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Standing In Shadows - 6. Chapter 6


I didn’t know if Mom had finished the to-do list Dad had made for me this morning. I hated that we were suddenly working against him, if he found out about that it wouldn’t be Mom who was punished. It would be me. I would be the one scraping dried gum off the pavement with a toothbrush or some sort of difficult meaningless chore. He needed for me to learn every lesson he thought I had to learn. I wasn’t well adjusted to Mom’s new tactic of under minding him. I felt the urge to go over and look at the garage that was supposed to be spotless. I also felt that I needed to call up the rest of the football team and get them out for a game of flag football.

“So,” Mom said and I hadn’t noticed her standing in the doorway. I got as far as the kitchen for a refreshing glass of water. I was still wearing Greg’s gym shorts. I suddenly felt naked though.

“I didn’t run into the river again,” I responded fearing a lecture from her.

“The smile told me that,” she said. “It doesn’t explain that my son keeps coming home in clothes he didn’t leave wearing though.”

“Got wet again,” I answered vaguely.

“What all did you do today?” Mom asked seemingly amused, and wanting to push for answers. She was still a mother, behind her new alliance with me.

“Greg took me to the lake, a grassy area and we were playing Frisbee when I noticed I was covered in ticks,” I explained trying not to grin. “Being that the lake was the closest relief we took the plunge.”

“Bet that was cold,” she said laughing slightly. “It takes the lake most of the year to warm up for that sort of thing.”

“So I couldn’t put on my clothes, they were infested,” I said then pointed down to the shorts. “Thankfully Greg had extra clothes in his jeep or I’d be wearing my wet underwear home.”

“What am I going to do with you?” Mom asked rolling her eyes. “I give you freedom and you can’t keep out of trouble.”

“Just ticks Ma,” I countered smiling. “Want to check to see if they’re not crawling in my hair?”

“I am tempted, but you smell like dirty water again,” Mom answered. “I’ll check them when you’ve showered your father can’t see you like this again today.”

“Oh, shouldn’t I be covered in oil?” I asked crossing my arms and leaning against the kitchen counter.

“I sent him on a day trip with your uncle,” she answered rolling her eyes. “He wouldn’t know who cleaned the garage.”

“Won’t he ask around?” I asked feeling nervous about him finding out what I’ve been up to. Defying him would be a terrible thing to do.

“Not if he knows what’s good for him,” she answered winking at me. It didn’t make me feel any better. I think she sensed that because she crossed the small living room into the kitchen and hugged me to her. “I’ve known your father forever dear, he’s just all growl and no bite.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I stammered letting out a sigh. “I better get the lake off me.”

“Yes, because Son, you stink,” she agreed playfully. I wrinkled my nose and she smacked me on the shoulder as I stepped away from her and towards the bathroom. I took the shorts off and studied them in my hand thankful that I wasn’t clutching my wet underwear. I just didn’t like seeming to always run into trouble when I hang out with Greg. We were two for two so far and I didn’t want to look ahead. This time though, it was light and I actually enjoyed the frigid water. It wasn’t against my will like it had been with CJ.

I let the shorts drop and gave my body a closer inspection for any ticks still living. I ended up running my hand over all the tiny moles dotted across my body. None of them any larger than the almost microscopic ticks and I was relieved that none of them seemed to be moving. It still didn’t stop the itching sensation that covered my body set off by my imaginative mind. I turned the hot water on and stepped into the shower. The day had been interesting to say the least. I never really thought I would be dancing a slow clumsy waltz with a guy. That it was possible that through all the nerves, I enjoyed it. Friends are supposed to have fun, that’s why they’re friends.

As I washed my hair, smelling the lake mix with the lathering shampoo I closed my eyes and tried to feel for any ticks. It was probably hopeless, but at least my short brown hair wouldn’t be able to hide them well when Mom would go through it. The water was starting to cool as I got out of the shower, I really didn’t intend to take such a long one, but I had a lot on my mind. The day was barely half way finished, just before I would be having dinner. I would still be at work this time of day. I would sometimes have dinner brought over on a plate for me when I had to close around nine. I liked the freedom, but after the shower I didn’t know what to do with myself.

