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The Rush-Chapter Five Conclusion

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Wes shook his head slightly as he started down the stairs. He flipped the light on and the two of us followed. Wes had personalized his side of the basement since all he could do in his microscopic room on the top floor was sleep. Only had room for a dresser, a single bed, and a small desk for homework that he did in the basement anyway. The walls that were an off-white color were in the process of being covered in posters and pictures. Every year when our school had a book fair in the library, there was a bunch of other s*** like eraser caps, sharpeners that looked like little garbage cans, and a few cardboard boxes of posters. Wes always raked up a few bucks to get a few posters for movies that had come out that year, bands that had recently gotten #1 on iTunes, and stuff like that. He just picked up stuff like that wherever and whenever he could, got money for Christmas and his birthday from Rhonda (only we knew what to buy him that he wouldn’t want to return) and he wasn’t done yet. He had a TV that was big, but kind of old. Rhonda used to have it in her room, but then spent a fortune on a brand new HIGH-DEF system and left Wes with a piece of crap to play Call Of Duty and whatever else he wanted to do. No, I didn’t play Call Of Duty. It’s dumb. Funny how I get that as a girl, but four boys don’t.

We all grabbed pillows off the dusty, old couch that was up against the wall across from the TV and sat around each other of the floor. It was carpeted and didn’t have an extra layer of dirt that people had left when they walked in with shoes, dead bugs that squeezed through openings into the ground somewhere, and just house dander that settled onto the floor from long disuse, unlike Rhonda’s ‘gym’ in the other side of the bottom story.

Wes pulled out his MacBook and logged onto FaceBook. Our gang never really did anything on FaceBook besides chat with each other and update our statuses. We all had a lot of pictures of each other and things like that, just like any other kid with a few really close friends. Me, I had pictures from school plays I had been in, birthday parties for both me and my friends, acting camp memorabilia, a few pictures with my brothers, and just random town events that just meant you had good time-recording etiquette to take pictures of.

Yep, you guessed it. Random talking took it’s course as the rain continued to beat against the house. Vinnie kept sending wake-up texts to Seth and Clifford, hounding them to get their a**es out of bed and get to Wes’s. We knew eventually they would just have to do it because Vinnie was content to go all day if he wanted something bad enough. One day some prissy, high-achieving jack*** from the Student Council got in Vinnie’s face and told him he couldn’t pass a test that Hallman gave worth a s***. We didn’t see him the rest of that week after he made the bet with the guy that he would ace that test on Friday. Sure enough, after five days of lockdown in the Howard house, he marched into school and finished his test including the extra credit questions twenty minutes before everyone else. The pr*** mouthed off to Vinnie in the cafeteria after he shoved the 105% in his face, but Vinnie was far from caring and all we did was laugh.

Usually, even when there was only three of us locked in a basement by rain and an oblivious aunt I would be content to go along with the laugh riots and things like that. Most of what we did when all of us were together slightly demoted when you subtracted two people. This particular day I was in deep, quiet thought about what had happened to me on Tuesday. The anxiety that highjacked my brain....I didn’t even know what I was scared of. It was like a rush you get from a speedball or something. It makes you euphoric before it kills you..... I smiled and laughed at the right moments, when the attention was drawn to me, but not once did I listen to what I was reacting to.

At around eleven, Vinnie got a text back from Clifford and then from Seth. As you could well imagine, they didn’t love the idea of swimming downtown to get a tape that would get ruined by the rain before they were halfway back home. They moved their a**es outta bed and got over to Wes’s house, eventually. Even with all of us there, I didn’t stop thinking about Tuesday. Every once in a while, everyone’s mind gets stuck on something. When something happens, whether it’s good or bad, whether it’s a small mishap or a big event, or something sickly ironic, our brains stick to them like bubblegum under a table and doesn’t let it go for days. Some of us are even more distinct and usually stick to certain kinds of things. It could be things that one does without thinking about it, but may be a segue into some deep psychological string in the back of your mind that you never knew existed. Others zone in on small actions of other people and try to dissect their character as much as possible without knowing much about them. Fill in the blanks, although it leads to presumptuousness for the unexperienced, so it’s best to resist the urge to fill in the blanks and stick to the facts most of the time. My brain stuck with things I had no reason to do, but did anyway. And I was stuck then.

I ran back home at around a quarter to three so Mom wouldn’t get ticked. Truthfully, I didn’t see the point in being there when PopPop came. It’s not like we were throwing this huge welcome celebration or anything. And he would have like two weeks to spend time with us, it didn’t mean we were denied a life while he was here. Approximately thirteen nights and fourteen days, more or less. We weren’t short on time and whether she would confide in me about this or not, every day with PopPop would be like a decade that aged her tenfold. Every mother’s worst nightmare.

