DAY TWENTY ONE
Naomi walked into the classroom, late for homeroom the fourth time this week. I couldn't deny that I was worried about her, and the distance she was putting between us was not helping matters any. After she sat down in the chair next to mine, she placed her books on the table in a way that allowed her to rest her head upon them somewhat comfortably. Her eyes closed and her face relaxed noticably, but the circles beneath her eyes that had became more prominent as the week went on remained.
I placed my hand over hers, rubbing small circles into her skin with my thumb, trying to make it a comforting gesture. Her eyes opened, and, for the first time when she looked at me since Tuesday, her eyes were not empty of emotion.
They were filled with tears.
I looked away, trying to forget that there was some secret that she didn't want me to know, one that was making her miserable. I wanted to help her, to protect her from what was hurting her. She shouldn't be sad. She should be happy, as she was before.
Miss Stewart took roll call, and the bell rang immediately after. Only letting go of her hand for a moment so she could grab her books, we walked to our next class together. Keeping my hand on hers whenever I could, the morning classes went by quickly. Coincidentally, I was left handed, whereas she was right, and I happened to sit to the left of her in most of the classes we had together. She left her hand with mine, letting my efforts to comfort her at least go unignored.
Naomi's odd mood didn't go unnoticed by Addie, either. Our eyes locked with concerned glances more than once, and Addison seemed to be in agony watching her best friend suffering in silence.
I knew I was worrying them. I didn't miss the concern they echoed off of each other whenever all three of us were together. I just needed time to myself.
I hadn't gotten a wink of sleep the entire week, and this hadn't gone without notice. I couldn't sleep, though, the thoughts in my head were haunting me day and night.
I only came up with one solution. To get away. To visit my father in Ohio.
The conversation with my mom about it had been very short...
"Mom?" I said shyly, for this wasn't a very comfortable subject between us.
"Yes, Naomi?" She said, taking a sip of coffee, still looking through her reading glasses at the news paper.
"Mom, I--" I paused for a moment. "I need to go see Dad."
Mom spit her coffee back into her mug and looked at me over her glasses. "Why?" She asked, blunt.
"I just need to, Mom."
Something about my voice quavering, or my facial expression must have been so miserable that her defenses broke down.
"Naomi, honey, if you need to, you just need to tell me. You'll need to call your dad and ask if it's okay, but if it's something you need..." She said, her motherly instincts taking over completely.
"I do, Mom. I need away for a while." I said, letting a few of the tears I had been fighting roll down my face.
"I'll write you a note so you can get all of your school work, and I'll call your father a little bit later to set it up with him. And I'll book a flight. Wait. When do you want to leave, honey?"
"As soon as I can." I said, then turned around and walked out the door.
"You guys, there's something I want to tell you..." I said as soon as the three of us were settled under our tree at lunch. I could already feel the tears threatening to overflow.
"Go on, Naomi. We're listening." Addie said, concern filling her eyes as she took in my tone. Adam just pulled me closer to his side,
"I'm going to Ohio." I finally managed to say, after a long moment of silence.
"You're what? Why?" Adam asked.
"To visit my Dad. To figure some stuff out. It's just a couple of weeks."
Addison looked almost as miserable as I was. Adam wore an expression of denial.
"How long?" He asked.
"And you're leaving tonight."
I didn't even have to answer. We all knew.
"I love you guys. Stay beautiful."