I know this is an older story I posted, but I expanded it for a writing contest and decided to post it here as well. It gives more insight into Kendall’s emotional state.
It was close to six in the evening by the time 15-year-old Kendall got home from the small mom and pop market where he worked. He used to love working there until the owners, the Hanssens, had semi-retired and their nephew had taken over as manager. He was a pushy, arrogant man, who liked to bully the checkers and often made fun of customers. He had threatened to fire Kendall on more than one occasion if he didn’t show up for every shift he tried to schedule him for, even though the law clearly stated the teen couldn’t work more than three hours on school days and not past 7 PM. Kendall had thought about quitting, but there weren’t that many jobs around for someone his age, and it was the only way he could afford to keep playing hockey.
Kendall unlocked the door, went inside, and hung up his jacket. “Mom, I’m home!”
Not receiving an answer, he walked through the living room to the kitchen.
He found a note on the microwave and groaned.
Kendall, Katie is spending the night at Molly’s and I’m on a date with Rick. There is leftover tuna casserole in the fridge. Please make sure you finish your homework and please take out the trash. Also, if you have a chance, could you run to the market and pick up a few things? I tried calling you, but it went straight to voicemail, which is probably a good thing since you were at work. There’s a list on the fridge. If you can’t go or don’t have enough money, that’s fine, I’ll go tomorrow.
He sighed. “Great, no food,” he said, opening the fridge and seeing only half a gallon of milk and the casserole his mother had made two days before. Ever since she had started dating Rick, she had been forgetting things like doing the marketing, laundry, and he was usually in charge of watching Katie, in spite of a heavy schedule of school, work, and hockey.
He decided against the casserole – he didn’t think he could stomach it three nights in a row and it was starting to smell funny, so he poured himself a bowl of cereal. He ate in silence, thinking how quiet the house was. The home phone rang and Kendall answered. “Hello.”
“Hi, honey. I wanted to let you know I won’t be home until late. Rick and I are in Minneapolis for dinner and to see a show,” Jennifer Knight said.
“I would really appreciate it if you could do the shopping. There isn’t much in the house, and I have to work tomorrow,” Jen said.
“Mom, I just got home a few minutes ago and really don’t want to go back out and have to carry a bunch of groceries home.”
“You can take Katie’s wagon. I’ll pay you back tomorrow. I didn’t know we would be out so late,” Jen told him.
“I still have a bunch of homework to do,” Kendall said. It was already dark and he was tired from being on the go all day.
“Kendall, I don’t ask for much, but I really need you to do this. Molly is spending tomorrow night, and she and Katie will be there at about ten, and there is nothing for lunch.”
“Tell me about it,” Kendall mumbled.
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing,” Kendall said.
“I left dinner for you, I’m sorry if you didn’t like it,” Jen said defensively.
“It’s gone bad, mom.”
“Then go to the store and get something. I already said I’ll pay you back tomorrow,” Jen said firmly.
“It’s fine, I had cereal.”
He could hear a man’s voice in the background and rolled his eyes as Rick asked her if Kendall was whining about chores again. He heard Jen shush him.
“Kendall, I’m sorry about your dinner. Just pick something up and I’ll make it up to you, I promise.”
“Mom, I’m tired,” Kendall said quietly.
“Kendall, I have to go, but I’m asking you as a favour. Please do the marketing,” Jen said.
“Fine, it’s not like you care anyway,” Kendall snapped.
“Young man…” Jen started.
“Have a nice dinner and show. I’ll take care of everything here, like always,” Kendall said, ending the call.
He grabbed his jacket and headed out the door. His phone rang numerous times, so he set it to silent, knowing his mom was furious with him. He got to the market and did the shopping. He had forgotten the list, so he just got the basics, plus a few snacks that he knew his mom wouldn’t pay him back for.
By the time he got home, it was cold and he was feeling exhausted and extremely down about everything. He put the groceries away and went up to his room to work on his homework.
He had turned the ringer on his phone back on and immediately regretted it. His mom and Rick had left several angry messages, and after he had listened to them all, he decided he wasn’t in the mood to do any homework.
Growing up was not easy, especially since he was the most mature, yet youngest of his group of friends. He got lonely because his older friends no longer had time for him, and he often found himself wishing things wouldn’t change so quickly. Since he was the eldest child in the family, he sometimes found that his responsibilities had grown, even though he was still really just a child, and it wasn’t fair.
He sat at his desk and doodled in an old, worn-out notebook. He wasn’t really thinking of anything. He was so tired of everything and just wanted things to be the way they used to be.
After a few minutes, Kendall stared at the words he had written. He tore out the page and let it float to the floor, where it settled amongst the other pages that laid there.
“Why should I care if you don’t?”
