• 8.
    When I got to the entrance of my home, I saw Cerise come from the field area, in workout
    clothes. She was damp with sweat and I knew that soon she would smell if she didn’t
    take a shower quick. She was holding sunscreen in her hand, which probably meant she
    had been outside all day but she looked just the same as before, peachy skin and all.
    That must be high in SPF.

    She saw me and changed her direction from the house to me. She looked very interested
    in how my first day had went, curiosity shinning in her eyes like the sun pecking through
    the trees. I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to tell her.

    She started to ask before she could reach me physically. I had already stopped walking
    when I had seen her so I wasn’t that hard to talk to.

    “So, how did it go?”

    I felt a little paranoid. “Why do you care?”

    “You look like the type to be picked on. I just want to make sure that you didn’t run into any
    problems today or will in the future. You do look like you had a good time.”

    Where was this coming from? “How’s that?”

    “Well for starters, you less gloomier than before you left.”

    That was probably true.

    “Then there is the fact that you came back home so fast. The school didn’t call so you
    didn’t skip so that leaves: you either had something good happen today that gave you the
    energy to practically sprint here or you made a friend and they gave you a ride.”

    Damm, bull’s eye. I ask again, what is she not good at?

    She took my face as an answer. “So I guess you did have a good day. That’s great. Don’t
    forget to feed the animals.”

    Then she walked away and back to the house. I wish she would turn around to see my
    glare as she left. Her head turned. s**t, was she psychic too?

    I turned away and headed for the barn where I would be shunned by the animals, again,
    and I would go up to my loft to think in the hay. I would feed the animals after that.

    As I thought, when I came in, the animals parted and let me through but I wasn’t given
    time to rest and think in the hay for a surprise waited for me.

    My piles of clothes were gone and in their place was a dresser, a dresser from that
    storage in the house as I soon figured out. I opened one of the drawers to find my all
    clothes completely clean and folded.

    So not only had Cerise done work in the fields, she had also found time to get this
    dresser clean and up into the loft and clean all of my clothes. Man, that was a lot of work
    in one day. Leave this place up to her and she’ll have it selling coffee to the world in less
    than a month.

    I closed the drawer and decided to feed the animals now.


    Later at dinner, Cerise continued to be silent. She hadn’t talked to me since I had come
    back from school and I was wondering why. She usually had a small comment to add to
    the meal but the only reason her lips ever came apart was to put more meatloaf in her
    mouth. The meatloaf was good, but not that good.

    Was she mad at me for something? What did I do? What did I say? What the Hell? s**t,
    this is just making me feel even more uncomfortable.

    I got up to get some more meatloaf, my third helping of it. If I was anorexic, I wasn’t going
    to be much longer. Cerise’s cooking is just too good and my cooking is getting better so
    it won’t be long until my food also becomes addicting.

    I sat down with my food and Cerise got up and cleaned her plate. Then she went into the
    living room. What was her deal all of the sudden? She usually waited for me to finish like
    it was polite and everything and then she would see me out the door.

    I shoved the meatloaf into my mouth and cleaned my plate. I wanted to get out of there
    before I had more Cerise oriented thoughts. I was getting sick of her.

    But before I could turn the doorknob to the outside, Cerise caught me with words.

    “Aren’t you going to take a shower?”

    I turned around. Cerise had some towels in her arms for me. The book she was going to
    read while I was in the shower was on top of the towels. I didn’t catch its title.

    I had forgotten that I had asked for a shower in the evenings and that Cerise made sure I
    had one every day no matter what since we started living together. She handed me the
    towels, took the book, and sat down in one of the couches in the room. She did so every

    I went into the bathroom and set the towels down on the floor near the shower and
    stripped, watching the door the whole time. I don’t know why but I always have this feeling
    that one night I’m going to get into the shower without Cerise’s instruction and she’ll
    forget and walk in on me. I don’t know if I could take a girl seeing me naked. I mean, ever
    since I was three, I didn’t even like my Mom giving me a bath anymore and my Dad had to
    give me one until he thought I was ready to take a shower by myself.

    I was about five or six when that happened and I forget who left it in the shower but I
    picked up one of my parent’s razors and, well, I found out real quick how it could kill me. I
    was taken to the emergency room and the doctor said I was lucky that I clotted so fast
    otherwise the blood transfusion they had to give me wouldn’t have worked. After that, my
    Dad had to search the bath before I went in and then for a week I was back to getting a
    bath from my Dad until he was sure I could take care of myself without finding any razors.

    Haven’t really touched them since but I noticed that Cerise leaves one in the shower all
    the time. She takes out the shaving cream but she leaves the razor, her lavender soap,
    and her shampoo and conditioner for stronger hair. In return, I leave my shampoo and
    conditioner, lame Head and Shoulders, and, since I didn’t have some to begin with, I use
    her lavender soap. I must say, it smells good but I’ve never smelt it on Cerise. Maybe you
    have to be really close to a person to smell soap?

    This is the reason I don’t shower at the school. No matter where I was in there, I could
    smell the lavender and I prayed to the Lord that no one else could. Like I said before, I’m
    not that religious so praying to the Lord means I really need a different belief system in
    order to feel the slightest bit better.

    Anyway, after the shower, I put my clothes back on and took the towels out of the
    bathroom with me so I could put them in the washer, since the laundry room is what you
    have to walk through to get to the shower anyway. Cerise was still sitting there, reading
    her book. She didn’t look up at me when I left but if she did, she probably would have
    asked me why I had put my dirty clothes back on after I had just gotten clean. The first
    time I did that she had asked in those same words and when I replied that I didn’t bring
    any clothes to change into, she let it go but warned me to bring some next time. I didn’t
    need that right now but it would be a change from the silent treatment.


