"It looks nicer in real life," Libby announced, starring up at the big building she would now call home. "I like it," Cecilia said in reply. "Let's go in!" Hayden grabbed his suitcase and looked around eagerly. Max grabbed his suitcases, followed Hayden to the door, and stood by the Doorman. "Are you guys coming?" he called back. Hayden was already pushing the button for the elevator, he had to go to the bathroom for over an hour now and wasn't sure he would be able to hold it in any longer. "Yeah, yeah," Cecilia was beside him in a moment, not having to worry about any luggage, as her father thought ahead and ordered someone to deliver all her things for her. Her furniture and clothing would be waiting in her room when she got up there. Gavin, who was talking on his phone, had hardly even looked at the building. "Yes, dad. No, I won't waste my time. Of course not. I know how important this is, you don't have to remind me. I have the books, but I just arrived now, can I let you go? Yes, I'll phone you as soon as I can. Okay, bye dad," Gavin rolled his eyes. "He thinks just because I bought myself an apartment in New York City with my five best friends that I'm going to slack off on my school work. Like I could pull that off." Putting his backpack on his back and each suitcase in his hand, Gavin walked into the building. On the way in, he tipped the Doorman for his lack of words, subconsciously being the exact opposite of his father. He stood beside Cecilia, and grabbed her hand, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek and a private smile. "That's what happens when you get into Princeton," Aurora replied, following him. Libby was left standing on the stone steps of the building. "How does little old me get to live in a place like this?" she asked herself. Not having an answer, she followed the others inside. Whatever she had done to deserve this, she did not know, but she would not press her luck.
"On the count of three, we open our doors together," Aurora announced. The six of them all had apartment rooms on the second floor, within ten rooms of each other. All their lives they had wanted to be neighbours; it was finally happening. "Hurry up," Hayden begged, leaning up against the wall. "Okay, one..." they all said together, each with their keys in their hands. "Two...three!" Everyone hurried to open their doors and burst inside. Each room was like the last, 2,000 square feet of comfort. Two bedrooms, one bathroom, one kitchen, one dining room, and most importantly, one living room. That's where they would spend most of their time. When they weren't out and about in the town, that is. Everyone except for Libby had already hired a personal decorator to decorate and furnish their apartment so that it was ready to live in when they arrived. All they would need to add were their valuables and clothing. Libby, however, could not afford to pay someone to decorate her home, so she would buy her own furniture out in New York and decorate herself. Decorator or not, they knew this was bound to be one wild adventure.
After silently unpacking for almost three hours, Cecilia nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard a knock at the door. "Hey, I'm Troy, your neighbour," Troy said, once he was face-to-face with Cecilia. "Hello, Troy," Cecilia replied. "I'm Cecilia." Cecilia couldn't help but notice a tattoo peaking out from under Troy's white sleeve. She had to stop herself from stepping closer to him and running her fingers along the half-image. It intrigued her. "That's a nice name." Cecilia smiled; she had always liked it, too. "Anyways," Troy continued on, "I just thought I'd stop by and say hey. Welcome you to the neighbourhood kinda thing." She wondered if this meant he went to the other's doors too. "That was very kind of you." Cecilia shifted in her spot by the doorframe. Could Gavin see her from here? Was there
even anything to see?
"Have you been here before?" "To New York?" Troy nodded. "No, it's my first time," Cecilia answered. Troy raised his eyebrow. "Really? Then why did you decide to come here?" Cecilia smirked. As if she would actually tell him about her dead brother and the thousands of people back home that thought she was about to break apart at any minute, a bomb ready to blow. Besides, it's New York, why wouldn't she want to come? "What makes you think I'd tell you?" "Touché." Cecilia fumbled with the sleeves on her shirt, feeling suddenly awkward. "So are you going to continue prying into my personal life or are you going to leave now?" "Well, miss bossy." Cecilia didn't take offence to the obvious dig. "I'm assuming it's miss, right?" "You'd assume right." "All right, well, I'll be leaving." Troy looked her right in the eyes, "But just in case you ever need a tour guide, here's my number." He reached for a pen on Cecilia's floor, one she had used to make a grocery list, and grabbed her hand. Cecilia didn't bother telling Troy that she would not need a tour guide; that she could make it just fine without him. It tickled Cecilia as he wrote his digits along her palm. "Thanks," was all Cecilia said before she closed her door, and tried to get that feeling out of her gut.
