The curtains near my window fluttered like broken butterfly wings, the shimmering black material hugging and releasing the wall. Made uncomfortable by Jaden's insistence upon perusing my emotions, I flattened my hands against the ground and tried to get them to stop quivering. I always trembled when I was nervous.
"How's Aunt Cecelia treating you?"
"She's been better."
"Did she have a cow when she saw your hair?" Jaden inquired, a smile winking at his lips.
I groaned, pleased at the opportunity to steer the conversation in a far more detached direction. "Jaden. People haven't used the phrase 'have a cow' for, like, two decades."
"You're very good at distracting people from the original topic."
Agitated, I lifted my hands and folded them neatly in my lap. I shrugged. "She took it okay. I mean, she took it like she takes everything else. At least I didn't come home and announce pregnancy or something."
Jaden pursed his lips and inhaled slowly through his nostrils. The question scratched at his lips, and after restraining the words for several moments, he finally let them burst them from their prison. "Do you think that'll ever happen?"
"I wouldn't let it get that far."
"You mean you wouldn't ever sleep with someone, or you would have an abortion before you had to tell Uncle Zed and Aunt Cecelia?"
Humiliated and certainly not about to tell Jaden that several boys already had taken my body, only one of them by force and the rest of them with my permission, I stood and growled, "I don't know of any girls who would discuss this with their brothers." Nevermind that my older brother had done more than just "discuss" the issue with me.
"Dani - "
"I have homework to do, and you probably do, too." Crossing my arms tightly across my chest and sucking in my tummy so that I appeared as tiny and insignificant as possible, I turned my back to Jaden and marched over to my bed.
I whirled around to see Jaden standing by the door, his hand on the doorknob. His gangly frame shifted, and I could see in his stance both confidence in who he was...and agony about who I was becoming. The poor child. What an unadulteratedly gleeful life he could live, if only his older siblings weren't making his emotions take tumultuous turns at every possible point.
I didn't dare peer into Jaden's soulful eyes, for if I did, I knew I would be overcome by tears at the sight of his anguish.