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The Redemption of Callie & Kayden, Page 40

Jessica Sorensen

Page 40


  I decide to check my voicemail but give up after the fifth repetitive message and switch to texts. Skimming through them, I come across one that catches my attention. After numerous threats from my mother, she finally finds my weak spot, although I’m not sure how she knows it exists.

  Mom: Callie, I don’t even know who you are anymore.

  You run off with those boys who are nothing but trouble. I’m not going to let them ruin you and neither will your brother or Caleb. We’ve all decided that Caleb should press charges. You need to come home and side with this family. We’re going to be there for him.

  I drop the phone and get out of bed. I get dressed in jeans, a long-sleeved thermal shirt, and my coat. I write Kayden a note and leave it by the pillow.

  Please don’t freak out when you wake up, but I had to tell them by myself and I know you’ll understand. I’ll be back soon. I promise.

  Love, Callie I slip my shoes on and then sneak out the door, letting him sleep. As much as I would love for him to come hold my hand and be my security blanket, he’s already dealt with enough today and I’m going to force myself to be brave all on my own. Besides, after that message, I know my mom will attack him the moment he steps foot in the house.

  I walk the quiet streets underneath the clouds and the sun, hoping that ultimately they’ll part and let the sun shine freely. This is all your fault, Callie. If you ever tell anyone, that’s what they’ll think. I keep walking, quickly and determinedly, one foot in front of the other until I reach my house. You better keep quiet. I swear to fucking God, you’ll regret it if you don’t. The snow has been shoveled from the driveway and my dad’s truck is parked in front of the shut garage. The curtains are open and the steps have been sprinkled with blue salt. One foot in front of the other. Just keep going. I open the side door and stand in the doorway, taking in the overwhelming memories rising in my head. Come with me for a second, he says. I have a present for you, and I skip after him, excited.

  My mom turns from the sink. There’s a dishrag over her shoulder and her hair is done up in a bun. Her skin is bare of makeup and she has a pair of slacks and a pink sweater on.

  “Callie Lawrence,” she says, tossing the towel onto the counter and placing her hands on her hips. “Where the hell have you been?”

  I turn to my father sitting at the table, wearing a hooded sweatshirt with the high school’s logo on it. He’s eating eggs and toast and drinking juice and my brother is next to him, texting on his phone.

  “I need to talk to you,” I tell my dad in an uneven voice. I’m not quite sure why I choose him, other than that we use to get along really well when I was younger and I know he’ll be more stable than my mother. “Alone. ”

  Glancing up at me with confusion in his eyes, he sets his fork down and without arguing he rises from his chair. “All right, honey. ”

  My brother scowls at me as he sets his phone down on the table. “Aren’t you even going to tell mom where you’ve been?

  She’s been worried. ”

  “It’s not important where I’ve been,” I say. “It’s only important why I’m here. ”

  He frowns at me and then shakes his head before returning his attention to his phone. My mom starts shouting that I need to explain where I’ve been and I’m surprised when she doesn’t follow my dad and me to the living room. Once I’ve settled down on the couch, and he’s sitting in his tattered leather recliner across from me, I give myself a final quick mental pep talk. I look at the photos around the room, the ones with our family and some even with Caleb.

  “That was fun, right?” I point at one photo of the two of us wearing jerseys and standing in front of a stadium with smiles on our faces. I was eight and I was happy.

  He tracks to where I point and then a smile turns up at his lips. “That was a good day. ” His forehead creases as he looks back at me. “Honey, your mother and I have been really worried… about what happened that night and then you just ran away with those boys you barely know. ”

  “Those boys are like my family, Dad,” I say truthfully. “They’ve really been there for me. ”

  He fiddles with the string on his hoodie, tightening it and then loosening it. “Yeah, they always seemed like they were good kids. ” He smiles. “They kicked ass on the field too. ”

  I know right then and there that I’ve made the right choice by telling him first. He’s looking past the fact that Kayden beat Caleb and maybe that’s because he’s looked a little deeper into the situation.

  “I have to tell you something. ” I clear my throat. “And it’s going to be kind of hard, not just for me to tell you, but it’s going to be hard to hear. ”

  “Okay…” He’s puzzled and uncertain, which it is understandable.

  I take a few deep breaths and then I take some more, until I feel like I’m going to pass out. And then I stop breathing all together. You better not fucking tell, or I swear I’ll hurt you. I clutch the clover hanging on my neck in my hand, needing to hold on to a part of Kayden so I can have strength and courage. “You remember my twelfth birthday?”

  This seems to confuse him even more, his head slanting slightly to the side, his blue eyes getting a little squinty and his forehead scrunching up as he assesses me. “Yeah… didn’t you have a party?”

