They say that when two people love each other very much, when one of them dies, she takes half of his soul with her. I think that’s what happened with my dad after Mom passed.
It all happened so suddenly. Mom was cooking like always and then she just sort of fell to the floor. She didn’t cry out or even fall heavily. If I hadn’t been heading over to the kitchen anyway, I don’t think we would have found her right away.
As it was, I saw her there and immediately went to work on her. I was a lifeguard, damn it! I needed to save my mom’s life!
Unfortunately, nothing I did was going to bring mom back. I knew she was dead when I felt for her pulse, but I tried doing CPR and mouth-to-mouth anyway. I felt like I was pounding on her chest forever! It was my screams of frustration that brought my dad and sisters into the kitchen.
Omar saw how frustrated I was getting and tried to help me administer CPR. I knew that having a partner sometimes helped. But neither of us could revive Mom.
After Mom’s death, Dad went into a deep decline. Nothing was bringing Dad out of his depression. Even the imminent birth of his second grandchild didn’t make him happy. The only thing that seemed to give him any sort of peace was Mom’s stupid cat, Moonie. Dad had taken to holding Moonie all the time and the dumb thing even started sleeping next to Dad where Mom used to sleep.
A man with half his soul in the grave cannot live very long. That’s how it was with my dad. I was not surprised that I woke one morning to find that he had died in his sleep. Knowing that he was with Mom made me fell a little better, but I was still rocked by his loss.
What the hell was I going to do now that both of my parents were gone? I felt utterly alone.
And the stupid cat didn’t count. Moonie seemed to blame me that both of his favorite people were gone. I knew that he felt as alone and abandoned as I did. That didn’t excuse him from making my life hell. I swear that cat started hacking up hairballs and peeing on the floor just to piss me off!
“Listen Old Man,” I told him. “I know you’re upset that Dad and Mom aren’t here. But I’m all you got, so you need to behave.”
It wasn’t until I woke early one morning to find Moonie curled up next to me on the bed, that I knew he had forgiven me for taking away his people.
“Aw, Moonie. Let’s go down and get you some food,” I told him. I picked him up and gave him a scratch under the chin. “I won’t tell Mom you were up on the furniture if you don’t, K?”
Everyone was worried about me being alone in Mom and Dad’s huge old house. Ever since Dad’s funeral, they all asked me what I planned to do. Truth is, I had no fucking clue.
Uncle Alton and Auntie Anne both thought I should sell the house. “You deserve a life of your own,” Alton said. “This place is too big for a bachelor like you. I don’t think my sister would mind if you sold it. Unless, of course, you think your sisters want to move their families here?”
I didn’t know. Both of my sisters had lives of their own. I didn’t think they wanted the burden of the big house or the many properties that Mom and Dad owned.
It wasn’t fair, though, if I didn’t at least ask Juno and Rhea what they wanted.
“Hey, Rhea. This rain is pretty fitting for this occasion,” I said inanely just after Dad’s funeral. “Let’s get inside. I wanted to talk to you and Juno about this house and the bakery and stuff.”
I found Juno in the kitchen talking to Alton and Anne. “Hey, sis. I need to talk to you about some stuff related to Mom and Dad’s estate. Can you come up to the office with me and Rhea?”
I dragged both of my sisters upstairs.
“Look guys, I know this is may be too soon, but we have to figure out what we’re going to do. Mom and Dad owned a lot of property.”
“Just the bakery, I thought,” said Juno.
“I thought so, too,” I said. “But I discovered deeds for the mini-mart and café and the little gym downtown as well. And of course, there is their portion of the Resort.”
“Wow,” said Rhea. None of us had known that mom and dad had invested so much money into the community.
In the end, we decided to keep the properties under the name of Fields, but that each of us would have 1/3 of a share in their ownership. Since I was the only one with a flexible job, It would be up to me to manage everything.
“And you can go on living here,” said Juno. Rhea nodded. “It will be like your payment for managing the shops. You can stay here rent free.”
I agreed, but I wasn’t as sure of the idea as my sisters were. Did I really want to live in this huge monstrosity of a house? It would require a lot of upkeep.
There were Mom’s gardens to take care of…and I was definitely not a green-thumb!
A lot of the appliances and fixtures needed work, too. Dad had always done most of the maintenance. I knew how to handle a wrench and a hammer, but I was by no means a proper handyman!
And then there was the general cleaning and maintaining of the house itself. We had always had a maid, but she only came once a week and the house got dirty really quickly! I had no idea how much actual cleaning my mom had done before she passed. I had always thought the maid took care of it all.
The only respite I got from everything I was suddenly responsible for was when I went to work. At least there I could think!
It was while I was at work that I came to the realization that I needed to do something. I couldn’t keep on like I was. The house and the businesses were too much for me to handle alone.
And it was time that I took a break and did something for myself. Something that Mom and Dad had wanted me to do since I graduated. I needed to go to college.
I called both of my sisters to tell them what I had decided. Both were glad that I was taking this next step in my life.
“You’ll love the university,” said Rhea. “It was so much fun! Just don’t party all the time. Remember that you have classes, too.”
