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When I'm Gone; Chapter 8

Chapter 8-August 7, 2001 (Claire)


“Where is he?” I groaned, glancing at my watch for the fifth time. It was already 11:30 and I was starting to get annoyed. Sighing gruffly, I picked up a few boxes and tried to balance them on top of one another.

“I’m sure he’ll be here soon. He’s probably running late from his job.” Mrs. Trinity opened the door for me and smiled.

“I’m sure,” I said as I rolled my eyes. She laughed and held the door open for my brother. He was struggling under four boxes, probably all filled with my crap.

“Ungh,” he grunted and shifted his weight.

“Why are you carrying that many boxes?” I asked, smothering my laughter. Alex peered around the tower and glowered at me.

“Just in case,” he said and went back into hiding.

“In case of what?” I slid into the elevator with him right behind me. Mrs. Trinity was helping bring in the other boxes one by one. The doors closed and Alex set the boxes down with another grunt.

“In case of girls,” he gasped and tried to catch his breath. I gave him a nudge with my boxes and smiled. He glanced up at me and let out a laugh. “You think I’m stupid, don’t you?”

“Nope,” I laughed at the expression of doubt he gave me. “Just desperate.”

“Well, that makes me feel so much better about myself. Thanks,” he said sarchastically as the elevator doors opened again. He picked up the boxes again and sighed under the weight.

“Oh, Alex.” I shook my head and laughed.

We made it too the room and set the boxes down in the living room. I had to pull Alex out of there before he could wander off to do some exploring.

“Later,” I promised as I dragged him out into the hallway again.

“Where are you going?” he called out as I headed for the stairway.

“I need exercise,” I told him and continued my way. Soon enough, I heard his footsteps descending the stairs right behind me.

When we reached the bottom, only seven boxes were left. I shot a strange look at Alex who volleyed in back.

“Mrs. Trinity?” My voice echoed in the empty lobby. Mrs. Trinity came outside of her little room and smiled.

“Mikey is here,” she sang and smiled her toothy smile at us.

“How did he get all of those boxes up there so fast?” Alex inquired, amazed.

“he took a cart,” she explained as if it was obvious. She gestured to a rolling cart situated by the elevators. I smacked my hand against my forehead and looked at Alex.

“Why didn’t we think of that?” I asked him. He shrugged and grabbed the cart.

“We should fill this,” he commented. I nodded and together, we stacked all of the boxes on the cart.

As we finished, Alex drug it over to the elevator. He pressed the button and soon the elevator reached the bottom floor again. We drug the cart in and I flattened myself against the far wall.

“He had to fit, like, three of these in here with him. How did he do it?” I wondered aloud. Beside me, Alex shrugged.

When the elevator reached our floor, I rode the cart to our room. Literally. Alex was the one who pushed me.

“That was so much fun,” I eclaimed as I climbed off. Alex responded with a laugh and I noticed that our front door was open. My heart raced increased, until I realized it must have been Mikey.

“Sweet home, Alabama,” sang a voice inside. I swallowed my laughter and walked inside. Facing away from us was a tall man with pitch black hair, dancing around the room. He was still singing. His voice was actually really nice; it was deep, yet soothing to my ears.

“Trying out for American Idol are we?” I laughed cynically. Mikey froze and turned to me. When he did, my breath left me and I stared at him.

There was absolutely no way he could be here. Not after what I said to him. I mean, I was cynical, rude and sarchastic. Who would come back after that?

I couldn’t tear my eyes away from those liquid hazel eyes.

“Hey Claire,” Michael Herring said easily. I continued to stare until Alex nudged me. I shook my head and coughed.

“What are you doing here?” I gazed critically at his jeans and faded tee. Michael actually had the nerve to laugh at me.

“Helping you move in,” he explained. “Welcome to 2B, neighbor?”

“Neighbor?” I repeated, staring at him increduously.

