Chapter 19: Trenton, North Carolina - January 15, 2005
My nerves were all over the place as I paced outside of the family court room for our county. It felt like an eternity since Cory had went in there with my parents. I was instructed to stay out here due to the age limits of the court system. The only one under 18 allowed in was the children involved in the cases. This only made my heart thud with worry even worse. It had only been an hour but I was sure they were going to be in there forever.
It’s been almost four weeks since the night Cory showed up at my house. Vicky was arrested that night and was released on bail the next morning. She had attempted to blame Cory for the assault, saying she was defending herself from him. Her lack of injuries only worked against her though and she was officially charged with assault, child neglect and three counts of abuse. Her day in court was last week, none of us knowing what happened. I’m sure it would come up today in Cory’s hearing. My parents and his aunt Cindy were here, hoping to testify to why he should stay in the area and who he should live with. With everything in me, I was praying the judge would allow him to stay here in Trenton. I didn’t care who he lived with as long as it wasn’t Vicky and her door mat of a husband any more. Anything to keep him here with me.
The double doors of the court room opened and my head shot up. A few people I didn’t know filed out, all wearing business suits and carrying briefcases. Officer Parks was one of these people, wearing a dark blue suit. He gave me a wink as he passed, heading for the large row of glass doors at the end of the hallway. Next, my mother and father walked through the doors. I expected Cory to walk out behind them but the doors closed as they exited. The two of them talked to each other with a low tone as they headed for me.
“Where’s Cory?” I asked as they stopped in front of me.
“He’ll be out in a second. The judge wanted to talk to him quickly after the ruling.” Momma replied. She looked very pretty in her long black dress she usually wore for funerals. Dad was also in his funeral suit, a black two blazer and pants with a white shirt under it. He adjusted his blue tie as he glanced around us.
“What was the decision? Is Cory getting sent to a home?” I asked, dread threatening to fill my chest.
“I think he wants to tell you, Abz.” Dad said. At that moment, the doors opened again and Cory emerged, his aunt Cindy alongside him. I pushed passed my parents to rush over to him. Cindy was an older woman, closer to Grams age than my parents. She was really sweet though and was a retired nurse. For years, she worked at the nursing home in town. They forced her to retire last year though when she had an accident with a patient. She hurt her leg to the point where she had to use a cane now. She gave me a soft smile when she saw me, walking around Cory and I to stand with my parents.
“So?” I asked. “What did the judge say?”
“Well, it’s a bit complicated.” Cory answered, shifting. He looked so uncomfortable in the white dress shirt and blue dress pants my mother had provided him for the hearing. She had told him he needed to look nice to prove to the judge he knew how to take care of himself.
“What’s the supposed to mean?” Fear quivered in my throat as I realized what it meant. “You’re getting sent away, aren’t you?”
“I knew this was going to happen. They are going to send you to the next county over, right? It’s not fair. No.” I felt hot tears form behind my eyes as I looked at the ground.
“Abz, I’m not going anywhere. The judge said I could live with Aunt Cindy. I just need to prove that I can keep my grades up and my attendance a little better. If not, then they are going to send me to the home.” Cory said, gripping my shoulders. I peeked up at him, wiping the tears from my face. “You need to relax a bit. You were right. Everything worked out fine.”
“Yes, they did.” Momma’s voice said as she wrapped an arm around my shoulders. “Cory’s going to be living with Cindy which means the two of you are free to see each other as much as you’d like. Your father and I are proud of the both of you. Cory, if you hadn’t had the courage to stand up for yourself, none of this would have happened. And Abby, if you hadn’t been such a good friend, no one would have been able to help Cory when they did. You two are the best kids I know.”
“Your mom’s right, Abby.” Cindy said, hobbling her way closer to us. “I think a celebration lunch is in order! Chinese! My treat.”
“Sounds good to me.” Dad said, pulling his truck keys from his pocket.
“Can Cory and I walk over there?” I asked. The Chinese restaurant was only a few blocks away, right on the main drag of Newburg.
“Sure. Straight there though. No detours to anywhere.” Dad said, pointing a finger at the two of us. We nodded, heading towards the front doors. The adults followed, heading for the parking lot on the side of the building. Once they were out of view, Cory slipped his hand into mine and squeezed.
“This is great, Abz. I get to stay here in Trenton and I get to stay here with you. What else in the world could I want?” He asked, kissing the back of my hand. Over the course of the last three weeks, Cory and I have been toying with the new feelings we had for each other. It was different, seeing Cory as an actual boy rather than my best friend. It was becoming easier though with each passing day. Every night after my parents went to bed, he would sneak into my room. We’d lay in my bed, just talking about stuff and holding hands. We had kissed a few more times, testing out the waters. I wasn’t sure what any of this meant but I knew that I liked him a lot more than I did before.
“When do you need to go to Cindy’s house? Tonight?” I asked as we headed slowly towards the corner.
“I’m not sure. Do you want me to stay one more night?”
“Kind of. I’ve gotten so used to you being there. It’s going to be weird now.”
“No worries. I’ll just sneak into your bedroom window some time.” He replied, shooting me a wink. He let go of my hand as we neared the Chinese place.
