The same old Cheerios were stuck to the carpet below the seats and Mason’s toys and sippy cups were still strewn about. The worn seats were still covered with Fanny’s shed winter coat and a few soiled to-go cups were nested in the cup holders. The scene inside the old Rodeo was very familiar. This had always been the messy car. Daddy said Mom’s car was the designated mess-mobile. Mason loved that nickname and Yancey believed that it actually caused him to create even more of a mess.
At least the car was the same. It was about the only thing that hadn’t changed in the past few weeks. Yancey had loved every other road trip her family had taken. She hated this road trip. She stewed in the back seat as “oldies” rippled through the car. Mason gently snored in his car seat, Fanny snored in the back, and their mother looked with glassy eyes to the long road ahead. Yancey made a mental note to forever loathe the song playing: “I’m into Something Good.” She watched out the window for hours until the landscape began to change. Rolling hills and large oaks replaced the flat and sparse land she had called home all her life. Before tears could flood her eyes again, she, out of pure exhaustion, fell asleep as well and began to dream a memory.
Arriving home from school that day, Yancey wanted nothing more than to hide in her hamper and never surface again. But as always, Daddy found her in her hiding place and asked his little girl what was bothering her. Yancey was only five years old at the time, in her first year of school.
“Why is my baby girl sitting in her dirty clothes?” He asked, exaggerating a pouted bottom lip.
“Daddy, I don’t like my name. They made fun of my name at school. It’s weird, a weird name.” Yancey hick-upped.
“Why is your name weird, Sweetie?”
“Ms. Ally said my name starts with a Y and nobody’s else’s name starts with a Y. I want a normal name, a regular one, like Sara.”
“Well, Sweetheart…” Daddy looked at Yancey very matter-of-factly. Daddy was a businessman and so he knew a lot about everything in the whole world. When Daddy looked like that, Yancey knew he was going to say something important. “The issue is, you simply are not a regular girl. Do you know what “unique” means?”
Yancey shook her head side to side. She had stopped crying and was intrigued.
“Unique means different and special. When something is unique, there is nothing like it in the whole world. Sometimes people don’t know what to think about unique things. Your name may seem weird to other kids because it is unique and they have never heard another name like it. Mommy and I named you Yancey because we knew there would never be anyone like you. We knew the first day we saw you how special you were. How could we possibly name you a name so many other people have too? We gave a unique name to a unique and special girl.”
“Ok Daddy. I forgive you.”
Daddy suddenly laughed very loudly. “You forgive me? Well, I’m very glad of it. How about we go steal some cookies from the kitchen before dinner?”
As Yancey reached for Daddy’s hand, he became fuzzy and started to fade away and Yancey heard her mother’s voice in the distance, growing closer.
“Yancey, wake up. We’re here.”
Huge oak trees lined both sides of the long dirt drive. Past the oaks, on either side, Yancey could see the greenest grass, perfectly manicured, blanketing the undulating land, which continued for a long ways and was only stopped by a wall of large trees. Yancey peered forward, through the tunnel of oaks, and there at the end, before a large white house with columns, stood two gray-headed people she had never met before. Eventually, the car came to halt in front of these people, and with a sigh, Momma opened her door. Yancey unbuckled Mason from his seat and they followed Momma out of the car.
“We’re glad to see you and your children made it here safely, Lanna.” Said the staunch woman, aged but still remarkable beautiful. She was dressed with about as much grandeur as her entry drive. She wore crisp white linen pants, low khaki heels, a light and frilly blue blouse, and around her shoulders was a lightweight khaki sweater. She wore pearls and the diamond on her left hand twinkled in the bright summer sun.
“Thank you, Diana. And thanks for your offer. I hope you understand that we don’t plan to stay long. I just…I need to get back on my feet again.”
The man at Dianna’s side, who looked as though he had just finished playing a game of golf, never said a word, but his eyes had fallen on the children standing behind Lanna.
“We understand. Well then, dears…” Diana now looked to the children as well. “We are your grandparents. It’s very nice to meet you and we hope you will be comfortable here.”
Diana leaned down and gave both Yancey and Mason a brief and light hug and then began to lead the family into her home. On her way in, she barked over her shoulder “Alan, introduce yourself to these children. They haven’t a clue who you are.”
