Forks was a bit depressing really. I looked through the window of my father’s car, sighing. All I could see was rain. All there was for miles was rain.
My father shifted in his seat and pretended to be oblivious to the awkward silence. I shot him a tight lipped smile and cranked up the heating. Arizona was about triple this temperature and I hated the cold.
I wasn’t quite sure why I was in Forks but I was none the less. My mother and her new husband, Phil, had decided to hit the road along with Phil’s minor league baseball career so I kind of figured I was unwanted in the equation. And so here I was in Around the Clock Rainsville.
Stress had already crept up my back. I had enough money to get myself a second-hand car, hopefully. It would be a pretty shoddy car, but still a car. And then there was college. I wasn’t sure what my father’s view on money was but I knew I would definitely have to get a job if I even wanted to start entertaining notions of tertiary education. This place was definitely getting to me.
I gnawed on my bottom lip, praying to sweet baby Jesus that my dad wouldn’t try and start some unwanted speech about how he was so happy that I was living with him. Please, God, no.
“So school starts tomorrow.” Not quite what I was dreading but still pretty bad. I looked over at my father. The look on his face told me he was trying hard to be A Dad.
“Yeah… uh I guess.” The art of conversation was a skill that I evidently didn’t possess. Charlie nodded and we pretended like we didn’t even know the meaning of awkward.
Three hours since touchdown and I already detested Forks.
We pulled into the driveway after much too long and I leaped to get my bags out of the trunk. Charlie grumbled his way out of the car, shuffling around while I retrieved my luggage. He looked to be debating something with himself. As we made our way toward the house, I purposefully hung back a bit so we wouldn’t have the unneeded kerfuffle of choosing which one of us would go through the door first. I couldn’t believe I already had to plan my life to avoid awkwardness.
Before we reached the door, though, my father turned around and gave me his best shot at a grin. No please, not the speech, not now.
“So, son, I’ve got you something to welcome you back.” I raised my eyebrows. This could not possibly possibly possibly be good – I mean he used the words ‘welcome back’ for God’s sake. He walked past me again and I turned around. What was he doing? He set his hand on the side of a faded red old Chevy. My eyebrows rose even higher. The thing with Charlie, he always does something unexpected.
The truck was too perfect. The dents, the rust, the tacky paint job, all of it was just right for me. I glanced at my dad. The pride that he had finally done something right was shining off him.
“Dad, this great,” I smiled at him, genuinely smiling, “thank you.” I extended my hand to go for a handshake but he pulled me in for a brief, squashed hug. I cleared my throat and pretended to be highly interested in my shoes, grasping desperately for a conversation topic. “Where did you even get this? I mean, how much should I pay you back?” Charlie shook his head.
“No no, this is my coming home present to you.” He looked at me with such intensity in his eyes that I had to look away. So he considered Forks as my home? That would make one of us. “It’s second hand anyway. I got it from Billy Black down at the Reservation. Do you remember him?”
I furrowed my brow. Billy Black? I couldn’t remember a Billy Black. “You know, with his daughter Sara?” Ah now Sara I remembered. Just her name alone conjured up memories of mud pies and cubby houses and playing ‘Mummies and Daddies’. I smiled privately to myself. I could even remember the way she smelled. Like warmth and wood smoke and cinnamon. Yes, I certainly remembered Sara Black. “Well anyway,” my dad’s voice brought me back to the present, “I just thought you should be saving your money for college you know.” He headed back toward the house and I stood, still staring at the truck for a few minutes. It was only when I felt a cool breeze on my arms that I decided to go in.
Charlie had left the door open and I shut it gently behind me. I could hear the sound of a baseball match straining from down the hall and smiled. He was always one for sports. I made my way up the stairs to the room I had always stayed in as a child. I passed the bathroom; I would be sharing with Charlie – great. I shuffled along the corridor until I came to my room. It had been redecorated slightly, the crayon masterpieces still beaming happily from the corner but with a sturdy wooden desk placed in front of them, a basic blue plastic chair parked next to it. The bed had been changed appropriately to a queen bed with baby blue sheets. The curtains were still trimmed with the old, yellowing lace that I remembered and the World War 1 propaganda poster that I used to think was the epitome of cool still hung, dog-eared and beaten, on the wall. I sighed and set my suitcases down. So here I was.
