Peter & Emily, The Girl From New YorkThomas Hayes / Young Adult / Fantasy
Peter & Emily,
The Girl From New York
Copyright © 2016 Thomas Hayes
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photography, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system without the prior written consent from the publisher and author, except in the instance of quotes for reviews. No part of this book may be uploaded without the permission of the publisher and author, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is originally published.
This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, actual events or locales is purely coincidental. Based on characters from Peter and Wendy, by J.M. Barrie.
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As my dad turned the car onto our street, the only sound I could hear was the click-click-clicking of the turn signal. That’s how I knew he was really mad: the whole way home from the high school, he hadn’t even turned on the radio.
“I hope you’re happy,” he said, eyes staring at the road. “I hope that felt good, watching your team walk off the field like that.”
“You know it didn’t,” I said. “I feel horrible. So there’s no reason to keep talking about it.”
He shook his head. “I still can’t believe it. My daughter, sitting in the bleachers, with the whole town whispering about her.”
“All right. Stop, Dad. Please. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Talking about it isn’t going to do anything. So just stop.”
As much as I didn’t want to talk about it, I knew exactly what he was talking about, of course. A week earlier, I had been caught at a high school party. Well, not caught, exactly, but pictures of me at the party had ended up on Instagram, which went around the school and eventually into the hands of the principal, resulting in me and a couple of the other girls getting kicked off the field hockey team. So, on the day that I was driving home with my dad, we had just sat and watched my team lose and get kicked out of the playoffs by a team we should have beaten.
“I should have been proud, Emily,” he said. “That’s the thing. I should have been proud, instead of sitting next to you while everyone whispers about why you aren’t playing.”
We both stopped talking for the rest of the ride home. Eventually, my dad turned his car into the parking garage underneath our apartment building. He was pretty rich, so we lived in a really nice apartment in the middle of New York City. I never really knew what my dad did for a job—all I knew was that he worked on Wall Street, he always wore a suit, and we went on really expensive vacations. Most people who were adopted like me probably would have thought I hit the lottery, being chosen from foster care by two ultra-rich New Yorkers, but as I got older, it became something that I was more and more uncomfortable with. When you’re in high school, anything that makes you stick out usually isn’t good, even if it’s because your dad is rich.
After taking the elevator up to our apartment on the 30th floor, my dad threw his keys onto the kitchen table and headed to his office. He passed by my mom, who was in the living room.
“I’m sorry, Emily,” she said. She was already dressed up for the big dinner her and my dad were going to that night with my dad’s boss. “Next year you’ll have to make up for it, okay? There’s always next season.”
“Nope, this was the year,” my dad said. “The team they had this year was the one to go all the way. She ruined it for them, and she’s gonna have to live with that for the rest of her life.”
I opened my mouth to say something, but then stopped. I was so angry, but I had nothing left to say. I honestly just felt like crying. It was all he had talked about all day. All week.
“All right, Brian,” my mom said. “That’s enough. We went over this already, and she knows what she did. We agreed we wouldn’t talk about it like this anymore.”
“That was before I had to sit there in front of the whole town, in front of everyone’s parents. You two need to always remember that they know us. They know who we are. Before this, they knew us because of the good we’ve done for the school. But now they know us because of this. And I’m not just gonna let that slide.”
“I don’t know what you want me to do, Dad,” I said, not able to hold it in any longer. Dammit, my voice cracked. I was getting upset. “I guess I’m just a screw-up, okay? I’m so sorry I tarnished your stupid freaking image.”
I went upstairs to my room. I heard my mom say, “Honey, wait,” but I closed the door. I didn’t want to talk to her. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. When I was little, my dad and I were buddies. We were so close. Hanging out all the time, going to Brooklyn for pizza or to water parks on the weekends, and watching TV at night. But now, we barely even spoke. It was like he didn’t know who I was anymore. And this all started way before I was caught at the stupid party. For the past year or so, it had been like he didn’t even know how to talk to me. It was like living with a stranger, or at least someone who looked at me like a stranger.
A few minutes later, as I lay on my bed texting my friends, my brother, Tim, stepped into my room. He was ten and still such a little kid, even younger somehow than the other kids in his grade. He still played with action figures and little matchbox cars, let’s put it that way, when most of his friends had moved onto sports and watching R-rated movies when their parents weren’t paying attention.
“So Dad is pretty pissed, huh?” he asked.
“Yeah, you could say that.”
“I still don’t get it. What’s the big deal? Was going to the party really that bad?”
I thought it over. “Yeah, kind of. I shouldn’t have been there, let’s put it that way.”
“What kind of party was it?”
“Just a regular stupid high school party. Same typical thing as always.”
“What happens at these parties, anyway?”
I laughed. “You’ll find out soon enough.”
“So you agree with Mom and Dad you shouldn’t have been there?”
“Yeah, of course. It was stupid to go. Especially during field hockey season. I should have just stayed home, but…” I shrugged.
“Did you tell Mom and Dad you agree with them?”
“Then why are they still grounding you after this weekend?”
“You got me.”
“I’m sure losing the game was bad enough.”
“Yeah, it was.” I thought of something. “Remember when you broke Grandma’s old China plate with your wiffle ball?”
“You didn’t need to bring it up, but yeah.”
I chuckled. “And you felt so bad about it that they didn’t need to ground you? Well, that’s what I was hoping for here. But I guess not.”
“I’m sorry you lost the game.”
“Yeah, it’s okay. It’s really not, but thanks.”
“What time are you leaving for the camping trip?”
