Out In The Wind

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CHAPTER 11

By the time I reach the mall I am tired to the point where I want to pass out. Chloe was still asleep so I didn’t want to ask my mom to drive me here and wake her in the process since she obviously can’t stay home alone. The entire week has taken its toll on all of us, even Chloe who barely has an idea what it was all about. I theorized that she might be feeling the energy of the sadness my mom and I have been carrying ever since we went back to the storage unit and started sorting through all our things, sorting out and then calling the man from the pawnshop to come and collect everything we were able to take out and sell, including some of my bedroom furniture, the majority of my book collection, the ones my dad didn’t buy off course, and then all my mom’s jewelry. She only kept the string of pearls which used to belong to her grandmother and her original engagement ring which she put on her finger to replace the wedding ring she had sold. The worst part for me was seeing my dad’s old oak desk being loaded, but it had to go. Apart from the jewelry it was one of the most valuable pieces and it took up way too much space, and at the end we could fit was in two storage lockers into only one small one, which means we will be saving quite a bit of money on that as well. As a precaution my mom paid six months ahead in order to make sure our last few belongings can be safe.

I pick up my phone and text Patrick my location in the mall. I have decided to choose Bookstairs again, and although I am a little bit earlier I had decided to let him know I am already here. When I enter Bookstairs time flies by me and I’d rather not forget to message him lest he thinks I stood him up once more.

“It’s been a while,” Mister Graham says as I enter the store.

“Yeah… Things have been a little bit busy,” I say as I scan the front of the shop, trying to see if anything new has come in.

“I understand. Though I have to admit I have been missing your visits to the shop,” Mister Graham says as he stands up from behind the counter.

“I’ve been missing it too,” I admit.

“Have you been reading a bit at least?” he asks as he starts rearranging the books on the counter to face the door, so that passersby can see what’s on special.

“I’ve read the book you gave me twice already,” I admit to him as I think about how much I am craving something new, but because of the circumstances don’t have anything else with me.

“That’s good. It is really a great book. The one that made me fall in love with reading, as well as your father,” he says. He said that last time as well. I guess he’s getting old and can’t remember what he seems to be repeating anymore.

“Yeah… I’m just going to look around,” I tell Mister Graham as I start walking to the back of the shop. Mister Graham is always so sweet, and on the other hand he can be just that little bit strange and creepy.

“Cory,” Mister Graham says following close behind me and making me turn around.

“Yes Mister Graham?” I answer.

“How are things really going?” he asks. His face looks like a concerned grandfather.

“It’s going great,” I say as I try to bring my best fake smile to my face while I actually want to burst out crying in front of the old man. I want to tell him that I want to disappear from the earth because in less than half an hour my crush will be here and I think that my best friend has betrayed me in telling Patrick that I am homeless.

“I know your mom had to sell your house,” he says. He puts it so nicely. Anybody who knows any detail about it must also know that the bank actually took the house back and auctioned it off to pay all the debt my dad raked up.

“Yeah. I’m missing the house a bit,” I say trying to downplay things the way he is.

“Where are you guys staying now? How is your mom doing?” he asks with a frown as if he is thinking deeply. “She’s such a lovely lady. Only met her a few times though.”

“We got a little space so all if fine now. She’s doing okay as well,” I answer still not wanting to say anything more.

“You should speak if there is anything I can do to help,” Mister Graham says putting a hand on my shoulder and squeezing it.

That’s what people always say in bad situations. They tell you that you should speak if they can help with anything. They lie. They lie each and every time. For instance… After we lost the house my mom called almost every person that she knew. Friend and foe. Not one of them could help us. Everyone had their own excuses about not being able to give us a room until we are back on our feet, and mom actually told them that she would pay them as much as they wanted. It’s not even that she wanted anything for free. That’s what people do. They don’t want to be involved in your drama or your negativity. It’s like they think you have some sort of illness that will rub off on them if you do try to ask for help.

“Thanks Mister Graham, I will remember that,” I answer still smiling my fake smile to him.

“All good Cory. Well you know where your section is,” he says, letting go of my shoulder, turning around and making his way back to the front of the shop.

I sigh a sigh of relief as I watch him go. It was very close to me starting to cry in front of the old man and I am pretty sure that he would’ve had no idea what to do with that at all.

