Every one of my experiences and fully formed thoughts went into this, as well as my feelings on...
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He got the aisle seat. Gary was in the middle, Katie got the window.
“Excuse me,” Tim started to the boy, who turned to him, a bit startled, “do you have any idea why you’re on this flight; were you told anything?”
“Yeah our foster parents said we were going to a new home.”
“Wonderful. I’m sorry if you’ll miss them though, I’m sure you could keep in touch. I’m your new foster father. Timothy Crowling, call me whatever you like.” He smiled and stuck his hand out, the boy shook it timidly.
“That’s really cool! So good to meet you,” he paused, “Dad?”
“If it feels normal for you. How long were you with your other family?”
“Not long at all, and there were a lot of other kids; not very nice. The parents were kind of mean, too.”
“Oh then I hope this will be a very good change for you. And tell me how I can improve at all, along the way. I mean if you feel dissatisfied with anything. I’m sorry; I’ve never done this before.”
“Oh it’s totally fine, I’m really excited.” He smiled sweetly and turned to Katie, who was staring out the window and tapped her lightly on the shoulder, “Katie, this is our new dad!”
She turned and her eyes grew and she smiled: “hey! I’m sorry, hello, it’s so nice to meet you.” she shook his hand eagerly.
“Katie, it’s wonderful to meet you too, my name’s Timothy Crowling. Sorry, I’m not sure how to introduce myself in this kind of situation.”
“Oh it’s totally okay! Is there a mother figure, or?”
“No, just me, is that okay?”
“Yeah definitely, just wondering. So, America, huh? That’s really cool.”
“Yeah I’ve actually never been either; it’ll be an adventure for all of us.”
They were soon after driven to their big and pleasant home overlooking one of the gorgeous Finger Lakes. The man that drove them pulled Tim aside a moment to notify him that they had all been granted citizenship. The place had already been furnished comfily, and Katie and Gary had the fun of deciding what rooms to take and where to put the few belongings they’d brought over. Tim checked the fridge, which was filled with all sorts of delicacies; he took some, laid on the couch and watched TV. A little bit after Katie and Gary joined him. The next day Tim would look for a job, and the two would start school together.
Tim started a job as the senior manager of the movie theater there, given his incredible, fake résumé and unparalleled references. His new name, shipped to him in the mail with all the proper documentation, was Oscar Pedersen. He let Katie and Gary keep calling him Tim, if they needed to address him by name. At school the kids weren’t very popular. The wisest of the teachers could tell the two were very smart, but their minds were elsewhere. Gary had played piano before, and sharpened his skills in the class, quickly surpassing the other students. Katie took up theater, did incredibly in the audition and all the practice runs, but always blanked out when the actual performance time came, so she dropped it and took choir, making sure not to get any of the solos. Their grades were Bs and Cs. As Gary’s musical life blossomed, his GPA went down considerably. Luther, having been monitoring the new family, wrote to Tim confidentially and offered to change that, but Tim declined, telling him it was unfair, warning him to take a step back and look at the World from the perspective of that new planet, he said.
On TV about a year in, when Katie and Gary were outside playing in the lake, Tim saw it was broadcasted that a soldier, Kenneth Scott, was saved by one of his brothers in arms, Michael Erikson. He, Erikson, spoke at the broadcasted awards ceremony: “I saw he was incapped in a ditch. It was raining heavily, sure the enemy was in the middle of taking the position over but there was a helicopter coming to us for extraction. The extraction point wasn’t exactly close to Scott, but this man deserves to live. I sprinted to him and luckily in all that dense rain no one saw me. Of course the squad noticed I was gone and finally saw me on thermal. I picked Ken up and we headed to the point, the gunner on the copter gave us some covering fire and we got him on and took off. It wasn’t a heroic act; he was there. What was I supposed to do?” Ken was shown in a wheelchair. He’d be out of action for quite a while. Tim was almost relieved at this, but saw on the corner of the screen, after Erikson had stepped down, Foxx and Smyth approached him, spoke to him, Scott said something to try and get them to leave. They disregarded it, took Erikson and kept talking as they left the room.
Another year passed and for that, Katie’s junior year, she decided she wanted to try living on her own, feeling guilty of Tim’s shelter. So she got an apartment not too far from home, a license, a car and a job, working at the theater with her dad. Tim started working full days at the theater, feeling guilty for the one who truly provided shelter for them all, which left Gary alone nearly all the day. There was one girl Gary thought seemed nice in his English class, but on his walk home he’d always see her in a big old car with a group of tough looking guys that didn’t look very nice. He didn’t get the appeal. Later she got her schedule moved around and they also had science and choir together. She, Allie, was assigned to be Gary’s lab partner.
“Are you in my piano class?” she asked him one day when they were working on some lab.
“I’m in your choir class.” he was too shy to talk.
“Oh, right. Well you know the talent show’s coming up?”
“And you do play piano, right?”
“And not too many people have already asked you to play for them, right?”
