9: Sworn

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Autumn doesn't feel like going to school. 

She forces herself out of bed, though, mostly so people don't think anything is wrong. 

Adrian walks ahead of her, and she isn't sure what to say. She just walks with him. Neither of them really have the desire to speak.

Autumn goes to school thinking of nothing but her mother. A few of her teachers ask if she's okay, and she says she's fine. She won't say her mother left, because stating it makes it feel final, like it's actually true. 

On the way home, Adrian is nowhere in sight. She lets herself cry once again. 

Adrian pops out of nowhere. "What's wrong, Little Leaf?"

She flinches, and tries to tell him. She can't. She wipes her eyes and takes a breath, and tells him everything she knows and doesn't know. Adrian is usually good with finding the right words, but he for once can't think of anything to say. What do you say to someone who just was diagnosed with cancer and lost her mom just a few days later? 

Adrian hugs her and lets her cry. When they get to his house, he stops and looks at her. 

"I feel so alone," she whimpers. 

Adrian strokes her hair. "I promise - I swear - I'll be here whenever you need me. I'll help you achieve every last thing on your list. You're not alone as long as I'm here, I promise," he assures her. 

Autumn looks up at him, tears staining her face. "I... I... Thank you," she stutters, smiling weakly. 

Adrian walks inside without looking back. 

Autumn trudges to her house, opening the door to the stale, empty air. 

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