“I owe you an apology.” Clarence was pleased to see, from the corner of his driver’s vision, the surprise registering on his son’s face. “You’re an adult, you don’t need to hear none of that re-assuring parentspeak bullshit I just laid on you. You deserve something that’s closer to the truth.”
The lead pharmacist of his town’s CVS cleared his throat. “Course we’re angry at you. You’ve made us worried, and if there’s one thing your mother and I can’t stand, it’s being worried.”
“But I’m gonna be OK.” There was a touch of annoyance in Andrew’s voice, like a lingering taste of vinegar from a coffee pot that had just been cleaned. “After all I had to do, and what I put you and mom through — there’s no way I’ll ever let that happen again.”
Clarence smacked his lips apart, drew in a sharp breath; it was his reflex action when he doubted what he was hearing. “Well that’s nice to hear, but it’s one thing to know what you need to do, and quite another to actually do it.” Clarence pointed out through the windshield, in what he estimated to be the general direction of his son’s campus — “While you were home, you didn’t have access to none of the temptations you had at school. But it’s not like they went away while you were gone, they’re still gonna there, almost like they’ve been waiting for you to come back.”
Andrew raised his phone to his face, pressed its surface; the ear buds went silent. Clarence’s right hand waved towards his son — “All summer long, you’ve been saying the right things, doing what you need to do. We believe you, when you say you don’t want to make the same mistakes again. But, when you’re on your own, can you actually follow through on that commitment? That’s what’s got us worried, Andrew. And when we’re worried, we get upset. And being upset, is what makes us angry.”
Feeling his focus sharpen on the road ahead, Clarence more felt than saw his son nod. “I think I understand, Dad.” The young man hmmphed a laugh. “Thanks for being honest.”
Clarence nodded. “Sure.” A moment later, music erupted again from the buds, then grow muted as they were inserted onto Andrew’s ears.