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Aunt Marie had this old peach plantation that she left us. Not that we wanted it, my mother and I, but we had no choice. Well, I did, I could have gone with my father. That would have been the wise choice. But he isn’t the one I want to speak to…but now, I would rather be with him then here with my mother.
My mother, on the other hand, is convinced that living in Georgia will be the best thing that ever happened for us. I can’t really stand her optimism today, or any other day for that matter. Every time we moved she was determined to put the idea in my head that this was it, this place, was going to be our home. This house wasn’t any different.
This house is like a prison for me, I know I could leave it. But I don’t want to see my dad and his new wife who is half his age. Even if he does life in the city I love, the city I dream about, the only place I have ever called my home. I hate him and his new life that much.
My name is Isabel James. I am a sixteen year old from New York City; I have lived in Chicago, Boston, Dallas, New Orleans, and now, some small town in north Georgia. The plantation house is just outside of town actually. It has a thick black gate that opens up to these lush green grounds that I suddenly frowned at because I knew that it would be my job to keep this pretty crisp green that it is.
The house is two stories, not including the attic. It has three tall Greek style pillars. There are ten windows in the front of the house, I have issues with windows. The door is big and red, even with the pure beauty of the house; the door just brings all the attention to itself…like the greedy homecoming queen at my previous high school.
There were a couple of helpers that we’re waiting at the door. And, I was surprised to see how beautiful caramel colored skin looks. I wondered if their ancestors worked the cotton fields (that have been replaced with a pool and tennis court) in the back. Almost immediately after my mother put her VW bus in park, they flocked at us opening doors and grabbing bags.
“The black bags are mine, floral is Isabel’s, and the boxes are labeled.” My mother said already taking advantage of her superiority. I rolled by eyes at her and wondered toward the house…I wanted to choose my room. My mother had called dibbs on the entire first floor as her own, so I prepared myself for the staircase.
And it was a beautiful one, the staircase. It winded up from both sides. With white handlebars and the dark wood I would have to find the name of later. The entire house was wooden, from what I could see. The entire house was furnished with things that looked like the belonged in the Queen Elizabeth’s castle. There were expensive paintings along the wall, I noticed one was Monet. Before I could let myself get too distracted, I began walking up stairs.
There were three hallways. One heading forward, the other to my left, and the last to my right, I forgot that this house was built a long time ago. I chose the left hallway. And it didn’t take me long to realize every room was the same. The only difference was the position of the doors and windows. I gave up looking at rooms. I decided to just pick a door, but one door got my attention.
Every other door in the house (every single door) was plain white with the gold knob. But this door was a deep red with a silver knob, I smiled, this room it was. And I am glad I chose it. The room had six windows (a little too much for me) but it had a risen ceiling and a small ladder that went to the bookshelves along the wall.
The wall was a faded orange color; I think the sun had pretty much baked it. The bookshelves stuck out from the wall, but it was still bigger from all the other rooms. I sneezed. This room apparently wasn’t used much; I walked to the nearest surface, and sneezed again when I saw the amount of dust it had collected.
I headed to open a window, which was easier then I thought. I got my first look at the rest of the ex-plantation when I took a breath of clean air. There were about five or six ground keepers that I saw. One was cleaning the pool; the others were cutting grass or trimming the bushes. I looked away, who was paying for all of these workers? I ignored myself and noticed that there was a globe in the other corner.
It was one of those old ones, you know, the ones that you pay hundreds of dollars for. I looked closer and saw that there were red and blue pen marks on it. I used to do the same thing. I put a green sticker on the places I have been and a blue sticker on the places I want to go. I tried to find Georgia on the map maybe that would help.
Yup, there it was, circled in red pen. I would have to come back and find all the places this person wanted to go. But I also needed to have all my things up here before night fall. I didn’t want to share a mattress with my mother. I looked around my room in three-sixty degree turn. It smelt like books, I loved that smell.
My new bedroom was the old library. Fine with me, I need the book space. I dropped my bag on the floor and walked down stairs to tell my mother, but a smell caught my attention. I fallowed it into the kitchen and almost fainted when I saw who the cause for the sweet smell was.
He was gorgeous. He had this deep black hair and this beautiful cream skin. He was cutting peach cobbler and licked his fingers, I think I sighed too loudly then. Not only was there one, but two. The other boy looked back at me from the freezer; he was carrying a carton of vanilla ice-cream. He had bright blue eyes that were so idyllic for his tan skin.
