Sunday, 22 March 2009
05:44:22 AM (GMT)
I pulled open the mosaic door to my favorite store, Galaxy Paints, and listened to
the little bell tinkle above my head. I inhaled deeply, taking in the smell of paint,
oil and wax. This store was like my second home. I'd contributed so much to it. I'd
helped make the mosaic door, paint the walls, stack new shipments of items on shelves
and even got to play with the register a bit. But this summer, I was going to get the
job. I was going to be a real worker at Galaxy Paints, even if it was only
I glided past the huge canvases and the shelf full of crayons and markers of
different brands. I was about to go into my future boss's office, when I heard the
clatter of something on the tile. I went to investigate, only to find Kyle, putting
the five gallons of paint onto shelves. Kyle had started working at Galaxy Paints
about a year ago. He was only nineteen and he was an art major at the University of
"Need help," I asked. He smiled.
"Thanks. It's not too heavy, though. It's just getting it up on the top shelf. I
didn't want you thinking I was a wimp or something." I laughed.
"Nah, I'll help you." I grabbed the can and he grabbed the other side. We both lifted
it up and slid it up on the shelf. "It wasn't that heavy."
"That's because there were two of us. And I was mostly doing all the work." I laughed
at his comment. "Come on." I followed him back up to the cash registers and he slid
up on the counter. "So...how's your summer so far?"
"Not bad, actually. I think I'm probably going to be spending most of my time here."
"You got the job," he asked, surprised.
"Did you not want me to? Mrs. Larson wanted me to start today by getting my nametag
and my apron," I replied.
"No, I'm glad you got it. Want me to make your nametag for you," he asked. I nodded.
He hopped off the counter and went into a small closet area. He came out with a plain
green apron and a lable maker. I took the apron and put it on.
"I might have to Bedazzle this or something. It's too plain compared to this room."
He chuckled and turned on the lable maker.
"What do you want me to put in?"
"Um...if Cassiopeia fits, I'd rather you put that in."
"Cassie-what," Kyle asked.
"Cassiopeia. It's a constellation."
"Oh, that's a pretty name. It's really different."
"Thanks. What can I say, my parents were hippies." He chuckled.
"So, that's C-a-s-s-i-o-p-e-i-a, right? Unless you spell it with a 'y'." I shook my
"Nope, you had it right," I said as he pounded in the letters. The lable came out and
he stuck it on a pin with a flat surface on it.
"Do you want me to put it on," he asked, his fingers inches away from me. I nodded.
He grabbed a bit of the fabric and slid the pin in, securing it in place.
"Salnut, Mom," I said as I waltzed into my house. The apron was slung over my
shoulder for when I was going to decorate it later. I rubbed the nametag and felt my
face flush and my heart beat harder as I remembered Kyle's touch.
"Bonjour, Cassie," my mother, Jacqueline said in French. She continued, "How was your
first day on the job?" We always spoke French around the house since my mother wasn't
as fluent in English as regular people are. My mother and I moved to America from
France when I was ten. Out in public, I hate translating for my mother.
"Not bad. How was your day? What are you cooking?" I walked over to the fridge and
grabbed a bottle of water.
"My day was good. This is vegetable soup," Jacqueline said as she stirred the pot of
soup. "Your father called today." I gulped.
"He did? What did he have to say?" I was still stiff.
"He wants you to spend summer vacation with him in Europe. He's not doing any
projects at the moment and he wants to spend time with you."
"Why does he want to spend time with me now? What happened to the last three years,"
"Lower your voice, Cassiopeia. Your father wants to take you to Europe. He told me
that you are flying to France."
"And what if I don't want to go," I challenged, my voice rising in pitch. My mother
put her head in her hands.
"Cassie, just do this for me. Your father wants to spend quality time with you.
You're leaving on the thirty-first." My mother left the kitchen and headed to her
room. I stood looking at the kitchen. Then it hit me, I'd have to quit my newly
accquired job at the art store. I sat down and and put my own head in my hands.
I didn't speak to anyone since my mother told me about going to France. The next day,
I took my apron and nametag back. I talked to Kyle and my boss about it and then gave
back my apron. Kyle told me to secretly keep the nametag and he hugged me good-bye.
"Good-bye, in French, is 'au revoir.'"
"Then au revoir, Cassie. I hope to see you here when you come back."
