I’m okay. Why am I panicking? I’m okay. It was just Drew, I’ve seen him a million times before so why is today freaking me out so much? I knew I’d have to see him again at some point, I just wasn’t expecting it to be at a little girls basketball match.
Dad had told me some of the guys at work were talking about Drew getting signed to a professional team but I thought he wouldn’t be joining whilst he was still in college, I thought I still had time before I had to deal with this.
Seeing him sitting there I couldn’t even bare to let my eyes wonder to his face, if I had I would’ve cried right there in the middle of the school. I’m so grateful Brie was there, she always has this way of making everything seem... better. I’ve never met anyone that can take on the world like her, she’s not afraid of anything. I wish I could be more like her sometimes.
Brie doesn’t care what anyone else thinks about her, she’s completely secure in who she is. I envy that about her so much. I’m still not sure who I am, I’ve never taken the time to find out.
One day I was nothing, a nobody that people ignored completely. I walked around that school and the only superpower I ever felt I had was invisibility. I would look at people like Brittany and Brie, wishing so badly I could swap lives with them, even for just a single day.
Then the night of the dog-show someone finally noticed me, they made me go there and I thought my life was finally taking a turn for the better. In some ways it did, I became friends with Aleah and Brie. They forced me out of my shell and taught me it was okay to be a bit weird and geeky if that’s what made me happy.
I still had no confidence though – until I met him. Drew.
He was gorgeous, he was the captain of a school basketball team and there were a flock of girls there that night he could’ve spoken to but he picked me. I had never felt so happy, so completely besotted with someone at first sight.
I remember sitting outside in the back yard of Jayce’s house and thinking even if I never saw this boy again, even if him talking to me was just a dare or something, it would be okay because I would have the memory of what it was like to have a boy like that talk to me, smile at me and then... kiss me.
There wasn’t a part of me that could actually believe it when he called. I was so shocked I didn’t even pick up the phone the first time, I just sat there and stared at it. We started so slowly, cute dates and going to parties. Then it grew into so much more, we fell completely in love and I couldn’t imagine my life with anyone else... a part of me still can’t.
We lived together all through college, we spent every single second we could together. I thought I was set, I thought he was it for me. Then it all came tumbling down around us.
The worst part? He didn’t even have the balls to break up with me like a man. He just grew more and more distant before springing on me that he was staying on for another year at college. I couldn’t even cry, my heart so broken I was half way home when the shock finally wore off and I had to spend the night at a motel when I couldn’t stop the tears falling.
Brie and Josh came to get me, Brie drove me all the way home and refused to leave my side. I’ll always love her for that.
Stepping back into our apartment I can see the sink is still broken, the rancid smell hitting my nose as soon as I opened the door.
“Jacob? Dad?” I get no response but it’s not surprising, neither of them have very good people skills.
I walk up to the kitchen sink to see it full of the brown cloudy water it was earlier. Someone comes in through the door to the living room and I turn to see my Dad all ready in his boiler suit for work. “Dad, did you call the plumber?”
He shakes his head, not looking at me as he does up and undoes his poppers multiple times, making sure to count to twenty-seven before stopping. He says twenty-seven is the right number, when he gets to it he knows he can stop.
My Dad was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder a few years ago but the symptoms have been getting worse lately. “Dad, why didn’t you call? I left the number on the fridge for you.”
He doesn’t acknowledge me, pulling on his boots and straightening out the tags until they’re perfect.
It’s been like this for months. He developed these little things at first, the light switch flicking on and off multiple times or having to keep opening and closing the door, I just didn’t think it would get this bad.
“Dad?” He finally looks up to me.
“Can you do it please Kallie? I have to go to work now.” Sure, I’ll just add it to list of everything else I have to do around here.
My aunt was a godsend whilst I was in college, she kept these two fed and made sure the bills were paid. She took over the role I’ve been playing since I was nine years old, ever since mum left.
