Punctuality - A Short Story- FINISHED. FEEDBACK APPRECIATED.
here's what i have so far. from the bathroom to the car it gets frustrating i don't like it very much.
There it was. The most beautiful sound in the world. “Bleep. Bleep. Bleep.” This sound preached new beginnings, a new clean slate to do more things right, everything right if possible. It meant that morning was finally there, which was the best thing in the world.
Ryan glanced over at the clock, 5.30 staring at him in bright red letters, the color of action, or inaction, but everything certain. There probably weren’t many sixteen year olds who thought mornings were the best thing in the world, in fact most were probably still sleeping and savoring these last thirty minutes of idleness. Ryan certainly thought mornings were beautiful. He stretched his arms above his head and yawned, and then pulled the curtain back so he could see the darkness outside of the window. It wasn’t the same as the darkness of night. At this time there was peace, the peace of a town slumbering, completely stopped, at rest.
At night revelry was the key. Revelry in the heart of everyone whose heart was young. Every weeknight they would escape and the night would be filled with their yells and their laughs. It was something they couldn’t really avoid, something that would stir in something deeper than their heart, like blood to a vampire, flesh to a shark. Their eyes glossed over, smiles on their faces because they had escaped, and beer cans clasped in their hands. Not having the choice, seemingly, and frankly, not minding, they would toss their heads back towards the stars in the black sky and howl, before taking another long sip from the cheapest 40 ounce can of beer they could find.
Ryan never understood this. He never understood the need to escape into the night every Friday and Saturday, and soon escape behind the alcohol, or, occasionally, a recreational drug. The need to worry their already frazzled parents into oblivion so that they would be wondering if their kids were even alive, due to the un-popularity of sober driving. Some thought him a snob, and maybe he was. But he didn’t see any redeeming value in alcohol. He saw it as a poison and a drug, something very damaging to the spirit.
He had friends, and not many, because they didn’t seem to stick for very long. It seemed alcohol wasn’t something to turn your nose to in the teenage years. He had never tried it. It was too damaging. He found people to hang out with, fortunately, who felt the same way about alcohol. But there was always something else about him that tended to run people off.
It wasn’t that he didn’t try. He tried hard; every aspect of his life had to meet the bill of perfection. If it didn’t, things went wrong. He dressed very precisely, and he never appeared unkempt. This helped him fit the bill of a snobby person as well, surely. When he was very little he was taught that even if everything inside of him was ugly and completely unredeemable, if he kept his outside handsome and totally perfect, things would end up being okay.
That meant that if as much as a stray hair was felt, he went running back to the bedroom in the morning to fix it. And no one would leave for school if things weren’t perfect. Shoes had to be perfectly shined. These things still had to happen. This need for perfection didn’t stop at his physique, however. His room had to be impeccable at all times.
He even hated the fact that he had to sleep under the covers because that would unmake his bed, and he often didn’t, but he would wake up in the morning, upset to find that his mom had tucked him in, and remake his bed to perfection. His world would come crashing down if his room ever got messy, which it never had. He thought his mom would be happy with this, pleased that she didn’t have to remind her son to clean her room and threaten him with things being taken away, but she frequently remarked that she wished that her son would be a teenage boy for once. He shuddered at the thought of behaving like the teenage boys he knew. They did not seem to have many standards for things like punctuality or perfection, and this he could see from just being in class with them. Lateness, poor quality in homework, and their posture were the evidence of the low standards in their lives.
Not Ryan. No. Punctuality was practically essential. He had to always be right on time, in the same seat every day. If he wasn’t on time, which had never happened, he would be very irritated in the least. Things had to end on time, as well.
And, frequently, teachers would forget that they were teaching high school, and not college, and would speak far longer than they were called to. When Ryan would look at the classroom clock he would begin to get anxious, as well as when the bell rang to notify said teacher. His chest would tighten so that breathing wasn’t as easy as it should be. His hands would get all sweaty and they would also begin trembling. His heart would start beating faster and his mouth would get dry. Only when his day was back on schedule again would these things go away.
