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The Redemption of Callie & Kayden, Page 9

Jessica Sorensen

Page 9



  Really, what I wish for is Callie.

  Callie I wake up early the next morning, before the sun has completely risen over the curves of the mountains. I slept terribly last night, tossing and turning, unable to get comfortable. I kept having this dream where I’d run into Kayden’s house and find blood on the floor and knives, but he wasn’t there. I searched the whole house but all I kept finding were piles and piles of leaves. I woke up dripping in sweat and ended up throwing up in the bathroom.

  I lie awake in bed, and Seth is snoring next to me, content in his sleep. I listen to him breathe until I can’t sit still any longer and then get up and grab my notebook from my bag. I take a seat in the makeshift windowsill that looks out at the snowy driveway. My mom’s car is buried in a foot of snow and my dad’s truck has chains on the tires.

  I pull my knees up and station the notebook on them before pressing the tip of the pen to the paper.

  I dream that I get to have cake before Caleb takes me into my room. When I blow out the candles and make a wish, I wish to have the happiest and best birthday in the world and the wish comes true. Caleb never shows up that day to hang out with my brother, and I get to play hide-and-go seek outside with the other kids. I rip open paper and smile at my presents.

  Lately in the dream, instead of making a wish for myself, I make a wish for Kayden. I wish that he never met me and that he never learned my secret. I wish that he never had any reason to beat up Caleb and that he never ended up on the floor, bleeding to death.

  I wish for happiness in a world full of sorrow.

  There’s always so much pain and I wish for all of it to be gone.

  Of course, wishes are just wishes, just hope for a speck of light in a dark field.

  When I analyze my wish for Kayden, I get terrified at what it means. If I’m willing to take brokenness and shattering of my childhood in exchange for the removal of his, then how deep are my feelings for him? And am I ready to handle them?

  I pause to think about what I wrote and I spot my mother walking out the side door of the house as she tromps through the snow toward the garage. I let go of the pen and it falls to the floor.

  I glance over at Seth sleeping in the bed and then I panic, hop up, grab my jacket and phone, and run out the door. She’s reaching the top of the stairs when I shut the door.

  “Oh good, you’re awake. ” She hugs her arms around herself and bounces up and down as she shivers.

  I slip my arms through the sleeves of my jacket and flip my hair over the collar. “Yeah, I was just getting ready to head inside. ”

  My mom glances out at the mountains and the sky is tinted pink from the sunrise and reflects in her eyes. “You’re up early. ”

  Her brown hair blows in the breeze as she looks at me. Even though it’s been only about a month since I’ve seen her, she’s aged a lot, but that might be because she’s in her pajamas and her hair and makeup aren’t done. “I don’t remember you being a fan of getting up early. ”

  I shrug as I zip up the jacket and then pull the hood over my head and hug my arms around myself and shiver. “I slept in the truck during the drive over here,” I lie. “So I wasn’t very tired. ”

  She eyes me over with skepticism. “Who gave you a ride here?”

  I’m wary to answer. “Um, Luke. ”

  “Luke who?”

  “Luke… Price. ”

  Her shoulders stiffen and she wraps her robe tighter around herself. “Kayden’s friend?”

  I nod. “Yeah. ”

  She thrums her fingers restlessly against her hips as she clenches her jaw and stares at the door to the garage, trying to see through the frosted window. “Callie, I don’t want you hanging around Kayden. ”

  The wind decides to kick up and snowflakes sting my skin as they swirl around us in a flurry. The wind howls against my eardrums and the reflection of the daylight discomforts my eyes.

  “Why?” I chatter, rocking my body to attempt to keep warm.

  “Because I don’t want you having any association with Kayden. ” She looks at me and I see loathing in her eyes. Or maybe it’s fear. “He’s obviously got a temper and even your father said he was trouble when he was on the team. ”

  “I doubt dad said that,” I argue. “He always liked Kayden. And besides, you talk to Kayden’s mother. ”

  “Not by choice. ” There’s judgment in my mother’s eyes like she’s blaming Maci Owens for Kayden’s mistake. If that’s the case, would she blame herself if I told her what happened to me?

  I hide my hands in my sleeves and tip my chin down into the collar of my jacket. I’m wearing a pair of pajama bottoms and the fabric is thin and the cold air easily trickles through. “Can we go inside and talk about this? It’s cold. ”

  She glances at the door of the room above the garage again and then redirects her attention to me. “Is your friend in there? The one who…” She lowers her voice and her eyelashes flutter against the snowflakes gusting around us. “The one who likes guys?”

  I sigh, turn sideways, and squeeze between her and the railing without uttering an answer. Thankfully, she follows me and Seth is off the hook. At least for now.

  When I walk into the kitchen, that night smashes into my chest, the night Jackson sat at the table eating pie and Caleb tormented me with my secret. The night Kayden found out who broke me. The night where he let me cry and then slipped out of my life as effortlessly as if he were made of sand.

