I couldn’t take it anymore. The screaming and fighting of my parent’s echoed off every wall in the house. It made me wish I was an ostrich so I could just bury my head under the ground. I wasn’t sure that would even work. I did everything I could to keep myself out of their line of fire but somehow I always got dragged back into it.
After each blow up of a fight and my dad slamming the door behind him, my mother would come to my room with a tear streaked face and ask, “Carley, what do you think I should do?
I was only seventeen. The hardest decision I had to make was which outfit to wear to school in the morning. What was I supposed to say to her? Leave dad. Go find someone new. Share custody over me. None of the options were satisfying but I couldn’t stand the 24/7 arguing about the same damn thing. Yes, my father had cheated. Yes, my mother couldn’t trust him anymore. But why was I the one that was stuck in the middle? It wasn’t my fault my dad had fallen for the much younger guidance counselor at my school. Then again, it was my fault that he had gotten called in to talk to her.
I been the trigger to this fucked up situation. If my stupid math teacher had never caught me in the bathroom smoking a cigarette, neither one of my parent’s would have gotten a call from school and we would all be eating one of mom’s home cooked meals instead of me shoveling through leftovers while my dad was at the bar and my mom was crying in her room. Fuck my life.
The phone rang in the living room. I left my Chinese food rotating in the microwave in search for the ringer. I threw the pillows on the couch in different directions before finding the obnoxious ring.
“Hello,” I answered.
“Hey Carley,” my Uncle Mason said on the other line. “Is your dad home?”
I shook my head but realized that he couldn’t see me. “Nope. Why, what’s up?”
“Nothing. I was going to ask him for permission to save you for the summer.”
“I’m going down the shore to work on this beach house and Erica’s coming with me. She wants you and Teagan to come too.”
Everything that had been falling apart in the past couple of weeks since school had ended and I was offered a chance to get out of town for the entire summer with my two best friends? It didn’t even matter what my parents said, I was going!
And I did. Uncle Mason had talked to my parents and everyone thought it would be best if I was away from my mess of a life. So, there we were on the way to Carson’s Cove to a house that my uncle planned on fixing up and selling – and it was located on its very own side of town. Like, there was a little town and twenty minutes away was the house. Can you say private beach?
See, Uncle Mason was loaded with money but always found the need to do the restoration of houses with his own hands and a few workers. Something about feeling the accomplishment with his own touch. Erica, Teagan, and I were always up for meeting new workers. They were usually young and good-looking, especially when they worked up a sweat and shimmered in the sun like gods.
I was hoping that I’d be able to get some painting done that summer. I brought all the materials I needed. I wasn’t very good but the action of brushing the paint across a bare canvas was calming. Even when the voices of my parents were booming from the living room I was able to block them out. All I had to do was put my ear buds in, turn on Dashboard Confessional, and paint. For those twenty minutes, everything was as it was supposed to be.
Uncle Mason pulled into a rest stop with a parking lot full of cars. Stopping in front of a pump, he turned enough to face the three of us. “Stay in or around the perimeter of the vehicle. I have to run in real quick and use the bathroom.”
“Well, I have to go to the bathroom too, so I’m coming,” I said.
He laughed. “No way.”
He nodded towards the empty trailer trucks. “Because if one of those truckers says something smart, I’m going to have to defend your honor,” he replied and jumped out of the SUV.
I turned to Erica. “What does that even mean?”
Erica shrugged her shoulders. “He’s on this whole Knight in Shining armor thing. He’ll get over it.”
The three of us stood outside of the SUV to pump the gas even though it was a one person task. We watched the convenience store as Uncle Mason came out carrying a plastic bag full of snacks. A group of teenage girls watched him walk away from the building and they made it obvious he was being undressed by their underage eyes. Sluts and eww. Uncle Mason wasn’t bad looking for an old guy, but still. He was a fifty three year old father and an uncle and anyone under the age of thirty five shouldn’t have looked at him the way that these girls were.
“You girls ready,” Uncle Mason asked handing Erica the bag.
“It hasn’t reached fifty dollars yet,” I answered.
He pushed me away with his elbow like the good uncle that he was and told us to get back inside the SUV. Right away Teagan started talking about the same girls that I had noticed staring at my uncle and how gross they were.
Teagan said to Erica, “I mean it’s not like he’s ugly or anything but that’s your dad….”
“Thank you. I know this.” Erica crossed her arms across her chest, clearly annoyed of the discussion. All the girls in our grade used to love when her dad signed up to be a chaperone on field trips and ever since then Erica couldn’t stand anyone talking about the appearance of her father. I needed to change the topic.
“Did he say how many workers are going to be there and what their demographics are like,” I asked.
My cousin’s mood didn’t change. “No. He said that he was going to ask around when we got in town. Everyone that he usually works with are on vacation or already on a job.”
“Ugh townies,” Teagan complained.
“What about townies,” Uncle Mason asked opening the door.
“Nothing,” we answered in unison.