By Martin Clement
Unless otherwise noted, this story is Copyright 2006 by Martin Clement for Clement & Boule Associes. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, published, distributed, displayed, performed, copied or stored for public or private use in any information retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any mechanical, photographic or electronic process, including electronically or digitally on the Internet or World Wide Web, or over any network, or local area network, without written permission of the author.
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Sometimes, things just seemed so... weird. As I thought everything would come back to normal, well, as normal as things used to be, going back to my old routine was somewhat at the end of the world. Going back to speaking to my father, as politically correct as our conversations would go, made my world upside down. I remembered perfectly all these delicious breakfasts my father used to cook as I was a child. Jeez! I always thought my father was the best cook in the world by then. Oh! my mother didn't have any problem cooking, but her food was never as good as my fathers'. My mother cooking was more of a job than anything else for her. I don't think she ever really liked doing it. So she used to cook the usual food. Not disgusting at all, mind me, just ordinary food. For my father, well, it was another story. I can't say how many times coming back from school I had smelled all these mixed and exotic aromas. As I entered the kitchen, I often had found my father there with Thai or Mexican (real Mexican, mind you, not these cheap Tex-Mex taco plates you eat in fake Mexican restaurants) or Moroccan or Portuguese recipes books spread on the counter, a glass of Gewürztraminer not too far from his touch. Up until today I never forget about his extraordinary chicken in mole (pronounce "moley") sauce, the Mexican traditional plate. Before tasting it, I always thought chocolate was reserved for desserts. But as this plate was so simply divine, my whole way of thinking about chocolate had been changed that day. The first time I tasted it, it was so good to roll on the ground. So that's exactly what I had done, my parents laughing almost to choke themselves.
During the last week-end, my father told me that his own father had never even boiled water, pretending it was a woman's job to work in a kitchen. Even though my grand-mother had worked as a teacher all her life, working as hard as her husband did, it was, in my grandfather's eyes, her job to clean the house, take care of the children and cook while he could watch the news on TV. Other times, other customs, he told me. But my father told me he started cooking at first because he didn't want to become as his father. And since his own father was very easy on giving the belt and grounding his children as if they were babies even when they were teenagers, he decided he wanted to listen to his own children and discuss instead of saying: "You can't because I said so!" Okay, he had failed in this role of father. He acted out of disrespect for me when he disowned me as his son. He had done something beyond repair. Something that would follow both of us for the rest of our lives. But the smell of the fabulous fruit stuffed Breton pancakes flying in the air of the house and up to my bedroom made me smile.
But it was weird... since it was the first time I was really expected to take a part in this whole breakfast thing for five years. But as I lifted myself out of the bed and started to get dressed as fast as I could with the sling and the casts that were obstacles to my moves, I thought I could get used to it quite easily.
When I reached the top of the stairs, I sat down on the floor, as instructed by John, and went down slowly while holding my crutch. Downstairs, the odour coming from the kitchen was simply overwhelming. So I stood up and walked to the kitchen, leaded by the aroma coming to my nose as in cartoons.
"You're awake?" my father asked.
"Couldn't resist the pancakes, huh?" he asked, a little smile appearing in the corner of his mouth."
"How could I?" I smiled while approaching the plates where the pancakes landed, full of fruits and whipped cream. "You woke up early." I remarked, seeing it was still five fifteen at the clock.
"Well..." he sighed, scratching his neck. "I knew you woke up early, so... well... I just wanted to share a meal with you... you know, before your mother wakes up..."
"You didn't have to..."
"I know!" he said quickly. "I just thought you..."
"Wow! coffee..." I cut him up. "Want one?"
"Yes, please. I take..."
"The tip of a spoon of sugar and a little cloud of milk, isn't it?"
"Yeah... you remembered?"
"Father, there are a lot of things that I remember." His smile faded and he looked back at the counter. "That's not what I meant." I said. "I remember when I was a kid. I remember your pancakes. I remember every single times I enjoyed with you. The camping trips..." His smile reappeared in all his face. "I remember when you taught me how to ride my bike. I remember when you brought me to cinema to watch..."
"Antz!" we both exclaimed at the same time, chuckling.
"You remember that? It seems so long ago..."
"1998 to be exact. I was seven by then. How could I forget it? It was my first time at the cinema."
"You have a very good memory, Lucas." I gave him his mug and his expression looked sad. "Thanks. I'd like to say I remember you take your coffee black, but..."
I put my hand on his shoulder, and the words that left my mouth surprised me even more than it did my father.
"We'll make it."
"What do you say we attack these pancakes?" he asked, and we did just that.
This morning was strange enough for me, and I guess it was as strange for my father, but I could finally say I was finding my family back. I was a bit nervous, and I could see my father was also. But he had found a way, in this little exclusive meal alone together, to find a way to share little bits of the time we missed. When my mother woke up an hour after and joined us in the kitchen, I think I saw her wink at my father before she came to ruffle my hair and pour herself a mug of coffee.
Michael came by my home at ten to eight sharply to help me get to his car he had parked in front of the house. I still don't know why he did all that. I was able to walk and since I had left school in a hurry during lunch time last Monday, I didn't even have my backpack with me.
