I picked the Florida golf course wildlife photo for my twenty minute sprint this week.
Terry sat sideways on the little white bench under the palm trees. They were in Florida again, visiting the grandmother that didn’t like him. Spending as much time as possible out of the house and away from his family was the only viable option if he didn’t want to be miserable the whole time.
It was boring. Being away from everyone and everything visiting a grandmother that didn’t believe in internet connections was always boring.
At least there was something to watch if we was outside.
Right now it was a turtle.
Terry watched its slow progress across the golf courses pretty green grass and tried not to think about anything.
It was harder said than done.
He could still hear his grandmother’s words in his head from the day they arrived.
“Victoria,” Olivia said happily as she hugged her daughter close. “It’s been too long,” she said as she pulled back, hands on Victoria’s shoulders as she looked her over. “You’ve lost weight.”
“Yeah, Mom,” Victoria agreed. “I’m in better shape than ever,” she said with a smile. “Peter couldn’t get off work, but Terry was able to come with me.”
“Oh, Terrance,” Olivia said, turning toward the door again. “You heed a haircut,” she’d said, not even offering a hug.
“It’s long on purpose, Grandma,” Terry replied. It was half way down his back. You didn’t get hair that long on accident.
“Nonsense,” his grandmother had replied. “Men don’t have long hair.”
“They do now,” Terry muttered.
“Don’t mumble young man,” Olivia snapped.
“Yes, ma’am,” Terry replied crisply. The hair was only the beginning, he knew that. He’d known that before his mother even bought his plane ticket, but he couldn’t tell his mom “no” even if he would have preferred to stay home.
Terry had made himself busy carrying their luggage to the guest room while his grandmother chattered away happily with his mother after that. When he was done, he sat down on one of the twin beds and sighed. It would only get worse.
And it had gotten worse. At dinner that night his grandmother had told him he was wasting his life trying to get a degree in design. The next day, she’d decreed he would have to stay at home while she took his mother out for shopping and lunch. She’d already made reservations and couldn’t add him on at the last minute.
Terry had been fine with that idea until he found out she wasn’t even willing to leave him a spare key. He couldn’t even take a walk further than the golf course in the back. He had to be able to see the house if he was leaving it unlocked.
Dinner had been delivered from some fancy restaurant with super fancy ingredients and incredibly tiny portions. Terry was glad he’d thought to pack extra snacks, because it looked like he might starve otherwise.
Yesterday, he’d finally given up on caring. When he was left at the house with no key for another five hours across lunch, he’d locked all the doors except the one onto the lanai and walked to the grocery store. He stocked up on healthy snacks, a loaf of bread and some peanut butter. All non-perishable items he could hide in his suitcase. The house was untouched when he got back, so he didn’t even have to feel guilty.
And today his grandmother had decided it was time to stay in.
Terry sighed. It was only another three days. He could survive and suffer quietly for his mother. She never contradicted his grandmother, but at least she told him privately that she was sorry and she didn’t agree with anything her mother said to him.
It wasn’t enough really, but Terry loved his mother.
So today he was out in the back, staring at the turtle as it made its slow way across the golf course wishing he could escape half so fast.
When Sally from next door came out with a man Terry didn’t recognize, it was just something else to watch for a minute.
“Good morning, Terrance,” Sally called with a wave and a smile.
“Good morning, Sally,” he replied with a wave of his own.
“We’re off for a walk, would you like to join us?” she asked.
“Sure.” It was something to do. Besides, Sally had always been nice to him even though he could tell his grandmother thought she was too low brow to bother with.
Terry sent his mother a quick text that he was taking a walk with a neighbor as he walked to join them on the path around the pond. He glanced back at the turtle. It might make the water before they got back.
“This is my nephew, Kyle,” Sally said.
“Nice to meet you,” Terry said, holding out his hand.
“Likewise,” Kyle replied as they shook hands. “Terrance was it?” he asked as he let go.
Terry laughed. “Only my grandmother calls me that. You can call me Terry.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, dear,” Sally said. “I’ve been calling you Terrance all this time.”
“I don’t bother correcting people when my grandmother is around, she’ll just insist they call me Terrance.”
“How long are you staying?” Sally asked.
“Three more days.”
“I’m down for another week,” Kyle said. “Where’s home for you?”
“Mom lives on the coast of North Carolina, but I’m in school in Raleigh.”
Kyle laughed. “I’m in Chapel Hill,” he said. “You at State?”
“Yeah,” Terry replied, smiling at the idea of running into someone from UNC down in Florida.
“What degree are you working on?”
“Design,” Terry replied. “I have one year left.”
“That’s a good place for it,” Kyle replied. “I’m in the first year of my masters in geology.”
“Where’d you do your undergrad?”
“Tiny school in Virginia,” Kyle replied. “It’s been a transition coming to someplace so big.”
“You just have to find your little niche on campus,” Terry replied.
“You have one of those?” Kyle asked.
“Design majors spend all their time together,” Terry said. “We have studio classes and spend 90% of our free time working on projects. I’ve got a lot of friends in my program because of it.”
“Sound nice,” Kyle replied.
“Yeah.” Terry missed them all. He’d wanted to stay in Raleigh for the summer, but his mother didn’t like the idea of him getting an apartment, and he hadn’t been able to justify summer school just to stay in the dorms.
“Do you have plans for the day?” Sally asked.
“Not really,” Terry replied. “I think they were planning to go to the club for lunch but I’ll probably just hang out at the house.”
“Why don’t you join us for lunch then?” Sally suggested. “We can picnic on the lanai.”
“Sound great,” Terry said. Maybe the next few days wouldn’t be as awful. He might actually have someone to talk to.