Summer of Stars Part 21

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Chapter 17

            The rest of our dinner date was overshadowed by uncomfortable silence. It was the first time since I’d met Ian that I’d felt so awkward in his presence. It had started out as an exciting, hopeful awkwardness, but had morphed into a mortifying awkward. I’d screwed up, big time. Why did I care so much what Hannah thought? In some twisted way, I always felt that Hannah had the power to make or break me. She was the popular one, the one people listened to and cared about. For years, I’d been riding on her coat tails, coasting along and fitting in. Fitting in was easy and comfortable. And with everything going on at home, a completely normal life so unlikely, I needed at least one part of it to be easy. But I did like Ian, a lot.

            When the check came, I pulled the twenty out of my purse and handed it to Ian.

            “I’ve got this.” He pushed the money back toward me.

            “The least I can do is pay for my half.”

            “This is still a date, even if it’s not a good one.” He held the money out to the waitress as she passed.

            “Please don’t be mad at me, Ian.” I stared in his eyes.

            “I’m not mad. This is nothing new.” His voice broke and he stood up quickly. “I need to go to the bathroom.”

            I watched him walk down the hallway to the restrooms. His head moved around a little. I’m pretty sure he was talking to himself. Probably saying the same thing I was. What is wrong with you? How could you screw things up this badly? I should have never agreed to this date. I wanted him in my life even if we were just friends. I shouldn’t have risked that.

            Ian returned from the bathroom and dropped some cash on the table for tip. “You ready?” he asked.

            I took one last sip of my water and nodded.

            On the drive home, Ian turned the music way up. I could barely hear myself think and definitely didn’t bother to speak. He turned into my driveway and turned off the engine. “Well, here we are.”

            “Yep.”

            “I would walk you to the door, but, you know, someone might see you with me and we know how that is.”

            “I’m sorry.” The words squeaked out right before the tears started to fall. I jumped out of the car quickly, before Ian noticed I was crying, and ran to the front door. To my surprise, he stayed parked in the driveway as I fidgeted with the keys and unlocked the door. I looked back toward the truck one more time as I pushed open the door.

            The house was very quiet as I walked in. All I wanted to do was run to my room and cry myself to sleep. I looked around the room and under the dim light of the lamp, I saw her lying on the couch. An empty wine bottle sat on the coffee table and next to it laid a bottle of pills, opened, with the contents strewn across the surface. I ran toward her. “Mom, Mom! Wake up!”

            She didn’t move. I put my arms around her and lifted her. She still didn’t wake. I tried to find her pulse, but couldn’t. I picked up the bottle. It was a new prescription of sleeping pills. Half of them were gone. I ran to the kitchen and grabbed the phone. 9-1-1.

            “My mom won’t wake up. She took pills. Please come now.” I dropped the phone and ran to the front door. Ian’s truck was in his driveway now. He walked toward the garage. “Ian! Ian! It’s my mom, help!”

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