When I Look at You

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Chapter Ten

I spent the most of the afternoon walking the beach, taking pictures of the different kinds of sea life I could find. A lot of people were out today, decorating their homes and businesses for the upcoming holiday weekend. I stopped at a convenience store and bought a bottle of water and something to snack on before setting at the end of a dock the overlooked a good portion of the marina. My cell phone vibrated in my pocket and I fought with it for a second to pull it out. Blaine’s name flashed on the screen. “Hey.”

“Well hello there. How’s life at the compound?”

“Well they gave me my rations of water and crackers for the day so I’m trying to make them last. Not sure how much longer I will make it.” He laughed on his end and I felt something warm fill my chest. I was falling way to hard for this kid.

“Any chance you can get out early for good behavior?”

“I’m out now if you want to hang out. I’m actually about to destroy a tray of cheese fries down at the marina if you are free.”

“Ah I was actually think about Saturday. Do you have any plans?”

“Just spending the day at the Wharf I imagine. Why? You have another adventure in mind?”

“Sort of. I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind being my date for the night.”

“Your date?” I nearly spat out the fries I was shoving in my mouth at the moment.

“Yeah. I figured we could try an actually date. I know you don’t want to get too serious with anyone since you’re leaving in a few weeks but there’s no harm with just going on a date. I promise to not be so charming.” I laughed.

“Sure. What do you have in mind?”

“I was thinking I’ll meet you at the Wharf and we’ll get a bite to eat before heading over to the county fair for a little bit. I told my parents I’d be at the Wharf for the fireworks and to hear my dad play but I figured two is better than one.”

“Well when you put it that way, how can a girl refuse?” We both laughed as I tossed my empty container away in the trash. Standing, I started back towards to beach to head home.

“I told you I’d lay off the charm. It’s a powerful thing.”

“Right. I bet it’s just so hard to turn it off too.”

“You can’t even imagine the pain it causes me. So is it a yes?”

“Yes. I’ll meet you on the dock at five. Don’t be late either. I’ll find Cooper and ride off into the sunset on his boat.”

“You’ve never seen him naked. You wouldn’t wanna to either.”

“I don’t even want to know.”

Back at the house, Tammy was in the kitchen cutting vegetables for a tossed salad and Chris was making hamburger patties when I walked in. He smiled when he noticed me standing in the doorway. “Hey Ker-Bear. What’s up?”

“Nothing. Just walked around and took some pictures.”

“You really like photography?” Tammy asked, giving me what I assumed was her best attempt at interest. I nodded, sliding into the chair across from them at the breakfast nook.

“I do. You guys have a lot more sun down here to use for my advantage than we do in Maine.” Chris laughed, nodding.

“That’s for sure. Maine has two seasons: winter and two weeks of cold summer. And all that snow? We don’t even own a shovel in this household because of it.” He replied. They both picked up what they were preparing and walked out the backdoor. Standing, I followed.

“What do you like to take pictures of?” She asked, setting her salad on the picnic table. Reaching into the storage bin under on of the seats, she pulled out place mats and plastic silverware to set the table. I shrugged, helping her set the other half. She seemed surprised when I helped. Perhaps I should tone down my bitch side.

“Mostly nature. Sometimes I’ll take pictures of people depending on the situation. Like little kids and stuff like that.”

“Hmmm maybe you should talk to Jenna about working with her for the summer. She runs the small art gallery in town. They show local photographers there and every fall they have a scholarship contest for the students in town. Maybe you could win a scholarship for college!”

“That’d be great. Especially if I get into NYU like I hope.”

“NYU? Wow, kiddo.” Chris said from his place at the grill. He was flipping burgers by now, poking them with a spatula. I didn’t recall my dad being such a cook when I was little but then again, my diet consisted of chicken nuggets and french fries at that point. I kind of remembered blueberry pancakes in different shapes but it was fuzzy like I had dreamt it.

“Yeah I know. My grades are good enough but their photography program had a very long wait list unless you are extremely talented.”

“I’m sure you are! You should show us some of your stuff. Especially from the beach. We’d love to hang some up around the house to show off.” Tammy smiled at me before disappearing into the house again. It made me feel a bit better being on a friendly base with her. There was no tension at the moment.

Well that is until she returned ten minutes later, Hannah following behind her. The blonde was sporting a floral print sun dress and flip flops, her hair looking just as perfect as it did the past scattered times we had passed. She plopped on the bench across from me, not even bothering to give me a look of knowledge that I was a person before burying herself into her cell phone. Tammy walked over to Chris and grabbed the tray of finished burgers and brought them over to the table. He came over a few minutes later with the rest, putting them next to the buns and condiments she had brought out moments ago. Chris sat on my right and Tammy took her place across from him. They chatted about the Wharf as everyone made their plates, Hannah and I not speaking at all.

