"Mom, I'm leaving." Flicking his keys with his forefinger, Kalen peers into her office, trying to find her pink hair within the stacks of art supplies and canvas before he opens the front door. All that is heard is shuffling. He doesn't get an answer, but that's probably best. It's June nineteenth, which indicates the start of summer... the start of Kalen's Hell.
It's not that Kalen hates the summer. Well, no, actually, he does. Working at an ice cream parlour doesn't help his case, and at the end of the day, his hands are grimy with ice cream, leaving him disgusted and ready for a shower - and in an even worse mood than before.
The second Kalen walks into Ice Dream Town, he hits his head on the top of the door, the bell smacking into his eye. Groaning softly, he closes the door and palms his left eye and the side of his head, sitting down on a purple bench to his right. He doesn't bother checking if anybody saw his clutzy blunder.
Blinking slowly, he looks up, not surprised to find his boss, Johanna, holding back laughter behind the freezers. Glaring at her, he grumbles quietly and swings behind the freezer glass, grabbing his checkered apron with the tag that ironically says 'Hi! I'm Kalen, and I'm here to supply your ice cream dreams!'. Kalen has loathed his job ever since he got it.
"If you're going to laugh, you may as well do it now, Jo."
Instead of laughing, she cackles. "It's not every day you find a seventeen year old man blinking back tears like a wit-tle ba-by."
If only this job didn't pay so well.
Later in the afternoon, the parlour is in the full swing of things and there are four employees working the freezers. Kalen is scooping a peach and lemonade ice cream cone, when the bell dings and he looks up in habit to see who it is.
He will tell himself every day for the rest of his life that Angie elbowed him in the side before he uses an attractive boy as the reason he dropped lemonade ice cream in chocolate cherry, he swears by his life.
Apologizing quickly, he redeems himself and makes another ice cream cone replacing the one he just lost hold of.
"That'll be five dollars and thirty-three cents, ma'am." Holding out his hand, he brushes palms with the twenty-somthing blushing brunette and gives her back five cents, winking before he says goodbye and goes back to helping the next customer.
"Hi, I'm Kalen, how can I help you?" Before he realizes who he's talking to, a deep voice answers him.
"Uhhh, yeah, I'd like your bubblegum and cherry iced tea, please. In a waffle cone. I'm Hunter, by the way."
Looking up, Kalen realizes he's attending the hot guy who definitely did not make him drop ice cream. Blushing slightly, he continues with the order and makes light conversation.
"So where are you coming from? I'm pretty sure you're not a local." That wasn't insulting, was it? He hopes not.
"Oh, yeah, I'm from South Bay, more near the border. My parents decided they wanted to come here for the summer."
So Kalen was right. Not only was he from out of town, he was from way out of town. South Bay was probably the most out-of-town you could go without getting into the States.
Before Kalen can think of something else to say, Hunter picks up the conversation.
"I assume you're from here, then?" Kalen snorts.
"Yeah, born and raised. Work here, live here, hate here. Not much else to it."
Cutting off the friendly talk, Kalen wraps the waffle cone in a napkin and ushers Hunter to the register.
"That'll be six dollars exactly." Hunter stuffs his hand into his pocket, obviously looking for change, and pulls out a ten dollar bill instead of regular toonies and loonies.
"Keep the change... Kalen."
Brushing hands with Hunter to grab the ten dollar bill, Kalen angrily stamps the cash into the register and stomps off into the staff room as Hunter goes out through the second door.
He hates it when customers leave him flustered. Especially ones he shouldn't like.
Throughout the rest of the day Kalen helps probably up to a hundred more people, including an elderly lady with purple hair and cat-eye glasses like his mom's who couldn't remember if she liked chocolate chip or Monster Mash ice cream better, and three giggling teenage juniors from his highschool.
By the end of the day, he was flustered, and couldn't keep one particular customer off his mind that went by the name of Hunter, and he knew exactly how to get rid of that.
"Oh yeah, I'll miss you, Marissa. I swear."
Marissa was a long-term Viola Beach visiter. Every summer she'd come back to Kalen, seeking sex or some kind of comfort that she'd missed out on over the past year. He didn't have the heart to explain his sexuality. Rolling his eyes, he sucked a hickey on Marissa's neck, leaving it bright red.
Pulling on his shirt, Kalen knew he would have to give up the whole 'straight' act soon. He just didn't know how that would work out after what happened last time...
Driving home, he blared an old Green Day CD that his mom had left in the truck and sulked about his day, angry and flustered. Stepping into the front hall of the house he'd grown up in, he toed off his Vans and walked directly down to the basement where his room resided, not even bothering to yell hi to his mom as he face planted onto his couch.
Who did Hunter even think he was, asking Kalen if he was from Viola Beach? Wasn't it obvious? Even if it wasn't, who is he to ask anything personal about a person that scoops ice cream half time for a living?
Steaming, Kalen stamps his sticky fingers onto the TV remote, a rerun of Smallville lighting up the screen and easing him to sleep, cramped on the stained maroon sofa, the sound of Clark Kent's voice echoing throughout the house.
Kalen's mom never was one for subtlety. Blaring Avril Lavigne from the kitchen, Kalen woke up with a rude grimace on his face and the smell of cooking bacon drifting to his nose. Grumbling, he stumbled to his feet in yesterday's clothes and made his way to the kitchen island, perching on a chair and resting his forhead on his forearm, waiting for his mother to notice him.
"Oh, good morning, honey!" Helen Channing always knew how to cheer up her son.
Lifting up his head slightly, Kalen flashed a cheesy grin, wiping the drool off his mouth.
"I'm going to assume you said good morning. Also, I know you want pancakes." Winking at him, she grinned. "My son loves me, deep inside his hybernating state."
Correcting his posture, Kalen looked up at his mother and smiled. Running a hand through his hair, he sighed. It was Tuesday, and he didn't have work at the ice cream parlour today. It was his second to last day before he had to go off to Camp Viola.
Kalen was one of the all-summer staff members, working as a sailing instructor for ages fifteen and up. It didn't help that he had to stay out in the sun all day with no means of getting away from the hustle and bustle of the people he avoided most of the year - his fellow classmates.
The only perk was his mom worked there, too.
Cracking his neck, Kalen ruffled his mom's bright pink hair and kissed the top of her head, towering over her five foot five stature.
"Of course I love you, mom. There's a reason I work at the same summer camp as you."
"Yeah, if you loved me so much you would at least acknowledge my existence in front of campers, honey."
"They don't need to know we're related. If they know, they won't take me seriously. I need to be serious, mom."
Being serious would be the last of his problems as soon as camp rolled around.
YOU ARE READING
Viola Beach is your average tourist trap town. Imported palm trees among the Douglas Firs littering the parking lots of water slides, and picnic tables with foldable umbrellas in bright colours lining the sidewalks. Convenience stores selling five d...