In a lot of ways it wasn’t her fault, it was all just too much for her to cope with anymore. Dad’s never been easy and with Jacobs autism he wasn’t exactly the most straightforward child to be around either. He’s better now, he can talk when he chooses too but mostly he just keeps to himself.
Mum used to call a lot but not anymore, she’s remarried now and by all accounts she’s happy. The most contact I have with her these days is when we get the check in the post, she agreed to keep supporting Jacob through his special needs education, I think the idea she was helping with something relieves her guilt about leaving us a bit.
This was another thing that bonded me and Drew. His dad is an alcoholic, a disease he’s fought and lost against many times over the years. His kidneys started to fail two years ago and he went down hill quickly, the last time I saw him he was skin and bone. I never really liked the man that much, he spoke to Drew like crap even though Drew was the only person that would actually put up with him. Still, it’s not nice to see someone fade away like that.
Drew made the choice to put him into a specialist facility that would be better suited to his needs, he worked day and night while we were at college to pay for it but it was only supposed to be short term. Me and Drew had a plan to move in together when we got back here, we’d get a place big enough his dad could stay with us and just have a nurse visit.
Of course that was before everything fell apart, I don’t even know how his Dad is doing now.
I can’t believe he made the team, it always seemed like a pipe dream. I guess now he’ll be able to afford to get his Dad all the very best help, no matter what he’s done he’s still his Dad.
Grabbing the number off the fridge I call the plumber, grateful mums money came this morning and I’ll have time to earn it back before Jacobs tuition comes out. Dad works hard but it barely covers the bills. My aunt insisted I went to college, that I don’t waste my brain. I thought I was doing the right thing but here I am, a three year degree that could make me a veterinary nurse anywhere in the country but I’m working at a cafe just to make ends meet.
I had an interview for my dream job a few weeks ago but Dad got called into a last minute shift and my aunt was working at the hospital so I had to leave before the interview even started, it killed me.
Just as I hung up with the plumber I spot Jacob coming out of his room, a rarity these days. His head is completely focused on his tablet as he walks around the counter and makes a bowl of cereal with no milk, Jacob can’t eat soggy food. He doesn’t say hello, the world eliminated by his noise cancelling headphones. I know he loves me, I know Dad does too, I just wish either of them could show it a bit easier.
Jacob used to be very tactile but things have changed since he’s gotten older, he can’t stand to be touched now. I don’t bother him, making sure to check his room for dirty plates quickly before taking everything into the bathroom to wash them in the sink in there.
Aleah had only been to this place once, it was kind of embarrassing. We used to have a house over on the other side of town but it was getting too expensive to keep so I found this place instead. It’s a bit rough around the edges but I’ve done my best to make it a presentable home, not that these two notice. Sometimes I wish Dads o.c.d. presented with obsessive cleaning like other people have but it’s the opposite, I spend half my life picking up after them both. They don’t mean it, it’s just who they are.
It’s part of what makes losing Drew that much harder. He was my escape from all of this. I’d been taking care of Jacob and Dad for so long I’d forgotten what it meant to have someone take care of me, until he came along. Now that’s gone too. He was so good with Jacob too, they had such a special bond. Drew would always talk about Jacob in our future, he’s going to need care for the rest of his life and Drew wanted us to be the ones to give him that.
My aunt messaged me to check I was okay right as I put the last dish back in the cabinets, making sure to open every window I could to let the smell in here escape. She doesn’t have kids of her own, she’s a lot younger than my Dad, but she’s always been like a big sister to me so she’s made a point of looking out for me.
*knock knock knock*
Fuck, plumbers here already? He said it would probably be tomorrow. Must be some kind of miracle, I thought plumbers only came this quickly in porn.
I check Jacobs door is closed before answering, new people in the house make him jumpy so it’s best he doesn’t see.
Opening the door I force on a fake smile despite how exhausted I feel, after today I just want to go to sleep but it will be an hour or so before Jacob starts to think about sleep so time for me to hold it together.
That’s definitely not the plumber.