Chapter 1: Pros vs Intro
The Pro family seemed to be a troubled, but hopeful sort. The Mother of two, 34 year old cheetah, Angie Pro was a widow working as an assistant manager to The RYEN Group , a well known design organization. Breaker Pro was a 15 yea old lynx suffering from major spinal injury, and the loss of two fith's of his tail. He was the birth son of Angie and deceased mother Kikki Pro. Monte Pro was a 13 year old monkey adopted into the Pro family after spending the majority of his child hood in the care of The Saint Louis Orphanage.
Angie Pro was enlisted to my services by Monte Pro's school counselor. It was not my job to inspect the life of the Pro family, but it was my goal to help them become a closer ,happier, less troubled family .
Our first appointment together was on the 16 of July. Angie wanted to get the children comfortable with seeing me on a regular basis before they started the new school year. I spoke with Breaker first. He seemed eager to get the encounter out of the way.
Doctor- Why don't you tell me more about what you like to do
Breaker- I don't know , I like to mess with Monte sometimes... I don't know
Doctor- You can relax , this is a safe space for you to talk about whatever you like
He stumbled but after a while he found his words eventually.
Breaker- I was a gold medalist at 12. My mom's would come to see me win every track meet. It wasn't easy, but it came naturally. Running was my thing. I could beat anyone in a race , it didn't matter how long or how far , I always won. What people didn't know was I was in gymnastics, martial arts, I was even a part of the neighborhood bike group. I loved my legs , my body, and what they could do. So when my tail was caught in an elevator
He paused and I started to change the subject, but he continued.
Breaker- they had to cut it in half.
Doctor- I can imagine things haven't been easy
Breaker- I cant so much as stand up on my own two feet without toppling over, so yea its been less than easy
I wasn't expecting such unbridled emotions on our first sitting , but it was good to understand where Breaker stood.
Breaker- There were no more track meets , no more riding my bike , karate, or gymnastics. It took me almost a year to learn how to walk again, but I still couldn't leave the house by myself. I had to be home schooled for a year because I couldn't make it up the flight of stairs in front of my school
He went on to tell me more about his everyday struggle and it became quite clear that the loss of his mobility would be a regular topic of discussion going forward.
I spoke with the mother , Angie Pro, next. Our discussion together was focused on the loss of her late life partner, Nikki.
Angie- Nikki and I, we planned to have three children. Breaker was such a good kid, high energy, happy, we felt so good about our first boy we wanted to have another. But then he had his accident. It's my fault really. I shouldn't have brought him to work with me. He should have been in school that day, but how could I say no to showing my beautiful boy what mommy did at work. Nikki and I had to put a hold on our plans for a second child to help Breaking adjust to his new life. The medical bills alone almost made us sell the house. You see when his tail got caught it disaliened parts of his spine in so many places the doctors thought for sure he'd never leave his bed again. We paid for the best procedures and physical therapy money could buy, and on our salaries at the time we had little room to cover anything else. But one day , out of the blue, he walked down the stairs all on his own. He said he was tired of waiting for breakfast that morning. After he ate he couldn't get back up to his room, and by his own account he wished he'd just stayed the fuck in bed
She laughed. It seemed that the family was very lenient with profanity and word choice since Breakers accident.
Angie- But he started to get better. He'd never be 100% again, but he was walking. Unfortunately after spending so much time caring for Breaker we didn't notice the pain Nikki was in. By the time we got her checked out it was already too late. That's the problem with our diverse world today. There are so many different kinds of people with different biology, but so few doctors for each of them. In a few months she was gone. Breaker and I were stuck in that house with the looming spirit of Nikki's absence
I cut our time short as I could see Ms.Pro becoming choked up and unable to continue.
My talk with Monte was perhaps the most bright that day.
Monte- Mom adopted me when I was 10. I grew up in the orphanage believing no one would ever adopt me. You try to be as perfect as you can , put on a smile, keep your clothes clean , don't do anything bad. I hoped that eventually someone would see me and see a good kid. But I realized it didn't matter how good I was because they would always see a monkey. Everyone knows the stereo types. Humans are evil, cats are mean, dogs are stupid, monkeys are gross. I tried so hard to be perfect, but no one wanted me until mom came along.
This boy , so young, already had such depth to the amount of pain he could overcome. It was remarkable.
Monte- I got to meet Breaker a few weeks after that , and in a month I was moving in. I was still afraid that it was all a dream and someone was going to wake me up, I still get a little scared now , but they are my family.
The pro family was a new client of mine, but I suspected that we would make tremendous progress together.
Chapter 2: Monte vs Blue
It was a rare kind of night. Mom was home from work early, Breaker wasn't in trouble for anything, and I got to order pizza. I'd be starting my sophomore year of high school in the morning, Breaker would finally be back to school, and mom got a promotion that meant she wouldn't have to work as much. It was a good night. We were sitting around the kitchen table eating, or at least I was eating. Breaker was on his phone. I never knew who he was talking to because he never had friends over or left the house by himself. Mom was trying to eat, but seemed too focused on papers she brought home from work to actually take a bite of food. I don't know, I guess I didn't want us to waste the time we had before bed , so I tried to get their attention.
Monte- So I had this dream last night
Breaker- Was it the one where you forget how to pee standing up
Monte- What, No
Breaker-The one where you grew an extra head
Monte- No, I didn't say it was a nightmare
Breaker- Oh so it was the one where you fell into a can of soda and drank yourself to death
Monte- No , stop guessing
He didn't even look up from his phone.
Angie- Boys , you need to eat so you can get ready for bed
Monte- Yes mom
Breaker finally put his phone away and I tried again.
Monte- You know "Midway two" comes out this weekend
Breaker- I heard a human wrote the first one
Monte- It's still a good movie
Breaker- Written by a human
Monte- Why does that matter
Breaker- It's like when a burger place starts selling tacos, they can be the best tacos ever but it's still wrong
Monte- Can we go see it, mom
Angie- We'll see honey , but for now go get washed up and ready for bed
I hadn't even finished my food, but suddenly I wasn't very hungry.
Monte- Yes mom
I got up to put my plate in the sink before starting my way up the stairs. I was stopped by mom's voice.
Angie- Aren't you forgetting something
Breaker- Mom , I can do it myself
I was supposed to help Breaker get up the stairs. He could handle flat surfaces by himself, but stairs were still tricky. Neither he nor I liked that I had to basically carry him up the stairs though.
Angie- That's what you said two nights ago before you had an accident
Breaker- If I'm going back to school tomorrow then shouldn't I walk myself up stairs at home
Angie- I just want you to be safe honey
Breaker- I am
Breaker- I don't mind helping you
He snapped at me and I went silent.
Breaker- I don't need your help
He cooled down just as quickly as he boiled, and eventually let me help him.
Breaker- I don't need your help you know
Monte- I know
It took us a few minutes to make it to the top at which point Breaker somewhat pushed me aside to walk himself to his room down the hall.
Breaker wasn't mean he just didn't like to be helped. I wasn't around before he had his accident, but from the pictures and trophies he kept in his room I could tell he missed the way he was before. I tried to be understanding when he had his moments, but I'd be lying if I said he was a strange to having them.
I went to take a shower before I'd get into bed. If there's one thing I was happy for back then it was my not having to help Breaker shower. It was an odd thought to randomly have as I stepped into the water, but a valid one in my opinion. It could get so hot in our town, so I took cold showers most nights. The water in the house was always so magical. I remembered living in the orphanage where the water pressure could spike from a slow stand still to raging and painful. I'm ashamed to admit I may have taken an extra long shower that night , but it was so easy to lose track of time when the water was washing over me like a tropical waterfall. When I got out there was steam filling up the room. I guess I didn't have the water too cold if there was that dense of a fog. I dried off and put on a pair of shorts to sleep in before turning to the mirror and whipping it clear with my hand.
My eyes grew, almost popping out of my skull, as I noticed my fur had somehow turned from brown to a dark sea blue. I knew who was responsible, but I couldn't believe he'd do something like that to me before my first day of school in the morning. Breaker lived in the house rarely ever leaving his room, so he had most of his fun around the house. He'd prank anyone who stepped foot inside, me , mom , the neighbors. He set the sprinklers to go off exactly at the time the mail man came everyday. He hid all the phone cords in the house for a week. He used a drone he got for his birthday to drop paint bombs on a house down the street. Some of his pranks were elaborate, and down right genius. Sometimes all you could do was bow, you'd likely be pissed, but bow you most certainly would. But changing my fur color before my first day of school was too far.
I marched down the hallway and knocked on Breaker's door. Why did he get to have a lock on his door anyway? I waited for him to answer. If he was in bed I knew it would take him a minute to get to the door. Even with all the carpeted floors I could hear him approaching from the other side. He opened the door and of course he wasn't surprised.
