Far From Normal

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“Welcome to Newhaven,” I sighed. “The City of Pure Beauty…yeah right.” I read aloud as we rode past the city sign.

“I don’t think they were kidding, Davey. It’s nice out here.” My dad said.

“I’ll admit it is a lot greener than Miami.”

“Yeah, and smell all that fresh air.” Dad sniffed.

“Dad...the windows are rolled up.”

“Oh, well the air conditioner in here is amazing.” I shrugged out a laugh as I looked out my window at the town we were about to move into.

Trees and water mostly. It was pretty, but I wouldn’t call it beautiful. I miss home. I miss my friends, my school, my park, and mom. Of course I miss mom which was probably the biggest reason for us moving. They met each other in that city, danced together on prom night, dated at Dewey’s Tavern. All their memories belonged to Miami, which is why he traded it in for trees and water.

A town with a population of barely over 5,000 people. But it was quiet, it was remote and he had me. This would be the place where we would make some memories. Of course, there didn’t seem to be much for me to do here. Newhaven was a quiet town for a reason.

Most of the wealthy stay out here, and they like their peace and quiet. They also like their distance. The homes were very much isolated, neighbors lived far and wide along the riverbank. Most people met each other on their boats. This didn’t seem like the place for a teenager until we rode past Newhaven’s Boards and Blades Skate Park.

My eyes probably looked like they shot out of my head when I saw it. The place was massive for a town this small with ramps, rails, and street areas. And the park has both indoor and outdoor areas, so you wouldn’t have to wait for someone to get off the vert. Thank goodness. I used to hate having to wait for someone to realize they can’t kick off the top of the skid correctly before showing them how it’s done. Besides, I rule the vert and I cannot wait to show off. The excitement I was feeling couldn’t be contained as I started bouncing in the car.

Davey...Davey” my dad called me back to reality, “Settle down, son. You’ll get to go soon enough. Let’s at least make it to the house first.”

I nodded, but I couldn’t hide my excitement. I’d been boarding since I was 8, I was really good at it, and I knew I’d miss it when we left Miami. I didn’t think Dad cared enough to move us to a place with a skate park.

“I figured it would make the transition a little easier.” Dad said, picking up on my thoughts.

“Yeah, it’ll definitely help. Thanks Dad.”

“Glad I could help Davey, and look there’s your new school too.” Dad said pointing at the right side of the street where a 4-story building sat named “Ridgemont High School”. The school was white and red brick with large windows and what looked like a ton of classrooms. I was going to enjoy sleeping there.

“Great Dad, I can’t wait to get in there and start studying hard.” I joked.

Dad picked up on my sarcasm quickly, “Oh I bet you can’t Davey. And I have some really good news, guess what my new job is gonna be?”

Dad told me that we moved here for two reasons, one was to get away from Miami and his memories of Mom. The other was because he had gotten a new job in a new field he had been interested in for awhile, but he never told me what that job was.

“What’s that Dad?”

“I’ll be teaching.”

“That’s gre...wait a minute....you don’t mean....?”

“That’s right. Meet your new AP Physics and Biology teacher, Mr. James.” he cheered himself and laughed at my immediate discomfort. My extra 8 hours of sleeping days were over.

We drove off another 20 minutes from the school to finally arrive at our house. Dad stopped the car as we made it up the driveway, “We’re here.”

“This is our house?” I asked in stunned disbelief.

“Yeah, welcome to our new humble abode.”

“Dad, there’s nothing ‘humble’ about this place.” I retorted.

The house was uncomfortably large for only two people. It rested on a hill surrounded by pine and oak trees with the lake just beyond the back porch. It was made of rock and cedar wood. Too big to be a cabin and too small to be a mansion but bigger than what was certainly needed. When we got inside I was even more abashed at what we were living in. The ceiling looked to be so high, we could fit the vert from the skate park in here and still have room for big air.

There was gorgeous amber furniture everywhere. A rock encased built-in stone hearth in the center of the living room. A giant television drilled into the wall sat above that. A walk in kitchen and dining room that could seat a banquet hall if we wanted to and a twirling staircase that lead up to the second floor.

“Your room is upstairs, son.” Dad joked as I made my way to the staircase that I was sure would give me a workout every time I used them.

