Always Return Home

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I didn't have anything on me but my phone and the few bucks in change I'd gotten at the grocery store. What is Scott thinking right now? I hope he's worried. He's probably watching me walk down the sidewalk from the window upstairs. I like to people watch when I'm bored, but I'm not too fond of the idea of him staring down at me, so to get out of view I go into the gas station next door and buy one of those huge bottles of Brisk for ninety-nine cents. That should last me a while. I exit and wander down the sidewalk, thinking about my mom, and growing increasingly more sad.

My mom was the person I was closest to. Sure, I had friends. I would go to their basketball games and shows whenever I could, and we'd hang out after school sometimes, but nobody was as close to me as she was. She'd even encourage me to have a sleepover or throw a party of some sort. I told her I'd rather stay home. She'd always shrug and ask me to go paint something with her. Ever since I was born she'd include me in all of her hobbies, and she continued to until she was forty-one. That's when the chemo really hit her, and she died a few weeks before my fifteenth birthday. As for my dad, he didn't really care about anything I did before my mom died, and he didn't care much afterwards either. When she left us he went completely silent. He'd go to work all day, come home, watch television, then sleep. I think it was to distract himself from her absence. So from early July of that year on, I've raised myself. It's been almost twelve years now, and it's worked okay, but not a day goes by where I don't think about those desolate hospital hallways. But, since it was summer when she passed, my friends weren't around me much, and my dad didn't hang out with me when all I wanted was something so I didn't feel lonely anymore. I just thought Scott would want the same thing.

I slump down against a tree on the edge of the cement. Damn, bark is rough. It scratches up my back as I slide down. I take a swig of Brisk hoping it magically turns to alcohol.
I'm not that lucky. I never am.

I begin thinking about my mom while sitting on the crushed leaves. All my go-to, favorite memories. I imagine the first time I rode a bike in front of her and the way she clapped and cheered for me like I had just won a gold medal. Or the time she randomly picked me up from school to go get ice cream. She was so spontaneous and fun, and ever since her death, nothing has filled the void. When I began going to Scott's Scones and developed a crush, I think I was hoping that Scott might be the one to make me feel whole again.

But he doesn't know why I walked out. He better realize he said something insulting otherwise he might just be dumb. Dumb and pretty, though.

Drinking my iced tea, I ponder some ways to tell him why I stormed out. I don't know how to phrase it without becoming too straightforward. Maybe that's what he needs. I don't know. I'm not a psychologist.

It overrides my thinking as I swallow the last few sips and stand, searching for a trash can. Maybe life would be easier if I threw myself away with this bottle. I mean, sometimes I consider life like an empty bottle. Full of hope till someone drains you.

I start ambling kind of towards home, but then I actually really have to pee, so I'm definitely heading home because it's, like, ten or something, and if Scott and Lindsey are moving out I better start applying for some jobs tomorrow. Need some sleep or whatever. I go to my apartment and walk in, thankful he didn't lock the door by habit. Immediately I head to the bathroom, do my thing, and when I come out, Scott is sitting on the couch, stretching and yawning. I didn't even think to look where he was when I came in, I'd just figured he'd went to bed. He's an early sleeper nowadays.

"Hey," he says, as if he has the right.

"Hey," I say shortly, making it clear I'm still pissed, even though I know it's kinda mean of me. I've already concluded he must be dumb, but I can't shake the feeling that he isn't. It hurts my feelings less if I tell myself he didn't know any better though, so that's what I do.

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