2.1 Aiden's Art Of Finding Someone To Talk To

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I freeze, staring at my mother like I can't believe I heard what I heard. A part of me hopes I'm imagining the words, but mom doesn't look like she regrets them at all, averting her gaze and turning half-way back to the kitchen before speaking again.

"I can't live like this anymore," she says, tugging at the cardigan she's wearing on top of her old, pink nightgown.

When did things get this bad?

My mind plays the words over and over, adding clips from my memories to show me that this was a long time coming. All the nights they spent in different rooms, all the days that went by without a spoken exchange, all the fights and disagreements ... everything predicted that the break was close. I don't know why I hoped I could prevent it.

I did what I could do, trying and trying to fix things that I didn't break.

I can sell my bike and pay rent, I thought.

I can drop out of college and get a job, I thought.

I can work double shifts to keep Owen in school, I thought.

I can keep my home from falling to bits, I thought.

"I'm going to find a lawyer and see if we can keep the house," mom is saying but I barely hear her. "Even if we can't, Owen's under eighteen so your dad will have to pay support and that will be enough, with your job, to keep the house running and –"

"What about Owen?" I interrupt.

Mom frowns. "I told you, your father will pay support and –"

"So, you're getting custody?"

Either she hadn't considered it, or she's surprised I'm questioning her about it. Either way, though, mom's face flushes crimson.

"Of course," she states like it's obvious. "Your father can't take care of him without a job."

"Neither can you."

If her face was red before, it's bypassed that now. My words are bitter but they're honest. She doesn't have a job. She never did. Even when we were on the verge of starving and when I suggested quitting my education to take the place of my dad as the bread-earner, it never occurred to her that she could do something about it.

"But you have a job," she reminds me.

"And you've automatically assumed I'll stay with you." I curl my hands into fists. "I'm not some object you can just call 'dibs' on, mom. I'm old enough to make my own choices."

Her eyes are wide and disbelieving, but I can't believe her either. I can't believe she's filing for divorce and just telling me about it. I can't believe she's thinking of taking Owen and I too, because we're --

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