Olive Branches, Chapter 5

Another chapter from Insidious Cynic!

Monday, September 7 – Zane Patterson

Hmm…how do I best express the depth of my hatred for school? It’s a black, bottomless abyss. It’s infinite and never-ending. It’s all-consuming and indomitable. I would rather go to church than school and that’s saying something.

As a rule, I skip the first few days of school. It’s psychology: 

During the first week, the teachers are in memorization mode. They’re actively putting names to faces and faces to personalities. By the third week or so, they have most of their students pinned. But if you show up to class after that memorization phase is over, remembering your name could take teachers months—if it ever happens at all. Point is, I don’t want my teachers to recognize me. It makes it easier to slip out of the school whenever I want if the staff barely knows I exist.

Anyway, so it’s the first day of school and I wake up to the rumbling of a plane passing overhead. I live in a trailer house in a poor part of town near the airport. Every time a plane passes over (which, thankfully, isn’t very often) the whole house shakes. 

Mom and Ira are still snoring. Those two sleep like stones and are terrible in the mornings. I’m a light sleeper and a morning person, which has advantages for a kid of my…dispositions.

I get up, grab two pop tarts from the kitchen, scoop up my backpack, head out the door and get on my new bike. I get to school at 4 AM. It’s dark, cold and windy. The houses are all dark and the roads are completely silent. There was only the sound of crickets chirping and the occasional hooting of an owl.

I tighten the strings on the new windbreaker Mom bought me. I hated the colour: neon green. Not only was it a fashion tragedy, but when you’re trying to conduct not-so-legal activities under the cover of early-morning darkness, neon green is the last thing you wanna wear. Of course, my mom knew all that. She’s no fool.

I hide my bike in some bushes, then walk around the school building to the eastern side. I slide a hand against the cold, smooth concrete.

This’ll do, I think, nodding and pulling out my spray cans. I can work with this.

I shake the cans and get to work.

Once I figure that the school is sufficiently vandalized, I ride home as fast as I can. 

I lost track of time, and the sun is already rising. I need to get back into bed before Mom wakes up. First, there’s no better alibi than one’s own mother in court. Second, knowing that I’d snuck out again would kill her.

I jump off my bike, rush into our shack of a house, and swiftly sneak into my bedroom. I glide onto my bed. Ira stirs, but doesn’t wake.

No more than ten minutes later, Mom bursts in.

“Up time! Get up! First day of school!”

Ira moans and I rub my eyes. Mom was already dressed for work and had a thermos in one hand. After getting baptised last year, my mom had stopped smoking, eating pork and shellfish and even stopped drinking booze. But she can’t stop drinking coffee, though she’s tried several times. That’s what happens when you work 50-70 hour work weeks.

“I’ve gotta leave now,” says Mom. “But I made some breakfast so no pop tarts, okay? They aren’t good for you.”

To my amazement, I smell the aroma of freshly cooked eggs in the air.

I didn’t even know Mom knew how to cook.

Ira, face still on his pillow, grunts affirmatively and gives a thumbs up.

“And Zane,” Mom continues.

“Yes?” I say coyly.

“Go to school today. For me? Please?” Mom’s eyes fill with love and concern.

My mind fills with all the curse words I’m not allowed to say anymore.

“Okay Mom, for you.”

I never said when I would get there though.



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Olive Branches, Chapter 5

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