The school day was nearly over and he had not seen any sign of Jesse. Cameron sat in his second to last class of the day watching the second hand on the clock slowly making its revolution, counting down the seconds until the final bell sounded and he could go and have his hair cut. He rested his chin on his hand and wished it were Friday. He couldn’t wait to get back to Cole’s house for another night. Seeing him for an hour and a half a day tops really wasn’t enough.
The teacher stopped rambling as the classroom door opened and one of the secretaries walked into the room. The woman scanned the classroom and her eyes fell on him. “Cameron, you have a phone call at the office.”
His eyes narrowed in confusion as to who in heck would be calling him at school. He closed up his book which he hadn’t even bothered to look at during class, and gathered up the rest of his things. He stood up flinging his pack over his shoulder and followed her out of the room and into the hallway.
“Who is it?”
Cameron stopped dead in his tracks, his book bag falling off his shoulder and hanging down off his lower arm. His heart raced in his chest as the secretary stopped and turned back to him.
“What’s wrong?” She asked eying him speculatively.
He cleared his throat, his senses coming back to him a bit. It had to be a joke. Though he couldn’t quite figure out who would play such a mean trick on him. Or maybe it was Mrs. Harris maybe the secretary just assumed it was his mother, yeah that had to be it. He quickly shook his head and regained his composure. “Nothing” He muttered as he started walking again hoping everything was okay with the Harris’s. He couldn’t imagine Mrs. Harris calling him at school for anything other then an emergency.
He followed the secretary into the office and stood in front the counter while she walked behind it and handed him over a phone. Nervous about what the emergency could be he slowly lifted it to his face. “Hello?”
It certainly didn’t sound like Mrs. Harris. But he knew people sometimes sounded different on the phone. “Yes.”
“Cameron, I’m sorry to be calling you like this. Just this is the only way I knew to get a hold of you. I didn’t want to just walk up to you on the street some day. So I thought maybe it would be better if we start off with a phone call.”
Though his mind was whirring and his heart was aching, and he was pretty sure he already knew the answer, he asked, “Who is this?”
There was pause on the other end before the verification came. “This is your mother, honey.”
Anger came at him out of nowhere and through clenched teeth he managed to say, “Don’t call me that.” He wasn’t anymore her honey today then he had been when she’d run off in the middle of the night 12 years ago. He heard a long sigh come through the phone and wondered if she had the nerve to actually be surprised that he hated her. It occurred to him to just hang up the phone. His hand even shook as he willed himself to do it, but for some reason he couldn’t manage to pull it away from his ear.
“Cameron I know you’re plenty pissed at me. And I know you have every right to be. I can’t begin to tell you how much I regret what I did to you. I need to make it up to you”
“I don’t need anyone!” he said angrily into the phone ignoring the surprised looks he was getting from the secretaries as he raised his voice. He turned back to them pissed off his mother would do this to him. Would call him at school, making him get out of class to talk to a woman, that should have always been there but wasn’t, in front of witnesses. He took a few deep breaths as he stared at the wall his hand still shaking but still not able to put down the phone.“I want to see you Cameron. I want to try to explain myself. I want to get to know you. I need to apologize for what I did.”
He had a fleeting image of himself running into his mother’s open arms. In his image she was beautiful, smiling happily at him, though tears were streaking down her cheeks. He’d had the same image hundreds of times in the few years after she’d left. The image had stopped somewhere over the past years as anger over what she had done had taken the place of yearning for her to come home and be his mother again.
“I don’t want to see you.” The words came out of his mouth, though deep down he thought maybe he did want to see her. He wanted that explanation. Wanted to know what she had to say for herself. He knew it wouldn’t make any difference in how he felt about her now, but felt he at least deserved a reason why.
“Cameron please, I’m not asking for any commitment from you. I’m only asking for a chance to talk to you, face to face.”
“Where are you?”
“Out in the parking lot.”
More anger surged through him. He couldn’t believe she had the audacity to assume he’d just run right out there and see her. Did she actually believe he wanted to see her? Did she really think he didn’t have a right to hate her?
