I think it was due to the guilt she felt for never allowing me to do it in our old house. Even for my own bedroom my father had arranged for an interior designer to handle and purchase everything from the furniture to the frames that would hold the photographs hanging from my walls. He would never appreciate it when he walked in to find I had rearranged my furniture or made some sort of life-size cubby house.
We had gone to a furniture store first where I spent majority of my funding. Apparently this town only knew old classic designs as opposed to minimal modern pieces but that was okay.
My mother arranged for the store to deliver it to us due to the lack of space in our BMW Sedan. We had just gotten home when we received the boxes for the two white wooden sun chairs, a day bed and an outdoor coffee table. I placed the sun chairs on the grass looking out to the forest, the day bed and table under the vine patio.
From another store I purchased pink and orange cushions that were made to be placed inside but I scattered them on the day bed instead with matching candles, to mimic the colour scheme of the sunset over the ocean which would now be difficult to see.
At our old house it wasn’t uncommon for people to constantly be over, whether they were for my dad or for me. And I liked the company of my friends, I really did. But the frequent discussions of other people, who was doing what since school ended and where we would take pills the coming weekend was boring and tiring. I felt as if sometimes I wasn’t allowed to be sad or to just be.
It was frowned upon to be unhappy if the entire neighborhood envied your house and paying bills was never an issue. I understood that. I was appreciative of what we had, and perhaps I am a pessimist to be disappointed of what I didn’t.
“Thanks”, I reply. “It’s quite cozy”.
Fern nods. “Mind if I sit with you?”
I shake my head.
I am wearing tight black jeans, a red jumper with black ankle boots. I am amused by the contrast in our appearances.
Back home it wasn’t uncommon to dress almost identically to your friends, whether intended or not.
She stares at the forest and the glowing trees. We sit in silence for some time. I feel uncomfortable and the obligation from back home to entertain our guests has kicked in, but I do not know what to say.
Fern giggles that tells me she is well aware. “Superstitious is a common trait amongst small town folks”, Fern agrees.
“Are you?” I ask, turning my head to look at her.
“You could say that”, she answers, going quiet.
I nod, not knowing what more to say.
She takes it with a smile, following suit.
I look at her, her large brown eyes and wavy blonde hair and think that she looks far too innocent to be smoking. The picture doesn’t look right.
But I have always liked people who don’t meet initial expectations. Everyone I used to know was nothing more than what I had first thought, and there is something about Fern that I find so mysterious and intriguing.
“What are you trying to get away-“I begin, but she speaks at the same time and asks, “why did you move here?”
I adjust my seating position and look back out to the forest.
“My mother and father are getting a divorce”, I answer in the most natural tone that I can manage.
“Oh”, Fern says, though I don’t look at her.
“You must hate your life”, my friends would say. But I would never reply. I didn’t hate my life. Sure, I hated this awful but brief period of time where the pain is still fresh and painful, but I didn’t hate my life.
They would stare at me, waiting to hear how sad and broken I was as if they got something out of it. And the sad thing was that I am quite broken and hurt. My father didn’t just betray my mother afterall. but I never felt as if I was able to tell them that. Or anyone.
For once I have not been interrogated as to why my parents are getting a divorce or how much money my mother had gotten from it.
Fern doesn’t seem to care in the slightest and for some reason that bothers me.
Fern smiles, sits up and hands me the cigarette. I take it and watch her, waiting for her to say something while I take a draw.
“Divorces happen”, Fern shrugged.
I resist the urge to let my mouth drop in mild shock to her uncompassionate and inconsiderate response.
Instead I take another draw and rest my head back on the chair; allowing my automatic standoffish mode to take pilot.
I let the cigarette go and fall onto the ground. I step on it with my boot until the glowing ash dims out.
“Nothing”, I reply, staring out to the trees.
“There’s an ocean under there”, Fern oddly states and I look at her in confusion.
“What are you talking about?” I ask, my eyes narrowing at her.
She shrugs coolly. “You present yourself like a puddle”.
Was she reading from an invisible book? I didn’t quite understand and the confusion makes me feel vulnerable, adding to the frustration that had already begun to build up over the last few minutes. I stare at her and her gaze doesn’t falter. I consider telling her to leave but she smirks.
“I thought so”, Fern says as if answering her own question.
“You know, if you want to tell me something you just should”, she said as if seeing straight through me.
“I don’t”, I say I almost too quickly and she raises her eye brows in response.
“You just took me off guard. It’s not quite what I’m used to”, I argue.
Truth is I do want to talk about it. I just never felt that I could. Or more like, whether or not I should.
I didn’t exactly trust Fern. I barely knew her. But it wasn’t the lack of trust that made me feel uneasy about sharing my life story with her. It was just that I was scared or didn’t know how. I wasn’t sure. After all these years of keeping things only to myself it had perhaps become a bit of both. But either way, not sharing was something I had become good at.
She opened her eyes and peered at me. “I will. But not now”.
“Why not?” I asked, sounding almost demanding.
“Same reason as you”.
“But how would-” I began but she interrupted me with a “shh”.
I was one who felt the need to listen to music during almost every moment of my day, as if to drain my thoughts out or something. But this quiet was nice. And maybe I listened to music far too often that it left a stain because it almost sounded as if there was music coming from deep within the forest.