I sat on Lark’s couch for two hours while she did homework. We didn’t talk after her panic attack and the silence between us didn’t feel uncomfortable.
I was happy to be left to my thoughts and I think she felt the same.
I had turned her television on hours ago, but I couldn’t tell you what had been playing. All I could think about was our earlier conversation. I turned to look at her and laughed to myself when I saw she had fallen asleep at her table. Bringing my phone out of my pocket, I saw that it was a little past 11:00 pm.
Figuring I should head out, I went over to Lark to try to tell her goodbye. I gave her shoulder a nudge and she didn’t even flinch. Her breathing was still deep and peaceful.
Looking at her now, I could almost see the girl I remembered from nine years ago. She had fallen asleep on left arm, with her face turned outward. Her right hand still held the pen I had given her. There were so many times Lark had fallen asleep in random places when we were all together with our foster family. Usually, David would pick her up and take her back to her room.
I decided I didn’t want to wake her up and risk her not falling back asleep. Slowly, I removed the pen from her grasp and picked her up from the table. Her weight rested comfortably in my arms and I carefully walked over to her bed. Luckily, her bed wasn’t made so I didn’t have to try to set her down and then get the covers back over her.
Before I pulled the blankets up over her sleeping form, I took off her socks. Lark never slept with socks on. She always said she could be close to hypothermia and would still refuse to wear socks in bed. Smiling at the memory of her old bedroom littered with discarded socks, I gave her a soft kiss on her forehead.
Grabbing her phone, I made sure to set an alarm to wake her up at 6:30 am and then plugged it into her charger. I wasn’t sure when her classes started tomorrow but I figured she could always snooze it if I had set the alarm too early.
I was about to leave when I realized I’d be leaving her in an unlocked apartment. She had clearly gone through a lot and safety seemed to be something on her mind at all times. I walked over to her kitchen and looked in the silverware drawer. Sure enough, I found a spare key. David and Maria always kept a spare in the same place. Maria thought it was a great place to put it because you’d never forget where it was.
I hoped she wouldn’t be uncomfortable with me using this, but I’d rather risk Lark being upset with me than leaving her vulnerable. I decided to write her a quick note and placed it under her phone so she would see it in the morning.
I gave her one last longing glance before opening her front door and locking it from the outside. I would have preferred to stay overnight with her, but I didn’t know if she’d be okay with that yet.
It hadn’t taken me long to get back to the apartment. I expected to come home to a dark apartment, but when I stepped out of the elevator the kitchen light was still on and I could hear the guys talking in the living room.
Shuffling out of my shoes, I walked in and joined them.
“Hey, how was your night?“, Colt asked. He had a lot more clothes on than the last time I saw him and I couldn’t resist making a joke.
“It was good, probably not as good as yours has been though”, I replied. The laughter I got from all of them was a promising sign that the earlier tension and awkwardness had dissipated since I left with Lark.
“Har har, very funny man,” Colt grumbled and threw a pillow at me. My reaction time was a little to slow and it ended up catching me straight in the face. Greyson and Aidan were playing Call of Duty but they didn’t seem too invested in it.
“We have to talk.” Hearing the serious note to my voice, all of the guys turned to look at me. Aid and Grey turned their game off and put the controllers away before walking back over to the couch. None of them said anything. They simply waited for me to speak.
“We need to have a family meeting tomorrow night. Lark. . . she agreed to tell us what happened and where she’s been for nine years.” I let that sink in and watched all of their faces go through a range of emotions.
They all looked to be battling the excitement of not being kept in the dark, with the grim reality that what we were going to hear likely won’t be pleasant.
“She’s terrified guys. She started to tell me a little about what’s going on and before she could get into it, she had a panic attack. A fucking panic attack. Whatever is going on with her, it’s not good. She said she doesn’t want to talk about it, but she will for us. So we all need to be there for her tomorrow. Don’t interrupt her, don’t ask questions until she’s ready. Just listen. This is going to be hard enough without us making it worse.” I met each of their gazes as I said this. Trying to hammer in my words.
“How was she when you left?“, Aidan asked. He was sitting on the edge of the couch with his arms resting on his knees.
“Okay, I think. She passed out doing homework at her kitchen table so I carried her to bed. Before that, she seemed alright once she calmed down from out talk.“, I reassured him. I know they all wish they could be with her right now.
We all sat in silence, but it would only take me one guess to figure out what was on everyone’s mind.
“Would anyone care if I asked her to sleepover tomorrow night? She can use the guest bedroom if she wants. That way she can go rest after our family meeting if she needs to.” Greyson’s voice broke the quiet that had encompassed the room.
Colt nodded his head in agreement. “Yeah, I think that’s a good idea. I’ll take the day off tomorrow and get the room ready and go grocery shopping.” Colt got up to grab his phone from the kitchen island as he spoke. I saw that he had opened up his notes app and titled it, Grocery List for Sleepover. “What do you think she’d want?“, he asked us.
I chuckled softly.
We spent the next twenty minutes putting together a list of items for Colt to buy that would give Lark a sense of comfort, before parting ways and heading to bed.
Greyson promised to send her the text tonight, so she’d get in the morning and have time to pack a bag if she wanted to stay over.
I hoped she said yes.