“Good morning, pumpkin.”
Skyla grinned and looked at Maya like she was expecting juicy gossip or something. She was such a weirdo and getting just as bad as Jonathan…and Maya loved it. From the time she was an only child until now, she always had her parents attention. It never once diminished even after two siblings and a whole lot of life in between.
“Did you have a good night?”
“Mom…don’t be weird.”
“What? I was just–”
“Just being nosey!”
“Just ask me what you want to ask me and get it over with.”
She patted her shoulder. “Ok, pumpkin.”
Shoes clacking echoed down the stairwell. It was Aubrey, but she rarely wore high heels. When she was in plain view, Maya checked out her feet and gasped. “I KNOW you are not wearing my shoes!”
Aubrey sucked her teeth. “You don’t even wear these anymore!”
“I wore them last night! You just go in my closet and take my stuff?”
“I wore these before and you didn’t even notice.”
Maya growled and continued eating her leftovers. Honestly, she didn’t mind that Aubrey wore the shoes. She didn’t wear them much anymore, and they made Aubrey’s outfit pop. But to know that her privacy was violated, that was annoying.
Jonathan came downstairs with Oliver and greeted everyone in a somber tone. She felt for him and wished there was something she could say to make him feel better, but the matter was so complicated. Today would be a hard day. He had been fine working with Julio planning the park up until that morning. He even went to the Estate a few times with contractors. But, today would be the last time he could cast his eyes on the family’s old home. The Pruett Estate was coming down. Well, not all of it, but most of it. Anyone who wanted to say goodbye was invited to meet at the property before the heavy equipment got there. Maya took off work, and Aubrey let the restaurant run on its own.
He put some applesauce in front of Oliver and stared at the jar. “Hmmm, I think I’ll have some of this. You want some, Sky?”
“Sure, thank you.”
“No, thank you.”
He served himself and Skyla, and they ate. She stole glances at him every now and then, clearly concerned. He looked like he was trying to stay present but clearly kept drifting into the past. Maya wanted to know what went on in his head, but it was not the time to ask.
Whether leftover lamb chops was not a good breakfast option, or she had that nasty bug Ranveer spoke of last night, her stomach was not happy again and rolled like waves on the beach.
“Are you ok, pumpkin?”
“I don’t know.”
“Maybe you should stay home,” Jonathan said. “It’s supposed to get warm today.”
“No, I want to go. I’ll be fine.”
After breakfast, they all headed to the property. Derek and Chasity were there already and greeted everyone with hugs. Jonathan held onto Derek a bit longer than Maya expected, and the scene nearly choked a tear out of her. They whispered some words to each other before they let go. Mark, Janessa, and Juliana and family arrived at the same time. Maya’s cousins had been to the Estate before. Actually, Juliana was born there. Mark said he visited once when he was a kid. Though her family surrounded her, Maya felt like an outsider. She had no fond memories to look back on while gazing upon the magnificent edifice. This house was such an important part of her family’s history, and she didn’t even know it existed until recently. Though it was hard to conjure up her own nostalgic feelings, she felt for each breaking heart that morning.
The family stood in silence, probably taking separate trips down memory lane. It was so hard to believe the Pruetts ever lived there and had so much money. The Estate was so stylish and made a bold statement. Her family members were some of the most humble people she knew. Jonathan said he used to be materialistic, but she couldn’t imagine the others being different.
Everyone’s heads jerked to the right as the roaring of big trucks down the street got louder every second. Their time to say goodbye was drawing to a close. Maya stood behind her parents and couldn’t tell what they were thinking, but she saw her mother grab her father’s hand. She wanted to stand on the other side of him and place her head on his shoulder, but Oliver was getting fussy and Aubrey handed him to her.
The trucks filed in and parked in the circular driveway. A few men got out and entered the house with their hard hats and hazmat suits. Whatever they did in there seemed to take forever. Twenty minutes later, they came out and signaled to the wrecking ball driver it was time to get started. He fired up the engine, backed up and got into position. Her mother gasped. Aunt Janessa sniffed and held onto her.
Oliver couldn’t stand the quiet and created his own entertainment, bouncing back and forth between Maya and Aubrey. It was kind of embarrassing that they couldn’t tame their brother, but everyone else seemed to be deep in thought as the wrecking ball arm raised higher and higher. Skyla let go of Jonathan’s hand and clung to him. Maya couldn’t tell if she was comforting him or looking to him for support. Maybe a little of both.
The arm went as high as it could go. At any moment it would swing toward the Estate, crashing down all the memories and remnants of their history.
“I don’t want to be here for this,” Jonathan said and walked away swiftly.
Skyla hurried after him, and everyone else agreed they should probably go too.