Saturday, February 9, 2013


Anything But That

Pet was trying to be a good sport, she was trying very hard but now that it was really happening, she felt a bit panicked inside.  The panic could very likely be the wine talking; Pet wasn’t much of a drinker but was on her third glass already so that the moving boxes wouldn’t look so…final.  Pet was in the kitchen, just leaning against the counter with her wine glass, staring out the window and listening to Tass and Araceli laugh in the bedroom.

Tass’ mom had taken the news much better than anyone expected, secretly Pet had hoped for a directive from on high prohibiting the move.  That didn’t happen; Araceli really liked Turner and approved of the relationship completely.  Pet liked him too, for the most part, Turner was a good guy and he had it bad for Tass.

But this was still another loss and Pet had lost enough, she had no family left now and Tass – all the Romeros really – were all she had to cling to.  It wasn’t like Tass was going to stop being her best friend or even expedition partner, but Tass was moving out and Pet would be alone.  That panicky feeling came back, so Pet topped off her glass and walked unsteadily to the bedroom.  There was something of great importance that no one had talked about yet, the elephant in the room as it were, and Petra could bear it no longer.

“Anywhere but there,” Pet wailed from the door, “even Galt is better.”  She looked at Tass with baleful eyes and then to Araceli for some support, but got none.  “That place will crush your soul,” Pet cried, not willing to concede this argument so easily, “they’ll take everything that is good and noble about you and twist it into a sick effigy of liberal entitlement.”

Tass stifled a laugh as Pet moved close and grabbed Tass’ shoulder, “Why can’t he move here?  Why do you have to go to…to…Davis?  They’ll change you, you’ll buy bicycle shorts and go to soccer games and…and protest stuff!”  The University town was just a fifteen minute drive over the causeway, but on a completely different planet than Pet all the same.

Tass put her arms around Pet as Araceli swooped in to grab the wine glass before it dropped.  “I promise to remain apathetic,” she whispered in Pet’s ear.

“Come and sit next to me Pet,” Araceli said as she sat on the bed and patted the spot beside her.  Tass went back to packing as Pet sat down; Araceli slid an arm around Pet’s shoulders and said, “Maybe it’s time for you to be on your own, hmmm?  You are too closed off Petra, you don’t let anyone inside anymore.”  When Pet didn’t answer, Araceli gently said, “You are not one of the rocks Gwendolyn, you do not live in a cave and it is time for you to come out.”

Pet knew Araceli was right, but loving people meant losing people and losing them was too hard.  Tass had come to stay right after Nana Bert’s death and never left, having her there was an open invitation for the rest of the family to drop in anytime, so the house in Curtis Park had never been lonely.  No one ever dropped by just to see Pet, all the friends and parties were created by Tass and Pet had always just floated on the fringes of it all.

Tass was a kaleidoscope of clashing shapes and vivid colors while Pet was a stone with layers of muted neutral tones, Araceli just didn’t understand that.  Stones never go outside themselves; it is not in their nature; rocks sit quietly and just be until the outside comes to them.

After two days of the quiet, Pet had actually become a little twitchy.  Tass was walking noise between her big voice, constantly chirping phone and penchant for loud music, so the new stillness had become a deafening roar.  Now when a bird so much as chirped three houses away, Pet jumped a foot to the left.  She had begun leaving the television in the front room on just for the white noise day and night, but that was already getting old.

Araceli had renewed her efforts to get Pet into college, saying that it was a great way to “get out there more” and further Pet’s scientific education.  That argument still fell on deaf ears though; Pet had no love for the stuffy academics that had uniformly dismissed her father’s attempts to show the results of his research.  Raymond wanted Pet to go to college too, but she did not want to become one of them with their delusions and smirks.

Pet had three heroes, three men who in one way or another had defined her life.  There were portraits of all three in her home; Amos the not forgotten miner, Raymond and John Muir.  The Scottish born naturalist had bucked the system and been maligned by the established scientists in his quest to prove that Yosemite had been carved by glaciers.  California was built by and populated with people who bucked the system, went their own way and found their own answers.

It was Pet’s birthright and she owed it to all three of her heroes and her self to become a scientist of a different standard.  Araceli was right on both counts, it was time for Pet to come out of her cave and continue her education.  She found an email from almost two months ago and finally hit the reply button.

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