Graham decided that the house needed to expand. The kids did not have enough room and now that Jack was a teen, each child really needed their own space.
“Siobhan, we need to expand the house. Jack’s a teen now and the kids sleeping in the same room isn’t working anymore. It was fine while they were both kids, but Jack needs a room of his own, and Emilee is going to be a teen before much longer too.”
“Sure hon, call those contractors and see what they can do for us! With my recent promotion to regional manager we can afford to get it done.”
Graham continued his search for affordable contractors. The firm he’d used in the past had closed it’s doors. He needed to find someone new and innovative to get the project done the way he wanted.
“So then Dad told me that I won’t be able to go to college!” Jack continued still feeling the shock of the news he and his Dad had discussed the previous evening.
“But why Jack? I don’t understand why the Gov’ment can tell you what to do?” Emilee tried to understand.
“Well, squirt, it seems that when the Government made the original contract, they put in extra stuff that said they could change it on Dad at any time. He didn’t read it well when he originally signed it, and now if he doesn’t follow through with what he agreed to do they could put him in jail.” Jack explained gently.
“Sorta like if you and your friends were playing hopscotch and you told them before the game started that you could change the rules in the middle of the game and they said ‘Ok Em’ they would have to follow through!”
“But you can’t just change the rules in the middle!” Emilee argued. “That’s not fair!”
“Apparently if your friends agree to it beforehand, I guess you can.” Jack said with a deep sigh.
“Well, Daddy should go and tell them that he didn’t read the rules good and that you can go to college!”
“He can’t Em, it’s not like that with grown ups. Ugh, you’re just a kid, you don’t get it!”
“I may be a kid Jack, but it’s mean what the Gov’ment did to Daddy and you now too.”
A few days later, Graham and Jack were having some lunch.
“Hey Dad,” Jack began cutting through the silence, “I’ve thought about what you said about the Government Land Grant and how they want me to continue what you’ve started.”
“What specifically have you been thinking about Son?”
“Just that it’s not really my problem and they shouldn’t be able to make me take up this responsibility.”
“Oh? You don’t think that you’ve had a good childhood growing up in this home on this land that we were given for free?”
“No, I’m not saying that. I just don’t think it’s fair for them to change the rules like this. It’s…” Jack seemed momentarily at a loss for words. “Mean.” he finished thinking of his sister’s words the previous day.
“Mean?” Graham nearly shouted. “What’s mean is breach of contract and me having a hefty fine or possibly even jail time!”
“Forget it. Forget I said anything!” Jack shouted back slamming his fist on the dining room table. “I’ll just go be an indentured servant to the government if that’s what you want!” Jack got up and took off up the stairs.
“Wait Jack!” Jack stood up, nearly knocking the chair over.
“Leave me alone!”
Jack grabbed his school letter jacket and stormed out to the back deck.
Jack traced the patch on the shoulder of his jacket and a single hot tear slid down his cheek.