“Jamie, time to get up!” I heard my dad yell from the door. “Come on Senior.” I rolled over, and tried to go back to sleep. “Jamie, come on. School starts in an hour and I have to get you there early.”
“I’m not going,” I said through my pillow.
“Yes you are,” dad said in a stern voice. “We’ve talked about this all summer. You are going to your last year of school, and get an education. Don’t make me drag you off that bed and carry you to each class, because I will do it.”
I pushed myself up to a sitting position, “Why? Everyone is going to make fun of me.”
“No they’re not,” dad try to assure me. “I know that you think everyone at school is out to get you, but they aren’t. Look at this summer and how much you’ve had fun.”
I rolled my eyes.
Benny and Sara came and visited me the day after I got home. They even asked if they could take me to the karaoke bar. Dad was weary about her driving, but ended up giving in.
I didn’t sing – didn’t feel like it. I did watch everyone else though. Benny, Sara and I talked about the hospital while the rest of the gang tried to cheer me up with some outlandish musical number.
“Sorry we didn’t visit much,” Benny said really quietly. “I know you must hate us.”
“No, not really. I mean I was disappointed my boyfriend wasn’t around, but like I told you on the phone last night I make really bad company.”
“You still love us?” Sara asked.
“Of course, you are my best friends!” Benny looked hurt, “Benny, you know what I mean. You’re still my boyfriend and I love you.”
“I love you too, Jamie-bean.” He kissed me and it felt nice, almost normal. God, I did love this man.
“We’re going to have to come up with a new nickname for me,” I said. “I’m no longer a bean. Look at me!”
Both of them shook their heads, “Nope, you’re still our bean sprout!” Sara said before she shuffled my hair. “You’ll always be my Jamie-bean.” That was just one of the few great days I had in the summer, but for the most part summer was a living nightmare. Not only did I have to be carried up and down the stairs while grandpa and dad worked to put in an elevator, I had to shower with my dad most of the summer until the renovations in the bathroom were finished, complete with a walk-in shower and bench.
Now, I had to go to school. I tried falling asleep again and I felt dad smack my back, knowing I had hardly any feeling in my ass and no feeling in my legs. “UP!”
I shot him a glare and he just waited till I got into my wheelchair. “I hate this!”
“I know, but you still have school to attend.”
“Whatever,” I mumbled and headed to the bathroom. I used the new toilet they installed and brushed my teeth. No sooner than I flushed the toilet I heard the pounding on the door. “LET ME IN! I GOTTA GO!” Pear screamed.
“No way, I get the bathroom next!” Penny screamed. “Hurry your ass up, Jamie!”
“Give me a fucking minute! Geesh!” I screamed back. I gathered my wheelchair and started to climb in when it slipped from underneath me. “GODDAMMIT!” I yelled as I landed on my ass in the middle of the bathroom.
Pear and Penny both charged in and started to help. “You okay?” Pear asked as he helped me with my pants that slipped off.
“Just terrific,” I rolled my eyes. “Just help me up, will ya?” I’ve come to the conclusion that if my brother or sister decide to help me there’s no use to getting out of it. Pear and Penny are relentless.
“Stupid fucking chair!” I said to no one but myself. I hate the thing. “I hate that I am such a fucking helpless git.”
“You’re not a git,” Pear said. “You’ve just had a minor life altering issue. But there’s no way you’re a helpless git.”
“Minor? You call this minor? Fuck you, Pear! I can’t dance! I say that’s a bit more than minor!!!” I rolled out of the restroom and gave them both the finger.
Fuck them. I dressed quickly and headed to the elevator and waited, anger just seeped out of me. Once downstairs I found dad and mom talking or arguing. I didn’t even want to know. “Ready to get this over with?” dad asked when he spotted me.
“No, but that’s not going to matter, now is it?”
“Nope, lets go.” He screamed, “PEAR, PENNY HURY UP IF YOU WANT A RIDE!”
“They’re busy in the bathroom. Let them take the bus,” I said. I was still pissed off at them.
