The Price of It - Part 2




Aaron and Mari Green are 47; Riley and Joel are 14; Marina and Jody are 7.
Cory Green is 49; Rose Green is 38; Sam is 16.
Maggie Kauffmann is 14; Matthew Langerak is 17.

March 2025

Debra arrived a work the same time as Aaron.


"What a great morning," she said, "And Friday... Another week almost done!".


Aaron just grunted.

"What?'


He shrugged.  "Just family stuff... "
"Your father?"
"He's ok, that's the one good thing... he's coming home tomorrow.  But... now if my kids would just sort themselves out... "


"Teenagers, huh?"
"You know, the really scary thing is, the students here aren't that much older," he said.
"Yeah... all the drama and none of the parental supervision."
Aaron laughed.  "I think my sister-in-law had the right idea when she got a job teaching eight year olds... if only there was a way to get my own kids to stay that size."

----

 Rose looked up at the clock, counting down the minutes before she could get to the asprin in her bag in the staff room.


She loved being back at work, she really did, but teaching a class of lively children wasn't a job that anyone with a splitting headache could say they truly enjoyed on the day.


The headache had started that morning.  She could pinpoint the exact time - it was when Cory had snapped at their son for being too noisy at breakfast.


Ok, so Brandi was still sleeping, but there are gentler ways to get a five year old to be quiet, ways that don't  leave him in tears.  Noah wasn't used to that kind of tone of voice from his father.

Rose had tried to smooth the moment over by distracting the boy with breakfast, while resuming the conversation that she and Cory had been having.  Before long, though, she'd realised that there was no point.


"Cory, are you listening to me?"
"Huh?"


"I said, are you even listening to me?"  Rose asked.
"What?"

"If I'm boring you, fine, just tell me, ok."
He put down the cup.  "I have to go to work.  Don't you need to do the same or something?"


"Is that the problem?  Do you not like it that I'm working again? "
"No. Why would you think that?"
"Because... because something's wrong and I'm running out of things to blame!  Every time I try to ask, you just - "
"Well, maybe it's just time you stopped asking!"
"Cory - "


"I need to go.  I'm going to be late."  He picked up his keys and left without saying goodbye.




Rose thought about phoning him during her lunch break, then decided against it.  They needed to talk - really talk - and a quick phone call wasn't going to do it.  Especially not feeling the way she was now.

When the lunchtime bell finally rang, she was out of the classroom almost as quickly as the children.  Asprin, then coffee... then try to put home out of her mind and concentrate on her class for the rest of the afternoon.

---

"They were arguing again this morning," Sam said.  "At least they weren't screaming at each other the way he and Mum used to, I guess that's a good thing."
"You ok?" Matthew asked.


She shrugged.  "Everything's changing," she said.  "Dad's acting strange, the arguements, you're going to college... "
"... and so are you, in a year."
"IF I win tomorrow, IF I get the swimming scholarship... "
"You'll go to college even if you don't win."
"I know," she said, "but I want to win.  I want to do this my own way."

"You will." he said.  He waited a moment, then asked, "Do you want to do something after school?"
"I need one last practice."
"After practice?"
"I really should spend some time at home..."


"Come on, Sam.  You already spend too much time at home. ..."
"I know, but - "
"You're sixteen, you'll be seventeen soon.  You're talking about college... We're not kids anymore, you need to start living your own life a bit."

Sam stared at the ground.  This wasn't just about going out.  They'd talked about it before. Matthew was a man now, with a man's wants. And it wasn't that she didn't have wants herself, but she just wasn't sure if she was ready to fulfill them with him.  So far, he'd been patient with her, but in a few months he'd be in college, and she'd be still here in Richmond... he'd have so many other opportunities, and she'd pay the price for her indecision.


When she was 14 years old, Sam and her friend Amaya had sneaked out together one night, to go to a party at some older kids' house.  It had turned out that the party was too noisy and crowded, and people were getting drunk and doing dumb things, so they left and spent a couple of hours on the back deck at Amaya's house, just talking, until her parents woke up and found them.

When she finally got home at around 2am, her father had been furious.  But more than his anger, she remembered his disappointment.  For days after, she'd seen it in his eyes, every time he looked at her.

Sometime, she tried to tell herself that it wasn't such a big deal.  Amaya had done it with her boyfriend.  Even her 15 year old sister had... or, at least, Sam believed she had, because there was something about the way Melissa talked sometimes, that told you that she knew more than she was willing to share.  But for Sam, the risk of her father finding out was too great.  She didn't know if she could stand to ever see him look at her like that again.

