Turning 30, Chapter 25

Feliz, Cera, Will, Lavena, Ashlynn, and Tadd sat a table in a large chain restaurant. The restaurant was busy and full of happy people. Even though their table had balloons, party hats, and noise makers, the six friends looked pretty morose. Feliz asked the group, “Should we sing Happy Birthday?”

They all replied, “Nah.”

Ashlynn apologized to Tadd, “I’m sorry I didn’t plan a more exciting party. We all got wrapped up in issues-ours and everyone else’s. It’s funny how when someone reaches a milestone how you start evaluating your own life. What kind of birthday could I possibly have with no job and still living with mom and dad?”

Feliz sniffed a little. “You think your birthday will be a bummer? At least your family supports you. Mine disowned me. I can finally start dating who I want, but I will probably still be single when my thirtieth comes ’cause what guy’ll wanna enter that family drama?”

“You think you’ll still be single on your birthday?” Will put in. “I work in an arcade and live with a crazy cat lady-I know I’ll be single! What are the odds I’ll have my shit together in two months?”

“At least you have some dignity!” Cera opinionated. “I’ll be a thirty year old virgin! Probably. I mean, who would sleep with me? I live with my parents too, but it’s worse ’cause I’ve never even had a real job. I’m like a kid, and my birthday party will probably get treated like that too!”

Lavena lamented, “My birthday will probably be an actual kid’s party! I turn thirty the same day as Mrs. Hollingsworth, so who would babysit them? If I had a husband, we could celebrate as a family. Being a single mom is so hard, ad it’s just gonna keep getting worse as I get older.”

Everyone except for Tadd had a glum look on their face. Tadd observed his friends in surprise. He had been so obsessed with his own woes that he didn’t think about their issues. He was there through all of this and saw everything, but he didn’t have the confidence to say anything…until now. “Wow. Look at the effect I had on you. You all think your life is over and that you’re failures. You’re wrong! There’s nothing wrong with us! When you turn thirty, everyone has all these expectations for how your life should look. Your parents, your religion, your family, neighbors, random community members-everyone expects us to have our life totally together. We’re supposed to have a good job, a happy marriage, a perfect body, et cetera. It was okay to not have it all figured out when we were in our twenties; we still had time to go wild and crazy and figure out this whole ‘adult’ thing. Suddenly, thirty hits and at the drop of a hat, we’re supposed to just have it all figured out. There’s still a lot of things we’re figuring out. We’re only human, and we’ve gone through a lot, probably more than most people. Excuse me if our life isn’t put together yet. I’m sure we’d all like to be there, and we tried our best to make it happen, but the things we want are gonna take a little more time than we thought to come to fruition. What, suddenly we have a deadline ’cause other people are judging us? Screw them! We’ll get there at our own pace!

“Feliz, if your family won’t accept you for who you are, fuck ’em! You deserve to be happy, and if being with a man will give you that, then you should find a good guy! Don’t rush it though-the right man will come around when you least expect it.

“Lavena, you ever wonder why so many skeezy guys hit on you? It’s cause you’re desperate, and men can sense that. The right man gets turned off by that and it turns the wrong guy on. If you want Mister Right, be Mrs. Right. Be the strong, confident woman we both know you are! Enjoy single life, and your prince charming will come around!

“Will, if you don’t like your house or job, then do something about it! Find a new place and a new job. Take classes to get a good job so you can afford a better place. That bartender, Leon, seemed to really enjoy his job, and I can totally see you doing that! Be proactive!

“Cera, you can’t follow every rule in the Bible, it’s impossible! You can still be a good Christian and do more adult things. If you don’t wanna follow your parents’ lifestyle, then don’t. Get a job and move out. I’m sure your church has a dating group, and there’s plenty of online religious dating sites. This is how you find a middle ground between being overly devout and being a deviant: go on dates, find a nice guy, and hey, what happens between you is between you and God. Virgin or not, it’s none of our business!

“Ashlynn, no one cares if you’re broke. You’ve done so much good with your time off, and that’s worth more to society than wasting away at some dead-end job. You turned something very negative into something positive. You brought us together, and your saint-like patience changed my life! I’ll be forever grateful!”

Feliz, Lavena, Will, Cera, and Ashlynn beamed. They went from feeling lousy to almost glowing. Tadd made them feel so good about themselves, and it was such a relief to let go of some of their self, and society’s, criticisms. Ashlynn exclaimed, “This is the Tadd we remember! You’re amazing! Thank you so much for that!”

“Yeah, thanks man!” Will added. “You guys think I’d be a good bartender?”

