Monday, June 16, 2014
Three months have passed since that day. William and Elias crossed each other's paths in the hallways of the school, neither acknowledging one another. When May rolled around, Kenton, Elias, and William went up to the podiums and received their certificates without incident.
Charmaine's restaurant opened in April and enjoyed success as everyone had to check out the new gem of the town. For our "heroes", life remained peaceful. And then came June.
"What the hell is all of this?" Mia said as she stared down at the laptop in front of her. Her main (and at a time more powerful) desktop computer was scattered across the room due to a fateful encounter with a failed soda. Elias, being a good boyfriend, graciously gifted her a decade-and-a-half old computer that would otherwise be collecting dust.
"That's programming code. That's how you make games, programs, and stuff like that." Elias said as he looked at the screen from his view next to her.
"This… isn't what I was expecting. I thought that there would be blocks and stuff that you could, like, drag and drop. You know, like on that one cop show where the lady made a 'gooshy' to track a teepee or something."
Mia, despite her best efforts, wasn't an expert at information technology. Most of the time, Elias had no problems deciphering her mangled technobabble. This was not one of those times.
"Well, I guess there are ways to program like that… but this is how the majority of the people wo… don't do that." The boy tried to explain the best he could as Mia found herself clicking through various menus and changing settings at random.
"Hey, look, I changed the letters to be in cursive!"
Elias couldn't help but let out a little genuine laugh.
"Change that back."
"Come on, you know you like it."
"I'm sorry… it's just hilarious to watch you try to figure this out. Are you ready for some actual programming now?"
"No, I'm busy setting this up. Every good programmer needs a… high tab size!"
"Mia, you don't want to change that…"
The look on Mia's face as the increased size of the tabs forced the programming code on the screen to go flying off the right side of the screen finally broke Elias. The normally quiet boy couldn't help but laugh until he had tears in his eyes.
Meanwhile, Kenton sat outside of his house waiting for Olivia to arrive. He couldn't recognize the girl when she came around the corner. Instead of the semi-nice clothes she usually wore, Olivia was decked out with athletic clothes, complete with matching wristbands and a headband.
"You look… uh…" Kenton said as he fumbled on his words.
"What? I wasn't going to sweat in my Sunday best!" Olivia said with a smirk.
"You look like a… yoga trainer or something."
"And that's a bad thing?"
"No… I mean… you look nice."
Olivia giggled and quickly swiped the basketball away from her friend as he was distracted.
Trying to be all smooth, the girl reached up and tossed the ball at the hoop over the garage door. Due to a lack of proper altitude, the ball gave the rim a love tap before coming back down to the pavement. Kenton grabbed the ball on the rebound and gave it a spin on his finger.
"Aren't you special?" Olivia said.
"Aren't you sassy?"
"Shut up and pass it."
Kenton let the ball fall off his finger into his hands before quickly passing it towards the girl. However, the poor boy's focus was not at one hundred percent and the ball ended up going a little higher than intended. His eyes widened as time slowed down and the ball crept closer to the girl's face.
At the last minute, Olivia's hands flew up and snatched the ball away from its intended trajectory. Kenton felt relieved.
"Were you trying to hit me in the face?" Olivia said with a frown.
"Absolutely not! I would never do that!" Kenton nervously exclaimed.
"I know. Here, show me how it's done." She said with a smile of encouragement as she passed the ball back to him. Instead of catching it, the ball smacked him hard in the chest. Trying to save face, Kenton tossed the ball towards the hoop only for it to miss worse than Olivia's attempt.
The look on Kenton's face as the ball settled to the ground told Olivia that something was wrong.
Earlier that day
Just a few hours before, Kenton was outside with the basketball. Instead of Olivia, this time he was playing a game with Elias. The same kid that struggled to make a single basket a few months before was almost a formidable opponent.
"Five baskets. I win." Elias said as Kenton sat down with his water bottle.
"Why… don't you try out for the basketball team next year? You could spend high school being an all-star like me!" Kenton said as he caught his breath.
"Tempting. I just don't think that…" Elias said as he stopped himself.
"Don't think that what?"
"Well… I don't know. It's hard to believe that I, I mean we, are starting high school in a couple months."
"Yeah, my mom's been saying that a lot ever since graduation…"
"I was reading this article a few years back. It was a review of some old 1980s film that you've probably never heard of…"
Kenton thought and nodded. Old movies were not his thing.
"The writer of the article went on a huge tangent about how you only get one shot at high school and that you have to make it count because you'll never get that time back." Elias concluded as he looked down at the ground in thought.