The physical symptoms were really the least strong ones, when what went wrong was more severe. It was always worse when someone backed out on him. Didn’t call when they said they were going to call, didn’t hang out when they said they were going to. Even if they were just late for a coffee date. He would always order early, ordering tea, of course, instead of coffee, because it is more cleansing. And if they didn’t show up on time, of course, the scenarios of all things possible that had gone wrong would run through his head.
Maybe they got into a car accident on the way over. Maybe they hit a propane tank. Both of those were possible. Also, maybe they had decided they did not like him anymore and it would no longer benefit them to hang out with him. Maybe they decided it wasn’t even worth calling him to notify him of their change in plans involving their social status with him. All these things were possible and, to Ryan, quite probable.
All of these things were causes for panic. In the middle of his reverie, Ryan let his eyes wander around the room, at everything caught still in perfection, letting him breathe easy until the red letters on his alarm clock stared back at him. 5:40. This wasn’t good. He only allowed himself five minutes of thinking time in bed, then he had to be in the shower, where he could spend only five minutes, so no wasting time. At once he jumped up out of bed, quickly making his bed.
Perfect. No wrinkles, no lumps. It looked like a bed in the Marriot hotel when it was done. He looked at the clock again, to make sure he was on time. 5:45. He was running late. This wasn’t good.
He never ran late. He quickly ran into the hallway, not a noise audible in the house this early in the morning. He woke up even earlier than his mom. Of course, his stepdad would be downstairs in the living room reading the newspaper. He picked it up almost as soon as the paper boy dropped it off on the front steps. He would be reading it with his tall glass of orange juice.
For six years, this was the habit. Thinking about this, Ryan realized he had went right to the bathroom without his robe on. Just his boxers. Even though it slowed him down, which he didn’t like, he didn’t like the possibility of being seen nearly naked in the morning, his pasty white skin exposed. Even though he knew tanning, while fashionable, was horrible for the body, sometimes he wished his skin wasn’t…so white. No one else’s skin was this white.
He wasn’t a vampire, either, so it didn’t make much sense for this skin tone to be like it was. He quickly brushed his teeth, counting out the two minutes with the digital clock that hung off of his showerhead with a mirror. He doubted his schedule would ever run like it was supposed to if modern technology wasn’t a part of it. Quickly, because he was running out of time, he turned the water on to the perfect temperature and got inside. It was perfectly hot – not enough to burn, exactly, but enough to feel like he was wrapped in a warm blanket. He didn’t stand there for more than a second before looking at the clock yet again. 5:47.
He had to hurry. He quickly shampooed his hair with the special shampoo that would make it that little bit shinier. But he had to do it twice. Once was never enough. And then the conditioner was essential, otherwise his hair would get dry and it wouldn’t feel good at all when he occasionally ran his hands through it. After that came the soap, and meticulously washing every part of him so that he looked and smelled perfectly clean.
He looked at the clock after all this; 5:53. He was not on time. He hurriedly turned the water off and dried himself off, then wrapped himself in the towel and got on to what was next, which was his hair. Nothing much, really, just a palm full of mouse to make it look kempt throughout the day. He was proud of the fact that styling his hair didn’t take him more than a minute. Getting dressed didn’t take long, either.
The night before, just like every night, he had set his outfit out for the next day. Perfect looking and fashionable. So maybe no one would notice. His messenger bag was sitting neatly on his office chair, and after he was finally dressed he slung it over his shoulder. Perfect. He looked perfect.
He flashed one last look at the alarm clock. 6:00. He was officially late. Great. This day just kept getting better. He didn’t have time for breakfast, even.
He got his car keys, which thankfully were in the same place he always put them, in the bowl sitting in the foyer, and went outside, into the nice cool morning. Everything was going fine, really, fine, until he tried to start his car. By this time it was too much. “Seriously?!?” Ryan exclaimed, kicking his tire as he groaned in frustration. He placed his messenger bag carefully in his passenger seat and, trying to make sure he didn’t disturb anything, of course.