PopPop pulled up in the driveway in his grey-haired Morris Minor just as I stepped lightly onto the concrete porch. It was dark grey from the rain, but I was used to it just as I was used to the pale color of a sunny day. Maybe tomorrow would be one of those days, but I preferred cloudy days to super sunny ones.....no, that doesn’t sound right. I think I hate humidity. I like comfortable breezy, kind of laid back days. Like God just lounging around His temple or whatever He does.

I waved to PopPop, exaggerating how happy I was to see him. I knew since I was little, no matter how old you get, all relatives want to see you do for them is smile. They don’t really care what you say or anything because they don’t have to deal with you every day like moms do, but they hit the jackpot if you smile for them. Smiles are weird like that.

Inside, I noticed instantly how spotless the house was. I didn’t like it. The bleach and lysol mingled with the apple pie-scented candles in the bathrooms and kitchen was the unholy smell of extreme stress. My mom was scared. She never cleaned the house this thoroughly and made sure the boys were this quiet unless she was scared shitless. Some people are emotional eaters, writers (such as myself), exercisers, and so on. Stella Brockett (stuck with her maiden name when she was married, divorced, and when Dad died) was a emotional compulsive cleaner. On a normal day, mountains of legos would color the off-white carpet of the landing next to the stairs. Magazines and coupons would be piled on the kitchen island next to the fruit bowl. The pillows and cushions on the couch towered with the blankets stretched over them. The boys used them as forts. I made an effort to keep my room clean, but that was just my space. That didn’t matter when the rest of the house was all dilapidated. That’s how you come to expect the rest of the house to be and now I couldn’t stand it anything else.

I slipped my sneakers off with my heels and threw my coat over the stairs’ banister. I slowly made my way down the short hallway that led to the kitchen, taking in everything that had been done and rating the severity. The kitchen table was now a mirror and the normal chairs had been swapped with nice ones we usually kept in the dining room.

Don’t ask why we have a kitchen table and a separate dining room. We only really used the dining room for Thanksgivings and Christmases because it had more space and all the really nice stuff is in there. Chandeliers, candles, china, paintings that are passed down generations in our family, nice table spreads with matching napkins, you name it. It always made me feel like a little kid to eat in there because there are so many nights as a toddler I can recall walking down the stairs and seeing snowflakes falling outside the window in the foyer. The chandelier in the foyer would be lit, emanating God’s glory. The light shined on the blanket of snow that lay on the front lawn and the shadows of footsteps and snowmen that were made earlier that day were much more distinct now. The luke warm air inside brought out the delicious smells that were coming from the kitchen and rising up all around. The creamy mashed potatoes only Mom could make, fresh corn, sweet cranberries, hot cider, the Swedish alcoholic drink that was served hot and smelled like cinnamon and apples, small Swedish meatballs that had been fed to me since I was a baby and MorMor helped make. She was my grandmother from Sweden that always came around for Christmas. I always thought of her when I thought about Christmas since she loved it so much. The heavenly aromas through everything just as much as the beautiful classy Christmas music that seemed so friendly and homey and sounded so sensory. Like Eartha Kit and Ella Fitzgerald were singing in the living room with there jazz bands behind them. But best of all was making it to the bottom of the stairs and peeking into the dining room. Everyone was sitting around clinking wine glasses, laughing, talking, eating, and even singing. Mom had brought the food in from the kitchen and lit the candles. There were no other kids, but that had always been fine by me......

My head snapped back to reality like a rubber band when Mom came speed-walking, nearly tripping several times down the stairs, but trying to keep her voice level. She was dressed nicely like we were going out or something. No one told me about that. She yelled back up the stairs to the boys. “Boys, are you dressed?” And just like that, the beautiful smells, tastes, smiles of my family all together, and the feeling that made my heart ache was all gone. Ripped by the seems and out of my life again. I wanted to cry a little, but this wasn’t the time......Jeez, I get myself into deepest, blackest emotional pits when I’m not even trying.

I just couldn’t take my eyes off my mom. I knew my mom was aging well for woman of forty years and a mother of three, but she was very beautiful. Her flaxen hair that was normally a nest of curly tendrils was now straightened and shiny. I was so much longer and it reached down her back. She had on nice jeans and a simple long-sleeved black shirt. Make-up had hidden the discolorations and sunspots on her face and really brought out the pretty blue of her eyes and perfect white teeth. Why is it that my mom was always so much prettier than me?

“We goin’ somewhere?” I asked her.

My existence slapped her in the face and made her cerulean eyes widen, then fall. “We’re going to Memphis BBQ to celebrate PopPop coming to stay with us....also just b’cuz its nice for a family to go out once in a while right?” Her voice ran to a shrill, manic high towards the end when family came up. She didn’t like calling PopPop family even though that’s kinda what he is. To us, anyway. I....don’t really know what he is to her.

