One in a Million

Life as a House

It had been a crazy couple of weeks during which the entire city seemed to have gotten hockey fever, and driving down the calm streets of the city she’d grown up in, Lucy Kristiansen couldn’t help but appreciate the drastic change in pace. Familiar neighborhoods passed by outside the car as she had her foot pulled up on the cool, light-colored leather seat, the sight of them enough to make a smile spread across her lips and it only grew in width as she realized just how little the place had actually changed in the past couple of years.

For many years she had expected Thunder Bay, Ontario to be where she would settle down and have a family, and then High School managed to teach her a thing or two about life.

Like the fact that it rarely, if ever, works out the way you expect it to.

Spending the first semester of her senior year as an exchange student in the beautiful city of Bordeaux in the south of France, she’d come to the realization that she wasn’t meant to stay in the lakeside city in western Ontario for the rest of her life.

So after returning to the country of France for two consecutive years after her high school graduation, first to travel and then to study French and European History, she’d proceeded to enroll at University of North Caroline – Chapel Hill and quite honestly never looked back.

Having taken to spending most of her summer either working or staying with her only living grandparents out in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she rarely ever returned to the town that had once been the center of her universe. She’d been back for the occasional wedding, a birthday here and there, and even a funeral, but it had been almost eight years since she’d been back with the intention of staying for longer than a weekend.

There was a reason why she didn’t like coming back, a reason that was now causing her to feel slightly queasy from all the nervous butterflies that were flying around in her stomach. But at the same time it would be an outright lie if she claimed that she wasn’t at least a bit excited to be back.

And according to her mother, your 25th birthday was something you just needed to get excited for.

Especially when you were celebrating it together with a boy, now a man, who’d practically been your surrogate brother when you were growing up.

The bright summer sun shining down from a clear blue sky, she thanked her lucky stars that her car had climate control as she slowed down and turned left off the main road and onto a much smaller one that was flanked with signs reminding whoever driving there that they were entering private property. It was a narrow enough road that two cars couldn’t pass each other on it and being that small it wasn’t paved, the gravel covering it crunching beneath the weight of the vehicle.

Reaching the actual driveway, she slowed to a stop outside the garage that matched the expensive- and futuristic-looking house that was her parents’ lifework and ultimate dream home. Putting the silver Audi Q5 in park, she grabbed her iPhone from one of the compartments in the center console before stepping out into the humid air.

Letting out a sigh of satisfaction at feeling solid ground beneath her feet, she stretched her lean arms above her head to reduce at least some of the stiffness in her muscles. The drive had taken almost twelve hours but it felt much longer and only having stopped for gas a couple of times as well as for something to eat and drink, her back currently felt like she might just need to visit a chiropractor in a not so distant future.

The warm sunrays hitting her already lightly tanned and cool skin, she breathed in the familiar, yet now unfamiliar, air that smelled of freshly cut grass, salty sea breezes and something indefinite that was distinctively country.

Tugging slightly on the fabric of her fitted denim Bermuda shorts and making sure that the thin material of her loose tank top wasn’t sticking to her back, she squinted slightly beneath the brim of the military style cap on her head as she gazed up on the house before her.

It certainly wasn’t the kind of house you would expect to find out here, but it was the place she had called her home since before she even reached her teens.

Ever since they had met many years earlier, her parents had shared a dream of one day building their dream home and when she’d been a few months shy of turning nine, they had put the proverbial foot down and began doing just that. A little over two years later and they had all moved into the house before her.

Patrick Kristiansen being a structural engineer and Miranda Kristiansen, nee Robins, being an architect, everyone who would be affected by the build knew from the get-go that the place wouldn’t be your everyday suburban house. It would be designed, it would be different, it would stand out.

And stand out it certainly did.

Located on the edge of a hill, overlooking the bay from which the city got its name, the two story home made mostly out of glass and wood stood out just as much as it fit into the forest that surrounded the immaculately kept lawns on the property.

Three of the four walls on the house, the ones overlooking the bay, were made out of nothing but metal beams and large glass panels, and the last one, the one she was currently facing, was covered in aged oak, allowing the place to blend with the woods.

With just two massive concrete fireplaces in the middle of the house to support the whole structure, as well as the flat, tin roof, the whole place had amazing views of the bay outside. The fireplaces weren't just structural; they also provided the house and the under floor heating with warm water, the latter which managed to keep the whole place warm even during the freezing cold winter months.

