'It started 6 months ago, every two weeks he would have an important business meeting to go to. I knew his work could get heavy so I didn't bat an eyelid. Now I know they weren't business meetings, I mean even back then I knew his business meetings would always run over time a few days maybe even a week but for two months he would disappear every fortnight like clockwork and re-appear early Monday morning.
Come the 3rd month it was every weekend unless I had a very important competition and then he would only watch before having to run off again. The 4th month he stopped turning up to my comps. I confronted him a few times about it but he always got angry and said that work was heavy, I hate him being angry at me so I just stopped asking.
Last month was the worst or so I thought, he was working non-stop, I hardly even saw him. I just assumed he got home after I went to bed and was up before I got up. That was until I noticed he only ever had dirty clothes in the hamper on Mondays and Fridays. That's when I realised he wasn't spending more then 2-3 nights a week in the house.
By the beginning of this month I knew he wasn't living at the house any more, I eat alone every night, I do my own shopping, I cry myself to sleep almost every night hoping that it's just a business trip, work............. something. But always there is that thought that he's abandoned me.............
Don't be angry with me but last Monday was my 17th birthday, every year dad and I get up early and visit mum, we stay for about an hour at the grave before we go do something, we've been bowling, movies, rock climbing, camping, sky diving. Anything I want to do we do it.
I didn't tell you because it's always been a dad and me thing, I've never had a party because I never wanted one, He forgot Matt, I went to mum's grave and cried all day, he never showed.......' He burst into tears again soaking my shirt. It hurt that he hadn't told me about his birthday, but I instantly forgave him, I loved this guy and seeing him hurt like this was making me cry.
'I love you Cal, I'm not angry with you and I'm glad you have told me all this. Now I can help. You're not going back to that big house, you are going to stay with me and my family until your father comes to his senses. AND I won't take NO for an answer.' I told him sternly lifting his chin and staring into his red rimed grey watery eyes. A weak smile was all I got for my effort but I knew how much it had taken for him to create it and so I cherished it all the more.
'I don't think I can face him now Matt' he whispered into my chest and my heart melted at how much that whisper pulled at my strings.
'Come on then, were going home.' I said lifting him up, passing him his bag grabbing mine then his car keys on the table. I was hoping he would argue with me about driving the car but he just got into the passenger's seat and slumped into the chair. I was worried, I wanted him to speak to mum she had worked as a psychiatrist before becoming a social worker. I knew she wouldn't let him leave once I got him there.
The drive was absolutely silent, on the way up here had been great, full of anticipation, laughter and comfortable silence. Now it was dead silent. I was furious at Jack. How could he abandon his son for a boyfriend! His only family left! I was seething but I couldn't let Cal see that.
I pulled into my drive at lunch and noticed dad's car in the driveway. It was a Saturday and usually he would be off playing golf with his friends at this time. This was odd but I didn't say anything to Cal about it.
I helped Cal out of the car and talking our bags kept a hand on his back and led him into the house. I frowned when we got into the lounge room and found not only my father but mother and sister all sitting around the living room.
I had silently cried the whole car trip back, what dad had done to me was horrible but the way Matt had held me, talked to me, supported me! That was the reason those tears fell. I had been telling myself the last few months that it was impossible to love him that much, especially in such a short time. But this morning had whipped away any fears that what I felt was just lust. It was love, deep love.
Matt had been my rock these past few months, someone I had actually allowed myself to lean on. Since my mother had died when I was 10 that had only ever been dad. But now he had gone and abandoned me but I realised I didn't feel alone like I had the past few months, I had Matt.
I immediately knew something was up when we walked in and Matt stiffened. I hadn't been paying any attention since I was wondering how I was going to pay Matt back for being so supportive. I looked around to find Jess's eyes red rimmed like she had been crying. Mrs Wingate, Matts mother seemed to be struggling to hold down the tears and Mike Matt's father looked extremely sad.
'What's going on?' I heard Matt ask but I had already figured it out. Someone close to the family had died. Matt didn't need this as well as me moping about my father. Before his father could speak I had moved up next to him and grabbed his hand, I knew this was going to hurt. He looked at me surprised before turning back to his father.
'It's Jason son, he was involved in a car accident on Thursday' I flinched. Jason was Matt's best friend. 'He didn't make it' OMG this was going to kill him! He and Jason were best friends, brothers, they had spend all their time together doing everything right up to the day Matt had left to come to Sydney. I knew all this because Matt loved Jason, to him he had never seen any difference between them, Jason's parents were his parents, his parents were Jason's parents.
