Taking Chances

For the Young Movellist of the Year - Moving was part of Beatrice 'Bea' Howard's life, but what happens when this time it's the last time she has to do it while under her mother's roof?


1. Chapter 1

                                                                Chapter one


Moving wasn't something I enjoyed.


I hated packing everything I had set out perfectly in my room into small boxes that got bashed around by the movers – people that didn’t have the slightest concern for the things inside. I hated having to avoid my own home like the plague when the estate agent had a new family in to look around. I hated having to hide all the memories because, and I quote from the snotty estate agent herself, ‘families like to imagine themselves in the home. They want to be able to picture their own things on the shelves and their children helping them bake in the kitchen. The families want to picture the holidays their own way, without all your bits and pieces getting in the way.’


The thing I hated the most had to be the current estate agent.


“Now, Bea,” she said, continuing to tap away at her Blackberry. “I’m going to need you to paint over those pictures in your room.”


At first the words didn’t quite register with me and I just stared blankly at her. “What?” I finally said, frowning.


“I said-” I think she was going to give up talking to me soon, something I was looking forward to “-that you need to paint over those pictures you’ve doodled on your wall.”


“Those doodles are my art work,” I snapped.


She looked up from her phone – a miracle in itself – and stared at me. “How can a family picture themselves in your room if you aren’t taking away the things that restrict that view?”


Grunting, I turned on my heel and walked back into the house. My artwork was something I took with me from house to house but this one was considerably smaller than the last one we were in so I didn’t have much room for the canvases. I made a mental note to get the paintings down from the attic before we left.


“Oh, Bea,” my mom cooed, spotting me as I made my way down the hallway to my room. “Do you remember this?” she asked, holding up a bear I vaguely recognised from my childhood. “I remember you never slept without him. I found him under my bed.”


My nose scrunched up as I ran my eyes over the almost matted fur of the brown bear. It must have been at least two years since I last saw it and I wondered where it went, but I didn’t bother looking for it since I was fifteen and too old for bears.


“What was its name?” she asked, tapping the head of the bear as she thought. “Boo?”


“Boo?” I repeated but I was hoping the name of the bear was enough distraction to allow me to flee to my room.


“Or Bill...”


Darting down the rest of the hallway, I allowed the safety of my room to comfort me but it wasn’t long before I realised that it wasn’t my room. Not anymore.


The doodles the snotty woman was referring to were actually paintings of past scenery. For the time when we lived in a small snowy town, I painted small snowflakes; for the time when we lived in a really hot village that barely had any rain I painted a bright sun in the corner of the room; for the time we lived near a forest I painted trees with bright leaves. Every single home I’ve ever had would be featured somehow on my wall, and I didn’t want to paint over it.




 “Mom,” I squeaked, spinning around to look at her. “You scared me.”


“His name was Barney,” she said happily. “I can pack him away and not have the thought pestering me.”


I stared at her before shaking my head and sighing. “Mom, she wants me to paint over this.”


She looked up at the wall and frowned – something that happened rarely. “Oh, dear. She does have a point though, sweetie. The new people won’t want this in their room. I think I heard a baby might be getting this room. They’d want to create their own memories in here.”


“You’re sounding exactly like her,” I pointed out, pursing my lips. “I think you’ve been around too many of them.”


A sigh left her lips as she looked at me. “I know where she’s coming from, sweetie. You need to take this down.”


I looked at the piece of work and thought of how long I spent on it. It was going to be painted over and no one would ever see it – hell, the only people that have seen it are myself, my mom and the snotty estate agent.


“Fine,” I mumbled. “I’ll take it down, okay?”


“Thank you, sweetie,” she said, kissing my cheek and smiling brightly. “I’ll get the paint from the garage.”


Turning away from her retreating figure, I sat down on my bed and sighed. The rest of my room was purple with small glow in the dark stars stuck on. They didn’t glow, but I liked having them there. They moved from house to house with me.


“Aren’t you going to take those stars with you?” my mom asked when she walked in a few minutes later, a purple pot of paint in her hands. “They do move as much as us.”


As I looked at the stars and thought about where they could possibly go in the new room I was going to be moving into, I couldn’t help but wonder should I take them with me? My mom did say this was another fresh start. Did I still want to be known as the girl that’s moved around so much because of her mom’s past?


