The drive home did not start out as we wanted it to. We quickly ended up at the back of a long line of cars following some beat up truck that seemed to barely be moving forward up the hill. The long winding road which took us maybe four minutes to navigate down took nearly twenty before we were back near the top and finally passed the truck when it pulled over. It didn't help that the traffic caused by the vehicle still wasn't doing the speed limit but at least now I was gazing back out at the water thinking and wishing that I could somehow replay the event so I could at least better see dad dump her ashes. That was the part that was sticking with me the most, I never got to say goodbye, I never got to see her except those few minutes in the hospital, how I wanted to just be able to go back for a few seconds and say I do love you, I miss you, I'll never forget you.
I did hold back my tears even though it seemed to be hurting worse now than before but, maybe that was simply because I just didn't seem to have any more to shed.
The next thing I knew Dad was shaking me on the shoulder and the car was stopped. "I need to get some gas. If you want you can stretch your legs or run to the restroom if you need to." I did take the time go to the dank smelly closet called the restroom long enough to decide I really didn't need to go before hauling the metal door back open and gasping in a lungful of fresh air. I'll never understand how any person could last long enough in such a place to take a piss, maybe they just aimed from the door.
The rest of the trip back was uneventful and quiet. Dad didn't even speak until we were just a few miles from town. "Are you feeling okay?"
"I'm tired still." I told him wishing I had fallen back asleep for the last hour or so of the trip.
"And?" He prompted.
I leaned forward against the dash crossing my arms over my head as I stretched before I reversed directions leaning as far back as the seat would let me pushing my legs out against the floor. The creak of the seat as I pushed on it had my speak up. "Hey careful, you trying to break the seat?" An echoing pop had me jump forward believing that I had just broke it.
Dad glared at me between glances of the road ahead but, as I checked the seat even adjusting it forward some making sure it still worked. "Its alright," I told him, "and so am I."
He took the main exit and went under the overpass heading towards my school. "Do you know what happened?" He asked.
"I don't know I just got dizzy and then I hit my back. It still really hurts." I told him moving a hand back to gently rub the sore area.
"To much stress maybe." he spoke.
"Maybe, no migraine though." I had to smile at that thought.
"Don't be to happy." he informed me glancing over again. "Collapsing two time in two days is nothing to smile at. You should understand I was about to carry you to the car and drive you to the nearest clinic. I still might." He added on.
I didn't say anything we were too close to the school to really go anywhere else but, I did realize he was worried for me thinking back to our moment in the kitchen I made a promise to myself to try and not make him worry about me. Another two corners and we were suddenly in a mad crowd of cars that were pouring in and out the entrance drive while students were starting to appear on the sidewalks moving down the road. School was out, which meant it was three fifteen so we had obviously made it in time even with my little spell and the traffic we had started out with.
By the time Dad had gotten into a spot and we had walked to the first set of buildings, which were the administration hall, most of the students had vanished. At the main office we were given direction on how to get to a teachers lounge, one which I didn't know about.
A small portable squeezed between two larger buildings, one of which I had several classes in, was where we met the director Mr. Went who opened the door for us to go inside. "Go in and take a seat we're waiting on two more teachers."
My dad and I went inside, two circular tables were in the front area and a carpeted area at the back had two couches. Five of my six teachers were seated between the tables and several more people were filling up nearly all the chairs. One being, Mrs. Hoepins, whom I quickly recognized waved me over and I realized the two open seat next to her were meant for us. "How are you feeling today Ben?" she asked as we took our seats. Unsure how to respond I just nodded and sat down. *POP *
I noticed dad jumped a little as he was sitting down reacting to the noise, "No games today Ben how are you doing."
Still being quiet my father answered, "He collapsed earlier when we were getting off the boat." She stood up moving to the far wall and the line of cabinets near the couches and started searching as Mr. Went came in with two others.
"Well that's everyone." The director started gesturing to us he said, "This is Ben and his father Allen Kalson. The rest I will introduce as needed. Now I asked all of you yesterday if you could check and see if Ben would pass the tier so lets start with his first class." Most of my teachers gave the answer I was expecting I was passing four classes and the fifth still required me to turn in a project report which I had missed several key classes on. Although even if I failed the report my science teacher admitted I could barely squeak past if I pasted the ending exams with a strong grade but I had to turn in something or the class would be incomplete which he would have to mark as a fail. "Can he go off notes?" Mr Went asked when he finished.
"No. That is the point to make observations, then come to conclusions based on those observations, last to find the answers to see if those conclusions were correct." He gave a simple hand wave, "All he has to do is write a report even if its wrong when he hands it in he will get the minimum points and pass. Its not something I would normally do but his grades were good enough." Mr Calumis finished.
"Which leaves your last class, Math." Mr. Went turned to my six class teacher.
"I don't think he will pass, maybe with a near perfect score but not being mean," Ms. Lashton looked at me, "that is beyond him. I had given him some extra credit work a few weeks back but it was never handed in." She stated simply and I almost groaned, extra credit might have been alright if it hadn't been math.
"Mr. Krage?" The director inquired pointing out someone I didn't know.
"I shouldn't have a problem with him as long as he can pass Ms. Lashton's standards test before the next set of classes start, he should be fine." The teacher replied.
Looking to my father now Mr. Went inquired. "Are you willing to get a private tutor or will you consider having Ben take classes during break?"
Dad and I looked at each other and I just shrugged. "It shouldn't be a problem for him to take some classes."
"Well then, there will be makeup testing two weeks before classes start again. All of your teachers have agreed to postpone your testing until then but you will have to pass all of them. You can take classes at Borddon school or any other place that offers classes, there are usually morning and evening classes during break although evening is usually filled with adults." Mr. Went proposed.
Mr. Krage spoke next, "I would recommend Borddon they have a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule from nine to noon with one teacher and usually about twenty kids. I'm sure I can get Ben up to speed and passing the tier tests since that would be my class. I teach the tier three makeup classes. If he gets ahead I'll have him work some on next years math and sciences."
When my dad look at me I nodded. It wasn't like I had much choice if I wanted to continue on to the fourth tier. "Well does anyone else have problems, questions, concerns?" The director asked. The other people who I guessed would be my next years teachers all shook their heads seeing my curious gazed one near me spoke.
"Mrs. Yost I teach science." She explained. With that the rest of them introduced themselves, I was still studying them which caused me to miss the directors next comments.
"Are you sure that's okay?" My dad asked.
"Well the ceremony is on Saturday for third and fourth tier and Sunday is for fifth tier. I don't see why he can't attend. He won't actually be passing the tier until after he takes his test but he can go through the ceremony with his class." The director finished.
"Which means you will get plenty of rest this weekend and next week since your not going to be in school." Mrs. Hoepins spoke startling me as she grabbed my arm and removed my sleeve button pulling my shirt sleeve up. After being poked with a thermometer and having my blood pressure taken she stepped back giving me a once over staring at my face like she was trying to pick out the answers. "You seem fine, any idea why you collapsed?" As if on cue my stomach grumbled. *POP *
"Tell me you've been eating." I nodded, "What, when, where?" She probed.
"This morning, I had some cereal at home." Still staring at me I simply stated, "I didn't feel like eating this morning." I could almost feel her locking her jaw for a mini explosion when my father added.
"This morning was very busy. We should have both eaten or at least taken something more when we left the dock but we had to rush straight here. We'll go out for some food as soon as we're done here." I couldn't help snickering a little as I heard my father's stomach echo with its own little gurgling noise copying my own. "And no I didn't eat this morning." *POP *, reload, *POP *
After another minute of looking at us she turned back to me. "Anything else you decided to do? I suppose running around the boat was one of the mornings activities as well? Did you even try to take it easy at all?"
