Chapter Nine: WarningA Chapter by Joshua Donahue
Forbidden. Evan has now faced the first barrier of his relationship with Summer. And although he is trying to forget that terrible night, Evan must catch a ride home with Luke and things get weird.
BY: J O S H U A D O N A H U E
Life was good. Well, it wasn’t perfect “perfect”, but it was close enough. I was now adjusting to Hale, I had friends who were the best (and whom also badgered me with a million questions about me and Summer like I was on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire or something), and last but not least, I had Summer. I wasn’t entirely sure what we were, but I at least knew we were more than strangers. She was great. Of course, my stomach floated as if it was stuck in space, my heart raced like it was in the Olympics, and my brain froze like it was still in defrost mode whenever I found myself jammed by her presence, but I was getting better. I felt at ease with her. When I was with her, practically all of my attention was focused on her. She was my center, but I wasn’t certain if that was a good thing or a bad thing yet.
Nonetheless, my mind still strayed back to when she indicated that she might be moving or something by saying that we had only a couple of days to be friends. Did that mean she only wanted to be friends, or did it just prove that she cared enough to want to at least get to know me before those few days were up? I honestly didn’t know.
Another thing that I didn’t know was what the whole “staring thing” was all about between Summer and Luke. They acted as if they were born to hate each other or something, which wouldn’t really make any sense because they barely even knew each other due to the fact that nobody at school would ever talk to Summer and her friends out of fear for their own safety. Plus that whole lecture that Luke unleashed at me was totally weird; Luke was a nice guy, which made it all the more anomalous. Still, it was all just abnormal for me.
Today was Friday, school had just let out, and I was ready to get home.. But, unfortunately, my mom called me on my cell and informed me that I was going to have to catch a ride with Luke, because she couldn’t leave work due to the impatient customers she had. I simply said okay. How can a small fish restaurant -- out in the middle of nowhere -- be that busy? But then again, this town was full of old people, who loved their seafood.
I instantly thought about Luke’s dad and the whole “we-want-you-to-join-our-club” thing, and decided that I would try and catch a ride with some of my other friends (even though I never actually saw Trent there at the camp fire in the woods that scary night). But as it appeared, all of my friends had already left me, and Luke was my only apparent option.
I ended up finding Luke before his dad came and picked him up, and I asked him if I could steal a ride. He said yeah. It had seemed that he just totally forgotten about being mad at me for hanging out with Summer, because he never mentioned the way he had acted; he just went back to the way things were, which was fine by me. Although, I wondered if I should inform his dad what kind of stuff Luke was getting into, what with all the freaky stuff in the woods and all. But I decided that if I stayed out of his business, he would do the same for me.
After his dad came and got us, we were on our way to my house with me in the backseat, and Luke and his dad in the front. It was quiet, which is the way I wanted it to be. But Trent started a conversation, nevertheless. “So, Evan, how are things?” he asked me while glancing into his rearview mirror at me.
“That’s good. So, you’re getting used to the town and all well then?”
“Yeah.” I tried to keep my answers short, sweet, and simple, because I was still unsure about him. But there was something serene in his glare that he sent back at me through the mirror. It was the glare that showed me that I could trust him, because he was my family whether I liked my other family members or not. So deciding, that he was trustworthy, I decided to answer his questions with more elaboration.
“How’s your mom doing?”
“Pretty good, except that fish place is keeping her kind of busy.” I wondered if he knew about his family’s secret club meeting.
“Yeah, that’s how it usually is. It’ll be busy for a few days and then slack off for another few days.”
“So Luke tells me you got yourself a girlfriend.”
“Oh, yeah? Who?” I asked with a joking tone.
“Summer Hope,” he said with hardly a joking tone. He gave an intense look at my reaction, and his glare was no longer serene at all, but more serious than ever.
He actually told his dad about me and her? I was really pissed at him now.
“She’s not my girlfriend. Just a friend really,” I said, trying to play it off as smoothly as possible -- and as much as my anger would allow me to. I glanced out the window to avoid any more staring. Even the sight of Hale was better than the irritating staring that I had received ever since my arrival.
“I see. Still, I don’t think it’s best for you to be hanging out with that crowd, Evan.”
“Well, I’m not really hanging out with ‘that crowd’, Mr. Woods.” I just said the first thing that came to mind regarding his name.
“Call me Uncle Trent, or just Trent. After all, we are family, Evan. And I suppose. But still, that’s not a very good crowd to associate with whether you’re talking to one or all of them. Just please, be careful around them, will you?”
We were at my house now.
“Well, thanks for the ride, Trent. I guess I will see you later.”
“Anytime, Evan. Tell your mother I said ‘hey’ and that you guys should come over more often.”
“Later, Evan,” Luke said through the passenger seat window at me as I was walking towards my house.
I ignored him.
And just as I turned around to look in the opposite direction, Trent hollered: “Oh, and Evan?”
“Take heed to what I said, will ya?”
“Sure. No problem.”
Then they drove off. Again, here was another thing that puzzled my feeble brain: why was everyone telling me to be careful around Summer and her gang of friends? I hung out with her Wednesday and Thursday, and she seemed perfectly harmless and normal to me.
I shrugged my shoulders to myself, and walked inside.
* * *
Later that day, my mom came home and began working on dinner. She asked for my help, and -- reluctantly -- I entered the kitchen to help out. I was tired from everything that had happened to me in my life, and I wanted to rest. But I couldn’t disobey my mom, so I did it anyway.