We ate lunch with my parents and Cindy, discussing how things were going to work now that he would be living with her and his little brother, Henry. My parents said he could stay one more night to get his stuff all together and since it was a Friday. Cindy was going to order him a new bed and have it delivered before he came over tomorrow. He wasn’t going to have his own room at Cindy’s. She only had two bedrooms so he would need to share with Henry. I could tell he didn’t care much about that though. He seemed so much happier now that he was away from Vicky for good and going to a place where he would be taken care of. It was the first time in the entire time I’ve met him where he seemed completely worry free. He looked younger, his fifteen-year-old self actually resembling that of a kid instead of someone living in constant fear.
After lunch, my parents drove Cory and I back to our house. I helped him pack up the stuff he had acquired while staying here. Since he had come the week before Christmas, my parents had supplied him with presents to open as well as the rest of us. He had a bunch of new clothes that Momma received from the church up the street and some little toys he had gotten on Christmas morning. He tucked the book about nature I had bought him in the top of his duffle bag, making sure it wouldn’t get harmed in any way. This year, he had given me a necklace with a feather quill on it. It was beautiful and I’ve worn it every day since he gave it to me.
Like the nights before, after my parents went to bed, Cory knocked on my door when my father’s snoring could be heard. I let him in and we curled up together in my bed. It felt nice, laying in Cory’s arms. His left arm was wrapped around my waist with the other played with my left hand. Our eyes locked and he smiled at me. “I’m so glad I have you in my life.”
“I feel the same way about you.” I whispered. Shifting, he pressed his lips against mine. I closed my eyes as his lips lingered. The kiss continued, our mouths moving together. When we pulled apart, we both had to catch our breaths. “What are we now?” I asked, once I could breathe again.
“I’m not sure. Do you want to be boyfriend and girlfriend now?”
“What if we break up? Wouldn’t that ruin our friendship?”
“I don’t think so. We’ve been friends for so long now. I don’t think anything could take that away from us.”
“How about we wait and see what happens? If we feel the same way then, we can start going out.” I suggested. He nodded, running his hand down my arm. He rested it on my side.
“I can do that.”
The distant sound of stomping woke me up the next morning. I was still in a state of sleepiness as the noise got louder and then stopped. I shifted to look at the clock and I noticed I was laying on someone. Cory was sleeping soundly under me, my head on his chest. His arms were wrapped around me and he looked peaceful. The stomping started again and it clicked in my brain what it was. My father. “Shit. Cory! Wake up!” I whispered, shaking him. His eyes opened and he looked at me confused. The sound drew his attention though and his eyes widened. As he went to move, my bedroom door flew open and my father stood there. His face was growing a shade of red so bright, it was almost glowing. Cory flew out of my bed and stood over by the closet.
“What the hell is going on in here?” My father bellowed, his voice carrying all over the house. Above our heads, I heard my mother’s footsteps and soon she was behind him.
“What’s going on?” She asked, pulling her house coat around her.
“I found the two of them in bed together!” Dad exclaimed, shooting a glare at Cory.
“It’s not like that, Daddy! All we did was sleep. That’s all.” I said, climbing out of my bed.
“Abby, we told you that Cory was to sleep in the living room. You went against what we told you to do.” Momma said, not looking very happy. Cory looked like he was ready to jump out my bedroom window as he nervously looked at my parents. “Cory, can you please give us a moment alone with Abby?”
“Yes, Mrs. Green.” Cory said. Dad moved to the side so that he could exit the room. With Cory gone, they came into the room and shut the door. I sat on the bed, crossing my arms.
“We didn’t have sex.” I said, looking at the floor.
“We didn’t think you did, sweetie. Listen. We have been very open in this whole Cory thing. I know he’s your best friend but there comes a time where you need to realize that he is a boy and you are a girl. It’s not okay for you two to be alone like that anymore. You’re both getting to the age where you might start to develop feelings that you aren’t too sure about. I don’t want you to feel pressured into doing something because he’s your best friend.” Momma said, sitting in my computer chair.
“Cory has never pressured me into doing something. He wouldn’t do that. And I’m not going to have sex with him. We aren’t like that.” I explained, wishing I wasn’t having this conversation right now.
“Well, even if you aren’t, you aren’t allowed to be alone with Cory in your bedroom with the door shut anymore. We aren’t forbidding you from seeing him but I think the two of you shouldn’t be alone very much right now. And you also can’t date yet.” Momma glanced at Daddy.
“When can I date?”
“When I’m dead.” Daddy muttered under his breath. Momma elbowed him in the hip.
“How about when you’re 16? Sounds fair to me. Just be smart and if you have any questions, please ask me or your father. Same goes for Cory. I’m sure your Dad doesn’t mind answering something for Cory.”
“I can’t have a boyfriend until I’m 16? That’s not fair! Angie and Marie can have boyfriends and they are only 14.” I replied.
“We aren’t their parents. 16 is the rule, Abz. It’s either that or we ship you off to a convent. Either way, no boys til then.” I sighed, annoyed by them. It wasn’t like I was out with some hoodlum. It was Cory. Why were they making such a big deal about this?