My eyes swam into focus as I opened them to an unfamiliar scene. I stared through the pale blue bed sheet that smothered me; mom must have unpacked my things. I remember getting into the car so we could follow the moving van. I didn’t remember much of the ride or even getting out of the car. Dad had said three hours. The ride here felt longer. I must’ve fallen asleep.
“This will be the last time we move. I promise,” Dad had told me the day before. ‘The last time’… that’s what he said in London, and in Hong Kong, and when we were boarding the plane to Canada. He’ll likely end up saying the same thing this time next year, if not sooner. I’d bet my life on it. Dad’s job might have paid for all of the family’s luxuries, but it never let us stay in one place long enough to enjoy them. It’s one thing to move and change postal codes, another to change cities, and even the side of the road that people drive on, but to go through all of that time and time again had tired me to death. Seven times we had moved, and I’m 16 now. The thought of another move would always haunt me. Making friends wasn’t too hard in the beginning, but after a while it got to be tedious meeting people only to say goodbye not too long after. Maybe that’s why I’d become so withdrawn; friendships just seemed too short-lived to bother with. Yet again I found myself settling into a new home, or rather a new house. The former had always seemed to elude me.
I swung my feet off the bed, and rubbed my eyes as I walked by the mirror without a glance. I wasn’t in the mood to be reminded that I was a pale, lanky, average looking youth in a new town; not exactly the type most would jump at the opportunity to befriend.
“Mom? Dad?” I called out to no reply. My first thought was that they probably went out to buy things to fill this empty house, but as I entered the living room I saw a brand new set of couches set up around a table. I must’ve slept for a while but it was weird, for mom at least, not to tell me before going out.
I remembered it was Saturday, and I didn’t start school until Monday. T.V, Playstation, computer: whatever there was to do in the house was packed away, and I was in no mood to hunt through boxes and suitcases. I decided I should take a look around town instead, meet the neighbours, and show some civility. Not that it mattered much; we never stayed in one place more than a year. But who knew? This could be the last time we moved. I decided to go into this with optimism, and believe the likely false notion that we were here to stay and start a new life.
I stepped out into the blazing sun, still clad in my clothes from last night, and past the SOLD sign still stuck in our lawn. The sky was pouring rain only yesterday, but today it beat down on me with no mercy, bearing no mark of the heavy downpour from last night. I remember drawing shapes on the fogged windows, because I couldn’t see a thing through the blanket of rain.
The driveway was empty. The family car, a sparkling white Mercedes Benz and an object of pride for my father, was missing. I guess my parents were out. As many times as I’d asked, my parents would never let me take it for a spin; in my mom’s words, “sweetie, I want you to get some experience before we let you out on the road”; in my dad’s words, “No”. My mom always worried too much.
I saw the postman turn the corner into our driveway to deliver the mail, and I forced a smile and sent a hello his way. The postman wiped his brow of sweat and ignored my friendly gesture, delivering our mail and leaving without a word or so much as a glance at me. Whatever happened to the friendly postman stereotype that I grew up with on T.V? Hopefully the rest of this town wasn’t as lively as this guy…
I walked up to the neighbours’ to see if they were in, and saw a boy and a girl playing with a basketball in the driveway. The girl threw the ball towards the boy and it fell between his hands and rolled towards me. The little boy ran up to get it. I picked it up and smiled, handing it over to him. The boy looked up at me as his lip quivered. The kid started crying, running back into the house followed by the girl. I left the ball and hurriedly walked away before any parents came out. An unfamiliar teenage boy next to a crying kid? What a wonderful first impression that would make.
My hopes for a good life in this new town were slowly diminishing. As friendly as I tried to be, nobody seemed to give me a chance; So much for being optimistic. As I crossed the road, lost in these thoughts, I just barely dodged a group of noisy elementary school kids that nearly plowed through me. At that moment I made a decision: I would never have kids.
I continued to walk, and before I knew it I’d arrived at the post office. The wind carried a newspaper toward my feet. I bent down to pick it up. It was from exactly a month ago and the front page featured a picture of what used to be a white car that had been mangled by something definitely bigger than it was. The car was beyond recognition. My eyes jumped to the headline, and my heart nearly followed my eyes there as I read each word slowly and deliberately: Family Killed in Collision with Truck during Storm. My vision reluctantly drifted down to the picture again, and I could faintly make out the dented three pointed star of a Mercedes Benz.