"It's up to you, but I think you'd be good at it. It would be awesome to have you for a teammate."
Elias looked up at his friend with a smile and said "Thanks."
"Oh, did you hear that they're reopening the water park. Sometime, we should go back there.”
"I didn't know that it was closed to begin with."
"Yeah, something about a plastic bowl got into the filtration system and caused massive damage. They had to shut down to rebuild the system or something."
"Did I ever tell you about how I ran into while we were there?"
"No, but I'm sure you're going to."
"I ran into that William guy. You know, the one that got kicked out of the drama club."
Elias paused and sighed, almost as if he already knew.
"That guy has issues, I swear."
All Elias could do was nod.
"And he said something like he was hoping that his brother was drowning somewhere. I feel sorry for his little brother. I wonder if they know that they're leaving the poor kid with a maniac."
For some reason, that statement really got to Elias, causing him to squeeze his water bottle to the point where some was coming out of the mouthpiece.
"Did you know that he has a brother?"
"Uh… well… yeah."
"Really? I wouldn't have guessed as you seem so different from him. Or did you know his brother?"
"Yeah, I guess we could say it like that…"
"Acquaintances? Do you have a younger brother that runs around with him?"
Elias fidgeted a bit as he felt uncomfortable with the direction that this conversation was going. Kenton could pick up on this and decided to just let the subject go.
"So, you up for another round of hoops?" Kenton asked as he picked up the basketball.
"Actually… I think I'm going to take off. I'm not feeling the best right now, sorry." Elias graciously said as he got up and gathered up his stuff.
"Oh, well, I'm sorry. Was it something I said?"
Elias shook his head and took off down the street. After scratching his head in confusion, Kenton got out his phone and wondered if Olivia would be up for coming over to hang out.
After a short walk down several streets, Elias arrived at his house. As he unlocked the door and walked inside, he noticed that he was the only person home (as if he cared). With the shuttered windows blocking almost every trace of light into the house, the boy had to turn the lights on going up the stairs momentarily to prevent himself from tripping and falling. The house was mysteriously becoming cleaner and cleaner, which he relished as a sigh of happier times ahead.
Once upstairs, he took a quick shower and changed into some fresh clothes before laying back on his bed and listening to music once again. Only after a couple songs did his phone let out a chime announcing the presence of a new message. He unlocked the phone for a quick glance. If it was Kenton, he wasn't going to respond.
To his surprise, it was Mia asking if he wanted to come over. He quickly leapt out of bed at this opportunity to escape from the fire and brimstone that was his life.
"Are you okay?" Mia asked as Elias continued to laugh.
"Yeah… yeah, I'm so sorry… it's just…" there was no stopping the laughter. Never, ever, ever had Mia saw Elias laugh this much. It was almost refreshing.
"Well, that's enough programming for me." Mia said as she closed the laptop and set it aside. This was enough to allow the boy to regain his composure.
"Thank you, so much. I needed that." Elias said as he caught his breath.
"So, is that what you work with?" Mia asked, trying to get the subject tabled.
"I guess you could say so, I'm more of a… engineer. I love dealing with the electronic bits and the raw programming. This is what you would call 'simple' programming."
"No, not in that way. I mean that what I like to work with is more to the 'raw' parts of the electronics."
"So, is that what you want to be, an engineer?"
Elias nodded. He thought back to what Kenton said about joining the basketball team and wondered if that would possibly be a way for him to legitimately pay for his way into a good engineering school.
"What do you want to be, Mia?"
This was something that nobody's ever asked the girl before. Did they not have any hopes for her to have a bright and successful future?
"I… don't know. That's probably not a good thing, is it?"
"I wouldn't say that. A lot of people don't know what they want to do with their lives even after they graduate high school. Just find something that you like, and maybe that you're good at, and you'll be set for life."
"So, does this mean that you'll be going away for college?"
"Maybe. I never really thought about that sort of thing."
"Wouldn't it be cool if we could get into the same college. Maybe even get married before we leave?"
If Elias were a computer, then he would have blue-screened at this. They've only been dating for three months and now she's talking marriage?!
"Uh… well… would we even be old enough?"
"I read somewhere that you have to be seventeen to get married. In 2018 I'll be seventeen."
"You'll still be in high school, a junior if I recall."
"So? You could go to college and I would finish out my senior year."
"Mia, we're barely teenagers. Give it time, if it's meant to be then it'll be, okay?"
Mia sighed and turned on the TV. Elias was afraid that he might've legitimately made his girlfriend angry. It was only when she found herself snuggling up to him that he realized that she had seen the light, too.