I've never liked moving houses. It always felt weird, leaving the home you'd lived in for most of so many years, only to move into another home that used to belong to someone else. I sometimes wondered if that how others felt – would they feel awkward, sleeping in a room that, not even two weeks ago, used to belong to, say, a five-your-old or even a twenty-nine-year-old?
It wasn't just the houses, either; there were also the new neighbours. We'd been introducing ourselves to new neighbours so much; it's almost a well-revised speech that never ends. My brothers and I also had to make new friends in every town or city. That always ended in drama, especially with any girl friends I made.
The new house was house number twelve – the twelfth house I've moved into. It was located in the suburbs, in some huge town called Juniper. Even though the vote on moving to Juniper was based on majority rules, Mum and Dad admitted that they'd already bought the house. Eli had just stared at them with utter shock when they told us, while Nori had complained loudly and flopped onto the couch. I had been a little more graceful than my brothers.
Dad pulled the car up in our new driveway, parking it outside the garage. The moving trucks were somewhere behind us, but I was more concerned about the fact that I was seated in the middle of the car, which meant I was going to get last pick on the bedrooms. And, knowing Nori and Eli, I'd get the smallest one.
The boys jumped out of the car as soon as the engine was cut and I was left to get out with our parents. They hardly even waited for us to walk inside with them, the sounds of my brothers fighting their way up the stairs heard clearly from the car.
A moving truck parked along the curb, the driver getting out and opening the back. Mum and Dad stayed to help him bring the stuff in – "stuff" being our couch and such – while I lazily (and unenthusiastically) followed by brothers' leads.
Each room was empty, the pale grey carpeting seeming freshly cleaned. Not a speck of dirt appeared to be on it, but that would soon change. The walls were a dull grey colour, not a single pattern on it unless you counted the brush strokes. I was willing to bet that every other house in this entire suburb had the same paint colour for their walls, even if they covered it with wallpaper or painted over it.
There was a grunt coming from the front door, followed by an, "Easy, easy!" from Dad. I turned around lazily, curious to see what they had to be easy about, and decided to move when I caught sight of the first half of our couch.
"I'll be upstairs," I announced, making my way to the stairs that led to our second floor. I'll admit, the house seemed bigger than our last one (I mean, the kitchen, lounge, and dining room were in the same area) and it did take longer than I'd thought to actually reach the stairs.
As I walked up the carpeted stairs, I realised that Nori and Eli were still going about their fight for the biggest room. I casually walked past them, catching sight of them trying to push each other away from the door to a specific room, and then smiled when I spotted the room next to it. It was fairly large, had a bay window on the far side, and the wall wasn't the same dull grey as the rest of the house. It was a calming blue, sort of a pale azure colour. This was going to be my room.
"Dibs!" I shouted, dashing inside and sitting on the floor.
"What?" Eli and Nori replied in unison. They left their room, making their way toward mine as I grinned at them.
"Dibs," I repeated simply. Nori quickly recovered from learning about my room and raced past Eli, who groaned loudly and stalked down the hall, knowing full well that the room he'd wanted was gone. That just made me grin further.
I stood and remained in the middle of the room, an awkward feeling reaching me. What now? I was asking myself. Help Mum and Dad with the things?
The sound of a truck pulling over was heard from below, and curiosity drew me to the window. I gazed out, leaning on the soft padding in front of the window, and spotted yet another moving truck. This one wasn't at our house, though – it was across the road.
Probably got the address wrong, I thought to myself. I leaned closer to the glass as though it would give me a better view, trying to see if they were realising where they were. Instead, it looked like the driver cut the engine.
Movement from in front of our house caught my eye, Mum waving at me from next to the mailbox. I waved back, unsure of why she was doing it. Mum then made a gesture to come down. I nodded and pushed away from the window, shoving my hands in my pockets. Glancing around the room one more time, I let out a breath and left. I passed Nori's room on the way, finding him lying on the floor, his burgundy hair splayed out like his arms and legs were.
"Mum and Dad might need help," I told him. "You coming?"
He shook his head. "I'm not leaving until something of Eli's is in his room," he replied. "That was how I lost the last room."
