Chapter Nineteen

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Getting the official notice via letter that I'd been fired from the diner was the final straw. My new life was no more, and there was nothing I could do about it. Sure, I still had my one friend, but now that I was alone again, it was difficult to remember the warmth that she wrapped me in. As I lay in my bed, staring at the ceiling crack above me, I realised that Kimberly was right, that I really had nothing to lose by going back home, that it probably was the next logical step for me if I wanted to improve my existence.

She had been right about a lot of things, but that was the only one I was focusing on for the time being.

I picked up my phone and dialled my mother's number before I could change my mind. I needed to take snap action, before I gave myself the opportunity to talk myself out of it. I knew it wouldn't take much for me do a complete one-eighty, and unless I wanted to continue on my self-destructive spiral, then now was the time to get things done.

The ring from the phone was dull, but not as monotone as my voice became as soon as she answered.

"Hello?"

"Mum, it's me." I let out a deep sigh, really wishing that I didn't have to utter these words. "Can I come home for a few days?"

"What? Really?" She was so stunned. I could practically hear her pacing the room in shock. "Of course, we'd love to have you back! When are you coming? Just so I can get organised..." It sounded like there was an uncertainty there, which caused a twist of worry to coil up in my stomach, but I quickly shook that thought from my mind, convinced that I'd put it there myself as just another excuse. There couldn't be any more assumptions, any more reasons. I just needed to do this, to get it done now before it was too late for me.

"Today." Now that the decision had been made, there was no point in putting it off any longer. I had to tackle this head on if I wanted to get things back on the right track. "If that's okay?"

"Of course." Her cogs were already ticking, trying to plan everything. I was sure that to her, this was almost worse than a visit from royalty. "I'll ask Carter if he has the time to come and pick you up..."

"No." I interrupted, before she got too carried away. "I'm alright mum; I'd rather get the bus." A few hours in the car with Carter sounded too painful for words—we just didn't know each other well enough to have anything to talk about. Public transport was definitely the preferable option. "Then I can..." I tried to think of a valid excuse, so I didn't sound like I was totally rejecting her husband. "Pack, and get all organised..." That was pathetic, but somehow she bought it. To be honest, she was probably desperate not to do anything that might put me off.

"Okay great, well I'll see you in a few hours then."

I hung up the phone, already regretting my decision. Why did I think that was a good idea? I could have spent the entire day wallowing in self-pity under my sheets instead. Instead I was going to have to make awkward small talk with my mum's new family, and bat off all kinds of questions that might cause concern.

At least it would keep me away from all the temptations that the city held—there was no denying that positive.

I huffed sadly, forcing my weary body out of bed, and tossed a few items into a backpack, thinking that I wouldn't need a lot since I had no intention of being there long. A day, a night, that would be plenty. I was already feeling overwhelmed with all of the attention I was going to get, and I wasn't even there yet! There was no way I'd be able to stand it for too long when it was really happening.

Maybe if they were the normal sort of family that left me pretty much alone, I'd be okay. But of course they were the opposite of that. Mum would fuss around me until I was ready to weep.

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