[community profile] justprompts: What is a favorite memory from when you were ten years old?

Aug. 17th, 2009 08:29 pm
theirgoldenboy: (Sons of Ipswich)
[personal profile] theirgoldenboy

It was a usual thing, after school was over, for all of them to go somewhere on vacation. Sometimes all of the grown-ups were with them; sometimes not. Sometimes it was a few days after the last day of classes, sometimes a couple of weeks. But it was usually the four of them together. Except for the summer when he'd come down with striped throat two days before they were to leave. But it hadn't been too bad, at least that's what he always said. He even thought so, really. It hadn't been too bad. Except that they'd not even allowed him to say his friends good-bye before they went, but after they had come back, it had been okay.

It wasn't like that, this time. He hadn't know when they were leaving; his mother just came up in the morning and started packing up for him. Just him. He thought she might have been crying, but he wasn't sure.

He kind of knew his father wasn't coming, though.

His father, who looked so much older than his friends' fathers. Caleb knew he wasn't really, though. It was something he was doing, something he was using, and that something was making him old. And it was supposedly awesome, and he was going to understand when he turned thirteen, but he had to never overly use, like his father did. And he had to never talk about it to anybody outside the families. And some of the people who worked for them.

Magic. Power.

Truly, the words didn't mean that much to him. Except that his dad couldn't pick him up and spin him around and play with him like he used to. That he didn't laugh anymore, and wheezed like old Mr. Cartwright who would sit in front of the drug store and smile in the sun and tell stories to anybody who would listen.

Magic. Power. Making things happen in ways most people couldn't. Like his mother couldn't.

Now she was sending him away, and he thought she was worried, but when he asked, she didn't tell him. At least he was going with his friends. And Tyler's parents.

He did overhear his mother talk with Tyler's dad, when the Simms' car showed up and he was coming down the stairs to go with them.

"Is there nothing--"

"I'm sorry, Evelyn. We've never been able to stop him before. And, believe me, we tried. All those years when he was better..."

Then they saw him, and stopped talking, and Tyler's father smiled at him.

"All packed up and ready to go?"

As he knew he had to, Caleb stood straight, and nodded. "Yes, sir."

The man he'd known all his life came by and ruffled his hair. "Let's go, then." And then passed him over on the way out, to the car.

Caleb's mother hugged him. And then they were off.

At least once they were away, things got better. Normal, really. They mostly tried to behave on the way down south, by car, then by plane, then by car again. They got a room, all four of them, as usually, two double-bunk beds which they didn't manage to break down only miraculously and, besides, they didn't really stay in the room very much. After months of school and a lot of the time rain when they should have had time playing, just the mere fact that they were out in the sunlight was inviting enough. Yes, they had to check in for mealtimes, and usually got in trouble if they weren't in their room at bedtime.

That resulted in them being in and talking (or jumping around, or something else) at that time, and until Tyler's parents had left them alone. And a bit after. Then, occasionally, they'd file out of the room, quietly enough. Then get back when they were too tired to do anything else. All together.

Caleb liked not being alone. Not being alone meant not having to think of his father and how he wasn't well. Of how his mother had been so worried. Or if he thought about it, or the conversation happened to go that way - not too often, even if they did all spend time wondering what would happen when they turned thirteen, what would be different - he didn't have time to imagine things on his own. His friends just got him distracted, with things that were here and now and more interesting and sometimes a bit of fighting, and it was okay.

It wasn't that easy when he would wake up first, before the rest, though.

That's how he ended up going to the pool. The big swimming pool, not the small ones that were just for kids. They all four of them knew how to swim well enough to not be afraid of the deeper water. But after the first morning when he end up there, he showed up on the too-early mornings for another reason.

