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I'll Stay Here
“Time’s up! Everyone turn in your paper.” Mr. Riker’s black dress shoes scuffled across the floor. Random conversations start to rise. Snip-its of conversations run through my ear. “Beach everyday!” “Band camp for three weeks..” “Finally out of this hell of a place.” and my favorite of all, “I hate everyone here, senior year next year baby!” Of corse, everyone was going to have a great summer and I’ll be stuck in a random country with my hillbilly relatives.
“Hey Clarence, what are you doing for the summer?” Emily’s voice sends a shiver down my spine.
“I’m flying out tomorrow. Going to Ireland to spend the summer with my cousin and his parents.”
“So, like your aunt and uncle?” Emily was like the lone electron on the last shell of my life. If I lost her, I’d be stable. I have seen her everyday three blocks a day for the past year and she seems to think that we’re good friends.
“Well that should be fun. I’m going to be here working and” Twelve twenty nine. Backpacks were already on the rest of the kids and my class. “You’ve been getting that glassy look in your eyes every time I talk to you lately.” Her enormous hand ran through her shiny blond waves.
“I’m sorry, listen, when I come back at the end of the summer I’ll call you and we can go the beach or something.” The color returned to her face and she nodded.
“Have a great vacation kids, see you next year.” My eyes take a glance toward Mr. Riker for a final look. Nose and face hair was scattered across his face. His crooked, yellow teeth made out a half smile and his untucked shirt that tells me that there’s a reason there is no ring on his finger.
“Hope this summer goes good Mr. Riker!” The slight sarcasm caught him off guard.
“It’s ‘well’ Clarence, ‘well’.” Both of his eyes winked and he returned to reading the newspaper that read Jobs in Maine are at an All Time Low.
32-18-12. Wrong 18-12-2. Again wrong. 24-18-2. Inside my locker is like a whole other world. Papers fall out from all directions. The trash can ruffled as I pulled it toward my locker. The only thing my eyes caught were the pictures with my friends. Silly faces and happy nights. I try to sip the water and keep some tears coming from my eyes.
“Clarence, please don’t leave!” voice echoed from across the hallway. Her blue eyes, blond hair and familiar face came smack out of a magazine. “You’re going to miss go green camp.”
“A week without showering, living in cabins, and having hippie adults tell me what to do. I’ll sure miss that.”
“Cut the sarcasm.” Her voice firm, but our friendship was beyond any other. I knew every little detail of what was about to come next. Her low pitched laugh and my high pitched laugh will mix together in perfect harmony. I’ll miss this, the friendship between Avery and me. I’ll be missing 73 days of long summer nights, making sandwiches at the soup kitchen, and singing oldies at the old folks home with Avery that I’ll never get back.
“I’ll miss you, but I’ll be back you know.” We hug and exchange looks. I know that nothing will change between us while I’m gone. “August 23rd.” I remind her and she walks back toward the busses and my feet scuffle toward the student parking lot.
Two suitcases stand tall at my bedroom door. The posters and dream catchers still hang on my light purple wall. My white curtains gently flow in warm summer air. Everything else was packed or clean, which was a whole new thing for me.
“Sweetheart, are you all packed and ready to go? Your dad’s on the phone and wants us all to talk before you leave.” My mom, still in her grey pencil skirt and white blouse, poked her head in just enough for me to notice her.
“Dad.” I say in a monotone voice.
“You listen to me good Clarence. I want you to be careful out there okay? From the moment you get on the plane to the moment you get back off and you see your mom again.” Here he goes. On one of his rambles. He doesn’t really care, he just pretends he does. If he cared he would have taken me for the summer while my mom was away on her business trip.
“Yeah dad I will, you know I will. Thank you for caring so much.” It’s now I realize how sarcastic I have been all day. I feel a look coming from the other side of the kitchen bar. My mom, with her bright blue eyes give me ‘the look’. “You know I didn’t want to go in the first place, but you didn’t even think twice on sending me when I suggested coming to stay with you.”
“Karen can I talk to just you for a minuteclothes since Clarence doesn’t seem to care?” She picks up the phone and starts defending me right away. Let the bickering begin.