I watched his face go from shocked to stunned to not believing. I understood exactly what he felt, I had felt the same when dad had told me mum had died. I knew he needed to cry, he needed it out of his system before the funeral, that was the worst memory I had. I hadn't cried I was too shocked, and didn't believe it. That was until I saw her in the coffin, I broke down screaming in the middle of the ceremony. They hadn't allowed me back in after I had calmed down.
Matt just stood blank faced, I knew his mind had shut down so I led him over to his sister and sat him next to her, she pulled him to her and cried on his shoulder. His father was holding his mother and feeling slightly out of place I took a seat.
'I can't believe we can't make it to the funeral' I heard his mother say quietly.
'Its tomorrow afternoon love, it's impossible.'
Just hearing that response I knew exactly what to do. I was outside and on the phone in a matter of minutes.
'Well if it isn't the little squirt, how ya doin buddy?' Ben asked, I smiled for the first time in hours.
Ben was a great old guy he had been working for my dad since I was 5 that was until he was fired when I was 15 because he took extended leave without asking after his life partner had died. Ben had been like a grandfather to me and so when I eventually bought my own jet he was the only person I wanted flying it for me.
'Not well, I would really like to talk but I'm afraid I need a favour first.'
'Sure, what can I do for you'
'How soon can you get to the Jet and log a flight into WA?' I asked, I listened as he paused for a moment. 'I'm already at the airport I get bored at home so I come in occasionally and make sure the plane is working' he admitted. I knew he was nervous, he may fly the plane but I owned it and paid for the petrol, I knew he had been flying it occasionally but I hadn't said anything because I hadn't minded.
'Great! Log a flight for 5 passengers to the closest airport to the mining town of Parangurr'
'Parangurr! That's in central Western Australia' he asked surprised.
'You know it?'
'Know it! You kidding I worked there for 5 years flying for the mining company bosses' he admitted.
'Can we land the plane at the airport?'
'It's a dust bowl and bumpy but yeah I recon I could get us down there'
'Do whatever you can to get us on the ground in Parangurr'
'What you doing going to Parangurr Squirt, and I've never known you to fly with passengers before?'
'Can I talk to you about it later' I asked not ready to talk.
'Of course, I'll give you a call when I can confirm everything, I'm assuming the earlier we leave the better?'
'Yeah, thanks a lot Ben, I have my mobile on me' ringing off I made one final call I wasn't sure I should be making.
'Mr Whyatt?' I asked when his secretary passed me through.
'Mr Taal, what can I do for you?'
'I want to know what it takes to become emancipated?' I asked. Listening to the silence on the other end of the phone was unnerving.
'I thought you and your father were close?' he asked. I sighed in resignation
'Mr Whyatt, I haven't seen my father's face in 2 months, he's living up with his boyfriend on the central coast' I explained, listening to the silence again.
'Emancipation is a big step Callum, if you really wanted it I can get it done in a matter of days, I have no doubt with your financial status that you will get it, but remember if you get emancipated that means your records will no longer be private, people will find out about your financial status.' I knew that, I didn't care anymore, but he was right............. Did I really want this?
'Get it ready Mr Whyatt, if my father doesn't make contact with me within a fortnight then I will ring you and ask you to start the process.'
I heard him sigh 'Alright Callum, I'll get everything ready, you say your fathers not been around.... Do you need anything?' he asked. I smiled at his thoughtfulness
'No, but thank you for asking, I have some friends looking out for me'
'Alright Callum, I'll talk to you again soon'
'Goodbye Mr Whyatt' I said before ringing off
I was walking into the kitchen where Evelyn, Matts mother was trying to make tea, I could see her shaking and went over.
'Mrs Wingate, please let me do that, why don't you go get everyone packed and ready to go, I have a flight for you all that leaves in an hour' I said taking the tea pot.
'It's useless Cal honey, we won't be able to make it to the funeral' she said tears falling again.
'Not if I can help it, I have a jet ready to take off as soon as your all ready, it will be landing at the mine airport in Parangurr. You will all be in time for the funeral' I said taking her hand and leading her into the lounge room where the rest of the family sat in states of shock and sadness.
'How can you? Your just a kid?' she asked confused, I knew she wouldn't believe me if I told her the jet was mine.
'It's my father's Jet, he said it was okay.' She nodded her head and went to her husband. I turned and made the tea.
