“Shi! Please… stay here. Stay with me. Don’t move to Oregon. I’ll buy you whatever you want and-” my soon-to-be ex-boyfriend William begged me.
“No,” shaking my head, I continued gathering up my belongings, stacking everything by the front door, “no you should have thought of that before you decided to sleep with my brother,” I sighed softly.
My twin brother Isaac and I were almost impossible to tell apart. We both had shoulder-length strawberry-blonde curly hair, honey-brown eyes, and freckles across our noses. We were short-statured, both thin and pale but there were two glaring differences between the two of us. Isaac was missing one of his front teeth from a hockey accident when we were teenagers and I was missing my left leg from the knee down.
“Shiloh, we’ve been together for 5 years! Since high school! Why… Why are you doing this? I made a mistake,” William started to cry and I grabbed a pillow off his couch, throwing it at him and hitting him square in the side of the head.
“You put your dick in my brother! Why the hell would I stay with you? That’s unforgivable. We’ve never even done it yet and you were so desperate that you slept with my twin!”
“But… you look identical I… didn’t think it would matter,” he rubbed the nape of his neck and I scoffed, grabbing my car keys off the wall.
“We are vastly different people. Keep Isaac. I’m done with both of you,” gathering up my things, I walked out of the front door of the house I had shared with William for the last 3 years and slammed it behind me.
I started loading my trunk, no tears falling from me, just rage settling in my heart. I knew that William and Isaac had been flirting for months now, and I steadily gathered evidence, planning to leave William anyway thanks to his inability to stay faithful to me. But what I had never expected was to get a text from Isaac telling me that they had been intimate. When I confronted William about this, he didn’t deny it, simply saying that if after 5 years I wasn’t ready, then I never would be and he wanted to find that from someone else.
“At least I’m only 22. Happy birthday to me,” I scoffed, climbing into my car and heading to my parent's house.
I drove in silence, trying to stuff down my anger, the frustration of wasting 5 years of my life on a man who was incapable of loving me as I wanted.
Pulling into my parent's driveway, I groaned when I realized that Isaac was also there, possibly to celebrate the fact that today was our birthday.
I climbed out of my car, kicked the driver's door closed behind me, and went up the front steps, heading into the house, my heart thudding in my chest.
“Ma! Pa! I'm here!" I called out and Isaac came around the corner from the kitchen, a sheepish look on his face, “I didn’t call for you. I don’t want to talk to you,” shoving past, I went into the kitchen and found my parents Joanna and Thatcher moving around each other, throwing dinner together.
"Hi, baby. Will didn't come with you?” my mother smiled at me.
“We broke up,” I shrugged, kissing her cheek, “I leave for Oregon tonight.”
“What! Why? What happened?”
“Why don't you just ask Isaac?” I clicked my tongue as he came into the kitchen.
“Isaac?” she stared at him, crossing her arms over her chest, “what did you do?”
“Nothin' ma,” he smiled, “Shiloh is just being dramatic.”
“You fucked my boyfriend!” I yelled at him, going over and shoving him in the chest, “I’m being dramatic? You…”
“Isaac Leonardo Hartley,” my father stood at his full height, towering over Isaac, “is this true?”
“Yeah a bit…” he nodded, looking to the floor.
“How could you hurt your brother like that? What the fuck is wrong with you?”
“Will is really attractive and Shiloh refused to give it up so I offered. That’s all. Not my problem or fault he jumped on the opportunity.”
“But you never should have… you know what. I don’t even care. Keep him. I only stopped by here to talk to Ma and Pa. I’ll be in Eugene. I already transferred to the University of Oregon. I have a small apartment and accepted a full-time job at a coffee shop. Just wanted to tell you that. I’ll come back at the holidays.”
“But… it’s your birthday,” my mother wiped a tear away, “stay for the night.”
“I’d rather not. I don’t want to be around Isaac. I’ll call you when I get to Oregon. I should be there by tomorrow morning. Love you Ma,” I kissed her cheek again and hugged my father.
“Shi. I’m sorry,” Isaac rubbed his neck.
