Book Idea: Chapter 3

By then I was old enough to have made a couple of really close friends, Haley and Veronica.  It might not seem to adults that kids can make super-close friends.  But these were my besties.  Sure, I couldn’t drive yet, and they lived too far away to walk, and so I was at my parents’ whims as to whenever we could get together outside of school.  But there was a bond of friendship here deeper than most I’ve experienced since.

One day after school, waiting for our parents to finish up and playing on the swings as was typical, I began to suspect that this special braid of a friendship was about to unravel.  It was a Friday, I remember; Haley, Veronica, and I had plans for a sleepover.

“I saw your dad talking to Principal Sheldon today,” Haley said.

“Oh yeah?” I asked, planting my feet in the gravel and stopping my pendulum motion.  Something unusual was in her voice, a tone of urgency.  “What about?”

“I saw them too,” Veronica added, “and I think Principal Sheldon was actually crying.  I didn’t think he ever cried.”

“Yeah, weird,” I answered.

Dad had taught Latin to middle school and high school students for the past three years—and maybe more, but I don’t remember much about school that far back—at St. Augustine’s, where Haley, Veronica, and I attended school.  We were in second grade.

Haley’s dad taught Latin too; and Veronica’s mom was a science teacher.  Which explains why we typically hung out on the playground after school, while our teacher-parents finished up with their daily obligations.

It was a K-12 school, meaning Dad was on the other side of campus most of the week.  But he and I carpooled together every day; and he made an effort to eat lunch with me once a week or so—usually with Haley and Veronica inseparably tagging along.

I appreciate these things a lot now, miss them achingly at times even, occasionally wondering why they had to end at all, why Dad had to be so eager—or restless—to pursue his paranormal musings.

“And I’m not sure,” Haley continued, “but I think Mr. Sheldon might have said a bad word: ‘bastard.’  That’s what I think he said, anyway.  And I think he said this to your dad, Amelia, like he was calling him a name.  But your dad just laughed.”

I don’t really remember any more of this conversation, or even what took place that night.  We probably had our sleepover.  And, if so, I’m sure we had a great time.  But for some reason I remember this conversation—the urgency in Haley’s voice, the unusualness in Mr. Sheldon’s crying, Haley saying bastard so matter-of-factly, like a grownup—and the abrupt change to come over my feelings, like it was yesterday.

It was like I’d just drunk a tall glass of rancid milk.

I also remember how vividly these feelings surfaced again a few weeks later when Mom told me that we’d be moving at the end of the school year.

“But why?” I asked, fighting desperately to hold back the tears that were so quickly rising.

“So that Daddy can complete his education,” Mom said, trying to sound reassuring, I’m sure, but actually sounding patronizing.

“But why do we have to move away for this to happen?” I asked.

“It’s just the way the Church does it, dear.  A three-year program.  Then we’ll come back.”

And all at once I was thoroughly annoyed.  “Three whole years!” I shouted.  “Then I’ll be in sixth grade.  That’s middle school!  That’s my childhood!  What about Haley and Veronica?”

“Listen, I knew this would upset you.  I told your dad it would.  But the decision’s been made.  Let’s try to make the most of it, yeah?”

“I need to talk to Dad,” I demanded and stormed out of the room.

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