Adventures of Aiden
I clamber downstairs, almost losing my footing halfway down. This ain't good. The last thing I want is to talk to my crazy mom. Mrs. Greene sees me lose the battle with the steps and chuckles a little bit. ``Aiden, honey, careful.''
``Sorry,'' I say as I make my way to the kitchen. ``Do I have to talk to her?''
Mrs. Greene smothers the speaker on the phone with her paw. ``She can hear you, you know,' she says with a hint of malice in her hushed tone.
``Ah, I see.'' Looks like my chances of getting out of this predicament are zip. ``I guess I'll chat with her for a bit...'' I say, gloom and doom oozing out my vocal cords.
My new mom purses her lips, sighs, and then hands me the phone, a sense of defeat in her slumping posture.
I put the phone up to my ear, a slight frown on my muzzle, the blankest stare in my dull eyes. ``Hello,'' I say.
``Oh, Aiden, is that you? Mommy doesn't have a lot of time, here.''
She breathes a sigh of relief. ``Ok, that's good. Listen, and listen well, I'm sorry for acting the way I did. But you wanna know something?''
``This is your fault, you know. You called the cops on me. You made me this way. If you hadn't disobeyed-''
``Shut up!'' I yell at the phone, momentarily lifting it away from my ear to scream at her. I put it back to my ear. ``Save it. I don't care anymore. You've done enough to fuck up my life.''
I can hear her sniffling on the other end. I don't give enough fucks right now to care.
``I... I love you,'' she mutters.
``Honey? I love you,'' she repeats in a blunt tone.
I don't respond; I only listen as light sobs begin to sound from the speaker. I hang up.
Handing the phone back to Mrs. Greene, a blank expression on my face, I head back up to the bathroom to get ready for bed. I'm too tired to deal with this shit. Back in the room, I'm not in the mood to do anything with either Alex or Milo, so I go to bed early, drawing the attention of both of them. I bet they're concerned, but I really want some sleep.
The next morning we work. We move all the boxes and furniture from the mover truck and into the attic, where I'll be staying for the time being. Or maybe, this'll be my room from now on, I don't know, it's not very pleasant up here. Two diagonal roofs, one window at the end of the room, creaky floorboards, dust everywhere, hardly any lighting and it's old to boot, and probably some rats and other critters as well. Sounds fan-tastic. With a little remodeling I can make this work, but at the moment, we just have all these boxes up here. Trying to fit my bed frame up into this little hole wouldn't really work, so they had given me just my mattress, dresser, and toy box, among other miscellaneous items. At least I have my DS Lite, my own Wii, and the respective games for both systems. I have school tomorrow, too. What joy. I'm sure I'll get a bill from the Principal about those uniforms soon. My drive to deal with any of this is just nonexistent, I desire to just plop down on my unmade mattress and lie there for all eternity, but I know that's not productive at all. It's not good for my mental or physical health, and yet it's so tempting. Like Milo with his damn cheese. Before I make the decision, though, I hear foot paws coming up the ladder. I glance back and find Milo and Alex poking their heads into the room. Honestly, they both look adorable, peeking out like that all stealthy and whatnot. Regardless, they're on a mission, and they crawl up to greet me.
``Hey, Aiden, how's the work in your new room coming along?'' Milo asks, walking toward me.
I shrug. ``It's going, I guess.''
Alex smirks. ``Heh, you still got a shit ton of work to do.''
``Thanks. I can see that.''
A silence falls between us. I sit on my mattress and sigh. All my energy feels like it's being slowly sapped away. Why am I not happy...?
``Aiden, you alright there?'' Milo asks, coming over to sit next to me.
I was never good at hiding how I truly feel. ``I'm grateful for this, I really am, but something just doesn't feel right...''
``Yay, random venting. See ya guys later, I'm out and away from this vulnerable bullshit.'' Alex climbs down the ladder and leaves Milo and I to our lonesome.
``What doesn't feel right, Aiden?'' Milo asks, putting a paw on my forearm.
I sigh. To say or not to say this... ``I... I was a jerk to my mom. I have a new home, but it's putting a burden on you guys. I don't even know what's going to happen at school tomorrow.''
