What's The Difference Between Me and You?
Nick sat across from James at the table and smiled at him. James
was grinning, and Nick knew why, but he didn't dare say anything in front of
his dad, Lori or his papu. Lori had cooked breakfast for everyone before
church, and as she was setting it on the table, she must have noticed the grins
that Nick and James had, because she spoke up.
"What are you two up too," she said in a joking way, causing Jim and big Nick to turn their attention toward Nick and James. Nick thought quickly, though, and he held his hand up so everyone could see his fingernails.
"James gave me a manicure last night," Nick said.
Lori took Nicks hand in hers and inspected his fingers closely, then she turned his hand over and looked at his fingertips. She looked impressed.
"You did this, James, she asked as she let Nicks hand go.
"Yes ma'am," James answered.
"He did my hair too," Nick said.
"I noticed that your hair was done, buddy," Jim said. "It looks good."
"Thank you daddy," Nick said with a smile. "We couldn't sleep last night because you and papu snore too loud."
"Oh really?" Jim said as big Nick chuckled. "I didn't hear anything."
"Trust me Uncle Jim," James said sarcastically. "You guys were snoring like bears."
Jim reached over and gave James a playful shove and smiled at him, then turned his attention back to his food.
During church, they sat with Taylor and his parents. Nick kept watching
The service seemed to last forever, and Nick was starting to feel restless. He was ready to go home, but the pastor hadn't even given the invitation to be saved yet. As it wore on, Nick's mind started to wander. He knew that his papu would be leaving on Thursday, and he was sad about that, but he was glad that
Finally, the pastor had everyone stand and pray, and then he gave the invitation. Nick smiled when he saw people go up to the front of the church to be saved. It made him feel good that he was there, and that this was something that
"Well, you have a visitor right now, buddy," Charles said. "I don't think it's very polite for
"It's polite," Nick said, trying to sound convincing. "
Charles smiled at Nick and patted him on the head. "We'll see," he said.
"Well, maybe if we're home later, you can call
"Yes sir," Nick said feeling disappointed.
They drove home to change, and then they went out to lunch. Lori offered to cook something, but big Nick insisted that he buy lunch, so they drove down to the oceanfront to look for a restaurant. After lunch, they walked down to the beach so that big Nick could get a better look at the
"Did you hit your head or something boy," Jim asked. "That water is probably 40 degrees. No way."
Nick pouted as they walked along the beach, feeling angry with his dad for not letting him swim. In his head, he was thinking about all of the reasons why he should be able to go in the water if he wanted too, but he knew that his dad would never let him. After a few moments, they made it to a concession area of the beach where they rented four wheeled bikes that would seat up to six people, so Jim and big Nick walked over to the rental desk. When they did, Nick decided that he was going to go swimming, and that if he got in trouble, he would worry about that later. As soon as Jim wasn't watching, he dashed toward the water, kicking his shoes off on the way. As soon as he saw a wave coming toward him, he jumped into it, and he immediately gasped from the cold. He could hear his dad screaming at him, but he had just swallowed a mouthful of saltwater and was trying to cough it up when he was swept out into the water by the undercurrent. Nick tried his hardest to stay above the water, but he still hadn't caught his breath from the mouthful of saltwater he swallowed and more water was going up his nose and in his mouth, and he was instantly scared. He swam toward the beach with all of his might, but he was moving further away from the beach. Suddenly, out of nowhere, he felt an arm around his waist and he was being drug to shore. When they got to the beach, he stayed on his hands and knees and coughed up all of the water he had swallowed as he tried not to cry. He felt his dad hitting his back with an open hand, trying to help him get it all out, and finally, he was able to breathe. When he looked up, he saw his dad, who looked scared and was dripping wet from head to toe.
As Jim helped him stand up, he looked around and saw his papu, James and Lori, who was crying, looking at him. He suddenly felt humiliated, and he turned to his dad and teared up. Jim lifted him up and carried him back to the car, and Nick just buried his face in his dad's chest. He knew that there was a crowd of people watching, and he didn't want them to see his face at all.
"What were you thinking about son," Jim asked as they headed toward the car, but Nick didn't answer. He just cried, not sure anymore what he was thinking when he decided to go in the water, especially after his dad told him not to.
As they got to the car, Jim opened his trunk and took out a jacket that he kept there. He peeled Nick's shirt off and put the jacket on him, which was way to big for him, and he zipped it up. Then Jim made Nick take off his shorts and underwear, but the jacket was so big that it covered his privates, so no one could see them.
Nick got in the car and cried while Jim talked to the lifeguard, who had come up to the car when someone pointed out what happened. Nick could hear his dad telling the lifeguard everything, then he opened the door and the lifeguard stuck his head in the car.
"Are you okay," he asked in a soft voice. Nick nodded sadly and looked down. "That water is too cold for anyone to be in right now, and I hope that the next time your dad tells you not to get in, you listen."
