Changeup, Chapter 8

To read the first 7 chapters, click the Changeup link above.

Joe’s phone rang.


"Hi, Joe.  It's mom."

Joe's heart sank.  Her voice was shaking, and he knew.  Knew it in the pit of his stomach.  He sank onto the bar stool near his kitchen counter.

"Mom, what's wrong?"

"It's Dad, Joe." She choked back a sob and struggled on. "He died last night, Joe."

Dad had been sick all last week, but Joe hadn't thought it was that bad.

"I...I thought he had a cold..."

"Joe, Dad's been sick for a while. He had cancer. He didn't want us worrying about him, so he never told any of us."

Joe sat for what seemed forever, staring at his kitchen floor. 
What were they going to do now? He was mildly surprised by the tears hitting the linoleum. Hadn't noticed he was crying.

"I need you here, Joe. I need you. There's some things we have to take care of, and I don't think I can do them alone."

Joe sat in stunned silence. He'd always meant to tile that floor.


He inhaled sharply as his mom's voice snapped him back to the present.

"Come home, Joe."

He hung up the phone, moving in slow motion. He was dizzy and there was a rock in his throat and he felt lost. He slid to the floor and hugged his knees.

"Don't give up, Joe.  0-2 doesn't mean you're done yet.  Get back in the box."