hell froze over my little patch of heaven

I’m on my way!  I’m on my way! Home sweet home.

Its sky blue walls welcomed me with its serene open arms each evening after a long day at work.  A girl’s best friend, the bathroom was so large you could put a lounge chair in it, with a huge tub for soaking and lazy bubble baths.

My first real apartment was in a three-story complex. Living on the top floor, my place had high, angled ceilings giving the place a larger feel than it actually was.

Plus, it was a daily cardio going up and down three flights of stairs for everything.  Hmm… Note to self. Get another high-level living space.

I remember going to the furniture store to find ‘the perfect couch’ and selected a fake-suede navy blue couch with articulated arms and back. This allowed it to fold down flat as a separate sleeping place if anyone ever need a place to crash.

A kitchen to die for, I had more cupboards than stuff, (and I have a LOT of cooking stuff. I love to cook, and I tend to bake when I’m stressed out), and a separate island as a preparation surface.

Since I’m located in Washington, it’s not very common to meet someone with air conditioning, but as long as ceiling fan was on, and the windows and deck door were open, a nice breeze would sweep through keeping me from overheating.

Winters were easy. I had a great source of heat due to the water heater and to all of the heat from my neighbors below allowing me to keep my thermostat (and my bill) down to a minimum.

Unfortunately, those were my only source of heat.

One fateful January night my water heater broke, leaking and dousing out the pilot light.  The air system that would typically would blow the warm air generated from the water heater throughout the apartment to keep it toasty, blew out an icy chill that made your teeth chatter louder than a semi’s air brakes.

Due to the time of the evening (about 11:45pm), we had called the maintenance crew, but the water heater would need to be completely replaced.  That being our fate, Pilot and I hunkered down in several layers of clothing under an additional several layers of blankets to keep from freezing to death for the evening.

Never once did it occur to me that I would have to wear mittens and a hat to bed in my lifetime.

When 3:00am rolled around, Pilot and I could see our own breath as we shivered under the blankets.  Grabbing additional towels and anything heat-sealing we could find, we somehow managed to fall asleep and not losing any extremities, come morning.

By late morning, a new water heater arrived and was installed.  Due to marriage and Pilot deciding to go back to school to get a bachelor’s in special education, we would be without a second income for the next couple of years.  We ended up having to leave that beautiful space for something bigger, but cheaper.

Besides, Pilot has a ton more crap than I do, and most of his is heavy and mechanical.  Mine is mostly clothes and, of course, books.  Thank, God for Kindle. It’s literally saved me from having to find more real estate to coexist with the hubby.

How about you?  What was your first real place like? Was it your heaven-sent home, or a hell hole?

Daily Writing Challenge

Day 20: Your character is in a new place. What brought them there? Why are they there? How are they reacting to this change of scenery? Write a scene of your character in this new place.

Finally! The last one!

Wiping his brow with the back of his hand, Sean did a quick sweeping glance at his new apartment. Placing his hands on his hips, he took in the older building with its exposed brick walls and industrial lighting giving the place an open feel. He walked over to the window to get a cool breeze on his face after running up and down the four flights of stairs with his personal belongings.  Ahh, yes, that cool air was perfect.

Taking in the neighborhood, the street was bustling with what seemed like hundreds of people swimming in a sea of suits and briefcases, probably heading home from their big city jobs. Peering through the glass Sean could see straight into the neighboring apartment complex across the street.

I don’t get it. Jesse said this place had a great view.

All the shades were open and he could see every east-facing room in the place. Note to self: buy some shades or a curtain, he thought.

Some movement caught his eye as cute blonde woman wearing a set of blue scrubs and a long white jacket, pushed open the front door of the place.  Watching her struggle to get the keys out of her lock, she finally freed them and slammed the door.  She plopped her keys onto the little side table and stomped her way straight into the kitchen, stripping her jacket from her body and tossed it onto her orange sofa.

The woman swung open her refrigerator door. After a few moments she pulled out a bottle of beer, flipped off the cap and moved to her couch setting her head back, closing her eyes.  And didn’t move.

Someone cleared their throat.  Turning around, Sean absorbed the fact how conspicuous he must have appeared and turned toward the front door.

“I see you’ve met the neighbors,” his brother grinned at him.

“Geez, Jesse. You scared the crap out of me, man!” Sean gave Jesse a quick nudge with his elbow as he moved to give him some room.

Jesse nodded toward the girl’s apartment.  “That’s Felicia. She’s a doctor who runs the pediatric wing at of New Hope General. Weird hours. I never know when that girl is awake or sleeping.”  They both watched as the completely still woman continued to sit with her head back on that noxious orange couch.

Feeling quite awkward, Sean arched an eyebrow.  “Um, bro… Don’t you think she might find it odd that we’re standing here staring at her?”