"Yes sir," Nick said through his tears. The lifeguard took his head back out of the car, and Jim closed the door again. After a few more moments, everyone got back in the car and they went home. Jim sat in the back seat with Nick, and Lori drove. The ride back was silent, and Nick felt horrible. He had ruined everyone's day, and he knew it. He worried that his papu probably couldn't wait to get home now and that he might not even want to come back to visit for Thanksgiving.
When they got home, Jim took Nick upstairs right away and they got in the shower together. After their shower, Jim wrapped Nick up in a towel and had him wait on his bed while he got dressed. When he was finished, he carried Nick to his room and dressed him. As he was putting Nick's clothes on him, he spoke.
"Son, I'm really upset with what you did," he said. "You purposely defied me and you almost drowned. I don't know what was going through your head, but whatever it was, it's earned you a spanking."
"I'm sorry," was all that Nick had time to say. Jim turned him around and used a belt Nick didn't even know he had hit his bottom three times.
"The next time I tell you something, you'll listen," Jim said. "Otherwise, you'll get another spanking. Is that understood?"
Nick didn't answer. Instead, he lay on his bed and cried into his pillow.
"I want an answer," Jim said, but Nick still didn't answer him. He felt the belt hit him a forth time, and Jim spoke again.
"Do you understand what I told you," Jim asked forcefully. "Answer me before you get another one."
"Yes," Nick cried loudly. "Don't hit me again."
Jim put the belt down and sat on the bed, where Nick was still crying in his pillow, and he spoke again.
"You almost drowned today, son," he said. "Do you understand that? You almost died."
Nick couldn't answer his dad because he was still crying from the whipping he got, but Jim went on.
"Son, if I ever lose you, I don't know what I'd do," he said. "You're all I have. When I tell you to do something, it isn't because I'm trying to be mean. I told you that the water was too cold, but you went in anyway. Why?"
"I don't know," Nick cried.
"I think I know why," Jim said. "It's time for you to take a nap. You didn't get any sleep last night, and you need to sleep now."
Jim leaned over and kissed Nick on the back of his head, then he got up and left the room. After Jim left the room, Nick laid still and cried some more, feeling sorry for himself. He couldn't understand why his dad would want to spank him when he was the one who had almost drowned. Thoughts swirled through his head about why he hated his dad, and how he wished he could go back to
Nick felt his bed dip a little and he opened his eyes to find his papu sitting on the edge of his bed.
"Hey little polakia," big Nick said as he ran his hand over Nicks face affectionately.
"Are you mad at me," Nick asked.
"No," big Nick answered. "I wish you hadn't gone in the water when your daddy said not to, but I'm not mad at you. I'm just glad that you're okay."
"I love you papu," Nick said as he started to get emotional.
"I love you too, polakia," big Nick said. "I would be really sad right now if you would've drowned."
"I want to go home with you," Nick said. "I don't want to live with my dad anymore."
"Yes you do," big Nick said. "You're just upset about getting a whipping."
"I didn't deserve one," Nick cried.
"Well, maybe you didn't," said big Nick. "But I bet that the next time your daddy tells you to stay out of the water, you'll listen."
"No I won't," Nick said defiantly through his tears. "I'm going to go further in and drown so that I can't get a spanking."
"You don't mean that," big Nick said.
"I do too," Nick said sadly. "I don't want to be his son anymore."
"Well, dinners ready," big Nick said as he got up. "If you're hungry, you need to come downstairs and eat with us."
"I'm not," Nick said as he sat on his bed and pouted. Big Nick shrugged and walked out of the room, and Nick closed the door and turned on his TV to watch cartoons. After a few minutes, his door opened and Jim walked in.
"Son, it's time for you to come downstairs and eat," he said. Nick acted as if he didn't hear him, and he turned his TV up to try to drown his dad out, so Jim walked up to the TV and unplugged it from the back.
"Let's go now," Jim said angrily, but Nick just looked up at him defiantly and refused to get up. "Okay, if you don't want to listen, that's fine. You're grounded from any TV for a month, and you'll still come eat."
"I'm not hungry," Nick said. "Especially if you cooked."
"I don't care if you're hungry or not," Jim yelled. "You'll do what you're told."
"No I won't," Nick yelled back. "I hate you!"
Jim turned and stormed out of the room, and Nick sat back down on the beanbag in disbelief. He couldn't believe that he just won a fight with his dad, and he couldn't believe the way his dad just gave up and left. He got up and plugged his TV back in, then he turned it back on and laid down on his bed to watch cartoons.
As Nick stepped off the bus behind
"We'll see," Linda answered as they walked up the road. "I'm sure you're dad wants you to do your homework first."
"Please, grandma," Nick pleaded. "I always do it when James does his."
