Summer 17 (Ch. 2)

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Summer 17 (Ch. 2)

Post by B.D.__Wether on Sun Feb 06, 2011 5:44 pm

~ Chapter Two ~

“Are you sure you’ll be OK?” Nicole’s thin eyebrows bent in concern. The crinkles took over her forehead again. I rubbed my temple irritably.
I had tried all morning to pretend the bubbling laughter in my throat wasn’t about to make me pee my pants laughing. Her eyes searched mine tightly as they had, waiting for me to break down and beg her to bring me with her to China. But even I knew only that happened in movies.
“Mom, I’ll be fine,” I lied, nervously dodging my eyes about the airport terminal. People rushed by to catch their flights. Others dozed in waiting chairs and missed them altogether. A young, apparently foreign couple fought over a map in what I thought was French. Mike, Lyn and Jake caught my fleeting glance across the aisle. They all smiled, but Jake nodded reassuringly. His smile was warm and knowing. An I-know-what-your-doing smile. Gr.
I turned back to Nicole. “You know I’m seventeen, right?”
She sighed heavily. “You are sure you didn’t forget anything?”
“I’m sure,”
“You’re positive,”
“I’m very positive,”
“Absolutely positive?” she emphasized. I rolled my eyes.
“Affirmative, to God,” I spat, as if I could think of no other word.
She thought some more. I was convinced she only wanted to keep this going to annoy me.
“How about your…”
“Mom,” cut in Marilyn sharply, coming to stand beside our obsessive mother. I secretly smiled at her.
“ Nic-, I mean Mom, I’ll be fine. I’ll call you when I get there. And remember? I’m rooming with Diana. She always has spare stuff and too much of it,” I reassured falsely. Finally, Nicole sighed dejectedly.
“OK, honey, but don’t get in trouble. I don’t want to turn on the evening news and see you in handcuffs or anything.”
“Believe me, I won’t,” I groaned over my shoulder. I tugged at my wheeled bag and lunged at the terminal. As if to have mercy on me, the loudspeaker announced my flight. But then I stopped.
“Hey, Mom?” I half turned reluctantly.
“Yes, Keel?” her small face brightened, as if I decided to stay home instead of have fun all summer. No such luck.
“Uh, just call me on the cell, OK?” I tried to make a lie, “the pay phones cost like, two dollars a call.”
“Oh. OK, Keelie. Have fun,” she smiled weakly, disappointment ringing in her voice.
“Ouch.” I heard Jake whistle behind me. I turned my head slightly to him as I passed into the corridor. He winked,
“Bye!” I called, more sarcasm than enthusiasm ringing in the words than I would have liked to have used. But it didn’t matter. I waved and strode down the ramp.
* O O *
I pretended to eat the nasty plane food, but just couldn’t pull it off. Pulling out my hidden stash of Sour Patch Kids, I thought of all the people who actually liked the rotten dinners. Like Lyn, for example; on the way to New York the past winter, she joyfully scarfed down a stale cookie and saved her on board pretzels for so long, they seemed to reach a new kind of stiff.
Popping a delightfully sour little guy in my mouth for long savor, Andy climbed into my mind. Did she like airplane food? I inspected a green sugar coated figure. I doubted it. She never ate when she was home. And when she did, it was always some Ayden concoction of pretzels and jelly or something.
The last regular thing I ever saw her eat was spaghetti, and I remembered it well. She twirled the noodles around her fork until the entire thing was coated in a thick coat. She nibbled here and there, and then took giant bites. Eventually, Mom, Lyn and I finished and I started to clean the table. The second Lyn pattered up the stairs to bed, Andrea cleared her throat and set her fork aside.
“I’m going back home,” she announced, intense gray eyes burrowing into Nicole’s neck.
Mom blinked and turned, “Andrea Sarah, what are you talking about?”
Silence.
For a while no one said anything. Mom opened and closed her mouth periodically, but nothing ever came out. Andrea kept her gaze full and steady, knowing Nicole knew very well what she was talking about. I acted as if nothing was wrong, as I usually did, and kept cleaning the dishes with a straining ear. Finally, Mom spoke.
“Honey, what do you mean?” she asked quietly, voice quivering. Andy was none-so gentle.
“Camden? Maine? I’m leaving like, tomorrow,” she snapped irritably, as if Nicole were prodding her for answers without abandon.
“Well… how long?” Mom frowned nervously. Andy tried to smother her grin. Nicole could never stand up to her.
“As long as I want, maybe forever?”
“Andy! You’re nineteen! You haven’t even been to college!”
“I know,” she sighed airily. “I’m going with Ayden.”
Mom’s face changed. Sort of like when mine does when I’m seven miles above the earth and have eaten too many Sour Patch Kids.
“A-ayden?” she tried not to seem shocked. Andy just eyed her impatiently. There was silence, but the air was thick as butter. Nicole’s mouth formed a hard line.
“Andrea, do you know what you’re getting into…?”
“Yes, Mother, I do,” Andy snapped back. I was afraid of her look. It was dangerous and reckless, and normally only showed itself after a night of severe partying. But she hadn’t been at a strange Ayden ritual or abandoned boxcar take over. She was determined, in the worst way.
I could see her face now; pale and grim in the fading kitchen lights. Hard grey eyes met her ratty dyed black hair. Peircings ran up and down her ear rim, heavy black makeup smeared over her eyes. The spitting image of rebellion; on the verge of explosion.
“And I hate it here,” she spat, making it clear she wasn’t done. “This stupid giant house, dumb traffic every day to work. I’ve so had it with California! L.A.’s the worst city ever.” She closed her eyes thoughtfully, admiring her work of destruction. “I don’t know what is wrong with you, saying our lives would be better here. You know dad would be alive, and you know we’d have real friends! You. Are. In-saaaane.” She drawled. “Besides, your movies are crap.” She added acidly.
Nicole turned white, then red and blue. Her eyes were as big as the grapefruits on the counter, her mouth as round as my English teacher’s os.
“Well, then,” she sputtered, on the verge of tears. Andy grimaced, but only for show. She had won. “Andy, you go and do what you want. You shouldn’t be living in this house anymore anyway… should be in college. Like Tyra and Kirin,” she tight-lipped.
“I’m not friends with them anymore,” Andy added.
“Right, because you have Ayden,” Nicole screamed, dodging up the stairs. “Because he’s sooo regular!”
My stomach rumbled as the flight attendant ordered all passengers to clip on their seat belts in ten minutes for landing. But I had to run for the bathroom. The Sour Kids were getting their revenge.
* O O *