Jesse waved his hand at Sean. “Pfft! Sean, please.” Jesse nodded to the window.  “I had these windows tinted months ago.  I like the sunshine, but I didn’t want to flash my naked ass to half of Brooklyn, man.”

Sean balked.  “Naked?!” Sean grimaced at his brother.  “You still walk around naked?  You know I hate that.”

The girl across the street looked up from the couch straight into his eyes.  Uh, oh.  She heard them.

“Dude, I had that window open!” Sean said, as he quickly flicked the lock of the window tightly shut.  He looked around for a blanket. A sweatshirt. Anything to hide his face right now, which he was sure was as red as a lobster and a face that probably matched his mortification.

“Oops! My bad,” Jesse chuckled.

Sean covered his face with his hand and said flatly, “I can’t believe she just heard that.”

Jesse raised his hands, palms up. “What? It’s perfectly natural.  You should try it sometime. It’s very freeing.”

Sean put a stern look to his face. “Bro, seriously. Feeling ‘free’ and ‘freeballing’ are two very different things. Not cool, dude.”

“Nah, you’ll get used to it,” Jesse said waving a hand at what Sean thought was a fairly reasonable request.

Sean wiped his hand with his face, trying to think quickly. If he didn’t address his brother’s ‘favorite state of being’ he was going to get an eyeful every morning. And he preferred to enjoy his breakfast, not lose it.

“Maybe we should set some ground rules or something. Like, I’ll make sure to keep the cap on the toothpaste if you don’t walk around with your junk out all the time.”

Jesse just shook his head. “Whatever, man.”  Sean just glared at him.

He couldn’t believe they were twins sometimes. They couldn’t be more different from each other.  Jesse had moved to Brooklyn about a year prior trying to get a music career off the ground. He kept his hair long and shaggy and always wore shorts, and if he was in a dressy mood, they were ‘not denim’ shorts.  In fact, Sean couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen Jesse in pants.  He mentally slapped himself, as an image of his twin walking around with no clothes on crept into his already tired mind.  Bad choice of words.

Sean had just moved for a great job opportunity at a law firm in Manhattan.  Starting at a more-than-cushy salary, instead of moving into his own place, his mom had urged that he help his brother out with the high rents and cost of living in New York.

The sound of the door buzzer broke up their conversation.

“Care to do the honors?” Jesse asked gesturing to the intercom.

“Don’t mind if I do.”  Sean pressed the little button on the wall.  “Hello?”

A very crackled, but entirely female voice sifted its way through the speaker.  “Jesse, either I just saw two of you, or I’ve had more than the one beer and can’t remember.”

“Actually, this isn’t Jesse. He’s not available at the moment.”

“Jesse, quit being an ass. I know it’s you,” the disembodied voice laughed.  Jesse walked up to the intercom and spoke.

“No, it’s cool, Felicia. I’m here. Come on up!” Jesse held down a second button for a few seconds and stepped back from the wall.

After a few minutes, they heard the footsteps approaching their door and Sean opened it.

The blonde was short, the top of her head only meeting Sean and Jesse’s shoulders. Her eyes went wide as she blinked at the two of them, back and forth.

Winking, Jesse greeted her.  “Hiya, doc! Making a housecall?”

Felicia’s eyebrows went up.  “Wow, do you have some sort of multiple personality disorder that manifested itself into a metrosexual?”

Sean arched a brow.  “I believe the term is ‘dissociative identity disorder,’ and no. I’m his brother. Twin, actually.” He looked down at his button down shirt and loafers and back to his brother.  “I’m not really metro-looking am I?”

“Well, you do have a $120 haircut, dude,” Jesse clapped him on the shoulder, laughing.

“Oh, this coming from the guy who can’t remember his last haircut.”

Felicia let out a small breath of air.  “Whoa. You guys even sound the same. Twilight Zone! Doo-dee-doo-doo!” as she waggled her fingers in the air.

The guys stepped back and let Felicia step inside.  Looking at the boxes she glanced back at Sean skeptically.  “Wait, you just moved in?”

“Yup!  My bro just couldn’t stay away! I’m a charmer, you know!” Jesse grinned as he bent down and kissed her hand.  Felicia laughed and swatted him away.

“So… Are you guys… You know, together?” Sean said looking between them.  Felicia and Jesse shared a look with each other.

Felicia put her arm around Jesse’s waist.  “Why? Would that be so hard to believe?”

“Yeah,” Jesse said slowly, resting his arm around her delicate shoulders.  “I know she’s too good for me, but it’s not that impossible.  Right, pumpkin?”

“Right, snuggle bunny,” she said.  Then, Felicia pinched Jesse’s side lightly while Jesse made a goofy face and they both burst out laughing.

Wiping a tear from her eye, Felicia looked at Sean.  “Jesse’s band comes over to the hospital and plays music for the kids.”

