“If you have a candle the light won’t glow any dimmer if I light yours off mine.” ~ Steven Tyler
Friendship can be the most powerful light in a person’s life. High school sophomore Amber Newberg has yet to learn this. Introverted and guarded, she doesn’t make friends easily. She is in the Air Force Junior ROTC program at school, using it as a step towards building her future. Besides struggling with her best friend graduating, she expects this to be just another year.
Enter Shane Grafton. When the two are thrown together as partners in chemistry, a friendship outside of the classroom ensues. Having felt like an outsider as a result of his own upbringing, he’s someone she feels comfortable with. As their bond grows, Shane is able to pull Amber out of her darkness, but can’t get her to see what their relationship could truly be.
In a moment of courage, Amber decides to put her heart on the line. However, she quickly learns how fragile one’s heart can be. Can she open her heart again to the possibility of being hurt? Or will she shut herself back down and miss out on the friendship of a lifetime?
Going inside my house when it’s just my mom here is always nerve wracking. Shane’s abrupt departure gave me a chance to get my thoughts together. He threw me off by keeping me in that hug. And surprisingly, I liked it more than I thought I would. I have to get the look of joy off my face in case my mom isn’t passed out when I get inside. It’s about dinner time in most houses, but I doubt she’ll be cooking. Drinking maybe, but not cooking.
After a deep breath, I push my way inside and as expected it’s still and quiet. Her car was in the driveway, so at least I can breathe easy for now knowing she’s not driving around drunk, risking killing herself or worse, someone else. Not that killing herself is a good thing. I’d be upset if she died, but not surprised.
As I walk into the kitchen, I notice that my note is still there from this morning. That makes me a little nervous. Is she okay in her bedroom? I rush back to her room in almost a full run. Pausing at the door to take a quick breath and let it out, I push open the door and don’t see her. Then I hear her in the bathroom. She is singing in the shower, and not well. But she’s alive. I close the door and head back to the kitchen. From the loudness of her singing, I’m guessing she’s been drinking all day and eaten nothing. I guess I’ll be the one cooking. If you can call hot dogs and macaroni and cheese cooking.
By the time I have both plates ready, she comes out and acts like this is normal. I make dinner and she sits and eats with me. I place our plates on the table and sit down across from her. Not sure what to say to her, I just dig in. I am pretty hungry after all the walking Shane and I did today.
“So, how was your day?” she asks, as if we always talk about our day over dinner.
“Um,” unsure what to say, “It was good. Yours?” I ask, hoping that she doesn’t burst into tears like she usually does when she talks to me. It gets old. She’s the adult and yet, she is always talking about how life isn’t fair. What does she know about life being unfair?
She breaks me from my thoughts when she answers me. “It was fine.” And that is it. Our conversation is over and we are both back to eating. When she’s done, she just gets up and goes back to her room, leaving her plate on the table for me to take care of. Guess there isn’t a mothering gene anywhere in her body. I shouldn’t be upset by it; this is what always happens, but it hurts. Can’t she ever act like a mother to me?
I clean the kitchen and head back to my room to shower and get ready for bed. Looking forward to hanging out with Shane is the only thing keeping my tears away tonight. I gather all my chemistry stuff and put it in my backpack before climbing into bed.
All the outdoor time and walking has tired me out more than I thought. Today was the perfect day, despite being a mess when Shane found me. I’d just about forgotten how upset I was. Add the crying to all my activity today, and it’s no wonder sleep finds me easily tonight. My brain shuts off and I am out in a matter of minutes.
Lisa lives in sunny southern California with her wonderful husband and two teenage children. Her husband is a teacher and high school coach, daughter is a dancer, and son is a soccer player. Between everyone’s activities and schedules, Lisa works as a substitute teacher and fills her free time with books. She loves to read and recently was inspired to write. Writing was always something she loved, but never had an idea of where to start. Now that she’s started writing, there’s no stopping her.