Out In The Wind

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CHAPTER 14

“Hey dude,” Patrick says as winds down the window after he stops next to me.

“Hi,” I answer. “Thanks for doing this. Really.”

“No problem. I completely understand what you’re going through,” Patrick says, eyeing the three boxes on the parking lot of the mall next to me. “I really could have picked it up at your house you know.”

“Nope. Here is fine. I needed to kinda say my goodbyes. It just didn’t feel right any other way,” I answer as he climbs out and opens the trunk of his car.

I help him to load the three boxes of book into his car and he closes the trunk.

“So… Wanna tell me about it? I’m here if you need to talk you know,” he says. It almost looks like he tries to touch me but then his hand moves to his hair, pushing it out of his face again.

“It’s just I can’t stand to look at any of the books. It was my thing with my dad. He gave all of them to me, but I just can’t have them in the house,” I lie with my best poker face on. My lie is justified. If this is how I get to keep the only things worth something great to me, then it must be justified. Sure… I could tell Patrick the truth, but then I stand losing it.

“It’s kinda weird that you asked me to keep something so special safe for you and not Mandy?” Patrick says, his one eyebrow reaching into his hair that’s already fallen back into his face. I don’t even get why he keeps pushing it out of his face if it just falls back every time.

“Mandy doesn’t understand the book thing. And she’s done a lot for me since my dad died,” I answer as I look away. I wonder what my dad would say about all my lies. Not that he can say anything at all. As we have found out he was the master of lies.

“I get that too. Don’t want to put all your eggs into one basket.”

I look at Patrick, not even sure I am getting what he is saying, but for what he is doing for me he can say whatever he likes.

“I really thought you were texting me to set up another date,” Patrick continues. “I felt kinda ghosted after you didn’t text back. I didn’t do something wrong, did I?”

The awkward conversation that I hoped would not arise has crept up on me, and now there is no way out. I need to face it now.

“You didn’t do anything wrong Patrick. I’m just not sure I fit into your world. Not like that in any case,” I answer. I can feel his eyes piercing me, waiting for a better explanation than this, but it is all I can suffer to say to him.

“It’s about money, isn’t it?” he asks. There’s a vein popping a bit in his forehead.

“No,” I answer, looking down at my shoes. I’ll need new ones soon by the looks of it. Not that there will be money for it. What we got yesterday for almost everything we own will barely be enough to keep us going as it is. Soon I will be the guy with duct tape around his shoes.

“Then what Cory? Are you playing hard to get or something? Because I can tell you that I’m not a fan on games. I like to know where I stand with someone. If you tell me that we’ll be friends only, then we call it a day and just be friends. It’s this not knowing what the hell you’re thinking that’s getting to me,” Patrick says. His voice sounds harsh, almost a bit mean, but I can’t blame him. I get exactly where he is coming from.

“I don’t know,” I say still avoiding his eyes at all cost. “I just need some space for the moment, okay?”

I look up and meet his eyes. He looks hurt, but he controls himself so well.

“Maybe we should just be friends for the moment?” I ask. I don’t want to lose him. Dating him means I would lose him. I would rather just be a friend and keep him for as long as I can.

“So no intention of a relationship?” Patrick asks.

“Not at the moment,” I answer.

“That’s all I wanted to know. But just so you know… Ghosting me out was a shitty move Cory. You really made me feel like I did something wrong.”

“I’m sorry. It wasn’t you… Really. I just needed some time to think and going through a lot of my dad’s stuff and such. I didn’t know what to say to you,” I almost plead. This is the point where I need to make sure I still have a friend I can go to.

“Just don’t keep stuff from me Cory. And don’t lie. Just be honest like you were now and everything will be fine. I’ll even be happy with a text that makes no sense at all, rather than not hearing from you for a week and searching for faults in myself and beating myself up over it,” Patrick says as he steps away from the car. “Now let’s go to my place and just chill for a while.”

I smile at him. Everything feels okay, besides off course the fact that he has no idea how much I am really keeping from him. If he had any idea he would probably leave me and my books right here on the parking lot, drive away and never look back again.

