“Although it hurts, I’ll try to smile.” – Ratigan (The Great Mouse Detective)
After Brian’s little breakdown things seemed to get a bit better. As the weeks passed he healed and was walking again, but he wasn’t talking to his mother like he used to. I felt guilty but he always reassured me it was for the best.
The whole of February was pretty much dedicated to studying. I wondered if we were the only ones on campus who just studied all the time, there were a lot of parties but we never went. I didn’t want Brian to be near any alcohol while he was in this state. Brian’s birthday came and went as well, he spent it sleeping mostly and refused to go anywhere. His mother had called but he didn’t answer.
By the end of February we both were tired already and still had a few more months to go of school before summer. This was my first year of college, how was I gonna pull off three more?
“You and Brian need to get out and have some fun. Can’t study all the time.” Kevin said when I called him up.
Wait, Kevin’s telling me to have fun? KEVIN?
“Since the accident Brian doesn’t really want to go anywhere anymore.” I told him. I thought about Brian back in the dorm, sleeping on our days off instead of hanging out.
“Spring Break is coming up, isn’t it? We can take him on our fishing trip.” Kevin suggested.
“I dunno. Aren’t me and Brian a bit old for that? Everyone our age is going to Miami for Spring Break.”
I actually didn’t know if they were, I just didn’t feel like going fishing this year.
“I keep forgetting you’re a college kid now. I’m sure we will think of something. I’ll pick you up when break starts.” Kevin said, and that was the end of that. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the trip but at least we’d be away from school for a bit. I went back to the dorm where I found Brian tearing up his Farmer’s almanac.
“Howdy, Sheriff.” I said tentatively. He glared at me and kept shredding the book. Yikes.
I didn’t say anything, I went over to my bed and dumped my bag onto it. I had some drawings to finish for class the next day.
“My mom called again.” he said after we were both quiet for a while.
“I’m not going back there.” he drawled without emotion. I looked up at him in surprise.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I mean I’m not going back to Kentucky. I’m staying in Florida and I’m changing majors. We talked about this before.”
If by before, he meant when he was drunk and puking on me….I would agree.
“You remember that?”
“Nick, I may have been half wasted but I was dead serious. I’m not going back to the farm. I told my mother already.” he snapped. I fiddled with the bottom of my shirt because I was getting antsy with all this tension. I hated when he was pissy like this.
“Brian….what are you going to do when we are off for summer break? You don’t have anywhere to go, do you?” I replied.
“Look, I have a plan. I could crash with you and Kevin. Orlando isn’t far from school and I can just hitch a ride back to campus in the fall.”
I somehow didn’t think Kevin would be so into the idea of Brian just ditching Jackie. Granted, he had a right to be peeved, but this wasn’t the answer.
“You’d have to ask him. I can’t answer for Kevin anyways. He called me today by the way.” I said softly. He put down the remnants of his book and looked up.
“I suppose my mom told him what happened.”
“I dunno anything about that, but he wanted to know if you’d like to spend Spring Break with us. That is, if you didn’t have anything better to do-”
“That sounds like a good idea.”
I was half expecting him to protest going on any sort of trip. Brian smiled for the first time I’d seen in weeks, and it felt really good.
“Yeah, we have been working hard. I think we need a break. Where are we going, South Beach? That’s where everybody else is going.” he grinned.
“Something like that.” I smiled back.
He was in for a surprise.
The night before Spring Break started, Kevin came and picked us up at the dorm. We went to Orlando and slept before heading out in the morning.
“How far is it to Miami?” Brian asked.
“I dunno, probably two hours or so.” Kevin told him. I didn’t want to break it to Brian that we wouldn’t be seeing hot girls in bikinis, but large mouthed bass or trout. Kevin didn’t seem to catch onto why Brian asked this either. He just drove, whistling to songs on the radio.
“What kind of music is this?” I asked. Some guy was asking if he was sexual. I raised my eyebrow. Who wrote this stuff?
“Change the station!” Brian shouted from next to me.
Thank God me and Brian have the same preference in radio stations.
“I can’t wait to see the beach. I heard there’s topless beaches there.” Brian said, and I saw Kevin looking at me from his mirror. I shrugged. Brian talked about Miami like it was his job and he was selling us a condo there.
“You practicing to be a travel agent or something?” Kevin chuckled.
“He is changing majors….” I said and Brian laughed.
“Nah, I might get into teaching. I don’t think farming is for me. What did our dad do, Nick?”
I looked at him in surprise but I smiled. It felt good to hear him call him our dad. I didn’t mind sharing.
“Uh, he worked in restaurant management. My parents owned a diner.” I said.
I closed my eyes as Brian babbled…..remembering how I went to work with them once or twice, the customers were always so friendly.
I missed the Belgian Waffles and pancakes….I hadn’t had them in a long time. Kevin took over owning the place, but it just wasn’t the same without them. My dad had bought the diner because he met my mother there. I loved that story.
It wasn’t long before I fell asleep, licking my lips for stray crumbs I dreamed up as we headed for our destination. Part of me wished we were going to Miami, but fishing would be just as good.
At least I hoped that it would.