Status: In Time

To Caress My Day

Chapter 240: The New Owners

Twigs was slogging around her apartment when she heard a knock on her front door.

Bundled up in her robe over her pajama set, she’d been headed to the couch in her living room to shuttle her depression to another station after growing sick of being asphyxiated by it in her bedroom when an unexpected visitor decided to show up.

Opening the door, she met Simone’s mother, Jina, on the other side. She appeared to be faring better during her daughter’s absence than her daughter’s roommate presently was.

Jina had been taken aback by Twig’s drab state and attire. For as long as she knew the girl, she’d never looked so wretched before, always sunny with equally sunny smiles. Despite the startling state Twigs was in, Jina kept a smile on her face as she greeted her. “Good afternoon, dear! May I come in?”

“Y-Yes, of course.” Twigs welcomed the older woman in, stepping aside to give her access as she self-consciously touched the crooked bun on her head. Embarrassment burned her cheeks at being seen this way. Her face was pale and barren of even the most minimal of makeup, her lips felt dry, her eyes were sore from infinite crying, and her nose was stuffed up. “Um, would you like some tea?”

“I’d love some!” Jina invited, energizing the girl to scurry into the kitchen to begin the preparation. Making tea would help to hustle some of her jittery nerves away. In the meantime, Jina took one glance around the apartment her daughter used to reside in and took notice again of all the dead flower vases everywhere. Astonished by how many there were, she decided to take it upon herself to help dispose of them for Twigs while she was preoccupied with making tea.

In the kitchen, Twigs was so engrossed with her task and engulfed in her depression that she didn’t realize Jina was tidying up behind her until she went to grab the box of assorted teas. From the corner of her eye, she spotted movements by the kitchen sink and glanced over to catch the older woman tossing her lifeless roses from Valentine’s Day into a freshly unraveled trash bag. Eyes widening in horror that she was burdening herself with a duty that should be hers and hers alone, Twigs tried to interject with an outstretched hand. “Oh no, please, Mrs. Battle! You don’t have to do all that.”

“It’s no bother, honey. You make the tea, and I’ll get rid of these poor wilted beauties.” Jina instructed Twigs rather than assured her, going ahead with her efforts.

“Are you sure?” Twigs persisted, hesitating to return to the heated teapot on her stove.

Jina glanced up from casting more flowers in the trash bag and beamed a dazzling smile at the thin girl. “I’m positive, Tahliah. Focus on the tea.”

The fact that Jina used her first name prompted Twigs to return to the making of their tea. She only used her name when it meant ‘end of discussion’. Pouring the hot water into two clean mugs, she sank their tea bags into the liquid before arranging the cleared kitchen table with some biscuits, their teas, and two jars of sugar, and honey just in time for Jina to sit herself down with a sigh.

Surveying their surroundings, Twigs saw that the older woman hadn’t expelled all the vases yet, and vowed to finish the burden for her when she left. Until then, she sat across from her and sipped her tea.

“Mmm, delicious as always, my dear.” Jina complimented the young woman with an admirable nod. “So, it’s been awhile since I’ve checked on you since Simone left. How are you doing, Tahliah?”

“I’m fine…” Twigs informed her with a flitting smile, her brown eyes dropping to the deep hue of tea within her mug. “You know me, I’m happy for Simone. I’ve always wanted nothing but the best for her.”

“I know. You’ve always been supportive of our Simone. That’s why we adore you so much out of all her friends.” Jina laughed softly before her mood seemed to dishearten at the mention of her child, as if she’d been shouldering a deep-rooted sorrow for a long time. “I know I may not seem so…but I’ve been an absolute wreck since she left. My husband too though he tries to hide it when he thinks I’m not looking. We just miss our little girl so much. We didn’t think it would affect us this deeply when she first told us she was moving overseas. Not even on the day she left. But then this…despair began to thrive within us and continues to fester the longer we are apart from her.”

Twig’s brown eyes lifted to peruse Jina’s despondent face, and immediately felt horrible for her. Here she was suffering from Simone’s absence as a sister and a friend, but her parents…they were suffering even more in silence this entire time. It seemed so selfish of her now to not have considered how much others would have missed Simone just as much too. Reaching a hand out to Simone’s mother for forgiveness, Twigs miserably whispered. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Battle. I had no idea what you two were going through. I…I selfishly thought it was only me and so I never bothered to check to see if you two were okay.”

Clasping Twig’s hand in hers, Jina nodded in a dazed way, then took one sip of her tea, and announced the news that had brought her here today. “My husband and I have been talking and…we have decided to sell the apartment to an older couple that have been interested in buying it for some time now.”

“B-But then where are you gonna go?” Twigs stammered, taken aback by the unforeseen news. She hadn’t recalled hearing any rumors whispered within the halls of the apartment building of this, or any notices thumb tacked by the main office.

“To the United States by the end of the month.” Jina told her with a smile that warmed at the thought of seeing her child again soon. “To be closer to our Simone.”

“I-I don’t know what to say other than…” Twigs floundered as she tried to make sense of all the emotions jumbling in reaction to the news. For a second there was a jealousy that the Battles got to be closer to Simone than she could ever be, but it was gone in an instant. The one that clung was happiness. Bona fide happiness. “I’m happy for you two. Truly, I am.”

“Oh, of course you are! You’re the sweetest girl in the world. Not an evil bone in your body, I always said about you.” Jina told her with a laugh, placing her other hand on the back of Twig’s and giving her a heartfelt squeeze.

The sweetest girl in the world?

Twigs didn’t know if she could agree with that right now. She felt like the worst for never getting up and checking on Simone’s parents while they clearly monitored her. Even after their daughter left for California, they did their best with Twigs. They fought hard to keep the bills down as much as they could to not only help her, but their other renters as well.

Sadly, Twigs found herself still struggling to pay the bills at the end of the day.

The Battles even offered her handouts they likely didn’t offer to the renters, but Twigs wouldn’t allow herself to take them.

Sweetest girl in the world?

More like the most headstrong girl in the world!

“I came here today to personally let you know of our decision to sell the building.” Jina continued to inform Twigs. “I didn’t want you to find out through any gossip, or on any printed piece of paper outside the office. You mean more to us than just a simple renter.”

“I appreciate that. Really, I do.” Twigs thanked her, giving her hand a squeeze back.

“And I tried to put in a good word for you to the new owners.” Jina updated her as well, recalling the very conversation on the phone the other day. “I told them to take it easy on you considering what you’ve been going through as of late.”

Sensing that Jina was alluding to something else, the alarms in Twig’s head went off and immediately she sought to deflect. Forcing a laugh, she commented. “I hope that means the bills will go down more.”

Jina wasn’t so easily thwarted, her gaze never breaking from the anxious Twigs. “Tahliah. I know about your mother.”

Twigs opened and closed her mouth, before responding in a whimper. “Y-You do?”

Nodding, Jina offered a teary-eyed Twigs a listening ear. “My poor darling. Do you wanna talk about it?”

There was no escape. Without realizing it, Twigs opened her mouth and the words started flowing.