The Perks Of Loving You
by Camilo Mott


Chapter 4

“Wh…what??? Me and him!!!” Luca squealed as he pointed at me, “That’ll never happen!”

“You got that right!” I added.

“Now, calm down,” he told us. “That came out wrong, let me rephrase that.” Yeah, he better be wrong. Anything is better than spending my summer with Luca!

“Boys, how would you like to become the founders of Woolsey’s rowing team?” he smiled and waited for us to respond.

“A rowing team?” Luca asked with a little hysteria, “You called us down here to start a rowing team???”

What!!! Is this guy crazy! First he asks me if I want to spend the summer with my number one rival and now he’s asking me about rowing! Is that what he brought us down here for, to talk about a sport I know nothing about! That’s so not much better than an award!!! A rowing team! I don’t even know anyone that rows!

“A rowing team???” I repeated, wondering if this guy was in la-la-land.

“Yes, a rowing team. I want the two of you to help me start a rowing program,” he explained.

“But why do we need a rowing team? We’re already one of the best schools in the state when it comes to athletics,” Luca asked.

“Let me explain. Woolsey is an extremely competitive school, especially when it comes to sports, as both of you are aware. All the other top schools in the state have strongly established rowing programs. For the last few years, they’ve been devoting more resources into their teams and have begun to compete with each other. Since we don’t have a rowing team, we are being left behind. To remain the best, we need to create a rowing program.”  He sounded as though he was telling us the secret for success.

“I still don’t get it, Mr. Ferris, why do you need us again? We have no experience whatsoever in rowing,” I asked puzzled. I really don’t know what he wants me to do. Is he asking me to help him look for students with experience?

“As I said before, I need you boys to start up the rowing program,” he replied, still smiling. Okay, he’s freaking me out now. He’s a good guy, but when he gets this look, an almost pleading look, it becomes really awkward. He touches his white mustache and I’m immediately reminded of Colonel Sanders from KFC.

“Well, how are we supposed to do that exactly?” Luca asked. Good, at least I’m not the only one wondering what this old man is up to.

“Boys, what I was saying about your abilities is true. You both have sportsmanship, character, responsibility, and many more things that make you great athletes. That’s the reason why I want the two of you to co-pilot the rowing program. With your leadership, our rowing program can be operational for next spring,” he told us with this great determination and pride.

“Mr. Ferris, you lost me at ‘co-pilot’, how exactly are we of any help to you?” I asked, only to hear him chuckle.

“Casey my boy, always the direct one,” he playfully said, “I want the two of you to become the best rowers possible so that when the rowing team is created, it’ll begin with you two as its leaders. Your rowing experience, along with all your other qualities, will guarantee a successful program.”

“But, Mr. Ferris, how are we supposed to become amazing rowers? We don’t even know the basics about rowing,” Luca added.

“Yeah, I haven’t even seen a rowing boat before,” I said, backing Luca up.

“Boys, that’s what brings me to my first proposal,” he cleared his throat. “Will you be interested in starting an intense training session in rowing?” he said as though it was a great opportunity.

An intense rowing program??? Wow, that sure sounds really great! Right up there with manual labor and working all day in the sun. Has Mr. Ferris actually lost it? I know he’s retiring in a few years, but come on! Intense training session? That sounds like torture!

I just chuckled, causing Luca to give me a serious stare. I shrugged my shoulders in response. What! The guy’s so far off that this is kind of amusing.

“Mr. Ferris, when exactly is this ‘training’ going to happen?” Luca asked, and I could tell he was skeptical about this whole thing too, plus he looked flustered by the whole situation.

“Now boys, hear me out,” he looked at us.  “The training will start this spring and continue through the end of summer,”

“So, I’m supposed to quit Lax and give up my summer to go train?” I jokingly asked.

“And I’m supposed to quit Baseball and spend my summer with this kid, just to train?” Luca smiled while he pointed at me. Hey, I’m not a kid! We’re the same age!

I wasn’t expecting to see the look on Mr. Ferris’s face. He had this serious confident smile that was followed by a commanding nod.  Shit!!! He’s actually serious about this whole thing. He actually wants us to do this! Yup, he’s lost it! Poor Mr. Ferris, now I know why he’s retiring. Ok, it’s time to end this.

