Sweet Ava: Claire 1

Sweet Ava: Claire 1

​“Let me turn down this music before I pull into his driveway, I don’t want to hear his mouth today!” Claire said to her husband Eric while turning the volume to a low 7 as she pulled into Jayson’s driveway.
“Don’t trash talk my man, you know I’m going to tell him!” Eric said as he took his seatbelt off.
“I swear you’re more his brother in law you are my husband, Jayson owes me big-time for getting married so he could have a bromance!” Claire said as she skipped a few steps so that Eric missed her with his swipe to hit her butt.  He hated the term bromance almost as much as her brother did.
“I’m still telling him.” Eric said as Claire kissed him before ringing the doorbell.
“WHERE’S THE PARTY AT?” Claire yelled and dancing her way past her brother giving him a peck on the cheek before she yelled some more “AVA! MYA! Where are my girls?”
“Aunty Claire, aunty Claire…” Mya repeated sliding down the stairs on her bottom. 
Claire picked up her niece and sprinkled kisses all over her chubby face and letting Mya know how much bigger she had gotten since the last time she saw her about a year ago.  She missed her nieces so much not having been around for the last year traveling with Eric.
“Where’s your sister?”
“In her room, I’ll take you” Mya volunteered.
“Mya, if Ava doesn’t want you in her room …”
“I know, I know, I have to come back downstairs” she cut her dad off as she proceeded to take her aunty Claire up to Ava’s bedroom.
Claire knocked softly on Ava’s door, already toning down the energy she began her visit with.  She remembered Ava’s 5th birthday when she insisted on wearing Skyler’s heels throughout her entire party and never fell once.  Jayson called her Sky 2.0 all afternoon.  Skyler must have taken a million pictures that afternoon of her little clone.  When Jayson tried to get Ava to take a picture with him and she made sure he got down low enough that she would have a full body picture including her heels.
Ava opened her bedroom door and twisted her mouth to the side in a failed attempt at a smile.
“Hi aunty Claire” Ava hugged her aunt quickly and went back to sit on her bed.  Claire looked around the room before walking in and noticed the balled-up tissues on Ava’s bed and the puffiness of her eyes.
“Hey Mya, why don’t you go tell my little brother I said that you could have some ice-cream.”  Without a word Mya bolted out the door, loving the idea of relaying this message knowing that her dad would do as Claire said making it easy for her.
Claire sat on Ava’s bed facing her and cupped her chin lifting Ava’s face.  “Hey beautiful girl, how’s it going?”
Ava shrugged her shoulder, tears streaming down her face, clutching the diamond on her necklace.
“I know it’s a difficult day for you sweetie, what can I do to make it better?” Claire snapped a new tissue from the box and patted Ava’s big brown eyes.
“Tell my dad I’m sorry.” She sniffled as she spoke.
“What for?” Claire sat closer, laid Ava’s head in her lap and twirled her loose coils around her fingers.
“I walked off earlier after he gave me my present” Ava sniffled and rubbed her eyes taking deep breaths to avoid crying as she continued.  “I miss her so much…I wonder if Mya feels like I do but can’t explain it… or maybe she doesn’t remember… or maybe she doesn’t know what she should feel…I love my car; I just want you to tell him I love it and I didn’t mean to be rude… I just want to be alone” Ava shook as she couldn’t hold back her tears.  She buried her face in Claire’s lap and Claire had no immediate words, she only twirled her loose coils around her fingers.  They sat quietly until Ava cried herself to sleep.