Looking at dad who still had a somewhat guilty look I answered. "I had some arguments, and I umm hurt my back but I wasn't running around."
"Hurt how?" She asked pulling my chair out and having me lean forward. As she literally stripped off my shirt as I explained how it had happened. While she gently prodded she also had me tell her about getting dizzy. After a few quiet hisses from me she handed my shirt back. "You'll have a really nasty bruise and its still warm. You might have even bruised a rib, but that at least will slow you down. You should get it checked on if it starts causing you problems but, all I can say is its going to hurt. Sleep on your belly and don't lean to far back into chairs."
She had taken my muzzle in her hand stopping me from putting my shirt back on. "Ben you have my number, you can call anytime you want to talk. That is if your actually going to talk, I don't need to hear you screaming in my ear." She gave a little smile reminding me of the one time I did call her still arguing with my mother with the receiver at my mouth. She gave my nose a little tap as she stepped away turning to my father.
"If he has any dizziness or passes out again you should get him to a medical attention immediately. I think he's alright but there really could be something else wrong..... If you don't mind answering, what kind of cancer did she have?" That was a question I had not even thought of asking, I mean mom had died of cancer, that's it.
"It started as ovarian cancer." My father replied. Mrs. Hoepins nodded her head obviously understanding more that I did.
"Well then." The director stated. "If there are no more questions or problems we can all get on our way and let these two go eat."
I stayed seated as dad rose and shook hands with every teacher as they left. In the end it was just the director, Hoepins, and Krage. "I'll have the information and papers for Ben to take home next Saturday." The teacher stated. "You can fill them in and turn them in at Borddon Institute on the first day of class."
My father nodded, "Come on Ben time to go." We left heading home via Burger Town where dad order a large meal for both of us.
We sat quietly in the driveway eating our meal. I wrapped up mine after half the burger and fries were gone. "Is that it?" He asked.
"Sorry I'm just tired." I replied handing over my trash and half eaten food. I headed inside and fell asleep on top of my covers still fully dressed.
It was starting to get dark when I woke, grunting I tried to get myself out of bed and upright. I took time to stretch feeling an ache in my back before moving to turn on the light stumbling over something I didn't expect on the floor. It seemed that James had already set out three sleeping bags on the floor for himself and the twins. After a quick stop in the bathroom I stepped into the living room doorway to see at least twenty people seated around the room and curled up on the floor, all watching what ever movie was playing. Likely someone had brought or gone and rented some VHS tapes that the entire family could watch. It took me several moments to navigate a path through the room but everyone who stopped watching long enough only gave me a quiet hello or nod.
Passing the dining room table I saw it piled with several items from around the house, a second glance told me most of them were probably my mothers and likely waiting my approval. In the kitchen my father was talking with my grandparents along with Jace, Albert, Yellow, and Megan basically the main part of my family.
"Well finally up boy?" My grandfather started on seeing me.
"Not really." Was my mumbled answer still not feeling fully awake or even rested. I was fully surprised when my father stood and maneuvered me into his seat. He quickly bustled around the kitchen pulling a plate out of the oven and a glass from the cupboard along with juice from the fridge.
"The nurse at the hospital suggested carbs and sugar." He stated dropping a huge plate piled with spaghetti and a large slice of garlic bread. I took the fork and started in as he poured me a tall glass of orange juice. The kitchen was silent for a few moments while I got the first few bites in me until an outburst of laughter, snickers, and snorts came from the front room.
I stopped for a moment to look around, "I have to ask. Shelly got back okay, right?" I took a large gulp listening for the answer.
"Yes." Jace answered simply. "She said she wanted to thank you for allowing her to come."
"Ben." My grandmother started. "Can you tell us exactly what does Shelly mean to you and maybe what exactly you plan to do." I took several more bites considering that myself and trying to find words that might be acceptable.
"She wants to know if your deliberately upsetting the family members for no reason." Grandpa added before I started. Did they honestly think that this might me some joke, or maybe they were hoping it really was.
Either way it gave me a starting point. "If there were no reason dad would have told you so." I paused to take a sip of juice, "We know each other, we walk home from school together, we spend time together, I... I really like her. She already lost her mother and not that I was... mean or anything to her I just let her be. I never understood what losing you mother meant not really...."
"Your still learning." Megan interrupted me. I nodded and took another big bite chewing it up quickly before starting again.
"She already knows, she even gave me a handkerchief. All she wants to do is help." I ate a few more bites while I waited knowing that this was far from over and I suddenly felt even more tired waiting for what was coming. "It's not like she's my girlfriend," I finally said, "but part of me wants her to be more than just a friend and I think she feels the same. And its not the holding hands and kissing stuff. We do homework together, she was here on Monday helping me and when I got tired and stopped we went to my room together."
I could see my grandmother lean forward with a scowl sharp enough to cut bread. I threw my fork down on the plate and glared back. "Why do all of you act like that!" I growled at her. Grandpa appeared at her side with a hand on her shoulder.
"Ben." My father broke in, "Just continue."
"While I put my homework away she looked around the room and then we sat on the bed and talked. That's it we just talked, talk talk talk." I took several bites of spaghetti and I guess somehow I gave myself away.
"And it seems like something else happened too." Megan said. I know I didn't pause but maybe there was a shudder in the forks movement to my mouth as I tried to think of something to say. I guess I had worried my grandparents some because my father had waved a hand between them and me, speaking up.
"Relax. Ben is trying to protect Shelly. Her father is very protective. When I pulled up he came running across the lawn, he thought I had been home the whole time. He stormed into the house and threw open the door on them. They were both looking scared and just sitting on the bed." He reached out for the pitcher and refilled my glass now that I had drained it. "So why don't you tell them exactly what the two of you did fully clothed."
I took two deep swallows from the glass trying to avoid the answer I knew I had to give. "I kissed her."
"Where on the hand, cheek, or muzzle...." It seemed like grandmother was going to say something further but stopped herself.
"Only on the muzzle." I said quietly.
"And that was your first kiss." My father stated while I nodded.
"You make it sound like that is something appropriate Allen!" My grandmother spoke allowing her voice to raise slightly.
"No it wasn't, they both have been given ground rules that are set in both houses. I think they both realize they are older and not allowed to do the same things they could when they were younger. The thing you should remember though before you start accusing them of something, and this is something I told Mark as well, I trust Ben for simple reasons. One mainly because he is honest and just like Shelly he is also a little naive and there is nothing wrong with that." He gave my arm a pat to make sure what he said was a good thing.
"Don't be too sure on the naïve part." Jace spoke up, "they grow up much faster than you think."
"Well naïve is not really the word. More like uneducated in some spots. The two of them thought that flashing means showing your underwear. I have no doubt they could work things out on their own but they are still are young. Yes they both like each other and its starting to become something more. But I won't stop them even if I could, nor will I interrupt what they started. Mark has told Shelly what she can and can not do. Just like I've told Ben what I expect of him."
Grandmother was shaking her head. "So you'll just let them go off and do.... Whatever!" I sighed and pushed my plate away. I had made it through more than 2/3 of the heaped plate and finished off the bread far faster than I realized.
"Boy that would earn you a pop on the back of the head in my day." I felt a bit of anger rise at my grandfathers comment but I let it go. I was still feeling to tired for an argument and now that I had a stuffed belly I was feeling like going back to bed. The day had drained me like no other I could remember.
I realized the silence had stretched out and looked up from the table. "Ben are you felling okay?" Yellow asked from across the table. I shook my head, "What's wrong?" She asked.
I leaned back letting my head tip off the back of the chair closing my eyes, "It doesn't matter."
The silence continued broken finally by my father, "Ben there is a little cake and ice cream in the freezer if you want some."
