“I think a girls weekend is long over-due!” Mama exclaimed, as we sped away from boarding school and toward home for my final spring break ever. “Penny is coming down, and I think we should shop and maybe even spend a few days at the beach house!”
“Sounds wonderful!” I said, reaching back and making sure that my bags were settled into place in her tiny backseat. I was so glad to hear that getting away from the reality that faced me at home was in my future. I wouldn't have to face father or snub Maria, instead I could just enjoy Mama and her lifelong friend, Penny. “I can’t wait…” I said, leaning my head back and feeling the spring air billow through my hair.
“Any boyfriends at school?” Mama asked, “I’m sure boys come around a good bit.”
She was always sticking her nose where she knew it didn't belong. She always asked the same questions and always got the same answers. “No time for boys, Mama. I’m focusing on my future.” I replied, trying to keep from sounding annoyed. She didn’t mean any harm by asking. The truth was that I had never even kissed a boy, despite the countless offers that had been extended my way. Instead of sneaking off campus to play spin-the-bottle with local boys like most of the other girls did, I spent my free-time writing, painting, and practicing piano.
“Addy! You are turning eighteen in two weeks, you should be having fun!” Mama fussed, the wind blowing silky mahogany strands of hair in her face.
I suddenly wished that I hadn’t been cursed with my Father’s nameless hair color that hovered somewhere in between blonde, brown, and gray. I looked more like my father than I cared to admit, I simply avoided mirrors and pretended it wasn’t true.
Mama looked over at me and said, “We’ll find you a summer, spring, or whatever it is romance in no time! I bet Penny knows some handsome boys your age!”
I rolled my eyes and hoped that she would forget. I listened as she called the main house and arranged for Maria to pack her bags. I really didn’t want her packing mine, but knew that it would mean my time by the shore would come sooner and didn‘t protest to her gathering the few things that I hadn’t brought home from school with me-- like a bathing suit. I was pretty good at putting things out of my mind and would push this out of it, along with all of the other things involving my Father and his well established philandering ways.
Mama’s bags were waiting on the front porch when we arrived home. It was as if she could snap her finger and have everything ready for a trip that she planned on a whim.
“Let’s run inside and say goodbye and hello to your Father while the car is being loaded.” Mama instructed, floating up the front steps despite the steep heels that most women wouldn’t be able to walk in. Her spring suit which was clean cut, well tailored, and expensive looking, hugged her curves. Her dark hair fell messily in her face, disheveled and windblown from the ride.
I did as I was told and followed her inside, realizing that even in sneakers I couldn’t climb the stairs as gracefully as she.
“Hello Father, Goodbye Father.” I said, stepping inside his study. I came just far enough past the door to make it official that I was in the room.
“Addy my love.” Father said with a genuine looking grin.
His face lit up at the sight of me and I suddenly wanted to hurt his feelings. Why didn’t he ever notice how much I hated him? I glared at him, searching for something mean to say, and settled on, “We’re heading to the beach. Looks like it is just you and Maria for awhile…” I wanted him to squirm at the mention of Maria, but he didn’t even seem to hear the hatred in my voice.
“Well thank you for at least leaving someone to feed me.” He said, his voice full of warmth and love as he watch me head out almost as quickly as I had come. “Have a great time!”
“Your Mother is already in the car.” Maria said, pointing toward the door.
Her auburn hair was graying around the edges and she looked like she had put on twenty pounds since the last time I had been home.
“Have a fun trip, Addy.” She said, gently rolling her R’s-- the only hint of an accent that had survived throughout the years.
“Thank you. Have fun with Father.” I said, looking her up and down with a snarl on my face. I ran outside, quick like a band-aid.
Now it was finally time for fun in the sun. In a few short hours, I would be exactly where I wanted to be.
We arrived at the beach house and as usual it had been prepared for us. Mama could decide at the drop of a hat to head to one of our vacation homes and somehow always managed to have it ready and waiting for her arrival. One of the perks of being rich, I suppose. I spent my childhood believing that things like that just happened. I didn’t realize that we were privileged until I went away to college and met people who had been to public schools and had actually lived in apartments instead of on sprawling estates.
I headed up to my bedroom and slung my suitcase across the bed. I couldn’t wait to put on my bathing suit and head down to the ocean. Out of all of the vacation houses, this felt like my home away from home.
“Penny!” I heard my mother’s voice squeak in delight at the sight of her lifelong friend.
Most of my childhood memories include Penny, and I always loved it when she was around. I stood in the doorway of my room tying my bikini top and watched my mother hug her friend around the neck and plant a big wet kiss on her cheek. I didn’t really have any friends and wondered what it would feel like to be so close to someone who you could share secrets with without being afraid that they wouldn’t understand. I knew that if my mother had any idea about my father’s mistresses, that Penny would be the person she would tell. Even though I was the one shielding and protecting her from it, I knew that she would never in a million years tell me.
Penny’s big hat framed her face and reminded me of a blond Audrey Hepburn.
“Hello, Addy!” Penny exclaimed, smiling up the stairs at me. "Where is Anna?"
“Anna is away a seminar for aspiring scientists. She left straight from school last night.” Mother answered, rolling her eyes.
She never understood Anna’s obsession with bugs and creatures and probably never would.
“A waste of a perfectly good spring holiday if you ask me!” she added.
“Well... She’ll hate to have missed this!” Penny said, her voice dripping with the mischief that she was known for. She pulled a bottle of wine from her purse and we all died laughing.
I was finally old enough to understand why they were such great friends, and decided that I should try to make a friend or two when I got back to school the next week. I could make time for a friend like Penny.