Phone Home

Reads: 364  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is based on a personally true story of how two good friends suddenly face more than just a geographic difference in their lives.

Sam marveled at the stillness of the lake. As he and Antonio sailed acros it, smiles lit their faces. The two seventeen year olds both appreciated this boyhood dream. However, Sam could hardly see his friend as a boy anymore. A line had been crossed. He didn’t understand it, and they had failed before to articulate it. Until now, when they had the time and space to freely think of it. As Sam realized this, he saw an inexplicable aging overcome his friend, leaving Sam behind in adolescence. Antonio’s smile faded into a frown and he furrowed his brow. His jaw worked itself side to side, as if he was rolling each unspoken word through his mouth. It was only a matter of time before the darkest thoughts rolled off his tounge. If the man’s innocenece were to be damned, it would be now.


At Camp Greenwood, it was impossible not to make friends. Secluded in the woods of Maine and featuring activities from windsurfing to wakeboarding, it was the quintessential international summer retreat for priveleged young children between the ages of nine and fourteen. From the moment a child stepped into camp until the moment they left, almost nothing else in the world mattered to them besides their daily activities or the excursions they undertook.

Sam and Antonio were both thirteen years old when they first met. Having few similar interests, the two became fast friends over their common love of the camp itself, each thoroughly enjoying the other’s unique talents expressed through the various activities.

Sam had a full head of red hair dropping just over his eyes, and a tanned, lightly freckled complexion. He stood with a slim yet athletic build and blue eyes that complemented his energetic tone to form a compelling charisma.

Antonio kept a crop of black curled hair over a pale complexion with dark freckles and a prominent nose. Under his black hair lay brown eyes. His dimpled cheeks sprung up from his strongly outlined jaw, while a light black moustache shaded his upper lip. Rising a few inches above Sam in height, his lanky figure made their weight equal. Although somewhat quieter than Sam, his witty, brief remarks delivered in a suprisingly deep voice always seemed to carry the truth.

Sam was an only child who lived in a small California town. Antonio and his sister lived in the bustling streets of Bogota, Colombia. As a result of this contrast, Sam found himself enraptured by Antonio’s many stories of his home. Sam never thought to offer his own stories. From near scrapes in seedy backstreets to wild nights in clubs, Antonio’s life stories became Sam’s ultimate interest. It was easy to understand Sam’s obsession. For example, while Sam played Peter Pan in his school musical for politely clapping parents, Antonio played Slash on his shimmering, ruby Fender Stratocaster for uproarious applause. Sam told Antonio he would give anything to trade places with the Colombian. However, Antonio hinted at his wish for Sam’s safe and quiet hometown with American freedoms and values. They each complained of where and how they lived, yet also admitted to each other that they would never be able to call anywhere else home. The two boys from opposite hemispheres thought that they understood each other completely.

Years went by, and every summer the two boys reconnected for a month at camp before having to return to their homes again. The two friends soon became counselors at the camp. This was partly because they received good pay, but mainly because they had no other way to see each other.

One day during camp when Sam and Antonio were junior counselors and fifteen years old, Sam passed by the music room and stopped. The American camper was listening to the most patriotic American tune he had ever heard. Sam entered the studio to find Antonio strumming an electric guitar. Sam stood for a moment in wonderment as Antonio stopped and looked up. Antonio smiled and said to him, “Hey Sam. How’s it going?”

“Good,” He replied. Sam then blurted out, “That was awesome! Was that the Star Spangled Banner?”

Antonio nodded, still smiling. “Jimi Hendrix’s own cover. Never heard it?”

Sam shook his head, feeling ashamed. All Sam then wanted was nothing more in the world than to equal Antonio’s musical talent. He sat himself behind a drumset and brandished the drumsticks with a grin on his face.

“Alright,” Sam said with as much false confidence as he could muster, “Let’s go!”

Antonio raised his eyebrows in amususement, and then nodded at Sam.

“Give me a beat,” he suggested.

