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Living Again

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Dominick Connelly thought he was a pretty normal guy. He went to school. He had friends. He last spoke to his father ten years ago. Okay, that last part was less than normal, but still. Nothing too special, and that was fine with him. And then his mother died and everything hurt and he would do anything just to be normal again. Because moving across the country to live with his deadbeat dad, his stepmother, and the sisters he apparently had was about as far from normal as you could get. Smiling was impossible. Dominick could barely think some days. But then he got a job and some friends and, maybe, just maybe, he thought he could learn how to live again.

Drama / Other
Ann Royal
5.0 1 review
Age Rating:

Everything Changes


“Coming, coming!” Dominick yelled from his room, racing around to shove another notebook into his backpack. He almost slipped on a stray worksheet on the way, cursing a little louder than he meant to.

“Colorful vocabulary.”

He whirled around, not quite expecting his mother to be standing at his door. He offered her an innocent smile. “Learned it all from you, so really, you only have yourself to blame.”

The woman shook her head at him. “Someone has a smart mouth too, I see,” she said, crossing her arms in her best attempt to be stern. She sounded much too amused though, especially when she added, “And before you say it, yes, I know you got that from me.”

She reached towards his desk to hand him his textbook. “But cool it, alright? You got your temper from me too, so you really should try your best not to make me mad.”

“A shiver just went down my spine.”

“Okay, Mr. Sarcasm,” his mother said with a dry smile. “Get your things already! Jeez, you turned sixteen and your room turned into a mess.”

Dominick wanted to deny that, but, well, his room was evidence enough. Homework stacked on his desk, papers strewn on the floor, clothes hanging haphazardly in his closet. Personally, he would call it cluttered rather than messy though. And maybe just a tiny bit disorganized.

Or a little more than a tiny bit as he tripped over a book and nearly stumbled right into his closet.

“Almost back in the—”

“No ‘back in the closet’ jokes, mom!”

“Alright, alright,” she managed with a smile and a definite snort at her own joke. “But you have school, so you better hurry it up in here.” He heard her chuckle the second she stepped away. Honestly, she was such a dork. In a good way.

She was also one step away from a concussion as she crashed into something with a colorful curse of her own. Whatever it was, Dominick only caught the sunlight flashing in her blonde ponytail for a second before she was gone.

He flicked his eyes to his own reflection in the darkened screen of his computer.

He really looked nothing like his mother. He had sharper cheekbones, she had more defined eyebrows. She had fuller lips, he had thinner hands. He wore contacts while she had perfect vision. She was blonde and he was brunette. He had grown taller than her.

He supposed that he resembled his father. Not that he would really know after the man stopped calling a decade ago.

Dominick shook his head to clear the bitter thought, deftly avoiding another stray paper to pick a sweatshirt and follow his mother to the kitchen.

“Yes, yes,” she was saying into her phone. She rolled her eyes exaggeratedly at whoever was on the other line.

Dominick cracked a smile, stepping around her to steal a homemade oatmeal chocolate cookie from the counter. Breakfast approved and filled with much less betrayal than oatmeal raisin cookies, according to his mother.

Mistaking an oatmeal raisin cookie for a chocolate chip one had apparently scarred her.

Her apparent trauma meant that he got to have chocolate in the morning though, which Dominick definitely appreciated as he raced around to find his keys and his jacket while his mother hummed and nodded on the phone.

It was like a choreographed dance between them, avoiding each other carefully in their small apartment—something that had been much easier when Dominick had still needed his mother to reach the top cabinets.

Now, he towered over her as he reached behind her to grab her travel mug.

“I swear,” she sighed, hanging up. “Calling me in the morning. Making me think about work before work.”

“Prompting you to use your son to reach the high shelves.”

“I mean, that was pretty much the whole reason I had you,” she chuckled, leaning up to kiss his cheek.

“Mom!” Dominick complained.

“Yeah, yeah,” she smiled. “My boy, too grown up for kisses. Do I dare ask for a hug before you head out?”

He made a show of sighing and saying, “I suppose” in his most long-suffering voice, but his mom actually gave the best hugs in the world.

“No matter how old you get,” she started, her voice muffled in his chest, “No matter how tall you get, you can always rely on me for a good hug.”

Dominick tightened his hold, practically melting into her arms. “I think I would be too tall if I kept growing,” he hummed.

The woman chuckled, leaning back to look into his eyes. “You would be perfect no matter what. But go on now, get to school. Be the generation that does better than your parent.”

“Wow, way to raise the bar, mom,” he snorted. “I guess I have a lot of work to do then.”

“You just have to do your best,” his mother reassured him, “while I have a panicked coworker to corral.” She rolled her eyes again just at the thought, giving him a little nudge towards the door. “Remember your jacket too.”

“Yes, mother,” he intoned dutifully.

She shook her head. “See you later, son,” she mimicked in the same dramatic tone.

Dominick ran out the door with his jacket unbuttoned and his backpack hanging from his shoulder. He shivered in the cold February breeze, finding no relief in his old car. With the heat broken, he always had to resist the urge to drive faster just to get to school—which had heating.

