When I Look at You

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Chapter Eighteen

“What are you doing here? You weren’t suppose to come get me for another four weeks!”

“I thought I would surprise you for your birthday! It’s not every day your daughter turns eighteen! Kerri, can you get my suitcase from my trunk? I gotta talk to your father quick.”

“Sure.” I noticed that she seemed paler than I remembered but being from Maine, that happens. Her hair was shorter now and she wore no makeup really. She looked tired. Walking passed her, I walked over to our car. Popping open the trunk, I grabbed her duffle bag and slung it over my shoulder. Closing the trunk back up, I headed back up to the porch where they both stood waiting for me. Dad took her bag from me and disappeared in the house. “Are you staying here?” I asked. She nodded.

“Yup! Your dad said I could sleep in the younger daughter’s room since she’s still at camp. So! Tell me all about this boy of yours!” She said, grabbing my hands. She pulled me over to the white wooden swing that swayed on the porch. A blush filled my cheeks as we sat.

“He’s name is Blaine. He’s Greg’s son.” I said. She looked at me like I had two heads.

“Well I know all that! Tell me the good stuff! Is he cute? What’s he like? Have you kissed?”

“Mom! You’re worse that Dad is!” I said, looking at my feet. “And yeah.”

“Awwww! My baby’s first boyfriend. Can I meet him? Or would that be embarrassing?”

“No, you can meet him! He’ll be here tomorrow for my birthday party. Hes amazing, Mom. He’s sweet and funny. I’ve never met anyone like him before. He’s definitely different than the boys back at home.” I stopped when I realized she was giving me another one of her famous looks; the all knowing mother look. “What?”

“Honey, if I didn’t know any better, I would say you were in love with this boy.”

“In love? I don’t know about that. I’ve only known him for a month. That can’t be long enough to fall in love with someone.”

“I fell in love with your father in a few days. Trust me it can happen.”

After catching up with Mom, she excused herself to take a nap. She had driven all night after getting out of work to be here in time she said. I told her I would see her later and that we could get some dinner later. I showered and changed into a sun dress before heading out for a walk on the beach.

The waves were gently lapping the sand as I strolled along the beach. The sand was warm in between my toes since I had tossed my flip flops shortly after arriving. I took pictures as I walked of various things, mostly the water. Families and groups of people were scattered here and there enjoying the nice day. There was a nice warm breeze in the air and the sea salt felt amazing on my skin.

Walking a bit more, I came across a community bulletin board. Looking at it, a bright pink flyer caught my eye. There was a picture in the center of a camera. Big bold lettering surrounded it.

CALLING ALL PHOTOGRAPHERS! $15,000 SCHOLARSHIP FOR WINNING PHOTO SHOWCASING HARDSHIP. DEADLINE SEPTEMBER 1ST.

Grabbing the paper, I ripped it off the board. There was more information about submitting it and where to call to get more information. It was the art gallery’s information. I had forgotten Tammy said something about this a couple days after I arrived. My mind started racing. If I entered this contest, I could stand a chance of actually getting into NYU! I started thinking of all my best shots and which ones would actually work. Most of my images were nature scenes. None of them showed any type of hardship. I would have to take a photo of an actual person. My mind started reeling through everyone I knew and who exhibited hardship the most. My mind instantly went to my father and his battle with addiction. If I could showcase that in a photo, it would be sure to get some attention from the judges. Shoving the paper into my bag, I headed back to the house to start planning.

Back at the house, Mom was still sleeping. Dad was at the Wharf and the only person I found was Tammy who was on the phone in the kitchen. Grabbing my spare camera battery, I headed over to the Wharf. Never being inside, I was amazed at how large it was. Like the house, it was nautical themed with anchors and other beach items decoration the light blue walls. A captain’s wheel was mounted in between two doors that were marked kitchen and office. Walking over to the office door, I knocked.

“Come in!” My dad’s voice called from behind it. I pushed it open and found him sitting at his desk, pouring over some papers and an open laptop on the desk. His office was a bit messy and kind of boring compared to the rest of the restaurant. It was mostly browns and covered with binders marked with rules and regulations. He looked up when I enter. “Oh hey, kid. What’s up?”

“Got a minute?” I asked.

“For you? Of course. Hell, I might even have two.” He pulled his glasses off his face and set them on top of the papers. He leaned back in his chair and crossed to arms.

“That photo contest that the art gallery is putting on is about hardship. I need a photograph showing some raw emotion dealing with life. Could I use you and your addiction for it? I think that pain you felt and the overcoming it still to this day would make a compelling case.” He thought for a moment, chewing on his bottom lip like I do when I was deep in thought.

“What about your mom? Don’t you think she would make a better candidate?” He asked.

“I thought about that. Working two jobs and all to raise a kid. But I just think that she’s so used to it now that she wouldn’t be able to show me complete emotional components that I need for this.”

“I’m sure your mom has more hardships going on than you think, Ker. But, yeah. You can do it on me. Just let me know when. I’m kind of busy right now for that. You come up with the idea and I’m all yours.”

“Thank you!” I said, running around the desk to hug him.

Mom woke me up the next morning to apologize for sleeping through our plans. I told her it was fine and that she needed to take care of herself after driving all that way first. Tammy made everyone breakfast on the deck. As I ate, I noticed my Mom only ate some of her food. She mostly picked at her eggs and nibbled on some toast. When she saw me looking at her, she smiled. “My stomach is off from sleeping so much last night. I’m fine.”

After breakfast, her and I took a walk down the beach. We stopped at my dock and sat there for a while, catching up on stuff that had happened during the time I had been here. “Have you been working a lot?” I asked, looking at her. She nodded.

“Yeah. A couple of the girls at work took some time off for vacations so I’ve been working doubles since you left. The money has been great, girlie. That’s what I wanted to talk to you about actually. Do you like it down here?”

“Well yeah. The weather is nice and Blaine is here. So’s Dad. And I guess Tammy is okay. Why?”

“What would you think about moving down here? Permanently?”

“With you, right? Not with them?” She smiled.

“Well, yes with me. I think that a change in scenery will be good for the both of us. I’ll take some time off before finding a new job and we can relax before school starts.”

“Mom, are you sure about this? You’ve lived in Maine your whole life.” She shrugged.

“You’re really doing well here. I believe we would be doing something great having a fresh start here. What do you say?”

“Does that mean you are staying here for the rest of the summer then?” Nodding, she stood up.

“Yes. I figured I could use the vacation from work. Plus it’ll give us a chance to maybe find a house. Your father agreed to cosign one with me if we find one we like.” I stood up, smiling at her.

“You’re serious about this?” I asked. I couldn’t believe she was considering this. She always told me that she would never move south because of the heat and the amount of bugs they have. But looking at her now, I could tell she was completely serious about moving here.

“Only if you want to. So?”

“Yes!” I exclaimed, hugging her. She laughed at my outburst, hugging me back. “I won’t have to leave Dad or Blaine. And no more snow! This is great! Can I finish high school on-line though? I don’t want to start school my senior year in a new school. Oh! I can finish it like in half the time!” I rambled. She held her hand up.

“Let’s get through your birthday first then we can discuss all this. Happy birthday!”

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