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Here is a short sample from the book:
“That wasn’t too bad.”
Why did she sound so damn cheerful, like she was trying to convince herself that my return to high school should be commemorated with happiness and a smiling face? Mind you, I haven’t stepped into a school building for over two years, and you would have to excuse my lackadaisical attitude towards a place I haven’t been acquainted with for a while. I’ve been tossed into a situation where I would be forced to square off with awkward introductions, forced smiles and indecisive stares. I wasn’t prepared for any of it and owed a big thank you to my mother and Dr. Bennett. Of course, it was inevitable. Apparently, I needed to emerge from my solitude, mingle with society all over again, and try to experience regular human contact. It may have sounded like a simple task to many people, but for a person who has been living side by side with post-traumatic stress disorder it was like struggling to breathe the vital air needed to live. There was nothing simple about it, in which I argued with Bennett my fears of adjusting to something I was driven to forget a long time ago. She explained to me the process of weaning me off my sheltered environment and subsequent resurface back to the world; building back the trust that was snatched away from me. How could she ever really understand me, if she hadn’t experienced what I went through – to have a piece of yourself missing and still clutch tightly to what remained? However, there are two sides to a coin. I wouldn’t have to endure another minute of my mother’s dwindling abilities to home school me for the past year. “Yeah, sure,” I replied nonchalantly to my mother, as I watched the panoramic suburban housing of St. Augustine pass me in a continuous blur from the car window.
I shot a glimpse at the side car mirror, reflecting the ever-shrinking Ponte Vedra High School building. Registering for my senior year was a less painful experience than I thought it might have been. We only waited in the main office for four minutes, doused by the sound of the receptionists relentless typing, for Principal Stephenson before the forty-something year old man, with salt and pepper hair, shepherded us into his office – a reflection of his reputation and achievements as the head honcho at Ponte Vedra. Stephenson took pride in his appearance; donned in a smooth, coffee-stained dress suit, polished black leather shoes and clean shaven face. His authority stood out like the lone Goth lost among the collection of popular kids, but I could tell from the moment I saw him that conceitedness didn’t possess him. He had a job to do and he was going to do his damndest to succeed. The interaction was predictably standard: the two adults in the room would talk amongst each other with clear, fluent words, while the child remained silent, absorbed in her own thoughts, my presence inconsequential. Paperwork was passed around the Maple desk surface in a flurry, and a short story about my published past. The only exchange I need to offer was a nod of my head, in agreement that I head straight to the guidance counselor’s office to obtain my school schedule on Monday morning before the first class began, which required an early rising in the morning. I can do this, I just need to breathe. It wasn’t even Monday yet, and I was already psyching myself out. I suddenly felt my like my control was wrenched from me; they were swapping it amongst each other like a daily gossip. Control was the part of me holding me together. And maybe nothing else. I couldn’t tell. I focused on my mother’s profile in the driver’s seat. She radiated equanimity, like today was any other day, nothing stuck out as amiss, but her face marked the underlining truth she tussled with for the past year. I knew deep down Carmen was just was reluctant as I was; but in truth she was terrified. What happened to me shaped her into a tamed and indecisive creature, dabbling with uncertainty, a shadow of her former self as the confident woman who unapologetically emphasized it was either her way or the highway. I would say our relationship hadn’t developed into a closer connection when she shredded her austere qualities. I don’t think the relationship could be malleable to the extent we could both coexist with one another without a confrontation
erupting. Right after my parents filed for divorce last year, Carmen and I moved from Loganville to the coastal town, escaping from the painful past and pursuing a new beginning, a place to start over, as she says. Their marriage lasted for twenty years, two months and seven days, which isn’t too bad considering the divorce rate in the country. Like my return to school, the foreseen split was imminent. When two people start to become fragile, small cracks start to show until eventually it becomes uncontrollable, and then you realize there is no other way out besides abandoning the hope you had inside. It can’t always be mended again, and sometimes we just have to swallow that concept quickly before tasting the sourness of resentment. I knew how that felt all too well. Leaving Loganville, I would always grieve my brother, Adam’s, presence. Unlike other convoluted brother and sister relationships we have a close bond and the only logical reasoning behind our harmonious association I could conjure up was that we had to share a womb for nine months. As twins, we just got each other, saving both our parents any sibling rivalry and pointless squabbling, but they weren’t safe from our roguish and audacious nature. Pranking our neighbors was unfavorable and well known in our suburb when we were younger and became a weekly source of entertainment for ourselves. Some of our endeavors included enlisting Mr. Devin’s name and phone number in the local newspaper, specifying that he was having a garage sale, or prank calls to Ms. Madsen. God, we were little terrorists, indulging in our neighbor’s misfortune. Partners in crime. The best thing about it was that we got away with it every time without consequence or disciplinary action from our clueless parents. Those times I relish forever and miss deeply. Life was so much simpler then. “Remember, we’re going for dinner after I’ve picked you up from Dr. Bennett’s office later,” my mother sung, interrupting my childhood memory. The infinite dinner loomed in my mind since she made the reservation last week. We were celebrating my rebound to school and her new job as Assistant Manager at Techvivid. Her new position lacked the ability to arouse awe, as it rightly deserved, but it was better than her first job as a part-time receptionist at an accounting firm, most likely the most unaccomplished period of her life. She had expected to plummet from the career ladder since she decided to ship us to St. Augustine unexpectedly, but it didn’t mean she was happy with that cruel realization. The only reason she picked St.
Augustine as our clean slate destination was because her best friend, Maggie Young, from high school, resided in St. Augustine and because Maggie could arrange an opening vacancy which was effective immediately, hence the receptionist position. It acted as a source of income for rent, and flexibility for Carmen in the meantime. It didn’t meddle with her schooling me. “No, I haven’t forgotten.” I reserved my sigh. “Great!” Her voice frequency escalated suddenly. “I heard Bella’s has an excellent menu and the blog I read online rated the food and service highly, as well as the wine selection.”