There was a swimmer there. Caleb learned that the man had competed when he was younger; he didn't look that old to him, when the powerful strokes propelled him through the clear, sparkling water. Caleb couldn't swim like that; the swimmer laughed when he said that and told him he hadn't been able to, always, either. When he was resting between laps, he'd talk with the dark-haired boy sitting on the edge of the pool, his feet kicking a little in the cool water. About training. About self-discipline, even when it was hard. About using what you've got to get the best result you can, all in a fair way. If you win, win fairly. Or don't compete enough. Improve yourself. Train to what you mean to do with all you've got. Don't swerve into what you're not supposed to, no matter how tempting. And keep doing what needs to be done, even when it hurts.

It made sense, to Caleb. And he could see somebody who wasn't just speaking words. He'd lived that, done it. One of the mornings, he even brought his medal for the boy to see; he thought it was really cool.

And there was that word. Tempting. He heard it a lot, about the powers that he and his friends would get one day, the ones that their fathers had. The ones that were making his father the way he was.

I can resist that. No matter what it means, I can resist it. I won't be old when I shouldn't be, and worry everybody. I won't! I'll be in good shape. Like Mr. Furniss.

Caleb was a little sad, when they had to go, even if he really wanted to see his parents again. Being over here was good; learning from somebody new that he didn't have to tell about anything out of the ordinary was good. He even told some of the things to Pogue and Reid and Tyler, even if none of them wanted to be woken up to go talk with the swimmer.

That was all right. He remembered, and he could tell his friends, later.

Going back, however, was one of the things that hurt.

His father...

William Danvers the Third had grown worse, while they were away. He was stuck in bed. With a respiratory machine into his throat, the hiss of it cyclic and nasty. He wouldn't talk much.

He looked like a scary monster; only his eyes, when he would look at people, looked alive. Looked like they had always looked.

There was a lot of talk, among the families. Well, among the adults. The four boys were left to kick their heels and wonder, and even they couldn't miss on how bad it was. Not when the oldest among them had come out of his father's room, and ran for the bathroom, throwing up.

Not crying, but somehow, he felt like he should have been.

He didn't cry at the funeral, either. He stood, his mother's hand on his shoulder, while they lowered the coffin. It was warm and sunny. He could smell a bit of whiskey from her hand; she'd spilled it when she was pouring herself a glass before they left.

His friends were there. Quiet. Their parents were there. Mother-and-father each. Grave. Sad. At one point, when the coffin was lowered, Caleb's godfather's fingers tightened on Pogue's shoulder, and the blond boy looked up, then went around and stood by his friend. In a bit, they were joined by Reid and Tyler. The three of them were just there.

Then when people started filing by and offering condolences, they sort of stood behind him, but he could hear them shifting, or saying something quietly. Loud enough for him to hear, but not loud enough to disrupt anything or interrupt anybody.

The Danvers were a prominent family; each of the four families was, in different ways. While in the last couple of years, William had grown distant, there were a lot of people who'd come to pay their respects. There was one of his teachers from elementary school, who kind of crouched, knees drawn tightly together, before him.

"You need to be head of the family now, Caleb. You'll be taking care of your mother, now. You will, won't you?"

The dark head nodded, brown eyes confused, but trusting. "Yes, Mrs. Stone."

There were others who had words for him. Some of his classmates where here, too, even though they really didn't know what to say. He answered mostly with, "thanks. Will see you back at school."

Then they were gone, and it was just the...

... there used to be twelve of them. Now, they were eleven. Except the last one wasn't in the coffin among them, well, among and under them; he was locked away in the old house, in the basement of which Caleb could read the books about them all, with old Gorman taking care of him, the hiss of the machine filling up the upstairs.

Weeks passed. Nothing changed.

Well. School started. Caleb's eleventh birthday came and went.

Then there was a note for signing up for swimming training, and he asked his mother for permission the same evening. Just because doing laps in a strong, certain stroke was something he wanted to be able to do. A reminder of something easier and sunlit, and a strong man who moved like he was older than he should be - if not quite so much so as his father - but only when he was outside the pool.

And his friends were still with him, even if sometimes he'd be quiet and probably a little strange.

They were still who they always were, the four of them.


theirgoldenboy: (Default)
Caleb Danvers

July 2011

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