Summerland Blurb

Bradin was lying in the hospital bed worrying. He felt like crap, but he felt better then he had right before he’d fallen down the stairs. He’d known the drugs were a risky idea, but he hadn’t expected it to turn out so badly. He really never thought it could be dangerous. He had seen the commercials and posters that said ‘drugs can kill’, but he figured that was only the serious drugs like heroin or crack cocaine. Now here he was with tubes sticking out of him, feeling like he had been beat up, and the only thing he could think about was what he was going to say to the adults in his life.

Susannah and Ava were in the hallway of the E/R waiting for news from the doctor when Jay finally arrived at a run. Jay asked, “What’s happening?”
Susannah said, “Did you know about the drugs?”
“What drugs?”
Susannah sighed and pulled him over to where Ava was looking anxiously down the hall towards the room Bradin had been put in. At that moment the doctor came up and said, “We have him stabilized.”
Ava said, “Oh thank God. What was he taking?”
“It was a PCA cocktail. It’s a mix of Ephedrine, Caffeine, and Aspirin that athletes sometimes use.”
Jay said, “I know all about PCA, but it wouldn’t do this to him.”
The doctor said, “It would when mixed with Clambuterol.”
Jay just ran his hand through his hair not knowing what else to say. Ava said, “But why?”
The doctor said, “That would be a good question for you to ask your son. You can see him now.”
The doctor walked away and Ava turned to Jay and said, “Jay?”
Jay looked as helpless about the situation as she felt. He said, “I don’t know. Maybe he was trying to get a boost or something for surfing.”
Ava felt inadequate. She couldn’t believe her sister had left the kids to her in the first place, but lately things had been going well, or so she thought. Now there was this huge issue, and she had no idea how to handle it. She said, “Here I am thinking I’m on top of things. Maybe if I’d just talked to him when he was upset last night….”
Jay said, “I’m gonna go have a word with him first if that’s okay.”
Ava nodded, not knowing what to say to Bradin herself yet. Jay walked down the hall and walked in Bradin’s room. He noticed the large area around Bradin’s right eye that was sure to bruise, and some areas were scabbed up. Jay said the first thing that came to his mind, “Wow. There’s a look for you.”
Bradin felt his heart rate go up the second Jay stepped into the room, knowing there would be some kind of confrontation, and not wanting it to happen. But then when Jay started with a joke, Bradin wasn’t sure how to take it. He said, “It’s not funny.”
Jay got serious and said; “You’re right about that.”
Bradin said, “Look, I know it was a mistake, but…”
“Big mistake.”
“Okay, a big mistake, but I just thought if I had something extra that Coach.…..”
Jay interrupted, “No. Just stop. There’s nothing you can say to justify what you did.”
Bradin didn’t want to hear that, so glared at Jay and said, “Well if you hadn’t butted in and talked to Coach Andrews after I asked you not to, maybe it wouldn’t have happened.”
Jay looked at Bradin with disbelief. “Don’t even think of trying to pin this on me. I admit that going to talk to Coach Andrews was a mistake on my part, and I’m sorry that I did it, but that doesn’t even compare to what you’ve done. You could have killed yourself Bradin. There’s no excuse. I got you interested in surfing, and I’ve told you more then once that you have the potential to be a great surfer. But not when you do stupid things like you did today, because taking any kind of drugs is just going to hurt your performance, not help it.”
Bradin looked away and kind of felt like crying after hearing Jay chew him out when he already felt guilty, nervous, and sick. Bradin’s voice cracked a little when he asked, “What am I gonna tell Aunt Ava?”
Jay said quietly, “Sorry would be a good place to start.”
Jay patted Bradin’s shoulder and went back out to the hall.

When Jay left to talk to Bradin, Ava had turned to Susannah. Ava said, “I really thought things were fine with him. Where did I go wrong?”