“I take it they did something?” I gave dad a piercing glare. “Alright, guess we’ll leave them. Don’t need all three of you fighting more.”
Dad drove me to school and helped me to the office. It wasn’t that I couldn’t just go to school, it was the matter that dad wanted to make sure everything was good before he left me. The principal walked towards us just outside his office. “Mr. Rain, Jamie, so good to see you.” It was too early in the fucking morning to be that cheery.
Dad took Principal Scapula’s hand, “Nice to see you again.”
“Well, Jamie, ready for your senior year?”
“No.” I mumbled and looked away. I didn’t want to be here. This place was torture. It was bad enough when I had two legs to run on when the bullying got bad, now I made an easier target.
Principal Scapula knelt down to me and tried to give me his best smile, “You’re scared, aren’t you?” I still didn’t look directly at him. I was scared. “Well, Jamie, we’ve put a lot of new rules and policies in place over the summer. If anyone gives you any kind of problem, you come find me or another faculty member.”
“What kind of rules?” I asked, this time looking at him.
“Well, for one anyone suspected of bullying gets suspended, and if the accusations are true they will be removed from this school.” He must of seen the shock on my face, because he smiled a little. “I’m not going to promise you it will solve the problem we’ve been having, but its a start. What do you think?”
“Thanks,” I barely got out of a whisper.
He stood and held his office door open for dad and I, “Now, how bout we discuss some other matters for this year.”
“Like?” I asked.
“Follow me, and you will find out.” Dad waited until I rolled myself inside the room. After months of nagging for people to stop pushing me around, dad has stopped helping as much as he can. Though he still gets on my nerves. Dad sat in a chair as I placed myself in the middle of the room. Mr. Scapula walked behind his desk and turned on his computer before looking directly at me again, “Now, last year you missed quite a lot of classes, but after discussing it with the school board we’ve wavered all of the last semester for you. That means, you will indeed be in your senior year of schooling, and we’ll be discussing the last few classes you need. Math, Science, and English. P.E. is opted out with your condition, so you get an extra class with your two electives. Is there anything in particular, Jamie, that you would like to take?”
I shrugged. I didn’t have the faintest idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my school day.
“Jamie, what about choir?” dad piped up. I turned to look at him. We’ve been discussing this topic for over two months. I really didn’t want to do anything with performing arts. “I know you don’t want to, but why not give it a shot.”
“There’s the glee program, if you’re not into choir,” Mr. Scapula informed me. “And Mr. Reyburn already said he’d be more than happy to have you in glee.”
Mr. Reyburn was my absolute favorite teacher besides Mrs. Harper. He taught drama while she taught dance. “Okay, I’ll join in the glee program. Can I also still take drama?”
Both dad and Mr. Scapula laughed a little, “Now there’s the Jamie, I remember.” Scapula said. “I’ll add both classes into your schedule. Anything else?”
I shook my head. There wasn’t anything else. Dad looked to Scapula, “Does he have enough credits for a free period?”
Scapula shook his head, “That was the only stipulation I got from the board, Mr. Rain. In order for Jamie to graduate he has to have a full load this year to cover the hours he missed last year.”
“Damn,” I whispered.
“How bout, I put you as a teacher’s assistant. You won’t have to do much, Jamie. Most TA’s I know just help grade papers and then spend the rest of their time playing games on their phones.”
“Who’s class would I be in?”
“Well, its your decision, but I do know a teacher who asked for you – but only if you want to. She wants you to be comfortable in her class, and if it’s going to be too much then she would rather have you be happy.”
“Who’s the teacher?” dad asked for me.
“Mrs. Harper’s intermediate and advance class.” Before dad or I could say a word, he stopped us. “You do not have to say yes. If it’s going to be too much we can put you anywhere else.”
Before dad could say no, because that’s what he was trying to get out in his body language, I spoke up. “Can I try it for a bit and see. I really love Mrs. Harper. She’s always been there for me.”
“Alright. If you change your mind just come by and tell me. I’ll find something else for you.”
Math was a bore, but at least the teacher didn’t make a fuss about me being in a wheelchair. Hardly anyone did. They were zombies this early in the morning like I was.
