Aislin and Caleb Excerpt

Caleb

 “Now, see, I have a plan.”

 “A plan.”

 “Exactly. It may seem like I don’t have one right now but I can assure you, it’s there. It only looks like I’m not doing very well right now. I might be borderline failing most of my classes but once I am out of school, the plan will set in and everything will be better.”

 “And would you like to share this plan with me?”

 “Not particularly, no. But the plan does exist. I can assure you.”

 He’s not convinced I can tell but for some reason, weaving all of this bullshit makes this appointment seem to go faster.  I could do what normal people do, succumb, give in to the planned comfort of this room and actually talk to the guy but right now, I don’t actually feel like it.

 “Caleb.”

 “Sir.”

 “I wish you wouldn’t call me sir.”

 “I wish I was playing video games right now instead of sitting on this rather comfortable chair, but we can’t all have what we wish now can we.”

 He’s silent for a moment and in that silence I can hear his pen scribbling on his notepad. I hate when they do that. It should be a rule that they can’t. It’s horribly distracting.

 “Your mother did say that you had a talent with words.”

 I laugh.

 “I can’t really see how she would know that considering she doesn’t give me much opportunity to use them.”

 “Did you want to talk about that?”

 “Not particularly, no.”

  “And why not?”

 “It’s not part of the plan.”

 My mother always thought that an appointment could fix anything. It didn’t matter what the appointment was or who you were going to – have a problem?

 “I’ll make you an appointment.”

 In this case the appointment was as much for her as it was for me. She got a call from my school saying that my grades seemed slightly sub par compared to last year and immediately there  after, I had an appointment with Dr. Cane, my psychiatrist (sir) at six o clock the following day. She hasn’t said a word to me. Sometimes I wonder if she’s just tired or if she doesn’t know how to deal with these sort of things. I think this way she feels like she’s doing some sort of parenting.

 “How is school Caleb?”

 He doesn’t look at me when he asks it.

 “Ah now there’s a trick question. You already know how school is, it’s the reason you’re being forced to ask me questions for an hour.”

 I knew that this wouldn’t change the subject but I had to try anyways.

 “I’m not asking about your grades Caleb, I’m not a guidance counselor.” He leans forward and looks like he truly means what he’s saying, “I want to know how you feel about school.”

 I try and hold back my laughter. How do you feel about that? I wish I had gotten that on tape.

 “School’s okay.”

 “Do you have friends?”

 “Course I do. I’m friends with everyone.”

 “Do you have a best friend?”

 “Of course.”

 I hesitated on that last one and, like he was waiting for me to catch some sort of bait, he notices.

 “What is their name?”

 I almost list a name from the long list of people I know but part of me catches myself.  Then I almost tell him about Seth but I haven’t seen Seth in, I don’t even know how long. I don’t even know if you could call him my best friend anymore.

 “I think you need to participate a little more Caleb.”

 “Ha. I can see why my mother likes you.”

 “I’m not talking about participating in society Caleb; I’m talking about in life.”

 I’m skeptical of this guy’s findings.  I can’t believe the words coming out of his mouth. I take back my earlier statement; I have no idea why my mother would like this guy. Here I thought I was in for the “work harder” talk and I find myself being steered into the sticky webs of peer pressuring and hoodlum pranks. Okay, I don’t really know what I’m talking about actually. The most I’ve ever participated in my teenage life is by smoking a few joints with Seth in his parent’s basement last summer.

 I’m worried. I’m actually starting to feel okay about my psychiatrist.

 “Participate eh?”

 I don’t think this guy’s realized what he’s done to my brain.

 Aislinn

 There's alcohol in my room. Coolers to be exact. The sweet kind where if you drink too much you're bound to throw up, not because you're too drunk (is there even alcohol in these?) but because you've just overloaded your body with sugar.

 They're bright orange, like a chemical, and if the sun hits them just right, they make my room glow more than my black light does. I'm on my third one and my sims game has yet to get any more interesting (I usually turn it off after making them drown in the pool anyways) but the worst part about these coolers is that my mother bought them for me. "For my friends" she says. What friends? I'm drinking them alone just to spite her.

 I can see her outside my window as I take another sip of the radioactive orange bottle. Its a beautiful day so of course she's there, I knew it before I turned to look. She's lying on a thick mexican blanket in a blinding hot pink bikini that makes her look more tanned than ever thought possible for a white woman. Her whole body is flopped out, soaking in the sun except for her arm which is grasping at the brightly coloured stem of a margarita glass. Of course. You can always tell if its a beautiful afternoon by my mother's standards if the sounds of the blender are echoing throughout the house.

