“Last Call”: A Short Story

     “Son, are you all packed and ready?” my father called.

      “Yes, Dad, almost finished!” I hollered back. 

      It’s one of those things you think is never going to happen until the time arrives at your doorstep: I am on my way to college. Alone in my room — the room I grew up in — I took a moment to myself and dove into a state of deep reflection. I began to immerse myself into memories of years past, while this moment right here felt like the final call on childhood.

      I saw the reflection of cool, fresh water as I jumped off the pier by our summer lake house. I loved that place; we were surrounded by nature, and the morning larks were my alarm clock. And, as I reached into my adolescent years, it was one of the few places I could truly disconnect from the relentless push and pull of the outside digital world.

      I felt the cool air of all the Halloween nights when I would come home from school, zip through my homework, barely eat dinner, grab my bag, rush out the front door all dressed up to meet my friends, and collect a stash of candy that would last us until at least Easter or Passover of next year. I remembered feeling so grown up staying up past my bedtime; I remember braving the scariest house in the neighborhood, practically peeing my pants as my friends and I ran away screaming from a masked man with a machete who was guarding the loot. Luckily, though, we earned our prize: full-sized candy bars.

     I felt the pride of getting perfect scores on my tests at school, and my mom hanging them up on our refrigerator like they were masterpieces that deserved to be among the greats, like Van Gogh or Picasso. The joy of my surprise birthday party when I turned 10 overwhelmed me as I tore open the ribbon of the box that held the dog I begged my parents for so badly. I then heard  my parents yelling at me days after to walk her when I really did not want to, but I didn’t care.

      The grief of losing my grandfather came back to me, as I felt my dad’s firm hand on my shoulder assuring me that he was in a better place. We both bade farewell to an honorable man that day. The sound of my baseball cleats and clanging bats rang in my ears as I ran the bases as fast as I could with my buddies, all the way up to senior year. The revving of the engine of my red four-by-four on long weekends drove me more places than just down Memory Lane. The voice of my girlfriend, whose first kiss enchanted me for weeks on end, made my heart race again like it did that spring evening three years ago. Her voice became a distant echo, as I recalled how far apart we would be for college.

      With that word, I was transported back into my room, suitcase in hand, and my parents beckoning me to the door. My mother’s blouse was stained with tears; my father’s grip never loosened from my shoulder, and my dog’s tail did not cease its wagging. I put one foot out the door, and then the other, and turned around to face the place that had been my home for the past 18 years. Stepping into my truck and turning the keys into ignition, I said a silent thank you. The engine was warmed up. I backed out of the driveway and drove off into my future.