Linda sighed and looked at Nick, but eventually she smiled and said, "Okay."
Nick's insides jumped when she gave in and he threw both of his arms up in the air like he had just won a race, then he gave her a long hug.
"I love you grandma," he said.
"I love you too, sweetheart," she replied. "I want you to make sure to be back when your father gets home. Is that understood?"
"Yes ma'am," Nick said as he made his way between his grandparent's house and his house to the backyard. He used his key to go inside, then he locked the back door behind him and walked through the house to the hallway, where he went into the garage and got on his bike to ride it out the side door.
When Nick rode up to Taylor's house, he expected him to be waiting for him out front, but instead, the door was closed and Nick thought he could hear crying from upstairs as he walked up the sidewalk through the yard to ring the doorbell. After a few minutes, Cindy answered the door, but she looked upset about something.
"Hi Nick," she said quietly. "How are you doing today?"
"I'm doing fine, Miss Cindy," he answered. "How are you?"
"I'm doing okay," she said. "Let me see if
Nick felt confused about not being invited inside the house like he usually was, but he just shrugged and waited. Finally, after a long wait,
"Hi Nick," he said as he came outside and closed the door behind him.
"What's wrong," Nick asked, feeling nervous about the way Taylor and Cindy were acting.
"Let me ask my mom,"
"Are you okay," Nick asked as
"Are you mad at me for something," he asked, feeling uncomfortable.
"Why are you talking to me that way then?" Nick demanded.
Nick glared at
Taylor was picking his bike back up as Nick made it to his feet, and just as he was about to climb on, Nick ran up to him and punched him in the stomach as hard as he could.
"Why did you do that, Nick," he asked through his sobs. "I thought you were my friend."
A feeling of guilt came over Nick as he watched
"I'm sorry I did that,
He put his head back down in his lap and started crying again, and Nick felt helpless. He didn't know what to say or what to do, so he just sat there until
"I didn't mean to yell at you, Nick,"
"Why not," Nick asked.
"She forgot to ask to talk to me again," he cried. Nick felt so horrible for his best friend, but he had no idea what to say or do to make things better. Not only had he spit on him and beat him up, but now he couldn't even find something to say to try to make him feel better. They sat quietly for a long time while Nick rubbed
"Let's ride our bikes somewhere,"
"Where to," Nick asked, willing to do whatever Taylor wanted to do if it would make him smile.
"Let's go to your house,"
Nick stood up and held out his hand for
"Hey buddy," Jim said as Nick let go of the hug. "How was your day?"
"It was okay, except that me and Taylor had a fight," Nick said.
"An argument," Jim asked.
"No," Nick said. "We had a fight."
Jim stared at the ground for a long moment, as if he were thinking about what Nick told him, then he looked across the room and used both of his hands to rub his eyes, as he seemed to focus again.
"What for," he finally asked.
"We were arguing about something, then we spit on each other, then we had a fight," Nick explained to his dad, who seemed to have drifted off again. "We made up though."
"That's good," Jim said in a voice that said he was listening but not paying attention.
"We're in my room playing Tekken 3, okay." Nick said.
"Okay, babe," Jim said as he turned and made his way toward the kitchen. Nick made it up the stairs but he stopped at the top and sat down for a minute. He knew what his dad had done on the way to taking his papu to the airport. He wasn't too shocked, but he was definitely feeling disappointed. He hadn't seen his dad get high since they were on their way to
He got up and made his way back to his bedroom, where
"I don't think my controller's working," he said as he reset the game. Nick smiled and sat down next to him and watched as
"Do you forgive me,"
"Let's never fight again,
When Nick got off the school bus that afternoon, he wanted to spend the afternoon with
"I thought we weren't going to be friends anymore,"
"You didn't," Nick said as the reality of what
"It's okay, Nick,"
"I love you," Nick said as he pulled his lips away from
"I love you too, Nick,"
Nick was lost in thought when his door opened and Jim walked in.
"Hey guys," he said. "Is everything okay?"
"Yes sir," Nick said, looking up at his dad for any sign that he was stoned. "We talked about what happened."
"That's good, boys," Jim said. "
"He's downstairs," Jim said. Nick got up and followed his dad and Taylor downstairs, where Charles was waiting in the family room.
"Hey sport," Charles said with a smile to his son.
"No, I just wanted to come get you so we could talk," Charles answered.
"Why don't we put your bike in the back of the truck, " Charles said. "We'll talk about it on the way home, okay?"
Jim led Charles out to the garage where
"They're talking about my mom,"
"Why," Nick asked.
"My dad hates her, and he says bad stuff about her to people,"
"How come he does that," Nick asked.
"Because he doesn't want me to live with her when she moves back here,"
"Come on, sport," he said softly. "We need to get going."
"Come on, buddy," Nick heard his dad say as he felt his hand on his shoulder. "They're going to be fine."
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