Note to the reader: This is the original version of my short story Apparition. The story underwent a major rewrite to better involve Matthew's sister, Casey. Everything changed, including her age, and their relationship. I even added another, younger sister named Emma, who eventually became the focus of Michael's story, instead of Casey. It just worked better. All names were changed in Apparition: Matthew to Michael, Casey to Cory, and Emma was added.
Chances are, if you did not like Apparition, you will like World's Record even less. It is slightly inferior to Apparition, in my opinion. Trouble is, it ate at me for months that Matthew and Casey's story never got told. I had to hunt up an original version off my old laptop to work with. Even so, this version of World's Record is not as originally written. I changed the POV from 3rd Person to 1st (as I did in Apparition), and Matthew is decidedly less "queer" in this rewritten version. I deleted an extensive section where he "experiments" with various toys.
I won't blame readers for not completing this story. It is almost as frustrating an experience to read, as it is for Matthew to endure in the story. That's why I rewrote the storyline so extensively in Apparition. But I figure if an abomination like Go Set a Watchman can get published (it is not a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird dammit!), then World's Record should be posted too. And I thought Matthew and Casey deserved it. Besides, I liked Casey better as originally written. Maybe you will too. Follows, the story.
I was too young to stay home by myself. I pleaded for it anyway, knowing I'd end up with Aunt Jo and Uncle Al, or maybe at my best friend David's for the weekend. Or as a last resort, with Aunt Donna and her new husband Phil.
That was the last place I wanted to go. I loved Donna to death, but Phil was an absolute asshole.
"Forget it," Mom said disgustedly. "No 14-year-old is staying home by himself."
This was on Wednesday, the last time I made the appeal. I was shocked shitless then, when I responded to Mom's call to come to the living room Thursday afternoon. She was fit to be tied.
"What's wrong? Did I do something wrong?"
"I'm sure you did," she said hotly. "But right now it's not about you. Your Aunt Jo called me this afternoon. Uncle Al has the flu and they put him into the hospital this morning."
"No way!" I exclaimed, genuinely appalled. Uncle Al was the favorite of my relatives. He bought my first gun, and we shot squirrel and rabbit and other shit whenever we went there to visit. It meant I'd be staying at Aunt Donna and Phil's place.
"Is he OK?"
"They've got him hooked up to IV's to keep him hydrated. Like everyone else his age, this flu knocked him flat." She ground her teeth in frustration.
"What about Aunt Jo?"
"She's fine, so far. You can't stay there, though."
I brightened. "David? It's not too late to call his mom. Maybe she'll ... what? You already called her?"
Her glower was all the answer I needed.
"They made last minute plans to see her dad this weekend. He's got the flu, too! And so does Phil! It's a stupid epidemic or something. We only have one choice, I'm sorry, Matthew. You'll have to come with us."
I groaned in actual pain. "Aw, come on! Can't you cancel or something?"
I winced at her glare. "Get out of my sight before I forget you're 14 years old and take a belt to your backside, young man."
Grumbling, I shuffled off to my room, hands jammed in my pockets.
It was Casey's first year at Penn State, the weekend before the start of school. Mom and Dad were taking her up to move in. It boggled how much shit she planned taking with her. She would room with some unknown female student. Her named was Nikki, I later found out.
I'd get hauled along for the ride, subjected to her unbearable fucking tongue. I began to realize I might actually miss the witch, though. Wednesday night we'd had our first conversation in four years without Casey ripping me a new ass. She had actually effing hugged me. I couldn't get over that. So maybe I should go on this trip, I thought.
Upstairs, I dropped on my bed and stared at the effing ceiling. Around five, Mom tapped on my door.
She eased it open.
"Your father and I had a talk," she said.
Here it comes, I thought. They're not going, and Casey'll be after me like a 20' alligator. I should buy a bulletproof vest.
"What?" I asked.
"About you staying home by yourself this weekend."
I eyed her uncomprehendingly.
"I'm against it," she said. "Adamantly. But your father thinks you're mature enough to spend two nights alone without getting yourself killed. Or burning down the house. Or having friends over for a wild party." Her lips disappeared in a scowl. I had better not fuck up, that look said. It dawned on me what she was saying.