I half shrugged feeling full but, maybe I think maybe a little cake might fit. Dad moved back to the fridge shifting things around inside before opening the freezer to check for the ice cream. His grunt made me turn and look, seeing him close the door told me all I needed to know, he hadn't found what he was looking for.
"It doesn't matter." I told him watching as he walked over and placed a hand on my shoulder.
"Ben it does matter." He told me. I had tried to make a sarcastic remark of 'Riightt' only it came out more like a choked sob. "Rite" I was crying again and hating it. I scrubbed my muzzle with my arm and tried to sniff up the tears.
"Listen were all here to talk about this. It will make you feel better." Megan spoke reaching a paw out across the table and patting mine while my father retrieved a chair from the dining room and sat down next to me.
"At least, *sniff * at least she knows when I really need a hug." I stated.
"You need a hug?" Megan asked squeezing my paw tighter as my father tried to lean closer. I pulled my hands back and actually leaned away from my father. Dad still placed a hand on my shoulder and I didn't press the issue.
"Now that is just being childish Ben. If you didn't want a hug you shouldn't have asked." My grandmother stated. As tired as I was it still seemed to me like she was egging me into a fight, childish?
"Which part was childish? Realizing that I would have to beg for a hug or the fact that I wouldn't want one if I did." A gave a hard glance at her wondering if I even had the strength to storm out of the room. Even though I was starting to feel angry it didn't seem to give me any of the extra energy that came with it. I sighed and leaned back into the chair again, storming out would more likely seem like stumbling.
I realized that for some reason I was thinking very clearly able to just discard anger like I had never been able to before and easily able to analyze what I could and could not do which seemed to be very little at the moment. I took a moment to try and figure out if it was because I really was growing up or just tired as hell.
"So are you all just going to sit there and stare at each other?" Jace asked obviously pointing out that things they had planned to say weren't being said.
"Well if he won't talk what else are we supposed to do!?" For the first time ever I heard my grandmother give a little hissing spit at someone.
"It doesn't matter." I mumbled for the forth time or was it fifth.
"Ben." Yellow spoke. I didn't bother moving. "Ben?" she repeated. I lifted my head and opened my eyes to look at her. "Why doesn't it matter? You keep saying that but why doesn't it matter."
I closed my eyes again and leaned my head back. The noise in the living room had suddenly grown louder with several people talking out at once. Mit and Mat raced into the kitchen, "Juice, we want some juice." The chimed together although one did add a please.
"Everyone stop!" My grandfather's voice raised loud enough to even be heard in the front room. "Mathew and Mitchell back to the living room for now and give us a few minutes, ask everyone to keep it down."
"Ben?" My father prompted. I was still silent for a few seconds.
"It doesn't matter because I am to tired to argue or talk. Besides I shouldn't have to explain why I should be able to have one friend who I really care about. Doesn't matter because anything I agree to I will fight about tomorrow. It doesn't matter because in a few days you'll all be gone and I will still be here." Even talking now seemed to wear me out either that or my head had gained a few pounds. My neck was starting to hurt some from leaning my head back but I couldn't seem to find the energy to pull it back up.
"If your tired then just go to bed Ben." Yellow stated from across the table.
"Doesn't matter." I mumbled out. "What!?" several voices echoed from the room but I couldn't make out who's. "I can't get back to bed." I admitted. If I had the energy I would have likely jumped or at least been surprised when I felt a hand grab my leg. I felt my father thrust his arm under my knees and hoist me up.
"I'm sorry your mother isn't hear to give you a hug and that you feel like nothing right now even matters." He spoke holding me close for a second with an extra squeeze.
My brain still seemed to be thinking clearly even though my body seemed to drag. "Mom? Mom doesn't really hug me." I mumbled.
Dad carried me through the house leaving puzzled people behind in the kitchen. He had already helped me to change into a pair of shorts and into bed before I finally told him it was Shelly who would know when to hug me. He did bend over the bed and hug me as he pulled the covers up. "That is something I will try to work on." He told me.
I heard the click of the desk lamp before the overhead light was shut off. I laid on my bed in the dim light for what seemed like hours my body heavy but my mind seemed unable to really shut down. I was expecting my cousins when the door opened but was shocked to feel someone brush my forehead ruffling my ears before giving me a light kiss on the nose. Twice more that I remember somebody came into my room, the first just scritched between my ears and then pet my head, the second kissed me on the forehead before mumbling a good night. It was definitely a female but I was unsure which one.
The next morning brought a slight headache and a stiff sore body and a back that was painful to even touch. It again felt like I had spent the night on the floor not my bed. I drug myself out of bed and not even bothering to check the time headed to the bathroom for a shower. Not that I needed one but I was hoping for a hot shower to help my body and wake me up. After a few minutes it was apparent that I would be lucky to finish my sluice as the water started turning warm and I quickly tried to rinse out the soap I had just spread across my chest. I wrapped a large towel around myself finding one that was hung up from yesterday and dry. Someone was obviously going to need to do laundry very soon otherwise not only would I have no towel to dry but nothing but dirty clothes to wear. After a quick dash to my room I did rummage though my hamper to pull out a pair of clean seeming shorts to wear having found a tee and underwear still in my dresser.
There was only one sleeping bag left on the floor letting me know that at least James was likely spending another night in my room but not evidently the twins. I had been wondering why the house was so quiet and decided I was now ready to find out. I made it to the dining room where uncle Albert was fiddling with the plug end of a broken toaster, the same items adorned the rest of the table except I notice two chairs pulled out and a few of moms best dresses draped over the back.
"Felling better today?" Albert asked.
"I guess." I replied, "Everyone else?"
"Almost everyone left to go out for breakfast. Your dad didn't want you disturbed. There are a few outside or in the garage, I'm not exactly sure." Besides asking me how I felt his entire attention seemed to be on the wires and the cutters that he held. Wondering if I should bother to feel left out I headed for the kitchen. A rather funny and odd crayon drawing adorned the center of the fridge which had scrawled at the top 'SORRY'. Below the picture was a second note.
We went out for breakfast. Call 548-7760 and ask for me.
I'll come get you, otherwise there's bacon and eggs.
We should be back around 10am.
I checked the microwave clock 9:38, I wouldn't have to wait long but I really didn't feel like eating much either and certainly not cooking. I got a large glass of juice and a banana peeling it and grabbing a plate as I tossed the peel. The front door banged open as I sat down and I barely got in one bite before Mit and Mat came charging into the kitchen and stopped.
They both stared at me for a moment before blurting out, "Were sorry, sorry." They chimed together and one went to the fridge grabbing the picture and shoving it at me.
"What?" I asked.
"We ate the cake and ice cream." Mit told me as they both tried to look sorry, sad faces and ears tilted back.
"No worries." I smiled at them.
Aunt Yellow walked in to the kitchen behind them suddenly seeming relived to see me. "Oh Ben. Please come help us outside this is turning into a problem." She was gone before I could swallow the banana bite and ask what was up.
Trying to tease the twins I asked, "I can leave my banana right?" They nodded together, "And my juice right?" The two continued to nod thinking that they had apologized well enough. Taking one more swig and another bite I headed through the garage to see what was up. I wasn't even outside before I could hear what exactly was wrong.
"....you shouldn't even be allowed this many cars. This is a quiet neighborhood go have your party some where else!" The old ferret was already worked up, voice loud enough to try and make sure every neighbor understood how wrong this was. She was standing in our front yard making wide sweeping gestures covering the entire street. The thing was everyone was trying to look somewhere else and before I really even stepped out of the garage I was noticed.
Aunt Lisa was the one who had spotted me first. "BEN! Would you kindly clear this up I'm not going to handle this." Honestly I was surprised she was even out here as she waved to me while heading into the house.
