Struck Me

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Chapter Twelve

Spending the day at Justin's was the first day I had felt relief all week. I didn't have to sit alone in my house with constant reminders of what was haunting me. Even the unfamiliarity of the bedroom that greeted me when I woke up comforted me more than the walls of my own house.

"So Oliver, is there anything special you want me to cook for tomorrow?" Justin's mom asks as she cleans up the kitchen after finishing dinner.

How could she even think about food right now?

"Um-"

"God, mom, you don't have to constantly ask him questions," Justin interrupts.

I love over at him, hoping he would shut up.

"There's nothing in particular, no," I respond while smiling at her, hoping she would excuse her rude son.

"Okay well if you change your mind just let me know."

The fact that Justin doesn't spend much time with his mom was the only unfamiliarity that didn't sit right with me.

I wanted to ask him why he's always avoiding his mom but I didn't want to bring up the topic; it wouldn't be good for me.

"So how have things been with you?" I ask Justin as we get back to his room. I haven't been able to talk to Justin about his life and I feel bad because the topic of discussion has been about me these past couple of days.

"Seriously, you want to know how I'm doing?" He laughs.

"Yeah, I mean.. I don't think talking about my life will help me feel any better so how are you?"

He nods and looks down at his hands.

"I guess I'm doing fine. Things with Avi are fine but I can't tell if she's bored with me or if I'm bored with her."

"Why do you think you're bored with her?"

"It's not that, it's just I feel like I constantly have to ask her permission if I want to do something."

"Why do you say that?"

"Like she gets pissed off that I'm always checking on you. There are way worse things I could be doing. I could be hanging out with other girls or something, you know? But's it's just you and that still makes her mad."

"Have you guys like-?"

"Why?" I ask, genuinely curious. "Do you not love her?"

"I mean love is a strong word, right? Or so they say."

"Who's they?"

"I don't know, Oliver. It's just something people say," he responds while chuckling.

"She's my first girlfriend," he continues. "I don't even know what love means."

"Well you two seem very happy together," I say sarcastically.

"She seems happy."

"Well you should tell her you're not happy."

He shakes his head. "I don't know, man. It's complicated, I don't think I can."

"Well you should. It's not right that she's the only one who's happy in the relationship. I thought you were happy."

"Me too," he smiles weakly.

We both sit in silence for a while before he speaks again.

"Do you have an idea on when you want to go back to school?"

"I don't know, I probably will give it another week."

He nods.

"Not like anyone over there misses me," I say jokingly.

"I do.. I just mean I sit with Avi and her friends at lunch and they're annoying."

"Why don't you sit somewhere else?"

"Yeah, right." He sighs and lays down on his bed.

"Relationships fucking suck, Oli. Don't ever get into one."

"I can promise you that."

He sits up and looks at his phone.

"I think I'm going to try to sleep since I have school tomorrow."

Part of me feels sad because it was nice having company and not thinking about my life for a while but I don't say that. Instead, I nod and stand up to leave his room.

When I enter the spare bedroom I sit on the bed and grow uncomfortable with the silence that begins to accompany me. Thoughts of my mother begin to creep in my mind and I want them to go away. It's not that I want to forget about her, I just don't want to feel the pain that comes with thinking of her.

I lay down on the bed and begin to cry.

The way Justin's house feels so foreign was comforting during the day. At night it just hurts. I still can't grasp the fact that my mother will never be waking me up again for school, or cook for me, or even talk to me.

I begin to cry more but it's not the same way I cry at home; this time I have to be quiet so no one will hear me. I don't want to burden Justin or his mom.

I lied awake for hours. I couldn't sleep and the thoughts of my mother would come and go and switch out with thoughts of my grandmother. Despite my distaste for her, it still hurt when she told me she didn't care what happened to me. I just want to know what made her hate me or my mom so much. I sighed and closed my eyes in an attempt to make my thoughts go away.

Think of something else, Oliver. Anything.

The sounds of my phone ring makes me jump. Who would be calling me right now? It's 1:00 in the morning.

Leah.

"Hello?" I answer.

"Oliver, hi. I'm so sorry if I woke you up. I know you must have had a long day and all-"

"What do you want?" I ask, trying to avoid the awkward tension that comes with having any type of conversation with Leah.

"There's someone knocking on your door," she says. "It's a woman."

"Is it my grandma?"

"No, it's not her. She doesn't even look familiar. I don't even recognize her from the funeral today. Oh, I'm sorry for bringing that up I didn't mean-"

"Okay, thank you, Leah," I say before hanging up.

I quickly creep into Justin's room.

"Justin wake up," I whisper while tugging his shoulder.

"What's up?" He asks, half asleep.

"I think Heather is at my house."

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