there is no hope for a world so lost
that acts of kindness number less than terrorist plots
when not conforming to society’s rules and ideals
leads to discrimination, it is not only innocence it kills
“I’m really sorry for not coming back!” Without meaning to, I found myself apologizing before he could say anything else. I wanted to hit myself for being so naive. Of course he had seen me go out, he lived only two blocks away. I should have gone shopping on Sunday in the early morning when the streets would be empty and everyone would be too busy getting ready for church.
I wished there was been a back entrance to the apartment building. I would have taken it and avoided all this. This. . . People had hated me for less. I hadn’t lied them or made them wait in the cold all day and they still didn’t like me. Of course Kayden wouldn’t be any diff—
“You’re here now,” he said softly, his gaze drifted to my gloved hands. “And you’re wearing something warm. That’s good.”
That almost made me smile. Almost. The nervousness I felt took too much energy to hide. I didn’t have the strength to make pointless facial expressions.
“I had to go shopping.” I lifted the bags as though they hadn’t obvious enough. “Have you really been. . . waiting for me?”
I had hoped to hear the opposite. Did that make me a bad person? Had he known all along that I wouldn’t come back? Did he know that I lied or did he just think I got held up by something? Did he still think that I was a nice kid? Did he think I thought he was beneath me because he was homeless?
I didn’t think that at all. He had to know that. . .right? He had to.
But how can he if he can’t read my mind? I shifted my gaze to the ground. “Sorry.”
I had nothing better to say; no explanation. Even though I had gone home to see that Mother had returned, I couldn’t use that as an excuse. After all, I hadn’t intended on going back to him anyway. Mother’s presence just ensured that I had no second thoughts. Going outside without my parents’ knowledge was not something I should be doing.
“It’s okay,” Kayden said and patted me twice on the shoulder. “I understand.”
No, you don’t. He didn’t know how much I enjoyed his company; how much I was glad that he had slept over even though I didn’t give him much of a choice. He didn’t understand how his smiles made feel normal and his laughs made me warm. He didn’t know that he was the only one who treated me so openly without holding anything back.
“You probably had things to do,” he continued. “If you’re feeling bad, don’t. Because of you I got a job, so chin up.”
“What?” I looked up at him, my thoughts jumbled by his last sentence. When I thought I understood the basic structure of his thoughts, he tossed a fresh spanner in the works.
“You got me a job,” he repeated slowly, the blue in eyes looking exceptionally bright.
“I heard you the first time,” I told him with a confused frown. “I just don’t understand.”
Before another word could be said, Kayden had wrestled the plastic bags from me and dashed across the snowy street. What just happened? I raised my empty hands to the level of my eyes.
I heard his laughter before I heard his voice. “Hey! You better catch up unless you want me to steal your precious groceries!”
Of course, I knew that he wouldn’t steal them. He was too kind to. If he was a thief he would have attempted to rob the apartment when he thought I was asleep. Any random item would have been worth more than $175. Pawning that quietly would have been much smarter than stealing my groceries right in front of me then announcing it to whoever could hear, and Kayden seemed pretty smart.
He had to have been joking. If I didn’t move there was a high chance of him just walking back and giving the bags back to me. I didn’t need to play whatever game he had in mind.
But. . . He had my precious groceries out there in the cold where they could get wet by melted snow. I had to catch up if I didn’t want to have to explain to Mother why the bread was soggy.
With great reluctance, I gave in and walked towards him, not because of his his oh-so-wide smile or his smug attitude but because he was holding my breakfast hostage.
I just didn’t want to eat soggy bread tomorrow.