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With mere months left to go in high school,Michael is living the good life. He has good friends,a nice apartment, and has just been accepted to Harvard University for the fall of 2009. But when his best friend is diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer, Michael's attempts to maintain a hard work ethic and a true loyalty to his friends will be tested. "Sheltered" examines the life of a boy who had everything, and begins to lose it all out of an inability to cope with the reality of death.



This is a WORKING TITLE THAT COULD USE CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM. It is a novella, and my final project for my Creative Writing class. Critiques are welcome.

(Please no grammar critiques, those I can do on my own). View table of contents...


Chapters:

1 2 3 4 5

Submitted:May 27, 2012    Reads: 25    Comments: 2    Likes: 1   


I:

I awoke in my bed on a delicate spring morning in complete self absorption. My acceptance letter to Harvard had come yesterday evening, and I was ready to milk my success for the remaining days of high school. I sat up and let the morning chill greet my nudity. I walked out into my kitchen and treated myself to a heaping bowl of Fruit Loops, from a box I had bought the previous night as a personal reward. I sat my naked body on the couch and picked up the letter again, which was as smooth and crisp as the day I opened it. I read the first sentence a tenth time.

Dear Michael,

Congratulations! You have been accepted to Harvard University!

Justice, sweet justice. I hopped up and ran to my bathroom and prepared for the day. Afterwards I dressed myself in a clean ironed plaid shirt and a slim pair of shorts. I grabbed my book bag and walked out the door.

My old '82 red Chevy sat waiting for me in the parking lot. Rust lingered on the bottom patches of the vehicle, a battle scar from the previous winter. I gave a strong pull on the door handle, the hinges creaked, and I piled into the smell of dust and old carpet. The brown leather seats had begun to tear, but I didn't mind, this was my baby, my reliable amigo, was the one thing good my parents donated to me when they left. Took two tries per usual, but the truck started off and I puttered along to school.

The Facebook status was all I needed. Immediately I was greeted with high-five's and congratulations, I was the only one in this dump who had successfully been accepted to Harvard. Everyone else had been SUNY this and SUNY that, not I. My good friend Mitchell came up to me and gave me a bro hug, a hug that wasn't sincere enough to be viewed as intimate, but sincere enough to relay the message of good work. He had short cut jet black hair that was usually a mess. His eyes radiated a vagrant sort of blue that made him look like a lost puppy. He always wore short tight shirts despite him lacking the muscle mass for them, and wore shorts all year round despite the bitter cold winters.

"How'd you pull it off?" he asked.

"The big man upstairs must love me".

"How excited are you?"

"Think new born child excited".

I said it with such casualty Mitchell for a moment didn't know how to reply, but he blinked then patted me roughly on the back as congratulation.

He walked me to class, as he always did, his arm enveloped around my shoulders in bromance. Before heading off to his class he called back "You give me any shit about my acceptance to SUNY Brockport I'll fucking kill you!" I laughed, and would use this period to come up with as many Brockport zingers as my brain could store.

The class was English; the teacher was terrible, that's all that was needed to know upon walking in. I sat next to Jenna, the sweetest girl in my grade, and my best friend. She had thick curly red hair always done up in some fancy manner, a stout little nose, and swollen red tinted cheeks that would somewhat flop over her lips when they parted to smile. She was cute, that's all there was to it.

She greeted me with congratulations before asking how the Lacrosse game went after school yesterday. I never ended up going out of anticipation for my letter. She updated me with the gossip saying she heard that two girls got into a serious fight on the field and that 3 refs had to tear them apart. Good sportsmanship rang true at this school. During a 2006 wrestling match a kid stomped his opponent over the head causing permanent brain damage, in 2004 during a girls hockey game, one of our girls ripped out an opponent's weave and glued it to the inside of her locker as a trophy of war. The violence had become the only reason people went to sporting events anymore. Getting hammered before was always a good call, since it made every ounce of the carnage seem even crazier.

The bell rang and I stood up to leave. Jenna was finishing notes as I stood up so I waited for her to conclude. Once her things were packed up she grabbed onto the back of the chair for support and hoisted herself up with a deep breath out her nostrils. I noticed she wore jeans on an 88 degree day.

"Jenna, aren't you roasting?"

"Hm? Nah I'm alright" she said leading the way out the door. I quickly shook off the oddness of it all.

"You find a date to prom yet Michael?"