When I was dry and into a pair of clean boxer briefs and shorts I walked out of the bathroom to find Mom waiting for me on the couch. She looked over her shoulder at me and offered me a smile. I walked around the end of the couch and noticed that she had a pillow in her lap and a fine tooth comb in her hand. She was really going to look through my head for remaining ticks, even though it wasn’t likely any were still there.

“Ready for me?” She asked when I didn’t move from the end of the couch.

“Don’t you need to get back to the store?” I asked and she shrugged her shoulders.

“You know old man Walter is better than a security camera,” she answered laughing. “I won’t be gone long, I just need breaks from that store too.”

“Sorry you’re working all alone,” I stammered feeling guilty that I was out having fun while she worked.

“It’s what I love doing, it just get tedious sometimes, like all good things,” she responded and I smiled. I walked over and sat next to her on the couch then slid down, putting my head on the pillow. I was on my side so that she could check the side of my head first.

“Do you think Dad will push Jenny on me anymore?” I asked. I wanted to see what she looked like before she answered, but I didn’t move my head. She was combing through it with the comb and her fingers. It felt good, it reminded me as a boy when things were simple. She would check my hair a lot. Living out in the country meant dealing with these things. I was always getting into everything when I was younger as well.

“So you really don’t like her?” She asked and I finally shook my head.

“Not anything against her though,” I answered not wanting to talk about her now that I brought her up.

“Your father will push you Corey,” Mom stated, answering my first question. “You don’t have to follow that rule either though, date who you want to date.”

“Yeah,” I sighed. “Or be single.”

“Or that,” she agreed chuckling. “Of course I would raise you to be scared of girls.”

“I’m not scared,” I defended grimacing.

“Oh don’t be defensive, I would rather you take it slow than, well…” she started, but then let the idea not run its course through her mind. She didn’t have to, I already knew what she was thinking.

“I’m not like that at all, no worries,” I said and I heard her breathe a sigh of relief.
“So, tell me about your new friend,” She said, changing the subject. I didn’t want to talk about him either. I was beginning to wonder if any subject was safe around Mothers when you’re my age.

“He’s in for Sara’s wedding,” I said shrugging my shoulders as she returned to my hair.

“Not the groom is he?” She asked and I thought she’d be up to date on all the gossip by now.

“Best man,” I answered remembering what part he had to play.

“Is he a good boy, good head on his shoulders?” She asked and I wanted to shrug, not really knowing him all that well.

“He hasn’t offered to sell me pot yet,” I answered smiling.

“A good sign,” she agreed laughing her soft little laugh that I liked. She didn’t think it was something she should laugh about, but couldn’t stop herself from being amused. It wasn’t like her normal laugh, the one she had when something was truly meant to be funny. That one could be heard a half mile away as she put all of her little body into it, and I remembered that when I was young, I tried really hard to keep her laughing like that. I wondered if she missed it and being the only child she had, I wondered who filled her days with that kind of joy. I felt guilty again, when we worked together in the store, we would make each other laugh.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to work in the store?” I asked feeling my stomach tighten.

“Honey you don’t have to keep me happy, I am happy,” Mom answered and I felt my face getting hot. She let out the golden laugh I loved then, when she noticed my lightly tanned face turning red.

“How’d you know I was thinking about that?” I asked as she stopped combing through my hair.

“Well I know you Riley Corey Wells, you try to make everyone happy,” She answered as I sat up to look at her. She wasn’t making me feel any better about not working. “And Honey, you fill my life with happiness everyday.” I heard the shaky sound in her throat as she spoke to me. I knew she was about to start crying. I felt bad, but good at the same time. I leaned in and kissed her cheek and she patted me on the top of her head. Then when I sat back on the couch she stood and threw the pillow playfully at my chest. I looked up at her and she was still smiling at me. “So stop treating your freedom like a prison sentence and get out of the house.”

