Fighting his emotions Eric stood there looking over the Bay, wearing his dark suit again, as the sun gave this day a misleading prettiness it did not deserve, belying the tragedy of today’s family gathering at the Cameron cliff home.
His parents had bought the suit for him to wear to the funeral of his great-grandfather Ethan a few weeks ago, a devastating loss for the entire family, but nobody could have guessed then how much wear the funeral suit would actually get when suddenly Ethan’s twin sister Esmée Gray, her husband Nick Gray and then Ethan’s wife Blythe all followed Ethan in death one after another.
While they all had been well into their nineties, none of them were ailing, so their sudden passing still took everyone by surprise.
They had all just returned from laying Blythe Cameron to her eternal rest.
Four funerals in just matter of weeks.
Poison for the still very tender psyche of the now 17 year old boy, who would be 18 in a few months, just like his cousin Hannah and also Ewan, whose parents’ home they were all currently at, it was the largest of all the family homes and only one capable of accommodating the entire Cameron and Gray families for the funeral wake. It was a noisy bustle inside, especially near the food, so Eric had fled onto the quiet patio.
Ewan’s birthday had just been a few weeks before their great-grandfather’s death, and it would be the last family event his great-grantparents would ever attend.
They had seemed fine then, happy, and as fit and healthy as 90+ year olds could.
They would miss his birthday for sure.
And he already missed them a lot.
The two year anniversary of the horrific and fatal car crash was coming up soon as well. (read here)
It happened when he was 15, only weeks before his 16th birthday. His entire life had changed completely since that night.
Nothing was now as it had once been.
And it would never be the same again.
Not for him.
His cousin Hannah and Ewan, both barely 16 then, had been in the car with him and miraculously survived with only minor injuries. The forth passenger, Eric’s secret crush Susanne, had not been so lucky. She died on scene, along with the driver and passenger of the road-raging truck and the woman in the oncoming car.
The two other teens in the truck had been sentenced to juvi, while the judge overlooked Eric’s driving without a proper license and while still underaged, likely since he had to be absent for the court dates due to the fact that he was in a medically induced coma for a long time, aside from many broken bones he had sustained severe burns all over his body and face, as well as some hearing loss and notable loss of vision on his right side. And that was the best case scenario already, for a while it looked like he was not going to survive at all.
Altogether he spent almost a full year in the hospital and several more months in follow up care, just finished physical and psychological therapy and had been home less than two months, back just in time for Ewan’s birthday and the flood of funerals.
His dream career since childhood of becoming a cop had very recently gone up in flames like the car had after the crash, when he failed the access tests to join the police academy right after graduation. Eric was now in his last months of senior year at high school and graduation was coming up fast, so he had applied as soon as he returned home.
His fitness level was perfect, but the hearing and vision impairment along with his emotional and psychological scars were too severe and disqualified him.
He had felt numb after his dream had crumbled before him, only to come home to more bad news when he learned about his great-grandmother’s passing. That had been three days ago now.
“Hey bro.” he heard Ewan’s voice behind him.
While technically Ewan was Eric’s uncle, there were only a few months separating them in age, they had known each other since they were toddlers, living as close as they did in a small town they had just naturally progressed into a solid friendship.
“Hey.” Eric said.
“Sorry to hear about the academy. Hannah just told me.” Ewan was serious.
“Thanks.” Eric said.
“So what’s the plan now?” Ewan asked. He knew that for Eric there only ever had been one plan, graduate high school, join the academy, then work up the ranks through law enforcement. He also could guess that Eric was worse than devastated now.
“College. Parents and I had a lovely talk just before we left for the funeral. I had to promise to apply for college, get a degree and go to therapy.” Eric told Ewan.
“That’s not so bad.”
“Therapy is a waste of money. And I don’t even know how to start looking at colleges and degrees. They all look the same to me. All I wanted was to be in law enforcement. Now even that has been taken from me. I just don’t care anymore.”
“If it’s all the same to you anyway, you’ll go to college with me! We’ll be roomies! It will be so much fun! You got the grades and the talent, you’ll still get in, there is still some time to apply. I have all their propaganda up in my room if you want to see.”
“Architecture? Not sure my Math is strong enough.”
“Neither is mine, that’s why we are doing Fine Arts!” Ewan smirked.