Science was just as unexciting as Math. I got a few extra stares from the lower class, but almost all the seniors knew me and what had happen and just ignored me like always.
English was a little weird. I sat next to a football player, Daniel Hunters, who use to bully me. He completely ignored me – thank god – but it still irritated me. His friends put me in this chair! The teacher was new, so she didn’t know my past, and halfway during her lecture I asked him if I could move. Daniel rolled his eyes and started to switch seats before the teacher stopped him. “Sorry, but this is how I want the class, Mr….” She checked her papers, “Rain. If you have a problem with your writing partner then we can discuss it after class.”
Hushed murmurs erupted, and Daniel spoke up. “Mrs. Richards I know you’re new and all, but please, for his sake and my own, can we just be moved. Its bad enough that three of the football players, all of which were my friends, put him in that wheelchair.” He turned towards me, and gave me a guilty look, “Sorry.” In the end he moved across the room. The teacher looked horrible after hearing that news.
Fourth period was Mr. Reyburn’s drama class. I wheeled right in and got more than a stare. Hell, most of the students screamed and ran up to me, giving me a hug. I’ve worked with most in the class plays, so I knew them all pretty well. I just wasn’t expecting such an awesome welcome. “Alright, alright, give Mr. Rain some room.”
There were a few freshman and Pear in my class (he was the only sophomore). I sat far away from him, still pissed about his earlier comment.
“Jamie, welcome back to class.” Mr. Reyburn said in a corny southern drawl. I loved the guy, he always spoke in different accents every week. No one even knew where the man was from since all his accents were perfect. He use to be an actor, and had a few roles in films with my mom. He gave up the fame and fortune to be a teacher after a fatal accident that took his partner and son. His partner taught English in high school and his son would be my age.
“Thanks.” I said with a warm and sincere smile that had Pear gasped. I don’t smile much anymore, so that had to be a sight to see.
Class was fun, and nice. It made me get out of my head for a while, which really felt good. Mr. Reyburn talked about what he expected out of the class and partnered us up to do an acting exercise. It was all good and fun and everyone seem to make sure I had room to maneuver in class. In the end he gave us a film quiz and we had to guess what the films all had in common. I opted not to answer when I figured it out.
“Pear Rain, and the answer is that they all stared the beautiful and talented Riddle Moss.”
“Cheater,” I mumbled and by that time we were sitting next to each other. He winked at me when Mr. Reyburn confirmed the answer.
When the bell rang, my brother wheeled me out of class – something he always did just to annoy the hell out of me. “Dude, that was awesome!”
“You cheated, you know.”
“Dude, its not like anyone knows!”
I shook my head and looked up at him, “How’d you get suck into my drama class?”
“Mom. She said that I needed to take more than just computer classes and ROTC, so she enrolled me. Didn’t know I was going to be in the same class as the famous Jamie Rain.”
I laughed, “Pear, I’m not famous.”
“No, but you will be. You are so like mom. Someday, I can see your name in shining lights, just like mom’s. Then I can make fun of you.” We both laughed and it felt good. He wheeled me into the cafeteria.
I heard a screeching sound and then my named following it. Sara was running at me with lightning speed, her arms up high screaming my name. She plopped right on my lap and hugged me. “Embarrass much, do you?”
“Only to those that I love.” She squealed and kissed my cheek. She looked up, “Well, what are you waiting for Pearl, wheel us away.”
I laughed. Sara was awesome. “It’s PEAR! P-E-A-R, geesh Sasha, you’d think you learn by now.”
“Whatever Pearl, dear.” Oh yes, I loved these two. Pear and her never get along, it was almost too funny. Pear wheeled us to the closest table that my friends sat at. Sara took her seat next to me.
Benny plopped right at the edge. “Hey,” he said leaning in and giving me a kiss. Benny finally came out over the summer, and I guess he didn’t care if anyone knew.
I bit my lip and looked at the sexy guy, “Hey, you.”