I looked out the window and chewed on the inside of my cheek. School awaited me tomorrow morning and I really wasn’t looking forward to it. Back in Phoenix, my school had beared much resemblance to a loony bin. There were the druggies, the nerds, the ‘tough’ guys, the hippies, the gangster-wannabes and the cheerleaders all somehow brought together in one bleak setting. I had never fit in. People my age just had no maturity, no real understanding of the world around them and this frustrated me greatly. They were too busy obsessing over their narrow little worlds to open their minds to the world around them. But whatever, you can only control what you do, as my mother would say. I missed Renee already; she was the only person who really knew me. It wasn’t as if I was shy, it’s just that I didn’t tend to be as open with people I didn’t know. And I definitely knew my mother.
I scrolled down to her number and pressed the green button. Of course, it went straight to voicemail.
“Hi Mom, it’s me, Edward, just calling to say I got in fine. Charlie bought me a truck… which is pretty cool I guess. Um… call me back, bye.” I hung up and took a deep breath. Phil had better look after my mother or else he would be in for some deep trouble.
I turned away from the window and headed downstairs. Charlie was still parked in front of the TV; I could hear it from down the hall. I made my way to the kitchen and opened the fridge to find it was surprisingly well stocked. My mother must have warned him of my cooking expertise. I mean I was hardly Thomas Keller but when I started cooking, I had to create something perfect. Just a little habit I guess.
I grabbed the tray of eggs, a block of cheese, the tub of cream and the bacon. Spaghetti carbonara was on the menu tonight. Cooking was almost second nature to me; I mixed the ingredients mindlessly, putting the water of to boil at the same time. I was in my trance state when Charlie came in.
“Oh – err – Edward, you’re cooking.” I smiled at him and nodded. He probably expected me to be the type of guy who didn’t care what I ate. Ha, not quite. I scooped the sauce in to mix with the spaghetti, grabbing a wooden spoon to mix. I grabbed the bacon from the frypan, chopped it up and sprinkled it through the pasta. Charlie just stood there watching my hands anxiously. He probably thought I was gay.
I divided the pasta between two bowls, Charlie still eying me nervously. Sitting down at the table, I grabbed a knife and fork and dug in. Apart from the chewing of food, there was silence.
“So you’re still working at the station?” I grasped around for a conversation topic.
“Oh – uh yeah, yeah I am.” I sat for a moment, mentally glaring at my father. It was as if he wanted there to be an awkward silence.
“So you’ll be at work tomorrow then?” Please let him go on some kind of rant, I prayed silently.
“Yep, bright and early.” Of course saying more than two sentences was always too much to handle for Charlie.
I cleared away the dishes as fast as I could, I really didn’t like the lack of atmosphere in the house. It must be said that I’m not the best at socializing but at least with my mum there was always something going on.
“So yeah Dad, I’m probably going to – uh – get my stuff ready for school tomorrow and hit the hay.” I tried smiling at my father but decided just looking at him in a we’re-just-father-and-son-and-sometimes-friends type of way was better. He nodded vaguely in my direction and I pretty much sprinted out of the door and up to my room. I grabbed my phone and scrolled quickly down to my mother’s mobile number.
“Hello?” The voice was as distant and crackly as an old Bill Cosby record underwater but it still made me feel so much better.
“Hey Mom. Did you get my message?”
“Oh hey Edward, yeah I did. So your dad bought you a truck?”
“Yeah, yeah he did… it’s kinda weird though. He usually – you know – doesn’t give me stuff.”
“Well I think he’s just trying to be a dad for you, honey.”
“Look I’ve got to go, Phil’s about to finish practice. I love you.” She hung up. That’s what always amused me about my mother. ‘I love you’ was the only warning you got before she hung up. It was apparent ‘goodbye’ had never crossed her mind.
Staying true to what I had said to my father and stuffed some unused notebooks into my bag along with a couple of pens. I made a mental note to get a map of the school tomorrow before I climbed into bed.
I stared at the wall for three hours before I finally fell asleep.
Yes, Forks was definitely depressing.