Thursday, September 1, 2011

Chapter 2-1: Playing with Fire

                “Carrie, I don’t know how I can do this,” Shane said the next morning before breakfast.

                “Do what,” she asked.
                “Be in charge of this household. There are bills to pay, Tanner to raise, I still don’t have a job or school lined up for when I graduate which is…oh my God, Carrie, it’s next week! How am I supposed to manage,”?
                “Shane, listen to me. You’ve been managing just fine. Your mom left years ago. Tanner was what, not even 4 when she took that vacation? He’s almost 8 now. You’re doing great.”

                She reached for his hand and he sighed, realizing that she was right.

                “Carrie, I’m sorry. I know this is supposed to be a date. It’s just hard to believe that she has been gone that long. I mean, I was barely in high school but it feels like yesterday she said she’d be back in a few days. You know what, forget it, let’s get some food, I’m starved,” he exclaimed, pulling her into the bistro.

                Shane’s 18th birthday arrived in no time. The morning was gray and foggy, perfectly fitting for a young man about to embark upon adulthood with no guidance and too many responsibilities. He didn’t particularly want a party, but knew that it would be better to have one to continue with the fictitious normality that he was trying to hold on to for his brother. He decided an evening bonfire, to close out this chapter of his life would be most fitting.

                Shane stared into the fire, imagining what his life might have been like. Only 18 and he had already lost both parents and been left with raising a child who wasn’t his. He knew his mother had lost her parents young and his father had never known his real parents. Maybe the Avendale legacy was a destiny of orphans struggling to stay afloat.

                He snapped out of his musing to hear Carrie trying to teach Tanner how to roast marshmallows.
                “Just slide one onto the stick, like this, then stick it above the fire until it’s a golden…oops! Not like that,” she laughed. “Well, now I’ve shown you how not to do it”!
                He smiled inwardly. They’d been high school sweethearts all along and she still was by his side. He wasn’t quite sure what he would do without her.

               Finally, it was time to blow out his candles. What to wish for? He didn’t bother contemplating wishing for his mother’s return.

                He had at long last accepted her disappearance, for whatever reasons it had come about. He knew that money would make things easier but money wasn’t everything. Luck, well, Shane didn’t really believe in luck. His future would be earned through his struggles and hard work, not by chance. He decided that strength would be the way to go.

                He wished for the strength to always make the right decisions for his family. And then, as he aged into a young adult, without consciously seeking the thought, he immediately thought of the strength that could help get him through the difficult years ahead.

    “Tanner, let’s go! I’m already running late,” Shane said as he ran from the bathroom.
                “But me and Mr. Thistle are on a adventure,” Tanner whined back.
                “Mr. Thistle and I. And it’s an adventure,” Shane corrected.
                “Mr. Thistle and I are on an adventure. Not me and Mr. Thistle.”
                “Oh. Whatever.”
                “Tanner, the ceremony starts in 20 minutes. And the cab should be here now. Up!”

                They hopped in a cab and headed to over to City Hall for the commencement ceremony.

                As he stood on the steps, a slight wave of nostalgia hit Shane. “This is it. The day I leave my childhood behind.” Although, as Carrie had pointed out, he had been manning the family for years now, it still felt like this step was the official one. Once he graduated high school, he couldn’t think of himself as a child anymore. He had all kinds of plans he wanted for the future but how many would he be able to achieve looking after his brother and taking care of the household?

                He headed inside to hear the speech from the mayor, who congratulated them on a successful journey and prompted them to go and do great things. Somewhere in there, Shane thought he recognized a “vote for me” underlying message but he wasn’t paying too close attention.

                Finally it came time for the awards part of the ceremony.
                “And the valedictorian is...Shane Avendale!”
                Shane was speechless. He knew he had been on the honor roll and had straight A’s, but valedictorian? He never expected this. He got up from his chair to give a speech, one that he had not known to prepare for.

                “Class, as the Mayor said, we have accomplished great things. Some of us have succeeded in earning top spots in universities across SimNation. Some of us have had opportunities to travel the world and be ambassadors for Twinbrook. And some of us, some of us have been able to pull off legendary pranks that our grandchildren will be talking about, all without getting caught.”
                The audience chuckled but Shane could see the Mayor tense up a bit. His Rolls Royce had been egged and the perpetrator never discovered. He quickly moved on.

                “Yes, we have accomplished great things. So, how about tomorrow? We sit here today with an air of fulfillment, the kind of pride one only gets from achieving one’s goals on their own. However, it can certainly feel like an end and a bittersweet one. We are leaving childhood behind; leaving behind an innocence, a freeness that we will never recapture. I am sure all of you are feeling, to some degree, the same as I am; a sadness to be leaving this school and our friends behind as our future beckons us to do.

