Anna didn’t apologize for storming away from the table at the restaurant, and I didn’t apologize for spilling my water on her. The rest of the drive to the beach house was tense despite Penny’s not-so-subtle attempts at livening things up.
I couldn’t remember a time of my life without Penny around. She and Mama had been friends since college, and Penny was almost like an Aunt to us. Penny had never married, didn’t have any kids, and was filthy rich. This made for some of the best Christmas and Birthday gifts that a little girl could dream of. Penny spoiled us to say the least!
“Why didn’t you ever get married?” Anna asked suddenly, reading my mind.
“I never met the right person.” She said nonchalantly. I looked at her. She was beautiful, fit, and one of the funniest people I had ever met. I felt sad for her, knowing she must be lonely. It suddenly hit me that I was following in Penny’s footsteps… I was going to be sixty something with no children and no husband if I didn’t get on the ball. I was twenty eight now… Mama had married our father when she was twenty three and had me when she was thirty three (she hadn’t planned to have babies at all to begin with, which is surprising because she was the best mother a child could want). If I didn’t want to be alone forever, I had to do something about my world record as the only twenty eight year old who had never even had her first kiss.
“What are you thinking about, Adeline?” Penny tapped my leg with her hand.
“Oh nothing.” I sighed. Knowing that she could see through me just as well as my Mama could. “Actually, I was wondering when Anna was going to settle down and start a family.”
“I’ve got plenty of time.” Anna didn’t miss a beat. “I think if I get married by thirty that I’ll be doing fine. As for kids, we’ll see.”
“Sounds like you’ve thought a lot about it.” I observed.
“I have. My whole life is mapped out. I like to be in control.” Anna’s long dark hair was flying in the wind and she looked beautiful, as much as I hated to admit it. I pulled down the visor and looked at myself the tiny mirror. I wasn’t as ugly as I had once thought, but I was still no match for the blonde beauty to my left and the brunette bombshell In the back seat.
“Let’s spend a day getting dolled up.” I knew this sounded like a foreign language coming from my mouth, but I didn’t care. I was alone now that Mama was gone, and knew that I needed to get the ball rolling in the right direction-- father figure issues and all.
“Sounds wonderful!” Penny exclaimed with a broad smile.
“I could use a massage.” Anna remarked, surprisingly unenthused about my aha moment regarding my appearance. I realized then that she was probably being forced into this little trip just as much as I was. I wouldn’t be surprised if the mail carrier came with two sets of keys
We finally made it the beach house and unloaded the trunk. The snacks that Maria had sent with us was now a balled up bag of empty wrappers. I had not been to the beach house in years and smiled at the sight of another one of Mama’s favorite places. I wasn’t totally convinced yet, but I had a sneaky suspicion that this trip was going to do me some good. I was going to take the proper time to absorb the new reality that I was faced with instead of rushing back into life as usual.
We napped before dinner and it felt wonderful to be snuggled within the cool folds of my favorite blanket. The bowl of seashells beside the table made me smile, Mama had always loved seashells but knew that they were far too casual for the estate. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was why we bought the beach house in the first place-- a good excuse to be surrounded by starfish and shells!
“Where are we heading for dinner?” Anna was filing her fingernails on the couch.
“Where do you think?” I asked. It was tradition to always visit the same seafood restaurant on the first night, no matter what time of year it was.
“Just asking.” she snapped. We were full grown adults who still couldn’t get along. I didn’t really blame her though, I had spent my entire life treating her like a dog.
Penny emerged from her bedroom, dressed and ready to go. I looked down at my scrubs, which I had swiped from Anna, and knew that it was time to change. I opened my duffel bag and realized that my entire wardrobe was black because of the funeral. I shimmied into a black pencil skirt and put on a gray blouse. I wanted to look better than Anna for once, but really didn’t know how. “Almost ready?” Penny was standing in the doorway.
“I guess so.” I shrugged. I had done all that I could do with myself.
“May I?” Penny crossed the room and took my brush in her hands.
“Sure,” I nodded. Penny brushed my hair into place and smiled. She would have made a good mother. “Do you have any makeup that I could borrow?”
“I thought you’d never ask.” Penny headed down the hall to her room and returned with a little gold bag full of tricks. After a few minutes I started to see the potential that my face offered. I had big eyes, full lips, and nicely arched brows. I smiled at my reflection, and knew that Mama would have loved to have seen me all fixed up. “You’re beautiful, Addy.”
“Thanks, Penny.” I accepted the compliment with a huge smile. “I am starting to feel like a whole new me.”.