Chapter Twenty One, Roses
I checked my phone for the fifth time because I was completely confused at the fact both of my parents were home earlier than usual and I had no prior notification. I cursed as I walked to the door and decided I might as well let out all my anger and worry now before I entered the house. I kicked the big daisy plant by the door that my mom loves because that's how upset I was at my current situation. I watched in satisfaction while petals fell to the ground and the plant looked sadly wounded.
She's going to kill me. If she doesn't murder me of course.
Before I walked inside, I prepared myself for what was to come. I had to be ready for the lectures and the punishments and whatever else. They'll probably give me those "I'm very disappointed in you" looks. Or the "We expected much better from you" looks or maybe the "I'm so done with you, I can't wait until you go to your room" looks. It's going to be a long night and I probably should've kept track of time at Carmen's. I sighed and then opened the door to be greeted with my parents, who were waiting for me with their arms crossed.
"Where were you?" my mom cuts right to the chase and asks before I can even close the door and properly step inside. I take my time until I feel I am ready to answer.
"I was at my friend's house."
"Which friend?" dad asks.
"Carmen. I gave her a ride and then she invited me inside to study for our big history test. There was quite a bit to cover and we lost track of time."
"Who is this girl? Why haven't we met her?"
"She's just some girl at school."
"I haven't heard of her until last weekend. Is she your girlfriend now?" my mom questions and I can't tell if she's upset or not.
"No, she's definitely not my girlfriend. We're barely even friends at most."
"Is she nice?"
"Is she like you in any way?"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Is she respectful, honest, follows the rules, need I emphasize for you?"
I was ready to yell at my mom and bite her head off, because that was totally uncalled for, but I sucked it up and let it go. Carmen is like the definition of amazing. She is nowhere near like me. It infuriates me that my mom would even compare Carmen to me, but she doesn't know.
"No, I'm sure you'd love her if you met her."
"Alright, but this is all besides the point. Why didn't you tell us that you were studying with a friend?"
"Why didn't you tell me you guys were coming home so early? I'm not the only one at fault here for that. You can't tell me you were busy because if you were, you would still be at work right now. If it's so easy to pick up the phone and call or text, then why didn't you do that?"
"We wanted to surprise you tonight because after Greg's visit, we realized that we tend to be harder on you than we should be. We have all these assumptions about you, and part of the reason why is because we work too much and fill up our schedules to the point that we don't spend much time with you. We thought having a family dinner tonight and just being together will be good for us." my dad kindly explained, making me feel a huge wave of guilt that I've never felt before with my parents.
"We are both sorry. It wasn't the best idea to hound you with questions when you came home. It's the opposite of what we were aiming for." my mom said and I felt even worse then. She hadn't spoken like that to me, so sincere, since I was a kid. And she's never really apologized to me, even though she spoke on behalf of my dad too. I probably am the worst son.
"I'm sorry, too. I always assume things about you as well. I, uh, knew you'd be upset so I... I kind of kicked the daisies in the front. They don't look that bad, but, um, yeah."
"Don't worry about it." my mom brushed it off so easily, I wondered if she was planning something or had an ulterior motive the entire time.
"Why don't you take your things to your room and wash up if you have to, then come to the dining room for dinner. Its fine you came home late and there will be no more discussion about it."
My dad smiled after he said it and when I looked at my mom, she was smiling too. I gave my best smile in return and left to my room, but I couldn't stop picturing them smiling. They weren't my parents. That whole, whatever it was, wasn't them. Aliens may have possibly abducted my parents, probed them or did something to their brains, and then gave me these weird fakes. I am not complaining in any way, it's just weird to see my parents acting so out of their norm. I'm supposed to be grounded, but I was at Carmen's house and just came home around dinner time. My favorite electronics and devices should be confiscated at least.