Susannah had had just about enough of Ava beating herself up over this. She said, “You didn’t do anything wrong Ava. You’ve been there for those kids every step of the way. This one is all on Bradin.”
Ava took a deep breath and tried to settle her nerves. She knew she was so stressed out about the whole situation that she might not be thinking rationally. She found herself wishing that Johnny was there, and then corrected herself and thought about Simon. She wondered what Simon would say, but couldn’t picture it. Simon seemed to be so perfect that she doubted he would know what to say about a screw up this big.
Susannah interrupted Ava’s thoughts, “Ava?”
“Sorry, I was just thinking.”
“I know you Ava, and I know you never want to come down hard on the kids. But since you just begged me to stay and help, I’m going to give you my opinion. I think you need to ground him.”
Ava nodded and said, “I agree. I hate it, but I agree. I need to set up some clear guidelines and make sure he follows them for a while before things get more out of control.”
“Exactly. If you don’t come down hard on him this time, then he’ll get the message that what he did to cope with his problems this time was somehow acceptable.”
At that point Jay came out of the room and walked over to them.
Ava said, “How is he?”
“He looks awful from his fall.”
Ava’s mothering side took over as she said, “Poor baby.”
Susannah reminded her, “A nasty fall that was entirely his own fault Ava.”
Ava turned to Jay and said, “Susannah and I think he should be grounded. What do you think?”
“Definitely. I’m surprised you have to think about it.”
Ava nodded trusting her friends. She looked at Bradin’s door and said, “Okay we’ll talk about it tonight. Here I go.”

Bradin was thinking about the things that Jay had said, and he knew there was a lot of truth in it. Ava walked in, and Bradin honestly said, “I’m sorry Aunt Ava.”
Ava went over to him and hugged him while laying her head down on the pillow next to his. She shushed him and held him close for a while. Soon the events of the last two hours were too much for her and she started to cry. Bradin felt her shaking a little and looked over at her. He said, “Aunt Ava?”
Ava stood up, turned around, and wiped at her face. Bradin realized what was going on and felt about ten times worse. He said, “I’m sorry. Please don’t cry.”
Ava turned around and tried to smile for him. She said, “I didn’t mean to fall apart like that, it’s just seeing you here, and all that time waiting to find out if you were going to be okay….I…..I think I’m just tired.”
“I swear I’ll never do it again. I know it was wrong.”
Ava nodded and said, “We’ll talk about it tonight when you come home.”
Bradin nodded, and Ava sat on his bed next to him and started telling him that Susannah had decided to stay.

That night Ava called Simon and told him not to come over for dinner, because they were going to have a serious talk with Bradin about what he had done. Simon understood and said he would see her the next day. Dinner was mostly quiet with the only conversation being between Nikki and Susannah about what some girls were wearing at school that day. As soon as the kids were done eating Ava said, “Derrick, and Nikki, are you done eating?”
They both nodded and Ava said, “Then you can be excused. The rest of us need to have a talk.”
Nikki and Derrick were both happy to escape that talk, and headed into the house to watch some TV. Bradin looked at his plate and waited. Ava had been thinking about what to say for most of the day. She had thought a lot about Johnny, and her parents, and her sister. She said, “I know that you know what you did was wrong Bradin, and I know that you said you wouldn’t do it again, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was a really dangerous and frankly stupid thing to do.”
Bradin nodded. Ava said, “You are grounded for at least two weeks, and maybe longer if I don’t see a big change in your behavior.”
Bradin nodded again. Ava continued, “That means you go to school and you come home. No TV, and no computer unless it’s for school. You can spend your spare time in your room, and I expect you to be in bed by ten every night. No going out with friends, and no after school activities which includes surfing.”
Bradin was okay with all of it until she said no surfing. His eyes snapped up from his plate as he looked at her. He said, “But I have to keep practicing if I ever want to get back on the team.”
Jay had also been surprised by this last part and said, “Ava….”