"Handle?" Mrs. Attent stated seeming upset by my aunts simple remark like it was some pile of leaves that should be swept up. "Of course we will just call the sheriff out here and remove you all!"
"We will start by arresting you for trespassing. Get off our property." I shouted out as I stepped onto the driveway. Well I wasn't really shouting but my voice was at least as loud as hers. Mrs. Attent quickly back up several paces off but was still not quite onto the sidewalk.
"You." She said looking me over. "Your mom truly had no class allowing a brat like you to scream and shout. I can't count the time I had to hear you two yelling."
It took me a moment to realize I had been stopped by my cousin Thomas I wasn't sure what I was going to do but obviously everyone was now staring at me and starting to look worried. I yanked my shoulder out of his grasp, "YOU will leave NOW!!" I advanced as Mrs. Attent quickly backed up. After several steps she bumped into a parked car and literally flew around it pointing at me from the other side.
"You stay right there." She stammered out.
Seeing her scared didn't seem to do much for me, maybe it was the fact that there was no opposition or something but I only stepped close enough to glare at her from over the trunk. "Go home. Stay off our property or next time I will physically remove you." It was something I had heard before some where and it sounded so right at the moment. I would pick her up and toss her into the street if she kept this up. Only thing was she was already there.
Mrs. Attent took a few more steps back and raised that finger again only to have a pickup moving down the street honk at her. With out bothering to figure out if she was going to try and keep going I turned and left heading back inside. I down the juice and a few gulps took one big bite of banana and grabbed the phone punching out the number on the back to the Sheriff's Department.
Our town was likely big enough now to warrant its own police department squeezed in between to larger cites that both boasted there own police force. But, and I only knew this from my moms recent complaints, the town counsel felt that starting a police force was unnecessary due to the fact we had a sheriffs department here along with a large office and training area for the state police.
The phone didn't even right twice and I was still trying to swallow as the voice came on the line, "Is this an emergency?" I took a second to answer no before I was told, "Hold please." by a females crisp voice. I waved aunt Yellow back as she entered the room giving me a raised eyebrow as she past taking a chair at the table. After several minutes and twice thinking of going for the rest of my banana the voice finally returned.
"County Sheriff Dispatch how can I help you."
I took a steady breath and started, "Yes my name is Ben Kalson and we have a small problem here."
"Ben?" The females voice asked, "This is Ms. Renalla I worked with your mom a while back. I'm sorry to hear what happened and I really wanted to go to the memorial but had to work. So how can we help." I took me a moment to figure out what to say since her words had caught me off guard, did everyone know my mother or what?
"There's this lady across the street causing problems." I started. "What kind?" I was quickly asked. "Well she keeps shouting and telling us we can't have so many cars here. She thinks its some kind of large party that is going to cause a problem. She was out just a few minutes ago shouting on our front lawn." I said.
"Is she there now?" I told her no. "Ben the sheriff's department does not just run out for small arguments. Where is your father at?" I evidentially hadn't made myself clear this was no small argument.
"My father is out at the moment but if you won't help maybe you can send an ambulance here for me." I wasn't quite shouting but I had raised my voice to the receiver but finally she seemed to get that I was rather upset.
"Ben why don't you tell me exactly what happened but, first take a deep breath and respond calmly." She told me.
"I walked out and she was standing in our yard yelling at my family. I told her to leave and she just backed up a little and told me my mother had no class.." I was interrupted at that moment.
"Oh. You didn't do anything to her did you?" She asked.
I wonder if somehow the arguments between my mother and me had somehow translated in to me being violent in some way. Some how a lot of people seemed to know about our shouting matches but never had we actually harmed one another. "NO. But if she comes back I am going to toss her out into the street." A throat cleared behind me and I turned to see Lisa standing in the dining room looking full of disapproval. If that weren't bad enough Yellow seemed to make a small tutting noise from the table.
"Ben you need to make sure you don't do that. It might not be easy for you to control your temper but at least wait until your dad get back. When will he be back?" She asked.
"Soon I guess."
"Alright. I'm afraid we are very busy right now." I gave a sigh which she must have heard, "BUT, I will send an deputy over as soon as we have one to spare. Just try to stay away from her for now." With assurances that I would try not to cause a problem I hung up the phone.
"Ben that was foolish." Aunt Yellow stated.
"NO. Stupid." Lisa tacked on. I went back and finished my banana in a few bites while both women watched me. I placed the glass into the sink before speaking.
"They will send someone over when they have time." I told them.
"Wonderful." Lisa spoke nearly spitting it out as she turned and walked away.
"Ben." Yellow started but actually stopped when I raised my hand. "I don't think this will end unless the sheriff tells her to stop. She won't listen to me or my dad and at least now if she does call the sheriff later we will already have made a complaint. Hopefully if one comes it will stop all the yelling otherwise we are going to hear it all night." I actually hadn't though that far ahead but both points certainly sounded good now.
"Just try and stay inside for now." she told me.
"Actually I'm headed next door." I turned and walked away before she could say anything more. Yellow called my name twice before I made it out the front door, I didn't even bother to pause.
I could see Mrs. Attent pacing on her porch watching me from across the street as I headed over to Shelly's house. After knocking on the front door several times Mr. Thaner answered. He looked me over before saying, "I think it's to early to be asking for Shelly to come over."
I cleared my throat, "Its not that. I wanted to make sure it was okay if we use the whole backyard today. You can both come to the barbecue once its started."
"I see. I was under the impression this was to be a family thing, are you sure you're allowed to invite me over." He questioned.
"There are more than just family here today." I stated firmly, although it would be nearly all family there were going to be a few 'others' who weren't. I just didn't want to tell him it would likely be all feline excepting Shelly and himself if he did come over.
Seeing me glance back a few times he stepped onto his porch closing the door behind him, "Anything else?"
I couldn't help but give just a little sigh, " I suppose you want to tell me how stupid I'm acting too. That maybe I should just ignore her and let her keep yelling in the front yard." Mr. Thaner didn't speak a word after I finished talking even though my tone was close to what would be termed disrespectful. I stood waiting for a reply as he stared across the street zeroing in on where my glances had been going.
"I assume this has to do with her." He finally spoke giving a little nod across the street. "You shouldn't let her get to you, just accept the fact that she's old and bitter and move on." I thought it might be nice to move her on with my foot but I at least kept my mouth shut as we both watched a car pull into the driveway on the Thaner's opposite side. He nodded to me stepping back knowing I would want to speak with Mr. Lamcette, "Just keep away from her and try to ignore her." I seemed to be getting the same advice over and over as I hopped off the steps and dashed next door.
I didn't have to worry Mr. Lamcette was still working on getting a suitcase out of the back seat, as I hurried up he stopped to talk to me. "Hello Ben. Listen I want to say that it's really awful what happened and I'm sorry for you and your dad. I wanted to be there yesterday but I've been out of town the past two days and I have to leave again on Sunday."
"That's fine. I was just wondering if we could use your backyard." I asked. Between the three houses Shelly's being the middle, none had any sort of barrier in between and there was only a short wood fence that ran along the back boundary of all our houses leaving a long open area. Mr. Lamcette had a cyclone fence at the edge of his property while we had a tall redwood fence that separated us from Mr. Clowet. He had a tall fence around his entire property including the front yard other than that the whole area was just a bunch of grass and weeds and the occasional bump or dip.
"Actually Ben I need some sleep. I was up at very early and I still have to wash everything and repack. Can you wait until later this afternoon?" He asked.
"That's fine." I told him. "The barbecue won't start until later anyway, you're welcome to come." I offered.