Taking another deep breath, her keys and her phone in hand, she slowly walked across the gravel driveway, unable to deny that it truly was a one-of-a-kind dream house.

Feeling just as home as she always did when she was back there, she didn’t bother locking her car as she approached the large double doors that were barely distinguishable from the rest of the outer wall.

The sun slowly setting towards the horizon, she knew from the number of cars in the drive that her family was in so when she reached out, gripping the metal handle on the right of the two doors and pulling, she wasn’t surprised to find it unlocked.

Walking into the cool home, letting the heavy door glide shut behind her with a surprisingly soft click, she toed off her loosely tied Adidas trainers and continued further into the house. Her sock-clad feet slipping slightly on the white polished tile-floor that covered most of the ground floor, she was just barely able to make out the familiar voices that traveled in to the house from the large back patio.

Quickening her pace, she passed a black baby grand piano in the middle of the house and soon reached the large, stylish and somewhat minimalistic kitchen with its stainless steel appliances and dark wood cabinets, all topped off with heavy oak counter tops.

Drifting slightly on the polished tiles as she shuffled around the corner of the large kitchen island, she silently thanked her father for putting in large sliding glass doors along the entire back of the house, and whoever had left a few of them open.

Stepping out onto the teak deck of the back patio, the humid Thunder Bay air once again hitting her, one word was enough to catch the attention of the three people sitting around the large wooden dining table.

“Hi.”

She wasn’t sure who reacted first, but before she could do much reacting herself, she was engulfed in a group hug by both her mother and her younger sister.

Being back home was going to be far from easy, but this made it a thousand times easier than she had thought it would be just early the same morning. She was going to have to face a number of demons from her past, deal with skeletons she’d rather just stayed buried, see people she’d been avoiding for years. All whist preparing herself for her quarter of a century birthday.

That alone was enough to make her want to go running back to Chicago, but feeling her mother’s and her sister’s arms wrapped tightly around her was enough to make her want to stay.



Her mother insisting on feeding her after commenting on how she was just skin and bones, Lucy humored her and ate the leftovers she was presented with, despite knowing that she was perfectly healthy and could probably afford to lose a pound or two if she wanted to stop sucking in when buttoning up her jeans. Sitting at the table out on the deck, she answered her parents’ questions about her life as best she could and shared a couple of stories from her past months in Chicago before the two of them had to retreat to bed, it was a week night and they both had work in the morning.

The sun having set into the trees a while ago, the two sisters exchanged their wineglasses for warm cups of tea and ventured down the three flights of stairs along the hillside, the railing lined with softly lit fairy lights. Bypassing the actual dock that jutted out into the lake, they walked along the deck that was built above the rocky shoreline and sat down in two of the four white Adirondack chairs that were standing out there.

“So how’s Chicago been treating you?” Lily, her 23-year-old sister, asked her, a smirk hiding behind the rim of her tea-cup.

“It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, that’s for sure,” Lucy admitted slowly, smiling softly as she thought back to the recent weeks in her new hometown.

“I watched the parade with Tom and Amanda,” Lily smiled widely, enjoying the blush that spread across her older sister’s cheeks.

Working for Blackhawks TV combined with having befriended a few of the players on the team that could now call themselves the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, meant that she’d had front row seats to most of the celebrations and that she’d been invited along on the open top busses during the parade through the city. And considering that she had barely left their side since that winning game in Philadelphia almost two days prior to the parade taking place, she had a pretty good feeling that she hadn't exactly been ready for her close-up in those pictures and video clips.

“You did, did you?” Lucy nodded slowly, not quite sure what to say to that actually. After all, there were still a few things that were a bit fuzzy around the edges.

“I'm being completely serious when I say that I’ve seen more of you in the past couple of weeks than I have done in the past couple of years combined,” Lily confirmed with a short nod. “But at least you can say that you’ve lifted the Cup twice now too,” she joked, only to quickly backtrack as she saw the dark flicker that passed across her sister’s blue eyes.

“Always something,” Lucy nodded stiffly, taking a sip of her tea as she forced all the memories that threatened to escape back into the box in the back of her mind where she’d kept them for the past ten years.

“So how long are you back for this time?” Lily wondered, not so subtlety changing the subject.

“Till the end of August, maybe early September,” Lucy replied softly. “I'm not completely sure myself actually,” she admitted with a slight smile. “It really depends on when they need me back and when the team decided to start training camp.”

