Coming Home

Submitted by Sandra Lester to Contest #5 in response to: Write a story about someone striving for a "comeback."... view prompt

It had been a long uphill trudge for Gena Carpenter. The day had finally arrived. She was moving into a place of her own. She was so grateful for this day, she was nearly in tears. How hard she'd worked for this day.  It became hard to see to pack, as the tears welled up in her eyes.  


When she was finished packing her things into the bags that she'd purchased, she sat on the edge of the bed. She looked at the empty, bare cabinet where her belongings had been for the last four months. This is it, she thought to herself. Her mind drifted back to when it all had begun.  


Gena had been living a full life. She'd been attending night school, and working her part-time job during the morning hours. To save money, she'd been living at home with her family. It was a full house.  Her youngest brother was still in high school; a senior. Her sister, who was a year younger than she, was also working part-time and attending school.  Then there was the middle, but second middle brother. The rebel.  


Danny, who was the rebel, did as he felt like doing, no matter what her parents would tell him. He'd quit school in the ninth grade because it had bored him. Since that time, he had gotten into trouble numerous times. This time, he was on house arrest.  


Because he was rebellious, there was always some chaos going on between him and Gena's parents. Her parents were always quibbling about money matters. Dalia, her sister, was never home. When she was, she was a ghost. She'd stay in her room studying if she wasn't working. She and Danny had never gotten along, even as kids.  


Gena had begun searching the ads for apartments. That search was a farce, because the amount of money she made, didn't cover the rent fully if she was to get food, and necessary items she'd need to live on her own. She felt her only option was to share rent with someone, and then, and only then, would she be able to get out of her chaotic house.


She'd answered quite a few ads, but none had produced any results. The person who was on the other end of the phone was either stressing too many rules to follow, sounded like they were on drugs, or they were just out there, not a candidate she'd want to live with.  


Finally, she'd answered an ad that sounded like the perfect opportunity. She jumped on it right away. She was on her way to meeting Stella Johnson. She'd been the one who'd sounded the most pleasant, someone she might enjoy staying with.  


Gena, well aware of how deceiving someone can be over the phone, never sounding like it. She was prepared for it. No one ever is like they sound on the phone when you finally meet them in person.  


The home was a two-bedroom home. It was a beautiful home. Gena liked what she saw on the outside of the house. Set on a small hill, the white single-floored house, was surrounded by a variety of colored flowers, full, green trees, shrubs and luxurious green grass. 


As Gena got out of her car, she could smell the scent of the flowers wafting by her nose. It was quiet, other than the birds, chirping a sweet song. She followed the path leading to the door. It was made with pebbles that seemed to glimmer like a diamond.  The step-stones that were neatly laid along the way, were a light pink granite that also sparkled in the sun.  


Gena was in awe as she walked beneath the heavily, leaved overhang of branches from the tree, making a shaded area. She got to the door and rang the bell. When the door opened, she was greeted with a woman, small in stature. She had jet black hair, that was pinned up in a coil, with blue gemstones throughout. She had piercing, green eyes.  


"I'm Margret Bartlett," she said, stretching out her hand toward Gena. "And, please call me, Margie."  Gena extended her hand. "My name is Gena Carpenter. It's nice to meet you, Margie." She followed the woman, into her home. Just as the outside was breathtaking, so was her home.  The decor was magnificent.  


It had been after about six months living with Margie when things turned weird. Magie had been a wonderful conversationalist, with many stories about her life that Gena enjoyed hearing. Margie insisted on cooking every meal. She was a great cook.  


Gena, good a reading a person, had missed it. How she'd missed reading Margie as she truly was, she didn't know.  It was early fall. The warm days were dwindling. There was a few, gorgeous Indian Summer days. The trees were starting to turn to their red, orange, or yellow colors, dotting the yard with brilliance.  Margie hadn't gone to work.


When Gena arrived home after her job, Margie was in her bedroom. Thinking she might be ill, Gena went to check on her. When she got to the open door of Margie's room, she found her on the floor. It was apparent that she hadn't done a thing, not even got dressed. She looked like a mess.


With deep concern, Gena approached Margie. "What's going on, Margie? Are you ok? You sure don't look like you are." Margie didn't respond, nor did she move from the crumpled position she was in. Gena stepped a little closer. She was going to try to help Margie off the floor.


When Margie turned her head toward Gena to look at her, there was something not right. Margie's normally, bubbly, bright-eyed personality wasn't there. Her eyes held a darkness within them. "Margie, is there something wrong?" Gena asked.


Gena hadn't been prepared for this one. This blindsided her beyond belief. Margie rose from the floor, the darkness in her eyes growing even darker. Her face was twisted in an expression that Gena could only describe, later, as demonic.  


Before she knew it, Margie let out a sound that Gena had never heard before in her life. Margie lept upon Gena, digging her sharp nails in her back. When Gena could finally free herself from Margie's hold, she ran out the front door and went to her neighbor's house.  


In the safety of Carol Andrew's kitchen, Gena dialed the number to the police. When they took Margie away, that's when she sighed relief. The nightmare was over. But, that wasn't the end of Gena's troubles. She knew she could no longer stay in that house.  


A woman who'd arrived at the same time as the police, came over to where Gena was sitting on the soft grass in Carol's yard. "Hello Gena, my name is Nancy Tulley. I'm an advocate for abused women. I'd like to speak with you for a moment, if I may?"  


Gena nodded her head in agreement. The woman sat down on the grass beside her. Before Nancy spoke again, a silence fell between them.  "Gena, I'm sorry for what you just encountered. It must be traumatic for you." she said softly. "I think the best choice for you is to go into a shelter when you can get help understand what just occurred," she continued in the soft voice.  


Gena certainly had no intentions about returning to live with her parents. There was too much going on there for her to contend with. She wasn't about to go live with a stranger again, either. Going into the shelter was pretty much her only option, at that moment.  


Living in the shelter wasn't exactly a bed of roses. She had her own bedroom, which was a plus. At least that way, she had her own space where she'd have peace.  She was able to save her money, and still attending school.  


After four months, she was more than ready to be out on her own. Gena, still sitting on the edge of the bed, when Jackie, her favorite advocate came into the room. "Today's the day!" Tina said in a upbeat tone. "I'm so happy for you, Gena. You're going to be alright from here. I have faith that you'll get out there and succeed."


Jackie had told Gena that she would drive her to her new apartment instead of having to take the bus.  When they arrived, Jackie gave Gena a long, warm hug. "You're a winner, girl," said Jackie.  


Gena stepped into her new apartment and sighed loudly. She was happy to be home. She sunk to the plushly carpeted floor, laying on her back. Looking up at the ceiling, she knew she was going to be ok. She could no longer rely on anyone, she'd make it herself.  She smiled, feeling a freedom unlike she'd ever felt before. She was ready to face the world alone, starting over. Home. Gena the sweet feeling of freedom and smiled content just where she'd landed.


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