Monte- You did this
Breaker- Yea I thought you could use a new look for tomorrow
Monte- I can't go to school with blue fur
Breaker- Why not
He couldn't even wait until I'd walked away, he started laughing.
Monte- people will think I'm gay or something
Monte- And I ... I
He laughed even harder almost falling over in the process. I might have tripped him over if I didn't know how bad he could hurt himself.
Monte- It's not funny, I don't want people thinking I'm like Tommie Yates
Breaker- Tommie Yates was blowing people in the boys bathroom, that's why they were talking about him
Monte- But still, they'll think I'm gay
It was almost like the rainbow. People associated unnatural or bright fur colors with being gay. And there was nothing wrong with being gay. Mom was bi, Breaker was gay, but I didn't know what I was yet. People already talked about our family enough with us only having one parent, Breaker being a shut in , and people were just dicks to monkeys. I didn't want to give them more to talk about.
Breaker- Gay doesn't mean slut, or do you think your big bro is a slut too
Monte- No , no , I'm not saying that , I just don't wanna be blue
Breaker- Then wash it out or something
Monte- what if that doesn't work, what did you even do this with
Breaker- I don't know , I dumped a bunch of stuff from under the sink into your soap , it was all in this video
Monte- You don't even know what you put in it?
Breaker- Bro you'll be fine , it said in the video the color fades out in a couple of days
Monte- I don't have a couple of days , I have school in the morning
Breaker- I don't know what to tell you
He stopped laughing, and was about to close the door on me. I put my foot in the door before he could shut me out.
Monte- I'm telling mom
Breaker- Whoa, whoa , hold on, we don't need to get mom involved
Monte- I need to be back to normal
Breaker- Well sorry to break it to you bro , but you were never normal
Breaker- OK, OK , chill , just let me find the video on my phone, there's probably something in it to help
Chapter 3: Breaker Vs Stick
Did I go too far with the fur paint? Maybe, but he would live . The first time I ever met Monte was a few weeks before he came to live with us. Mom told me she wanted me to still have friends, but I couldn't leave the house. When she brought Monte over I thought it was just her way of trying to help me make friends, I didn't realize he'd be around for good. I'll admit that I was a dick to him at first. No one wants their parents setting them up with people to make friends. So I ignored him for almost an hour , but that entire hour the only thing he did was sit in a chair and twiddle his thumbs. He had a major stick up his ass , but not because he felt better than anyone. I think he was afraid. Afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing , so much so that he was willing to sit like a statue until I finally said something.
Breaker- So, no shoes?
It was the only thing I could think of. But in my defense it was the middle of December, and snow was everywhere outside. For him to not have shoes on was a little odd.
Monte- Oh , um no
Breaker- Why not , aren't you cold
Monte- Can't afford them
Funny how I was the one who could barely get out of bed and somehow he got me to feel sorry for him. I didn't know at the time that monkeys needed special made shoes for their kind of feet, and they were pretty expensive. But honestly he didn't have enough money for normal shoes either, so in a way it was all the same.
Breaker- You wanna grab something to eat
Monte- Yes please
He was so proper it annoyed me. I didn't know he was an orphan, or that mom was testing how well we were around each other. I didn't know he had a reason to be afraid of me.
He had to help me down the stairs so we could get to the kitchen. I didn't bother asking what he wanted to eat , I knew he'd just say OK to whatever. We sat at the kitchen table eating milk and cookies awkwardly silent. I would have picked something else for us to eat, but honestly who doesn’t like milk and cookies? Then it happened. I finally had enough. He picked up a cookie and I could see it in his face he didn't know if it was OK to dip it in the milk. He was waiting for me to dip mine to see if it was safe or something. So I waited. I refused to dip mine until he dipped his own. We were locked into some kind of stand off. But he wouldn't do it, why wouldn't he do it? Like I said, I had enough.
Breaker- Just dip the fucking cookie
He choked up and I think that was the first time I realized how bad my mouth had gotten since my tail got caught. I thought he might cry. Silently to myself all I could say was "fuck".
Breaker- Look, do you wanna do something
Monte- No , I'm OK
Breaker- You don't want to do anything?
Monte- I'm OK
I sighed desperately trying to get somewhere.
Breaker- So you'd rather just sit here?
He didn't say anything. It became harder and harder to stay annoyed at him while I felt sorry for him. I guess you can say I took it on myself to help him relax.
Breaker- Have you ever shot a gun before
His eyes went wide before I could elaborate.
Breaker- A paint ball gun
Breaker- You want to ?
He started to say he was alright but I was already getting to my feet. I hated how slow I was. I felt like an old man walking from the kitchen out to the back yard. I wasn't sure he would follow me or not , but when I heard the screen door shut behind me I knew he was with me.
I couldn't leave the house to go to the arcade like most kids, so mom would buy me my own games. Or sometimes she'd buy me things to make my own games. One of my favorite toys was the paint ball gun she got me after a month of physical therapy. I'd gotten so good with my aim that I could hit anything in our backyard. I had targets made out of old shoe boxes hung from the big oak tree we had by the fence. My gun was by the door, so I picked it up and took a few shots in front of Monte. Of course I hit all the targets.
No one had ever seen me with my paint ball gun before, not even mom because she was always busy.
Breaker- Thank you , thank you
I don't know why , but I did a little bow.
Monte- Your really good
Breaker- I know, I'm pretty bad ass
Monte- Your really bad ass
He covered his mouth like he didn't just hear me say the same word. I rolled my eyes, and tossed him my gun. He caught it after fumbling it around in the air for a minute.
Monte- What do you want me to do
Breaker- Hit the targets
Monte- What If I miss
The shoe boxes were pretty big, but we were standing by the back door and they were on the clear other side of the back yard.
Breaker- It's fine
Monte- But what if I hit the tree
Breaker- I always hit the tree
I never hit the tree.
Monte- But what if I hit a bird
Breaker- Then I'll give you 5 dollars
I tried not to pressure him but he was getting annoying again. But then he took a shot. He hit the tree.
Breaker- That's OK , try again
Monte- Are you sure
Breaker- Yea , just focus on the target you want to hit this time
He looked at me then the tree , he took a moment and in a half breath he took another shot. He hit one.
Monte- Wow , I did it
Breaker- Do it again
He went again, and again. He was a terrible shot , but he hit the targets every once in a while. I let him shoot until the gun was out of paint. By that time he had been shooting too fast to keep up with his shots , so I didn't notice all the red and blue paint on the white fence until I tool my gun back. I don't think he noticed what he did. He was having fun, and where he may not have taken the stick out of his ass at least it wasn't so far up. I got him back inside before he could noticed what he did, and from there the rest of the day was pretty chill.
I never had anyone to really do stuff with before Monte. We played all of my video games , I showed him all the cool stuff I made out of Builder's Blox , we even got around to watching what would become Monte's favorite movie in the world. Midway. I don't blame him for liking it so much , the main character was a monkey prince who everyone loved and wanted to sleep with. I personally couldn't stand it though. I knew early on that I was gay, but for some reason I never liked seeing gay characters on TV. Maybe because they were never "my kind of gay". Don't get me wrong it's cool that the main character was into dudes, but did he have to sleep around as much as he did too. But anyway, Monte and I hung out the rest of the day and for the most part we got along pretty well.
It was around noon when some lady and my mom walked in the house. Monte and I were talking about something stupid, I might have brought up his feet again. The lady took Monte and that was that. It was just me and mom again. The whole time he was there with me I didn't feel any kind of special way about him , but when he left I felt so sad. He was my new friend.
Later on that night mom noticed the paint on the fence and I told her It was me who did it. I was already covering Monte's ass , but I didn't mind. I hoped that he would come back, and did. We had maybe three or four more days like that before mom finally broke the news why Monte was visiting the house so much.
Monte moved in shortly after that. I guess I never stopped trying to get him to relax or be himself. He always seemed scared and I didn't like my friend being afraid. Of course him moving in changed things. Sometimes I forgot he was adopted so I would go too far. It was so easy to see him as my little brother that I couldn't help but treat him like it. That meant he got the real me unfiltered all the time. I guess maybe I should have tried to remember he was still learning to see me as an older brother.
Chapter 4: Angie Vs Morning
Schedule and plan. Two words that growing up I never favored, but as a mother of two I had to learn. When Nikki was still with us she would handle keeping everyone on schedule. She made sure we made it to Breaker's events, got to work on time , and always ate dinner together. When she left us all I had to keep us on track was her old day planer, and I've used it as a guideline for our family ever since. My schedules were never quite as detailed as her's, but they got us through.
