Chelsea ducked through the pine trees in the middle of the park on the way home. She liked to cut through the park instead of going around it on her way back from Elainie's house. It was late, dinnertime, most of the kids were called inside to eat. The sun shone in her eyes between the roofs as she walked. The air began to cool as well.
She thought about school tomorrow, what her friends woudl say or do in the familiar environment, what mean things her peers would say or do that she would have to deflect from Elainie. She knew she couldn't be there to protect her all day, they hadn't teh same classes, but she would have lunch with her, which provided the largest window for bullying.
These thought took her to her doorstep. She yanked open the door.
"CHELSEA! WHERE have you been?! Not out with that 'tarded girl!"
"Mom, she's not retarded!"
"Your supper's cold! I was 'bout to give it to the dog!"
Chelsea ignored her, choosing not to respond as it would just bring more words tumbling from her mother's thoughtless lips. She wolfed down the half-cold meal, not tasting any of it. Her mother didn't turn from the TV screen to say hello, to ask about her day, nor to see that she ate. A wisp of smoke curled above her head, expanding and scenting the whole house. Chelsea thought her mom smoked just so Elainie can never come over.
Chelsea went to her room. She started on her homework. She copied the definitions of vocab words into her binder and her mind wandered in between entries. She glanced out her window, saw a bluejay, and thought about how that was Elainie's favorite bird. She glanced at her dresser, saw her brush and thought how priveledged she was to be able to brush her own hair. Elainie couldn't do that. Then she saw the tiny photo stuck in her mirror frame by a corner. It was her brother.
Chelsea frowned at the photo. She had loved her brother, but he had changed her life, her world, and never left her mother the same happy, loving person she was before.
Chelsea shook herself and got back to work. Anything, even boring vocab copying, to get her mind off of thoughts of HIM.