Chapter 3: Mom & Dad

James was happy to hear about his new date for the dance. Although I can't say that I was delighted to give him the news, it did feel a little good to see James' face light up the way it did when I told him that Jaylee would go with him. I kind of wonder, does James have a crush on Jaylee? I'm not sure, but a part of me doesn't think that's the case. I think that James just really wanted to go to the dance, no matter who he was with. I wish I had the same sort of enthusiasm.

Farah talked with me during first period. I had forgotten that she was in my Science class. It turns out that she wants me to practice dancing with her and make up choreography for the Friday night dance. I don't think we need a special choreography, but I've never been to these dances before, so I'm not sure whether or not to argue. Some reason I still don't really want to tell James or Jaylee about Farah either. So right now it's lunch time, and I'm outside, practicing embarrassing choreography with Farah by myself. Neither James nor Jaylee have any clue where I am.

"Right foot, then left." Farah instructs as she directs my body where she wants it to go.

I simply obey. Like a marionette doll or a puppet, I move my body where she wants it to go. I don't argue, because I don't want to start a fight, at least not with Farah. There's something mysterious that I like about her and I'm not sure why. For that reason I don't want to lose Farah as a friend. That is, if she really is my friend to begin with. It's hard to tell with some girls.

"Come on Joey, your movement's so stiff! Move your arms more! Feel the rhythm of the music!" Farah says.

"What music?" I ask.

She asks how come I dance so stiffly, but how can I not be stiff? It's still freezing cold outside and we're both in our winter jackets with gloves and a scarf. How can I not be stiff with that much clothing? The worst part of it all is that I'm still cold. Every time I try to move my arms forward, I end up pulling them back toward my body for heat. As for feeling the music, there is no music. I'm dancing in silence. I can't tell for certain though, but I think Farah may have one of her headphones in one ear and be listening to music through that. This would explain her earlier confusion.

"If you can't hear the music, then just imagine something. Picture your favorite song!" Farah commands.

"This is ridiculous! I'm not going to imagine music!" I snap. I don't care anymore if she's angry at me for this. I went along with her dancing in the cold and her difficult steps, but there's no way I'm going to allow her to tell me off for being as she says, "stiff", and make me pretend to listen to music too.

Farah shrugs. "Fine." She reaches into her pocket and hands me her music player. I stare at the electronic, dumbfounded for a moment, until she finally goes on to explain. "If you can't stand to dance in silence, then listen to my music. I'll dance in silence."

"Um ... Thanks." I reply shyly. Her offer was sort of out of the blue, but it was the thought that counted.

Like her earlier, I put one headphone in my ear, but leave the other one free to listen for instruction. I'm not a big music fan, but I'm a little curious, what type of music does Farah like? I don't care much, I'll listen to just about anything, but I do kind of hope that she's not one of those girls that just obsesses over artists like Justin Bieber or One Direction.

Her music player doesn't have a screen so I'm not sure what the first song that plays in shuffle is called. It was an unfamiliar song with sort of a nice tune. It was rock, but a little softer than most of the rock songs I've heard. There was a male singer. He sounded good, but I didn't pay much heed to the lyrics, because I was so busy trying to follow Farah's crazy dance moves.

From there a lot of Farah's other music was mostly dance or rock music. Occasionally I'd come across a tune that I recognized. I'd listen to it for a while, but I'd eventually skip over it, because I wanted to hear more of Farah's other music, especially the songs that she had that I hadn't heard before.

When the bell rang I was almost a little sad to have to say goodbye to Farah and give back her music player. However, Farah promised that she'd bring the player back when we practice again tomorrow.

Back at home, my family was having Jaylee's family over. There wasn't really any special occasion or anything. It's just that my family has been trying to get together with Jaylee's for a while now. Today just must have been the first day that both of my parents and Jaylee's parents were off work at the same time

"Joey, I hope your room's clean." My dad says, peeking in just as I pick up the last bit of my dirty clothes.

"Yeah dad, everything's clean just like you wanted." I say.

My dad smiles. "Good."

I never really understood why my dad always seems to fuss over everything right before we have company over. He wants the whole house clean, including my room, even though Jaylee isn't even allowed up there to begin with.

"Are you finished your homework?" dad asks.

"Yes." I say.