"Me too. Bye, Kyle." I left the store, feeling devastated and crushed. Walking home
silently, I thought of my father's trip. What would we do there? I thought. I tried
to remember her father.
My father was a tall man, named Charles. He was a college professor at Harvard. He
had a few books out on various subjects. It was hard to go anywhere with him without
people asking for autographs and questions like 'What did you think when you wrote
Global Anatomy and Physiology of the Natural World and what side did you stand on
that topic?' or other lenghty questions with too many big words. I hadn't seen him in
three years, when I was about thirteen, when he came out to visit my mom and I. He
had divorced my mother a few months after that visit. I still got cards and presents
from him on my birthday or Christmas. I'd be getting on a plane in four days, headed
to France to meet my father.
The four days flew by fast and early Sunday morning, I found herself hugging my
mother tightly in the middle of Tucson International Airport. I had my backpack slung
over my shoulder and my small suitcase in my left hand. My right was wrapped around
"I'll see you in two months, Cassie. Je t'aime," my mother said.
"I love you, too," I said in English. My mother gave me one last tight squeeze and
pulled back. I could tell she was holding back tears, just like myself.
"See you soon," my mother said, struggling to put together the words in English. I
nodded and a single tear slipped down my cheek. My mother looked me over and sighed.
"Do not be late for flight." She wiped the tear away. "Have fun." She smiled, but the
smiled didn't reach her eyes.
"I'll call you as soon as I land, okay," I said in French. My mother nodded. We
hugged one last time, before I turned and headed to catch my plane.
The plane ride was a day's flight and the plane was stopping in Atlanta, Georgia to
trade planes and then flying to Paris to meet my father. I hadn't been on a plane in
such a long time. When I found my seat, I stowed my backpack in the cabin space and
took the window seat. It had always been my favorite spot. I was able to look out and
see the ocean and the land beneath me. I settled in for the ride.
They played a few movies like Harry Potter, one of my favorite movies and the flight
attendants gave out thin coloring books and a few crayons. Around 12 o' clock, they
landed in Atlanta and I had some lunch before they were supposed to leave again. My
flight took off again around two, and that night, I ate a small salad and watched a
movie before I dozed off. The next morning, I awoke to the bright light coming
through the window. I checked my neighbor's watch. The plane would be landing in
about two hours. Around noon, my plane landed at Charles de Gaulle International
Airport in Paris.
"Hey, Kiddo. How was your flight?"
"It was fine."
"Are you hungry?"
"Not really. I had a salad last night."
"You really should eat something more. Maybe even something with a little protein.
You seem...pale." I shrugged in reply. My father was exactly as I remembered him:
annoying and overbearing. I had some of his characteristics, sharing the same color
of chestnut brown hair and brown eyes. I'd also inherited some of his height.
My father was about 6-feet tall, and my mother had been about 5'4". I was about 5'7".
The rest of me pretty much looked like my mom.
After we walked for a bit inside the airport, my father suddenly spun around and
wrapped me in a tight bear hug. I couldn't breathe and thought of squirming out of my
father's arms, but felt too tired to. I hugged him back. "Cassie...I need to talk to
you about something."
"Okay." He smiled, and it felt like some of the tenseness my father was putting out
had gone. "I should've spoken to you previously, but I just thought if I'd told you
then, you wouldn't come and I missed you, Cass. Promise you won't be mad when I tell
"I promise. Stop beating around the bush, Dad. Just tell me what's wrong, or I'll
assume that it's worse than it actually is." I said, looking up at him.
"Okay. I brought some people with me. Some people I work with-"
"What do you mean you 'brought people'? Like, people I don't know."
"Well, yes. Are you alright," he asked.
"Yeah. Let's go meet them."
"Let me prepare you. Don't be mad."
"Alright. Let's go." He took my suitcase and we walked for a few minutes until we
came to a food court area with a few restaurants around. I saw a woman with vibrant
red hair pinned tightly back in a bun look up and smile. When we got close enough,
she stalked over. I hadn't noticed what she'd been wearing before, but I checked out
the starnge woman. The woman was wearing an emerald pantsuit with serious black
stilettos. She wore a gold bracelet on her wrist. She was pleasantly pretty. She
walked over and extened her arm, giving me her hand to shake.
"Hell-oh," she said. "My name is Jillian." I stared at her for a minute with a
furrowed brow. I heard her ask my father if I understood.
