This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
Ignacio is the name I was born with but everyone calls me Iggie. Jones was the last name I was born with but after my mom (who was Spanish) died five years ago, Dad legally changed their kids’ last names to hers: Barrera. It was a rash decision made during, what the therapist called, “the fog of mourning” where I guess you don’t do things you would normally do. Aunt Mary was the one who insisted Dad’s family see a psych doctor after it happened. Dad calls Aunt Mary a spinster but I don’t know what that means and frankly, I don’t care.
I’m fourteen but I’d do anything to be sixteen so I could just drive away from my idiot family. My sister will be able to do that soon. She was told that if she got at least B’s on her last report card, she’d be allowed to get her driver’s permit and a miracle that could only come from God made it so. Now every driver in Ohio needs to worry about getting mowed over by my sister.
She’s Chrissy but mostly goes by her Instagram name “Chrissy Bear” where she has about 800 followers which makes her think she’s a celebrity. So, she got attention for posting photos of her stuffed animals reenacting scenes from famous movies. Big whoop. She’s dumb as a rock so I hope she makes a million dollars from Instagram because she won’t be a rocket scientist. For now, she wants to be an actress.
It’s not like a rich guy will marry her either because she’s not good looking though she thinks she is. I’m not saying that because I’m her brother. My best friend Tom even tells me that he would never “hit that”. With all that makeup covering her ugly face I guess she’s alright and she recently got rid of the uni-brow. Chrissy lets me know how much she hates me for inheriting mom’s dark skin but I’m not even that dark. I have almond shaped eyes and kind of a perma-tan but you wouldn’t necessarily assume I was Spanish. One Trump supporter at one of my baseball games told me to “go back to Mexico” but I’m not sure where he got that from because I’m half Chilean, not Mexican and again, you can’t tell. It must have been my last name on my uniform.
Anyway, Chrissy inherited Dad’s ghostly white skin that looks like it glows when the sun hits it. She also inherited his allergy to cats though she’d love to have one. All I got from him was his brown hair. My dad is hard to describe. He has IBS. Sometimes he grows a mustache but right now he doesn’t have one. I have no idea what he does for work. It’s in a cubicle with hundreds of other people in cubicles and I swear I’ve heard the words, “data entry” before.
He never talks about work. The only time I remember that he has another life outside of the house is when he brings us to the annual company picnic. It’s a big event at Coney Island where his co-workers go on and on about how my photo is on his desk and how I’m growing up so fast. I did go through a big growth spurt this year. Nowadays there are no more pinched cheeks or making over me. Now everyone only pays attention to my five-year-old brother, Oscar. He’s got fat cheeks and mom’s curly black hair so everyone says he’s adorable. Oscar’s also the happiest boy you’ll ever meet.
For that reason, I can’t hate the kid but because of his A.D.D., he’s a lot to handle. Too much to handle. Supposedly, the doctor told Dad that Oscar is a genius but I don’t see it. Most geniuses don’t run outside without pants or underwear on just to see what people will do. Pam and Dad say it’s very important to keep him in a stable environment where he is treated like anyone else. There are no nicknames for Oscar so he likes trying out a new one every week or so and they never have anything to do with his real name. There was Little Tony last month. Spike when school started. Now he wants to be called, “Super O” after his favorite cereal. Yeah. Sounds like a real genius.
And sitting across from me at dinner, like an elephant in the room, is Pam, my new step-mother of six months. She’s not the size of an elephant. Pam’s thin and blonde and looks nothing like any of us. She smells like hairspray and her attention is always on legal briefs or paperwork (she’s a lawyer). Even at the dinner table, her nose was stuck in a book about tax liens. Pam’s nice and all but she never had kids and doesn’t know how to interact with us so I’m not sure why she married my dad.
Gary Jones is just a white guy who wears ties, even at the dinner table. I would love to call my dad, “Gary” like Tom calls his mom, “Susan” but I know I’d be in trouble without asking. Dad’s obsessed with making me a famous baseball player, it’s all he ever talks about and if I want something I just start a conversation about baseball and ease into what I want. He says I was blessed with a fastball that will take me to the majors and I admit, I’m good and my team does well but I don’t like playing all that much. Sometimes it’s raining or cold and I just want to be in my basement playing video games instead. He never listens to me if I complain. The thought of pitching forever makes me crazy. I can’t do it. I won’t do it!
“I’ve decided on a name,” he announced one night as we were eating our pizza. Pam’s not a cook.
“What name?” asked Chrissy.
“I’m Super O, now,” Oscar insisted, pizza sauce all over his face.
“Not you, kiddo.” Dad roughed up Oscar’s hair. “Iggie’s nickname. Every great ball player back in the day had a nickname. The Babe, Cyclone, Memphis Bill...”
“Dad, can I just finish eating without worrying about my future baseball career?”
“Yeah, some of us don’t care,” Chrissy said before I kicked her under the table.
It’s as if Dad doesn’t hear us.