Ava shook her head and said, “No. I’ve made my decision, and it stays.”
Bradin was about to protest again and Ava said, “You show me over the next two weeks that you can be a responsible person, and we’ll talk about surfing again. You could have died today Bradin. What you did was not okay. It’s your turn for dishes, so when they’re done you can go to your room.”
Bradin still felt pretty guilty about the whole thing, and slowly nodded and said, “Okay.”
He took some dishes with him when he went into the house to start the water. As soon as he was out of hearing range Jay said, “I don’t think it’s a good idea to take surfing away from him Ava.”
Susannah said, “Two weeks isn’t going to kill him.”
Ava nodded and Jay shrugged and said, “Okay, I’ll go along with it.”

The next week was hell for Bradin. He missed the surf team a lot, but it didn’t even compare to how much he missed surfing in general. He missed hanging out with his friends, and he didn’t really like spending so much time at home and in his room, but that part he could deal with. After a miserable weekend Bradin decided he had had enough. He decided he would find a way to go surfing without his aunt finding out. On Sunday night Bradin spent the evening thinking about his problem. He finally decided to do it right after school. He usually went into his room and worked on homework right after he got home, and he’d noticed that after Ava saw he was home, she usually didn’t come check on him until it was time for dinner. He decided it was worth the risk to leave the house and surf during that time.
Monday after school he checked in with Ava and went to his room. Then after a few minutes of nervous indecision he left. And since he had a door to the outside in his room, he didn’t even have to sneak out a window. He spent an hour surfing, and felt much better when he was done. He kept a close watch on the time and was back in his room an hour and a half after leaving. He quickly got out some homework and rushed through it not really caring if it was right. Half an hour after that Ava knocked on his door and said they were starting to make dinner. Bradin smiled as he went to help, and knew this week wouldn’t be nearly as bad as the other.
Bradin was fine until Thursday. On Thursday as he was coming in from the surf he saw Jay standing there watching him. Bradin sighed and trudged over to him. Jay said, “Nice moves.”
Bradin was a little surprised but said, “Thanks, it was a good wave to work with.”
“No, not the surfing, I meant sneaking out on your Aunt.”
Bradin realized Jay was being sarcastic and said, “Oh.”
Jay shook his head and said, “She’s not going to like this.”
“Well, maybe she doesn’t have to find out.”
Jay looked at Bradin. Bradin quickly said, “I swear it won’t happen again. And I just had to go. You understand don’t you? The waves were calling to me, and I missed it so much……”
Jay nodded thinking. Bradin said, “Please Jay. Please let’s just keep this between us.”
Jay knew he shouldn’t, but he still thought Ava was wrong to take surfing away in the first place, and he did understand the pull surfing had for Bradin. He slowly nodded and said, “All right.”
Bradin smiled a huge smile and said, “Thanks for understanding Jay.”
Jay said, “You better get home before….”
Bradin interrupted, “I’m already gone.”

On Sunday night after dinner while everyone was still at the table Ava said, “It’s been two weeks Bradin, and you’ve been really good about the whole thing, so starting tomorrow you can go surfing again, and things will be mostly back to normal.”
Bradin smiled and got up to give her a hug as he said, “Thank you Aunt Ava.”
Ava hugged him tight and said, “I love you.”
“I love you too.”

That afternoon Bradin went to talk to his Coach and got himself back on the team. The next two days went very well, and he even did some surfing that impressed the Coach. On Wednesday he had the whole team over to the house to celebrate, and they all had a good time visiting with Jay out on the back patio.
As they were all having fun Ava came up and said, “Bradin could I talk to you please?”
Bradin went in the house with her, and she handed over a copy of his grades. As he was looking them over, Ava said, “This came in the mail today, and I have to say I’m really not impressed.”
Bradin looked out at his friends and noticed some of them were looking in at them. He said, "Do we have to talk about this right now?”
Ava was angry about it and said, “Yes.”