The funeral was exhausting, I can't imagine what it was like for Matt, he hadn't cried by the time we had made it to the Jet and so half way I took him back to the bedroom and spoke very sternly to him. He was asleep from crying so long and hard by the time we set down in the early morning. Instead of waking him I carried him into the jeep Mr Whyatt had organised when I told him he would be able to make the funeral. After the funeral I knew Matt wanted to stay, Jess refused she wanted to go home and so Mr Whyatt, Jess and I took the jet back to Sydney.
I hadn't argued with Matt when he suggested I go with them, I knew he wanted to grieve alone. I understood too well, the funeral had reminded me too much of my mothers and I didn't want him seeing me cry. On the flight home Jess fell asleep in her father's arms who quickly followed and so I went up front to Ben and asked if I could have a turn at flying. He had relinquished control knowing I needed something to take my mind off of things. After a few hours I was ready to talk.
I explained everything that had happened in the last six months and how I felt about it, it was soothing, I had never been one to bottle up my emotions.
'This doesn't sound like your father Cal?' he said as I was taking the plane in to land, Ben had been teaching me to fly a plane since I had started asking questions about it when I was eleven, since I had hired him he had been teaching me everything he knew, making me do hours of flight training when we would fly off to business meetings.
'I know Ben, it hurts thinking that he's abandoned me! Why? I thought I was a good son, I made sure to never disappoint him after mum died, I have always been afraid he would leave me like mum did by dying, it's just hard to take it all in, over the years I came to the conclusion that he wouldn't. But now.....' I focussed on landing despite the tears in my eyes. I hadn't noticed they had been streaming down my face for the last 20 minutes.
Ben smiled when I looked at them in amazement.
'After doing that under such emotional stress I have no doubt that when we disembark Johnny will have your licence for you.' My jaw was hanging as he surprised me.
'What do you mean?' I asked. I hadn't even thought about going for my full licence.
'When I heard you wanted a flight to Parangurr I made arrangements that if Johnny heard me call in telling him you were to take control he was to open up a channel and listen as you made corrections to the flight and landed. '
I stared at him, at first I was worried that Johnny had heard everything I had said but almost immediately I shook that thought away, the radio only picked up what I wanted it to pick up. After that I was grinning 'But I'm not old enough am i?' I asked
Ben laughed 'Sure you are, it was your birthday last week wasn't it?' he asked 'You have to be 17 to get your full licence, I have no doubt that you have gotten it after that performance.' He said as we powered down the plane just outside the hanger, laughing still I left Ben too checking the flight data and went to wake Jess and Mike, I was still smiling when I reached the cabin and walked in to find Jess and Mike already awake and unbuckling their seat belts.
'Welcome home guys' I said curving my smile
'who were you laughing with in the cockpit?' Jess asked as I gave her my hand to support her as she stood.
'Ben my pilot, we were catching up' I said as we slowly descended the stairs.
'Can you thank him for us, we're very grateful that he could fly us out there at such short notice' Mike said as he followed us out with our bags.
'Sure no worries, he should be out any minute, he's just got to do the post flight checks.' I noticed Johnny in his little golf cart speeding over.
'Mike why don't you go grab the van and I'll drive you back home' I said
'No, You have done too much for us already Cal, I'm sure after a week in Parangurr your dying to see your father and friends, go ahead, Jess and I can make our way back to our place.' Mike said smiling before taking Jess's arm and leading her off to the hanger where the car was stored.
Cal just stared after them in surprise watching them climb in and drive off, he had thought Mike knew about him staying with them until his father came around! But obviously Matt hadn't said a word........ Now he really felt abandoned.
Johnny arrived with a smile and Cal's licence, when Cal didn't register his presence he moved in front of him to see his ghostly complexion and far away eyes. When Cal didn't respond to anything he tried he became worried and yelled for Ben.
'What?' Ben asked coming to the door having just finished the post flight inspections.
'Something's wrong with Cal?' Johnny said his voice quavering full of worry.
Ben rushed down the stairs and looked into Cal's face and saw the white face and distant eyes.
'Cal? You Okay?' he asked placing a hand on Cal's chin and drawing his eye to his, when they meet Ben watched as they filled with tears before Cal flung himself into a hug.
'C.....Can...Can I stay with you for a while?' he asked crying against Ben's chest.
'Of Course you can' Ben said hugging him tight with one hand while nodding at Johnny and taking Cal's licence with the other.
Johnny left felling an odd mix of emotions. But most of all he wondered who had hurt Cal so, Cal was the nicest guy he had ever met; he had thought he was Ben's son at first until he learned Cal was Ben's Boss.
Ben was feeling similar thoughts, at this moment he hated Cal's father and wondered if Matt was someone he needed to be weary of too?