Lunch went by smoothly until I saw my friends stare and Sara gasp. Benny and I turned to look and saw Carter. He sat across the entire room at an empty table. “What’s he doing back?” Benny asked. I had to hold him down from going over there to kick his ass.
“He begged Uncle Casey to come back.” I shrugged. “He came and visited me in the hospital.”
Everyone gasped at my table and looked at me. “And?” Sara asked. “You told him to go to hell, right?”
“Of course.” I turned my head to look at him again, “I still can’t believe that he saved me.”
“No one can.” My friend Linda said. “Everyone says that he was making sure the boys did what he ordered. And when he saw you, his guilt became so unbearable he snapped. Still say he should be arrested with the lot of them.”
I shrugged, “Maybe. Still doesn’t explain why he’d help me though.”
The bell rang and Benny walked with me towards the exit of the cafeteria. It was blocked my none other than Justin Corst, one of the few football players that loved to torment me. He pushed me back with his foot. I stopped my chair and pushed forward, I wasn’t going to stand up for this shit anymore! ”Move out of the way, asshole.” I said.
“Why? I’ve been waiting all day to give you what you deserve.”
“Leave him alone, Justin.” I heard, and turned to see Carter behind Benny and me. I could see Benny’s hands balled up into tight fists. Benny wasn’t allowed to fight, I made that specifically clear the week before. I didn’t want him to get kicked off the baseball team, and I didn’t want anymore trouble. His only requirement is to keep me away from assholes like Justin.
“Oooh you got yourself a fag-loving group, Wheelz.” Justin joked and a few jocks around laughed. “This doesn’t concern you, Carter.”
“Yes, it does.” Carter said. “You’ll never see a day on the field ever again if you even think about harming Jamie.”
“Like you could hurt me.”
“Probably not, but I am sure the entire senior class can.” Everyone that had been watching now took a few steps forward, and I started to cry. No one has ever stood up for me. “Let him go, and never come near him again. Understood.”
“Oh I understand. I understand you’re a fag lover. What, did that military school make you suck cock?” the jocks started to laugh, “Come on queer, time to get a lesson.”
Justin started to come after me when I heard the sound of bone breaking. Carter had punched him hard. Benny moved me away and both jocks and students came running. When I saw pear run by me, I screamed after him. “Pear, don’t!”
It was too late, Pear went right in and was punched by one of the jocks. Pear didn’t let him get off a second shot. Benny wheeled me away to the other exit as I watched six jocks go up against Carter and Pear and two others, while others tried to break it up. Oh, man, they were in so much trouble. “Fuck, dad’s going to just kill Pear.”
“Probably. But lets get you into your Dance class before you get more attention from the teachers, and Scapula.” Benny said. Sara met up with us as the two ran and wheeled me across the school. Benny stopped right outside my classroom and bent low to my level as Sara headed into the locker rooms to dress for dance class. “You okay?” he asked me.
“Want me to call Mr. Rain?”
“No, I’m sure by the time the fight breaks he’ll be called anyway. I just want to get to class.” I looked at him and smiled, “Thanks for getting me out of there, and not fighting.”
“I promised you, babe. Besides getting you to safety is more important than risking suspension or expulsion.” Benny kissed me and wheeled me into class.
Mrs. Harper gave me the biggest hug when I was wheeled into her class. “Jamie, my Jamie!” She hugged me for a long time, and I could hear her cry.
“Hey Mrs. Harper.” After the hug I just smiled at her. “It’s okay if I’m your TA, right?”
“Only if you want to be.” She pushed me the rest of the way in and parked me next to her. I watched Benny leave for his own class, wishing I could have his strength. Mrs. Harper started to talk to all the students sitting. I was in the intermediate to advanced class. I only knew about three of the students, Sara being one of them. There was one boy who looked nervous to be in a class full of girls.
Once Mrs. Harper got the students to line up and start some dance moves, she had me go to the boy. “Hey,” I said in a way of greeting.
He just looked at me, “Great they send the invalid to help the new kid.” Ouch. “Look, I’m sure the school had a reason for putting a kid like you in the dance class, but I don’t need help from the disabled.”