“You know, as big as this place is, I’m shocked there’s not an elevator.” I teased as I headed up the monstrous stairway. Once atop, I noticed the second floor was almost just as large as the rest of the house.

I counted twelve doorways. Two enormous bathrooms. One large walk-in closet. 7 unused empty rooms, my dad’s room, and my room. Dad had sent for our things so they’d already be here when we arrived. My bed and nightstand were set up but everything else was in boxes. I searched through them and found a box I had marked, ‘Extremely valuable: Meaning, you break; you die.’ Inside was a framed 8x10 of my Mom and I. My Dad had taken it when I was 7. Back when I could stand taking pictures.

While we were in Miami, I had never really looked at it. After Mom passed, I dug it out of a box in the basement where they kept all the old photographs. I had it framed since it was the only picture that I ever smiled in with mom. I clenched the picture to my chest for awhile, then placed it on my nightstand next to my bed.

The only other thing in that box was ‘Pulsar’- the name I’d given to my skateboard. Pulsar was a Black Label design shortboard. As I pulled it out of the box, I slowly began to feel a little bit better about this new house and this new town.

I looked around at the boxes, and figured they’d still be there when I got back. I hurried down the long staircase, Pulsar in hand and yelled to Dad who was already sitting on the couch watching his giant tv, “Dad, I’m gonna go check out the skate park.”

“You sure you don’t want to set up your room first?” Dad asked.

“Right after you Dad.”

“Touché,” he laughed. “You want a ride?”

“No, I want to see how Pulsar handles the roads here.”

“Son, we should really get you a pet or something so you can stop giving names to inanimate objects.”

I paused and let my eyes dance around the room before I answered, “No, I’m cool.”

I shot out the door, placed Pulsar on the ground and headed off in the direction we came. It would be much longer on a board than in a car but getting back on Pulsar will help make this place feel more like home. If I can ever get comfortable calling it that.

The ride took almost a half hour, but I finally arrived back at Newhaven’s Boards and Blades. The place was packed with boarders, bladers, and bikers. But the one thing that was free was the half-pipe vert. I charged over towards this thing, climbed the stairs to the top and looked down. It was a nice 90 foot tip down from the top, and I couldn’t wait to tackle this thing. Just as I locked my helmet on and sat my board in place, I looked up and noticed another boarder on the other side about ready to take off.

“Hey man, what are you doi—?” He shot down the ramp before I could finish and was coming up my side pretty fast. I backed up as he reached the top, kicked off the skid and did a front facing tail grab in my face. He went back down and to the other side of his vert, got off his board and laughed hard at my expense. He turned back around to face me and shrugged his shoulders, “Okay” I whispered, “Challenge accepted.”

I readied Pulsar at the edge, and took off, as I approached his side of the vert, I kicked off the skid , grabbed my tail and did a 360 spin in his face and let go of my tail just as I landed back down. It was a sick trick that I knew he wasn’t expecting. As I got to the top of my side of the vert, I turned around to brag, but he was already on his way towards me. He kicked off the skid just as I was turning around and almost took my head off with his board, “Whoa…what the hell man?”

He snatched his board off his feet, and swung it between his legs, caught it under his feet and landed back down. This meant war. If he wanted to get into a trick battle, that was fine by me. He landed back on his side of the vert, and I took off. The timing had to be absolutely perfect for the trick I was planning to pull off.

I needed to press the nose of my board slightly forward to raise the tail, hook it as I’m leaning forward then jump into a front flip. It’s a move that took me years to master. I broke my jaw and my arm before trying to get it right. But now, it was my go to move whenever I ended up in battles like this. It was the one I knew I could shut anyone down with. I hit it at just the right time and landed perfectly.

My momentum carried me back to my side of the vert where I was already celebrating. When I turned around to face the guy, he had a sour look on his face. Not that he believed he’d lost, but one that said I shouldn’t have done that.

We had drawn a crowd by this point. Several of the boarders and even some of the bikers were staring at us and cheering us on. They even knew the guy’s name, “Get ’em Jason!” they shouted. Jason looked at the crowd and nodded, and he was back on his board. This time it wasn’t trick for trick but rather set for set as Jason busted off three relays back to back hitting a high arching nose grab, a 360, and a mid-air kick flip.

The crowd went wild. I was surprised that there were even some people on my side as I heard them shout, “Come on, new kid! Let’s see what you got.”

