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I look down at the only artifact I own that can be considered personal. The gun, a 9 millimeter Wesson, was a gift from my old man for my 16th birthday. The last birthday before I was taken away. As he gave me the gift I remember he told me two things. One, he told me that I should never trust anything other than my own instincts. And two, he told me to never mix wine and beer, which is ironic, since the alcoholism made it seem like he had forgotten that last particular life lesson a long time ago. The alcoholism, which is also the reason why I'm currently stuck 144698 miles away from my hometown. Child authorities saw it fit to pack up my life after my fathers exposure and give custody to my only other living relative, my grandma of which I haven't seen since I was four. My grandma, who lives in a mansion in preppy Nantucket. My grandma, who has five luxury cars in her garage, all of which she cannot drive. I put the gun back into the case and hide it in a box under my new bed, knowing that my new guardian will be angry if she finds out that I brought it.
"Alexia! Where are you, honey? Dinner is ready!".
"Jus a minute!" I say, giving my new room a last sweeping look before hurrying downstairs. Before arriving in Nantucket, the only thing I knew about the island was that it was once a snoozy, but popular vacation getaway located about two hours outside the eastern seaboard. Before the temperature shift it used to be ruled by seasons, a crowded tourist trap in the warm months of summer, and sent into slumber the minute vacationers went back to their everyday lives. Nowadays, it's one of the only places in the country that gives relief to the blistering heat caused by the ruptures in the earths ozone layer. This is also the reason why most of the inhabitants in Nantucket as gloriously, and inescapably wealthy, leaving the Islands slumbering description. Among these rich and wealthy lives my grandmother, a former tv-personality. And now, irrevocably, so do I.
I hurry downstairs, my feet slipping slightly on the marble staircase as I descend. She is waiting in the dining room, her kind eyes twinkling as I enter the room, still unsure. After my mom died of breast cancer when I was 5, my father, stricken with grief, cut all bonds with the outside world. The relationship with his mother-in-law shared the same fate, and I hadn't seen her since.
"There you are, hon. Did you find everything all right? Do you still like pink? I remember that it was your favorite color the last time you were here…," she jabbers in her southern twang as I sit down next to her. The dining room, like the rest of the house, is huge and extravagant with crystal silverware, plush chairs and twinkling chandeliers.
"I like pink." I say and look at her. Everything about her, all down to the dimples and twinkling eyes, resembles my mom. I take a deep breath and look away, but not before I see the knowing look in her eyes.
"I expect your father didn't talk about me much, now did he?" She places her hand over mine.
"No, not after mom passed away. It was hard on him." I try to bury the emotion, but I know that the pain in her eyes is reflected in my own.
"It was hard on all of us, honey. I'm sorry I wasn't there to help you through it." I squeeze her hand, letting her know it's not her fault. My father made us move more times than I can count, always running from the ghosts in his past. It wasn't before we moved back to my hometown that they caught up with him. I still hear the echo of glass shattering in my head as the front door of our house was kicked in, feeling arms around me as I was carried away from my life.
"Alexia?" I start, realizing that my grandmother has spoken as I was enveloped in painful memories. I quickly remove the napkin in front of me, placing it in my lap as a maid puts a steaming dish on the table.
"Wow, this looks amazing. Thank you." The maid smiles warmly at me and retreats to the kitchen. I look down, trying to decide which of the three forks to use. Before my mom died, my dad worked as a scientist in one of the State's largest technological companies, earning a salary that would have made our life quite comfortable if he hadn't quit when she passed away. After that, we barely got by, moving from place to place living on our savings. As it was, I was not used to home cooked meals and mahogany tables. My mouth waters as I cut into what looks like lamb, closing my eyes as I feel the savory meat melt on my tongue. It's not a lasting sensation. What my grandmother says next turns the food to ash in my mouth.
"I've already had you registered at Nantucket high. Everything's taken care of, but you need to stop by the front desk when you go to school tomorrow to get your itinerary."
The food gets stuck in my throat, causing a coughing fit that makes my eyes tear up and my chest throb.
"I'm starting school tomorrow?" I say, not able to keep the dread from my voice. Although my dad's parenting skills had been severely lacking in almost all aspects of my life, his homeschooling had never been anything but impeccable. Although I knew it was coming, the thought of going back to school after 10 years of absence is making my heart throb painfully in my chest. Tomorrow, I'll be starting as a senior in a new high school that can't hold more than 300 students. I swallow, trying to wet my suddenly dry mouth.
