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 Chapter 27: Problemas Nuevos

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Kell
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PostSubject: Chapter 27: Problemas Nuevos   Wed Oct 07, 2009 11:16 pm

"Nice to meet you Noah. My, what a handsome young man you are," said Jackie, extending her hand out to me. I shook, but not with as much enthusiasm as my dad would have liked.

My dad mentioned to me the night before that he would be having a 'friend' come out with us for dinner. He also told me that his friend had a daughter & a son. The daughter was my age, the son was about nine or 10. Dad also told me to look appropriate for his friend at dinner. Call me crazy, but I didn't think she was just a friend.

"Thanks," I replied as we all met up at the back end of Dade's. While the front was where I worked & the more casual area, the back of the building had a fancier restaurant-like atmosphere. There were waiters, background music, which sometimes played in the front, & an actual kitchen.

'Lucky for me', my boss had given me a free night for working hard lately, which my dad gladly took advantage of himself.

The first thing I noticed about Jackie was...she was Latina. Not full blown, dark skinned Latina, but instead, a lighter shade of skin. It was odd to me. Before, I had though all Hispanics basically had the same skin color. I had to admit; dad had some good taste. Jackie's kids were the same. But they almost seemed more 'white.' They could have actually passed for Caucasians with tans.

"Noah, these are my kids; Max & Shannon."

"Hello," they said in unison. It was like horror-movie creepy.

"Hey."

We picked up menus & started looking at what we wanted to eat. I was just about to decide on either a sirloin steak with mashed potatoes or the grilled cheese with a side of cheese fries when I heard my name.

"So what school do you go to, Noah?"

I looked up to see Shannon waiting for an answer.

"Uh, Winthrop High," I said.

"Cool. I go to Biddeford High."

Great.

"Biddeford? That's a good drive from Winthrop."

"Yeah, I know. It's prettier up here though. Down there it's more suburban you know?" she said.

I shrugged.

"I'm not really around there that often."

"What about Saco?"

I waited for a second.

"What about it?"

"Do you ever go to Saco?" she asked, putting down her menu & leaning into the table a little bit.

"Not really."

"What do you mean 'not really'?" she said.

I narrowed my eyes.

"I've been there before, but I don't go there that often. Aren't Biddeford & Saco right next to each other anyway?"

"Yeah."

When she didn't say anything after that, like why she had asked me if I go to towns like 100 miles away, I asked myself why she kept talking to me. She was just...I don't know. Talkative I guess.

Throughout dinner, my foot was kicked a couple times. For a while, I thought maybe it was Shannon. But when the kicks got harsher, I figured it was Max. I looked over at him at one point. He flashed me an evil little grin that only a 10 year old could do. Obnoxious.

The mashed potatoes were cold & the steak was a little dry.

Needless to say, it wasn't exactly my favorite of all nights.

Malo.

**********
I pushed my hand up under my shirt & felt around my chest. It was sticky & messy. And not in the good way.

"So, how'd you meet her again?" I asked my dad once we got in.

"We work together."

"And you're JUST introducing her to me?"

"Well she hasn't worked with me for a long time Noah, she just started last month."

"Oh."

"Lily got laid off," he frowned.

Lily had been my dad's partner for over 15 years & everytime I saw her, she was always giving me gifts, even when I got older, she'd sneak things to me, like electronic games, tons of candy, coupons to video stores, arcades, the movies, etc.

"Aww no..." I said.

"Yeah. So Jackie was hired a little later & that's how we met.

"Ok."

"What do you think of her?"

"As what?"

"Just in general."

I shrugged.

"She's muy bonita I guess," I said, with a little Spanish accent. "Not too crazy about THEM though."

"Well Noah, he's a 10 year old boy, you can't blame him."

"And her?"

"She was just trying to get to know you more," dad said as we headed up to my room.

I pulled out some pajamas & started getting undressed for the night.

"She was talking all night long dad," I said.

"Fine, so what?"

I blinked at him.

"So...she kept asking me things. It was annoying."

"Oh & suddenly you have a problem with being asked about yourself?"

"No, but didn't you realize how much she was talking & asking me things, some things I would have no idea about? Like 'who do you think invented the first death penalty?', or 'did you know the Ben Franklin was the first person to suggest a daylight savings idea?' Dad, seriously," I said as I began unbuttoning my shirt.