"I don't think so." He stated pulling the gray suitcase out. "I'll try to stop by I still want to talk with your father but,.. maybe tomorrow."
I thanked Mr. Lamcette and said goodbye as three cars drove by on the street. Even two houses away I could hear Mrs. Attent shout, "Finally!" as I tried rushing back home. There was no way I could reach my father before she scuttled across the street and she was already in the driveway ready to accost my father before he or anyone else was able to get out of the car.
"You need to control your son! Allowing him to scream and threaten people I can't believe Lucy would have allowed that, she certainly wouldn't allow some group of people to go tromping through her house and the neighborhood!" I had no doubt my father would have said something if she wasn't just plowing ahead ignoring his open mouth. "And I don't care who died! Your son should show respect to his elders and if you ask me you're not much better. Honestly partying and carrying on after someone has passed, don't you have any respect?"
I had reached my house and had to push past the few bodies that had either gotten out of cars or come out of the house. Before I could get behind the car and consider dragging her out to the street I was grabbed around the middle by someone from behind. I was about to struggle when I could see the hands around my waist were ones I recognized, Shelly was behind me.
She gave me enough room to turn around and look at her while she leaned in and gave me a little kiss on the cheek. "I am going to make her leave." She nodded but when she let go she took my hand instead and for a second I wondered if she thought I was going to be violent as well. Turning back I could hear a part of my fathers reply while Attent went right back to stating the fact we were causing a horrible disruption to the entire neighborhood.
"TODAY? What does that matter you've take every single spot on the street to park, have dozens of people standing in your front yard this is already a party. You'll end up drinking, shouting, and keeping everyone up the entire night. I am NOT going to allow it." I could see my father now over the car keeping that simple non emotional look that seemed to do nothing for the ferret as he tried to decide what to say.
I slammed my unoccupied hand against the car trunk getting everyone's attention. "Dad I already called the Sheriff. This is the second time today she has been breaking the law by trespassing. We have every right to remove her from our property while she has no right to tell us where to park or who we can invite over. Last chance Mrs. Attent," I spoke or tried to speak with the same kind of power I had felt before when I faced Lisa. Although my voice did deepen it wasn't really the same. "leave our property or I will have the deputy arrest you when he comes, you're the one breaking laws today!"
The look I gave my father seemed to convey everything I wanted. I was sure he was about to scold me or say something about my behavior but instead he turned back to Mrs. Attent. "You realize he's right. If the sheriff shows up you are trespassing on a private family gathering to morn the loss of my wife. If you had any decency you would leave. Everyone else, let's go inside we have no need to waste time on what might happen later especially since we understand how to not disturb our neighbors when they wish some privacy."
To me it was worded perfectly and everyone turned away and started inside. It took several moments before she found her voice telling us that we were wrong and she would make sure to stop our wild party. I as well as my father and a few others were holding back walking slower to make sure everyone went inside first. I wasn't sure if he was going to say something more but I was not about to miss it if he did.
"Allen." Someone hissed pointing. I didn't see who it was but the finger pointing to the street showed not one but two cars painted in black and white, one rolling to a stop in front of our house and the other had just come around the corner. There were two things I did notice though, the first was they were not sheriff vehicles but the state police and the second was Mrs. Attent who had run out in front of the vehicle pointing her finger at our house and starting to shout.
"Ben." I could fell the disapproval in each of those three letters and I turned towards my father stating the simple fact I thought was true.
"Dad she wasn't going to stop and if I didn't call she would have. Now they can end this and shut her up." I could tell that even though he was agreeing some with what I said he still wasn't happy. He made a decision that suddenly left me a little worried and wondering what I was going to have to do.
"Very well, you called them, you explain the problem and I expect you to have full respect and keep your temper. Shelly please go inside along with the rest of you." He said dismissing everyone before looking at me and the officers.
I realized a few minutes later that following my father, who greeted the officer, and stepping a short way down the street as the policeman suggested, was the easy part. After that everything seemed to get more difficult by the moment.
~ "Mrs. Attent is causing problems. She keeps walking onto our property and yelling at my family. My mother died and we are all here because of that." ~ Or at least that is what I wanted to come out when the officer asked what the problem was, but when dad pointed to me what came out was.
"She, she's yelling and stuff and she can't be in our yard and..." It was more the fact my father was shaking his head that brought me to a stop than the officers frown.
"Son why don't you start from the beginning." He spoke. Honestly I don't remember the words. I wasn't really babbling just spitting out words as I thought them up to explain. When I finished the officer spoke.
"You know we do deal with domestic and neighborly disputes but I'm not really getting what's going on. Was there a fight or just an argument." I could tell he was trying to understand exactly what had gone on.
"There's going to be." I responded which was followed by a quick bark of 'Ben!' that came from my father. Really though his voice was what I needed, a familiar sound to rally against or with. "I called the sheriff because she doesn't have the right to come over here and yell at us. She is going to keep coming over and causing problems. My family is all here and we are not going to have a wild party. A barbecue and play games. All she wants to do is yell and tell us what to do, then she threatens to call the sheriff. I called to stop this now, before there is a fight before we have to force her to go away."
I think the other officer had just walked over or had been standing there for just a minute because he then asked, "Did you threaten to beat her up?"
I half choked, "She said my mother had no class so I told her she had to leave or I would force her to."
"Please think carefully." I was told.
I already knew the answer I had played the scene over in my head several times. "I told her to get off our property and if she returned I would make her leave."
"By force?" ~ "If I had to, yes." I answered.
"Young man you can not threaten people. That is a very serious matter." I tried to come up with a good reply. This wasn't like any argument I had before, it was slow and different but there was no way I was going to lose!
The ferret has crept up behind the officer and was looking at me now over the back of the police car. "How many times can a person trespass on a property before they are arrested?" The question seemed to stop both officers as I continued, "She keeps coming onto our property and causing problem. She is disturbing the entire neighborhood by yelling at my family who has done nothing wrong. It doesn't matter how many cars we have, we haven't done anything wrong! I called the sheriff so you would stop her so I wouldn't have to. This isn't going to end until you tell her to go home and mind her own business!"
"That is enough Ben." My father finally spoke. "Although I am not happy with what he did call he may have been right. Mrs. Attent has trespassed several times, perhaps jail time would do her some good. BUT!" He nearly shouted waving a hand at the ferret. "My son has never hurt someone in anger. Shouted, yelled, sometimes threatened but not actually harmed someone. I also have my doubts that he actually threatened her with physical harm."
"That's not true, he said he would claw me to bits!" Mrs. Attent protested.
My fathers laugh seemed to leave her stunned and me wondering, "Now that would be a outright lie. My son is far more creative. I can remember him offering to help a truck drive someone over, tying someone up and stabbing them with fence posts, even threatening to put someone in the same hospital bed as his mother. I find 'clawing you to bits' to be rather lacking with his verbal skills."
"I might have said I'd toss her in the street but it would only be to get her off our property." I added. I wasn't sure I had said it but I knew that I had thought it.
"I believe we will go back inside. There will be no more problems so long as Mrs. Attent keeps to her side of the street." It might have worked, or maybe it didn't because when the officers asked Mrs. Attent if that was okay she nearly blew up.
"What about all the cars! What about all the people, all the loud music and yelling." She sounded more shrew then ferret at the moment but what surprised me more was my father. The man who was calm and collected. Who took verbal assault like like a light rain and dismissed it just as easily.