“Fine,” I stammered and followed her out the front door. She walked back to the store and I stood on the porch not really knowing what to do with the rest of the day still. Working at least made the days go by.

I decided to at least make Dad happy with some sort of mind clearing exercise. I had changed into my sneakers and I put one foot at a time up on the railing of the porch to check the laces. After securing them tightly so they wouldn’t come untied I jogged down the wooden steps and turn onto the road leading away from town. This part that I would be jogging on, would be less curvy and a lot less hills. The summer heat was already soaring though, so I knew I would be sweaty in no time. Not wanting to soak my shirt I took it off and stuffed as much of it I could into my back pocket. I liked showing off my body anyway. The heat bothered me more than the exercise, I was used to having my ass kicked up and down the field by my father in practices. The heat though had made sweat begin to drip from the top of my head into my eyes. I hadn’t put on a sweat head band, the jogging being an on the fly idea.

It was nice though, to have this time to think without displeasing anyone. Dad would hate me in my room, and really, Mom had warned me not to stick around the house. So traveling at a comfortable speed down the road, my heart beating strong in my ears and the hot summer air being sucked in with each breath I felt relaxed. The afternoon in the lake did come back to my mind. The way Greg looked at me when I had missed dunking his head, seemed strange to me. I also didn’t expect him to close his eyes, and I hated it worse when I felt the urge to close mine as well. I had remembered forgetting how to breathe, even though I could feel his breath on my chin and collar bone. It felt warmer than my cold skin. I wanted to know what he was thinking, especially when he collected his thoughts and backed away from me to swim to the shore – ending our swimming. It was a smart idea, getting out of the frigid water though, so I didn’t think too much about it.

The sound of an approaching car made me focus ahead of me. When I noticed that it was Jenny and her older sister Sara I wanted to turn away from them and pretend I hadn’t seen them. It would be a weak attempt at avoiding them though, especially when I saw Jenny smiling at me and her sister staring. I hated when I saw Jenny motion for her sister to stop, so I slowed down my jogging, knowing that this would cut my jog short. Stopping in the middle of a jog is the worst thing a person can do, it gives the body time to regulate. The endorphins caused by my jogging would be wearing off as the seconds of stillness passed by. I couldn’t ignore them though, word would get back to Dad.

“Hey stud,” Jenny beamed leaning over Sara to talk to me. Sara only rolled her window down half way, hoping to keep me from leaning against the car and getting sweat on it. She was so materialistic, I felt sorry for the guy who was about to be married to her. I also didn’t like the way her eyes ticked across my chest and down to my shorts, but I just shrugged my shoulders and focused on Jenny.

“Hi Jen,” I responded, trying to catch my breath so I could speak clearly.

“What in the hell are you doing jogging? It's like a hundred degrees out,” Jenny said and I rolled my eyes chuckling.

“This is nothing compared to summer camp,” I countered leaning my hand across the top of Sara’s red ford Mustang. I saw her frown and I ignored her.

“Want to go to the pool with me? We’re just getting back from our final dressing,” she said sounding hopeful. I looked down at the ground pretending to think about it. I knew I couldn’t turn down an invitation from her, not again.

“Sure Jen,” I said, “just give me time to get back home and changed.”

“Right,” she said seemingly chewing on her lower lip.

“We have to go now,” Sara said and hardly waited for me to get out of the way before she sped away. I turned and crossed the road heading in the direction of the house. I decided to just walk, to make the time pass so I didn’t have to spend a lot of time with her. I also didn’t want a confrontation with CJ and Clinton, and I knew they hung out a lot at the pool. That or the very small country club, the property was just large enough to have a nine hole golf course. It was what CJ liked to do, and that was fine, I hated golf so I had no need to become a member. Dad was the only one who frequented it, when he wasn’t at the Diner bragging about his old high school days with his old friends over a round of beer.

