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Happiness Comes With a Price

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Soon, it's morning and like the stereotypical small town it is... there are birds chirping. I look around and remember that I'm in my childhood house. I push myself out of the bed and pad across the hall to the bathroom for a shower. By the time I'm finished, it's 9:30 in the morning. I go down to the main floor and peek into my mom's room. She's still asleep, so I decide to make her breakfast. I have just finished the toast when Mom walks into the kitchen.

"Charlie? I didn't expect you up so early," she admits. I shrug.

"I'm always up this early," I tell her.

"Really? Whatever for? These are your teenaged years," she says.

"It wastes daylight," I say, "you know, for skateboarding." I point to the beat up board I left at the front door, knowing it would be too dirty to put anywhere else. She gives me an impressed look.

"How'd you manage past your growth spurt? I remember when Albert got his growth spurt. He was so unusually awkward, he gave up skateboarding," Mom tells me.

"What? Dad was into skateboarding?" I ask.

"Oh yes. He always told his buddies he was going to go pro," she says as she laughs. I never knew that. They didn't talk much about their past. It was as if Sara's death was a barrier between the now and then. I decided to test the waters.

"Tell me something else about your past, while I make breakfast. Anything," I ask of her. She sits down and I can see her mind processing my request.

"Alright," she agrees, "but there's a condition." I raise an eyebrow.

"What kind of condition?" I ask.

"First, it has to be after breakfast," she ticks off her fingers, "second, you let me take you to the places I'm talking about." I'm stunned. She agreed. Not only that, but I'll be relieving it with her.

"Done," I say immediately. We eat quickly. I can tell that she's excited, too.

"Bring your board," she tells me, "you're going to want it." I grab my skateboard on the way out and we're off.

Mom takes me to the skatepark. It's deserted, but it's still in good shape.

"Whoa," I breathe, "this place is awesome."

"This is where I first saw your dad," Mom tells me, "right over there." She points to a bench in the corner.

"Why were you over there?" I ask. Mom laughs.

"Because Mrs. McGrath and I were watching all the boys," she says.

"Oh," I smile nervously. Do girls really do that?

"Yes," Mom sigh, "I finally worked up the nerve to ask Albert to teach me to skateboard."

"Wait, you skateboard?" I'm astonished.

"Oh, no!" Mom chuckles, "I was awful. But, Albert asked me to prom that year and that's what I had been working for."

"So, did you guys know you were going to get married?" I ask. Mom nods.

"That's how it was. That was my sophomore year. He's was a junior. We waited until I graduated high school before getting married," Mom says.

"Wow, that's early to know," I reply. I just can't imagine being with someone in high school and getting married to them.

"Well, we were young and in love. A bit of a cliché, I know, but again, that's how it was," Mom tells me. We sit there in silence for quite awhile.

"Why..." I stop. I can't do this. Mom sighs.

"Why did we separate?" she asks for me. I nod without looking her in the eye.

"There were a multitude of reasons..." she trails off, "oh, Charlie. I never wanted to leave your father. I still don't. But he thought it might be beneficial to... to take some time apart."

"What? Is- is that different from divorce?" I ask in astonishment.

"Well, in a sense. We're not officially divorced, but we didn't want to tell you get your hopes up in case we decided to follow through with it," she tells me. I stare at her.

"Why are you telling me this now, then?" I ask. She leans against the fence.

"Because... because I'm going to call your dad tonight," she admits. I take her hand.

"Good," I say, "because he misses you." She smiles and we decide to go to the movie theater. We decide on Catching Fire. The rest of the day passes quickly and soon it's the evening and Mom is apprehensive to pick up the phone.

"Just do it, Mom," I say gently, " he'll want to talk to you."

“Are you sure? Its been so long since we’ve properly spoken. Even on the phone,” she admits. I nod.

“I’ll leave you alone to talk,” I tell her as I grab my board and head outside before she can protest. I can only hope she still dials the phone, but I have demons of my own to conquer.