“Mamma-mia!” Mom said when she came out of the car and looked up at the house, “Sim, what’s your job? You’re rich as heck!”
Uncle Sim laughed as he got out of the van. Everyone else followed. “I’m a lawyer.”
Mom squealed and hugged him, “You’re amazing.”
I looked at Aunt Martha and I swear I saw a flicker of jealousy pass her eyes. When she saw me staring, she plastered a smile on her face, but her eyes didn’t match her mouth.
“Wait up,” Ave groaned, rolling out of the car. He had fallen asleep. “Are you guys gonna leave me here, or what?”
Uncle Sim opened the huge oak door, stepped in, and held the door open for everyone else. “Whoa.” Mom gasped, “I haven’t seen a house like this in a decade!”
Aunt Martha rolled her eyes. “Anthea, you used to live in a mansion yourself. No one asked you to leave.”
Dang. That hurt. Ave nudged Aunt Martha and she winced, slapping his arm away.
“Well, I had to leave, Martha.” Mom said, “I had no other choice.” she smiled at her and kissed me, giving me a one arm hug.
“We’ll be talking for quite some time, eh?” she asked me. I nodded.
We were taken to the living room. The same one that me and Grams had been invited to on our first day here.
“Tea or coffee?” Aunt Martha grumbled. Even if she was in a bad mood, she loves serving.
“Water is fine.” Mom smiled at her politely, “Thank you.”
Aunt Martha left for the kitchen. Tim followed. The rest of us sat in the living.
“She’s just jealous.” Uncle Sim said quietly, shrugging. “Sensitive lady.”
Mom smiled, “It’s okay.”
“I’ll go talk to her.” he said, looking down. He got up and left, leaving Grams, Izzy, Ave, and me with Mom.
“So.” Ave said. The usual Ave. Always starting the conversations. “What exactly am I supposed to call you?” he asked.
“Anthea. Aunty A. Cowgirl. Anything, really.” she said. I gaped. “I’ve got tons of nicknames back in London.” she grinned.
“Uh, okay…” Ave said, scratching the back of his head, “Aunty A?” Mom nodded. Ave smiled. “Sounds good!”
“And I’m calling you Mom, right?” I asked and I was replied with a cheery yes from her.
Ave started talking and we all were taken into a deep conversation about the best weather.
"Um, can I steal... Mom?" I asked, "For a little while?" I got up and looked at Grams. She smiled and nodded. She knew we had a lot of catching up to do with each other.
Mom got up beside me and we walked away. I sneaked a glance into the kitchen and saw Tim and Unlce Sim talking in hushed whispers with Aunt Martha. Tim caught me and so he got up shut the kitchen door.
They were probably talking about Aunt Martha's behaviour.
Me and Mom walked up the stairs. Her hand brushed mine and I felt tingles go up my spine. She jogged ahead of me and I looked up at her. Her wavy hair, streaked with white, was swaying side to side with each step she took. Her small body moved so swiftly, it was as if she was floating. Her green off the shoulder sweater, by the way, looked exactly like the one I had at home.
"Top floor. To the right." I said, when she almost stepped into the second floor.
"This is like a palace, isn't it?" she aked me. I nodded behind her, even though she couldn't see.
"Right here." I said, pointing in front of her. "Izzy's room."
We went in and I was ashamed to let her come in. The room was a mess. In my mind, I tackled Izzy to the ground. "Sorry. I'll clean up." I started picking the bits of paper off the ground. Mom took a seat on Izzy's twin bed. She started folding the blanket.
"So." she started, "I'm assuming you've got tons of questions for me."
I nodded and threw out all the bits of paper, "Firstly, I love your accent."
She blushed, "Thanks. I like yours too." she said, "American accent is great." For a second I thought she was joking, but by the look on her face, it was obvious I was wrong about that.
"Why did you leave me?" I asked suddenly, arranging Izzy's things on her dresser. "I know you left me with Grams. You couldn't take care of me..." I trailed off, and found it hard to speak.
"I'll take the spotlight from there." Mom said, "You know that we had a mansion. A literal one, that is. And we had tons of maids, messengers, drivers, and so on. We were known to be very rich, your father and I." she laid the blanket on the bed and sat back down again.