“Irving, come on man, they’re here.” He said as he opened the carton. The peach cobbler guy turned around and smiled when he saw me. Irving, if that was his name, had these deep blue-gray eyes that made him look deep and sensitive.
“Hello, Im Harvey.” Said the ice cream guy, I smiled. “And my impolite twin brother is Irving.” He shot Irving a look.
“Oh, hello, you are Isabel right?” he asked, I guess I was the subject of gossip here, I frowned. Trying to catch a glimpse of what I was wearing. I pair of jeans that I cut to shorts and a baseball t-shirt. Well, at least it didn’t have a hole or stain.
“Yea, who are you guys?” they exchanged a look, “What I meant was why are you here?” I clarified.
“Well, our father works the grounds; we live in the back house over there.” Harvey said pointing to the south end of the grounds. I nodded, it was quiet then.
“So, did you two make the cobbler?” I asked.
“I wish.” Harvey said. “Irving is the one with the cooking skills; even Bren learns things from him.” he said chuckling.
“Who is Bren?” I asked. I looked at Irving, but he just continued cutting the cobbler, which was looked delicious with the vanilla ice cream.
“Your cook.” Harvey said, I frowned at the way Harvey had said it. I had a cook now? It took a while to get that thought digested.
“Did my aunt leave you guy’s money for your work or something? Because I know that my mother doesn’t have any money to pay all of these workers.”
“No, well yes, but this other man pays them. I think his name is Jonathan Michaels, right Irving?” Harvey had asked. But before Irving could answer I had turned around and stomped outside to find my mother. Sure enough, there was a red Ferrari in our winding drive way. I began to have a fit.
“MOM!” I yelled. She turned around and opened her mouth in shock when she was that I was behind her on the porch. Jonathan Michaels was my mothers on again off again boyfriend. I remember that he was put in jail for being accused of sexually assaulting his secretary. Yet, my mother looked past his obvious creepiness and loved him anyways.
“Isabel, dear, honey, please understand, we needed to find a nice place…Jonathan and I.” she had begun to wrap her arms around me but I refused to let her touch me.
“Why in the hell is he here? You promised that he would stay in New York where we left him!” I saw a few people turn to face us and see what the yelling was about. There were only certain types of attention that my mother enjoyed.
“I understand that Isabel, but Jon needed to be with us.” She had tears forming in her eyes, so I refused to meet them.
“Why mother?” I felt tears forming in my eyes, and the sudden urge to throw up on Jonathan. I felt anger; I wanted to slap my mother for being stupid, I wanted to leave this place, and go to my dad and his perverted new wife.
“I am having a baby Isabel…by thanksgiving you will have a brother or sister.” She smiled weakly. Jonathan had walked up behind her and was rubbing her shoulders. My mother was pregnant. With Jonathans baby, like that makes it any better. I felt my anger triple, now, instead of hitting Jonathan, or slapping my mother, I wanted to hit her stomach, and kick Jonathan to where he could never impregnate my mother or any other woman again.
My mother knew how much I didn’t like him, and how much I hated children, and pregnancy too. She knows that I disapprove of her having kids, and she knows that she told me that she and Jonathan won’t be having kids no matter what. But before I could bring this entire thing up, she was reaching for me. But I turned around and retreated inside. Pushing me not to cry in front of all the curious new people that I would be seeing again, the people that Jonathan is keeping around.
I stomped up the stairs. But instead of going to my room, I went to the small thin staircase that headed up to the attic. I was surprised to see that the attic was beautiful even with all of the clutter. There was an old piano in the far corner and books stacked in piles. I didn’t look deep at the collected but I noticed some of Jane Eyre’s books, along with Moby Dick and Wuthering Heights. I know where all the books had gone. I smiled knowing that someone that use to live in this house had something in common with me. Either that, or I was just born old, and I have something in common with someone from the early sixties.
I felt this lump in my throat, I felt like I was about to throw up, or cough, or die. Maybe it was just that my heart was about to explode. I large room felt like it was closing in around me, meanwhile it was spinning. I needed to sit down, but my legs wouldn’t allow it. I walked, or stumbled over to the nearest stable place. I couldn’t find anything, my eyes we’re having trouble adjusting to the room. It was dark up here, and the only light come from the window. And the light had drawn something to my attention.