“Sorry, Mr. Ferris, but that’s not even a remote possibility. I have to play Lax this season if I want to become one of the captains for next year. Besides, I don’t want to let the team down.  I’m a really good player and they need me. I can’t let go of that just to start some program, you out of everyone should know that,” I firmly told him, my voiced filled with seriousness.

“Yeah, I agree with Casey. I also have my responsibilities to the Baseball team. They need me and I’ve devoted a lot of time and effort into the sport, not to mention that I really enjoy it. Why can’t you recruit other students who are into rowing and actually know about it, instead of us?” Luca argued once he had realized that Mr. Ferris wasn’t joking around. He’s right for the first time in a while. Why can’t Mr. Ferris just get someone else to do this?

Mr. Ferris stood up from his chair and began to pace around his office. He looked at us and continued, “Boys, I know this is hard for you, but I can’t just make an announcement calling students to join. I need to have people who I can trust to help me guide the new rowers along. If we start with inexperienced students having no leadership, then we’ll end up being a crappy team.”

“But I don’t know anything about rowing!!!” I nearly screamed. This is getting us nowhere, there’s no way I’m doing this!

“That won’t be a problem, boys. You’ll have this spring and the whole summer to learn,” he said, trying to reassure us.

“What do you mean we’ll have the whole summer to learn???” Luca was starting to lose his control while I just didn’t care anymore. I’m not doing this and that’s final. Mr. Ferris is a good guy, but come on!

“Boys, I got in contact with Coach Rosko. He’s one of the best rowing coaches in the state; he even trained for the Olympics when he was your age. He’s offered to train the two of you during this spring and summer.  After the semester ends, he’ll travel with you to a rowing camp in Maine. There you’ll receive excellent training and compete with other rowers. When you boys come back in late August, you’ll have a few weeks to rest and prepare for the start of the fall season. During the fall, we’ll start a pilot program. Finally, our goal is that by spring, we’ll have a solid rowing program,” he said while looking at us, hoping to see something that would give him some hope.

I didn’t look him in the eye, why bother? He knows I’m not going to do it. I wasn’t going to do it when I thought he was joking, I wasn’t going to do it when he said I had to quit Lax, and I’m certainly not going to do it now that I know I have to waste my whole summer in Summer Camp.  Summer Camp!!!! That’s just bullshit.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Ferris, but my mind is already made up, I decline your offer. I have other things to do during my summer. Plus I’m not going to waste the two years I’ve devoted to playing Lax,” I told him as politely as I could and began to make my way out of the office. Even though he’s acting crazy, he’s always supported us during our games. So I had to decline it nicely, even though I wanted to shout, “FUCK NO!!!”

“Casey! Stop being so stubborn, let the man finish,” Luca told me as he grabbed me by my hand and pulled me back into the chair.

“Are you serious, Luca? You want to give up on Baseball after all the time you devoted to it. YOU WANNA DO THIS???” I asked him in a rather loud whisper while I looked into his eyes. We may not get along, but I’ve always known what sports mean to him.

“Of course I don’t want to. I have put too much effort into Baseball and I’m one of the team captains. I don’t want to give all that up. Not to mention that I have a thousand better ways to spend my summer than up in a cabin with you,” he said trying to calm me down.

Shit!!! I had completely forgotten that I had to spend that much time with Luca. Fuck no, fuck no, and fuck no! I’m not spending a whole summer with him. It’s bad enough that I have to see him at school every day, but spend all day every day with him, for months!!!

“Thank you, Lucas. Boys, as you probably know, I’m retiring in a few years.  When I retire, I want to know that I did everything in my power to make Woolsey great, and that includes starting this program. I know you boys are a key part to your respective teams, but they can survive without you. If this was Swimming or Hockey season, I wouldn’t even dare to bring this up,” he pleaded.

Great! He only wants this so he can be remembered by it. Sigh. Sure, let me sacrifice what I like so that you can retire happy. Buddy, if the world only worked like that. You should know better by now! AND did you just say that I sucked at Lax? Dick!!! Fuck you, fuck your tiny little mustache too! Fuck all of you! I’m leaving!

I was about to leave, when Luca’s voice quelled my anger, “So, how would this all work out? Aren’t rowing teams composed of eight people?” he asked.

“The usual boat has eight oarsmen and one coxswain. But since we are not ready for that, you two will be rowing a double – boat for only two people.”