Getting back home, Dad’s car was in the drive way and when I walked into the living room he was sitting on the couch watching old game tapes, already getting prepared for summer camp, I was sure. He probably was going to schedule it early now that I wasn’t doing anything around the house or at the store. When he saw me he looked up and looked confused. Then he smiled.

“Atta boy,” he grunted holding up his beer then taking a drink. “Getting a head start on conditioning.”

“Right,” I offered, the sweat still running down my chest. I took my shirt out of my back pocket and headed on past him to my room.

“Jenny called,” He bellowed when I closed my door. “Said to hurry your ass up, so she can come get you.”

“Ok,” I yelled back as I stripped out of my sweaty clothes and changed into my swimming trunks and flip flops. I grabbed a pair of sunglasses on my way out and when I was in the living room he was on the phone with her telling her that I had arrived home. He looked over his shoulder then told her that I was ready to go. He made her promise not to cripple me; he seemed more flirtatious with her than I had ever thought possible for me. It kind of made me sick that he was diving into my relationships now, like a drunken match maker. I wanted to snatch the phone from his strong grasp, but knew that would be the last thing I would do with my hands. I decided to ignore him, even if it was difficult after stepping out on the front porch. I thought about going and telling Mom what he had pulled, speeding up my time with Jenny. A girl that I had no intentions being more than friends with.

When she arrived in her silver Honda I got up and walked to the passenger side. By now a lot of the sweat had dried and I didn’t worry about getting her seat dirty. She had a towel set up for me anyway, and I smiled as I slid into the seat. I looked ahead reaching for my seat belt and noticed Dad giving me a thumbs up. I rolled my eyes when I looked down to latch the belt securely, knowing he wouldn’t see the annoyance cross my face.

“This is great, hanging out,” Jenny said smiling over at me.

“Yeah,” I offered, forcing a convincing as possible smile. The air was on and it sent goose bumps up my arms and over my chest. I felt my nipples becoming erect and I fought back the urge to relax my chin, knowing it would chatter.

“I cannot imagine you being any more hotter than you were on that jog,” Jenny commented as we started towards the small public pool.

“Thanks,” I smirked feeling the embarrassment flush across my face but she didn't seem to notice it. I was hoping my cheeks were still reddened from my jog.
“Don’t I look pretty?” She asked and I looked at her, studying what she had on. She was wearing a dark green string bikini that looked like it was too small for her boobs, as they hung out on the bottom and on the top. I couldn’t imagine anyone actually being able to swim in something like that.

“You look hot,” I lied, still thinking how funny it would be if she dived. No way it would stay on and I knew this swimsuit was meant to hypnotize me into letting her back into my life. It wasn’t working, it just made me nervous as I knew things were just going to get more complicated for me, when it came to her. At least my closest friends were away, because right now I could hear their light hearted insults when I didn’t take her behind some bush and tore all our clothes off as they just knew they would do it in my shoes.

“How’s your Mom?” She asked making small talk as we slowly crept toward the pool. She was taking her time and we had actually formed an impatient small line of traffic behind us. I was expecting a horn to blow, but it never came.

“She’s alright,” I answered. “Still working at the store.”

“You know, I didn’t understand why she quit working there,” Jenny said and I looked away from her and rolled my eyes. She didn’t take the hint though. “I mean, she can’t buy herself pretty things at all, and you guys gave up that big house in town.”

“Yeah,” I said letting out a sigh, trying to calm myself.

“And she can’t give you what you deserve, you did so much and didn’t really even get paid for working there,” she added. “I would think she was being selfish.”

“I liked working at the store,” I snorted shooting a glare at her not hiding my feelings. My mother was the best person in my world right now and no one was going to put her beneath anyone else in this shitty town.

