When I Look at You

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Chapter Twenty Five

I left the Hospice House and sat in my car for a long while. I wanted to cry but it just wouldn’t come out. I turned the ignition and drove towards the art gallery again. Blaine was restocking shelves in the guest shop when I walked in. He looked at me confused as he stood up from the floor. “You’re back quickly. Everything okay?”

“Yeah. Dad was there. I didn’t want to interrupt them. What’s going on here?”

“Oh you know. Exciting stuff. Sold a bag of chips to a ten year old kid that needed to piss. That’s about it. You didn’t have to come back, ya know? I was going to work the rest of your shift for you.”

“I know but I wanted to see you.” Stepping closer, I rested my head against his chest. He wrapped his arms around me and lightly kissed the top of my head.

“You’re so strong, beautiful. I don’t know many people that could handle this with as much grace as you are at your age.” He said as he stroked my hair.

“I feel like my parents could have gotten back together a long time again if I wasn’t such a bitch.” He pulled himself away and held me at arm’s length.

“You had no clue that they were on such good terms. How could you have? You thought he ran off on you with no intentions of caring any more. They are adults, Kerri. If they wanted to be together more than making you happy, they would have done it. They cared more about what was best for you than their own happiness. That’s the way parents are suppose to act. You are probably the greatest thing to ever happen to both of them and neither wanted to risk you having less of a life than you deserve. That’s the greatest thing they could have done for you. You have to live that life to the fullest now. That’s the best thing you can do to repay them for their sacrifice.” A tear slipped out and slid down my cheek. He wiped it away with his thumb and kissed where it had trickled.

“Thank you. I don’t know how I would be doing this if I didn’t have you here with me.” I whispered looking up at him. He smiled and pressed his lips against mine.

A few days passed filled with ups and downs with Mom. I never told her about watching her and dad and she never seemed to let on that she knew. Her caretakers said they weren’t sure if she would see the end of September. She was barely eating or drinking now and she slept a lot more than she was. Most days, I would sit next to her bed and read to her while she slept. Sometimes I would do my homework. School had started for Blaine and I since we were in the honors program. It started with half days until September. After Labor Day weekend, we would be going all day with the rest of the kids at school. Including Hannah.

On Friday afternoon, I left school and walked the few blocks from school towards Tallman’s. I stopped at the convenience store across the street to buy a water and some small snacks for Mom. She was managing to eat some small pieces of chocolate now and then and she really like the milk chocolate bars that broke off into pieces. I was scooping up four of them in my hand when someone smacked them out of my hand. Snapping my head up, I came face to face with Penny, Hannah’s best friend from the county fair. I recognized her right away from the snotty smug expression she was giving me. I shot her glare before grabbing four more. I turned and walked away from her around the shelves. She followed. “I don’t think you need any candy, fatty.”

“What don’t you go fuck yourself?” I called over my shoulder without turning around. I slapped my water and chocolate on the counter and fished my money from my pocket. She hovered around me as the cashier checked me out. Facing the door, I moved to walk out of it but she stepped in front of me.

“Oh look who grew some balls since the last time I saw you. Is it because your mommy is dying?” It took everything in me to not punch her. I moved to the other door and pushed it open. She continued following me.

“Leave me alone.” I said, walking in the direction of the Center.

“Or what? You’ll call big ol’ Blaine to come deal with me? Or your daddy? I’m not Hannah, bitch. No one is going to ground me for fucking with you.” She stepped in front of me again. “Only reason Blaine is with you is because your mom is sick and your dad begged him to be nice to you.”

“Nice try.” I snapped, shoving passed her.

“I’m not lying. Hannah told me. Before you came down here, he begged Blaine to be friends with you because you both like photography. He didn’t want you to have no friends here like you do in Maine. Blaine didn’t want to but your dad told him he would help pay for some of his college after graduation. So your daddy pimped you out to Blaine because you’re a pathetic loser no one wants to be around. Why do you think Hannah was so mad at him when you got here?” My stomach felt as if it had dropped to the ground. Blood rushed to my head and it began pounding in my ears. “He never would have broke up with her if your daddy didn’t buy him out. He’s probably just too guilty to break up with you now. He told Hannah he was going to trial you along until your mom croaked. Unless you spread your legs for him. That might keep him a little longer. I hear he likes desperate skanks.”

“Go away.” I said, walking again. Suddenly, I heard her flip flops on the sidewalk and I was shoved from behind. Falling forward, I landed on my hands and knees. Pain radiated in both my knees, telling me I had skinned them. Another blow came to my back from a kick which she landed right in the middle of my spine. I cried out in pain as I landed on my stomach, my water and candy flying. Something in my wrist popped and intense pain began shooting up my arm. I rolled over to my back as she went to kick me again. She missed my side and brought her foot back to try again. I scrambled to my feet quickly and before I knew it, my uninjured hand was balled up and punching Penny in the face. The impact hit her square in the nose and knocked her back on her ass. She landed with a thud and a shriek. Blood poured from her nose down the front of her mint green t-shirt, smearing all over her face and hands.

“You broke my nose!” She exclaimed, looking up at me. The door of the convenience store opened and the cashier appeared. The older man ran across the street towards us.

“Girls! Knock it off! The police are on their way.”

“Good!” Penny yelled as she stood. “They can arrest her for assaulting me!”

“You attacked her first, blondie.” The older man said. He turned to look at me, his balding grey hair glistening in the sunlight. “Are you alright, dear?” I didn’t say anything. Police sirens could be heard in the approaching distance. A cruiser turned the corner and came towards us. It stopped a few feet away in the street. Today was just not my day.

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