Memory Lane

Carley is having a hard time living in the same house with her parents constant bickering mainly because she knows that it's her fault. Instead of spending a summer in a house that feels nothing like home, Carley vacates to her Uncle's summer home that he just purchased. Thinking that she is going to be lying on the beach tanning with her BFF, she's in for a rude awakening when she realizes that the summer is going to be spent renovating her uncle's new house and fighting off all the unseen things that lurk within.

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2. Not Riding in Cars with Boys

 

 

 It didn’t take long to get to the small town after we left the rest stop. Playing the license plate game helped passed the time. I think the best one we found was “NICERAQ.” I know I laughed. Uncle Mason tried not to but he was still a kid at heart and couldn’t contain himself. That was the best thing about him though and the reason I jumped at the opportunity to come stay with him this summer.

His wife (or girlfriend – it was never clearly stated) had left in the middle of the night when Erica was just a baby. They were only seventeen and she couldn’t handle the pressure. As a result, Uncle Mason promised himself that just because he had a child at a young age doesn’t mean he should stop living his life. Ever since, he strived to prove that he could live his life while having a child. He had to take her on the adventure with him.

         “Girls, I need you to grab your stuff from the trunk and meet me by the shop over there,” Uncle Mason said. He walked over to the mechanic shop and started talking to an older, balding man wearing a white beater and looking really sweaty. Hopefully he wasn’t one of the townies that would be helping on the house. The old man used his arm to wipe the sweat from his forehead. Gross.

         “I hope he’s not the help.” Teagan said reading my mind. She did that a lot.

She knew me so well and we’d only known each other for a year. The good thing was that even though Teagan and I were a lot alike, we still had a different style and personality. Neither of us felt the need to have a label (although people gave us one all the time). Before retrieving her black messenger bag from the truck, she wrapped her bleached blonde hair in a high ponytail leaving only her short bangs with a streak of blue dye down in front.

Erica rolled her eyes. She wasn’t a big fan of my friendship with Teagan. She liked us both but it was obvious that she felt left out the majority of the time. Erica wasn’t all into the living aspect of life but more about how she was going to retire. Spending as much time as she did with Uncle Mason and not an older female role model, all Erica thought about was working and school and how she couldn’t make one teenage mistake. Like getting caught high or drunk.

I’ll admit that before Teagan had come along, I’d pretty much been the definition of prude but it wasn’t a bad thing that I had changed. It wasn’t like I was out and screwing every guy I saw. Of course I wasn’t a virgin either. I’d lost my virginity to Brian London last year when I was sixteen. He told me he loved me and I couldn’t help but believe him. Why should I have doubted him? Oh. Because he told five other girls the same thing before getting in their pants – or should I say panties.

To make a long story short I broke up with Brian, made him feel like an ass, and got my best friend at the time, Joey to beat the living shit out of him. Of course the plan backfired when Joey was sent to military school as a result of getting expelled from our school.  Since that time, I had sex with one other guy, Dave, and I wound up breaking up with him the week I found out about my dad’s affair. I had too much going on at the time and I couldn’t keep myself happy let alone another person. I needed this summer to figure myself out.

“Carley! Pick up the pace, we gotta go,” Uncle Mason yelled from the shop.

         “I would be faster if I had a little freaking help,” I said tugging at my backpack that had latched itself onto one of my uncle’s many tools floating around in the trunk. I was able to pull it free and fly backwards at the same time. Two strong arms wrapped onto my waist, catching me before I could hit the dusty ground. With both feet sturdy on the pavement, I turned to thank my savior. Only when I saw his tanned face and shaggy brown hair that would cringe in the face of a hairbrush, I couldn’t speak.

         He pushed his dark hair back with his hand but it was useless, it fell right back into his eyes. “That could have ended badly.”

         The strap of my bag slid from my sweaty hand. Did someone turn the heat up or was it just my embarrassment that was lighting me on fire from the inside?

