The ward of castoria, p.28
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       The Ward of Castoria, p.28

           Robin Silverglate
 

  Chapter 11

  Aftereffects

  That night, Bryn once again had confusing dreams. Dane was in them. The strangest dream was when he shot a purple arrow into the air. She watched it pierce through the night sky as it flew to a place far away. Then, for some reason, Dane looked up at her. Bryn realized that she must be located someplace high up. A balcony maybe? She wasn’t sure.

  Bryn woke up later than usual and had to rush to get ready to leave with her father. She spent the free time before first period asking the teacher for help on even functions which they had just learned the day before. The Advanced Placement Calculus exam was not far away and she wanted to be prepared for it. The moment the bell rang, Mr. Conrad began teaching them about odd functions. Apparently, he was feeling the pressure of the impending Advanced Placement exam as well.

  Her second period teacher, however, did not start immediately. She was busy talking on the phone. Bryn, having nothing to do at the moment looked around the classroom. Her eyes stopped on Dane’s empty desk and she wondered what he was doing right now. Maybe he had already started at his new school in New York or maybe he was still moving into his new place. Bryn’s thoughts were interrupted by Kayla’s sharp voice saying, “Thinking about the boy you scared off?”

  Bryn stared at Kayla and said, “I don’t know what you are talking about?”

  “Dane actually seemed interested in you. I bet once he realized what a boring dud you are, he moved to get as far away from you as possible.”

  Bryn shook her head in disgust and turned her attention back to the front of the class. She was so tired of Kayla’s comments. Bryn knew she only had to endure them a little while longer since graduation was not far away. But it seemed like the closer to the end of the school year they got, the meaner Kayla was getting and Bryn was finding that her strength was faltering. She forced herself to not look back at Dane’s chair again and open herself up to further insults.

  The rest of the day, however, flew by quickly. Bryn was excited about going over to Nicole’s house. It had been a while since she had last been there. It was well before Ryan’s illness. After school, Bryn stopped by her father’s office to say goodbye and then walked out of the school as fast as possible. She did not want to meet Kayla again because that was when she seemed to be her meanest. It really bugged her what Kayla had said about Dane today. Was it by design or a coincidence that Dane moved the day after she rejected him? She did not think he would have convinced his brother to pick up and leave town just to get away from her.

  The walk to Nicole’s house was spent musing over Dane’s abrupt departure and also the strange dreams she had been having about him. By the time she got to Nicole’s, Bryn was frustrated with herself for allowing Dane to take over her thoughts. There were so many more important things to be thinking about. Finishing up her senior year and getting prepared for Johns Hopkins should be her main priorities.

  Nicole answered the door with a large smile on her face. “I’m so glad you could come over. What do you want to do first? Watch a movie? Paint our nails? You choose.”

  Bryn felt happy to just be doing some girly stuff. Most of the time she had to take everything so seriously, but with Nicole, she could relax and just be a teenage girl for a while. “Let’s do our nails first.”

  “Great,” said Nicole as she led her up the stairs. As they walked down the hallway to Nicole’s room, they passed by the open door of Ryan’s room. Nicole peeked her head in and said, “Bryn is here and we’ll be hanging out in my room if you need me.”

  Ryan’s eyes never once deviated from the television screen. He was busy playing a video game. He said, “Okay,” to Nicole without disrupting his game. Bryn scrutinized Ryan and thought he looked pretty good. He didn’t appear to be as pale as he used to. That was definitely a good thing.

  The girls hung out in Nicole’s room for the next hour, painting their nails and chatting about various people they knew. Nicole had a lot of friends at school that she talked about. At one point, Bryn thought about confiding in Nicole about what Dane had told her on Saturday night, but she eventually decided against it. It was too personal and she really did not want anyone knowing. In the end, she chose to keep it a secret.

  When they were done in her room, Nicole suggested they watch a movie. “What do you have to watch?” asked Bryn.

  “My mom just got Summer in LA the other day.”

  “That sounds fine to me.” Bryn could use a little comedy in her life right now.

  “I think Ryan already watched it,” said Nicole. “Let’s go get it out of his room and watch it downstairs.”

  Bryn liked that plan. She wanted to observe Ryan a little more and see how he was really feeling. This time, when Nicole and Bryn walked in Ryan’s room, he was watching a television show. The commercials were on, so he actually looked up at them when they came in. “Ryan,” said Nicole. “Are you done with Summer in LA? Bryn and I want to watch it.”

  “Sure,” he said. “It’s still in the DVD player.”

  While Nicole was getting the disk, Bryn asked, “How are you feeling?”

  “Much better,” said Ryan. “Mom says I’m strong enough to play on the soccer team this season.”

  Bryn could see how excited he was about this. She remembered Nicole had told her how sad he was when he officially had to quit the team because he had missed too many practices. “That’s great,” said Bryn. She really did think this was a good sign. Nicole’s mother wouldn’t be talking about him rejoining the team so soon if he was still sick.

  The commercials were over and Ryan’s attention focused again on the television screen. Nicole was still working on getting the disk out of the DVD player. Bryn could tell by the frustrated comments coming out of her friend’s mouth that the machine was a little bit on the temperamental side. Bryn let her eyes wander around the room to amuse herself. She saw a shelf on the wall which held many soccer trophies and medals. She also saw some old stuffed animals sitting over in the corner. Those must be remnants from his early childhood he wasn’t quite ready to part with.

  On his bedside table, however, she saw a wooden cup. It was tall and cylindrical in shape. There was a beautiful, leaf design that had been carved into the middle of the cup. Bryn was surprised to see something that old fashioned and medieval looking inside the room of a nine year old boy. She picked it up in order to investigate it more closely and said to Nicole, “This is beautiful.”

  Nicole made a triumphant noise as she finally got out the disk, then turned to Bryn in order to see what she was talking about. A flash of surprise showed on her face and she said, “That’s my grandmother’s cup. Mom keeps it in her room for sentimental reasons. It really shouldn’t be in here.”

  Nicole picked up the cup and said to Ryan as she left, “You shouldn’t take things out of Mom’s room without her permission.”

  “Huh?” said Ryan. His eyes still never leaving the screen.

  Bryn got up and followed Nicole out into the hall. She watched as her friend stopped by her mother’s room and placed the cup on the small table by the door. Then she closed the door and suggested they make popcorn before watching the movie.

  The movie turned out to be hysterically funny and the girls were even laughing during the credits when Nicole’s mother came home with pizza. Ryan practically ran down the stairs and sat at the dinner table. He complained that he was starving and was ready to eat immediately. They all sat around the dinner table and had fun talking to each other. Bryn noticed Nicole’s entire family had a carefree and relaxed attitude. Ryan had his appetite back and Nicole’s mom no longer looked at Ryan with cautious eyes. Bryn was happy that everything seemed to be going so well for Nicole and her family. Ryan truly seemed to be cured. Hopefully, his illness was a thing of the past.
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