10.1 Aiden's Art Of Laughing Aloud

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"Aiden, how are you?"

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"Aiden, how are you?"

Dad's familiar voice tells me something is wrong. His low tone alone is enough to put me on edge, wondering what happened at the hearing. Mom had gotten a good lawyer, I know, but dad can make things work if he argues his case well. Just because he lost his job after that one fight with his boss and can't get a new job doesn't mean he should lose his house and family. It doesn't mean he should lose everything.

"I'm okay. How did it go today?" I ask him, regretting the answer I'm about to hear already.

"It was okay." He sighs. "Your mom got one heck of a lawyer."

I close my eyes and breathe deeply through my nose, wishing I was talking to Scarlett instead. A few minutes of conversing with her would calm me down.

"She got custody?" I guess, hoping the answer will be negative. If mom already got custody, that will make my position so much weaker. No jury is going to support sending an intellectually disabled minor with his brother instead of letting him stay with his mother.

"Not yet," dad says and my shoulders sag in relief. "She got the house though."

"And where will you be staying?" I frown, feeling like a terrible son because I don't have a shelter to offer my dad. I don't even know where I'll be staying two months from now, but if all goes according to plan, I might have a place to bring Owen to.

"You know Stephan? He has a spare room so I'm staying with him for a while."

I don't speak, not really having anything to say. Uncle Stephan is a goad man aside from his alcoholism. I'm not fully comfortable with dad staying under his influence, but there isn't much I can do about it.

"Enough about me. How's Boston?" dad speaks, attempting to feign curiosity. I know he's not really interested in knowing about my day and is just trying to act the role he's hasn't played in a long time. Ever since things between him and mom started going downhill, he's been pulling away from us bit by bit. I miss how we used to spend time together and how he'd take me camping and hunting. I still remember everything he taught me about barbequing and fishing.

I miss how everything used to be.

A light knock on the door is followed by the creaky sound of it opening. Sid's face peeks at me, beckoning towards me as he mouths 'pizza's here'. I nod back, sighing.

"Dad, I gotta go."

"Oh, well, take care."

There is no regret in his tone before he hangs up, and I sit on the floor with my back against the wall for a bit longer. My mind whirs wildly and I want to close my eyes and fall into the blissful oblivion of sleep. The grumbling of my stomach, though, reminds me of my bodily needs, and I get to my feet with a groan.

 Leaving my phone on the charger, I make my way out of the room. Sid is seated at the kitchen island, already digging into the box of California style pizza. The smoky fragrance reaches my nostrils and I'm almost glad Sid's friend from morning isn't between us. The last thing I want is someone ogling at me from across the table, especially when I don't know when my vulnerability might flash across my face.

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