Chapter 2: [DEW] A Breath of Fresh Air
I ran around the house aimlessly, unable to sit still. To be fair, I thought I had a really good reason for being so excited. I mean, how often do people get to leave the boring, dirty city for a cute little farm to start a new life with their sister? I was trying to focus, I swear. I knew I had to start packing while Star got our affairs in order – she was currently calling our parents to explain the situation. I was trying not to listen because I didn’t want to hear if they yelled at us…
I ran past Star again, who was sitting on the couch, my grin large across my face. She rolled her eyes playfully as she listened to the phone, seemingly waiting for our parent’s response. She motioned for me to stop, gently placing a hand on the microphone of the receiver, “You know we can’t take everything with us right now, right? We can’t afford a moving truck so Mom and Dad are going to take the rest of our stuff when they come grab Miso.”
“Omigosh, so this is really like starting a new life? We only have the essentials and the clothes on our backs! We’ll be living off the land as we struggle to meet end’s meet, battling against the elements! Some days we won’t be able to eat, but that’s okay I’m sure we’ll be fine, I mean we’re sort of used to that, right? At least now we won’t be waiting for a paycheck from some big organization and that we’ll be working for our own money now and – “
“Dew,” Star sighed. “You’re going to give Mom a heart attack. How about you go start packing… I’ll make sure you take only what’s needed after.”
I nodded ecstatically, bolting to my room. Miso followed leisurely behind me, perhaps wondering why I was running around the house like she used to when she was younger. I bounced onto my bed, the springs creaking loudly under the weight of my body.
My room was plain – minus the excessive number of plush toys I tend to impulsively buy. The walls were a dirty white. Accompanying the bed was a dresser where I stored most of my clothes. The top of the white dresser was blank, except for a small picture of Mom and Dad for whenever I got homesick. On the same wall as the door was my closet, which remained empty with the exception of storage for seasonal clothes and suitcases.
Speaking of which, I bounded off the bed, a small “meow” coming from Miso as I did. I threw open the closet door, shifting through the assortment of jackets and sweaters I don’t really wear anymore. At the back was a ratty old suitcase I use when we first moved out of Mom and Dad’s.
I dragged it out behind me, lifting the case up onto the bed, then following it up onto the mattress myself. I quickly found one of the zippers, then proceeded to drag it along the teeth to open it. It was empty inside (no surprise), but it wasn’t very big so I couldn’t exactly take a lot of things. I fought the urge to take an armful of my plush toys and stuff them in but that wasn’t very smart…
“Got anything yet?” Star spoke up, leaning against my doorframe as I turned.
“What’s essentials? I understand we need some clothes, and maybe a jacket for rainy weather or something, and like our toiletries but do we have to worry about food? Can we hold off on winter clothes until that comes around? I mean, it’s basically going to be spring by the time we get there anyway so we have almost an entire year before having to worry about that.”
My sister paused, nodding to herself slowly, thinking about what she actually meant by her own words.
“And will we have furniture? I mean, Poppy Droppy’s farm has been sitting there alone for I don’t know how long so is the house even going to be livable? Are we going to have to sleep on the floor with no blankets or pillows or even heating? What about books? I know you like to read and write and I draw so are we going to take anything for that? Will we even have time for that?”
“Well…” Star began slowly, considering her words, “We should see if we can contact this “Mayor Lewis” to let him know we’re on the way… Maybe Grandpa Drop already has that in order, considering he gave us the deed… He seems like someone to think things through."
“As for recreational things… Just the basics to keep us sustained for now I guess. If this really does work out, we could always buy more along the way… I hope. Just bring an empty book and new pencils that you have for now, Dew, for when you get bored and an itch to draw.”
“Okay cool… Also: nose game!”
Star groaned when I touched my nose as soon as I said it, but we both knew she’d end up being the one calling anyway.
“Fine… Just finish packing your suitcase then see if you can find those old boxes we had stored away. You can start packing everything else for when our parents show up to take it all.”
I nod once more and Star took that as her leave. Miso curiously sniffed the open suitcase before looking up at me with large green eyes. My expression fell soft as I gently leaned over to pet her, feeling her purring under my fingers the instant I began.
“I’m really going to miss you, you crazy ol’ cat…” I murmured to her as I picked her up to lay in my lap.