"My wife is DEAD! If you hear any loud noises it's probably someone CRYING! If someone drinks it's to help ease the PAIN. You showed how much you care by not even responding when asked if you would like to attend the funeral. My family comes together to accept my wife's passing and support each other." I watched feeling a lump bigger than an apple in my throat as he took a deep breath and slowly let it out. "DON'T knock on my door, don't step on my grass. You are not welcome anywhere near my property. I will have you arrested and press full charges including emotional stress if you do. If you did care at all you would let one day pass even if it was a little noisy." He gave a nod to the officer and put his paw on my shoulder turning me around and I could almost feel him shaking though the touch.
We walked back to the house with his hand still on my shoulder stopping several feet from the steps as he gave me a firm squeeze. "Ben I understand why you did it but from now on leave the police out. They should be your last resort, try to solve your problems on your own." The way his tone was alerted me that any argument was useless. He didn't want to hear me talk he wanted me to listen.
"Did you get something to eat? Several people brought back leftovers. Go to the kitchen." He said in response to my shrug. Food was already waiting on a plate and by the time I thought about Shelly it was already to late since my uncle and a few others seemed to be ready to force feed me if necessary before they were going to allow me to leave. I had to sit through several minutes of my grandmother's lecture on appropriate reasons to call the police as I scarfed down the food as quickly as possible to get away.
I was fairly surprised she didn't comment on how I ate as well letting me go after the correct apology and promises not to waste precious police time again. As I went in search of Shelly I was quickly directed to my own room standing in the door to see all of my younger cousins, including Sam and Jenny who had shown up, and two adults who I wasn't exactly sure who they were.
There was a cribbage board set up on my desk with two extra chairs, two games of checkers going on my bed, one being a travel kit and a large game of monopoly being played on the floor. I guess I really shouldn't have worried but seeing Shelly kneeling at my bed seemed to put me at ease giving a smile to the hellos' that ran through the room.
"So... What happened." James nearly shouted making sure he was heard first.
"Well Dad told Mrs. Attent she wasn't allowed over and Grandma wants to be sure I don't call again unless it's important." Was my answer.
"Were the officers upset?" The male adult asked, I still had no clue who he was.
"I don't think so. At least if she calls the sheriff later they know what is going on." I stated stepping over and around the others so I could carefully sit on the end of the bed near Shelly.
"Ben we could use your help for a minute." The call came from the hallway. I was able to give her a little grin with a head shake as I got back up.
Honestly I still think it was planned out, or at the very least my name was passed on to the next person who would either require my assistance, ask me questions, or need me to fetch something. I was constantly stopped and talked with about what was going on and if I was really okay but really it felt like they were trying to tie up my time and keep me away from Shelly. I wasn't even really able to play football since I had been drafted with Uncle Jace and my cousin Sam to go restock from the store. I was supposedly going cause I knew where everything was and it would make the trip faster. Still it took over an hour and a half and when we got back with more buns, sodas, chips, condiments, deserts, and things for the morning, by then game was called to a halt and everybody ate.
That was the only time I spent with Shelly sitting on her back steps eating and even though it was still early Mr. Thaner called her back inside when we finished. I did however get a kiss on the cheek and gave one in return our noses almost touching as she told me she'd see me later.
There were still some smaller games, cake, pie, and ice cream along with movies but now that Shelly wasn't there it seemed my demand had dropped as well only having to get up once during the movie to find more laundry soap because the box was empty.
My room was crowded that night because so many had decided to stay. I spent the whole night being startled awake by strange noises or sudden jolts to my bed when someone either hit it or got up in the middle of the night. By morning I was ready to crawl out the window just for some peace but instead sat in the corner of the kitchen watching the rush of everyone as they ran around. Aunt Yellow came in and dropped Jewel in my lap telling me to be useful and I spent the rest of the morning cuddling, bouncing, feeding, and having my fur yanked out by child sized pawfulls.
Thankfully with in a few hours nearly everyone was gone with the exception of Amber's family and Martha my second cousin or something who had been the outspoken one on the boat. Both were going to be staying the week to help us out and clear out the rest of moms unclaimed stuff.
Even though there was no reason to I did go back to school on Monday. It was very odd, even the walk with Shelly was weird since she was so quiet while everyone else seemed to avoid me. I guess it was known that I collapsed plus I had said I almost died in class so I guess the other kids just kept their distance. It seemed that only a few kids and a couple of my friends even knew my mother had died.
Classes were every short except for the first and last which were the first Tier Tests of the week. Mrs. Lashton kept telling me I didn't have to bother with the test but I tried anyway answering every question even if I knew the answer would be wrong.
The whole week seemed warped in a way with everyone so excited and lots of kids talking about he trips planned over the break while I just plodded forward. I had only told a few classmates that I had extra classes at Borddon. Each time there were looks but when I told them I'd rather do that than repeat the tier they totally agreed while offering apologies.
It was right after the graduation ceremony that Shelly and I had what you could call, or what I called, our first verbal fight. Everybody was cheering and happy and things were a little nuts, after all our entire class had passed and each of us were going to the next tier. I had found myself amidst the moving groups of happy bodies looking for my father and feeling upset and irritated although I really couldn't point to a reason why.
Being grabbed from behind had set me off turning and forcing the person back even as I realized who it was. The action didn't seem to put her off much, "So do you wanna have dinner at my house Sunday?"
"Are you sure your dad wants me there?" Whether I had really meant it or not didn't seem to stop how nasty it sounded nor the fact I was suddenly ready and wanting an all out shouting match.
Her little frown didn't mean a thing at the moment but her words seemed to pull something. "What you don't want to come?"
Of course I wanted to go, but I didn't want to say it. "I don't want to sit there and have your Dad glaring at me."
She shook her head saying, "Don't worry he won't."
I had raised my voice just a little, I couldn't help it or maybe I could have, "What do you know! I can feel it every time you get close!"
Maybe it should have seemed cute, her light little growl but I had never seen her pull her lips back like that nor ever attempt to sound pissed. "NO I just spent several days with your family implying that I lack enough intelligence to understand that I have to leave you alone. If you want to be alone FINE!"
I knew I was wrong from the moment she started speaking, of course she knew. I wanted to stop her, to apologize, heck I wanted to tell her that she was wrong that I didn't want to be alone. I did nothing however as she turned and walked off almost running after the first few steps. I have no clue how long I stood there just staring at where she had been as people moved off and started leaving the auditorium.
I guess Billy had seen me standing there because my body was suddenly rocked by the hard punch to my upper arm. He was a small bunny hybrid who dreamed himself as a boxing champ often landing hard blows to arms and shoulders of the unaware. When I turned to glare at him part of me was wondering why he looked scared as he took several steps back. Several things clicked as I took a deep breath hearing my own low vibrating yowl cut out. I must have started with a hiss because my mouth was still wide open and I knew I was showing every fang I had.
Where my noise probably had every kid and adult watching me the next sound, a loud *POP* had dozens of parents jump and students quickly clearing the area. "Follow me." Mrs. Hoepins crisp words came from behind as she lead me outside through the side door next to the stage. With a firm grip on my shoulder she pulled me several feet down the wall as the metal door slammed shut.
I was expecting a lot of things including disappointment and a long lecture as she turned me to face her. I struggled as she pulled me closer trying to pull back to the wall before I realized the embrace was a hug. "You must really wish your mom was here."
It was like a punch in the gut, no worse, it felt like I had been ripped up and broken apart into large chunks that were tossed out onto the ground. I couldn't breath, my heart felt like it was being crushed in a trash compactor, and my legs suddenly felt like they didn't exist. I could feel her grip tighter supporting me as she held me to her body. Just those simple words had brought back waves of memories and emotions all crammed into the space of my first few strong sobs.
Months ago mom had noticed my less than average grade in math. I had told her to leave it, she of course couldn't. Funny it wasn't so much of an argument as a deal we had struck. I pass the tier and she would take us out to Reanno's on graduation night. There was nothing that would have motivated me more than that. Sure lots of places serve fish and seafood but Reanno's made anything that existed in water taste far better than it should. Expensive, sure but it left me working hard for a few weeks. It was probably one of the few places my family had always enjoyed each an every time leaving with not just a full stomach but a great memory too.