Besides that, BBQ? Ugh. Yeah, I guess I didn’t mention I’m a vegetarian. I wasn’t always, in fact I started at the beginning of the summer. We took a family trip to Mexico and it was fun. I was a little weird about it since that’s where the swine flu came from. It was a really beautiful resort and stuff, but they still told us bottled water is safest to drink. Anyway, I’ve always been kind of a picky eater and the meats and stuff they had at all the hotel buffets were kinda weird-looking so that week I had no meat. I was stuck on a lot of fruits and eggs and beans and stuff. It was only a week, but it kinda grew on me. Never really broke the habit and now the scent of meat was the skunky, wish-for-vomit perfume of death. I enjoy breathing the smell of cooked met as much as I imagine I would enjoy inhaling the burned vapor of my own flesh. I promised myself the only circumstance under which I would eat meat (which I don’t have to worry about for a while yet) was if I was pregnant. You see, taking away the major source of protein is a compromise of your own nutrition and if you can squeak by with eggs and beans, that’s one thing. I can. But if I’m pregnant, I’m compromising the nutrition and growth of another human being. I’m barely meeting the protein standards for my age with the alternative sources as it is. Mom was hoping it was a phase, just like this thing with PopPop.

A ‘speak of the devil’ expression came to her face when PopPop knocked on the door with his few belongings. I guess men like him didn’t have much because he didn’t need much. I mean think about it. He’s retired from being a plumber for twenty years. He was good at it, but it’s not like it really interested him. He didn’t really take much away from it besides the money and a good retirement fund. He didn’t really have many hobbies. Some old men travel, play golf, own dogs so they can have companions, or, for the record, see their grandchildren. But, following the hermit lifestyle, he just didn’t need much. He could be like George Clooney and live up in the air if he wanted ‘cuz he could fit everything he owned in a couple bags one person could carry. Not like it would effect any relationships he held because he had no steady ones since my Dad and Gran died. Exactly like George Clooney. Only a lot less good-looking.

“Thank you so much again for all this, Stella,” the old man rejoiced as he sauntered up the stairs with his two black worn-out leather suitcases. The kind you see laying on a New York park bench beside an old man in a brown plaid suit, waiting for the bus. Worked into the picture of tired, bored ease.

I was likely the only person who could tell when Mom was lying since Dad..... “Oh really, Frank, I’m happy to have you.” Her smile was as good as her word.

One of those awkward moments slid into view. Where no one really has anything to say, but everyone’s about to do something. No one really seems to know how to get to it. So, I took it upon myself, once again, to be the adult for my mother and grandfather. “Um, so are we going?”

My mom’s gaze flipped to me graciously. Her voice was still full of that fake, ditsy, all-too-welcoming pretense. “Mavis, dear, why don’t you go to your room and adjust your attire?”

Two can play at that game. “Why of course, dearest Mother!” I turned to the stairs before her real self punched itself onto her face and gave me a death-stare.

I changed quickly into a dark red blouse and nice jeans. I brushed my hair out until it was the Scandinavian, pin-straight, feather-soft blond sheet that everyone with curls seemed to crave. That’s the thing about most things, I guess. Grass is always greener on the other side. In my case, yes, I do want curls. If it’s not placed properly, the natural flat ironed-ness made my cheeks look pudgy. I guess if your hairs a natural ratty nest then its hard to pass as neat, let alone flattering. I wouldn’t know,don’t take my word for it.

I let the powdery, off-white concealer that always reminded me of Queen Elizabeth grip the discoloration on my face, traced my eyes gingerly with liner, and made my way downstairs. I admit, I went out of my way to carry myself with exaggerated, graceful, oh-so-perfect steps and tried to be as artificial and obnoxious and robotically feminine as my mom was. PopPop would have no idea and Mom wouldn’t dare call me out. Kind of like the Stepford wives, if you’ve ever seen the movie. Makes a pretty good point. Yeah, I mean, I felt bad for the pressure she was under, but there comes a point where enough is enough and you just totally call them out in your head with derogatory comebacks like, ‘ok, shut up, no one cares, you’re a s***ty actress, just be quiet.’

Just to get away from Hurricane Mavie, she hauled the boys off the couch and into the big white Lexis. Since PopPop was there, I had to sit in the back with them while the ‘adults’ luxuriated in the wide peace of the front seats. Normally, I would throw a fit, but must remain a lady, I told myself in the voice I always imagined would belong to Emily Bronte. In that spirit, we went to the death pit they called a place to eat.



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This article has 3 comments. Post your own!

DarknessForever13 said...
Oct. 22, 2010 at 2:39 pm:
.....get you to write again. (My apologizes, I'm fixing a mistake. Darn you typos! I will defeat you someday!!)
 
Macx14 replied...
Oct. 22, 2010 at 3:32 pm :
Haha, thanks a lot! It means so much, I'm working on the sixth chapter right now. I'll post it in a week or two, hopefully. Thanks again!
 
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DarknessForever13 said...
Oct. 22, 2010 at 2:38 pm:
See, told you I'd comment, and I absolutely love your writing. Keep up the good work! If you don't, I will gather the writers of teenink and get get to write again.     =) 
 
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