Bronwyn’s eyes scanned across the dimly lit room. Mr. Slimeyworth’s tank sat atop her old oak desk, Xena’s dog bed and toys in another. Old book reports, random plants, science experiments and random repair components had been packed up in boxes, overtaking one corner of the room. It looked just like this every time she came home to do laundry.
Slowly it was being packed up, and honestly it made her a little sad. She had moved out right at the beginning of sophomore year and until now it had remained the same.
Currently, old her bed was harboring a huge pile of clothes from the last two weeks. She couldn’t tell anymore which was dirty and which wasn’t, so she decided to wash it all. On her 3rd load, she was almost done, but in no rush to finish up quickly.
This was her bi-monthly ritual. Go home every two weeks. Wash clothes. Spend a few hours with the family. Repeat. Thank God for her mother’s washer. The laundry facilities on campus were always filled with someone’s soggy clothes or they were broken. So every other weekend, in the refuge of her mother’s laundry room was where she could be found.
Looking through the window adjacent to her bed, she imagined herself a teen again: Outside playing in the yard with Xena, her furry childhood companion or running after her younger sister Amara, who had somehow run off when she wasn’t looking. Bronwyn had always felt happy at home, she grew up in a loving household, with two great parents, a mildly annoying sister, and a dog she consistently missed.
Now she had the pleasure of seeing her pre-teen sister grow up, whose hormonal mood swings were entertaining to watch. Was she the same way as a teen? Probably. Well… aside from the time she chopped off her hair and dyed it teal. Or when she got her lip pierced. Or the few times she stayed out a little too late with Farhan, Billie and Jasmine.
Sighing with contentment, she moved back to the pile of laundry sitting on her bed. She was deep in thought when Nigel approached the room, knocking lightly on the door frame.
“You okay kiddo?” he asked, smiling and walking to stand next to her. “Yeah, I am okay Dad. Just washing a few more loads before I head back to campus,” she turned back to her clothes, still sorting through everything.
“It’s really nice that you come home to do your laundry,” Nigel mused, leaning on the wall next to her bed.
“Are you being sarcastic orrrrr?” Wyn teased, throwing a possibly clean t-shirt at him. “I am not! I mean it. We all miss you, especially your Mother. You need to call her more often when you’re gone you know.”
Wyn knew he was right, but she had been so busy recently that picking up the phone to chat for hours was not something she had the time or energy to do. “I know Dad, I just…ugh she talks foreverrrrrrrr, I don’t have time like that anymore,” she half whined.
“I know that kiddo but, your our first, it would be nice to hear from you when you don’t need laundry to be done, even though we love seeing you every two weeks. Plus, you have to remember, her parents weren’t around like we are, she just wants you to have the life she didn’t,” he said calmly.
He had a point, so she promised to call more often, “Yeah, Dad…I will. Promise.” Nigel smiled walking up to her and ruffling her hair, “That’s it. We just miss you is all, especially Xena. You know she has learned how to open the bedroom door? She sleeps in here all the time now.” Wyn smiled looking at the old teepee style dog bed.
“I wish I could take her with me,” Wyn mumbled, half to herself, half to Nigel. “Well….if you moved home…..”Nigel started. “Dad….we talked about this, it’s easier for me to stay on campus. I am a Junior now, I have so much going on the commute would just kill me,” they have this conversation every time she comes home, but the commute one way to Newcrest University took over an hour, and her time was valuable. Plus, Bronwyn really liked her freedom.
“I know, I know…was just a suggestion! Anyway….dinner is ready. Mom made BLT’s….Race ya?” Nigel readied himself, pretending to dash through the door. Wyn knew his trick, and juked quickly dodging Nigel and hitting the stairs before he made a step. “Too slow old man!” she yelled quickly descending the stairs, she could hear Nigel chuckling behind her.
All four of the Gunderson’s sat at the small oak table in the kitchen. It had scratches, stains, watermarks and dog scratches all over it from years of wear and tear. Bronwyn loved this table, it had been in her life since she was a toddler and she was glad they hadn’t gotten rid of it.
“Amara, what do you have going on this week?” her mother looked at her younger sister, whom was taking a too big bite of her her sandwich, she started to speak but Fallon interrupted her, “Not with your mouth full please,” Amara shrugged, chewing quickly before taking a big gulp to answer her mother, “Uuhmmm Mr. Rochester said we have a field trip to the museum on Wednesday!”
Another bite was had and the sandwich was almost half gone. Wyn wondered how her sister was able to put so much food away, but then she remembered how much she used to eat as a growing teen. “What museum are you guys going too?” Bronwyn asked, curious.
“Uhmmmmm I dunno” Amara shrugged again, “All I know is I don’t have to sit next to Kevin McMillan, ughhhhh,”she gagged playfully, stuffing a fry in her mouth. “What’s wrong with Kevin McMillan?” Nigel asked, curious.“He’s always shooting spitballs at me! It’s so gross.”