“Do you have everything you need?” My arms ten seconds away from bruises. My moms fingers grip me like she used to when I was little and I knocked something over in the house. “Your toothbrush and stuff like that you can get there, but your cloths and things like that you need to have with you.”
“Mom. We went over the checklist last night and the six before that. I’ll be alright. I promise. You said aunt Alleen is just like you. It can’t get any better than that. Plus, you know that I can defend myself for the most part. I’ll be fine.”
“Alright your plane leaves in an hour and don’t hesitate to call me when you get there. Don’t forget that I love you so much and I wish your dad knew how amazing you are.”
“I love you too mumzy.” The tears stream down my face yet again. Ireland was a whole other lifestyle and I’ve talked to my aunt on the phone before, I was lucky if I deciphered two words from her accent.
“Oh and Clarence! Manners!” Although I was already halfway through the automatic doors she managed to remember what had been one of the most important things knocked into my when I was a child. Respect and love people because they will love you in return. I’ve learned that was a pot of bull crap.
“Hey kid, wake up.” A young man in his late twenties siting next to me in business class bounces his shoulder up and down. His suit was wrinkled from the long flight, mostly on his shoulder from letting me sleep on it.
“Thanks. Sorry. Um, are we there?”
“Yeah we’re, um, unpacking the plane in a minute, better sprint out those doors if you don’t want to keep your family waiting much longer. I’d say we’re about,” the dirt under his nails become noticeable when he checks his gold rolex, “a hour or so later than expected.”
After a long time getting off the plane I wonder around the airport to find the baggage claim. It’s near midnight at the airport so there’s only stragglers waiting for planes and people picking people up walking around the air port.
A tall boy stood down by the baggage claim that look immensely familiar. His nose was a little larger than normal and came to a round at the end. His brown eyes shot through his half opened sockets and his dirty blonde hair was nicely combed to the left.
“It’s about time you got here. I was about to go home without you.” Just to make sure I checked behind me. “Yes you! Clarence right? I keep forgetting you haven’t got a Christmas card with me on it since I was just fourteen years old or so. I keep telling my mum to send some out with my lovely face on them, but she just wont. I just got yours in December so it’s more likely I remember your face.” A warm hand recently removed from his pocket meets mine.
“Hi, yes it’s Clarence. You’re Will, right? Wasn’t your mom suppose to pick me up. My aunt Alleen?”
“Yes, she was, but she needed sleep and I got up later today and all this other stuff. Anyway should we be on our way?”
I nod, “Right after I get my things from the baggage claim.”
The drive home in Will’s small vehicle was long and there wasn’t much to see because of the lighting issue.
“It isn’t much, but its,” He paused and looked around. An old storage smell lingered in the room Will brought me to. With his bushy eyebrows confused and his lips pressed he continued to say, “Bathrooms down the hall and my room right across from it, if you need anything.”
“It isn’t much, but it’s actually a lot because it’s home.” Happier he walked toward the slanted doorway.
“I think we’re going to get along just fine Will.” He winked and continued down the narrow hallway.
Eggs and bacon fill the room with delicious smells of the fact I was not at home. Mom never makes breakfast. I make my way down the rickety stairs praying with every step I take that I don’t fall through.
“Good morning.” Don’t forget manners Clarence. “Your cooking smells delightful.”
Alleen’s face was round. Almost identical to Will’s, but it had a sweet, motherly look to it.
“Oh, sweetheart you sound just like your mum. Both of you all polite and stuff.” She brings a plate to me with eggs, toast, and bacon. “Go ahead and sit down at the table, milk or orange juice is in the fridge.”
“Has every one woken up yet?”
The fridge was full of food, drinks and snacks. Fresh fruit and yogurt clutter the bottom shelf, fallowed by meat on the next, vegetables on the shelf above, the top shelf had milk, orange juice and other things I couldn’t put a name to.
“You’re the first! Usually food gets everyone up and moving. I’ve got you going around town with Will today if that’s alright, he’ll show you around. Then after I told him he could go and see his friends if he brought you with him.”
“That sounds great.”
“Fooooood!” Feet hit every step like the steps were solid.