I pushed my thoughts away and tried to focus on having a casual, nice dinner with my parents. I owe it to my parents to be less... myself while we eat together at a decent hour. Deep down, I knew it was something I've been wanting for a very long time, but I wasn't expecting it now. I also owed my brother a huge one, but let that thought fly by quickly because it would be a while before I see or talk to Greg again. It was then, as I made my way to the dining room, that I realized how lucky I was to have the family I do. Granted, it was under some not-so-great circumstances, but I did. As I sat down at the table with my parents, I faintly remembered a conversation I had with Carmen in my car a while back. She had mentioned something to me about acting differently and shaping up my attitude in front of my parents. If I really wanted a nice dinner and to have more, I had to start now.
"I was going to make a green bean casserole, but I remembered you never really liked green beans." my mom started up a casual conversation as bowls and platters were passed around the table and set aside.
"I've almost grown out of it, actually. They aren't that bad." I admitted and tried to say it in a sincere manner. I tried, though in the back of my mind I kept reminding myself how she is my mother and she doesn't even know what foods I like or dislike anymore.
"Oh, well that's good. I hope roast with broccoli salad, mash potatoes and gravy, rolls, and veggies is still your favorite meal."
I looked at my mom's face when she passed me the gravy boat and noticed how much effort she put into this dinner. I saw how she was trying so hard to leave me at least satisfied, but expected to please me to the point of being happy. I couldn't find it in me to tell her that I said that once years ago because she had been complaining I don't eat enough vegetables and was threatening to make me live in a vegetarian household where vegetables would be the only meals we eat, besides a bit of protein. I didn't want to tell her that I still felt vegetables were gross and I can only eat them after the years she had resorted to converting our kitchen into one that provided too many healthier options. Not only that, but she was a good cook and the food looked so appetizing.
"I'm so excited, I don't know where to start. Thank you, mom, for coming home early and cooking dinner this evening. I know you both said to drop it, but I really am sorry for coming home late and for how I acted. I was out of line and need to be more patient with my anger and attitude." My sudden confession not only surprised my parents, but myself. I meant to just thank my mom, but I was carried away in the moment. With the look on their faces, I was grateful I did.
"You're welcome, Niall, and there's no need to apologize anymore. I think we understand, at least to a point." my mom smiled at me. My dad was smiling as well while he had his fork in his slice of roast and ran his knife through it. I watched him take a bite before he finished chewing and smiled wider.
"Start with the roast, son, you won't regret it."
I smiled to myself and immediately began to eat dinner. While my parents and I ate, we talked about various things and some I couldn't even remember when dinner was done. All the while, I was content and didn't care if I forgot a few topics we discussed. I wouldn't go as far as to say that the three of us fixed and patched up things, but we were on the road to it and it was nice to act like a family instead of withstanding each others presence because we had to. Well, I felt that way at least. When dinner was over, both of my parents admitted that they had work they still needed to finish and excused themselves. I should have been disappointed at that, but I wasn't. I was still satisfied with how the night went and couldn't have been happier.
But I was happier.
After dinner and when my parents went to their offices, warning me that they would not like to be disturbed, I went to my room as courtesy to them since I was still grounded. I figured I might as well make use of the time and began to do homework and study. I wasn't entirely in a working mode, keeping my phone safely beside me so I could respond to texts from Adrian and an annoying group message he forced me in with his girlfriend and those irritating twins. I figured at that point my night was going to end alright. I really didn't know how it could have gotten better.
An hour and a half passed when I decided that whatever homework I had left could wait because the group message I was in required all of my attention. Our texts were very lighthearted and funny until stupid Adrian brought up Samantha. Those freaking twins had to say that Carmen told them her ideas to get back at Samantha. Yes, all hell broke loose because I had to explain, using as little detail as possible, why Carmen came up with such terrible ideas that could potentially have everyone involved be expelled from school. It took a few texts, but everyone understood that Carmen and I weren't going to let Samantha convince people to think illy of Carmen.
