Gwendolynn Strobel
by on December 4, 2015

Cecilia set the home phone back on its hanger. Mr Alphonse had never called twice in the same month before, and never to talk to just Cecilia. Usually he just visited every few years, like the rest of her mother's old friends.
Mr. Alphonse was always friendly, asking about Saben, Cecilia's little brother, her vocal lessons, and school. He was very interested in her college education lately. Cecilia could only assume her mother had told everyone she would take a year off. She explained, she didn't want to wait a year because she was worried she couldn't go back to the structure. Mr. Alphonse asked about random things too, like if her passport was still valid or if she had a visa. What on earth did she need a visa for? As for her passport... she wasn't even sure she knew where it was.
Cecilia shook it off and went back to putting away the clean dishes. She hated doing housework when people were home. She didn't want to be busy when people were home... Once that was done she went a short ways into the living room and flopped onto the couch. The last day of winter vacation... and she had no motivation to do anything. She rolled onto her back and a photograph caught her eye. The castle ruins was her favorite photograph her mother, Faustine, had ever taken. Faustine swore Cecilia had seen them in person when they had visited France years and years ago.
Cecilia didn't remember anything about his visit. She didn't remember much before the age of ten. Her childhood was a swirl of exploring hobbies and talents-ballet, gymnastics, tap dancing, horseback riding, art and music... She did well with horses, even won a few ribbons, but music hurt her bones a little less. At fifteen she took up singing. Drawing was a great stress relief and she loved music. Singing made her happier than anything else had before... but it wasn't "the thing"... what was "her thing"?
She chuckled at herself, she was acting so spoiled. It wasn't like she was some spoiled little princess. Her parents worked very hard together despite the divorce to always make sure she could pursue any interest. She was well behaved and a good student. The only alcohol she had ever had was at home with her parents and she had never even so much as touched a cigarette. She was a dreamer, but even with her head in the clouds her feet were firmly on the ground. Save for an ugly skeleton in the closet, she had a safe and happy life. A few friends had fed on her generosity, but one friend kept in touch when she wasn't buying everyone lunch anymore. This friend was even keeping touch while studying abroad.
Study abroad... Nucca had begged Cecilia to go with her... She was studying photography all over Europe. For all the things Cecilia's parents had supported in the past, she couldn't ask them to fund a trip across Europe. What would she study anyway? Maybe Mr. Alphonse would have housed them while they were in France since he was such a big time ambassador... or... whatever he was. Never mind all that, she didn't go and that was that.
Keys ratted outside and Cecilia sat up to greet Faustine.
"Why is your car all packed up hon?" Her mother called from the kitchen.
"I have to go back tonight, I have a voice lesson tomorrow and I got a job in the library," Cecilia said back. It was a small house. From Cecilia's seat in the living room she could see all of the kitchen and most of the dining room. There was a little hall to the bedrooms. It was the perfect little house for a little family. Faustine looked into the sink. Cecilia looked a lot like her mother. They had the same brown eyes and hair, though Faustine's had faded and Cecilia still had a rounded, youthful face.
"Thank you for doing the dishes," Faustine said. Cecilia nodded. "And you vacuumed, you hate the vacuum." She made her way into the living room.
"As long as I'm the one steering, I don't hate the vacuum," Cecilia said with a little smile. Like most children, she had once been terrified of the vacuum. Faustine sat in a chair next to the couch. Faustine started channel surfing on the television. Cecilia was not the least bit interested in the news, it was always bad. "Mr. Alphonse called while you were out." The remote slipped out of Faustine's hand. She quickly picked it back up.
"Oh? Odd of him to call again so soon. Is he going to call back, did he need something?" Faustine asked. Cecilia looked at her mother... why was she started?
"No, he said he just wanted to talk to me," Cecilia answered Her mother wasn't looking at her on purpose. Cecilia frowned.
"What did you two talk about?"
"College... Christmas... if we had plans for my birthday."
"Anything else?" Faustine asked quietly.
"No... should we have talked about something else?" Cecilia asked. Faustine was silent for a long time. "Mom?"
"No, I suppose not... are you staying for dinner at least?" She asked.
Cecilia nodded... but something was off...