“I’ll think about it,” I told her, standing up and taking the paint from her.



I didn’t like it.


The bold purple paint looked strange and it made me feel even more depressed about moving from this familiar room.

The only memory I would have of the largest painting I’ve done would be saved on my camera and phone, although those could easily be erased – just like the rest of the memories from the other homes fading.


“Sweetie, another family is coming to view the home in a few hours. Linda asked if we could leave soon so she can set up.”

I set the paint brush on top of the pot of paint and looked over my shoulder at my mom – who I noticed had changed out of her ‘home clothes’ and into a long skirt and light pink top with black cardigan. She looked young enough to pull off the look.


“Where are we going to go?”


“I was thinking we could get some new bedding for the new house.”


“We have bedding,” I pointed out, picking a piece of paint splatter off my arm. “I’d rather go for ice-cream if we have to go out.”


There was a soft sigh before she said, “okay, we can do to Benny’s instead.”


I pursed my lips and nodded. Benny’s was local ice-cream shop that most of the town went to, I did love going there with my mom but it slowly stopped when she met Bryan. It would be nice to see it one last time before we left.


“See you down stairs in half an hour?”


“Okay,” I agreed before going back to painting over pieces of art work I had done elsewhere around the room.


Silence settled around the room and the only thing that made a noise was the bristles of the paintbrush scraping against the wall. I enjoyed the noise, it was a comfort, and it was something that wouldn’t change in my always-moving life.


Time passed by quickly and before I knew it the alarm I had set for half an hour went off, startling me into dropping the brush and splattered paint on the floor. I silently cursed and looked around for something to wipe it up with – or even cover it; I wouldn’t have enough time to clean it.


“I’m coming,” I called down the stairs to my mom, hoping she would stay down there and not come up to find out what was taking me – a habit she picked up since I took a while to find my shoes in the mess of my room.


Dragging a plant pot from the corner of my room onto the spot, I wondered if my mom would notice the difference but shrugged it off, leaving Linda to explain it to someone that moved it when they came around.


“I’m here,” I said when I noticed my mom tapping her sandal clad feet. “Couldn’t find my jacket, sorry.”


She smiled at me and nodded, leading me outside to her car. “I think I want toffee,” she said, “I haven’t had that since we last went there. How long ago was that?”


“Probably last year.”


My mom shook her head and frowned slightly – one thing about her frown, you could still see her smile playing around the edges if you looked close enough. “I was sure we’ve been there since then.”


“Then you must have gone with someone else,” I told her, shrugging. “I haven’t been there since then.”


We got into the car and I turned the radio on, not wanting to go down memory lane as we drove away from the house, which would be added to the pile in my mind that was growing more and more, soon going to topple over and I would forget.


Benny’s was easy to spot. There was a bright red stripe going around the top of the building and the glowing yellow sign could be spotted from a mile off. In the windows there was cartoon ice-creams with smiles on their faces and black stick figure arms. Through the largest window I could see the small jungle gym they had to entertain the hyperactive kids until the parents got to take them home, worn out and sleepy.


“I remember when we first moved here and you and the little girl next door went into the jungle gym,” my mom commented, getting out of the car and looking in the same direction as me. “Didn’t you get stuck in the slide?”


I sighed, hating that she liked to bring this story up. “Yeah, I got stuck,” I mumbled, shaking my head. She grinned at me and it was so infectious that I managed a small smile back. “Come on, let’s get your toffee ice-cream,” I said, looping my arm through hers and heading towards the door.


Even if she wasn’t around much I still loved these moments I had alone with her, I could go back to being miffed later, as long as I had her time now.


“What would you like?” she asked then rolled her eyes. “What am I saying? Mint chocolate chip, right?”


“Right,” I agreed, nodding.


After finding a table that wasn’t too close to the jungle gym and wasn’t sticky I sat down and my mom went over to the counter to order our ice-cream.


From my spot I could see the whole white and red tiled floor and the people on it. I noticed a small group of teenagers, all part of the same classes as me. They had seen me and they knew I had seen them, but none of us did a thing about it. My closest friend, out of the group, Emily, nodded her head in my direction but made no move to come over to me – I knew she wouldn’t, just like she knew I wasn’t going to go over to her.


