Julie’s Journey (part 1)
“ENOUGH!”, she yelled, before turning away from the negativity, escape her only thought and only option for sanity.
She pushed through the crowd blindly, tears blurring her line of vision as she barreled toward the door. Julie’s heart was racing at a precarious pace, her face red and flushed, her hands shaking uncontrollably. All she knew is that she had to get out of there, get a little fresh air into her struggling lungs, and lean against something cold.
Almost to the door, she was stopped by a big, hulking kind of guy who reminded her of somebody she used to know. Well over six and a half feet tall, with a gravelly voice, he leaned toward her and muttered, “You okay, Julie? You need some help?” She tore away from his hand that had casually grabbed her upper arm as if he knew her well enough to interfere.
“No…”, she managed to choke out, as she shoved past a woman who smelled like she bathed in White Diamonds, receiving an indignant gasp in return. No matter. She was in proximity of the exit and that’s all she was focused on.
A friendly couple opened the door just as she approached, and smiled at her before a look of worry and concern passed their faces. Julie just muttered her apologies as she ducked past them, stepping out into the cool night air. Instantly, her skin felt cooler and her pulse began to calm.
The door closed behind her and she let out the breath she didn’t even realize she’d been holding. She glanced around and, seeing nobody approaching the house, she sat down in one of the chairs lining the huge wrap-around porch of her sister’s new home and leaned her head back against the cool wooden surface. Closing her eyes, she let the tears flow silently down her freckled cheeks, the crickets singing reverberating in a cacophony of sarcastic joy.
This was ridiculous. A huge crowd of people always used to make her anxious and she thought she’d moved past those feelings of inadequacy. Her mother cornered her about her lifestyle, making loud declarations of how much she disproved and everyone around could hear her. “Why can’t you be more like your sister?”, her mother yelled at her. “Kat has a bright future!” Kat was finishing up her PhD in Neuroscience and her new wife Thera was an up and coming defense attorney, thus the party, in this incredible house.
To Julie, it felt like she had to constantly defend herself. “Why now, Mom? In front of everyone?”, Julie thought bitterly. Her mother always gave her the sour look whenever she talked about her accomplishments with her art, as if she’d just eaten something that didn’t agree with the taste buds and was trying to hide it. It was not Mom’s most flattering look. It really pissed Julie off to see that judgment written all over her face. Couldn’t a mother be happy for her daughter making her dreams come true? Instead, Julie felt backed into a corner and did what she always did, running away instead of being confrontational. Although the last thing she wanted was a showdown in her sister’s house.
It didn’t help that her husband, the one she was trying desperately to divorce, was still friends with her family and took it upon himself to show up in the midst of her mother’s tirade. He was the epitome of financial security. That was just about his only attribute, but her family just couldn’t see that he was a Grade A asshole. It was all too much.
After several moments of woe- is- me self indulgence, she stood up abruptly, impatiently wiping away the inconvenient proof of her anxiety. Julie walked down the steps of the front porch, and wandered to the side yard to get a better view of the stars. One didn’t see this many stars in the city.
The house was huge and honestly, perfect, in her opinion. A smooth shade of medium blue with white shutters, a huge white wrap-around porch with about 15 rocking chairs and a porch swing. The yard was flawlessly manicured, the house lit very nicely for nighttime. Glancing to the right, Julie noticed the gazebo she hadn’t seen before. Of course it coordinated with the house perfectly from the white and blue banisters to the little matching roof. It was perfect. Grateful for the dark, private hideaway, she sat on one of the painted benches that went all around the inside of the little gazebo.
Julie always had a thing for gazebos and implemented them into her paintings often. How crazy that her sister had one in the yard of her new house. Gazing out over the railing, she put her chin on her crossed arms, fireflies swirling around the sticky and cool July-in-Ohio evening air. That’s when she noticed the small pond with a diving board in the backyard, shadowed from the moon by a huge and sweeping weeping willow. Tears fell down her face as realization hit her. Her sister found this house with her in mind. Julie could see this being her getaway from the city when it all became too much. In fact, they’d had that conversation at Christmas.
From this view, the entire side and backyard looked exactly like the home they lived in with their parents until they split up. Julie was 10, Kat was 12. They would stay up late at night sometimes after they lost that house and dream of owning another place just like it, filling it with lots of happy memories. Even their father and the year of debauchery that ultimately lead to their parents divorce could never staunch the remembrance of summers in the pond, of secrets shared with sisters and friends in the “club house”, also known as their own little gazebo.
Julie heard someone walking slowly toward her dark and comfortable sanctuary and knew instantly who it was before she saw her. Kat, with her short, choppy blonde and purple hair, poked her head into the gazebo and with her casual smile said, “Yeah, I knew you’d find this after that freak out between you and Mom. Then, when Jack showed up”, she let out a sarcastic little laugh, “I knew you’d have to leave. You turned a very uncomfortable shade of purple.”
Kat sat down and wrapped her arms around Julie, noticing her tears. Kat smiled, gazing into her sister’s face, her green eyes full of understanding. “Doesn’t it look just like it?” she whispered and then giggled. Julie laughed and hugged Kat back tightly, remembering those times of innocence gone by.
They stayed there for a moment before Kat grabbed her hand and said, “Come on, Thera is waiting on us, and I’ll stick by you. I won’t let our evil, drunk mother tear you down anymore tonight. And Jack-ass Jack will be leaving.”
Sisters somehow always knew.