There was my daily schedule. Wake up at 5, and get ready for work. Then I'd wake up the boys at 6 to get them ready for school. By 6:15 I'd have everyone's lunches made. I would have loved to have driven them to school, but with my new promotion calling for an earlier clock in the boys had to catch the bus. I'd get to work by 7:15, have my lunch break at 1, and go to the daily team meeting at 3. If I was lucky I'd leave work by 4, and be home by 5 to make dinner and eat with the boys. I'd get the boys ready for bed by 9:30. If I had time I'd watch "Paris and Ham" before bed. Then it be time for sleep before waking up to do it all over again.
It was our first day on the new schedule. I was up by 5 and the boys were up by 6, but how on earth did Monte give himself blue fur. He refused to come out of the shower as he tried to wash out the color, and of course in doing so he and his brother missed the bus. I had to drive them to school. Lunches were made, and Breaker and I stood by the front door waiting for Monte to come down.
Angie- Are you the reason your brother is blue
Breaker- I thought he would like it , blue is his favorite color
Angie- You can't keep doing this, your going back to school, teachers and other students won't tolerate pranks
Breaker- I know
Angie- I don't want any calls about you getting in trouble today
Breaker- I won't
Angie- And I expect you to take care of your brother, not scar him for life
Breaker- Monte knows it's just a joke
Angie- Does he, because he's taking an awful long time trying to wash the joke out
Breaker- I'll take care of him , I promise
Finally my blue boy emerged from the bathroom and came downstairs. He used extra layers to hide his fur. I didn't know how he'd survive the summer heat in so many clothes, but we didn't have time for him to change. We all got in the car and went on our way.
Angie- Monte when you get out help your brother get his crutches from the trunk
Monte- Yes mom
Breaker- Mom, I don't need crutches
Angie- Yes, you do
Breaker- I haven't used them for a whole year
Angie- This is the first time you'll be away from the house so long without me or your brother walking with you, you don't know how you'll be by the end of the day
Breaker- But mom
Angie- No buts , you are taking them with you , keep them in your locker if you have to, but they are going with you
Angie- Yes honey
Monte- I think I forgot my lunch
We all forgot our lunches. I should have picked them up from the kitchen counter, but I was in such a hurry getting everyone in the car that I forgot.
Angie- It's OK honey , I'll give you lunch money
Breaker- What about me
Angie- I'll give you money too, how much is lunch at your school
Breaker- I don't remember
Angie- Look it up on your phone
We made it to their school. I pulled up as close to the front entrance as possible so Breaker wouldn't have to walk as far.
Breaker- I can't find it
Angie- It's OK
I handed Breaker a 20 from my wallet before letting them out.
Angie- Do not miss the bus
Breaker- We won't
Angie- I mean it , you can not miss the bus it's too long a walk for you
Breaker- I used to walk home by myself all the time
Angie- Yes mom
I waited for Monte to get Breaker's crutches. Before they went on their way I called out to Monte.
Angie- Honey you don't need the jacket
Monte- But people will see
Angie- Don't burn up trying to hide something silly like blue fur
They were already leaving me.
Angie- Both of you have a good day , don't get into trouble, and do not miss the bus
I heard a honk from the car behind me. It seemed I was holding up the line. I was so worried, but I had to go and just hope that everything would be alright.
I was going to be late. It was my second week after my new promotion, and I had to clock in almost an hour late. There's nothing worse than the feeling of being so far behind when your supposed to be leading everyone else. I'd have to make up for the hour by staying a little late, so it was a problem with a reasonable solution. I'd have to cook something simple when I got home so the boys could eat on time. I thought to myself we could eat the lunches I forgot to grab for dinner that night.
At least I was at work. A place where everything happened by the hour. Schedules were law , which meant nothing would go over its time, hopefully.
I was an assistant manager to a design company. What did we design? Only the finest in luxury product packaging. We had a design division that created mock ups for clients, a factory that built our products, and a warehouse to store inventory. I was an assistance manager of one of the several marketing teams in the design division. It was my job to oversee the creation of models for our clients. Working with artists and steering them in the right direction was also a major part of my position, but the biggest role I played was in helping to find and lock in new clientele. It sounds like an exciting experience, but most of my days would be spent making phone calls, taking names, and scheduling tours of our facilities.
I never really wanted to work there. Nikki was an artist, and when she got a job she helped me get one too so that we could work close to one another. There was a time when the job was just mundane, but when Nikki left us it became a soul sucking experience. No longer did I have my companion to make the days go by smooth. It didn't help that the artist were so pertinacious, my boss was an idiot, and perhaps worst of all my office rival was such a cunt.
Lindsey Fae , was possibly the worst part of my day everyday I went to work. She was with the company long before Nikki and I were hired so I'll admit she was good at her job, but the butch had a mouth on her. If only she could stay at her desk and shut up I might not have hated the office. She was promoted three weeks before me sure , but in the end we had the same job so I didn't need her constantly walking over to give me helpful tips on tasks so simple the interns could do it.
Chapter 5: Breaker vs Pity
My legs usually felt like they were asleep, and with half of my tail gone my balance was something like always being on a steep hill. Standing still up on my feet was easy. Walking on flat land meant watching and planning before each step, but with my medication it wasn't too hard. Going up stairs was still a challenge though. But being on my feet for too long could sometimes make me dizzy from having to concentrate so hard for so long to keep my balance. My doctor said I was cleared to go back to school though. I could even go to P.E class. I'd have to pull myself out if I felt overwhelmed, but I was clear to try to run again. After Monte helped me up the stairs of the main entrance I was on my own. I stored my crutches behind a vending machine and went to find my classes. I saw so many people I hadn't talked to since before my accident, but they felt like strangers in a way. I was just glad no one stared at me when I walked by. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I practiced so many different kinds of walks just to hide the fact that I had to work to keep my balance. I had a few close calls, but I made it to my first period before the bell.
I didn't care about any of my first 3 classes. Science, English, math, they didn't have my focus. I wanted to be outside again. I wanted to hit the track , or play dodge ball, or something. Besides, it was the first day so none of my classes were really teaching anything yet. So when 4th period came around and it was time to head over to the gym I was more excited than I think I was in 2 years.
There was the slight problem of making it to the gym though. Somehow I got luck in having my first 3 classes so close together. In fact, they were all on the same hallway, but the gym was on the other side of the school. It took me forever to get half way. The bell rang and I was still in the hallway inching along. I got desperate and tried using the wall for support so that maybe I could move faster. I was beginning to catch eyes.
Some guy actually walked over to try to help me. I knew him. He was a dalmatian named Kyle. He was in my grade. Before my accident I ran track for a team outside of school called the Clovers. Kyle was on the same team and he'd usually run the same races that I did.
Breaker - yea
Kyle - do you need help man
I didn't want ask for help , but when he started to my arm around his shoulder I didn't stop him.
Kyle- I haven't seen you in forever man, where you been
Breaker- at home
Kyle- oh yea, they told us you were home schooled after your accident
Breaker- what , who told who what
Kyle - oh the teachers, they let everyone know you were coming back and that you might need help and stuff
Breaker - they told you, so everyone knows?
Kyle - I don't know about everyone, but they made sure anyone you used to hang out with knew
So much for going back to the way things used to be.
Breaker- You don't have to help me , I can walk , really
Kyle - yea, but your next class is gym right
Kyle -that's my next class too , I could help you get there a little faster
Breaker- I don't need help
Kyle- I know, I know, it's just ... I'm already going that way
He wasn't about to just drop me , and I suppose It didn't hurt to have a little help to get there faster. But I would have made it on my own.
By the time we made it to the gym everyone was already locked into a game of dodge ball.
Kyle - guess we're a little late , but I'm sure coach will understand
Breaker- Yea, we should probably go get changed before we miss out on the game though
Kyle - oh your gonna play?
Breaker- why wouldn't I
Kyle - well can you
Breaker- yes , I can play dodge ball, fuck
Kyle - OK, OK, sorry for asking
Honestly I wasn't sure I could handle it. I just barely made it to the gym at all, so could I take running around and getting hit? I had to at least try.
Kyle and I got changed in the locker room before coming back to the gym. Coach Dan started a new game which meant new teams. I was surprised to be one of the first 5 to be picked Kyle ended up on the opposite team. I met a bunch of people that I used to know that day , so I couldn't quite put my finger on why Kyle was standing out to me so much. There were plenty of other guys I used to be friends with, but for some reason Kyle felt like someone I needed to focus on. I hadn't really talked to anyone else , or so much as tried to make any new friends, but I felt there was something to Kyle.
The game started and it was time to see how fast I could move. I stayed as far back as possible almost using everyone else as a shield. I couldn't run. I wanted to but I knew that if I did I'd fall over and make a fool out of myself. The best I could do was a type of speed walk. I'm sure I looked ridiculous, but somehow I was evading balls left and right. I wasn't running, but I felt like I'd gotten back to something I missed. That's when I noticed I was the last man standing on my side. I was so focused on keeping myself up and not getting hit that I failed to see everyone else was already out. I stopped moving and waited to be hit. The other team had plenty of balls ready to be thrown, but they just stood there. They wouldn't hit me. Those fucked were trying to let me win.
