“Hey, Phil! Listen, I found this old movie in the back of the closet, the Beatles star in it. I’ve never even seen it before. Apparently it’s super weird, it’s about a magic sacrifice ring and there’s tons of Beatles-songs. Mom and dad won’t be home for a few hours, Enzo is off with those friends of his again, and I have pizza. Want to come over?”
“Oh, that’s okay, you can bring your homework along and I can help you.”
“No, don’t worry. It’s fine. I’ll see you at school.”
I hung up and, annoyed, threw my phone on the bed. Phil had been avoiding me for the last two weeks. At school he constantly missed lunch with some sort of lame excuse and he’d barely been coming over on the weekends. Even my parents noticed. I felt like he was hiding something from me, but I had no idea what it could be.
I let myself fall backwards on the bed and looked up at the ceiling. Great. First my little brother was pulling away from me, and now my best friend, too?
It was close to midnight when I walked up the steps to the house. I’d been hanging out with the guys and Hester, like most nights. We usually just stayed in the basement of Zack’s parents’ house, drinking and smoking. Well, I wasn’t smoking yet, but I felt like it wouldn’t be long until they were fed up with my excuses and just shoved a pack of cigarettes in my hand.
As I opened the door, I could hear my parents talking in the kitchen. Shit. Why are they still up?
It was too late to sneak away, though. My dad had noticed my standing in the doorway.
“Hey, Enz, can you come here, please? We want to talk to you.”
He sounded friendly enough, not exactly angry. But I could tell I was in for a lecture, at the very least.
Reluctantly, I walked into the room and sat down across from them.
“Where were you tonight?” Dad asked.
“Do we know these friends?”
“Do they go to your school.”
“Yes.” Some of them. Some used to go.
“Enz, we’re so happy that you’ve found a group of friends you feel comfortable with.” Mom leaned forward a bit and gave me a little smile. “We know how hard it’s been for you to find people to relate to. But honey, you’re not even fifteen yet. And we’re worried about you. You come home so late, you’re out every night, some of your teachers even called and told us that your grades were going down…”
“I can fix those,” I said, hurriedly. “I can do some extra credit and still save my GPA.”
“That’s not the point, Enz.” Dad sounded calm, but his mouth was tight. “The grades are not what we’re worried about. We’re worried about you. We just don’t want you to get in touch with…” He hesitated for a second. “With people who don’t have your best interests at heart. And listen. I wasn’t always innocent. I’ve experimented a bit when I was younger, with alcohol and with partying and with girls and… Well, it’s a part of life, and it’s okay to be curious. But you’re still very young and we don’t want you to do things that you’re not ready for or being pressured in to.”
How do they know this?
“I’m fine.” I was not about to let them tell me to stop hanging out with Zack and the guys. Not when I’d finally found a group of friends that made other people at school afraid to bully me or call my names or make me trip over their school bags.
“Really. I know what I’m doing. You guys don’t need to worry about me.”
Both Mom and Dad opened their mouths to say something else, but I just turned around and walked up the stairs. I guess in the future I’d have to be more careful about hiding where I was and who I was with. If only my sweater didn’t still smell so strongly of smoke…