Tori pushes her glasses higher up on her nose as she begins writing her ad on Craigslist. After carefully sorting through her everything in her apartment and making list of things that had to come with her, and things that had to go, Tori decided it’d be best to sell what was left.
She moved everything she wanted to keep into the spare room in her apartment, then everything that had to be sold into the living room and her bedroom. Sorting things gave her a break from thinking about her latest book, and gave her an excuse for ignoring the emails from her publisher who was breathing down her neck at every chance he could.
Among the things she wanted to keep were her bookshelves, all of her books, a memory box from her childhood, her laptop, Chester’s litter box, and a painting of a lighthouse from a fan. It depresses her for a moment that that was all she wishes to keep, but she accepts it. She plans to ship the books, shelves and painting to Havana. Tori grabs all the suitcases she has, mentally planning what will go into which suitcase, figuring she’ll take all of her clothes with her.
In her Craigslist ad, she writes:
Moving sale. Everything must go. Furniture, cookware, utensils, electronics and more. Sale on Saturday, August 6th from 8 A.M. until everything is gone.
She adds other details, such as contact information and her address, then shuts down her computer and makes herself a cup of hot chocolate with extra marshmallows before going to bed.
The following Saturday, Tori is woken at 7:30 by someone pounding at her door. She hopes it’s not the landlord. She thought they had worked out a deal earlier in the week, she’d paid to have her lease nulled at the end of the month. She slips her sweatpants on and heads for the door. When she opens it, she realizes it’s no one that she’s met before.
The man sniffs, then wipes his nose on his sleeve. He’s short and balding, with
thick glasses perched high on his nose. Tori resists the urge to slam the door in his face. She could’ve slept another fifteen minutes, at least. People in Queens have no courtesy. “Is this the location of the moving sale?” He asks brusquely.
“Uh, yes.” Tori makes a point of looking at the clock hanging on the wall. There’s price tag in the middle of it, because she had the sense to label everything the night before, knowing there was no way she was getting up at 5 A.M. to label everything. “You’re early.” She says as politely as she can muster, squinting at him to see better, her glasses being in the other room.
“I know, I wanted to get here early to have first pick.” He squeezes past her and she sighs loudly, allowing the man to look around. She grabs her glasses and returns to watch the man look around. She grabs her favorite mug, the only one she’s going to keep, and makes herself some hot chocolate, foregoing the marshmallows as to not upset her stomach so early. She can’t remember the last time she was awake at this time in the morning.
At 8 o’clock she props the door open to allow people to come and go. Most of the people are easy to deal with, they just grab what they want, pay her, and leave. At nine, the sniffly man comes up to her and hands her money, saying he’s going to take what’s remaining of her living room furniture. “Also, I saw a red Volvo in the lot. Is it yours?”
“Yep, that’s my car alright. Are you interested? There’s nothing wrong with it, I just don’t want to bring it with me.” Tori says, changing her attitude, hoping the man will agree to buy her car. Moments later, the man takes out a checkbook and writes the amount she had listed on the sign.
“My niece is going to be going off to college soon and I want her to have a car.” He asks for her name, and write it on the “Pay to the order of” line before handing her the check.
“Very nice of you, sir.” Tori smiles at him and he nods at her.
“If you don’t mind, I’ll take the car now and recruit my brother’s help. He has a truck, you see, and it’ll be much easier for him to help me move everything.”
“Absolutely, I’ll put ‘sold’ tags on everything that is yours.” She hands him the keys to her- well, his- car and watches him go. In the meantime, several other people come and go, each one buying something, much to Tori’s surprise.
Later in the day a young girl approaches her, 14 or 15 years old she guesses, with a book in her hand. “H-hi..” The girl says, slowly coming closer. “I’m L-Lily..” Lily brushes some wild strands of strawberry blonde hair out of her face.
“Hi, Lily. What can I do for you?” Tori smiles at her, sensing that she’s nervous.
“I’m a b-big fan. I’m sorry if you don’t like this kind of thing… I saw your ad, and I wanted a chance t-to meet you in person, before you moved…” Tori could still tell that Lily was unsure of herself.
“Perfect, Lily, I’m glad you stopped by. Would you like me to sign that?” Tori asks, gesturing to the book in Lily’s hands, knowing it was one of her own. Lily’s face contorts into a huge smile and she nods, holding the book out for Tori to take.