  Pressing my lips together, I nod. “And there were a lot of people there. ”

  “You know how your mother likes a show,” he says with a heavy sigh. “She’s always loved her parties and get-togethers. ”

  I nod again and then push forward before my pulse and my thoughts can catch up with my voice. “Something bad happened to me… that day. ” My thoughts drift back to when he pinned me down and I start to shake. Please get off me. It hurts. I’m breaking.

  Please. Help me. Help me. Help…

  He sits up straighter and scoots forward in his chair, like he’s about to go kick someone’s butt or something. I don’t want him to, though. I just want him to know.

  “Dad, please stay calm when I tell you this. ” I fidget with the bottom of my coat, unzipping the pockets and then zipping them back up, and then I return my hand to the clover. “I need you to just stay calm. ”

  His fists clench on his lap. “I’ll try my best, but no promises.

  Callie honey, you’re really scaring me. ”

  “I’m sorry. ” I run my hand down my face and then up it, drawing my hood off my head as I remember how I felt that day. I wish I were invisible. I wish I didn’t exist. I want to die. The room lightens up a little as the clouds part from the sun just outside the window. I grip onto the clover and grasp onto the feeling Kayden has given me. “I was raped. ” Just like that it’s out there, in the air, for him to hear, like tearing off a Band-Aid, lifting skin, wounds, everything with it because there’s no way to prepare anyone for this.

  My father stares at me for an eternity and a thousand emotions rush across his expression: wrath, rage, frustration, pain.

  Then he does something I’ve never seen him do. He starts to cry.

  He’s sobbing hysterically, with his head hung in his hands, and I don’t know what to do, so I stand up, cross the room, and throw my arms around him.

  He keeps crying, but my eyes stay dry. I’ve cried enough over the last few years and I really don’t feel like shedding anymore.

  * * * The conversation with my mother doesn’t go as well as it did with my dad, especially when I have to tell her who did it.

  “No, no, no,” she keeps saying, like if she repeats it enough the denial will be real. She keeps tapping her feet against the ground as she sits in the chair in front of the window. “It didn’t happen… There’s no way…” But every time she looks at me, I know she knows it’s true. She’s probably going through every detail of my past, when I chopped off my hair, started hiding out in my room all the time, when I changed my wardrobe to “hoodlum clothes,” as she put. She’s probably thinking about when I stopped talking to almost ev
eryone. When I stopped crying. When I stopped living.

  We’re in the living room, sitting on the couches. My father is next to me, close, like he thinks he can still protect me from everything bad in the world. Jackson left the house right after I took my dad out of the room so he doesn’t know yet, but I wonder what he’ll do when he finds out—if he’ll believe me or take his best friend’s side.

  “Yes, it did,” I say, surprised by the strength in my voice. “You were outside and everyone was playing hide-and-seek. And he… Caleb told me he had a present. He took me into my room and then… and then it happened. ”

  She’s shaking her head over and over again and my dad starts crying again. “There must be a mistake. I wish it were a mistake. ”

  “It’s not,” I say simply. “It happened and here I am telling you… I really wish… I really wish I could say it was a mistake, though. But wishes are just wishes, Mom. I know that. ”

  She keeps tucking her hair into place and smoothing the wrinkles from her sweating, like she needs to fix something. “Why didn’t you tell us when it happened, Callie? I don’t understand. ”

  I’m not sure she ever will. My mother loathes dark, ugly things that exist in the word and her defense has always been to ignore them. And now her daughter is telling her that these dark, ugly things have been living in her house, eating her food, smiling at her, charming her, and slowly killing her daughter.

  “Shame… guilt… fear,” I say, trying to explain the best I can, focusing on my pulse and the feel of the metal of the clover as it rests against the hollow of my neck. “The sheer fact that saying it aloud makes it real. ”

  “Damn it!” My dad pounds his fist on the armrest and then pounds it into the wall, making my mom and me jump. His eyes are red and his skin is pale. “I’m going to fucking kill him!”

  “No, you’re not, Dad,” I say, shaking my head as I touch his arm, trying to calm him down. “Killing him will get you nowhere but in jail. I don’t want you to go to jail. ”

  Tear streams from his eyes and it’s so strange to see. I watch them fall onto his lap as he says, “Is that why he did it? Kayden?”

  I nod my head once. “He wanted to make him pay… for what he did. And it was… it was the only way he could think of to do it. ”

  My dad rises to his feet and shadows over me. He’s not that large of a man—medium build and height—but right now he seems enormous. “Oh, he’s going to pay. I’m going to call the police. ”

  I jump up and grab his arm, wrapping my fingers firmly around his elbows. “You can’t… It won’t do any good… It’s been too long dad. ”

  My mother starts to bawl, taking hysterical breathes as she buries her face into her hands. “This is so wrong… This can’t be happening… Oh my God…”