Bronwyn laughed, “That is pretty gross. You sure you don’t like him??” Amara shuddered, “EW gross. Boys are gross ok? If he does like me, shooting spitballs doesn’t help!” Bronwyn laughed heartily, “You say that now, until you and Kevin are in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G!” Amara’s eyes grew wide, “EWWWWWW”.
Fallon made a face, “Okay okay, Wyn, stop teasing your sister. Amara, stop eating so fast your gonna get a tummy ache.” Amara grinned widely, “Already done! Can I go play now?” she asked, eager to get up and moving.
“Make sure you do your homework, I don’t wanna get another call from Mr. Rochester that you haven’t turned in another assignment,” Nigel warned lightly. “Yes dad…..” Amara said softly before darting out of her chair.
“You guys never had to worry about me finishing homework,” Bronwyn said proudly. “Yeah we just had to worry that you would do your classmates homework for them,” Fallon retorted, laughing. “That’s why I became a tutor!” Bronwyn smiled widely, “plus it looks great on my resume.”
Nigel nodded in agreement. Just then, Wyn’s phone buzzed loudly, startling everyone at the table. Out from her back pocket it came. There were 3 unread texts.
[“WYN! COME TO THE PARTY TONIGHT, IT WILL BE FUN I SWEAR….PLEASEEEEE I NEED YOU ERIC PRADO WILL BE THERE” – JAS]
Bronwyn rolled her eyes. As much as Jasmine was a homework nerd, she was also a party nerd and a glamour girl, and she was smitten over this dude. Eric, however, had no idea of her existence. She replied quickly, “Maybe Jas. I got a bunch of stuff to do tomorrow morning. I can’t be out late…”
[“Wynnie, Meet me at 7? I got this new shit to show you. Tell your ‘rents I said hi btw. Enjoy Laundry.” – Farhan]
Farhan always had some new music he was putting together, and she was always the first person to hear it. “Sure Hanni, I’ll be over in a bit!
[“What’s this hear about you meeting with Mr. Longacre tomorrow?!?!?! Are you in trouble????” – Billie]
Billie was Bronwyn’s partner in Biology Lab. Bronwyn frowned, how did she know? Billie knew everything happening around campus, even menial meetings between teachers and students. “I don’t know Bills…I will find out tomorrow”. Billie replied back quickly, “I heard that he has chosen the student going on the Study Board trip!!! I bet you got it in the bag!”
Fallon interrupted Wyn’s series of texts, “Anything exciting happening??” Slightly startled, Wyn looked up at her parents expectant faces, “Uhhhh, not really. Or I dunno. Hanni wants me to meet him later, he has this new song, and I have a meeting with my professor tomorrow…” she said quickly.
“Meeting with your professor? Did something happen?????” Nigel asked, with a tinge of concern in his voice. “No no, things are fine…” she half mumbled, ”I signed up for a study abroad program…” she said cautiously, searching both of their faces to see their reactions.
“OH honey that’s fantastic! Where too?! Why didn’t you tell us sooner?????,” Fallon’s excitement grew quickly. “I was going to tell you after I found out,” Wyn said sheepishly, “Id be going to Selvadorada….It’s a semester long, with an option to stay a full year.”
Bronwyn paused, trying to gauge her parents reactions. Fallon gasped slightly, “A whole year!? That’s so long.”Nigel cut her off, reaching over the table to grasp her hand, “Well let us know as soon as you find out!”
“I will, promise, I got to go though, thanks for dinner!” Bronwyn said, standing up from the table and giving both of her parents both kisses on the cheek.
After making her way upstairs, she finished her laundry quickly, packing up her items as she prepared to depart for campus. Saying goodbye to her parents, sister and Xena was always hard, but she knew she would see them again in a couple of weeks. “Make sure you call your mother,” Nigel whispered in her ear as they hugged in the driveway.
Nodding in acknowledgement, she then kissed Fallon on the cheek and gave Amara a noogie. “Bye young one,” she teased. Amara smiled up at her, “Bye old one.” Behind Amara, Xena could be heard whining softly.
Wyn crouched down, rubbing a spot behind her ear, “Bye Xena Beana, I’ll be back…plus Am will take good care of you.” The dog’s tail wagged furiously as she jumped up to lick Wyn in the face. “Hahaha okay girl, ok…Yes, I miss your kisses too,” she giggled, wiping the dog slobber off of her face and making her way to her car.
“Drive safe sweety!” Fallon called as she got in her car. They were all standing at the end of the driveway, waving wildly. “They are so freaking corny,” she thought to herself as she pulled out. Despite their corniness, she wouldn’t have it any other way.