It was Saturday morning, and Garrett was doing what he did best: relaxing. He'd slept till 10, gotten up and showered, made coffee and cereal for breakfast, and finally sat down in front of the TV. By now it was 6pm and nothing had changed. The dirty dishes were still on the coffee table beside him and he was watching Donnie Darko on FX. Good thing he didn't have a roommate or else he might actually have had to clean up after himself.
Just when Garrett's favorite scene was about to come on, the phone rang. Great, he thought, just great.
"Heyy, my plane just got in a few hours ago and I'm ready to come over!" How could he have forgotten?
After visiting the hospital and returning to Harvard, Ella's life returned to normal. It had been about two weeks since her mom had had the bad seizure, her classes were over for the day, and Ella was heading to her parents house for the weekend. She knew her mom was still a little frail and weak after the hospital visit and her dad was busy with work during the week as always, so she figured they might enjoy a chance to relax. Plus, without her mom to cook, they probably hadn't been having nice meals in the evenings - what a perfect reason for Ella to make herself useful.
At around 6pm Friday night, a silver Toyota pulled into the driveway of the Tonesdale residence.
"Elle!" David cried, coming out to meet his daughter. As she stepped out of the car, her dad wrapped his arms around her in a big hug. Compared to most, Ella's dad was a tad bit more sympathetic and caring, always honest with Ella - as far as she knew - and giving her advice when she really needed it. Sometimes his personality came in handy but when the two of them got into arguments, it didn't; father and daughter were so much alike that once they got at each other, no one would want to agitate them.
When Ella and David entered the house, Angie was on the sofa watching Oprah, who was interviewing the "sexiest man alive," Mathew McConaughey.
"He is pretty cute," said Ella, coming around to hug her mom.
"Honey, I'm so glad you're home! But are you kidding?!" came the voice from the couch. "He's the best-lookin' hunk of man I think I've ever seen! If I were 20 years younger - and single again - I'd sure be knockin' on his door for a date. Cute?" she said, referring to Ella's rather lackluster description, "Sweetie you have got to quit being so shy and just be honest with yourself...otherwise you might never reel in a hottie." And with that, she ended her little spiel with a smile and a wink.
"Well Mom," returned the daughter, "I didn't realize you felt so strongly about Mathew McConaughey and my umm....love life." Please, let's talk about something else. "By the way, you sound like you're pretty healthy again."
"Yup. Your dad here, he's just been treating me like a queen."
"Glad to hear it. Well I, for one, am a little hungry. Want me to make us a nice home-cooked dinner?"
"Sure Babe, that'd be great. But you know we could just order Chinese so you wouldn't have to do all that work."
"Actually that sounds like a better plan to me." So much for being useful - at least she was here for Saturday and Sunday too. For tonight, takeout was good enough.
So while Ella called the Chinese place, her mom watched the end of Oprah's interview with that "hunk of man," and her dad got ready to go pick up dinner.
Monica's insanely perky voice instantly reminded Garrett. Crap, I might actually have to straighten this place up just a little.
"Garrett.....you still there? Is something wrong?"
"Oh no, everything's just uhh...dandy. How far away did you say you are Monica?"
"Oh I'm just up at Joe's Market. I think it's about ten minutes away."
"Great. See you then." Before she even had a chance to say goodbye, Garrett pressed the end button on his cordless phone, practically bounced up off the sofa, and got to work.
I don't want my sister to think I'm a total slob he thought. Well, you kind of are, his mind kept saying. Since when did Garrett actually care what his sister thought about him?He sighed. The truth was, Garrett was a slob. He had just been in denial. Reluctantly, Garrett stopped rationalizing, picked up his dirty dishes and began the cleaning in the kitchen.
Almost exactly ten minutes later, as Garrett was stuffing clean laundry into his messy drawers, he heard knocking at the door.
Saturday night Ella finally got her chance to help out. She had decided to make her parents a nice dinner - a break from frozen TV trays and carry out Chinese. She found a recipe for Garlic Chicken and pasta that sounded amazing, but because her parent's pantry wasn't completely stocked with the regular staples, she had to run to Lou's, the local grocery store not too far down the road.
Ten minutes later she parked her car, went in and grabbed some garlic, vegetables and a loaf of French bread and a carrot cake for dessert. Since she was kind of in a hurry, Ella decided to check out in the express lane that had a limit of ten items or less.
"That'll be $15.21 ma'am," said the guy ringing her up.
Ella got out her credit card to pay, but when the cashier saw it he immediately informed her that she was in the "cash only line." After smacking her forehead and reprimanding herself for being so dumb, she pulled out her wallet and looked for some cash.
Crap, I only have $3 and there's all these people behind me who are probably in even more of a hurry than I am, Ella thought. Why in the world did I not read the sign that says "cash only?" What is wrong with me today?
Just then a voice interrupted her thoughts. She heard a girl saying, "Don't worry about it, I can just give you the cash you need."
Who could this angel be?
"Coming," Garrett yelled from his tiny bedroom.
"Wow. You've got a nice place here big brother. And you sure look as good as ever," were Monica's first words as she stepped through the doorway, giving Garrett a hug, then pausing to examine his current demeanor. "Been workin' out a lot or something?"
"Yeah, just a little here and there." Girls sure did notice everything.
"Soo..." began Monica, walking around, looking at every area of the apartment, from the few random pictures to the stack of CD's sitting on his desk near his ipod. "What are you having for dinner? I dunno about you, but I'm starving! I just came from the market because I had to pick up some stuff I forgot from home and seeing all the food made me really hungry."
"Well, there's really not a lot to choose from here besides cereal and Ramen noodles, so how about Chinese, pizza, subs or a burger - you pick."
"Oh you're such a healthy eater these days I can tell." Monica teased. "But you know, right now I'm in the mood for something greasy. Pizza sounds perfect. Are we goin' out or stayin' in?"
"Why don't we go out? I wouldn't mind getting out of this place for a while."
"What time?" Garrett glanced at the sleek black clock on the living room wall.
"How ‘bout in fifteen minutes? I just need to unpack my luggage." She looked at him, a questioning look on her face.
Garrett stared blankly back for a few seconds.
"Oh, sorry I forgot. You can take my room and I'll sleep on the futon."
"You sure? That's really nice of you Gare."
"Yeah, positive." Although he was making an effort to be nice to Monica, he didn't sugarcoat the tone of his voice.
"Well, I appreciate it," Monica replied, heading down the small hallway towards his bedroom. "Hey, where do you want me to put my stuff?"
"The closet's pretty empty," Garrett called, heading towards the kitchen. "Do you want a drink?" He looked through the almost bare fridge. "We've got bottled water, flavored water, tap water or um...Coke?"
"A coke'd be perfect thanks."
Garrett grabbed two cokes and walked to his bedroom. He plopped down on the bed and observed Monica unpacking. He watched as she pulled out shirt after shirt and stuck them on hangers. Then came the skirts, and oh God the shoes. She was definitely an over-packer.
"Garrett there's something I've been meaning to tell you. Remember Anna Mortle? Freshman last year, dated your friend Kevin?"
© Copyright 2016 Corinne Smith. All rights reserved.
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