Cadbury was Caleb’s first word, having learned it after Grandma Rose sneaked him the chocolaty treat during the Easter get-together. The word’s real significance was unknown to him, however; how could he have known that that was his papa’s nickname during the war?
At five, Caleb attended preschool. It was during his first recess that he met his best friend Juliette. He and Juliette loved the merry-go-round – he pushed because Juliette enjoyed feeling the wind in her golden hair. Although he could do away with nap time and the learning of colors and numbers, every day at school was one he looked forward to as long as Juliette was by his side.
It was not until his fourth grade year that Caleb truly enjoyed learning; math and reading were pretty cool, but science was his favorite subject. He was intrigued by the notion that, despite its apparent emptiness, an autumn breeze was anything but. Unfortunately, this new realm led to the debunking of popular myths, and an awkward silence greeted him and his family during Christmas.
Caleb asked Juliette to a dance during the eighth grade. She chose to wear an elegant, pink dress, so his father bought him a pink tie. His favorite memory that night was when the two danced the Macarena. He and Juliette were the last to leave, as they were having too much fun to remember the time.
At sixteen, Caleb got his driver’s license, and his mother bought him a teal 1990 Mustang. That was the year Juliette first kissed him, and heart disease claimed Grandma Rose.
During his high school graduation, Caleb gave a valedictory speech. In it, he remembered the fantastic times he had with Grandma Rose, and how her passing made him realize that life isn’t fair. Too often, he stated, good souls are taken from us when they still have more living to do, more lives to touch. Shortly after walking the stage, diploma in hand, Caleb decided he would make it his mission to reach out to as many people as he could, to give the countless Grandma Roses out there more time to live. He had never considered becoming a medical doctor, but surely it was his destiny, he believed.
Sadly, Caleb would never succeed in his mission, let alone even graduate, because his mother was pressured into abortion by her boyfriend long before.
They had trouble financing their own lifestyle, so how could they ever consider caring for a needy baby, her boyfriend prodded. And what would her Bible-thumping parents think of her getting knocked up before graduating high school, he added. “We’ll try for another one when we’re not young and dumb.” His sharp words left the young woman gutted and torn. Besides, he shot, if the news got out that he was fathering a stupid kid, they’d never give him a football scholarship. Didn’t she want him to be successful?