Preppy: The Life & Death of Samuel Clearwater, Part Two

Page 3


I guess it was a good thing the world went on, because if it paused to match what was going around inside of me, it would’ve looked a lot less like blue sky and bicycles, and a lot more like zombie and apocalypse.
Focus, Dre, I chastised myself. You have to focus. For dad.
“Hey, Dre, are you in there?” Brandon asked, waving his hand an inch in front of my face. “You totally zoned out on me.”
I slapped it away, and he laughed. “Sorry, I’m a little preoccupied.”
“We don’t have to do this today,” Brandon said. “It sounded like what happened was rough. Anyone would be struggling right now; you don’t have to...”
“No, I need to do this. I need to do something to occupy my mind, or I’ll go crazy wondering about...” I paused, bouncing from foot to foot.
“Him,” Brandon finished for me. He always knew what I was about to say and never let me get away with my instinct to keep things bottled up inside. “You’re wondering where you go from here, right? Now that he’s alive?” There was no judgment in his voice. Only concern.
I shook my head. “No, I mean, Yes?”
Brandon rolled his eyes and turned me by the shoulders to face him. He waved his fingers in a ‘hit me with it’ motion, and I knew he meant for me to continue because it was what he always did when I was stubborn with my words. I took a deep breath. “I thought that yes, I don’t know where to go from here, but the truth is that I don’t know if he’s going to recover just yet, the doctors don’t even know. So a part of me doesn’t want to think of him as alive just yet because it could all change again...” my voice cracked, and my eyes fell to the gravel.
“Hey, look up here,” Brandon said, taking my chin and directing my gaze back up at him. “Keep going.”
“And even if he does...” I cleared my throat. “Survive? It doesn’t change anything. He still drove me away. He still said things and did things to purposely hurt me, because he didn’t want me.”
“But he did want you. He wrote you that letter, and that was years after you left.”
“Yes, but that was still a year ago now. And Preppy's been through god knows what life-changing situation. And even if all of that wasn’t a factor, there is still one gigantic reason why we both know it wouldn't end with roses and sunshine, so can we please get back to talking about the house now?” I asked. Smiling in a ridiculously awkward way that exposed both my upper and lower teeth and made my face look like it got caught in a wind tunnel.
“Fine, but this isn’t over, we're still going to talk about it,” Brandon said, pinching my cheek to turn my face back to normal.
"Promise?" I asked, sarcastically.
"Smart ass," he mumbled. Brandon tipped his chin to the house. “You know, your dad didn’t ask you to do this,” he pointed out. “And I’m pretty sure he’d be pissed if he found out.”
“Well then, we won’t tell him now will we?”
“I thought part of your NA thing was no lies.”
“It’s not like I’m telling him I’m taking his car for a ride to the mall when in reality I'm planning to trade it to a chop-shop for a day’s worth of dope. It's not like I'm even lying; I’m simply omitting the truth for his benefit, not to his detriment.”
"Whatever lets you sleep at night," Brandon said, rolling his eyes dramatically. He pushed the sleeves of his button-down shirt up his forearms arms. “Be sure to run it by your sponsor, Andrea. I think she'll have something to say about the logic you've concocted on that one."
“You leave Edna out of this,” I jokingly warned, wagging my finger at him.
I shielded my eyes from the sun as I turned from Brandon to look up lovingly up at someone else I love. Someone much older, showing a lot more wear-and-tear.
Mirna’s house.
And because Preppy stuck to his word, MY house.
My heart skipped a beat like I was on a first date. Immediately, I spotted the lines on the front porch post where my grandfather used to mark my height as a kid, and the crooked light on the side of the house that became that way when I was testing out an archery set my grandma had gotten me for my birthday one year. I even loved the way all the trees in the front of the house leaned to the left, the result of a hurricane that hit the summer I was nine. My old friend was in need of some repair, having sat neglected for a few years, but she was still beautiful to me. She always would be.
Even if she won’t be mine for much longer.
The step on the porch, the one I'd fixed before, was warped again. This time it was the other side curving upwards in a wing-like position as if it was about to take flight. The roof had lost a lot of shingles, leaving blotchy patches of faded tar paper peeking out from underneath.
The entire house was like another character in the story of my life.
An important one.
All through rehab, getting my GED, going to the local community college, I’d always had this idea. A plan to move to Logan’s Beach permanently after I graduated. I’d fix up the house and make it a place I could be proud of in a town that I could never quite shake.
For better or worse, Logan’s Beach was a part of me.
A place where my life almost ended, and where it almost just began.
However, if I’d learned anything about life post-rehab, it’s that plans change, and you must learn to adapt. First order of adjusting: Sell the house to help dad.
“You’ve always talked about how much you love this place,” Brandon said with his nose wrinkled as he looked it over, like he couldn’t understand the appeal in a shaggy old cottage on a forgotten road in the middle of a little town with two street lights and three stop signs.
“I do love this place,” I argued. “But I love my dad more. Selling it is the least I can do for him.”
“Dre, it’s not your fault that his business isn’t doing great,” Brandon pointed out. “He owns a bookstore when the world has shifted to buying books online through Bookazon dot com.”
“I know, but it IS my fault he took out a second mortgage to send me to rehab and a personal loan to send me to school. He brought Mirna up to live by us in a facility that cost a lot more and took on all of her expenses because I wanted to be close to her in her final days. It’s because of me that he’s swimming in debt. I may not be the reason his business is failing, but I AM the reason he’s losing his house,” I said choking up when I thought about all the pain my addiction and my lies and my lack of giving a shit had caused him through the years.