“So it will only be the two of us in the boat?” I asked, bothered by the idea of just me and Luca on a boat.

“Precisely! The two of you will become teammates and rely on each other. You’ll practice together during this spring and summer. You boys are perfect partners!  Just look at yourselves, you’re both the same height and about the same body type. You’re sure to balance each other out! Coach Rosko will be happy to train you two,” he said, bringing back his enthusiastic tone.

I just shook my head and looked at the ground while Mr. Ferris was talking. I looked at Luca to see if he was feeling as annoyed as I was. He returned my stare, but I couldn’t read him. Then he shocked me by saying, “I’ll think about it, Mr. Ferris,” Aw great! Another one who belongs in the Looney Bin!

“That’s all I want from you boys,” he said and handed each of us a thick folder, “Here’s all the information you need to know about rowing: from the basics of it to info on Coach Rosko and the Summer Rowing Camp. Think about it. You can tell me your decision by Friday.”

I reluctantly accepted the folder and then proceeded to leave the office. I exited and waited for Luca to come out. When he did, I approached him, grabbing him by the shoulder and turning him around so he faced me.

“Are you insane? Are you actually considering doing this?” I nearly yelled at him.

“I said I would think about it and I will. This is something new and different and I’m kind of curious about it, but that doesn’t mean I’ll do it, Casey,” he said while he looked me in the eyes. I expected him to be completely against this, yet he truly seemed somewhat interested.

“But this is just stupid! I don’t want to row some stupid boat. Besides I have plans for my summer,” I responded trying to talk him out of it.

“Case, that’s your life, not mine. I can do whatever I want. And if I choose to do this, I don’t need you. There are plenty of talented guys here at Woolsey. I don’t even know why he chose you… and, Casey, take your hand off my shoulder,” he told me.

Shit! I didn’t even notice my hand. Sigh. Why didn’t I notice it? But that’s not what’s important, why is he even thinking about it? There is no need to think about it, the answer is NO.

“He called me down because I’m the best that Woolsey has to offer. He knew that and that’s why he chose me. I have leadership, character, and sportsmanship,” I responded.

“Well, it doesn’t show. You didn’t even consider the offer,” he said somberly.

“Whatever, Luca. You know what; I’ll look through this stupid packet. It’ll give me even more reason to deny the offer.”

“Do whatever you want,” he said and walked away. For some reason I wasn’t angry when he left. His words didn’t seem to bother me and they weren’t filled with any spite. In fact, they seemed to somehow urge me to rethink this whole situation. But what do I know? He’s probably just doing this on purpose to trick me into accepting.

When the discussion was over, it was almost the end of last period. There were only ten minutes left until the end of the school day. I don’t think Fr. Gale will be angry if I don’t show up; he’s pretty chill. So I just wandered up to my locker. I opened it and shoved all my stuff into my back pack, closed my locker and exited the building toward my car.

There it was, my beauty, my BMW. I took my car alarm out of my pocket and opened it, placed my back pack in the passenger seat and got inside. I inhaled the smell of the car; it still had traces of that new car smell. Wow, now I feel so much better. I turned on the radio and connected it to my IPod.

I searched through my IPod until I found what I was looking for – jazz. It always seems to cool me down and it makes me feel content. The ride home was smooth…no, it was awesome. I listened to various artists from Anita O’Day to Miles Davis. By the time I was close enough home, I was in such a great mood that I decided to buy something to eat. I stopped by a local buffet and bought meatloaf, chicken potpie, and like three different side dishes. When I got home, I parked my car and headed inside, taking my backpack with me.

“Helen, are you home?” I asked as I entered the house.  There was no response; she must still be at work. So I went into the kitchen and stored the food in the oven and fridge.

I hurried to my room and took off all my clothes. I went into my shower and started to wash my whole body. I lathered my body from calves to neck muscles and everything in between.

I washed my hair about three times. Finally! Some chlorine was leaving my hair, but what’s the point? My hair will always be a shaggy blond.  I hummed various songs while I was in the shower and even when I came out of it. I looked in the mirror, don’t need to shave yet. No signs of a beard or even a mustache. Well, people love my boyish charm, hehehe.