Dad laughed.

"Maybe if you studied more, you WOULD know all that."

I made a face.

"That's funny dad."

"Well, yeah I guess it was," he smiled.

I rolled my eyes as I threw my soaked shirt into the hamper.

"At least she wasn't as bad as he was. Little walking nightmare."

"Noah, enough. I'm sure he didn't mean to do it anyway," said dad.

"Oh yeah, sure. A two foot wide table & just as he's holding up his lemonade, he spills it two feet diagonal, right onto me. Feel my chest, feel how sticky it is."

My dad reached over & put a hand on my chest. Sure enough, when he removed it, there was some slight resistance from the stickiness & sugar left over from where the brat 'spilled' his drink, from two feet away. I'd spill him over a cliff...

"I think you're being paranoid. Give them a chance Noah."

"Why?" I replied rather quickly.

Dad crossed his arms & leaned against the wall.

"What's the matter with you? This isn't like you, all hostile towards people you've barely met."

I stopped for a moment, thinking about it. Was I being paranoid? Was I acting out all of a sudden?

I was. And truthfully, I felt bad about it.

"I'm gonna mow the lawn."

My dad raised an eyebrow & looked out the window.

"At 8:30?"

"It's gotta be done at some point."

"Noah, the lawn is fine for another week or two."

"I know, but I'll do it anyway. Besides, I can use the porch lights to see."

"Ok," said dad.

He turned around & left my room. I changed into clothes that would keep me warm, considering it sure wasn't summer anymore. I slipped into my sneakers & headed downstairs. I grabbed my iPod & then headed out to the shed so I could get the lawn mower.

After I got it out, I turned it on, got on & mowed the lawn, which took me roughly an hour. When I finished, I put the machine back into the shed & walked down towards the water. I sat down on the wooden swing & looked out over the lake, watching the moon twist & twirl on the black surface of the lake as small waves gently racked the calm water.

I closed my eyes & opened my ears. The sounds of crickets chirping, as if they were the birds of the night. The frogs out in the swamps croaking their lungs out. The cooing loon wading through the reflection of the moon, possibly looking for a mate. I smiled.

I didn't mind Jackie. It was her kids. Shannon was annoying to no end, but at least she was nice. Max on the other hand was a pain. Other than the drink spilling, the foot kicking, the faces & the constant interruptions from him, I just didn't like him. Which was odd, because usually I didn't go straight to judging a person when I first meet them.

When I opened my eyes, I looked behind me at the house. All the lights were off, so dad had probably gone to bed.

I headed back to the house. When I got in, I threw off my shoes, went up to my room & unchanged for the night. I crawled into bed, closed my eyes, cleared my mind of everything & tried to sleep.

*****

It didn't work. I couldn't fall asleep. I looked over at my alarm clock, the dimly lit digits reading 2:21 AM. I sighed, lifted up the covers & sat on the bed.

Just then, I got up, got into some clothes & headed downstairs. I put on my coat & shoes & headed out the front door.

***

I had walked all the way into town to Dade's. When I walked in, I asked the night guy, who looked like he was bored to death, for a smoothie. I payed for it, took it & then walked over to a couch & plopped down.

I must have dozed off a bit because the next thing I knew, I was lightly being tapped on the chest by someone. As I came to, I realized that my pants were wet. My eyes burst open, looking at my left leg. I had spilled the smoothie while I slept.

"Aww man," I groaned, reaching for napkins on a nearby table.

"Here's some more," said the person who I assumed had woken me. I looked up. It was Gina.

"Hey, what are you doing here?"

"Oh you know, just hangin' out shopping for a dress," she smiled.

"What?"

"Hey, at least I don't have to wait for my mom to drive me somewhere when I can get it myself."

I stared at her.

"My sister's wedding is next week & I need a new dress."

"As a Dade's employee myself, I can tell you now, there are no dresses here," I told her.

"I know that, but I was walking by & I saw you snoozin' inside with smoothie all over your lap."

I made a face.

"How 'bout you? You're not the kind of person to be out of the house past 10."

She moved closer, so I slid down on the couch to give her a place to sit next to me. I had gotten most of the fruity blend out of my jeans, but there was still a little pink left.

"Can't sleep," I replied.

"Really."

I nodded.

