The move the Evergreen Falls came as a perfect storm.
First Dad inherited a house with about one hundred acres of land, and whatever money his aged uncle had in the bank (which turned out to be a generous sum).
“Should we go?” Mom asked.
“We’ll have to see about jobs first,” said Dad. “And selling the house.”
They called Evergreen Falls about jobs, Dad to the nearby power plant and Mom to the largest bank they had. They talked and talked, then emailed resumes to their respective places. Soon enough, the house went up on the market, and soon enough it was sold. After that, they started selling off their furniture.
“We can buy newer things when we get there,” said Mom.
Then both of them gathered Tempest and her twin, Alethea in the living room, telling them it was time to pack.
Tempest did not know what to think of the move. Alethea was excited to live in a beach front town, surrounded by mountains and the possibility of new, cute boys. Tempest felt like something would happen, but she could not tell if it was good or bad. As she packed all of her books and art supplies, she tried not to think about it.
When they finished packing, they loaded everything onto a truck, and began an almost week long drive to the coast.
“Now girls,” said Mom. “Your father and I have talked about it, and we think you girls are old enough to decorate your own rooms now. So, we’re giving you an allowance from what your old things sold for, and a little bit more to buy paint and new room sets. But, we’re only giving you a week to decorate, all right? After that we want you out of the house and doing some things around the town. Try and find a job if you can. You girls are almost sixteen after all.”
“What about a car?” Alethea asked.
“If we feel that you’ve earned it, we’ll help chip in for a used one,” said Mom. “But you have to earn it, Alethea.”
Alethea rarely earned anything. She had almost always been beautiful, with stylish auburn hair, the greenest eyes anyone had ever seen, fair, flawless skin, and the right curves had grown on her overnight. She was born with the most charming part of her parents. Tempest did not consider herself ugly, but she knew that compared to her twin she must have seemed that way. Wild black hair, which only seemed to calm down when grown out, covered her head, she felt constantly covered in acne or uneven tans and burns and her body held no one shape, but merely retained itself as dumpy. Her eyes were the worst though—a sort of blue grey that looked like polluted ocean.
She looked like neither of her parents, to the point where she had had to ignore the words “paternity test,” more than once when her parents spoke of it.
After nearly a week of driving, they arrived. They slept in sleeping bags and called out for pizza.
The next day both girls were given their allowances and set free in town to do with it what they would. Alethea went straight for the furniture store, but Tempest took her time browsing around the hardware place, picking out a large galleon of paint, with several smaller cans she would use to paint the wall with. Then she asked about lumber, buying several lengths of dark wood to build shelves out of.
“I hope you do not intend to do that in the house,” Dad said when he came by to get her and the lumber.
“There’s a shed out back that Uncle Eberhard used as a work shop,” Tempest mentioned. “Could I have that as my studio?” Dad agreed, if only to keep the sound of sawing, and eventually, the smell of oil paint, out of the house.
So Tempest painted the walls a sea blue, and accented them with spirals and waves of midnight blue and grey weaving in and out. She fastened silver fixtures to the walls and then put up the dark shelves to hold her books when they arrived with the moving truck. It took her two days, but it looked beautiful.
“You still don’t have a place to sleep,” Alethea told her.
Tempest began to walk the town, which seemed to have a constant set of garage and yard sales now that they had come into summer. The first thing to come was a rug. She haggled, and bought it for about thirty dollars, when it would cover most of the hard wood floor in her room. Next she found a desk, which she placed near the window, so she would have natural light. Then, she founda trunk with extending compartments for her art supplies. Side tables of dark mahogany made their way into the room. Hanging lamps came after that, ones with orange glass around them, which she replaced the central light fixture with. At last came a bed, of the same mahogany wood as her desk and shelves that filled up perhaps a fifth of her room.
“I think you forgot something,” said Dad as she assembled it near a corner of the room.
“What?” she asked, giving the screwdriver a final twist.
“The mattress,” he replied. “Come on, we’ll drive into town and get you one.”
Tempest detested getting anything new, but with a mattress, she supposed she could make an exception. While they were there, she asked to get a new door handle to match her room (one which could lock, to keep Alethea out), which her father consented to. He also made her pick out two sets of sheets and different blankets for her bed, and then curtains. “I know you can sew,” he said. “But it’s easier this way honey, and look, they match your room.” Tempest grumbled,
But as they drove back, they happened to pass a yard sale, and Tempest called, “Dad stop!” He obeyed, stopping abruptly as she jumped out of the car and made for the sale. He followed her to an old arm chair still in good condition, with midnight blue upholstery flowing over the silver arms and legs.