I went into my room and put on a t-shirt with a pair of sweat pants.  Refreshed, I headed downstairs and served myself some meatloaf with stuffing. Halfway through my meal, my phone rang.

“Hello,” I answered with food in my mouth.

“Hi, Love. How are you?” my mom responded.

“Fine, Mom, and you? Still working?”

“Yes, Love, I have to work late today. Someone messed up the budget, so now I’m stuck here,” she yawned.

“Bet you’re really tired,” I chuckled.

“That’s not the worst part. I’m wearing high-heels. My feet are killing me from all the walking around I had to do today. But at least I looked beautiful doing it,” she added.

“Oh, Helen, beauty before comfort!” I laughed. “When will you be home?”

‘I don’t know, Love,” she said.

“Ok, but If I’m not home when you get here, I’ll be at either Eric’s or Mel’s,” I told her.

“All right, Love. See you later,” she said and then hung up.

After I shoved the rest of the meatloaf down my throat, I got up from the table and started to jump up and down. Wow, I’m in such a good mood today. I should do something. I grabbed my phone again and dialed Eric.

“Hello?” he asked.

“Hey, Eric,” I answered.

“Hey, Casey. What’s up?”

“Come over! Or let’s do something. I’m bored,” I said with enthusiasm.

“Someone’s happy today!” he laughed.

“Yep, so come over. We can watch a movie or do something.”

“Sorry, Case. I have stuff to do and I can’t leave till I finish it.”

“Like what?”

“Like all the homework WE have to do for tomorrow.”

“Buzz kill.”

“You’re welcome,” he said and we both laughed.

“So, why were you and Luca called down today?” he asked.

“Long story short, Mr. Ferris wants us to start a rowing team.”

“Hey, that’s great! I’ve always thought that Woolsey should have a rowing team. Aren’t you excited?”

“Nope! I have to quit Lax and spend this spring and summer practicing with Luca! Can you believe that?”

“You and Luca? Working together? I have to see it to believe it!” he snorted.

‘Hey! It’s not funny. Mr. Ferris is not kidding around! He’s obsessing over this whole thing. He wants us to work together and during the summer go up to this rowing camp in Maine!”

“So did you accept?”

“What do you think, Eric? Of course not! I’m not going to quit Lax for a stupid thing like this. Not to mention that I’d have to be Luca’s partner and see him every day!!! And even worse, live with him a whole summer in a cabin!!!!” I nearly screamed.

Eric laughed until he was gasping for air and even then he continued laughing. “I can … just … imagine the two of you! All alone…in a boat…and…in a cabin! Two of you will go, only one will come back!” he said laughing his ass off.

“Jerk! It’s not funny. It’s a horrible way to spend my summer! Besides, I don’t know anything about rowing.”

“Aw, Casey, it’s not that bad. You’ll learn a new sport…hahaha.”

“Eric! Cut it out! You’re being an asshole like Luca!” I told him in an attempt to calm him down but that only made him laugh harder.

“What!” I asked.

“In…a few minutes…I’ll get a…call from…Luca! And…he’ll bitch and moan…about all the work he’s going to have to do!” he said in between cackles.

“Eric, you’re not helping!” I told him trying to shut him up, but he was already lost to laughter.

“I can just see it…the two of you…in a boat…all alone…stroking each other’s oars…seeing who can stroke the best…building stamina…trying new techniques….seeing who can last the longest without….coming to a stop! Hahahahaha!!!”

“Fuck You Eric!” I told him and then hung up. Stupid Eric with his jokes! Yeah, stroking each other’s oars, very original Eric!!! Just another reason why not to do this!

Whatever, I’m still in a good mood. Besides, some of the stuff Eric said was funny. Maybe I should call Mel? Nah, she’ll ask me about my date with Luca, I mean Kate. I don’t want to remember that.

I went up to my room and turned the TV on while I got hold of my back pack and emptied all the stuff in my bed. I looked through my school books and notebooks to see what homework I had.  Let’s see…French – nothing, Math- nothing that she’ll check for, Lit – nothing due tomorrow, History – I’ll copy off Eric tomorrow, Chem – left before anything was assigned, and Theology – didn’t show up for class. I don’t know what Eric was talking about! I don’t have any homework.

