The Redemption of Callie & KaydenJessica Sorensen
“But he’s not allowed visitors. ” I hold my clothes to my chest and head for the bathroom to change.
“Yeah, he is. ” Seth sets his phone down on his knee and takes a deep breath. “I just got a text from Luke saying that not only is Kayden allowed to have visitors but he’s leaving the facility today. ”
I stop in the middle of the room as reality finally catches up with me. Although I’d never admitted it aloud, I’d wondered if I’d ever see Kayden again. That maybe he didn’t even exist and that everything that had happened between us was just my imagination attempting to force my mind to thrive again. “Should we wait for him to get out and then go see him?” I stare at the open bathroom door.
The mattress squeaks as Seth gets up from the bed and steps into my line of vision. “I think we should go pick him up.
Luke said that his mother’s supposed to and then she’s going to take him home, but he thinks we should go pick him up and take him somewhere. ”
I raise my chin up and meet his eyes. “Like kidnap him?”
Seth laughs at me and his face turns red and his eyes water over. “He’s nineteen years old, Callie. We can’t kidnap him if he wants to go. ”
“But isn’t he supposed to be being watched?”
“What? At his parents’ house? With his dad?”
I free an unsteady breath from my lungs. “But I worry that we might be doing more harm than good… running away. ”
Seth steps closer to me, places his hands on my shoulders, and fixes his eyes on me. “You want to know what I think? I think that you’re afraid. ”
I hug my clothes tighter against my chest because I need to hold onto something. “Of what?”
“About hearing the whole story about that night. I think you’re afraid of the truth. ”
“But what is the truth exactly?” I ask.
Seth gives a lopsided smile and gently shakes my shoulders.
“That’s for you to find out because he needs you. ”
He’s right. I’m afraid of everything that night holds and that I’ll have to admit that it’s my fault. I’m afraid I’ll learn that Kayden was really trying to kill himself, trying to leave me alone in the world. That he’ll leave me again, and I need him like I need air.
“Where will we take him, though?” I wonder. “My mom’s made it really clear that she doesn’t want him here. ”
A devilish grin spreads across his face. “You leave that to me.
All you need to do is bring your bag and tell your mom you’re going to be gone for a couple of days. ”
My eyebrows dip together. “You’re not going to tell me where we’re going?”
His grin widens and his hands leave my shoulders and reunite with his sides. “It’s called a surprise road trip, Callie. ”
I drag my hand across my face. “You think that’s a wise idea, considering everything?”
“No, but I’ve never been one for wise ideas,” he says. “I believe in irrational, fleeting decisions that keep life interesting.
And life needs to be interesting because we’ve got only one of them to live”
I smile and it almost feels real. “You are the most wise… I mean, irrational, fleeting person I’ve ever met. ”
He wraps his arms around me and embraces me in a tight hug. I drop my clothes to the floor and hug him back. I don’t cringe. I don’t panic. I just enjoy it. Because Seth is home. And I hope one day Kayden will be too.
We hug for a while and then let each other go. I gather up my clothes and head to the bathroom. “All right, let’s go get him,” I say, knowing it’s not going to be that easy.
Because reuniting with something you’ve lost rarely is, especially when you’re not sure who exactly you’re reuniting with.
#41 Eat a lot of pancakes
My mom came to pick me up the next morning, just like she promised. They stopped giving me my meds so I feel drained and piercing on the inside, like shards of glass are roaming through my bloodstream.
“Are you ready to go home?” she asks as she enters my room. There’s something in her tone I don’t like, a warning maybe of what waits for me at home.
There’s an instant where I think about telling Doug what really happened. At least I’d finally be getting it off my chest. But then I think of what that means—of what I’ll have to admit and face. Every punch, every kick, a childhood packed with torturous memories. I’ll have to feel it and I don’t have a knife or razor to turn it off.
“Yeah,” I finally answer as I fold up a pair of jeans and put them in the bag.
She looks relieved and horrified. “Good. ”
She spends a few minutes chatting with the doctor near the doorway, collecting the papers they give her with a mildly tolerant look on her face. I gather the last of my stuff from the dresser drawer beside my bed. My stitches are out, but there’s still some pain when I twist my midsection, although the doctors assure me that I’ll make a full recovery eventually and will probably be able to play football again next season.
I can’t even look that far ahead, because I have no idea what lies before me. Felony charges? My dad? College? Callie? Maybe nothing.
I zip my bag up and swing it over my shoulder, deciding not to think about my future for now. All I need to focus on is getting out the door and then my attention can go to making it to the car.
My mom and the doctors have disappeared so I head out, unsure where I’m supposed to go.
