Chapter One: Something New

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Moving to a new place is hard. It was always hard and it will always be hard. No matter how much you disliked the old place or how much you're looking forward to a change of scenery, picking everything up that you've set down into its rightful place and trying to recreate that sense of complacency is never an easy undertaking.

Fourteen times.

That's how many times Damian had neatly placed himself inside a terry cloth sheet, tied it up, and dragged it beyond city limits and across state lines. Metaphorically speaking, of course. There were moving trucks involved. Or, well, except for that time where they borrowed Uncle Ricky's pickup to move across counties.

Regardless, that wasn't the point.

It was a hard story to tell, if he had to be honest. Most people had their own theories as to how one person could move so many times in a relatively short lifetime. Many were quick to jump toward a parental occupation in the military, to which the answer was no. The puzzled look in many's eyes implied some unsavory familial situations that would suggest a past one would want to run away from. That wasn't the case either, he would quickly assure. If anything, the Ryker family was the most vanilla family this side of the Mississippi.

Or that side of the Mississippi.

It was a really boring explanation for an otherwise interesting tidbit, he would acquiesce. Parent's jobs, the capriciousness of the housing market, and some bad luck always followed by the promise of a fresh start blended together after a while to create a stumbling narrative that never seemed to captivate people for long. And Damian was okay with that, for the most part. It wasn't exactly a tale he reveled in telling.

This final move, though, was going to be something different. This was going to be the last. Or, well, the last of its kind at least. While Mr. and Mrs. Ryker loudly and repeatedly declared that this would be their final relocation, Damian Ryker was only at the ripe age of 22. Impending full-adulthood was sitting just ahead of the horizon, and soon all moves from here on out would be carried out as a singular venture.

Soon.

That was a word Damian thought about a lot. It was the answer to a lot of questions he was asked.

When are you going to get your Master's degree?

When are you going to get a girlfriend?

When are you going to move out of your parent's house?

It just became so grating after a while. The future is an ever changing, amorphic beast that takes no prisoners. It is the bogeyman that lies under the bed of every adolescent soul, waiting to take grasp of any dreams that dare fall past the duvet. There was nothing that made him eager to even consider thinking about it.

It took the Ryker family about two months to get settled in. It was longer than nearly half of their other moves, but Damian's parents were determined to get everything just right. After all, if there was something they didn't like about the place, there was no picking up and moving onto the next place. At least, that's what they said.

Damian spent that time moving boxes, mostly. His parents were getting older--not old, just older--and after Peter had moved out and started his family, Damian just sort of became used to single-handedly taking care of the unpacking process.

He found a job in the process, he forgot to mention to just about everyone. It wasn't anything exciting, really, just some pencil pushing in a modest-size office on the outskirts of the nearest city. It was a nice area. There was a park down the street, a coffee shop just a block down.

Mrs. Ryker seemed to be the only one to make a big deal out of it. She would sing praises of how accomplishing it is to get a job like that right out of college, and how such situations were becoming the minority these days. To Damian it didn't really seem to matter that much. He didn't think much towards career. All that really mattered was the check the corporate shadow man cut him at the end of the week. Clock in at 9, clock out at 5. Go home.

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