I turned the TV off in my room and left to use the TV in the living room. Yes!!! I love this TV, it’s like a mini movie screen. I can watch anything I want on it. Even my porn looks so much better on it! Although lately, my secret stash isn’t as interesting as it once was or was it ever that interesting? Anyway, I know just what to see, “The Shining.”

I wish I had someone to watch it with, it’s my favorite movie. But Eric is busy and Mel will just want to know about the date. I have tons of friends and I bet anyone would jump at the chance to hang out with me…but it’s not the same. They’re not my close friends. Sigh. Who should I invite? Maybe I could invite Luca? YEAH RIGHT!!! Like I would ever do that, besides he would never accept my invitation anyways…

“FUCK!!!” I screamed, startled by the guy in the movie coming out of nowhere. I continued to watch the movie until it was over. By that time, it was already 9:00 p.m. and my mom was still at work. I hope she’s safe. I hope she’s not too tired or in any stress. Sigh. Please protect her! She’s the last thing I have left. Let her be ok! I know, I’m just worrying about nothing, she’s probably fine, it’s just….never mind.

I left for my room and when I entered it, I realized that all my school stuff was still on my bed.

“Shit! Now who’s going to clean this up?” I asked myself. Hmm, I should be more organized…nah. I collected all my books and began to shove them back in my back pack. I was almost done when I came across the rowing folder. It was adorned by our school colors, cardinal red and black, and had Woolsey’s seal on the front of it.

I opened it and the first thing I saw was a letter addressed to Luca and me. It explained in more detail the reasons why we were being asked to participate and that it would be a great way to serve the school. Farther down the letter, it said that we would be honored as the founders of the rowing program. Basically all that Mr. Ferris had said, but the letter was signed by the President of our school, Fr. Cross, S.J. and by the Dean of Students, John Morgan, Ph.D. Wow, seems like all the staff is on this. Well too bad for them.

I removed all the stuff from the folder. There were pamphlets, brochures, guides, and a training schedule. The first thing I picked up was the brochure with pictures. It had tons of photos of rowing teams, most of them belonging to colleges. Right, now I remember, every college pamphlet I’ve received has a picture of a rowing team on it. I looked through it and was actually interested in some of the stuff. I turned the pages of it until I was finally in the two-people boat section – doubles as it was called. I looked at the boat and it was smaller than I imagined. Just two seats very close to each other and four oars – two per person. The guys on the photos seemed like they’re happy. Huh…they’re all the same size. I guess that’s why Mr. Ferris chose Luca and me. We’re both 6’- right about the size of these college rowers, and I guess we weigh about the same. Seems fun, but I have other things to do.

I then turned to another brochure; this one was about the camp in Maine called Sykes Rowing Camp. Okay, let’s see, extensive rowing camp, improve power and technique, and compete against other age groups…camp starts June 20th. That’s reasonable; school ends May 20th for us.

The next thing I picked up was another letter, only this one was about Coach Rosko:

“Head Coach John Rosko, a lifelong sailor and boat builder, took up rowing in 1975 at Anias Rowing Club in Bristol, CT. After amassing gold, silver and bronze in the Olympics and national competition, he left the club to head up coaching West University Men’s Crew, where he has remained now for six years, sharing his time these last two years—and the university program’s facility and equipment—to create new rowing programs throughout the State. In the future, his project will include the establishment of Woolsey Prep Rowing Team.”

Ok, he seems legit. I turned the page over to find a handwritten note:

“Hello, Casey,

My name is John Rosko and you know by now that I’m your future rowing coach. I’m not here to play games with anyone. I’m all business. I’ve helped start new rowing programs throughout the state. Some of them succeed and others crash and burn. Mr. Ferris is a good friend of mine and he has asked me to help him as a personal favor. I’ve been observing both you and Lucas all this year and I’m impressed by the level of athleticism that I’ve seen. As Mr. Ferris has already informed you, we’ve seen that you show guts, stamina, and you get all the team members to work hard–qualities needed for a successful program.  I’ve also seen something even more promising between the two of you, a healthy competition that has driven the two of you to become better. I know that if you both work together, you can do something you couldn’t do on your own. Casey, I’m not going to beg you nor ask you to do this for someone else. This is a great opportunity for you to discover what you can and can’t do. Rowing teaches you things about teamwork and trust that nothing else can. It’s up to you, but believe me, Lucas will definitely accept. So if you want Lucas to surpass you, than go ahead and resign. If you’re interested, look at the training schedule for more info about the program. —- Rosko”

