The last moving box was being taken by the company Mr. Heere had hired, that way they wouldn't worry about the whole move-in.
Evan takes a look at the small house behind him, wondering if his past self would be excited seeing a truck in the driveway once again. He can picture himself clinging to his father to let him sit behind the wheel, not noticing the sad look on both of his parents.
When the truck went away, part of his childhood went away too.
Forcing himself to mature faster left a wound that hasn't entirely healed. He had to understand that now they were poor. Had to understand why his mother spent more time at work than taking care of him. Had to understand how to cook, how to clean his stuff, how to navigate the city, and to use money by himself.
That wound would exponentially grow without noticing, like ripping a piece of paper slowly. And one day it ended. All the pain, all the tears, fears, doubts, dreams, and hopes just ended.
The day he did something terrible.
Evan started picking at the blank cast on his arm. He hated it, it was itchy, and he couldn't shower or dress like a normal human being.
He saw his mother talking with the driver of the truck. Everything was ready, and she was just giving directions on how to get to the new house.
With his new family.
When he was a kid, the fear of another truck coming into the driveway messed with his sleeping schedule. His father had got in and never came back. He feared his mother would follow him.
Evan didn't know he was going to get in too.
Jared was next to him, and he looked sadder than him, if that even was possible. It was strange seeing him without a gremlin smile.
"Sweetie, it is time to go" his mother approached them with a sad smile, and in the same spirit hugged Jared "I'm going to miss you so much kiddo, thank you for taking care of my Evan".
Jared's frown got darker, his eyes got teary, and his mouth trembled slightly.
After the hug, Heidi went to say goodbye to the Kleinman's who were there too.
"Evan… I..." the smaller boy turned to him and without announcement, Jared hugged him.
Jared never hugged him since they were kids. It felt strange and out of place, but none of that mattered because it felt real.
It was an apology.
"You… are my best friend, my only friend in reality, and I… I-I'm sorry" Jared was crying in silence "I'm gonna miss you, who is going to put up with my shit now that you won't be here?"
Evan wanted to cry, but since that day, no matter how sad he felt, he didn't feel the necessity to cry.
"I got you something," Jared said after the hug ended. He took his backpack and pulled a box of hard plastic, it was the perfect size for it to be held easily with both hands.
Inside the box was a beautiful bonsai in perfect condition.
"I know this won't repair years of bullshit. But I hope you could remember me with this instead".
Evan took the present and quickly hugged his, now confirmed, friend.
"I-I love it… thank you, although you didn't need to get me so-something" he felt a small knot in his throat but decided to ignore it, "I'm going to miss you too".
Both boys give themselves a small smile and separate.
After quick goodbyes to the Kleinman's, Evan got into his mother's car, it was going to be a long trip to New Jersey.
Evan saw Jared through the window waving at him. He imitated the gesture.
"You better call me often!" heard the boy scream.
With a last goodbye, his gaze turned to the threshold, picturing the small kid with blond hair waving at him once again. He caressed the small box in his lap and said goodbye to everything he knew.
New Jersey wasn't that different from Georgia, he was in a normal city. Evan didn't know what he was expecting, it's not like Jersey Shore was an accurate depiction of the whole state.
The drive took more than half a day because they constantly stopped to eat and rest a bit. So it was almost nighttime when they got there.
His new house was bigger, it was downtown with other similar houses very close to each other. The color was wearing off, but he guessed it was blue or used to be.
A forty-year-old man was at the entrance with a big smile, waving at both of them.
"I'm glad to see you made it safe" welcomed with open arms that were immediately filled by Heidi.
It was strange seeing his mother being in love once again, but the happiness in her tired face made him say nothing.
Paul Heere wasn't a bad man, he genuinely cared about Evan and his mother. He constantly asked if he could help with something, and a smile was tattooed on his face. Deep inside, Evan was glad his new father was a loving person, but that didn't make it less uncomfortable.
"Hi Evan, how was the road trip?" Said while looking at him. The man had understood that Evan isn't a touchy person after previous interactions, more because of the anxiety than for something else, and that made him feel a bit more relieved.
"I-It was… fine I guess" but he hadn't understood that small talk was equally worse to him.
"Alright!" Paul's smile grew bigger, "the moving company called and said they're coming at first hour tomorrow, I hope that it's okay"
"Oh! It's okay Paul, we got the basics in the car, so it's no problem"
"Why don't you go say hi to Jeremy? He's probably bored in his room. You can also see your room Evan, is up the stairs the second door, Jeremy put a sign just in case" the man looked at him while signaling upstairs.
Evan nodded, "Yeah, that wo-would be good".