I looked at my clock. “Around eight. I’m gonna take the subway to Jess’ and then she’s gonna drive us to the campsite.”
“I wish I was going camping. Instead I’m stuck here with stupid Miss Planton.”
I laughed. “She’s nice.”
“I know she’s nice, she’s just not someone I wanna be stuck in an apartment with for five hours. I wish you were staying here.”
I looked up at him, but he was flipping through a magazine on my shelf. I felt bad. I had noticed lately he was always eager to hang out and talk with me, and I think he missed me because I wasn’t at home as much anymore, since I was always out with my friends.
“Hey, I’ll tell you what,” I said. “When’s that video game convention coming up you’ve been telling me about? When it starts, we’ll go.”
He looked up. “Really? For real?”
“Yeah. It’ll be fun. I’ve always wanted to go to something like that.”
“Yeah, that would be awesome. Way better than listening to Miss Planton talk about meeting her husband in the 40’s for five hours or something.”
“Emily?” my mom called. “Tim? We’re leaving.”
“They’re leaving already?” I asked.
“I guess so,” Tim replied.
I walked downstairs, and sure enough, my parents were standing near the door. My dad was in his suit and checking his email on his phone while my mom stood next to him, beautiful in her orange dress, with her hair done up.
“Why are you guys leaving already?” I asked. “Miss Planton isn’t here yet.”
My mom turned to me, but then my dad interrupted her. “You’re babysitting tonight,” he said.
“What?” I felt my face getting red with anger. “No, I’m not. I’m going camping with the girls to celebrate the end of the season.”
“No, you aren’t,” my dad replied. He didn’t even look away from his phone. “Players who get kicked off the team don’t get to go to the end of the season celebration.”
“Says me. And your mom.”
“No way. Mom?”
She shook her head. “Sorry, honey.”
“I’m going camping,” I said. “I’m already freaking packed and everything. I’m not staying here and babysitting.”
“Can we please stop calling it babysitting?” Tim said. “I’m ten years old. I’m starting to feel like I need a rattle or something.”
“Your dad and I talked about it, and we decided you should stay home this weekend, considering everything that happened.”
“What do you mean, everything that happened? We went over this already, for freaking days now. I thought this was all settled? I’m grounded for two months—after this weekend. Isn’t that what you said?”
My dad looked up. “Watch the language, first of all. Second of all, you really think I’m gonna let you go have a grand old time with your team when you didn’t even play today? Not to mention they lost because of you.”
“I’ve been looking forward to this for months! You’re gonna take that away from me? Don’t you think I’ve been punished enough? What am I supposed to say to Jess?”
“Does it look like I care?” my dad said. “Tell her whatever you want. You’re not going. The team lost today because their best player was sitting in the stands. Do you really think they feel like celebrating?”
“Okay, Brian, that’s enough,” my mom said. This perfectly summed up my parents’ dynamic: my mom punished us, but felt bad about it. My dad punished us and only grew more angry after we were punished, for some reason.
“I’m going,” I said. “You can think whatever you want, but I’m going. So you better call the babysitter right now and tell her you need her after all.”
My dad narrowed his eyes. “You’re staying here and you’re—”
“Listen,” my mom said. “Emily, what you did was unacceptable.”
“I know that.”
“I know you do, but you also need to know that your actions have consequences. When you were at that party, you knew it was the wrong thing, right?”
“Yes. We’ve talked about this.”
“And yet you still did it. You knew it was wrong, and you did it anyway. And now you have to pay the price. There will be other camping trips, Emily. But you won’t be going on this one.”
“There won’t be other trips like this! What am I supposed to do on Monday when it’s all anyone is talking about?”
“You can think about what you did,” my mom said. “And how if you made the right decision, you wouldn’t be in this situation.”
“That’s right,” my dad said. “And if you even think about leaving this house tonight, if your foot even touches the carpet out in the hallway, you have no idea what kind of trouble you’ll be in.” He turned to my mom. “Rebecca, let’s go. We’re gonna be late. You know Chris is probably already there.”
My mom held my face in her hands. “I’m sorry, honey. But this is what happens. You have to stay home tonight. Order some takeout and have fun with your brother.”
“Yeah, we’ll have fun,” Tim said. “It’ll be fun, Emily, like when we used to sleep over at Grandma’s. Netflix just added all the Back to the Future movies. We can stay up late and eat ice cream.”
I looked to my brother. Oh, boy. If he thought that held a candle to going camping with the girls, especially when a bunch of our guy friends were gonna meet up with us, he had another thing coming.
Without even saying a word, I went upstairs.
“Well,” my brother said, “I’ll be watching the movies, anyway. Want me to text you when I start Part Two?”
“Sure,” my mom laughed. “That’d be great, Tim.” I stopped at the top of the stairs and watched her lean down and kiss him on top of his head. “Have fun, and don’t stay up too late.”
“See you tomorrow, Tim,” my dad said. “And oh, I almost forgot—how do tickets to the Giants game sound on Sunday?”
“Really? That’s awesome! Sweet!”
“Goodnight, Tim,” my mom said.
“See you in the morning, buddy,” my dad told him.
“Okay, bye, guys!”
My parents closed the door, and Tim walked into the living room and sat down, playing his 3DS. After a while, he turned on the TV, and an old episode of Phineas and Ferb was on. Tim and I used to watch that back when Tim was in Kindergarten, so I thought for a second about going down and watching it with him, but I wasn’t really in the mood, so I stepped into my room and closed the door.