There was this old couch that sat in front of the window. The kinds that my mother called fainting chairs, in old movies the lading lady would fall upon it so gracefully that is looked weird. It was this pretty peach color and had this dark chocolate colored pillow. I sat down, and allowed myself to cry.
“You know, crying isn’t going to fix anything.” I heard someone call. I almost jumped but I decided to remain calm and let myself begin to breathe evenly. I looked up and saw that Irving was standing next to me, and I hadn’t even heard him come in. But that didn’t matter, my eyes narrowed in on the two plates of peach cobbler he had in his hands.
“I know, but I guess everyone learns the hard way.” I said looking out the window. The sun was getting lower; it looked like it was just after noon. I cleaned myself of tears and scooted over, inviting Irving to sit down next to me.
He handed me the plate of peach cobbler, I smiled widely.
“You better try it; it will hurt my feelings if you don’t. Harvey is always telling me that it could win contest bigger then the local peach festival.” He said hitting me with his elbow. He handed me a fork and stopped talking for a moment and allowed me to enjoy what I thought was the best thing that could have came out of this place.
“Irving, this thing is amazing” I said taking another bite. He looked down; I could have sworn that he was blushing. It was quite then, until Irving cleared his throat.
“What was all of that about?” he asked taking my plate and setting it next to his feet. I inhaled through my nose…I had almost forgotten.
“My mother, and Jonathan.” I thought that those few words summed it up pretty damn well, and then I remembered that Irving had no idea what I was talking about. “Jonathan is sorta, an a**. He cheated on my mother a hundred times, one of those times it was with our land lady, the other was with his secretary. But she still goes back running…and now, she has a baby to help document their time together.” I shook my head. A new member of this already messed up family. Great, I kinda feel sorry for it.
“Peach cobbler fixes everything.” He said with a smile. “But maybe not, considering you are still on suicide risk, I will make it better the next time.” I smiled trying not to meet Irving’s eyes. But I met them anyways. And they were beautiful. For that moment I forgot what Jonathan had done, and what an idiot my mother was, I forgot about everything, my pain and the fact that I felt empty, because Irving filled me up with all sorts of emotions.
I am still human, Jonathan, neither my mother, nor the baby could take that away from me. I held on to that. Irving and I sat there for what felt like an hour, mostly in quiet, eating our peach cobbler slowly. Which, Irving said was the best way to eat it. And it was. I really hate my mother for the choices she has made, but there is a sudden love for what’s growing inside of her. Knowing Irving for a short time I can feel this trust toward him. I guess it’s him and his brother that I have to worry about now. Maybe just Irving, how did he place me on suicide risk? I cuffed my sleeves inside my palms and evened my breathing.
“Excuse me for a moment.” I said as I ran past Irving on the couch. Before I got to the door I realized I didn’t know where the bathroom was. “Where’s the-”
“By the stairs, it’s the green-ish door.” He said. I smiled and ran. There was this pounding in my arm as I closed the door. I realized they had no locks here. I would rather have locks on my bathroom then my bedroom. I slid down to the floor and took deep breaths as I slid a razor blade out of my pocket. I pulled my sleeve up slowly listening for footsteps on the ground, silent. When I placed the blade to my skin I felt my hair rise on my scalp, and my stomach do little flips. Like always, my heart rate began to speed up. I felt the blood go through my ears, banging loudly.
I smiled in relief when I felt the blade slice across my skin, this moment only last a matter of seconds, I do my best to savor it. I let my eyes close. The blood flow to my head had slowed down, because the thumping sound was quieter. But still there, which was new, but I dealt with it. I was about to open my eyes when the door to the bathroom opened.
Irving stared at my from the door panel.
I figured he was gonna run, or maybe start asking me questions as he fixed my cut. But instead he helped me up, walked me to the backyard and sat beside me on the grass as we ate a new piece of peach cobbler.
“How did you know?” I finally asked.
“When you were marching back inside after you and your mothers little rant, there was a little bit of blood on your sleeve, I had a hunch.” I nodded slowly.
“I am not going to ask you to keep it a secret, but Im not going to ask you to try to save me either.” Irving took a deep breath after I said this. He turned to face me; I knew he was going to run. But instead, he pressed his lips against mine slowly. I tasted the peach cobbler that was still on his lips, and a little bit of sweat. I let my hand touch his face as we continued to kiss. He let me go for a moment, and in that moment I reached toward him.