Claire closed Ava’s door softly behind her and headed back downstairs to see her baby brother standing at the foot of the stairs.  “What should I do?”  Claire hugged him and lead him into the kitchen away from Eric and Mya.
“I’m failing right now Claire, you saw her, unless it’s a school day she stays up in her room.  Her friends don’t come by anymore.  I watch her with Mya and if she finds herself having what she thinks is too much fun, this blank stare comes over her face and she finds some reason to excuse herself to her room…I hate to see her punish herself like this…for this long.”
“Well I know we’ve talked about this in the past but I’m going to ask again, have you thought about taking her to see someone?” Claire knew the suggestion would be met by anger but suggested it anyway.
“As much as I hate to, I don’t think there is anything I can do to help her.  She’s never could talk to me.  Whenever something was wrong with her, Sky went in that room for 5 minutes and she’d come running out skipping like nothing happened.  Sky was her best friend.  You know how people say little girls tend to start drifting from their mother’s or don’t talk to them as much once they get older?  The opposite happened.  She’s never been a daddy’s girl.  She came home from school and told Sky all about her day.  Sky actually scheduled her work schedule to have a 30-minute break when Ava got home from school.  She literally set her status to ‘Away’ and her phone on silent.  Ava got off the bus, grabbed a snack and went right into her mother’s office to debrief her about her day.”
Claire could see the despair in her brother’s eyes.  “Jayson… how are you? and before you tell me you’re fine, think again and give me the real answer.”
Jayson wringed his hands together and shook his head.  “I mean, I’m here.  I do what I have to do.  I go to work to take care of these girls.  I try to keep them busy and let them know that I’m here if they need anything.  Mya hasn’t missed a beat and sometimes that worries me.  But sometimes I think it’s amazing.  You know what she said to me?  She came in my room one night and climbed in the bed with me while I was watching tv.  I told her it was past bedtime, she had school tomorrow and couldn’t watch tv with daddy tonight.  She said ‘I’m not here to watch tv daddy, I was sad about mommy and I thought if I was sad maybe daddy was sad too so I came to make sure you weren’t sad and I didn’t want to be sad by myself.”
“wow!” the story made Claire tear-up.  “Ava said she wondered if Mya ever hurts like she does and clearly my little niece does have tough skin.  As far as Ava, she is at a special time in her life right now and it just really does suck that she lost her best friend right before she experienced it.  It must have been really hard to wake up on her sweet 16 and not have Sky here.  I think having her talk to someone is probably the way to go.  I mean and if that doesn’t work, I’m back now, she seemed to let me in a little bit earlier.”
Jayson leaned back in his chair, both hands on his head.  “willing to try anything, something’s gotta give.”
“But back to my question, how are you?”  Claire titled her head raising one brow at her little brother trying to avoid her question.
“I’m f…” he smiled stopping himself remembering Claire’s instructions.  “I mean, I’m better than I was a year ago and better than I was a few months ago.  Don’t get me wrong, I miss her every day and I can’t imagine that there would ever be a day that this would make sense to me…but I gotta do what I gotta do and right now that means I can’t worry about me and what I want or feel.”  Jayson paused and folded his arms on his chest.  “Besides, I’ve had enough good to last a lifetime…guess it’s someone else turn now.”