“You’re a little brat, aren’t you? All I said was hi, but hell, if you want to be a rude snob, no worries.” I backed away and went to help Sara. “The kid’s a snob.”
“That’s because he’s the son of Tristan Anderson.”
“Why do I know that name?” I asked, looking at the kid.
“Hello, he’s been in like EVERYTHING! Hell, he was in Web of Lies like a million years ago.”
Now that’s a show I knew about, and I know Sara knew I’d figure out the name. I looked once more at the kid. “Stupid fucker, wonder what he’d say if he knew who my mom was.”
“Probably treat you with more respect. He thinks everyone is below him because he’s a famous son of a famous actor. You’re lucky. You’ve manage to keep your identity a secret.”
“It helps I took dad’s name and dropped Moss from it. We all did, because we didn’t want special treatment. Could you imagine Pear’s head if he was treated like a king?” Sara and I started to laugh hard until Mrs. Harper reminded us we were still in class and needed to work. I helped her with some leg stretches. Holding her up and letting her use the chair to balance. Eventually I got bored and wondered into the empty studio.
The empty studio is for advance students and those who want to come in and practice after school. I looked around and saw some stage props from the summer program they did. Just sitting there reminded me of what I lost, and how desperately I wanted it back. I was a killer dancer, and this . . . this was harder than I thought. . .
I felt a hand on my shoulder and looked up to see Mrs. Harper there. I just cried and she wrapped her hands around me, holding me while I felt as the world was ending. It was, my world had come crashing down the moment that car hit me. “Oh Jamie,” was all Mrs. Harper could say.
“I just want to be a dancer. I’d give my voice, my heart, my everything to dance again in here.”
“I know,” she continued to hold me.
“Just once I want to be the one not teased, picked on, bullied. Just once I want to be the jock, the cool guy. If I had been. . .”
I heard the door open and close. I didn’t care who it was, I just wanted to be left alone. I felt another hand on my shoulder, “Oh Jamie-bean.” I heard Sara call me by my nickname. Mrs. Harper moved me into my friend’s arms and Sara climbed on my lap where I just cried.
“Jamie, take as much time as you need in here. You too, Sara.”
“Thanks,” Sara held me tight as Mrs. Harper went back to teaching. “It’s going to be okay, Jamie.”
Class ended, and I wheeled myself out of the room. Sara followed behind. Just as we got to the hallway I saw dad walking towards us with Pear. “Pear, you okay?”
“He is,” dad assured me. “You okay?”
I looked behind me at the dance class. I was not okay. I broke down again in the hallway, “I can’t do it.”
Dad grabbed the handles to my chair and started to walk me out of the school, “It’s going to be okay son. We’ll go get some ice cream and have a father-son day.”
“What about Pear?” I asked.
“He’s my son, isn’t he?” Pear smiled up to dad, “I’m proud of my boys standing up to those guys.”
“What happened to Carter?” I asked.
Dad sighed, “I don’t know. Casey didn’t look all too pleased when we both got the call. Then when he walked Carter out of the office while Pear and I waited, he looked madder than hell.”
“Why? He. . .” God, I hated to admit this, but there was no choice. “He stood up for me. Stopped Justin.”
“I know, the school knows, Casey knows. I just don’t think that’s the issue Casey has.” Dad shrugged, “Hell, it might be okay, and I’m blowing my friend’s attitude way out of proportion.”
Only dad wasn’t and the next day I found Casey in the office after school. I knew Carter and Pear were suspended, what I didn’t expect were the whispers about Carter going back to the academy. “Uncle Case, you got a minute?” I asked.
“Maybe. Depends on what for,” he answered without taking his eyes off of the screens.
“Carter did a solid for me yesterday, and now I’m hearing he’s heading back to the academy.”
Uncle Casey turned and faced me, “He broke my one rule. No fighting. I told him he gets in one fight I was shipping him back.”
“But he was just-”
“I don’t care, Jamie. I only asked for one thing. If he can’t even go a day in school without throwing a punch then he’s no use to me here.”