Another page torn and released to flutter down amongst the others. “Lies, broken promises, regrets… What are they worth?”
He scribbled a line on a page, and then tore the papers out one by one and watched as they fell around his feet. He fought back the tears that were stinging at his eyes, and he could hear his mother’s voice in his head. You’re the man of the house and men don’t cry.”
Other voices flooded in from various people. “What do you have to be sad about? What’s the matter, finally realized you’re not good enough? Why can’t you get your act together and stop moping? You are so useless.”
“God I’m such a loser,” he said.
He stared at the word he had just written without thinking, Friendship.
He glanced over at the framed photo on his desk and choked back a sob. Friendship. He tore the page from the notebook and let it fall as tears fell with it.
He stared down at it for a few minutes and took a ragged breath as he slowly reached for his phone. He debated for a moment, before sending a text.
Hey Loges, what’s up?
He sat, waiting for a reply, and jumped when his phone beeped. He sighed as he read the text. Busy, can’t talk right now. Is it important?
Kendall hesitated before replying. Just feeling a little down and I was hoping we could hang out or something?
Sorry buddy, trying to finish this paper and then going out to dinner with my mom.
Okay, well maybe later.
Why don’t you try Carlos?
Yeah, thanks, Kendall typed and hit send. Not receiving another reply, he stared at the dark screen as he contemplated calling Carlos or James. He sighed as he sent a quick text to Carlos and waited about ten minutes for a reply.
When he didn’t receive one, he tried James. Hey, wanna catch a movie or something? My mom’s out on a date and Katie is staying overnight at her friend’s house.
He started picking up the papers as he waited for a reply. He thought about throwing them in the trash bin but stacked them neatly on his desk. His phone beeped and he checked his screen. Sorry buddy, Carlos and I are double dating tonight.
What about later? My mom won’t be home until late and we haven’t hung out for awhile.
Dude, we are going on a date, with any luck we won’t be back until late either. Why don’t you call Logan? He’s probably just sitting at home with his nose in some book.
He’s busy with family stuff. What about tomorrow? Kendall typed.
I don’t know, we’ll have to see. I might be hanging out with Josh and Ben.
Come on James, we never do anything anymore. Can’t you guys hang out some other time? We could have a guys’ day or something. Maybe a scary movie marathon, and we can have snacks and things, Kendall suggested, hating that he sounded so needy.
We’re not twelve anymore you know. Maybe if you thought of more grown-up things to do we could hang out more, James replied.
Kendall stared at his phone, uncertain of how to reply. On one hand, he was mad, and on the other, he was hurt… very hurt. He typed his response carefully. I just thought we could all hang out like we used to but nobody seems to have time anymore. I miss you guys and just thought it would be fun.
He sat there and bit his lip as he waited for a reply. He waited for a few minutes, and when there was none, he just left his phone on the bed as he grabbed the notebook and wrote again.
He pulled the page out and left it on the bed next to his phone as he stood up and went back to the desk. He looked at the stack of papers and gently pushed them, watching as they fluttered to the ground. He grabbed the framed photo and sat back down on the bed and pulled the photo out. He touched each one of his friend’s faces and then placed it next to his phone, as he curled up and stared at it. “I miss you. I’m so lonely and things are so hard. I hate school, I hate work, I hate my mom’s boyfriend, and I hate my life right now. You promised you would always be there, but you left me behind. Everyone leaves,” he said quietly to himself.
He lay there quietly for a moment, and then took a deep breath. He got up, grabbed his jacket and headed downstairs and out the door, never looking back. He didn’t hear his phone beep or see the text that came across. Sorry buddy, my phone died and I had to find my charger. You’re right, we do need to hang out so I’ll tell Carlos and you call Logan, okay? Let me know you got this message.
The next morning, James and Carlos showed up at Kendall’s house and Mrs. Knight answered the door. “Good morning, boys. You haven’t been over in a while.”
“Kendall wanted to hang out today, and he never answered me last night, so we thought we would just head over and get an early start,” James explained.
“I think he’s still sleeping. Go on up.” She smiled.
“Thanks,” the boys said as they headed upstairs.
Carlos knocked on Kendall’s door, but there was no answer. He knocked again. “Time to get up!”
He opened the door, but there was no one in the room. “I thought he was still sleeping?” he asked as they went into the room.
They saw the papers scattered on the floor, and James spotted Kendall’s phone on the bed. He went over and picked it up. “That’s weird.”
“James…” Carlos said as he pointed at the photo and the paper that was lying next to it.
“No,” James said as he picked it up. On the paper was written one sentence, one question, one cry of loneliness and sorrow. One small sentence, but it said it all, and their hearts broke as they read it.
“Would you miss me if I were gone?”