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Chapter 13

The past few days at school were boring. Lola ate with me again on Wednesday but didn't show up to the spot-on Thursday. I kind of missed her. It was nice to not be completely alone. But it would be good if she made some friends. I wasn't good friend material, and I knew at the end of the day she'd be better off without me.

I met with Mr. Garett after school on Wednesday for the first time. It went how I thought it would. Lots of questions and my one word replies. Don’t get me wrong counselling can help people but I was too far gone for it to do any good. As far as I was concerned I was taking his time away from other students who could use the help.

My mom watched a movie with me on Wednesday night. I was happy that she got out of her room.

Lola had texted me her address and I was currently on my way to her place. It was an apartment in a bad area. I didn't really care though, anything beats my house.

As I pulled up, I found a free spot in the visitor parking area. I grabbed my things and headed towards the building. It was so hot out, my car said it was still 88 even though it was 7 pm. Oh the joys of living in the desert.

I knocked on her door and a few moments later she answered. She had changed and was now wearing spandex short and a tight tank top. I looked her up and down and couldn't help staring. She had a great body. This was going to be a weird night.

"Hey, you can come in. Our a/c broke today when I was at school. We called the building manager and he said it might take up to a month to get it fixed or get a new one. So, it's pretty hot in here." She tells me as I follow her inside.

As I walk behind her, we enter a small living room. There's a little boy colouring some pictures on the ground.

"Tomás, do you want to say hello?" She asks him. He shakes his head while continuing to colour.

"No te estaba dando una opción. Ven a presentarte." (I wasn't giving you a choice. come introduce yourself.) She quickly says to the boy.

He huffs then looks up at me and says, "Hi, I'm Tomás."

"Hi I'm Cade." I say to him and hold out my hand. He shakes it and then goes back to his colouring.

"We could work in here or the kitchen until my mom gets back." Lola says.

"Ugh, here's good as long as it's okay with Tomàs." I say heading towards the couch. Damn it's hot in here, I was wearing basketball shorts and a t-shirt, but it didn't help.

"It's fine just don't be toot loud; I'm makin' art." Tomás says while intensely colouring.

Lola grabs a binder and comes and sits next to me.

"So do you have any ideas on a theme to choose?" She asks.

"No, why don't you pick a few and I'll pick from those?" I suggest.

"Sure," then she got out her phone and writes some stuff down. After a few moments she began to talk again.

"So, these haven't been chosen yet. I've picked 5 for you to choose from. Nationalism, the environment, mechanical innovation, race, or public fear." She tells me. Well, I have no idea which to choose.

"Is there any you would rather do from that list?" I ask.

"Do truwcks!" Tomás pipes in.

"Actually, we could narrow done mechanical innovations to transportation innovations. That would work well." Lola says.

"Yeah, that would be good, and it wouldn't be too hard to research. I like that topic. Thanks, Tomás." I say with a chuckle. Our history course covered American history from after the civil war until 2001. There was a lot of change to transportation in those years.

"It's honestly a great topic, we can start with boats, trains and horses and go all the way to cars, airplanes and space crafts. Okay so we need to write a proposal to get our theme approved. How could we split that up?" She asks.

"Let's write an outline and then split it up from there." I say.

"Sure, would you like anything to drink first? I have water and juice." She asks.

Tomás runs after her and chants "orange juice, orange juice!"

"I'd have some orange juice." I say.

When she comes back with juice for me and water for her, I see Tomás running around with a sippy cup.

“Be careful Tomás!" She says right before he runs into the coffee table then he bursts out crying.

Lola goes over to him and picks him up. She brings him to the couch. She hugs and rocks him until he starts to calm down a bit.

"Sorry about that," she says to me.

"It's okay, not your fault." I tell her.

"Kiss it better!" Tomás says to Lola.

She kisses his knee and then places him beside her. She keeps one arm around him and starts to talk again, "could you write the outline please?"

"Yeah, sure." I say and get out a piece of paper. We talk about it for a few moments and then I write down our ideas. When I'm halfway through I hear the door open. I look up and a pregnant woman who looks a lot like Lola walks in with a man behind her.

"Hi, mom this is Cade he's here to do a school project. Cade this is my mom Carlita and her boyfriend Matt." Lola says.

Before I can say anything her mom Carlita starts to talk, "you need to put Tomás to bed and go to your room. Matt and I need to talk. And why is so hot in here, who broke the a/c?"

