A/N: Just a couple things….first, gahhh so sorry that this took forever to come out! Things have been most stressful and crazy in real life right now and for awhile I couldn’t even find the creativity to write, but it’s all good now because I’m finally posting. Yay! Anddd second, it looks like this is going to be a common thing with me…but chapter 2.3 and 2.4 are essentially the same chapter, but I had to split it because it would have been wayyyy too long. Hope you enjoy!
“My brain is about to mutiny against my skull,” I groaned, rubbing my forehead with my knuckles in the hope that some of the pain of my headache would go away.
“What are you working on?” Aspen asked, cheerfully working out such a complicated math problem that just looking at it made me sick.
“Uh…just…stuff,” I mumbled, moving my arm slightly to hide my homework. The last thing I wanted was for Aspen to see me struggling with something that was probably stupidly easy for him.
“Do you want any help?”
Aspen sighed. “Look, I know you don’t like getting help from your younger brother, but try not to think of it that way. Think of me as just another kid in your class.”
“Really, it’s fine,” I sighed tiredly. “I just…need to think about it for a second.” I stared down at the complicated equations before me, the numbers all blurring into each other as my eyes glazed over. Why was this so hard for me?!
“Remember to work from the inside out,” Aspen said after a moment. “And watch your signs; I think you switched them on the third step there.”
“Didn’t I say I didn’t want your help?”
“…I elected to disregard that statement.”
I rolled my eyes and stared back down at my homework. Sure enough, I had messed up the sign on the third step. I begrudgingly fixed my mistake, working from there and actually finally getting the right answer. Damn my little brother for being right all the time.
“Do you think I could get your advice on something?” Aspen asked after a long moment of silence in which we were both deep in thought. I gave my head a quick shake, sweeping away mathematical equations and bringing myself back into the present.
“Oh uh…yah…sure,” I said, looking up my brother curiously. “What’s up?”
“Well…well uh, I was just wondering,” he began slowly, his cheeks starting to turn red.
“There’s a girl, isn’t there?”
Aspen looked up at me, relieved that he didn’t have to say it out loud. “Yes! And I was wondering-”
I interrupted his words with a tired sigh. “Aspen…I’m probably the worst guy in the world to ask about girls.”
“Oh,” he said, looking back down at his homework and looking somewhat dejected. “Er, well, I was just wondering if you knew anything about this girl? Problem is, I don’t know her name….”
“What’s she look like?”
“Uh huh…..kind of need more than that dude.”
“Oh right!” Aspen said, snapping out of the dream-like state he had fallen into and looking back up. “Well, she’s a red head, and her hair is really long and straight. Ummm, she has freckles. And her eyes! Damn! Her eyes are this-”
“Warm, chestnut color?” I asked, my heart sinking in my chest.
“Yeah! And they-”
“You know her then?!” Aspen asked excitedly, sitting up in his chair.
“…yeah,” I said, my skin feeling clammy and my blood feeling strangely cold. “That…er, that’d be Ginger. Um…Ginger Blossom.”
“Wow…is she taken?”
“Uhh…no, she’s not taken.”
“YES! …but the thing is…I wouldn’t even know what to say to her. I mean, do I just run up to her and say ‘Hey…I’m Aspen!’ or would that be stupid? I could also-”
Aspen continued talking, but as I stared into space I became less and less aware of what he was saying, until I finally completely tuned him out. I felt like punching my brother right in the face for even thinking to look at my girl…but the thing was, she wasn’t my girl and technically he had every right to talk to her. But it just wasn’t fair! I was the one who saw her first! I was the one she talked to! I was the one she liked! NOT my stupid, scrawny, punk-ass little brother. UGH! I could just feel my blood begin to boil at the thought of him looking at her, at touching her! I WAS GOING TO KI-
“HELLO? Reed?” Aspen finally yelled, waving his hand in front of my face and knocking me out of my murderous rage. “Jeez, what the hell man? You were like, going Hulk on me. Damn.”
I blinked and looked down at my fists, which were clenched so tightly that I had apparently snapped the pencil I’d been holding right in half without even noticing. Little marks were left in my palms from where my nails dug into them and a bitter taste filled my mouth as I grabbed another pencil out of my backpack. “Sorry,” I managed to say, feeling completely lost now. I needed to get out of this room now. I was going to be sick.
“Reed…I won’t go after her if she means something to you,” Aspen said, looking at me in concern. “I didn’t know you liked her, or else I wouldn’t have even thought about it. Seriously, I don’t want to take your girl or anything like that.”
Seeing my brother looking so pathetically worried made me feel horribly guilty. He didn’t know, and damn, I had no right to Ginger anyway. She had already made it known to me that she didn’t want anything to do with me, so why was I going to be an asshole and keep my brother from trying his hand at happiness? I sighed. “I lost my chance with her. A while ago actually. You…you should do what you want to.” …ugh, my heart. I looked down at my homework again, trying to ignore everything that was happening around me.
“…are you sure?”
“Yep. Really sure. I’m gonna go now. Headache,” I said without looking at Aspen, and with that I swept up my notebook and bolted for my room. I sincerely hoped that he wouldn’t follow me, as it was his room too, but luckily, he didn’t.
Goddamn. Everything in Neverglade had truly gone to shit.
I’m not in the mood to write today.
It’s been a week, but I can’t think of anything to say.
Today was a day like any other. I got up, got dressed, and…ah fuck it.
“I’m moving,” I announced one day after dinner as my parents were lounging on the couch and chatting.
“No you’re not, you’re just standing there,” my dad quipped, causing my mom to burst into a fit of giggles. Ugh. My dad the jokester and my mom the twelve year old.
