East Side Academy

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Chapter 22 - Don’t Take Away My Heaven

“And the sun would have nowhere to shine / And the stars would all fall from the sky / Baby, please / / Don’t take away my heaven, oh, no / ‘Cause this world would stop turnin’, I know / And I’d lose my whole world if you go / Baby, don’t / Don’t take away my heaven, oh, no” – Don’t Take Away My Heaven, Aaron Neville


“Now where is your brother?” Uncle Terry asks his niece, Grace. Uncle Terry and Aunt Marie try to come over to the Fox house for a meal every once in a while, along with their own two daughters.

“He’s with his girlfriend, Uncle Terry,” Grace says to him and his face immediately changes.

“Girlfriend?” Uncle Terry says as if in mock surprise to his niece, but truthfully, he is surprised. “Are you sure?”

“Yes, Uncle Terry!” Grace exclaims. “Her name is Arya. She’s really nice and really pretty. And he really likes her. A lot.”

Uncle Terry ponders this new information. It shouldn’t be surprising that his nephew wouldn’t have mentioned a girl. Teenagers always keep secrets. But how serious is this relationship and how serious is his nephew about this girl he has never met?

“Terry, you know who she is talking about.” Aunt Marie says to break her niece free of the conversation.

“Grace,” James’ mother, Carol, says, “why don’t you go outside with Rachel and your cousins?” With that, Grace leaves the three adults in the kitchen.

“I told you that James was seeing a girl.” Aunt Marie says to her husband.

“That was three weeks ago.” Uncle Terry says. At that time, he had just brushed it off as nothing. “Is it the same one?”

“Yes,” Carol confirms, smiling. “She’s a lovely girl and James’ is head over heels for her. I haven’t seen him this happy in a long time.”

“He already has soccer, school, work, and helping to manage this family on his plate.” Uncle Terry says, “Now he is adding a girlfriend to the mix?!”

“Oh, hush.” Aunt Marie dismisses her husband, “You work that boy way too hard. He deserves to have some fun in his life. He’s only 16.”

“Yes, and he’ll be applying to go to university in the fall.” Uncle Terry says, “He doesn’t need something or someone to distract him.”

“She’s just a girl, love,” Aunt Marie says.

“Just a girl?” Uncle Terry says and then turns to James’ mother, “And how well do you know this girl?”

“She’s been over here a couple of times.” Carol says, “She’s a pretty girl, she’s smart, athletic, she even plays soccer, just like James. She is also very kind and Grace and Rachel both love her as well.”

“Aunt Marie!!” a voice calls from outside, “Please come outside!”

“I will be right back.” Aunt Marie heads out the backdoor.

“Does she go to his school?” Uncle Terry continues.


“Then why is he only just now dating this ‘perfect’ girl?” Uncle Terry asks.

“Because she used to go to West Side.” Carol says, “She just transferred schools this term.”

“West Side?” Uncle Terry asks with raised eyebrows, “What is her last name?”


“Her father is the dentist in town.” Uncle Terry says, “He’s dating some rich barbie from the right side of the tracks?!”

“Don’t you dare call her that,” Carol warns, “It shouldn’t matter who her father is, she likes James as much as he likes her.”

“That’s what she thinks for now.” Uncle Terry says.

“What are you trying to say?” Carol says.

“You think a spoiled rich girl is going to be happy with your son?” Uncle Terry says, “Sure she might seem like she likes him. A good looking strong young man. And of course he has fallen for her considering everyone keeps saying what a pretty girl she is. But James won’t be able to keep a girl like her around for very long. He’ll do everything for her, give up all his free time for her, but as soon as some richer guy comes her way, she will leave him in the dust. It does not matter how hard James works, he will not be able to provide for her like her father does. At least not for a long time. They don’t see the difference right now because they are both young, in love, and in high school, but they will soon enough. And once she realizes the life she will have with James, she will leave him.”

“You are being ridiculous.” Carol says, “They are teenagers that are dating. You are talking about it like they are going to be married.”

“This is a very important time in James’ life.” Uncle Terry says, “The decisions he makes now will have a lasting effect on his future. He’s going places and I will not have a girl that is just going to break his heart have any impact on his future.”

“My son has worked to the bone for your company.” Carol says, “Let him have just this one joy in his life.”

“Fine.” Uncle Terry says, “But if I find out that girl has done anything to impact his future, I will break them up myself. I do not care who her father is.”

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