“You’d be a great one,” Feliz told him. “And I don’t want you to worry about paying for bartending school on your arcade salary-I’m paying for it! Just promise me when you get your own bar that my future boyfriend and I get free drinks!”

“You got it!” Will happily agreed. They bumped fists.

Lavena remarked, “You know, I think I’ll go back to school too. I can squeeze in an online class with my schedule. I wanna set a good example for my kids by going to college and going for a career versus a job!”

“I’m gonna get my first real job!” Cera stated, excited by the idea. “Just something to get me experience and pay for an apartment. And I shouldn’t be ashamed for what I do or don’t do behind closed doors. I don’t know when I’ll lose my virginity, but I’d rather take my time and do it right.”

“Let me know when you find a job,” Will said to Cera. “We can find an apartment together-split the costs and be roommates.”

“Okay!” Cera looked elated. They bumped fists too.

Feliz got a text message, and when he looked at his phone, his heart melted. “Nonna said she knew all along and loves me anyways! She’ll accept my future husband, but he can’t know the family’s cannoli recipe. Oh Nonna!” He wiped away a tear.

Ashlynn was so happy that her friends were planting seeds that would grow into something that would make their life grow into something that would make their life better. Now she just needed to figure out where she wanted to work so she could move out too. She wished that she could find an answer as easily as her friends did. As if the universe read her thoughts, Tadd got an email. He read it immediately, and then he breathed a sigh of relief. “I got approved for a small business loan! I haven’t took a gig in so long that I’m a little behind the finances of it all. I got that loan so I could hire someone to do my bookkeeping. So Ashlynn, that was part of your duties at your old job right? Do you think we’d work well together?”

Ashlynn felt thunderstruck. “Are you offering me a job?”

“Yes.” Tadd grinned. “Would you accept it?”

Ashlynn’s heart practically danced. “Oh Tadd! Of course I’ll accept it! You don’t know how much this means to me!”

Tadd shrugged but smiled knowing how happy this gesture made her. “It’s the least I could do!”

They gave each other a hug. Cera, Feliz, and Will also smiled, but it was more of a knowing way. Lavena looked like she was about to burst if she didn’t say something! Feliz, Cera, and Will silently urged her not to do it, but Lavena blurted out, “Kiss her already!”

Ashlynn and Tadd stopped hugging because they felt shocked by the outburst. “What?” Tadd reacted.

“Why would we kiss?” Ashlynn felt like she knew why she would say that but also felt a denial, like she did not want to jump to conclusions.

“Oh come on!” Lavena commented excitedly. “You know how it was so obvious to us all that Feliz was gay? Well, we’ve all known for, like, forever that you two have feelings for each other. Why did it take so long to admit the truth? Quit lying to yourself! You two have a romance budding; you are long overdue for your first kiss together!”

Tadd and Ashlynn gave each other a look of disbelief. When they looked back at their friends, they all seemed to agree more with Lavena. It could not be true. How could she have suppressed feelings like that for so long? She held Tadd in the highest regard, he was the most amazing person that she ever met, but to have romantic feelings? Furthermore, even if she did find a fleeting feeling, she shook that notion because she never felt good enough for a guy like him. Wait, that thought sounded like it agreed with them. It just could not be true! Ashlynn stammered, “I just…it can’t be…I…”

Tadd was on the same page as her. “But I…”

Cera, Lavena, Will, and Feliz now all started to chant, “Kiss her! Kiss her! Kiss her!”

Ashlynn turned to Tadd for answers. Tadd suggested, “We could humor them…”

Ashlynn felt totally awkward but complied. They gave each other a quick peck, but then they lingered. They felt something-electricity. The truth flooded Ashlynn like a dam suddenly sprung a leak. There was feelings-strong ones. Tadd was everything she ever wanted, and she could not believe it took her this long to wake her heart up. Tadd obviously felt the same way too. They kissed each other again, but this time it was longer and more passionate. There was no denying it now-she was in love! They broke apart from their embrace, but they kept their heads close. Ashlynn told him sweetly, “What d’ya know, they were right!”

“How did I get so lucky?” Tadd beamed and grabbed her hand, caressing it gently. Ashlynn blushed-he felt like the lucky one?

Cera and Lavena reacted with, “Awwww!” while Feliz and Will reacted with “Finally!”

Cera raised her glass to make a toast, “Here’s to new beginnings!”

“To the end of blaming society and to the realization that we are society, so we can change it for the better!” Feliz added while raising his glass.

“To our generation, not quite millennials but not generation x-the bridge generation! To generation xy!” Will added while raising his glass.

“To choosing happiness above anything else!” Lavena added while raising her glass.

