Thursday, December 21
Since I finished with my physics lab early today, I had time to pop into the infirmary before lunch. After a quick x-ray, the doctor decided my ankle was healing nicely. I was really excited and for a moment, I thought he was going to tell me I was all better. Then, he told me I should keep using the brace and crutches for several more weeks. The only good thing he said was that I was ready to put more weight on my foot.
I already knew that. The other day, when I was getting into bed, I accidentally put weight on my foot because I was having trouble balancing. I’m not sure, but I think I just forgot that I wasn’t supposed to. Although it hurt, it wasn’t nearly as bad as when I first broke my ankle.
The doctor told me to check in again after break, but he still liked his original 8-week recovery estimate. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that my ankle is healing. I’m just a little disappointed. I know dance as a sport is out of the question for the rest of the term. But, it would have been nice if I could just dance for fun. Or hold things while I walk.
Friday afternoon, I went straight to the rotunda after my last period English class, where I found Pat waiting for me. I kissed the top of his head as I sat beside him.
“Did I get out late?”
He shook his head, putting his arm around me and drawing me close. “Henderson let us out early. I think he got frustrated that no one was paying attention to Virgil.”
“No fair! He kept my class late. Anyway, how was your meeting with your college counselor?”
Pat sighed. “Difficult. He asked me what I want to do with my life. I told him I loved acting and I don’t see myself giving it up. He suggested film school.”
“That’s not a bad idea.”
Pat grimaced. “The thing is, I’ve grown up on movie sets. I already know how everything works. And, I don’t think I want to direct or write or produce. Just act. I love acting, not making movies. Does that make sense?”
I scrunched my face as thought about it. “Kind of. But I’m sure your mom will completely understand.”
Pat shook his head. “You would think. But she really doesn’t like the fact that Meghan took a year off. Two, actually, since she decided she’s not applying this year, either. But Meghan quit working to find herself. I don’t want to do that. I want to act.”
“I have to ask, just so you consider all sides. Has it occurred to you that you may not make it as an adult? Not all kids do. Look at your agent.”
Pat nodded. “Yeah, I’ve thought about it. But, I think I’ll be okay. Call it a gut feeling.”
“If you didn’t make movies, what do you think you’d want to do?”
Pat chuckled. “That’s literally the exact question the college counselor asked me.”
Pat shrugged. “And I told him I had no idea.”
“Why are you taking AP classes?”
“You’re a junior and you have two AP classes. Next year, you’ll be taking more, I assume. Aren’t AP classes supposed to help you get into college or something?”
“They count as college credit.”
“So, why are you taking them if you don’t want to go to college?”
Pat sent me a curious look. “They sounded fun. And, I’m enjoying them.”
“So, maybe consider studying science or Latin in college.”
“Classics.” When I sent him a puzzled look, he explained. “Latin and Greek usually go together as Classical Studies. I never thought of doing that, though. Studying something other than film. But I still want to take a year off.”
Pat sighed. “I don’t want to stop acting. I can’t be filling out college applications and doing schoolwork and working at the same time. Look at Chloe. She almost went nuts balancing school and applications. I have a hard time balancing school and work. Doing all three? I don’t think I’d manage it.”
“So, you already know you’re doing a movie next year?” I didn’t quite manage to hide my frown.
“If the right one comes along, I don’t want to have to turn it down because I’m too busy applying to colleges.”
“What if it doesn’t?”
“It’ll give me more time to figure out what I want to study and where I want to go.”
I smiled. “Keep rehearsing that line for your parents. I liked it.”
Pat smiled. “Yeah, me too.” He drew me closer, making a show of checking his watch. “Now, I know we only have an hour before your parents get here, and I don’t want to waste any more time talking about colleges.” I smiled as he pulled me closer for a very long goodbye kiss.
Sarah was helping me pack some last-minute items when there was a knock on the door. I looked up to see both my parents in the doorway.
Although my father had begun his busy season, he had cleared his schedule for the day to bring me home. I wasn’t that surprised to see my mother with him, especially since she immediately began making a fuss over my crutches, despite the fact that I had completely adapted to them over the past two weeks.
