The Bomb

Five hours ago, my mother walked up to me and dropped a bomb. Right there, in the living room. People shouldn’t be allowed to do that.

Ever since school got out, I’ve been working. All my friends, well, they’ve been out riding their bikes and wall jumping and doing the sorts of things that one would expect a 15-year-old boy to do.

But every time I sit down and start drawing, it’s almost unthinkable to stop. I submitted a portfolio to my local arts high school a month ago, and I’m so anxious sometimes, I notice that I forget to breathe. My mom agreed to send in the application, after months of me begging and being extra nice. She thinks I’m studying for the SAT, but I’m drawing. I don’t think I need to study for a test I have to take in 3 years, and I would much rather be working on something I love to do. She won’t listen, though, so I have to lie.

Anyways, back to the bomb. I’m not a scientist, but I’m pretty sure an entire town could have collapsed from that one.

My mother, she didn’t send in my portfolio.

I don’t know if you’re aware of the deadlines for the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts’ Visual Art Program, but it was yesterday. So why, you may ask, did my mother not submit my portfolio? Well, she and my father had a discussion without my knowledge. Let me illustrate the conversation that we had.

“Honey, can you get the mail?” my mother screeched out of the dining room.

“Sure, Mom,” I mumbled, scooping the letters off of the marble floor and placing them in her pointy fingers. I stood there, with my hands folded, swaying back and forth.

“Harrison, what do you want? Stop slouching,” she said, as she browsed through the mail.

“Mom, I know you’re getting tired of me asking, but is there any possible way you’ve heard from LVA?” I winced as I asked. The last time, I got yelled at. I suppose I have been nagging her a bit.

“Jesus Christ, Harrison.” She groaned as she started to play with her silk scarf. Who wears a scarf in the summer? “We’ve been through this. You’ll hear when you hear, and besides, your father and I don’t even want you to attend that pitiful excuse for a school. Your father already has a spot for you at Meadows, where you’ll get a well-rounded education.”

“Okay, Mother. I know this school isn’t preppy enough for you, and it may not have buckets of money, and the average SAT score may not be 1500, but please could you consider my feelings? I want to go there, okay? The number of times Dad takes me to meet alumni or the staff there at his golf tournaments won’t change that.”

“Okay…” she said, rolling her eyes at me with such force, that I’m pretty sure I saw some eyeshadow flake off.

“No, Mom, listen to me. What is going on here? Why are you hiding the results from me?  Contrary to what you think, I’m not stupid. The results were supposed to come in a week ago. James already got his results back. He got in, and if he can, I certainly can. What did the letter say?”

“I think we should discuss this with your father, and anyways, we don’t have time. Go upstairs and get ready for the dinner party tonight,” she said, setting the unopened mail down on the table and slowly getting up from her velvet armchair.  

“God, why are you always so passive aggressive?” I yelled, slamming the oak door behind me.

“Fine, Harrison. Do you really want to know? Do you really want to hear it from me? Here? Now?” my mom yelled, following me into the hallway. “You didn’t get into the school.  You know why? Because I never handed in your goddamn portfolio. There you go. That is the truth. So stop nagging me about it.” Her pointy heels dug into the carpeting as she stormed out. “Do you know how hard your father and I worked to get you into Meadows? Don’t you understand that LVA isn’t a real school?” she yelled behind her, her voice bouncing off the paintings and trophies and photos that attempted to fill up the empty house.

I’m pretty sure I stood there for about ten minutes with my mouth wide open. Not to be blunt, but I hate my mother. Not in that teenage angsty way where I’m upset because she won’t let me go to a party or because I’m grounded. But because I genuinely don’t respect her. What kind of a person lies to their kid about that kind of thing? And I don’t buy that, “Your father and I just want what’s best for you” crap. Please. She just wants to be able to tell her friends that her kid goes to Meadows. That way she can get their manicured, blow dried, and botoxed approval.

I stormed down the hall, past all of the trophies in their glass cases, determined not to become one of them. When I got to my room, I ran to my bookshelf and ripped all of the pamphlets and books about Meadows onto the carpeted floors. I went to the back of my closet and rummaged around until I found the mustard yellow Meadows hoodie that my parents gave me for Christmas, and I threw it in the pile.

Then, I put on my usual suit and tie for dinner. I was halfway through putting on my belt when my phone rang. I picked my jeans up off the floor and pulled my phone out of the pocket.

“Elise? Why are you calling me?” I put my phone on speaker and continued to put on my belt.

“You don’t even have the decency to say hello to me, Harrison?” she joked. I knew she was smiling, and I could picture her dimples.

“Okay. Hello, Elise,” I mocked, catching her smile.

“Well, guess what?” she teased into the phone.