“No, its fine.” He was playing for 14 acts.
“Well I have this song I really like, and you should learn it for me.”
“Okay, send me a link to it or something tonight, if you can please, and I’ll start working on it.”
“Awesome, thank you!”
“You’re very welcome.”
As soon as the lab was finished, she jumped up and walked over to the group of football kids in the class; he turned in the assignment and waited for the bell to ring.
The next day they were in choir, Allie sat in front of him, he was looking over the music he had printed off the night before “hey,” he started. She didn’t respond and he left it alone.
“You’ll never get them like that,” the kid next to him said, “you have to be assertive.”
He didn’t get that either. He knew he was kidding, but he also knew that evidently, it was true. “Hey,” he said a little louder, and she turned to him, “I got the music, it’s not too bad, and I should have it by tomorrow.”
“Perfect, thank you!” she said, and turned back to her group of friends.
Later that night, Gary had just started back from school. Auditions and practices had begun, and since he was in nearly all of them, had to stay late. He got to the intersection those kids and Allie always crossed, and they were coming the opposite direction they usually did, erratically. They pulled over and dumped her out into a grassy ditch in the side of the road, and sped off. Gary ran to her and held her head up, trying to keep her awake, “hey, are you okay?”
“He promised he cared about me.”
“What? What happened?”
“They put something in my drink. They were drunk though, when they did it, I think.”
“We need to get you to a hospital, or call the police.”
“No we can’t. I did things they can’t know about, I can’t go there.”
“Well, how serious is it?”
“I’ll be okay.”
“Where will you go?”
“It doesn’t matter.” She passed out.
Gary picked her up and brought her to the house. He laid her on their couch and put a glass of water next to her, sat in the chair next to the couch, and fell asleep.
He woke up before her, started making breakfast and turned the TV on softly to try and make the atmosphere less weird. She woke and looked out the window at the lake, shining in the sunlight, morning cartoons were on the TV and then she sat up and saw the kitchen, where Gary was making breakfast. He turned and saw her up: “oh, hey! Good morning. You’re not vegan or anything, are you?”
She paused, “no.”
“Oh I’m sorry; you probably don’t remember what happened last night.”
“Well the people that drive you home every day, they were driving somewhere late last night and I was walking back from practice and they kind of, left you and kept going.”
“By the road?”
“Yeah. I was going to take you to the hospital just to be safe, and what you said they did made me kind of want to maybe get the police involved, I mean that’s really not good of them. But you said I shouldn’t do that. So I didn’t know what else to do, I mean I don’t know where you live or anything. I’m sorry.”
“Oh no, it’s fine. I actually already like it better here than home. God, I’m so stupid.”
“Oh, don’t say that, they seemed like really nice people, huh? And I’m just so sorry that happened.”
“Thank you so much for doing this.”
He walked over and handed her a plate of eggs and other things, “of course! No problem.”
“We’re late for school.”
“Don’t worry about that, you need to rest and stuff. My dad can call us in later.”
“Are you sure?”
“I don’t think it would be healthy to try and go to school right now.”
“Yeah, I guess. Well, thank you.”
“If you can try and remember what happened, maybe…”
“I don’t want to. I just want to forget it and move on.”
“I mean what could we do? I can’t go to the police or anything, and I don’t even want to put him in juvie or anything. He’s just an idiot.”
“Hah, okay, sounds good to me. Well, obviously, you’re free to go whenever you feel up to it. I’ll be in the other room practicing, mostly. I’ll try to be quiet. You can use the computer, or whatever, you know just make yourself at home.”
“Thanks so much.”
“You are very welcome, feel better.” He went to the piano room upstairs and shut the door to try and lower the volume, and started. She finished her food, helped herself to a bit more and watched the cartoons. After a while she got bored and walked up to the room and knocked.
“Hey,” she started, “do you want to work on the song maybe?”
“Definitely! I’m sorry, did you want me to keep you company down there? I wasn’t sure.”
“Oh it’s fine, after this maybe.”
They went over it a few times, got more solid with each try. Then they awkwardly headed down and watched TV together for a little while. Of course, Gary was terrified, but the sweet and genuine side of him still shined through and made her feel at home. Started texting people as they kept watching, and Gary opened a door to let the breeze through, and started making them lunch.
They ate it, he got on the computer and browsed around, she texted still, and they both kind of watched the TV. After a few hours she started: “Hey I found a ride home, they should be here pretty soon.”
“Oh, awesome, good to hear. Hey, be safe, okay?”
“I will. Thank you so much for this. You’re really, really sweet.”
“Well thank you! No problem.”
Minutes passed and a kid that would have fit in with the rest in that car knocked, Allie jumped off the couch and headed off with him. Gary was stunned for a moment, then cried a little bit. And then he scolded himself for even investing his emotions into it, then he realized it was out of his control, and then he got sad again. “You’ll never get them like that,” he thought, “you have to be assertive.”