She asked with a mix condescension and sarcasm, she knew I detested the idea of prom, but that a reason for my hate was because I was too chicken to ask anyone to go.

"How about Michelle?" Jenna followed up 'I heard her date didn't pan out.' I grinned and kept walking in silence.

"Michael, come on, it's your prom! What are you going to tell your kids?"

"That I didn't go to prom".

"Your daughter will be so crushed to hear you say that".

"If my daughter is an average 18 year old, she will detest me to the near point of wishing she was adopted by a pack of wolves. My opinion won't matter to her."

"How about Melody? She's cute!"

"So I assume you're going with Bradley?" I said changing the subject. Jenna knew that if I changed the subject at any point in a conversation, there was no going back, so she sighed and grudgingly answered.

"Yeah"

"How long have you guys been dating now?"

"Oh like a year now I think".

"A year? God damn, I wish I was that committed to my truck".

"At least go buy a suit for crying out loud. You're going to prom."

"Hey I like my clothes!"

Jenna suddenly stepped away from my company, and ran up to her boyfriend. I said goodbye but she didn't hear me, or at least acted like she didn't. Her boyfriend was as thick as an angry Hulk Hogan. His veins were always pumping, his shirts were always stretching, and his pecks were always tinting through his clothing. He had a short buzz cut and shimmering blue eyes that Jenna loved. I heard he was a jerk but he had always been nice to me and, as far as I knew, nice to Jenna, so I paid no mind.

Mitchell called after me as I headed off to my next class. He smelled pungently of cigarettes. "You're lucky I actually paid attention today," I said "or I'd be roasting Brockport right now". Mitchell gave a condescending sarcastic laugh. "Had the worst math class, Ms. Lung is such a bitch. I had to step out for a smoke to calm my nerves. She told me to 'stop my bitchin' today, who says that?"

"Only two more weeks though and were home free".

"I guess so; it's been rough lately though. Mom has been getting on my case a lot about my grades."

"Your grades have been lousy all of high school, why does she suddenly care?"

"No, not like this, school has just been such a struggle lately".

"I know I'm with you on that one. I'm just so ready for college; intelligent women, interesting classes, teachers who know what they're talking about".

"Living on our own, partying every fucking weekend".

"Yeah just make sure you're alive so I can see you over breaks".

"Man you need to loosen up before you go off to Harvard, there's a party tonight, you and I are going. We're going to score you a prom date and a one night stand. Not necessarily being from the same woman".

"Whatever you say".

I walked into my next class without even a goodbye. Mitchell had always said that we were going to hit up "parties", but the idea would never pan out. Chances are we'd end up sitting at my apartment with Jenna smoking fat blunts and laughing at the people aimlessly walking outside. Don't get me wrong, those were some of the best times I have ever had in high school.

I returned to my apartment after school feeling exhausted. Thank God it was Friday. Never had a school week been so long. I made a bowl of Cheerios and sat at my kitchen counter, thinking of plans for the weekend. I could feel Mitchell's voice itching in the back of my mind. Getting into Harvard would score me some women no doubt, but it wasn't worth it. I don't think it would be worth the hassle. Who would drive? Well Jenna doesn't drink, but I can't ask that of her. Then again, it's not like she has anything better going on, Bradley has a lacrosse game tomorrow so he probably can't stay out late with her. No that's so rude of me how could I ask that of my best friend?

Before my mind was made up I had subconsciously dialed Jenna's number into my phone, and it began to ring. She picked up on the third ring.

"What's up?"

"Just relaxing, what are you doing tonight?"

"Nothing, Bradley has a lax game tomorrow so he can't see me, why?"

I felt my stomach do a small summersault, the opportunity had arose for once.

"Did Mitchell talk to you about that party?"

"Yeah it sounds stupid, why?"

I stalled before responding "yeah", Jenna immediately picked up on my hesitation.

"Jesus, you want to go don't you?"

"well-"

"And you want me to drive don't you?"

"Look if you don't want-"

"Derrick is home from college, I'll have him drive".

"Wait, does that mean-?"

"Yes"

"So pick me up at like 9:30?"

"Come over at 8:30, we can pre-game".

She hung up without a further response. My mouth was open in shock. Never had Jenna wanted to go out drinking much less drink before going out drinking. My phone vibrated once I had slid it in my pocket, it was Mitchell. I saw he had already called three times while I was on the phone with Jenna.

