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Chapter 5: Life at Home
Well, if you thought that school life for me sucked, wait til you see what home life is like. I mean, if I ever get there.
My bus driver just kicked me off the bus for trying to give that football player a piece of what he deserved. Now I’m walking home. Sucks for me.
I am walking on Wooded Pine Lane, a couple streets over from where I live, when I see my science partner sitting on one of the porches. Her head is in her hands.
I walk up to the house.
“Abigail?” I call softly.
She jerks her head up and gives a wobbly smile. “Daniel; hi.”
I join her on her porch swing and rub her back. “I heard you got checked out early. What for?”
“The mess in the cafeteria. Weren’t you there?”
“Oh yes, now I remember. How are you doing?”
Tears are flowing down her face. She looks up at me. “Good…considering the fact that my dad had to back to work and I forgot my key to get in the house and my great-aunt isn’t home to let me in and this has been the most humiliating day of my life.”
“Oh, wait, throughout the year, it’ll get worse.” She wipes at her eyes. “Ever since I lost my mom in kindergarten—I…” she trails off and covers her face again.
I don’t know what to say. At least both of my parents are still alive and are together, even if only for me.
“I hate to leave, but if I don’t get home soon, it’s gonna be rough for me.”
“It’s ok. You can go. I survived all the past times without anyone to comfort me.” She smiles, and I realize that even in her state, she was trying to joke.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, at 3?”
“Oh yeah,” she said. “Tomorrow at 3.” She waves as I head back down her drive and along the sidewalk a couple streets down.
Regretfully, I arrive at 4957 N. Douglas Fir Parkway sooner than I wanted to. I trudge up my front steps and rap on the door.
“Come in, it’s unlocked.” My mother’s musical voice calls out.
I enter to the smell of brownies. I smile, the stress of the day melting right off me. “Hey Mom. Guess what?”
“What, sweetie?” Mom turns around, her apron spattered with flour.
“We have this da—I mean, uh, freakin’ science project that we gotta work on with a partner. It’s something about biology…I think my partner and I are going to do our project in an area of botany.”
“Who’s your partner, Daniel?”
I look down at my ragged fingernails caked with dirt. I scrape some dirt out and look back at Mom.
“Daniel? Come on, is it a girl?”
“Is it a girl?” I burst out. “Yeah, this is about as girl as it gets without being cheerleader. I mean, she’s lived here all her life and everyone hates her, especially the cheerleaders and football players, but I mean, even the nerds don’t like her. She has absolutely no friends. And today, there was this complete disaster in the cafeteria that was aimed at her—” My voice trails off. “Anyway, her name is Abigail Chadwick…”
“Oh, the daughter of Dr. Herbert Chadwick? Her father is really nice. He’s the prosecuting attorney in town and is apparently pretty successful.” I cock an eyebrow at my mom, and she clears her throat. “But, continue.”
“She herself is very shy and dresses kinda old-fashioned. She has brown hair, gray eyes, and God, she’s the skinniest girl I’ve ever seen. And Mom, her skin is so pale…it’s like she doesn’t even go out in the sunlight!”
My mom smiles. “Well, maybe, you’ll be her first friend. I can imagine, that after this length of time, she’s desperate for a friend.”
“Yeah,” I lean back in the kitchen chair, causing it to squeak, “She did have this dullness in her eyes that kinda said that she had given up on even trying to have friends because she thought it hopeless.”
“Daniel? Did her eyes ‘kinda say it’ or did they ‘say it’?” My mom looks at me with a calm fierceness.
I sigh. “They said it.”
“She needs you as a friend. Be a friend to her.” She turns back around to face her cooking again.
I quickly change the subject. “Where’s Dad?”
She stops, then turns slowly around. “I don’t know…I think he went out to a bar or a billiard house…”
It’s strange, my parents. My mom is the sweetest person I know, and my dad is such a jerk. How did they ever fall in love with each other?
The back door bangs open and my dad stumbles through it. From where I’m seated, I can smell the liquor on his breath.
“What’s for supper, Rachel?” He slurs, clapping me on the back as he passes.
“Chicken lasagna.” She pecks him on the cheek.
Well. Maybe tonight will be an exception to the ‘my life sucks’ rule.