Amber Benson posted an excerpt from a “thingamabob” she’s been working on.
The best and worst thing that ever happened to Cal began on June 15th, 1999––the second week after school had let out for the summer. That date would forever be etched on his mind as the day his world began to expand.
Of course, it started out just like any other day.
It was summer and shockingly hot outside. Cal woke up with sweat on his upper lip and behind his ears, his t-shirt sticking to his ribs like a second skin. He coughed, hacking up something from deep in his chest and then he sat up, pushing the twisted sheet off his legs. The sun streamed in through the slatted front window casting halos of hazy light around everything it touched. One long, unbroken finger of sunlight had snuck in from beneath the bottom of the plastic blinds and had found its way to Cal’s head, bisecting his face right down the middle.
This was probably what had woken him up, he decided.
He stood up, his bare feet sticking to the warm wooden floorboards, and crossed over to the small bathroom that sat at the side of his room just to the right of his tiny closet. He didn’t know how he’d gotten so lucky, how God had seen fit to give him a bathroom in his room so he (almost) never had to leave his safe space. Occasionally he’d come home from school and sneak out to the long, galley kitchen for food, but usually he filled up as best he could at lunch, or at his best friend Marlo’s house––where the pantry was always brimming with Capri Sun and Sunny Delight and potato chips and cookies for Marlo and his brothers and their friends.
This way he interacted with Daryl and Eugenia (his stepfather and mother) as little as possible.
As the years went by, he got used to his stomach growling. Hunger became his ally––and he knew that if he was hungry then he was being smart and staying out of Daryl’s way.
After Cal had used the bathroom and brushed his teeth, he found the jeans he’d been wearing the day before––crumpled into a ball underneath his bed––and put them on. He took a white T-shirt from a small stack of clean clothes he’d washed at the local coin-op the day before and slid it over his bony chest.
The apartment didn’t have its own washing machine and dryer, so every Tuesday afternoon Eugenia had a standing appointment with the Laundromat down the street––but Cal had learned early on that flying under the radar was the best way to operate, so he’d long ago stopped asking his mom to wash his clothes for him. The less he was seen or heard at home, the better. Once you’d had someone yank your wrist so hard it broke in two places (all because you’d spilled your milk across the kitchen table), you realized fast staying out of the way was the least confrontational course of action.