“I’m sorry? No habla Inglés?”

He was obviously making a joke but I stuttered and answer. “No, I-I c-can.” I cleared my throat. “Speak English.”

Holding out a hand he said, “I’m R.J.”

My words stopped in my throat. What the hell was wrong with me? Back at home I could talk to any boy I wanted without skipping a beat. But the only beat that was skipping was my heart and I couldn’t control it.

“Let me get that for you.” R.J. picked up the bag and walked over to where my uncle was standing. Teagan’s jaw dropped on sight and he gave her his introduction speech as well. Lucky for her, she could respond.

R.J. approached me again. “Do you need anything else out of the back.”

I swallowed, wetting the inside of the mouth that had gone dry. “Just a suitcase,” I said. “I’ll manage.”

He brushed past me and one handedly lifted my suitcase full of painting materials, unneeded shoes, and hair equipment that I had decided to bring last minute. I shut the trunk quickly and followed after him like a puppy to its owner.

Halfway to my uncle, R.J. glanced over at me but I refused to return eye contact. “Are you going to tell me your name?”

I played with my already chipping nail polish. “It’s Carley.”

Uncle Mason was in deep conversation with the sweaty, old guy or he would have embarrassed the crap out of me in front of R.J. My uncle was like the older, protective brother that I never had… or wanted.

Gently, R.J. placed the suitcase where the other luggage was and put his hand through his hair once more. “I’ll see you later, Carley.”

“See you…” my voice trailed off.

Teagan nudged me. I jumped, startled of her presence. “What?”

“Umm… hot?” She laughed. “He must have given you a heat stroke!”

I laughed at her totally lame joke.

Teagan dragged me to the side so no one else could hear what she was about to tell me. “Your uncle got possibly the hottest guys in New Jersey to work for him.” She looked behind me and then at my face again. “I so call the Asian one! He’s so hot.”

I followed the direction in which she was focusing on and where R.J. was walking back to. Even in the distance I could see R.J. wink at me. I got chills down my body. Why was he so hot? He was obviously older but if he was flirting with me he couldn’t have been that much older. Could he?

It would have been nice to walk around the town and sight see before spending the summer away from society except for the occasional trip into town for supplies but we weren’t allowed. We had to stay at the stupid mechanic shop while Uncle Mason argued with Frank (the sweaty old guy that I had learned the name of through an exasperated lecture about why I shouldn’t kick rocks in his driveway because they could bounce up and hit cars).

 “Frank, I’m telling you, I’m good on my word. Besides, I can’t go home without passing through town and even if I could, I’m not that type of person. I’m going to need to come in for supplies in the next month or two. I’ll even leave my home address to make you feel better.”

Frank rubbed his scruffy chin, for a moment then caved. “Fine.”

“What are they even talking about,” I asked Erica.

She shrugged her shoulders and brushed a piece of lint from her tank top. “We have to borrow a pickup truck so my dad can put material in the bed of it. The guy doesn’t think he’s good for his word, or the five hundred dollar check that he would leave for borrowing it.”

I crossed my arms. “What an ass.”

“Tell me about it. I just want to get on the beach already,” Erica said. we were watching Teagan talk to the group of boys. Every once in a while she would turn around and secretly give us a thumbs up sign.

“She’s so freaking dumb,” Erica said shaking her head.

I said the same thing about Teagan all the time but my tone was never as malicious.

“What’s your problem with her,” I asked. “She’s always happy. How can you dislike someone that happy?”

Erica shrugged. “It’s not that I don’t like her, I just don’t like a lot of the things that she does. She’s kind of annoying.”

“Well, maybe if you weren’t such a bitch, you’d have more friends and you wouldn’t have to be so annoyed by the ones you have.” I stormed away from my cousin knowing that if I stuck around she would make me feel bad for coming on a trip that I wasn’t welcome on.

R.J. didn’t even acknowledge me when I came into the circle of people. Teagan wrapped her arm around mine. “I was just telling them about how good you are at painting.”