“Here goes,” I said to myself as I slid off for my set. I did a split leg tail grab on my first trick and the ‘oohs’ and ‘aaahs’ went up like wildfire. When I landed that one, I could hear a loud sigh of relief from the crowd. Then I went into my next trick as I was coming off my side of the vert, I landed a spinning 180 kick flip which was easy in my book, but I still received some praise from the crowd.

Then came my final trick, I knew exactly what I was going to do and I had just the right amount of speed for it. I was approaching his side and I had to get an abundant amount of air to pull it off, I waited until I was about an inch away from the top and kicked off my board, grabbed the side of it and spun not once, not twice, but three times and landed.

The crowd went insane. Cheers rang out so loud I was sure the whole town heard it. I landed a 450 tail grab, something only the pros do. Jason looked very much upset now as the crowd handed it in for him. He climbed down to get out of the pressure. I climbed down too because I wanted to meet him. He was a damn good boarder and a great challenge.

It took me awhile to get to him as many people from the crowd were congratulating me. I shook a lot of hands, introduced myself to people, and I’m almost sure I felt someone palm me on the butt as I was walking by, but I rushed through to get to Jason. He was already walking away with about 5 of his friends including the one who was cheering for him earlier.

“Hey man, that was awesome, really” I said as I extended my hand to him, “I’m David. I just moved here from Miami.”

Jason sneered at my hand. He was a statuesque guy, just over 6 ft, stocky build with a stone face that I noticed once I got up close. He looked to be chiseled from marble and had the face of a guy who doesn’t lose much at all and he wasn’t taking it too well.

Jason grabbed my hand and shook it really hard, “Miami huh?′

“Yeah,” I answered struggling to get my hand out of his intense grip while at the same time being quite mesmerized by how calmly Jason looked while he was being so aggressive.

“I don’t know who you think you are, but you don’t run this park, I do. So next time you’re on my vert. I’m gonna break you in half,” Jason threatened finally letting go of my hand. I struggled to get the sensation back in my fingers as Jason and his friends started to walk away.

“Hey, there’s nothing wrong with being a loser, y’know. It builds character, which it looks like you could use a lot more of,” I shouted after them. Jason and his friends were back in my face in a matter of seconds. And this time, there wasn’t any hesitation, Jason leveled me with a right haymaker to the face that sent me crashing to the park floor. Then all I could feel were feet kicking me, stomping me all over my legs, back and head. One really tough kick to the head knocked out all my senses. I could barely hear the sounds of the crowd shouting to Jason to stop or even feel them get involved to get them off of me.

Several minutes passed before I could get my hearing back and my vision to un-blur but when I did, there was a girl standing in front of me with a very concerned look on her face, “Are you okay? Can you speak, can you stand?” She was gorgeous with long red hair, full lips and wide eyes. Her concerned look highlighting all her best features.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine. What...what happened?”

“You beat the wrong guy on the vert” she answered, “That was Jason Eggers. He’s been sort of the town’s reigning skate punk. If his Dad wasn’t the sheriff I’m sure he would’ve answered for his behavior by now.” I staggered to my feet as the gorgeous girl helped me up and examined me, “You’re bleeding a lot...from your lip....and your head.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time,” I said as I spit out some blood.

“Do you always get your ass kicked after a trick battle?” she asked half-laughing.

“Not really. Usually it’s a few days later.” I joked.

She helped me over to a park bench where I could sit down, she took out some alcohol pads from her fanny pack and a few band-aids to clean up the blood and cover up the cuts.

“Thanks stranger,” I said.

“It’s Verona” she laughed, “And you’re welcome.”

We shared a short mutual smile before nervousness settled in on me, “Pulsar, where’s Pulsar?”

“Sorry, who?”

“Pulsar, it’s my board.” I said panicked.

“Ummm...” she hesitated, “It’s over there.” She said pointing towards the bike racks. There was Pulsar, shattered down the middle and broken in half.

“Son of a bitch!”

“You guys were close huh?” I couldn’t answer her. I was too upset to respond to her humor. All I could think about was how much I was going to hurt those guys, “Wow, you heal fast.” Verona said interrupting my thoughts.


“Your scar. The one that you were leaking from, it’s....healed.”

I reached up to touch my head and she was right, it was healed. Strangely enough, it was better than healed. It was gone.

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