Dr. P: “So.... it's been awhile since the last time you were in here. How old are you now?”
Me: “16. Well I turn 16 in a month, in December, so I'm 15, but almost 16.”
“Do you still play basketball?”
“Yeah but I'm not too serious about it. Mostly just a hobby now.”
“Are you still reading?”
“Yeah but not like I used to. Not as much. What I do read isn't as fun; I guess I just don't like that kid stuff anymore. It's gotten kinda boring. I mainly read realistic stuff, with deeper substance. Ya know what I'm talking about, right?”
“Yes I understand. And are you still writing?”
“Absolutely. I write all the time. Real deep stuff to, none of that baby stuff about birds that put out fires or talking dogs. I'm gonna be the next J.D. Salinger. Ya know the guy who wrote comin’ thro the rye.”
“Catcher in the Rye.”
“The title of the book was Catcher in the Rye.”
“Nope it was comin’ thro the rye. I remember, cuz the little girl was singing catcher in the rye but the right words was comin thro the rye.”
“True. Some people believe his misinterpretation of the poem was because he wanted to save everyone's innocence, but nonetheless the title was still Catcher in the Rye.”
“Whatever. Next question.”
“Why do you think all this has changed? You don't seem to be enjoying your old pastimes as much.”
“Oh I still enjoy them, it’s just different ya know? I’m just more mature about it ya know? We all gotta grow up sometime.”
“Why do you say that?”
“I guess it all started with my old stepdad.”
“You’ve mentioned him before but never in depth.”
Well, I haven't seen him since I graduated the 8th grade. I haven't spoken to him since the turmoil of the incident calmed down. My life took a turn around the middle of the 3rd grade. It was when my parents divorced, and my mom, my siblings, and I all moved from North Carolina back to Michigan. Before we left my dad told me that since my brothers were still young I would have to watch over them, as well as watch over my mom, and be the man of the house. At that age being “the man of the house” just meant being the oldest guy there so I get to be tough and that my little brothers had to do what I said.
I carried this mindset for a few years never really acting on it though, because it seemed like my mom had it all under control. A year after the divorce my mom introduced us to Will, her new boyfriend. Will... he was...a passionate type of fellow. He had the kind of passion that led to a lot of incidents that always involved yelling, threats, tears, and often times physical attacks. These incidents...they almost always came after some misunderstanding. Like I said he was very passionate, but what I didn’t tell you was, he isn’t very good at conveying his thoughts. I’m not really sure if he knew this or not, but I think he knew no one ever understood what he was saying and that pretty much pissed him off.
“Wait, can I say that?”
“Can you say what?”
“Pissed. Can I say pissed?”
“You can say whatever comes to mind.”
“So I can cuss!? I can say stuff like damn, and shit?”
“I won’t be, but you can.”
“Coool. Where was I?”
“Will was pissed because no one understood him.”
So he got really pissed because nobody ever knew what he was talking about. This led to a lot of yelling. He always yelled when he was mad, which was all the time, so he was always yelling. It got kinda scary ya know. Don’t get me wrong now, I wasn’t scared for myself, I was scared for my siblings, after all I had to protect them like my dad said. Anyways, when we first met him I was still really into basketball and I was positive that I would be going to the NBA and that I would be Defensive Player of the year, every season of my career. When Will first started “teaching me” how to play, he was pretty cool about it. He wasn't that great himself but he knew some stuff, so I humored him. Will took basketball way too seriously though.
“What do you mean he took it way too seriously?”
“I don't know, I guess it was one of those things where the dad thought they were gonna make it to the big leagues, then something happened that stopped them, so now they try to force basketball as a way of life on their sons.”
“Interesting. But didn't you want basketball to be your life? Wasn't that your big goal for the future?”
Well yeah, at least, that's what I wanted at first. Then he kinda scared me away from it.”
Whenever I would mess up, or he thought I was doing something wrong he would get real heated. He'd start with all the yelling and stuff again. A lot of the times he was mad because he said the way I was moving my body was to feminine and I had no control over my body. He would tell me ‘I ain't raisin no damn faggot’ then he'd hit me or if I wasn't right next to him he'd throw the ball at me.
“Ya know, I still remember something he told me, and it really caught me off guard.”
“What was it that he told you?”
“He said, and this is a direct quote, he said ‘if you don't play sports you won't have any imagination.’ ’’
“Was he right?”
“I don't know. I think I still have a pretty good imagination. Of course I'm still playing sports. My imagination isn't the same as it used to be, though.”
I used to read all the time. Real big books too. I read books like that series about the son of Poseidon. Who wrote that? Rick Riordan I think t was. It doesn't matter, what matters is that they were great, and I was always reading them. I guess Will didn't like that. By the time I met him my mom had declared that I would probably be some kind of famous writer, I didn't have a problem with that, and I don't think Will did either. His problem was that I was always reading instead of writing. He said that I was wasting my time helping other people live out their dreams instead of trying to live my own. I guess he was right in the sense that I was helping other people live their dreams, but he never actually made me write. Instead he made me help him write. He had decided that he would be a children's writer. He made me help him form his sentences right, but he never actually listened. Whenever I said something he didn’t like he would just get mad. He pushed me out of a chair once. Well, more like he pushed over me and the stool I was sitting on.
“Did you ever do any of your own writing?”
“Yeah, but he always told me it wasn’t good, or that I needed to write more realistically. I wrote this one piece about a boy who attacked his mean dad, and he thought he killed him but he didn’t and he later turned out to be a pirate.”
“What did he think of that?”
“I guess he didn’t realize I was making the dad out to be like him. He didn’t like it anyway. He said it wasn’t realistic. I never really understood that because his stories were about talking chickens.”
“You said you write more realistically now?”
“Yeah, I’m gonna be the next John Steinbeck.”
Now that I’m in highschool, a lot of the writing I do is required, but I still have fun doing it. I try to avoid kiddish stuff like what I used to write. I’m working on a piece right now about the shootings that are going on around the country, with police violence and all that type of stuff. That’s what’s going on the real world and that’s what I write about now. None of that romantic stuff that ignores the real issues. No more romanticism or anything like that.
December 10th, 2003. That was the day I found out Allison died.
That morning started like any other. I woke up late, missed breakfast, and ran across the street to catch the bus as it began to pull away. I knew something was wrong. I had reading first, then writing, PE was always on Wednesdays, and then lunch.
These days Mindy just sits there. Listening out for that inner voice. To pick up a fork to savour meals is turning into a daily chore. Time does so little to mend this resident hurt. It never seems to go away. At least she has been able to sleep. Thank God for that. Each wakeful moment only deepens the pain...
What is it like to not be judged in a world where being yourself is just not enough? What is it like to be yourself and get a hug without being judged and getting mugged by someone who barely even knows you but they’re scared of what they think they know but don’t know anything about so they lash out on you and lose control, funny right? But I guess that’s how life goes people get mad about things they can’t control. How does it feel to be loved by someone who sees all your imperfections as a high and can see themselves with you for the rest of your life?
His back ached with the burden of his mother, and though he silently cursed himself for his lack of stamina and overall fitness, he managed to find solace in the fact that he would only have to carry her for a few more hours. The sun dwindled behind the trees and the light was filtered into broken shards of yellow. Sweat fell from his glistening forehead, and the droplets landed next to falling twigs.