Brandy had finally asked why Carmen wasn't added in our group message and while everyone started talking about that, I shut my phone off and laid on my bed thinking of the answer. Carmen had too many things going on for her and right now, I'm sure she would be ecstatic to accidentally push Samantha in a well. Having Carmen discuss about her would lead to something terribly irrational and guilt ridden. After staying at her house for a while, I didn't want Carmen thinking about Samantha. And there is also the fact that Carmen wouldn't join the group message because when I left her house, she was getting ready with her sisters to visit her grandmother.
With that aside, I laid on my bed and started thinking about my day and let a smile spread because I really enjoyed dinner despite not being a fan of the amount of vegetables. I remembered my mom promising that on the weekend, we'll be having dinner together as well. I took note of the suspicious smiles my parents wore and tried to figure out what they were thinking and had planned. I was hoping it wasn't another dinner that would supposedly consist of my favorite foods. As I laid with my thoughts, I heard the doorbell ring and sat up straight. Nobody should be visiting at around ten at night and when it rang again, I ran downstairs to answer it while praying my parents hadn't been disturbed yet.
I didn't know who would be at the door, but I momentarily guessed Adrian because it would be like him to visit my house when I don't reply to his insistent texts and calls. I opened the door and the color drained from face before coming back at full force in a deep red color. I may have stood gawking with my mouth open and eyes wide for a minute or two in disbelief and without words. Surely I had fallen asleep at some point and was having one of those dreams about Carmen. It had to be a dream.
"Hey, um, I know it's late and all... you're grounded, duh, but um... Crap, you'll probably get in trouble now. This was really stupid and I am so sorry. God, you probably think I'm an idiot right now... Uh, so I felt bad when I realized what time you left my house. I know that you knew what time it was and you were just being nice. Well, what I'm trying to say is thank you and I'm sorry for keeping you late. I realize I'm doing that right now... Anyway, this is for you and bye."
I felt like an idiot and I hated my life more than I ever have immediately after I said that and nothing else. I stood dumbfounded even when Carmen awkwardly handed me a rose. I took it and watched her hesitate for a moment like she was thinking of something before she quickly leaned forward and kissed my cheek. She mumbled something like a thank you, another apology, and good bye before rushing to the car that was waiting for her. That's when I snapped out of whatever I was in and saw all her sisters in the car with her. They all waved at me and I waved back just before Francine drove them away. I stared down the street replaying what had happened again and again until I memorized every word Carmen said and what she did. If I simply thought about it, I could still feel her lips on my cheek and it was a million times better than after school.
"Who was that?" I heard my mom say and turned around feeling my cheeks heat up as I thought back to who was here moments ago and what she did.
"Uh," I started and faltered because I was still at a loss of words.
"Is that a rose?"
"Yeah." I breathed and smiled, not thinking about how cliche and weird it was that a boy would receive a rose at his doorstep from his massive crush. I especially didn't think about how embarrassing it was that I was acting flustered like a girl would be.
"Okay, well, do you want to put it in a vase with water?"
"Oh, don't worry about it. I'll do it and sorry for bothering you."
"You're not. I was just curious who came so late. I'm also taking a break. Why don't you come inside and close the door, and I'll take care of that flower for you?"
My brain still wasn't working right as much as I wanted it to. I did what my mom said though and went back to my room afterwards with the rose in a vase and no further questions from my mom. I placed the flower on my desk and stared at it until I fell asleep. I can't even say exactly what I was thinking about because a million thoughts had passed through my mind. I do know that one of the thoughts repeated itself a couple of times and I remember it being the last thought before I slept. It was a simple question- why the hell did Carmen think it was okay to give me a rose and what was its meaning? Fine, the question wasn't simple but it was the most important one.
yay! it took me a month but I finally updated
I'm hoping for a few more chapters, but not many because in reality there's not much more to write about... I apologize in advance if any of this wasn't what you were expecting, but keep in mind I still have my surprise
and holy moly, Niall is soo cute I can't take it anymore