I doubt it was something dad knew about except if he had heard it in passing, a deal between mom and me and their was no way he would remember. What was worse was not the fact that I was going to miss out on an awesome meal but the connection that we would never dress up again as a family and eat out together. Reanno's was the ultimate place for fishy food any some of our greatest memories for family and friends and the mere thought was now making me ill.
Mrs. Hoepins was holding me so tight and rocking me that for just a second I imagined that this was my mom and she was so proud of me. The second ended and I broke even more unable to understand what she was trying to tell me. I could feel myself being pulled up and guided as I was half carried half stumbled until I was pushed down dropping hard into a plastic chair.
Again I was pulled against a soft blouse and firm chest beneath being hugged firmly as I cried. There wasn't a single thing in the world I cared about at that moment. I was filled with so much loss that it felt like my ribs were going to break from the pressure inside and my constant shaking sobs weren't helping.
A long while had obviously passed, what had been early evening was now becoming full night as I left the classroom with my father. Several people had come in from time to time mostly teachers I think, checking on what had happened. There was a congratulation party with soda and snack that I was supposed to go to and Dad informed me that he left our phone number on the wall along with the others if anyone wanted it. I listened as I slowly walked to the car but I wasn't able to really think past all the things that I could never do again with my mother. It was several slow shaky steps that almost had me on the ground sobbing again as I saw her car stopping to reach for the front passenger door instead of the usual backseat she wouldn't be driving me anywhere anymore either.
At home I threw myself on the bed not even bothering with the light. Dad came in a few minutes later flicking on the light and pulling off my shoes before he forced me to sit up. He was insistent until I finished a full glass of water and ate several pieces of cheese with some sliced baloney. He left the rest of the plate on my desk flicking off the light as he left leaving me sitting in the darkness.
The light slowly adjusted allowing some glow from outside to filter through the window and bring forth shapes and shadows. The darkness was easier for me it seemed releasing most of the grip that seemed to control me for the past few hours allowing me for the first time to truly realize that I had just passed the third tier. There were only two more years left of school before I would have to try and make something of my life. I had no clue what I wanted to do but for a moment I thought maybe I could take more classes and be a doctor or medical person. Would Mrs. Hoepins want me to work with her or maybe...
It was just to much my mind started to wander off again back to the past so I yanked off my shirt and pulled the covers back to get into bed. I didn't really realize I had fallen asleep until I was struggling out on my blankets desperate to get to the bathroom. My dreams had centered around a huge building with long hallways and rooms, the restroom sign always seeming to be down a ways or around the next corner.
I sighed and shivered with release trying to feel how much damage I had done to my underwear. I had nearly wet the bed leaking out enough urine to wet the front of my crotch and part of my pants as well. I was sure I heard a noise as I raced back to my room naked covering my privates with the dry back of my pants. I quickly turned on the light and dove for my dresser and a clean pair of undies pulling out some shorts as well. The clock on the wall over my desk told me it was just a few minutes after five a.m. As I walked to flick off the lights and push the door close I felt a thump through the floor and a noise. I waited seconds prickling with anxiety until my ears swiveled picking up what might have been a quiet moan that came from my parents room.
My heart stopped and my body froze. 'No please no, no please no.' my mind repeated over and over this could not be happening again. Besides the roar in my ears and the pounding in my chest my ears finally told me that there were still other noises and another jolt that seemed to radiate from the floor. The terror quickly faded but the fear and worry still remained leaving me with the need to know what was happening.
He could still be hurt or really need my help, I told myself as I opened my door and took the few steps into the hall. My hand was on the door now but for some reason I just couldn't seem to make myself turn the handle finally deciding on action I yanked, "Oh god, Lucy." I could hear the choked words. I had a split second trying to pull my hand back instead of pushing forward as my body was preparing to do.
The problem was my hand was slick allowing the knob to snap back loudly before I could really duck back out, "Ahh.. Ben." *Click * I waited several seconds before trying the handle again and opening the door enough to peek inside.
My dad was sitting on the far side of the bed looking straight at me. I really didn't see much more than an outline since the small table lamp was on behind him lighting up part of the room. "Come ..ere." His voice cracked as he called to me.
I could see when I finally turned the corner of the bed that his cheeks and muzzle were soaked from tears. He patted the bed next to him and I barely had time to sit down before he was crushing me. I only had slightly watery eyes as I tried to hold him back as he cried on my shoulder. There was only a few parts I could understand of what he was saying like he was sorry which he said several times and he squeezed me even tighter when he said 'God I love her.' It was hard for me to sit there but I knew that he needed me now and that I wasn't the only one in real pain. I know one thing I was glad of was that our guests had left a few days ago and we wouldn't be accidentally walked in on.
I was told later that it helps to share but right then I all I could think of was that I had to hold him because he wouldn't be able to hold on to me if I broke down. It took time for my dad to finally stop but after several dozen back pats and rubbing he finally let go. "I want.. I'm sorry. You can sleep here tonight." He finished speaking softly.
I was shocked in a way by the offer. I mean I couldn't even remember ever sleeping in my parents bed even though I had been teased about it when I was much younger. "Okay." I had no clue why I even said it but that did seem to make my dad give a weak smile as he picked a towel off the floor and started scrubbing his cheeks.
He gave me several looks as he tried to clean himself up before I realized he was waiting for me so I crawled across the bed pulling myself under the covers. Mom's side, my brain suddenly told me but there was no scent or indication at all that she had been here. Of course it had been what weeks since she had laid on this bed. I ended up on my side turned away from my father with my eyes closed waiting.
When he finally finished what ever he was doing there was a click from the lamp and he laid down pulling on the covers. "You can cry if you want to." he told me.
"I don't want to." Was my answer and at the moment it was the truth. Actually the real truth was I wanted to be back in my own bed. It was just starting to get bright in the room when I was finally sure dad had fallen asleep and I carefully pealed back the covers and left the room as quietly as possible.
Waiting hadn't been easy and I really wasn't tired so instead of heading to my room I went to the kitchen instead. With a little bit of time I had a full plate of crispy bacon and two eggs along with the left over cheese and baloney which I had retrieved from my room. I devoured it all leaving only what I had left behind on the stove for my father before I washed the few dishes and went back to my bedroom. With my nearly over full belly and the lazy Saturday morning light of my room I crawled back into bed and fell asleep in moments.
We basically slept half the Saturday away. I don't think my father got up till almost noon with me following behind a little later. He did spend a few hours in the garage before coming back in and showering while I watched television. The rest of the day we watched movies and ate a delivered pizza and popcorn.
Sunday was spent going through the store room since dad told me his plan was to totally clean up the house over the next two weeks before I started Borddon. We would toss anything really broken or useless that couldn't be given away. The rest would be packed up boxes of things we no longer used so they could be given away and hopefully move everything left to the garage. He also wanted me to go through my own closet and room and pack any clothes that I no longer wore.
"I'll buy you a few new sets of clothes for school and I also plan on selling the suburban." He explained several things, not that they were really new I had overheard several different people urging my dad to make a new start, some even suggesting moving.
"Are we going to move?" I finally asked.
"No!" There was not even a seconds hesitation. "Your mother and I had talked several times about cleaning things up. I think it's about time we did what she wanted right?" So we spent the day picking through boxes, moving things around, and pretty much getting dusty and dirty. Later in the afternoon he had me stop and ordered me to shower and clean up.