“Oh so you’re a momma’s boy,” Jenny joked trying to soften the tense atmosphere in the car. She did speed up and in no time after my explosion we were in the parking lot of the pool. A lot of the smaller kids were away, having come early with their parents and now left. Now it was just the lingering single adults and the classmates from school. I didn’t feel the need to apologize and she didn’t either, neither of us lingering in the car. I followed her to the pool and she set up her lounge chair by placing her towel over it, to keep the hot plastic from burning her when she laid down. She expected me to stick around the water’s edge and talk to her, but I grabbed a donut shaped floating device and started up the stairs leading to the water slide. It was huge and it emptied out into a slow moving current. I would relax and follow the current, forgetting all about Jenny.

When I was at the top I looked down and saw her shading her eyes to look up at me. She half-heartedly waved and offered me a smile, I walked away and took my turn to go down the large twisting blue slide. The slide was short and sweet, nothing that fascinated me anymore, but I remember as a kid it was my favorite thing to do here. Now I just slid my sunglasses over my eyes and laid back on my donut and looking up at the sky. It was a clear day, like most days in the summer here. Very few clouds were in the sky, and those that were, looked like cotton balls.

“Hello stranger,” someone said and I looked and saw that Greg had snuck up on me. He was walking slowly beside me in his forest green trunks. It would’ve matched Jenny’s swimsuit.

“You scared me,” I said not greeting him. I only splashed him, and laughed when he attempted to dart out of the way. He didn’t retaliate like I expected, just grabbed a neglected doughnut and awkwardly slid on it. He held on to my float so that we wouldn’t separate, by putting his foot on my foot. The touching made me want to slide my foot away, but I didn’t. He seemed relaxed enough, so I wasn’t going to make the situation change.

“Come here with the girl?” He asked smiling innocently.

“You knew that already, since you’re a guest in her house,” I answered, my eyes narrowing, but he didn’t notice through my dark sunglasses. He seemed caught and looked at me carefully.

“So I came to save you, since she was drooling,” He stammered reaching over and nudging me. It caused our feet to slide away from one another and I bounced off the wall and back towards him. He grabbed hold of my float again then pushed it out from under me. I hit the cold water completely for the first time and came up with a shudder. My sunglasses had slid down my nose and I shook them, trying to get the lenses dry.

“Fuck head,” I hissed retaliating by dumping him. Then I walked and retrieved my donut as it had floated away. He did the same, when he came up for air and we settled back down, a silent, but wary truce falling over us both.

“Going to ask her to the wedding?” He asked and we both looked across the area to where she was sitting in the lounge chair. She looked annoyed and I shuddered when I realized she had been watching me the entire time. This time I felt caught and I wanted be anywhere else but at the pool, with her there.

“She’s going to be there regardless,” I answered shrugging. “No reason to latch myself to her anyway.”

“To suit your father,” He countered chuckling when I shot him a glare.

“Are you wanting to be dunked again?” I asked crossing my arms over my wet chest, finding it funny that I keep getting wet around him.

“Nah, I’m good, the last one refreshed me,” He answered shrugging his shoulders then folding his arms behind his head. He looked relaxed and I sighed and looked ahead, letting the gentle current take us on down to the other side of the river pool.

“I’ve made a mess out of this whole thing,” I whispered aloud hoping he didn’t hear it after it escaped my lips.

“Just tell her how you feel,” he said shrugging. “Then stop caring if she ends up with CJ, high school romances don’t last.”

“Right, the kid thing again,” I added frowning.

“No, not that,” he said laughing. “I’m way past that, and ‘sides I was in high school not long ago myself, I know how it is.”

“Sure, sure,” I offered studying him from behind my sunglasses. He looked like he was trying to soothe my mind and I had to fight a smile. I did look away and smile anyway, hoping he didn’t see it. It was nice knowing I had a friend that just wasn’t hanging out with me to escape the boring pre-wedding festivities.

“I really am,” He said in a hushed tone then he looked annoyed. “Come on, let’s get out of here.”

