It was after school and Shane wasn't allowed to go anywhere. He was stuck inside with his mom. She was really serious about this being the final straw. She had picked him up from school, again, and she'd informed him that he was now going to meet his junior parole officer. Hopefully, the meeting tonight wouldn't be lame. As Shane sat staring at the floor, his mom was busy getting ready. He wasn't allowed to watch TV. It was part of being grounded. The time was nearing six and his mom was rushing him into the car.
As he got in, she was taking deep breaths. It was almost as if she were hyperventilating.
"Mom, calm down. You shouldn't be the one freaking out," he commented, buckling up.
"I know, I'm just nervous for you. I don't want you to insult your parole officer, okay?" she replied, backing out of the drive way.
Shane nodded and stared out the window. Maybe actually trying this time wouldn't be so bad. Maybe he would succeed this time. That would make his mom proud for once.
When they reached the school, he took a deep breath and exited the car. He waited for his mom and followed her to the room where the meeting was to be. Standing outside of the room, was Megan. He recognized her right away. She was always with Kenney and they were best friends. As he entered the room, he remembered the past week. He'd seen Kennedy in the hall, but she wasn't smiling like usual. She looked sad and she wasn't wearing her good clothes. She stuck with sweats and flip flops. She put no effort into getting ready. The whole week he wanted to ask her what had happened that day. He remembered seeing her like this last year. She was sad because he dog had died. The way she was now, was like how she had been then. It was almost scary.
Finally the meeting was about to start. He looked at the door and wondered if he could make a mad dash for it. Just as he looked up, Megan walked into the room...followed by Kennedy. Why was she here? She looked so sad and she seemed to be tired. His eyes followed her as she sat down and read a packet. This would be interesting.
"Mom," he whispered, tugging his mom's elbow. "Who did you pick for my parole officer?"
"We don't get to pick. The teacher is coming around right now to assign them," she replied, nodding at the teacher.
The teacher took one look at Shane and then looked at the parole officers.
"Go to Kennedy. She's the most capable," stated the teacher, moving on to the next family.
Shane cringed at the comment. Was he that bad in other people's eyes? He shook his head and walked towards Kennedy. At least he had a kind person to work with. When he sat down, he saw a range of emotions flicker in her eyes.
"Hey, I remember you," he smirked, winking at her. "How's life?"
She seemed to snap out of her thoughts when he spoke.
"It sucks. Okay, I'm Kennedy," she replied, shaking his mom's hand. "I'm going to be your junior parole officer."
Shane listened to his mother and Kennedy talk. Kennedy started off by saying how she heard that he was uncontrollable and that she may not be so successful. It kind of hurt to hear that. He really was that bad in other people's eyes. Eventually he had no interest in what they were talking about, because the subject was purely him. He listened dully to his mother's story about him and felt a stab of pain. He really did need to try to become clean and sober. His mother's sanity seemed to depend on it. He only participated in the signing of the contract and then sat still for the rest of the time.
After awhile, it was time for the parents to leave. Shane watched as his mom didn't want to leave him. He wanted to say something, but he didn't know what to say.
"Don't worry, I'll take care of him," spoke up Kennedy.
Shane watched his mom nod and hug him. Kennedy had reassured his mom when he couldn't. Guilt set itself in his mind. Why couldn't he comfort his own mother?
"Shane, your mom loves you," Kennedy commented, handing him a paper with he number on it.
He took the paper and put it in his pocket.
"I know," he replied.
"Call me if you need someone to talk to, or if you're too messed up to get home," she stated, patting his arm. "You have to try for your mom, okay?"
Kennedy knew it too. Shane just nodded and bit his lip. He wanted to say something, but he didn't know what to say. The rest of the time he enjoyed playing in the activities. He wanted to cooperate with Kennedy so that she didn't feel like she was failing. Time seemed to go by quickly as they got to know each other.
When it was time to go, Shane watched as Kennedy said goodbye to Megan. Should he walk with her? She was already heading down his street. Without thinking he spoke out.
"Kennedy, wait up!"
She walked slower as he caught up with her.
"Are you stalking me now?" she teased, a small smile tugging at the corners of her lips.
"Funny. No, I live down this street," he replied, shoving his hands in his pockets.
