Chapter One - Part 5
I have never met a girl like Eli.
She's not beautiful, not in the aristocratic blonde hair, blue eyes way.
No, she's interesting. That's the most fitting word to describe her.
She has long red hair and the deepest brown eyes I've ever seen. She never smiled during our interaction, and I can tell it's nothing personal. She does not strike me as the happy obedient kind.
There's something wild about her.
Wild Wilder, it's actually funny when I think about it. I think I've been thinking about it too much. That's why I have to ask my father to repeat his statement.
He does, unhappily. "I asked how was your day, Abraham."
My father is the only person in the world who can get away with addressing me by my full name.
"It was fine, " I play with my food. My mother is a good chef and I don't want to offend her but the truth is that I am not really hungry.
"You gonna eat that?" Josh asks, pointing a silver fork at an untouched piece of shallow fried chicken on my plate. Josh is my little brother. He's younger only by a few months.
We are both seniors at Westreet Prep. I have an older sister and an older brother as well. Tim is married and Esther is going through medical school.
"Nope," I slide the plate over to him.
Dad frowns discouraging at me. "Eat your own food, boy."
If I got a penny for every time my dad addresses us as 'boy', not 'son' I'd be a millionaire.
Josh pouts, returning my plate to me.
I sigh. There's no escaping my father.
"How was the community garden, honey?" Mom asks, smiling brightly.
"Considering the fact that I was ordered to work there I'll say it wasn't too bad." It's hard to keep the bitterness out of my voice.
My father glares at me. "Do not speak to your mother like that."
"It's fine, Henry." Mom sighs, raising a hand to silence him.
The way my mother always defends me against my father makes me feel guilty. That is why I answer her question. "We were made to work in pairs."
"Who was your partner?" Josh asks through a mouthful of chicken.
"Chew your food, boy," dad instructs.
Josh rolls his eyes. My father's eyes narrow. I avert the near clash with an answer to his question.
"This girl called Wilder Sanchez."
"Red hair, blue hoodie?" Josh asks.
How does one accurately one's outfit just from their name?
"Yes," my voice mirrors the surprise I feel. How does Josh know Eli?
"She's in my art class." Is he a mind reader now?
"That's nice," mom adds, her kind features smiling at me.
"I don't think now is the time to be thinking about girls, " dad cuts in. "You should be focusing on your education. On your future. You'll need a clean mind and heart to join the Navy."
"I already told you, dad. I'm not joining the army." My voice is tired.
My father was an army chaplain. He seems to think joining the Army is the only way I will learn how to truly become a man. He was disappointed when neither Tim nor Esther enlisted.
He has set his hopes on my following in his footsteps. He does not say it directly but I'm pretty sure he will disown me when he finally realises I will not be joining the army.
Dad's eyebrows furrowed in determination. "You'll change your mind."
"No, I won't."
"The army is what shaped me into the man I am today. And it is what is going to shape you into the great man I know you are going to be-"
"I going to my room, " I sigh, pushing my chair backwards and standing up.
"Don't you dare walk out that door Abraham. I am not finished talking to you."
"But I'm done listening, " with that final statement dropped, I walked out of the dining roof and climbed up the stairs to my room.
My father has always been strict. But I know he loves me. I just don't get why he can't accept that I'm not joining the army.
I'm still seething when there's a knock at the door.
"Go away, " I mumble.
"Open the damn door, Abe. I'm not your mommy."
"What do you want Josh?" I ask while standing up and walking towards the door.
It swings open in my face, nearly hitting my nose.
Josh walks in. "You forgot your dessert."
"Did mom send you here to talk to me?"
"No one sent me, Abe. You know how dad behaves pisses me off too. The difference, is I don't go tagging with my friends because he upsets me."
"Was that supposed to make me feel better?" I ask, going to sit next to Josh on the couch. He offers me the plate if brownies, I try one.
"No, it wasn't." I'm not sure whether to appreciate his honesty. "What's up with you and Eli?" He asks.
The question surprises me. "Bro, we just met."
"I know. I mean, what do you think of her?"
"I think she's lonely."
"Aren't we all?"
"Come on, Josh. Let's play." I get up from the couch and move to the television set. After a minute of reconnecting wires and adjusting the settings, I grab my gamepad and go and sit next to Josh on the couch.
"What are we playing?" He asks through a mouthful of brownies.
I wrinkle my nose, chuckling nonetheless. "Chew your food, man."
The TV screen lights up with the logo for Sony, then Nintendo. Playing Mario Kart with my little brother Josh is easily the best kind of therapy for me. Especially since I'm undefeated. Josh says it is because we always use my game console but I believe its because I truly am an expert.
"Three, " Josh starts the count down to match the numbers on the screen.
"Two." We exchange a look. My heart rate has spiked. I can already feel the adrenalin from the race.
We chorus the final number. "One."
Let the games begin.