I was in the middle of my novel Unwind, a book about a future that negotiates the practice of “unwinding” termination. I’ve been relaxing on one of these comfy chairs at Dubuque Spartan High School’s library. It would cause me to fall to a deep slumber on the chair.
It was 6th hour, my free hour; usually 6th hour is my P.E. class, but its Wednesday, and that’s when I don’t have gym. I was so skinny, but I liked it. I hated being fat so much. I would never get fat as my old friend Nick, from middle school, who eats a total of ten pizzas. As for me being skinny, I use less weight when I’m doing Fitness in gym.
My cell phone--made by Motorola--abruptly vibrated. I keep the ring tone on vibrate so no teacher can notice. It was the only rule I break in school: NO CELLS IN CLASS. I received a text from my girlfriend, Lily Herbst. Lily and I have been dating for two weeks now. The text read, this weekend is booked, I’m gonna be on a joyful day with Terry to the Sunshine Harbor hotel, and next weekend we’re going to Wisconsin Dells.
I didn’t text back, but this was getting utterly absurd. And why would Lily say “joyful day with Terry?” This quote that she said on the text made me a bit leery. Something was going on.
The librarian approached from behind, “Sir, you have to get going, the bell rang. It’s time for 7th hour.”
Without saying a word, I marked the page on my novel, left the chairs without looking directly at the librarian for one second, and sauntered out the door.
I seldom speak up just to say “hello” randomly to students in the hallways. I haven’t made many friends here in Spartan High School. It’s not that I’m freaky; I’m different than these people. I’m deeply religious. My view is Christian-Catholic. When I found a piece of lifetime to always believe in forever and never change, they’ve become entirely envious because they have been struggling to find their own belief. They don’t care what I have to say about God. I couldn’t fight their disagreement, I was too gentle.
“Hey look, it’s the strict religious boy who thinks he has spiritual powers,” a student said, as I walked past him. I continued along to Algebra—my 7th hour class.
“Okay students, turn your textbooks to page 502,” said Mr. Hathaway, my Algebra teacher.
I was an intelligent person in this subject, when it comes to equations and shapes. I’ve been an A+ student since 7th grade. I’m usually quiet though, as if I were a wretched loner who doesn’t like to communicate, even with someone who’s trying to help.
I stare at my teacher, with my head tilted a little, trying to listen clearly. “Now who can tell me the square root of thirty-six? Mr. Finn?”
I flinched when he called my name. “Six?”
“Come on. Why do you have to say it like if you were asking if that’s right?” said Mr. Hathaway, feeling annoyed, “Say it like you mean it.” A few students laughed with their hands on their mouth.
Again I said, “Six,” like I actually know what the answer is.
“That’s better,” said Mr. Hathaway.
Mr. Hathaway doesn’t normally call me to volunteer to the board or tell him an answer to a question, since I’m way far in the back. I liked being back there; since he barely notices me when I have my phone tucked under the desk, texting my girlfriend as fast as I could, but I text too slow.
“Ethan put your phone away!” shouted Mr. Hathaway. It sounded like the first time I got caught.
It was 2:20, and the bell rang.
I waited at the front doors at school, waiting patiently and quietly with obnoxious kids with insane attitudes, for the city bus to pull in. It’s so hard to find out what these black kids are saying, especially when they’re dancing and rapping like maniacs (rap really isn’t my favorite music), or when they’re shouting like they’re at a loud rock concert, and you can’t hear yourself speak normally. They give me ominous looks because of my look like I’m some kind of emo, which I’m not! I hate it when they call me emo. I just enjoy the colors of black and white. I’m just being Ethan Finn. Just myself.
The bus pulled in, the black kids shoved me aside and ran up the steps. One fat kid, who was a bully to me, John Raymond, stared at me like he’s about to hang me on a flagpole, and tried to get past the driver, but he pulled him back, and asked him for 50 cents. John always forces little kids for money. Why can’t he just be like other responsible people who make their own budgets? Why is he always egging people on?