This dude is creepy! He’s been stalking us? This is just getting way too weird. Okay, they’re officially trying everything to get me to accept. Come on, “This is a great opportunity for you to discover what you can and can’t do.”  That’s bullshit. And how does he know that Luca will accept? He doesn’t even know him like I do! It’s not like he’s going to do it even if I don’t.  Shit! That’s just what he would do! He would rub it in every day, saying that I was too much of a pussy to be a founder, that I didn’t do it because I was weak. FUCK!!! He would accept just to spite me! Or even worse, he would accept so that I would have to accept and then he’ll watch me suffer.

Where’s that training schedule? Ah, here it is! I opened it and read through it. It said that if we accepted, then the training sessions would be as follows. We would be getting used to rowing a week after we accepted…hmm, that would be a week from this Friday. Wow, they have everything planned out already. They don’t even know if I’m going to accept or not! It says that the early stages of practice would call for us to come three times a week for the first two weeks…so that would be the first two weeks of April. After those two weeks, afterschool training will be every day with two morning practices each week.  Spring training will end a week before May 20th.  Huh? So that’s the spring training. Doesn’t seem that tough! At least we have a month to relax before the summer camp starts. This is doable, DOESN’T mean I’m doing it though!

The packet contained more information about the location and schedule of spring practices. We would row out of Sal’s marina into the Housatonic River. There was more info about the river and stuff, and then it was the summer practice. Summer training starts May 25th in Sykes Rowing Club. What!!! We have only FIVE days of vacation before summer training starts! This doesn’t make any sense. Isn’t the rowing camp supposed to begin June 20th? I kept reading to see what the fuck were they planning.

I finally found out all about it in another one of Coach Rosko’s notes. In it, he explained the following:

“Boys, you’re probably wondering why we’re leaving for Maine so early. The reason for that is to have longer to train. We need that time for you boys to think, live, and sleep rowing, and to hone your technique. I’ll rent one of the cabins in Sykes for the two of you. I have a cabin of my own near Sykes so I’ll be with you boys as much as possible. This way, when the camp starts, you’ll know the river and each other enough to make an amazing team.  And you’ll get to keep the cabin for just the two of you, you won’t have five or six other guys crammed in with you. Finally, as Mr. Ferris explained, the camp will end one week before school begins. After that, my training will be over and you boys will be in charge of starting the rowing program. Since you’re going to need some R and R, you’ll be allowed a week of each month to visit your family and friends. – Rosko”

Okay, people and rowing DO NOT mix! Everyone connected to it has turned out to be either crazy or stupid. Just look at this Rosko character. He wants to send us up to a cabin in Maine, a month before the camp even starts! I’m not doing this! This is just fucked up. I’m not going to spend three months living with Luca. We’re just going to end up killing each other.

I heard my mom arrive home, and I quickly shoved all the stuff back into the folder and into my back pack. I got off from bed and headed downstairs.

“Even after a long day you look gorgeous,” I told her as I went over and hugged her.

“It’s so good to see you, Love,” she said and gave me a kiss on the cheek, “How was your day?”

“It was something, alright,” I responded. “Mom, do you want something to eat?” I asked her as I helped her take off her coat.

“Yes, Love,” she handed me her coat and walked toward the kitchen.  “Meanwhile, you can tell me all about your day.”

I put her coat away, walked to the kitchen and took the rest of the food out of the oven and fridge.

“You bought food?” she asked.

“Yeah, on the way home from school,” I told her as I took a plate and began serving her.

“So, how was your day, Love? You seem a little bit troubled.”

“The morning was really good, but something happened right before school was over that is still bothering me.”

“What is it, Casey?”  She looked a little worried.

“Nothing bad, Mom; in fact, some might consider it an honor,” I tried to reassures her.

“An honor? Then why do you seem so down, silly?”

I chuckled, “It’s not that simple, Mom.”

“Well, tell me then.”

Before I began, I poured us some hot chocolate. I took a deep breath and began to tell her everything that had happened at school, from the folder to the talk with Mr. Ferris. After I was finished, she took a few minutes to absorb it all.

“So are you going to accept it?” she simply asked as she sipped the hot chocolate.

“I don’t think so.”

