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Authors: Jolene Perry

Spill Over

BOOK: Spill Over
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Spill Over

 

By

Jolene Perry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One

 

Mom shuffle
s
in
the door of our apartment
and b
y
the sound of paper bags, she’s brought home food.

“Need help?” My laptop’s on my lap, and my feet
are stretched out
on the coffee table.
I click refresh on my email, just to make
sure I don’t have anything new before jumping back into writing.

“No, thanks
, Antony
. I got it.
” She steps around the co
rner from our hole of a kitchen.

Mom’s
wide smile spreads across her angled face. She flicks he
r short, dark hair back as she
walks
into the room
.
“I brought Moroccan.”

“Awesome.” I set my laptop
on a chair
, and clear my
home school
crap from the
top of the
coffee table,
shoving it onto the shelf underneath
.
“What’s the occasion?”

She hates picking
up food
,
and they don’
t deliver. It’s a shame, really. A
lmost every restaurant in New York delivers…well, except the ones I
w
ant to.

She sets the large brown bag on the table and moves toward the kitche
n
, where we keep our coats. “No
occasion
. I got a assignment offer the other day that I wanted to talk to you about.”

Mom
comes around the corner, and
flops back on
to the couch
. “When did my son
get so grown up
?”
She ruffs my dark brown hair with her hand.

“Last year. I think it was
October.” I smirk.
“And watch the hair.” I point and scoot away, but we’re both smiling. Looking into Mom’s dark brown eyes is like
seeing
my own. I look a lot like her

same
hair, same angled face
.
M
ost guys might hate that, but I don’t mind.

“Very fun
ny.” Her hand reaches up and
touches my hair
more softly this time
, play
ing with the ends
. “You need a haircut.”

The way she’s star
ing at
me
puts
me on edge.
“I do not
need a cut
. A
nd since when do you care what I do with my hair?”
I
try to
tease
, but the
intensity of her look keeps
my chest pounding
.

Her smile falls.

Yep.
Something’s up.

My stupid heart beats
even
harder, which sucks, cause it means something big’s about to happen.

“Next assignment is in Africa.” She pulls her
short
legs up on the couch.

I’m speechless.
This isn’t a definite

Antony comes

kind of place.
Mom has
this idea that there are countries
in the world that are safe enough for her, but not for me. I’m not sure yet which way this
one’ll
go. It
sucks cause I almost
always
get to go.

Mom’s worked on the Today show forever, but she also does stuff for the other news networks in the same media group. She’s on TV often, but has the cool advantage of traveling all over the world. I get to follow
most of the time

hence the home schooling and tutors.

“Cool, how long will we be
there?”
I ask, even though part of me is just waiting for her to—

“I’m going alone.” Her shoulders fall.

Dread
edges its
way into my gut, creating a black pit
that weigh
s
me down
.

She turns to face me
, bringing a knee to her chest
. Whatever
’s coming
, I know I’m not g
oing to like it
.
This is one of those moments when I wish I could stop time or
something, or maybe jump ahead—
that might work too.
Anything to avoid what she’s about to say.


Look, I know y
ou barely know your father…”

My dad? What on earth
could he have to do with this?
Oh. Wait.
“No, no no no no.” I shake my head. “He’s like, I mean…we’re not…”
No way would she send me ther
e without her. W
ould she?
But the weight in my
stomach just doubled
in weight and size.

“He’s a good man, Antony
.”
She’s using her
mom
-voice. One she doesn’t pull out often.

“That’s…in dispute.
” I lean forward, resting my elbows on my knees
, staring at the floor
.
Dad bailed about the
time Mom was picked up by NBC
. I was three. Who does that?

My stupid heart ke
eps sending me the same message—
told ya this was big
.

“No.” She shakes her head. “
That
, is not in dispute. Your dad has always been a good man.”

“Right, which is why you two stayed together for so long.”
I can feel it coming.
F
eel
it. I
t’s just not like her
to make big decisions without talking to me
.

“We we
re
v
ery different.”