Breaker- Hit me
It might have been the meds or how stressed out I was from being on my feet for so long , but I was near throwing a tantrum. Kyle stepped up with ball in hand.
Breaker- fucking hit me
No one would do it. Kyle looked me over and it seemed he made his decision. He threw a ball to my chest. I tried to catch it, but in doing so I lost focus of my feet. I caught the ball but fell backwards when I did. I'd gone at least 4 hours and 30 minutes without the help of crutches, but it looked liked I reached my limit.
I understood why Kyle was standing out to me so much. As I blacked out I remembered how I used to be the starter, the team captain, the one to beat , and Kyle was always one step behind me. How did he go from trailing me , to pitying me. Then again he threw the ball, so maybe he was the only one not showing me pity.
I woke up a few minutes later. They had me in the bleachers laid out on a bed of dodge balls. The nurse was standing over me looking me over when my eyes opened. I blurted out a response to a question I'm sure wasn't asked.
Breaker- I'm OK, I'm OK
Nurse- We're calling your mother
Breaker- no , I'm fine
There was another game of dodge ball going on without me.
Nurse- they tell me you hit your head pretty hard young man
Breaker - I'm OK
I searched the game looking for Kyle, but I found him in the bleachers. He was standing behind me so it took me a while to notice him.
Breaker - I just need my medicine, that's all
Nurse- alright, but if you feel like your going to have another fall I want you to come see me in my office
Breaker - I will
She left me to go speak with the coach by the gym exit. It was time to go to my next class. Everyone went to go change but Kyle stuck around.
Kyle- you want help to your next class
Breaker - you hit me
Kyle - what
Breaker - with the dodge ball
Kyle - oh yea , well you were asking for it ...literally
Breaker - but no one else would, why is that
Kyle- no one wants to hurt you
Breaker- I'm fine
We got up and made our way out of the bleachers. Thank god for guard rails.
Kyle - you know people didn't like you much before you went away
It was a bit of an odd transition or just a strange thing to say but I allowed it.
Breaker- people loved me
Kyle - the coaches loved you , but you were kind of a prick to everyone else
Breaker - does that mean you too
I knew the answer, but still asked the question.
Kyle - a little , yea , but I figure that was 2 years ago, people change
Breaker - yea people get their tails caught in elevators all the time, there's even a documentary on it and everything
Kyle - that's not what I mean , you were a dick back then , but I don't see any reason to be one to you now,
We stopped just short of entering the locker room.
Kyle- you were the top athlete back then , so if I were you the last thing I'd want is people looking down on me or feeling sorry
Breaker - so hitting me with a dodge ball was... your way of showing respect...I respect that
Kyle - I never got to beat you in a race, but I figure you could still be a good rival
Breaker- I'll figure out how to run eventually
Kyle - good , then I can beat you
Chapter 6: Monte Vs New
I had never been to public school before. Growing up in the orphanage I was taught by the church. It was my first time not having a uniform. My first time not having a bible class. The halls were colorful and full with other kids. No one was walking in a line or being escorted to and from class by a teacher. It was a different way. I still thought it best to hide my fur though.
My first class was math with a teacher named Mr.Hill. Math wasn't my favorite subject, but I was actually ahead of my grade level in a few classes. I should have been in Breaker's grade because of how far ahead I was, but being so young and transferring in from another school mom thought it best to go to classes with people my age. School was always easy for me. Tests had answers that could be studied for. It helped that I didn't have a cell phone a TV or friends to play with when I was waiting to be adopted. When you have nothing better to do you read. Plus Pastor Green always said bad grades were the first steps to falling into injustice.
Class was relatively slow. I was seated at a square table with three other kids, and we were all doing test problems so the teacher would know where we were in our math skills. To my left was a girl, she was pink rabbit. Sitting across from me was a tiger, he looked like he was having a hard time with the math problems. Sitting next to him was deer, his antlers were still coming in but I always wondered how the manged to get their shirts on with those things. After a little while Mr.Hill wrote the answers on the board and told us to share how we got our own to help each other understand better. We all passed our papers around the table and finally I learned everyone's names. The rabbit next to me was Lilly, the tiger across from me was Daniel, and the deer next to him was Paul. Everyone seemed to have gotten at least a few of the problems write, but I was the only one to get them all.
Lilly- how do you know all this stuff
Monte - I was a grade ahead at my other school
I was probably the youngest at the table , so I wasn't sure they'd believe me.
Paul- what school was it
Monte - it was a church school
Daniel- lame , what's up with the hood
Up until that moment I kept my jacket on with my hood over my head. I hadn't thought of a way to explain why I was wearing a jacket in 100 degree weather though.
Monte - I like it
Daniel - fair enough, I have this helmet from "Bikers from Hell" that I like to wear, but school won't let me inside the building with it
That was easier than expected, but unlike Daniel when Mr.Hill came over he wasn't as easy to get off the subject.
Mr. Hill- Monte, we don't wear hoods in class
Monte- Yes, Mr.Hill
He stood over me waiting for me to take it off, and of course I did. I figured if I was taking off my hood I might as well take off my jacket all together since everyone would see the blue fur atop my head. I waited for some sort of gasp or uproar of laughter at my scene, but class went on as though nothing had changed. Mr.Hill walked to another table and left us.
Paul- so your a fag
I knew it. I knew someone would think I was gay.
Lilly - Paul , really
Paul- what , my sisters gay , I can say fag
Monte - I'm not gay
Perhaps I should have spoken up because I don't think they heard me.
Daniel- dude, you can't use that word, don't be a dick to the new guy
Monte - I'm not gay
I was louder that time, but still I don't think they heard me.
Paul- having a gay family member does not make it OK to
Monte- I'm not gay
That time I'm sure they heard me, and so did the rest of the class. Daniel and Paul snickered for a little while, and I put my head down in embarrassment. That's when I felt a hand on my shoulder.
Lilly - blue is a nice color on you
I lifted my head up and it seemed the moment had passed.
Class went on, and it was nothing too complicated. It was only the first day after all. The bell rang and it was time to go to my next class. I got up and started on my way to the door, but found myself blocked.
Daniel - what's your next class
I thought surly after embarrassing myself no one from my table would want to be near me , but they all gathered around me.
Daniel - please tell me you got Lane for history next , I suck at history
Paul- I do
Daniel - I know you do bone head , I'm asking the new guy
I was a bit confused, but I took out a copy of my schedule from my bag and let them see it. the four of us shared most of our classes together.
By my third class I was picking up on a pattern. Daniel and Paul weren't the best students grade wise , but myself and Lilly seemed to have a handle on things. They were keeping me in their circle because I was smart I suppose, and if it meat they would over look the blue fur then I was OK with it. I was a shy kid if I'm honest, so maybe it was a good thing they brought me into their circle rather than my having to awkward try to fit in. They were obviously using me for answers to class work, but I didn't see any reason why they couldn't be my new friends too. And Lilly said she liked the blue fur.
Daniel had a thing for bikes. He told me his dad worked on custom motorcycles, and he wanted to build bikes like him someday. His bag was in the shape of a tire that was on fire, he wore fingerless riding gloves , and he drew little art of bikes on all of his papers in class.
Paul was just blunt. Breaker never stopped himself from using words , but Paul would talk about anything. He got back around to talking about my fur, but in the long slew of topics he ran over I don't think my fur was the worst thing discussed.
Then there was Lilly. I'm not sure why she hung out with Daniel and Paul. She seemed so normal and nice. And thats not to say Daniel and Paul were mean, it's just that Lilly was a softer personality. And she said she liked my fur.
It was time for lunch. I had to meet Breaker to get my half of the lunch money. He didn't say where to meet him though, and it was easy to get lost in that school with it being my first day there. Breaker eventually found me though.
Breaker- What happened to your jacket
Monte- I took it off
Breaker- And how are people liking the fur
Monte- someone likes it
Breaker- awww , is it a girl, is it a guy
Monte- Can I just have my half of the lunch money
Breaker- About that , do you think you can wait until after school to eat
Monte- But I'm hungry now, and I made friends I was gonna eat with
Breaker- I can make you something after school
Monte- But I'm starving
Breaker- You don't want cafeteria food , no one knows what they put in it
Breaker- Look if you wait I'll tell you where mom hid the ice cream when we get home
Monte- But mom said we needed to start eating healthy
Breaker- Then you definitely don't want cafeteria food
Monte- What are you using the money for
Breaker- You don't need to know
Monte- Is it going to get us in trouble
Breaker- No one is going to get in trouble, but if someone has to I will
Monte- Your not going to give me my half either way are you
Breaker- It's easier if you say you don't mind though...and I kinda already spent it
Monte- on what
Breaker- tickets to a track meet this weekend
Monte - But why
Breaker- you have your friends I have mine , and he has a track meet I want to go to
Breaker - thanks bro
Chapter 7: Breaker vs Crutch
Someone stole my crutches. Who steals crutches? By the end of the day my head was killing me from focusing so hard on keeping my balance, so I wasn't going to make a walk home. Monte was waiting for me in the cafeteria so we could get on the bus together. When I made it there all of the buses were gone though.