“Why not?”

“I can’t leave you all by yourself here. I’ll be gone for about three months. I don’t want you to be alone,” I said softly.

“Come here, Love,” she beckoned me. I came closer and she wrapped her arms around me and hugged me.

“Casey, you’ve done so much for me that I don’t know how I can ever repay you,” she whispered into my ear.

“It’s okay, Mom. You don’t have to.”

“Casey, you don’t have to worry about me anymore. I’m stronger now. So go out there and enjoy your life. I know that deep down you really want this. Even though you say you don’t want to do it, or that it’s stupid, deep in your heart you see this as a challenge you can’t deny.  Otherwise you would not be this troubled by it.”

I looked up and told her, “Mom. How do you know all of this? I haven’t even thought it out that far,” which caused her to smile.

“Love, you don’t need to tell me. I know you so well that I even know what you’re going to think before you think it,” she said.

“No you don’t,” I whispered causing her to smile brighter.

“Yes…I…do,” she said stressing every syllable, “I know if you don’t accept this, and Lucas does…then you’re going to regret it the rest of your teenage life. In other words, you’ll accept this offer no matter what.”

“Mom, why is everyone so sure that I’m going to accept this? Just look at the folder that Mr. Ferris gave us. It has everything planned out to a T. It has schedules, reservations, brochures…it even has a letter from Coach Rosko. Why are they so sure?” I admit I was puzzled by this.

“There’s a simple answer for that. They’ve seen how you and Lucas act when you’re next to each other…In fact, the whole school has noticed,” she said and then giggled at the end.

“What do you mean?”

“Don’t try to be coy, Casey. Whenever you’re next to him, I see this passion in your eyes. It drives you to better yourself in whatever you do. And it’s the same for him.”

“Thanks…I guess,” I told her, not really understanding what she had just told me.

“You’re welcome, Love,”

“I love you, Mom, you know that,” I told her.

“Love, you don’t have to tell me, you’ve demonstrated that you do countless times. Now, let’s go get some sleep.”


I pulled away from her embrace and began to clean up the mess in the kitchen. I placed the dishes in the dishwasher and made sure everything was turned off. Mom was already upstairs by the time I had finished turning off and locking everything downstairs.

“Goodnight, Mom,” I told her as I leaned into her room.

“Goodnight, Love,” she responded and I closed her door. I made my way to my room, brushed my teeth and dove into bed.  I stared into the ceiling thinking about this whole situation. Am I actually going to do this? Is my decision as black and white as so many people say? Sighhhh. Do I even want to imagine what all this time with Luca will be like? As I began to fall asleep, I remembered something from my childhood.  It was a long time ago, but I clearly remembered it……it was Luca and me.

It was a summer day and the sun was shining bright. I was running through a field…now I remember, it was the field near the playground. I was running and there were kids all over, and I was enjoying myself. Suddenly, I twisted my ankle when I stepped into a small hole covered by grass. I remember that it hurt so much and that I screamed, but the kids around me didn’t seem to care, they just continued to play.

I saw Luca let go of the toys he was playing with and come running towards me.

“Case, are you okay?” he asked still catching his breath. He had run all the way from the other side of the field just to see if I was okay.

“Luca!!! My ankle hurts!” I whimpered as tears began to form in my eyes.

“Please don’t cry, Casey,” he said softly and placed his finger on my lips to quiet my cries.

“But it hurts so much Luca and I can’t walk,” I cried and I could see the anguish in his eyes.

“Don’t worry, Case, you can lean on me. I’ll help you walk all the way home. Don’t worry,” he smiled, trying to reassure me as he continued to wipe away my tears.

I looked at him, his smile was so reassuring and contagious. “Do you pinky promise?” I asked him as I extended my pinky.

“Yeah, I do,” he smiled and then we shook pinkies.

He walked me home from the field where we were playing. I leaned on him and he held me, keeping my hurt ankle from the ground. All throughout the walk, he told me jokes and made silly faces, all to make me laugh and take my mind off the pain. When we got home, he stayed with me and we watched TV until he had to go home. That was one of the best days in my life.

I tousled around in my bed, bringing myself to reality. Sigh. “That really was a long time ago,” I thought to myself, “but I guess my choice is already made.”After a few deep breaths, I dozed off and was once again asleep.


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