"You're letting me stay home?" Pure disbelief.
"I can't believe it either. But you're father is right. At some point, we have to start trusting you. Otherwise, you'll never grow up. This is your chance to prove that you can. Are you mature enough to be left alone in charge of the house, Matthew?"
I gaped at her.
"You're not instilling a lot of confidence here, Matthew. If I can't trust you, I have no choice but to overrule your dad and take you along with us. Is that what you want?"
I thought of Casey's room and the packed boxes and how Saturday morning those boxes would go in the SUV and Casey's room would be empty of all the things that made it Casey's. I looked past her at the wall, seeing through it to Casey's room across the hall.
I looked back at her. "Is there room for me?"
She blinked in surprise. "What?"
"If I decide to go, is there room for me in the car?"
For just a moment, her mouth fell open, but then she shook it off.
"Your sister would be dumbfounded to hear you ask that question, Matthew."
I nodded, thinking I had dumbfounded myself.
"Maybe your father is right. To answer your question, yes, there is room in the Highlander if you want to come. It'll be cramped, with all the boxes your sister is taking--" She rolled her eyes and shook her head. "--but we can fit you in. We can certainly use an extra pair of hands and a strong back unloading Casey's stuff."
She paused as Dad tapped on the door and stuck in his head.
"So are we decided?"
Mom looked irritated. "We decided Matthew might want to come after all. I told him yes, but he hasn't said yes or no." She eyed me, eyebrows raised.
Dad said: "That might not be an option."
Apologetically, he explained how he'd taken another look at the Highlander and there was no way everything would fit. Sure as hell not me--too much stuff. A disgruntled Casey was in her bedroom doing inventory right now.
I shrugged. "She needs her stuff more than she needs me."
"Matthew, that's not true," Mom objected.
"Yes is it. I wouldn't even mention I suggested it. She hears that, she'll get pissed and leave even more stuff behind and then blame me for it later. No thanks. I'll stay home."
"Fine." She dropped Bomb Number Two on me.
"We're leaving tomorrow afternoon instead of Saturday morning. Casey wants to spend time with your grandfather, so David's taking the day off to pack the car with Casey. We'll leave as soon as I get home and drive directly to Dad's.
"Sunday morning we'll hop over to her dorm and get Casey moved in. We'll be home about five o'clock or so." Her tone hardened. "There are some ground rules."
I nodded. "No visitors, right?"
"First, and foremost, no visitors. You stay inside and give no one cause to wonder why a 14-year-old is home alone for the weekend. We don't want any child endangerment issues, Matthew."
"No problem there," I agreed immediately. "What else?"
"No alcohol," Mom said.
I turned red. I'd been a bad boy and gotten myself grounded for a month recently. I told her absolutely no alcohol.
"To make sure you comply with Rules Number 1 and 2," Mom said firmly, "your dad mounted a webcam in the living room pointed at the front door. I trust you not to sneak out the balcony door, Matthew. You can go out for some fresh air Friday and Saturday night if you need, on the balcony, just use some discretion. No talking to the neighbors. No calling your friends and telling them you're alone. If anyone asks, we are in residence, okay?"
"Sure," I agreed. I had no intention of calling or seeing anyone. I planned to be alone.
She nodded, cast an irritated glance at my father, and then left my room to go confer with her flaky effing daughter.
I stood in the middle of the living room, uncertain what to do next. Mom, Dad and Casey were gone. The quiet was a little intimidating. I had no plan, no idea what to do.
I stared at the webcam. It was not mounted to anything, but sat on the end table at the end of the couch. Dad's laptop had a window open showing the direct feed. If there were two of me, I could look at myself staring at the webcam. Glowering at it, I thought: What a pain in the ass. I was fourteen, not four. I didn't need a nanny.
There was only one cam, and it couldn't look everywhere. The balcony doors and most of the vertical blinds were out of frame, so that was good. I could use the balcony undetected. What good that did me was questionable. Climb down three stories to the ground? The accessibility lightened my mood, anyway.
.... There is more of this story ...