Chapter Eight.

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Songs for this chapter are:

Control- Kevin Garrett

A Change of Heart- The 1975

Closer- Kings of Leon

When I open the apartment door, I'm met by the thick scent of vanilla. Either Tessa has gone overboard on the body spray again, or someone's baking. I'm all so familiar with the smell of baking; it's just been a while since I've smelled my mom's homemade sugary heaven. My childhood home was always full of the best smells, warm chocolate chip cookies, flaky maple squares.

I toss my keys onto the wooden entry table and cringe when my Skyhawks keychain chips off a flake of the dark wood. My mom gave me this table when I moved to New York from Washington. It was a gift from my grandma and she holds anything associated with her late mother above nearly everything else and the poor woman doesn't have much left, especially after Hardin shattered an entire cabinet full of cherished dishes. She didn't even have this table, but my aunt sent it to me as a house warming gift.

My grandma was a lovely woman, my mom tells me. Though I only have one memory of the woman, I agree. I was about six at the time and she caught me stealing a handful of peanuts from a massive barrel at the grocery store in town. When she looked up into the rearview mirror to find out what was keeping me so quiet, I had a mouth and pocket full of peanuts in the backseat of her station wagon. I don't remember why I stole them, or if I even understood what I was doing, but when she turned around to check on me in the backseat, she found me cracking open shells and chomping away. When she slammed on her breaks I choked on part of the shell. She thought I was faking it, which made her more pissed off.

The insane woman wearing her thick. curly, brown wig and blue eyeshadow on her eyes busted a U-turn right in the center of the highway, ignoring the honks from angry drivers, and drove my butt right back to the store. She dragged me back into the Aldi's on the corner of Pruett and Torrence and made me admit what I had done. I was told to apologize not only to the clerk, but also to the manager. I was humiliated, but I never stole again. Nicolette was her name and she was a tornado compared to the rest of my calm family. She passed away when I was in Middle School, leaving behind two grown daughters, who couldn't be more opposite from one another.

            My aunt Reese is a cop's widow with big blonde hair to hold her abundance of opinions. I always liked being around her and her husband, Jeb, before he passed away.  She was funny and snorted when she laughed and he always gave me hockey trading cards when I saw him. I remember wishing he would've been my dad a few times.

To this day, I remember the gut wrenching screams of Reese through the hallways of our small ranch style house and the way my mom's face was so pale, and her hands shook while told me, "everything is fine, go back to bed sweetheart."

Jeb's death turned everyone upside down, especially Reese. She nearly got her home foreclosed on because she was just that sad, she had no interest in life, let alone pulling out a checkbook to write a check from an account full of blood money from her husband's life insurance.

            She wasn't cleaning, cooking, or dressing herself. She always took care of her children though. The toddlers were bathed and groomed, little round bellies that proved she put her children above anyone else. Rumor has it that Reese gave all the money from Jeb's death to his oldest daughter from a previous marriage. I've never met her, so I couldn't tell you if she's better off or not.  My mom's the same way as Reese when it comes to parenting, she has always made sure I am taken care of before anyone, including herself.

My aunt Reese has only visited my mom once since we moved to Washington, but a phone call does wonders for this type of thing. Reese and my mom were close their entire lives, growing up only two years apart from one another. My grandma's death didn't seem to affect Reese the same way it did my mom. My mom dealt with her death with a gentle approach and a lot of baking. It was hard on her, and this table that I just scratched is the only thing the two sisters have left from their mother.

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