“Go away.” He said angrily into the phone. “I don’t want to see you.” He pulled the phone away from his ear and turned back around he shakily placed it back in its cradle. It made his gut feel hollow, like he’d just made a huge mistake, but his mind was telling him he didn’t care. He didn’t need her and certainly didn’t want any made up excuses as to why she couldn’t stick around when he had needed her.
One of the secretaries stood up and walked to other side of the counter studying him closely. “You okay hon?”
He looked up at her, realizing he must look a site. He could still feel himself shaking and had realized he had broken out into a cold sweat. He could see it glistening on his hands and figured it must be on his face too. He also was breathing heavy, something he now was trying to get under control, as he nodded his head to the secretary.
She walked around the counter and took him by the arm. “Come over and sit down for a minute. Relax for a little bit.”
He pulled his arm out of her grasp. The last thing he wanted was sit there, the basket case he was being, and apparently projecting, with those two staring at him. “I’m fine.” He muttered out quickly and made his way to the door. He fumbled with the handle for a minute his sweaty hands slipping when he tried to grasp it, but managed to get it open and escape the room.
Not ready to go back to class he ducked into the downstairs bathroom. He walked up to the sinks and took a look at himself in the mirror. His own reflection made his eyes widen. He never remembered seeing himself so white before. His face was sweaty and he could literally see himself shaking.
“This must be what they mean when they say ‘it looks like you’ve seen a ghost.” He said to himself as he turned on the faucet. He leaned over and splashed his face with cold water; he didn’t want anyone to see he was upset. He was already certain he wasn’t going to tell anyone about the phone call he’d just gotten. God, Mr. Harris would certainly make him see her. He was such a damn family man, like blood relations was more important then anything else. No matter how shitty your blood relations were.
He wiped his face with some paper towels and leaned back against the wall. His book bag getting in the way he pulled it off his shoulder and dropped it down by his feet. Now that his anger at hearing her voice was dissipating he was starting to regret saying he wouldn’t see her. After all he did want an explanation. He wasn’t about to get that if he didn’t even talk to her. He shook his head mad with himself for letting his anger get the best of him. Sure she deserved to get treated like shit, but he could do that after he got the information he’d been waiting for years to get.
He entertained the idea of going out to the parking lot to find her but just the thought made his heart beat faster and made his legs feel like jelly. She probably wasn’t even out there anymore anyways. Besides he didn’t want her to think he cared enough to go chasing after her. This could just be another thing he would kick himself in the ass for, for a few days anyways. If she tried to contact him again, which he doubted, he would talk to her; but there was no way he was going to go hunting her down. He would not give her that satisfaction. Wouldn’t give her the satisfaction of talking to her at all, if it wasn’t to get an explanation, something he felt he deserved and felt he needed.
He quickly pulled himself away from the wall and stood up straight when the bathroom door opened. He managed half a smiled as he saw Jesse walking into the room. Jesse stopped short a few feet away from him noticing him. “Wow, I didn’t think anyone ever actually used this bathroom.”
Through his distress Cameron smiled again, it was a rarely used bathroom. It only had one stall, and didn’t even have a urinal, and was in an out of the way place; actually he only remembered using it one or two times before. What amazed him though was the fact Jesse actually had spoken a full sentence. It was much better than the one or two words he got out of him the day before.
“You look like shit. Everything okay?”
Again amazed at Jesse’s lingual skills, he nodded and ran his hand through his hair realizing it was probably all messy from washing his face in the sink.
Jesse took another step closer to him. “You sure?”
He sounded so sincere and so sweet, like he actually cared. Cameron slowly shook his head. Like lying to this kid would be worse then sinning. “I’ll be okay though, I just needed a minute.”
Nodding, Jesse kept on studying Cameron’s face. So intensely that it made Cameron feel like he was under a microscope. Almost like Jesse could see inside him, and see what was going on for himself. Cameron wasn’t about to bitch to him though. He knew his problems were minor compared to what he imagined the kid went through every day.
“How are you?”
“Well I haven’t been struck by lightning yet. So in my book that’s a good day.”
