Nathaniel, a 16 year old boy, a junior in high school and it was finally the last day of school for the semester. He now had the summer. A small smile started to spread on his face. But in an instant, the same amount of time it would take you to blink, Nathaniel’s face was covered in the agony and pain of despair. His heart sank when he saw the number on his phone. It read “parents cell.” His parents hated cell phones. They did not get one until about a year ago and they never actually used it. The phone would only come out when they were going on a trip, or worse. Nathaniel had got one of his own and now his phone lay face up in his palm, his thumb bent ready to press the button that would answer the call. Nathaniel stood there, staring at the phone, hoping, imploring, begging. This was to be a good day; he didn’t want to pick up. He wanted to let it ring and listen to the voice mail.

The last time he picked up the call from his parent’s cell phone his heart broke into a thousand pieces. The strong, happy, confident man had to fight back tears with more force than he boxed and wrestled with. More strength than he thought he had. There on the broken and gray sidewalk, Nathanial was standing staring at his phone, remembering his sweet sister Jane, reminiscing about her lovable face, recalling her engaging voice. She said one word and you were entangled in the vines of her expressions. How he missed her. How he did not want to miss anyone else. His brother. Nothing could have happened to him at school. Or could it have? Nathaniel seemed to be frozen still, like a flower covered in snow. Unable to grow but still alive. He moved his shoulders and head in one shudder as if being kicked in the jaw by a horse. At last he answered. Pressing the button timidly, gracefully bringing the phone to his ear and sturdily saying hello. “Hi honey its mom” she said in a voice distracted by something unknown.

“Hey mom” he said as his eyes darted back and forth, his hands clenching tight as if holding onto something that he never wanted to let go. His heart beet speeding up and growing louder and louder as if his chest were a base drum and his heart the mallet. His stomach came up to his throat tightening his shaped muscle as he seized a sad, silent swallow. “Is anything wrong?”

The moment became as still as the morning after an earthquake when everyone holds their breath as they wait for the world to stop shaking. His leg trembled impatiently. “Nathaniel I’m still at the grocery with your grandmother so I will need you to pick up your brother from school. Make sure you go straight home after that to feed Mini.”

He let out a gasp, releasing the held up cold air his body had gripped to for the last few everlasting moments. In an instant, breathing back in, his jaw had fallen, his eyes had opened as wide as a baby’s eyes during peek-a-boo. “Everything’s fine?” He asked his mother, in a tone only a child who thought he was in trouble but really wasn’t would make.

“Yes! Everything’s fine, there is no big catastrophe that I am not telling you about. You can check the news out for that one.” His mother quickly replied with a hint of sarcasm and a trace of worry. “Just make sure you go pick up your brother. He is out in 20 minutes and won’t be expecting you. Then go straight home after and feed Mini.”

Nathanial still dazed by the last few seemingly eternal moments was lost in the feeling of ultimate and comprehensive belief that everything was okay. “Nathaniel. Did you hear me?”

He shook himself back to reality, responding rapidly “Yes mom I did.” His face starting to envelop in a big tooth, wide mouth, eyes closed, dimples showing smile. “I will get Robby and feed Mini.”

“Good, I’ll see you when I get home from grocery shopping with grandma.” As she hung up, he comfortably removed the phone from his ear. Phone solid in his steady hand, he stared at it, laughed at himself. Just that quick laugh reminding you that life is never what you expect it. That when you expect it to be one thing or turn out one way it always changes on you better or worse. Nathaniel placed his phone back in his pocket. Put his head up and walked on to his car, chin high, arms relaxed but one hand still clenched tight as if holding onto something that he never wanted to let go.

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