I smiled uneasily. About to say something, I heard my uncle’s obnoxiously loud whistle. “Teagan, Carley! We’re leaving.”

Teagan and I waved goodbye to the boys. “Um, Uncle Mason,” I said opening the door to the truck.

         His head perked up and he stopped bungee cording everything down. “What’s up?”

         “There are only two seats,” I informed him.

         He walked over and peeked inside the vehicle to see if I was telling the truth. Why would I lie about something like that?

         “Shit,” my uncle said. He was used to his work truck with the extended cab. “I’m losing my mind.” He looked first at Erica, then me, and finally… “Teagan, do you have your license yet?”

         Teagan shook her head. We lived in the city and didn’t have a use for our license. Plus, we’d all been too lazy to go take the permit test.

         “No big deal. We can take two of you in your SUV,” R.J. said from behind us.

         I tried to keep a smile from my face. I tried to send a message from my brain silently to my uncle’s, Please say yes, please!

         The word “no” was on the tip of my uncle’s tongue but he saw my pleading eyes and reconsidered. “Sounds like a great idea,” he smiled. “Teagan and Erica, you go with the boys. Carley, you come with me.”

         I walked towards my uncle’s SUV that R.J. would be driving in. Everyone stared at me.

         “Yo, Checkers,” Uncle Mason called – he’d given me that nickname because my hair reminded him of the red and black colors of a checkerboard. “You’re riding with me.”

         We put the bags back in the SUV that didn’t need to be taken out in the first place. What a waste of time, he definitely hadn’t though all this shit out thoroughly. Inside my mind, I was screaming curses at my uncle but one look at R.J. and I knew I had to keep my composure. Sure, I was younger than him but I didn’t need to act like someone would at my age. With a smile on my face I waved goodbye to the second car of people and shut the truck door behind me as I fought the urge to cry.

         Why was it that a perfectly good seat and introductory conversation was being wasted because Erica was sitting in R.J.’s car instead of me? Complete bullshit. I refused to be the first one to speak and he knew me well enough to know that I was pissed. Hell, he knew me well enough that I wanted to be the first one in that car. I just wanted to know exactly why he called me out to be the one to keep him company.

         I couldn’t keep quiet any longer. “Mason.” That’s what I called him when I was upset with him.

         “Yes Checkers,” he said unsurprised of my tone of voice.

         “Why is it that out of the three young girls to go in a car full of hot guys, you had to pick me to stay and travel with you?”

         Uncle Mason laughed. “Because you’re the only one I have to worry about.”

         I gasped innocently bringing my hand to my chest. “What are you implying?”

         “That I saw the way you made those lovey eyes at that much too old boy.”

         Rolling my eyes, I said, “If he’s ‘much too old’ why would you call him a boy?” I stopped for a minute making sure what I said made sense. “AND when did you start sounding like such an old man?”

         “Carley,” my uncle started. His eyebrows had drawn close together and the humor left his face. “With everything going on in your life, the last thing you need is to include someone else and make things more complicated. Especially some guy you’ll never see again after this summer.”

         Wow, it kind of sounded like the same speech I’d given Dave when I was breaking up with him – minus the whole going after another guy thing. He wouldn’t have enjoyed that.

         “I appreciate you looking out for me but I’m not trying to find a boyfriend or special connection. I want to enjoy my summer.”

         “Yeah but I don’t want you to enjoy it so much that you’re pregnant by the time we get home. That’s the last thing your parents need.”

         I crossed my arms against the chest. Once again, it was about them. Like I would be stupid enough not to wear protection. Health class had showed me enough genital sores to keep me from sleeping with a number of people. Let’s face it, if disease wasn’t an issue, the average rate of sexual partners would go through the roof.

         “I’m not planning on getting prego, Uncle Mason,” I said finally.

         He let out a deep breath. “Not many teens do plan on it.”

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