Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 17

“He was nice?”

I nodded. “He was. I think he might have been mildly stoned, though. That and trying to use me against you.”

“Oh, I’m sure he was stoned. He’s always easier to deal with when stoned. If I hadn’t thought it might get you into trouble I’d have suggested taking a joint.”

I laughed. “Then he’d have made me smoke with him, though.”
“And? How much does it affect you?”

I considered that. “No idea. But hey. I survived Southeast.” I wrinkled my nose. “I hope he doesn’t stay in that room. It’s moldy.”

She wrinkled her nose back. “Ugh. Makes me wish I could help.”

“Get that scholarship. Go out of state if you can…then you’ll be further away from him.”

“And you.” She hesitated, looking at me. “I don’t want to be further away from you.” Then, for some reason, she turned and left.

Or maybe I knew exactly what the reason was. She’d never dated, after all, so there was no reason why she wouldn’t be…and I…and…crap.

No. I couldn’t let that happen. She was in enough danger as my friend. Plus, I didn’t want to pull her into that maelstrom of confusion.

Didn’t have to choose. Did have to choose. Didn’t have to choose. I knew which I hoped was true, but could I be sure?

So, I just watched her go, and then finished getting ready for school, heading out into the morning. It always felt too early at this time of year, even more than in the summer. Why couldn’t they switch us to a sane schedule?

Because all of the parents objected. And the stores that employed us. I shook my head, brushing back my hair, reaching the school gates just before the bell. Kanesha was…hopefully right behind me. I hoped she wasn’t so upset it made her late.

But I was upset, and I couldn’t quite hide it. “You alright?”

Barry Clark. Gods. He’d chosen now to stop avoiding me. “I’m fine,” I said, quietly. “More than, in fact. Just that…eh. Life, you know.”

“At least you have a chance of graduating now,” he quipped. “And my parents have stopped being quite so mad with me.”

“You still don’t have a chance.”

He nodded. “I know. I’m dating Patsy Lawrence.”

I considered that, then nodded. “I can see what you see in her.” Pretty without being so pretty guys would fight over her, good cook…and they’d fit together. They’d fit together perfectly.

“Thank you. Can we be friends?”

“I…alright. Just that if anyone kidnaps you again, don’t blame me.”

He laughed. “I’ll blame me. I could have just walked away, after all.”


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