Rachel eased her car on to the side street that led to her new house. The things her dad strapped to her cars roof rack clicked again. “We’re almost there. Don’t fall off now.” The area was much more Suburban than the nice apartment she was leaving behind but Woodhaven was a sweet little town where kids could ride their bikes at dusk on the sidewalk.
It was much quieter too. The trees and tall shrubs that lined the streets and yards help cut down on traffic noise considerably. She turned in to her new driveway and pulled to the back of the house. Shannon pulled her car in front of the detached garage and her dad parked in front of the house. She got out of the car. Everything on they’d put on the roof rack was still there by some miracle.
“You must be the new neighbor.”
Rachel turned to the direction of the chain link fence that ran the length of her back yard. A man with white hair, white mustache and squinting eyes stood with a small pair of hedge clippers in his hand.
“Yes.” She walked to the fence and stretched out her hand. “I’m Rachel.”
“Names Wade.” He dusted his palm on grubby trousers before shaking her hand. “Nice to see someone in this place again.”
“Thank you. I-.”
“Didn’t want to keep you none. Wanted to be a bit nosey is all. I’m sure we’ll have lots of time to get to know each other after you’re settled.” He turned and walked back to his house.
“Nice neighbors.” Shannon said behind Rachel.
“Be nice.” Rachel turned around. Did you see Drew?”
“Drew, Curtis and your dad are all three on the front porch exchanging guy talk.”
She walked along the hedges that separated her driveway from her neighbor. The yard was narrow along that side of the house but the back yard was deep enough that Rachel expected summer entertaining wouldn’t be too much of a problem. She rounded the corner of the house and walked across the grass. The men saw her and abruptly finished their conversation.
“Rachel welcome home.” Drew’s footsteps echoed on the wooden porch. He reached out a small metal ring that held the rest of her keys.
“Thank you.” She looked at the three keys. “Which one goes to the front door?” She held out her palm.
“This is the key to the back door” he lifted a silver key with a round top. “And this little brown one goes to the front door. You also have this one that goes to the garage if you want to lock the overhead door but the former owners said the lock is a real pain.” He lifted the ring by the brown key and handed them to her.
“Great.” She took the keys from him and unlocked the door. The large wooden door groaned open in to a large living room. She stepped in to the living room her footsteps echoing.
“There’s a white shag rug and pad in my car. That needs to go in the living room before any of the furniture comes in.”
To her right an archway stretched nearly the entire length of the wall separating the dining room and living room. Through the dining room to the other side a staircase that led to the second floor was open on the left. From the front door the kitchen was straight ahead and then the basement steps. She could have fit her entire apartment in half of the first floor of this house.
“This is a really nice place Rachel.” She turned to see Curtis standing almost directly behind her.
“I was thinking the same thing.” She stepped further in to the house. Her footsteps echoed on the wooden floors. She needed to remember to buy a rug for the living room and dining room to cut down on the sound.
“Your dad and I are going to start hauling in furniture. Is that okay with you?”
“Yes, Adam will be here soon too.”
“Hopefully he’s not chatty.” Curtis let out a small laugh.
“Hands.” Curtis wiggled his hand around as if to imitate sign language.
“Where do you want this box?” Rachel turned and saw Shannon standing on the other side of the screen door holding a small box. Drew was standing next to the truck while her dad piled boxes on top of the one Drew was already holding. Curtis opened the screen door for Shannon then continued out to the truck. Rachel looked at the top to check the label. “The kitchen is straight through there.” She set the slider on the door to hold it open.
Rachel walked out the door for a box and passed Curtis and Drew. “Thank you for helping guys. I’ll have to refer you to my friends.” Both laughed. She lifted a small box and walked in the house.
“This isn’t a bit awkward is it?” Shannon mumbled in to Rachel’s ear.
“Keep your mouth shut and everything should be fine.”
Shannon nodded and walked back out to the front. Rachel put the box along the wall of what was now her dining room.
“Your brother’s here.” Shannon yelled in the house before coming in and plopping down another box.
“It looks like you have quite a crew going here.” Her dad motioned to Drew and Curtis hauling in boxes. “I guess Adam and I can go down to the ice cream shop.”
“Or, you could help and maybe all of us can go.” She scanned the boxes in the back of the U-Haul. “These boxes here look like first floor stuff. The living room is to the left, dining room to the right and kitchen is straight through.” She turned and signed the same to Adam and went back to unload her car.
“Rachel,” Drew walked up to her as he slid his phone in its holder. “I’m going to have to run. I got a call from someone on another property.”
