I could hear Penny shuffling around in the kitchen and could smell sausage sizzling in the pan. I didn’t have the strength to face the day. “Knock knock.” I heard Anna’s voice through the door.
“Go away,” I sounded meaner than I intended, “Please.” I didn’t think I could face anyone.
“I just wanted to say bye.” She came in and sat on the edge of the bed. “I have to get back to school. Daddy sent a car for me.”
“Well then, why do I have to wait on my keys? Maybe he should just send a car for me!” I sat up and squinted against the sun.
Anna leaned in and whispered that Penny wouldn’t let him. I should have made a fuss about it, storming into the kitchen and demanding to leave, but instead I told my little sister goodbye and rolled over to sleep more. I didn’t have enough energy to fight this-- I didn’t even have the energy to get out of bed and face the day.
“Want some breakfast?” I opened my eyes, Penny was standing in the doorway.
“You evil, evil woman.” I murmured half joking and half serious. “Anna left!”
“I know sweetie, but it is for your own good. You’ll see.” Penny set a plate of sausage, eggs, and hash browns on the woven table by the bed. “I’ll be in to check on you in a bit.”
I crammed a sausage link in my mouth and chewed. “Am I supposed to drink my spit?” I called.
“Orange juice or coffee?” She called back, ignoring my sarcasm.
Penny climbed in bed beside me and watched me eat. It was good, but I didn’t let on… Why would a captor gush over her kidnappers cooking? “You feeling okay today? I’ve never seen a girl drink so many of those little umbrella drinks.”
“Oh, I forgot about that.” I said, realizing that the alcohol could be to blame for the pounding headache that I was trying my best to ignore.
“Well, we all cope in different ways. Anna for instance, she would have lost it in a day or two without some sort of scientific specimen to study. That is why I let her go.” I scoffed at the mention of her being released before me.
“Well, whatever it is you want to teach me go ahead. I have a lot of loose ends in Boston that I need to see to.” My mind wandered back to the piano concerto that I was working on, the painting that was abandoned in mid brushstroke, and the article that I should have already turned in at work. It’s funny really, there was not a single soul in Boston that would notice me being gone, other than my cats and my boss.
“I can’t teach you anything, Addy.”
“Adeline.” I corrected. Sometimes I would let it slide with Penny, depending upon my mood, but not today.
“I can’t teach you anything, Adeline.” If she was hurt by my snappy tone, she didn’t let on.
“Then why am I here?” I put my half eaten breakfast back on the table and rolled over. I couldn’t do this, not today.
“I’ll let you rest. I’m heading out to walk in the sand after while if you decide to get out of bed, you know where to find me.” Penny headed out of the room with my dishes. I knew she only meant well, but I was not at a good place. I needed to get back to the daily grind in order to forget about the pain that was eating a hole in me. Mama was gone, and since nothing could change that, there had to be a way to forget it. I was probably being selfish, considering Penny had lost her best friend, but I just couldn’t imagine that anything could compare to the desolation and torment that came along with losing your own mother.
I spent my entire day in bed, feeling sorry for myself. It wasn’t that I wanted to, it was that I physically could not make myself sit up and put my feet on the floor. I just couldn’t believe that Mama was gone. I had never expected to be an orphan before thirty. My mind was swarming with unfocused thoughts. It jumped from happy memories of Mama, to questions about why I had ostracized myself from the possibility of having friends, to my anger towards my cheating father. I went from being angry at Penny for bringing me here, to relieved that Penny seemed to like me and that maybe she would be my friend. I laughed at myself-- I was so lost.
The sun sank, the oranges and blues that I had painted so many times that I could do it with my eyes closed crept their way across the sky. Mama loved sunsets and sunrises. She always found beauty in the everyday things that normal people rarely took the time to slow down and enjoy. I wanted to enjoy the beauty in this moment, but instead I pulled the covers over my head. No sunset would ever be the same without Mama’s beautiful blue eyes watching it. I didn’t care if the sun ever rose or set again.
I woke up sometime after midnight, the room around me was dark and lonely. My eyes adjusted some and I could see the moonlight dancing on the trees. I had spent many nights in this room listening to the roar of the ocean in the distance. I climbed out of bed and headed into the kitchen to see if Penny had left any food out for me.
The house was quiet, and I suddenly didn’t want to be alone. I tip-toed down the hall toward Penny’s room, wondering if she was still awake. I could really use someone to talk to. I peeked in through the crack in the door, but her back was facing me. Her shoulders gently trembled, rising quickly as she sucked in air. She was crying. I had been so selfish. I wasn’t the only one in the world, and I certainly wasn’t the only one who was dealing with Mama’s death.
I stood silently and watched as Mama’s best friend in the world privately mourned. She had been so strong for us, had cooked for us, had forced me to come and take time to digest my new situation in life-- all while she was hurting too. I hadn’t thought of it this way before, but Penny probably didn’t have any friends either. Without Mama, she was probably lonely and lost like me.