When I found out that I was moving, again, I began my routine I had come up with years before.


I would start by declining invitations to go out, which meant I missed events that caused me to slowly lose track of conversations in the group and I wouldn’t have any part of their little social bubble, which led to the second step. I would start to hang out in the library, doing homework or reading any book that caught my eye. Soon they would stop calling me and inviting me out, they would stop sitting with me during lunch, and soon they would stop talking to me altogether.


It was a depressing plan, but I saw no point in dealing with goodbyes. I had enough of those already.


“I got you extra chocolate chips,” my mom said, placing the bowl in front of me and smiling.


“Thank you.” I smiled back at her and scooped up some of the ice-cream. It brought a lot of memories but I swallowed them down with the mint.


“Aren’t those your friends?” she asked, looking over at the group of teenagers, who where now using spoons to catapult soup-like ice-cream at the other person.


My eyes lingered on them a moment longer before shaking my head. “No, they aren’t.”


The lie was obvious. My mom had seen Emily around the house when she had slept over on the odd occasion that we didn’t finish our homework in time for her to drive home without her dad freaking out.


Knowing I didn’t want to talk about it, my mom didn’t say anything and started a conversation about the new house, and the to-die-for view.




“Can you smell cookies?” I asked as we stepped through the front door.


“It’s a technique to make the home smell more... homely.”


At the sound of Linda’s voice I frowned. I thought she would have left along with the happy family that was going to buy our home.


“I’d like to think our home already smelt homely, since we lived in it and everything,” I told her then looked at my mom, who frowned and shook her head. She hated when I didn’t try to get along with the estate agents.


It wasn’t my fault I hated them trying to sell our home.


“I’m going up to my room.”


“I do hope you will at least try to scrub that paint stain off,” Linda commented as she looked down at her phone, already signalling she wasn’t expecting a reply from me.


My cheeks tinged pink when my mom looked at me with a raised eyebrow. I didn’t say anything, just quickly walked upstairs to my room and shut the door behind me.  


The pot had moved from the spot above the paint but I paid no attention to it, I just walked over to my bed and dropped down, my face pressing against the cold pillow.


The more people that came around and walked through my room, the more it felt like I was being pushed out of it. Like now, it felt like I was lying in a bed in the department store in town. It didn’t feel like my own, nothing felt like my own in here anymore.


“Sweetie, can I come in?”


I paused before calling out a yes. I wanted to blame someone for selling my home and naturally it went towards my mom, but I didn’t want to blame her, it just happened sometimes when I spoke to her.


She pushed open my door and poked her head in. “Are you okay, sweetie?”


I turned my head to the side, squashing my face against the pillow, and shrugged the best I could. “As okay as I can be while lying in a room that doesn’t feel like my own while a woman that clearly doesn’t like me tries to sell the house and the memories that come with it.”


Clearly, she took that as a no so she walked over to my bed and sat down. Her fingers gently stroked through my hair and sighed. “I’m sorry, sweetie. You know how it is.”


“I don’t, not really.” I admitted but I knew I wouldn’t go against her. We were all each other had and I wasn’t going to mess that up because I was being a spoilt brat.


“I’m sorry,” she said, kissing my forehead. “I promise you will love it there. The sea isn’t far away from the house and there’s even an ice-cream shop!”


I couldn’t help it, her enthusiasm was too much, I smiled and shook my head. “I love you, mom.”


“I love you, too, sweetie,” she replied barely within a second. I knew she thought I hated her for what she put us through, but I never could. “How about you get some sleep and I’ll make you some pancakes in the morning?”


My nose scrunched up slightly. “Plain pancakes?”


“Of course not,” she said, faking a gasp.


A laugh escaped my lips before I could stop it. “I’m sorry; I shouldn’t doubt your pancake cooking and preparing abilities.”


“That’s right, you shouldn’t,” she scolded lightly, flicking my forehead. “Extra strawberries if you get up before midday.”


“Deal,” I said instantly, holding my numb hand out.


Shaking on it, I knew that at least I had something to look forward to tomorrow, besides the news of who got our home. 

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