"I understand perfectly fine. I speak English well, thanks. It's almost as good as my
French is." The woman seemed taken aback and sort of hurt. I felt a nudge in my ribs
from my father. "Anyway, I'm Cassie."
"Well, let me introduce you to my daughter." Jillian said, unsure of me now. She
grabbed my father's hand and that's when I figured out that my father was going out
with this Jillian person. I was shocked, but I wasn't mad. Of course, since my father
had been divorced from my mother for three years, he deserved to date, but he was
still my father. I followed the couple over to a booth where a girl about my age was
When we reached the table, my father put the suitcase down and I slipped my backpack
off. "Cassie," Jillian said, "This is Gabrielle." The girl waved.
"You can just call me Gabby. Here, sit down." Gabby scooted over on the booth seat. I
smiled and sat next to her. My father and Jillian sat across from us.
"So, how old are you?"
"Oh. That's cool. I'm fifteen. What grade are you in? I'm a sophomore. I go to this
boarding school in London. You should go to London sometime. It's the best..." Gabby
rambled on. I listened and shook my head every once in awhile, to make it look as if
I were listening. I was actually watching and listening discreetly to my father and
Jillian. Suddenly, my father looked up to acknowlege someone.
"Hello, Adam. Did you get the van?" The person was standing right behind me.
"Yep. It's outside." This 'Adam' person tossed the keys to my father, who caught
"Well, is anybody ready for some lunch? I'm starving," my father offered.
"I'm pretty hungry," Adam said, and settled in the booth behind me.
"I could eat something, I guess. How about you, Gabby?" I just now noticed how
annoying and nasally Jillian's voice was.
"Yeah. I'm kind of hungry, also."
"How about you, Cass?" I shrugged. "Okay. What does everyone want," my father asked,
getting a pad of paper and a pen out of Jillian's purse. He scribbled something that
looked like steak.
"Just get me a salad and a bottle of sparkling water. Thanks, Sweetie."
"I'll take a burger or something along that line."
"I'll just have a salad or a sandwich."
"What about you, Cass?" I shrugged again. "Well, I get you something and surprise
you." My father walked off.
"Jillian, I'm going to use the phone to call my mother, alright."
"That's fine. Don't go far." I got up from the booth and walked for a little while
away from the noisy food court. I got my cell phone out of my pocket and dialed my
house number. It only rang twice.
"Hello?" My mom asked. I had to teach her to say that when answering the phone.
"Bonjour, Mom. I landed in Paris fine. My flight was long though."
"That's good. Are you with Charles now?"
"Yeah. He just went to get something to eat. Mom, he's got a new girlfriend."
"Quoi? A new girlfriend? What's she like?"
"She...seems nice. But, she's totally not Dad's type." I walked back and forth in the
small standing area.
"Oh. Well, that's nice for your father."
"You're not jealous! How can you not be jealous?"
"Your father and I've been divorced for sometime now. Cassie, I really don't think
it's any of my business to be involved with your father's personal and romantic life.
And neither should you."
"But, doesn't it bother you that he's with another woman. Mom, she has a daughter my
"Well, what can I tell you?"
"Nothing, I guess," I said, disappointed.
"Cassie, just be on your best behavior and enjoy the time you have, alright."
"Right. Je t'aime."
"Je t'aime. Au revoir, Cassie."
"Bye." I hung up and slipped the phone back into my pocket. When I got back to the
table, my father still wasn't back. I sat next to Gabby again. "What time did your
"Um...I think it was around ten-oh-clock, or so." I nodded. I looked over and I could
see my father coming with our food. I wondered how he managed to stack all the
carton's of food to carry them. He set the stack on the table and started handing
them out. He gave Adam a burger, gave Jillian and Gabby both salads and set a
mysterious styrofoam carton in front of me. He opened his up and it was a steak. I
grabbed the carton and pulled open the tabs.
"Oh my gosh!" The food inside was disgusting.
"What's wrong," my father asked, steak juice dribbling down his chin. I practically
gagged. Everyone in our group had stopped eating.
"Dad, what is this?"
"It's a steak, Cass. Eat up."
"Dad...you're missing something."
"Oh, sorry." My dad reached over and sprinkled a little of the seasoning packet he
had on the steak.
"Oh my gosh." My stomach lurched. I stood up and rushed to the bathroom with my hand
cupped over my mouth. I had no idea where the bathroom was, but I quickly found it
not far from the food court area.