She didn’t mind too much – she was used to my weird advances by now anyway. She stepped off me in favour of curling up on the bed, back pressed against my thigh. I ruffled the fur behind her ear, the old tabby following my hand as much as she could. The only thing about this new life I would regret is having to leave Miso behind. As much as I wanted to say “no” to Star and take the cat with us, Star’s point did stand, and since it would be a much longer ride than before, who knows how badly she’d react to a ride outside the city.
I sighed to myself, pushing all those thoughts away in favour for the excitement of moving.
The city always seemed dark and dreary. It was full of zombies that shuffled to work in the same pattern every day whilst breathing in the smog we called air. As full of life the city was, the city was more dead than alive. I could only imagine what the simpler life of a farmer could be like, having fresh air to breathe, hearing the songbird’s voice early in the morning, to be able to see the sun on a clear day and not through the smoke.
I grinned, my hands forming fists as I threw myself off the bed to dig through my dresser for anything I thought would be suitable for farm work. Turns out, there wasn’t much, mainly white dress shirts that were required for working with Joja. I found some shirts that I liked, quickly stuffing them in my suitcase before digging through my pants drawer. I had a lot of skirts from Joja, and few pants because of it. I found some I liked, along with a skirt or two that were wearable and put them in too. After diving through my undergarments and taking some, I stood back to see how much room I had left.
I pursed my lips, realizing that my case was incredibly small and that I didn’t have much room left. Biting my lip now, I strode over to my closet to take a light jacket, as well as to dig through the shelf above the hangers. There were a few books that I had stored there, mainly drawing books I filled the last few years. I sifted through the books, looking for one that I hadn’t used yet.
I smiled widely, pulling out a sketchbook from underneath the pile. It was a cheap one you could get from the art store, but Star gave me this for our birthday this year, although it was left forgotten up until now. I quickly flipped through the pages, grinning even wider. Next to the pile of books were a few kits of drawing pencils I collected over the years. One set was still in the original packaging – another gift from my lovely sister this year.
I took the pencils, book, and jacket, laying it on top of my growing pile of stuff in the case.
Miso blinked slowly at me as I stared at my bed, wondering what else I should take. It was hard to think of other things that I would definitely need and not be able to survive without, but my mind was drawing a blank – perhaps from the excitement of actually moving again.
I went back over to my closet, putting a hand on my chin in wonder if I should take another book with me but then it hit me – I should totally take our photo album! Of course we should take it; like what if we feel homesick one of these days when living out of the city for the first time ever and we wanted to be reminded of home without actually having to go home?
I stuck my nose back amongst my books, quickly deducing that it wasn’t in my closet like I thought it was. My eyebrows crossed as I tried to remember what we did with it – it’s been literally forever since I've seen the book, let alone thought about it.
I walked out of my room, back to the small sitting area to ask Star if she knew where it was.
“Haha, yeah… Me and my sister Dew have decided to follow our grandfather’s footsteps.”
There was a pause as I came around the corner. Star was curled up on the couch, a pen and notepad under one hand on the arm rest, the receiver up to her ear in the other hand. She listened intently, nodding to herself.
“Oh really? That’s perfect then!” A pause. “Yeah… He must have been. He thought of everything, didn’t he?”
Star’s blue-grey eyes caught mine, and she gave a small smile of acknowledgment. She tore her attention back to the phone, presumably talking to Mayor Lewis about our living arrangements. I decided to just check her closet instead of interrupting, not that there were many places the album would be without me really knowing.
Star’s room was at the other side of our apartment (it was pretty symmetrical; the kitchen and living area were at the centre of the apartment with the storage closet and my room leading down one hall and the bathroom and Star’s room down an opposite hall.) I walked into her room – it was laid out like mine, but even less comforting. Her room lacked the flare that my plushies added to mine, giving it a more sterile feel, although there was a blur of green from her home-grown houseplants that were placed meticulously around her room. I ignored everything but her closet, opening the sliding door with a sharp tug.
Star used her closet just like I did – storing things we didn’t need for the season, although her shelf was filled more than mine. I recognized a few books she had stuffed up there as some she kept re-reading in the past but found little time to do so now. There were a few binders I knew were filled with my sister’s writings and drabbles whenever she felt the urge to express herself on paper in a different way than myself.
I sorted through the binders, looking for anything that vaguely looked like our photo album.
“Oh, there it is…” I murmured to myself when I noticed it underneath an old shoe box my sister had stored.
I tried my best to take the album out without needing to move the shoe box but it proved much more difficult than I thought due to the height of the shelf and weight of the box. It started to slip without me being able to stop it, falling to the floor with a loud crash.