“You’ll like it.” He held his hands up in anticipation. “Wait for it…Bear Claw. Right? Get it? Barrera? Bear? You’ve got a mean curveball? It makes sense.”
“Chrissy Bear is my thing,” Chrissy complained as I said, “My curveball’s not even that great. It’s my fastball you’re always going on about. That’s what won us that last game in October.”
“Can I be the mascot?” piped up Oscar.
For the first time, Pam looked up from her book. She smiled at Oscar. “Of course, you can. We’ll just get you a costume.”
Oscar loves being around Pam and she buys little outfits for him like that night he was wearing suspenders and glasses. Usually, she takes photos, posting them for her Facebook friends like she has a family or something. The one thing Chrissy and I can agree on is that Pam was never going to be a part of this family and we mostly ignore her.
“So,” Dad dropped his slice and wiped his mouth so this must have been important. “This is your last week of school before break and we need to give you all some good news. Great news, actually. It’s been hard for me to keep quiet.”
I swallowed. “We’re getting a pool.”
Pam and Dad looked at each other and laughed.
“No,” he said. “Even better.” He focused on me. “I enrolled you into Lake Marian’s baseball camp! Isn’t that amazing? Remember how we talked about that last summer? Lake Marian has the best camp in the Midwest. There are even scouts there at the end of the season.” Dad was jumpy like he was the one attending. “Can you imagine? A scout seeing potential in Iggie at such a young age? That happens, you know. That one Asian kid already has a scholarship.”
“Great,” I muttered. Not that he ever noticed my lack of enthusiasm.
“How is this good news for me?” whined Chrissy.
“Well, Iggie’s not the only one going,” explained Pam. “We’re all going to drive there and stay on the lake for the summer. We leave next week.”
This excited my sister for some reason.
“Oh… my…God!” she squealed and jumped up to hug Dad. What a suck up. “We’ll be staying at a lake? With swimming and romantic bonfires?”
I snorted. “She means boys in bathing suits.”
“Shut up,” she snapped.
“Don’t tell your brother to shut up,” Oscar said with a serious face before the adults could chime in. Pam and Dad thought that this was just hilarious. I talked above the laughter.
“Did anyone forget that I’ll be working my butt off while all of you are having a super awesome time?”
“What are you talking about? Be excited about this opportunity. You’re going to be a star.” Dad was way too pumped to lose momentum. “Your brother’s dancing and just look at your sister. That’s the first time I’ve seen her smile in weeks.”
“Oscar has no idea what’s going on. Chrissy’s just thinking about all of the amazing Insta pics she’ll get on the lake.”
I could tell she hadn’t thought of that yet because she paused and then a Cheshire cat grin slowly crept over her hideous face. I stuck my tongue out at her.
Tom and I had big plans for the summer. We always biked to the Y.M.C.A which was on the other side of the subdivision. Now that girls our age were wearing bikini’s this was going to be a very important year. Also, I just bought the new Grand Theft Auto for rainy days and then there was this coding program I downloaded and was interested in learning but I always say that and end up reading comic books all night. I was hoping that I’d get one more vacation off from baseball but nothing ever works out the way I want it to.
While I stewed at the dinner table, surrounded by everyone making big plans, I had no idea how much my life would change in one summer.
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Mark Morris: Just back from a week in Dublin and finished this story in 2 days - very entertaining and an easy, fun read. The plot keeps moving and the various scenarios - divorce, ex husband, job, lovers maintains interest.Hope to read part 2 soon as possible, back in Australia. Well done aiofe 👍
Tavis Ryan King: "What Happened to Charlie Carmine" is a fabulous mo-gee-toe cocktail fuelled midget orgy of psychology, fantasy and sarcasm. I laughed out loud when reading this novel so many times it made the London commuters I shared space with look at me with curious disdain - and I did not care.The protagoni...
Roxie: This was a very well thought out story and I greatly enjoyed it! I don't usually go for these kinds of stories because of clichés and what not, nut this was great. There were a few typos and grammatical errors, but that is to be expected. While I knew the overall end of the story It was engaging ...
tinaasante871: when Max first got introduced to the story I was like#where the hell is sara#...lol... I loved every minute of reading this book... it was fantastic although I would have loved to read more about Sara and Allie's wedding.....Anyways I hope u have more of these books installed for us because you'v...
shemotshalom: I never ever read books,I had a little bit of trouble with it in the beginning,I ship Matt and grace but I liked her better with Cole and I would love to see how that would turn out!I still love this book there could've been more drama and I think the tittle could've tricked anyone thinking that ...
Rebeccaseal: This was an almost perfect story that I would recommend to anyone. The only thing I would work on is painting a more realistic picture of Haiathiel. Somehow the environment seemed limited, and the land itself a bit unfinished. This can be solved simply by added descriptions to people and places. ...
Ruby0h: Overall I thought your story was really good! It drew me in right away and kept me interested as the story progressed. I loved the character of Kayla being inserted into this story, and the way she affected and shaped the life of the original story into something totally new and interesting. I lo...