Episode 7 – Home Meltdown, Part I

Shit! Wish I didn’t have to go home. Better off sleeping in a crate under the West Side Highway…I plod along. Stare into store windows to take my mind off the inevitable. Reach for my cell, but come up empty. Fuck! Must have forgotten it as usual. Figure everybody’s freaking because they can’t reach me…probably assuming the suspension’s driven me to drastic measures.

I let myself in. Ava’s in her room glued to her laptop. Can’t help watching her. She’s such a cool sister…brown curls, big brown eyes, and dimples, four of them…one on her chin, one on each cheek and a tiny one at the tip of her nose. She’s still small and delicate, while her classmates are shooting up. It’ll happen eventually, and when it does, guys’ll be beating down the door.

I feel guilty, because as soon as my parents get home, the shit’s going to hit the fan.

Ava looks up, surprised. “Hi. You ran already? How come you’re home early?”

I give her the grisly details.

“That’s so unfair,” she cries. “Erickson is such an asshole!”

Ava’s brutally frank, but s-o-o-o loyal it’s awesome. We stick up for each other, especially in the face of Mom and Dad who are militant overachievers…on us every second to work harder and improve ourselves.

“Do you have to show them the letter?”

“Yeah, Potato Head is waiting for their call.”

“Shit! They’ll torment you.”

I roll my eyes. “Tell me about it!”

Take refuge in my room and at 7:00 hear Mom come home…figure she’ll be in my room in like ten minutes. Set my stop watch. Okay, so I’m wrong. She knocks in eight minutes. “Hunter, may I come in?”

“Yup.” I’m lying on my bed. Consider crawling under it.

Door swings open. She stands glaring, hands on her hips. “I expect a full explanation.”

It brings out my sarcastic side. “I thought the letter was pretty self-explanatory.” Not the smartest move under the circumstances.

She scowls. “Hunter, don’t be difficult! It only says the school was forced to suspend you for flaunting the dress code, and showing blatant disrespect for a faculty member. Mr. Nutt is so concerned he wants your father and me to call as soon as possible. How did you get in this mess?”

I close my eyes. Can’t bear to look at my mother’s freaked expression. “Mom, chill. It’s totally blown out of proportion. Okay, so I told Mr. Erickson conformity was bullshit, but it was really about my clothes. They weren’t dreary and conservative enough. The dress code is like out of the 1800’s. It’s so fucking tiresome!”

Feel Mom settling on the edge of my bed. Know she’s staring, wondering what genetic accident produced a son so totally unlike them. Her voice cuts the silence. “Aren’t you going to look at me?”

I open my eyes

Mom looks stricken. Runs her fingers through her perfect hair. “Hunter we need to talk seriously. Why are you making such a big deal about a minor issue?” Her voice is strained, exasperated. “So you have to follow the dress code…big deal. Is it worth getting suspended?”

She pisses me off…obviously doesn’t get it. “Yes! It is a very big deal! Thank you for the vote of confidence. Haven’t you noticed how important clothes are to me?”

She backs off a little. “Of course, but are they more important than getting into a good college?”

“Mom, Jesus, they’re not separate issues. I want to go somewhere that will teach me all about clothes and clothing design.”

“I know. I know. You tell us all the time, but no college wants a troublemaker.”

“But school wants me to be somebody I’m not. They don’t respect my individuality. Fuck them!”

Mom frowns…repulsed. “Is that the kind of language you used in class?”

“Basically.”

“Hunter, I’m at my wit’s end. Why is being a non-conformist so important to you?”

“I’m not a non-conformist. I’m just not conforming to the outdated bullshit at Griffin. If I were at a school for the arts, I’d definitely be a conformist.”

“Hunter. Why do you do this? All our friends’ children realize they have to sacrifice to acquire basic knowledge. Can’t you do the same?”

“Mom, come on! They just do what they’re told…like, uh, sheep going to the slaughterhouse.”

She gets up, exasperated. “I see your father will have to deal with this…and don’t kid yourself, there will be serious repercussions, and you better not use foul language with him. You sound like a…longshoreman.”

“So? What’s so bad about longshoremen?”

Mom leaves in a huff. “You’re impossible.”

“Whatever.”

To be continued…Read next episode!