Bradin glared and said, “I’m passing, what more do you want.”
“Passing isn’t good enough Bradin. Not good enough at all. I can’t even remember how many times your mom called to tell me that you’d gotten straight A’s. I know this is not your best work, and if your grades don’t get better really quick, you’re off the surf team."
Bradin couldn’t believe she was talking about this when his friends were still here. He said, “So now that I finally feel good for the first time in weeks you’re going to ruin that for me. Thanks a lot Aunt Ava.”
Bradin walked to his room and slammed the door. Jay who had seen the whole thing, but hadn’t been able to hear what was going on said, “Hey guys, looks like the party’s over. Talk to you later.”
The boys all left, and Jay went into the house. He confronted Ava and said, “What was that all about?”
Ava handed over the report card and Jay said, “Looks like mine used to.”
“Well it doesn’t look like his used to. I don’t know what to do with him.”
“Get him a tutor?”
Ava nodded and said, “Good idea. Maybe I should take him off the surfing team until his grades improve too, so that he’ll know how serious I am about it.”
“That’s not a good idea Ava.”
“I don’t think I agree Jay.”
Jay sighed and said, “Look, I told Bradin I wouldn’t tell you, so you can’t let him know that you know, but I found him surfing last Thursday.”
“What?!”
“It was in the late afternoon, after school, but before dinner. For all I know he could have been doing it every day while he was grounded. But I’m pretty sure he didn’t do it on Friday, because I told him that the only way I would agree not to tell you was if he didn’t do it again.”
Ava just looked at him and shook her head for a while. Eventually she said, “Way to walk all over my authority Jay. By doing that, you proved to Bradin that if you don’t agree with the way I punish him, you’ll help him disobey me. I thought you were a better friend then that.”
Jay sighed and said, “Look Ava, you can’t take surfing away from him. It’ll drive him away. You don’t understand how important it is to him.”
“You’re so wrong Jay. I do understand how important it is to him, but I also can see a bigger picture of his life then he can. That’s why taking away the thing that’s most important to him should make him realize how serious I am about the other things in his life. Whether he wants to believe it or not, surfing is a long shot, but his high school diploma is something he’ll need if surfing doesn’t work out. And there’s no reason he can’t do both right now.”
Jay said, “He is getting his diploma, he just isn’t getting spectacular grades.”
Ava said, “I’ll think about it, but either way, I want to know that you’ll support my decision once it’s made.”
“I’ll think about it.”
Jay and Ava both walked away unhappy with the confrontation.

That night when Simon came over for dinner Ava told him about what had been going on, and to her surprise Simon said, “I can tutor him.”
“You can?”
“Sure. He could come over to the middle school as soon as he gets out of class, and we could do a tutoring session before he came home. I don’t want to see him flunk out of school.”
At dinner that night Ava explained to Bradin that he was supposed to meet Simon after school for the next few weeks until his grades got better. Bradin said, “But I have surf practice right after school. Can we do it after that?”
Ava thought about it for a second and said, “Does that work for you Simon?”
“Yes.”
Ava nodded and said, “Okay.”
Bradin didn’t like it much, but reluctantly agreed.

The next day when surf practice was over Coach Andrews said, “Let’s go for another half an hour since the waves are working for us.”
Bradin went up to the coach and said, “I have a tutoring session.”
Coach Andrews shrugged and said, “So go.”
Bradin could tell the coach was completely indifferent. But he wondered if the Coach would say he was having a bad attitude again later. He knew he was supposed to go to the tutoring session, but decided surfing was more important. Half an hour later he was horrified to see his aunt Ava walking down the beach towards him looking unhappy. She went right up to Bradin and said, “Simon called to say you missed the tutoring session, and that you didn’t call. What are you doing?”
“The coach wanted us to stay late and do some more practicing.”
Ava went up to the coach and said, “Are you Coach Andrews?”
“Yeah.”
“Bradin just missed a tutoring session.”
