The young brunette tipped the cab driver and watched as he sped away in the coming night shadows. She had missed her bus and arrived later than she intended to. She wanted to see the grounds in the day time, explore its vastness like she did when she was little. Hazel Valenti dropped her suitcases by the crossing bridge, her large eyes taking in the view. The house was much smaller than she remembered. Her gaze fell upon the familiar porch steps where Jenny and herself hung out every day, to the pond which her father stocked with fish…it now was empty with weeds and dead lily pads floating just below the surface. Hazel stood silently for a moment, the rush of memories overtaking her. Every where she looked she saw a little girl running, screaming with delight. They were good memories.
Hazel was 21 and fresh out of art school, starting her life in SimCity, she had a shared apartment and was making money doing what she loved best…painting. Then that dreadful day came when Jenny called. Her mom had been sick with cancer and never told her. Jenny who had stayed behind in Sunset Valley, pursuing politics for the town, said her mom did not want to worry her. For she knew that Hazel would run right home and she did not want to be the cause of her leaving school. Hazel had cried bitterly at the funeral, she spoke to her mom a few days before only and such sweet nothings they were now.
Hazel shook her head as she picked up her bags and walked into the cottage. Her father had died early, when she was 14, now that her mom was gone the land belonged to her. Though the outside needed some work, the inside was neat and tidy. Over the next three months, Hazel worked hard, restoring her childhood home to its former glory. She had knocked out the two bedrooms and made it into one large room, to sleep in and for her painting space. Renovations were complete, and yet she still had to submerge herself in work. She painted night and day…sad and dark paintings that suited her unsaid mood. She didn’t realize it but she was pushing herself more and more into a deep depression.
One night Jenny came over, letting herself in. She hugged her friend from behind in the kitchen, startling her to the point that she got very angry. Jenny noticed the dark circles under Hazels eyes. She had lost weight and looked thinner than normal.
“Hazel…what is going on with you…Hazel..stop pacing for a minute and sit with me.”
“Nothings wrong Jen. Nothings wrong.” She began fidgeting with her hands, setting things on the table before she got up and walked into the living room.
“Hazel, listen to me. Your not alright. You need a break from this house, you need a break from painting. You need to get some fresh air and stop living in the past.”
Hazel shook her head smiling as she said calmly, “I am not living in the past..I’m not.”
Jenny took her hands, “Listen..go away for a while..take a vacation. Go to Egypt..you’ve always wanted to go there!” She paused, worried about her friend, “Hazel. Its not your fault..none of it is your fault. You know your mom. She only wanted the best for you. Don’t blame yourself, dont blame her. Live your life like you know she wanted you too.” She said.
Hazel’s eyes filled with unshed tears. She had been so busy the past couple months, she had just covered all the feelings up and put on a happy face. Jenny pulled her into a hug. “Come here Zelly doll. You know you’ve got me. Your not alone.” She said stroking her hair lovingly as Hazel wept.