Sam ended up coming back to Henry's place with us, shocking Jackie when he hopped in next to her in the backseat. I could see Henry's unease at this, and I quickly asked Jackie to switch with me. But she refused: instead, she introduced herself sweetly and simply asked "whats up?".
By the time we got back to their house they acted like old friends.
Henry and Jackie's parents are still out of the house, and Henry informs me they will not be back until nighttime. I'm not planning on staying until then anyway. With my pink bear in my arm and Sam in tow, we say our goodbyes and head to the car. But Henry grabs by arm as I pass through the hall door, and I tell Sam to go ahead without me, that I would be there in a minute.
"Are you alright with this?" Henry questions, his eyes still swimming with uneasiness. I frown.
"Of course I'm alright. Sam is one of my best friends," I assure him.
"Was. He was one of your best friends. You haven't seen him since middle school and today we randomly see him smoking a joint on a street corner and you're inviting him to stay for a sleepover!" He hisses. Something along the line of irritation is beginning to churn inside of me, but his concern dims it.
"Henry. Don't worry. I can take care of myself." But he doesn't look convinced. "Listen, I'll call you first thing tomorrow, okay?" He sighs and his gaze softens, but his mouth is still set in a grimace.
"Fine. Don't forget, or I'm coming over, okay?" I nod and try to smile.
"That Henry guy doesn't like me too much, does he?" Sam begins the moment I close the drivers side door. Adjusting my seatbelt, I sigh.
"It's not that. He's just...overprotective. Because of what's happening with Aunt Sandra." I pull out and drive down the street the same way I came in, the route home coming back to me easily.
"Sandra? I haven't seen her in forever. What's wrong?"
"She has cancer. But there was a fire the other day. She passed out making pancakes, and I had to take her to the hospital." I check my phone. "Speaking of, they should have called by now..." But I decide not to worry about it. She will wake up when she wakes up. She is stubborn like that.
"Oh, that's too bad. The way you always talked about her back in Birdsboro, she sounds like a really great lady." And in that moment, I remember all the reasons why Sam and I became best friends in the first place. Other people, when they heard the news, said "Oh, I'm so sorry. How unfortunate. If you need anything, just give me a call, alright you poor innocent, helpless little girl?". It was an automatic response, something sympathetic but at the same time, not prying. But with Sam everything seemed simpler, so easy.
"Yeah," I agree, "she is."