Last edited by charlieglasgow : 06-02-2009 at 08:10 PM.
Reason: story is finished now.
Sighing, he walked inside and to the living room. “Uh, Steve?” His stepdad looked up from his morning paper. Clearing his throat, he gave Ryan an inquisitive look that was somehow supposed to mean “yes?” Ryan continued. “My car died, and I’m late for school. Can you jump mine for me?”
Steve sighed, shrugged, and nodded, getting up and making sure his robe was tightly fastened. Wordlessly, he grabbed his keys. Ryan followed him outside as he got in his car and moved it more closely to Ryan’s car. Ryan popped the hood on both of them and quickly, Steve jumped the car for him. He gestured to Ryan’s car, suggesting he try to start it. Ryan did so, successfully jumping it.
Without much more than a nod, Steve undid the cables and moved his car so that Ryan could get out of the driveway. “Okay…” Ryan shook his head as he looked at his watch. 6.20. Ten minutes to get to school before the early class started, and it usually took him fifteen minutes to commute. He quickly began driving, however, hoping not to be even later than he already was. The whole way there he sped five miles over, thankful that the police seemed to not be around yet.
By the time he got to school, pulling in the expansive parking lot, his watch read 6:30, and he was officially late. He left decency aside as he locked his car and ran into the building and up a couple of floors to his classroom, the hallway clocks reading 6:32. He flung open the heavy door to the classroom and, tripping on his feet as he walked inside, made an entrance. Everyone in the early class turned to look at him, including the teacher, who just continued teaching. His face burning with embarrassment, Ryan closed the door and quickly and as silently as possible shuffled into the seat that he always took, that was left empty for him, and opened his messenger bag, and taking out his Calculus binder, silently cursed as he discovered his take-home calculus test was not inside of it, where it should be, and where he would always leave his homework.
He sighed and looked up at his teacher, who was still blabbering on about Calculus. His heart started beating uncontrollably fast as he contemplated what to do. This wasn’t just a run of the mill, anyone-can-forget-and-still-do-fine assignment. This was the midterm, one of two major tests, in his AP calculus class. The one where he had the highest grade of all the other students. And he knew he did perfect on that test.
But it meant nothing; the test was due that day. Iindeed, the students were all now retrieving the white packets of paper, filled with pencil writing, all surprisingly neat. He quickly glanced around the classroom. Everyone seemed to have the test but him. He couldn’t run back home; that would take all of the class time and the teacher would be pissed off and disappointed. He closed his binder and leaned forward, trying to swallow.
There seemed to be no moisture in his mouth with which to swallow. He couldn’t breathe correctly, either. He tried breathing out as he put his elbows on his desk and covered his face with his hands, looking down to make it seem like he was studying, and trying to hold it together. He reckoned that he could dismiss any thought of any part of this day going better, since so many things had already gone wrong. He also attempted to get his mind off of the calculus test. He couldn’t afford to just not do this test.
Nobody could. This wasn’t a teacher prone to forgiving stupid absentmindedness by the students. This was college preparation and there wasn’t much room for error. The 6:30 start time alone sent the message that this class wasn’t for underachievers. Soon enough, time came to hand in the test. Ryan just took the tests from behind him and passed them forward, trying to breathe correctly.
He had never done anything like this. He never forgot assignments. Ever. Especially not extra important assignments for advanced, honors college prep classes. Finally, and it felt like forever had passed before this, the bell rang, but the teacher wasn’t done talking. And he wasn’t even done teaching. Please, no, Ryan silently begged.
He started tapping his fingers on the desk to try and relax, and pass time. He gave a sharp exhale of breath as the teacher finally let up, and excused the class. He rushed out, getting ahead of the others as, with the standing in the rows and talking, it could take a while to get out of the classroom. He cursed to himself under his breath, walking to his next class. The feeling in his chest never went away, and he couldn’t get his surely plummeting calculus grade out of his head. He smiled and waved at people the whole day, but didn’t talk to anyone.