“I’ve read all of your books, but that one is my favorite.” Tori hears the passion in the girl’s voice and smiles.
“Why this one?” Tori asks, wanting the girl to remember this visit as a positive one.
“I love Alexandra’s outlook on life, and her personality. I think her bravery and positivity made all the difference for her story. It really made an impression on me, changed my outlook on how to handle different things… I’d like to thank you for that. I think I’d like to become a writer myself.” Lily says, her faced filled with animation and vivid passion.
Tori finds herself smiling broadly as well. She’d never heard of anyone who’d felt to positively about any of her works. “Thank you very much, Lily. You’ve truly made my day.” Tori opens the book in her hands to the front cover and writes You can conquer the world if you put your mind to it. Rock on, Lily. -Tori Jackson. She also writes her email address on a sticky note and sticks it inside. “Feel free to contact me whenever you’d like, and if you email me your address, I’ll be sure to have a copy of all my future books sent to you before they hit shelves.” Tori can’t help but grin wider at the pure look of elation that comes across the girl’s face.
“Really? Thank you so much! This is an absolute dream come true!” Lily looks like she actually may cry. Tori glances around and notices that no one is there for the moment, so she tell Lily to wait where she is.
Tori goes into the room where her book are located and grabs her own copy of The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Tori returns to the kitchen. “Have you read this before?” Lily shakes her head. “It’s my favorite book. I read it when I was a teenager and I really connected with it. I personally found Holden, the main character, relatable,” Tori hands her the book. “If you read it, tell me what you think.”
Lily takes the book gratefully and smiles. “Oh I will, I love reading! Thank you so much!” Lily surges forward, wrapping her arms around Tori in a tight hug. Tori is stunned at first, but pats Lily’s back for a moment before gently pushing her away. “Thanks again, unfortunately I’ve got to go…” Lily looks toward the door regretfully. “Where are you moving to?” the girl asks curiously.
“Havana, Cuba.” Tori answers, leaning back against her counter. Looking at Lily, she sees a bit of herself; shy, clumsy, face always in a book.
“Well, I hope you have a nice time.” Lily smiles at her once more, making her way toward the door.
“Goodbye, Lily.” Tori waves a little and sees the girl go before her phone rings. “Hola, Mari. What’s up?”
“Just calling to see how sale is going.” Mari chuckles, knowing Tori hates these kinds of things.
“Actually, not too bad. I just had a really good experience with a fan.” Tori says, still amazed by the experience. She had no idea her writing could have that effect on someone.
“You’re kidding!” Mari says, knowing Tori never has experiences with fans, her books aren’t that well known in Queens, oddly enough. Tori tells her all about it, then tells her about the sale and how almost everything in the apartment is almost gone. She’s hanging up with Mari just as the guy from earlier that morning is walking in the door with a tall, muscular man following behind him.
Tori can’t help but admire the man. She assumes that it is Mr. Sniffles’ brother, and can’t help but notice how they’re nearly completely opposite in the appearance department. The brown haired man looks at her and smiles. Tori can’t help but blush. “Hi, I’m Tori Jackson.” She reaches her hand out, feeling stupid considering she hasn’t introduced herself to anyone else who came to her apartment that day except Lily.
“Hi Tori, I’m Baxter. This is Davis,” he gestures to Mr. Sniffles- well, Mr. Davis Sniffles, now- who looks very annoyed at the fact that his brother is talking opposed to helping him get what he bought. “But I’m sure you already knew that.” Baxter says, assuming Tori already knew his brother from earlier.
“Right,” Tori says. “Pleasure to meet you. I’ll be sure to stay out of you way while you’re grabbing stuff.” She grabs her mug of fresh hot chocolate and scurries away to the bathroom, just to get away from conversation. Tori isn’t the type to be overly friendly and talkative, especially with men.
When Tori emerges from her sanctuary, the two men are grabbing the last of what Davis had purchased. “Thanks.” Baxter says, giving Tori a thousand watt smile.
“Sure thing. Have a good night.” She gives a small wave to each of them.
More people come in, and by 7 P.M., everything is gone, including her bed, so she has nothing more to worry about. Her clothes are already in their suitcases, her memory box placed along with them. All she has left to do is box up her books, shelves, and paintings and ship them to her soon to address in Cuba.
Read the next part!: Havana: Part Three