1. farewell, unicorn apartment.

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"Thanks, Iz. That'll help for now." I sighed, rubbing the bridge of my nose.

Surveying the empty bedroom, I racked my brain and tried to remember where I had packed my meds. Maybe they were still in my purse... wherever that was.

Sunlight filtered in through the window onto my twin-sized childhood bed and oak dresser, the scene the same as it had been for as long as I could remember. A pang of nostalgia ran through me. This was, most likely, the last summer I'd spend at home. Unfortunately, now I was all packed up with no place to go.

"We can start looking for a new place ASAP, I promise. Who knows, maybe we'll find an even better place. It'll all work out," she said.

I could tell from the weight of her tone that she was already beating herself up over what had happened; she was the kind of person who would lose sleep for days over something like this. And I wasn't angry with her, just disappointed that our unicorn apartment had been snatched out from underneath us. Poof.

"Right. I'm sure it will," I agreed, feigning cheer. Really, I wasn't sure-- at all. And I had five days' worth of free time to find somewhere to live before classes started.

After chasing the migraine pills with some extra-strong tea, I did sweep of the room for any items that I might have missed. All that remained was a few lonely hangers in the empty closet and the handful of moving crates in front of me.

I couldn't decide whether it was sad or freeing to know that all of my possessions fit into so few boxes. Or maybe just plain convenient, now that I would be living in my car.

...

My head swam for the rest of the day as I scrambled to think of a solution. I told myself that things would work out. They had to. But I hadn't yet managed to convince myself of that fact when I sat down at the table for dinner, and it showed.

My mother passed me her famous lasagna, scrutinizing my face. "Ryan, honey, what's wrong? Is your headache still bothering you?" One day, I vowed to cook as well as she did. Cooking at all would probably be a good first step.

I took a bite of garlic bread, chewing slowly to buy myself time. I didn't want to lie to her. I debated whether to tell her the whole truth and cause her worry over my current homeless status, or to tell a half-truth (basically lying by omission, but I chose to ignore that part).

Carefully, I answered, "Just sorting out some last-minute living arrangement details with Isabelle. Moving is stressful, that's all."

A line appeared between her brows, reminding me how much she had aged since I left for college. She was still beautiful, but I wondered if living alone had been harder on her than she let on. Although she insisted she was happy on her own, sometimes I wished she had someone around to keep her company.

She frowned and the worry lines deepened. "You know, I worry about you living in an apartment all by yourself. The dorms would be a much safer environment for you."

My mother raised me on her own; I'd never met my father. For as long as I could remember, it had always been just the two of us. We were extremely close, which for the most part, was a good thing. But it also meant that she tended to be overprotective of me and I was itching for the additional autonomy that the dorms wouldn't provide. Things like no curfew and no restrictive rules about who could spend the night.

I didn't actually want to be irresponsible, I just wanted it to be an option.

"I won't be alone, mom, I'll be with Iz." My mother loved Isabelle; most people did.

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