Friday, April 12, 2013



 The Horace Chronicles, #2  


in which we see two people trying to balance their books


August 27 

Dear Maya,

When I got home after my last shift at the pool, I was surprised to find my dad sitting at the dining room table. He had his laptop open and a calculator at his side, and he was peering at his checkbook. These were not good signs.

“Hi Dad,” I said, dropping my backpack to the floor.

“Hello, Theodore,” he said, not looking up.

I headed into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator, taking out an apple (there wasn’t much else in there). “You’re home early today,” I said.

“Yeah. Things were slow so I came home.”

I re-entered the dining room. I didn’t want to ask, but I felt I didn’t really have a choice. “Dad, I was talking with Janito today and he said his Mom was going to be taking him to Staples for school supplies. I was thinking maybe I’d go with them.”

“Go with them?” He looked up from his checkbook.

“Yeah. For school supplies.”

His face hardened. “Jesus, Theo, we’re having a rough time here. You think maybe you can find some stuff from last year? An unused notebook or two?”

“Well, not really. I – ”

“Cut it out Frank,” my Mom said, coming down the stairs. I didn’t realize she was home too. “He’s not asking for money to go partying, for God’s sake. We’re talking school supplies. Look at it this way: if he goes with Janito then we don’t have to take him.”

“Alice, you know perfectly well that –”

“Yeah, I know perfectly well. I left my bag upstairs. Give him some money.”

My Dad exhaled a long breath. “Fine.” He pulled his wallet out of the pocket of his navy khakis. He handed me a $20 bill. That wouldn’t go too far.

"C'mon Frank. The boy needs more than $20."

"Fine." He pulled out another and handed it to me. 

“Thanks, Dad.” 

"See if you can't find something that can give you something that will get you better math grades," he said as his phone rang. “Who the hell is this,” he said, looking its screen. He stood up and turned his back to me. “Sandy,” he said, not sounding to happy to hear from the guy. “How are ya.” He went upstairs. That’s kinda been my dad lately, Maya. Annoyed when he’s with me. Which doesn’t feel all that often.

“It’s been a bad month,” my mother said.

“Seems like we’ve had a lot of those lately.”

“Yeah, well . . . ” her voice trailed off.

“I’m sorry.” I half meant it, and was half-annoyed. But I don’t think she heard that, which I’m glad about.

“Nothing to apologize for,” she said. “I feel bad. Was hoping to get you more in the way of back-to-school clothes, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

“I don’t care.” But I did.

“Sometimes, I feel like we’re in a race against time,” she said. “Trying to get you through school, get you to college, get the mortgage paid off, get to retirement. It just seems to keep getting harder. I think we’re going to be okay. I just wish it could be a little … easier.” She smiled. “So what time is Janito picking you up?”

He came about twenty minutes later. I had a list from the school website of things to buy. I skipped a lot. There was nothing on the list about what I’d need for History. I decided to buy a spiral blue notebook and a folder to go with it. Wasn’t sure I’d use either. But I wanted to have it just in case. My dad probably would be pissed off. But I wanted to have something new that was my own. Well, not exactly. I know that blue is your favorite color, too. After thinking you would be, you weren’t going to be in the class after all. But I somehow wanted you there with me. When I looked at that book, it reminded me of you, and I felt better. I think.