Milo hands me a faint smile, looking directly into my eyes. ``Aiden... my parents wouldn't have made the decision if they couldn't have handled it. And, your mom was way worse to you than you were to her. She treated and loved you in all the wrong ways. What are you worried about with school by the way?''
I look away from him. ``I think you're right about a few things, but I swear, they must really not want me here. I'm living in an attic, they had to discuss all night about whether to take me in or not, and I've already gotten a stab from them about this whole adoption thing. I'm worried about the club, the principal is probably going to shut it down.''
``I know, I know, but this was such short notice that they had to discuss and plan it out a bit. Also, the stab was probably a joke, but you just took it seriously as usual, Aiden.'' He chuckles. ``The club is the least of our worries, we can have adventures elsewhere and in another way during recess.'' He smiles.
I hardly crack a smile. ``I guess... Listen, I appreciate you trying to help me and all, but I really just want to be alone for a bit.''
Milo frowns as I say that. ``But I don't want to leave you alone...''
I clench a chunk of my mattress with my paw. Taking a deep breath, I reply, ``Milo,'' I breathe out, ``I understand you don't like seeing me like this, but if you don't leave right this second, I will not be happy. I will be mad. Got that?'' My gaze toward him is fierce, a glint of the mid-afternoon sun in my blue eyes.
He gulps. ``Alright, then.'' The mouse gets up. ``Don't do anything stupid.'' Milo walks off, stomping his foot paws against the rickety floorboards as he exits.
I sigh again. ``Fuck...'' I'm such an asshole.
I lie on my bed for a while, just ruminating, thinking of how I treated Milo, if I broke our friendship, my mom, everything. The world is in my thoughts right now. What do I do with my mom? Do I forgive her? Can I still love her? What about this new life situation? Will I eventually be loved by my new parents, or will they just continue to stab at me with their adopting me being a mistake? I don't know. I can't tell the future, only the present. Putting my paws on my eyes and groaning, I sit up. I need to go apologize to Milo. That should be the first thing.
After ruminating for some time, there has to be a moment where I take action, if I do not take initiative and move, then all that energy will continue to be wasted on my mind wandering, alone. I swivel my foot paws to dangle them off the side of my mattress, and then I realize: there's hardly any height for them to hang off of, and so, feeling silly, I stand up and stretch. My body feels so heavy, as if the gravity holding the earth in orbit is double strength right now. But I need to move. Need to apologize. I make my way downstairs, first climbing down the ladder then the staircase, both relatively small feats for what's to come.
What time is it? I go to the kitchen and check the clock up on the wall. 4 o' clock. Almost dinner time. Where would Milo be? I walk over to the living room, hoping to see the mouse snacking on some chips and watching his favorite show. The tv is on, but nobody is sitting on the brown leather couch. I head back to the kitchen when I hear some clunking coming from what I presume is the fridge. Target acquired. I sneak in and surprise whoever is rummaging through the refrigerator.
``Boo!'' I yell, jutting my paws out at them while stepping away from my hiding spot simultaneously.
The mouse lets out a high-pitched squeal. ``Aiden, what the hell?! You scared me!'' Milo had been holding a carton of yogurt and a spoon, both of which had now dropped to the floor, creating a loud thunk and clank sound, respectively. After a few seconds, he took a deep breath, recomposed himself. ``Feeling better, I see?' he says with his usual giddy smile.
``Better, now that I found you,'' I say, trying to be serious. ``I need to apologize.''
Milo closes the fridge. ``Alright, Mom is upstairs in her room doing work on her computer, Dad is at work, as usual. Where do you want to apologize? Here or somewhere even more private?''
I shrug. ``This is pretty private, it's like a big deal or anything, you know?''
He nods. ``Right, right. Well, get on with it, Mr. I'm Depressed.'' Milo motions for me to start apologizing, twirling his paw at me with raised eyebrows.
I twiddle with my paws. ``Okay, well, um, I'm sorry for being a dick to you. I'm not in the best of headspaces, so... I'd appreciate it if you please be patient with me.''
He smiles. ``Okay!'' Milo then walks off to the living room and plops down on the couch. ``My favorite show is on! Get over here and watch!''
``Okay,'' I say with a laugh.
