Trevor headed up the stairs to his room and shut the door. Did that really just happen? Did he just agree to give up his senior year of football and move to Iowa? IOWA?? All the years he’d worked and the things he’d given up so he could be on the field went up in smoke in one family meeting. Gone. All of it. Taken away by the selfish actions of his Father. How would he go to college now? He wasn’t exactly a straight A student. He’d always banked on his ability to play the game. He wasn’t one to say mean things; his Momma always told him to be nice and nice things would come back to you. But, in this moment the only thought that seemed appropriate came tumbling out. “How could you do this to us, Dad? I hate you!!” Hot tears filled his eyes as he fell backward on his bed. The room was exactly what you’d think a seventeen year old football star would have. Lots of trophies dating back to his YMCA days as a youngster, posters of famous football players and a football mounted with the signature of Peyton Manning across it. His prized possession. He’d always been a star on the field. There was never a question about whether or not he’d be in the starting lineup. He wasn’t the quarterback, but he was in charge of keeping the quarterback safe, and he took his job seriously. Trevor buried his face in his pillow and voiced his frustration in a place where no one could hear. Then he laid on the bed motionless until he fell asleep.
Timothy stopped by the kitchen on his way upstairs and grabbed a banana. It was past supper but he stayed hungry lately. His Mom said the belly of a thirteen year old growing boy is never full. He supposed she was right. He felt a strange numbness about what had just transpired. Moving? To Iowa? He’d lived in Palm Beach his whole life. He didn’t really want to be in Palm Beach anymore, but moving away from it felt scary. He’d much rather stay put than to face the risks another town would surely bring. At least here he could get lost in the library, what would he do in Iowa? Was there even a library where Grandma and Grandpa lived? Wait, was there a library? He’d assumed, but he didn’t know for sure. Suddenly he felt light headed. He headed straight for his room and shut the door quietly. He walked to his nightstand, pulled out his journal and opened it to the next blank page. He carefully wrote the date at the top; that was something he never forgot. Dates were important in the library too, when you check a book out determines when it has to be back. You can never forget the date. Once he’d dated the page, he began to write, slowly at first, but soon words were flying onto the empty lines. All of his fears and the sadness of leaving Palm Beach. Never mind it was just for the summer, it felt like it might be forever and that was unacceptable. So he finished his journal entry with this sentence, “Timothy Lancaster is DUE BACK in Palm Springs by the first day of school.” He marked the page with his bookmark, like he always did, closed the journal and put it back in his nightstand drawer. Then, like every night since he could remember, he began his bedtime routine.
Tatum crawled onto her bed, grabbed a pillow for her lap then leaned against the light blue wall. Her room was filled with pictures of running events and trophies she’d worked hard for since middle school. There were posters mounted everywhere with nothing but images of friends laughing and smiling, arm in arm wearing school uniforms. Life was good then. It pained her to think about it now. She hadn’t heard from a single one of those pictured since her Dad hit the local news. If she were being honest, she felt a little relieved to be going to Iowa for the summer. She didn’t want to see the faces of those she now considered “unfriended.” Tatum sat in silence for a while, allowing her mind to wander some. It wasn’t quite bedtime and she had no one to text, so she put in her earbuds and pulled up trending songs on her phone. She didn’t want to think too much, she just wanted to get through this ridiculously hard time and for life to get back to normal. She decided then and there to never again complain about the mundane. She longed for it now.
Thatcher talked Trace into playing some basketball in the driveway. Of the five siblings, these two were the most alike; outspoken, playful, and almost always the class clown. Trace dribbled the basketball around Thatcher, easily placing it in the hoop. “Ha! That’s ten! I win!” “Let’s play again!” Thatcher pleaded with his big brother. “Don’t you ever get tired? I don’t remember having that much energy when I was ten.” Trace tossed Thatcher’s hair and agreed to another game. Neither of the two wanted to think too much about what was coming next; it was much easier to make jokes and play games. Thatcher stopped and put the ball under his arm. The lights over the driveway shone directly above him and Trace thought for a single moment he looked angelic. “What do you think it will be like to live in Iowa?” Trace stood and thought for a moment. “I don’t know, Mom says we get to watch corn grow. So, there’s that.” Thatcher threw the basketball and it hit Trace in the gut. “Hey, little man, what’s the matter?” “I mean it, Trace, what will it be like? Are we gonna be okay?” Trace suddenly realized his little brother was afraid. In a rare moment of seriousness, he bent down until he was eye to eye with him, “We’re going to be fine, Thatcher. We Lancaster’s are scrappy, we don’t give up easy. Iowa doesn’t know what’s coming for it.” Thatcher looked down at the driveway and began to draw shapes with his foot. Then, seemingly out of the blue, he lunged for his big brother and held on tight. Trace nearly fell, but quickly steadied himself and returned the embrace; he wrapped both of his arms around his little brother and reminded him he wasn’t alone. Vivian, heading to the kitchen, happened to look out the window and see her two boys hugging in the driveway. She put her hand over her mouth and lightly gasped. “What on earth.” Trace and Thatcher didn’t stay that way long. Thatcher pushed Trace back and made a run for the basketball he’d thrown moments earlier. “You little…” Trace hollered and took off after him.
Vivian stood in front of the coffee pot, waiting for it to finish. She was still in shock over what she’d just seen in the driveway. Actually, she was in complete shock over the whole evening. If you’d asked her earlier that day if they’d be going to Iowa for the summer, she would’ve said a hearty “NO.” But, now, a few hours later, and she was about to make a call to her Mom that would change everything, starting with their zip code. The coffeemaker beeped and Vivian poured a cup then added almond milk creamer. Thomas used to tease that she liked the creamer more than the coffee. The thought of him made her heart hurt, what happened to us? Where did it all go so wrong? She was wrapped up in thought when she heard Trace and Thatcher come in through the garage door. “Don’t leave a mess!” She said instinctively as she passed by, leaving them alone in the kitchen.
She grabbed her cell phone from her pocket and went to favorites. She pressed MOM illuminated on the list and the phone began to ring. “Hello.” Mae answered quickly “Hi, Mom, hope it’s not too late.” What Vivian didn’t know was that Mae had been sitting up hoping to hear from her only daughter. “Not at all,” she responded. “Well, I talked it over with the kids…” Vivian continued to tell Mae the news as she shut the bedroom door behind her.