“I told him he was free to go.”
Ava turned back to Bradin who looked unhappy. She went back to him and said, “I’m pulling you off this team.”
Bradin said, “No! You can’t!”
“I just did.”
Ava turned and walked away and Bradin slowly followed. The whole time he was walking home, he tried to think of a way to convince Ava to let him stay on the team.

That night at dinner he said, “Ava, can we talk about the surf team please?”
Nikki said, “Can Derrick and I be excused please?”
Ava nodded to Nikki and as the two younger kids left she said, “I’m not going to change my decision.”
“But I promise that I’ll go to the tutoring sessions from now on.”
“How can I believe that when you blew off your very first one!”
“Well, now I know how serious you are about it, and I won’t mess up again.”
Ava sighed and said, “No. Bring your grades up, and we’ll talk about the surf team again after that.”
Bradin turned to Jay who had been silent through this. He said imploringly, “Jay….”
Jay glared at Ava a little but then turned to Bradin and said, “I’m sorry Bradin.”
Bradin tossed his napkin on the table and yelled, “Fine.” Before storming off to his room.
Jay and Ava glared at each other and Simon said, “May Susannah and I be excused?”
Susannah tried not to laugh as the two adults got up to give Jay and Ava space to work things out. Ava said, “It’s what we have to do.”
“I don’t agree.”
“If I don’t show him I’m serious about this now, then he’s going to keep doing whatever he feels like doing, and usually that’s not what will be good for him in the long run.”
“But if you take surfing away he may end up running like I did when my father tried to take it away from me.”
“I’m sorry you don’t agree with me Jay, but will you at least support me in front of Bradin? You know I love him, and I want what’s best for him.”
Jay got up and walked out without saying anything.

Later that evening Ava went to go check on Bradin and talk to him a little more about why she had made the decision she’d made. When she knocked and he didn’t answer, she tried to cajole him into talking to her. When that didn’t work she opened the door to find an empty room. She just stood there staring with disbelief. Jay walked up behind her and looked in too. He was also surprised. He had just told her this could happen, but he hadn’t been expecting it so soon. Ava looked over at Jay. Jay had known Ava for quite a while, and they had been friends a lot longer then they had had the kids there in the house with them. He had never seen her this distraught except for the day she found out her sister and brother in law had been killed. In that moment he could finally see things from her perspective. The past few weeks he could only think about Bradin’s perspective, because it was so close to his own teenage years. But now seeing her, he understood how hard it really was for her. He could tell she was about to cry, and he put a hand on her shoulder and said, “We’ll find him, and bring him home.”
Ava took a deep breath and nodded. Jay said, “I’ll go check out some of the places on the beach that he might go. You start calling his friends.”
Ava nodded. As Jay walked out on the beach looking for Bradin, he thought about Ava and what it must be like for her. He realized that even thought the rest of the adults might help, that Ava had the final say on what happened with the kids. He knew it had to be a huge responsibility, and one that she wasn’t always confident about. He berated himself for not helping her out better.
As Jay continued to walk he wondered if his father had been out looking for him the night he had left home. Jay thought, ‘I guess I’ll never know. He probably was. Probably was ready to drag me home, tan me, and cut up my surfboard in front of me. I wonder if I would be better off now if he had caught me. Not stuck in my surf shop, but doing something else and making good money. Maybe I would have graduated, and gone on the circuit after, the way Dad wanted me to do. Maybe I wouldn’t have messed up my knee, and maybe I would still be able to surf the way I used to.’
As he was thinking he saw Bradin. He had been so lost in his own thoughts, and it was so dark out, that he had almost walked past him. Bradin was sitting on some rocks looking out into the ocean. Jay went up to him and said, “I come here sometimes to think too.”
Bradin looked over and said, “How can she do it Jay? My grades don’t matter to me anymore. The only thing I really care about is surfing and she’s trying to take it away right when I got back on the team.”