"Mamá recuerda lo que dije sobre el aire acondicionado. Lo arreglaré más tarde. Llevaré a Tomás a mi habitación y lo acostaré a las 8. Por favor, trate de mantener el ritmo. Estoy trabajando en un proyecto." (Mom, remember what I said about the a/c. I'll fix it later. I'll take Tomás to my room and I'll put him to bed at 8. Please try to keep it down I'm working on a project.) Lola says to her mom.

"Let's go work in my room now. Could you grab my binder please?" Lola says to me. She collects Tomás' colouring and then picks him up. I follow her to her room.

It's a small room. About the size of my ensuite bathroom. She has a desk pushed up against the wall and a rain bed underneath the window. She sits on her bed with Tomàs and motions for me to sit at the desk. Once I sit, I start completing the outline while Lola looks for something under her bed.

All of a sudden, I hear yelling from the living room. Lola quickly pulls out some headphones and says, "Tomás want to listen to some music?"

"Yes! I wanna hear the cars one!" Tomás says excitedly.

She sets up his music, places the noise canceling headphones on him and then turns to me. "Sorry about this, umm my mom isn't the best all the time."

"It's fine I don't mind." As I say that we hear a loud crash.

"Should we see if they are, okay?" I ask.

"No, it's fine. He's probably breaking up with her and she's throwing a tantrum to get him to stay." She tells me while playing with her bedspread.

"But she's pregnant what kind of a guy does that?" I blurt out, I may not be the best guy but even I know that walking out on a pregnant woman is wrong.

"Oh, he's not the dad she met him a few months back. My guess is that he's jumping ship because she's due in 2 months. He doesn't want to play dad. I'm pretty sure he's only here because she let him stay for really cheap." Lola says while shaking her head.

"Oh, wow." I say not knowing what else to do.

She gives me a sad smile and then we get back on task dividing up what we will each write.

We each pull out our computers and start writing. As we do this we can clearly hear the fight taking place. Not to mention it's even hotter in her bedroom compared the living room. As we finished up our proposal, we hear the front door slam.

"Can you give it a final look over? I'm going to check on my mom." Lola asks me.

"Sure." As I'm checking I feel Tomás pulling on my arm I look down at him.

"Is mommy and Lota o-tay?" He asks me.

"Of course, they are buddy, how about we colour together until Lola gets back?" I ask him. I feel for this kid. I know what it's like to grow up with your parents constantly fighting. I can't imagine what he feels like in this situation.

As we colour and talk about trucks, I can faintly hear sobbing. I decide to go and see what's going on, "I'll be right back buddy." I tell Tomás and he nods.

In the kitchen I see Lola's mom on the floor sobbing and Lola kneeling beside her trying to take a bottle of alcohol from her hands.

"He left me, I'm a garbage girlfriend. No one wants me. I might as well just die!" Carlita sobs.

"Momma, that's not true. Tomás and I, we need you and your little girl in their needs you to stay sober for her. Please momma, we all love you."

I decide to go back to Lola's room, I feel like I'm intruding. As I colour with Tomàs I hear Lola put her mother to bed. Then she comes in.

"Tomás it's time to get ready for bed now."

"But Lota Cade and I are making art!" Tomás whines.

"You can make art with him next Thursday, it's past your bedtime." She tells him.

"O-tay Lota." He complies and follows her. As she puts Tomás to bed I go into the kitchen and look around. There is broken glass and plates all over the floor. I decided to help clean it up. I find a broom and dustpan and start sweeping up the mess. When I'm just about finished Lola come in and says, "thank you for helping but you really don't have to."

"It's no problem, don't worry about it." I tell her honestly. My house used to be a lot like this. My parents would fight and break things. But we had maids who would clean it up for us. Since last year there wasn't much fighting, my mom stayed in her room and my dad quit trying to get her out.

"I'm really sorry about all the chaos. Hopefully next week it will be better, and the a/c will be fixed." She tells me.

"You know umm... I'd be okay if we met at my house. You could bring Tomás with you as well." I tell her. I felt bad for forcing my way into her home. She had very good reason to not want to bring a classmate she just met into this and I felt cruel. If she stuck by me in my house everything would be fine. I would have to make sure she didn't go to my mom's room.

"Really are you sure? It might be easier to meet at a library."

"No, I'm sure."

"Okay well is 6 next Thursday, Okay? I don't want to keep Tomás up too late." She asks.

"Yeah, that works, well I better get going." I tell her. I go grab my things and walk to the door.

"I submitted our write up. I'll see you at school." I tell her.

She walks to the door and says goodbye. As I walk to my car, I can't help but feel bad for forcing my way into her home.
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