"One day, one of the maids betrayed us. She was cleaning the rooms and she stole some of jewelry. We obviously fired her, but from that day on, we didn't keep a single maid or anything. Not even a driver. Your father drove. Not me, goodness no. I still don't. Anyways - take a seat now, darling, you've been standing there, staring at me for goodness knows how long." I blinked and looked down. I took a seat on the beanbag chair.
"So, later, your father had a business trip to Peru, and that was the last I had heard of him." her face turned down into a frown, "Anyways," she shook her head, "I decided then that I would never be able to take care of you because most of the time, your father wa sthe one to tend to your needs. But obviously, I fed you and changed you, but other than that, he was your hero."
I felt a pang in my chest. That just makes me miss him more.
"Anyways, so, a few days of me suffering with taking care of you, I thought - why not just take you to Mother? So I called her. She booked a flight as soon as possible. In the meantime, one night, in the quiet streets on London, I had forgotten to lock the doors. Also, don't blame me. There were five different doors in that place." she put her hands up in surrender and I laughed.
"Didn't you have guards?" I asked.
Mom shook her head, "I was a stubborn young woman. I thought that maybe even the guards would betray us. I did it for you. I fired 'em all!" she exclaimed, shooting from a pretend gun that she made with her hand.
"Anyhoo, the same maid who had stolen my jewelry came home and stole basically everything we had." she said, shuddering.
"What was her name? She sounds like a nasty old hag." I asked.
"To be honest, I've kind of forgotten." she said, scrunching up her nose, and looking up at the ceiling, "Something like, Brittney or Doe. Or no, Brittney Doe. Actaully, Brittnia Dove. Wait!" she looked back down at me, "Brittney Dove. That's what her name was."
My face went pale.
"What happened?" Mom asked, her voice thick with worry, "Did I say something?"
I shook my head.
Mom shrugged, "Well, I found out from the cameras that we had put in in every corner of the house. I was too scared to live there anymore. I took the last of the money - a thousand pounds - we had a fled to our cabin. It was ours. Yours too. I told Mother that. She came there instead. The mansion was abandoned. No one lived there. Not since the house was burnt to ashes."
"Wow, you've been through some serious trouble, huh?" I said. Mom frowned, and plucked a loose thread from the edge of the blanket.
"I found a job at McDonald's and when the day before my first job, Mother had come and I told her everything she needed to know. The next week, she left with my daughter." Mom looked at me and smiled, "And now, twelve years later, me and my daughter have reunited."
I smiled back at her. Gosh, she has a dimple! Two! Why don't I have dimples?
"I have a question." I said. Mom urged me to continue, "Um, didn't I have a caretaker or anything? Like, Alice? In Alice and the Brady Bunch?"
Mom squealed, "That's my favorite TV show!" I stared at her. "Oh right, yeah, um, yes, we did..." she trailed off then winced, "We sorta fired her too."
I blinked at her.
"Don't look at me like that! I'm a protective mother!"
"Right, and it shows since you sent your child overseas to your mother. Lovely." I started clapping sarcastically.
"Oh, be quiet." Mom said, giggling. "Anyways, tell me about you. What's been going on?" she jumped up and started doing stretches.
"What are you doing?" I asked, bewildered, that was random.
"I'm a healthy woman." she said quickly and sat down to do splits. I flinched. Ouch. "So, about you, my love."
"Um, I'm in eighth grade, and life has been pretty cruel." I said. I continued and told her everything. About Maryam, Ella, Maddie, Grace, Raven, the science competition - she screamed and hugged me because of that news. She smells like peaches and mangos by the way.
I even tolld her about Brittney. And her face was priceless when I told her she was the same person who was her house maid. I started rolling on the ground with laughter when she made that scrunched up, one-eye-open-one-eye-closed, tongue sticking out, face. Ave, Izzy and Grams came running into the room to see what had happened.
It looked like my bowl was slowly turning the right way.
It was almost lunch time, and so me and Mom went down to go check on everyone else. Mom went only, I went outside.
I breathed in the fresh air and saw a car driving past. There was a crow in the middle of the road. Oh my god, the freaking bird looks drunk. It's walking so slow. I went to the edge of the side walk and waved my arms like a maniac. It looked like the person in the car was drunk too. Ugh. The crow! Oh man.
"Oh hi, young woman." the person had rolled down the window and was looking at me. He stopped the car. I went onto the road and ushered the crow onto the sidewalk. I stood beside the poor thing and it flew off. The car drove away too.
Sad bird number five.
I shook my head, crossed the road, and went back into the comfort of the house.