“Yes, Jay” I said… again.
“But do you have your-“
“Yes, Jay, I have everything.” He frowned at me but remained silent.
“Alright, I’m all loaded up!” I announced, scanning my cold, barren apartment one last time. We walked towards the entrance to my building in silence. Jayden had a friend in Oakland that had offered me a place to stay until I found something of my own. If I could find a job and the right underground club to fight with, it wouldn’t take long to come up with a down payment.
“Here’s Sketchy’s address and number. Just call him if you have any trouble finding his place okay?” Yes, you heard correctly, Jay was sending me to live with someone that went by the name ‘Sketchy’; sounds a little, well, sketchy to me. But hey, what do I know.
“Thanks Jay, I really appreciate it.” I held my arms out in an attempt at giving him a hug but he grabbed me by the shoulders, keeping me at arms length while his eyes narrowed over my body.
“What the fuck? You are actually going to the airport looking like that?” Well, Jayden never was known for subtlety. I glanced down at my attire, not sure what the problem was.
“Jay, I’m going to be on a plane for like thirty hours. I want to be comfortable.”
“You can be just as comfortable in jeans as you can in those ugly sweat pants.” I rolled my eyes.
“You are so gay Jayden. I’m not changing so you can just forget about it.”
“Are you going to at least dress nicely when you meet your brother?”
“I was actually thinking of going nude for our first meeting, you know that way- oomph” I was cut off rather harshly by his stringy arms locking around my waist.
“I’m going to miss you Juliette.” He whispered. I squeezed him tight before kissing his cheek and pulling away. He still looked like hell. His normally rich, honey colored hair looked dull and flat; his sparkling emerald green eyes surrounded by dark circles.
“I’ll miss you too Jay Jay. I’ll call you when I get there alright? Say bye to Ross for me.” I smiled at him as I began to walk away towards the cab.
“Juliette!” He called after me. I turned to see a shit eating grin on his face.
“Yeah?” I asked hesitantly; this couldn’t be good.
“Forget something?” He held up my plane ticket, smirking.
Rolling my eyes, I made my way back to him, snatching the piece of paper from him.
“What will you do without me?” He asked with a dramatic sigh.
“Get laid.” I replied blankly. He gasped.
“It’s not my fault guys don’t want to fuck you when I’m around!”
“Goodbye Jay! I’ll call you later. I love you!” I called over my shoulder, laughing as I walked to the cab… again.
I shut the door and waved at my best friend one last time before turning to the driver.
“Airport, please,” He nodded and sped off down the road.
I watched lazily as the reminders of my entire life whizzed past me. The movie theatre where I had my first kiss, the cramped bowling alley where Jay and I would go to stare at cute boys, the grocery store where I got my first job, and of course, the high school. All of my memories were settled in this unique town, but Jay was right; I needed a fresh start.
My parents’ funeral had been small but quiet and calm as well. Only close friends and family were there but in my point of view, that was much better. I had stayed at their gravestones for hours following their burial, silently saying my final goodbye. Jay had been a little more himself since the funeral; it had given him a sense of closure.
My head suddenly snapped forward as the taxi driver brought the car to an abrupt halt. I sighed and gave him the money before jumping out, grabbing my own bags and racing into the airport. After sending Jay a quick text, I shut my phone off and made my way towards the check in counter. The frizzy haired middle aged woman seemed bored as she weighed my bags and gave me the speech that I’m certain she gave thousands of other people a day.
As I made my way through security, being groped quite harshly I must add, I began to think about what the hell kind of mistake I could be making.
On the one hand, I not only wanted, but needed to get out of North Carolina, to escape the pain that had recently established itself there. However, I was also moving cross country to live, even temporarily, with a man named ‘Sketchy’ as I search out my brother who may or may not know I even exist. Maybe this isn’t such a good idea.
‘Final call for Flight 374 boarding now’ I looked up to see a long line of people in front of me before glancing down at my ticket. I stood and made my way over to the crowd that I would soon be stuck on a plane with. I had to shove my way through the barrage of tall men who either glared at the intrusion or winked at me. I handed my ticket over to the pretty blonde that was standing behind the counter and walked swiftly towards the plane.
I muttered several curses under my breath when I finally made it to my row only to find I had a window seat. There were three seats in my row, two of them already occupied by what looked to be a younger man and his son. The man had short dirty blonde hair that was mimicked by the small child who looked to be no older than four. The unnamed man was dressed casually in loose jeans and a yellow graphic tee. He was exceptionally attractive. I only realized I had been standing there scrutinizing him when he looked up at me with a quizzical expression in his stormy grey eyes.