Cameron had to let that sink in for a moment and when he finally comprehended it was a joke he started laughing. “You sure are a lot more talkative then you were yesterday.”
He shrugged, his shoulders, then walked over and sat back against the sinks. “Well there’re two reasons for that.”
Nodding, Cameron leaned back against the wall, glad Jesse was willing to give an explanation.
“First reason is: we were surrounded by the enemy.” Jesse half grinned, as he wrapped his fingers around the bottom edge of the sink, though Cameron got the feeling he wasn’t joking in any way. “Second, I talked to Cole in crafts this morning.” He looked up from the floor and smiled at Cameron. “So I know now, you’re not the enemy. I mean for all I knew yesterday you were just talking to me to go back to your friends and pick on me.”
“I wouldn’t pick on you.”
Jesse nodded. “Yeah, I know that now.” He looked down at the floor for a minute while he moved his sneaker clad foot along the tiles then looked back up at Cameron. “So you and Cole huh? That’s really cool.”
Smiling even bigger now his mother nearly forgotten Cameron nodded, amazed that just the mention of Cole’s name could lift his spirits so. He felt his smile must be infectious as Jesse’s face lit up in a brilliant smile as well.
“That’s so sweet.”
“Huh?” he asked narrowing his eyes in confusion.
“Well when we were talking about you he couldn’t stop smiling, and now that we’re talking about him you can’t stop smiling.”
Cameron looked quickly down at the floor feeling his face going blazingly hot as the smile on his face got so big it almost hurt.
“Awww look at that.” Jesse teased pointing his finger out at him.
Cameron put his hands on his cheeks willing the heat to go away and started chuckling as he looked back at Jesse. “Stop it.” He felt like a little girl with her first crush, and it only made him blush and laugh even more. He had kept his relationship with Cole such a secret. This was the first time he’d ever talked to anyone else about it, and apparently he wasn’t prepared to do that without giggling like a love struck schoolgirl.
Jesse followed the order, and after a minute Cameron was able to compose himself again.
“Is the reason you’re in here all upset something to do with Cole?”
Cameron shook his head. “No, nothing to do with Cole.” He took a deep breath not wanting to think about his mother. His mind raced for another topic. “I heard about your parents.” He winced seeing Jesse’s smile fade, cursing himself for not thinking out his damn topic before he opened his big fat mouth and blurted it out. “I’m sorry.”
Jesse waved his hand dismissively and shook his head. “No it’s okay. I’ve never been the apple of my parent’s eyes in the first place. Apparently just enough to try and be saved. Personally, I’d have preferred they just kick me out. Dear Uncle Jack is not exactly the easiest person to deal with.”
Nodding, Jesse looked back down at the floor and Cameron watched the muscles in his arms tighten as he gripped harder onto the bottom of the sink. “I’ll bide my time though. I only have a couple more years then I’ll be on my own.”
“I don’t think I could take living with that man for two more years.”
“I just block him out, let him get on his high horse, let him do his preaching. I don’t have to listen; I just have to pretend to.”
“You’re a stronger person then me.”
Jesse looked up at him and shrugged. “Can’t be any better living with Mr. Harris.”
“He doesn’t know I’m gay, none of them do.”
Nodding, Jesse lifted himself away from the sinks. “Well I don’t know if you need it or not, but if you want my advice I’d stay as far back in the closet as I could if I were you; as long as you’re under his roof that is.” He half smiled. “Now I really gotta pee and get back to class. Don’t be a stranger though ‘kay?”
Cameron smiled warmly at him a little sad the conversation was over. “You either!”
He was nervous to walk out of the school that afternoon. He had visions of his mother still being out there, parked in her car, spying on him. He didn’t want her to see him, especially when he didn’t know about it. The thought of being spied on by anyone totally creeped him out, but somehow being spied on by her seemed even worse.
Not wanting to actually know if he were being spied on or not he hurried and kept his head down as much as possible as he made his way to where Mrs. Harris usually picked him and Kyle up. He was thankful to find her vehicle in the same spot as usual and quickly opened the door and ducked into the back seat.
