aunt Sarah, looking harried and surprised greeted us with a moment of stunned silence and then a scream of "Dean!"
Thundering footsteps got louder as my Uncle Dean huffed into view holding a gardening spade and with dirt all over his worn jeans. Upon seeing Felicity and me, the spade dropped from his hand and clattered upon the floor, smearing dirt across the white linoleum.
"Girls!" Aunt Sarah said, getting over her moment of shock. "What are you doing here? We weren't expecting you for another few days!"
Felicity and I glanced at each other quickly. "Well the house closed earlier than we expected and we managed to get an earlier flight out…we left a message on your answering machine…we thought you would've gotten it…" she said hesitantly.
Uncle Dean ran a hand down his face before dropping it to his side again. A large sweep of dirt ran from his forehead to his chin in its wake. "That machine hasn't worked for months. Keep forgetting to replace it…" he muttered.
"Well, never mind!" said Sarah easily. "All that matters is that you're here now! Felicity…" she leaned forward and gave my sister a kiss on her cheek. "Elsa…" she gave me one as well. "It's so good to see you two. I just wish…well, I wish the circumstances were different…" she trailed off uneasily, looking closely at the two of us.
Uncle Dean cleared his throat quietly. "I'll grab your bags," he said gruffly, bestowing a clumsy pat on my shoulder as he shuffled past me to the end of the drive.
"Well come in, come in," said Sarah, kicking the spade out of the way and ushering us into the house. "Are you hungry….thirsty? Dean and I already had dinner but it wouldn't be any trouble whipping something up for you."
I shook my head while Felicity mumbled a "no thanks."
"All right…well let me show you your room. Thank God we got all the furniture in a few days ago. It wouldn't do to have you two sleeping on the sofa."
Felicity and I followed Aunt Sarah as she moved up a staircase just to our right. Pictures adorned the wall on the way up, most of them of her and Dean. None looked professional—just snapshots taken at random points in time. The two in the kitchen laughing…in the front yard talking…in the backyard hugging. At the top of the landing she led us down a short hallway to the last door on the left.
"It's just through here," she said. "You used to stay here when you were kids but I doubt you remember. That was a long time ago. Our bedroom is through there"—she pointed to a door across the hall from us—"and your bathroom is right next door."
Felicity nodded with her hand on the doorknob.
"Right, well, the house isn't very big so I daresay you can find your way around easily enough," Sarah said with a smile. "Just call if you need anything. Dean should be up with your bags soon." And with that, she left.
Felicity waited until she was out of sight before opening the door and entering.
The bedroom was nicer than I expected. Small, but that wasn't exactly surprising in a room built to accommodate only one person. The walls were a cream yellow and the bedspreads on the twin beds set at opposite ends of the room were frilly and white. A dresser stood crammed into a corner while a writing desk with an old computer was pressed against a near wall.
"It's nice…" Felicity said, though she didn't seem so sure. I nodded and sat down on the bed pressed against the wall with a small window.
"We should call grandma and grandpa," she continued, sinking onto the bed across from mine. "We said we'd tell them when we got here." I nodded again.
Felicity sighed and pulled her cell phone out of her pocket before putting it to her ear a moment later.
"Hi grandma," she said, smiling. "Elsa says hi." She threw me a look which I promptly ignored. "The flight was all right…yeah they're good…it's really cute…a few days..." Felicity rolled her eyes and leaned her head against her hand as she continued talking to grandma and at some point grandpa as well.
Uncle Dean came in eventually, carrying our suitcases and handbags and leaning heavily against the doorframe.
"I would criticize your lack of light packing but I suppose it couldn't really be helped," he muttered to me with a smile at he glanced over at Felicity who was still on the phone. I smiled slightly in return and turned my attention back to the window as he set our bags down and exited the room.
"I love old people, really I do, but I don't understand why grandma thinks I want to know about grandpa's underwear," said Felicity a few minutes later as she hung up the phone. She sighed as she flopped back onto her bed and tossed her cell phone across the room.
"They send their love by the way," she said. "They wish you'd talk to them though." I frowned and didn't meet her eye. "They wish you'd talk to anyone," Felicity muttered.
I cleared my throat and looked over at her. She was watching me with something akin to skepticism. I opened my mouth to say something but quickly closed it again and looked down, frowning.
"Yeah. Didn't think so." Felicity rolled her eyes and walked over to her suitcase on the floor. "Might as well unpack. No point keeping everything in a suitcase in our new home."
I pressed my forehead to the cool glass of the window, looking down on the deserted street.
"It won't be so bad, you know," Felicity said, folding one of her shirts into the top dresser drawer. "I mean, let's be honest, anywhere is better than grandma and grandpa's. But I suppose that was never going to be permanent anyway. Mom and dad always said that we'd go and stay with Aunt Sarah and Uncle Dean if anything happened to them."
I focused on the street outside, watching a dog run around in the yard next door.
"The house sold faster than I expected though, which was nice. And the fact that we managed to sell most of the stuff we couldn't take with us was good too." I grunted noncommittally as she continued. "And Chicago seems ok. The Windy City and all that. It's different than Seattle…definitely less rainy, which is always good."
I watched as an elderly woman walked down the sidewalk and opened the gate to the house next door. The large yellow dog in the front yard bounded over to greet her and she patted it smartly on the head.
I looked over and saw that Felicity was staring at me, a white t-shirt hanging limply from her hands.
"It's been two months," she said. I glanced out the window again; saw the old woman move up the front walk, the dog trotting happily at her heels.
"It's been two months," Felicity said again. "We need to start moving on." She was looking at me hopefully yet her eyes still remained apprehensive.
I looked away and Felicity sighed, dropping the t-shirt into the open drawer and picking up another one.
"You'll have to talk at some point," she said, irritation replacing her trepidation. "School starts again in two days. This is our senior year—you don't want people to think you're a freak."
I shrugged, figuring it didn't matter either way whether I spoke up or not. We would always be viewed as the girls whose parents had died. If that didn't make someone an outcast, I don't know what did.
"Whatever," Felicity grumbled, unpacking her suitcase with newfound ferocity. "But when I'm hanging out with all my friends and having a blast and you're sitting at home alone to sulk, don't say I didn't warn you, ok?"
I rolled my eyes, making sure Felicity's back was turned as I did so.
She didn't speak to me as she continued throwing various articles of clothing into random dresser drawers. I knew I was frustrating her. To by honest, I was frustrating myself as well. It had been two months since I had heard myself speak more than a few words. Maybe it was just the shock of what had happened. The distress that came with losing the two most loved and influential people in my life. I often wondered if my vocal chords could even work after going so long without use.
I looked up as I heard Felicity sigh heavily. She shoved the dresser drawer shut with enough force to make the whole thing rock slightly before collapsing onto her bed. Her face was red and her breathing was shallow.
"This sucks," she said, and her voice sounded strained. Her blue eyes looked wet as she glared at the ceiling. "I don't want to live here. I didn't want to sell our house and all our stuff. All of their stuff…." She trailed off and I heard her breath catch repeatedly.
I watched her as she put a hand over her face, wishing I knew how to comfort her. It wasn't uncommon for her to have these random fits of anger and sadness. It came with the territory, I knew.
In the end, Felicity rolled to her side, away from me. I watched her shoulders heave for a moment before diverting my attention back out my window. The setting sun shone brightly on the quiet street and I wished, not for the first time in the past few months, that I didn't have to see its blissful rays.