“Are you alright, ma’am?” He asked apprehensively. I flushed and nodded.
“Um, yeah I’m sorry. That’s my seat but I’m still building the courage to trap myself in. I’m not really big on enclosed spaces and the plane….” I trailed off, embarrassed of my ramble. He laughed lightly before whispering something to the boy next to him. The child looked up at me and grinned before jumping from the middle seat into the window seat, his father following suit to take the middle seat.
“Is that better?” He asked, flashing me a cute smile. I sighed in relief and thanked him before plopping myself into the isle seat.
“Your son is adorable” I remarked, watching the small child draw on a piece of paper, completely engrossed. The man watched his son as well, a look of pride crossing his smooth features.
“Thank you, he’s a great kid.” I certainly hope so mister. I’d hate to have to spend this flight in the bathroom to escape your kid’s annoying behavior.
“So, why Los Angeles…?” He asked obviously trying to create small talk.
I looked at him while rummaging through my carry-on in search of some headphones.
“It’s Juliette. And I’m moving in with a friend and starting college in the fall.” I lied smoothly. “What about you?”
“Lucas,” he began, motioning to the child “and I, I’m Dameon by the way, are visiting my parents for a few weeks and going to Disneyland.”
I smiled at him and stuck one headphone in as the stewardess explained the rules and safety procedures. “Sounds like fun”
An awkward silence settled between us. I shifted uncomfortably; I was never good with other people.
The plane began to lift off and Lucas demanded his father’s attention, effectively removing it from me to my relief.
I stuck the other blue headphone in and turned up the volume as the sound of 311 penetrated my ears. I closed my eyes; moments later drifting off to sleep.
“Juliette wake up. The plane has landed.” I was awoken by a gentle hand rubbing my shoulder. My body instinctively jerked away from the hand as I gasped in surprise.
“Hey, easy hun. It’s just me. Dameon, remember?” He threw his hands up in surrender.
My heart rate calmed down as I recognized him as the man with the son. I pulled my headphones out and stuffed then into my bag.
“Yeah, sorry. You startled me is all,” I mumbled while gathering my bag and trying to work my way into the isle.
I turned back to him and smiled, “Have a great trip. It was nice meeting you.” He returned the smile and told me the same.
I hurried into the airport, grabbing my luggage and searching for the exit.
The air outside was warm and dry. Since I had flown through several different time zones, it was only about two in the afternoon. I whistled for a taxi and helped the driver pack the trunk with my suitcases. I had only brought a few since Jay had agreed to ship the rest of my stuff that was sitting in a storage locker to me once I found an apartment.
I passed the driver Sketchy’s address and pulled my phone out from my pocket, dialing Jay’s number.
“Hello?” An out of breath Jay answered.
“Hey, it’s me. I just left the airport and I’m on my way to Sketchy’s.”
“That’s good. Who did you knock out for the isle seat?” He teased. I smiled, he knew me so well.
“No one actually, some guy moved for me so there were no fights today.”
“What a relief. So, I was going through some of your clothes that you left here and all I can say is I hope the gays in California can help you with your hideous wardrobe because I have failed epically.” I groaned, he would never give up.
“Jayden, my wardrobe was and is just fine. Just because I don’t wear neon skinny jeans and gaudy jewelry doesn’t mean my wardrobe is awful.” He snorted.
“Honey, since when are black skinny jeans and plain tee shirts with leather jackets fashionable?”
“I’m going to assume that was rhetorical since we both know that answer. I have to go, I just pulled up on front of my temporary home.” I handed the driver his money and stepped out of the car.
“But- fine. I have things to do anyways.” I laughed.
“Very mature, Jay. Way to look like a total loser.”
“What?! I do have things to do! In fact, I have people to do as well so that makes me less of a loser.”
“Alright alright, I’ll call you later. I’m going to go pay a visit to Andrew this afternoon so I’ll let you know how it goes.”
“Alright babe, have fun! Enjoy sunny California for me!” I laughed and hung up after saying goodbye.
Thanking the driver for helping me, I made my way up the driveway that lay in front of a small, one story home. The outside was painted light blue, the shutters an ugly eggshell color. The grass was mostly dead and flowers, or any type of landscaping for that matter, were nonexistent.
I stopped at the door that had been painted the same color as the shutters. I rang the doorbell and hoped for the best.