Point of Retreat, страница 1часть #2 серии Slammed
This book is dedicated to everyone who read Slammed and encouraged me to continue telling the story of Layken and Will.
During the process of publishing Slammed and the development of Point of Retreat, I have been blessed to meet and learn from so many experienced self-published authors online. I would like to take the time to thank all of them for their feedback, encouragement and overall selflessness. It’s a rare thing to meet people who will give so much of themselves and expect nothing in return. I would also like to thank Edmund Davis-Quinn for such an inspiring poem about writing, and for giving me the permission to use ‘write poorly’ in this book. With that said, I wish all of my new friends much success. And to those who choose to use the internet as a means to compensate for their own insecurities through online bullying, ‘butterfly you.’
January 1st, 2012
I’m confident 2012 will be our year. Mine and Lake’s year.
The last few years have definitely not been in our favor. At the end of 2008, my parent's both passed away unexpectedly, leaving me to raise my little brother all on my own. It didn’t help that Vaughn decided to end our two-year relationship on the heels of their death. To top it off, I ended up having to drop my scholarship. Leaving the University and moving back to Ypsilanti to become Caulder’s guardian was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made…but also one of the best decisions.
I spent every single day of the next year learning how to adjust. How to adjust to heartbreak, how to adjust to having no parents, how to adjust to essentially becoming a parent myself and the sole provider of a family. Looking back on it, I don't think I could have made it through 2009 without Caulder. He’s the only thing that kept me going…
I don’t even remember the entire first half of 2010. That year didn't start for me until September 22nd, the day I first laid eyes on Lake. Of course, 2010 turned out to be just as difficult as the previous years, but in a completely different way. I'd never felt more alive than when I was with her…but considering our circumstances, I couldn’t be with her. So, I guess I didn’t spend a lot of time feeling alive.
2011 was better in its own way. There was a lot of falling in love, a lot of grief, a lot of healing and even more adjusting. Julia passed away in September of that year. I didn't expect her death to be as hard on me as it was. It was almost like losing my mother all over again.
I miss my mother. And I miss Julia. Thank god I have Lake.
Like me, my father loved to write. He always used to tell me that writing his daily thoughts down was therapeutic for his soul. Maybe one of the reasons I’ve had such a difficult time adjusting during the past three years is because I didn't take his advice. I assumed slamming a few times a year was enough ‘therapy’ for me. Maybe I was wrong. I want 2012 to be everything I have planned for it to be…perfect. With all that said (or written, rather) writing is my resolution for 2012. Even if it's just one word a day, I'm going to write it down….get it out of me.
Thursday, January 5th, 2012.
I registered for classes today. I didn’t get the days I wanted, but I only have two semesters left so it’s getting harder to be picky about my schedule. I’m thinking about applying to local schools for another teaching job after next semester. Hopefully by this time next year I’ll be teaching again. For right now, though…I’m still living off student loans. Luckily my grandparents have been supportive while I work on my Master’s degree. I wouldn’t be able to do it without them, that’s for sure.
We’re having dinner with Gavin and Eddie tonight. I think I’ll make cheeseburgers. Cheeseburgers sound good. That’s all I really have to say right now…
“Is Layken over here or over there?” Eddie asks, peering her head in the front door.
“Over there,” I say from the kitchen.
Is there a sign on my house instructing people not to knock? Of course Lake never knocks anymore, but her comfort here has apparently extended to Eddie as well. Eddie heads across the street to Lake’s house and Gavin walks inside, tapping his knuckles against the front door. It’s not an official knock, but at least he makes an attempt.
“What are we eating?” he asks. He slips his shoes off at the door and makes his way into the kitchen.
“Burgers.” I hand him a spatula and point to the stove, instructing him to flip the burgers while I pull the fries out of the oven.
“Will, do you ever notice how we somehow always get stuck cooking?”
“It’s probably not a bad thing,” I say as I loosen the fries from the pan. “Remember Eddie’s alfredo?”
He grimaces when he remembers the alfredo. “Good point,” he says.
I call Kel and Caulder into the kitchen to have them set the table. For the past year, since Lake and I have been together, Gavin and Eddie have been eating with us at least twice a week. I finally had to invest in a dining room table because the bar was getting a little too crowded.
“Hey, Gavin,” Kel says. He walks into the kitchen and grabs a stack of cups out of the cabinet.
“Hey,” Gavin responds. “You decide where we’re having your party next week?”
Kel shrugs. “I don’t know. Maybe bowling. Or we could just do something here."
Caulder walks into the kitchen and starts setting places at the table. I glance behind me and notice them setting an extra place.
“We expecting company?” I ask.
“Kel invited Kiersten,” Caulder says, teasingly.
Kiersten moved into a house on our street about a month ago, and Kel seems to have developed a slight crush on her. He won’t admit it, of course. He’s just now about to turn eleven, so Lake and I expected this to happen. Kiersten’s a few months older than him, and a lot taller. Girls hit puberty faster than boys, so maybe he’ll eventually catch up.
