11 months ago


The ride home was a

The ride home was a little less tense for me. I had some idea about what Alicia’s mother knew, and even more importantly, I had finally found the courage to pursue the girl of my dreams. It felt like time was standing still. I still could not believe we actually had the conversation, and it went so well despite any interruptions. Alicia dropped me off at my house; I could tell she was anxious to get in as much driving time as possible. I said goodbye to Alicia and her mother and watched her pull into her driveway, my thoughts lingered on our almost kiss. I couldn’t help but picture how amazing it would have been. I caught myself daydreaming and started toward the door. “So how did it go?” Aunt Lisa was waiting for me on the other side of the door. I noticed she was taking her shoes off as if she too had just returned home. “Well—,” She said. I smiled. “Good or very good?” “Magnificent.” “Ah, I see.” She grinned. “Don’t worry, I won’t ask for any details. Alicia certainly seems like a nice girl for you.” My cheeks seriously hurt from smiling so much, Alicia washed away all the bad feelings I’ve been bottling up, allowing me to feel like myself again. I took a seat in the living room, and Caesar jumped up beside me, laying half in my lap, half on the couch, purring. I gently petted the cat, thinking back on the events of the afternoon. I could not remember the last time I felt this happy. Aunt Lisa came in with a cup of hot green tea, sipping at it as she sat in the nearby recliner. “So, I believe someone’s birthday is coming up next month?” I had completely forgotten about my own birthday, and to some degree, I forgot about it intentionally. This would be my first birthday without my parents. The thought of them not being here for my birthday really dampened my previous excitement; the thought was too painful to bear. Aunt Lisa must have picked up on the change in my mood because her tone softened. “What do you want for your birthday?” I shrugged. The things I wanted were impossible to have. Aunt Lisa decided to change the subject entirely. “I saw Alicia was driving, did she get her license?” “Not yet, just her permit.” “How do you feel about driving? I mean, do you feel you are ready to give it a try?” I thought about it. I did start learning late, my parents did talk to me about getting my permit a few times before everything happened. Honestly, I had not even considered actually trying again. “You don’t have to do it. I mean, I am not telling you to. But if you feel ready, I will look into classes or teach you myself if you prefer. You could maybe try to get a part time job and buy your own car eventually?” “I don’t know, I guess I could.” I had not really thought about it. It was something that most boys my age were already doing. Most ordinary teens that is. It hit me that for the first time since the death of my parents, I was starting to feel like a part of the world again like I had a place. It felt like the pieces of my life had been tossed about and were now finding their way back together. I could once again look forward to the things that most teenagers my age looked forward to. There were so many things that I pushed aside to deal with the emotions that

consumed me, after my parent’s death. “Why don’t you think about it for a while? I don’t mind driving you places, Davis. However, I want you to be independent. And you can’t really do that if you don’t start to learn these sorts of things.” She continued sipping. Caesar rolled onto his back, his legs splayed as he begged for a belly rub. I absently obliged. My mind was overwhelmed. My first girlfriend, talking about driving and remembering my birthday all in a single day. “Maybe I could start to learn,” I said. “You sure?” Aunt Lisa eyed me over her cup. “Yes. I am sure I want to try. You are right, I have to be independent. I can’t expect to live my life like this forever.” “Let’s not rush things, though. Ok? Take it slow and one step at a time. I only want to help you, Davis, I don’t want to push you into something too quickly.” “I know,” I said, offering her a smile. Aunt Lisa appeared visibly relieved. “Good.” Aunt Lisa reclined in her seat, glancing up at the wall clock that hung across the room. “I don’t suppose Romeo could help me get dinner started?” She said, grinning mischievously. I tossed a couch pillow at her. Caesar immediately noticed the object flying across the room and pounced on it. “Oh alright, Caesar! I won’t throw things anymore. I know you don’t allow it.” “You told Alicia she would have some competition with that cat, right?” Aunt Lisa said, snickering to herself. She headed for the kitchen with her tea. “Are you kidding me? Once she gets to know Caesar, I will be the one competing.” I moved to the carpet, enticing the cat to play with a ball of yarn from his vast collection of toys. “He does have an addicting personality, doesn’t he?” Aunt Lisa said, pulling ingredients from the fridge. I entertained the cat for a few minutes before getting up off the floor. “Alright, Caesar. We have to help Aunt Lisa out, or we won’t be eating.” The cat meowed happily before pawing at the discarded ball of yarn and pounced on top of it a few times. When he earned no response, he settled down on the sofa. Aunt Lisa kept staring at me and smiling, my best guess is she too noticed that I was starting to belong. Deep down I wished my parents could be around to meet Alicia and see me grow up, I was dreading how I might feel on my birthday. But I also knew that I had my Aunt, and Alicia and both of them loved me. I decided to push the thought of my parents not being around out of my mind for now, and focus on my happiness. *** The time had finally arrived; it was the first day back to Mill Creek High School. Alicia and I were juniors this year, which was exciting. My Aunt gave us a lift to school that morning, Alicia and I held hands in the backseat our fingers laced together as Aunt Lisa chauffeured us to our destination. Passing the large brick sign that read “Welcome to Mill Creek High School” felt kind of welcoming. Aunt Lisa tapped her French manicured fingernails nervously on the steering wheel as she pulled up to the entrance. I could sense that she was concerned about me returning to school after all that I

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