“She loves you, and she wants to make sure that you have a good life.”
“But what if her idea of a good life and mine don’t match. She can’t tell me how I should live my life after high school. I’m planning to go pro, so school really isn’t all that important.”
Jay shook his head and said, “You sound so much like me at your age Bradin it’s scary.”
“Can’t you talk to her and make her understand?”
Jay looked out at the water and said, “You know what I’ve been thinking about?”
Bradin shook his head. Jay said, “My dad.”
“What about him?”
“My dad was a lot like your Aunt Ava, except more over the top. It was all about following the rules and laying down the discipline with him.”
“That’s why you ran away right?”
“Yeah. But you know what I would do if I could see him today?”
“What?”
“I’d give him a hug and tell him I was sorry.”
Bradin just shook his head. Jay said, “Your Aunt is right Bradin. Your schoolwork is important. I know I’ve told you that you’re a good surfer, and you are, but a million things can go wrong with your plans to go pro. A good high school diploma will follow you throughout life, and not having one will seriously limit your opportunities if surfing doesn’t work out.”
Bradin still didn’t say anything. Jay said, “That’s why you’re going to come home with me right now, whether you want to or not.”
Bradin glared at Jay and said, “I thought you were my friend Jay. I thought I could come to you and talk to you about how important surfing is, but now you’re siding with her.”
Bradin looked away disgusted. Jay shook his head and remembered a phrase his father had often uttered; ‘I’m your father, not your friend.’
Jay said, “It was wrong of me to cover up for you last week Bradin. It’s not going to happen again. I would like to be friends with you someday, but for now I think you’re more in need of an adult.”
Bradin shook his head and said, “Whatever Jay. I’ll be home in a little while when I cool down.”
Jay looked up and down the beach. It was getting late in the evening, and it was a school night. There was no one in sight. Jay climbed up on the rock next to Bradin and sat down. He put his arm around Bradin’s shoulders and said, “Do you know what my father would have done if he found me after I had run off?”
Bradin shrugged not really caring. Jay said, “You’re about to find out.”
Jay used his arm on Bradin’s shoulders to push the boy down across his lap. Bradin yelled in surprise and a little bit of fear, “Jay?!”
Once Jay had him in place he said, “This is probably what I should have done when I caught you surfing, and just so you know, it’s probably what I’ll do if I catch you doing it again when your grounded.”
Bradin’s head was spinning. He knew exactly what Jay was going to do, but he felt like he was in some kind of alternate universe, because the Jay he knew would never spank him. Bradin felt the first hard swat and decided Jay would, could, and was spanking him. He yelled even louder, “JAY!”
Jay continued to bring his hand down and said, “Ava loves you Bradin, and so do Susannah and I. Hell, even Johnny and Simon love you. You are going to be off the surf team until you bring your grades up.”
Bradin was barley listening. After the first couple of swats Bradin looked at the area of the beach he could see from his position, and was very relieved not to see anyone around. Then he started squirming and trying to get away. It didn’t work, and his butt was quickly getting very painful. He said, “Jay, I’m sorry, please stop.”
Jay thought about it, but shook his head when he said, “Sorry Bradin, but you really scared your Aunt tonight for the second time in three weeks, and I’m going to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Bradin continued to squirm and try to get away. After a few short minutes Bradin couldn’t take it and yelled, “Please. Jay, please stop! I’m sorry I swear!”
Jay kept going for a few more seconds, and then stopped. He let Bradin stand up and stood up with him so that he could pull him into a hug. He could tell Bradin was crying and Jay said, “I love you Bradin, and that means I’m going to do what I think is best for you, even if you don’t like it sometimes. Now we’re going to go home, and you’re going to apologize to your aunt.”
Bradin nodded into Jay’s chest and mumbled, “Okay.”
Jay patted him on the back and then let go. They started walking towards home and about a block before they got there Bradin got up the nerve to say, “You’re not gonna tell Aunt Ava are you?”