“Really?” Sean said, surprised.

Jesse just shrugged and blushed.  “Nah, it’s nothing really.”

“No it’s not!” Felicia said giving another gentle swat at Jesse’s arm.  She turned her head toward Sean.  “This guy comes over every week and not only plays music for the kids, but also has been teaching Michael how to play the guitar.”

Sean took a moment and looked at his brother with new eyes.  “Wow. That’s really something, Jess. You never told me that.”

Jesse looked slightly uncomfortable, walking towards the kitchen.  “It’s nothing, really. Filly, want a beer?”

“Yeah, that’d be great,” she called after him.  She leaned in towards Sean. “Jesse’s a little sensitive about him. Michael just got some test results that weren’t very encouraging.”

“Tests?” Sean said puzzled.  “Which department do you work for?”

“Oncology.”

“Oh.”

Felicia studied Sean for a moment. “Jesse has been really bonding with the kids, but it’s tough. No kid deserves to be sick like that.  That’s why I work there.  I had a family member get really sick when I was younger and I promised to do everything I could to find a cure.”

“That’s really admirable.” Sean replied.

Before he could ask her more questions, the sound of the intercom buzzed again.

“Felicia?” another female voice drifted through the apartment.  “Felicia, it’s me.”

“Oh! It’s Rachel!” Felicia said as she pressed the intercom button.  “Rach, it’s me. Come on up.”  Holding the button Felicia looked back at Sean and Jesse who had come back with some beer cans in his hands.

Jesse set the drinks down on the coffee table “Whoops! Looks like we’ll need another!” Jesse said looking at the intercom.

“I’ll get it.” Sean went to the kitchen and grabbed another can from the refrigerator.  He heard the front door open and another voice added to the conversation as he stepped back into the living room.

“Sean, this is Rachel.  Rachel, Sean,” smiled Felicia.

Sean was rooted to the doorway as a beautiful woman, also in scrubs stood before him.

“Hi! It’s nice to meet you,” she greeted cheerfully.  He took in her long legs, curly blonde hair and bright smile. But what captivated him most were her soft green eyes.  Something stirred in his chest.

“I’m Sean.”

Rachel laughed.  “Wow, there really are two of you!”  She leaned toward Felicia.  “I guess God loves the world a lot to give the world twoof those hot bods!”  The girls giggled.

“Ladies! Ladies! Please, have a seat.  Then you can continue to enjoy the view,” boasted Jesse as he flexed his arms at them.  The girls doubled over laughing again.  Rachel had a cute laugh which echoed through his mind, awakening a feeling he couldn’t identify.  They each grabbed a beer and as settled onto the couch.

Jesse blocked his view as the girls started sharing their day with each other.  “Bro, seriously. Wake up.”  Sean shook his head and looked at his brother.

“Felicia’s engaged.”

“Engaged?”  Sean saw a brief wave of sadness appear in Jesse’s eyes.

“Yeah.  To another doctor, dude. How am I supposed to compete with that?  Besides, as you could tell, I’ve been placed in ‘the friend zone.’  But it’s cool. She’s a great pal, and I like being able to go visit those kids.”

Sean felt his heart go out to his brother. It was obvious that Jesse cared a lot about Felicia.  Growing up, they never bothered to get to know their neighbors.  At least not if you wanted to get stabbed.  If Jesse hadn’t been his brother, he’d worry about the fact they could see right into the girls’ home.  But it was obvious he, Rachel and Felicia were friends, so the creepy factor slid away. Before he could ask more, Jesse quickly continued.

“But Rachel’s totally free. I think you should go for it man.”

“You think so?”

“Yeah, dude. She’s great.  She works as a nurse at the hospital too.” He smiled at Sean.  “And she’s obviously into you.”  Sean slid his glance back to the girls briefly.  He could see Rachel giving him a quick once-over, then turning back to giggle with her sister.

“I think unpacking can wait a day or two.”

“I especially like the fact that there are two!” Felicia called back to them.

“Hey, the view’s not bad from where we’re standing either, ladies!” Jesse said, waggling his eyebrows at them.  The girls laughed again.  Maybe he should start branching out to the neighborhood.  Instilling good will and all that.

“Hey speaking of views,” Rachel said, winking at Sean.  “Don’t get any bright ideas, because despite what you may think, we do own curtains.”

Felicia gave a wicked glance to her sister. “Yeah, even if we’ve both seen Jesse naked when he accidentally leaves the window open. It’s no big whoop.”  She looked at Sean. “Oops, sorry. Forgot about the twin thing.

“Hey! You never said you could see me!” Jesse said giving them a mocked look of insult.

“Why spoil the fun?” Rachel said, clutching her sides from laughter.

“Yeah, why spoil the fun, bro?” said Sean as he settled in to find out more about his beautiful new neighbor.

Not a bad way to start his first night in the big city.

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