When I tell people what I do (mostly more creative, artistic friends) they give me a sympathetic frown. “Well, at least it’s a job,” they say. Or “You’re going to keep writing, right?” They’re shocked, like I sold out or that I work for “the man,” someone our English teachers warned us about. But I don’t feel the need to apologize or defend my choices. Do I have to starve to be an artist? Do I have to live in my parents basement until I’m 30 because I never have the money to move out? God knows freelancing doesn’t really pay the bills. You can sigh all you want – but I have a job and an apartment! And yes, I’m going to keep writing.
Charlie’s Adventure, Continued:
As soon as he woke up, Charlie crashed back into his bed.
“Charlie!” His mother called, running into his room. “Are you alright?”
He felt like someone had thrown a bucket of water on his head. He could feel the terror in his stomach, like a ball of ice that just would not melt.
“I’m fine, mom,” Charlie answered, a little confused. He had never gotten that high before. He always levitated at night – his mind never focused on anything. He raced on a speedway at the Indy 500 or tossed a football with Michael Ohr. He couldn’t focus on keeping his body on the ground while his mind was busy. But to have risen feet into the air? It unnerved him.
Charlie dragged himself out of bed and shuffled over to the clothes his mother had laid out for him the night before. He was really too old for her to do this anymore, but he knew she got some sort of weird pleasure from dressing him. He pulled on some blue jeans and an Optimus Prime t-shirt and flexed his muscles in the mirror. Puny. No wonder Liz only had eyes for Brodie. He made being a 12-year-old boy look easy. His face never broke out, his voice never cracked, and braces only made him look better. All the girls swooned when he walked by in the hallway, breathing in the Axe smell that rolled off of him in waves. He even modeled tube socks for Modell’s. Liz didn’t even know Charlie existed. He sighed and trudged down the stairs.
“Good morning, little man!” said his mother in a cheerful voice.
“Morning, mom,” Charlie mumbled.
“How’s your condition today?” she asked. She never failed to ask.
“Fine, mom,” Charlie assured her. “Everything’s fine. You know, I really think it’s starting to go away. I’ve really gotten an handle on it.”
“That’s great, hon! I don’t want you to end up like your grandmother. Don’t get me wrong, I love her, but there was always something a little weird about her, if you ask me. I’m so happy you finally figured out how to control it. How do you do it?”
“Well, you know, I concentrate. Like always,” said Charlie quickly. “I think my mind is just getting used to telling me to stay down, you know.”
His mom gave Charlie a quick hug. “I’m so happy, honey. So happy.”
And that pretty much told Charlie he would never tell his mom what happened. Nope, never. She’d think he was a freak.
“The bus! The bus!” Charlie shouted. “Bye, mom.”
The bus rolled down the street, slowing down as it reached his corner. Stay on the ground, Charlie whispered to himself. Stay on the ground.
“Come on up, sugar,” the bus driver wheezed from way too many packets of cigarettes.
Charlie ran up the steep steps and sank into the first available seat next to Kumar. Kumar was safe. Kumar was someone Charlie felt safe around.
“My man,” Charlie greeted Kumar. “How’s that chest hair coming in?”
“Please, like you know what chest hair even looks like, Kumar,” scoffed Charlie. Truthfully, neither one of them really know what chest hair looked like, or why it was even there, it just sounded manly to them.
“I’ve got more hair on my chest Sonal has on her legs,” Kumar retorted. Sonal, an unfortunate eleven year old, had thick, black hair on her legs that her mother refused to let her shave. Sonal’s mother said god made her hair like that so she wouldn’t be tempted to wear anything “indecent.” This became a problem in the summer for Sonal, because, unfortunately, she also had a sweating problem.