Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dvorak Classic: Chapter Twenty Four

Dvorak Classic
Chapter 24 (or, "Mac's Mom")

Yesterday’s Episode: After Washington Heights disappeared, Mac and Carissa went to his home in Coney Island.
     Carissa couldn’t hear a thing.
    She wished she had a drinking glass, like in all of those television shows that depicted people being able to listen by putting a glass up against the door. But Mac’s bonus room was strangely well put together and, while the gaming systems were kind of in a heap on the floor, there wasn’t a dish in sight. Curses.
    But she stayed patient and waited, seeing if anything would change. At least if Mac came back she would get some answers --
    “Well, why didn’t you just tell me?” That voice did not sound good. Carissa clenched her teeth. Was Mac not supposed to have girls over? Never mind that this was an emergency of otherworldly proportions.
    Then, the door opened without any warning, and because Carissa had been leaning against it, she tumbled over and into a woman who must have been Mac’s mom. She was short, with brown hair, incredibly white, and with a glazed look in her blue eyes. And in that moment, Carissa understood.
    “Well, looky here!” Mac’s extremely drunk mother said with a smile. “You did bring someone home!”
    Carissa could hear Mac saying “It’s not like that” in the background, but apparently his mother’s ears weren’t working at the time. She smiled at Carissa. “And she’s hot, too! Look at her. Who wouldn’t want to take her home! About time, too. Make yourself at home here, sugar. Do you want anything to drink?”
    Carissa raised an eyebrow. Was she being objectified? By Mac’s own mother? What was going on here?
    “We only have water, Mom,” Carissa heard Mac’s voice somewhere else in the apartment.
    “Nonsense,” Mac’s mom said again as she stepped into the game room, effectively trapping Carissa in it. “I’m sure we can find her something. What’s your name? Are you a classmate?”
    Carissa never got a chance to even think about asking. Mac had grabbed his mother by the shoulders and spun her around, nearly picking her up and escorting her out of the room. “I told you not to come in here,” he said. “This is my room, Mom. You said so yourself.”
    Mac’s mom turned from jovial to cross. “Oh, so you think that just because you’ve got your girlfriend over here means you can --” then a word Carissa didn’t want to think about -- “around all you want in your extra room?”
    Mac didn’t say anything else. He took Carissa by the hand and pulled her aside. “Get some sleep, Mom,” he said as he went out the door and out of the apartment, Carissa now behind him. Mac’s mom was now screaming, but Carissa didn’t pay any attention to her words. The entire situation was making her dizzy.
    Before she knew it, Mac had led her up the stairs in the apartment building and through a barricaded door with an emergency exit handle on it. The door did not ring, though, and she and Mac were on the roof, above the other buildings in the area. Carissa could see the Manhattan skyline from where she was.
    She took a breath. “I have a feeling I missed something.”
    Mac took a breath. “So yeah, that’s my mom.” He gave a nervous laugh, and she gave a nervous laugh, and then they were both laughing.
    “Are you sure we’ll be okay?” Carissa asked.
    “Yeah. Mom will rant on about this to herself for a while, and then she’ll go to sleep, and I’ll take you back in and lock you into the room. You’ve got your cell phone, so you’ll just have to text me if you need to use the bathroom. My mom can be kind of...”
    “I can see,” Carissa interrupted. “You’re sure the alarm won’t go off?” she asked, referring to the door.
    Mac nodded. “It never does. I come up here in the summer to think a lot. Usually too cold in the winter.”
    “I noticed,” Carissa said, pulling her arms around herself. “Certainly gets windy up here.”
    “It’s cold because we’re high up, but we’re also near the ocean.” Mac touched Carissa’s shoulder and moved her to the side, showing her the other view from the roof. The parks were dark, but beyond that Carissa could only see the dark, moving mass of the ocean, stretching out to the horizon line.
    “Wow,” Carissa said at the same time Mac said, “It’s better during the day. You can actually see stuff then.”
    “But still, it’s really cool.” Carissa turned back to Mac. “So your mom works all the time?”
    He nodded. “Always comes home like that, too. She’s smart enough at this point that she prepares for it, makes sure she can get home in one piece, but I still worry about her. It’s gotten worse lately with the troubles we’ve been having, since the storm. I’m afraid I’m gonna get called into the office one of these days and there will be an officer waiting for me.” He was silent for a minute, then added, “I don’t know what I would do without her.”
