…Some Other Beginning's End

          Iris rolled out of bed the day after her long talk with Walt.  She didn't really want him to leave; she needed him.  She hoped she could talk him into staying, into keeping her sane, into being there for her, like she wasn't for him.  The sunlight burned her eyes as Iris stumbled down the hall, trying to figure out what day it was.

          When she saw Hillary making breakfast in the kitchen she knew it had to be Sunday.  She wandered over to the calendar on the refrigerator, discovering it was already early March.  Iris never realized how much time flies when you're depressed, and much more it flies when your new best friend helps you through it all.  She danced the tune of 'Young and Hopeless' by Good Charlotte, which streamed through her head.

          "Iris, dear, do you want pancakes?"  Hillary asked, trying to be the caring mother she'd never be.

          "I hate pancakes."

          "I can make you some French toast, or eggs benedict, or hash browns."

          "Do you really think making me breakfast is going to change everything you've done?"  Iris asked, slightly agitated.

          "I don't know what you mean."  Hillary said sheepishly, trying to cover the fact that she knew exactly what Iris was talking about.

          "Remember?  We talked about it, I hate you because you lie, you abandoned us when we were three, then come crawling back…why did you come back?"

          "Your father and I love each other.  He just didn't know how to handle it.  But everything's fine now, I'm here, to be your mother."  Hillary gave Iris a fake smile.

          "You don't mean any of that.  Why don't you start telling the truth for once?"

          "You want the truth?" Hillary snapped.  "The truth is, your father left me for that French slut, taking my money and my children.  I left for New York to start a new life, but my old one kept getting in the way.  Your father never finished signing the divorce papers, custody was never finalized; our marriage was put on pause for fifteen years.  Then when I finally met someone new, I called your father to finish everything, and we became close again," she paused.  "That's the whole story."

          Iris stared at her, not knowing what to say.  She didn't know if she should be angry or sympathetic.  She decided angry made more sense.  "What you're saying is, you had fifteen years to get custody over Vi and I and you did nothing.  You're trying to tell me your sob story so I'll give you a break?  I don't think so.  You're the world's crappiest mother.  All I wanted was a phone call, or something; something that let me know you cared.  But you obviously don't."  Iris couldn't stand Hillary anymore.  "You even blackmailed Vi, threatening her you'd tell dad that she slept with her boyfriend if she and I didn't stop fighting.  You are such a--"

          "What?  Tell me, what am I Iris?"  Hillary snapped.

          "Such a bitch.  And I don't have to deal with you anymore," she smirked.  "I'm a legal adult, I can do whatever the fuck I want."

          "You can't run away."

          "Watch me."

          Iris ran up to her bedroom and dug her messenger bag out of the bottomless pit she passed off as a closet.  Her head was spinning with questions as to why she suddenly felt the need to go.  She packed a few shirts, socks, underwear, her favorite CD's, her discman, whatever cash she could find and of course, her black notebook.  She changed into her black jeans, dark purple tank top, and black zip up hoodie.  She took a final look around her room, knowing she'd miss her material possessions, but also that she was better off without them; she was ready to start a new life, a happier one.

          The chorus of 'Closing Time' by Semisonic passed through Iris' mind as she descended her colossal staircase one last time.  It was the last time she'd have to endure the smell of burning eggs and pancakes wafting from the kitchen.  She stopped with her hand on the doorknob, contemplating if she should say 'goodbye', or just leave.  Her hand started to tremble; did she really know what she was doing?

          "Yes," the small voice in Iris' head answered.  "You're finally taking control of your life."

          A smile stretched across her face as she turned the doorknob, opening the door the wide world of the unknown.  Her combat boots clunked along the sidewalk as she made her way to the water tower.  She wanted to take one last look at the whole town of Haycox before leaving it behind forever.  It was mid-morning, the sky was bright blue, the clouds were a perfect white, and Iris' heart was filled with ecstasy.  She was tired of being pushed around by her emotions, always living in the past.  She wanted to move on with her life.

          A half a block from the water tower, she heard the sound of bulldozers and construction workers.  She stopped and watched in awe.  The town water tower, which was obviously non-functional, was now being torn down.  The once strong metal structure now lay in weak pieces, strewn about the block of land it once occupied.

          Iris turned around and slowly walked back to her own neighborhood.  The thought of something as symbolic to her past as the water tower being so easily diminished into nothing made her realize she had made the right decision.  She couldn't wait to see the look on Walt's face when she told him she'd be joining him on his escapade.  For the first time, in a long time, she felt happy, knowing she wouldn't have to deal with the problems Haycox had caused her.

          Walt was on his way to Iris' house when she cam running up the block, calling his name.  He turned just in time to have her jump into his arms, forcing him to take a few steps back.  He let her down and let her catch her breath.  He wondered where she came running.  She stepped back with a smile on her face.

          "I'm coming with you."  Iris said, painting.

          "Really?"  Walt couldn't believe what he had just heard.

          "I can't loose two best friends in one year."  She pointed out, though she knew the real reason she was joining him was because Haycox had nothing left to offer her.  Her parents were anything but parents to her, she was down one best friend, and had no reason to stay in a place that made her feel so worthless.

          "This is so great, it'll be just you and me.  If we leave now, and catch the first bus, we can be in Denver by three, then catch the 3:15 to California.  But we have to--"

          "California?"  Iris had no idea that Walt actually knew where they were headed.

          "Yeah, my mom sent me a late birthday card…a really late birthday card, and the postmark was L.A."

          "Wow, L.A."  Iris couldn't believe it.  "Does she know we're coming?"

          Walt hesitated, "well, no, not exactly.  I just figured I'd kind of show up.  Let her know I'm still alive.  How could she say 'no'?"

          "Well, usually people prefer to know when they're life's about to change completely."

          "But she's my mom," Walt thought out loud.  "I thought it'd be a pleasant surprise."

          Iris surveyed his noticeably nervous face.  "Are you sure you want to do this?"  She asked, more to herself than him.

          "With you by my side," Walt said with a smile, "nothing can stop me."

          Iris smiled and kissed his cheek.  Walt was the most kindhearted person she knew.  She linked arms with his as they started off to their new life.  The events of her life over the past six months passed through her mind.  She wanted to forget most of them, but knew she never would, and somehow, she was okay with that.  Everything that happened before made Iris who she was today.  Someone who finally found her place in the world, someone who finally found happiness, someone who knew that every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.