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“Thanks Danny!” Oskar delicately took his purchase from his friend’s outstretched hand and licked it heartily, sighing in utter bliss as the perfect concoction of raspberry and chocolate melted over his tongue. But before he could revel in the contented mood the ice cream had placed him in, a faint vibration emanated from the depths of his messenger bag; his free hand snaked inside it to retrieve his cellphone. The battered and ancient secondhand Samsung was one of the banes of his existence; the second he’d saved up enough money he was strutting right into the closest Apple Store and finally buying a replacement phone he wouldn’t be ashamed to be seen with in public. Concealing it from view, he opened up his messages folder, hoping to see a text from Juniper or Jasper pasted across the screen, but finding instead

Come home now. Got a nice friend here so I’m taking you and her out to dinner tonight. Please be nice to her :-)

Oskar resisted the urge to roll his eyes at his father’s message, lest any of the others in the parlour notice and inquire if anything was wrong. Telling others about the intricacies of his personal life was not his jam, especially if it involved his family life. He could count on one hand the amount of people who knew anything more about his father other than the fact that he was an office worker and often busy. A great deal more people knew about his Grandma Cecilia, but he had no issue with his friends knowing about her kind nature and sharing with them the seemingly endless stream of home baking she supplied him with.

Swallowing the bitter pill of resentment, Oskar slowly resigned himself to the evening ahead. He could already see how this would go with perfect clarity – he’d been through it often enough. His father would overblow his achievements at work and play the part of a perfect parent, treating Oskar with a layering of faux-kindness so thick it was suffocating. They’d likely head to Cheryl’s and he’d spend the whole time staring at his food and not talking while his father made excuses for him, calling him ‘painfully shy’ instead of admitting how uncomfortable the whole experience made his son. And lastly, he‘d have to schedule in an extra hour of pilates tomorrow to burn off whatever caloric meal he’d be downing tonight.

Over the years, he figured it’d get easier with time to adjust to his dad’s string of paramours, but it hadn’t. And the pessimistic side of him, the side that he couldn’t ever show anybody else no matter how tempting it may have been, told him that it never would.

Shaking himself out of the fit of introspection he’d fallen into, Oskar looked around at the others around him, knowing there was no way to avoid the inevitable return home, as much as he wished he could.

“Oooh, I’m super sorrrryyyyyyy! I’ve gotta dash – family stuff,” he began, letting his face slip into a small pout before returning to its trademark beam. “But flick me a message if you wanna hang out sometime, Danny! Oh, and it was awesome seeing you, Isaac! See you in choir, Candice. Ciao!”

Having bade his farewells to the occupants of the parlour, Oskar stepped out into the outside world and behind his trek back home, the smile he’d worn throughout the encounter still affixed to his face, but the reality behind it utterly vanquished.

((Oskar Pearce continued in Goodbye May Seem Forever))
Version Seven:
Tristan O’Hara
Dorothea Rodriguez
Ariana Simpson

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Ice Cream Truck Beat · Diamondback Ice Cream Parlor