Ava (chapter 3) - The family

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is the third chapter of my novel Ava. I can't get the chapter links to work on my novel so here it is.

Submitted: May 05, 2011

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Submitted: May 05, 2011

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The music was blaring in her ears and her eyes were shut.  She could be almost anywhere, shut off from the rest of the world.  She felt the car turn onto the gravely road and her eyes snapped open.  She knew the road like it was etched in her bones.  Every twist and turn was familiar.  She could remember being so small she could barely see out the window of the car, her legs swinging back and forth.  She would look up at the trees and just as they got to the top of the hill, the trees would part and she would see the great manor standing statuesque in the distance.  She couldn’t distinctly remember the first time she saw it but she could remember a sense of wonderment and excitement.  Now all she felt was a noticeable hole in her stomach.  It didn’t feel right anymore.  It didn’t feel like she belonged there.  It was like ripping open a large scar.

Her mother parked the car in front of the house and hopped out.  Ava slouched down in her seat and closed her eyes again.  She breathed slowly for a few moments before being jolted awake by a rapping on her window.  She turned to find her cousin Ian’s face inches from the glass.  She tried to smile as she rolled down her window.

“Hi Ian.”

“I’m glad you’re here this summer.”  He responded with a nerdy grin.

“Well that makes one of us.” Ava responded, pushing her car door open and getting out.

Ian stood quite still, looking at Ava for a few moments.  She felt uncomfortable and turned to get her bag out of the trunk.

“What did you do to your hair?”  Ian asked.

“Dyed it.”

Again Ian was silent for some time.

“I got into Harvard.”  He said.

Ava yanked her suitcase out of the trunk with a bang and almost fell over.  She managed to stay on her feet and dragged it around the car. 

“Congratulations.”  She responded, attempting to muster as much enthusiasm as possible.  She wondered to herself what exactly they were searching for up at Harvard since interacting with fellow human beings was obviously not high on their list of priorities.

“Ava honey can you make sure your sisters get to their room?”  Her mother asked, emerging from the house with Alisa.

“Sure.”  She muttered under her breath, turning around to grab their bags out of the trunk.

“Here.”  She said to Ian as she forced two duffel bags into his arms.  “Can you carry these?”

Ian swayed as he attempted to get a better grip on the bags.  His pale skinny frame looked as though it might buckle.

“Savannah. Bea.  Let’s go.”  Ava yelled at the two girls who were already half way across the lawn.  With that, she took hold of her own bag again and entered the house.

She tried not to linger too long in the sitting room and headed straight up the stairs.  The twin’s room was on the left at the top of the stairs and after she corralled them and their bags into the room she continued on all the way down the hall, making a right and a left before finally coming to the room that she always occupied.  She shoved the door open with one hand and dragged her bag inside.

The room looked as though no one had been in it since she’d left two summers ago.  She recognized the posters on the wall, the slightly childish books in the bookcase and the pink comforter on the bed.  Crossing to the window, she looked out across the front lawn.  She could see the winding driveway and the guesthouse to the left.  Beyond it was the lake.  She couldn’t see it from her window but she knew it was there.  She threw herself onto the bed and looked up at the ceiling.  She picked up the picture on her bedside table of her and her parents and after glancing at it, put it in the top drawer of her desk.  She looked at her suitcase and instead of unpacking it, threw herself onto the bed and stared at the ceiling.  She could see the pale yellow stars stuck to the ceiling that glowed in the dark at night and she remembered how scared she used to be of the dark.  Her aunt Sarah had bought her these stars when she was four our five and she hadn’t been afraid since.  At night she used to connect the stars in her mind, making pictures.  She rolled on her side and shut her eyes tight.  She wasn’t sure whether it was because her eyelids had suddenly become heavy or because she wanted to stop any tears that might be foolish enough to slip out.  She felt her phone buzz in her hand and looked down at it.  It was a text from her mom that read “Dinner at 7.  Wear something nice.”  Ava looked at the time on her phone.  It was 5:30.  She shut her eyes again and quickly drifted off to sleep.

She woke up with a start and looked at her phone.  6:52.  She hopped out of bed and opened her suitcase.  She had to dig around to find the only dress she had brought and she threw it on with her nicest pair of boots.  She didn’t have time to be picky and she ran swiftly downstairs and into the dining room.  Everyone was already seated at the table and Ava took the only open seat left between her aunt Sarah and Savannah.  She grabbed their hands as everyone bowed their head to pray. 

She kept her eyes open and looked around the table, sizing everyone up since she had last seen them.  Uncle Henry sat at the head of the table, where Grandma Pearl should have been sitting and Ava wondered where her grandmother was.  Ava wouldn’t have bothered with the dress if she had known Grandma Pearl wasn’t going to be there.  To Uncle Henry’s left was Ian and to his right were Uncle George and Aunt Tina, sitting where Ava’s mother and father used to sit.  Now her mother was sitting across the table next to Ian.  It all felt oddly unbalanced.  Their family still had a hierarchy, like in medieval times, and everyone knew their place.  Ava wondered if it had been awkward at all when they had gone to sit down.  Had everyone known his or her new place?  Grandma Pearl had always been at the head of the table and Ava’s father had always been to her right, probably because he was the CEO of Smithfield Industries.  Now that her father was gone and Uncle Henry had taken over, he was at the head of the table.  Except where was Grandma Pearl?  Sarah, sitting next to Ava’s mother, rounded out the immediate family.  She was the youngest and had chosen to become a doctor.  Ava supposed she liked her aunt best for this reason, she was some how disassociated with the rest of the family.  Across the table next to Aunt Tina and Uncle George was the more extended family.  As far as Ava knew, Grandpa Henry had had a sister.  Her twin daughters, Eliza and Emily were the only non-Smithfields that were invited to the estate.  Grandma Pearl only invited a portion of the extended family to the estate and Ava had a feeling that she had family she didn’t even know about.  Everyone wanted a piece of the Smithfield pie.  Ava wanted nothing to do with any of it.

Even though she wasn’t quite sure what you were supposed to call your great aunt’s children, she had always referred to them as her aunts.  She guessed that was something parents did to little kids; told them people were their aunts and uncles when they really weren’t.  Still, it was easier than not knowing what to call them.  It was very easy to tell them apart.  If you looked hard enough you could see that though they were supposed to be identical, the years had treated them very differently.  Aunt Emily sat with her husband James and their two sons Sean and Henry.  They had both grown up a lot since Ava had seen them last.  Sean was big and Ava could see him in his football equipment, beating smaller guys to the ground.  Henry was still fairly young but was beginning to look more like a teenager than a child.  Both of them were dressed in matching suits and blue ties.  They looked like the perfect cohesive family unit but Ava caught a familiar glint of mischief in Sean’s eye as he glanced up quickly.  In contrast to Aunt Emily’s wrinkled face and plain hair, Aunt Eliza sat dressed in vibrant colors.  Ava was sure that she had had plastic surgery and her make up was overly exaggerated.  If an outsider had looked at the table he or she would have immediately and correctly identified Aunt Eliza as the family nut.  Her daughter Kim was seated next to her, looking as if she had just stepped off the stage after winning prom queen and Ava could tell that she was the kind of girl that lost her virginity in the back seat of the quarterback’s car but pretended she was a virgin all through high school.

Ava was still looking around the table, when she felt Sarah pull her hand from her own and she knew the prayer must be over.


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