He did that whenever he was nervous or whenever he was uncomfortable.
"I didn't know that," she muttered, frowning slightly. "Which house is yours?"
He pointed to his house and watched as she examined it. What was she thinking? He was curious to know, but he enjoyed watching her think. Her eyebrows furrowed cutely as she thought. Her eyes were almost shining in the dim lamp light. She smiled slightly and then looked back up at him.
"Oh. Nice house. I guess I will see you tomorrow," she commented, holding that slight smile. "I live further down that way, so, yeah..."
Further down the street? Should he let her walk alone at this time of night? His mom had tried to raise him properly and he had blown it all away, but he remembered that girls shouldn't walk home alone at night. It was very unsafe for them now-a-days with rapists around every corner.
"I'll walk you the rest of the way. It's not safe at night," he commented, walking with her.
She just nodded her head and continued to walk. He watched her think again. A small, cute crease formed between her eyebrows as she thought. He was almost sure that he could sense relief in her eyes. Maybe she was glad that he was with her. It made him satisfied to think that she might. As he thought that, he wondered about his question from earlier.
"Hey, Kennedy...I was wondering...why were you crying that day when you bumped into me?" he asked, trying to look her in the eye.
He was sure that he looked awkward. When he normally talked to people, he avoided eye contact. Now he saw that she experiencing a range of emotions. He was sure he saw shock and anger, but maybe deep in her eyes he saw a flicker of fear. She stopped walking and took a breath. Then she continued to walk.
"I was crying because my boyfriend broke up with me down at that park," she confessed finally.
"Oh I'm sorry. Why did he break up with you?"
"He told me that we live to far apart and that we barely get to see each other. He wasn't even the one trying to come see me. I was the one making the effort."
A little flash of anger and curiosity flew through Shane's mind.
"Where does he live?"
"By the mall."
Now the anger was starting to set it. The mall wasn't that far away. Certainly not over half an hour. It would almost be understandable if he lived farther away than that.
"That's not that far. What an ass. Look, I'm sorry that you got dumped, but maybe it was a good thing. This guy doesn't sound all that great. He never made an effort to come see you."
"Yeah. He text me yesterday letting me know that he had a new girlfriend."
He stopped walking and stared at her. Kennedy stared back at him. Shane wanted to ask for this guy's exact address so he could go and teach him some manners. It was kind of ironic how he would be the one teaching manners, when had very little of his own.
"Well, this is my house. Thanks for walking me home. It was very sweet of you," she finally said, almost breathless.
Shane saw that she was hurt. She was good at trying to hide it, but she wasn't that good. He saw in the way she turned and how her lip was almost quivering. Whoever this guy was that hurt her, Shane was going to make him sorry he ever did.
Reaching forward, Shane wrapped his arms around Kennedy's shoulders. He pressed his cheek against the top of her head and closed his eyes. It wasn't fair that she was being treated like dirt.
"I'm sorry that happened to you, Kennedy. You don't deserve to be treated like that. You're so kind to people. I mean, look what you're doing for me. You're going to try and help me stay clean. Don't pay any attention to him, okay? He's a prick."
He hugged her close to him as she started to cry. She sobs shook her body and he felt a strong pain for her. The thought of her hurting over this guy made him upset. Kennedy was really an unselfish person who only cared about others. She was never the one to get in fights with people and she tried to help everyone she could. He never really knew her before this school year, but he knew about her. He was ready to be there for her now that she was there for him.
When Kennedy's sobs finally ceased, he let her go. As he walked home, he thought of what just happened. Kennedy's explanation for why her boyfriend had broken up with her just didn't make sense. The distance wasn't that long. A dark thought entered his head. He had used this excuse one time a while ago for a girl who just wouldn't leave him alone and he wanted to date someone else. For him though, the excuse made more sense. He lived over thirty minutes away from her. He had told the girl that he lived to far away and that he just couldn't date her anymore. She had taken it pretty hard. This had to be what was going on now. Kennedy's now-ex boyfriend was using the distance excuse so that he could go out with someone else.
Shane looked around and found a wooden fence. He punched it, leaving a broken board and his fist bloody. This guy who hurt Kennedy was going down. He wouldn't get away with this.