His mood turned worse, and so did the panic, when he realized he forgot his English paper at home as well as his calculus test. He just sunk lower in his chair, every class time, because it felt like it was just going to get worse. He was grateful, at least, that his last class got out on time. He sighed in relief as he slid back into the driver seat of his car. The comfort of the familiar seat reassured him for a bit. Maybe things would start going normally again.
He continued breathing normally, finally, as he drove to his counselor’s office, for their weekly appointment. He got to the office straight on time. 3:15. The receptionist told him he would be a minute, which made him a bit nervous. Sandy, his therapist, was usually on time. What should change this time?
He was always on time. He nodded to the receptionist and tried not to worry as he sat down on one of the couches in the waiting room. He kept a close eye on his watch as the minutes ticked on by. His mom was paying Sandy, and not to cut down on their appointment time. This wasn’t acceptable. He tapped the floor with his feet, getting a little impatient.
At 3:20, Sandy calmly strolled into the room, from the outside door. Ryan just stared at him. He didn’t look disturbed in the least that he had missed the first five minutes of his appointment. Not even, like, busy or something. Just didn’t want to come. Now Ryan was pissed off. It isn’t nice to get pissed off. But he was pissed off now. Unloading on his counselor was one of the only fine times in his week. Sometimes they were hard times in the week. But he always looked forward to them.
“I’ll be with you in a minute, ok Ryan?” he said as he disappeared into his office. He just shook his head. At 3:22, Sandy re-emerged from his office, smiled warmly at Ryan, and beckoned him inside. Ryan sighed, got up and walked into the office, taking his usual place on the very comfortable couch opposite Sandy’s chair. He glanced down at his watch. 3:23
. He sighed. “So,” ventured Sandy. “How are you this afternoon?” Ryan sighed and nodded. “Good.” Sandy leaned forward and crossed his fingers together. “Really? You’re good?” Another sharp exhale of breath. Even though this was why Ryan was here, and he knew that, he hated the trick questions.
He always said good when people asked, because he didn’t really feel like unloading it if he in fact wasn’t doing very well. “Well, to be honest, I’m irritated.” Sandy adjusted his glasses. “Why?” he fixed his eyes on Ryan. “Nothing has gone right today, and I thought that this appointment would at least be timely, but we don’t have the amount of time that we need.”
“We talked about it, Ryan, already, that my hour isn’t 60 minutes, it’s 45.”
“Yeah, then why isn’t it on time? This is the only time in my week when I can…” He trailed off.
“Be honest, and real.”
“And here you are, taking that time away.”
“I understand, and I will never be unavailable to you.” Ryan sighed.
“You know why I’m doing it, right?”
Ryan sighed and crossed his arms. “Yeah…”
“You rely a lot on timeliness, on order.”
“And that’s bad?”
“No, of course not.”
“The world unorganized is…” Sandy waited for the end of the sentence.
“It’s chaotic. I hate chaos. And I don’t have to like chaos.”
“I’m not here to tell you that you do.” Sandy leaned back a little bit in his chair, sitting up straight.
“Like I said earlier, you rely on timeliness, perfection, and order. A lot.”
“You know this.”
“I don’t know what I’d do if my world wasn’t…organized.”
“Is it always perfectly organized?”
“No, not when things go wrong.”
“What happens then?”
“I freak out.”
“Did you freak out today?”
“I forgot my calculus take-home midterm.”
“It’s not like it isn’t a big deal. Not a regular run-of-the-mill assignment. I’m going to effing fail that class now.”
“Are you sure? You’re usually perfect at calculus. “
“It’s the midterm. 100 points.” He felt himself getting anxious again as he talked about it. “Can we not
“I don’t want to freak out again.”