I felt guilty. My heart dropped at knowing that I was responsible for Carter going back. It’s not like I care about the asshole, but to go back for this? That just didn’t seem fair. He didn’t bully anyone. He was trying to stop those that do. Pear wasn’t in trouble at all. Hell, grandpa high-fived him. Mom and grandma were a little upset, but understood. Carter just got handed a sentence that he didn’t deserve all on the count of me. “Uncle Casey, he was trying to help.”
“I’ve already argued this with him and my wife, so don’t try. He’s going, end of debate.”
“Do you mind if I call him?”
“Sure, but he ships out Sunday.” Uncle Casey handed me a paper with his cell number on it.
It took three days staring at the piece of paper on my desk. Three whole days and I still couldn’t pick up my cell and dial. I didn’t know what to do. I just couldn’t stand thinking that if I didn’t pick up the phone that I’d never hear why. Why’d he rescue me? Why did he stand up for me? Why did he beat the crap out of me for all those years? Finally after much internal debate, I picked up the phone and dialed.
Just before I was about to hang up in fear, I heard Carter’s voice. “Hello?”
“It’s me,” I said. My voice was so dry. “Jamie.”
“Oh, uh, hey.”
“I heard you’re getting sent back.”
The uncomfortable silence followed. I felt really guilty. “I’m sorry-” we both said at the same time. “I’m sorry, Carter.” I said after.
“Nah man. I’m sorry. Look, I know you hate my guts, but talking to you on the phone just doesn’t seem right for what I want to say. So, I was wondering if you would be interesting maybe going somewhere and talking. I’d understand if you don’t, I wouldn’t blame you.”
I took a couple of minutes and decided I wanted to hear what he had to say. “Can you pick me up?”
“Yeah. Your dad will let you go?”
“Hope so. Meet you in twenty?”
“Sure. Call me if Uncle Kaliq says no. I don’t want to go there and all he’s seeing is red. I can’t deal with that.”
“No problem. See you in a few.” I hung up the phone and went to seek out dad. He wasn’t hard to find. Just downstairs at his computer. “Dad, Carter’s picking me up and we’re going someplace to talk.”
“You sure that’s wise?” he asked.
“I need to know, dad. I can’t stop thinking of all the why’s with him. I’ll call if anything happens.”
“You do that. If you even get the hint of something going south with him, you don’t hesitate. You hit that button grandpa installed on your wheelchair yesterday.”
“Promise.” I went to the door and dad followed. I stopped him, “Dad, please, let me do this alone.”
“Maybe because he’s afraid of you.”
“Well, he should be.” Dad walked back to his desk, “You tell him I expect you home before ten!”
Carter drove to the local arcade where most of the high school kids hang out. We ordered a pizza and sat in the back of the place. For a bit we just stared, made small chit-chat. Nothing special. We were both footing around the real reason we were there.
It was me that asked the question after eating my third piece of pizza. “Why?”
“Why’d you do it? Why’d you save my life?”
Carter tossed his pizza down. “Did you know what my old man said the day before I was sent to the academy?” I shook my head. “That he was ashamed of calling me his son.” I try to stop my gasp, but I couldn’t. God, that just had to be the worst thing anyone could hear from their father. “I knew then that there was no way he could punish me more than saying that. So, these last couple of years I tried really hard to show him what kind of man I was, what kind I could be. As long as he gave me a chance.
“Everything I tried to do when I saw him just wasn’t enough. Hell, that camping trip a couple summers ago, I was more pissed at dad. I tried everything, and he still didn’t love me – so I’m sorry to say, I took it out on you. Then I saw a horrific accident this past spring break. I didn’t even know it was your car, but at the academy we learned the basics in trauma and first aid. I just got out of my car, ran down, saw it was Uncle Kaliq’s car. I saw you hanging out, and I just went into rescue mode. I couldn’t let you die, Jamie. If I had, dad wouldn’t be the only person that would be ashamed of me, I’d be ashamed of myself.”
I sat back. I was almost in tears. I couldn’t imagine the heartache he felt for Uncle Casey. “And at school this week?”