"Oh, sweetie. It'll be fine. A gorgeous girl like you, you'll fit right in," she says and winks. I try to smile, picking at my food, suddenly not so hungry. She notices my picking, taking my hand in her slightly wrinkled one.
"Why don't you take a tour of the island? There's a bike in the garage you can use, if you don't feel like driving. Take a look around. I'm sure you'll realize this place isn't so bad," she says. I look at her, feeling guilty. Way to go, Lexi. Stop acting like an ungrateful brat. Pull yourself together.
"Thank you, grams," I say, trying to express everything I can't utter in those two words. She smiles, patting my hand, letting me know she understands. I stand up, thanking the maid as she clears my plate.
"And honey, could you do me a favor? Put on a dress. It's a crime not to show of those legs. Think of the rest of us," she says, winking and gesturing towards her wheelchair. I shake my head at her, smiling.
"I didn't get to bring any of my close when they got me. I only have this," I say, pointing at jeans.
"Honey, I thought you said you had seen your room," my grandma says. Her gaze sparkles with amusement as she sees my eyes go wide. I turn and around and dart up the stairs to the bedroom in the end of the hallway. The room is beautiful and girly, with dusty pink walls, off-white furniture and a connecting bathroom. I scan the room, noticing for the first time, huge closet doors on one end of the room. I hold my breath and slide the doors to the side, walking into the room before me. I've never been a girly girl, mostly because I was raised by a single dad, but also because our lack of funds kept me from thinking about shoes, makeup and everything in between. I was strictly a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl. Until now. The room is filled with clothing, shoes, jewelry and purses. I touch the fabric of one of the dresses that hangs nearby, feeling giddy as I sit down on the vanity desk on one side of the room. There's makeup in every color and shade stacked neatly in shelves in front of me. I pick out a lipstick, inspecting the color before hesitantly putting it on. The shade of pink blends nicely with my tanned skin and hazel eyes. The last month before I was taken away I spent outside lifeguarding in the community pool. As a result, my skin and hair is golden and shimmery and my nose is slightly freckled.
"You look like her," a voice says from behind me. I look up, meeting my grandmothers eyes in the mirror. My eyes suddenly waters, threatening to spill over as I kneel next to her wheelchair and take her hand.
"Thank you for this grandma. Thank you for everything," I say and look up at her. She pats my hand, her voice mild when she speaks.
"Oh, nonsense. I had the maids go shopping last week. I think it was more fun for them than it was for me," she says and chuckles, wheeling her chair to one end of the room and sorting through the dresses on the rack. She pulls out a beautiful summer dress with thin straps, handing it to me.
"I believe this will go perfectly with you tan," she says and smiles as I take it.
"Have fun, honey. Don't stay out too late."
Once she's gone, I step out of my jeans and hoodie, and pull it on, looking at myself in the mirror. You are such a girl. I say to myself and grin, twirling and admiring the low-cut back and flaring skirt. I step into some white dock shoes that I find on one of the shelves and go outside. It's mid-afternoon, but the sun is still high in the sky, making the lush green garden glimmer in the sunlight. I step into the garage, ignoring the electric sport cars in favor for the old-fashion bike. As I walk the bike across the garden and exit through the gate, I can't help but turn around to look at the luxurious white-painted mansion. This is my life now. I sigh, fighting emotion as I step onto the bike. The breeze teases my hair as I gather speed, whipping golden locks across my face. The sun hits my face through the plush trees, warming my skin. I pass several gated communities and mansions, the tall hedges shielding them from view. I steer the bike with my feet, my hands placed lazily by my sides as I follow the signs toward the ocean and the promenade. A couple of electric cars pass me, one of them almost startling me of my bike by honking loudly when it passes by. Trees gradually give way as I near the beach, and when I reach the end of the road the only thing welcoming me is endless blue. I spot the promenade in the distance as I leave my bike and pull of my shoes. I know that the island used to cover more land, before the water started to rise. Now, it's only a couple of miles from one end of the island to the other. That's why I know that the sand between my toes is fake, placed there to make us forget the fact that parts of the Island is lost in the ocean. It's one of the losses of the new world. I lay down in the sand, feeling the sunshine on my back as the breeze lightly ruffles my hair. I hear distant laughter and chattering from the promenade as people enjoy the last hours of daylight. This isn't so bad. Maybe i'll be happy here. Maybe things will be different. Maybe.