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The Boy I Grew Up With
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I have loved Channing Monroe all my life.
In first grade, he asked for my Trapper Keeper.
Growing up, the problem was never love for us.
The problem was us.
The problem is that we’re living in two different worlds now.
But there were nights I felt we couldn’t be further apart than we were, and there were nights I felt we shared the same heartbeat.
When was it time?
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* * *
Channing Monroe is a selfish prick.
I could think that because I’d heard my mom use the phrase. If adults said it, so could I. So I said it, to his face. And I glared. I didn’t care who overheard me.
Until I heard: “Heather Jax!”
I tried to explain to Mrs. Buxton that he wanted to use my Trapper Keeper, but it was mine. I wasn’t giving or sharing or loaning, and when he’d growled at me, that’s when I hit him in the head.
A girl has a right to defend herself was another phrase popular with my mom. I mean, she said it when she was grumbling to herself and smoking on our new house’s front porch.
But back to what happened earlier today.
Mrs. Buxton sided with Channing, for the first time ever.
She never sides with Channing. He’s trouble, with a big T. See? Grammar. I’m learning. But anyway, he gets into trouble more than me. I only get in trouble when it has to do with him.
But I guess violence “wasn’t the answer.”
I disagreed. So did Channing. He told me after class that violence could end any fight. That made it seem like it was always the answer. He whispered that to me at recess, and then he gave me a weird look.
He stepped back, eyeing me, and before I could ask what was wrong with him, he hit me square in the chest. “You’re it!”
He took off running.
So did I.
Game on, sucker.
I chased him down, tackled him, and got in trouble again.
Mrs. Buxton was everywhere! Or the chaperone for recess was, but still. Ev-er-y-wh-errrrre.
After that, I had to promise something to get out of trouble. At that point, I was willing to promise anything, but when I told her I’d give Channing one of my brother Brandon’s old Trapper Keepers, she gave me a weird look too.
Then she knelt down and whispered in my ear, “That’s very kind of you, Heather. Not everyone has the necessities at home.”
I didn’t know what that had to do with me needing new teeth, but I’d say anything to get out of a phone call to my parents.
I was thinking about that promise as I got out of bed that night to go the bathroom. I needed to ask Mom about where Brandon’s old ones were. She’d been gone all day, even after supper and when we went to bed.
I didn’t know where she went. Her bags and clothes were gone too, but I heard voices as I slipped into the hallway. That meant Mom was home.
She was talking to Dad.
I needed to pee, then go tell her about the Trapper Keeper thing. If I didn’t do it now, I’d probably forget, and she never got out of bed before we went to school. Mrs. Buxton would follow up with her threat and call home. No way, no sir!
I was halfway to the bathroom when I heard my dad. “I am not disrupting their life any more than it’s already going to be.”
“Come on.” A female voice.
I paused. That wasn’t Mom.
I didn’t know who that was.
“You’re not thinking straight,” she continued. “Heather—”
“If you’re going to tell me Heather is young, that she’ll bounce back, you can leave this house right now. Their lives are going to be uprooted enough. I’m not pulling them out of one school and putting them in a different one.”
“You don’t have a choice. The district line—”
My dad overrode her, again. He was speaking so harshly.
“Manny’s is on the border. We moved here because of her mother. I will not disrupt her life again because of her mother. I have friends in the county office. I will pull in favors if need be, but I am not moving my children—not unless they decide they want to change.”
I don’t even want to say how much later this is. I’m old. That’s when.
Around that time frame.
You don’t need to know any more.
Wait—not that old.
We’re done here.
* * *
“GET OFF HIS DICK!”
Those words, being screamed at—hold on, I have to roll over—at six in the morning were what woke me up. I’d had a whole three hours of sleep—three hours after I sent my night manager home and said I’d close Manny’s, and three hours after I took pity on my entire night staff and sent them home too. I’d decided drinking a bottle of bourbon and cleaning was the ultimate adulting job to do.
Stupidest. Adult. Ever.
“Ugh.” I groaned as I pulled myself to a somewhat upright position. I couldn’t fully sit up because my stomach was threatening to come out of my mouth. Letting my head fall with gravity was the best option for not spewing out the two pieces of toast I’d had before falling into bed three hours ago.
I am an idiot.