"Dude!"

"Yeah, I know!"

"Jenna Walsh is going out with us tonight!"

"I know!"

"See you at 8:30!"

He hung up, never had I been so wound up about a high school party. I needed to get out and stretch my legs to shake off this overwhelming heat. I couldn't stay pent up in this apartment for another four hours. I left without a final destination.

I wandered the local streets, my mind racing of all the possibilities tonight could bring. I could get laid, I could meet someone, and I could be the life of the party. One scenario frequented my mind of me winning a beer pong tournament and everyone hugging and squeezing me in sloppy drunken joy, such bliss. I sat down on a local park bench to cool myself off, and I noticed a young woman sitting by the river, reading a book. She wore a simple white tee and a pair of tight jeans. Her hair was the first aspect that drew me to her. It was long, brown, and thick with curls, and I watched as she tucked the sides of it behind her ear so she could see the pages in front of her. The circumstances relaxed me; she looked to be a sophomore in college, having some time to herself, like I was.

The sun glimmered onto her, highlighting the shimmers of her clean hair and the purity of her skin. A patch of clouds dispersed above me so the sun hit me too. The woman and I shared the leisure that the sun brought. She soon concluded her task and stood up to leave, and my feet remained planted to the ground. My mind told them to alter, to take steps towards the grace that was leaving my eyesight. Only with force and a small bead of sweat on my face was I able to call after her, mindlessly.

"Excuse me!"

The woman turned, her eyes were large and muddy brown. She looked petite and wholesome. Her skin was sleek and tan and her chin looked soft to the touch; as if I were to be touching the circumference of a balloon. She gave a vague polite smile that showed me that she heard my plea.

I still remained awkwardly seated. My palms had become clammy and my voice came out timid and soft, like a child asking his parents for a raise of allowance.

"What were you reading? I've been looking for a new book".

Her smile widened to expose her pearly white teeth. She first looked down in embarrassment and I could tell by her visage that she realized this was no brief polite encounter, that I had other motives. As she got closer I could smell a hint of lilac on her skin, she was truly beautiful.

"Crime and Punishment".

I could feel the awkward scent fermenting off my previous question. I clenched my jaw in embarrassment, yet I knew that if I tried to correct the inquiry I'd only make the situation worse. She gave an uncomfortable laugh before answering.

I'm sorry but I have to get to work. Maybe you could borrow it sometime".

"Oh where do you work?"

"Just at the Subway down the street".

I suppose I showed some look of surprise because she immediately corrected herself.

"It's only to help me pay my college fees!"

"Maybe I could stop by sometime".

She laughed and began backing away. "It's on Orchard Street, third building. I only work Wednesday to Friday though".

"I'll stop in next time I need some lunch!" I called after her.

"My name is Melissa by the way!"

"Mine's Michael!"

She mouthed the words Michael, getting used to the sound of it, as if she planned on saying my name later down the road. She smiled and waved goodbye, and turned to leave. She was tall, and the jeans stuck to her skin enough to protrude her fit legs. I felt someone punch me in the back of the shoulder and quickly knew by the ferocity of the punch that it was Mitchell.

He clumsily hopped over the bench and sat next to me, staring at me with mouth agape.

"Dude what was that?"

"Nothing".

"What did you guys talk about?"

"Nothing really, she was just showing me what she was reading".

Mitchell let out an uncanny laughter.

"Man you're so smooth now! What did that acceptance letter do to that best friend of mine?"

"He's still there, just more confident I guess. What are you doing here?"

"Same as you had to get out of the house on such a nice evening. The sun feels great".

"Yeah it does."

"So did you get her digits?"

"No but she told me where she works".

He held out his hand for a high-five which I met with a satisfying snap. Mitchell leaned back in the bench and craned his neck back to let his face soak in the sun. He closed his eyes and for a moment it was silent.

"Do you remember when we'd use to come here with our parents and go for bike rides?" Mitchell asked.

"Every Sunday".

"Every God Damn Sunday. I swear I have never sweated that much in my life."

I laughed, the memory hitting me like a freight train.

"I remember one Sunday you fell off your bike and scratched a scab off your leg. Only I saw and I didn't know what to do because I couldn't tell if you were laughing or crying."

"Well, I was laughing of course".

"A lot of tears ran down your face to be laughing".

"Yeah well it was really funny".

