The following scene is a typical dinner debate between mom and son; however, these aren't typical people.
Celeste Kaine is the world's wealthiest person - CEO and founder of Kaine is Able Global Communications. She has kept her son isolated for many reasons.
Kai Kaine is a precocious, optimistic and wise fourteen-year-old. Here he pleads his annual case for homeschool emancipation.
Enjoy the battle!
One Light: The Final Testiment
Chapter One - The Jackals, Scene Three
Mom was not a job hostage tonight and dinner was at 7 pm. Hope was battling reality within me. Stress numbed my toes. Tonight, was the cry for home school emancipation, which I obviously suck at. I’ve lost the last eight battles; however, tonight was the battle for High School! Personal autonomy, self-growth, friendships, and a quality puberty were the spoils of victory.
I met Mom in the breakfast room - it’s small and bright – how I like to think I am. Mom glared at me, analyzing me, reading me.
“Damn! She knows what’s coming,” I thought. "So much for the surprise attack!"
"What child wants to go to school?” she said. “Every kid in the world wants to stay home but mine. My child has to be different!"
"I didn’t even say anything Mom, and I'm not a child!"
"Don’t go to school at all. I’m fine with that. You don't need it. You have all the money you, your family, those who will call you their ancestor will ever need. Become a hedonist, live on a yacht, sail oceans, ascend magic mountains and ride your magic carpet.”
“What does that even mean?”
“I really don’t know, it flowed, so I went with it,” she said.
“How can I live as a hedonist, if I don’t go to school to teach me what the hell is a hedonist.”
“The Amalfi coast? Prague? Maybe I should retire. We can move to the French Riviera during summers, Chamonix in the winter. Ski Mount Blanc for the rest of your life."
“I just want to go trick-or-treating.”
“Jackals love the snow. We can take them, some of them.”
“High school you know” I said.
“Become a roadie, follow those Cremating Pumpkins city to city.”
“Really? Thank God! I really didn’t think you would go for it. It’s more fun than math.”
“No Mom, it’s Smashing Pumpkins, not Cremating Pumpkins.”
“Damn! How about Nirvana? Follow them around. You’re Hindu!”
“They’re not Hindu Mom!”
“Then why did they name themselves Nirvana? Sheeesh!”
In my house going to school, studying hard and making good grades were the only ways I could rebel. Mom didn't see the need for any of it. We had more money than several nations.
"You know I'm entering high school this year?" I said softly. My head pointed downward while my eyes peeked upward in hope. My hope flickered dimly but flickered none-the-less. It wasn’t false hope – there is no false hope – just hope.
"I'm not giving in Kai." Mom reached for her wine in a morning juice glass. Mom was the only person who called me Kai and not KK. "You know I'm not giving in. That is something I never do!"
"I know Mom. Why are you getting defensive?"
"I love defense. It so satisfying to counter assaulting aggressors."
“I haven’t even said anything about school, yet.”
“Damn, I thought when you said High School, you were talking about…school. I misunderstood.”
She isn’t like this with just me. She has a natural proclivity to exhaust all around her - animals and people. I think that’s why she’s so successful in her business - people just give up. They can’t take it.
"Were you referring to school here at home; you know, the school where you sleep late, eat pastries whenever you want. The school where you never leave your bedroom, except to go in a sauna. Was it that school?” She continued, “Nay! You were referring to school school, with principals, chalk, detention, crossing guards, and bells that, you know…ring loudly! This was what you wanted to talk about! Yes?"
"Yes,” I replied, feeling defeated. “But you don't have to elaborate so intensely on my rejection. You always do that. You always do! You want to keep me locked up inside for the rest of my life, like the grandson of Mrs. Havisham. What the hell?" I tossed my napkin on the table.
"Careful Kai, don't speak what you don't know about."
"You don’t think I know about Hell? For eight years I can’t go to a school, a mall, McDonalds, Boy Scouts!”
“You hate Boy Scouts!” declared Mom.
“I do, who wants to sleep outside in the mud, but maybe I wanted to be a Cub Scout and eat cookies."
"When I said, ‘don’t speak what you don’t know about,’ I was talking about Miss Havisham. You don’t know about her.”
“Mom, she’s an old bitch who locked herself up in her room for life in Great Expectations. You made me read it when I was ten because I remind you of Pip.”