The ride to school was nice, listening to lame country music and chatting. It had been that way last Monday. But that morning, I really felt comfortable sitting there with Mike. So there was nothing really weird about it. Our friendship really was on its ascending way, jeez! it felt as mountain climbing with an expert. No, everything seemed to be alright until we entered the school hall and I parted with Mike to go to my locker.
It seemed as everyone was looking my way. At first, I just thought I was being paranoid, but when I heard my name coming from one girl while trying to make it discreet, and this other one turned her head so fast in my direction I thought she would break her neck, I knew they were all looking at me.
The first two weeks after the event in the elementary school's playground had been hell to me. More so than the five years that followed, because by then, it was not only pricks as Matthew Harris that kept on harassing me. Every single day, people were making comments in my face. Everybody was doing it. My humiliation had been at its peak by then. For two weeks, people I used to chat with were taking their distances, telling me they didn't want to associate with faggots. I wanted to hide. I was just praying for the floor to open and swallow me. But there was no way to hide. In elementary schools, I couldn't have access to the library since there was none. I couldn't find a place to hide, since for security, the whole school yard was visible from every corner of it. And there were kids everywhere. So I was trapped. And I still felt like this five years after with all these people looking my way. I couldn't describe the expression they had on their faces. I kept my eyes low and walked to my locker, which was still green, and opened the door.
Harris... So he came by me first thing in the morning. I turned around so fast that I banged my head on the door.
"Ouch!" I yelped, massaging my head with my healthy hand. "What do you want?" I demanded this time. I was sick of his shitty way of treating me. I was sick of him. I just wanted him to leave me the fuck alone and never come back.
"I wanted to thank you for..."
"Don't sweat it!" I quickly exclaimed. "You don't owe me a thing, Matthew."
"I've been a jerk." he said.
"What do you want, Matthew?"
"All these things I did to you..."
"They were mean."
"Yeah... I know. All these words I said, all these horrible things I did, they were really mean."
"Is that all?" I said, putting books in my backpack and locking my locker.
"I know apologizing to you would mean nothing. I know I've been a jerk to you and I should have never said these words or done these things. You had never done anything to me. Fuck! you went out of your way for I don't get hit by this car. I know that. And I think everything was just some kind of sick game to me to make me popular and everything. But what is it with being popular? It's all gone to the toilet when you get out of this stupid school! It would all have been gone if I had been killed by this car! Heck! you could have died that day. When you fell down to the street after it hit you, I was sure you were fucking dead! Dead because of me! Dead because you wanted to save my life!"
"Are we done?" I asked.
"We still have five more minutes before the bell rings. Can you just give me five minutes?" I nodded. "Thank you, Lucas." As I wasn't sure of his intentions when he showed up at my locker, I could say by then that he was being sincere, since his eyes were watery and he couldn't look me in the eyes for a change. "Mike told me a week and a half ago that I needed to grow up. And he was right. I am just a spoiled kid who had it easier because I was an athlete, thinking that it meant everything in the whole world. But the relativity law wasn't found by an athlete. Electricity either. I think I matured a bit during this week after the accident. You don't have to worry for me being a jerk to you anymore. I won't even look your way. I just wanted to give you these dull apologies because I know I can't make everything I did to you disappear. I'll have to deal with my culpability alone. Thank you for not letting my shitty head get killed that day." Matthew put his hands in his jeans' pockets, turned around and walked to the end of the row of lockers. Before he disappeared, he turned again. "You'll be a great man, Lucas." Then he was gone.
Weird... A lot of things were weird. When the bell rang, I walked my way to the stairs when I heard Mike calling after me.
"Lucas! this way." he said. "Since today, you're getting the special treatment!" he beamed, showing me a key.
"What is it for?" I asked.
"From now on, you're taking the elevator, duh!" he said, looking at me as if an arm was growing in my face.
"Where did you get this key from?"
"Mr. Howell gave it to me so I could give it to you. You know what he told me?"
"What? That it was only because he had to?"
"Nah! You really are far from it! He said he wished you to get well soon."
"Yeah! Your father probably made quite an impression on him, I guess." he said as he helped me into the thin elevator.
To be continued...
Thanks again to the people who sent me constructive comments on Chapter 8 of Hate. I'm quite glad to see that I didn't loose all my readers. The help some of you give me with English writing is quite impressive and it is also very appreciated. Thank you very much.
Actually, there was this person who sent me a quite rude e-mail telling me I should write with the flow, as if I just jumped from one topic to another, not quite thinking well enough where I put my flashbacks. I won't make any case about it, but this person surely never read any of Diderot's books. I actually think my flashbacks were placed at the good times, but it happens that some people just don't get them, as if writers had to write from day A to day Z in their minds without going back in time. For my part, I don't really care since I'll keep on writing the way I want, and I am bored when I have to read something as if it were a cheap soap opera without content. This story is about feelings and they come from Lucas' past as much as present.
Keep on commenting on my writing at the following address. I'm always glad to have constructive comments, which means if some people think I'm really a bad writer, then, they can just find another author who will fit their needs. We are millions on the planet, shouldn't be difficult to find one.
So this is it with Chapter 10. The story is now getting very close to its ending. Come back soon, readers who like the story as it is. Until then, stay tuned!