“I didn’t put you in that wheelchair, Jamie, but I’m responsible for it. I know I can’t make it up to you, but I can stop it from ever happening again.” Carter shrugged, “Guess he’s right, I am worthless. Can’t even go a day without punching some kid.”
“You’re not worthless, Carter.” I couldn’t believe I was trying to cheer him up. “You just fucked up.”
“Nah, dad’s right. I’m just a worthless piece of shit.” Carter shook his head, “I was hoping to show him how much I changed. I have, you know? I don’t bully people. I’m in a sold place in my life. I have almost a 4.0 average, and I help out around the academy.”
“I believe you. I didn’t think I’d ever see you take a punch for me.”
Carter shook his head, “I would have taken that car accident if I could have, for you. I don’t know how I can ever make it up to you, but I am sorry. Sorry for everything. We were best of friends, and I am a fucking idiot.” Carter looked at me hard, and I could tell this was all hard to say. He was almost in tears! “Do you think we’ll ever be friends again, Jamie?”
I shrugged, “Maybe, but not today. You saved my life, stood up for me, but I also have the nightmares that you put me through. So, until I can forgive you. . . I can’t let go.”
“At least you’re honest,” he stood up and stretched. “You ready to head home? I got to pack my shit back together and try and see if I can talk to mom again.”
A few weeks later I was carried into the house by dad with Grandpa helping Pear behind us doctoring a bloody nose and black eye and a limp. I was covered in three days worth of trash and my wheelchair was busted. Benny had a concussion and was in the hospital. Why he thought he could take on those five assholes was beyond me. Dad took me straight to grandpa’s bathroom and started a bath. Justin and his buddies thought it would be fun to dump me in the garbage. I reached for the emergency button, but by the time dad and grandpa got to the school, I was in a dumpster and my wheelchair was in bits.
Dad started to help bathe me, trying to calm me down from my stream of tears. “They’re right, I am trash! Look at me I’m fucking broken!”
“Hey, you are not broken,” dad tried to assure me. “This is what they want. Don’t give those assholes the satisfaction that they beat you. You keep your head held high.”
“Doesn’t matter. They’ll just keep tearing me down. God, if only Carter had been there! He knew how to control those fucking morons.”
“That’s an odd thing to say. You don’t think Carter would have been on their side?”
“No.” I looked at dad and decided to tell him what he said to me. How he wanted to just prove himself to everyone that he’s changed, that he’s just trying to live a better life. “He’s sorry, and just wants everyone to think of him more than a bully.”
“He has a lot to prove.”
“He’s already proven it to me. We may not be friends, but I can at least forgive him, kinda.”
“I can’t. Not yet. Not while you’re still being bullied.”
“He’s not the one doing it to me dad.”
“Doesn’t matter. He started it and until you are out of that place, and he’s doing something respectable with his life, I’ll take his word with a grain of salt.”
I let a tear slip, “Figures you’d be like Uncle Casey.” I looked into his eye, “You know he told Carter he was ashamed that he was his son.”
Dad froze. Just completely froze. “No, he didn’t,” dad choked out, but I could tell he didn’t believe his own words.
Dad helped me out of the bath and placed me in my room. Not five minutes after he left I could hear from my window dad yelling at Casey, and Casey yelling back. I wasn’t the only one that could hear. Pear and Penny ran to my window and opened it a crack. “Dude, dad just punched Casey!” Pear said quietly.
I could hear the argument turn into much more. I heard grandpa’s voice, and the whole place went quiet. Grandpa yelled at them, saying they were to break it up. Dad told grandpa what I told him. Pear and Penny looked at me for confirmation. I didn’t give them any, but we all heard Casey. “It’s true, okay! I am ashamed!”
Pear, Penny, and I just sat there in shock. Pear whispered that Casey was leaving. My heart broke for Carter.
Months passed as they tend to do. For me, life was a roller coaster. I ended up dropping the TA class with Mrs. Harper. It just was too much. I took up a beginners music class and started to learn the guitar. The teacher said I was a natural.
Other than that, school sucked. That’s all there was to it.