Sweet Ava: Jayson 1

Sweet Ava: Jayson 1

With a hand over his mouth Jayson stroked his beard while looking at his face in the mirror.   He stared a minute longer than he usually did after his shower.  The eyes looking back at him were different every morning.  One day they looked back at him reminding him of the checklist items he needed to follow-up on when he got into the office.  Another day they reminded him of extra stop he needed to make on the way home to pick up Mya’s tutu from his sister Claire’s house.  Today they reminded him that things have changed and were changing still and they were changing faster than he was prepared to accept.  He slashed cold water on his face, then again looked back into the mirror and shook his head side to side and took a deep breath.  “You got this!” he said to himself walking into his bedroom to get dressed for the big day ahead.
​He entered Mya’s room and gently rocked her awake while calling her name “Myyyaa”.  She squirmed around in the bed under her covers like a little worm.
“Rise and shine Princess M, your subjects are hungry” he’s proceeded to start tickling her.
“King daddy tell my subjects…” her declaration was interrupted by uncontrollable laughter.  “Daddy stop it… my subjects…I have work to do” she wiggled out of his grasp and onto her feet in front of her bedroom door.  “let’s go King daddy!”  He took her hand and made their way down to the kitchen.
Mya was only four years old but somehow became his right-hand man in just about everything.  She passed him tools when he did work on his old fixer-upper in the garage, she was his kitchen assistant and even kept him hydrated when he cut the lawn.  She was an old soul.  She was also his tv buddy when they watched the game.  Ava had never been his side-kick, she was more of a mommy’s girl.  He used to call her my little traitor since he was only her first choice when Skyler wasn’t home.  Skyler… his thoughts lingered.  He could smell the lavender.  He closed his eyes and took a deep breath and was lost. 
“Excuse me!” Jayson tried to get the librarian’s attention.
“Yes, can I help you?”  You can definitely help me Jayson thought as she turned around.  Her eyes were the milk chocolate brown and her lashes seemed to hide and reveal them in the most captivating sequence.  “I’m … I’m looking for the journal articles earlier than 1995.” And your phone number he thought.
“You’ll have to pull them up on the microfiche in the room next to the copiers, I can show you.”  She smiled and came from behind the information desk and began leading him down the aisle.  His eyes trailed her black shiny hair that was pulled back by a hair tie leading her mane down the back of her neck and in between her bare shoulder blades to the top of her strapless dress.  Her skin glowed a golden brown almost copper color.  Her dress hugged her torso and cinched her waist and the area between her waist and calves were a mystery held by her dress. 
“eh hmm! there in here” she cleared her throat to regain his attention as she opened the door to the microfiche room.
“thank you, umm, what’s your name?” he raised his brow as he crossed closely in front of her to the opening of the door.
She took a step back, “Skyler, let me know if you need anything else, I’ve got to get back to the info-desk” she diverted her eyes and turned quickly leaving him standing at the door’s entrance.
“Daddy, how many eggs?  You’re not listening Daddy!” Mya tugged on his sweatpants.
“I’m sorry Princess, we don’t need eggs, these are the instant pancakes” he took the tray of eggs from his helper and returned them to the refrigerator, the cold air across his face and chest reminded him of the task at hand.  “what else do you think Ava will want with her breakfast pancakes?”
“ummm bacon!” Mya smiled
“you know she doesn’t like bacon, this week anyway!  Let me guess, the bacon is for someone shorter?”  she nodded licking her lips.
“well maybe she wants strawberries or something.”  Mya stuck her head in the fridge and pulled out a carton of strawberries.
“Strawberries it is!”  he took the carton from Mya and helped her onto the highboy chair and the finished-up Ava’s birthday breakfast.
  “ALL DONE!” Mya yelled as she sprayed the finishing touches of canned reddi-whip onto the pancake faces making smiles.  “I’ll go get her” Mya hopped off her stool and started out the kitchen to the stairs to go wake Ava.
“Wait wait wait, how about you go get the presents off my nightstand, I’ll go get Ava. Deal?”  Jayson hurried to catch Mya before she made it to the 2nd stair.  He wanted to be the one to wake her in accordance with tradition.  It was a silly tradition and didn’t involve anything other than being the first person his children saw when they woke on their birthday; however, since they were born they always went into their girls’ rooms and stood there waiting for them to wake up to say “good morning baby girl”.  “you know we can’t do this right Sky?
“what do you mean, of course we can.” A hint of denial on his wife’s face with a side of smile.
“so they’re going to live here forever, huh?”
“shut up and open the door!” she often ignored his attempts at reality when it came to her girls leaving their home and other conversations about their impending adulthood.
He stood outside of Ava’s room on his own this morning.

