Excerpt from a novella: The Perfect Season

Abigail Forney
    Most of the stuff on Anthony’s desk ends up in the trash, and he throws his soccer bag into the one clear corner near the window.
    Starting in the opposite corner, he starts to pile clothes on his bed and almost immediately finds a pile of notebooks hidden next to an empty backpack. He moves them to his desk before giving up on his room completely. Instead, he cleans out his duffel, putting new, clean things in it for tomorrow’s practice.  While doing this, he remembers a freshman who needs shin-guards. Anthony knows he has an extra pair somewhere, he just isn’t sure where, but he figures his closet’s the best bet and dives in. A lot of his clean clothes are in there, only a few of his nice ones are hanging up – most are on the floor. He sits down to sort through them all and his closet door swings in toward him, an inch away from shutting him in. There’s still a block of light coming in, so he doesn’t mind.
    Not too long afterward, when Anthony is trying to remember where he got the shoes in his hands, he hears voices come into his room. “Julie, c’mon, can’t we do this later?”
    “No, Mark.” Anthony isn’t very surprised to hear his parents wander into his room in the middle of a discussion. He tries to get up to talk to them when he realizes he’s blocked himself in with his clothes and shoes.
    “He could come in any second, and I don’t want to get caught spying!”
    Anthony’s ears perk up at that, and he hears his mom scoff. “He’s outside playing with Andy – which makes now the perfect time, because everyone is distracted.”
    No, Mom, he thinks, I’m right here.
    His dad gives in, “Okay, let’s just be quick. I’ll check the bed, you look in his desk.”
    “If I can get over there. I don’t know how he can live in this. God, it smells in here.” Anthony can hear the drawers of his nightstand open and then close, and then he hears his dad grunt and a thud. He must be looking under my bed. His desk drawers open and close with loud thunks as his stuff is moved around.
    There’s another thud, and he’s sure his dad just hit his head.     “Nothing over here.”
    “No condoms? Check for magazines. He’s gotta have something.”
    “Between the mattresses, okay.” He hears his dad lift up his bed and drop it before looking through some other stuff.
    Condoms? Why are they looking for condoms? I don’t have any condoms, Janice and I don’t have sex, Anthony thinks. Oh, maybe that’s why they’re looking. He almost laughs out loud at his parents, sneaking around his room, not asking him about his sex life or something crazy like that.
    He hears his mom, sounding frustrated, right next to the closet door and he jumps. “No magazines? Not one Playboy?”
    “No Maxim either.” His dad grunts standing up, and Anthony can see his parents pass by him, walking out of his room. “Well,” his dad sighs, “they don’t normally stick around when they go on their dates – maybe they keep it in the car.”
    “Or at her house.” He hears his door open and click shut as his mom says, “We should go check his car really quick.”
    After a few minutes, Anthony can hear his car doors open and shut and can almost see them rifling through his jeep to find no condoms, or magazines, or sex toys or whatever they’re looking for. A really big part of him just wants to laugh because the whole thing is so stupid, but he can’t, and he isn’t sure if it’s because of the serious tone his mom took or something else. Either way, it feels like there’s a rock sitting in his gut, and his mind is moving in slow motion. Obviously, his parents aren’t going to find any condoms, because Anthony has never bought any, and Janice has never bought any, because they don’t have sex. But Mom and Dad think we are having sex, and they – wanted to know they were right? Wanted to know if we were being safe? He doesn’t feel insulted because his parents might not think he’s smart enough to use a condom, but they were really, really adamant about finding some, so he’s confused.
    So they must be really convinced we’re having sex, right? Anthony’s trying to figure it out. In a way, it does make sense; he and Janice have been going out for about a year, and they were really close and on the team together and hung out all the time. And they are boyfriend and girlfriend in high school, when lots of people do it. So, he reasons, his parents are thinking that way, trying to look out for him. I just happens they’re wrong. Because they haven’t. And Anthony’s pretty sure they won’t for a while.
    But why were they looking for magazines? I don’t have any of those. Why would I need them? I have a super hot girlfriend. He smiles to himself for a second in triumph before coming back to the fact: A girlfriend I don’t have sex with. He tries to think of a situation where he would want a “swimsuit” magazine or one where some female celebrity is half-naked, and he can’t. He can’t remember the last time he got lost in a fantasy where a nameless beauty had her shirt off, over him. He can remember the last time he got himself off, and he knows he doesn’t think about random topless girls, he doesn’t think about Janice, he doesn’t really think about anything. Sure, that’s a little weird, but Anthony figures that if it does the trick for him, why does it matter?
    One thing in his cloud of confusion that he really doesn’t get is, if his mom and dad already think he’s having sex with Janice, why would they look for dirty magazines? And he’s really worried; what do his parents think now that they know he doesn’t have condoms or magazines? Probably that all of our condoms are at Janice’s house, he thinks bitterly.
    Anthony doesn’t feel better about anything, or feel that he understands what is going on in his parents’ minds anymore, but he comes back to his surroundings. He just now notices that his old, worn-out shin-guards are in his hands. He manages to stand up and get out of the closet, throwing the shin-guards in the direction of his bag. He hears the shower running and realizes it’s probably really late, if Mary’s taking her shower. Anthony switches off his light before crawling into bed, pulling his blankets over his head. He feels exhausted and a little bit sore, but most of all he wants to vomit, and he knows it has nothing to do with what he ate.