Chapter 1 - I’m proud of you
Adeline rested her head on the kitchen counter. The coolness of the granite soothing her aching mind. Her mom laughed at her while chopping up tomatoes and lettuce. It was taco Thursday which, yes, was a thing in the O’Brien household. But it could only commence when Adeline’s father was out of town.
“Did chemistry fry your brain that bad?” her mother asked, trying to hold in her laughs. Addie glared up at her only succeeding in making her mother laugh outright.
“I am going to strangle Mr. G on the first day of school. I mean honestly that stupid packet is like 50 pages long. And on top of that there’s like 10, hour long videos we have to watch as well. I was good for the first 2 pages but after that.”
She shook her head and deflated again on the cold, soothing counter. In Adeline’s current state of mind she was honestly considering if it was acceptable to marry this slab of rock.
“Strangulation is probably not the best way to go, I was thinking maybe castration,” her mother responded. They both laughed at this.
Addie picked up her head again finally regaining some life. ”Sooooo, what do you think about going to the beach on Saturday? You could come with me and Jill, maybe even bring a friend.” Addie prodded gently. She loved her mother truly she did, but she spent too much time at home. Addie couldn’t recall the last time she’d seen her mother out with a friend.
“I don’t know Adds, I wouldn’t want to take away your time with Jill. It’s been so long since you two had a day to yourselves.” She fought. Addie laughed at this.
“Mom, really. I spend every day of the week with Jill. I was with her two hours ago at practice. You could even invite Selene it’s been a while since you’ve hung out.”
Her mom scoffed. “Do you even realize you’re asking me if I want to hang out with your ex best friend’s mother. We were only close friends because we had you two to keep us occupied.”
“We both know that’s not true. You might have met through Jaxon and I, but you formed your own friendship beyond us. Just because me and Jaxon drifted apart doesn’t mean you two have to as well.”
Addie got up and pulled the cheese and condiments from the fridge. She was hopeless at cooking and had been banned from using the stove for as long as she could remember. It was honestly better that way. When she was young she tried to make pasta and forgot to put water in the pan, so all the pasta caught fire in her mother’s favorite pan. That was the only memory she had of herself cooking.
Baking, baking she could do. Something about all the sugar coming together to make something equally as delicious just clicked in her brain. But if the food she was making wasn’t dessert related. Sorry folks. Not gonna happen.
“I guess you’re right” my mother muttered under her breath. “Besides Jill and her would have a lot in common.”
Addie fist bumped the air and twirled around in a circle when her mother wasn’t looking. She had wanted to introduce Jill and Selene for years now but never got the chance.
Jill’s mom had passed away when she was younger, so she never experienced a mother figure other than Carrie, Addie’s mom. Carrie and Jill didn’t have much in common but, Selene was so similar to Jill, sometimes it was scary. They both never forgot a face, were extremely lazy but energetic after coffee, and were constantly running late.
“Alright daughter of mine. I will come with you and Jillian to the beach if Selene says yes.”
Addie squealed and danced around the kitchen not caring how ridiculous she looked. “You can text her after dinner. Oh I’m so excited.”
Addie and her mom continued to talk throughout dinner. Their official unofficial taco night being a success once again.
However, now that it was over, Addie had the extremely daunting task of getting her mother to actually text Selene. Eventually the pair settled on Addie doing the actual texting while reading the responses to her mom. It was around 8 o’clock when Addie was finally allowed to send the text asking if Selene wanted to join her at the beach on Saturday, with Addie and a friend.
At the Reeve house, chaos had just finished erupting and Selene was sitting on the couch with her son so close to falling asleep when her phone buzzed. Jaxon looked at his mother who had migrated over time so her head was on his lap. Selene in his mind was an amazing mother. She refused to be called anything other than Selene and when his friends slipped up and called her Ms. Reeve, she chased them around the house with a frying pan.
He smiled at her almost sleeping figure. Selene had finished putting her 6 year old daughter to bed a half an hour ago and was exhausted from dealing with both her children all day. “Can you get that for me please” she murmured.
Jaxon sighed and leaned over Selene’s head in order to reach her phone which was resting on the coffee table. He froze however when he saw the name on the screen. Selene noticed her son’s immoblie state and sat up looking at him with furrowed brows. He coughed a bit and turned the screen around so she could look.
