After becomin’ a teenager there was only one real good thing about it, as far as I could tell.
I was officially learnin’ to ride! Mom and Dad signed me up for lessons once a week and so every Wednesday after school I came here and spent time with Ducky, carin’ for her and also learning to ride. I already knew a lot about how to take care of her so it was mostly learnin’ to ride, which wasn’t too hard since we liked each other so much. I only fell off once (but that was my fault).
Every Saturday I also got to see Henri. Duncan and I would bike down to the park and then he’d go to the movies or somethin’ while Henri and I hung out on the playground, sometimes swinging or playin’ tag but sometimes also just talking and that is how I found out about who he was, cause I hadn’t known before. The only thing I really knew was that he lived for the first seven years of his life in France before movin’ here.
It was about three weeks after my thirteenth birthday and I realized we never really properly introduced ourselves before. I mentioned this, and Henri grinned. “You’re right,” he said. “All I know you as is the girl with weird hair.”
I smacked his arm and rolled my eyes. “Like you don’t?” This was kinda weird for me, but weird in a good way. I never had any friends outside my family since the kids at school thought I was different. Faintin’ in school and missing days didn’t exactly help my reputation. So Henri was really my first non-family-non-animal friend.
“So what’s your last name?” he asked, wrapping his fingers around the chain of the swings.
“Danevbie,” I replied, smilin’ a bit. “Yours?”
I dug my feet into the ground and almost fell off my swing at that. “Wh-what?” I asked, feeling confused by this turn of events. “Like–like Doctor Laroche?”
Henri looked up, eyes bigger than mine. “Yeah. He’s my dad. Why?”
I sat sat still on the swing, feelin’ kinda betrayed. Doctor Laroche… I thought of all the mean things I thought about him after the four times I met him (he really was horribly arrogant) and then he had a kid? This kid? Plus this wasn’t right. Laroche was part of my life I didn’t want anymore. The doctors, the hospitals, my abnormal…ness. And my new friend was his son? Intrudin’ into my life?
I heard his voice but didn’t really hear it as I stood up and started walkin’ off. I knew it was bad of me to do, just walk off like that, but I felt so sick and scared. What if he knew? He must know! We met in his father’s office. He knew there was somethin’ wrong with me, but what if he and his dad ever talked about me? I mean, I know doctors can’t cause of that confidence thing… but what if Henri had one night said something and his dad said ‘Oh her, she’s a weird girl’. Or something…
“Hey, Serenity!” Henri was joggin’ after me and I didn’t know what to do, so I just stood there. “What’s up? You just walked off like–like I said something wrong.” He studied my face for a minute and then frowned. “Is it because of who my dad is…?”
Yes, I thought, but couldn’t say anything. “I just don’t feel well…” I put my hands against my stomach to prove my point but he wasn’t buyin’ it.
“Why does it matter who my dad is?” he demanded.
“I–it’s not!” I lied. “I just don’t feel well! I need to go home.” I turned around and started walkin’ again, feeling very confused by everythin’. There was a line that shouldn’t be crossed and bein’ friends with a doctor’s son–especially that doctor–didn’t seem right to me. But Henri was nice… but…
“Will I see you next Saturday?” he asked, soundin’ a bit forlorn and I could feel his sadness, like a heavy mist.
I stopped in my tracks and then turned back to face him. He even looked really sad, like a puppy or somethin’. “Yeah,” I said, though I wasn’t sure. “Yeah–next Saturday.”
I wound up havin’ to wait outside the theater for a long time and when Duncan finally did come out, he was holding hands with some girl. They were whisperin’ in each others’ ears and laughing. I glared over at them. Duncan was feelin’ all fuzzy and content, and the girl was feelin’ all excited and hopeful.
“Duncan,” I said and he nearly jumped at my voice. “I feel sick. Let’s go home.”
His cheeks went red and he let go of the girl’s hand. “Are you going to faint?” he asked which made me real mad. Yeah, go and announce it to people who don’t already know! I thought, then I looked at the girl. Duncan went redder. “Um, this is Kelly.”
“Hi,” she giggled.
“Let’s go home,” I said, not replyin’ to the girl. Duncan looked a bit sad but then turned to the girl and gave her a big hug.
“See you next Saturday,” he said. “I’ll call you tonight. Okay?”
“Okay,” she giggled and kissed his cheek. They both blushed at that and then separated, the girl goin’ off wherever and Duncan coming with me where we parked our bikes.
“Jeez, what’s with this?” he demanded. “Don’t give me that sick stuff, I know you’re not sick. Did that boy do something to you?”
I felt a flare of anger and protectiveness inside of my brother, and I couldn’t help but smile. “No,” I said, deciding not to tell him. “I just feel kinda tired, that’s all.”
