March 15th, 2016
My parents still weren’t back from Napa yet; they were due to come back in a couple of days, before Farrow came to visit. I took advantage of that, taking another trip into the attic. This time, I was to take action. I slept on it, and I spent every waking moment thinking about it, and the nagging feeling in the back of my head never left. I had to do my research and really delve into my First Life a little bit more. I had to take a closer look at all the clothes to books, knickknacks, even newspaper cuttings of my death and my favourite stuffed toys as a child.
Once I had secured the ladder, and I was certain (sort of praying) that it wouldn’t collapse beneath my feet, bruising up my legs, or even worse, breaking them, I hoisted myself up. Everything was intact, exactly positioned where I had last left them. Most of Jennifer-Rose’s clothes are the ones that would have been too big for me beforehand, as any of her childhood clothes were thrust on me like hand-me-downs, but mostly when I was at an age where nothing was ever too embarrassing to wear, no matter what era in time they were prevalent. I peered over at the dresses and skirts, the boot cut jeans and the crop tops, and I smiled. I guess this will be one less trip to the mall for a wardrobe reboot, I thought to myself, if I pick out the right stuff. Then I remembered why I was really up here - I had decided on a grand plan, and in order to go further with it, I needed to know my First Life inside and out. I needed to find out about my old friends, and more about Naomi Sanchez. I needed to find out more about Bret Walker. If my mission was to work, was going have to get neck-deep into her world.
Tiptoeing over to the stack of photo albums, I grabbed the book at the top, labelled 1999. I focused on Naomi Sanchez, taking notice of her happiness when she was with Rose. The photos of them drinking flavoured milkshakes at diners in denim bomber jackets and high ponytails made me smile.
When I fished out all of the essentials for step one of my mission, I slid out of the attic quietly, and after closing the door above me, I put the ladder back in the garage. I threw the essentials onto my bed and then flicked open my laptop, ready for research. I should have been doing history homework, and I technically was.
If you call tracking down the best friend of your First Life credible research.
“Ain’t she a sweetheart?” Shelly coos all over the baby.
“Sure is,” Roseanna beams proudly. “She hasn’t been much hassle since she came, only crying when she needs to.”
“Aren’t you a lucky one? Were your other ones this peaceful?”
“Jamie was a nightmare, to tell you the truth. Jacque was a little better. But this one… she’s a blessing.”
“Third time lucky, eh?” Shelly laughs.
“Something like that.”
Roseanna props herself up on the hospital bed, fanning herself with a leaflet on the bedside table. The August heat is smothering, sweltering, sizzling. It was one thing giving birth, but another trying to fight the heat and keep hydrated too.
Shelly, Roseanna’s cousin and long-term childhood companion, flew all the way from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, not only to see her new goddaughter, but also to catch up with Roseanna’s life so far. They last saw each other over a year ago, keeping in touch via letters and phone calls. Life had been a whirlwind since Roseanna Middleton’s modelling fame, but since things died down in the last few years, they’ve been able to keep in contact a bit more.
“Seven pounds,” Roseanna mutters softly. “That’s how much she weighs. No more, no less. Exactly seven. Isn’t that perfect?”
Jeff went out for a quick smoke, having exhausted himself from driving up to L.A. in the middle of the night and staying up until the baby arrived. It’s now almost twelve hours later, and things are only just beginning to settle. And the doctors say that they’re free to be discharged on the same day, so he’ll have to prepare himself for another drive back to Bluebeach. He wants to sleep so badly, but the heat is making it impossible to do anything. And he’s still buzzing from everything; he feels like a little kid on Christmas, finding it hard to settle once they’ve received their present. He feels like jumping around, yelling to the world how happy he’s feeling. At the same time, he also feels like he might collapse. Maybe a strong burst of coffee would keep him going for a while, so he slides back into the hospital, making his way to the canteen.
Shelly can’t let go of the child. She’s too precious to give back. “There’s something about her,” she tells Roseanna. “What’s her name again? My memory’s failing me.”
“Jennifer... Rose. Jennifer-Rose.”
“Ahh, I see - adding a little touch of your name there. What are you gonna call the next one? Anna?” she laughs.
“Oh, there’ll definitely be no next one.” She responds, rising from her bed to stretch. Her body is still aching, but overall, she feels good. Better than ever. She probably has the ‘new-mom’ glow, because it certainly feels like she does.
“Not gonna be a big old family like how we lived back home?”
“God, no.” Roseanna shakes her head. She thinks back to all the other cousins, aunts, and uncles that lived crammed in alongside her own siblings and parents back when she was a child. It was definitely a nostalgic environment, and she never spent a second alone - but it’s a place she’s glad she’s still not hanging around. Shelly moved out a while back, but there are probably still a few family members her age, lurking around the homestead. “We settled on three. Now I promised Jeff we’d focus on more work-related stuff. He has a few acting gigs, and TV is calling for me to present a few things. I could be hosting a modelling contest soon. I’m gonna keep my husband’s promise and focus on work now, as well as my kids. It’s only fair.”
Roseanna scoops her daughter back from Shelly’s arms, staring into her wide open eyes. Her skin is soft and cheeks a blush-tinted pink, and her eyes are a cool grey, like her own. This girl’s gonna be storm, she thinks to herself. It’s in her eyes. She’s gonna be raging storm.