Author's Note: This story is the sequel to a previous story I wrote called Nowhere. If you would like to read Nowhere you may, but there really isn't much you need to know from that story in this one. :) Also, this is dedicated to all the people who are different. We all are; it just takes others a while to see that part in themselves and acknowledge it. Thank you.
The woman at the cash register bagged my items and put them in a cart, trying to stay as far as possible from me. The next person in line, a middle-aged-man, whistled in annoyance, waiting for his turn. I sighed and began to push my cart away, hoping one day, others would begin their day by opening their eyes. Suddenly, the man ran up to me after whispering to the woman at the register. "Aren't you that crazy lady Sydelle Mackoff? I do feel bad for your niece." He bumped my shoulder and walked away, howling with laughter. I knew I should've switched to Insta Cart.
Rumors are not-good ways to talk behind other's back, things that turn you into a monster when all you want is to be accepted the way you are. Rumors make my sisters hate me, my brother annoyed by me, and my niece stays quiet the whole car ride, staring outside the big window, watching others point and hiss and laugh out loud at my ice cream car, the only one that stands out of all the gray and black and blue cars, the only one that causes others to start rumors.
As I dragged 3 suitcases to the foot of my house, my niece craned her neck toward the sky, toward my house.
"So, this is where I'm supposed to live until-" I hoisted her onto a ladder and began to climb, afraid she'd say the words I was sick of hearing. "You live in a treehouse!" My niece finished her sentence, voice more like wonder than of shame. She exhaled out, inhaled the sweet summer air. We had the whole afternoon together, the whole month, the whole year.
"Yeah, I'm kind of the crazy lady in the city. I'm sorry you couldn't stay with your father-he has a more appropriate living space." I helped her into the house and dropped the bags on a nearby table, not bothering to pick up the stray papers fallen on the ground. My niece looked around the place, registering my home's location by opening every window. While gazing outside at the tall oak trees, she spoke softly, like her words were meant only to the faint sound of the wind blowing through the leaves.
"I chose to come here. And you can stop calling me "niece"; my name is Kristy."
She looked out that window for a long time, all-time stopping for us to watch each other, and all my ideas paused for just a second. I wanted to listen, carefully.
Before setting the table for a midday meal, I sized myself up in the mirror, tousling the pink poof of hair rising above my slim head. Maybe I shouldn't have worn my good luck 80's jacket and sparkly leggings. Maybe I should've stayed a simple lady in a simple house. Maybe I shouldn't have taken the responsibility of having a family.
Kristy stood awkwardly amidst the huge Lego towers and my soap skates with a plate, wondering where to sit. I motioned to the small victorian table in front of the t.v, and she grinned, running toward a comfy couch. I joined her and we ate in silence, slowly. To break the silence, Kristy cleared her throat uncomfortably,
"Is being different a bad thing, or, well, is sticking out really bad or um.." She trailed off, realizing who she was talking to. Me, give advice? I did, and I used to make a living of it, but what was an eighteen-year-old girl who had the word "normal" written all over it had anything to do with being different?
"No, I mean, no, I mean being different isn't a bad trait to have I guess...why do you ask?" Kristy put her plate to the side and reached for one of my soap skates.
"Hah, I wasn't asking because of me...I'm concerned about you actually. You feel regret while I think you are a genius for following who you really are. You are the one who regrets being different." I fiddled with my fingers, unsure of how to continue. Was I really the one who thought everyone hated me because I was weird? Kristy put the soap skate down and yanked me off the couch. "You know, I'm the same way. I want to be just like you Sydelle, and don't hide from me. Please, just do one thing with me...something super fun!" I felt the rush beginning to envelop me in a warm feeling of joy.
"Be warned, I once sent your mother to nowhere when we were younger; they never forgave me, even now." We embraced for a quick second until I regained my composure. "Now, get me some scissors, magazines, and two mason jars from my tent. Be quick!" I told Kristy eagerly, a plan in mind. This was going to be fun.
Once we got ready, dangling from a porch swing hanging from a porch swing table fifty feet above the ground, I instructed my niece on the art of making a vision jar. "I put whatever makes me myself in here, from the magazines. You can put pictures, cut up sayings, whatever you want. I love the smell of this particular brand, don't you Kristy?" She nodded, slightly confused but happy all the same.
"Aunt Sydelle, what are we gonna do with these?" I pulled a wad of balloons from my pocket, along with some string. Her eyes became big and wide, either excited for the project or scared of the 50 feet drop from my swing.
"Oh Kristy, thank you for opening my eyes. We are gonna send these jars to the world."