After about thirty minutes into helping slice vegetables and stuff (an odd amount of dinner for just two people), there came a knock at the door.
“Oh, Evan, would you get that, honey?” she asked with her back turned to me.
I made a face, yet I went to answer the door. It was my mom’s side of the family. I vaguely remembered them from the cookout before. First, entered my apparent grandmother, Polly, followed by my mother’s sister and brother, Monica and Patrick. Then Caroline, Patrick’s wife and their daughter, Michelle, came in. Quite a group.
“Hi” was all I could say to them all.
“Hey, Evan, is your mother around?” Polly asked.
“Sure. Come on in. She’s in the kitchen,” I said as I held open the door for the bunch.
They came in looking nicely dressed. Then I realized my mom had invited them over for supper and she didn’t even tell me. I was a little annoyed at first, but by now, I was already used to her surprises, and decided to just go with it.
I shut the door just as I heard my mom say "hello" to her family members as they piled into the kitchen. Then, expectantly, she called my name.
I walked into the kitchen, and she said, “Evan, it would be nice of you to show Michelle around a little.”
I wanted to grunt, but I withheld it and replied as nicely as possible, “Sure, why not. It’s not like I have anything else better to do.”
My mother obviously caught the irritation in my voice, because a flash of anger took over her face for a moment.
“Come on, Michelle,” I said, waving her to follow me.
“Wow, this looks delicious, Elana. Let us help, though,” Polly said as we walked out. And I heard everyone agree to help my mom with the dinner.
I gave Michelle a short tour of the house downstairs. Then we headed on up the stairs, where I allowed her to browse the bedrooms and other rooms, examining it all. Then we ended up in my room.
“Wow! Nice room, Evan,” she said. She wore a pair of jeans and a simple t-shirt -- apparently not wanting to dress up for the occasion -- , and her hair was pulled back into a ponytail, revealing a few freckles on her cheeks.
“Thanks,” I responded. I was getting into a better mood now and realized I should act nicely towards guests.
Michelle walked over and examined my shelf full of musical CDs. “You like Guns ‘n Roses, too? I thought I was the only one in this small town!”
“Yeah. They’re pretty good.”
She picked up the newest album I had of them and opened it up. “May I?” she asked, indicating she wanted to hear it on my stereo in front of her.
“Sure, go ahead.”
After listening to their music and talking about their band and their history, I began to get the vibe that she wasn’t one of those prissy girls. She was actually kind of fun.
After roaming and rocking out with my music, she viewed all of my video games and requested to battle me on Mortal Kombat and listen to some Nickleback while we play. I set it all up for us, and we actually had fun -- even though she whipped me in the fighting game. To pass time, and to show my mom that I could mingle, we played games for a while and listened to tunes belching out my stereo speakers.
After a good forty minutes or so, my mother’s voice rang out up the stairs, “Kids, come eat!”
We shut everything down, and then we headed down the stairs to the dinner table where everyone sat and awaited us.
“Having fun, darling?” Michelle’s mother asked her.
My mom looked pleased by me when I sat.
While we ate, conversation started.
“So, Evan, how are you adjusting?” Monica asked me.
Why is everything always about me? I asked myself internally. “Good. I’m still kind of in the process a little, but this place is starting to get to me,” I said. It was, in a weird way, the truth. Some of the people were cool, Summer was great, and the scenery was captivating. Yet, those were the only highlights I could discover.
“Well, glad to hear it,” she said back. “Hale has a way of connecting to outsiders after a while.”
Then the small talk continued -- thankfully, not around me.
I tried not to input my own opinion about their topics, but every so often, one of them would try to get me to open up. I would say one or two words, and then resume my quiet food, wishing more than anything that my food would converse with me and explain to me why I was stuck in such a place like Hale, noting that the bad of Hale far outweighed the good.
Not long into the conversation, the television became an obstacle for them to hear one another because it was playing noisily in the living room without an audience. My mother sent me to cut it off. I got up and exited the dining room, going into the living room. When I started to hit the power button on the remote, something that the news guy on the screen was saying caught my attention:
“…Margaret and William Beck have both died today from the serious illness that has been spreading throughout the upper-most of South Carolina and the lower part of North Carolina. This has brought the death total up to 79 as opposed 66 just four days ago. Officials are concerned with the outbreak of deaths that have been going on lately, and said that they are doing everything they can to find out what this is. They also informed us that at this time, they are not calling it an epidemic yet, but that the White House is showing some concern with this and are observing closely, lending any hand it can to us as a community, just in case the illness is airborne or contagious by any means. All citizens in the general area are asked to limit their vacations out of the country, or even out of the state for that matter, until we know what is truly going on. We’ll update you more as this investigation continues to unfold. Back to you Becky.”
Then the camera position changed to a woman, who began talking about a car accident somewhere in South Carolina.
I hit the power button and the screen flickered away.
I tried to block the thoughts about the “not-so-epidemic” as I reentered the dining room to rejoin the boring talk among my mom’s side of the family. I guessed this was her way of getting me to bond with them. But little did she know that this was purgatory for me, especially considering the virus could be tapping on our front door any time.
© 2010 Joshua Donahue
AboutUPDATE! 04.11.13 Oh, how I have missed writing deeply. I always plan to return to this site ASAP, but it just never happens. I have not been inspired really. But I want to be inspired again. I wa.. more..
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