They always got some snow in their part of Illinois, which led him to climbing over some snowdrifts on his way in the building. He almost accidentally knocked into someone too, slipping on some water by the door.

“Hey, dude, careful there.”

Dominick shot Brady a grateful smile. “Sure, you just let me know when you figure out how to not slip on a wet floor. Public pools and schools are clamoring for the answer.”

Admittedly, his mom was right. He did kind of have a smart mouth.

Brady had known him long enough not to really be bothered by it though, just rolling his eyes. “Maybe I should have let you hit the floor. You could use a good knock on the head.”

“Just rude, Brady,” Dominick chuckled, stepping carefully over the wet footprints everywhere. He put a hand to his chest, fake sobbing, “And here I thought we were friends.”

“And here I thought you never wanted to join theater, you ham,” Brady laughed, bumping into him with his shoulder.

He probably meant for it to be playful, but while Dominick had hit sixteen and shot up like a weed, Brady had hit sixteen and put on some muscle. His time on the football team probably helped with that too.

Dominick stumbled a little. “Watch it before you break me like a twig.”

“Dominick Connelly, so fragile. Fragile enough to fake pass out in gym when the guys hunted you down with dodgeballs,” he said dryly.

Dominick smiled sheepishly. “Figured me out, huh?”

“I happen to know you pretty well by now,” Brady snorted. “You were so dramatic about—Kyla!”

It was hard not to laugh at the way Brady tried desperately to fix his hair the second Kyla appeared. For her part, she simply smiled, readjusting the binder in her arms that Brady had almost sent tumbling to the floor.

“What was dramatic?” she asked.

“Uh,” Brady managed, apparently fixated on the little curls in her hair or the brown of her eyes or maybe on the white of her smile. Either way, he stood there with his mouth open.

Dominick shook his head. “Friends with her for years and you forget how to speak around her now,” he murmured to himself. More loudly, he answered, “Brady says I am.”

“Oh, you for sure are,” Kyla nodded emphatically. “What did you do this time?”

“The, uh,” Brady finally chimed in, clearing his throat, “The fainting in gym thing.”

“Not the losing a contact in science thing?”

“Hey, I really did lose my contact! Half my vision was blurry!” he protested, but he chuckled along with his friends anyway on their way to homeroom. Brady at least regained his ability to speak by that point, but unluckily for him, their teacher jumped right into attendance.

School was school. Dominick went to his classes, had lunch with his friends, and doodled a few drawings in his notebook during a particularly boring lecture in history. His fish drawings had turned out particularly well, in his opinion.

He also managed to answer a few questions right in the Study for the Spanish Test Extravaganza that was his last class.

“—you might see this on the test. Hint, hint, wink, wink, maybe,” Mr. Herrera emphasized with a few exaggerated winks. “So, I better see all of you—”

“So sorry to interrupt, Mr. Herrera.” Literally everyone looked to the door where Principal Mellie stood. Ever the unflappable woman, she ignored all the looks with practiced expertise. “Would you mind if I borrowed Dominick Connelly?”

Dominick blinked in surprise. He knew he had a smart mouth and maybe a slight flare for the dramatic, but he had no idea why the principal of all people would be calling for him. His mom would absolutely kill him if he got suspended or something.

“Dude,” Brady whispered, eyes wide, “what did you do?”

Nothing,” Dominick murmured. The silence in the room was palpable as he stood.

“Bring your stuff too, Dominick,” Principal Mellie requested.

Kyla frowned worriedly in his direction, but he did his best to send her a reassuring smile before he was following the principal out the door with his backpack slung over his shoulder. The sound of the door shutting behind them felt insanely loud in the quiet hallway.

They walked in silence for about ten seconds before the rapid beating of his heart became too much. “Principal Mellie? Did I do something?”

“No,” she answered immediately, but said nothing else. She looked sad, he realized, or troubled or something. That expression was still on her face as she turned to him to say, “We should talk in my office.”

Dominick frowned. He wanted to ask what was going on, but he had only really seen Principal Mellie from afar at assemblies and stuff. He had no idea how to approach her. So, the silence between them remained almost suffocating as she held open the door to her office where two police officers were waiting.

He raised his eyebrows. “Whoa, okay, cops? What the hell?”

The second after he said that, he expected Principal Mellie to reprimand him for the curse word. But she only said, “This is Dominick Connelly. Dominick, these are officers Joyce and Wada.”

“Um, okay?” Dominick frowned, his eyes shifting to their handcuffs. He literally had never broken the law besides maybe jaywalking or downloading music illegally. Wait, how illegal was the whole music downloading thing, exactly?

One of the offices interrupted his thoughts as he asked, “Your mother in Chelsea Connelly?” He wore the same look as Principal Mellie: sad, almost pained.

“Yeah?” Dominick confirmed, although he was so confused that it came out more like a question.

For a second, everyone was quiet. It was tense. Dominick could feel his heart beating in his chest again, too quickly, more quickly with every second. Dread was creeping up his spine, crawling through his veins—

“Your mother was in an accident today,” the man said slowly, taking a deep breath. “I’m so sorry. She didn’t make it.”

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