“Yeah. I don’t care. You made this choice. Enjoy your time with William. I… I’m done with you. You’re not my brother anymore.”
“We shared a womb for 9 months. We look identical. You can’t just do this Shiloh.”
“Sure I can. Watch me,” I shoved past and walked out of the house, hopping into my car, and starting it with shaky hands.
It took me nine hours to drive from my parent's house in Idaho to the new apartment I had rented in Eugene. I was exhausted when I got there, arriving first thing in the morning and going to meet with the apartment manager. She gave me the keys and took me to the apartment. It was the first apartment on the bottom floor, and I had my own small balcony off of my bedroom that was covered, giving me a semblance of privacy. There was only one bedroom, but a large living room and kitchen. The bathroom was right off the bedroom, the shower shared the wall with my closet and all of the walls were stark white, the cabinets made of light wood. The carpets were brown and soft, clearly having been cleaned before I arrived.
After thanking the apartment manager, I moved what little items I had into the house. My clothes, television, books, my computer, and the tatami mat I had been using as a bed since I stopped sharing a room with William, untrusting of him anymore because I knew he was cheating.
Once I had unloaded all of that, I took a mental inventory of what I would need to go buy.
“Alright,” I sighed, talking to myself, “I need a desk, an actual bed, some kind of couch for the living room, and a small table and chairs. That’ll do for now.”
Plopping down on the tatami, I took my phone out and checked my bank account, a huge smile forming on my face. My parents had given both Isaac and myself 50 thousand dollars when we started college. I had spent very little of it, working my way through college instead of spending any of it, leaving me with a solid 60 thousand still in my account after renting the new apartment and getting my internet and electricity turned on.
“Thank God,” I sighed softly, laying down, “should I nap? No. Research. Figure out how far I am from the college and coffee shop.”
The cafe I had been hired at was a 2-minute walk from my apartment, and the building for the classes I did have on campus was only a 15-minute walk, meaning I would rarely need to use my car. I had opted to take all of the classes I could online, but I did have one I would have to attend on campus for my degree.
With a groan, I climbed off of my bed and grabbed my shoulder bag, tossed my phone into it, and slipped my shoes on, heading out of the apartment and locking the door behind me.
Getting into my car, I headed off to the store I wanted to go to buy furniture and groceries. I headed inside, listening to my podcast, and shutting myself off from the world.
I first found a platform bedframe, loading it onto a flatbed and a mattress that would fit. The platform headboard was a soft gray made of fabric over wood, meaning it would be more comfortable to lean against. I started walking through the furniture area and found 2 nightstands, both black and the perfect height for next to my new bed. After grabbing those, I also grabbed a small lamp that had a charging base for my phone, and another lamp that matched to go on the other side of my bed.
I had to order the sectional that I wanted, a soft gray material that would take up a large part of the living room, but that would be fine by me.
My next stop was a wall mount for my television in my room and under that, I found a short, long dresser that would match the nightstands that I had picked. I was also able to find a solid dark wood dining table with matching chairs that would look nice with the couch I had picked.
I was able to find a small desk I could put in a corner perfect for my bedroom, meaning it would take up very little space but give me an area to do my classes that didn’t leave me sitting at the couch or dining table. I found a soft gray computer chair and grabbed that as well, scoffing at the fact that I was spending way more money than I had intended but happy to have the opportunity to do so.
When I lived in Idaho, I simply went from my parent's house to living with William and never had the chance to decorate things how I wanted. Being given the opportunity to do that now helped me release my anger, and how I was feeling about what had happened between my brother and my ex-boyfriend.
After paying for all of that and managing to load all of it into the back of my hatchback, I went back into the store and grabbed new pillows, and a new black bed set with small white flowers before putting it back and grabbing a fluffy pastel tye dye one that I had wanted but William refused to let me get, a ton of wall art that showed mountains, various plants and planets, knowing that I would have to hang them with velcro strips so I could move them around instead of nails. I stood there for a long time before grabbing a light gray tablecloth with white embroidery for my dining table and all of the dishware, cooking utensils, and other items I needed for the kitchen, all of it a soft light blue.