Breaker - fuck
Monte - I'll call mom
Breaker- Don't call mom
Monte- But how are we gonna get home
Breaker - Someone can give us a ride or something
I took a seat at a lunch table. My head was spinning. I would have taken more of my meds, but they had some pretty nasty side effects when I took too many too quickly and I already took plenty.
Breaker - your gonna have to find someone
Monte - me? Why do I have to
Breaker - dude
I didn't want to say I couldn't stand up, but I'm sure he got what I was saying when I didn't.
Monte - we should call mom
Breaker - If we call mom she'll never let me back in school,
Monte- But we just missed the bus
Breaker- Bro on my first day back I lost my crutches, missed the bus, and went through enough of my meds for a week , we are not calling mom
Monte - you lost your crutches?
Breaker- so not the point right now, just go find one of your friends and get them to give us a ride
Monte - But everyone's gone , what if I can't find anyone
Breaker- then we'll have to walk home
Monte - you mean I'll have to carry you home
Breaker - dude can you just please
Monte - OK, OK
He left and I stayed in the cafeteria waiting. I put my head down on the cold table to try to relax. I hadn't had that level of headache since my first time walking after my accident. That head splitting pain was killing me. I just needed to sleep for a little while. The lights started to go off and Monte had been gone for a while. I tried not to , but in the end I fell to sleep. It wasn't a peaceful sleep or happy sleep though. I didn't dream. Honestly I passed out, and I'm not even sure for how long.
I woke up to someone tapping me on my shoulder. I raised my head up and my eyes shot open as I realized how dark it was outside. The tapping on my shoulder came from a janitor. A female janitor, human too.
Janitor- you're not supposed to be here
Breaker - yea and where am I supposed to be
Janitor - young man you can get into serious trouble for being in the building so late
Breaker- look I don't wanna be here I just
She cut me off.
Janitor - you need to leave
Breaker - I can't leave yet
Janitor - and why not
Breaker - well for one my brother is coming back for me , and for two I can't stand up
She looked at me like I was crazy, but I was telling the truth. I hated admitting when I couldn't walk, but I legitimately would not have been able to stand without toppling over at that point.
Janitor- you need to leave
Breaker - are you not hearing me , I can't
Janitor - if you don't leave now I'll have to call the police
Breaker - the police? Lady I can't walk right now
Janitor - then how did you come to be here
Breaker - same way you did, life shit on me
Even with a head splitting headache I couldn't help be a little sarcastic. I wasn't expecting her to actually call the cops on me. It wasn't like I broke into the school, I just passed out in the cafeteria . But she took out her phone and actually started calling them. I tried to grab her phone to stop her.
Janitor - don't touch me
She slapped me away.
Breaker - lady your making a mistake
I started wrestling with her hands to get the phone, but she stepped away before I could take it from her grip. She told them to come to the school, and the entire time she was on the phone she gave me a stink eye like I'd done something heinous .
Breaker - You fucking bitch
I mumbled under my breath at her.
Janitor - just leave
Breaker - I can't fucking walk
Of course I yelled at her, she wasn't listening.
The cops showed up a few minutes later, they must have already been near by. When they walked into the cafeteria of course the janitor lady had to spin them a story.
Janitor - he won't leave, he scratched me trying to take my phone
Breaker - I can't fucking walk lady
The officers made the woman step to the side as they before they approached me. One of them was a human while the other was some red furred cat. The cat was the first to try to reason with me, he sat at the table next to me.
Officer Cal- son why won't you go home
I was almost too pissed to say it again, but he was a cop.
Breaker - I can't walk
Officer Cal- how did you get inside the building if you can't walk
Breaker- I have meds , today was my first day back but I can't stand up anymore
I didn't have my crutches to prove my story, but I had my bottle of meds inside my back pack. I reached to take them out of my bag, but before I could even move my hand from on top of the table to my bag next to me the human cop yelled at me and aimed a taser at my back.
Officer Hank- do not move suspect
Officer Cal- Hank , calm down, he's just a kid
To be fair I did have a pocket knife and a small paintball gun in my bag, it was empty, but still.
Breaker - I have the pill bottle in my bag
Officer Cal reached into my bag searching through it until he took out the pills. I'm sure he noticed my pocket knife and the paint ball gun because he looked at me before sighing and zipping my bag back up. He took a minute to read the pill bottle, and was taking even longer to say anything.
Officer Cal- yea I see , so you can't walk , but you still assaulted the woman
Breaker - assaulted her? She called the cops on a kid who can't walk... and she slapped me
Officer Cal- you shouldn't be inside the school so late
Breaker- my brother was supposed to come back for me
Officer Cal- we still have to take you in for the assault
Breaker - but
He cut me off.
Officer Cal- Unless you can convince the woman to drop it
Breaker - you want me to apologize?
Officer Cal- you think you can do that
I eyed her from across the room. I should have scratched her harder if she was gonna pull that kind of backwards con.
Breaker - yea I'll apologize
Officer Cal - good
He turned to his partner and I guess he told him to bring the janitor over to talk to me. That smug look on her face pissed me off more than anything, and on top of my headache I wasn't having it. But I just wanted to get home.
Officer Cal- Ms.Nira, Breaker here has something he'd like to say
I looked away , I couldn't look her in the eye and say what I had to say at the same time. At least not without getting off subject.
Breaker- I'm sorry I scratched you
Janitor - and
Did she really "and" me like that wasn't enough? I swallowed my pride, and there was a lot to swallow if I'm being honest. Going off was likely unwise with Officer Hank so eager to taser me.
Breaker - and I shouldn't be in the building so late
Janitor - and
Really? Why was she milking it?
Breaker- and what?!
Janitor - what about pretending to be crippled
Officer Cal- actually Ms. he can't physically stand at the moment
Janitor - maybe he should try harder
Officer Cal- alright, I think this is resolved don't you Officer Hank
Officer Hank- I think so Officer Cal
Janitor- but I
Cal continued before she could.
Officer Cal- we'll take the boy home and leave you to your business in peace
Before I could even object to being picked up , officer Cal had me up carrying me on his shoulder. They walked me outside and put me in the back of their cop car. The janitor lady followed us all the way outside and I'm sure that if we hadn't driven away when we did she would have had more to say. As we drove out of the parking lot I saw Monte walking around the building supposedly looking for a way inside. He probably got locked out and couldn't get back to me. He saw me in the back of a cop car, but he didn't know they were taking me home. If he kept his mouth shut and didn't tell mom then there was a chance I could spin our getting home so late being because we went over a friend's house or something. But I couldn't call or text him not to call mom because my phone was dead.
Breaker- thanks for helping me
Officer Cal- don't thank me , thank the paperwork I don't want to be stuck with this late at night
Officer Hank- so whats wrong with your legs kid
Officer Cal - then you can walk?
Breaker- no , I just mean ... I've never had to be on my feet for so long and I just couldn't make it home
Officer Cal- is it safe for you to be going to school then
Breaker- Ill be fine... you don't have to talk to my mom do you
Officer Cal- how old are you
I was lying.
Officer Cal- you shouldn't lie to an officer.
Breaker- can you prove that I'm not
Officer Hank- The mouth on this one
They laughed as if I couldn't possibly be that old.
Officer Cal- we don't have to talk to your mother since there's no incident that you're in trouble for but
There is always a but.
Officer Cal - I would suggest you look into getting a wheelchair or crutches in case this happens again, any other officer might have taken you in
Officer Hank- I would have
Breaker- but you didn't feel like doing the paperwork?
Officer Cal- You're also not the first person Ms.Nira has had us come to intervene with
Breaker- so shes like that with everyone ... Great
Chapter 8: Monte Vs Locker
I'd gotten locked out of the school. Everyone was pushed outside by the teachers and principles, and the only people allowed to stay inside were kids who were a part of a club. I was not a member of any clubs yet , but I needed to get back to Breaker. Every time I found a way inside there was a teacher there to escort me back out. It got dark so quickly I started to panic. I wanted to call mom. And then the worst possible thing happened. While I was checking the doors for a way inside a cop car passed me, and Breaker was in the back seat. Why was Breaker in a cop car? My first instinct was to pull out my phone and call mom , but my phone was dead.