I took my time and as I headed to my room my father went into the bathroom behind me which I thought was weird because he had his own bathroom. Now there is one thing I can say, just laying naked on your bed with clean fluffy fur after a hot shower can leave you very relaxed.
I had just laid there at first doing nothing but after a while I was running my paws and claws through my clean fur tickling my belly and just enjoying the feeling. As my claws barely brushed my fur I ran my paw all the way down my body shivering as I crossed my waist and traced down my thigh. It was a tickly and pleasant feeling and at first I hadn't realized how pleasant until I brushed across my half erect penis. Well I am a male and I will admit I started to play with myself as I continued tickling and rubbing my belly.
The knock on the door nearly had me on the ceiling, claws desperately hooked holding on. I shot upright as I tried rolling away from the door getting one leg off the edge with my arm pressed to my privates trying to cover up as my father took a step into the room. "Ben... Hurry up and get dressed. Did you forget dinner?" He closed the door as he stepped back out.
I had expected, well something much different as my heart tried to return from its super sprint pace. It still took several seconds to register he was wearing a pair of nice slacks and a white dress shirt, Dinner? I was out several minutes later in a pair of nice pants and a shirt from the closet walking into the living room where dad seemed to be waiting.
His little head shake had be blushing harder than I had in years wondering if he was going to say something. I turned away as he stepped close and ruffled my ears, "There is a lock on the door. Come on let's go."
'That was it?' I wondered as we walked outside. I had made it to the car before seeing dad wasn't even close. It took a full sprint to catch up as he knocked on the door to Shelly's house.
"You did forget didn't you." I had no time to ponder as the door opened and she stood there inviting us inside. After the hellos Shelly told us that her father was in the kitchen and my dad left us alone.
"I'm sorry." I finally said after several moments of silence.
"Are you alright? Your dad said you weren't feeling well." There was definitely some concern in her voice and I was left trying to explain.
"I... well it was just that..." I wanted to tell her everything from saying sorry again to the fact that I hadn't been sick to asking to make sure she wasn't upset with me the problem was I just didn't know how to start. I guess I was far to familiar with arguments and didn't know enough about a real apology.
"It's fine." She told me guessing most of my problem.
"Shelly I am really sorry." Her head shake and again telling me it was okay made me start babbling it all out at once. "I didn't want to yell at you or make you go away. I didn't want to be alone...." I kept talking and explaining not just how I felt but everything that had happened that evening including how I felt about my mother and some of the things that I would have considered private. I had kept going telling her how I found my father crying but when I snapped my mouth shut she reached out and hugged me.
"If your feeling mad or upset just say so. And I know my dad woke me up sometimes too." She told me.
"I think that is enough Shelly." The gruff voice came from off to the side and sorta surprised both of us. I jumped half startled turning to find both our fathers standing there with my father so close that I was shocked I hadn't seen him and he was smirking at me.
"Dinner is ready." Mr. Thaner announced.
The table seemed crowded with four of us sitting there and the food and plates taking all the extra space. After things were passed around and everyone was served Mr. Thaner seemed to restart a conversation that they had already been discussing. "There isn't anything I can think of and like I said Ben had already decided on a gift to our family." I started across the table watching as she pulled up her sleeve and jingled the bracelet at me watching as I smiled in return.
"Well this isn't quite about that. I know none of our old clothes would do either of you any good but were cleaning a lot of things out of the house and garage. I 'm not going to bother with a yard sale we'll just donate everything. I just wanted to check if there was anything you might want or need before we get rid of it."
My fathers explanation seemed to be taken in but after a few bites all he said was, "I'll think about it." We talked, ate, and even had a little fun and when the meal was over my father proposed something. "This was a nice evening, we could do this every Sunday. Next time could be at our house."
I could feel Mr. Thaner's eyes as they darted my way, "I don't... Well every week is a bit much." I was a little surprised by his response.
"How about every two weeks. Ben is going to be starting Borddon the next morning. I'm sure he could use a good meal and friends before he starts." My father suggested.
I watched as his muzzle twitched a few times before he nodded and spoke. "Alright Shelly, Ben go ahead and put your dishes in the sink and see if there is something to watch." Mr. Thaner informed us.
I got up first and even though Shelly was closer I pushed past and stuck my dishes in the sink grinning as I turned back. She looked at me a second before reaching out to set her dish on the counter and with a smirk jumped back and ran out of the kitchen. It took a few seconds and by the time I reacted she was already to the doorway with me leaping to follow.
"BEN!!" My dad called as I turned the corner but it did nothing to stop my charge into the living room where Shelly caught my arm and pulled me in close for a hug. I was caught with a flash of memory staring at her muzzle and looking into her eyes. We were close enough to see how the fur laid across the edges of our noses and it was not even an inch that I needed to move to kiss her. Shelly pulled me just a little closer pressing our bodies together as well so I turned my neck so I could keep our lips touching.
It wasn't anything more than our noses pressed together but we stayed like that for several minutes until the clatter of some dishes pulled us apart. She had the biggest smile as we kept watching each other until she pulled on my arm and drew me towards the couch. Shelly literally shoved me down before going and turning on the T.V. and flipping a few channels before sitting down and snuggling in next to me.
By the time our parents came back in we still weren't really paying much attention to the show. Shelly was pressed to my chest hugging my waist and I was looking down petting her head and fiddling with her ears.
When dad sat down next to me I did look up and around seeing Mr. Thaner sitting down in a chair brought from the kitchen. No looks, no words, and again I almost felt like something was off. Shelly though did sit up and we all watched the rest of the program together along with the next one.
When it ended and dad suggested we head home Shelly gave me one more squeeze and I couldn't help trying to apologize once again. "It's alright Ben really. I mean, it did hurt when you said I didn't know what it was like but I do understand." We were outside when she pushed past her dad and stopped me on the stairs. "I don't care what anyone else says Ben. I love you."
"I, I love you too." I spit out sounding tactless but smiling anyway.
She just giggled and kissed my cheek turning to face her father, "I still have choices." She told him making me wonder what they were talking about.
Back home dad gestured me to step in first as I turned on the light his hands fell on my shoulders. "Do you really love her Ben?" I was given more than a few seconds thought before he added, "Think of it this way, if she died tomorrow how would you feel?"
Just those simple words shook me to my very center it was hard to even think as my dad just stood there waiting for me to answer. No Shelly, no best friend, no person who was willing to help me cope, but it was so much more than that we were doing more stuff together now but we had always done things together.
I tried to push away such feeling, and worry as dad began massaging my shoulders. "I would lose one of the few people who is important in my life." The words tumbled out as the simplest truth I could tell.
"Special?" His question came. It was hard to just stand there and I was blinking on tears so I just nodded not sure I could talk. My dad took a step so he could hug me from behind. "Good you should always treasure such people. I'm glad you apologized for whatever you did. It's always better to say your sorry than to keep quiet but remember one thing Ben. Just because you love someone doesn't mean they have to be a girlfriend okay. It's fine to just have a special close friend, you're young and you don't have to decide now."
"I have choices." I suddenly guessed the earlier meaning.
"Always. Remember in the kitchen when you said it didn't matter. Well your family will always press you and try to make sure you find a nice female feline, even me, so I am going to give yo some really good advice. It always matters but sometimes not making a decision is the best answer. You wanted to wait because it wasn't the right time so don't push things to hard. You have plenty of time." My dad let go walking away and leaving me with a great deal to think about.
Shelly was special, but even dad thinks I should be with a feline. I had choices, but sometimes not making a decision was the best option. I was trying to understand everything he had just told me. Yet the more I thought about it the more I realized that I did not want to lose Shelly. I wanted to be with her and she made me feel good. Maybe the decision had already been made, and if so I don't think anyone was going to be very happy with me.