I didn’t mind. I was happy to see them. I greeted them enthusiastically. As I reassured my mother, I zipped my duffel.
“I’m all set packing. Dad, do you think you can carry this for me?”
He wordlessly took the bag and left the room, presumably to the car. I hoped he had found a spot nearby to park it.
My mother looked around. “Do you want me to carry anything?”
Although I could have managed it, I passed my mother my backpack. I knew she wanted to feel useful.
“You can take this, I guess.”
My mother smiled, waiting by the door while I gave my roommate a quick hug. When we reached the stairwell, she reached out as if worried I would fall.
“Do you need help?”
“No, but you should go first. This takes a minute.” I put both crutches in my right hand, using my left to hold the handrail for support. Putting the slightest amount of weight on my left foot, I stepped down a stair with my right. My left foot joined it and I continued the process, going down each step slowly until I reached the bottom.
After sending my mother to the car, I stopped by Clarissa’s apartment. The doorway was blocked by a baby gate I wasn’t sure I’d be able to climb over, so I simply knocked on the open door. Mr. Price appeared within moments.
“Hi, Mr. Price. I’m heading out.”
“Well, have a fantastic holiday. Check in when you get back.”
“And don’t forget to keep up with your NeoGenesis.”
My parents were waiting for me in front of the building. They helped me into the car, putting my crutches in the trunk, then began the nearly two-hour journey home. I spent most of the time texting Pat, who was waiting for Walter’s wrestling practice to end before driving home. After nearly an hour, my mother interrupted, turning to face the back seat.
“So, Melinda, I was speaking with Karen Dyson last week, and she mentioned they were considering attending the New Year’s Eve party at the church, and were wondering if you could babysit.”
Thinking about the two little girls across the street made me frown. “I would’ve loved to. I miss those girls. Did you tell her I broke my ankle?”
“I did, and she told me a lovely story from when she was about your age. She broke her arm and her best friend helped her babysit all month. They split the wages.”
I thought fleetingly of my two childhood best friends who had changed so much when they started high school, I no longer wanted to be anywhere near them. “I don’t have any friends nearby.”
My mother smiled. “On another note, Mrs. Evans called last week.”
I groaned. “Are you guys like BFFs now?”
“As a matter of fact, we discussed getting together for coffee. But, she was inviting you to a holiday party. It sounds like fun.”
I sat a little straighter. “You mean I can go?”
“Maybe. I’m still thinking about it. But, we were talking about the holidays and she mentioned that Walter was not looking forward to going to Chicago for New Year’s.”
“He’s bummed he has to babysit his cousins. I think he’s more bummed Meghan’s not joining them.”
“Well, I suggested maybe he stay in Connecticut while they’re traveling.”
I shrugged. “There’s no one for him to stay with. Even the housekeeper is traveling.”
“Well, I suggested Walter spend a few nights with us. And, for the record, I invited Patrick as well, but Mrs. Evans said he has interviews scheduled to promote his new movie while they’re traveling.”
“He didn’t mention that.” I was hurt he hadn’t told me.
My mother frowned. “I’m not sure she told him yet. Anyway, back to my original thought. Would you like to babysit across the street if Walter joined you?”
“Do you think it would be okay with Mrs. Dyson? I mean, she’s probably expecting me to bring a girl friend.”
“I already spoke to her about it. Explained that Walter is your best friend who just happens to be a boy. I even mentioned that you were dating his brother.”
I considered for a moment. “Walter never mentioned that he was staying with us.”
“It’s possible Mrs. Evans hasn’t told him yet. I didn’t get the impression she was going to surprise him, but she may have been waiting for him to come home first.”
“Well, I’ll make him come, anyway. I don’t think he’ll mind.” I immediately pulled out my phone while thinking about the best way to ask my best friend to help me babysit.
Pat’s story will return in Episode 87.
Melinda is always trying to build her vocabulary. What were some words in this episode that were new to you? She will add them to her vocabulary journal.