FIVE

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Leaving Derik's in a hurry gave me no time to run upstairs and let Anna know where we were going. Then again, it's not like I would've told her where we were really going, so leaving unannounced seemed to be for the best. We would be back in a few hours anyway, so she probably wouldn't even notice my absence.

Melissa and I had taken the backseat of Derik's car while Willi rode shotgun. To pass the time Willi was doing what he did best. Filling the silence with a story.

"I remember the post man used to drop off Melissa's parent's mail at my house all the time, so I would have to bring it over. Anyways, I went over one day and Melissa was outside on her brand new bike she had gotten for her birthday. She had her knee pads and helmet on, and she had even taken the training wheels off herself."

The story had come up because Willi had asked about Melissa's mom, who was roaming the country with her new boyfriend according to Melissa. She seemed to have a funny reaction to the word "boyfriend" and a sad expression when she thought back to her mom. I couldn't help but assume it had been a while since the last time she had seen her.

"Oh don't tell this story," Melissa protested, "It's so embarrassing."

"But it's hilarious," Willi continued, laughing. "So I'm walking over, right? And our road is a downhill slope. So when she started gaining speed she started losing control of the bike."

I allowed my eyes to linger on Melissa who was staring out the window with what seemed to be an obscure gaze. Maybe she was remembering the simpler times when we were too ignorant to worry about reality. Now we obsessed over how the bills were going to get paid and where our next meal would come from.

"Luckily she had steered the bike off of the road and into the grass, but it had rained the night before and she flew into the ditch. She was drenched in mud from head to toe, her bike and everything covered in it."

I couldn't help but smirk at the image of small Melissa flying downhill and biting it. A pink helmet and knee pads covered in mud as she climbed up off of the ground. Melissa even seemed to find the memory funny now.

"I ran down there to help her and she tried to act strong. Turns out she actually had a sprained wrist," Willi concluded. "But she refused to show it until we were inside the house. She's always been pretty tough."

"Something I must've inherited from dad," Melissa almost whispered. I believed I was the only one to catch it.

I remembered Willi telling me her dad had been killed overseas, which then resulted in the growth of their relationship. In a sense Melissa and I were similar considering both of us had lost our fathers. Of course, I wasn't sure if mine was dead or not, but he had been completely absent for ten years. Who's to say he wasn't rotting six feet in the ground? At least Melissa knew her dad was at peace.

My own father was as good as dead to me when I witnessed the aftermath of his disappearance on my mother. I remembered vividly the last time I had seen him. It was the night of the house fire that had finalized our move from Arizona to California. Dad had apparently been gone on a business trip. I remember my mother running to my room where Anna and I were playing, picking up my sister and ordering me to follow her. The smoke had blinded me as my mom crawled with Anna in her arms, me following her while my lungs were suffocated with smoke. The fearful memory of not being able to breathe had haunted me for nights after, me waking up in the middle of the night choking for air.

We had made it out before the two-story house collapsed in flames, my mom holding Anna and I close. Mom had been so strong, so solid, and thinking about how she was now only made my eyes burn with tears.

Line of Fire (Book #1) GirlXGirlWhere stories live. Discover now