“Yep. Apratment 2A.” He patted his chest as if this proved anything. I rolled my eyes and started pulling boxes off of the cart. I set them beside the couches and when I was finished, I looked back up at him. He was still staring at me, a crooked grin softening his expression.

“Your nickname’s Mikey, huh,” I laughed and placed my hands on my hips. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Alex ducking into one of the bedrooms.

“Only Joy calls me that,” he said. “She has known me for a while now. I’m like her own son.”

“Okay.” I waved his statement off as if I didn’t care.

“I see you read my note,” he commented, trying to make small talk.

“Yeah, I did,” I noted obviously. “And I wouldn’t have taken this place if I knew you were my neighbor.”

Michael raised his eyebrows and his grin flickered. I shook my head and let out another laugh.

“And honestly? I don’t like you. You’re just a jerk who leads innocent girls around and then when they finally are ready to love you, you toss them in the trash. I despise guys like you. All you care about is yourself. I’ve dealt with enough of your kind, you stupid, arrogant, self-centered jerk.”

When I finished my rant, I realized that I was standing in his face. My fists were clenched and calming down, I relaxed my stance. Fire glinted in my grey eyes and I glared into Michael’s hazel ones. He was now frowning and after taking a step back he sighed. I could hear my breath coming and going in short angry bursts.

“You don’t know me at all, Claire,” he muttered and took one last look at me before walking out of the room with the carts trailing behind him one by one.

“Ugh,” I groaned and sat down, placing my head in my hands. “I hate him.”

I don’t know how long I sat there, but after a while, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked up and forced a smile at him.

“You gonna be okay?” Alex asked, taking a seat next to me.

“I guess,” I replied and leaned my head against his shoulder. He placed his arm around my shoulders and comforted me.

“You wanna start unpacking our boxes to get your mind off of him?” He tugged on a strand of my hair and jumped up. He spun back around and held his hands out to me. I took them, smiling, and let him pull me to my feet.

“Okay, but we have to listen to music this time,” I insisted. Eyes gleaming, Alex nodded and gestured towards the sterio sitting beside the television. I sauntered over to it and turned it on. A blast of static nearly knocked me off my feet until I was about to turn the volume down.

“Dang Claire,” Alex moaned, taking his hands away from his ears. I laughed, a real laugh, and shrugged.

“Wasn’t my fault,” I admitted and started changing the stations. I finally found one that had rap music playing and turned it up. Alex had already started dancing and I joined in, laughing.
---------------------------------------------

After four hours of unpacking, dancing, and listening to rap music, we had gotten my room, Alex’s room, and the kitchen all ready for use.

I walked into the living room where Alex was shimmying around, while stacking movies on the television stand. I laughed and ripped off the tape of another box, which held our Xbox 360 and games. I slid the box over to Alex who looked inside and grinned.

“We’re going to need to see if that Michael character can play some Halo. I bet we can whoop his butt,” Alex shouted over the music.

“I bet we could,” I said and nodded numbly. He mouthed an apology to me and I shrugged. I could get over him. I turned to another box which held our DVD player. I picked it up and placed it below the T.V.

After plugging it in, I started to help Alex put our games in alphabetical order.

I was OCD and so was he, but we liked different things in different order. Alex liked to arrange things by color, size, and grouping. I liked things either in alphabetical order or arranged by date. We had to compromise with everything, so he got to do the DVD’s, while I got to organize the video games.

As we were organizing, another Eminem song came on. My favorite. I pulled Alex to his feet, who groaned in response.

“Sing it with me,” I pleaded. Alex glared at me.

“No,” he stated.

“Please?” I pleaded.

“No.”

“Just the chorus?”

“Fine.” When he gave up, I grinned in triumph. I enveloped him in a hug and started to sing,

“And when I’m gone, just carry on. Don’t mourn; rejoice every time you hear the sound of my voice. Just know that everytime I’m lookin’ down on you smilin’ and didn’t feel a thing. So, baby, don’t feel my pain. Just smile back.”



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