    Carissa finally confronted the elephant in the room -- or, in this case, on the roof. “You haven’t mentioned your father.”
    “That’s because there’s no reason to.” Mac took a deep breath. “I wasn’t actually born in America. My mom and I emigrated from Ireland before I can remember. My father was in the military and was supposed to join us.” A pause. “Of course, things don’t ever go according to plan. I don’t even remember him.”
    Carissa was silent for a moment. “I’m sorry,” was all she could think to say.
    “No reason to be. These things happen, and there’s nothing you can do about them. Besides, he’s the one who decided to be in the military. Though I wish the American government hadn’t started the war that got him killed in the first place.”
    Carissa thought for a minute, then answered him. “Your family and mine, they’re not all that different. My grandparents came from overseas looking for a better life, just like your family did. I think a lot of New Yorkers have that in common, actually. We’re all from different areas of the world, but we all come together in this city.”
    “You’re right,” Mac said, and then he took out his outer jacket that he had been wearing and draped it over Carissa’s shoulders.
    She gave him a surprised look. “What was that for?”
    “You were shivering. I’m not sure you even realized it.”
    “Oh.” She blushed. “I’m sorry.”
    “Again, no need to apologize.”
    “I mean about the shivering.”
    “Oh, that. It’s okay.” Carissa felt her face color again. Why was she feeling this way? Was it because everybody always said stuff about her and Mac? Or did she actually feel something? She thought back to the conversation she had had with Mac back at the Saint Arbucks. Back then, she had been blowing the entire thing out of proportion...or had she been?
    “Mac?” she asked, breaking their silence.
    “Do you think...that...” She didn’t know how to say anything without seeming weird. This was awkward. “I don’t know. Nevermind.”
    It was quiet for a moment. Then, Mac spoke. “I never anticipated that any of this could have happened,” he said. “But it did. I just wanted to live a quiet life in Coney Island, and then I started noticing changes. And you were the only one who saw the world I did. It’s almost like fate, though. Our families are similar, and, well, you’ve put up with me for this long.” He laughed. “I just hope that after all this ends, neither one of us disappears to wherever Peter went, or you don’t end up forgetting me or something. In fact, that would rather suck.”
    And those words stuck out more than any others had. Carissa gave Mac a hug, then was surprised to find the hug returned. She had never properly realized how alone he had been before; she was probably his first friend in a long time. That explained why he was helping her so much; anything else was all blown out of proportion.
    Until he broke the hug and kissed her on the forehead, looking into her eyes. “Just...don’t forget me.”
    Carissa forgot how to breathe, and was sure that Mac might kiss her, until his face changed to confusion and he spoke. “Is your butt vibrating?”
    “What?” Carissa asked, but realized it was her phone. She pulled it out and was incredibly relieved to see who was calling. “¿Dios mio, dónde era?” she asked on the phone.
    “Shut up and put me on speaker,” Isabel said. “I assume you and Mac are together.”
    “We are,” Carissa said as she pushed the speaker button. “Say hi, Mac.”
    “Hey, Isabel,” Mac said with relief. Isabel must have stayed in the Upper West Side after school, a fact that saved her from going into limbo with the rest of Washington Heights.
    Isabel’s voice came out chipper. “So, have you kissed her already?”
    Mac looked embarrassed as Carissa spoke. “Dios mio, girl!”
    “I’ll take that as a yes. Where are you guys? I went shopping after school and just now tried to get home. Did you cause this?”
    “We didn’t kiss, we’re at Mac’s apartment in Coney Island, and no, I didn’t cause this.” Carissa sighed, then turned to Mac.
    She didn’t even have to ask. Mac grinned. “Did I mention the couch in the extra room is a pull out couch?”
    “I knew there was a reason I liked you,” Carissa said to Mac, then turned back to the phone. “Isabel, I’ll text you the address. Get here as quick as you can, considering it’s a Friday night in the city. We need a plan to get that Bible back and stop these messes as soon as possible. I want my nabe and my parents back.”

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