“Tell her what?”
“That you…..you know, spanked me.”
Jay thought about it for a few minutes and said, “I think I’ve hidden enough things from her the past few weeks, so yeah, I’m gonna tell her.”
Bradin groaned and said, “It’s so humiliating. Do you really have to tell her?”
“Afraid so.”
Bradin just kept his head down the rest of the way. When they got in the house they found Ava nervously pacing. At the sight of them she stopped and took a deep breath of relief. She said, “You found him.”
Bradin didn’t really look at her, but said, “I’m sorry.” before retreating to his room.
Ava watched him go and then was about to follow as she said, “He’s gonna be sorry…”
Jay stepped in her path and said, “I need to talk to you before you talk to him.”
Ava glared at him and said, “Why, so you can tell me to put him back on the team?”
Jay shook his head. “No, to tell you I just tanned him.”
Ava took a step back, shook her head as if to clear it, and said, “What?”
“Look Ava, when I saw that Bradin was missing, it just clicked for me. I finally understood where you were coming from. You’ve been right the whole time, and I’ve been too lost in my own past to see what was best for Bradin. I did step on your authority when I let Bradin get away with surfing. I’ve been doing it for the past three weeks by disagreeing with you in front of him, and I’m sorry.”
Ava smiled at him and said, “Thank you Jay. Apology accepted.”
Jay nodded. “Then when I found him, he was expecting me to agree with him, and he wanted me to talk to you about letting him back on the team. He didn’t even realize that he was making you worry. Before I found him, I’d been thinking about my father and what he would have done in the same situation. And…..I didn’t think that much about it, I just put him over my knee and tanned him.”
Ava was silent for a few seconds. Then she nodded and said, “Well, it’s not something I would have wanted you to do, but what’s done is done.”
They were both silent for a few seconds and then Ava said, “And now that I’m really thinking about it, maybe it’s a good thing. I mean if grounding doesn’t work, then what’s the next step.”
Jay nodded and said, “I’m glad you’re not angry about it. You should probably go talk to him. It was a shock to him, and he could use some affection.”
Ava put a hand on Jay’s shoulder and said, “How are you doing? It had to be hard for you.”
Jay gave her a smile and said, “I’ve never missed Johnny more.”
Ava smiled too, knowing that Johnny was the one most likely to be the disciplinarian in the group of friends. Ava said, “Tell me about it. I’ve been channeling him for three weeks.”
As Ava headed to Bradin’s room she shook her head again thinking that was the wrong thing for her to say. She had to convince herself that she didn’t miss Johnny, and that Simon was the one she wanted. Johnny had left, and Simon had stuck by her. So why did phrases like that come out of her? She knocked on Bradin’s door. Bradin said, “I want to be alone.”
She opened the door and found Bradin lying on his bed. He looked up at her, and she could tell he had been crying recently. She said, “I just wanted to check on you….make sure you were okay.”
He rolled over so his back was to her as he said, “I’m fine.”
She sat on the bed next to him and rubbed his back for a few minutes. Soon he said, “I’m sorry I ran off.”
“I know.”
“I’ll bring my grades up, and go to my tutoring sessions.”
“I know.”
“If I can get my teachers to give you an update on my grades in like a week or two, can I get back on the team?”
“I think so.”
They were quiet for a few more minutes. Bradin said, “Did…..did Jay tell you?”
“Yes.”
After a few more minutes of silence Ava arranged herself so she was lying down on the bed next to him looking up at the ceiling. He felt her move and rolled so he was also looking up at the ceiling. Ava said, “Want me to tell you about the time your Grandpa spanked your mom?”
Bradin leaned up on his elbows and said, “Mom? No way! I thought she was perfect.”
Ava smiled and said, “Not always.”
Ava started in on her story, and Bradin felt less embarrassed about the whole thing, even if he wasn’t about to forget it.