***

People like to say that time goes by quickly. I sometimes think they have no idea at all what they are talking about. It doesn’t go by quickly at all. It’s actually running a darn marathon at the speed of light where nobody can even try to catch up to it. The days and weeks that blur into months become a routine of crazy activity where you cannot remember any detail unless something big truly happened. But then again… We don’t notice as time flies by. It is only as we look back that we can truly see how fast it ran. In the moment it felt like forever, but over the long run it feels like the blink of an eye.

It feels like yesterday when I was standing next to Patrick at the parking lot, putting my books into the trunk of his car. I looked down at my shoes and thought they might not last that long. Now, when I look down at them I can see the time that’s gone by. How much they have come apart at the soles and how superglue is holding them into place, making sure nobody outright notices that I can’t afford to buy new ones.

It also feels like yesterday when my dad came in to give me the last book he would ever give to me. It was shiny and new, never been touched or read before. Now it shows the marks of a book that has been through life. Each crack in the spine showing a moment where it landed face down on a surface to keep my place so that I could answer my mother who is asking me to do something. The coffee spill on the thirty-first page if from where Chloe came up from behind me and jumped on my back to try and give me a hug.

It’s all there. The memories has been captured with small pieces of evidence that reminds you that it really happened in a time that is slipping past us at a lighting speed, making us think that tomorrow will be gone quicker than what we have time to live it.

“Cory!” mom shouts, jerking me out of my thoughts as notice the streaks of rain dripping from the window of the car.

I look at her in acknowledgement.

“How many times do I have to say your name before I get a reaction out of you?” she asks.

We just came from the welfare office all I want to do is zone out at this point in life. I don’t want to remember what the woman with her lovely mocha skin had to say. I’m not interested in what happens next. What happens will happen, no matter what I do or say in any case.

“I was thinking,” I answer, tempted to turn my head back to the window and watch the rain dancing on the road.

“You know that what the welfare lady said isn’t even an option right?” mom says pushing the button to wind up my window.

“Yeah…” I answer. She’s right… The words we heard did upset me quite a bit.

“But I need you right now to help me think of a plan, because honestly honey, I just don’t know what to do,” she says. I can hear in her voice that she’s close to crying, and all I want to do is get home. Well, I at least want to get back to my motel room where I can bury myself in a book and just forget about everything that’s been said. I don’t want to make a plan right now.

“How long do we have?” I ask even though I know full well that we are only paid up till next week Wednesday. After then it is out on the street. Or a homeless shelter, which is why my mom went to see the welfare lady.

“Next week,” she sighs. “And we need to make a plan before that. We can’t go on what the woman at the welfare said. There is no way I am splitting us up.”

“And if there isn’t another choice?” I ask. “You heard what she said. I’m over sixteen, which means that I am a man or something now. They can put you and Chloe into the woman’s shelter, but I need to go to the one for men. It’s better than the other alternative.”

“I said I am not splitting us up,” mom answers as she starts the car. Obviously the discussion she wanted to have is too much for her now.

“And what happens if they take us away? Put us in foster homes?” I ask. It’s the last thing I want to think about but apparently it is very much an option by the sounds of it.

“That won’t happen,” mom answers. I can tell she is trying her best to keep her voice down and her tears inside her.

“But you heard what the woman said… We should never have gone there…” I mumble feeling the anxiety I have been trying to push down bubble up into my throat causing fear of where I will be sleeping in the week to come.

“I said it won’t fucking happen! I will not let it happen! Do you hear me Cory?! Do you hear me?!” she screams as the tears start to fall and her hands punch against the steering wheel over and over again.

I jerk. I haven’t seen her like this before. Sad, yes. Upset, a few times. Hysterical? Never.

I turn around in my seat, allowing my mom to have her first serious breakdown while I try to calm down my baby sister who has started crying in her seat, probably also wondering what will happen to us and wondering my mommy can’t keep a clear head when everything around us is falling apart.

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