I'm lying though. I still have a bit of Math left, but I really don't want to hear another lecture from my dad about how I should do homework right away, rather than wait until the last minute, especially since he'd already walked in on me, wasting time on YouTube. That's how he puts it, not me. I was trying to find some of the music that had played on Farah's music player, but to no avail. I'd ask her what it was, but to be honest I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I liked her music and that I actually had a pretty good time dancing with her today. I still plan to get the Math homework done, it's just I might have to wait until Jaylee's family is gone, and my parents are asleep, before I can finally start it.

"Good." My father says, snapping me out of my thoughts. "Do you mind helping your mother in the kitchen? She's trying to get the dishes washed, before the Striedters show up."

"Sure thing." I say as I walk past my dad and out of my room.

My dad is a tall man, with messy brown hair, and serious blue eyes. He's a great man; friendly, nurturing, and protective. My mother's the same way, but she can be really spontaneous and silly at times too. That's the funny thing with my parents. My dad loves order, my mom does not, my dad likes to keep the house clean, my mom does not, a good day for my dad would be a day that goes exactly as planned, my mom would much rather try sky diving. Yet my parents love each other just as much as two people can. Jaylee's parents are much the same. The only difference is that the gender roles are reversed; her mom is serious while her dad is silly. Maybe that's why the two couples get along so well.

My mom smiles wide as I enter the kitchen. She has a nice smile. It's the type of smile that would make you want to smile back ten times over.

"Hey Joey, did the ol' grouch put you on dishes duty too?" She teases.

Sometimes she refers to my father as the ol' grouch. She's just joking though. She really does love my father and although it is rare for her to admit it, you can tell she thinks highly of him too.

"Indeed." I said.

"Well at least I'm not alone." She says, putting a plate away. Everything is washed. All we need to do now is dry the dishes and clean up. Mom gestures toward a drawer with all the dry towels. "Pick your towel an' dry up. We're almost done."

I obey. With the two of us we get the job done in what feels like ten minutes. Drying dishes with my mom really isn't that bad. As we dry she goes about explaining to me her day, but not in a boring way. She's the type of person that can make even some of the most unentertaining situations sound funny.

Today's story was particularly funny. She had told me about how the neighbor's cat had gotten loose and wandered into our yard. She hadn't noticed it at first, but when she unrolled the window blinds to let some sunlight into the house, she nearly freaked, because she wasn't expecting to see the orange, eight pound feline lying on the windowsill, staring at her. Mom went outside, grabbed the cat and brought it back to our neighbors after that, making sure to give them a firm warning not to let that ninja kitty out of their sight.

The doorbell rings and I go escort Jaylee's family inside and to the dinner table. Jaylee follows right away, but her parents are so busy bickering that they don't seem to notice me at first.

"I don't want you driving so fast." Jaylee's mom had said.

"Now come on, we had to get there before dinner got cold." Her dad replied.

"We could have gotten into an accident!"

"Not with my driving skills!" Jaylee's dad said, getting a sarcastic grunt from his wife in response.

Jaylee's parents bickered often. It's never serious fighting; at least I don't think it is, because they fight over the silliest things. Jaylee's dad always seemed so easy going as his wife scolded him for doing something either stupid or careless. But it was rare that either parent lost their temper.

"Hey guys, I'm ready for something to eat! Let's taste the Tót's good ol' home cooking!" Jaylee's dad said, as soon as he realized that we had left him and his wife by the open door.

"Kevin, that's not how you behave at someone else's house!" Ms. Striedter says, scolding her rowdy husband.

"Now come on Leah, the Tóts are our friends. They're not going to be turned off by my manners." Kevin, Jaylee's dad pleads.

Leah, Jaylee's mom, rolls her eyes and gently slapped her husband on the shoulder. "Be nice." She says.

Kevin is a large man, about in his mid forties, the same age as his wife and just slightly older than my mom and dad. He is a little overweight, but not to the point that it is instantly noticeable. He has short brown hair and dresses in a black T-shirt and blue jeans. Leah's appearance on the other hand is different by contrast. She is skinny, with glasses and long, blond hair pulled back into a bun. I wonder if Jaylee will look like her mom when she's older.

My dad comes into the room and shakes Kevin's hand. "Nice to see you Kevin." He says.

"Good to see you too Bill." Kevin says to my father.

"Hey Bill, is Robena around?" Leah asks.

"Yeah, she should be in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on the dinner." My father, Bill says. If you haven't guessed already Bill and Robena are my parents.

"Oh I see." Leah says. "In that case I should probably help her." She then heads to the kitchen to go see my mom. My dad and Kevin also leave and I'm left alone with Jaylee.

-phantom130 5 (February 2013)