Stained Red

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Grace though she'd pulled herself together enough to go face her family. But something must have been in her eyes because Nathaniel's father was looking at her intently. Malcolm whispered something to Alice, hugged Ophelia and slipped out without saying anything to Grace. Maybe he was just going to go check on Nate. Grace wasn't even sure where her best friend was going to go or what he'd do right now. She'd been rightfully pissed at him. But if he'd had kept his mouth shut she'd have never of even known any of this. He'd come clean about it pretty much the moment he could.

Because of a guilty conscience. Grace dismissed but a part of her still felt a mix of guilt and shame for how she'd reacted to his news. But what was he expecting? she tried to counter. Exactly this. Remember he expected you to hate him for it. He expected this. Grace tried to shut up the internal voice that sounded far too much like her own guilty conscience and focus on figuring out how she could talk to her aunt alone.

Grace flushed as she saw her father and mother give her that weird parental look, her off balance state of mostly drunk fairly obvious to them it seemed. Damn Nate for getting me into this state and leaving me on my own. Grace grumbled to herself and nearly smacked herself in the face for the thought. If she was like this he wasn't much better himself, and he was out there walking around on his own.

Trying to pull her thoughts off her erstwhile best friend, her attention inevitably landed on her aunt who seemed to just be staring vaguely at the television without really watching it. Now that Grace had a chance to really look at her aunt, she could see how thin and gaunt Ophelia had become. How little fire was left in her eyes. How did we all miss this? Why is it that only Nate was able to see what was coming? But Grace already knew the answer to that even as she asked herself it. Her family hadn't wanted to see it; hadn't wanted to even consider that Ophelia might give up the fight. But Nate was Nate, he didn't see what he wanted to see, he saw the entirety of what was there. It's what made him such a good photographer. He made people see things that they would normally just overlook or not ever realize on their own.

But seeing how sick her aunt really was only made it harder for Grace to actually plan out how to confront her. It's not like Auntie O would have ever said anything to Grace about the 'incident' anyways. Not just keeping her impending suicide a secret, but the failed sexual liason with Nathaniel. Still, Grace knew herself well enough to realize that she needed to know why it had failed. You're being melodramatic about it, get over it and just focus on what you plan to do now. Grace chided herself.

Right now she had a couple of options in front of her. Option A: text Nate to figure out where he was now andmake sure he wasn't drunk in a ditch. Option B: sit down and enjoy the movie. Option C: get to interrogating her aunt. Option D: eat the pizza, drink water and sober up before she did anything stupedly rash. Grace decided to go with option D.

Even as she sat down and ate some obscenely greasy pizza, Grace felt the urge to text him start to creep up the back of her neck, like an omen that something was wrong on his end of the line. But she fought the urge, taking hte time to eat another slice and did her best to ignore it. The feeling started to crawl down her shoulders, twitching in her biceps as she drank some pop. Grace made a face as she realized that she was drinking Dr. Pepper, a pop she didn't actially like but she finished it anyways. By now her fingers were fidgety and her palm itched to hold her phone.

Malcolm's gone to get him. Besides, Nate's a big boy, he can handle himself and you're mad at him anyways. You're being a clingy brat. Grace snarked at herself.

So of course her phone buzzed with a text message before her will power could suffer a major malfunction. She even managed to not dive on it to check it as soon as it bleeped at her. Instead, Grace forced herself to finish her pizza and wipe her fingers off before she allowed herself to look at it. And was disappointed to see that it was a message from Colby.

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