The bright light of the sun shone through the glass like a reflecting crystal, invading Aiden’s eyes. As the shine woke him up, his vision eventually cleared. He turned to see the time on the clock next to him. 7AM. Not bad considering the night he had before.
The smell of pancakes and bacon wafted in from downstairs. Aiden stretched and grabbed his shirt from the corner. He looked in the mirror, fixing his wavy mess of bed hair. Music began playing as from below. It sounded like some old Green Day record.
Alison was probably playing some of her favorites. Aiden chuckled quietly to himself as he made his way downstairs. Alison sat on one of the fancy red stools by the kitchen unit, spluttering maple syrup from her lips as Michael continued cooking. The scent relaxed him, and thankfully the atmosphere did to. He hid behind the staircase for a moment.
“All I’m saying is we should have pizza tonight.” he heard Alison say.
Michael chuckled as he continued flipping breakfast on a frying pan. “We had pizza two nights ago, surely your stomach can handle not having it for a while.”
Alison sighed. “Fine, what do you want to get?”
“Why don’t we wait till Aiden gets up?”
Alison laughed. “Come on, you know what he was like at our sleepovers. Wouldn’t wake up till the afternoon, at least. I should really just skip school and look after him.”
Aiden stood up and walked over. “Well, I’m a little early then.”
Michael smiled at him whilst keeping an eye on the pan. “Morning, buddy.” He pointed the spatula at Alison. “And you are going to school, don’t make me ground you again.”
Alison’s smile turned to her sad face, as she batted her eyelashes. “Come on, you wouldn’t ground your baby sister.”
Aiden walked over to the unit. “That was the best and the shortest sleep I’ve ever had.”
Michael handed him a plate. “Glad you slept well. Pick anything you want from the tray, it’s all warm. Alison, get a napkin please. Your lips look like they’ve caramelized.”
Aiden sniggered as he looked over at her. It was if she had gone face first into a pool of syrup.
She grabbed a napkin and wiped her face. “Happy, big bro?”
“Ecstatic.” he laughed. “Aiden, we can go visit your dad after I finish work. You guys hang out after school for a while and I’ll come get you. My shift finishes at four.”
Aiden nodded, tucking into his breakfast. He began feeling more energized with every bite. “For the record, we had Italian for dinner last night.” He turned and winked at Alison.
She sniggered. “Frozen mac n cheese doesn’t count as Italian.”
Michael took the pan over to the sink. “Well, it’s settled then. How about Chinese?”
“Yes!” Alison yelled out.
Aiden shrugged. “I’m down with anything, I don’t mind.”
Michael looked at his watch. “Alison, it’s almost time for you to go to school. You should go get a shower.”
Alison’s eyes broadened. “Okay then, you’re the boss.” She took her plate up to the sink and put her hand on Aiden’s shoulder as she slowly walked past. “Hope you’re feeling better, superstar.”
Aiden’s spine chilled as her hand left his shoulder. As she hobbled up the stairs, he looked over at Michael. “You know she’s never stopped calling me that since we met.”
“How so? You get a lot of gold stars when you were a kid?”
“Yeah, I was top of the class.” Aiden laughed.
Michael twirled his fork on the plate, looking down as he moved it around. “You wish on a shooting star last night?”
Aiden’s heart sank for a moment. He tried to laugh it off. “Didn’t see any.”
“Drop the charade, Romeo. I saw you two outside last night, and you were doing a little bit more than just talking.” He winked at him, grinning with his sparkling white teeth.
Aiden’s cheeks got warmer as his face blushed bright red. “You saw that, huh?”
“Yep, I saw the whole thing.”
Aiden’s eyes began blinking rapidly as his fingers started twitching. “And…you’re cool with it?”
Michael laughed out loud. “Yes, chill out dude. I’m cool with it. I’m glad you finally did something about it.”
Michael sighed heavily. “Aiden, I’ve known you for years. It’s no secret to me that you have feelings for Alison. I knew since you guys had your first play date that there was something between you. My mum and dad, they saw it too.”
Aiden exhaled. “Do you miss them much?”
Michael shrugged. “Well, it’s complicated. Of course I miss them, I’m sure Alison does too, but you never know how much life is going to change when you get older. Now me, I’m happy that Mum and Dad are happy. Living the big CEO life in the States is what they always dreamed of. Look at this apartment you’re in, I can’t be mad at them for leaving me to take care of Alison. Now, her on the other hand was devastated when they left. I’m pretty sure she still thinks about it now, even though she’s too stubborn to admit it. She was only twelve when they left, and I was twenty-one. I was a grown man barely realizing the world around him. I didn’t know how to take care of her, but I was always there when she needed me, and you were too.”
“What are you trying to say?” Aiden asked.
“What I’m trying to say is, I know my sister. I know when she’s angry, when she’s sad, when she’s hyper. I know she has feelings for you, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you did too.”
Aiden lay back, covering his eyes with his hand. “Did she tell you about what happened on Sunday?”
“The fight you two had? Yeah, she told me. Came here in tears. I had to sit with her for a while before she opened up.”
“Why, I thought you two were close?”
“We are, but even if you’re close with someone, sometimes it can be hard to tell the complete truth. I haven’t told her how much I hate her singing.”
Aiden laughed. “It can’t be that bad.”
“Dude, I had to soundproof the apartment so I wouldn’t hear her in the shower.”
Grinning, Aiden took his plate up to the sink, turning on the tap. “I don’t know how I feel about her Michael, I really don’t.”
“I get it, you got other things on your mind right now.”
“It’s not just that, it’s like, what if I lose her?”
Michael smiled at him. “You guys kissed last night.”
“I know, and that’s what’s so scary. You know what she said to me out there? She said she loved me, and this wasn’t the typical best friend kind of love, this felt like she’d been hiding it for such a long time, and I didn’t say anything.”
“And why’s that?”
Aiden sighed deeply. “Because I’m a mess. I love Alison, and I couldn’t live with myself if anything I did ended up hurting her. I got lucky this week; I don’t ever want to feel like I’d lose her again. If I ended up dating her, things would change between us. For good or bad, but what if it’s the bad? What if I screw up again?”
He took a deep breath, wiping his face. “I already lost my mum and I could lose my Dad. I won’t lose her too.”
Michael got up and walked over to Aiden, patting him on the shoulder and giving him a hug. Aiden returned it.
“You’re the most honest, brave and caring guy I know, Aiden. Qualities like that don’t come often. You wouldn’t lose Alison or me. I promise.”
Footsteps began pattering down the stairs, Aiden turned to see Alison emerging with wet hair and a freshly ironed school uniform. “Shower’s free, Aiden.”
Aiden smiled. “Thanks.” He walked past her and ran upstairs.
“Hey Aiden?” Michael called up.
Aiden stopped. “Yeah?”
“Don’t use all the hot water. We gotta cherish the things we have, buddy.”