Sam began with an interpretive style of drumming in which there was no beat. Antonio waited. Sam gave a brief pause and some mumbled excuse about a defective footpedal. Antonio waited. Sam then resumed playing, this time with a steady beat. And Antonio began to play.

A million notes escaped the guitar all at once, Antonio’s hands a blur across it. Sam looked in awe from the guitar to Antonio’s face and saw a placid expression spread across his features as he played. Antonio’s head swayed, slowing down as he held specific notes in various intervals that always matched the rhythm. From producing repeating riffs to deftly executed bridges, Sam saw that the Colombian had soared far above the confines of a single piece. Sam then decided that this was an experience that couldn’t be labeled under any single genre, and instead put all such generalizations to shame. Sam’s mind then wandered far from the drumset. It jumped into a trekker’s boots, both ascending up to high peaks and descending down to deep valleys on respectively levelled notes. Well into the journey and while trekking up a steep peak, the ground fell out from beneath him. Sam fell back into his seat, and snapped his head up abruptly. Antonio sat frowning and shaking his head at him.

“Sam, where’d you go? You lost the beat,” Antonio chided.

Sam chuckled and cleared his throat while avoiding Antonio’s gaze.

“Sorry, got a bit distracted” Sam said.

They then heard the counselors call for dinner and automatically jumped out of the building, racing each other to the dining hall. From that point on, Sam determined that he needed to learn an instrument. But he never did.

Occasionally while eating at the dining hall, an adult administrator for the camp would come up to a camper and briefly whisper in the camper’s ear. While listening, the camper’s face would slowly shift from relaxed to worrisome. The camper would then slowly get up and walk out of the room, disturbed by the messenger’s interruption. Occasionally an American camper would be excited, but for most international students, especially the older ones, this was rare. This disturbance was a phone call. A phone call that meant for them the abrupt breaking of isolation that they had reveled in for every other minute of their stay at camp. A phone call where all their problems at home which they had tried to escape came rushing back suddenly. They feared for the worst of news in these phone calls.

One afternoon at camp, Sam and Antonio, now senior counselors at the age of seventeen, were dining together. Antonio was instructing Sam on how to windsurf against the wind. Sam was intently listening. All Sam wanted was not to be rescued by the instructor the next time he windsurfed. The smirks that the young campers gave Sam following the incidents were intolerable. Antonio was in the midst of teaching the skill Sam needed to avoid this embarrasment, when Antonio received the administrator’s whisper. Worry crossed Antonio’s face briefly as he rose to go answer the phone. Sam missed the look, and instead glanced out the window at boats sailing upon the lake.

Sam, ready to resume the windsurfing discussion, met Antonio near the dining hall after he got off the phone. Antonio’s resigned and solemn look was impossible to miss. Sam felt a sense of dread creep in, and possibilities dove into his head to explain his friend’s expression. Was his family in trouble? Was there a death in the family? Was someone close to him sick?

Antonio, reading Sam’s troubled expression, coldly responded, “I’ve been drafted into the military.”

Sam reeled with surprise, as if a ten-ton boulder had landed just a foot in front of him. The first image that popped into his head was a military chopper dropping into Camp Greenwood and snatching Antonio up by a rope. Then the image of Antonio in a dark, heavy helmet. The image of a gun slung where his guitar should be. The image of his deft fingers grimed, bloodied, and twisted by the horrors of war.

Sam imagined all this while looking into his friend’s brown eyes from which the Colombian’s thoughts seemed to be sluggishly swirling. Suddenly the swirling stopped, the thoughts stopped, and the silence stopped as Antonio mustered a few words.

“I’ve got to go talk to my sister,” he said emotionlessly before walking over to her.

Up until that defining moment, Sam had felt that the two friends had been able to sympathize with and comprehend everything the other had experienced. Now Colombia had wrenched Antonio back home, as he was to fight for a country whose control he was dying to escape. This much Sam understood, but it was unfathomable for Sam to give the gifted musician any comfort, as volumes of mistundertanding still separated them. Sam felt wickedly tricked by life; he had just found someone with whom he could share and understand everything and then abruptly shared and understood nothing.