I showed the driver my bus ID—an ID I use for free rides—and sat on the seat next to the driver, still feeling riled about the black kids misbehaving for the umpteenth time. I didn’t attempt to yell “Shut up!” at them.
Thank god it’s over now, I said to myself, walking apathetically uphill on Marilyn Drive, the street I live on, after getting off the city bus. I pull out my cell phone and looked again at the suspicious text Lily sent me, just as she guaranteed that we would go out this weekend. Still, who is this Terry person? Is he just an ordinary friend? I was hoping he was. I try to get over it and slid the phone back in my pants pocket. We’re in a relationship for crying out loud! She couldn’t possibly do anything weird, could she? It’s hard for me to elude a bad sign of what could happen to me.
“How was school, honey?” my mother asked.
“Okay,” I replied. I proceeded to my bedroom.
The relationship with my parents is fine, a bit uneasy; it would depend on the attitude and personality of the face-to-face talk. I love them so much, but I don’t get the point why I’m acting like they’re pissing me off. I know it’s always started by me when an argument goes on. But from time to time, the guiltiness comes into me. I get a feeling I’m disobeying one law of God: Honor you mother and father. In the night, before I lay down, sleeping like an angel sleeps, I take a little round-shaped blackish prayer rock, and ask for forgiveness, free me from sins, let him know they’re still my true family.
The prayer rock was a gift from the people of the St. Anthony’s Church Youth Group Retreat. The retreat was a special get together to learn the message in God’s words, a time of meeting new people, and even learning a way of praying. The team members would share their sides of their stories of anything having to do with “friends,” “family,” “happiness,” “gloominess,” anything that relates to God’s feelings.
A team member sent me the rock as a thank-you gift for attending the retreat and going forth to a path of better faithful success. Inside the bag was a note…
I am your little prayer rock…and this is what I will do. Just tuck me under your pillow until the day is through. Then turn the covers back and in to your bed, and WHACK, your little prayer rock will hit you on the head. Then you will remember as each day is through to quiet yourself and say your prayers! When you are finished just drop me on the floor. I will stay there thru the nighttime to give you help once more. When you get up the next morning CLUNK, I will gently stub your toe. So you will remember once more to say your morning prayers before you go. Put me back upon your pillow as you quickly make your bed. And me your clever little prayer rock will continue in your aid. Because GOD cares and loves you so he wants you to remember to HIM you know! God Bless, we are praying for you as you make you self connection with your FAITH and our LORD!!
All of the instructions said by the rock gained more experience in me. Never underestimate it. Always take that advice. They will listen, and guide you.
I had to figure out what is going on with the details of Lily with Terry. There has to be someone who will be able to listen, understand, and be able share any feedback of how this could help me out.
I went to my mother, who was making enchilada in the kitchen for dinner. “Hey is it alright if I meet with Sophie anywhere this weekend?” Sophie is my youth administrator for St. Anthony’s Catholic Church.
“What do you need to see her for?” Mom asked.
“Umm…just for something I want to ask her about serious situations.” I felt jittery about mentioning my girlfriend with some other guy I don’t know. I didn’t want her to feel apprehensive about what’s going on.
“Do you have her number?” said Mom.
“Okay. Well if you want, go ahead and call her.”
I picked up the phone adjacent to the kitchen table and walked back to my bedroom to speak with Sophie in private.
I waited impatiently for Sophie to answer, but it still kept ringing. There was no answer. I left her a voice message. “Hi, this is Ethan Finn, and I was wondering if you would like to meet with me anytime this weekend to have a talk? I--I have many…questions to ask you. If you could, that would be great. Thank you.” I hung up the phone.
I sat on my green cushioned rocking chair—which I call my “throne”—in the living room, turned on the T.V., and waited wistfully for Sophie to respond to my voice message.