Selene ripped the phone out of Jaxon’s hands and scrambled off the couch. Opening her phone so quickly Jaxon thought she might drop it in her rush. Her eyes ran across the screen and when she finally looked at her son she was beaming. Selene considered Carrie to be one of her best friends, but had shied away from their friendship out of respect for her son when his and Adeline’s friendship kicked the bucket.
Jaxon hadn’t seen his mom this happy in a long time. He’d missed her happy side. The one that showed up after coffee in the morning, or when he spent time with her and Eve. “Carrie invited me to the beach with her, Adeline and one of Adeline’s friends. Oh I’m so excited. We haven’t seen each other in so long. I - “
She cut herself off, letting her smile falter a bit, but smiled at her son anyway. “I don’t have to go. I’m sure she doesn’t want a six year old to tag along as well. Carrie has other friends I’m sure she’ll be - “
This time it was Jaxon’s turn to interrupt his mother. “Selene. Go. Carrie gets anxiety about texting people randomly and you know that. If she invited you it’s because she wants you to go. Not someone else. You. Ok. It’s fine. I can stay in on Saturday and take care of Eve.” Selene bagan to protest, “No buts. I will be perfectly fine taking care of Eve on Saturday. We need some bonding time. I know you want to. Carrie’s one of your best friends. It’s been a while since you’ve seen her.”
They looked at each other for a while.
Then Selene let her previous smile melt back onto her face. She jumped onto her son and hugged him tightly like she used to when he was smaller than her. Jaxon found this incredibly uncomfortable, but let it go for the sake of his mother’s sanity. He also knew that if he even attempted to push her off him she would never let it go and attach to him like a leech in front of all his friends. So in an effort to keep the embarrassment at bay, he hugged her back and smiled into her shoulder.
Selene finally let go of her son, her smile softer, but her face feeling lighter. “Well. I better reply then,” she answered. “Goodnight darling.”
Adeline had been patiently sitting with her mother for the past ten minutes waiting for Selene to reply. Her mother had finally stopped pacing around the living room and had taken instead to wringing her hands out excessively.
Finally the infamous ding went off in the silent room. Addie picked up the phone and read, out loud, “‘I would love to join you three at the beach. I have Jaxon looking after Eve, they need some time together. I cannot wait, Carrie it’s been too long!’”
Addie laughed as my mother snatched her phone back. She yelled a goodnight as she ran up the stairs and closed her bedroom door.
Carrie was so excited and couldn’t wait to catch up with her friend. She had kept her distance from Selene due to Addie and Jaxon’s falling out, but had missed her so much. She had hoped that was why Selene had been so distant as well. It would only make sense.
Their conversation quickly switched from formal to silly. The pair had often considered themselves younger in each other’s presence, both of them feeling as if they were back in college. While Selene was a few years younger than Carrie they had always gotten along. It showed quite often through their kids’ relationship. Part of the reason Jaxon and Addie were so close when they were young was simply because Carrie and Selene wanted to hang out.
They had both missed each other and the mischief they caused.
Jaxon could hear his mother’s quiet laughter through the walls in his room. He had always felt bad that she’d lost a friend because he and Addie drifted. It was just hard. For them to stay so close when Addie was always leaving to go to her special accelerated learning classes. They never saw each other during the day with the exception of one period they had together in seventh grade.
Jaxon missed her endless sarcasm and never ending talent for finding the hidden meaning in his words or actions. Adeline never needed to be told what Jaxon needed she just knew. As Jaxon lay on his bed, sleep was out of his grasp again. He had finished off his melatonin tabs a few days ago and his restlessness had only gotten worse. He’d have to get some more soon. Jaxon’s overactive mind brought him back to one of his favorite memories of Adeline.
I was 10 and Adeline was still 9. She had slept over at my house the night before because it was a Friday. Robert had rushed into my room without knocking. His voice was panicked and it was all he could do to get out a few words. When I heard “Selene” and “the baby”, though, I jumped into action.
