Zoe Parker Ch. 03byInto_The_Rabbit_Hole©
If staring at a wall was an Olympic sport, Zoe would be a gold medalist. She lay in her new room, the former den of porcelain angels, and stared at the beige wall. It had been four hours since she slung her canvass duffle bag onto the foot of her new bed and proceeded to lay down, clutching Roger and fixating her eyes on nothing but the wall. The room was average size but being adorned with only a twin size bed, a small night stand which held a smaller lamp and a crème white dresser, it felt huge. Huge and empty.
"Empty like me," Zoe thought to herself entering the room those long four hours ago.
Since then she had laid, unmoving on top of a quilt. It was one of those quilts you get at a designer home supply store that people pay way too much for because they think it looks genuinely homemade. Zoe was immediately reminded of Victoria with how fake and corny it looked. Like her it tried way too hard to be something it wasn't in an attempt to impress everyone.
Zoe did have something to be thankful about. In those previous four hours she was not bothered a single time. Not one time did someone stop in to see how she was doing, to ask if she needed anything or just to check in. For this, Zoe was grateful. She didn't want to see anyone, talk to anyone, or be around anyone. Especially the people in this house. While her father wasn't horrible, he just reminded Zoe too much of her lost mother and how much life had changed in three short years.
The layout of the house actually complimented Zoe's solitary desires. The front of the house held the living room, dining room and the kitchen. On the right of the house were the bedrooms of her father and Victoria and Gabrielle. To the left of the house was a large bathroom, the laundry room and then Zoe's room. Lying in her bed she was at all times at least fifty feet away from everyone. Mathematical blueprint equations like this are what kept Zoe's mind busy as she gazed at the wall.
A knocking at her door popped Zoe's tranquility bubble. She was no longer alone.
The voice of her father rang through her door, "Zoe can I come in?"
"Maybe he'll go away if I don't say anything," Zoe's voice pondered in her head.
"Zoe, are you ok? Look, I know you probably don't feel like doing a lot. Losing your mom was probably really devastating to you. I'm here for you, Zoe. We're going out to this nice Italian restaurant in town. They have some great lasagna. I wish you would come.....but I understand if you don't want to. The new house and everything is a lot to take in. Remember though Zoe, I know we haven't spoken much or seen each other much the past few years but you're still my little girl and I love you. I'm always he......" Her dad's heartfelt speech was shrewdly interrupted by the shrieking voice of Victoria.
"ROBERT!!!! LET'S GO OR WE'RE GOING TO MISS OUR RESERVATION!" the magnitude and tone of Victoria's cry made Zoe wince in her bed.
Zoe could faintly hear her father's hand fall to the handle of her door. At that moment a significant part of her wished he would open the door, come inside and hug her. That part of her yearned to have her father hold her close, like when she was little, and make her feel like everything was going to be alright. But then the bitterness of reality came calling, or rather yelling.
"ROBERT YOU GET OUT HERE NOW OR WE'RE LEAVING WITHOUT YOU!" Victoria hollered with such sharp poison.
Zoe could hear the door handle jiggle just a tiny bit as she realized her father's hand had fallen away and he was now retreating to Victoria at the front of the house. In that moment the portion of Zoe that ached for her father's love began to wither away. And as she heard the front door close and the car drive off leaving her alone in the house, it all but died.
* * *
The sunlight pierced through the white shades of her bedroom window and felt warm on Zoe's skin. She groggily raised her head off her pillow and realized that she had fallen asleep. Glancing at the clock on her nightstand she noticed that it had only been an hour since her father stood behind her door. Bored, curious, and well aware that she had the house to herself for at least another hour, Zoe decided to venture from her room.
As she opened her door and stepped out in the hallway she immediately noticed the amount of pictures on the hallway walls. These were high class portraits of Victoria, Gabrielle, Victoria and Gabrielle and a rare occasional one with her father. They all had the same trendy look as everything else in the house. Zoe found herself admiring a particular one of Gabrielle.
"She's so beautiful. She looks like a supermodel," Zoe thought to herself as she looked over the close up on Gabrielle with her face in her hands.
The focus of Zoe's eyes shift and she could now see the reflection of herself against the glass of the picture frame. She examined her average green eyes that she thought were too big and round. She frowned at her shoulder length, unkempt brown hair and the round cheeks that she thought resembled a chipmunk. With the immediate comparison to Gabrielle's high cheek bones and feline exotic looking blue eyes Zoe felt like a potato next to a rose.
Just down the hall she could see the entrance to Gabrielle's room. Zoe moved swiftly down the hallway and stood in front of the door. Contemplating whether or not to go in lasted two second as she quickly turned the handle and gently pushed the door open. Without stepping through the threshold Zoe could examine the entire room.
Gabrielle's bedroom resembled a stylish New York City studio apartment. Her bed was positioned at an angle five feet from the back corner. Built into the opposite far corner was a mahogany computer desk. It was adorned with a pink laptop, stacks of notebooks, pens, and folders. The entire room was colored in deep browns and light pinks.
