“Everett? Is that really my little boy?” Everett was almost immediately enveloped in the arms of Makenna, his mother. He dropped his bags and returned the embrace.

“Yeah, it’s me, Mom,” he said into her hair.

“You’re so…” she drawled looking for the word.

Everett quirked an eyebrow. “So…?”

“Muscular,” she decided. “You also seem taller, and…” she squinted at him, and tilted her head, before her eyes widened and she smiled. “Why didn’t you tell me you had a girlfriend?!” she squealed with a very light shove to his shoulder.

“How did you-” he started to ask. “I haven’t spoken to you since I left. H-how?”

“Mother’s intuition,” she said with a shrug before turning around and heading towards the kitchen of the small townhouse that Everett called home. “Are you hungry? Oh of course you're hungry. You’re a growing boy. I’ll make spaghetti. I wasn’t expecting you ‘til later so you can go unpack if you want,” she yelled from the kitchen, but Everett wasn’t paying attention. He was too busy looking around the small foyer and into the living room. At first glance nothing had changed in the seven months he’d been gone, but if you looked closer, there were little differences that Everett found.

There was a new decorative pillow on the couch in the living room, the tall lamp in the foyer had moved to the left a few feet, and there were different DVD cases littered on the TV stand. These things along with others made Everett realize just how long he had been gone. As he walked up the creaky wooden steps to his room, he noticed a lot more of these little differences, but when he walked in his room he noticed nothing had changed in there. His bed was still unmade, and he still had clothes littered on the floor. With a happy sigh, Everett began unpacking.

***

“So tell me about your girlfriend,” Makenna demanded as they were cleaning up after lunch.

Everett smiled as he thought about Rae and how best to describe her. “Well, she likes to describe herself as lovingly violent,” he said as Makenna handed him a dish to rinse.

“Oh? Well she sounds just delightful,” she said trying to hold in her laughter.

“Mom,” Everett whined playfully.

“What?” Makenna asked. “I wanna know how you would describe her, not how she would describe herself,” she explained with a comforting smile.

“Well… I wouldn’t know where to start,” Everett said truthfully, with a small shrug.

“Hmm, what’s your favorite thing about her?”

“She’s confident, and she knows what she wants. Well, most of the time,” Everett said somewhat absentmindedly.

“Most of the time?” Makenna asked, as they made their way to the the living room couch.

Everett smiled. “Well she wasn’t confident on our first date, she-” he paused for a laugh, “she was as nervous as I get sometimes. Then she always know what she wants, except for this spring. S-she’s a senior, or she was a senior, and she didn’t know what she wanted to do.”

Makenna nodded knowingly, as she grabbed a throw pillow and put it on her lap. “Okay. Where is she then?”

“She joined a, well she got a job,” Everett tried his best to explain, scooting over on the couch so he could lay his head on his mother’s lap.

“Where is this job?”

Everett sighed dejectedly but was slightly comforted but the feeling of his mom playing with his hair like she always used to. “I don’t know.” He was glowing a deep blue, but neither he nor Makenna noticed. Makenna only noticed that her son was feeling down, and that it was because of a girl.

“Do you want to talk about something else?” she offered, but Everett just shook his head.

“I think I’m just going to go for a walk if that’s okay with you?”

***

Everett found it really interesting and really inspiring to walk around the town. It all looked the same, but it felt incredibly different. He remembered it being a place where he never fit in, and now, even though that fact hadn’t changed, now at least he knew why. And to him that made all the difference.

He was walking around his old school thinking about how it felt weird that this was his old school, when he felt a force from behind shove him face first into the brick wall. The feeling of liquid dripping down his face let him know his nose was bleeding.

“Hey pouty boy, where you been? We sure missed you,” he heard Lee sneer from behind him.

Everett turned around to see the four boys standing there. Despite their obvious intentions, an ironic smile graced Everett’s face as he wiped away the small trickle of blood. When Lee’s brows drew together in confusion, Everett couldn’t help the small laugh that escaped through his lips. It only got worse when Lee grabbed the collar of Everett’s shirt and shoved him against the wall again as Everett found the action very similar to how Rae would initiate a kiss. Even as Lee brought his fist back to punch Everett, he found that he only started laughing harder.

“How about I punch that stupid smile off your face?” Lee asked right before he swung.

Everett caught his fist with a hand, catching Lee off guard. “I don’t know about that,” he said before swinging with his other hand.

Lee was obviously not expecting it, and when Everett’s fist connected with his face he stumbled back a few steps into his goons. After a few seconds of confusion, Lee stood back up. “You don’t get to do that to me,” Lee whispered menacingly, as he aimed straight for Everett’s face.

With a calm step to the side, Everett dodged the punch and grabbed Lee’s wrist, twisting it to the side painfully. “Well if I’m not allowed to punch you, then you shouldn’t be allowed to punch me. I’m as much of a-, well technically I’m less human than you, but I won’t bother explaining, it will probably be too much for your tiny brain,” he finished as he released Lee’s wrist and walked past the rest of the boys who were too stunned to do anything.

Lee, unsurprisingly, was the first to recover. “Hey, you don’t get to walk away from me!”

Everett sighed and turned around but continued to walk backwards. “So many things I can and can’t do. Well I think I’ll just keep walking though. It’s a better solution than violence,” Everett finished with a smile before turning around again to walk home. ‘I spent way too much time with Rae,’ he thought with a sly smile.