“Kyle, I know you hate the fact that I’m saying this to you, because you don’t believe me. I’m going to say it anyway. “ Ryan braced himself, cringing a bit.
“Not everything has to be perfect. You can mess up sometimes.”
“No. I’ve messed up enough.”
“What have you messed up so bad on, Ryan?”
Ryan crossed his arms together and shook his head. Whenever he’d been asked this question before he wouldn’t answer. He’d been in counseling for six months, after his last breakdown, because things kept going wrong in a worse way than they were now. He shook his head again. “I’m not ready to talk about that.”
“Okay, that’s fine.”
“Don’t bring it up anymore.” He was a little shaken up. He wanted to cry, thinking about what he had done wrong, and his arms were shaking. He never cried. Crying was weakness, he believed. That’s one of the things he had been taught. Girls could cry. He knew this was an antiquated belief, totally wrong, but still, crying wasn’t something he allowed himself to do quite often. And he couldn’t even think about what he did wrong, much less talk about it, certainly.
“Ryan, I really want to drive this home. You don’t have to be on time, all the time.”
“I was late for my first class today.” He was leaning back on the couch now, still fighting the urge to cry, his arms crossed around his stomach as if he was going to break, literally, if he didn’t.
“And, what happened?”
“What do you mean, what happened?”
“When you walked into the door-“
“More like tripped. I stumbled. I was running.”
“Okay, so it was embarrassing to boot.”
“Double embarrassing, being late is bad enough.”
“Okay, I’ll accept that for now. But what happened, when you came in late?”
Ryan shrugged. “Everyone looked, as if I were a white tiger or something.”
“A white tiger in Vermont.”
“So the attention was focused on you. For how long?”
“Until I sat down, so like, two seconds.”
“Then what happened?”
“Things went back to normal, I guess.”
“So it wasn’t like the topic of the day.”
“You never know. Maybe.”
“Why would it be?”
“This is high school.”
“I know that, but people being late for class is hardly something that doesn’t happen often. People do it all the time, I’m sure.”
“It would seem so.”
“And for once in your life, you were late for class.”
“That would be what happened.”
“What do you think is the aftermath?”
“People talking about me being late for class.”
“You don’t think they have other things to talk about?”
“It was comical. I’m sure they at least mentioned it.”
“Okay, so they mentioned it. How do you think it came up?”
“Can you believe the way Ryan was late today?” Ryan animated. “Yeah, he tripped. His hair looked weird.”
“I’d like to challenge that.”
“I see a bunch of people who are in high school. I even went to high school once. Being late seems to be, oh, I don’t know, not a big deal, to most teenagers,” Sandy said as he leaned forward.
“Most. Not me. I don’t see what’s wrong with it.”
“There’s nothing wrong, really, with a healthy appreciation for punctuality and timeliness. They are important qualities.”
“Yeah, you don’t have to remind me.”
“But they are supposed to help you.”
“How does it help you?”
“I’m organized. I do things right.”
“It never causes you stress?”
“Well, it’s the things that go wrong that cause me stress.”
“Would these wrong things cause you as much stress if you didn’t rely so much on perfection?”
“Think about that. I know it’s a scary concept, because perfection is the only seemingly reliable thing that is in your life.”
“Sure. I mean, I guess I’ll think about it.”
“Just do. Think about maybe, whatever you’ve done to mess up, maybe isn’t that bad.”
“I told you not to bring it up again!” Ryan looked up at him, his eyes furious.
“I’m not asking you to talk about it. And I’m sorry. I’m challenging your thinking on it.”
“You wouldn’t know. I could’ve murdered someone. You just wouldn’t know.”
"So it's possible that I've killed someone, you think?"
Sandy shrugged and sighed. "I guess. I won't call you a murderer, but I think we've all had a chance to do it."
"And yet you're still talking to me."
"Yeah. Why shouldn't I be?"
"Because I could be a murderer."
"Oh yeah. You're getting paid to."
