ANL: Memories West Coast

Prelude - New Friends

"Come on, Kalen, let's go," Mom whispered, before she walked back towards the motor home. I looked at Daren briefly, before taking his hand and heading back.

We got in and were off once again. Daren snuggled up to me, and I placed my arm around him, bringing him close to me.

It seems that we haven't stopped, haven't taken a break, nothing, just driving, just driving.

My name's Kalen and I'm eleven years old. This is my story; my story and my family's, but most importantly, it's Daren's, my boyfriend.

It all started a little over a year ago, when one morning I was dropped off at school early…


"Come on Kalen; you have to get going," Mom called for the hundredth time. Hurriedly, I tried to finish up brushing my teeth.

I was just finishing when Mom came to the doorway of the bathroom and insisted, "Kalen, please, we have to get going!"

"I'm ready, Mom. I just gotta grab my book bag," I said, moving past her. I hurried to my room, grabbed the bag, came running out again, and then headed down the stairs with Mom following.

My little brother, Rodney, had to go get some shots this morning. He wouldn't be going to school with me today like he usually did. I was going to be dropped off about an hour early, that way Mom and him could make his appointment. I was going to be left alone, with no one to talk to. Since Rodney's only a year younger than me, we both go to the same school. Unlike a lot of brothers, we're really close and I love him a lot; I enjoy his company and spend a lot of time with him.

'I'm going to miss him this morning,' I thought. 'Maybe, if I'm lucky, I can find some of the cooler teachers to hang out with; that'll make the time pass quicker.' We got into the car, and headed to the school. When Mom dropped me off, I said goodbye to Rodney before walking towards the front of the school. 'It looks kinda lonely without all the kids that're supposed to be here,' I thought. Looking around, I could imagine it being a ghost-town or something like that.

I guess I wasn't paying much attention, because the next thing I knew I was bouncing back from running into someone. I quickly looked up, expecting to find a teacher, but instead my mouth dropped open at the sight which confronted me. I realized that I had knocked his books from his arms. I guess he didn't have a book bag or nothing. I quickly said, "I...I'm sorry, really sorry, here, let me help you pick those up," and then I started doing just that.

When I had them in my hands, I looked up to find him looking back at me strangely, but I didn't really notice that as I became lost in the most beautiful hazel eyes I had every seen. It was another boy that seemed about my age, even though he was shorter than me. He was just standing there, his golden blond hair glowing in the morning sunlight. I couldn't begin to describe the sudden feelings coursing through my body at seeing him. I had never felt anything like this before, and didn't have words to describe it, but there was something there. I knew I was lost in whatever it was.

I was finally pulled out of my daze by a sweet voice saying, "Uh… can I have my books back?"

Feeling my face heat up in embarrassment, I quickly said, "Su…sure, sorry," and I handed them to him.

He got a little smile on his face. I felt suddenly really shy, softly introducing myself; "My name's Kalen."

He looked up at me and just stared for a minute without saying anything, long enough for me to think maybe he was mad or something, but then he straightened up, and in a very serious voice said, "My name is Daren Sebastian Michaels."

I don't know why, but something in his tone made me copy his actions, telling him "My name is Kalen Richard Samuelson," in just as serious a tone.

"What are you doing here this early?" He asked. "I haven't seen you before."

"My Mom had to take my brother to the doctor for some shots, and had to drop me off early," I replied.

"Oh, okay," he replied.

"I didn't think I would see any other kids here this early," I said to him, not wanting the conversation to end for some reason.

"My Mom drops me off early, so she can get me out of her hair," he said softly.

I thought that weird, and sad. Didn't his Mom want him or something?

"Cool, we can hang then," I smiled at him.

He got a suspicious look on his face and asked, "Why would you want to hang around with me?"

"Well, cause there ain't no one else here for one thing," I smiled, wondering what was the matter.

"I'm sure all your friends will be here soon." He told me, as he bent his head down. I could hear the note of sadness in his voice.

For some reason I blurted out, "I don't have any friends," causing his head to snap up and look at me in disbelief. I quickly added, "I mean not real friends, just kids I kinda know, but they're not really friend friends."

"Really?" he asked, like he couldn't quite believe it.

"Yeah," I said, kind of embarrassed, but then I surprised myself by saying, "I'd like it if we could be friends," causing him to look at me intently for a moment. A big smile broke out on his face; a smile that for some reason I thought wasn't there a whole lot, and also for some reason, I vowed there and then that I would do everything I could to make him have lots more of them.

"I think I'd like that," he said. That was the beginning of our friendship, and the beginning of something much, much more; something of which I had no concept of, but would change both of our lives forever.

Daren and I became like one person over the next year, spending every available moment together in school, and on the infrequent occasions when he was allowed to, out of school as well. We sat next to each other in class, and at lunch, and we would help each other in our classes and with our work. I never got tired of being with him. It was a feeling I couldn't explain, but it was like he was a part of me. When we couldn't be together, I could feel something missing that wasn't there again until I saw him, then it went away and everything was right with the world once more.

Our time together was mostly limited to when we were in school. We didn't see each other much outside of it, although not because we didn't want to.

His Mom was really weird and wouldn't let him come out to play very often, she would never let him sleep over, and wouldn't allow me over to his house ever, much less sleep over. The one time I asked her, when she came to pick him up from school, was horrible and he got in trouble for it, so I never did that again. There were other things too; she never let him walk to school, and never let him stay home from school when he was sick.

The only way he got to go home was if the school sent him home. All he would tell me was that, "Mom doesn't want me in her hair," when I asked. I thought this was really strange, but it was nothing compared to what I would eventually discover, about Daren, about his Mom, my family and especially myself and the world around me.

Growing up can really suck.

End Flashback

Remainder of the year

As the year went by, we became closer and closer; so close that at times I could almost swear that I felt his moods. I didn't know it that cold early November morning, but as me and Rodney got ready for another day at school, life decided to take a cruel turn. Today's events involving Daren would change my life forever, making the beginning of November 2004 a week that haunts my memories for the rest of my life.