“Like it?” asked the man presiding over the sale. “I’ll give it to you for fifty.”
“Thirty five,” she replied.
“Done!” he said. “I’ll get you a receipt.”
“Wait,” she called moving over to a table which had odd sticks of wood folded up together. “How much to do you want for this?”
“Ten?” he asked. “I’m not even sure what that is.”
“I’ll take it. Both of them.” She pulled out forty-five dollars from her pocket and handed it over, before she helped her dad load the chair into the back of his truck, propping the mattress up against it, and strapping them both down. Dad looked at the wooden contraption with a frown, but did not ask, so Tempest did not answer.
She placed the chair by the window, and when the truck arrived with all of the things they had not sold, she stacked her books on the shelves, lined her clothes in the closet and split her art supplies between her new trunk and studio.
After unpacking, she wandered into the kitchen for a glass of lemonade and a snack, and when she wandered back, she found a host of people gawking at her door.
“Whose room is this?” asked one of them.
“Mine,” Tempest replied, before Alethea could make something up. “Excuse me please.” The crowd parted and let her in, still gawking before Alethea called them all into her room.
When the decorating week came to an end, Tempest arose early. A plan had begun to culminate in her head when she bought the wood contraption, really a fold up easel. She dressed for a hike, packed a bag with her supplies, and brought a carrying case for her canvas as well. After a quick breakfast, she set off for a trail just behind her house, and began to walk up the path.
The path was half carved of earth and half made of broke, moss covered steps that you could slip on if you were careful. Tempest climbed carefully though. She climbed and climbed until she found something worth painting. After about an hour she stopped on a plateau where she saw something worth her while. There was a tree twice as thick as the others around it, its roots coming up out of the ground, creating something like a hollow. Tempest found a spot where she could see most of the tree and set up her easel took out her paints, brushes and pallet, as well as her oil and mineral spirits and began to paint.
Tempest painted until the sun was much higher in the sky. She began to sweat, but she would not leave the painting unfinished. She kept going, until it began to feel finished. She nodded at it, and decided to come back later to see if there was anything still left to add. She wrapped it carefully, and put it back in its case so the painting would not smear, and after packing up the rest of her supplies, she began to walk back toward the house.
Another hour passed, and when she arrived she set the painting out to dry in her work shop and washed out all of her brushes, which had been left to rest in the mineral spirits to keep the paint from sticking. She checked the time and found she still had an hour and a half before her normal lunch time, and so set off to explore the neighborhood.
Soon, she found a park, with a trail wrapping around it, and decided that another walk wouldn’t kill her. As she walked around though, she noticed there were signs that told when you should stop and do some other exercises. Well, she thought running her hands over the dumpy parts of her body, it couldn’t hurt. She lay down on the ground where she had seen others do so, and began a series of sit ups, or at least she tried. Tempest heard laughter over her, and sat up properly to see a boy standing over her.
“You aren’t doing that right,” he told her. “Here, let me help.” He knelt down in front of her, and held her feet. “Now bring yourself up until your chest touches your knees.” She did. “Now again.” He started counting, and her abdomen began to hurt. When he reached twenty, he had her stop and lay down himself. “Hold my feet for me, please?” he asked.
“Sure,” she agreed.
“I’m Carlos by the way,” he said.
“Wait you mean like, ‘we are the stuff that dreams are made of, rounded with a little sleep?’ That Tempest?”
“Yeah,” she replied, a smile forming on her face. “How did you know that?”
“I like Shakespeare,” Carlos said. “Am I close to twenty?”
“Does it feel like you’re close?” Tempest asked, because she had lost track.
“Close enough,” he replied. Carlos got to his feet, and said, “I’ll race you to the next drop point.” And before Tempest could protest, he took off, making her run after him. They raced and talked, and Carlos corrected her exercises with instruction she never really had from her gym teachers. “You’ll need it,” he said. “There’s a mandatory fitness test at the beginning and end of each year. And then you have to take a gym class every semester. But there are different ones. When did you guys get in, by the way?”
“Just last week,” she replied. “I’ve been working on my room since then. Painting it, building my shelves and getting all the furniture and stuff.”
“Took a whole week?” he asked.
“Well, not really. I painted it and built the shelves in just about a day,” she said. “The next day I went out looking for furniture and just brought it back in heats.”
“And what did you do for the rest of the week?” Carlos asked.
“Well, I went hiking, I drew landscapes. Went to the book shop.”