13. The House that Built Me

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The day I moved out of my childhood home was awful, from beginning to end.

On one hand, I was happy for my parents. They had scraped and saved for years to build their dream home. They put their heart and soul into it. On the other hand, I wanted to sit in the middle of my bedroom floor and refuse to leave, kicking and screaming. I knew it was selfish, but I was sixteen, I didn't care.

Jason had brought some flowers for me earlier, just because he knew I would be sad. He was so thoughtful, and it actually did help for a few minutes. He had to leave for football practice about an hour ago, and I had been wallowing in my own despair ever since.

My parents, brothers and myself were all standing in the front yard, watching the movers pick up our lives and take it somewhere else, when Nancy came outside. Nancy was Luca and Beau's mom, and, at times, my best friend. I think she always secretly wanted a girl, so she "adopted" me. I would miss her more than anything. Whenever I needed someone to talk to, Nancy was there, every time; it didn't matter what else was going on.

I ran up to her and gave her a bear hug before she even reached our driveway. "Okay, okay, Shell, it's not like your moving to Bosnia. I'll still see you all the time." But I could tell she had been crying, too.

"I know, but you'll still be farther away than I'm used to."

"I need to tell you about this handy new object called a cell phone. All you have to do is call me up." She was trying to lighten the mood.

I nodded, not able to speak through my tears.  In the past, I would have worried about her, being alone, but she had just gotten married, to Steve, and he honestly seemed like a good guy. We all went to the wedding at the court house. Luca and Beau walked her up the aisle; it was small, but nice. Just like Nancy. I knew she would be okay.

We walked to my mom, and the two began talking and walking into the house, for one final walk through, I guess.

"Hey." Someone whispered in my ear from behind. I jumped and looked. It was Luca, laughing. I practically growled at him. Can't he see how upset I am?

We hadn't talked in months. I was actually surprised he even came over, and I told him so.

"My mom told me I had to or be grounded for a month."

"Wow, Luca, you always say the sweetest things." I said sarcastically.

He was quiet then, looking at the house. "We did have zome good times here dough."

Is he slurring his words?

Before I have time to think about that, my brother, Tim, came out of the house then, trying to direct the movers. He was such a know-it-all, and Luca and I teased him every chance we got. As he started walking backward through the lawn, he tripped over a garden knome and landed on his butt.

Luca and I started laughing hysterically. Leave it to Tim to take my mind off my misery, even if he didn't do it on purpose. He stood up and rolled his eyes, "Well I'm glad I could put on a show for Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum." 

As he headed back into the house, I glanced over at Luca, and he was laughing, like really laughing, almost uncontrollably. It wasn't that funny.

Then I really looked at him. He was slurring his words, and his pupils were so dilated, they practically looked black.

"Are you fucking high?" I whisper-shouted at him. He stopped laughing and stood up straight, a half-hearted attempt to compose himself.

"No." I gave him a look that let him know I knew he was lying.

"Okay, fine. But since when do you care?" He asked defensively.

"You know I don't care usually, but this is our last day here, Luca. Even if you don't care enough to say goodbye to me sober, you should have at least thought about my mom."

"At least I'm here, what about the golden child, Beau? I don't see him anywhere." Luca and Beau had always had a love-hate relationship. I think there were some deep seeded jealousy issues. They were both convinced that the other got preferential treatment from their mom. I knew they didn't.

"He was actually here earlier and said goodbye to all of us. He had to go to practice, so Jason gave him a ride." Luca looked guilty. Good.

He still didn't say anything, just looked at the house.

"Do you really think that this is how I wanted to spend my last day here? Fighting with you?" I snapped.

"Well then quit fighting with me."

"Then quit pissing me off!" The volume of my voice was rising, so I took a deep breath to try to calm down.

"But we both know that's what I do best." He gave me his half smile. Dammit. He's too damn charming.

I smiled back right as our parents came outside. Luca walked to my mom and gave her hug. It was the only time that day that I saw her show any emotion. Those two always had a special bond. They were maybe even closer than Nancy and I.

"You're gonna take care of yourself, okay?" She asked, eyes watering. It sounded like she was trying to reassure herself.

"Don't I always?" He was smirking. It was impossible to stay mad at him.

After the hug, he said goodbye to all the others and walked back to me. He took my hand and looked me in the eye. He didn't say anything though. Neither one of us knew what to say. Sorry didn't seem to be enough. He gave me his trademark grin and walked home. 

I didn't speak to him again for ten years.

He dropped out of school half way through our senior year. Nancy called me crying, two years after that, to say he was going to prison for drug trafficking. I was sad about it, but I wasn't surprised.

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