“Yeah. And I’m like
you
.” And
want
to be like you.
No one has a cooler Mom than m
e. Every time a musical gue
st comes on
she knows I like, she’ll b
ring me to work. And it’s never—
this is my cute little boy
, stuff. It’s like
Hey, this is Antony.
He
knows New York better than anyone, so if you need any help getting around, he’s your man.

“And I love that you’re like me.” She kisses my forehead. This means
its
bad, because she feels bad
. “But y
ou should know the other half of your parentage.”


My
parentage
?” I
stare
.

B
ut that’s not it, Mom. He’s weird. He lives on a
boat
!
And not like a huge boat, either.

“It will
only be for three
months or so.”


Three
months
!” This is crazy.
Pani
c starts to set in. Spending three
months on a boat with my weirdo father sounds like torture.
Every nerve is precariously balanced on the edge of some sort of
cataclysmic
abyss.
“I’ve been
to Africa before.
W
hy is this so different?”

We sit and
look
at one another for a moment. I’m not sure if she’s trying to think of something to say, or if she’s trying to remember something she has prepared. Either way it sucks.

“It’s dangerous, Antony
. I don’t want you there.
You know this. You don’t
always
get to come.
I need
to concentrate on what I’m doing.”
Both her feet hit
the floor as she turns to the coffee table, and begins to pull
out boxes of food
. T
he smell of spic
es
further
fills the living room
.

“If it’s too dangerous for me, it’s too dangerous for you.” I fold my arms. This is serious, and now she’s avoiding the conversation by dishing up.

I’m trying to think of everyone I know,
anyone
who can
keep me from having to spend three
months with
my dad
.
O
n
a boat
.
The whole idea
is so crazy that part of me
is sure
it can’t be real.

It’s a fine balance
in my life
to know the right people,
say the right things, and Dad doesn’t
get it. He doesn’t get
me, my friends, my clothes, New York. None of it.
He couldn’
t handle living here—
not even for me.

Why should I have to live there?

“It’s not just that. I feel like I’ve done you a disservice by not pushing you harder to spend time with
him
.
” Forks get pulled from plastic.

You’re almost eigh
teen and have never spent any real time
together
.

Plates are being
dished.
She finally stops messing with boxes and food to look at me.
“He misses you.

“I don’t care.” I shake my head. “I don’t really
want
to spend time with him.”
A ten-
minute phone call is awkward enough, but
months
? I can’t even imagine that.
Don’t want to imagine it. Definitely don’t want to live it.
She
knows
this. It’s
not like her to force something I don’t want.

“He’s a good man, Antony
. I loved him a lot. It was just…”
H
er shoulder
s start to shrug, but just stop at the top instead of relaxing back down
.

“It wasn’t enough to counteract how
weird
he is!”
How is something like this
happening
?

And I’m not completely freaking out, because in my mind, until my feet are on the deck of his boat, there’s still a chance for something else to happen.

She laughs.
Laughs
!
“I know
it
feels like an eternity r
ight now,
but it won’t feel that way for long.
Three
months is nothing.”

Nothing. N
othing.

Right.

I don’t buy it, not for a second.
Besides, there has to be loads of other options.
Which gives me the
perfect
idea.

“What about Arnaud? I could stay with h
im
in Paris for a while.
” Arnaud is a little eccentric, but not a bad guy.
I stayed with
him
the last time Mom
left me home
.
He and Mom dated for a short while, and they still get together when we go to Paris.
I could probably do whatever I wanted.
And Hélè
na’s there. I mean, we’re never exactly
on
, but we’re never exactly
off
either, and three
months in the proximity of her legs sounds pretty awesome.
Amazing. Perfect.

Mom’s brows go up.
“Uh… nice
try. No way you’re spending that much time
with
Arnaud
.
We both remember what happened last time.

I should’
ve known better. Last time ended in my first and last experience with cocaine
(offered by Arnaud—
which I’m sure
is where the disagreement came
from)
as
well as my
first sleep over with a girl—
Hélèna
. Arnaud was
proud. Mom was
most definitely
not
.

BOOK: Spill Over
13.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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