Chapter 24: Jacky/Ryan

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"Ugh, this is gonna suuuuck," Jacky announced.

He and Ryan were in the waiting room. Jacky's leg wouldn't stop bouncing. Five minutes until his appointment and his mother still wasn't here.

Ryan didn't say anything, and Jacky wished he hadn't complained about his still-alive mother yet again.

They both heard the women's voices talking in the hallway at the same time, and they looked up to see Mrs. Jennings walk in with Allison at her side.

"Hi, boys," said Mrs. Jennings, cheery as anything. "How was school?"

"Fine," Jacky answered sullenly. Ryan just looked at his knees.

Mrs. Jennings gave Allison a tight smile, then sat down at Jacky's side. "Don't worry, hon. We're gonna talk this out and everything will be better."

Jacky wished Ryan would look at him, so he could give him the look that said, Now do you see the controlling?

Thank whoever was running things up there that Dr. Greene was the first one to come out and call Jacky and his mom in. Jacky nearly jumped over the coffee table covered in pamphlets in relief.

 Jacky nearly jumped over the coffee table covered in pamphlets in relief

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Ryan watched Jacky's hurried departure. He knew Jacky had some things he needed to talk about with his mom, but when Dr. Burns came out to call him in, Ryan wasn't in any rush. They weren't going to be talking about his feelings today. They were going to be talking about his future.

The only good things about Allison being here was knowing that this session would mostly be Allison consulting with Dr. Burns, and Ryan wouldn't have to do much more than sit there and nod. At least, that's what Ryan had thought until Allison opened her mouth.

"Mrs. Jennings says you're not eating."

There went that.

"I ate lunch," he said, curling his shoulders in.

"Did you? What did you eat?"

Ryan decided he needed to look at her. "I don't lie," he said.

Dr. Burns cleared his throat. "All right," he said. "Ryan, no one is accusing you of lying. I'm glad to hear that you're eating. It's perfectly normal to have a diminished appetite while you're grieving."

"It is normal," Allison said, then added, "But I do need to make sure that you are eating. Mrs. Jennings was worried, that's all."

"You can ask Jacky," Ryan muttered. "I ate lunch."

"Okay. Allison, you're here to discuss Ryan's options and make arrangements for after the funeral on Saturday, yes?"

"Yes," Allison said. "So, Ryan, your mother's church has offered to host a reception after the funeral on Saturday, and then I'll take you back to your house so you can pick up any other items you think you'll need--"

"The funeral's on Saturday?" Ryan interrupted. Nice of you to let me know, he thought darkly, quickly followed by, I only have one more day. One more day of a relatively normal life, living with people who actually cared about him. One more day before everything about his life changed completely.

"Yes. At two o'clock." Allison's voice was softer now. "The reception will go until about four or five."

"Then I'll go to the group home," he choked out, because suddenly his throat had tightened, and it felt like his tear ducts had swollen up in anticipation of more crying.

"Yes."

Allison detailed everything about his "transition" to the group home: "When you get there, they'll inventory all of your belongings. The lawyers are still dealing with your mother's will, it looks like she made arrangements to have the house sold and everything put into storage, with all the money being put in a trust for you except the money to be used to pay for the storage unit. Now, we can deal with all that later on, you can decide if there are items, like furniture, that you'd prefer to sell or get rid of. She left you the car... I'll be meeting with the group home manager later to see if that's something they can allow...

"You'll still be at the same school, even though the home is over the town line in Greenville. They feel it's important to maintain that consistency during the transition. So the staff will be dropping you off for school each morning..."

Allison went on and on and Ryan couldn't quite focus on her words. He didn't want to focus on her words. He wanted to be someplace else. Like on Jacky's bed, watching him do homework, as he'd been before it was time to go to therapy.

He wondered if he would ever be able to do that after Saturday.

Would he be able to have friends visit him at this group home? Would he be able to visit his friends? He supposed they would frown upon things like parties and drinking. Would he even be able to stay on the football team? And what about Jacky?

"Do you have any questions, Ryan?" Dr. Burns's voice broke into his thoughts.

Ryan just shook his head.

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