We sit down on the couch and laugh at some Tom and Jerry for a good half hour. Afterward, the show changed: it was still a good show, Drake & Josh, but not his favorite. I want to keep watching, seeing as this was a really good episode that I liked, but Milo has other plans in mind. He turns to me, seriousness written all over his face. ``Aiden,'' he says, ``I'd like you to go visit your mother.''
I tilt my head, furrowing my brows. ``What?''
``It'll be nice for closure.''
I huff and shake me head. ``I don't need closure. I don't want to see her.''
He sighs, his muzzle twitches. ``Okay, I think you need it, because obviously you're very distraught right now over everything happening, and I figured it would help.''
I groan with my mouth closed. ``It won't. Why do you think seeing the person I despise so much right would help me feel better?''
``You get to ask questions.''
``I don't have any, and I don't care why she's that way. I don't want to associate with her any longer.''
Milo gets up from the couch. ``If you say so. Enjoy Drake & Josh.'' He walks out of the living room, brushing past my legs hanging off the end of the cushion. I can sense a hint of malice in his words. He's not happy with my decision. I curl up, gripping my legs tight to my chest and sigh. Resting the bottom of my muzzle on the nook between my two knees, I continue to watch my show in silence.
Mrs. Greene comes down the stairs, laptop open in her hands, and sees me on the couch, curled up in a little ball. Immediately, she quickens her pace and stands in front of me, putting the laptop down on the couch. ``Aiden, you don't look alright. Something wrong?''
I sigh. Yay, more talking and venting to people about my problems. Taking a deep, shaky breath, I say, ``I need to see my mother. Take me.''
What did I get myself into...? My new mom and I are driving over to the Jail now, and since the authorities still haven't taken her to trial yet, she's still waiting in the coop before she likely gets slapped with a heavy prison sentence. It's visiting hours. Lucky me. I scowl, resting my paw under my muzzle as I gaze out the window from the passenger's seat. The drive isn't really close to my new house nor my old one, about a half hour, and the drive... without a cellphone or handheld is quite the long one in my opinion. Needless to say, we arrive in front of the barbed wire fence and giant fenced gate. The brick building, long and dull, draws near, looming over us as if it was some haunted house. We park and walk in, some guards at their posts opening the gate for us as they hand us visitor passes.
Heading through the entrance courtyard, we enter the building and sign in at the front desk. The interior is dreary. Muddled grey walls and not a potted plant in sight, plastic, dark blue chairs line the walls and the middle of the check-in area giving the place a cheapy feel. There were only a few other furs in the waiting room: concerned parents visiting their kids, maybe a brother or sister or uncle, or perhaps, a friend wanting to see his bud. I don't know their stories, nor do I intend to find them out now. At the front desk, the lady purple hippo with her lips smothered in red lipstick calls us back to a door next to the desk, probably leading straight to the visiting area. As we walk behind this lady, I watch her large hips and body sway side to side out of curiosity, and then I realize that it's rude and look parallel with the ground. We head down a white hallway with crappy lighting making it look murky, and at the end there's a dark blue metal door with a square glass window in the middle. It had a black repeating diamond pattern over it. The hippo opens the door, and we walk in. I scan the crowd amongst the white round tables dispersed throughout the room. My eyes spot my old mom in the far right corner in the room. Great, I have to walk all the way over there while she stares at me and my new mom.
The other visitors in the room, dressed far better than the detainees here who are in basic bland tan v-neck shirts and pants, talk in a quiet chatter with their prisoner as I pass by them. The whole room smells of awkward conversation and intensity, basically, sweat and over-compensated hygiene mixing together. It is not a pleasant smell to my nose. Grimacing, I notice my old mom staring me down as Mrs. Greene and I are halfway to her. Of course, I didn't want to take my sweet time walking up to her, but my new mom is quite slow, taking this whole weird scene in with stride. Maybe she's just afraid people will judge her or look at her funny if she had walked faster. I don't know, and it's the last thing on my mind right now, because I am now at her table. I don't wave; I don't smile. Taking a seat beside Mrs. Greene, I fold my paws together and lean in, resting my elbows on the cold countertop.
``Hey,'' I say.
``Hi,'' she responds. ``I see you brought Mrs. Greene with you.''
I purse my lips. ``Yeah, she's my new mom.''
Her eyes widen, a bit of shock sprinkle on her features for a second then vanish. ``Step Mom, you mean.''
