Chapter 20: Ryan / Jacky

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Two missed calls from Monica. A dozen texts. Ryan listened to the first message – "Ryan, are you okay? Let me know if you need anything. Anything. You know my parents wouldn't mind if you stayed with us, they'd love to have you. Call me when you get this. Please." Ryan deleted that first message and the second message without listening to it.

He didn't have his phone charger. He knew he could probably use Jacky's, they both had iPhones. But he didn't care. There wasn't anybody he wanted to call. Or text.

The house was quiet. Jacky had gone to school, even though he'd tried to convince his mother to let him stay home another day. And Mrs. Jennings had gone to work shortly after Jacky had taken off on his bike. "Ryan, are you sure you're okay to be here by yourself? We can call Allison."

"I'll be okay," he told her. Where had he managed to scrape that bit of energy to put on his old Ryan Sullivan mask? "I'm still really tired."

"Okay." She was dubious. "You have Allison's number, just in case?" She also wrote down her work and cell phone numbers and stuck them up on the fridge with a magnet.

There wasn't anybody he wanted to call. 

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Cody raised his eyebrows sky-high. He'd been in the middle of telling Jacky all about how Nina had come into Subway yesterday afternoon to talk with Cody and how Haylee had also been there and how the two girls had gotten to talking and there had been a rush and he hadn't been able to catch what they were talking about, only that Matt was noticeably missing from the group of football players and Nina and Haylee kept glancing over at him.

Now Cody gave Jacky a wide-eyed look and finally shrugged off his jacket as Monica approached them.

"Hey," Jacky said to her.

"Oh, my god. Have you heard anything from Ryan?" she asked. "I've been calling him and texting him and he hasn't answered and he was absent yesterday..." She paused, maybe realizing then that Jacky had also been absent yesterday.

"Um, yeah. His mom, uh, passed. Monday night. Or Tuesday morning, I guess."

"Are you serious?" Monica whipped out her phone and her thumbs tapped out a text message. "I can't believe he didn't tell me. Were you still there, at the hospital? Have you heard from him?"

Jacky scratched at the back of his head. "Uh, he's staying with me and my mom. Until the funeral."

Monica stopped typing and stared at him.

"Yeah. He's not doing so great," he told her. "He hasn't really talked much."

"Well, obviously he's upset," Monica snapped. "God. You have my phone number, you couldn't have texted me to tell me? Wait – he didn't come to school today, did he?"

"No, he stayed home."

"By himself?"

Jacky glared at her. "Yeah, by himself. He didn't want to go to school. His mom just died."

"Do you really think that's what he needs right now, to be all alone? I'm assuming your mom didn't call out of work to stay home with him." Monica huffed. "I told Ryan he could stay at my house. My mom doesn't work, she would have been there for him."

"Fuck off, Monica," Jacky snapped. He launched off the lockers and stormed off into the sea of students. God, he thought Monica was getting better. But no. Making it sound like his mom didn't care because she had to work? His fist shot out and smashed into a locker. Yeah, not a good idea. He shoved his fist into his pocket and glared at the wide-eyed freshman staring at him. Making him question whether she was right. Whether Ryan would have been better off staying at Monica's house. Probably, yeah. Ryan had known Mr. and Mrs. Johnston for years. Even if he wasn't dating their daughter anymore, he knew them. He didn't know Jacky's mom.

He arrived at his chemistry class and sat heavily in his seat. The girl next to him looked over with her lips twisted up, and not-so-subtly shifted her chair away from him.

Maybe he should have just let Ryan go to the group home. Maybe that would have been better.

Except then he might not ever have seen Ryan again.

He thought of Ryan home alone. Class started, and Jacky didn't even bother to take notes. Whenever he closed his eyes, he pictured Ryan lying on his side on the guest bed, still in the same clothes from two days ago. Chemistry class wasn't even half over and Jacky was itching to get out of there. Watching the clock was torture. Finally he raised his hand.

"May I please go to the bathroom?" 


Author's Note:

I'm posting this chapter a day early due to the holidays, I hope everyone has a great day with minimal family drama :)

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