A day later the skies were clear and the wind was softly blowing over the lake. Telling, turbulent ripples in the water invited the friends to set sail. They climbed into a beached small sailboat and shoved off. Sam maintained the jib, while Antonio manned the rudder and mainsail. When at sea, their work was in perfect concert, both boys ducking under the swinging boom in perfect unison on each turn. They also each took turns hiking out off the boat, throwing their weight against the wind’s force and over the side of the boat. This kept the boat moving smoothly, steadily, and speedily. After maneuvering through several ship battles and rock-infested waters, the boys found themselves alone on a calm stretch of the lake.

Sam first broke the silence with a light chuckle. He then confessed, “When I kissed Jasmin the other night, man, that didn’t go well at all.”

Antonio gave a confused look. He then laughed and said, “What are you talking about? She said it was amazing!”

“She said that? Then why’s she avoiding me?”

“I asked her, but she wouldn’t say.”

“Well, that’s over I guess.”

“I guess.”

Silence returned to the boat, as the boys’ thoughts dissolved from girls into the heaviness that had followed the two boys into the boat. Sam cursed himself for not choosing a more substantial topic, something that could save his friend from the unmentioned burden. Silence began to choke Sam, and he saw Antonio’s chest tightening also. Now the darkness descended upon Antonio, turning his grin into a grimace. Sam braced himself for the oncoming storm. If Antonio’s innocenece were to be damned, it would be now.

“My sister is scared for me,” Antonio mused, staring off the stern of the boat. Sam, bereft of siblings, remained silent, only nodding slowly. Sam then saw that the storm was approaching, a swirling whirlwind of pure thoughts and emotions battering the drafted teenager. Antonio turned and looked at Sam inquisitively. Full of pity, Sam’s eyes raised to meet his friend’s.

The Colombian teenager made an attempt to see the entirety of Sam’s life, what he would and wouldn’t become, what he had ben as well as hadn’t, and compared it to his own had been’s and will be’s. After searching long and hard into Sam’s eyes and expressions, he shook his head in defeat. There was no scale with which to compare anything. There was nothing to relate to in Sam’s life. There was no hope in finding true, understanding sympathy from the friend who knew him the most.

“In two months I must go fight for two years,” Antonio said while watching Sam, whose gaze then shied towards the ground, “I must fight for those who I hate, those who don’t have any idea who I am, or what I want to be. A musician. Not a soldier.”

Sam looked up at Antonio and replied, “And you’re going to be a damn famous musician, too.”

Antonio frowned and shook his head. Shifting his sight towards the front of the boat, the musician then stated, “I’m scared.”

Sam had no time to reply as his lungs deflated by what he saw next. Right before his eyes, his friend was slowly picked clean and replaced by a hardened shell of who he was, gone the courage and confidence, gone the energy and eagerness, gone everything that had made Antonio the fun, friendly kid Sam had known. His face looked hollow and sunken, his eyes empty. Sam looked away, yet the image of Antonio’s transformation firmly burned itself within his mind. Sam knew that he’d never see his old friend again.

They silently turned the boat and sailed into shore. The sailors mechanically disassembled the boat, firmly holding the silence. They then walked back on the beach with arms across each other’s shoulders.

The lifeguard, following them in as the sun set, saw the two counselors’ fresh footprints as well as two pairs of tracks that had been made earlier, and made a strange observation. He saw that the earlier ones were stamped much shallower than the Sam and Antonio’s current tracks. As a result, he believed that the earlier tracks belonged to kids much younger than the seventeen year olds. In truth, both sets belonged to the American and the Colombian.

Submitted: January 26, 2014

© Copyright 2020 ihopeyouenjoyitasmuchasido. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

More Literary Fiction Short Stories

Other Content by ihopeyouenjoyitasmuchasido

Short Story / Literary Fiction