Sundays are dreaded: I’m pale, tired, and have an angry little man who goes by Coleman inside my head throwing a tantrum. Reason number 2 Sundays are dreaded, it’s family day, and my well rested parents visit me with ammunition of verbal diarrhea consisting of real world questions. They park out front and greet the pleasant guards. Once inside, they undress from their outer layers in front of them, passing off their garments to be stored. The guards inquire about their drive here and if they would like a glass of chilled seltzer water. The idea of mentioning tap is unfathomable. With seltzer in their hands they take slow strides nearly dragging their feet down the carpeted corridor. Unable to hear my mother’s heels click-clacking towards me, the silent moment intensifies and makes the air weigh down, forcing the febreeze to leave out my window into a better world. It must have not heard me call out after it, to take me along.
My mother reaches for the door knob and quickly pulls her hand back; she’s been shocked. She’s been shocked all four years I’ve been here. My father takes a risk and reaches forward. He pushes through the barrier of our generations. I stand away from the windows and remember the “duck and cover” safety rules I learned as a kid.
“Toby, how are ya?”
My father starts off the conversation; questions and answers about my future being wasted are pinged and ponged as they stand and I sit on my bed. Coleman bangs harder for attention. I massage my temples to subside his temper. He’s a fighter that Coleman so I massage with more force forgetting about my parents statuesque presence. Until I feel my mother’s hand help with Coleman’s temper. It works and for a few minutes he’s gone. My mother in an artificial tone asks me, “you okay Tobes?”
I nod my head as a signal for SOS. It didn’t work, and they go on with their hee-hawing of my future.
“We’re just a little concerned. Employers may not like a transcript such as yours. All that time off shows a lack of responsibility. We’re considering not paying for any of your future expeditions”
Just then outside my window, the swift wind knocks one of my green leafy friends from my fire escape to her death. I gasp; my spider plant has just begun living her life. I don’t want to think about the damage. My mother in amazement notices my garden of escape; undersized plants amongst the larger plants living on the fire escape. She slowly opens the window and starts to bring in the dainty plants unable to stay put in their homemade vases of PBRs. “I will ship over some heavier vases for you to put the young ones in to prevent any future tragedies.”
My mother hurriedly shuts the window closed, shutting me out with it once more. She looks at her polished thin silver wrist watch. “We have some dinner arrangements”, she gives me a horrible excuse of a hug, and our distant relationship with each other becomes literal. Making her way towards the door she stops and quickly glances over my floor to ceiling mural, I’ve been working on it for years now and each time she sees it I get the same reaction. Disgust.
My father following her lead gives me a firm handshake. He stops at my mural and looks for the latest additions of photographs from faraway places and exotic faces of girls’ with uncommon names. He takes his time inspecting the fresh additions of vivid colors. He stops at the portrait of a girl named Mel. Her country code, 506, and number is written on the photograph. Still looking at the picture, he asks me “Do you ever miss any of these girls?”
Taken aback I answer. “Yeah, sometimes when it’s too bland around here.”
He turns to me, his face a lot softer and genuine. My mother calls for him from the living room. Ignoring her plead to leave my cave of irresponsibility, he focuses on me. “You should take a trip to Puerto Rico and tell me about it. I don’t have any stories to tell, but I wouldn’t mind hearing yours.” I agree by nodding my head. He starts to head out and I grab his arm, now a deflation of muscle mass and tear off a photograph of me surrounded by a sea of incredible tall greens and hand it to him. He secretly puts it away in his brown leather wallet. “I’ll let you know how Puerto Rico goes”.
He leaves my room and almost closes the door shut. Through the small gap I hear my parents say their farewells to Sheena and Jana, my roommates. In return they wish them a traffic free ride handing them their jackets. Outside their engine starts up and drives away from here.
It’s quiet again and Coleman has for once stopped banging at my head. It’s great, now I can look for the fallen plant and see if I can resuscitate her.
short story for class that i shat out in 35 minutes. within those 35 minutes i was planning my springbreak with toby, and toby is nothing like this "toby". neither is jana or sheena, like "jana" or "sheena". just borrowed a name is all. are we clear on that?