Gavin knew exactly what his house was going to look like before he even arrived; his mother showed him the blueprints after she hired the decorator. He didn't care about what it looked like all that much, so he had told his mother he loved it even though he didn't like the shade of blue in his room or the design on the living room curtains. He had to admit, though, it looked a lot better in real life, rather than a 42 by 37 sheet of paper. The couches were comfy, and the desk was big. His father probably picked that one out, Gavin was sure. Spread out evenly across his coffee table were pamphlets on Princeton, the New York Public Library, and various tutors that Gavin would not need. Seeing all that made Gavin want to call up his father and yell at him. His father couldn't even allow him to have one night of fun in his new home without pressuring him about school? It's July for pete's sake! He still had a good two months before beginning university! Fuming, Gavin stormed into his bedroom and wrinkled all his bed sheets, he touched his picture frames to make sure they had dirty finger prints all over, and he didn't water the plant like his mother had reminded him.
In the middle of his rebellious rant, Gavin heard his cell phone vibrate. It was Cecilia. Just the girl he wanted. "Hey!" he answered, walking out of his bedroom, closing the door behind him. "We're going to do something tonight, right? Tell me you were planning a romantic evening with me," she begged, sounding almost frantic. Gavin didn't know what this was about, but it didn't sound all that bad. "Of course I was. Come over at eight?" He could here her sigh with relief on the other end, and then she let out a small giggle. "See you then." And then she hung up.
"Are you up for a walk? My back is about ready to give out from being bent down unpacking all this time," Hayden asked Aurora. "I think I've developed carpal tunnel. Meet you at your room?" "Done."It was satisfying; only having to walk exactly thirteen steps to get to Hayden's door, rather than the four blocks back in Seattle. "So it took me a whole ten seconds to get here," Aurora gushed. "It took you ten seconds to get from there," Hayden pointed to Aurora's door, "to here? That's pathetic. You're slow." Hayden teased, slipping on his lucky yellow Vans. "Oh shut up, you didn't even have enough time to put on your shoes," she accused. Hayden grabbed his keys from his kitchen counter and made sure the stove was off. "Laziness and slowness are not the same thing." Aurora laughed. She was glad she decided to take a break from unpacking to see Hayden he always made her happy. Walking down the stairs, side by side, Hayden and Aurora admired the paintings on the walls of the apartment. "Do you think we're going to miss it back home?" Aurora asked, tracing her ever-present silver key necklace with her fingers. "After a while, I think we will. But for the first few weeks or so, we'll be to busy to even remember our families names," Hayden answered with a chuckle. His big blue eyes were sparkling, the way they always got when he was excited. "Mom already called me, she said that they miss us back home." "Of course they do, who wouldn't miss us?" Aurora's long blonde hair danced in the wind as the two of them stepped outside. Pushing her playfully, Hayden gave her a questioning look. "What's up with you? Aren't you excited?" Aurora thought about that for a second. Of course she was excited to be in New York with her five best friends, but it did upset her she didn't have her family here. "I left my mom just like my dad did," Aurora said before she even realized what she was saying. Hayden stopped walking, and grabbed Aurora by the shoulders. "You are not like your father, Aurora. Nothing like him. This is completely different! It's not like you'll never talk to her again, you do own a phone." Aurora shook her head; it's not that easy. "How do you know I'm not like him? You've never met him! Hell, I haven't even met the man. Maybe leaving was in his genes, and now it's in me." Hayden laughed his pity laugh. The one that instantly made you feel silly for whatever you did. "Leaving a woman named Wendy is not in your genes. I know this because you didn't. You moved out, it's what adults do. Now cheer up and put a smile on your face, you're making it look like I hang out with emo's." Aurora tried to hide her smile, but failed. Her father would not ruin her fun again.
She would make sure of that.
