My wallpaper never gave me any sense of closure for moving. It should’ve. Cartoon monkeys peeling bananas that looked like yellow Tic-Tacs. I left a Disney’s Cars sticker on the bedroom window. That way, whoever took my room next knew that I was there once.
The moving truck hummed in the driveway outside. Men with sweat stains on their backs shuffled cardboard boxes back and forth from the garage into the back of the truck. The early summer sun made the grass extra green beneath the clear, blue sky.
My mattress lay propped against the wall beside the closet. My room was empty. I remembered sitting in there the night before with my paper plate piled high with pepperoni pizza and grease-streaked napkins. We were moving for Mom’s job. She got a better public servant position in the city. It’s one thing to move to another small town. Moving to the city meant a whole new world and circumstances to live by.
Would I get lost on the subway? How many kids would live on my street alone? There were six in this neighborhood in mine and Teddy’s age range. Neil Magnuson rode his bike by last night as the street lamps on to say bye. We’d been through every grade together. Traded Pokemon cards on the bus. Danced as penguins in our school’s Christmas concert. He had gapped teeth and a sprinkling of freckles across the center of his face. I looked like a Precious Moments figurine next to him. My white skin ached for sunlight, or some kind shade to it that wasn’t scorched-red.
The last week of school felt like a send-off for me. Everyone was saying good-bye and making me cards. Telling me to pass congrats to my Mom. Dad traded in our van with the wood paneling on the sides in for a newer Suburban. I wanted to learn to drive in that van. I was still convinced that my holographic Charizard card was still somewhere beneath the back passenger seats. I hope it’s treated with care when found.
Mom knocked on the bedroom door.
“Mark, you almost ready?”
I picked up my morning paper plate with Pop Tart frosting crumbs on it.
“Yeah. Are we getting lunch?”
“We’ll stop somewhere,” Mom said. She looked at my walls, scanning them up and down. “I never liked this wallpaper.”
“Then why’d you get it?”
“I didn’t. Your grandma did as a surprise.”
Grandma passed away when I was one. Mom laughed to herself.
“She always had to have her way.”