``Hm?'' I tilt my head, furrow my brows.
``She's your StepMother. I am your real mother.''
So that's what she's called. I had no idea. ``You were hardly a real mother to me.''
``Aiden,'' Mrs. Greene whispers to me, ``not so harsh, please.''
I grimace and groan. ``Like I was saying, you hardly treated me as if you were my real mother. Mom's don't abuse their children.''
Her face shows a new level of apathy. No reaction. My old mom just stares blankly at me. After a moment's silence, she replies in a meek manner, ``I was protecting you.''
I nod, rolling my eyes. ``From what? The world? You know I have to eventually experience reality as it is, right?''
She sighs, finally expressing some emotion. ``You're twelve years old, Aiden. Reality is far out of reach for you right now. What's the harm in making sure you're safe, protected?''
I gulp, my paws begin to shake. ``The harm is exactly what happened two years ago. My dad left us `cause of you, and now I'm leaving you. How does that make you feel?''
More silence. She glances away, puts a paw to her mouth, slightly m=covering her muzzle. ``It hurts.''
I scoff. ``I bet it does,'' I say, with a bit more scorn than intended. ``You went out of control, made my life hell, and now you're paying the price.''
Mrs. Greene shifts around in her seat; I bet this confrontation isn't exactly making her the most comfortable person in the world right now.
``My trial is in a few days. I'll get my sentence soon.''
``It'd better be a shit-ton.''
``Aiden!'' Mrs. Greene snatches my arm and squeezes, hard. ``That's enough. I do not approve of this behavior from you, young man.''
My ears droop, but my face holds firm as I look my stepmom in the eyes. ``I'm sorry, Mrs. Greene.''
Out of the corner of my eye, I see my old mom smirking at me. I literally feel that damn look burning my insides. I can't get angry, though, not right now, that's what she wants, not what my stepmom needs.
``Heh, you don't even call her `Mom'' yet, how very sad and very telling.''
I growl, clenching my paws together. ``Let's go, Mrs. Greene.'' I push the crappy chair back, nearly tipping it over, and stand up, paws still placed firm on the table.
We leave, and I swear that I don't want to go back there ever again. BUt I already know what'll end up happening: I will have to go no matter what.
We head home, and Mrs. Greene begins preparations for another non-dairy dinner. Alex had left by the time I got back, Milo telling me that the cat had ``things needed to be done'' which I know is bullshit. But that's alright, I'm in no mood to really deal with anyone at the moment. I enter the kitchen and notice my stepmom's silence immediately. Is she shunning me? Mad at me? Maybe, or perhaps she's just exhausted from today. Smelling the shrimp being cooked and the watching the avocado salad being tossed, I know dinner is almost ready. Ten minutes max. I wonder what Milo's up to. My ears twitch as the sound of a random cartoon is heard from the tv in the living room. When a cartoon is on, Milo is usually on the couch enjoying it. Joining him to watch some Spongebob episode, we both await the dinner about to be served. I had trouble wolfing the meal down. Shrimp is fine, but the avocado salad was an eyesore to look at and digest. Mrs. Greene had noticed I didn't finish either meal, and the proportion which I ate the most of was the shrimp. We didn't really talk much while eating, especially Mrs. Greene and I to each other. There was some mild conversation here and there, but overall, it had felt really awkward.
After dinner, bed calls my name. Milo and do our hygiene, and afterward, I climb up the ladder to the attic, saying ``good night'' to Milo as I do. My room still has some boxes left, but the main stuff has been all laid and good to go. Never has my bed looked more inviting than it does now. I got a headache, and I definitely think I should sleep on it. School is tomorrow.
The principal calls me to his office during homeroom, and I've been given my Saturday Detention this week and the amount either my stepmom or old mom has to pay. It's a lot. Well over $500 dollars worth of uniforms spanning these past couple years. Luckily, Milo and I hadn't gone adventuring in the woods until fifth grade, otherwise, I'd be screwed with an even bigger bill. The principal also had told me that the Adventure Club would be disbanded, but I was welcome to try creating an official club that would be safer for students. I might do that, and I already have some great ideas. On a side note, I've realized something: even though I can't go in the woods anymore, my life is adventure enough for me.