I choose a random book off the shelve and start reading without taking anything in. I am already on page twenty-three when I realize that I am reading the second book in a trilogy, not that it actually matters at all since I didn’t take in a single word I was reading. It was as if my mind was standing still completely.

“What are you reading?” a voice says right behind me just as I take a new book out and start reading the very first page, of which I also take nothing in.

“Huh?” I answer as I turn around, looking Patrick straight in his warm chocolate eyes.

“I asked what you were reading?” he says with a smile.

“I dunno,” I answer as I put the book down on the shelve, not even checking that I put it in its correct place. “Wanna get out of here?”

“Yeah, sure. We need to talk in any case,” Patrick says as he starts leading me out of the shop. I wave at Mister Graham as I walk by and he returns the favor by winking at me and lifting one finger in a farewell salute before I walk out of the shop.

I keep watching him as we walk. He is perfection in every way from his wavy brown hair, to the vintage boots that matches his leather jacket.

“Where do you buy your clothing?” I ask out of the blue. It’s something I have always wondered about. Does he get it custom designed? I don’t think I have ever seen a store actually carrying his style.

“Oh… A little bit here, and a little bit there. Some come from department stores, others my dad brings me from London when he goes away on business. Sometime I find awesome things in thrift shops like this jacket,” he answers and smiles.

I would have never taken Patrick for the thrift shop kinda guy. I mean, I have never been into one. I have always gotten every single piece of clothing I have ever had brand new from the shops. Guess that might change in the future and the thought that Patrick buys at thrift shops makes me feel a little bit better about the idea as well.

“Cool. You look really cool,” I say wondering what he thinks of my outfit, which is basically a copy of every second kid in school. A shirt and jeans. Nothing too special about it. Not even showing off an actual identity. Not like his. His outfits are always well thought out, one can see that at least.

“Thanks,” he chuckles. “Shall we get something to eat?”

“Yeah,” I answer listening to my stomach that immediately growls at the idea of food, but then the big rock falls back into my stomach.

“I’m actually not very hungry,” I say protesting against my stomach.

“Are you sure?” Patrick says looking at me through narrowed eyes. “What about something to drink then?”

And he got me… He must know for sure now if I say no to something to drink as well. I am flat broke. I don’t have a single penny in my name after I gave my savings to my mom as well in order to pool everything together and make more of our situation.

“Look, you know why I didn’t want you to come and pick me up at home already,” I start the conversation, feeling my stomach retract like it wants to silence me, but at this stage all I have left is a bit of dignity, and I will not allow some lie to ruin that for me as well.

“Yeah. Mandy told me about the issue,” he answers, running his hand through his hair. “I have to admit I was shocked to find out about your mom.”

“My mom?” I say a bit confused.

“Yeah… About her nervous breakdown and how she doesn’t allow you near any strangers after what happened to your dad. She didn’t look like the type when she dropped you off at school the other morning. I mean… Mandy said she wanted to take you out of school and homeschool you to protect you which I think is a little extreme, so I get it. I’m just glad you are still here,” he says as we walk toward the food court.

“Wait…” I say with a confused face. I’m glad he is looking ahead of him rather than at me, because he might also get a glimpse of the part of me that would love to strange Mandy at this moment. “What exactly did Mandy tell you?”

“That your dad died a while ago, by the way sorry about that,” he says as he takes my hand for a split second that sends shivers through me before he lets go. “And then she told me that your mom had a bit of a breakdown and now she doesn’t allow you to just get into random cars with people she doesn’t personally know because she’s scared she will lose you in some freak accident or something. Mandy also said that your mom doesn’t give you an allowance anymore because she is scared you might do drugs and die. It was a bit weird when I heard it, but I don’t blame your mom. I wouldn’t want to lose you either.”

The last sentence was enough. I knew I was blushing bright red, which may have been induced just a little bit because of the very elaborate tale Mandy has spun to make sure that I would be okay on this date.

“Yeah… Mandy is really something. She shouldn’t have said anything at all,” I mutter under my breath but loud enough for Patrick to hear. “I’m actually quite a private person.”

“No. It’s great that she told me, since I can now ignore the fact that you said you’re not hungry and stick you to lunch,” Patrick says with a smile as he starts pointing out places to get a nice burger.

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