The bell for class broke her out of her thoughts.


"Ok, we'll go out for a coffee or something," she said to Matthew, as they got up.  "But not too late.  I need to get a good sleep before tomorrow."
----


"Do you guys always have to do that?" asked Riley.


"Do what?" asked Joel.
"Kiss and stuff.  It's disgusting."
"No, it isn't," said Maggie.


"If you don't like it, stop following us around," said Joel.  "I'm sick of it."
"I'm not following you around," said Riley.  "I'm trying to spend time with my friend."
"She's sick of it, too."
"She is not," said Riley.


They both looked at Maggie.  She stared at her shoes.  "Uh... I...".  She looked up at Riley.  "I do kind of wish you'd let us have a little more space... "


"Oh," said Riley.  "Well... fine.  I'll just... fine. I'll go."


"Riley, wait - " called Maggie.
"Don't worry about her," said Joel.  "She'll get over it.".

----


She did what?!"


"Skipped most of the day at school," said Mari.  "The school phoned, and I found her in her bedroom.  She said she wasn't feeling well, so she sneaked in the back door."
"And is she sick?" Aaron asked.


"I don't think so.  And here's the other news - she says she wants to go to private school."
"What?!  Did she say why?"
"No... although I think she really just wants to go to a different school to her brother."


Aaron shook his head.  "Ok... I'm sorry, but I can't come home now.  I'm on my way to the hosptial, and Dad specifically asked me to come tonight."


"It's ok.  We've got the weekend to sort it out."

Mari was hanging up the phone when Joel walked in.
"Hi Mum," he said, putting down his bag.  "Is Riley here?  She wasn't at school all afternoon."
"She's upstairs.  I was hoping you could tell me something about why."


"Uh... we, um... "
"Joel?"
"It was her own fault, really!  She just won't leave us alone."
Mari sighed.  "Ok... you'd better tell me the whole story."

----

 Cory stopped Sam at the door.   "You're not going out again, are you?"


"Just getting a coffee with Matthew," she said.  "We won't be late, not with the competition tomorrow."
"We've got coffee here."
"Dad!"
"Well, you only just got back... where have you been all afternoon, anyway?"


"The school pool," she said.  "One last practice..."
"With Matthew?"
"He's my timekeeper."  She grinned.  "Gotta go.  See you later..."


"Her timekeeper?" Cory repeated, when she was gone.
"You need to give her a bit more freedom," said Rose.  "She'll be going to college next year."


"That's next year," he said.

He started to walk away, but Rose stopped him.  "Cory, about this morning - "
"What about it?"
"What's really going on?"


"I don't know what you mean."
"Oh, come one... you've never talked to your children the way you snapped at Noah this morning."
"He was making too much noise.  Maybe I over-reacted, but someone had to - "
"It's not just this morning.  You've been like a different person lately... something's happened, I know it has.  Cory, whatever it is, we have to talk about it."
"How many times do I have to say it?  There is nothing to talk about!"


"That's not true and you know it!"
"Look, I haven't got time for this right now.  Helen's waiting for a ride to the hospital, Dad asked us to both come tonight."
"But you can't - "


"I've got to go.  I'll talk to Noah tomorrow.  I'm sure he won't go on about it for the rest of the year..."


He was gone before Rose could even think of a response.

----

Ugh, this update drove me nuts!  I couldn't get the pictures right, I couldn't get the words right... In the end, I decided it was better to not tell the story as well as I wanted to, than to just not tell the story! :)  So I posted it, even if I'm not happy with it, it's just one part of a bigger storyline that I'm dying to share, and hopefully the rest won't give me quite so much trouble...

Part 3 soon...

2 comments:

  1. I thought this post was lovely! And the expressions on Rose's face when he turns around, in those last two pictures, is just perfect! So perfect!

    Oh wow, I have my guesses about what might be bothering Cory, but I'll let you say it first! Eeek!

    Awww, and Sam is just adorable! I think probably most girls go through that decision in teen relationships at one time or another, and I hope she waits until she's ready. If he's worth it, he'll stick around for her too. And well, I guess the worry is that sometimes they're not worth it and don't stick around, but that's also sort of a blessing in disguise.

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  2. Laura, thanks, it's great to get positive feedback on something I struggled with. Particularly glad you liked the last two pictures because they were among the ones I spent more time on, playing with facial expression overlays to try to get it right.

    Sam has really taken over this story... if I'd known she was going to do that, I'd have given her an update of her own, but instead she gets to elbow Aaron's eldest daughter completely out of the next part :)

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Thanks for reading and commenting!