“What? Why Fine Arts? How are you gonna run EC Architects with a degree in Fine Arts?”
“I am not. Gage will. He is a Math genius and likes that kinda shit. That’s why he’s here for summer, so dad can show him around the company. An internship of sorts. If he does well, he’ll move back here after college. Bri and Stryker already okayed it all.”
“Gage?!” Eric repeated surprised.
Gage O’Connor was also 18, and Ewan’s nephew, his older sister’s son and also a friend of theirs although they saw him less frequently since he lived in Del Sol Valley with his family.
“Yeah, I know right? Some 7 foot tall rocker-looking dude with long hair will be a breeze of fresh air for sure. He’s smarter than he looks. Closet nerd.”
“So, what are you planning on doing if not Architecture?” Eric asked.
“Acting! I wanted to just go to Del Sol Valley, throw my Cameron name around and bunk with Bri and Stryker, but dad is making me get a degree first. How many famous actors do you know that have a college degree in acting? Artistic talent runs in our family! A bunch of musicians and then the actors. Liam Cameron had no degree, his daughter Natalie didn’t, uncle Blake didn’t – all famous actors, all Camerons, but nooooo, I have to get a piece of paper first. Acting runs in my blood. Seriously, but if my old man wants to throw his money away, fine, I’ll party for four years on some campus and learn some Shakespeare if that makes him happy. Especially with you and Hannah going.”
“Hannah wants to act?” Eric realized he may have missed a lot of news living like a hermit since he got home. Even before, family visits were strictly regulated at the hospital and therapy center, allowing two people only within a fixed and very limited time window, so it had mostly been his parents who’d come, he had only seen the rest of his family a few dozen times throughout.
While he had been recovering at the hospital and even now he could tell that in an attempt to protect him he was only ever getting half the updates, everyone in his family was guilty of that. Except Ewan. He always gave it to him straight, no filters.
“No, Hannah wants to be a shrink and Britchester has the right classes. So the trifecta will stay together and party our way through college. Because, bruh, I have been taking it easy on your with all your shit going on, but we are going to party again, once at college. You moped around long enough. Double-E is back in business!”
“Britechester? Why not San Myshuno uni? Much closer to home.”
“They don’t offer a Fine Arts degrees worth a damn. That’s where Gage-y-pooh has to go for his Architecture shit. We are going to Britchester. Everyone knows that place, you know, prestige and all. Admittedly not the most modern campus, actually pretty lame and ancient looking, but the three of us will light that shit up right. So you in?”
“Fine Arts? I don’t even know what the means. I don’t want to be an actor. No way am I putting my distorted ass out for all to see.”
“Hey, your grandpa is a famous musician. You play several instruments pretty decent. So … musician then.”
“That would be an option IF I didn’t have to go before an audience to perform. So no. Never going to happen. And I am not going to make my parents put me through college to write lame jingles in some dark studio. I am sure grandpa can help me do that now.”
“Just go and you’ll figure it out later.”
“I guess, at least I won’t be alone with strangers. So tired of the looks and reactions.”
“Ah, all in your head. You can barely notice those scars and chicks dig the rugged look on dudes. I’ll tell Hannah you’re in too, she’ll be so psyched! Maybe we can all live together in off campus housing. At least she knows how to cook. I can barely open a can, all I do is give mom the puppy eyes and she’ll make me anything. Assuming that does not work with you, but it works with Hannah. So, she needs to live with us.”
“She’ll be so happy to hear all that.” Eric rolled his eyes.
“Do I have dumbass tattoed to my forehead? I am smarter than that! I’ll just tell her we cannot live without her, appeal to her nurturing side and she’ll melt like ice in the sunshine and say yes.”
“You really underestimate her a lot.” Eric smiled faintly, while shaking his head.
And then just like that high school was almost over.
Eric had been schooled at the in-patient physical recovery therapy center during his long recovery process so he wouldn’t miss anything and was able to graduate with his classmates.
Prom season rolled around and everyone went crazy over it.
High school kids acted as you would expect around Eric.
There were stares and comments, but most didn’t mess with Eric too much. It was widely known who his family was and that his uncle was the principal. Eric could physically feel the stares, heard the whispering when he entered a room or the cafeteria. Luckily he had Ewan and Hannah to hang out with, as it was obvious that the other kids avoided him for the most part.