“Next time you guys invite someone else, let me know. Now I need to make another burger.” I walk to the refrigerator and take out one of the extra patties.
“She doesn’t eat meat,” Kel says. “She’s a vegetarian.”
Figures. I put the meat back inside the fridge. “I don’t have any fake meat. What’s she gonna do? Eat bread?”
“Bread’s fine,” Kiersten says as she walks through the front door…without knocking. “I like bread. French fries, too. I just don’t eat things that are a result of unjustified animal homicides.”
Kiersten walks to the table and grabs the roll of paper towels and starts tearing them off, laying one beside each plate. Her self-assurance reminds me a little of Eddie.
“Who’s she?” Gavin asks, watching Kiersten make herself at home. She’s never eaten with us before, but you wouldn’t know that by how she’s taking command.
“She’s the eleven-year-old neighbor I was telling you about. The one I think is an imposter based on the things that come out of her mouth. I’m beginning to suspect she’s really a tiny adult, posing as a little red headed child.”
“Oh, the one Kel's crushing on?” Gavin smiles and I can see his wheels turning. He’s already thinking of ways to embarrass Kel at dinner. Tonight should be interesting.
Gavin and I have become pretty close this past year. It’s good, I guess…considering how close Eddie and Lake are. Kel and Caulder really like them, too. It’s nice. I like the setup we all have. I hope it stays this way.
Eddie and Lake finally walk in just as we’re all sitting down at the table. Lake has her wet hair pulled up into a knot on top of her head. She’s wearing house shoes, sweat pants and a t-shirt. I love that about her; the fact that she’s so comfortable here. She takes the seat next to mine and leans in and kisses me on the cheek.
“Why are you taking statistics?” Gavin asks. He grabs the ketchup and squirts it on his plate.
“I took Algebra II in the Winter mini-mester. I’m trying to knock out all my math in the first year since I hate it so much.” Lake grabs the ketchup out of Gavin’s hands and squirts some on my plate, then on her own.
“What’s your hurry? You’ve already got more credits than Eddie and I put together,” he says. Eddie nods in agreement as she takes a bite of her burger.
Lake nudges her head toward Kel and Caulder. “I’ve already got more kids than you and Eddie put together, too. That’s my hurry.”
“What’s your major?” Kiersten asks Lake.
Eddie glances toward Kiersten, finally noticing the extra person seated at the table. “Who are you?”
Kiersten looks at Eddie and smiles. “I’m Kiersten. I live diagonal to Will and Caulder, parallel to Layken and Kel. We moved here from Detroit right before Christmas. Mom says we needed to get out of the city, before the city got out of us…whatever that means. I’m eleven. I’ve been eleven since eleven-eleven-eleven. It was a pretty big day, you know. Not many people can say they turned eleven on eleven-eleven-eleven. I’m a little bummed I was born at three o’clock in the afternoon, though. If I would have been born at 11:11, I’m pretty sure I could have got on the news or something. I could have recorded the segment and used it someday for my portfolio. I’m gonna be an actress when I grow up.”
Eddie, along with the rest of us, stare at Kiersten without responding. Kiersten is oblivious, turning to Lake to repeat her question. “What’s your major, Layken?”
Lake lays her burger down on her plate and clears her throat. I know how much she hates this question. She tries to answer confidently. “I haven’t decided yet.”
Kiersten looks at her pitifully. “I see. The proverbial undecided. My oldest brother has been a Sophomore in college for three years. He’s got enough credits to have five majors by now. I think he remains undecided because he’d rather sleep until noon every day, sit in class for three hours and go out every night, than actually graduate and get a real job. Mom says that’s not true…she says it’s because he’s trying to ‘discover his full potential’ by examining all of his interests. If you ask me, I think it’s bullshit.”
I cough when the drink I just swallowed tries to make its way back up with my laugh.
“You just said bullshit!” Kel says.
“Kel, don’t say bullshit!” Lake says.
“But she said bullshit first,” Caulder says, defending Kel.
“Caulder, don’t say bullshit!” I yell.
“Sorry,” Kiersten says to Lake and I. “Mom says the FCC is responsible for inventing cusswords just for media shock value. She says if everyone would just use them enough, they wouldn’t be considered cusswords anymore and no one would ever be offended by them.”
This kid is hard to keep up with!
“Your mother encourages you to cuss?” Gavin says.
Kiersten nods. “I don’t see it that way. It’s more like she’s encouraging us to undermine a system flawed through overuse of words that are made out to be harmful, when in fact they’re just letters, mixed together like every other word. That’s all they are, mixed up letters. Like, take the word ‘butterfly’ for example. What if someone decided one day that butterfly is a cussword? People would eventually start using the word butterfly as an insult, and to emphasize things in a negative way. The actual word doesn’t mean anything. It’s the negative association people give these words that make them cusswords. So, if we all just decided to keep saying butterfly all the time, eventually people would stop caring. The shock value would subside…and it would become just another word again. Same with every other so-called bad word. If we would all just start saying them all the time, they wouldn’t be bad anymore. That’s what my mom says, anyway.” She smiles and takes a french fry and dips it in ketchup.