The Redemption of Callie & Kayden, Page 8Jessica Sorensen
He giggles and then rolls to his side, propping himself up on his elbow. “I know. I wish I was, but from what you tell me about her, she’s not going to be that fond of my colorful personality. ”
I sit up in the bed, take the elastic out of my hair, and then refasten my ponytail. I let my arms fall into my lap and I chew on my lip, thinking about tomorrow and seeing Kayden.
Seth touches my bottom lip and my initial reaction is to flinch, but I work at it and keep it under control. “A penny for your thoughts?”
“It’s nothing. ” I sigh and flop down on the bed on my side.
“I’m just wondering what it’s going to be like… seeing him again. ”
He considers this as he sweeps his bangs off his face. “It’ll be like the first time I decided I was going to talk to you. You have to think of Kayden like a skittish cat. If you say the wrong thing, he might flip out. ”
“You thought of me as a skittish cat?”
“A skittish kitten. ” He grins and winks at me. “You looked like you were going to claw my eyes out the moment I approached you. ”
I fluff the pillow and tuck my hands under my head. “What if I say something wrong, though, and he gets upset?”
He unlatches his watch and rolls to the side to set it on the Tupperware bin next to the bed. Then he pivots to his hip and faces me. “You won’t. ”
I lift my legs up and slide them underneath the blankets.
“How can you be so sure?”
He smiles and touches the tip of his finger to the tip of my nose. “Because he opened up to you the first time, which means you’ve already said the right things. So all you have to do is go there tomorrow and be yourself. ”
“I hope you’re right. ” I click the lamp off and the room goes dark. The pale glow of the moonlight filters in through the window.
“I really hope you are. ”
“I’m always right, darling,” he says, and then squeezes my hand. “Just don’t overthink it. ”
I shut my eyes and hold onto the thought that tomorrow I’ll see him, alive, and not bleeding on the floor. Maybe then I can finally get the god-awful image out of my head.
Kayden It’s mid-December, the start of winter break. If I weren’t here, I’d be heading home from school, probably with Callie and Luke.
It’s weird knowing she’s probably driving into town right now, just getting home, so close to me in distance, and yet she still seems far away, almost unreachable, since I’m stuck in here and she’s out there.
I’ve secretly been collecting rubber bands and I have five of them on my wrist. Not that Doug knows it. I kept pretending that I broke them until I had a collection. The thickness gives more of a sting and it settles me on the inside each time I flick them. I need a lot of settling because my mother showed up tonight and has been here for over an hour trying to work things out with the doctor and Doug to get me released.
They’re over by the doorway having a conversation about me like I’m not even here. It’s actually more of an argument than a conversation.
“But we’ll be there watching him at all times. ” My mother talks with her hands a lot and she’s got long fingernails. Every time she says something she swings her arms animatedly and almost nails the doctor in the eye.
Doug fans through his yellow-sheeted notebook and reads through his notes. “Look, Mrs. Owens, I know this must be hard for you, but I don’t think it’s healthy for Kayden to leave the facility just yet. In fact, I’d advise against it. ”
My mother taps her foot on the floor and crosses her arms as she stares Doug down like he is a small, insignificant piece of shit. “Look, I understand what you advise, but I’d rather not take advice from a doctor who got his PhD from some low-budget college. ”
“I got my PhD from Berkley,” he says, pulling out a pen from his pocket.
Her gaze sweeps over him and she elevates her eyebrows.
“Really? Then why are you here?”
Doug stays calm as he balances the notebook on his arm and writes something down. “I might be asking you the same thing. ”
I think I like Doug at that moment and I smile to myself as I wiggle my finger under the bands and flip them against the inside of my wrist and let the burn soothe me. I’m sitting in the corner of the room, not the one I sleep in but a larger one with a lot of tables and chairs scattered around. The walls are brick and cracked with old age, but it’s more comforting than the dull white ones in the room. Some people eat lunch in here, but I choose to eat in my room because there’s always too much going on, like fights and yelling and crying.
My mother stabs her fingernail against Doug’s chest. “Don’t you dare insinuate anything. ”
“I wasn’t,” Doug says simply, wincing as he grips the spot on his chest where my mother stabbed her finger. “It just seems like you’re awfully eager to take Kayden out of here when it’s clear he’s not stable. ”
I scan the scars on my arms and the bandage on my wrists.
I’ve been picking at the scab that’s underneath it a lot, which is why it’s not healing. But it’s a fucking habit and I can’t seem to break it.
“He’s perfectly stable,” my mother insists. There’s a slight slur to her speech and I wonder if the doctor can hear it. “And it’s my call, since I’m the one who signed him in to be here. ”
I stand up, stunned. “You did that? I thought that was the hospital?”
