Chapter 10: Get Home - Bastille
Brilliant. Gifted. Prodigy. Genius. Those labels were first slapped on me at the tender age of seven. Organize colorful blocks in an intricate manner and you’ll find yourself in a psychiatrist’s office, undergoing hours of testing. I wish I knew. I didn’t even show my parents what I had created. Actually, I never sought their approval or comfort. That turned out to be another warning sign.
Along with my IQ of 146, my psych evaluation shed light on my irregular relationships with others. I was noted as having an avoidant attachment style. I was generally cold and apathetic towards others. I didn’t seek approval or comfort from them. In undesirable situations, I didn’t panic – I became passive. When I talked to other people, I generally spouted out facts in a concise manner, never weighed down with emotions. With that being said, I didn’t avoid people. I could have relationships, both romantic and platonic. They simply had to be on my terms and lacking major emotional and intimate demands.
I have two siblings – brother, who is eight years older than me, and a sister ,who is four years older than me. Garett was an All-American, Division I football player. A torn ACL his senior year of college was the only reason he didn’t go pro. He spends the majority of his time reliving his glory days. He even married his college cheerleader girlfriend so that he’d have someone to reminisce with. Gare and I didn’t see eye to eye on most things. His ultra-macho, alpha dog persona irritated me. He never understood why I preferred drawing and working on the computer to sports. My relationship with Rory was better, mainly because she didn’t question what I did with myself. In a way, she compensated for my lack of emotions by caring too much. My mother was my hero. I avoided my father more than I avoided the rest of the world; all the while, he bragged about my accomplishments to his pals.
Honestly, I didn’t mind all that much. I had friends – seven best ones, actually. I even had a girlfriend. Sami came with as many emotional stipulations as I did. We had different reasons for doing it, but both of us were unable to remain in more traditional relationships. We tended to shut down when we were presented with emotion-fueled issues. We couldn’t communicate anything in an emotionally meaningful manner, leaving our significant others or potential ones to feel isolated or distanced. Being similarly defective allowed our relationship to work. I did feel like she understood me, which was something that rarely happened. That’s why summer time was always a major inconvenience for me. She was in Oregon and I was in Pennsylvania.
People wanted me to explain myself and get close to them, but I couldn’t. Trying was almost painful.
I woke up in the middle of the afternoon, having stayed up until the sun came out. After showering and getting dressed, I headed downstairs. I walked into the kitchen and found my mom and sister.
My mom appeared to be making homemade cookies. Rory was helping, feeling nostalgic for her youth after spending a year away at college.
“Hey, Finn.” Rory smiled at me.
“Hey.” I grumbled, rubbing my eye with the back of my hand.
“Your SAT scores came in the mail today.” My mom informed me as I collected the materials to brew coffee.
“Yeah?” It was hard for me to be more responsive, feeling a caffeine headache coming on.
“When your father gets home, we’re going to sit down and have an important discussion.”
I sighed. “It’s an arbitrary number. It doesn’t accurately depict intelligence. It grades how well you can think within their system.”
“Both Garett and I had to retake it a couple of times, Mom. If he didn’t do so hot this time, he can easily try again.” Rory tacked on in my defense.
“Did you try, Finn?” My mom asked me instead of responding to Rory.
“I didn’t study, but I also didn’t blow it off.” I drummed my fingers as I waited for my cup of coffee to conclude its brewing process.
“Was it challenging?” She pressed on.
I looked over at her. “What – did I completely bomb it or something?” I did not really care one way or the other.
She pursed her lips together for a moment. “Just answer the question.”
“No, I found it tedious and intuitive. I hated spending my Saturday playing into the flawed system of American standardized testing.”
“You had better things to do like hang out with your girlfriend.” Rory grinned from ear to ear.
I rolled my eyes, shifting them back to my coffee.
“You got a perfect score.” My mom stated simply.
“Seriously?!” Rory cried in disbelief.
“Sweet. Retaking it would’ve a pain in the ass.”
“Sorry, Mom.” I grumbled in response.
“What even is a perfect score?” Rory was still in shock.
“2400.” I answered half-heartedly, still giving my breakfast preparation my full attention.
“That’s like – impossible. I couldn’t even get it done in the allotted time. How’d he do it and get all of them right?!” My sister practically demanded.
“They are running an investigation to ensure he didn’t cheat. Finn, if you did, tell me now.” My mom looked at me pointedly.
“I took the test the way I was supposed to. The last thing I want is the feds on my ass—k.” I caught myself at the last minute.
“Question: if I did cheat, would you have covered for me?” I asked as I poured myself a bowl of cereal.
She warded off a smile. “I’m not even going to humor that with a response.” She returned her eyes to the cookies.
“But seriously, how did he do it?” Rory reiterated, unable to let it go.
“His IQ and aptitude tests have always told us he’s very gifted.”
I rolled my eyes at the word.
“Then why didn’t he skip a bunch of grades? If he’s so far above everyone in his grade, why is he there?” She pressed on.
My mom spared a glance in my direction before answering. “He’s not there – socially.” She stated gently.
“No need to soften the blow for my benefit. I’m pretty indifferent about the matter –“ I chuckled to myself humorlessly. “Fitting.”
“It’s very easy for him to isolate himself from others. He wouldn’t have even viewed it as a bad thing. If he was significantly younger than everyone around him, alienation wouldn’t have been a choice. It would’ve happened because they’d be unsure how to relate to him. We didn’t want that for him.” She elaborated when she knew I was okay with it.
“Was cheating the only thing you and Dad wanted to talk to me about?” I retrievedmilkfrom the fridge.
“No, your test scores in comparison to your grades.”
“I get all B’s. That’s hardly alarming.” I unscrewed the cap and poured it into my bowl.