Once I grabbed cleaning supplies and enough groceries to last me a week I checked out once again and loaded everything into my car, squeezing it around my new furniture and heading back to my apartment, grateful to be living on the bottom floor.
Carrying everything into the apartment was a hassle and I left all of the furniture around the living room, choosing to deal with it tomorrow.
After putting all of the groceries away and loading the dishwasher with all of my new cookware to thoroughly clean and sterilize it, I went into my room and laid down, exhaustion finally settling over me and I fell into a deep, sleep.
I woke up a few hours later when I came to a realization.
“I didn’t buy anything for the bathroom or curtains,” I groaned loudly to myself before my stomach grumbled, “what time is it?”
Grabbing my phone, I realized that it was 4 pm.
“No wonder,” I sighed softly, annoyed with myself.
I constantly talked to myself, finding it the best way to organize my thoughts, and while I knew it had annoyed William, that wasn’t something I had to worry about anymore.
Smiling to myself, I climbed off my bed and went into the bathroom, washing my face and fixing my hair. Heading back to my room, I opened my closet and put on my favorite lavender long-sleeve turtle neck, and tucked that into pastel pink overalls. Lacing up my combat boots, I grabbed my bag, crutches, and keys and drove over to a small Japanese restaurant I had seen online.
I was seated outside and after ordering something called a firecracker roll that had caught my attention and a glass of Takara plum wine, I pulled my phone out, texting my mother.
-S: Ma. I fell asleep as soon as I got to my apartment. I’m sorry for leaving so abruptly. I’m safe. It’s beautiful here. I love you and Pa and I’m happy.
-M: I understand why you left. Please come back at Christmas. Pa says hi. Send pictures of the apartment when it’s set up.
-S: Did Isaac move in with Will?
-M: Yeah. We kicked him from the house. I’m sorry this happened.
-S: Me too. Love you. I’m about to eat dinner. I’ll call you after work.
-M: Sounds good. Love you too.
I went into my texts and realized that I had received one more from my new manager at the coffee shop where I was going to be working. Her name was Juniper and she was incredibly sweet and open about my schedule and what I had asked for the dress code. I was allowed to wear what I wanted as long as it was appropriate and I wore close-toed shoes.
-J: Hi Shiloh! I updated the schedule. Is June 5th too soon to start working for you? I know you were moving here from Idaho.
-S: Hi Juniper. No that’s fine. That’s only 2 days but I’ll just spend tomorrow getting things set up at my apartment. Did you see that my availability for Tues and Thurs changes starting August 21st?
-J: I did! Can I schedule you after that class? Or would you like those days off?
-S: If I could have those off that would be fantastic. But I’m available any day outside of those.
-J: Perfect. Alright, We’ll see you on Friday at 6 am!
-S: Thank you, Juniper!
My food was finally brought out and I ate in peace, watching cars drive by as I settled into the fact that for the first time in my life I was truly alone. Free to simply be Shiloh Jasper Hartley, not Isaac’s twin or William's partner.
I left cash on the table and tipped the same price that my meal had been before finishing my wine and leaving the restaurant, heading back to the store to get curtains and everything I needed for my bathroom.
Settling on a white-to-black ombre curtain and matching rugs and other supplies for the bathroom, I grabbed all of my missing hygiene products before grabbing curtains for the rest of the house that I would need including black-out curtains for my room to help me sleep. My final stop was the electronics department to grab an LED light strip for my bedroom.
Once I paid for my final purchases of the day, I went back to my apartment and set up the bathroom and all of the curtains before I started slowly working on the furniture, listening to videos as I went. By the time 9 pm rolled around, I had set up my desk and computer, my bed, deciding to place my tatami mat over the mattress but under my sheets and reorganized the kitchen.
As I walked through the apartment, I noticed a small closet I had ignored by the front door this entire time and slid it open to find my own washer and dryer. A small smile spread on my face and I closed it again before heading to the bathroom to shower.
Grateful to be clean, I climbed into bed and started watching videos on my phone, cuddling one of my pillows to my chest. I slowly drifted off to sleep, the pain of the day before finally leaving my heart.
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