Chapter one: Mara and her husband are no longer happy with apartment life, so they decide to move into a basement apartment in their friend's Beck and Tom's house.
And now... The story continues...
The Other Side
I followed Becky to the moving van. She picked up a box and I stooped to pick up one too, but she said, "No, take this one. It's heavier. If you start with the heavier boxes it will keep your momentum high."
So I took the box out of her hands and she picked up the box I was going to take.
"I hope you don't mind me using the laundry room?" She asked.
"Of course not." I followed her down the long, dimly light hall. "It'll give us an opportunity to chat."
In the middle of the hall, Tom balanced what appeared to be a box of books. "Where does this go?"
'Owen's office' was written in black marker on the side of the box. "In the bedroom. We've bought a futon that unfolds into a bed for the living room."
A door squeaked open and Owen poked his head out. "In here, Tom."
All of us working together made a hard job much easier. Soon the truck was empty and the basement was full.
I delivered the last box to Owen's office. He and Tom were constructing a set of shelves. "I can't believe there's so much room in here."
A grin flashed across Owen's face. "Yeah, it'll do."
I walked into the kitchen and caught Becky arranging my plates in what was supposed to be my cupboard. I breathed out slowly and as politely as I could said, "No, that's okay, Becky. I can--."
"Time for a break." Becky hurled over her shoulder as she stormed up the stairs.
I finished unpacking the box of plates to give myself time to try to process what had just happened. Why had Becky gotten so annoyed? She'd asked us to move in. It was her idea. Had she changed her mind? She'd helped us unload the truck--happily enough. Maybe I was just being too sensitive.
They were all outside on the balcony when I went upstairs. I headed to the patio doors but Rusty--Becky and Tom's German Shepherd--blocked me. When I tried to walk around him, he started to growl. I said, "Hmm...er...Rusty can I just...please?" and he pulled back his upper lip and showed his razor-sharp teeth.
"Rusty, come," Tom called.
Rusty just stood there growling.
"Rus-ty, come," Tom called again, this time with more force.
Rusty walked out onto the balcony and lay down beside Tom's chair.
Becky giggled. "Rusty, you're such a tease."
My legs felt like jelly, but I made it to the lawn chair.
"Do you mind if I smoke?" Tom pulled a home-rolled cigarette out of his pocket.
I'd never seen Tom smoke before.
No one objected so Tom struck a match, drew his lips tightly around the cigarette, and breathed in deeply.
It didn't smell like cigarette smoke.
Tom took another puff and handed the cigarette to Becky. Becky formed an 'o' with her lips and released white clouds of smoke.
Becky handed the cigarette to Owen. He waved it away. She handed it to me.
Before I could say anything, Owen answered for me, "Mara doesn't smoke."
The air grew heavy as they continued to suck on that thin, flat cigarette. The smoke was causing a strange reaction inside my body. I felt like I was floating, my eyes were getting foggy and my stomach flipped.
"Okay, so, Mara and I are going to call it a night," Owen said and helped me down the stairs.
"That cigarette smoke really affected me badly," I told Owen as we brushed our teeth and got ready for bed.
"Cigarette smoke? You're joking, right?"
"That wasn't a cigarette. They were smoking a joint. You know, marijuana."