I was at the car lot the day my father and Pastor Brian worked out the deal. I was significantly younger than I am now, but I remember the deal as if it were yesterday. “You stop praying for my nonexistent soul and I’ll knock two grand off that cherry red Cadillac.”
It’s been several years since any of us have had to listen to Wolfgang bark at night, and several years since my father has greeted a morning in a foul mood. Our family has done a great deal of remodeling inside the church, but there are still three elements that prevent the dwelling from feeling unlike the house of worship it once was.
1) The stained-glass windows.
2) The eight-foot-tall statue of Jesus Christ hanging on the east wall.
3) The church marquee on the front lawn.
The same marquee that remains out front all these years later, long after my father changed the name atop the marquee from, “Crossroads Lutheran Church,” to “Dollar Voss.”
He chose to name the house Dollar Voss because the church is divided into four quarters. And our last name is Voss. I wish there were a more intelligent explanation.
I open the front doors and walk into Quarter One. It consists of the old-chapel-turned-living-area and a rather large kitchen, both remodeled to reflect their new uses, save the eight-foot-tall statue of Jesus Christ on a cross still hanging on the east wall of the living room. Utah and my father worked tirelessly one summer to dismount the eight-foot-tall statue, to no avail. It appeared, after days of failed attempts to remove Him from the living room wall, that Jesus Christ’s cross was an actual part of the structure of the building and could not be removed without also removing the studs and the entire east wall of the house.
My father didn’t like the idea of losing an entire wall. He enjoys the outdoors, but he is a big believer that the indoors and the outdoors should remain segregated. Instead, he made the decision that the eight-foot-tall Jesus Christ would have to remain. “It gives Quarter One a little character,” he said.
He is an atheist, which means the wall hanging is just that and nothing more to him. A wall hanging where an eight-foot-tall Jesus is the focal point. Nonetheless, I make it a point to ensure Jesus Christ is dressed to reflect the appropriate holiday. Which is why the eight-foot-tall statue of Jesus Christ is currently covered in a white bedsheet. He’s dressed as a ghost.
Quarter Two, which at one time consisted of three Sunday school classrooms, has since had walls added and is now divided into six rather small bedrooms, large enough to contain one child, one twin-sized bed, and one dresser. My three siblings and I occupy four of the six bedrooms. The fifth bedroom is a guest room and the sixth bedroom is used as my father’s office. Which I’ve never actually once seen him use.
Quarter Three is the old dining hall turned master bedroom. It’s where my father sleeps soundly for at least eight hours every night with Victoria Finney-Voss. Victoria has lived in Dollar Voss for approximately four years and two months. Three months prior to the finalization of my father’s divorce from my mother and six months prior to the birth of my father’s fourth and hopefully final child, Moby.
The last quarter of Dollar Voss, Quarter Four, is the most secluded and controversial of the four quarters.
It is set up much like an efficiency apartment, consisting of a bathroom with a standing shower, a very mini-kitchen, and a small living area containing one couch, one television, and one full-sized bed.
My mother, Victoria Voss, not to be confused with my father’s current wife of the same name, occupies Quarter Four. It is unfortunate that my father divorced one Victoria, only to immediately marry another, but not nearly as unfortunate as the fact that both Victorias still live in Dollar Voss.
My father’s love for the current Victoria Voss was not so much a rebound relationship, but rather more of an overlap, which is the major source of contention remaining among the three adults.
It’s rare that my mother, Vicky, ascends from her dwellings in Quarter Four, but her presence is felt by all. Although none are quite as sensitive to the current living arrangement as my father’s current wife, Victoria. She hasn’t been happy about my mother’s occupancy of Quarter Four since the day she moved in to Dollar Voss.
I’m sure it’s difficult having to live in a house with your husband and his ex-wife. But probably not nearly as difficult as it was for my cancer-ridden mother to find out my father was sleeping with her oncology nurse.
But that was several years ago and my siblings and I have long since moved past the wrongs our father committed against our mother.
Actually, we haven’t. Not even slightly.
Regardless, it’s taken all of the last several years for Dollar Voss to be remodeled and revamped to appropriately house the entire Voss family, but my father is patient, if anything.
Despite what is true, we, the Voss family, look very much like a normal family, and Dollar Voss looks very much like a normal house, save the stained-glass windows, the statue on our wall, and the church marquee.
Pastor Brian faithfully updated the marquee every Saturday with clever phrases such as DON’T BE SO OPEN-MINDED THAT YOUR BRAINS FALL OUT and THIS WEEK’S SERMON: FIFTY SHADES OF PRAY.
Sometimes I wonder what the townspeople think when they drive by and read Utah’s daily facts and quotes. Like yesterday, when the marquee read THE FACE OF THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE MEDAL IS A DEPICTION OF THREE NAKED MEN.
I occasionally think it’s funny, but I’m mostly just embarrassed. Most of the residents of our small town already feel we’re out of place here, living in this old church. Our actions only prove to reinforce those feelings. I think my father actually tried to make an effort to fit in last year and make our house look more like a home than a church. He spent two weeks putting up a cute white picket fence around our entire yard.
The white picket fence didn’t do much to make it look more like a home. Now it just looks like we live in an old church surrounded by an out of place white picket fence. A-plus for effort, though.
I go to my bedroom and close the door. I toss my sack on the floor by my bed and plop down onto my mattress. It’s almost three in the afternoon, which means Moby and Victoria will be back soon. Then Honor and Utah. Then my father. Then family dinner. Joy.
Today has already been too much. I’m not sure I can take much more.
I go to the bathroom and search the drawers for some sleep medicine. I don’t normally take it unless I’m sick, but the only thing I can think of that will get me through tonight without obsessing over my kiss with Honor’s boyfriend is a few sips of NyQuil. Which is precisely what I find under the sink.
I take a dose and then text my father when I’m back in my room and under the covers.
I’m not feeling well. Left school early and going to bed. Will probably miss dinner.
I turn the sound off on my phone and slide it under my pillow. I close my eyes, but it doesn’t help me to stop seeing Sagan in front of me. Honor and I aren’t as close as we used to be so it’s not unusual that I didn’t know about her new fling. I have noticed she’s been gone more than usual but I haven’t asked her why. As far as I know, she’s never brought him to our house, so I had no idea who he was when I saw him today.
If only I had seen his face prior to the incident on the town square, that whole embarrassment could have been avoided. I would have known who he was immediately. If he has even one decent bone in his body, he’ll break it off with her and never step foot inside this house. It’s not like they’re in love. They barely know each other; it’s only been a couple of weeks. Anyone in their right mind wouldn’t want to come between sisters. Especially twins.
But then again, I doubt he has any intentions to pursue me at all. It was an honest mistake. He thought I was Honor. If he had known I was her sister, he never would have said sickeningly sweet and confusing things like “You bury me” right before sticking his tongue down my throat. He’s probably laughing about the mix-up. Hell, he probably ended up telling Honor what happened and they’re both laughing about it.
Laughing about poor, pathetic Merit who thought the cute guy was actually into her.
I hate that I’m so embarrassed by it. I should have slapped him when he kissed me. Had I done that, I would be laughing about it with him. But instead, I threw myself at him and consumed as much of that kiss and him as I possibly could. It’s a feeling I want to experience again. And that’s what has me the most upset. The last thing I want is for there to be something of my sister’s that I’m envious of. Just thinking about Sagan kissing her like he kissed me today makes me so jealous, I would bleed green if someone stabbed me.
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