  I walk over to the cupboard and take out a bowl and a box of cereal. I set the bowl down on the counter and open the box as my mom walks in, letting the cold air and snow in. She slams the door and then slips off her boots beside the door and winds around the table, heading across the kitchen toward me.

  “I was going to make you breakfast. ” She reaches for the drawer above the oven that holds the pans.

  I shake my head as I pour cereal into the bowl. “That’s okay.

  I’m not hungry enough to eat a big breakfast. ”

  She drops her arm to her side and scans my tiny frame. “You look like you’re losing weight again. ”

  I look down at my short legs and my petite waist hidden under my pajamas. “I’m just stressed out. ”

  “Stressed out over what?” she asks. “About school? Or about what happened with your friend?”

  I can’t hold it in. It’s too much and it’s pissing me off. “Oh, now he’s my friend, but back when you first found out, you were so excited we were a couple. In fact, I think you told everyone in the whole damn town. ”

  “Watch your language. ” She reties her pink rob and gathers her hair out of her face. “Callie Owens, you will not talk to me that way. ” She turns around and extends her arm toward the cupboard that holds all her prescription medication. “This is my house and while you’re here you will follow my rules. ”

  I close the cereal box, stirring in my fury. “I’m eighteen years old and I can be friends with whomever I want. ”

  She grabs one of the bigger bottles and slowly turns around to face me with her hand over the lid. “Even ones who beat up your brother’s best friend. ”

  I dig my nails into the granite countertops as the pain of the last six years chokes my oxygen away. “That’s all you care about?

  Caleb?” His name tastes toxic in my mouth.

  She battles to unscrew the lid from the bottle, pressing the bottom against her hand as she squeezes the lid with her fingers.

  “Callie, Caleb has been part of this family since he was six years old. You know his parents barely talk to him. We’re the only family he has. ”

  “I don’t give a shit about Caleb!” I shout and my lungs nearly combust. But it feels good. Really, really good. I press my hand to my chest, calmly let go of the countertop, and straighten my shoulders. “I’m going to go out to breakfast with Seth. ”

  Her eyes are amplified and her lips start to part in protest, but the look on my face
quiets her. She cinches her mouth shut as the lid slips off the bottle. “Fine, have fun. ” The pills rattle as she pours a couple into the palm of her hand.

  I put the cereal back in the cupboard, set the bowl in the sink, and hurry out the back door. I run across the driveway and jog up the steps of the two-story garage. When I open the door, I’m surprised to find Seth sitting on the edge of the bed, awake and dressed in a red T-shirt and a pair of dark denim jeans.

  “You’re up,” I say as I shut the door.

  He tousles his hair into place with his fingers. “I woke when you ran out of here like there was a fire. What was up with that?”

  I shuck my jacket off, ball it up, and toss it onto the bed. “I saw my mother heading out here and I didn’t want you to have to deal with her. ”

  He hooks his watch onto his wrist as he wanders over to his shoes that are at the foot of the bed. “Callie, no matter how many jokes we make, I can handle your mom. ” He slips his foot into his boot. “Trust me, if I can handle my own mom, then I can definitely handle yours. ”

  I frown as I sink down onto the edge of the bed. “But you haven’t talked to your mom since you told her about Greyson. ”

  He shrugs as he laces up his shoe and fastens a knot. “She’ll get over it. It’ll just take some time, just like it did when I told her I was gay. ”

  I flop back onto the bed and drape my arm over my forehead. “How do you decide what’s worth telling your parents and what’s not?”

  He’s silent for a while and then I hear his footsteps as he walks around to my side of the bed. He lifts my arm off my head and looks down at me. “If you’re asking me if I think you should tell your parents about what happened with Caleb, then the answer is yes. I think you should. ”

  He releases my arm and I lean up on my elbows. “How can you be so sure?” My mouth sinks to a frown. “She could get mad at me. Or she could hate herself as much as I hate… hated myself. ”

  Seth brushes my bangs out of my eyes with his fingers.

  “Callie, if she hates herself for a while, then she hates herself for a while. You’ve been carrying around the burden for the last six years and it’s about time someone else took a little bit of the weight off of you. ”

  “I’m not sure I can,” I whisper, clutching at the dull ache inside my chest. “There’s just so much… so much acceptance in telling her the truth. ”

  “Like you might have to accept that it’s finally real?”

  I nod as I gaze at the clear sky outside. The sunlight is beaming down on the houses across the street. Sunlight is a rare occurrence in Afton, but maybe it’s a sign that not everything is caped in darkness. That light does exist even in the darkest of corners.

  He moves back as I sit up and head for my bag on a fold-up chair near the door. “I was thinking we could go out to breakfast this morning. There’s this café in town that has the best pancakes in the world. ” I take a purple shirt out of the bag and a pair of jeans.

  “I was thinking we could go see Kayden first,” Seth says as he texts something on his phone.