“William, settle down. Every morning you do this. You’re not going to get food next time you do that!” Mom was right my aunt was exactly like her. Her voice was firm when she talked, though she was a little jokey. Subtle details about her reminded me of my mom. Her half mad half happy that she’s alive smile and her gentle hands that placed food on Will’s plate.
“Harry! Jane! What a beautiful fire you have going. I’d like to introduce you to my cousin Clarence. She’s from Maine and she visiting for the summer. So, you’ll see a lot of her, be nice.”
“You know you talk to much right Will?” The boy sitting on one end of the picnic table got up and shook my hand. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Harry.”
“And I’m Jane!” A thin, pale, red hared girl stayed seated on a blanket on the ground. She was pretty and her green eyes glow from the fire. Will sat next to her.
“Will fancies her so I’m kind of always the third wheel. Any who why don’t you come sit down, tell me about yourself.” Harry’s face was soft and kind.
After a night full of laughter and talking I really got to know Harry and I kind of got to know Jane. Jane was funny, just like Will, and she talked a lot. Harry was fun to be around and easy to talk to. Looked a little like Will too.
“We should all get together again!”
“What she means is Will and her should hang out sometime.” Jane’s face flushed the color of her hair.
“Mom, what are you saying I don’t understand.” I tried to get some words out of my mom’s muffled voice. “Mom, you need to stop crying and tell me what’s going on.”
“Let me see the phone dear.” Soft hands gently grabbed the phone from my hands. I’ve always wondered that it was like to have a sister. My dad left my mom a year or so after I was born and my mom never remarried. Don’t know about my dad, don’t hear much from him.
“Clarence, the reason why your mother was so hysterical is because she lost her job. I know you only have a week or so left here, but you’re going to need to stay for longer. She did say that your dad would be willing to take you, but we would love to have you as well. If that’s what you want.” Blur takes my vision.
“I don’t want to go. I’ll just stay here.”
A rock feels like it hits my stomach and I make my way up the stairs. There goes next year of school, all my friends and my mom.
Soft waves crash upon the sand. Rays of orange and yellow fall behind the orange sky to dive into the ocean to start it’s day in another land. Warm air passes through my hair though my body aches for a sweatshirt.
“It’s not to bad, you still have Will, Jane and me.” Luckily I have Harry here to keep me company, he has became a good friends of mine over the summer and now hopefully forever. The first week of school didn’t go to well for me. I didn’t make any new friends and I haven’t quite got a handle on the new school thing. I had been going to the same school with the same people for eleven years before.
“Thanks to you guys I made it through the week at all. I think I would have to be home schooled if you guys weren’t there.” I closed my eyes to take in the nice fall day. “You know if my dad never left then I probably would have just stayed home for the summer. There’s a good and a bad to that one though. I would have never met you, but then again if I did come for the summer I would have been able to go home.”
“Because you failed to come up with a good reason why this situation is good on your own, I will make one for you.” He thought about it for a minute then began to talk again. “You’ll go home again to a mom that loves you so much I know your dad doesn’t know how wonderful you are, but now you have five more people who know it because you came here. I’m happy you came and I’ll be sad when you leave, it’s just another obstacle of life you have to go through and I think you’ve been handling it great. You just have to go one day at a time.”
Memories flash through my mind of all the fun times I had. Now, sitting in the airplane, second thoughts begin to travel in and out whether I should be going home of should have stayed.
“Attention passengers we’ll be arriving at Logan Airport in about fifteen minutes, it’s currently 3:27 P.M. and a lovely 67 degrees outside. Thank you for flying with us and we hope you fly with us on your next trip.” A no face flight attendant spoke over the intercom she high pitched sad voice indicating she was ready for a nap.
Rethinking, I was happy to be going home just to finish off the year. Happy to see my mom again and tell her how much I loved and missed her. No doubt I would miss my friends and family back in Ireland, but there’s always next summer.
Gathering all of my things from under the seat in front of me I find a planner. It’s flipped to November 5th, today. Written in pen it says:
Remind mom to pick up at airport for 2:30 arrival.
Looks like we’re an hour late.