I ran after the car. I didn't catch it, but it didn't take long to notice it was driving to our house because of all the specific turns it made. It stopped one house away from ours, and that's when I finally caught up, but I waited to get any closer than from where I could see. A cop was helping Breaker out of the car and to the front door of one of our neighbors. They left him leaning up against the door before they drove away, and that's when I walked up.
Monte - Breaker?
Breaker- Monte! thank god , come help me
He started to slide down the door as though his legs were giving out from under him. I caught him before he hit the ground though.
Monte - why did a cop car drop you off at our neighbors house
Breaker - because I couldn't have them drop me off at our house, mom would have seen and freaked out
Monte - why were you in a cop car!?
Breaker- Bro you ask a lot of questions, can you just get me back to the house
Monte - I was really worried
Breaker- worry when we're back inside
I started to help Breaker off our neighbors porch and into our house. Mom's car wasn't in the driveway. She wasn't inside the house ether.
Monte - where's mom
I helped Breaker to the living room couch where he slumped over taking up two of the three seats.
Breaker - I don't know, but at least we don't have to worry about why we got home so late
Monte - I think we should tell mom
Breaker - Bro we made it home , everything's fine, why tell mom if everythings fine
Breaker- you hungry? I said I'd make you something to eat when we got home didn't I
Monte - But you can't walk on your own
Breaker - just put a chair in the kitchen and I can sit while I cook
Monte- you shouldn't go back to school tomorrow
Breaker - what?
Monte- this shouldn't have happened, you were in a cop car , it's really late ...and I'm so hungry
Breaker - I told you I'd cook
Monte- that's not the point
I spent hours outside the school looking for a way to get back inside. I was so worried, I thought Breaker might have felt abandoned like I left him, but then he got a ride home in a cop car. I wasn't sure if that was better or worse, but he wouldn't have been stuck in the cafeteria if he could have walked.
Breaker- dude calm down
He pulled me into a seat next to him on the couch.
Breaker- everything is fine , besides I go to the doctor tomorrow anyway so I can ask about some stronger meds or whatever
Monte - I didn't mean to leave you
Breaker - you didn't leave me , if anything I left you ,
He ruffled my hair a bit coming close to giving me a hug, but stopped just short of one.
Breaker- look just try to do your homework while I cook something OK
Monte - OK
We sat there for a moment until I realized I had to go get the chair and help him get to it in the kitchen.
I didn't mean to be such a spas I just worried, but Breaker never seemed to be worried.
It was around 9 o'clock when mom finally made it home. She looked just as exhausted as Breaker and I. I don't know what Breaker was cooking but I'm glad mom made it home in time to fix it. We all ate dinner around the table at 10. I helped Breaker up to his room after, but that was normal so I don't think mom noticed how out of shape he was in. I really wanted to tell her, especially when we had such a hard time getting up the stairs.
When I helped him get into bed I thought the day might finally have been over. I went to my room and got dressed for bed, or should I say undressed for bed. My pajamas were missing. Rather than confront Breaker about it, because I knew he likely had them, I decided I could go to bed in my underwear. I plugged my phone up to charge on my bedside table, then I crawled into bed. By that point I'd forgotten that my fur was blue. My eyes fluttered shut and sleep was just a few steps away in my mind. I was right there about to cross into dream land when my phone rang. I jumped up startled by the sound.
Who could be calling me so late at night? Who other than Breaker and mom would call me? I answered it and realized it was more than a phone call, it was some kind of video call. I didn't know I had anything like that on my phone, but I was still new to having a phone too.
Lilly- he lives
Paul- hey blue monkey must have been having some alone time
I was confused.
Daniel - dude if you were wanking we can just talk tomorrow
It took me a minute to remembered I was in my underwear.
Monte- what no
I tried to cover up as quickly as possible with my bed sheets. I dropped my phone and I'm sure they all got an upshot at me as I flailed around. When I finally picked my phone up Lilly laughed which made the moment slightly less embarrassing some how.
Daniel- dude get some pajamas
Monte - I have pajamas
Daniel - then wear them
Paul - or don't wear anything, that's what I do and I sleep like a baby
Daniel - too much information
Lilly- I think Monte looks good this way
Thank god for my fur because I didn't want them seeing how hard I was blushing at Lilly. I was in a sort of trance until mom came by and knocked on my door to tell me to get to sleep.
Monte - what's all this about
Daniel- your brother is a cat right
Monte- he's a lynx, yes
Daniel - is he the one the cops arrested tonight
Monte - how do you know about that
Paul- so it was your brother?
Monte - how do you know what happened
Lilly- a few kids from band club were still in the building and got it all on camera
Monte- "band club"?
Daniel - I know right, they should just call it "Band"
Monte- that's not what I .... I need to get to bed
I tapped the screen for a while trying to figure out how to hang up , but I eventually got it.
I had to tell Breaker. I got up and walked back down the hallway. I started to open his door, but stopped as I heard a sound I don't think I ever heard before. Breaker was crying. He was trying to hold it in, but standing there next to his door I heard it.
Chapter 9: Angie vs Drive
I was worried about my boys. Monte could be so soft and impressionable. Breaker could be very stubborn and unfiltered. I could only imagine how their first day was shaping up. But It was time for the the daily team meeting, and I'd yet to receive a call from JHS about the boys miss behaving, or getting into trouble. All I had to do was get through a meeting , take a few calls, and check up on the artist then I'd be on my way home to see my boys.
The RYEN Group was preparing a presentation for a company releasing an over the counter drug that helped inter species couples have children. We had a number of different designs to look over and discuss before we could show anything to the client, but we were given an even harder task. The client wanted us to come up with the name of the product as well. Names are one of the most difficult aspects of a project to come up with. We narrowed our list of possible green lights down to 20 names , and for each name we had at least 50 package designs. We needed to narrow the list down to 10 package designs.
There were a total of 3 teams that contributed to the design pool. My team , Lindsey Fae's team , and Craig's. The problem with narrowing down our list was simple. Each team wanted the designs they came up with to be selected to go forward. Our team meeting was meant to be an hour long each day. We had one every day, so we didn't have to make all of our decisions all at once on that one day. But we weren't making any signs of progress in terms of selections. If only our boss, Mr.Grant , would take on the responsibility of making the final selections the individual teams wouldn't have had to fight , but he believed that it was better to have us work it out on our own.
Lindsey- We have been on this project for longer than anyone else, if anyone should have finally say it's us
Angie- I've been on this project just as long as you have
Lindsey- Yes , but you started on my team
Angie- And now my team has worked hard to
She cut me off.
Lindsey- Your team has done some good work in the past , but this is a contract with the potential to bring in a long line of financial stability and growth, why don't you let the seniors of the room take point
Craig- You guys know I'm still here right?
Lindsey- Shut up Craig
Angie- Maybe what this contract needs is a newer, fresher approach, a more forward thinking team like my own would be better suited than your run down old "senior" class of artists
Lindsey- "Run down"?
Craig- Ladies please, do we really need to do this every meeting
Angie- Shut up Craig
Our meeting ran over time by at least and hour and a half, and only ended after Mr.Grant walked by and saw that Craig was knocked out in the corner of the room while Lindsey and I continued our discussion.
Leaving the conference room I noticed a message on my phone. The boys missed the bus. I put trackers in their phones so that even if they wouldn't tell me they missed the bus I still got alerts to notify me. My first response was to rush to get them, but I had a number of calls that needed to be made before I could leave. I had to hope that I would leave quickly enough to not seem like a bad mother. My calls ran longer than expected though, and the longer you stay in the office the harder it is to get out. Something always came up that added more time to my work day even before I got my promotion. I didn't make it out of the office until 7 that night.
The traffic getting home was jammed as usual. A 30 minute drive became an hour long wait. I needed something new , something different. Even with a promotion I was dealing with an unpredictable work schedule, terrible coworkers, and an unbearable commute. I was going to be late picking up my son's, and the likely hood of our eating dinner before 10 had gone out the window. But what else could I do? With overpopulation being such a global problem jobs capable of supporting a family even as small as three was nearly impossible to find. That wasn't even taking into account Breaker's medical bills and physical therapy. What job could I possibly have switched to without crippling my family's finances? It wasn't a fun ride.
When I made it to JHS the sun had long been set over the horizon as I searched for my boys. They should have been waiting there. I picked up my phone to check their trackers but their phones must have been dead. I had to hope that they were already home.
I was a terrible mother. Making my boys walk home on the first day of school. I thought surly Breaker's legs must have given out from under him. But when I got home and opened the front door my eyes had to be playing tricks. There was Breaker in the kitchen cooking dinner, and Monte in the living room doing his homework. Suddenly that panic in my heart came to a rest. I locked the front door behind me then I found a tall glass and made myself a Monday night drink before helping Breaker in the kitchen. Whatever he was cooking was not food.