"Well, yes, I am paid to talk to you. That's a very small part of the equation. You know that. This job isn't made, though, for people who hate their careers."
"So you like talking to me."
"Even though we aren't getting anywhere?"
"The speed is up to you, not me."
Ryan sighed, and his mind kept going back to what he would never say. He leaned back on the couch, wrapped his arms around his stomach again.
"What are you thinking?" Sandy took a sip from the cup of coffee that had been at his desk. Ryan shook his head, and kept silent for a few more minutes.
"I was, like, five, and my mom wasn't listening to me."
"She was talking to my dad, and in retrospect I guess they were fighting. I couldn't tell. So, I tried to get her attention. She kept ignoring me."
Sandy just nodded, leaning forward with his arms crossed and watching him.
" I called her name a few times and then she kept ignoring me, so I pushed myself against her. Like, rammed her."
Ryan's eyes overflowed, and he couldn't stop the tears from coming down, so he put his rested his arms on his knees and put his head in his hands. It was overwhelming; he hadn't cried in years and now every emotion he felt at the moment was just overwhelming him. He didn't like this; it was out of control and he had to stop it. He wiped his eyes off, but the tears just came down again.
"Damnit." He cursed, frustrated that his body wouldn't follow his commands.
"Stop fighting it, Ryan."
Ryan looked up at him, then back down as he buried his head in his hands.
"What is wrong with crying?"
"It's so ****ing WEAK!" Ryan didn't mean to yell, but it came out that way as the tears kept going and he completely lost his composure.
Sandy turned and retrieved a box of tissues, handing it to him.
Ryan took a couple, then put the tissues on the floor. "I haven't cried since I was, like, eight."
Finally, he wiped his eyes and leaned back, regaining his breath.
"How was it? This last time?"
"We were talking about the interaction with your mom," Sandy dug.
"I pushed her, and she fell, alright? She fell down and hit her head on the cabinet. She broke her wrist."
"Besides the broken wrist, was she alright?"
Ryan shrugged. "Sure. Dad slapped me right after, and everything exploded."
"He slapped you?"
"Yeah. I had just broken my mother's wrist."
"Yeah, but still. I was angry when I pushed her."
"It's not like you can justify her ignoring me. Kids are annoying. They talk alot. I'm sure I was easy to ignore." Ryan shrugged.
"I know that, and ignoring you occasionally isn't a horrible thing. But five year olds often get angry too. It's not unusual that you would lose your temper and push her."
Ryan shrugged, and looked past to the window. "For months after that, I wondered if I was going to go to jail."
"Was your mom angry at you?"
"It wasn't good, all around, but no. She wasn't. Probably because I was so upset by it."
"You held that in for quite a long time."
"I hurt my mom when I was little."
"You didn't mean to, though. It's not the same as conscious intent to hurt."
"I've never told anyone. Ever."
"I'm glad you told me."
"I feel guilty because from then on everything got worse. Like, always fighting."
"You think it was because of you pushing your mom?"
"They fought alot about that, about my dad slapping me."
"I can imagine so. That lies more on your dad slapping you than you pushing your mom."
"Yeah, but it wouldn't have happened, were I not so impatient."
"Have you ever made up for that offense?"
Ryan was taken aback by that. "How do you mean?"
"I'm guessing you felt like you had to make up for it? By being good?"
"Well, yeah. I wasn't a rowdy kid after that."
"Have you made up for it, then, by now?" In perfect timing, right as Sandy asked, and before Ryan could answer, Sandy's buzzer went off, signalling time to leave.
Sandy looked at the watch. "This time, next week then. You know you can always call if you need anything." Ryan nodded. He said that every week.
He got up, then, and went outside. In his messenger bag, which he kept slung over his shoulder at all times, his phone buzzed. It occurred to him, as he picked it up out of his bag, that it should've been on silent. He wondered why it had been on vibrate in the first place. "Hello?" He said as he put the phone to his ear and slid fluidly into the driver's seat of the car.