I shoved open the door that read: Femmes. I ran inside one of the plae green painted
stalls and dropped to my knees in front of a toilet. I felt bile rise in my throat
and I clutched my stomach as pangs of sickness ran through me. I heard the door open
as I curled up on the floor.
"Cassie, are you okay?" It was Gabby's voice. I groaned. She stepped up to the
outside of the stall. I could see her fancy flipflops underneath the bottom of the
stall door. "Do you mind if I come in?" I groaned again and I guess she accepted that
as a 'yes'. She opened the stall door and stepped inside it, closing the door behind
her. "You're totally green!"
"I wonder why." I mumbled. She crouched down beside me.
"Are you...going to..."
"Puke," I offered. She nodded. "Nah. I think I'm feeling better now." I stood up and
we walked over to the sinks. The bathroom was painted nauseaous green color, I just
noticed, with the pale green stall walls and matching sinks. The walls were white and
the tiles on the floor were white with smaller tiles of pale green and rosy pink.
"Here. Put this on your forehead." She grabbed a few paper towels and wet them in the
sink and then handed them to me. I slapped the paper towels on and looked at my face
in the mirror. I look like...hell, I thought. I was really pale and still a little
green looking. The neat ponytail I'd made the morning before my flight was loose and
I could tell my hair was knotted and greasy. My face needed to be washed and I think
I was smelling a little. "Don't worry. We're going to our hotel after lunch and
unpacking. I'm sure you can get a shower and stuff." I looked at her crazily.
"What are you...psychic? We're trained at Hogwarts by Professor Trelawney in that cup
reading thing." I chuckled at my remark. She gave me a doubtful look.
"Like I haven't heard that one before. And I think that 'that cup reading thing' is
called Divination." She smiled. "Are you almost ready?" I nodded and tossed the paper
We left the bathroom and began walking back to the table. "So, are you a vegetarian
or something?" Gabby looked at me. She combed her fingers through a piece of her
"You're doing that whole Hogwarts-Divination-mind-reading-thingy again." She smiled
"So, you are a vegetarian? When did you decide to become one?"
"Um...seventh grade, I think. My mom's a vegetarian, too. I tried being a vegan once
in ninth grade and I totally failed. I love eating eggs. After a few days, I
cracked." We approached the table and everyone had finished their food.
"Are you alright now, Kiddo," my father asked. I smiled embarrassingly.
"I think so now. Dad, you know that I'm a vegetarian though, right." He stared at me
for a bit.
"That must've slipped my mind. I didn't even think."
"It's okay. Just...don't serve me meat anymore." My father agreed.
"Okay, well, is everyone ready to go to the hotel and unpack. Cassio, I think you
need a shower." I rolled my eyes and laughed. Gabby smiled, too. I slipped on my
backpack and picked up my suitcase. Gabby grabbed her bag and she was quiet as we got
in the huge van my father had rented. We drove to our hotel in silence, except for my
father and Jillian whispering to each other.
The hotel we were staying at was big and located close to the Louvre. I'd never been
to Paris before, though. I'd been born and raised in a smaller town a few miles away
from Luxembourg. We got out of the van and I walked to the back to get my suitcase.
The boy my father recognized was already there, handing Gabby her suitcase. Gabby
took it from him and he glared at me. He picked his own suitcase up and they both
preceeded inside the hotel. I stared after the two, but mostly the boy. I couldn't
decided whether he disliked me, or if he didn't want to bother helping me because of
course, I was capable of lifting semi-heavy objects. I growled a little and grabbed
my suitcase and followed them inside.
As I walked into the lobby, a sweet smell hit me. It smelled of bouquets of different
flowers. The lobby was primly set out: there was a large white desk that took up most
of the space in the room and on each end of the long desk were bouquets of
multi-colored flowers. The floors were marble and waxed so that I could see myself in
them. The ceilings were high up. At each corner of the room, I could see small end
tables with bouquets on them. The hotel was nice and homey, in a way.
My dad stepped up to the woman behind the desk and tried to converse with her. My
father had moved to France when he was in his early twenties and studied French, up I
guess he hadn't bothered to brush up on them previously to the trip. He tried to say
words and he was always close to what he needed to say, but the woman just shook her
head and smiled. "Need some help, Dad?" My father looked back at me worriedly. I