Once everyone started eating, it became apparent that an uneasy silence fell over the table. My father squirmed in his seat a little, exchanging an unsubtle glance with Tammy who cleared her throat a few seconds later. “So Hannah, how was your day?”

“Fine.” My “peer” responded, not looking up from her plate. Chris gave me a look this time that I returned with a small grin.
“Okay. Kerri! Are you excited for the party this weekend?” Tammy asked me, taking a big sip from her glass of wine in the process. I nodded.

“Yeah. We don’t really have anything big for the Fourth so it’s pretty cool to be here.” She smiled at the fact I said more than one word to her. I felt bad for her. Even if I was pissy at my situation, I’d never talk to my mother like that.

“I’m glad you’re here for it. We deck the Wharf out for the whole weekend! People from all over the place come to taste your daddy’s clams and fish fries. Last year we even had a few tourists from California here and a few years ago we had Korean visitors. It’s so nice to get the whole town together for a get together like that.” She said, her voice picking up speed from excitement. She looked lovingly at Chris and it made me feel a slight twinge of unease but it faded quickly as she continued to talk.

“I just hope that Greg and his band don’t bore everyone to death.” Chris said, smirking at us, “Your uncle Greg thinks they are the next biggest thing in country music. Which they might of been. Twenty years ago.” I laughed, taking a bite out of my burger. From the corner of my eye, I saw Hannah continue to ignore us. You could feel her annoyance from where I was sitting.

“Oh be nice! I feel bad for Jenna. She said they’ve been there practicing every night for the past two weeks. She might just sleep on her prop futon in her studio if he keeps it up. Least Blaine’s the smart one of the family. He takes off with you before they even start.” Tammy nodded her head at me. Chris motioned his hand in agreeance.

“He told me that last night. Said everyone scatters once the drummer pulls in the driveway.” Tammy giggled into her wine glass. Hannah’s annoyance grew more. “Did Blaine mention that he was making an appearance at the party? He tends to be a wallflower at most things and I sometimes over look him until I notice he’s disappeared.”

“He’ll be there. He asked me to be his date.” I replied, taking a sip of my lemonade. In that moment, several things happened: Hannah’s head snapped up, Tammy and Chris both froze and that evil tension nearly crushed us all again. Glancing around the table, I also froze with my glass hovering inches from my face. Hannah’s face was turning beet red and her breathing quickened. My eyes flicked to my fork for a quick moment. From the way she was looking at me, I might need it to defend myself in about two seconds.

“That’s great!” Chris said, smiling at me. His smile was genuine in nature but his eyes cast a nervous look at Tammy who was now recovering from the unexpected shock now.

“Great?!” Hannah shrieked, slamming her fist on the picnic table. “Are you nuts? He’s my boyfriend!”

“Ex-boyfriend, dear.” Tammy replied softly, reaching for her daughter’s hand. Hannah ripped her arm out of her mother’s reach.

“Oh so it’s perfectly okay that we have this run away outcast freak moving in with us and she can steal my boyfriend too?” Standing up, she turned and glared at me then Chris. “Sorry you’re such a fuck up as a dad that you need to give her everything she thinks she’s entitled to. I’m sure that if my father was as bad as you are, I’d get the same treatment after ignoring him for ten years too.”

“Hannah!” Tammy said. I sprung to my feet as well, moving faster than either of our parental figures. The ketchup was in my hand before I realized it and before anyone could stop me, I was squeezing the bottle. The tomato flavored goo flew out of the nozzle, spraying Hannah from her head to her knees. She let out a scream as she tried to shield herself, only exposing more of her face for me to hit. Chris jumped up from his seat and nearly tackled me, yanking me off my feet. I was able to get one more good goosh of ketchup out, nailing her right in her perfect blonde hair before he knocked the bottle out of my hands.

“YOU BITCH!” Hannah screamed. She was visibly shaking as she looked at her now probably ruined dress and the rest of her. She was covered, her phone was covered and the table between us was covered as well. Tammy stood next. I thought for sure she was going to rip me a new one but I was surprised when she turned to face Hannah.

“Go upstairs and take a shower. After that, you can enjoy the rest of tonight and the rest of the week in your room because you’re grounded!” She exclaimed, pointing at Hannah.

“But, Mom! Look at what she did to me!” Hannah shrieked. “Look at my phone!” She held it out. Tammy grabbed it and pointed at the door.

“You’ll get this back Friday. Go.” With an aggravated huff, Hannah ran into the house. Red footprints and droppings followed her. Once she was inside, Chris put me down on my own two feet and slowly let go.

“I’m sorry.” I said, my heart still racing. This was the first time in my life that I had ever attacked any body. It was almost thrilling.

“You’re fine, Kerri.” Tammy said, smiling at me. She tossed Hannah’s phone on the table before plopping down in her seat. “Hannah gets nasty sometimes and she needed a reminder that the world doesn’t revolve around her. I was the same way at her age, sadly.” With that, she chugged the rest of her wine down.

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