(G1) Chapter 2: Life in Sunset Valley
There isn’t much to do other than wait…and we have grown accustomed to waiting. Time is something we have an abundance of these days. Writing everything down helps pass the time. It’s what I do, or at least it’s what I did. I would like to think that others survived and that the human race will go on. Maybe finding this journal and others like it will help someone in the future piece together what happened because we don’t know. Ironically it’s like we are living out the pages of one of those science fiction books I used to write.
Originally I didn’t want to stay in Sunset Valley any longer than I needed to, but now I am glad I stayed. I am certain that Sunset Valley and Alistair saved my life. One could argue that living as we are isn’t a life, but I am alive, and Alistair is alive and our children will live. At least I hope they will…
That first week after arriving in Sunset Valley was awkward to say the least. Despite being a traffic cop, Alistair spent long hours at work and I was left to entertain myself in a world that was alien to me. Sunset Valley was the sort of small town straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting that was the epitome of community. Everyone knew everyone else and there were no strangers. It was small and quaint and people lived out their entire lives there. There were very few places in the world at that point that were that untouched by time. Sunset Valley refused to become modernized with huge skyscrapers, apartments and housing developments that packed in people like sardines. There were no malls or pretentious coffee shops. Every store and business was family owned and operated. Huge chain stores didn’t exist there.
I was really out of my element. I spent my life being able to walk down the street and no one take notice of me. When I ventured out to explore the town on my own everyone stopped what they were doing and stared before commenting in hushed tones to each other. It was painfully obvious that I was an outsider. No one went out of their way to greet me, but no one was rude to me either. It was as if everyone was watching me to see and waiting to see what I was going to do. I had no ties to the town so there was no reason that I should be there and many people looked at me as if I had violated some sacred spot in the world just by being an outsider.
The worst part was that I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t know what was expected of me, if anything at all was expected of me. There was nothing to tie up. There were no loose ends. There was just the issue of the house. I didn’t feel I had any right to it and was seriously considering signing the deed over to Alistair and going about my life. I just didn’t know if that was the right thing to do or if he would even accept it.
In general, I think I was making things harder than they needed to be. The brain has a way of doing that when you are trying to sort out things you weren’t prepared for. I wasn’t prepared for any change of plans, I wasn’t ready prepared for Sunset Valley, I wasn’t prepared for finding out I had a second family that were all now deceased and I certainly wasn’t prepared for Alistair.
The house wasn’t much. It was a small two story shack that had seen better days. There was a small living room, an even smaller kitchen, one bathroom and a single loft bedroom with two beds. I slept in one and Alistair in the other. I said that things were awkward. The parcel of land that it all sat on was swampy and I could only guess why the property was given the name Mosquito Cove. If all that wasn’t bad enough, it looked like it was decorated from whatever Basil and Alistair could find at the local thrift store. The two of them were no where near putting any interior decorators out of a job, but on the other hand there also wasn’t a months worth of empty pizza boxes and dirty clothes scattered through the house like you would expect from two young bachelors.
I spent the majority of my time just wandering around exploring every corner of Sunset Valley. For no other reason than not knowing what to do with myself I started collecting the rocks and seeds that there seems to be an abundance of. One could easily make a living collecting either, or both, and selling them. It’s no wonder that so many people were unemployed. It wouldn’t have surprised me to find out that rocks and seeds were a second form of acceptable currency.
Every night when Alistair came home I prepared autumn salad for dinner. My cooking skills at the time were not that great and it was the one food I could prepare consistently without screwing up. He was a good sport and always ate it without complaint.
Life was so simple and peaceful. I realized how fast paced and stressful college life had been over the past four years. Circumstances beyond my control brought me to Sunset Valley, but I was happy for the reprieve. It was nice to slow down. I will admit that I became complaisant quickly. While it surprised me greatly, I think Alistair was even more surprised. Especially when he came home to find me planting a garden with some of those seeds I had collected.
“You’re planting a garden?” He was confused. “Does this mean you are staying?” It was hard to tell by the tone in his voice if this was something that he welcomed or dreaded.
“It’s just a garden.” I stood up. “And I don’t know if I am going to stay or not. I have put some thought into this, and if I do decide to leave I would like to transfer the deed to you. This is more your home than mine and truth be told, I don’t understand why some lawyer felt it was important to track me down to tell me about a family that I know nothing about to make sure that the house was put into my hands. It makes no sense.”
Alistair’s expression went from confused to surprised back to confused in record time. “You don’t have to do that. I was going to ask you if we could set something up where I could continue to live here and pay you rent. You are going to need money while exploring the world for strange and wonderful and mythical creatures.”
His was an option I hadn’t considered but it somehow seemed wrong. “We don’t have to decide this right now, do we?”
“No. No we don’t.” He paused for a moment and scratched the back of his head. It was a gesture of his that meant that he was turning something over in his head. “I have been a horrible host and I feel bad about that. My partner is having a pool party tonight. Why don’t you come with me? We can go out for dinner first. My treat.”
Was he asking me out on a date? I couldn’t remember the last time I went out on a date. I was always more worried about classes and studying than I was dating and parties. Every one of my friends told me that I was missing out on a big part of the college experience not doing those things, but they just didn’t fit into the map that I created for my life to follow. “I suppose we could do that.”
He took me to the bistro where the best food in town was served. I would have enjoyed our dinner much more if I hadn’t felt like an ant under a magnifying glass. The other diners kept whispering to each other while throwing glances our way. I tried not to think about it but I couldn’t help but wonder what they were saying and speculating.
If dinner was uncomfortable, the pool party was horrible. Alistair’s partner, Blair Wainright, was from one of the older and richer families in town. Believe me when I say, she didn’t have to work. The police force was more or less a hobby for her, a way to spend some of her spare time. Alistair told me she was part of the reason he put in so many hours, she didn’t take any of it seriously and many days he ended up doing the work of two people.
I tried to be friendly with Blair, I really did, but she didn’t want anything to do with me. Every time I tried to talk to her, she would walk away.
I am glad that I didn’t have my heart set on becoming friends with her because it wasn’t going to happen. In fact, she made it perfectly clear that the invite to her party was for Alistair and only Alistair. She complained to anyone who would listen, “The invite was for Alistair! He wasn’t supposed to bring that girl with him!” And that was how she referred to me the entire time we were there. I was “that girl”.
The others at the party were just as uncouth talking about me, and sometimes Alistair, as if we weren’t there.
“Anyone know when she’s leaving?”
“What do you think is going on between her and Alistair? They are staying in the house together, you know.”
“I can’t believe that she’s Basil’s sister. I bet she’s making it up.”
“I heard that shady lawyer guy, Davis, is the one that brought her here. She didn’t even know Basil.”
And on and on it went. No one could be bothered to ask me about the situation, they were more interested in gossiping and making up the parts that they didn’t know. Alistair took it all in stride. “People in this town love to talk, they always have. You will get used to it. Before you know it they will be talking to you and not about you.” He said to me on our way home.
I shrugged. I still wasn’t expecting to stay long enough to worry about making any friends. “Maybe. Blair won’t though.”
“What makes you say that?” It was hard to tell what Alistair was thinking or feeling. It was something that would serve him well on the police force.
“She doesn’t like me.” I said as a matter of fact. “She sees me as competition. You may not realize it, but she is really interested in you.”
He was quiet as he considered what I said. “Huh.”