Chapter 12

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The next morning, Miles awoke with a massive headache. She slapped at her alarm until it slid off the nightstand then sank back into her pillow with a huff. She replayed the dream over in her mind, smiling at the vision of her and Sydney. There was so much happiness in the glass sphere. She felt an unease about the man in the dream though. He was very persuasive but had a swindler vibe that most street artists in New Orleans seemed to acquire. She rolled over and saw her closet door ajar. She remembered how the man looked in the darkness of her closet and cringed.

It was a new day. She had to check on Sydney this morning before school because she still hated how they ended the night. That was probably why she had such a weird dream last night, Miles thought as she started her morning ritual. When she finally made it to the kitchen for her breakfast, Jelly was sitting at the table spooning oatmeal into his mouth while reading from his iPad.

"Good morning, Jelly." Miles sang as she took a bowl from the cabinet.

"Morning." He said quickly, continuing to read.

"What're you reading?" Miles said over her shoulder, pouring the cereal into her bowl.

"Reading about football plays." Jelly said with annoyance.

Miles nearly dropped the box of cereal as she turned towards him.

"Why're you looking up football plays? That's not really your thing, is it?"

Jelly groaned and leaned back in his chair, "Remember that day I went out to play with Dad?"

"Mhmmm." Miles crossed her arms, ready to bad mouth Dino for whatever he did to screw with Jelly's confidence.

"Well, I really, really sucked at it."

"You don't have to be good at it, Jelly. You're good at so many other things."

"But I want to be good at it," he shook his head and spooned more oatmeal into his mouth, "Nevermind. You don't understand." 

"You're right. I don't understand why you're trying to be something you're not." Miles rolled her eyes.

Jelly looked over his shoulder at her, "Have you ever thought that maybe I want to be good at football? Not because of Dad but because its something I never had a chance to try. Maybe I liked playing the other day, Miles. But thanks for the vote of confidence."

Miles stood silently as Jelly gathered his backpack and iPad. As he made it to the doorway, he turned, "You never think about anyone other than yourself."

Miles felt her throat catch. She wanted to lash out in anger. Tell him he was being a brat and only wanted to please Dino but she couldn't. She knew he was right. She didn't want Jelly to like being around Dino. She wanted to be everything he needed like she had been for most of his life. It stung that he wanted to bond with Dino and scared her that he'd eventually hurt him like he hurt her. She didn't want to lose her brother so she realized she needed to let him fall into Dino's trap. She'd be right there to pull him out of it. Unlike what happened with her, she had no one to pull her out of it. No friends. No family. Just a mother who was also hurting and distant. Along with a toddler who couldn't understand what was going on. Now he was old enough to decide for himself. He wanted this for himself and needed it. It was time to put him first.

Miles left the house headed for school and did not see Sydney waiting at the edge of the lawn as usual. She looked towards his house, contemplating whether to go check on him or take the hint that he didn't want to see her. She decided it was time to face him and his mother. She wanted to apologize for causing so much confusion in their family. She knocked twice on the door to have it opened by Sydney's mother moments later. Her face registered surprise but she opened the door wider to let Miles in.

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