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8. Everest

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My mother was convinced I was a drug addict. I overheard her rambling on the phone, probably to one of her old cheer buddies, with great concern for my behavior.

"He's slipping through the cracks," she said. Pause. "He reeks of weed." Pause. "Yes, I went into his room today and confiscated it."

I sighed, slightly bothered by the fact she was in my room, and majorly frustrated to wake up to her complaining about me. I rolled out of bed and threw on an outfit from the clothes already scattered on the floor. It was wrinkled and worn but I didn't mind. The sun assured me that I didn't completely sleep the day away, and sure enough, my bong and bud were gone from my nightstand. I knew exactly where to find them, though. My mom hid everything under her bed.

Careful not to be seen or heard, I slipped into her room, not in the mood for questions. Thankfully, my mom was still on the phone listing how disappointing I was. Crouching down, I looked and saw nothing but junk under her bed: gifts for Hadley, a few boxes, my dad's favorite ugly yellow tie, and, boom, my things.

I bent down and pulled but instead of my weed, it was a photo. My mind blanked.

He was in his favorite sci-fi fan shirt, smiling the width of Texas. It had been a year and three days, but it felt longer. There wasn't a single day when I didn't think about him. It happened so swiftly. I could be tying my shoe, and suddenly, I remembered that my uncle died in a car crash. Something deep prickled the inside of my stomach. I could have cried, but I held it back.

I looked again and noticed that the photo came from one of the boxes. Inside, it only revealed an old pair of his glasses and a small black notebook. I always thought my dad wasn't affected by my uncle's death in the slightest, but why would he have these things if that was the case? The thought ran away as quickly as it came. I grabbed the notebook and flipped it open. The curiosity swallowed me whole. The first page was labeled Confessions in his familiar chicken-scratch handwriting.

February 20, 2005

I don't know if I have the heart to tell my wife I hate her cooking.

June 2, 2003

I genuinely hate receiving compliments.

October 11, 2007

Maybe I should start my own radio show, conversations with myself are too good to not be displayed.

May 6, 1990

My father is a terrible person but I can't help but love him.

Page after page was another date and another confession. I knew I should stop reading, but I couldn't. I gorged myself on the words. I was back with my uncle, in a way. He was right beside me, with his messy hair and cheesy smile, telling me all of his secrets. I read and read until I heard my mom's voice growing closer and closer. I stuffed my belongings in my pocket along with the small notebook and left.

***

I stopped by the Basement, but Mikey was leaving for his dad's house for the week. And now I was even stopping by Brisklin Street because I didn't know where else to go. I drove around the street three times before I finally decided to go to the café.

Whether or not Beverly had a shift today didn't even cross my mind as I approached the quaint coffee shop. The closer I got, the more the internal battle inside my head increased. She had invited me to come, but I didn't think she'd meant so soon. Walking across the wet pavement, I pulled open the door. The warmth instantly surrounded me as I took in the place. Surprisingly, I was in a good mood. The first thing that caught my eye was the girl singing softly and playing her guitar on a stage. People were sitting at tables, either typing away alone on their laptops or having a cup of coffee with a friend. The place smelled like indescribable spices.

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