“To good friends!” Tadd added while raising his glass.

“To a happy thirtieth birthday!” Ashlynn added while raising her glass.

They clinked their glasses together and drank. Tadd smiled from ear to ear. “This turned out to be a great party after all!”

“Happy birthday, Tadd!” Ashlynn exclaimed.

Everyone gave him a hug. They all had a flashback to twelve years ago when Tadd turned eighteen and they hugged him the same way but in their high school’s quad. They came back to this moment and cherished it. It took them a long time to notice a waiter tapping his pen and impatiently waiting for them. “So…are you gonna order or what?” They happily sat and decided what they wanted to order.

It’s funny how ordinary moments become the greatest memories. No one knew what exactly the next chapter of their life held, but they were too happy to care. It took them many years to gain the wisdom that there was no point in worrying about the future-happiness came from enjoying the little moments in life happening right now.

 

The End

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Temca Academy, Part 17

INT. DOG HOUSE. NIGHT.

The party rages on with tons of people. The halls are crowded, and Anielle has trouble moving through the hall. She meets George in the hall.

ANIELLE:
Seen anything yet?

GEORGE:
Yeah, there was this fine Asian
girl and a brunette chick with huge-

ANIELLE:
Really? You think I was asking
about that?

GEORGE:
I heard someone scream once, but
it turned out to be Toci and
some dude.

ANIELLE:
What about Joshua?

GEORGE:
Uhh…
(beat)
Is the punch good? I think
I’m gonna get some punch. You
want some punch.

ANIELLE:
Is he drinking?

GEORGE:
Nah, there’s a girl…

ANIELLE:
So? I have a boyfriend. It’s
about time he got some action.

GEORGE:
Okay, well, turn around.

Anielle turns and sees Joshua flirting with Circe. She gets mad and throws a shoe at him.

JOSHUA:
What was that for?

ANIELLE:
Have you been drinking?

JOSHUA:
Just one glass.

Anielle becomes furious and goes into a nearby bathroom.

GEORGE:
Wait! That’s the men’s room!

He follows her in.

 

INT. MEN’S ROOM. NIGHT.

The bathroom is surprisingly empty. Anielle braces herself over the sink. She is avoiding crying and looks a little frightened. George enters.

ANIELLE:
I was making him better, and
now he’s going back to alcohol.
He’s supposed to be working, and
he’s flirting!

GEORGE:
Toci drank more and is having
sex. Stop all this denial! It
doesn’t matter if you wanna act
on the feelings or not, you have
a crush on Joshua! You wouldn’t
react like this if you didn’t!

Anielle thinks about it for a moment, ready to deny it, but she analyzes her feelings and realizes that he is right. She collapses onto the sink and cries. George awkwardly gives her a hug.

ANIELLE:
Why? Why does it have to be
him? Why don’t I feel like
this about Peter?

GEORGE:
I don’t know. Who knows why
anyone likes anyone! Like, why
do I like Asian chicks? I just
think they’re hot! But you
probably like him for deeper
reasons.
(beat)
Hmm…Whenever I was upset, my dad
used to tell me, “Stop being a
baby and do your job!” Now that
I think about it, it shouldn’t
have made me feel better. Prolly
why my parents divorced.
(beat)
I’m not very good at this. I wanna
make you feel better because you’re
my friend, but I have no idea what
to say.

Kristof mysteriously emerges from a bathroom stall.

KRISTOF:
Perhaps I can help. It is, after
all, my field.

ANIELLE:
You were the one that made Joshua
flirt with Circe!

KRISTOF:
(slyly)
Of course not! He must’ve
done that on his own.

GEORGE:
You made me lose that broom
football game!

KRISTOF:
I wish I could take credit for
that! I mean, I would never
dream of doing such a thing!

ANIELLE:
Wait a minute, what if the little
girl who dropped her doll is a
fear monger?

Kristof makes an odd face.

GEORGE:
Hey, you turned out to be
helpful after all!

KRISTOF:
Excellent! Now, if you’ll
excuse me…

He tries to leave, but George and Anielle draw out their sceptors. Kristof draws out his own scepter. A man walks in and is surprised to see the stand off.

BATHROOM MAN:
Never mind, I can hold it!

The man leaves quickly. Seizing the opportunity, Kristof uses his wand to disarm George and Anielle. Anielle’s scepter ends up breaking. George and Anielle get nervous.

ANIELLE:
You’re not gonna get away with
this! There’s a dorm full of
people!

KRISTOF:
For now. You know, sometimes our
greatest fears are brought on by
nature itself…

Temca Academy, Part 16

INT. TOCI’S ROOM. AFTERNOON.

