Everything You Want

Everything You Want by Barbara Shoup Page A

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Authors: Barbara Shoup
out and make an appointment for that. So she makes it for a check-up instead, figuring she’ll come clean when she gets there. Meanwhile, she gets this terrible cold. So they sit in the waiting room for almost two hours on the day of the appointment, Mom hacking and wheezing like a TB victim until her name’s finally called. Dad’s a wreck, waiting for her to come out. Then, when she does, she walks right past him and keeps going.
    “So he goes after her,” I say. “But when he catches up to her on the street and asks her what the doctor said, she waves a prescription slip right in his face and says, ‘I’ve got strep throat. It’s no wonder I feel so terrible. I’ve got to get this penicillin and start taking it right away or else I’m going to be even sicker than I already am.’”
    “She didn’t even ask the doctor about—you know?” Will asks.
    “Nope. And when Dad asked why, she had this total breakdown, right there on the street. She goes, ‘You don’t even care how sick I am! My God, I’m really, really, really sick and all you can think about is whether or not I’m pregnant.’” I’m on a roll now, wailing like Mom does when she tells the story.
    Jules cracks up. “Mom is pathetic when she’s sick.”
    “Yeah,” I say. “And this was the crème de la crème of pathetic, according to Dad.”
    I’m about to go on to the rest of it: Grandma Hammond freaking out, wanting to send Mom to an unwed mothers’ home; their disastrous wedding night, when the pipes burst in the dinky little trailer they’d rented and they were ankle deep in water. But I realize Will’s not laughing.
    “Your dad told you that story?” he asks.
    “Yeah. Well, actually both Mom and Dad tell it all the time. They think it’s hilarious.”
    “My parents would never tell me a story as personal as that,” he says. “But then, we don’t talk much about anything.”
    I say, “You don’t get along?”
    He shrugs. “Oh, we get along okay. They just don’t have a clue why I’d want to hang out in a gym when I could go to med school, which is what I originally thought I wanted to do. What they still want me to do. You know, get a real life. What can I say? They’re nice people, just—boring. The idea of them ever being young, being in love like your parents were—well, I can’t even imagine it.”
    “Are,” I say. “Like my mom and dad are .”
    Will looks at Jules and smiles. Jules smiles back. Like we are, they’re thinking. God, this is like a cheesy movie. They might as well be surrounded by a thousand points of light.
    I fake a yawn. “You guys want to go back pretty soon?”
    “I’m fried.” Jules reaches for her jacket.
    “Me too,” Will says. “Boy, being outside in the cold all day really takes it out of you.”
    Right. Like they’re going to go back and sleep . Later, I can hear them in the next room. They’re trying to be quiet, but there are the inevitable thumps, the muffled laughter. A society of two, just like Mom and Dad have always been.
    Sometimes it made Jules and me mad when we were kids, the way their time alone was so important to them. They left us with babysitters, took vacations without us. They refused to devote themselves endlessly to teams and lessons. But as we got older, and a lot of our friends’ families fell apart, we saw their closeness differently. We realized it was no small thing that the way they were together let us keep on believing in love.
    I still believe in it. I just can’t imagine it will ever happen to me. Lying alone in the room Jules and I used to share, I think about Gabe Parker for maybe the millionth time since we met and the hopeless idea that maybe … Stop right there, I tell myself. I make my mind tumble backwards to those early Michigan times when Jules and I were always together.
    Saturday mornings, early, Dad would blast us out of bed with the Rolling Stones—“Start Me Up”—so we could be at the ski area the second the lifts started

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