THE COLD INSIDE
By AL BRUNO III
Monday November 7, 1994
The buses had departed ten minutes ago. Only Tristam was left, he stood near the school’s main entrance, his bookbag on the ground near his feet. With every gust of wind his shivering got worse.
Come on Mom. He thought, Hurry up. A year ago he could have taken a bus or caught a ride with Pam and Ronnie. Ronnie had a killer sports car with a great sound system and a heater. Now Tristam had to wait for his mother to leave her work to come and get him. Then he had to spend two to three miserable hours at the nursing home where she worked at until could go home. Even then he had to do his chores before he could relax. His therapist had told his mother that he needed structure and she was structuring the Hell out of him.
In his Freshman year the homework was bad enough, but now in his Sophomore year it seemed that just about every teacher was laying it on incredibly thick, especially Mr. Stackman. Tristam doubted that the old man even took into account that all the other teachers were giving thirty minutes worth of homework as well.
No wonder the SOB’s car gets vandalized every year.
Read this. Write that. Do the problems at the end of chapter seven in your algebra workbook. Don’t forget your chores. Tristam could hardly wait until he was an adult and he could decide for himself what he was going to do with his free time.
Another gust of wind, another bout of shivering. At least in the morning he’d had his friends to keep his mind off the fact he was freezing but all he could do now was try to lose himself in his thoughts and the chattering of his teeth.
My friends. It still amazed him to think that his friends where now the likes of Tubbo, Psycho, Sadam Jr., Graveyard Greg, Dick Head and Smudge.
At least that’s what he’d called them a year ago. Now he was one of them, he was ‘Dog-Boy’.
His mother’s maroon Mercury Topaz pulled up to the curb, he quickly got inside. “How was your day?” she asked.
Tristam groaned with relief at the car’s warm interior, “Same old, same old.”
“I know you’re not going to like it,” Carol said as she made a U-turn and headed back the way she had come, “but I’ve got to work a little later than I expected. We probably won’t get home until after six.”
“You can do your homework at my desk.”
“I hate it there, you know I hate it there.”
“I don’t see what your problem is.”
“How can you stand it?” He shook his head, “That place is a funeral home waiting to happen.”
“Oh boy.” An angry blush flooded her cheeks, “You wanna get grounded this weekend too?”
“No!” He replied. God he couldn’t stand this, she was grounding him like he was a little kid. “That place just creeps me out.”
“All that says to me is that you need to spend a little more time there. Remember what Dr. Butterfield said- you need to expand learn empathy. You need to see that other people and animals have feelings that are just as valid as yours.”
The maroon Topaz pulled into the employees’ parking lot of the Carvale Home For the Elderly and Infirm. Tristam crossed his arms over his chest, “I have empathy Mom. I wish you could see that.”
The car eased into an open space. Carol switched the engine off, “And I wish I could believe you but it’s going to be a long time before I can trust you again.”
Whenever his mother spoke to him this way it made that cold he felt lurking inside him grow a little stronger. What would he do if he let it get away from him again? Already it had cost him so much. In one terrible moment he had gone from having the world to being the kid everyone had seen being led away by the police on the eleven o’clock news.