 My dad stands just beyond her with his shirt off working on his latest project and beyond him is his last failed project, my treehouse (the raccoons have ownership of that now).

 The sounds of screaming come from my computer speakers and I turn back just in time to witness the grim reaper turn my sim into an oddly shaped urn.

 "Well, that's the end of that."

 I chug down the rest of my sugar coated chemical juice and waltz down to join the rest of wildling tribe.

 "Ash!"

 My dad waves at me and I just know that he wants me to come look at his freshly dug hole in the ground. As I walk over, I try and brainstorm all the things that this whole could magically turn into. A pool. I hope its a pool.

 The image of myself drowning in the pool pops into my head complete with grim reaper and awfully shaped urn. I'm kidding of course. It can't actually be a pool.

 "Guess what it is?"

 He's really excited about it and I can tell by the red in his cheeks, that, or he's gotten into the mom's margaritas and his Irish is showing.

 "A pool."

 He laughs. A pool. That's ridiculous. Why would it ever be something so normal as a pool?

 "Its a horseshoe pit silly!"

 "Oh, that was my second guess."

 He laughs again. Did I mention that I'm hilarious?

 "Too funny Ash. But look!"

 He runs over to a pile of horseshoes that I just know he got from our farmer neighbour. He's painted one pile red and the other blue.

"Isn't it great? Now we can play together," He's ecstatic, "And maybe you can invite some of your friends and we can have teams! I painted enough shoes..."

 On with the friends again. I try not let it bother me and instead give him one of my smiles, I don't want to take away his happy.

 "Sounds great dad."

 "Aislinn! Do you want a margarita?"

 My mom's already pouring one for me before I have the chance to answer. I look from the blender pitcher to the "horseshoe pit" and already I worry about my parents safety well, there's and the other couples who attend my parent's infamous weekend parties. In my head, I try and remember if there's one coming up but nothing comes to mind. Thank god.

My parent’s parties are legendary. All I’m going to say is, we live in the middle of nowhere, and so do a lot of other families, my parents give them a way out of their weekend boredom. They’re not all bad though, sometimes the other parents bring their kids. On nights like that, we run wild under the stars while the parents laugh around a bonfire like moths to a flame.

 My mother shoves a plastic cup into my hand. I take a sip and wince.

“Mom!”

 She shrugs and heads back over to her blanket.

“It’s Sunday.”

 “You know that’s usually the day where no one drinks.”

 “Not on our little piece of heaven.”

 My dad laughs. I don’t. This can’t be a proper way to raise a child.

 I take my margarita and go. I know it’s probably not the best thing to do after downing a bunch of coolers but I’m not going to waste the thing. Plus, my mom’s right, it is Sunday and it sure is beautiful.

When the grass starts to give way to the dirt of our farm drive, I already have quite the buzz going. I follow it, barefoot, towards the side of our barn where our yard stops and a great expanse of cornfields begin. I take another sip. God, is that strong.

It hasn’t rained in a while so the dirt is loose; I dig my toes into it as I walk towards the back of the barn, my parents disappearing behind its battered walls. Ahead of me, the cornfields stretch out towards the very back of the forest edged lands. I stare straight down one of the rows and smile. It’s the middle of September so the stalks are tall creating walls upon walls of a large green maze.

 I laugh. This margarita has gotten to me.

 “Mais Maze.” This seems a little too funny to me.

 I take one last sip of my drink and set it down on the ground watching as the sweat of its sides soak into the dry ground around it.  I’m ready.

Taking a breath, I make a break for it down the row of corn before me. As my feet pat against the smooth dirt and the rough leaves slap against my arms, I feel free. Running always seems to make things better. I cut through into another row and then another, continuing down towards the back of our land. It’s impossible to get lost in here but I like the mystery of not knowing where I’m going all the same. The stalks are too tall to see over and I feel like I could go on forever.

Then, all at once, I break through the green barrier into one of those spots in the field where the corn didn’t grow. I stop and catch my breath, my head swimming with heat, exhaustion, and a concoction of alcohol. I sit on the ground and let the sounds of the stalks shaking in the wind take over me. I love that sound.

This is my escape. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to take someone with me but then I worry that they’d ruin it. I have an attachment to this green world and I worry that no one else would share that same swelling of the chest when they too enter it.

I lay back on the ground and let the ocean of stalks blowing in the wind wash over me. And maybe I am a little too drunk but I can feel myself sway along with them. I feel like I’m lost at sea.