“How was your day?” she turned around in her seat and looked at him, “What’s wrong?”
Not understanding why she was asking as he didn’t feel all shook up, or that upset at the moment he shook his head in confusion. “Nothing why?”
“You look stressed, or nervous.” She tilted her head to one side and looked him over carefully. “I can’t tell which one, but one or the other.”
Amazed at her ability to read him, he let out a small fake laugh and shook his head to throw her off. He still stood steadfast in his plan to not tell any of the Harris’s about his mom. Not even Kyle. He loved Kyle, but knew something like that Kyle would force him to tell his father. “I’m good honest. I don’t know why I would look that way.”
Anne Harris smiled again, half shrugged and looked over at her eldest son as he sat down in the front passenger seat of the car. “How was your day?” He didn’t miss the tone of her voice that told him she didn’t believe his claim that everything was okay. He shrugged it off though keeping his head down until the car left the school parking lot, just in case his mother was still lurking around. He doubted it though; deep down he knew anyone that wouldn’t stick around when they were wanted, would not stick around when they weren’t.
Minutes after walking in the door to the Harris home he was seated in a chair and Mrs. Harris got to work with the scissors and electric shaver turning his unsightly mass of hair into a neatly trimmed, much more presentable look. He didn’t ever remember his hair looking so good. She was even better then the professionals at the shop he usually went to in town.
He walked into work at five minutes to five where Trent made a point of gawking at his new hair cut the minute he walked out into the kitchen.
“Woah! ‘bout time you got that mess cut!”
Cameron grinned at him despite his embarrassment at being pointed out in the kitchen full of cooks and other wait staff. He hung his jacket on the hook by the back door and put on his apron. Grabbing an order pad off the desk in the back, he stuck it in the front pocket of his apron and then grabbed a pencil out of the cup.
He spent three hours waiting on tables. It was slow even for a Monday night, and a lot of the time was spent chatting with Trent outback, who was making it a point to be overly flirty which made him uncomfortable as hell. Trent may be out and proud, but he wasn’t. It wasn’t that he wasn’t proud, just not brave at this point in his life. He warded off the flirting as best he could. Even though he would enjoy every minute of it, if there were no audience around. Boyfriend or no boyfriend it felt nice to be flirted with.
Shortly before 10, closing time, Alice the hostess walked up to him where he was standing by the salad counter in the kitchen. “I just sat someone at table 10.”
Cameron nodded annoyed, as he always was, when a party came in so close to closing time. It meant he had to stay late, which meant he would have to call Mr. Harris and tell him he would be late getting out. Which meant Mr. Harris would either be there, or not when he actually did get out of work. Before he called though he’d at least see how many there were. If he was lucky they would only want dessert and he may salvage getting out somewhere near 10.
He left the kitchen and headed to table 10 glad to see there was only one woman at the table. From the back he could see she was relatively skinny so he didn’t figure she would order a five course meal. Though the little skinny ones had surprised him before, by eating what had to be at least half their weight.
Once he was standing at the table he pulled out his pad and looked at the woman. A chill went through him as he recognized her vaguely from so long ago.
“Hi Cameron.” The woman that was no doubt his mother said smiling nervously up at him. “Wow you sure have grown into a handsome young man.”
He gripped the order pad tightly his ears burning hot from a mix of anger and shock at standing there looking down at his mother, the woman he’d focused so much hate on over the past twelve years. Seeing she didn’t look like the monster he had pictured was a little surprising. She didn’t look like a bitch at all. Her looking so nice was the only thing that stopped him from throwing his order pad in her face and running out of the place. It didn’t allow him to be cordial to her though.
“I told you I didn’t want to see you.” He said quietly, not wanting the whole restaurant to turn and look in their direction.
“I know that, but I want to see you. My first plan didn’t work so I’m on to plan B.” she smiled again, which dwindled his reserve even more.
“How many plans do you have exactly?”
“As many as it takes.”
“Takes for what?”
“For you to listen to what I have to say.”