"Shut up. Anyways, your dad saw a few minutes later and ran back and picked you up and told you to 'throw some dirt in it', and do you remember I literally picked up a handful of dirt and threw it on your leg?"

"God I wanted to kill you".

"You chased me all the way back to the car".

We both continued to laugh. We continued reminiscing about our childhood together until the sun set at 8:00, at which point we decided to go our separate ways to get ready for Jenna's house. The earlier encounter with the woman left my confident and prepared to talk up any woman that walked my way. I was accepted to college; why not live it up a little while still in high school?

After showering and changing into a nicely ironed blue shirt and jeans I drove to Jennas house. Upon her answering the door I was assaulted by the volume of loud dance music and the potent smell of alcohol. Jenna wore a tight skirt that showed off her butt, and a low cut top. It was a very scandalous outfit for someone with a boyfriend. Her gentle swaying at the door told me she was already intoxicated.

"Hey Jenna"

"Hello" she said extending the 'O'. She beckoned me in with a wave of her left hand and a graceful bow, and she handed me a beer. Mitchell was inside and already drunk as well, yet more composed then Jenna, who bounced around the room to the music.

"Hey man"

"Hey long time no see" I joked. Mitchell gave a nod of his head towards Jenna.

"Do you see her?" he said with a laugh.

"I'm not sure if I can catch up".

We drank until 9:45 when Jenna's brother Derrick arrived at the door. My gentle swaying had begun when he walked through the door. "What is up Derrick!" I said and reached out my hand for a handshake, which he grudgingly accepted. I then became confused as to if I had actually greeted Derrick, or only thought I had. To make sense of it all I repeated myself.

"What's up Derrick?"

"Yeah, hey Michael. You guys ready to go?"

"Yeah man!" Mitchell cried from the bathroom. "Mike you should see how much I've peed tonight brother it's insane."

We arrived at the party at 10:11. I could hear from the outside that it was wild inside. We let ourselves in and sank in amongst the waves of classmates that populated the small area. It wasn't long before we were each swept our different ways. I got pulled into the kitchen by a drunken girl from my Math class who wanted to take shots with me. I took one, I took two, then stepped back to let my mind rest. The girl, who had beach blonde hair and an outfit similar to Jenna's, leaned up against me in a drunken daze.

"How do you have such high a grade in that class? Don't you think he's a dick?"

I assumed by "he" he was referring to our teacher, Mr. Bunker. After a few minutes of thinking I remembered that the young lady had asked me a question I had failed to answer. "Yeah, he's no good" was the most logical reply I could create. I then realized I had lost my good friends, and in a wave of apprehension I grabbed my new friend and dragged her through the bulky crowds of people to find my friends.

I soon ran into Mitchell, who also held a woman by the wrist. He greeted me in a large hug, as if we hadn't seen each other in years. The girl on my end and Mitchell's girl were apparently friends as well, and engaged in a loving embrace separate from us. Mitchell, who had to yell into my ear for any communication to succeed, said that he was taking that girl into the next bedroom and that I should join. The blonde haired girl on my arm must have heard him, since she squeezed my arm in confirmation and excitement.

We were soon led by the girls into separate bedrooms, where after departing yet again the blonde haired girl and I began making out profusely behind closed doors. Her top came off and I squeezed her large tight breasts. I slid my hands around her curvature to feel the hourglass warp of her hips. She undid my belt and slid down my pants before maneuvering her kisses down my neck and soon my bare stomach. I slid my hand down the back end of her pants feeling the smooth texture of her bare buttocks.

I climaxed after a short amount of time and soon escorted my friend, whose name was Michelle, out to the re-join the party. A drunken Jenna found me soon after and said her brother and Mitchell were waiting outside. My venture with Michelle ended a lot later than expected, it was nearly midnight.

I thanked Derrick profusely for dropping me off, who gave me a nod of affirmation as he struggled to convince a hyper Jenna to stay still. As if driven by instinct I let myself into my apartment and fell atop my bed in my clothes. I was out snoring before realizing I left my belt at the party.

Saturday casually came and went. I didn't wake up until about 1:30 in the afternoon so I had very limited time to conquer my hangover and do some homework before doing anything fun. I showered away the party slime from my skin and brushed the beer taste out of my mouth. By 2:30 I had eaten and was out the door.

