Overflowing Heart: Part 3
The next twenty six hours of Trace’s life seemed to pass in slow motion. Life had never treated him in such an aggressive way, and he didn’t quite know how to feel in his surroundings anymore. As he was lying in bed, he knew the uncomfortable memory of emotion on his father’s trademark polished face would be playing in his head for a long time.
“We’re ever so sorry to tell you this, son. I have been dealt a hard blow with these cuts on my hours at work, and now your mother has lost her job.” Roger looked defeatedly at Trace. “There’s no way we can keep up this house or the lifestyle to which you are accustomed.”
Hearing those words, Trace’s mother collapsed into tears. His father hugged her sympathetically.
“I can’t believe this! I am going to be reduced to living an average life. I don’t know how to be average!” said Trace. Questions began to form in his racing mind, yet he could only manage to find a voice for one of them.
“How could we be in this mess? I really don’t understand!” he argued.
“Trace you’re being unreasonable! Downsizing is the only option we have.” Roger edged toward his son with a slight glare.
“We love you. We wanted to give you things we never had.” Clair reached over to embrace Trace in a tight hug. “I know this is a shock to you,” said his mother, planting a kiss on his cheek.
The silence that followed Tuesday morning and ran into the next night made the house feel empty. Trace had never known what it was like to be a Nick or a Leon. He always had the best of the best. The best clothing from high end stores, a beautiful brick home with an in ground pool, and plenty of money to go around, or so he thought.
The savings that his parents had built up through the years would now be going towards mounting credit card debt. Clair’s severance pay paired with Roger’s would keep the family afloat for awhile, but downsizing was their only option long term.
Trace never knew what it meant to struggle.
I feel like my whole life has been a lie.
Thursday morning came as a tidal wave of fresh nerves and uncertainty. Would people be able to read his face? Would he have to spill the details about the reality that had slapped his family in the face?
Trace eased up out of his bed, sauntering down to grab a quick bite to eat before starting his day. As the school bus pulled up outside the door, Trace snatched a banana from the kitchen counter and sprinted up onto the stairs as the door opened, hoping to find a seat alone so that he had time to think. As he sat down in a seat by the window, he took his backpack and put it beside him so that no one would bother him. He gazed thoughtfully at the busy nature of the city and the people who lived in the few subdivisions of the bus route.
The theme of his day could have been described as “somewhat lost in translation” as everything that was said to him or anything that included him just seemed to go right over his head. Nothing could clear the fog that engulfed his thoughts. This was the first day that he had not spoken or hung out with Leon and Nick. He felt so down and out; he didn’t want to goof around and have fun. As far as he knew, he felt deceived by his parents. He felt as though life as he knew it was over.
What are we going to do? What am I going to do?
The school hours passed by in a blur. Trace spotted Mike over in the next crowd of people waiting to get on their bus. He had decided to do his share for Mike’s assignment at the last minute. The new path his world was on allowed him to have a change of heart. He quickly made his way over to Mike, pushing away the crowds of people with mighty force.
“Hey Mike! I wanted to give this to you.” Trace reached for a piece of paper that he had folded and placed into the front of a textbook. “I know we’ve never spoken much. I’ve kind of been a jerk to you, to be honest.” Mike turned to face him with a surprised glance.
“Hey! Where have you been? We’ve all been looking for you,” said Mike.
“I’ve had a lot of life going on. Just didn’t feel like coming to school,” replied Trace.
“Need to talk about it?” Mike’s eyes were fixed on Trace.
“No. I’m okay. Here’s this paper anyway.” Trace handed Mike the paper that he was holding.
“Thanks, Trace. Hope things get better for you,” offered Mike sympathetically.
With that, Trace left to get on his bus as Mike stood, still waiting and wondering what could make someone appear so distant and defeated. Trace always carried himself with the slightest sense of arrogance. He always seemed so sure of who he was, a quality that one could envy.
Mike got home that night, ate his dinner, and went straight to his room to work on the essay. He had tucked Trace’s paper in his own textbook. He gently pulled it out and began to read the words from the paper.
He sat staring at the computer screen, not quite sure how to find the right words. They just wouldn’t come. He thought the assignment would be a challenge, and it most certainly was. The responses he received were compelling, though Trace’s elicited elements of surprise and concern.
Mike began to brainstorm and outline what he wanted to say. He was glad that he had taken on the challenge, thankful for the lesson that all of the boys had learned. No matter what, he knew he wanted to make a statement. They were from differing backgrounds, yet all were the same.
We are all different. Yet, we are all the same.
The thought sparked a flow of words that lasted the entire weekend. Monday came and a feeling of pride washed over Mike as he turned in his final draft to Mrs. Clark.
I hope she likes it. What will she think of what I had to say?