Chapter 8. In The Apartment
Kaylee walked softly up the stairs of the building, the well-worn stairs showed glints of steel polished to a sheen by countless footsteps.
Curious she had not noticed that before, the webs in the corner and the way the stairs vibrated with each step, sounding vaguely like an out-of-tune violin with the cacophony of squeaks.
Opening her door. The familiar creak of the door announced her presence to the empty room sounded louder than the last time she was there.
Kaylee stood before stepping over the threshold, it felt different. Like a stranger in her own apartment. It was weird, as if something changed in how it smelled.
The odors of paint, chalk, her watercolor art hung on the walls that she created when not studying the masters.
The charcoal sticks sat patiently by a covered canvas that she had sketched on just five days before, but smelled… Lonely.
She walked to her bedroom, the blankets pulled up in the OCD way she liked. More of her art adorned the walls of her room, this was her inner sanctuary.
She allowed few people inside this fortress of her soul, those that did she chased out quickly in the morning before they could take in the emotion and pain she put in these images of charcoal, oil and watercolor on canvas and paper.
She pulled out the same suitcase she had used on her move in at autumn start of the school year, she packed her clothes carefully, and snapped her fingers with a sudden memory and put her phone charger in the side-pocket.
From the front room, someone knocked at the door.
*Not now!* Kaylee did not want the landlord to remind her that rent was overdue.
Not that she was broke, but she had no job now. So what savings she had, she was stretching out to the collector that called her the worst names or threatened her the most until she got a new job.
Instead, to her relief it was her sister Melanie . Also attending the university, she majored in computer-graphics design with a minor in architecture.
“Tiny! Where have you been? You worried me to death, I almost called the cops!” Blinking at the activity going on around the room and all the tossed drawers. “Why are you packing?”
Kaylee hugged her sister and pulled her in.
“Oh my gawd!” Melanie gasped as she saw the ring on her sister’s finger. “How? When? Who? Talk!”
“I was a little wasted and we took his jet to Vegas and I woke up married to him.”
“But. But… Butbut…” Melanie was speechless for, perhaps, only the second time in her life while her mouth opened and closed like a fish without words coming out.
“But what about Glenn?“ Melanie finally was able to speak.
Glenn, the casual boyfriend who attended Mt. Mazama University. Kaylee and Glenn stayed together every time they were at home the same time, they were inseparable.
Kaylee told Melanie that she and Glenn had talked about getting married and it would be nice to have a baby, and this was not in her plans.
“It just happened, I got baked and did a little Zee. I woke up Saturday wearing this ring.” She held up her hand. “He is quite wonderful.”
“Jesus, Sis! Who is he?”
“You know that big airplane floating out in the bay?” Kaylee said, Melanie nodded her eyes grew big.
“That’s where I have been. I married that guy that owns that plane.”
“Oh. My. God!” Melanie’s eyes wide as plates. “You married the author, Thunder Harte? Who wrote “Steamland” the book and the movie?”
“He did…” Kaylee gasped, froze in mid-fold of a pair of patched jeans and struggled to find a word. “He did …W-WHAT?”
“NO! No. Oh no.” Kaylee denied this news. “He said he wrote children’s books that sold in Australia and some in the United States.”
“Well, yeah, he does that, too. You remember we saw that movie three times last year? It’s still in the theater downtown for five-dollar-Friday matinée. My fave movie! And you married the writer!” Melanie laughed and sat down. “You gotta tell! Talk! TALK! Say what you did! Where did you go? What did you do? How did you get there?”
The sisters talked as sisters do, Kaylee told the story to her sister and best friend about the cut tires, the failure of doing finals, the teacher and his offer for a chance to make up the score.
An alarm tone went off on her phone, she realized that they had talked over the sound of the alarm in two earlier chimes. She was on her third chime in fifteen minutes.
“Oh my god! I Gotta run! He said I could do my finals if I posed for a class. I need to run!”
“Sissy! Please! I want to meet him! Please? I’d die for a chance to talk to the writer of my favorite movie!”
“Thank you for the compliment.” It was Tom, he was standing at the door.
Melanie turned around, squeaked once and fell off the couch where she sat next to Kaylee.
“Ohmygod!” She said it as one word.
Tom laughed softly and Kaylee had to hang on the television while she laughed until her sides hurt.
“Sorry. But you left the car keys and your driver’s license.” He said to Kaylee after she was able to catch her breath, pointed his thumb at Melanie. “Is she okay?”
Melanie just sat on the floor with her mouth open, his green eyes and red hair looked the same as when had performed the cameo in his own movie.
“She looks like she’s had a stroke.” Tom smiled, that made Kaylee laughed and Melanie punched her in the thigh.
“Oh my god. He startled me.” She squeaked out. She still had not blinked, looking at the new, no longer mythical, husband.
“Thomas Harte, this is my sister Melanie Grant.” Kaylee introduced them. “Thomas is who I married on Friday. If you both would excuse me, I need to change so I can leave to take my finals.”
“I wish she could remember it, it was fun.”
“She, what?” Melanie asked. “You don’t remember?”
“She took a pill and smoked a full bowl and a chub during the night. I had some wine and one conversation led to another as we joked. It became a dare and then we jumped on my plane and took off to Vegas. She picked out the number one, single most expensive ring she could find on the walk to the chapel. She has worn it ever since.” Tom smiled. “She won’t take it off.”
“God. Yes, you have said that a few times now.” Tom chuckled and winked.
“Well, I’m heading to school and do my finals.“ Kaylee said as she came out of the bedroom wearing a pull-over black shirt with blue jeans. Her hair pulled back into a bun.
“I’ll come, too.” Melanie said. “I need to talk with Professor Ostrogoth about changing my major to architectural engineering. Not that I want to, but she says that I have an eye for it. She’s been sending me links in my email.”
Tom nodded, taking his clue that the sisters wanted some alone-time to talk.
“I have some business to do in town as well. I need to meet with someone, he asked me to do a keynote speech.”
“Wait, how are you getting around?” Kaylee stopped with her hand on the doorknob.
“I rented a car.” Tom smiled. “A few quirks about owning a flying boat. I need to rent land transport.”
“Well, you head on. I’ll call you when I’m done.” Kaylee said softly as she kissed him goodbye.
“Monster, will you be around here later?” Using an old, sister shared nickname. “I want to have this done as soon as possible. When I come back, I’ll show you the floating plane!”
“Flying boat.” Tom corrected, smiling.