Shaun watched the scenery pass by as his father drove him out of Philadelphia. He didn’t want to go, yet he couldn’t be gone fast enough.
“How was your visit, kiddo?” Steven asked his son, glancing at him through the corner of his eye.
“Fine,” Shaun mumbled. His mind wasn’t in the car; it was away, still in Philly. Still in that small, bookshelf cramped, intimate room. Dammit.
“What did you do? Hope you didn’t break too many hearts,” Steven joked, trying to coax a smile.
Only one, Shaun thought. “Nah. I just did a lot of reading.” He hated lying to his dad. After his mom left they agreed to never lie. Never to hurt each other. So much for that. Truth hurt, he pondered miserably, and a lie is a lie is a lie.
“You need a girlfriend, bud. You’re a handsome boy, how come you shut yourself away?”
Handsome, Shaun scoffed internally. Need a girlfriend. Maybe that is what I need.
“Did Grams introduce you to that kid in her building? The fellow bookworm?”
“Yeah.” That’s the problem now, isn’t it?
“You two get along?”
“Yeah, Ken’s cool.” Cool to the touch… Not enough time in the sun, I guess.
Shaun heard his father’s voice, and shook himself out of his stupor. “Huh?”
“What kinda trouble did you two get into?” Steven said with false authority. “I’m not going to regret sending you to Grams for the summer, am I?”
Shaun froze. Did his dad know? Was he playing with him to watch him squirm? He discarded the thought. If his father knew then there would have been yelling… maybe disowning. Definitely tears. Tears. They’d be his of course. Tears weren’t manly, but his dad was. Always a man. Never cried a day in his life.
“We talked, but not much else.”
“Did you really not do anything exciting? Nothing noteworthy? Kid, did you spend the whole summer walking and reading?”
“Nah, nothing notable. Nice parks, good for walking.” Definitely new. No way in hell I’d ever make notes on it. Or tell. Never tell.
“Shaun, you can’t live through books. Gonna have to start your own story eventually.”
“Yeah. Hey, I think I’m gonna try to sleep, ‘kay Dad?”
“I’ll wake you when we get home, kid. Rest well, because your adventure starts tomorrow. We are cramming a summer of fun in the next two days before school starts.”
Shaun closed his eyes. He could forget his trip when he woke up. He could think about getting a girlfriend and being a man. Until then he wanted to remember the touch of Ken’s lips. One last time before he had to forget.
What happens in Philly, stays in Philly, he mused.
Carol Parks is a nineteen-year-old girl, with big dreams of being a published writer. She’s a phlebotomist, and the oldest of four.