“I’m serious,” I said, running a hand through my hair roughly. “After my birthday, I don’t want to live in Neverglade anymore.”
“Why not?” my mom asked in surprise, any trace of laughter completely gone from her voice now as she looked up at me in shock. Sigh. I knew she wouldn’t take well to this. To my mom, Neverglade was a paradise. What she didn’t understand though, was that to me, it was a prison.
“Because I hate it here!” I answered with a snap. “There’s nothing for me. My friend since like, third grade hates me; the girl I’m crazy about doesn’t want anything to do with me; everyone at school has their own stupid cliques and I don’t fit into any of them so I barely have any friends; and on top of it all I can’t freaking DO anything here. There’s never ANYTHING happening. I just can’t stand it!” I finished desperately, trying to keep my emotions at bay so they wouldn’t think I was being irrational, but having a terrible time of it. The truth was, I was about seconds away from exploding. Couldn’t my parents see how miserable I was?
“Son…high school isn’t easy for anyone,” my dad said seriously. “And this town offers loads of job opportunities—you just have to figure out what you want, and that’s something that everyone has to go through. Moving won’t solve that for you.”
“But that’s the thing, I DO know what I want to do and Neverglade is a lame place to do it.”
“Oh? And what would that be?” my mother asked calmly, although her annoyance was practically tangible at this point.
“I want to be Carneg- I mean, I want to be a CEO,” I stated firmly, my jaw set as I stared down at my parents, daring them to say something against it. I know…you’re probably surprised. I know my parents were as they stared at me with expressions that vacillated from surprise to confusion. The thing was though, I had been thinking about this for a long time now—doing my research, asking my teachers questions, and even reading some books about business and I actually liked it. As I was reading this stuff, I just felt this overwhelming sense of ‘man, that’s what I want to be doing’. I want to be my own boss; I want to be at the top; I want everyone to know my name and everything that I’ve accomplished. I had big dreams, and I just didn’t feel like Neverglade was conducive to turning those dreams into a reality.
“That’s not exactly something you can just do…” my mom said with concern, seeming to think that I was completely naïve about this whole thing.
“Yeah, I know that,” I said exasperatedly, rolling my eyes. “I’d be starting off with grunt work, filing papers maybe in a big business, I don’t know, but I’d work my way up.” My parents exchanged glances, seeming torn between their want to be bluntly realistic and their desire to support their children in no matter what endeavor they chose to embark on.
“But why can’t you do that here? Neverglade is by no means a ‘lame’ place to do this, it’s a burgeoning neighborhood and the opportunities are practically endless…in fact, it would probably be easier to achieve what you want here, than—wait, where did you say you wanted to go?” my dad finished, looking at me questioningly.
“Bridgeport,” I said without missing a beat. My dad’s eyes widened, my mom made a choking sound, and then I was taken aback because what followed was basically a huge fight in which my mom yelled that there was no way in hell I was going to go to such a dangerous place and my dad continuously asked why I had to go so far to do this and why didn’t I just stay here where it would be so much easier, and so on and so forth until I finally screamed that I was going to go no matter what they thought and very maturely stormed into my room, slamming the door behind me as hard as I could.
But you know what? It didn’t even fucking matter, because no matter what they thought I WAS going to do this. I HATED Neverglade and Bridgeport was where everything was happening. It would be an opportunity to start anew…to start anew in the city that never sleeps. I wanted it—badly, and no one was going to stop me.
Of course, the next few weeks in the house were horribly tense, until finally, miraculously, my parents gave up. I have to admit that I was in shock the first time I happened upon them and they didn’t say one negative thing about my decision. They were actually asking logistical questions now and helping me out. It seemed they had finally respected my decision and realized that I was about to legally be an adult. This thought made me feel awesome, I gotta say, but then I found out it was all a farce.
“Have mom and dad said anything to you lately?” Buttercup asked in a seemingly casual sort of way.
“Uh…no,” I said slowly, immediately suspicious. Of what, I didn’t really know, but I instantly didn’t trust this conversation.
“Well then I have some awesome news!” she said excitedly, practically bouncing up and down in place. I opened my mouth to say something, but she immediately talked over me, gushing, “I’m coming with you!”
“To Bridgeport. I’m moving too. With you. Reed and Buttercup move to Bridgeport. Be big success,” she said, imitating your stereotypical caveman (er…woman) by the end of it.
“Umm, Reed get it, but Reed don’t like it,” I echoed back in the same voice, only it was hissed through gritted teeth.
“Oh come on!” Buttercup said. “This will be exciting! And besides, if all goes well, you’ll barely even see me. You see, I plan to start my own band there. Really start making my dreams come true!” she squealed. I stared at Buttercup in bewilderment, unused to her bouncing around like a school girl. She was usually so level-headed. ….it was clear that this meant a lot to her…and well, that part made me feel too guilty to argue any longer. Besides, it might even be a good thing…she could help out with the rent, and if things did go to shit, well, at least I’d know someone.
“Do mom and dad know?” I asked in a defeated sort of way, my voice dead-pan.
“Yup! They were actually pretty receptive to the idea. Almost relieved, really,” she mused.
“So that must be why they’re suddenly not on my back anymore,” I said with a roll of my eyes.
“Probably!” she said happily. “I’m going to start making our arrangements. Talk to you later!” she squealed as she practically skipped away.
I stood in place, blinking stupidly as I took in what just happened. My big sister was going to be joining me in Bridgeport to essentially babysit me. Great.
Sigh. Well, at least my parents would be happy now.
A/N: Abrupt ending=go to the next chapter to read the rest! See you there =D