Ah, yes. That was a funny time. Nori had succeeded in getting the bigger room, and when he'd left to help Dad carry in the fridge, Eli had snuck into his room and wrote, "Eli's room," over the door. Our older brother got in trouble for it, but even Mum had to admit it was smart.
I shrugged and smiled at the memory, turning on my heel and walking casually toward the stairs, going on my way out as I passed a man carrying in one of our lamps. It was one of those long ones, like candelabras, that had the globe on the top and a glass cover going around it. Ours had a sort of pearlescent bowl on the top, looking about ready for someone to pour milk and oats into it.
"Where do you want this?" the guy asked me. I shrugged and pointed to the assumed-lounge room.
"There'll do," I replied. He nodded a thanks and carried it in the direction I'd given him while I quickly went outside before anyone else came in with anything. Dad was at the moving truck with the man that had carried in our couch with him, hardly ready to take a rest. Mum was still at the mailbox, but she was watching the house across the road instead of ours.
"Mum," I called, jogging toward her. She turned around and smiled, her eyes meeting mine with that kind expression she always held. She always described the colour of those eyes to be a cobalt blue, and never just plain blue. And I always agreed with her when she said it – eyes like that were never plain. They were hypnotic and comforting, maybe even mischievous.
"We aren't the only ones moving in," she commented. She nodded to the house across us, her brunette ponytail swaying with her action. "I was thinking that you and I could introduce ourselves to them – make some new friends."
A small frown found me. "No offense, but wouldn't they be expecting one of the locals?"
Mum gave me a look of mock-horror. "We aren't local's yet?" she asked. "Oh dear. I thought being here longer than them would make us locals..."
"Two minutes makes us locals?" I scoffed. "It took at least five days for us to become locals in the last town."
I sighed and rolled my eyes. When Mum got this way, no one won against her. Not even Dad could rival her argumentative, "Your point?"
"Fine," I sighed. At that, she smiled and giggled a little. She nodded to the house as Dad and a moving man hauled out our TV. Mum began to walk across the road as a silver Mercedes-Benz pulled up in the driveway across the road. I quickly joined her, walking at her pace when we reached the lawn, and then tried to remain somewhat hidden as the newer neighbours got out of their car. There was a woman with greying black hair, dressed in a casual shirt and jeans; a boy of about Eli's age, with curly blonde hair that just went past his jaw line; and then there was a girl that looked about the same age as me, hair as blonde as her brother's, but as straight as her mother's. And, unlike her mother and brother, her eyes were what I could only describe as the colour of tree sap, dried up and shining brightly in the sunlight.
"Hi!" Mum greeted, suddenly all bubbly and cheerful. "I'm Jen."
The woman smiled and held out a hand. Mum took it and they shook. "I'm Sarah," she replied. "Are you moving in today, as well?"
"Oh, yes. We actually just got here a few minutes before you." Mum gasped, realising I was there with her. I must say, I was getting better at disappearing in plain sight by not saying anything. "This is my daughter, Liz. My husband" – she pointed over to our house, where Dad was in clear view and carrying a box of our belongings out of the boot of our car – "is right over there. He's Keagan. And my sons – Nori and Eli – are hopefully coming out to help their father."
The last part of her introductions sounded deflated, like she just knew that Eli and Nori weren't going to help Dad.
Sarah beamed, turning her attention to me. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Liz," she said. The boy and girl were just about next to her now. They both looked as bored as any teen moving into a new house would be. Not me, though – I've moved so much that the boredom is like a natural occurrence; like rain or sleep. I learn to expect it.
"This is my daughter, Rita," Sarah went on, "and this is my son, Michael."
"A pleasure to meet you two," Mum said. She nudged my arm with her elbow. I rolled my eyes.
"Wonderful to meet you," I said, a monotone in my voice. Like I said, revised and never-ending.
The girl – Rita – exchanged a glance with her brother, a plan forming in her amber eyes as they met his brown.
"I'm gonna go hang out in my room," I told Mum. "I get the distinct feeling that Eli will try to steal it from me."