One thing in particular caught Zoe's eye. To the left of the door, between two tall windows with light pink curtain, stood one of the most stunning sights she'd ever seen. Her eyes were now transfixed on a gorgeous ivory vanity. A row of three drawers was the base with shorter row on top of that. There was a grand, oval mirror fixed to the top and the glass was outlined with beautiful floral etchings. The entire vanity sat on four legs that were sculpted top to bottom into wooden roses.
Without thinking Zoe took slow steps into Gabrielle's room. Her eyes spellbound by the luxurious piece of furniture as she slowly approached the vanity. Zoe, with the movement of someone approaching a previously undiscovered treasure, reached out and let her fingers grace the ivory bench standing in front. It was smooth marble with a plush light pink velvet pad to sit on.
Zoe's hand crept from the bench to one of the pearl handles of the bottom drawers. With great caution she slid the drawer open a few inches. Her fingers danced inside and pulled out a tube of lipstick. She admired the gold base and the cosmetic's deep red color. She turned it over and on the bottom of the base she read "Crimson Fantasy."
Through the empty hall of the house she could hear the closing of car doors in the driveway. Zoe felt panic rush through her as she scrambled to gain her senses. She quickly pushed the open drawer shut and made her way to the door of Gabrielle's bedroom. As she crossed under the door frame a wave of alarm crashed over her as she realized the tube of lipstick was still in her hand. Before she could turn around to return it she heard the knob of the front door turn.
Not wanting to get caught snooping in her step sister's room she reached for the door, closed it quickly but silently and bolted down the hall for her room. He ever so quietly shut her own door and resumed her place lying in her bed. She shut her eyes to feign sleeping as she could hear the three new members of her family enter the residence.
Zoe could feel the percussion of her beating heart against her chest as she lay there. She hoped that no one saw her outside her room and more importantly, anywhere near Gabrielle's room. Each second felt like an hour as the minutes slowly passed. With no sudden intrusion Zoe began to feel relief. That was quickly squashed by a soft but sharp knock at the door.
Thinking it wise to still fake taking a nap she did not answer. But before a second knock ever came the door knob turned and Zoe could hear someone enter the room. Through the utter silence she could hear the door close softly and someone approach her bedside. Keeping her eyes shut and attempting to keep her heart rate from beating like a hummingbird she felt the shift of weight as someone sit next to her on the bed.
"Zoe, I know you're not sleeping. Open your eyes. I want to speak to you about what I just saw when we came in the house," Victoria's voice rang through the room and was the missile that sunk Zoe's heart.
One eye after the other Zoe slowly opened each and rolled to her back. She pulled herself up on the bed and tucked her knees into her chest. Resting her chin on her knees, she hugged her legs and tried not to make eye contact with her stop mother.
"I saw you coming out of Gabrielle's room. I want to know why you were in there," Victoria questioned.
A thousand excuses raced through Zoe's mind, each one sounded more and more outrageous than the next. Zoe was suddenly overcome with hopelessness and despair. She pondered that maybe if she was honest with her stop mother, maybe, just maybe, this woman could understand her and even just attempt to aid her.
"I was curious and wanted to look around the house," Zoe barely got out from her quivering lips. "I saw Gabrielle's room first and it was amazing. Everything is so beautiful. She is so beautiful. Then I saw the vanity and it made me wonder. Maybe I could find out what makes her so beautiful."
The side of Victoria's mouth curled up in a slight smile. Her eyes showed pity onto Zoe.
"Zoe, I understand. Gabrielle is a gorgeous girl. She's my perfect little angel. She looks like a movie star. She is perfect. I can understand you wanting to be like her, to look like her. But baby, women use makeup to highlight their features. And I'm sorry but you just don't really have anything worth doing that to. No matter how long you sat in front of that mirror and no matter how much makeup you put on, you're still going to look like you. And you should be proud of that. Lots of beautiful girls wish they could look more natural," Victoria said dripping with a passive aggressive backhanded insulting tone. "Plus, pretty girls don't ever have to work for anything in life. They get the world laid at their feet. You won't have to deal with that. You'll be able to really develop your own little personality."
Zoe looked down at her knees as the words of her step mother hit her heart like a sledgehammer. It took everything she had not to let the tears flow from her torn soul. Victoria stood up from the bed and headed to the door. She stood in the doorway with the door in her hands ready to close it. She peeked her head back in and looked at Zoe.
"And I know you've been through a lot but I wanted to warn you that your father is going to be really busy. Not only is he doing a lot of overtime at work but Gabrielle needs him with her solo for the school musical she's going to be in and I need him there for me to deal with the hurt and pain of having to put my babies in a box in our closet. So I hope you understand that he's just not going to have a whole lot of time for you for awhile. After all, you came into our family," Victoria said with massive amounts of harsh resentment.
As Victoria closed the door behind her Zoe's emotions were not conquered by the drug known as hate. Deep in her heart she felt abandonment and loneliness. Her mother, the only person who truly loved her, had given her life to drugs. And now the one place she might be able to call home, the one place she might find hope, love, and a new beginning didn't want her. It was that moment Zoe felt like a single star perched in a night sky filled with nothing but darkness. It was that moment that Zoe felt like the only answer was to escape the pain, to let the darkness extinguish her starlight and to take her own life.