Chapter 22

The sun is warm on my cheeks and makes my vision pink and pearly before my eyes even open. I wonder what day it is, and why Aunt Sandra hasn't come to wake me up yet. She's probably still asleep, I conclude, satisfied. I roll over onto my side and curl up in a ball, unconsciousness creeping back like a fine mist.

My eyes snap open.

Aunt Sandra is in the hospital.

Sam is downstairs.

Henry is waiting for me to call him.

It is Sunday.

No, no, no, I just want to go back to sleep. To pretend that none of this is happening, to go back to the days when Aunt Sandra was healthy and home and I was almost happy. But that can never happen. And besides, I told Aunt Sandra that I would visit her, and that fact is like an annoying itch that I could ignore, but I know it is still there. She is counting on me. I'm counting on seeing her.

I throw a sweatshirt on and head downstairs, and a small shock shoots through my heart at the sight of Sam asleep on the couch. Soon after a sense of safety replaces it, and I remind myself that, at least for now, I'm not alone.

"Hey Henry." I'm sitting on the front step, my phone pressed tightly to my ear, my voice barely above a whisper; I don't want to wake up Sam.
His voice is groggy. "Ada, hi. How are you? Is everything alright?"
"I'm okay, just woke up. Sam is still asleep. I'm going to visit Sandra soon," and even I can hear the hint of happiness that creeps into my voice when I say that.
"That's great, Ada. Do you need me to come with?" I don't reply at first, wondering if it would be more comforting for Aunt Sandra to have Henry there or Sam. But then I remember the doctor from the phone, the one who sounded almost threatening, and I know I need Sam with me.
"Nah, that okay. I think Sam is going to come along. I'll call you after, though." His voice sounds somewhat irritated when he replies,
"Fine. Talk to you then."

Henry hangs up when Sam calls for me from inside.
"Good morning," he greets me from the fridge. "Do you want some breakfast?" I nod and sit down at the kitchen table.

After breakfast I change and Sam and I go out to the car.
We drive for a while, saying nothing. Finally, tired of the silence, I ask,
"Do you want me to take you home? To get a change of clothes?" Some people might think it odd that he would stay over at my house without letting his family know, but it isn't. Sam's dad was cool about that kind of stuff.
He looks out the window as he answers. "No. I'm fine." His voice is faraway, and familiar. It's how I sounded the first few weeks after I took my mom to rehab. I didn't need anything from anyone. I still don't but it is nice to have the option.

"Is everything okay at home?" He doesn't answer me immediately.

The End

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