    I felt myself jump a little as my hand grasped the lantern. I looked back to see Cerise still
    with her attention to the book. How in the world does she do that? Sure, she could have
    looked while my back was turned to pick up the lantern but she would have said
    something about my clothes; she just noticed those things.

    She looked like any other teenager, sitting on that couch reading that book, but I knew
    there was more to her than that. I noticed her hair was almost dry from the shower she
    took when I got home. Maybe it was because her hair was so long that it took longer to
    dry but I could feel my own hair drying and before my head would hit my pillow in a few
    minutes, it would be completely dry.

    I shook the thought away. No more Cerise thoughts.


    The front door’s squeak was much louder tonight and the barn doors were just as loud
    but they were only a memory as I climbed into my hay bed after changing into PJs and
    brushing my teeth. While spitting out the window, I think I almost hit a bird and that’s what
    I thought about before I went to sleep: different kinds of birds I had seen before. Lame,
    but it kept me from thinking of Cerise.


    The next morning, I was greeted by a duck. It was sitting on my chest and as I was
    waking up, I felt its bodyweight on me but I didn’t figure out what it was until I saw this big
    orange bill almost touching my nose.

    Naturally, I forgot where I was and saw immediately this strange animal pretending to be
    a pet cat or dog, though I had neither before, and I thought of it as a threat to my well
    being so early in the morning so, naturally, I screamed.


    The bird immediately flew off of me as I scrambled away from it; panting from the early
    morning lung exercise and the fact that my heart was beating so fast I was surprised I
    didn’t go into shock. It flew down to where the other animals were looking at me as if I
    was nuts for yelling, or as if I had something in my teeth.

    I don’t know how long I sat there or what time it was but soon after my scream, I heard the
    door of the house opening and slamming shut. I turned my head slowly to the window
    and before I could get to my feet, I heard Cerise.

    “What’s wrong? Are you okay in there?”

    There was concern in her voice, as if she actually cared what happened to me. I felt my
    face get hot as I walked to the window. She was looking up at me in a short-sleeved,
    baby blue nightgown. Her knees were a little red but it fascinated me because I had only
    seen her wear jeans or workout pants. Here she was, in a dress!

    “Are you okay?”

    I ruffled some of the hay out of my hair. “Yeah.”

    “What happened?”

    “I, well, I forgot we had ducks and, well, one decided to, um…be the first person to say
    good morning to me.”

    If my face didn’t have any color in it before, it did once Cerise started breaking out
    laughing. She folded her arms and eventually fell to her knees in laughter. I was so
    embarrassed that I got angry.

    “Hey! It’s not funny! So I’m not used to waking up with a duck on my chest. So, what?!”

    Cerise was still laughing. I got even angrier and I felt like I was going to pass out from the
    heat in my face.

    “Shut up! It’s not funny!”

    Cerise tried to stop by taking deep breaths but after the second one, she broke out
    laughing again. If I had a glass window instead of this opening in the wall, I would have
    slammed the glass closed. Instead, I turned my back to the window and sat on the floor.
    My head was hanging on the edge of the windowsill.

    Eventually, I heard Cerise stop laughing but I didn’t want to talk to her or look at her
    anymore. I wanted to grab something and throw it out the window at her but all I had was
    some clothes, some blankets, a pillow, my school stuff, and the dresser.

    “I’m sorry, I haven’t had a good laugh in a while.”

    Despite how I felt, I knew I was going to answer back.

    “Well, Ha ha ha. There, you’ve had your laugh now leave me alone.”

    “Maybe I should build a pen for the ducks.”

    I already knew where this was going but asked anyway.


    “Because you don’t seem to like them too much right now.”

    I found myself getting up and turning around, my head poking out the window with my
    hands on the sill to keep me from falling out.

    “It was just one thing! It doesn’t mean I hate the stupid things!”

    I was going to say more but Cerise started to laugh at me again.

    “What is it now?! Did it poop in my hair or something?!”

    “Until now, you haven’t shown this much emotion. Even if it’s anger, it’s a change.”

    Her smile was bright and cheerful. The words made my anger start to ebb away until it
    disappeared and I was left with fascination, once again, in Cerise. How did she do that?
    She brought me up until I was just about to hit her if I found anything suitable and now it
    was as if I wasn’t angry with her before.

    Then again, it was the same for her. I had never seen her smile before or heard her
    laugh. The smile was big and wasn’t afraid to show it’s teeth. Looking back, the laughter
    was hearty and strong with just a tint of malice. It was actually, pretty nice.

    “Same for you too.”

    She looked puzzled for a moment but then smiled once more.

    “I guess so.”

    She looked away, just for a few moments, and then she started back to the house,
    ordering me around again.

    “Well, get up. It’s about five thirty-seven when I came out here so it’s probably near six
    now. It’s your turn to make breakfast before you go.” She turned around, pointing into her
    hair. “Oh, and you might want to keep that gift from the duck somewhere other than your

    I reached to where she had been pointing and I pulled out a stiff, white feather. Why
    would I keep something like this? The duck will shed more.

    But before I could ask Cerise, she had already gone back into the house. I took her
    advice and hurriedly put on a clean shirt and pants so I could cook breakfast. I didn’t want
    to miss that if I had to bike my way to school.