                So what about tomorrow? We have a duty to ourselves and each other to continue to do great things. Some of us have the ability to become great leaders while others have the ability to change the way science is thought of. Some of us will go on only to come back and teach future generations. Whatever the future holds for each of us, we are obligated to do our best to improve upon Twinbrook and our nation and make it better for our families yet to come.
                Remember, your dream is within your grasp. To my fellow graduates, I wish you all good luck for a bright and prosperous future. Congratulations!”

                He finished his speech and headed back to his seat. He could see the audience rising to their feet and cheering for him in the background. Thank heavens for the debate club!

                The principle of the school rose to pass out all of the superlatives as voted by the student body. Some were fairly easy to guess: Jeannie, of course, was the “Biggest Gossip” while Carrie, undoubtedly, received “Best Dressed”. Vivek Greenwood, the class rebel, got the “Best Excuses for Absences” with the best being that he forgot to get the Sunday paper off the porch, and when he found it Monday, he thought it was Sunday. Shane himself was voted as “Most Likely to Take Over the World”.

                After the ceremony, he exited the hall, thinking about his speech. It was true that he was leaving something behind and that there was a great responsibility to do well for his family. Nonetheless, a feeling a peace started to spread through him. He knew that he could do this. Knew that he would be able to accomplish something great, even if it meant making sure his little brother was raised well and made it to his own graduation.

                “Tanner, why don’t you head on home,” he told his brother as they left City Hall. “I’m going to stop by the hospital and see if I can get an internship or get into the fellowship program. No sense in you waiting around.”
                “Okay, good luck,” Tanner replied, waving before he headed to the bus stop.

                Shane changed out of his robes. Luckily, he had worn something formal enough to apply for an internship. He went into the hospital and met with the director there.

                “Sir, I’ve been interested in medicine and helping people since I was a child. I would love to have the opportunity to make a difference here.”
                “Well, I see you have no experience or credentials in medicine. But you seem to be a bright, ambitious kid and graduated top of your class,” he said.
                “Yes sir. Just graduated today actually,” Shane replied.
                “You can start tomorrow. You get a two week trial period. After that, we’ll see. But you’re not going to be doing glamorous work or stitching people up or anything like that. You will be an organ donor. We’re always in need of those,” the director said with a sly smile.
                “Um, sir? Don’t I need my organs,” Shane asked.
                “First order of business son is learning what is essential and what is just extra cargo. And that extra cargo can be given to someone, at a pretty high price, who doesn’t know the difference. See you tomorrow.”
                “Um, yes, thank you sir”.

                Shane called Tanner and announced the good news, leaving his title out, and asked if he wanted to meet him at the diner.
                ‘Sure! I’m at the pool anyway.”
                “I thought you were going home,” Shane asked.
                “I did, but I got bored so I went to the pool. See you in a few minutes”.
                They ate dinner and stayed around to chat and play football for awhile.

                When they finally headed home, they quickly realized something was wrong. The neighbors were congregated around the house and there was a distinct smell of smoke in the air. Tanner took of running towards the house.

                “No! You can’t go in there,” Shane exclaimed, pulling him back from the fire.
                “But Mr. Thistle and my teddy. Mom gave me those,” Tanner cried out.
                “We’ll just have to see if they make it.”

                Shane ran in, real quick, to check the damage and called the fire department. He knew it would take someone professional to put this out. When they arrived, Tanner slipped through his grasp and ran into the house.

                “Tanner,” Shane screamed but he didn’t want to go in and make things even more hectic for the firefighters.
                “Shit, what’s a kid doing in here,” one of the men exclaimed.

                Finally, the fire was put out. Thankfully, no one was hurt.
                “Sir, are you the owner,” the firefighter asked.
                “Yes, I am. What happened?”
                “It appears that the stove was left on. It caused a gas explosion, though compared to some of the ones I’ve seen, this was minor. You can put in a claim with insurance but I’m sorry to tell you that the house is unstable. The heat damaged a lot of the inner support beams. I recommend getting a hotel or staying with a friend until you can rebuild.”
                “I’m sorry sir. Please be more careful next time,” and with that, the fire department left.

                 How was Shane going to be able to rebuild the entire house, on the salary of an organ donor?

Chapter 1.13                                                                                                                                           Chapter 2.2


  1. For a moment there I thought tanner was gonna get killed......

    But then again, you didn't mentioned he survived either.....

  2. This family is cursed. I'm sure of it. Poor kids...and where the hell is Rebecca? I feel so bad for Shane. This is way too much to handle for a newly graduated young adult.

  3. I LOVED that Justin's ghost showed up for the fire!
    But, your poor family, does anything ever go right for them?

    1. It sure seems that nothing good happens, doesn't it?

    2. It sure seems that nothing good happens, doesn't it?

  4. I would like to think that Justin somehow protected Tanner, but Justin seemed just as afraid of the fire ^_^
    They need a break :(

  5. What about that other baby, there were 3 kids right?