It just would never be as it once had been, the happy, carefree days full of mischief and laughter with big groups of kids his age were over for him, taken in the blink of an eye by a strike of fate since the night of that accident, so now he just counted down the days until graduation, ignoring everything else.
The hype for the prom was intense, you could not escape it and Brindleton Bay being a small town this was a major highlight to otherwise pretty bored teens. Even Eric acknowledged that prom only happened once in your life, so he finally gave in to everyone’s pushing and went to ask a girl he liked.
She froze after he asked her, staring at him, her friends giggling behind her before she frowned.
“Uh … no thanks, Eric. I don’t think so. I am not THAT desperate.” she told him, a sarcastic chuckle underlining the shock and disgust reflected in her expression.
“What’s wrong with your face?” one of her friends asked, causing the others to giggle.
“What’s wrong with YOURS?! You permanently look like you tried to suck a lemon through a straw.” Ewan had noticed things weren’t going well and came to Eric’s defense, who stood as if in shock.
“Is he like contagious or something? So gross. Somebody get the Lysol!” another girl said.
“Is your stupidity contagious?” Ewan shot back at her.
“Frankenstein!” another one called out, which was the last straw for Eric’s composure.
“What the hell did I ever do to any of you?!” Eric’s outcry was more a whimper before he turned and ran out of the school.
“Just get your damn brooms, you witches, before I shove them up your asses!” Ewan yelled at the girls, before running after Eric.
When he finally caught up with him, he could see that he had been fighting his emotions hard, but tried to hide it when he noticed Ewan.
“Hey man, forget those broads. Dumb small town high school girls, what do they know? They’ll spend the rest of their lives married to some dudes in beer stained wife-beaters, bringing them food while popping out one brat after the next, while he knocks up the entire trailer park. Well below you. You’ll see. We’ll both make something of ourselves and one day she’ll see you on TV and eats her heart out in her boring dead-end life.” Ewan told Eric, trying to be encouraging.
“She is the bank director’s daughter.”
“So, she’ll live in the fancy trailer park. Dude, forget about her. All of them. We both were meant for greatness. We’re Camerons. We don’t roll over and show our bellies at the first sign of adversity, we fight and we prevail. Just you wait, we will both be famous and then those chicks will be kicking themselves in the butt for dissing you for a little scar.”
“Quit downplaying it! It’s not a little booboo! I am disfigured! A monster! No girl will ever want me! And even if we somehow get famous, the only reason any woman would want to be with me would be fame or money! I’d rather die alone in a hole somewhere than knowing the only reason someone’s at my side is because of what I own, not who I really am!” Eric’s response oozed the pain and sadness he had been dealing with since he found out about his permanent condition.
“So what if you made it big and screwed a few golddiggers?! As long as you get to have fun. And the right one will find you, eventually. Always happens. Look at our family history. As my dad! Ask anyone of the older folks. Even my sister! They all have a story. And none of those ever went like a fairytale right out of the gates. They all had to wade through some shit before they found what they were looking for. So, you started with it early. I am sure my shit is on the horizon, unless you count in my mother, aka. the egg donor. Not exactly the picture book childhood. But it got better when dad met Meagan.”
“I hope you’re right.” Eric wasn’t convinced.
“I KNOW I’m right! You know what? Screw prom. I am not going either. You and I, we are going to have fun together. Just us. Anything you want. If you want to sit at home and watch movies, we’ll watch movies. If you want to play video games, we’ll do that.”
Prom night came and Ewan kept his word, he came over to Eric’s to hang out together.
Ewan also managed to get in some delayed revenge in for Eric, though unbeknownst to him.
He had asked the girl to prom who had so rudely dismissed Eric with her friends, who then dumped her original date for handsome, wealthy and charming Ewan and now she would be waiting for him in vain, to eventually sulk in the shame of being stood up at prom night when she realized Ewan wasn’t going to come at all.
But Ewan didn’t tell Eric about it until way later, knowing he would have objected. Sure made him feel better though.
And Ewan wasn’t the only one who missed prom to be with Eric instead.
When Hannah learned what Ewan was doing, she decided she’d join them. She returned her prom dress and cancelled her date. So they celebrated their new rite of passage together. Young adulthood for the ‘trifecta’ as Ewan liked to dub them.
And they would be off to college after summer.
-to be continued with the official first chapter of the Generation 8-