“It’s clear that you don’t work to your full potential. Don’t you get tired of it?” She argued in a calm manner.
“No, but I’m really sick of the higher standard that I’m held to.” I returned the jug to the refrigerator.
“We’ll see what your father has to say.”
“I guess.” I picked up my bowl of cereal and mug.
I made way up the stairs. I walked into my room. I placed my food and drink on my desk. I locked my door before sitting down in my swivel chair. I switched on my television for background noise. I opened my script writing application and resumed coding. That’s how I spent the entire day, only stopping for food and bathroom breaks.
“We’d like to speak to you in my office, Finn. Now.” My father’s voice rang through the intercom speaker in my room. I glanced at the clock on my computer. It read 10:30 PM. I sighed and stood up from my chair. I went to the intercom and pressed the ‘talk’ button.
“Be down in a second.” I grumbled.
I flipped off my light and headed downstairs. His office was located down the hall from the living room. I didn’t bother to knock on the door before I entered. When I walked in, he beamed and rose to his feet.
“Well done, Son.” He approached me with outstretched arms.
I remained limp as he hugged me. Our close proximity made it easy for me notice that he smelled like women’s perfume. When he pulled away, I saw a glossy, transparent imprint of lips on his neck. I knew it wasn’t my mother’s. She was strictly a lipstick wearer and her preferred scent was far less potent. She had to have noticed. Instead of lashing out at him for his infidelity, she had a pretty smile painted on her face and acted like it didn’t happen, just as she always did.
I sat down in the armchair beside hers without saying a word, fed up with the whole scenario.
“Get excited! This opens so many doors for you. You can go to any college you want. In fact, they’ll fight over you.” He remained on his high level of enthusiasm as he returned to his seat.
I glanced down at my watch. “I’ve got plans later. Can we make this lecture quick?”
“What kind of plans?” My mother inquired, surprise written all over her face.
“Sami and I play video games every night in online mode. We have headsets. We talk and play like we do it at school. It’s something to look forward to.” I slouched in my chair.
She smiled. “We’ll try not to keep you long. That’s very important.”
“I still think you should keep your options open. You’re young. When I was your age, I --” My dad started.
“You still do it.” I deadpanned.
He pursed his lips together and subtly glanced over to my mother. She meddled with her hands in her lap, but kept the same pleasantly neutral expression on her face.
“Did you cheat on your examination?” He questioned, completely ignoring my outburst.
“I could’ve, but having the federal government after me is securely at the top of my ‘don’t’ list.” I snarked in response. I knew if I kept it up long enough, he’d blow up and dismiss me in a more timely manner.
He looked to my mother for the straight forward answer.
“No, he didn’t cheat.” She glanced over at me.
I offered him a pleasant smile to really get under his skin.
“Did you study?” He asked next.
“Between school, work, and sleeping with every girl that’s willing, I simply couldn’t find the time. I’m sure you can relate. I’m a chip off the ol’ block.” I continued sarcastically.
He narrowed his eyes at me ever so slightly. “Angie, --?” He asked her, keeping his eyes locked on me.
“No, he didn’t study.” She answered calmly.
“Do you know why you love being so difficult?” He snarled.
“I’m sure you’ll tell me.”
“Instead of using your mind to benefit anyone other than yourself, you take up useless hobbies and make snide remarks whenever anyone tries to point that out! You’re selfish and lazy! You’ll get nowhere if you keep it up! You’re too arrogant to accept handouts from me for the remainder of your life, so sort it out!” He roared, veins bulging in his neck and forehead.
“I might be mistaken, so bear with me for a second. The fact that I pay my own school tuition with money I earn programming leads me to believe that not only will I be financially independent in the future, but I am right now. I feel as though that invalidates your argument.” I retorted in a completely calm manner.
“I tried. I’m done. Do you have anything you want to say to him?” He tore his eyes away from me and looked over at my mother.
She offered me a warm smile and placed her hand on my shoulder. “We’re proud of you. We really are, but it’s difficult for us to see you working below your full potential. Your test scores show that you are when it comes to the academic portion of SMA. We love that you have friends and a girlfriend, but we want you to try to divide your time a little better.”
“Are you asking me to do this?” I turned to look at her.
She momentarily flickered her eyes over to my father, who was on his Blackberry, texting away. Her eyes were glassy when she settled them back on mine.
“Yes, I’m asking you to do this for me, Sweetheart.” She placed her hand on the side of my face.
“Then I will.”
She leaned over and hugged me. “I love you so much.”
“I love you too, Mom.” I put my arms around her.
“Go have fun with Sami. I’m sure you’ll get in trouble if you’re late for a date.” She pulled back with a smile.
“Not a date, but thanks.” I kissed her cheek.
I stood up from my seat. “Later, Dad.” I held up my middle finger instead of waving.
“Goodnight.” He replied half-heartedly, keeping his eyes locked on his phone.
I remained in front of his desk and held up my other middle finger to see if he would notice.
“Finnegan Patrick!” My mother cried when she caught on to what I was doing. He looked up. I dropped my hands before he could see.
“One of us has to.” I shrugged and left.
I grabbed a soda from the kitchen and went upstairs. I checked my phone to see what game we were playing that night. I put Mass Effect 2 into my PlayStation. I put on my headset and sat down on my bed to get better access of my plasma screen mounted to the wall.
“’Sup, Watson?” She greeted when I logged in.
“Pierce can’t keep it in his pants. Fingers crossed that the latest bimbo is lying about being legal. I will laugh if he’s locked up for statutory.”
“Same. He’s the type that’d make a huge scene and take everyone else down with him. I’d laugh my ass off.” I could hear her smiling at the thought alone.
I breathed a laugh. “Ready to play?”
“The real question is: are you?”