Approximately sixty hours after nearly regurgitating in the plane, I stepped out onto Pennsylvania soil. I tugged along my wheelie luggage bag and toted my purse. Breathing in the sunshine, I found a cab and hitched a ride to camp. I handed the driver his money and he sped off. I smiled up at the familiar cabins.
“Eighteen, seventeen… here,” drawled Lydia Crawford, the girl’s camp warden. “You’re in sixteen, chickadee,” she smiled, handing me a flyer. “Rooming with Diana, again?”
“Yeah,” I nodded at her surprised expression. She shook her head.
“You two are gonna be inseparable, huh?”
I frowned. I couldn’t lie that much, so I skipped an answer and thanked Lydia then hurried to the cabin as fast as I could.
“Dee!”
“Hey, it’s Keelie!” Diana cried, rushing into my arms. “It’s so good to see you!” We both laughed and wobbled from the force of our reunion. She stepped back to look me over. “Wow, you look short now!” She teased. I laughed, I had been two inches taller than her before, but she’d grown to have an inch on me.
“At least I’m not freakishly large,” I retorted, and she giggled. “How’s Kyle?”
“Oh, ho, ho. Wa-ay too good,” she giggled dreamily. I smiled, but my mouth felt tight, and my throat clenched. She seemed to notice.
“What is it? You look like you have to pee really, really bad.” She laughed, but it was concerned. I sighed. She frowned, noticing how I hadn’t even begun to think of unpacking.
“Let me guess… you’re not staying this year?” she offered a fake smile. I nodded. All her boundless energy and excitement seemed to flush out the open window. Her bright face blackened disappointedly. “You’re… gonna put that plan to use, huh?” she tried to brighten but it came out wrenchingly flat. She referred to my getaway I had bragged about for the years we spent in camp together. She couldn’t believe it; I was leaving her. Even the red of her hair seemed to blur to a bland brown.
“Yeah,” I attempted, she cut me off.
“Maine?”
“Yeah,”
“Camden?”
“Yeah,”
She examined my face with a tight expression.
“You have a plan for your mother?” I thought of the pact Jake and I made the night he peeked in my journal. He’d keep the secret if I didn’t torture him when I came back, and I texted him all the fun stuff. And Lyn; she’d shush up if I kept her out of it.
“Yup,” I hummed, eying her. “I need your help, Diana.”
Her thin eyebrow flew up. “You do?”
“Yes,”
“But you’re standing me up. Why should I help? I want you to stay, Keel. We’ve spent this thing together for six years. I don’t want to change it,” she searched my retinas from her own; “We don’t have any other means of seeing each other.”
I grimaced, I knew it was true. She lived in a quiet town in Tennessee. She played innumerable sports, helped with town charities and basically had five minutes of downtime, which she spent eating or sleeping, whichever she needed more prominently at the time. I sighed again, standing.
“Diana, just this once, please?” I begged.
She stared soullessly. Then she smiled, like she were handing a beggar a blanket on the street.

* O O *




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B.D.__Wether
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