Fate takes matters into its own hands, though. I’m halfway across the room when fate steps into the room in the form of a short, tiny little thing with big blue eyes and brown hair. She looks smaller than the last time I saw her. Her waist is a little thinner, and she has dark circles under her eyes like she hasn’t been sleeping very well.
“Callie,” I say, dropping my bag to the floor.
She fidgets with her fingers, wringing them in front of her, looking upset as she takes in the bandage on my wrist. “Hi,” she says in her tiny voice as she meets my eyes. Her hair is pulled up and pieces of it frame her face.
I can’t help it. I smile like a stupid idiot, but then I quickly frown. “You shouldn’t be here. ”
She sucks in a sharp breath. “Seth and Luke and I decided to come pick you up… I thought Luke told you on the phone that we were coming. ”
“Yeah… but it still doesn’t mean you should be here. ” I know I sound harsh, but I can’t help it. I honestly didn’t really think she’d show up and now that she has… I hate letting her see me in this kind of place.
Her eyes widen like I’ve slapped her and I feel like the biggest douche. She takes a step toward me and I ball my hands into fists to stop myself from touching her, running my fingers through her hair, kissing her lips. “Luke and Seth think we should go on a road trip. ”
“A road trip?” I say in disbelief. “Right now?”
She shrugs, like she has no clue what to do or say. I opt to let her off the hook, because she doesn’t need to be standing in a facility staring at a guy who nearly cut himself to death and who let his father almost beat him to death.
“Look, Callie. ” I pick up my bag and swing the handle over my shoulder. “I can’t go on a road trip with you. ” I feel the throbbing beneath the bandage and I focus on that, instead of the glossiness in her eyes and her quivering bottom lip. “I can’t really do anything with you right now. “ I step toward her and then inch around to the side. “I’ll talk to you later, okay?”
It’s the stupidest thing that’s ever left my lips, but it needs to be done. She deserves better than the broken piece of shit that I am.
Callie I’m standing outside the door to his room, fidgeting nervously as I wait to go inside and see Kayden. His mom’s in the room with him and I don’t want to go in until she leaves. I’m not sure what to say or if there’s anything I can say when I get inside.
There’s no m
agical word that will make it easier, and it’s terrifying.
The hallway is packed with people and chatter, and the chaos is disconcerting and adds fire to my jittery nerves. I’ve been writing for days in my journal about what I would say to him when I first see him. I’m glad you’re okay. I’m sorry. Thank you. The last thought I always feel guilty about, but I can’t get it out of my head.
“You look like you’re going to throw up, Callie. ” Seth’s voice interrupts my thoughts. He’s standing across the hallway, beside Luke, with his arms folded behind him as he eyes me worriedly.
“Do we need to get you a bucket or something?”
I shake my head. “No, I’m fine. Besides, where would you find a bucket?”
The corners of his lips tug upward and in three long strides he crosses the hall and stops in front of me. “You know he’s okay, right? He’s still Kayden, just a banged-up one who probably needs you now more than anything. ”
“Yeah, I guess. ” I fold my arms over my chest and then uncross them, unable to hold still.
He swings his arm around me and pulls me in for a hug. “Just take deep breaths and breathe. ”
I nod and suck air through my nose and let it out between my lips just like he instructed. But as the door swings open, my chest constricts along with my heart as Maci Owens comes walking out. She’s dressed like she’s going to a fancy dinner and it seems ridiculous to me. Her hair is done up in a neat bun and she has on heavy eyeliner and lipstick. She’s wearing a navy blue dress and black high heels. My dark feelings toward her outfit and looks may be stemming from the fact that she’s here and doesn’t look the least bit upset.
Her high heels click as she exits beside one of the nurses.
She has her phone in her hand and a pair of leather gloves in the other. She passes by me and the woman who once greeted me with a cheery smile barely acknowledges me. She’s probably still upset about how I reacted when she tried to tell me Kayden injured himself.
I keep my gaze fixed on her as she walks down the hall, and then Seth nudges me with his elbow and I tear my gaze away from her and fix it on him. “Huh?”
He nods his head at the doorway. “Quit worrying about her and go in. ”
I glance at Luke. “Maybe you should you go in first. ”
He quickly shakes his head. “I think he’d rather see you first. ”
I’m not sure if he’s right, but I decide to go in. I inhale another breath in preparation and then enter the room. I’ve always thought that hospital rooms were the most depressing rooms that existed, but this facility is much worse. The walls are unembellished, the floor is blemished, and the bed is made up neatly for the next patient.
Kayden is standing in the middle of the room with a bag over his shoulder. In my head I’d been picturing that he’d be lying in a bed, looking helpless and scared. He’s taller than I remember and I instantly tip my head up to meet his emerald eyes. His brown hair is a little longer and shaggier, hanging over his ears and in his eyes and he looks like he hasn’t shaved in a while, his face scruffy.