Sweet Ava: Ava 1

Sweet Ava: Ava 1

​”Good morning baby girl!” She opened her eyes to find her father standing tall over her bed smiling down at her.  She wiped the sleep from her eyes and gathered a smile to present to her father.
“Thanks dad” she replied with half a smile and outstretched arms reaching up to give him a hug.  
“You’re welcome, get ready and come downstairs, we have a surprise for you!”
“Dad I asked you not to make it a big thing today, I just want to chill today!”  He smiled, turned and left, ignoring her protest.
It was Ava’ s 16th birthday.  Ava thought about her life and felt less than sweet.  She looked around her room and thought it was time for a change.  Her walls were papered in the pink and purple wallpaper her mother had picked out before her 10th birthday.  They had spent the day in hardware stores and furniture stores picking out wallpaper and wood for shelves and a new gold and white big girl’s full-sized bed.  They bought curtains and fancy sheets.  They stopped for pizza and they got ice-cream.  Ava laughed when her mother dropped the top scoop from her ice-cream.
“AAVVAAA!” Her dad yelled upstairs interrupting her memory.  She quickly wiped her filling eyes and left her pink and purple room to start her birthday.
Ava came downstairs and walked into the kitchen to find balloons tied to the chairs at the breakfast table, pancakes with whipped cream smiles and two small gold gift bags.  “Happy birthday Ava” her baby sister ran over to her wrapping her hands around her thighs.  Ava lifted her sister kissing her cheek.  “Thank you Mya.  Did you help dad make my pancakes?”  Mya slid down out of Ava’s hand, shook her head smiling ear to ear and took her sister’s hand leading her to her seat. “open the presents, open them” Mya jumped up and down until their father caught her mid-jump putting her into the chair besides Ava. 
“ok Ava, you heard your sister, let’s see what you got” her dad handed her the two little bags and as she reached into the first bag she thought about her thirteenth birthday when it had been her mother smiling in anticipation for the big reveal as though she didn’t know what was in her neatly wrapped present.  That time it was a necklace with a single diamond pendant.  Her mother asked her to hold up her hair as she placed it on her neck and kissed her cheek after fastening the clasp.  She could remember how she smelled like lavender and baby powder.
The thought caused her eyes to fill.  Her eyelids fluttered as she blinked several times in effort to send to avoid them seeing her sadness.  “thanks dad” came from her lips softly and she reached into the first bag and pulled out a square black box, the kind she became familiar with that always contained jewelry.  She snapped the lid up and open to find earrings.  They were beautiful, big square diamond earrings that were a match to her single stone necklace that she’d worn since she was thirteen.
“Thanks dad” exited her lips in the same soft tone; however, this time she hugged him. 
“can I see them” called Mya reaching across the table.  Mya had been staring at her the whole time anxiously watching while sticking her finger in the smiles of her pancakes and licking the whipped cream.
“when your hands are clean, I’ll let you touch them then” Ava caught Mya’s sticky hands mid-air and returned them to her plate before she could get whipped cream all in her hair.
Ava reached in her second bag and pulled out another box, smaller than the one that held her earrings but still a jewelry box.  If she had to guess she would say it contained more earrings.  Although the earring box had seemed more like a bracelet box.  She snapped the box open and there was what appeared to be a black block inside but when she picked it up out of the box she knew instantly what it was.  She sprang from her chair and her dad caught her as she leaped towards his chest.  Mya had no idea what was going on but she was clapping and jumping up and down shouting “yaayyy”.
“Dad did you really? Where is it? Is it in the garage? I can’t believe you?”  Ava fired a series of questions at her dad and he just smiled at her with raised eyebrows as though he didn’t know what she was so excited about.
“Ava, Ava calm down.  Is what in the garage?” he smiled his goofy smile and folded his arms across his chest.
“DADDY!” Ava pouted and as usual Jayson’s attempt at holding out on his baby girl failed.  He led her to the garage and covered his ear as she let out a piercing squeal at the sight of her new silver Mini Cooper.
Ava pulled out her birthday fob, unlocked the doors and hopped in and started the engine.  She was turning on the radio, the lights, and windshield wipers all at once.  She caught a glimpse of something unfamiliar in her side view mirror, her mouth was curled up into a smile.