My mom was really pregnant at the time and I wasn’t sure I wanted a sister. But Selene’s scream from downstairs was enough to get me moving into the car. Adeline sat next to me and held my shaking hands all the way to the hospital. When we arrived the two of us sat in the waiting room. I was taller than her, but not by much so it was quite comfortable to lean my head on her shoulder as we sat in silence. Adeline’s mom, Carrie showed up a little later, and Robert came to the waiting room.
Robert tensed up for a bit, and when I looked at the door I realized why. My dad was standing there.
He had shown up with his new fiance. I really hated her. She was real nice to me when my dad was around but annoying when he left. She said I wasn’t good enough and how my father hated me too.
I knew that my dad didn’t like me all too much, but it still hurt.
Adeline squeezed my hands real tight then stood up and walked to my father. Her expression was cold and I understood why. When my dad had left my mother and I Adeline was the one who picked us up off the ground. She helped both of us so much and despised my father for the pain he put our family through.
She looked like she had eaten a lemon and with as much venom as she could manage she spit out. “You should leave.”
Adeline had never been that good at confronting people. She much preferred being nice and letting the insults go straight over her head.
My father looked at her condescendingly. He had never liked Adeline much. He disliked her even more so than me. Which was pretty hard to do. “I have no idea what you are talking about Adeline,” he sneered. “My ex wife is in that room giving birth to a daughter. Now it may not be my child but I would still like to show my support.”
She scoffed. “Exactly ex wife. You have no part in this hospital visit, you have no claim on that child. You do not need to be here. I am sure your fiance would rather be at home than visiting your ex wife, no?”
My father glared down at her. I finally looked at his fiance who’s name I still hadn’t learned. I didn’t spend all that much time at my dad’s anyway. She looked like she had rolled out of bed to come here. Her hair was a mess. Her eyes were black all around and her mouth was pinched, her red lipstick was smudged making her appear like a fully blonde Cruella Deville. I quietly laughed at Adeline’s jabs. My father glared at first his fiance, then Adeline, then me.
He raised his eyebrows as if daring me to challenge him. I stared back, but my resolve weakened. He was my father after all. I mean it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, right? I spaced out.
Adeline had moved to my side and was holding my hands. She looked at me through her dark lashes with concern. She smiled when my eyes refocused on her. I held her hands real tight and looked at my dad.
“There’s no reason for you to be here father. My mother is having a baby and your fiance wants to leave. You aren’t needed or wanted here.”
My words were harsh. But they were needed. I didn’t look to see my father’s expression., just glanced back at Adeline. Her smile widened at my words and I smiled back.
I honestly don’t remember if my father left or if he fought with Robert or if Cruella dragged him out. I just remember Adeline pulling me close to her skinny frame and hugging the life out of me. It was tight, and strong considering her bird-like bones.
“I’m proud of you,” she whispered into my ear. My arms wrapped around her as well and we stayed like that. Standing there, until Carrie came in and said Selene wanted to show us my baby sister.
We stayed there with Selene and Carrie for a while and Adeline never let go of my hand. My sister’s name is Evangeline. Fitting since my mother’s favorite movie is The Princess and the Frog. She always was obsessed with the stars.
Jaxon closed his eyes and smiled at the memory. Sleep finally felt closer than it had 3 hours ago.
At the same time, Adeline could be found snoring softly. She would never admit to her mother, but she had been feeling excessively tired recently and wasn’t sure what to do about it. She was tired all the time. She even took naps before practice sometimes.It wasn’t the best habit, but it was what got her through the day. She hoped her tiredness would fade away as she worked out more.
When her mother had left to have her conversation with Selene, Adeline had filled a glass of water and scrolled through her phone a little at the counter.
When she finally felt satisfied to have not missed too much today. She left her phone downstairs and crawled up the stairs. Her nightly routine had been severely lacking the past few days due to her need for sleep, and today was no exception. She brushed her teeth and ran her fingers through her hair a few times. Taking off her concealer Adeline sighed at the massive bags under her eyes.
Then, turning off the light she stumbled to her room and closed the door softly.
She didn’t bother grabbing her earbuds, music wasn’t needed to help her fall asleep anymore. She sighed once more at her reflection and got into bed. The second her light was put out the darkness fell like a blanket and she was out like a light.