advice to all: sleep is good. very good.
- - -
"I can't." The words came out in a rush. I couldn't see her. I didn't want to. Sometimes people change, even best friends, and it's okay. I think I was the one who changed. Maybe she did, or maybe I never knew Anna at all. Whatever the case, I had all I needed. I didn't need her, or Scott for that matter. I knew you were supposed to forgive and forget. Everyone deserves a second chance. But I still wondered why Anna never fought harder to know the reason I didn't let her in my house, why I came stumbling over some nights crying without an explanation. Why she didn't fight to know: I guess I'd never find out. One thing was for sure. I would've fought hard for her if I was in her position.
"What do you mean?" she asked from the other end of the phone. "I wanted to say I was sorry... I mean... I want us to be okay," she said quietly, a sadness to her tone I'd never heard before. It was weird to hear her sad, after knowing her to be cheerful all the time.
"I don't know, Anna," I said, still watching Chris sit quietly on the ground, still smoothing out the picture he'd drawn that brought fresh tears to my eyes. "You really hurt me." She did, too. She never called before now, never tried to make it okay. Why now?
"Just one question," I said.
"Yeah?" she asked. I could tell she was almost crying by the quiver of her voice, and I felt guilty that I didn't really care that she was crying. Was I a bad person for that? That her tears didn't really affect me?
"Why now? You waited so long..." I trailed off, wondering why she really had decided to apologize. It didn't make sense. I knew Scott had said that she was really broken up about our fight ... but she still hadn't done anything. Never tried. Never made an effort.
"I just miss you, okay?" Anna said, desperation and sadness in her voice. "I'm sorry. I'm just really sorry. I don't know how to make it right."
"I need some time, okay? I'll see you around, Anna," I said, unsure if I was making the right decision of letting go my best friend. But then I wondered if she was ever really my best friend in the first place. Why didn't she ask any questions? I knew she had once accused me of never telling her anything... but she never asked either. Unless it was about boys, or parties. Which didn't matter. Not when everything else was so broken. Not when I had a drunk mom at home. Parties and boys were the least of my damn worries.
Except Nash. I worried about him constantly. I look down at Chris when he tugged on my sleeve, an impatient frown on his face.
"What?" I asked, smiling a little.
"When is Nash coming over to play?" He blinked innocently. I felt my heart melt into a puddle on the floor.
"I don't know," I said softly, smiling and brushing back his unruly curls. He pondered this for a moment, a frown still on his lips. He looked down at the picture, his tiny fingers smoothing out the corners. His fingers grazed over Nash's superhero mask lightly.
"Aria," he whispered. "Where is mommy?" I felt my breathing halt slightly. I didn't say anything and that's when he looked up with tears brimming in his eyes and fury shot through me. I hated her. In that moment, I hated my own mother. She was selfish. He shouldn't be crying. The next moment, I loved her again and wished she'd just be my mother and not this person who walked out on us. I couldn't hate her. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't.
I pulled him to me, trying not to shake all over. I clenched my jaw and buried my face in his curls, holding him tight as if that could make him see that I could love him more than she could. I wished he'd see that we didn't need her. I didn't want them to take my little brother away. He was mine, not theirs. I was the one who loved him. Not them.
Instead of answering him I just said, "I'm here, Chris." That seemed to be enough because a minute later he was playing with the toys Lucy had bought him, completely back to his normal, smiling self. I was jealous of him. I wished it could be enough for me. My lips were still pressed together, trembling slightly.
I was happy before my mom came back with that man and blew everything to hell again. Sure, I was working too much, I had forgotten the meaning of a good night's sleep, and Nash wasn't talking to me. But there was a sense of freedom I'd never had before. I felt like I could finally breathe. That I had my life back and she couldn't hold me down because I'd always be worried about her, about Chris. I hadn't felt chained to our house anymore. But now she was back, and I didn't know how long it would be until she figured out where Chris was, and that she could take him away at any moment in time.