It could have been worse. At least we were all home and in bed before 12. I never could understand how Nikki made everything work. When she was around we made it home from work late, but never that late.
Chapter 10: Breaker vs SAR
I had a rough night, but after I got some sleep in I was in better shape. I could walk again, but after what happened Monday I knew I wasn't ready to go back to school in my current condition. That's why when I went to my usual doctor's appointment with mom that Tuesday I had a lot more questions than I normally would.
My doctor was this tiger girl named Tyra. She was cool, and I think she got me sometimes. She gave me my usual exam and checked my mobility. Everything was basically the same as always. We got to the end of my exam and I was just sitting on the examination table waiting to hear if Tyra had anything to say. My mom was sitting in the corner of the room in a stool , and Tyra was filling out my chart. I didn't want to give mom a reason to worry, but I had to ask questions.
Breaker- so do you have anything stronger, like a lot stronger than my usual meds
Tyra looked up from the chart, and my mom looked up from her phone.
Tyra- you finally have your medication in a near perfect balance, changing it now could have major side affects and could even be degenerative to your recovery
Breaker- I know but...
Angie - honey why do you want to change your medication, I thought you said you were doing OK
Breaker - I am...I just want to be better, really better...faster
Tyra- these things take time, and you're actually doing better than most who suffer your particular injuries, in a few years you could
I knew she meant well, but I couldn't help but cut her off.
Breaker- well its taking too long , I don't wanna wait "a few years", I could barely play dodge ball yesterday without getting knocked on my ass
Angie - you played "dodge ball"!? Were you hurt
Breaker- I was fine mom
Tyra- if you're serious about trying to quicken your recovery maybe it's time we talk about your alternatives again
Breaker - what alternatives?
Angie - we can't afford that right now
Breaker -Mom what is she talking about
What was she talking about? No one had ever told me about any "alternatives" before.
Tyra- have you considered a S.R.S
Breaker- a what?
Tyra- a Spinal realignment surgery
Breaker- that's a thing?
Angie - Breaker, we can't afford
Breaker- I'll get a job or something
I didn't mean to cut my mother off, but I did and then I turned back to Tyra.
Breaker - what happens in a SAR
Tyra- in your case an "S.R.S" would include going in and surgically aligning the vertebrae in your spine that are still making it hard to keep your balance. You would also have to lose the remainder of your tail , and you'd have to start rehab again, but you could potentially be back to playing sports and walking to school on your own in a matter of months
Breaker - are you serious, I want that now, when can I
Mom stopped me.
Angie - surgery is not an option right now Breaker, we don't have the money for it
Breaker - but mom
She cut me out of the conversation. She stepped in front of me and spoke to Tyra like I wasn't even there. And then we left. We walked out of the clinic and got in the car. I wasn't sure how to approach what had just happened.
Angie - your doctor's note is good for the day, so do you want to go home or to school
Angie- if you go home I expect you to clean up your room, you're not about to spend all day playing video games and shooting birds out of the sky
Breaker - Mom , why can't I get the surgery
She didn't say a word, and I could feel her eyes avoiding my side of the car.
Breaker - why can't I get the surgery
Angie- because we can't afford it
Breaker - I can get a job or something, I'll pay for it
Angie- honey, you know there's nothing I wouldn't do for you don't you
Angie - if we could afford to get you this surgery we would have a long time ago
It hit me that she knew about the S.R.S before Tyra brought it up. How long did she know about it?
Breaker- why can't we afford it
Angie - Breaker
Breaker - why can't we afford it mom, I'll give up my video games , we can sell my tv, I can even
She stopped me again.
Angie - we are not having this conversation
Breaker - then I'm getting a job
Angie - no you are not
Breaker- you can't stop me
Angie - you think I'm going to let you go out and kill yourself to make minimum wage? You getting a job is not going to pay for what you want , not with the kind of job you could get
Breaker- why can't we afford the surgery, I'll give up anything to walk without taking a bunch of pills anymore
She turned on the radio and tuned me out. The rest of the car ride was muted by the music but it felt quiet.
I decided to spend the rest of the day at home. I knew I'd have to eventually get used to being on my feet all day at school, but I wasn't up for testing my limits after what happened the previous day. Mom left me to go to work so it was just me, myself, and I in the house alone. That is until about an hour later when Someone knocked on the front door. I was in the living room sleeping on the couch, and I really didn't feel like getting up. So I didn't. I yelled.
Breaker - it's open
A moment later I heard the door open and the sound of footsteps approaching. They stepped around the couch. It was Ray , the wolf from next door.
Ray- you wanna explain why I have you on camera getting dropped off on my doorstep last night
Breaker - you wanna explain why you have me on camera
Ray- we have security cameras in our yard
Breaker- oh ...
Ray- why did the police drop you off at my house
Breaker - don't you mean your dad's house
Ray- your deflecting, you know I could just tell your mom , or if my dad had seen it before I did
Breaker- they were just giving me a ride home , that's all
Ray- sure it is
Breaker - when are you going back to school again
Ray- I graduated a semester ago , don't you remember you and your brother were at my welcome home party
Breaker- that's what that was? I thought it was your birthday
Ray- scoot over
He made me move until there was space for him next to me. He was a big wolf , not fat , just big , tall , and muscular. If he were closer to my age I might have tried to hit on him actually.
Breaker- if you already graduated college what are you still doing living with your dad
Ray- graduating school doesn't come with a house and paychecks, but what are you doing home , I thought you went back to school yesterday
Breaker- I did, and I needed a break for today
Ray- I'm sure you'll get into a rhythm with things , is probably like working out , the first day is always the hardest
Breaker - I'm not giving up on going back to school...I just wish there was a way to get better sooner
Ray- I don't know what to tell you
Breaker- I need money
Breaker - yea , like a lot of it
Ray- we talking 10s or 50s, I was gonna go get lunch if that's what you're talking about
Breaker - more like thousands
Ray- what kind of five star are you trying to order from
Breaker- I need it for my legs , there's this surgery that could fix my balance, but mom says we can't afford it
Ray- oh , ummm that's probably something you should talk with her about then
Breaker - I need a job
Ray- would that be safe
Ray- you're skipping school because you're not used to being on your legs all day right? So are you sure it be safe to get a job when you can't handle school yet
Breaker - you sound like my mom
Ray- your mom is a smart woman
Breaker- I just need a way to make some money, that's all
Ray- well like I said, I don't know what to tell you
Breaker - why are you here anyway
Ray- your mom wanted me to keep an eye on you while you're at home , and don't forget the whole being dropped off by the cops thing
Breaker- I don't need a babysitter
Ray- I'm not here to baby sit you , I'm here to kick your ass in a game of Xk11
Breaker - how old are you
Ray- do you wanna play or not
Breaker - the game is upstairs in my room
Chapter 11: Angie vs Regret
You want to give your children everything. You don't want them to suffer, you don't want them to long , but life isn't that simple. Sometimes to give them one thing you have to sacrifice something else. You try to sacrifice yourself first , and you try so hard to be the shield that deflects every arrow. But what can you do when it's life that wants to do harm?
I knew about the available surgery. I knew about it the day we took Breaker into the hospital after the accident. Nikki and I both were planning to pay for it , but then she got sick. We had to put our money into trying to save her. When Nikki was gone we were left with bills and a house close to being taken out from under Breaker and I. Then Monte came along. The adoption process, getting him into school, even just buying the new bed for his room set us back. But how could we not welcome him into our home. Monte was a part of the family.
Every time we came close to being out of the red something new pulled us back in , and that's why Breaker couldn't get his surgery. His mother, I couldn't afford to pay for it. I wasn't bringing enough money in. I couldn't do enough. I wasn't enough.
It broke my heart to sit next to my beautiful boy and hear him ask why we couldn't do the thing that would put his life back together. What should I have told him? His mother's medical bills were still looming. The house might get taken away. We adopted his brother. The answer to his quest was me. I couldn't give him what he needed.
I couldn't bicker with Lindsey that day. I didn't have the energy to fight over what shape a box should be, or what color looked best. But I went to work. I did my job, and I did so without breaking the compartmentalized sections of my life. I had to be a professional. Tears wouldn't make the situation better.
I needed something new. I needed a way to make not only a living, but a way to make progress. It felt like I was drowning trying to work while I dreamed of finding a new job that would take me away and save my family's life at the same time. But that's the sacrifice you make for family. You put aside your dreams and work on reality, because when you get your head lost in the clouds you're not the only person who might fall.
It was about time to head home. The daily team meeting was a headache as usual , but it ended at a more pleasant hour than usual. I checked the trackers on the boy's phones. Breaker was still home , and it looked like Monte caught the bus. I had to do a walk through the office before I could leave that day, but it seemed I would make it home at a reasonable hour.
