Inquest Chapter 17

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Chapter 17


Hot rollers shouldn’t make people cry. People, what a laugh. I’m the only person in the world that cries at the sight of hot rollers. All I have managed to do so far is plug them in. As soon as the little red indicator light turned on, I burst into tears. Worked more than they have been in maybe —thanks to Milo’s new training regimen—my muscles protest being curled up in a ball as I sit on top of the toilet. Tears splash down on my bare knees. My fingers fumble to grab my phone off the counter. Celia’s number flashes across the screen and it’s ringing a second later.

“Hey, Libby,” she answers happily.

“Celia, I can’t do this.”

Her sigh whispers across the line. After spending most of the week together, plus everything Milo has already told her about me, she doesn’t even have to ask what I’m talking about. “Yes, you can, Libby.”

“I’m sitting in my bathroom crying my eyes out. I can’t do it. I can’t curl my hair.”

“I think you’ll feel better once you just do it. Whatever it is that’s holding you back, it’s time to move on,” Celia says.

I shudder out a painful breath. Move on. I don’t know if that’s possible. “Celia, you just don’t understand,” I begin.

“Well, of course I don’t,” she interrupts, “because you won’t tell me!”

And I’m not going to. My silence reinforces that.

“Do you know where I am right now?” she asks.

“No.” I wish she and Milo were both here with me.

“I am sitting in a chair at the barber’s watching Milo get his shaggy mop cut off.”

My chest tightens with excitement and guilt. “He’s really doing it? How does it look?”

Celia snorts. “It’s looks terrible,” she says, “but that’s only because they just started.”

I can’t wait to see him with short hair. I’ve spent the last two weeks trying to imagine it.

“Libby,” Celia says softly, “I’ve begged him, and my parents have threatened him to cut his hair. He didn’t care. Nothing we said to him mattered. He’s doing this for you because you asked him to, and because he wants to see you overcome whatever this thing is with your hair. Nobody else could push him to change like you have. And that’s saying a lot since I’m here, too. We both know how much he loves me.”

I laugh at her blatant confidence in her brother’s love. Most girls her age are embarrassed by their families and do everything they can to pretend they don’t exist. Not Celia. She is happy to tell anyone who’ll listen how much Milo means to her.

“Libby, do you want to go to the dance with Milo tonight?”

“Yes,” I say quickly.

“Then you have to curl your hair.”

“I know.” Faced with the choice of holding onto my familiar pain a little longer, and hurting Milo and missing the dance, my resolves begins to sharpen.

“He bought a suit,” Celia adds, her singsong voice trying to entice me even more. “I saw him try it on last night. You’re going to like it. He hasn’t worn a suit in a long time, Libby.”

A suit. No more baggy clothes that hide his body.

“And if it makes you feel any better,” Celia says, “Milo isn’t having much fun either.” I can hear Milo growl in the background. Celia laughs. “I can’t decide whether he’s going to break the arms of the chair off with how tight he’s gripping them, or just throw up on the barber. I’m leaning toward breaking the chair, but it’s a close call.”

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