The public library was always the quietest place in town, and the place where I always went on the weekends to do my homework. I found the confines of my apartment to be too distracting to truly focus on my work. I would always get sidetracked by Facebook or TV, here I could just put in the hours needed and get things done.

The silence was beckoning for a nap and my body began to respond rather quickly into doing my math homework. My limbs became soft, and my eye lids ten pounds heavier. I put my pencil down and rubbed my face, which only made it worse. I jumped as a book landed in front of me. "You look awful" Jenna said before sitting across from me. She looked as tired as I felt. Her hair was done up in a weak pigtail and had no makeup on.

"How are you feeling?" I asked.

"I've been better". She opened up her backpack and put some pile of papers on the table.

"Is that the math?" she asked me.

"Yeah, do you get it?"

"No, not really".

"Oh come on you're a wiz at math".

"I said I didn't get it".

"Here let's try one-"

"Alright, you know what, I can't focus with you making me feel guilty like this!".

I looked around before answering, confused as if she was still talking to me.

"What?"

Jenna took a deep breath before answering. "I made out with Mitch last night." My mind was blown. I struggled to comprehend the words needed to answer. So I just laughed. "It's not funny! Jesus Mike he's my best friend, our best friend! And I have a boyfriend!"

"Jenna relax did anyone see you?"

"Yeah, no, I don't fucking know! He's going to kill me Michael!"

Her face expressed legitimate concern, even fear. "Whoa, whoa, I'm sure no one saw, just relax and it'll blow over by Monday".

"God Bradley is going to kill me I just know it!"

Her eyes started to well up with tears, and her face went pale. She couldn't grasp the idea that there was no way for Bradley to find out if no one had seen.

I ended up leaving the library and calling Mitchell, wanting his side of the story. He of course didn't remember anything from last night and just asked if Jenna was a good kisser. I hung up immediately.

Due to this event the rest of the weekend passed without me seeing either of my friends. The tension between Jenna and Michael continued into Monday. I invited Mitchell out to lunch at a local pizza place to talk over how to bring him and Jenna back to good terms again. He politely agreed and said he'd meet me there at 12:15.

The pizza place we would always frequent was called Alonzo's pizza. I was good pals with Alonzo. He had come over to the U.S. with nothing more than 10 dollars in his pocket, and opened up the shop on his own. He was, in my opinion, a pizza formulating God, making the best Chicken Bacon Ranch pizza I had ever tasted. To my surprise Mitchell was already there eating his pizza slice when I walked in. I paid for mine and sat down next to him.

"What are you doing down here already?" I asked.

"I gave Jenna and Bradley a ride to the library, I swear dude those guys are going to get fucking eloped".

"No kidding. Was it awkward?"

Mitchell took a bite of his pizza and jumped as the hot cheese slid from the wet bread and smacked his chin.

"You have no idea. However, she did say goodbye to me when I dropped them off, that's progress." he said with a full mouth. I took the first bite of my pizza, the bread was soft and chewy, and the cheese creamy and velvety smooth on my tongue. The Bacon crunched on my teeth and the chicken did the same. Per usual it was the perfect combination of Bacon, Chicken, Ranch and cheese. When I regained consciousness after swallowing I stood up and got two cups of water.

I returned to the table to Mitchell rubbing his legs. "My legs have been killing me lately dude I should go to the doctor."

"What do you think it is?"

"Who knows, I'm getting old man".

I snorted at his joke.

"Don't worry about Jenna I'm sure she'll come around" I said.

"Is she still going to SUNY Fredonia?"

"Yeah, for Mechanical Engineering".

"Who figured?"

He said it with mockery. We all knew from the beginning Jenna was somewhat of a tomboy, just not enough to be classified as one to the outside world. It was a reason we enjoyed her company so much, she just understood us.

"Let's get out of here, I got class in 10 minutes" Mitchell said standing to throw his trash away. He patted me on the back.

"Thanks man"

"No problem".

On the way out Mitchell lost his footing and fell to the ground. Alonzo always had an oddly placed step before entering his parlor; Mitchell wasn't the first one to fall. When Mitchell tried to stand up however, he fell to the ground again, cringing in pain.

"Shit dude, I think I broke my leg".

"Some messing dude you just tripped, come on were going to be late."

"Holy shit Mike it hurts, I can't walk on it".

Tears slowly began to seep into his eyes, Mitchell never cried. I carried him to my car and drove him to the hospital.





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