After seeing everyone else I stopped by the design lab to speak with the lead artist on my team, Collin.
Collin was a fox who was hired only a few weeks after Nikki and I joined the RYEN Group. Back when I was a part of Lindsey Fae's team Collin was popular around the office for a comic book he created by the name of "Pin and Paper". His comic had grown to be a hit with nearly a million reads the first week it was published. When the higher ups got wind of what he was doing in his spare time they promoted him almost immediately. When I got my promotion I knew I wanted him on my team. He was a good friend to Nikki and I, and he was gifted. I could trust him to drop office politics enough to speak without being heavily filtered , and I knew i could trust him to get his work done with a certain level of quality. He was always a professional and never overstepped, but it's because of our friendship that I think we were able to talk with so few boundaries.
Collin was at his usual work desk over by windows of the corner of the room. That particular desk was right under a vent. The office could get very hot with so many people constantly running around, so he probably sat where he did everyday because of the better access to air.
Angie- Everything OK?
Collin- Everything is fine
As I walked up behind him he turned around in his chair.
Collin- What about you Ms.Pro , everything OK?
Angie- Of course it is
Collin- Are you sure
Angie- Why wouldn't it be
Collin- You know me and the guys have this thing going where we bet on who's gonna have the last word at the team meetings everyday, most of the time you or Lindsey are a safe bet but Craig won today ... and Craig never wins
Angie- Craig is...
I searched for the words. How do you say a coworker is spineless while still being respectful?
Collin- Craig is Craig , Lindsey is Lindsey, and you are you , but you haven't seemed like yourself all day
Collin- honestly you haven't seemed like yourself ever since Nikki...
He choked up on his words.
Angie- It's alright , you're not wrong
I took a seat on the edge of Collin's work desk, and he sat back in his rolling chair. For a moment we both basked in the air of the vents we sat under listening to the wind in the room like ambiance before I continued.
Angie- If you could do anything else what would it be
He answered so quickly I had to wonder if he heard me correctly.
Collin- I love what I do
Angie- Designing boxes and going to war over topics of extreme importance such as "what color to use" is what you want to be doing?
Collin- Well when you put it like that it sounds small , but I've always wanted to be an artist. I may not be selling framed paintings for a million dollars a sketch, but I know that what I make here will be seen by countless people. .. and who doesn't love the age old debate of "red Vs blue"
Collin was a simple fox, much simpler than my life.
Collin- But what would you do
Collin- What would my fearless leader , "The Great Angie Pro" do if you could do anything else
Angie- That's a hard question
Collin- And whys that
Angie- Because I have my boys , and medical bills, a house that needs paying for, a car note
Collin- But we're not talking about responsibilities right now, if you didn't have to worry about anyone or anything else what would you do
I had to think on it for a while. It's not very often I'd be asked what I wanted, or how I felt.
Angie- I'd open a restaurant
Collin- A restaurant?
Angie- Yes, a restaurant
Collin- I didn't know you cooked
Angie- Who do you think bakes the office birthday cakes
Collin- I thought we ordered those from somewhere
Angie- When I was younger I learned early on that my mother and father couldn't cook to save their lives, so I taught myself how to, as an 11 year old I saved us all from dad's rotten chili and mom's moldy casserole, and I never stopped cooking after that. Things were always simple in the kitchen, no stress, and no headaches. I used to love baking brownies for Breaker's track meets ... but starting a business takes money, time , a culinary degree, a license to serve food
Collin- But you could do it
Angie- Not now , not where I am. Don't get me wrong I love my boys , but I can't turn my life upside down and keep us all afloat
Collin- I think you could , I see how you fight for our team every day and how much work you put into every project, even before you had your own team I knew I wanted to work with you , anyone with your kind of drive and ability to get shit done can do anything
Angie- Your sweet
Collin- I'm really not, I'm about as much of a pretentious asshole as any other artist here, but I know if I was doing anything other than my dream I wouldn't be my full self
Angie- And you think I'm not my "full self"
Collin- I can't tell you that , all I can tell you is I'm happy to work with you as a coworker, but as a friend I'd understand if you wanted something new for yourself
Angie- And that's the problem, I can want the world but it won't matter if I can't move a mountain
Collin- But it never hurts to move stones when you can
How could I not smile when Collin was such an uplifting figure.
Angie- Did you finish the T27
Collin- I'll have it in your email in about an hour
Angie- Tell Dan to call back the lion and tell him to be here no later than 10 for the photo shoot next Wednesday
Collin- Will do ... chef
Chapter 12: Monte vs Gossip
Going back to school after Breaker was caught in a video with the police was harder than going to school with blue fur. No one out right said anything about it, but I could feel he was being discussed. And not only by people in my class. Walking down the hallway I was stopped a number of times so that people could ask about my brother. It didn't help that Breaker decided to take a day off from school right after the night he was supposedly arrested. People thought he was being held in a jail cell or something, and it didn't matter how much I tried to convince them that he was just at home because people wanted to believe that he'd gotten into trouble.
I'm happy that as the week went on and Breaker eventually came back to school I stopped hearing so many rumors, but there was another kind of talk that sprouted. People were already thinking about us so it didn't take them long to start really thinking about us. Questions like who were our father's, or what happened to Breaker's legs started to pop up. The one question I saw coming, but thought I'd gotten past, was really bugging me. People wanted to know if I was gay. And just like before when people thought Breaker had been arrested, it didn't matter what I told them because they believed what they wanted to.
But that's the thing for every rumor I heard about me or my family I heard 10 more about someone else. There was so much gossip and word of mouth. Back in the orphanage no one was perfect but we all knew one another. We were like brothers and sisters, so rumors about one another would be shot down before they had a chance to grow. In school it seemed as though people almost thrived on the outlandish stories told about them.
There were rumors told to me that I found hard not to be curious about. It was such a norm that at a point I forgot there people talking about me. OK maybe I didn't forget, but I got to a point of understanding that everyone liked to talk and sometimes I would be the subject at hand.
I'm just glad I somehow managed to make friends who didn't seem as interested in the rumors as others. There were plenty of rumors about them though. There was a rumor about Lilly's parents getting divorced. A rumor about Paul living in a trailer park. There was even a rumor about Daniel's dad stealing most of the cars and motorcycles that he worked on. I knew the rumors about me and my brother were fake so I tried to ignore the ones about my friends.
Breaker and I hadn't missed the bus in two days. To be fair he didn't go to school Tuesday, but he did managed to catch the bus with me on time that Wednesday. He still had really bad headaches after school, but I think it's safe to say he was making progress as far as getting used to being at school all day. It was Thursday. We met in the cafeteria before heading outside to the parking lot where the bus area was after school. We were about to get on the bus to go home when from across the parking lot I noticed Daniel and Paul coming our way. I was pretty sure they didn't ride the bus, so I was confused to see them in the bus area until it became clear that they were only there for me.
Monte- hey you guys
Daniel - what are doing tomorrow
Monte - I don't know, I was probably going to be at home with my brother
Friday that week was a holiday so there'd be no school.
Monte - you guys don't usually ride the bus do you
Paul - no , we want you to come hang out with us tomorrow
Monte - really?
Daniel - yea Lilly has this thing with her dad tomorrow
Paul - but we need a third to get into this
Before Paul could finish his thought my brother stepped in front of me and spoke on my behalf.
Breaker - whatever it is he'll be there
Monte - what!?
The bus driver wasn't allowed to open the bus doors until exactly 3 15 , so Breaker had been standing behind me the entire time I spoke with my friends.
Daniel - awesome, text me your address and we'll pick you up in the morning
Monte - But
They were already leaving before I got a chance to ask them what they wanted me to be a part of.
Monte - why did you do that
Breaker - you don't need to be stuck with me all day Friday when you're already gonna be stuck with me all day Saturday, and I have a headache so I could really do without all the talk bro
Monte - Saturday?
Breaker - my friends track meet
He must have really been tired because he leaned on me, most of the time Breaker wouldn't even touch me. I could tell he was resting most of his weight against me.
Monte - oh ... why do I have to go
Breaker - because I know mom won't let me go alone and at least with you I might have a shot of some kind of fun
Monte - that might be the nicest thing you've said to me all week
Breaker - yea don't let it go to your head
He ruffled my hair before balancing on his own feet again. Thats when the bus driver finally opened the doors and Breaker and I got on. Breaker preferred to sit alone on the bus so when he sat near the front of the bus I sat near the back.
I sat by myself. I didn't know many people yet, and I wasn't confident enough to just sit next to someone. But I didn't mind. Sometimes it was fun to just listen to all the other kids talking about their day or what have you. It was hard when I heard them talking about my brother though. Even harder when they talked about me. But sometimes I'd learn things completely unbeknownst to me.