She glares at me with annoyance. “I put you here for your own good. You needed to be watched for a while, but now… you’ve been here for a little over a week and it’s time to move on and get your act together. ”
Or kept away from my father. “Then I want to leave,” I say, walking across the room. “And I want to go back to school, not back home. ”
“You can’t,” she replies curtly. “It’s Christmas break. ”
“Okay, then maybe I want to stay here. ” I back up to the chair and sit down. I tip my head forward and rub the sides of my temples with my fingers. “Fuck. ” I have no idea what to do. I don’t want to be in this God damn room anymore, but leaving means facing the world, myself, my father, Callie.
“If Kayden wants to stay here,” Doug interrupts. “Then he can. ”
“I’m sure as hell not paying for it,” my mother snaps venomously. She reaches into her purse and takes out the car keys.
“I’m signing you out first thing tomorrow morning and then you’re coming home—that is, unless you want to fork out your own money. ”
She clutches the keys in her hands and storms out the door, taking my hope with her. I wonder why she’s doing it. Why she’d put me in here for barely over a week and then suddenly want me out. There’s got to be something going on.
Whatever it is, I don’t want to go home. If I do, there’s a good chance my father’s going to finish what he started.
Doug sighs as he returns his pen to his pocket, and then he turns to me. “Well, that didn’t go so well. ”
“It never does with her. ” I shove the sleeves of my long-sleeved shirt up and rest my arms on my knees. “There’s no use trying to fight her on anything. She always wins. ”
He grabs a chair from the corner and positions it in front of my chair. He doesn’t bother taking his jacket off, which means he’s probably not staying long. “Does she win fights with your father?”
he asks as he lowers himself into the chair.
Warning flags pop up all over in my head. I know the drill.
Lie. Lie. Lie. “What do you mean? What fights?”
He crosses his leg over his knee and the bottom of his pants ride up. He’s wearing these socks with smiley faces on them. “Your mother and father never fight?”
I shake my head because it’s the truth. They really don’t because my mother is a yes-dear kind of person. “No, not really. ”
His brows pucker and I get the feeling I might have said something wrong. “Kayden, what’s
your dad like?”
My fingertips automatically jerk inward and my nails slice at my skin. “He’s… he’s a dad. A normal dad. ”
“Do you have a good relationship with him?” he questions.
“Because I find it kind of strange that he hasn’t visited you once. ”
“Our relationship’s fine. ” My throat feels thick with tar. “He just works a lot of hours. ”
His hand whisks across the paper as he writes something in his notebook and then proceeds into the conversation with caution. “Has he ever hit anyone in your family?”
It is the perfect opportunity to tell him everything: about my life, about the pain, about the unworthiness. But it feels like betrayal and I realize that I’m basically my father’s puppet. It’s a terrifying and confusing conclusion, like the strings that attach me to him have wound into knots. “I-I don’t know. ”
“You don’t know?” He’s skeptical. “Are you sure?”
I nod my head as I stare at the floor in front of me. There’s a pink stain on it and a lot of the linoleum is cracked and chipped. “I really don’t know. ”
He evaluates me, then takes a card out of his front pocket and extends his hand toward me with it between his fingers. “I want to see you first thing Monday. My office address is on the back. ” He flips over the card and shows me where the address is written in his handwriting. “My number’s also on the front. If you ever need to talk about anything, you can call me anytime. ”
I take the card, realizing that committing to his request means committing to more than just a visit. It means opening up doors I nailed shut a long time ago and facing all the demons I locked inside. It means telling him everything, even about my dad.
And then what? What if I actually do? Then what happens to my family? My mother? My father? Do I care? I don’t know. I don’t know anything. I think I’m the most fucked-up, confused person who’s ever lived.
Doug drags the chair back to the corner and then tucks his notebook underneath his arm as he heads for the door. “I want you to see you a few times over Christmas break, and then we’ll find you a therapist to talk to in Laramie when you go back to college. ”
A measured breath eases from my lips as I clench my hand around his card and bend it in half. I get a paper cut and it momentarily stills the stirring inside me. “What if I don’t want to?”
He offers me a positive smile. “You do, otherwise you would have just said no. ”
I don’t say anything and it’s a silent agreement. I’ll see a shrink in Laramie. That is if I make it back to school.
Shit. I’m suddenly reminded of the bigger picture. I have more problems than just dealing with my father. How the hell am I going to get out of that mess? Let my father buy Caleb off? Then what? I owe my father for life? And carry his secrets—our family’s secrets forever.
Doug exits the room and I let my head fall into my hands. I drag my fingers through my hair roughly and pull hard on the roots. For once, I wish that things were easy. That I could relax.