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

Page 9


“You can do and say whatever you want, Prep,” King responded, in a surprisingly calm tone. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one confused by his newfound zen attitude because Doe looked just as confused as I did. Then King smiled and it was then I KNEW something wasn’t right.
Or maybe things have changed more than they’ve let on...
“Uh...I can?” I asked, my knees cracking as they began to work again. Slowly I shook the leg out and muscle memory took over I was able to take a few small steps. “What’s the catch?”
“You can talk as much shit as you want to me as long as you’re prepared to be dead again,” he said, pulling Doe tightly into his side. “For real this time.”
I scowled. “You’re not a friend. You’re a monster!” I cried dramatically, taking larger and larger steps as I crossed the room. Suddenly, while doing my Preppy shuffle across the pink carpet, I was hit with a flash of memory.
My hands around a throat. Feminine screaming. Flashes of dark hair.
I paused.
“Was anyone else here besides you guys? When I woke up or maybe even before?” I asked.
“Were you expecting someone?” King asked.
“No, but I’ve just got this weird feeling...” I trailed off, staring at the shade of bubblegum pink on the wall. Although it was now pink, it used to be blue. My old room. The room where I broke down and wrapped my hands around Doc’s throat. It must have just been a memory. A distorted one, but a memory at that. “Never mind. I think my brain is still misfiring.”
Doe sat the clothes down on the bed.
“We’ll be in the living room when you’re done. You need help down the stairs?” King asked.
“Fuck off,” I said, giving him the middle finger, which he returned.
“Welcome home, motherfucker,” he grumbled, unable to hide his smile. It was like our version of hugging it out.
I love that big mean bastard.
I stared down at the clothes on the bed. A pressed white shirt, khakis, matching pink and yellow suspenders, and bow tie. It was my usual pre Narnia attire. I ran my hand down the soft clean fabric but when I picked up the shirt from the pile I dropped it back onto the bed as if it stung my hand. I pushed the suspenders and bow tie off the pile and rummaged underneath, opting for a pair of grey sweatpants and plain white t-shirt on the bottom of the stack.
I made my way out into the living room, holding onto the railing as I slowly descended the steps, each one becoming easier and easier as my muscles adjusted to the feeling of walking and I remembered how to put one foot in front of the other again.
Voices speaking in hushed tones stopped me before I turned the corner.
“I don’t know why we lied to him, that was stupid,” Doe said.
I could hear the guilt in King’s voice when he responded. “What were we supposed to say? Yeah, Prep, you had a visitor while you were in a coma, and by the way, I don’t know who that girl is to you, but you woke up in a panic, almost strangled her to death, and you called her your wife. Also, you kind of freaked the fuck out on Bear and we’re guessing it’s because he looks so much like his psycho old man so he’s decided not to come around so you don’t flip your shit and try to kill him again?”
My entire body stiffened.
She WAS here.
King sighed heavily. I peeked around the corner and his head was in his hands. Doe was rubbing his back, sitting on the armrest of the couch. The two kids were sitting at the table off to the side, picking the crust off their sandwiches and throwing them at one another.
“I know it’s hard, but we have to tell him the truth. He deserves that much. We’re his family. We can’t lie to him.”
“As his family it’s our job to protect him, so we can’t just dump all this shit onto shoulders at once either,” King said. “He’s already been through too fucking much. I just wish I would have known where he was. He was so close the entire fucking time. So fucking close...” King’s voice trailed off.
I stepped out into the living room, ready to tell him that it wasn’t his fault and he shouldn’t blame himself for not knowing where I was when I real
She WAS really there.
Neither King nor Doe saw me limping into the room. King continued. “I mean, this shits, fucked up. How the hell are we supposed to tell him that Grace died?”
It was the shock shooting through my system that made me walk right into the coffee table and make myself known.
“Shit,” King swore. He stood up and came toward me. I held up my hands and took a step back.
“We didn’t mean for you to find out...” He started, running a frustrated hand over his hair. “It’s my fucking fault.”
“No, No,” I said, waving them off and trying to keep down the bile rising in my throat. My legs again grew shaky but I stood straighter, not wanting to make them feel worse by breaking down in front of them. “You guys have nothing to feel guilty about. Grace was sick right? For a long time. I mean, I kind of already figured,” I lied. I was positive Grace would outlive the cockroaches of the apocalypse. She could have been run over by a mac truck and I would’ve put money on the truck having more damage than her.
I turned back toward my room. Or what USED to be my room. “I’m just gonna go take a shower,” I said heading back up the stairs.
“Preppy, wait,” King called out but I kept going.
“He needs some time,” Doe said.
With each step back to my room the threat of losing my shit grew greater and greater. It wasn’t until I was behind the closed door when I let the tears fall.
And fall they did.
I cried for the loss of Grace, my mother in all ways except blood. The mother who never let me down. The woman who would let me have it when I’d done something she didn’t approve of, but who wasn’t judgmental. She loved me for me. She loved all my crazy.
She never tried to change me.
I never even got to say good-bye.
I eventually made my way into the shower, spending several minutes under the water long after it turned cold. When I finally dragged myself out I went to take a piss and caught a glimpse of my reflection out of the corner of my eye. I turned toward the mirror and faced someone I hadn’t seen in a very long fucking time. Someone I used to like looking at.
A lot.
I wasn’t fucking stupid. I knew that after the shit I’d been through that I wouldn’t exactly be GQ material.