111 15 3

I think I made it through this first week of school by the skin of my teeth.

After the party on Wednesday night, not only was Willa exhausted but so was I. I ended up falling asleep in the coffee shop during my free period on Thursday and was ten minutes late to class without an excuse. Ms. Taylor wasn't too pleased to say the least. And today went by almost without a hitch until Blaire and I happened to cross paths again in the hallway. I actually spoke this time and all I got from that was a cold side-eye and more silence.

"Maybe you did something and you just don't know it," Willa says as we walk up the porch steps. "Blaire can be a little weird like that sometimes."

"Yeah, I thought about that too. It just doesn't make sense though. I mean, she's the one who stopped talking to me, not the other way around. There's something else to it."

I unlock the door and leave it open for her, sliding my shoes off at the door. Willa shuts the door just as Dad comes down the stairs, looking like a completely different man without the scruffy beard and scowl I remember him wearing a few days ago.

"Hey, girls. How was school?"

I shrug and move past him into the kitchen. I can feel his and Willa's stares on my back but that doesn't stop me from not speaking to him. I haven't said a word to Dad since Wednesday and today's the first day he's even tried speaking to me. It's caused a lot of tension in the house because Dad and I are usually the more talkative people in our family and our silence has seemed to spread to everyone else like wildfire. Dinners seem to be spent in separate rooms and ending up in the living room at the same time is almost painful to sit through. Instead of arguing about what to watch on the television, we just end up watching whatever's on the first channel we flip to and leave it.

Dad knows he owes me an apology. And until that comes out of his mouth, I refuse to be the bigger person. I'm the daughter; I shouldn't have to be.

"Um, school was good, Dad. Just glad it's Friday," Willa says, letting out a chuckle so forced it's almost laughable. "How was work?"

"Stressful as usual. We're pretty backed up at the office," he says. "I got this weekend off though and I was thinking we could visit your grandparents for a couple days."

I grab a water bottle from the fridge and sit at the counter on one of the barstools, listening to the small talk as it gets even more awkward. Willa catches my eye and shakes her head slightly; I know she's on my side in all of this. She refuses to believe Aiden's guilty and knows that Dad's blow-up was harsher than it needed to be.

"Yeah, sounds good. That'll be nice," she says. "Elise, will you come help me with this geometry homework? I'm really struggling."

I take that as my cue and scoot my stool back, taking my bottle with me as I head for the stairs. "Of course," I say. "I'd do anything for my sister." My eyes meet Dad's as I say it and he tilts his head, his arms folding across his chest. I give him a second to say something and yet he still doesn't take the chance. His mistake.

I get to Willa's room and shut the door behind me, rolling my eyes as I sit across from her on the floor. "Alright, next time you need to come up with a better one. Dad knows I almost failed geometry last year. Try biology," I say.

She chuckles and pulls her already half finished geometry worksheet out of her binder. "Got it," she says. "But maybe you really should talk to him, El. I mean, I know he was harsh. But, you know Dad. I'm sure he didn't mean for it to come off like that."

"No, I think he did. And even if he didn't, that's not what I'm mad about. He's giving up on Aiden, that's why I'm pissed. I mean, what parent gives up on their kid like that?"

Beneath These AshesWhere stories live. Discover now