The matter of the house was settled more easily than I thought it would be. Juno and Phillip were going to move in.
“It will be good for us. Our house is a little too small,” Juno said. She looked at her husband lovingly and rubbed her belly.
“Oh wow!” I said, hugging her. “Are you expecting another baby?”
“We are!” Juno enthused.
“That’s fantastic! I’m sure mom and dad won’t mind if you convert one of the rooms into a nursery.”
Rhea and Omar agreed to take over the business management while I was away. I was grateful. If I didn’t have to pay another bill, fill out another order form, or give another employee review until I died, I’d be even happier!
And so I was free to go to Sim State University to pursue my academic dreams…if I had any. Truthfully, I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I chose Physical Education. I was already pretty good at athletics, but honestly, it wasn’t something that I really aspired to. It was just easy and would take me a lot less time than my other options.
College, for me, was an escape. It was a way to be young and free for just a little bit longer. Somehow I knew that I’d have to put those days behind me sooner than later.
But for the moment, I was in college and I could do whatever I wanted!
First impression of college life: Damn the girls are fine!
Maybe I went a little crazy once I got the the university. Suddenly I found myself surrounded by hot co-eds. Every one of my classes seemed to be filled with girls (who knew that P.E. would be so popular with the ladies?) and I was living in a co-ed dorm.
For a guy who’d only been with one woman, and a crazy jealous one at that, I completely lost my head being surrounded by hot chicks. I made sure I sat by them in class. I approached them during study hall to see if I could get in on their study groups, and I made damned sure that every single girl in my dorm knew who I was.
If Martina could see me at college, I think she might keel over with an angry, jealous heart attack. And frankly, I know for a fact that I wouldn’t give her mouth to mouth to save her life. Too many other hot girls to use my mouth on!
Rita and Gina were my study partners for anatomy. They were both very large…brained. Yep. I liked them for their brains!
I liked both girls equally, but it was Gina who asked me out first. I met her at her dorm and was all suave and stuff, giving her flowers. She was impressed, but then we just went bowling and talked about school. When it was over, I didn’t even get a good-night kiss. I guess Gina and I were only meant to be friends, but her going out with me ruined our study group. Rita was jealous and that made our study nights awkward. I tried to tell her that there was nothing between me and Gina, but she didn’t believe me. Gina, for her part, just acted like nothing had happened. Eventually, I just stopped meeting them both.
That’s when my roommate, Cid, convinced me to go with him to a frat party.
“Why would I want to go hang out with a bunch of dudes at a frat house?” I asked. I had no desire to join a frat.
“There will be chicks there,” Cid assured me. “The frat guys always have the best keggers. All the girls will be totally juiced! It’ll be awesome!”
Frat keggers, no matter how much fun the movies make them out to be, are kinda boring. Yeah, there were kegs of juice and plenty of people were completely sloshed, but over all, it was just a bunch of guys dressed up in suits trying their hardest to act cool.
I wasn’t too impressed. I decided I’d leave early, and that’s when I meat Carly. She was going in as I headed out.
“Leaving so soon?” she asked. She lifted an eyebrow at me and I was caught.
“Well, you hadn’t arrived yet,” I said. It sounded really cool in my head and leaving my mouth, but Carly saw right through the line.
“Oh my god, you didn’t just say that!”
“I did. Sorry. It was a stupid line.”
“Not really, but wow. Have you had anyone fall for something like that?”
“Sure, all the time,” I laughed. “Girls dig me.”
“It must be your hair. Those dreads are so tight they are cutting off circulation to your brain.”
“Hey, girls love my dreads! They’re my best feature.”
“Who do you think you are, Bob Marley?”
We spent the majority of the party outside on the porch trading insults and getting to know each other. When Cid came out and told me he was ready to bail, I asked Carly if I could see her again. Her answer was “probably” and then she just smirked as she went into the party.
After that kegger, I could think of nothing else but Carly. I drove the guys in my dorm nuts talking about her. I asked everyone if they knew her, but no one seemed to.
“She has to go here! Why else would she have gone to that party,” I said, exasperated.
“Shut up Fields,” Cid told me. He and I were teamed up against Trent and Marlin. “Concentrate on the game. We can’t let these losers beat us.”
“Who’re you calling a loser, Cid?” Marlin snarled. Marlin was also a P.E. major and he liked to show off his abs. He was the kind of dude that kissed his own biceps and called them guns.
“Don’t worry Cid,” I said. “We’re going to wipe the floor with these douche bags. But, I’d dump all of you losers if I could figure out where Carly lived. She’s a lot hotter than all of you idiots!”
Eventually I did see Carly again. Ironically, I caught her in the student union building where I was supposed to meet my new study group for a cram session.
“Well look who it is,” she said. “It’s the white Bob Marley!”
“Hey, I just have crazy hair,” I defended my dreads. “It’s easier to keep it like this. You should have seen the mess it was in high school!”
“So,” Carly changed the subject, “How did you find me? I am assuming that you’ve been searching everywhere, your heart breaking a little every day that you didn’t see me?”
That hit a little close to home, so I blushed. This made Carly laugh.