Anielle is dong homework while Toci sits at her door with a stand selling nerve tonic. She brews some more as well.

TOCI:
This is great practice for
my apothecary!

ANIELLE:
Trust me, running a real business
is a lot more complicated. Look
how dry this Magical Accounting
book is!

TOCI:
(reads)
The purpose of this book is to
account for the transactions of
any given magical business…Ugh,
I’m already bored! Why are you
doing this?

ANIELLE:
I have to! My dad wants me to
to marry Peter and take over the
family business.

TOCI:
Doesn’t he care about your opinion?

ANIELLE:
More than his own?

Circe and Agatha come by and are surprised to see Toci’s stand.

CIRCE:
We better go to my room. We
wouldn’t wanna trespass!

ANIELLE:
You gave me an idea!

TOCI:
That’s a first!

ANIELLE:
True. Why don’t we switch rooms?

AGATHA:
You want to be my roommate?

ANIELLE:
God no! You go live with Circe
and I’ll stay here with Toci.

AGATHA:
Okay, if you don’t mind all of
the creepy plants!

ANIELLE:
I’ll take creepy plants over
a mentally challenged vampire!

CIRCE:
How did you know I’m a vampire?

ANIELLE:
You’re not a vampire.

CIRCE:
How do you know?

ANIELLE:
You eat garlic all the time!

CIRCE:
Then how come I feel…the
Darkness?

ANIELLE:
Go discuss it with your new
roommate.

Circe and Agatha hug excitedly and run off.

TOCI:
I’m so excited that we’re roommates!

ANIELLE:
It could be fun.

TOCI:
I’m easy to live with. If I have
a guy over, I’ll have an x on
the door. And you can do the
same when you bring a guy home.

ANIELLE:
Peter wouldn’t do it here.

TOCI:
So? Other guys will!

Anielle shakes her head but laughs.

 

EXT. CAFETERIA COURTYARD. AFTERNOON.

The four post a flyer for an eighties’ party at their dorm. Professor Medina walks by.

MEDINA:
Eighties’ party, huh? Boy,
that takes me back…

ANIELLE:
Got any of your old music?

MEDINA:
Sure. I’ll lend them to you
as long as it doesn’t interfere
with your homework.

ANIELLE:
Chad and I already finished.

TOCI:
Two months early? You?

ANIELLE:
Chad has the same passion for
books and learning as you do.

Kristof appears as if from nowhere.

KRISTOF:
Good afternoon, my friends!
Medina looks a bit nettled.

MEDINA:
You know what’s weird, Kristof?
Ever since I started therapy
with you, I’ve seen more and
more bugs wherever I go!

KRISTOF:
Good! I mean, it’s you share.
Come to my office and tell me more.

He smiles wickedly at the four as he leaves with Medina.

GEORGE:
I think that proves he’s one of
the fear mongers!

ANIELLE:
How horrible! People go to him to
get rid of their fears, and he
makes it appear more often than ever!

TOCI:
I should go to him and convince him
that I’m afraid of the Las Vegas
Chippendales!

JOSHUA:
It won’t be easy to kill him since
there are always people around him.

GEORGE:
It’s easy if they’re distracted. I
killed the other one while I was
eating lunch in DC with the broom
football team. They were distracted
by this hot girl jogging, so I made
the dude choke on his chicken bone.

A girl runs by. She is being chased by a snarling dog. She keeps closing her eyes.

RUNNING GIRL:
I see a beach…I see a beach…
It’s not working! Visual therapy
doesn’t work!

She and the dog run out of sight.

ANIELLE:
Hmm. We probably should’ve
helped her.

 

INT. ANIELLE AND TOCI’S ROOM. NIGHT.

The girls are getting ready for the eighties’ party. Toci is wearing more of a punk rock look while Anielle dons more a of Madonna look.

TOCI:
Do you think Kristof will
show up?

ANIELLE:
Well, it’s a student party,
but it wouldn’t surprise me
if he found an excuse to gate
crash. We should have a game
plane if he does show.

George (wearing a mullet and heavy metal clothes) and Joshua (donning more of a Beastie Boy look) enter.

GEORGE:
Boo! I was hoping to have the
night off.

JOSHUA:
I think for now we’ll just plan
on improvising. Like, George
wasn’t planning on his kill-he
just saw an opportunity.

ANIELLE:
So, we’ll just have to stay
alert just in case. This means
no drinking.

There is a simultaneous groan of disappointment from George, Joshua, and Toci.

JOHSUA:
You know what, maybe it won’t
be so hard to kill him after all…

Anielle smiles and shakes her head.