I did want to Kaylee about it, because I had to tell someone, so that night when River was off doin’ something, I told Kaylee what happened. That Henri was the son of Dr. Laroche.
“The jerky doctor?” Kaylee asked, and I nodded. “Is Henri a jerk?”
“N-no,” I stammered. “Not that I’ve been able to tell…” I never once felt any sort of arrogance from him, ‘cept one time when we were racing and he won. “He’s nice.”
“So what’s the problem?”
My sister’s bluntness made me feel all uneasy. There was no problem, really. Technically. When you got down to it. But… the fact that his dad was Doctor Laroche, that felt wrong to me somehow–but could I explain that to Kaylee? I couldn’t even explain it to myself.
“It’s something I don’t want to think about,” I finally whispered, staring into my sister’s sparklin’ eyes, the same color as mine–the same color as all of us ‘cept for Duncan and Simon. “Doctors. Me being like I was… I just want to move on, away from all the doctors and stuff.”
Kaylee shook her head very slowly. “You can’t shut someone outta your life just cause his dad’s a doctor you saw… what, three times?”
“Four,” I mumbled. But Kaylee was right. She usually was. “But I don’t like him! Doctor Laroche, I mean, he’s so… so… ugh.” But Henri wasn’t ugh, he wasn’t ugh at all. He was really nice and pretty genuine, and didn’t tease me cause I fainted. He didn’t even know ’bout my problem. If we did get to be friends, he’d probably find out and then laugh at me or tease me or think I’m a freak. “He’ll wind up hating me in the end anyway!” I suddenly blurted out.
Kaylee narrowed her eyes at me. “Is this was this is about…? You–you’re just lookin’ for some excuse to push him away!”
“Yes! I know you, you did that to… what was her name? Caitlin?” The name made me wince and I wanted to protest Caitlin wasn’t a very nice girl anyway, but Kaylee was goin’ on again. “Yeah people have been awful to you before but not everyone will. You can’t just… stop having friends because of past stuff that’s happened in the past!”
That made me smile, I couldn’t help it. Sometimes when I was close to someone, their emotions crept into me and started changin’ how I was feelin’. Like when someone was really sad, sometimes I felt sad. And it was one reason it was hard to feel sorry for myself around Kaylee, cause she was just so chipper and happy that I couldn’t help but feel kinda happy too.
“I bet if his dad wasn’t whoever his dad is, you’d find some other reason to not be friends,” Kaylee said, folding her arms and looking real proud of herself.
“But I am different from everyone!” I said, spreadin’ my hands out. “You know I am.”
“Just cause you can read minds–“
“I can’t read minds!” I grumbled. Kaylee just shrugged, not believin’ me. She seemed to think that my powers were like mind-reading abilities, since I could always-always-always tell when she wasn’t feelin’ too cheerful. I tried to explain I didn’t read minds, I read emotions, but it went over her head.
“Just cause you do whatever it is you do,” she continued, giving me a look, “doesn’t mean you can’t have friends. So buck up and all that.”
“I guess you’re right…”
“I am right.” She flashed a grin at me and I smiled back, then gave her a big hug.
Kaylee was right and I decided to go ahead and apologize. I had no idea what his number was but I could check the yellow pages. There couldn’t be many Laroches in town, and sure ‘nuf there was only one. Laroche, Filberte. I saw the address and realized quickly why I never met Henri in school, he lived in a really rich part of town.
There was only one high school in town but there were two elementary/middle schools. Valley Middle, and Sunset Middle. Sunset Middle was for the rich, fancypants kids. Ironically, we lived in a part of town where most the kids went to Sunset Midde, ‘cept we went to Valley Middle because those at Sunset Middle didn’t like that my parents were both boys.
I nervously dialed the phone, hopin’ that Henri would answer cause I really didn’t wanna talk to his dad. I breathed out a sigh of relief when I heard Henri. “Hello, Laroche’s residence.”
“H-Henri?” I stammered, feeling nervous once more.
“Um, yeah? Wait… Serenity? Is that you?” Even over the phone I could tell feelin’s and I felt a bit of happiness from him. “How do you feel? Any better…?”
I went into the bathroom and shut the door, not really wantin’ anyone to hear me. “Yeah, I’m sorry I ran off like that,” I mumbled. “I just–I–” I hesitated, feeling so confused.
The pause lasted longer than I intended, and Henri broke into it. “Wanna do something tomorrow?” he asked. “Maybe–maybe a movie?”
“Yes!” Okay that was a tad more enthusiastic than I meant it to be. “I mean… that sounds great.”
We made plans to meet up (I hoped Duncan was willin’ to bike with me into town) and it wasn’t until I was happily jogging up the stairs that I realized that this could possibly be a date. But since we were just thirteen, far too young for dates, I dismissed the idea as quickly as it appeared.