“It’s Miss Havisham! You said ‘Mrs. Havisham.’ That was a massive part of the story Kai. I’m just saying if you missed this detail, you missed the entire point of a book.”
"I've lived in this prison, though it is a big ass prison, but a prison nonetheless, for forever.”
“For forever is redundant.”
“I know, but I like it!” I knew that would cause her to itch.
“You’ve lived here your whole life, but that’s not ‘for forever.’”
“Mom stop!” I spiked my napkin in frustration again! “Just stop!”
“Kai you jumped right in to your conclusion before I told you my thoughts on school school this year.” She spiked her napkin, not in anger, but in victory as she mimicked me.
I lifted an eyebrow.
"I am not giving in, as I stated earlier?" she paused, red lining, controlling each moment. My eyebrow dropped. "Circumstances evolved. You evolved and can take better care of yourself than when you were ten. Wouldn’t you say Kai?”
I nodded as my eyebrow lifted again. A faint tingle pricked my toes. I felt it.
“We've kept your identity private. That is critical. Kidnapping is a high risk. But now, as you enter high school, I will allow you to go attend a school school under two conditions.”
I had slid down in my chair, but now changed directions.
Mom continued, “Next week you’re enrolled in Vera City Arts & Edification Prep School with all those pupil people, uncomfortable desks, teachers and pencils. I hate pencils. Do you know I won’t allow pencils in my newsrooms?"
"I didn't," I replied. "Why would anyone hate pencils? They’re…pencils?"
"Pencils are cowards. They live in fear. I make a living on people living in fear, but that doesn't mean I like them. Hell is filled with pencils you know. I want to change that. Now you know something about hell. They have pencils!"
A cathartic rush of oxygen gushed through me. My spirit began breathing. “Hare Krishna, I’m going to school!” I yelled within.
“Tell me why pencils are cowards.” I wanted to patronize her, but it was kinda interesting too.
“Pencils have erasers.”
"Not the ones at miniature golf. They're cut off at the top."
"Exception noted!" she replied. "Pencils lack pride. They live in uncertainty, they fear their very own words and markings. They have erasers to backtrack what they say. Pens, my son, take pride in their work, without regret. Pens! Pens audaciously write with brass, stating 'Here I am and I’m not backing down!' Damn, I love pens!" She picked up her napkin and flipped it in the air.
"Mom you’re crazy. That would be funny and less scary if you didn't mean it."
"I do mean it."
"I know you do!" I chuckled. "Now what are my conditions!"
"Oh yes, yes, first I'm putting security in the school. They will be the hall monitors, but their main objective is watching out for you. Problem?”
“No ma’am.” I drummed on the table.
"They will wear this logo.” she handed me a patch. “Two K’s! The first faces backwards in defiance - it’s so you - the second K faces forward with courage and independence - it’s you too.”
"Everything has some kind of meaning for you, doesn't it? Can't something be itself for the sake of itself?"
"How can something not be itself?" She asked.
“Oh God. I’m sorry! Back to school stuff please?”
"I'm paying hall monitor salaries, plus making a donation for a gym or something silly. Principal somebody fluttered in delight. That’s the first condition.”
She got up and walked over to me to stress the seriousness of the second. “Kai you know this, but remember under no circumstance can you tell anyone - students, teachers, police officers – you are connected with Kaine is Able Communications, or where you live, and above all, never, never share the tunnel entrance - without my permission. Break this rule and you’re back home in Tattva ‘for forever!’”
I leaned back, closed my eyes. I inhaled high school and exhaled homeschool!
"I love you, Mom. I'm super happy. I didn't think this would ever happen. Thank you so much!"
Her eyes thinned, her cheeks rose, she smiled, “You're very welcome, Kai. You damn will remember, I didn't give in. Circumstances changed. I need you to say it. Tell me, 'I didn't give in.’"
"That's a third condition which I'm not obligated to. Admit to me I'm not obligated to agree to it, because you just said two! However, I'll grant you your third provision anyway." My smiling head nodded very high and low in victory.
"Feeling clever Kai? I never said admitting I didn’t surrender was a provision. Say I didn’t give in and I’ll give you dessert."
"Ok, ok, ok. You didn't give in! Now gimme some French chocolate cake! Woohoo!”