“Thank you so much for your help. You didn’t have to do it.”
“Not a problem at all.” Drew looked around then said quietly. “I’ll call this week to check in and make sure everything is all right.”
“I’ll look forward to it.” When she turned around her dad was smiling a crooked smile at her. “Quite the customer service at that realty agency.”
“Okay dad.” She grabbed another box. When her mom joined them two hours later the truck was emptied except for a few pieces of furniture and they were beginning to fill the kitchen cupboards with dishes and the canned goods she’d brought from the apartment.
Her mom scanned the room. “You’ve got this about wrapped up.”
“Not really. We still have to unpack everything.” Rachel set three square pillar candles on her dining room table.
“I can help unpack if that will help.” Her mom said and she started for the kitchen.
“Actually mom, can you unpack my clothes.” Rachel grabbed a box then hesitated. “I’m trying to organize my kitchen as I go but if you can put the things in the upstairs bathroom-.”
“Sure. Whatever you need done.”
Rachel took a box and led her mom up the steps. Her feet sunk down in the plush carpet. “Isn’t this carpet great mom?”
“Yes it is. Good pad.”
“After ten years of dorm carpet and apartment carpet this feels like a slice of heaven.”
“It is nice.”
They turned down the hall to the main bathroom. “Mom, put the taupe towels in here for now until I get out to buy others.”
“Are you sure you want those nasty older ones in your bathroom?” Her mom crinkles her nose and bent over to open a box.
“I certainly don’t want them out for everyone to see when they come over.” Rachel dug through the towels in her box. “Why don’t you stick the older towels in the back of the linen closet. It’s this door here.” She tapped on a small door in the hallway. “Put out a set of the taupe on the towel racks and put the rest in my bathroom. I’ll try to get out sooner and get the new ones bought.”
“That will be better.”
Beige walls met her in every room. Taupe was a fairly decent color to make the bathroom look a bit better until she could get some paint. Rachel lifted the corner of peeling border behind the bathroom door.
“What color should I paint this?”
Her mom never looked up from the box. “You don’t wanna go too dark. Room’s much too small for deep colors.”
“I know that. I was thinking taupe walls and amethyst towels and accents.”
“That’d be pretty. Nice contrast but soft and feminine.”
“That’s what I thought.”
“Rachel.” Someone bellowed from downstairs.
“Be right there.” She yelled back. “I should have four or five sets of those towels so put out one and put the rest in my bathroom. My rooms down there.” Her mom looked up to see the direction Rachel pointed then pulled out more towels.
“Better get on downstairs, now. I got this handled.”
Rachel walked down to her new bedroom and stepped in. The room felt like it could go on forever. There was not a piece of furniture in it yet and she could enjoy the size. The carpet was soft like the rest of the upstairs but it was brighter. A large southern window splashed sunlight across the carpet. Everything was fresh and clean, like a new outfit, and she was anxious to see her things make it comfortable.
“Rachel.” The voice downstairs called out again.
She glanced around the room again and shuffled down the steps. “Sorry, I was looking around to figure out where to put furniture.”
“Good because your dad and I were going to bring in the last of the furniture so he could take the truck back.” Curtis spoke as Rachel moved down the staircase.
“Okay.” She looked at her watch. “That should work out fine.”
“And I was hoping maybe you’d be up to some dinner.”
She crinkled her nose. “I’m not in any shape to go out.”
“I was going to bring it in.”
She looked at her watch again. By the time the truck was empty she’d be ready for something to eat. “Sure. I’d like that.”
“I’ll help your dad finish up then.”
“Not sure. Last I saw he was helping Shannon with something.”
She walked through the dining room. The cardboard boxes that were empty sat in a stack on the far side of the living room but newspaper covered the floor. Adam was in the kitchen talking to Shannon in a nasal voice.
“Adam. I want eat with Curtis. It okay you go, take mom dad.” She signed after she had his attention.
Adam looked at Curtis then back at her. “You eat dinner sweetheart?”
“No. We talk.”
Adam nodded and gave her a thumbs up.
“Shannon, Adam is going to get mom and dad home. Curtis and I are going to eat some dinner here.”
Shannon looked at Adam then turned away from Adam. “Do you think that’s wise?”
“It’s nothing like that. He wants to hang out and eat. We’re friends.”
“Uh-huh.” Shannon nodded and pursed her lips.
You are reading A Face in the Shadow by Tiffany Colter.
Tiffany is a writer, speaker and writing career coach. She is a frequent contributor to print and online publications in addition to her regular marketing blog at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
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