“So basically you're heading back when I go back to university?” Lily deciphered, happy to get to spend some much needed quality time with her only sister without having to leave the country to do so.

“Sounds about right,” Lucy agreed with a nod. “Although I do have to trail Sharpy when he brings the Cup back here and then head out to Winnipeg for a few days when it’s Tazer’s turn with it,” she revealed, almost sounding as if it was an afterthought. “Apart from that, you're stuck with me for the rest of the summer,” she said with a wide smile.

“Yeah, cause that’s what people normally do during their summers, follow Captain Serious around for three days,” Lily rolled her blue eyes. “Without getting arrested, I mean,” she added, causing her sister to laugh softly. “How come you get to have all the hot friends?” she whined just like her five year old self had.

“You big baby,” Lucy rolled her eyes at her. “You know just as many hot men as I do,” she pointed out frankly. “Besides, most of Canada would consider sharing a bathtub with both Marc Staal and Tom Pyatt to be a pretty good deal too.”

“I was seven!” Lily exclaimed as she looked over at her sister who was no longer as blonde as she was. “I barely even remember that.”

“Sweetie,” Lucy smiled cheekily as she stretched out her legs in front of her, wiggling her French Manicured toes slightly. “You were an unbelievably tacky teenager and you lost your virginity to Marc’s cousin, in Taylor’s childhood bed, on the night of Carly’s twentieth birthday,” she reminded her, this time making the younger of the two blush brightly. “Slip that on Facebook and you will be just as hated as I am by certain people.”

“Well, it’s not like it was with an actual Staal-brother,” Lily rebutted. “Unlike others in present company,” she added with an arched brow and a pointed look.

“Ouch,” Lucy noted dryly as she sipped her tea, unable to keep a tiny smile from playing across her lips, despite the current topic of conversation. She’d missed this, this being simple girl-talk with her sister. They were and always had been very close so it was hard being away from each other, rarely seeing each other in person.

“I'm just stating facts here,” Lily shrugged innocently.

“I can’t even believe that I ever told you that,” Lucy wanted to berate herself for it. “And for the record, you should never bring that up again,” she glared at her sister. “Like ever!”

“It’s not like I wouldn’t have been able to work that one out on my own if you hadn’t told me about it,” Lily rolled her eyes at her sister’s naivety. “I mean you dated the guy for I don’t know how many years and it doesn’t exactly take a genius to figure out what happened all those times you stated over at his house,” she added dryly. “And don’t for a second think that I don’t know what happened during all those parties you two went to, or that I didn’t see him sneaking out of here when I was younger.”

“Thank you, for bringing that up by the way,” Lucy drawled, suddenly remembering exactly why she’d loved her sister so much more after she had moved away from home.

“Are you sure that you're going to be okay? With being back here and all?” Lily asked softly, a serious look across her face. “I mean, you do know that he’s back home, right?”

“Mom might have mentioned it,” Lucy nodded stiffly, not liking the direction the conversation was heading in. “And I'm going to wing it,” she admitted softly.

“When was the last time you saw them?” Lily wondered as she observed the older woman.

“I saw Jordan and Marc just a couple of months ago, during the Olympic break,” Lucy reminded her. When the season was put on hold and a number of players headed up to Vancouver to represent their countries in the Olympic Winter Games, she’d headed south. More specifically to the Caribbean on a short vacation with Marc, his girlfriend Lindsay and a recently single Jordan.

“God, I hate you,” Lily groaned loudly as she remembered the postcard and Facebook updates she’d gotten, causing her sister to laugh at her once again.

Her baby sister getting what could only be described as a booty-call by text a short while later, Lucy stayed down by the lake as Lily left. Taking in the barely there sounds of nature and the water lapping at the rocks beneath the deck, both which were light-years away from the constant buzz of the big city that constantly surrounded her back in Chicago, she really tried to not reconsider her choice to come back home.

In the back of her mind, firmly under lock and key, was a Pandora’s Box filled with memories and emotions that she hadn't yet had the strength to properly deal with.

And sitting there, on the private deck, she couldn’t help but suspect that being back in her home town, once again surrounded by people who knew her a little too well, it would all come rushing back and she would have to deal with it long before she was ready to.
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Like I've mentioned before, I do tend to make polyvore sets for the leading lady.
You don't have to look at it, I'm trying to get better at describing things and what they're wearing within the story, or skipping it completely, but it'll be there if you want to have a look.
Lucy