"Most people, when they can't sleep, take a sleeping pill or something else to help them fall asleep. They don't walk all the way into town."

I shrugged.

She blinked at me.

"You ok, Noah?" she asked, with concern in her voice.

I put the wet napkins on the table.

"I don't know."

"What's the matter?"

I sighed.

"My dad is dating this woman."

"Yeah? And?"

"I, I don't know. It's just weird. She's got two kids, neither of whom I'm giddy about."

"So? When my dad started dating, she had three kids & I didn't like them at first," she said.

"It's different."

"Why?" Gina asked.

"Because your parents got divorced. My mom died. You have a brother & a sister. I'm an only child."

She didn't say anything.

"A few years after my mom died, I had given my dad 'permission' to date who he wanted because I wanted him to be happy again. And honestly, at the time, I though maybe there was a chance I'd be happy again if there was a motherly figure. Obviously though, we both knew nobody could replace my mom.

"But he never DID date anyone, so now, I've gotten so used to it being just the two of us in the house, that I'm scared about the possibility of having three strangers suddenly move in."

"Noah, seriously? It sounds like he practically JUST met the woman, you don't know how long they'll last & you don't know that the three of them would move in."

"Yeah? And what if they do?" I nearly snapped.

"Then you deal with it. You learn to let your dad be happy with her if he actually DOES love her & you learn to have a step siblings."

I rolled my eyes.

"Are you really being that selfish?" she said.

Being hit with a brick would just be a cliche.

"SELFISH?! Do you have any idea how many times I sacrifice my own needs to help other people with their own problems? Did you know that my grades could be a whole lot better if I studied more? Well I can't because I spend all my time dealing with my father, with J, with Mark, Collin, Randy, Dane, Jeff & Alex. I could be doing what I want on certain days but I don't because I have a job that helps bring in a little bit of money, which we desperately need, especially now that my dad lost his old business partner. I ignore my own schoolwork so I can help other people with theirs, that way they don't flunk out of school. I constantly tell people to think before they do something stupid, like when West & J nearly killed each other last year at school. I try all the time to get people to do the right thing, I'm ALWAYS giving people advice on stuff, when hardly anybody ever asks how I'M doing. And if I AM acting selfish now, then...good. 'Cause I think it's about time I think a little bit about ME for once."

Gina stared at me with wide eyes, completely in disbelief.

I took a few breaths, trying to settle down a little.

"Wow..." she said.

My head began to hurt.

"I'm, I...I'm sorry..." I stumbled.

"No, actually...you're right. You DO do a lot of things for other people."

"I didn't mean to snap..."

Gina shook her head.

"I agree with you actually. You're right though, I suppose you deserve some time to think about what you want, like this whole thing with your dad."

"I just...I don't know. I mean what if they do get married & then I never have any privacy anymore, & then it's not gonna be just my dad & me like it used to be."

Gina put her arms around me & hugged me.

"Relax, you're jumping to conclusions anyway. Just wait to see what happens."

I nodded to that. Maybe Gina was right. Time would tell how things would go with my dad; whether he stayed with Jackie, or found someone else, or even stayed single.

"If you really don't like it after a while, talk to your dad."

"Yeah..."

I looked out the front of the shop & watched a couple cars drive by. I figured it was time for me to get out of here.

"Thanks," I said to Gina.

"For what?"

I looked at her. West was lucky to have her. I personally didn't like the fact that they were still dating after the whole coming out thing, but that was her decision & none of my business.

I gave her a hug & got up. She knew.

"I hope you find a pretty dress," I said.

"Oh I didn't need one. I was having a late night snack when I saw you walk by my house."

I smiled.

"There's that smile, first one I've seen all night," she said, pointing closely at me. I couldn't help but smile a little more.

"I gotta go. I'll see you at school?" she asked.

"Yeah."

"Ok. See ya later," she said, getting up & then leaving.

I hoped for two things. Either that I would come to like Jackie & her kids, or that they would just go away. Most changes I was ok with, but I wasn't sure about a change this big. I decided that I would give them a chance & try not to automatically assume my dad would remarry. But even if he did, I would have to live with it, like Gina said. I'd have to put my own feelings aside & let my dad be happy, no matter what would happen between them.

I stood up, put my coat back on & walked out of Dade's.

Smoothie-less.

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Chapter 27: Problemas Nuevos
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