Behind her, Alan shyly nodded to the children. His eyes focused on Yancey, on her long strawberry-blonde hair falling down in waves, on her freckles and perfect skin, and on her sapphire blue eyes. Alan was held in place and taken back in time and it took him a moment to find his words. “Hi kiddos. I’m your grandpa,” was all he said to the children as he watched them. He then turned and followed Diana into the house.
Yancey had expected the interior of the home to feel as cold and formal as her grandmother’s welcome. Instead, the home was warm and inviting. The walls were a simple shade of beige, but the rich wood beams in the high ceiling and the towering stone fireplace along the sidewall warmed the room. Beige sofas, oversized chairs, and a large ottoman were covered in brightly colored pillows and plush throws.
“Diana, your home is beautiful,” Lanna complimented as the group began to walk down a short hallway full of family photos. Yancey passed a photo of a young boy with red hair and blue eyes, wearing khaki pants and a green sweater, sitting under a large tree with a golden retriever puppy. She wondered if the boy was her father. She was told that her father grew up in this home.
“Thank you. I hope you’ll excuse our lack of a formal sitting area. Alan put his foot down and ripped the wall out to make the family area larger. Ridiculous since the family numbers two now-a-days. He said that we have no use for a formal sitting room. I was angry at the time, but I admit I do like the larger living area.”
“Good thing you and the children are here Lanna, you can put that family room to good use.”
Diana ignored Alan’s comment and walked by a dinning room with a fully set table of perfect china and delicate glass vases. “Lanna, I would appreciate if the children not play in the dinning area.”
“Here is the kitchen. Please make yourself at home. Just be sure to clean up after yourselves. Oh, and we reuse our glasses. It’s wasteful to use a new glass each time you have a drink. Of course, coffee is different; use a mug.”
“Momma, I’m thirsty,” said Mason sleepily. He had not quite woken up from his nap on the long drive.
“Cups are on the top right, Lanna. While you fix him up, I’ll show Yancey to her room.” Lanna nodded and Diana led Yancey to a large, dark, wooden staircase and up they went. More framed photos lined the walls. In each photo, the red-headed boy grew older and older until Yancey was sure who he was and she had to look away to keep from tears.
“I get my own room? I thought I would have to share a room with my mom or Mason,” she spoke mainly to distract herself from the red-headed boy, now almost a man in the photos.
“There are enough rooms for everyone to have their own room, but I assumed that, Mason being so small, he and your mother would share a room. Their room is on this floor as well,” she paused and pointed down the hall, “right down the hall that way.” The hall was long, dark, cold and lonely; Yancey had the feeling that her grandparents did not often walk through this hall. Dianne continued and walked opposite the direction she had pointed. She paused, “Here is your bathroom.” A few steps later, they reached the end of the hall and a large wooden door. The trim of the door and the door itself was much darker than the other doors in the hallway. Diana opened the door and stepped inside. “This will be your room, Yancey. I’ll leave you to settle in.”
Diana walked away and Yancey was alone in her new room. It was final. She no longer lived in the city, full of little shops and parks. Her school was hundreds of miles away; her friends she would likely never see again. They had driven for three days. All she had known was far behind her. This was her new life and she felt bitterness well up inside of her.
She took slow steps to the large pillared wooden bed, which stood almost taller than she was. She laid her hand on the soft white down comforter, stared at her hand for a moment and then slapped the bed hard with a scowl. “I hate this cold room,” she thought to herself. “I want to go home. I want to see my dad.” She walked to the rugged desk by the window and sat down to stare out at the trees in the distance. Before she could look out the window, before she could focus her anger, her eyes fell on the writing desk and there etched in the wood was his name. Jonah.
“This was his room.” Yancey turned quickly at the sound of the voice behind her. “Your dad. This was his room when he lived here. Of course, Diana, I mean, your grandmother, redecorated after he left.”
Yancey turned her back on her new grandfather and faced the window. “I just came to bring you this blanket. It’s electric. This room has always been cooler than the rest of the house. Do you know how to turn one of these on?” She let her red hair bob up and down in a nod. The door creaked shut. Yancey listened to his footsteps trail down the hall. When she believed he was gone, she let herself cry as she ran her fingers over the etched name in the wood. Jonah. This was daddy’s room.
© Whitney Tennison and Load Up Molly, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Whitney Tennison and Load Up Molly with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.