I pull up my blanket from half of my body up to my neck. Some rays of the sun peek through the small gaps of the blinds I installed when I moved into the apartment, warm on my face helping my body adjust to the cold temperature in my room. Last night, I conclude today to be my rest day and I know there is no stopping me. I savour the moment I have with my bed and my warm blanket than turns even cozier in the morning. I feel my throat burn from thirstiness, and then I remember how lazy I am last night, neglecting the need of my body for water. Right now, I can settle to the fact that I am a lazy-ass girl who can’t leave her bed for her own benefit. Well, blame my bed… and pillows… and blanket… and the weather itself. I wonder how possibly it could be that my bed is a lot more comfortable in the morning than it already is. I am just so grateful that it’s my rest day today.
I stare blankly at the plain white ceiling I re-painted weeks ago. I can’t deny the fact that I am badly missing my room back home—painted in pastel blue color, with my painting materials carefully arranged on the cabinet beside the window, Kara on the bunk bed going through the stack of books I have. I miss everything back home, but I have to deal with the choices I made. My doorbell ring for three times and I hesitate for a moment if I should stand up and get the door, or just ignore it away, but in the end, I shrug the laziness away, wrap the robe around my body and head for the door.
“Good day, Isabelle.” It is kind of appalling for me to see Mrs. Bloomberg behind the door holding up a tray with pancakes on it. Mrs. Bloomberg—a woman in her fifties—is my neighbour across our apartment who, by rumours, I learn that she is living alone for almost five years already.
I widen the door opening upon recognizing her face. “Hey, Mrs. Bloomberg, what can I do for you?” I ask flashing her a bright smile.
She hands me the tray with pancakes and beams at me. “I realized that your car is still parked outside, which I found unusual so I tried my luck and brought you these sweet pancakes I made.” Her eyes are gleaming with happiness and something jerks my insides with the way she stares at me.
“Oh, thank you very much, Mrs. Bloomberg. I really appreciate this.” I glance behind her and kids are playing with the snow and I keep remembering Kara and Kael.
“Ah, just Jenna. Just call me Jenna. No need for such formality.” She says. “How about you, are you fine with me calling you Isabelle?”
“Of course, Jenna. I’m totally fine with it.” I realized that it’s freezing outside and it must be so rude of me not to invite her inside my apartment. “Come inside, Jenna. Keep yourself warm in here.” I add.
I help her with the tray she is holding and lead her inside the apartment. I make my way to prepare for some hot drinks. I didn’t bother to ask her if she likes tea, or hot chocolate, or coffee. Instead, I just assume that she likes hot chocolate. After all, this is the best hot chocolate in the world, as regarded by Kara and Kael.
“Nice place you have, Isabelle.” Jenna says when I get back from the kitchen holding up the two warm mugs filled with hot chocolates. What an overwhelming feeling it is to have someone over my apartment to have a chat with.
“Thanks,” I say and cut one pancake in half and I dip it into the maple syrup I suppose Jenna also made. “For the compliment… and these pancakes…” I add as I chew on a piece of pancake, and the taste of sweetness lingered on my tongue that made me want to devour all the pancakes on the tray.
“Oh my gosh, Mrs. Bloomberg, these are perfect!” I remark as I chew on another piece of pancake.
Jenna laughs as I let the perfect mix of sweetness and a pinch of saltiness dissolves in my mouth. “I’m so glad you like it, Isabelle. It’s the first time I’ve seen your face beam with enthusiasm the whole year. And if you don’t mind, I’d like to know; you’re already living here for a year and three months if I remember it correctly but I haven’t seen you with anybody yet or socialize to anyone in this neighbourhood actually, so I took the will in starting a conversation with you, thus the pancake.”
I put the fork I used to pop pieces of pancake into my mouth down and sigh. “I moved away from California, away from my family. There’s some sort of… I don’t know, misunderstanding? Or… they just didn’t acknowledge some things. So, I moved out of our house.” I put all the effort to make it sound light, like it is all my fault but all Jenna did is stare at me and I see a flicker of… sadness in her eyes.