I winced, slowly taking the freed album from the shelf before falling to my knees, as I needed to clean up the mess of papers that spilled out of the box.
I didn’t pay much attention to the assortment of letters and documents that Star kept – it was her stuff, not mine. I merely cleared the mess I made until I was left with one last letter that had toppled out. I grabbed it, along with the box lid, prepared to store it away for Star to sort through later until the stamp on the front of the letter caught my eye
Golden Coast University.
I paused. I vaguely recognized the name of the university – Star used to talk about how prestigious it was to be accepted into it. The letter looked old, and despite being very well taken care of, it looked like it was held very often. Without warning, I felt my heart in my throat. I didn't remember my sister applying for university, especially not this one. She would have mentioned it… multiple times, wouldn’t she? Ever since we left high school, we worked for Joja Corporation, something our parents urged us to do. It was boring, but it was stable job with a reliant paycheck. We didn’t have to worry about ever going hungry ever again but…
“Hey, Dew? You alright? I heard a bang.”
My eyes widened as I quickly stuffed the letter into the album instead of the shoebox it used to call its home.
“Uh, yeah! I was, uh, just looking for our old photo album because I uh thought it would be good for us to take and I might have accidentally knocked over your shoe box and things might have fallen out and um I just cleaned it all up so you don’t have to worry about it or anything so uh I’m just going to put it back now so don’t worry about it Star it’s all cleaned up now.”
I quickly stood up, grabbing both the album and box to put the box back where it belonged before Star appeared in the doorway. My heart was thudding in my chest for some reason; I couldn’t tear my thoughts away from the letter. When did Star apply for university?
“You okay?” My sister narrowed her eyes, analyzing me carefully.
“Who? Me? Haha, of course I am, Star. I just… Uh, I just got spooked when the shoe box fell because I wasn’t expecting it or anything so uh I’m just going to pack this into my suit case and see what else I’ll need to take and you asked me to find some old boxes right so I’ll see if I can uh find them too…”
Star looked unconvinced but brushed it off as she stepped to the side, allowing me to walk out of her room.
“Anyway, I was just talking to Mayor Lewis,” she began, following me towards my room. She stopped at the storage closet, presumably to look for the boxes instead of packing right away. “Grandpa Drop really thought of everything. He left money with Lewis for if we decided to move to the farm. He's going to use it to hire the resident carpenter to fix up the farmhouse a little for when we get there. Apparently Grandpa left them quite a sum, as they’re also going to buy new furnishings for us, and we don’t have to worry about moving any dishes either because Grandpa's old dishes are still in pretty good shape.”
“Oh sweet! Omigosh, I’m getting really excited about this again!” I grinned, my thoughts pushing the letter aside – it wasn’t of utmost importance right now, so I'd have to remember to bring it up some other time.
Star stumbled back from the closet while gripping some old dusty boxes we kept around just in case. I came out to help her, grabbing some so we could open them up. They weren’t very big, but we didn’t have much stuff to worry about; the furniture came with the apartment so mainly it was the cosmetics and dishes we had to pack away for when Mom and Dad came to collect our stuff.
“The mayor said that everything should be ready for us around the first of Spring, so that gives us about a week to pack and move.”
“Well, that’s tons of time, right? Like I’m pretty much packed now and since we don’t have to worry about working at Joja tomorrow we can spend time packing, right?”
Star nodded in response, moving her boxes into the living area as I followed behind her. We set them on the floor for us to deal with in a bit.
“I should start packing as well. We can leave the toiletries for last, as we still have a week left, and we’ll just wear any clothes we don’t want to take with us for now. Leave out one outfit you want to wear the day we leave, that way you’ll have a little more room to pack something else.”
I hummed happily in response, grinning wildly. “I want to do my hair before we go too – it’s starting to grow out and I’d hate to have to deal with it when we get there so I’ll probably do that sometime tomorrow or maybe the next day or something.”
My sister nodded in acknowledgment, looking around her with a sigh. She seemed to be having trouble really accepting that we both just quit our jobs out of the blue without much discussion, and now we were going to just live on some random farm we inherited when we were little.
As I placed my hand on her shoulder for some sort of reassurance, the alarm I had set for the oven went off and I couldn’t help but have a grin stretch across my face for its amazing timing. “Hey, let’s eat first to help comprehend the possibly best decision we made in our life. I made lasagna!”
That seemed to help set her mood as she offered a gentle smile in return. We filed into the kitchen as Miso crawled out of my room to join us for supper.