“Chad, we need to talk,” I reminded him as I caught up with him after morning chapel. We were free until lunch, so I figured that it was as good a time as any. He nodded, but he looked a bit preoccupied. “Well, whenever works, let me know.”
He grinned the grin I’d missed. “Thanks for being flexible, Jess! We can catch up after lunch, okay? I’m looking for Sean.”
That made sense. “Oh, of course!”
“Oh, and do you mind if Abby is around too? I want to tell you both the whole story, but I don’t really want to tell it more than once.” The way he said it, I could tell that he was trying to figure out where Abby and I stood now, and I thought of how much had changed.
“Yeah, that would be fine. After all, I’d never hear the end of it if she missed out on anything important.” I smiled, hoping for a grin back.
I wasn’t disappointed. “I see some things never change,” was his only comment. It made me rethink our all-important conversation, though. If he was happy that some things hadn’t changed, did that mean he wanted to just stay friends forever?
I decided to ignore that thought until we could talk, and instead I went roller blading with Melanie, my counselor.
“It sounds like you have an interesting family, just from your testimony last night,” she mentioned, and I realized that this was going to be the private conversation she had warned us about.
“Interesting doesn’t start to describe it,” I answered, wondering exactly what she would ask.
“I gathered that your parents aren’t together?” she asked.
“Oh, yeah, that’s putting it mildly.” She didn’t answer, so I kept going reluctantly. “Well, I have one older brother, Nathan. He’s in his twenties, and he moved out of the house as soon as he turned eighteen. Abby is a year older than me, but we have different moms.”
“Wait a second,” the predictable response, “do you and Nathan have different moms too, then?”
“No.” I answered shortly. Then, because she was waiting, I kept going. “I was sort of a surprise to my dad, because he’d been intending to divorce my mom for a little over a year, and then I came along and really messed up the order of his kids. So he just kept Abby and her mom a secret for eight years, then destroyed everyone’s lives. Abby’s mom was arrested last year, and my dad has never been awarded custody of any of his kids, so to keep her out of the foster care system, my mom took her into our house. She gave her Nathan’s room and my attention, and essentially replaced both of her kids for her husband’s girlfriend’s kid.”
“That must have been hard,” was Melanie’s only comment.
“So yeah, my family is interesting. My dad is in jail right now because he tried to kidnap us, he was dealing drugs, and he tried to kill us. I’m pretty sure that was all that was on his record just then.”
“Well then, tell me about Chad.” She didn’t know what she was asking for.
“How long do you have?” I asked, dead serious.
She laughed. Predictable and excusable. “However long it takes. I’ll be here all week,” she added with a wink.
I cracked up and almost wiped out, but Chad’s lessons had trained my feet better than I remembered. “That’s nice to know. But anyway, Chad. He was my neighbor last year. I wanted to hear what his school was like, because last year was my first year in high school. We started hanging out, and he was teaching me to skateboard, and you know the story of how he got me to go to church with him. Then we just hung out all the time, and he was trying to convince me that I would be able to deal with all my stuff better if I knew Jesus, and eventually I realized that he was right, and you know that story. Then he got taken away from his grandparents because some court decided that his mom and new step dad were better parents, so that happened, and this is the first time we’ve seen him since. Or even talked to him, for that matter.”
“That must have been hard,” was her only comment.
“Yeah, well, I got over it. Now he’s here, and we’re going to talk after lunch and clear things up, so that’s all cool.”
“So how close are you to your mom?” That was unexpected, I have to admit.
“Um, after Abby came, any relationship I had with her was over. She sort of reversed us.”
“What do you mean, reversed you?” she asked quizzically.
“Abby got treated like her daughter, I got treated like her ex-husband’s daughter. Nothing has changed as far as that goes.”
“So how are you and Abby with each other? I mean, that must be awkward,” Melanie commented matter-of-factly.
“It’s awkward when people ask questions, but since Chad left we’ve been pals, and lately we’ve accepted the fact that we’re technically sisters, so we’re actually on good terms with each other.”
“That’s good to hear,” Melanie replied. Apparently sensing that I was done offering up facts having to do with my family history, she asked about Nathan next.
“Oh, Nathan and I are best friends! He occasionally shows up on the weekends and takes me somewhere else just for fun, and we text all the time. He actually talked my mom out of punishing me for a couple B’s last year in a really hard class, so we’re pretty close.”
“That’s great that you have at least one person you can be close to,” she answered with a smile.
There was every possibility that Chad could be added to that list by the end of the week, but I kept my mouth shut about that until we could actually talk to each other privately.
*NOTE: All characters and events portrayed in this story are purely fictitious. Any resemblance to actual people or events is entirely coincidental.*
Next part next Thursday! Suggestions, names for various characters, or other questions, comments, or concerns can be left below, or you can e-mail me at the address on my contact page.
If you really love my work, vote for one of my poems on TeenInk! Every little bit helps!