Looking at the scenery around her, Aurora saw a man. He has salt and pepper hair and a big nose, but that's not what made her unable to look away. It was the fact that he was looking right at her. Even after she saw him, he didn't turn away. It made her feel really uncomfortable. "Hayden, I want to go back now," Aurora said. "Why?" "That man is just creeping me out." Hayden followed the path of her eyes right to the man. "Looks like he's got a crush on you," he teased. Aurora felt sick. "Let's go!" she ordered. But she could still feel his eyes on her as she walked away.
The first thing Max did when he settled down in his apartment was turn on the TV. He was tired from the flight, bored because he didn't know where to go, and just plain lazy. He deserved to watch a little football. If he were lucky, baseball would be on. But before he could switch to TSN, something caught his eye from outside. It was the one girl Max knew he could never live without, the girl that made his heart skip beats, the girl that Max wanted to make his more than anything. Libby Roy. She was crossing the street in her ripped shorts and blue v-neck t-shirt, her long brown hair in a messy braid. She looked around the buildings, clueless as ever, until she found what she was looking for.
Max tore himself away from the window, unable to watch as Libby walked away from him again.
"Why," Max asked himself out loud, "am I spending my first night in New York City alone in my room?" There was no reasonable answer to his question. So, he grabbed a sweater and his keys. He walked out of his new home looking for something to help occupy his time. Sitting in Central Park, you see many different kinds of people. You see parents, and children, elderly people and young people, fat people and skinny people, but the people that stuck out to Max the most were the three kids sitting under a canopy of trees. Each had a cigarette in their mouth and dirty clothes that her knew Aurora would kill him if she ever saw him wearing. Max had never hung out with the rebels like them back in Seattle, but he was always curious about them. What was so awful in their lives that made them like this? Then again, maybe they just liked it. Max could understand that.
She hadn't even thought to bring a map. She was roaming the streets alone on her first night in New York City. All Libby wanted was to find a cheap furniture store, was that so bad? She already had her old bed, her old dresser, the coffee table from the basement that nobody ever used, and some sheets. She found a good sale on cutlery back in Seattle, so she didn't need any of that. She was hoping to find a couch tonight, some pots and pans, some towels, and possibly, a desk. Libby had a limited budget. Her parents had given her a few hundred dollars, which barely made a dent in all her expenses, but she was grateful nonetheless. After all, they couldn't afford much more. Libby started saving money for this the minute she, Aurora, Hayden, Max, Cecilia, and Gavin had decided to move here after graduating high school. The problem is, that was a year ago, when she was seventeen, and you can only save so much in a year. The others didn't have to worry about money; they were all practically rolling in it.
When Libby finally found a store that had everything a first-time homeowner would need, from beds to welcome mats, Libby nearly choked at the prices. $1,499.99 for a three-seat couch? How was Libby ever going to afford furniture, groceries, and a mortgage? Maybe she bit off a little bit more than she could chew, this time. Who buys an apartment and moves all the way across the country at eighteen anyways? No, Libby thought, I can handle this. She would just settle for the ugly two-seated couch at $449.99.
Libby ended up standing in the back of the store, her buggy full, adding up the prices to see if she had it in her budget. One ugly couch, two lamps, a set of five towels, a desk, three pans, two pots, and a cute mug she couldn't live without. It would all come to about $1,225. That was barely in her budget. But she still had groceries to buy and no job to supply her with money. She needed all the stuff in her buggy. She knew what this meant. She was just glad she brought her big purse.
Looking around to make sure nobody could see, Libby snuck one pan and the mug into her bag. There. Nobody ever needed to know. When she had the money, maybe she would come back to this store and leave three hundred dollars on their doorstep, that would more than pay for a stupid pan and a pointless mug. That still didn't help her guilt. Her heart pounding a million miles per second, Libby walked up to the counter. She was scared the pan would burn a hole through her purse. Could they see? Was it noticeable? "Is that everything?" the cashier asked after she rung up everything Libby put on the counter. Libby nodded, scared that if she spoke she would admit her wrongdoing. "Okay, your total comes to $1,168.98, and we'll have the couch delivered to your door tomorrow around one." "Great, thanks." Libby left the store feeling sick, the sour feeling of shame burning a hole through her stomach