Graded in Red| Chapter 2

Chapter 2

“Hey! Do you need any help with that?!” Someone across the street yelled as I was heroically carrying three boxes from the moving truck. 

“No! I’m good! You know women’s rights and feminism and all that!” I hollered back struggling against the weight of the boxes I was carrying. Who in the sane world owns this many books? I mean seriously, ’Maggie read them once, donate them, sell them, move on!’, is what a sane person would tell herself. And yet, here I am, moving across the state, with more boxes full of books then basic materials to live. 

Hearing an exasperated sigh from behind me, I knew that I was about to get a talking to from whoever was behind me. The hair rose on the back of my neck as the person spoke. 

“Seriously I don’t mind helping, really! I promise, I will still look at you as the womanly woman that I think you are behind those boxes. You know, the kind of woman that doesn’t mind asking for help. Unless you’re cool with tripping over that next step, face planting, and then being a toothless feministic female who carries heavy boxes by herself.” 

I tried to move forward but was blocked by an unmoving object. I was pretty sure it was the frustrating  floating voice becoming a solid form and blocking my way into my parent’s basement apartment. 

I tried moving around the foreign object, moving left, and then right, but it kept impeding my advancements and I felt the load in my arms lighten and the brightness of the sun penetrate my once shadowed face as this stranger lifted one of the boxes from my arms. 

“Listen, I get it. You are a gentleman and you wanted to help the lady across the street. But I specifically said I did not need any help. Now, I have pepper spray in my pocket and I’m not afraid to use it. Put the box down and step away slowly. No one will get hurt.” I said as my eyes adjusted to the light that was forced upon them. 

I was however bluffing, after I moved back home from the city, I didn’t feel the need to carry my pepper spray and cat keyring with me 24/7. But this guy didn’t need to know that specific piece of information. I could front with the best of them. 

As my eyes focused on the person in front of me, I could not believe who I was seeing. Jake, the neighborhood terror was standing in front of me carry my box of books. The mischievous look in his eyes knew that I recognized him and showed that he was having a grand old time messing with me. 

“Margaret Turee, looks like you are still as stubborn as ever at letting people help you.” Jake said in a playful yet obnoxious way. 

“Jake Peterson, looks like you are still as pushy, overbearing, and still don’t understand the words ‘No Thank You!’. And its Maggie, its always been Maggie” I snapped as I pushed pass Jake and walked down the stairs, while not so gracefully tripping over the lifted up edge of the threshold as I entered the kitchenette and set my boxes down on the counter. 

Jake, obviously still ignoring everyone else’s wishes came down the stairs, missing the warped edge of the entryway, and set the other box of books on my counter. 

“Maggie, Mags, when are you going to get over what happened? That was 10 years ago. I came to help you out, I’m not the same person I was when I was 18. Are you?” 

I blew the hair out of my eyes and looked up at Jake. I wasn’t short for a woman at 5’7’’. I also wasn’t tiny, I liked to eat real people food. I weighed in at a solid 160lbs, and wore a size 10. 

But when I say that Jake grew into his body. I wasn’t kidding. His wide shoulders and big ears, and buck teeth became more in proportion with the rest of his body. It looked like he was growing his  chestnut colored hair out, from the military cut his dad always forced on him when he was younger. Being the son of the police chief was something that Jake had hated, growing up, but he seemed to have accepted it, as shown by the badge on his hip.  

“Of course I’m not the same person as I was when I was 18. Would you have seen me move back home?” I snapped as sweat fell down my face and threatened to fall and sting my eyes. 

The heat of Oklahoma never seemed to waver in July. Not only was the temperature hot, but the humidity was at 90% today. You got out of an air conditioned car and you were hit with a wall of wet fire. 

“Maggie my dear!” A voice hollered down the basement staircase. 

“Yes mom! What is it?” I shouted back. Jake squinted and covered his ears at my response. In my family, we don’t merely walk to the other side of the house to have a regular conversation. This is what normal people in normal families do. Nope, in my family, we scream at the top of our lungs. Even if there isn’t a thing going on in the house, we scream. It’s just the way I was raised. 

“I just made a fresh batch of sweet tea, would you like one? It is hot as a whore in church out there. I am afraid that you are going to overheat!” My mother continued screaming down the stairs. 

You see, my mom, Heather, was what you would call a special woman. She did not care about what others thought, spoke her mind, and cussed like a sailor. This to my dad was a redeeming quality, since it was exactly opposite of himself. I guess the saying opposites attract really rings true when it came to my parents. Mom is loud and boisterous and has never met a stranger. Whereas my dad, Paul, was shy, rarely spoke out, and had the best sense of humor you could possibly imagine. I found my love of puns through him. 

Walking to the end of the stairs, I could see my mom peeking out of the door at the top, “I am good mom. I don’t need anything, thank you though!” I whispered up the stairs and shooed her away with my hand. 

“Oh! You want me to leave?! Who’s down there with you? A boy!? Paul! Maggie has a boy in her room!” My mom  shrieked into the living room, where I knew my dad was sitting in his recliner watching a sports ball game of some sort. 

“I’ll come on down and see who is here!” My mom said as she waddled down the steep stairs into the apartment. “Oh! Jake! It’s so good to see you! Were you coming by to see me? I need my front yard mowed and our gutters need cleaning out!” My mom started digging through her pockets in her jeans shirt and jean shorts coming up with a wrinkled $20 bill. 

“I’m sure this will cover both of those chores, now come on up for a nice cold glass of tea. If Maggie-Poo wants to die of dehydration that is her choice, but I want to make sure you don’t keel over while tending to the yard.” Mom said as she walked away and Jake trailed after her looking helpless. 

I had a tiny urge to rescue him from my mom, but then I remembered what happened 10 years ago, and I decided that this was his punishment. My mom could make paint peel talking it to death. I love her, but you can only listen to the same story so many times before your eyes start to roll. 

It was time to start unpacking. This was the beginning of a new chapter for me. I was going to meet with Victoria this evening to talk to her about my new job at the high school and what to expect. I needed to rinse off really quick, change into some shorts and a tank top, and head on over to the pub on Main Street.