Mum sighed and nodded, giving me permission to leave her with the neighbours. She let out another gasp of realisation just as I arrived at the gutter.
"Take Rita and Michael with you," she suggested. Her attention went straight back to Sarah. "I'm sure my kids will give them something to do, if they don't mind helping carry boxes. And, as a bonus, we'll help you move in afterwards."
Sarah thought about what Mum had suggested, and I was starting to get a little horrified. What kind of person asks the newer neighbours to help move in when they are trying to move in themselves?
"Sure," Sarah finally said. "Rita, Michael, go with Liz and help her and her brothers out."
Two groans and two sets of footsteps coming my way, and then we were crossing the road with equally unhappy expressions on our faces. The last thing these kids wanted was to help us move into a house, and the last thing I wanted was strangers carrying my stuff up to my room. Sure, moving men were strangers, but I always nagged my brothers to help me. And I always got the help.
Dad had just pulled out one of my boxes, spotting me as he took a step away from the boot. I stopped walking at the car and held out my hands, knowing that he would ask me to take it anyway. With a grin, he carefully gave it to me. I glanced down at what was written on it: LIZ BREAKABLES. No wonder he was being careful.
"Anything for us to carry?" Michael asked him. Dad blinked, confused, and then smiled in a friendly way.
"Of course," he replied. As he bent down to grab another box, he said, "I'm Keagan. You two must be our new neighbours."
He lifted out a box labelled NORI JUNK and handed it to Michael. "Yeah," Michael grunted, shock from the box's weight evident on his face. "I'm Michael. That's my sister, Rita." At the mention of his sister, he frowned. "Might as well give her something to carry, too. She needs to exercise more than her thumbs."
Then she's a text-a-holic, I thought grimly. How freakin' lucky am I?
To put it bluntly, I've never really liked girls that spend more time typing emoticons into their phones than talking one on one with a living being. I've come across at least two in every town, one of which I was forced into a friendship with by my ignorant teachers. The first one was Miranda – she was both annoying and bitchy. The moment I got a phone, it was all, "Gimmie your number, gimmie your number!" and when I did, I was constantly barraged by texts consisting of, "I'm bored. Come over and do something." The second was Danni. She was worse than Miranda, but not by much. She was just more demanding and insistent that I dress like her, seeing as my clothing of choice was, and I quote, "lame." On top of that, every text I got from her was, "My boyfriend just broke up with me! I need comfort! Be a good friend and come stay the night!"
I think, in the time I was in Alandra Falls – Danni's home town – the girl had about seven boyfriends. Mind you, I was only in the hellhole for about a year and a half. The following text-girls were just as bad, thus the reason why I just don't like them.
Rita rolled her eyes and took a box from Dad, one of the lighter ones that belonged to Nori. I was pretty sure it was his collection of DVDs, ranging from all of the Saw movies to the best of Eastern Eye.
I glanced at the top, reading the bold, black permanent marker written on it. NORI DVD. Ten points for Liz!
Michael and Rita followed me into the house, waiting as I slowly made my way up the stairs. They climbed the stairs the moment I was at the top, and then they followed me again when I started on my way to Nori's room. Sure enough, my older brother was still lying on the floor.
"I'm pretty sure Eli's stuff is in his room," I reminded him as Michael and Rita walked in. "I mean, none of his stuff was in the car."
Nori gave me a look that demanded to know if I was stupid. "He put his things in the truck, with Dad's junk," he said. His attention moved on to the siblings in his room. "Who're these two?"
"Rita," the blonde sister introduced immediately. Shocked at her speed, I glanced at her. Oh dear – a twinkle in her eyes and a smile on her face. Time for me to change the subject.
"This is Rita and her brother, Michael," I introduced. Nori sat up, yawning. "They're helping me carry in our things."
My brother raised an eyebrow. "Explains why they have two of my boxes," he said to himself. I decided to make this moment one that would piss him off.
"Oh, and Mum says we have to help them unpack their things," I told him. "They're moving in across the road, you know."
Nori's jaw dropped as I walked out of the room, smiling evilly and making my way to my new bedroom.