He bit his cheek wanting to be callous and mean, but still wanting to hear what she had to say. “If I listen then you’ll go away?”
She half smiled though it didn’t hide the fact his words hurt, something he felt a little bit of pride in. “After you hear me out, if you still want me to, then I will go away.”
Positive no words she could say would make him want her to stick around he figured there was absolutely no reason why he couldn’t listen to what she had to say. After all, he wanted the information she wanted to give as badly as she seemed to want to give it.
“You gotta wait ‘til I’m done with work. I’ll call my ride and tell them to pick me up fifteen minutes late.” He took a step back and put his pad back in his front apron pocket. “Fifteen minutes that’s it!”
She didn’t look all that happy about it, but nodded in compliance. He walked away from the table shocked that he wasn’t the basket case he had been earlier at just talking on the phone with her. He figured that was probably because he had spent the whole day going over question after question in his head. Like why she was back around? If she really wanted to be back in his life? If he even wanted her back in his life? Where she had been all these years? Question after question that had all arose since the phone call that had gotten him so shook up that afternoon. He supposed after 7 hours of constant questions he had gotten control of the knowledge that his mother wanted to see him.
He picked up the phone once he got back to the kitchen and dialed the number to the Harris’s hoping Mr. Harris hadn’t already left to pick him up as it was already five minutes to ten. He was surprised at how relieved he felt when Mr. Harris answered the phone two rings later, realizing he must really want to talk to his mother to feel such relief. Of course he knew part of that relief had to do with him not wanting Mr. Harris to know his mother was around.
“Mr. Harris its Cameron. I’m gonna be late getting out. A big party just came in.”
“Okay, do you have any idea how late?”
“Half an hour.” He figured that would give him plenty of time to have a fifteen minute talk, and then get his mother out of there before Mr. Harris could suspect anything.
“Okay, I’ll be there at 10:30.”
“I can walk if you don’t want to come out that late.”
“No, Cameron, I’ll be there at 10:30.”
Sighing, his ultimate last minute plan of walking to assure Mr. Harris wouldn’t see his mother didn’t work; he thanked Mr. Harris dutifully and hung up the phone.
He left the kitchen again and went to the family of four that were his last actual customers. “Are you interested in dessert tonight?” He asked praying they wouldn’t be. He was very relieved to see them all shake their heads. He grabbed their empty plates and took them to the kitchen then stopped at the register to tally up their check. He left the kitchen again a minute later and took the check to their table. He thanked them for thir business and wished them a good night.
He took his time the next time he went into the kitchen, prolonging the time before he had to go out there and sit across the table from his mother. His stomach was filled with butterflies. The calmness he had felt a few minutes before was quickly dissipating and the seconds ticked nearer to the actual ‘conversation.’
After taking off his apron he pulled the money out of the front pocket folded all the ones as neatly as he could and stuck them in his back pocket. It was a slow night so there weren’t nearly as many bills as on the busy nights. Not that he really cared anymore. He got the same amount of money to spend every week no matter how busy he was. It certainly made him a lot less tolerable when the place was hopping. Before he got excited, it meant money. Now it made no difference. He got twenty-five bucks either way. He didn’t think far ahead enough to care what was going in the bank.
He pulled his jacket off the hook by the back door. He stood there for a moment wondering if he should put it on or not. Deciding if he put it on that it would show his mother he wasn’t going to sit and listen to a long line of crap he opted to put it on. Any little thing he could do that would show disinterest he was all for it.
After taking a few deep breaths and composing himself as best he could, he walked back out in the dining room. His ears started ringing and his heart throbbed achingly in his chest, as he saw the table his mother had been sitting at was now deserted.
“I thought we’d have more privacy over here.”
He turned to his right to see his mother sitting at the table in a small alcove just to the right of the kitchen door. His ears stopped ringing and his heart calmed down. He turned and walked to the table slowly sitting down, confused as hell why he had been so upset when he thought she had left. He didn’t care, he was sure of it, so why did he nearly have a heart attack when he thought she’d left? Maybe just maybe, he needed his mother more then he thought.