“Where are we going?” I asked, but he ignored me and I had no choice but to follow him. We walked to the side and pulled ourselves onto dry land. I ignored Jenny’s frown, she looked like she was about to yell out for me, but let me go. I did what I was told with out fighting against the urge to stay with Jenny. He never didn’t say anything, just handed me a spare towel since I had neglected to bring one. I wanted to laugh that I was again unprepared, but I didn’t. When we were no longer dripping we got into his jeep and he was still quiet, not wanting to talk he turned the volume up and the music made it impossible for me to talk. I wanted to question him again, but he looked relaxed in the seat now, so I wasn’t as worried. I just didn’t have any idea what was happening and my heart began to race with anticipation.

Copyright © 2014 Krista; All Rights Reserved.
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Everyone wants something for Corey. What does Corey want? Is he about to find out?

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Oh crap. He just bailed on Jenny for a guy. A guy she "probably" knows is gay. Oh crap oh crap oh crap! And I'll bet his dad hears about it.


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On 03/11/2014 10:18 AM, ricky said:
Oh crap. He just bailed on Jenny for a guy. A guy she "probably" knows is gay. Oh crap oh crap oh crap! And I'll bet his dad hears about it.


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I agree with Greg, Corey needs to make sure Jenny understands there´s no way they´ll ever be more than friends. Corey seems very clueless about Greg and about himself, too. Wonder how long will it take before Greg makes a move :P

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Corey does seem to be adding fuel to the fire that is his and Jenny's friendship. In the end all could go wrong because Corey wasn't honest with her, but at the same time Jenny was seen with CJ so....

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Jenny seems a bit like how he described her sister Sara as she doesn’t seem to have the best personality considering the way she was talking about Corey’s mother. I also doubt her former claims about just being friends with CJ and I find her statement about how everyone likes both CJ and Corey yet they don’t get alone with each other ridiculous as CJ’s friends don’t seem to like Corey either nor did anyone even say a word to Corey let alone stand up for him regarding them tossing him into the river. I’m sure things like those parties CJ is able to throw and get away with likely contribute to his popularity more so than his amazing personality 🙄. Corey seemed aware and ashamed he was checking Greg out in a previous chapter so I’m guessing on some subconscious level he realizes he likes men yet his reaction to things like Jenny’s appearance in that bakini for instance makes me think he’s gay rather than bisexual yet he is likely still oblivious to this on a conscious level.

Edited by NimirRaj
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19 hours ago, NimirRaj said:

Jenny seems a bit like how he described her sister Sara as she doesn’t seem to have the best personality considering the way she was talking about Corey’s mother. I also doubt her former claims about just being friends with CJ and I find her statement about how everyone likes both CJ and Corey yet they don’t get alone with each other ridiculous as CJ’s friends don’t seem to like Corey either nor did anyone even say a word to Corey let alone stand up for him regarding them tossing him into the river. I’m sure things like those parties CJ is able to throw and get away with likely contribute to his popularity more so than his amazing personality 🙄. Corey seemed aware and ashamed he was checking Greg out in a previous chapter so I’m guessing on some subconscious level he realizes he likes men yet his reaction to things like Jenny’s appearance in that bakini for instance makes me think he’s gay rather than bisexual yet he is likely still oblivious to this on a conscious level.


Jenny has a bit of a character growth as well in this story. You pointed out some things that made complete sense. No one did stand up for Corey when he was tossed into the river, but with Teenagers most of them are more comfortable being "standbys" than step into situations such as these, sadly. That's how bullies get away with a lot of their nonsense, if everyone else around them stood up to them, they'd buckle completely, for the most part I'd imagine. Also better to be quiet than not the victim sort of mindset as well. High school is a bit of a jungle in those aspects. :( lol. But again, nice comments. :D

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13 hours ago, crystalline said:

Aww Corey is so naive. It’s sweet to see him try to figure things out ☺️

I miss Corey, my little angel golden child. lol. Yeah, I do agree with him being naive. I'll have to re-read this since it isn't on my mind much anymore (and I'm forgetful). :P 

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