With that, he left the two adults and went upstairs. There were three doors, and it was kinda obvious which one belonged to whom.
Jeremy's bedroom door was covered in posters and signs, and the biggest one said "GET OUT" in big bold letters. The one in the middle didn't have something. So he guessed it was Paul's and his mother's from now on. The last door had a small sign that just said "EVAN" in blue letters. He thanked him silently for the gesture.
Looking at Jeremy's door made him anxious, he should knock and say hi to his stepbrother. But he wasn't sure.
What if Jeremy was asleep, and he just woke him up, then the taller boy will hate him from the beginning for being a noisy brother. Or maybe he was on a call, or watching a movie, or having fun on his own, and he just bothered him.
Jeremy was a combination of him and his dad. The taller boy seemed to suffer from social anxiety too, but unlike him, Jeremy seemed more friendly and open to people. He can qualify as much as an awkward kid than an anxious person.
And just because of that, Jeremy was better than him.
Evan quickly ran to his designated room, he could say hi to Jeremy later.
His new room had a similar vibe to his previous one, it felt like he could have shelter in this house. There wasn't a lot in the room, just a simple bed, a desk, a nightstand, and a closet. Once his things come in tomorrow, he could focus on making it feel like home.
The bonsai would look good by the window, so he just placed it there, gently taking off the plastic that cover it. He lost himself watching the small leaves moving, thinking how good it would be just to be a tree, taking sun and water just because.
He should take a shower before dinner.
Evan couldn't remember the last time he was at a table full of people eating. But since his mother hasn't started working right from the get-go, he should get used to it, at least for the next week. Paul and Heidi did most of the chatting, with Jeremy and Evan giving small answers here and there.
"Summer is going to end in a couple of days, you and your friends have plans?" Paul asked his son.
"Yeah, they want to go 'camping' if you know what I mean" the boy used visual quotations in the word camping.
"So you won't sleep in the forest I guess"
"Yep, Chloe and Jenna don't want to sleep on the ground, and Christine doesn't have permission to stay the night. It's going to be more of a bonfire than anything else"
Paul nodded while listening to him, and a small brightness crossed his face.
"Maybe you can take Evan to meet your friends, at the end you're all going to be in the same school"
Heidi beamed, too, hearing the suggestion. And Evan just shook his head very quickly. Jeremy rolled his eyes in annoyance, it was almost unnoticeable, but Evan saw it.
He wasn't welcomed.
"Nonono, I need to go sho-shopping for school a-and accommodate my room. Also, I'm a senior, I-I don't think is a g-good idea" Evan had to start rambling before Jeremy could say something.
"I think it is good that you get to know new people, sweetie" Heidi tried to convince his son.
"I just do-don't want to bother them"
"It's okay Evan, it'll be fun" Jeremy had a fake smile, but both parents seemed to be oblivious to that.
Evan just nodded.
After dinner, Jeremy was the first to bail to his room. Paul and Heidi will clean the table, so they let him go too.
Once he almost got to his room, he could hear Jeremy's voice through the hall. He sounded irritated and was screaming in silence.
"My dad literally cannot understand that he can't bring new people into our lives and pretend we were a family from the beginning."
Evan didn't like to eavesdrop, it was rude, but he froze with those words.
"Michael, it's just you don't see it. Evan can even talk like a human being, and everything he says or does has this cringy vibe attached"
The knot in his throat came back, and his eyes started to feel like it was burning from the inside.
"No man, he-he's not a bad person, he's just weird. And I don't like that".
The footsteps coming near were his cue to jump right into his room. Evan closed the door quietly so no one could hear.
He liked the darkness. And not in a poetic way.
He felt safer with the lights out. No one would see his tears falling down his cheeks and see how his body shook. He would be unnoticeable, as always, but now he wouldn’t see himself too.
It was hard not to feel bad in this situation. He was on the sideline, his mother and Paul were happy, and Jeremy didn’t have to change his whole life, so he will be fine.
But Evan? He had nobody by his side. And his mother didn’t seem to notice how devastated he felt. It was no surprise, he was used to it.
He hated this.
He hated this so much.
He should be happy, his mother was happy, they now had economic stability, and he was going to attend a good school, allegedly better than his last one. Everything was expected to be better.
So why he was a shitty son?
Why does he wish that nothing hadn’t changed? That his mother stayed single or at least found a man in their town, so they wouldn’t have to move.
He could stay with his shitty life, in his shitty home, with a now not-so-shitty friend.
He wondered if his mother would have left their city if she hadn’t a son. She could start from the ground, with a new family, in a new city, with a new son that wasn’t a total lost cause.
Evan wondered in the darkness and silence of his room.
And one last time, wished he hadn’t a tomorrow.