“What?” I was curious by then.

“I got into LVA! I submitted my portfolio early, just like you, and it paid off! I’m so happy, and I know you’ll get in. You have to!” She sounded like she had just won the lottery, and I’m sure I would have too, if I were in her situation.

“Oh, that’s great.” I’m not a very good actor, and this wasn’t an exception. I think she knew something was wrong. I mean, after all, she knew me the best out of practically anybody.

“Is everything okay, Harrison? You don’t sound too good. Did your mom go off on you about LVA again? You know, you really should stand up to her at some point. I know I’ve said that about a million times, but just because she’s your mom doesn’t mean she can control you.” Elise gave me the usual speech. I mean, yeah, I should stand up for myself, but it wouldn’t make any difference. Mom either wouldn’t listen or wouldn’t care.

“I have to go to this dumb dinner party with my parents, so I’ll talk to you later, okay?” I didn’t wait for a response and hung up the phone. I didn’t think she would mind. After all, she was going to make a million new friends at LVA, and I was just this little boy who couldn’t even stand up to his own mother

I rode the car ride there in silence. Cold, bitter silence.

When we arrived, I sat down across from my mother, and to the left of my father.  The long, oak table stretched on and on, and I hoped the evening wouldn’t do the same. When the appetizers were served, my mother brought up a topic that really wasn’t wise to bring up.

“You know, Amy, Harrison is absolutely delighted to attend Meadows next year.  Do you have any alumni advice for him?” She talks differently around these people. She coos when she speaks.

“Well, you’re in for a tough ride, but a good one. I think you’ll fit in there.” Amy half laughed as she talked.

I didn’t look up. I just moved the mustard greens around on my plate. I couldn’t listen to any more alumni talk, so I turned to my mother.

“You know what, Mom, I don’t really think you should be going around telling people that I’m going to Meadows when I haven’t even agreed to go.” I spoke softly, hoping that nobody else could hear.

“Harrison, what are you talking about? We agreed at home, an hour ago, that that is where you will be going to school. Now, shut up. We can talk later.” She smiled as she talked, but believe me, she wasn’t happy.

“Are you kidding me?” I spoke louder, and the whole room turned their big heads toward me. “We did not agree that I would be going to Meadows. You told me that you didn’t submit my application to the school that I actually want to go to. I don’t know what world you live in, but that doesn’t suddenly make me want to attend a snotty private school.”

My mom was looking at me in utter disbelief and didn’t seem to notice that her Chardonnay had spilled onto her croquettes. “How do you have the audacity to speak to me that way? Your father and I have discussed this. You are a child. Our child. And we know what is best for you. Your attitude about this is deplorable. I’m not discussing this here any longer. We will settle this at home, but there isn’t any more to talk about at the moment.”

“I’m terribly sorry to inconvenience you with the timing, and my apologies go out to you, Mrs. Smith, for I’m afraid I have disrupted your casual get-together. But do you even listen to yourself, mother? I mean really. ‘Your attitude is deplorable’ Who talks like that? Who spends an hour on their hair and ten minutes on their kid? You probably aren’t even listening to me right now, you’re probably too busy wondering what excuse you’ll make up to excuse your son’s deplorable actions.”

 By now, my mother’s left eye was twitching, and one of Mrs. Smith’s embroidered napkins was balled up in her lap.

“I try to talk to you about this at home, and you run away into one of the million rooms to hide in. Well you can’t run this time, Mom. Listen to me. I don’t want to go to that boring, privileged, and snotty school. I don’t want to do things so that you can tell Cindy or Mary about how studious your son is. Will you just stop thinking about how other people will view you?”

“Okay, okay, let’s stop this acrimonious discussion, darling.” My mother was half smiling (I’m pretty sure she was thinking about ways to punish me), and she was completely unraveled.  

“Do you hear me? I don’t care if I have to go to the shitty, local school. I’m not going.”

The company was astonished that I had just cursed, but my mother yelled over the gasps.

“That’s it. I’m done. You try and handle having a kid. You try what I have to go through every day. Your ignorance is aggravating. I’m doing the best thing for you, not me. I’m sorry that you want to be an artist. I’m sorry that you want to become homeless and unaccomplished, but I won’t allow it. You’re embarrassing yourself. Just leave.” She sat back down and picked her wine glass out of her plate.

I was happy to oblige. “Thank you for the lovely evening, Mrs. Smith,” I yelled behind me as I escaped out of the dining hall. I probably wouldn’t be invited back.  Oh well.

Our driver wasn’t going to pick us up for another hour and a half, so I started to walk home. Our estate was miles and miles away, but at least I would have something to do. I didn’t know what to think of what had just happened, but I suppose I finally got heard.

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