Fresh Start

Chapter 1
Eighteen-year-old Josh Reid stared out the window of his mother's Land Rover as they drove towards their new home. He was lost in thought about how much his life had changed in the last year.

His life had changed dramatically when he and his mum had answered the door and seen an army chaplain standing there. Josh instantly knew that his dad, Major Travis Reid, had been killed in Afghanistan. Josh had seen the article on the Internet that morning. The article didn't give the names of the soldiers killed in the explosion, but it did mention they were in the same Pennsylvania National Guard unit to which his father was assigned.

The next few days were a blur and Josh only remembered bits and pieces. There had been the military funeral and the uncomfortable family reunion that it initiated. Josh had quickly gotten annoyed with being told how proud he must be and how awful he must feel. They had no idea. The questions and comments, while well meaning, were so degrading, he thought. Of course I was proud of my dad, it didn't take his death to do that, he thought. Do I feel awful? What do you think? He thought each time he was asked the same question.

Josh was proud of the way his mum had handled everything from the funeral to the sudden celebrity status their loss had given them. She had always known this could happen. In fact, she had met his dad when she had been on active duty herself.

Liz Reid had once been an army doctor and had fallen instantly in love with the dashing young second lieutenant who had been brought into her emergency room with a broken leg. He had broken it while playing football for his unit's team.

He also was immediately smitten with the gorgeous brunette. Six months later they were married. Josh, their only child, was born in an army hospital in Germany a year later.

After a decade of moving around at the army's whim, they'd settled in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Josh considered himself as an "overly average teenager" in his own words. However he was an excellent student and participated in several clubs and sports. His main interest was writing, and he was the assistant editor for the school paper. He was also an avid reader.

Josh wasn't just a bookworm; he loved running and often went on long runs with his parents. He had a runner's body and was thin and athletic, like his mum. In fact, they were the same height. Both were five-ten. Travis was six-two and had often kidded them about being able to borrow each other's sweats.

Liz was now out of the service and only worked part-time at a local clinic. Travis was also out of active duty, but stayed in the reserves. He was assigned to work with a guard unit. When they were activated, he willingly went along.

Josh understood fully. While he had no plans to join the military, he knew the obligations that went with the uniform.

Following the announcement of the death of his father, Josh became instantly sick of the hypocrites at his school. He had always downplayed the fact that his dad was overseas. Both his parents had brought him up to respect other people's opinions, and he had heard the entire gamut while at school. He felt they were entitled to their opinion, just as he was entitled to his own. Still, he was nauseated by those teachers he saw on TV eagerly praising his father. Both extremes of the political spectrum sickened him. Josh shook his head at seeing his English teacher talk about how proud the whole school was of Josh's father, when just two weeks earlier he had heard her making derogatory comments about the military.

The principal wasn't any better, and he was a retired marine. He called Josh into his office and told him how his father would want him to "march on" and not let his death trip up Josh's academic plans. Josh just nodded and walked out.

Two weeks after the funeral, Josh's mum sat him down in their living room.

"I've been offered a job," she announced.

Josh nodded. "You're going back to being a doctor full-time?"

Liz nodded.

Josh smiled back. "Good." He had been worried that she might withdraw into grief.

"You're no fun! Don't you want to hear about the job first?" she asked. "Please! I've spent the last couple of hours coming up with reasons."

It struck Josh that this meant that the job wasn't in the Philadelphia area. "Okay. So, where is the job?"

Liz smiled. "New Mexico."

"Really? What sort of job is it?" asked Josh excitedly. This was totally unexpected and it actually thrilled him. He had always wanted to see the west.

"An old friend from college is opening up a new spa north of Santa Fe. She wants me to be the resort's house doctor," replied Liz. She pulled out a thick pamphlet showing off the resort. "You remember my old friend, Judy, don't you?"

Josh nodded and picked up the pamphlet. He then began to page through it. "Looks pretty nice."

"I know. In addition to the job, they're also offering us a cottage."

"Wow! That's great," replied Josh.

"You don't mind?" she asked.

Josh shook his head. "No. I understand that things have changed. So when are we moving?"

Liz smiled and hugged her son. "The resort doesn't open to the public until mid-summer. We can go out as soon as school lets out."

Josh nodded. Normally the idea of moving just before his senior year in high school would have been appalling, but Josh wanted a change. "What about the schools?"

"There are options," answered Liz. "The closest town is over forty minutes away, in good weather. They have a high school."

"That sounds like a long haul everyday. Do I get my own car?" asked Josh with a wink.

Liz laughed. She was pleased with Josh's reaction. "No. However, there's a bus that runs to the school. I did mention options. How do you feel about home schooling?"

Josh raised an eyebrow.

"You're on pace to graduate early anyway. All you need is a few credits. I've talked to Judy and she says that several of the full-time staff plan on home schooling. It's up to you," she stated. "I'm not sure about ages and grades, but at least there'd be some other kids around, and maybe someone to study with."

Josh looked at the photos of the beautiful hills that the resort was nestled in. There were mountains in the background and it looked so serene. He was just a few credits shy of graduating. He had planned this so that his senior year would be very easy. It would have allowed him to spend time working on the paper.

"You don't have to make up your mind today," stated Liz.

"Cool. I want to go, but I want to wait until we get out there before making up my mind on the school options," replied Josh.

That had been three months ago, and now they were passing through Santa Fe.

"We'll be there in an hour. Do you feel like stopping or do you want to press on?" asked Liz.

"I say press on!" replied Josh. He smiled at his mom's use of "press on." It had been his dad's favourite saying. This was the first time that she had used it since his death.
Becnme Becnme
56-60, F
2 Responses Nov 3, 2012

Very nice, yet sad setup her in chapter 1. Nevertheless, I like it.

A nice but, as cindy said, a sad start.