I had work on New Year’s Eve, and when I got home, I called Terin. “Have you sent in your applications?”
“Finished them yesterday,” he said proudly. “You?”
“They’re done, I just haven’t sent them in.”
“What are you waiting for?” he teased.
I went out to the computer, which was in the corner of the family room. Everyone was there eating dinner and watching a recording of a show from the day before, so I stayed quiet. I aimed my phone at the computer, logged in, and turned in all of my applications. Then I hurried back to my room so Terin and I could talk.
“The deed is done,” I said.
“Proud of you,” Terin said, blowing me a kiss.
“You too,” I said, laughing. I blew him a kiss back.
“You should go hang out with your family.”
“The show they’re watching is boring.”
“But if you’re going off to school in the fall, you should spend time with them.”
I sighed. “You’re right, as always, I guess.”
“Of course I’m right.”
“Then why don’t you follow your own advice?”
Terin rolled his eyes. “I will, once dinner starts. Mom and Dad promised to stay up with us until the ball dropped.”
“I hope it’s fun.”
“Yeah, yours too. Now go make friends.”
“Okay, okay,” I said, and we hung up.
The next day during my break at work, I looked at my phone to see a text from my dad, saying that the insurance had approved my surgery. I nearly jumped up on the table and started singing and dancing, but instead I left my sandwich on the table and ran out back to whisper-scream and dance in private.
I had enough time left on my lunch break to call the doctor [he needs a name]. I looked at my calendar, memorizing a few ideal dates, and then called. He picked up after a couple rings, and I scheduled my surgery for January 30th. That gave me a couple weeks to up my workouts so that my chest muscles would be bigger and to make sure I had everything arranged at work.
After my shift ended that evening, I sat in the car and put in my scheduling request. I also sent an email to my manager, explaining why I would need to be scheduled for cashier only for a few weeks after my surgery.
When I got home, I told my dad that I had scheduled my surgery.
“I don’t think I’ll be able to get more than two days off,” he said.
“That’s okay,” I said. “It’s just important that you’re there on the day of my surgery and that you can drive me home, right? Jed can take care of the rest. He only works part-time for now.”
“Do you know for sure that you can stay with him?” Dad asked.
“No,” I admitted, “but I’m going to call him tonight.”
“Okay. I’ll wait to choose my days off until then.”
After dinner, I practiced, and then I went to my room and called Jed.
“Hey, I was just thinking about calling you,” he said when he picked up. “I got your text about your insurance approving the surgery.”
I told him that I had scheduled it and asked if I could stay with him and the Prados for a week or so, depending how surgery went.
“I’ll have to ask, but I’m sure they’ll say yes,” he said. “They’re always telling me that I can invite people over.”
“I’ll go downstairs and see if I can find them.”
I listened as he made his way down the stairs and around the house.
“Hey Marco,” Jed said. It got quiet, and I imagined Isaiah’s dad pausing the TV. “Do you remember my friend Cameron?” “Yeah.”
“He’s having surgery on January 30th in Kansas City and he has to stay in the area for about a week or so afterwards. Do you think he could stay here?”
“I think he could, but you’d have to ask Laney,” Marco said.
“Okay I will, thanks.” Jed said. Suddenly his voice got louder. “I think she’s outside.”
“Thanks for asking for me,” I said.
“You’re a dork.”
“I’m working on my Spanish, what can I say?” We both laughed, and I heard a whooshing sound like a door opening.
“Hey Laney,” Jed said.
“Hi honey,” she said. I could barely make out her words.
“Oh, hi Ms. Phillips.”
“You hear that?” someone I didn’t recognize said. “He calls you ‘Laney’ but he’s still here calling me ‘Ms. Phillips.’ You can call me Eliza, honey.”
“Sorry,” Jed said, and I imagined his face turning red.
“We had to drill it into him when he moved here,” Laney said. She and the other woman laughed. “What is it?” Laney asked.
“Do you remember my friend Cameron?”
“Of course, he was a sweet boy.”
Jed repeated the information about my surgery.
“Of course he can stay here,” Laney said. “As long as he doesn’t mind sleeping on the couch, or on the floor.”
“We always have an open couch at our house,” the other lady said.
“Okay, thanks,” Jed said. “I’ll let him know.”
I heard the whooshing noise again, and then Jed said, “Did you hear any of that?”
“Yeah, who was the other lady?”
“Ah, okay.” I said. “I’m fine with sleeping on the couch or on the floor, but I’m not allowed to sleep on my side for a while after surgery. I don’t know if the couch will irritate my side or something.”
“Yeah, that’s a fair point. I know they have another sleeping pad like the one I’m using, so I bet you could sleep on that.”
“Sounds like a plan,” I said. “Is Isaiah there?” “No, he’s out somewhere. He’s taking full advantage of being out of school.”
Jed sighed. “It’s hard to believe that Isaiah, and Jacoryn and Leo, are going to college and I’m not. They barely even passed high school!”
“Are they passing college?”
“So far. Isaiah said he had some close calls, though.”
“How’s writing going?”
“I’m working on editing what will hopefully be my debut novel.”
“Very cool,” I said. “You’ll have to send me the new version when you’re done.”
“Okay, I will. Mrs. Parker still really wants to read it, but I’m scared to show it to her.”
“Well she’ll read it when you publish it anyway.”
“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll send it to her after I’m done with this round of edits.”
“That would be good. She’d like that a lot.”
“Did they send you a Christmas present? Or Gerald and Kira?”
“Yeah, they both sent me one.”
“I have so many pens and pencils and notebooks now,” Jed said. I could hear the smile in his voice. “They know what I need.”
“Does your sweater fit?”
“Yeah, does yours?”
“Technically. I’ve been running with Gray occasionally and doing upper body exercises, so I’ve lost some weight and it’s actually a little big on me.”
“That’s a good problem to have, I think. I’ll be worried when her sweaters start feeling small on me.”
I smiled. “It’ll seem even bigger on me after surgery.”
“Soon you’ll have to get a whole new wardrobe.”
“If I keep working out, I will for real.”
“Good for you, Cam. I really need to get out more.”
“We can take lots of walks while I’m there. Walks are supposed to be really good for recovery.”
“We can be accountability buddies.”
“Accountabilibuddies,” I said, and we both laughed.