At home Uncle Casey and dad somewhat patched their relationship up, but you could still feel the strain. My dad didn’t respect him like he use to, and I didn’t either. Carter and I emailed a few times to each other, but we were nowhere near being friends. I doubt we will ever be.
It was almost the end of the first quarter at school, and I hated school so much that I didn’t even care anymore. I never did my homework and my grades suffered. Dad and mom would yell and fight me with my grades. “Do you just not understand the material?” dad asked of my English grade when he finally saw it. “Or the assignments?”
“No, I just don’t care about it. Reading is absolutely a borefest, and I don’t care how books are written, or why. I don’t care to analyze a historical classical fiction.”
Dad’s face heated red, and I could tell that he was trying not to act offended. I didn’t care. “Jamie, you have to get your grades up.”
“Why? So I can stay in some club? Newsflash dad, I’m not doing anything after school! I dropped drama and dance. I couldn’t care less about my grades.”
“Well, what if I take away your music until these grades come up?”
I saved him the trouble by tossing him my ipod. “My CD’s are in that drawer, and you’re going to have to unplug the stereo and get it yourself since I can’t reach. Oh, and if you want to take the computer, by all means do so. Also my guitar is at school, I’ll get it to you when I get home tomorrow.”
Dad left in a huff and I just climbed into bed and stared at the ceiling. My eyes drifted over to the bare wall. I could still see some remnants of the posters that were on my wall. I tore down all my posters about two weeks ago when I couldn’t take it anymore.
I hated staring at posters that reminded the future I should have had. I didn’t need that haunting picture everyday, so I tore them off. My brother and sister helped me when they heard me cussing up a storm. Penny thought I was being stupid, but Pear just helped.
Now, I just wished I was the wall. I just wanted to melt in the background and not be around anyone. Grandpa knocked on the door, and I groaned. “What now?”
“Heard you’re having issues with school. Want to talk about it?”
“No, just leave me alone.”
Grandpa didn’t leave me alone, he walked right in and sat down on my wheelchair. “God, I hated sitting in these.” I knew it was joke, because grandpa started to laugh. He popped a wheelie and started to go back and forth on it. I didn’t think it was funny, or he was funny. I scowled at him. “Hey, you need to learn to laugh.”
“Can’t laugh at things that aren’t funny.”
“Was just trying to cheer you up, sport.”
“You can’t. Nobody can. I lost everything.”
“You didn’t lose anything,” grandpa said. “You still have your whole future.”
“What future? I have no legs! My future is gone! I can’t walk, I can’t dance, I can’t do ANYTHING!”
“That’s a frightful place you’re at Jamie. You need to get out of it before it consumes you. Yes, you have no legs, doesn’t mean you can’t do anything.”
“Whatever. You don’t even know how I’m feeling.”
“Bullshit. If anything, I know exactly what you’re feeling. You’re not the only person that’s lost use of something.” Grandpa did the unthinkable and took off his eye patch. “Sometimes you all forget, but everyday I remember.”
My stomach turned. Where there should have been an eye there was. . . nothing. Grandpa didn’t put the eye patch back on, which I was really wanting now seeing that.
“I’ve been in the exact same place you’re in, Jamie. It’s dangerous, and I’m here to help. No one out there,” he pointed to my door, meaning my family, “No one can even understand what it’s like to lose a limb, or a dream. I do though, Jamie. I’m an old one-eye, one-arm-”
“Flying, purple, people eater?” I joked. It was just too easy, and for the first time in days I laughed.
“Pretty much.” Grandpa laughed with me. “Jamie, life sucks, but we have to live on. I can’t tell you how many times I just wanted to not do anything. That I wanted to wallow in my own misery, because there wasn’t anything worth fighting for.”
“But you still got to live your dream.”
“And you can too, you just have to figure out if that dream is worth fighting for. You think my bosses at SIA wanted me after I lost my eye, or even when I lost my shooting arm? I had to prove myself over and over again, that I still had the balls to do the job no one else wanted. You need to prove to yourself and to the world you can still be the biggest Broadway star, you just have to fight for it.”