“If you are going to be with me, like I want you too…you can’t have me and the blade both.” Irving said. It was silent for a long time. Too long, because Irving stood up and walked away, and I didn’t even call after him. I felt that boil inside my heart this anger toward him for making me decide, I can’t quit cold-turkey like he wants me too.
Weeks passed and I hadn’t said a word to Irving. Harvey even asked what was wrong between us one day at the lake (that was also on the property). We said nothing and Harvey left it alone, but I couldn’t help but notice that Irving snuck looks at my wrist, which I had covered with bracelets and arm-socks. I had tried my best to let that kiss fade out of my mind, but nothing worked, and when I went to the razor for help I didn’t get any feeling. I felt angry at Irving, but anger didn’t do anyone any good. And since cutting no longer helped me, I often read. I carried ten books at a time form the attic down to my room. And still carried some down after there was no more room on the book shelf, and it wasn’t long before my room resembled the attic.
My mother and Jonathan had been fighting on and off, one big fight he walked out and didn’t come back for almost a month, when he did come back my mother was four months along and almost waddled back into his arms. I nearly hurled at the sight. I guess I was the only person who had an idea of what Jonathan was doing to keep himself busy while he left. There can only be so many red Ferrari’s in Georgia, someone had to have seen him.
It was nearly September and school was almost going to start. I had made it a habit to shower twice a day. When I had reached for a bar of soap I realized that there were hardly any red marks along my wrist or anywhere on my arm. I almost had a heart attack. I ran out of the shower and to my bed room where I realized that I had read almost all of the books. I felt like kicking myself when I realized what I had done.
Giving up my razor was hard, and I only had five, and Im pretty sure Irving can ask the guy who owns the hard wear shop if I had bought any more then that. I was wearing a white dress with a green cardigan, because it was my mother baby shower today. Which meant Irving would be in the kitchen making his peach cobbler, because my mother asked him too. When I turned the corner, he wasn’t there; it was only Bren trotting from one side of the kitchen to another. She was very thin, but very old, and also very strong, she was like superwoman.
“Where is Irving?” I asked her.
“Here.” I heard someone say. I turned around to see Irving in kakis and a white shirt that he had unbuttoned; I found it hard not to look at his chest.
“Can I talk to you?” I asked. Irving seemed to be annoyed.
“Im busy,” he said. “Go ahead and wait outside.” He finished. I pushed open the screen door and walked along the wrap around porch until I found a spot that was guaranteed not to have any listeners. It was right outside the nursery that Jonathan had designed. It was locked, and only he had the key. It was a safe place. I sat down on a rocking chair and waiting for Irving. While I sat down I kicked off my flats and closed my eyes. I loved the breeze here. I took off my cardigan because, well it wasn’t that cold, and it was too itchy. I took my hair out of the ponytail and smiled as those familiar locks fell down my face. I think the last time my hair was up was the first day I had gotten here.
“I like your hair better when it’s down.” Irving had said. “What is it you want to talk about?”
“I want to give you something.” I pulled out a white box with green ribbon on it. “Open it.”
When he did he closed it and put it in this pocket. “How do I know these are all of them?” he asked.
“Well, I only have five, and if you don’t believe me you can search my room with a metal detector.”
“How do I know you won’t use anything else, or that you won’t buy more.” He asked taking a step toward me.
“You know the only store in this entire town that sells razors is owned by this old guy whom you probably know.” I said turning my head. Irving was already reaching for my arms. He didn’t look, but he traced his fingers along my wrist several times. “And I think you’ll just have to trust me on that first one.”
“But how do I know that it’s the only place you cut yourself?” he said pulling my arms around his shoulders. He already had his lips on mine but I knew he was still expecting an answer.
“Well, you can check if you don’t believe me when I say, that’s the only place.” I said with a smile.
“I think we should save that inspection for another day.” He said kissing me again. Things went a lot better then I hoped, in Georgia. My mother was still with Jonathan, who was still an a**. But Irving was always there to calm me down. And five months later, my mother had an at-home-birth, for a little girl named Hailey. And a few months after that my mother and Jonathan got married in the backyard. And I couldn’t stop myself from coughing at the “if you any objections…” part. Irving and I dated for five years before he asked me to marry him, and I had said yes. We stayed in Georgia, we stayed in that little town, and live in that same house.