I was thankful only dad felt my body stiffen. He rubbed my upper arm in a soothing manner, noticing. He took a sharp inhale, I assumed, to defend me from mom but she beat him to it, firing once more.
“What were you doing together, Callie?” Mom asked pointedly.
“Mich,” my dad said in a warning, but as usual, mom ignored him. She stepped out of his hold, arms still folded across her chest. She briefly locked eyes with dad in a challenge and for a few seconds. He took a breath as if to speak, but mom already dismissed him as she looked back at me.
The only comfort I found under her accusation was that we were the same height now. Before, it was worse with her eyes slitted down at me and I had to crane my neck up to match her gaze. Not out of defiance. Out of fear. I dared not look away for fear of being charged guilty even before I was given a fair chance to defend myself. I guess this was how she always win court cases.
She could see it in my eyes. I just knew it. She’d know if I was lying and me being me, all clumsy and weak and easy. Easy to sway, pushover, intimidate. Wasn’t that why I was bullied in school in the first place?
If I lied, mom would have known it. If I told her the truth, she’d also be upset, anyway. Not only at me, but with Abe, too. And I cannot explain to them what happened back at Abe’s place because even I wasn’t told the full story. What was I supposed to admit? That Abe snuck into my room at night, grazed by a bullet on the side of his stomach? That he had asked me to stitch him, me with no experience or qualifications at all? He didn’t even take anesthesia. And the way he commanded me, it seemed like he’d done it before.
Yeah, I’ll be just fine telling my mother that. Oh, and mom, I was with him today because I got so jealous of Harry’s girlfriend kissing him in front of the entire school because, you see, I’m in love with him. So I went with Abe to escape, so he took me to his apartment, where I changed his bandages before he bought me dinner.
Right. Easy as pie if I wanna die.
I sensed movement to my right, but I still held my mom’s glare. From my peripheral view, someone was approaching us, but then halted and made a turn.
“Thank you for the help tonight, officer.”
At the sound of his voice, I almost broke eye contact with my mom. Harry was doing what he thought was right. He ushered the police officers out of the house amid a brewing serious family discussion.
“Sorry again for the trouble. I just panicked. We all did. After she had an accident not too long ago, we all got a little more overprotective of her,” he continued explaining. I heard their footsteps headed for the door. Thankfully, he did not elaborate on that accident. Still, my stomach churned at the sound of them talking about me like I wasn’t there.
Mom sighed heavily, finally releasing me from her accusatory glare when she rolled her eyes. “Right. We have yet to talk about that.”
She meant when I hit my head. I explained it to them but she had to leave early because of a problem that occurred in the firm while dad stayed longer. I felt upset at first knowing she won’t be able to be there for me, but I decided later on that it was for the best since she didn’t get any chance to scold me. The day of my reckoning came. I haven’t yet mentally prepared for it. All because of my stupid self being the drama queen that I am.
Running away, knowing someone will look for me. Not bothering to check my phone or even checking in when I know it was a routine and that if I didn’t. It might as well meant that something could be off and that I could be in danger. I was bitter and confused and I just wanted an escape. I wanted to know if I was still important. If anybody still cared about me, if he still cared.
The moment daddy let go of me, I felt colder. The shiver that ran up my body made me wrap my arms around myself.
“Thanks, Daniel,” he called after sheriff Londale. They exchanged a few more pleasantries before finally saying goodbye.
The door clicked shut and Harry hobbled his way to my side. For a moment, I thought he was going to comfort me, but he stopped just a few inches away from where I stood. Barely touching me with his hot breath tickling the side of my face.
“It’s pretty late, aunt Mich, I think we should all head to bed,” he suggested.
Always trying to do the right thing. Always trying to diffuse the bomb. Always trying to play the white knight. When he should have already hugged me to his side and led me away, he kept his distance, still not acknowledging me.
At last, I looked up at him. His face was a blank mask, eyes pointed straight ahead. I felt the constriction in my throat tightened, making me swallow quite a few times. I didn’t want to cry, but I was moments from it.
One glance at my mom and I knew she wasn’t just about to let this one go.
“I was helping him,” I blurted out. Three pairs of eyes shot at me, and it took everything for me to control my tears. “Abe, uhm, he needs help with English,” I explained. It was not far from the truth. He did repeat the course instead of already being in the graduating batch, the reason we’re also classmates, even though we’re a year apart from each other. I didn’t exactly know if he was failing this time, but it was the best excuse I can come up with. I was helping him and that’s the truth. And he also needs help with the subject, or at least that’s as far as I could assume, considering his repeating the subject. Two true sentences. False if put together in the same context, but true, nonetheless.
I avoided everyone’s gaze by ducking my head low. Mom wouldn’t be able to read the truth in my face if she can’t see it. Right? I needed to relax. Mom can read body language better than a law enforcer. She should. That’s her job.
Daddy enveloped me in his arms and gave me a kiss on top of my head. “Good girl, Lil,” he murmured. “See, Mich. She was just tutoring Abe. Nothing wrong with that.”
Well, I didn’t really say I was tutoring him. Dad came up with that word. It didn’t come from me. This made me feel more guilty, but I reminded myself that I was being honest. I just played with the details, that’s all.
“We should talk about the rest tomorrow,” he said, releasing me and giving mom a peck on the cheek. “Let the kids rest.”
Daddy patted Harry on the shoulder before he took the weekender bags on the kitchen counter and giving me a kiss on the forehead.
“Go to bed, Lil,” he whispered in my ear. “I’ll deal with your mom,” he said with a wink. I managed a small smile.
I hugged him on the waist, muttering, “Thanks, dad,” on his chest.
He started towards the stairs and gestured with his head for mom to follow him. She sighed and thank goodness, her shoulders relaxed.
“Fine,” she surrendered. “We’ll be having a discussion first thing in the morning. Your dad and I already brought work here with us so we can stay for probably a week, tops, if everything goes well with the Raynaud statement.”
An audible one from her and a silent one in my heart. Great. They’d be staying here for a week.
“Come on, darling,” dad called out to her when she stayed standing to study me for a few more beats. After an eternity of a full minute, she started to move. I couldn’t yet release my breath.
In my head, I was thinking that the struggle was almost finished. Harry and I would have been alone and I could finally talk to him, but he went after daddy and offered to help him carry their bags.
“No, thanks, son. There are only two of them. They aren’t that heavy and you should rest that foot, anyway.”
“Ted, you forgot these,” mom reminded him, arms extended with two black laptop bags. I was too afraid that I might sound rude if I suggested she carry the bags herself since dad had his hands full already. I would’ve helped but I was still a little shaken up.
“I’ll take those, aunt Mich,” Harry said, but mom only gave him one.
“I’ll take the other so you can hold your crutch. Please be careful with that, Harrison. It contains backups.”
I watch as the three of them ascend the stairs and disappeared onto the second landing. Then I released a breath. I thought Harry wouldn’t come back down because of his sprain and I was right. A few seconds had passed, enough for him to have out the laptop bag in my parents’ room and go back down if he could, if he wanted to.
My legs were shaky, and I crumpled on the sofa, my breathing slowly becoming even.
I just lied to my parents. And the next morning, I knew I’d be reaping the consequences.
Hi, everyone! 🤗 How are you all doing? This update is a day or two earlier than it should have been, seeing that I was late to update this story last week 🙈 Got too caught up with my weekend vacation 😅 I hope you like it 😆 Things are finally moving forward 😂 and I'm so excited for the next scenes 👀 Thank you all for reading, commenting on and supporting my novel 🥰 It means the world to me ☺️
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