“I had just come to the conclusion that you were a ghost,” I said. “You were the girl who died at a tragic frat party and so you haunted the frat house day and night.”
“That’d be fun,” she said.
This time I refused to let Carly leave my sight without agreeing on a date. She gave in and said she’d meet me at my dorm the next evening.
I was prepared. I had flowers, I bought us tickets to see a concert at the arena, and we went out to the café afterwards to have something to eat and drink.
“This was fun,” she told me after we had re-hashed the concert, agreeing that the band wasn’t so bad even though all they did was play covers of other people’s hits.
“It’d be more fun if you meet me again tomorrow,” I said. I was shocked when she agreed.
The next night we stayed in. I wanted to impress her with my cooking abilities. I wasn’t nearly as good a cook as my mother, but I wasn’t a slouch either. I made goopy carbanara and Carly couldn’t believe how good it tasted.
“You have many talents, Ares,” she said.
“You have no idea,” I said. “I know things that would really surprise you!”
“Do you really?”
“You’ll have to show me.”
So I did.
Let me go on record by saying that I didn’t set out for my date with Carly to end in the dorm shower room. There is no way that I could have predicted that happening!
We were playing pool and I was showing her my trick shots. She said we needed to make the game more interesting and proposed strip pool.
“Aren’t you afraid of people seeing us?” I asked. There were 15 other people who lived in my dorm and several others were always stopping by.
“I don’t care if you don’t,” she said, daring me to agree.
Interestingly, not many people were home that evening. It was another kegger at the frat-house, so most of the guys were out. I don’t know where the girls went. I suppose some of them had to be at the kegger, too.
Strip pool ended badly for me. I had no idea that Carly was a pool shark. That girl tricked me and I ended up mostly naked!
And that’s how we ended up in the shower. Carly said I had worked up a sweat losing and needed to get cleaned up. One thing led to another…
And then I never saw Carly again. Believe me, I looked for her. She had never given me her phone number, so I couldn’t call. I checked the campus directory, but she wasn’t on it. I cruised the whole campus many times on my bike, hoping to catch a glimpse of her. It frustrated me that she seemed to have disappeared…again!
Eventually I gave up. To keep myself occupied, I worked out a lot and I concentrated on school.
The guys in the dorm started leaving me alone, too. I wasn’t much fun to hang out with, brooding over Carly as I was. I just couldn’t figure out what went wrong.
“Was I bad in bed?” I wondered out loud. Cid, whom I thought was asleep, threw a pillow at me.
“From what you’ve said, Fields, the two of you never made it to a bed! Now shut up and go to sleep. I have a huge exam tomorrow!”
In the dining room, I ate alone and wondered what I could have done differently. Did Carly even like my goopy carbanara like she said? Did she have a terrible time when we went to the concert?
I was in a serious funk.
I looked over the blonde who had sat down next to me on the couch. I’d been watching a fishing program, so I was surprised any girl would join me. Tamora was a girl who lived on the second floor of my dorm. She hung around with another blonde, Melissa. That’s about all I knew of her.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“Nothing. I saw you here. You’ve been kind of depressed lately. I wondered if you needed some company.”
“I’m not depressed,” I said.
“Well, you’ve seemed down. We’ve…Mel and I…have noticed that you aren’t as happy and excitable as you usually are.”
“Oh. I guess it’s because I lost my girlfriend.”
“I didn’t know you had a girlfriend.”
“Well, she wasn’t really my girlfriend, but I really liked her. I thought she liked me, too, but then she sort of disappeared.”
“That sucks. What was her name?”
So I told Tamora all about Carly.
After that day, Tamora and I started hanging out. We were just friends, though. We played Frisbee on the quad, and we worked out together. She wasn’t as good at sports as I was, but I enjoyed her company. It was funny when she did something like turn the treadmill on too fast.
I found out that Tamora was a science and medicine major. She wanted to be a doctor. All this time she’d been in my anatomy class, but I hadn’t noticed.
“I noticed you,” she said. “You never lacked for lab partners.”
“I’m a popular guy I guess.”
“It’s the girls, Ares. Do you even realize how hot you are?”
“Me? I’ve only had like two girlfriends. I’ve been on exactly two dates if you don’t count my high school girlfriend, Martina.”
“Maybe that’s it,” Tamora said. “Maybe the girls can tell that you’re sort of an innocent.”
“Me! Innocent!” I laughed. “That’s not a word I would use to describe myself.”
“Well, maybe it isn’t the best word, but you have something about you…it’s like you’re this hot, buff guy with dreads and glasses and that combination of things is sort of…I don’t know…like a chick magnate. You give off a jock vibe, but you also give off this sort of boy-ish nerdy vibe, too. It’s intriguing.”
“Great. So girls find me fascinating. That’s why I have so many hot chicks hanging off of me. I’m a fucking lothario!”
“I wouldn’t go that far!”
“Neither would I. Not even close,” I said, laughing.
I am not sure exactly when the transition happened, but Tamora and I gradually slid into more than friendship. We started spending every waking…and sleeping minute together.
I knew that I was falling for her, and I had completely put all of the other girls I’d been with out of my mind.