"Hey, Kiddo!" His Dad's voice declared.
"Dad, what's up?" He smiled.
"Not a lot, kid, just working."
"How about you? You sound a little down."
"Oh, I'm good. I just got out of therapy."
"Good, how is that going for you?"
"I don't know. Mom wants me to continue, but I really don't see the point."
"Well doesn't it help to talk to someone?"
"I guess, but it's self indulgent when I could just be getting over things and moving on. It'd save so much-"
"Time?" His dad interrupted.
"We don't want something bad to happen to you again, okay? So keep on it for us."
"I don't really have the choice."
"I know. Are we still on for dinner tonight?"
Ryan sighed. "You had to ask."
"I know, I know. Meet me at Antipasto at six, okay?"
"Yeah. It's about a 45 minute drive. You'll love the place, and the food."
"Okay. I'll start now."
"See you in a little while, Kid."
"Bye." He hung up his phone, put it back where it belonged, and after successfully starting the car, he was on his way. He got to the restaurant and as soon as he got there, the waitress seated him.
He waited, and as the minutes ticked by he got more impatient. Seriously? Could this day get any worse? He had been slowly realizing throughout the day that asking that question was incredibly daring. The waitress kept coming back to the table, and eventually he ordered green tea. Of course this restaurant had it, why wouldn't they? His dad was so weird and quirky; of course he recommended this
. Of course. Twenty minutes went by and he called his dad's cell phone. Answering machine. Frustrated, he left messages. "Dad, you're never late. What is this? Where are you?"
"Dad, call me back ASAP."
"Call me back."
"Where the hell are you?"
An hour went by, and he paid for his green tea and left. They didn't seem to appreciate him leaving. He drove home slowly, holding his phone in his hand. Oddly, his stepdad's car wasn't in the driveway at home, and only one light was on, and it was before 8. The light was in his mom's room. He got out of the car and went inside. Everything on the first level of the house was dark. Why were the lights turned off? This never happened.
"Mom?" He called out and walked upstairs. "Mom? I'm home. Have you talked to Dad?" Even the hallway was dark. The only light came from his Mom's bedroom, which was only lit by her lamp, he noticed as he stopped at the doorway. His mom was sitting on the bed, hugging her knees and rocking back and forth, the phone sitting beside her. "Mom...what..." He dropped his messenger bag on the floor and crawled onto the bed beside her. He wrapped an arm around her shoulder to stop her rocking.
"Mom, talk to me. What's going on?"
She lifted her head up, and her face was red and stained with tears as new ones kept falling. She kept opening her mouth to try to say something. "Your dad..." He waited, and he didn't even allow anything into his mind.
"He got in a car accident...and..on impact he....." His arm fell from her shoulder and he slid off of the bed, onto the floor in one fluid motion, leaning his head against the fabric. Everything was closing in, and it seemed his lungs got smaller at every moment. He felt selfish, suddenly, for thinking about his lungs. He had left his dad countless voice mails. Had he picked up the phone to listen, and then got hit, or hit someone? Was that it?
So that would make it Ryan's fault. Another screw up. Another. Screw up. This time one of the only reliable people in his life was gone. He could barely breath now, and he felt selfish for focusing on himself.
He stood up, and as he exited the room he could hear his mom start wailing with her sobs. Where in the hell was her husband? Shouldn't he be notified? Had he been already? When did this happen? Why were the lights out?
He didn't think about where he was going, but his feet led him to the bathroom, where he shrugged off his jacket, and let it fall carelessly onto the floor, before turning on the water to the bath. He slid onto the floor as the water filled up. His mom's sobs kept getting louder. He wouldn't be able to shut them out. He looked over at the water and got up, before crawling inside.
The water had reached the top of the tub, so it overflowed and splashed onto the floor, onto his coat, all over the bathroom floor. He didn't even bother to turn it off before plunging his head under and screaming until he couldn't find any more oxygen and he came back up. Just breathe. Just. breathe.