Chapter 13

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 After I was sure that Niall joined the other boys in Harry's room and closed the door, I quietly walked out of the house. I didn't see Harry's mom as I made my way out, and I didn't stop to look and find her. I would thank her another day, but right then, I had to get out of there. I wasn't going to see Harry like he had asked me too. No way was I going to meet him. I did not want to have to explain what I was doing at his home and why my appearance was so bruised and disheveled. Especially with those odd boys around.

I decided to go to Lily's house. There was no way I was going to appear at home until later that night, when we would be going to the junkyard and I would absolutely have to be there.

I walked to Lily's street, up the walk to her two story brick house, and rang the doorbell. By the looks of it, it hadn't been used in a while and was hanging by a few tangled wires.

An African American woman with bleached hair answers, baby on her hip. Her lipstick is smudged and she has a phone pressed up to her ear.

"Hold on just a minute," she says into the ear piece. "Can I help you?" She looks at me disapprovingly.

"Is Lily home?" I say.

The woman rolls her eyes.

"Yeah she's home alright, you can find her upstairs," she motions me in, closing the front door, " but don't you go expecting me to fix any snacks for you two. I got things to do."

I nod in agreement, and hurry up a set of stairs to the inside right of the house, just as I hear the baby start wailing.

"Oh and don't you be staying long either, ya hear?" she yells up after me over the babies cries, "Lily's got chores to do."

I make my way upstairs, down the hallway past closed doors, to a room that emanates light and soft music at the end of the hall. I reach the door just as Lily's face appears behind it.

"Oh!" she says dropping a stack of books, her eyes wide in surprise.

I bend down and help her pick them up.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you," I say.

"That's okay," she replies, standing up to retreat back into her room, "I was just going to come down and see who that was at the door, but my mom beat me to it."

I follow her into her room.

It's small room with a slanted ceiling and a window in it, almost like an attic. Her bed has a wrought iron frame and the only other furniture she has is a desk and a chair, near her closet doors.

I sit in her desk chair and she sits on her bed, setting the pile of books beside her.

"How are you?" I ask.

She shrugs, "I'm better now, thanks to you."

I wait for her to continue.           

"I haven't seen Nick at all since the other day," she says, absently pulling a thread from her bedspread. "He's left me alone, for the moment."

I shiver. I had forgotten about Nick and his threatening words. I did not want to run into him again for a long time. Then it hit me, I might see him tonight at the junkyard. Oh no.

"You're not going tonight are you, Lily?"

She looks up quickly and shakes her head, "Oh no, I'm not showing up there for a while."

"Good….does your mom know about the baby?" I whisper, glancing at her bedroom door.

Her eyes widen, "No! S-she can't know…. If she finds out I'm bringing another child into the world for her to help take care of... She'll kick me out."


"Jessie, she's not my real mom," she stands up, walking over to her stereo and turning it off. "She's my foster mom."

Lily smiles weakly at me, "I never knew my real parents. I've been here for five years now. I already help her take care of her four children since she's barely home to do it," she finishes, softly.          

"Oh, Lily, I'm so sorry." I say, standing up to hug her.

She wipes her eyes and laughs, "You know what, Jess? We should do something today."

I frown, confused, "What do you mean?"

"I mean you and me should go out and go to the mall or see a movie. Anything to get our minds off of our crappy lives."

I look down at my outfit. Bloodstained jeans and a t-shirt. Faded, worn black flip-flops.

Lily notices my bewilderment, "Here," she opens up her closet, "you can wear something of mine. You look about the same size as me, although, my stuff might be a little loose."

Ten minutes later we're walking out the front door to an old Volkswagen in the driveway. I notice Lily wearing the coat Harry gave her. Now if only I had one.

Lily lent me a pair of black skinny jeans, a long-sleeved red t-shirt, and some black combat boots. It appears as though Lily is a bit fiercer than I thought. At least in her choice of shoes.

Outside is chilly and I ask Lily what the date is. December 13. Only one more week and it would be winter vacation. It didn't matter anyway, to me. In my mind I was already expelled from school for too many absent days and F's. I guess I'll be one of those kids working at McDonald's for the rest of my life. As long as I got out of this town, I wouldn't care.

Lily had told her 'mom' that we would be going into town. She wasn't pleased but Lily promised her she'd stay up late and do extra chores. Her mom finally agreed and Lily managed to snag her credit card, claiming she wouldn't even notice it was gone, or the extra charges, on account of her extreme use of it already.

Lily drove us to the mall. We had to drive a bit far because our town has no mall, on account of its tininess. We hit the shops once we got there. I hadn't been shopping since God knows when and I was in dire need of some new clothes that were warm and not all worn out.        

The last time I had gone shopping was when my mom was alive. I can still remember her trying to pick out things and me complaining that they looked too old or too weird. I'd do anything to go back to those days when we were a happy family just struggling to get by.

My father hardly ever gave me money and usually when he did, it was to go out and buy something for him. Over the years, I had accumulated a small stash of clothing from donated clothing dumpsters and garage sales, but even that was not enough to keep me warm. No one gave away their warm winter coats in Michigan, or at least in our town.

Lily told me that she had only ever done this once, when one of the kids needed a few things, but had never really bought anything expensive.

This would be a first for both of us.

As we shopped and tried on trendy outfits and things that we would never be able to buy for real, I found myself relaxing with Lily. Laughing, forgetting about the rest of the world. Living only in the moment and enjoying the fun we were having.

At the end of the day we were loaded down with quite a few shopping bags, despite my feeble attempts to tell Lily that her mom might notice them. We had both looked at each other and laughed. Who cares? In the moment, we were untouchable. I'd have given anything to stay there that day, and relive everything over and over again.

But nothing lasts forever.

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