“Am I pathetic, Jenna?”
She still has that sympathetic look on her face as she holds my hands. “I don’t think you are pathetic at all, Isabelle. I think you’re a really strong girl; for being able to survive the world alone. It must be tough living here alone. And that’s what makes me sad. You’re a young girl, how did you manage to rent an apartment this big if you ran away from home?”
“I’d like to keep that personal, Mrs. Bloomberg.” I say and she nods like she totally understands all the circumstances I am in. She still looks at me like a child needs to be hold, and for the longest time of in denial, I finally acknowledge that I am indeed in need of holding by someone who truly cares about me. For a moment, I think of throwing my arms around her and weep as long as I could, but I hold myself and give her a sincere smile instead. “And I work, that’s why I’m barely here.”
“Oh, really? What keeps you so busy then?” Curiosity can clearly be seen on her face upon asking the question.
“Uh, I work at a little art shop seven miles from here. I like selling those old paintings from way back. I feel really overwhelm when someone walks in the store knowing that they are interested with the paintings we have. I just love it when people can appreciate art. Do you know the feeling when you were a child and you asked your parents if you could get that toy but you were really hesitant to ask because you know it’s expensive but they tell you ‘okay’? That’s the same feeling I get. All excited and eager to present to them all the great paintings we have.” I gleefully tell her, and for the first time in ages, I feel like crying out of the passion that I have for art. Like it’s the most beautiful thing in the world. And I was really hoping that she would understand.
“Must’ve pay quite a big?” Jenna says, sipping her hot chocolate that is now cold chocolate drink.
With the question, the hopeful face of Mrs. Johnson, the owner of the art shop I am working at, flash through my mind. She’s an all smiley face and a heart of gold. The memory of her face alone is enough for me to want to work again. I turn to face Jenna.
“Nope. Not that big. Just enough. I just really love what I do; especially it includes paintings, sculptures, oil paints, brushes… everything I love.” I dreamily say.
Jenna shakes her head while smiling at me. Takes another sip and notice the vintage wall clock I put beside the picture of Kara and Kael. She stands up fixes herself. “Oh, Isabelle, I really love to hear everything you have to say but I think it’s about time for me to go ho-”
She was cut off by a soft knock on the front door. Are all my neighbours checking up on me? Is it really that unusual for my car to be seen in my garage? I stand up and open the door.
My eyes bore on the ocean-sky color pair of eyes staring right at me. Hair that’s supposed to be red shines like a golden brown with the help of the reflection of the sun. I am awestruck and I don’t know how to pull myself out. This is one heck of a work of art.
“Oh.” Jenna says in a high pitched voice. “I completely forgot about the time, Sebastian, forgive me.” His eyes travel from me to Jenna.
“Nana, I almost miss the note you left me.” From that moment on, I reckon that someone could really be a work of art. His voice is soothing though full of concern for his Nana. How could someone be so beautiful?
“Ah, arayt arayt, it’s ol on mey. Fohgave mey foh it.” I am not able to control my giggle when Jenna tries imitating the accent her grandson have. Sebastian—as what I’ve heard—flush crimson like a young boy being teased in front of the girl he likes. “Oh, dear Isabelle, I hope to chat with you again soon, okay? Bye.”
“Bye, Jenna. I’m hoping to have a taste of your great pancakes and maple syrup again. It’s to die for. Thank you for paying me a visit. I needed that.” I sincerely say to her and hug her. She carefully walk out of the front door and winks at me.
I almost laugh but I didn’t. I hold the door and watch as Sebastian carefully assisted Jenna.
“Goodbye, Isabelle.” I hear him say right before I close the door. I’m not even sure if I heard it right, but I listen to the voices outside.
“Wha-Sebastian that was too late!” I hear Jenna.
“Well, at least I said goodbye!” He protests.
His chuckle is enough to send the butterflies in my stomach insane. I quickly went in my workstation and pull out all the essentials I need for a new project I am about to start: Purpose.