Look at the way he's stacking up the wood, like he's some type of macho man. Obviously trying to impress me. He's completely clueless that he's overrated in my mind. And his jeans are way too tight. You know, he's not as hot as he thinks he is with sweat dripping down his forehead. And his neck. And his chest. And- Stop it.

... News flash, Owen. We're history.


14. Fourteen

I pay no mind to Kaylin in the kitchen when I get home from school. I drop my purse on the table and start my history assignment, my earphones in place. My conversation with Nicole didn't start bothering me until this morning. I keep thinking about what she said the other day about Owen. How she saw him and Ava. I imagined them under the stairs, their lips pressed together. It's the busiest hall in the school, so I know several people witnessed it. Of course it probably wasn't the first time they'd kissed, but the thought of them flaunting it around poked at my gut all day. I had to tell myself more than enough times today to stop thinking about it. My stomach wants to flip every time it slithers back into thought. 

What does he see in her anyway? My boobs are twice the size as hers are. My ass is just as good. My hair doesn't look like straw. Is she skinner? No, we're about the same. Is she prettier? I don't know, I haven't looked at her face good enough. Maybe she's better in bed. 

I didn't mean to think that, but when I do I have to close my eyes. The thought of her and Owen having sex racks in my brain, like its screaming and trying to get out. The thought is imprisoned, and I know it isn't going anywhere for a long time. I want to scream, but I am not alone. 

Kaylin is doing the dishes, something nobody asked her to do. I wonder why she acts like this is her place, now that her and James' relationship is out in the open. He gave her the spare key, and I'm sure by now she has a drawer for herself in his bedroom. I release my clenched fists and I can feel my blood pressure settling. I look away from her, and shove my fallen ear bud back where it belongs. I sit there for two hours trying to finish my essay, but I'm only a hundred words in. I need three hundred, but distraction is my enemy at this point. My phone rings, and I shiver at the name across my phone screen. 

"Hi, Owen."

"Pres," he sounds worried, and it scares me so I bite my top lip with my bottom teeth. I don't say anything, just wait for him to talk again. "My mom, she's in pain." I stand to my feet, not too quick. "And she wants you." I can hear her screaming behind his stern voice, and I can't help but picture her helplessly grimacing in agony. By now, I'm holding the phone between my cheek and shoulder and I gathering loose things back into my purse. 

"Kaylin." I say loudly, and her head snaps to my attention. "Can you please drive me somewhere?" I think I'm breathing hard, but it feels like I'm not breathing at all. I hear Norma again. "Please." I swing my bag onto the opposite shoulder, and balance the phone in my hand again. The sound of her cry makes me feel like someone's shoving a needle in my ear, and I wonder what it's like for Owen. On the line, I hear what sounds like a gasp, or maybe a sob. I stomp my foot impatiently just before Kaylin nods, and she snatches her car keys off the counter. 

"I'll be there in five minutes." I hang up before he can answer, because I can hear the rise of a new scream coming from his mother, and I don't want to hear it. 

My brother's girlfriend drives a tiny red car, and it has a bumper sticker of a blue dolphin on the back. The car looks like it could use a wash, and there's a small crack on the passenger's side of the windshield. She starts the car and before she can ask, I tell her the first turn to make. 

I didn't know I cared about Norma enough to make my heart thump so hard. This is part of her condition, part of the cancer, and thinking about that makes my insides ache. I feel like my organs will fall out if we don't get there soon. I tell Kaylin where to go, even though my mind isn't really present. I'm thinking about the time Owen invited me over when we were dating, and his mom was making the biggest chocolate cake I'd ever seen. It was for his brother, the second youngest, just before Owen. I remember watching her put in the candles in. She inserted twenty one, even though he was only turning nineteen. "Two for good luck." she told me, as I helped her light them. 

She always reminded me that I was her favorite of all her daughter in laws. Certainly, Owen and I were far from being married, but that's how she addressed me. "This is my daughter in law, Presley." she told the mail man one time while we sat out on their front porch. He was confused, because the thought of such a young girl being married was crazy. I just smiled and waved at him. I didn't think she was weird for calling me that. I was more honored than anything. Norma is important to me because she was kind of like a mother figure when I didn't have one. Although it was only for a short time, she never failed to treat me with love and respect, even if she knew Owen and I were fighting.  

"Here, here." I point to the house, and Kaylin stops short in front of the drive way. "Thank you." I meant to smile at her, but I was too eager to get into the house that I left without giving her one. 

I didn't knock or ring the door bell. I just find my way to her bedroom, the source of yelling. I push open the door and slap my hand across my mouth. Her hair is a messy halo around her head, and there is so much blood on the quilt over her that I think I might faint. I look at Owen, who's eyes are swollen and red. He sniffles to get air into his nose and I hug him. "What should I do? Who should I call?" he says in my ear. I know he wants to cry, because seeing your mother like this can't possibly be easy. Hot air from his mouth is flaring on my neck, and he whimpers when I don't answer. I don't know what to do. And I don't know why he thought I would. 

"Umm...." I pull away and shake my head, my mouth agape waiting for an answer to slip out. Norma is waving her hand at me and I run over to take it. 

"It's hurts." she cries, drool falling from her chapped lips. 

"Ambulance." is all I say when I look at him again. Owen's sad little boy face looks at me like: Are you serious? He clearly didn't know that he had underestimated over the phone when he said that his mom is only in pain. 

She is miserable.

It's worse than last time. Her eyes are glazed, and the veins are forcing through the skin on her forehead. I grab a tissue from her night table beside me to wipe the blood that's just starting to fall out of her nose. Owen is gone, hopefully on the phone with some one who can help us. "Is this suppose to happen?" she asks, holding back another sob with a sad smile. I shake my head and grip her hand tighter, preparing myself for the scream shes about to release. My gut is twisting inside of me as I try to soothe her. 

It only take seven minutes for the paramedics to get here but it feels like an hour. 


I was gonna meet them at the hospital, but Owen insisted that I join him in the ambulance truck. We were each holding one of her hands and she was still screaming, probably louder than she was in the house. But my ears were numb, and I wondered if it felt good for her to scream. 

In the hospital, Owen and I paced in opposite directions while we called all four of his brothers. The two that I spoke to, Vincent and Beau, were the two oldest. They had no problem remembering who I was, the problem was telling them that their mother was in the hospital because of severe symptoms from her vaginal cancer. A doctor only came out once to talk to Owen while I went to get him something to drink. The information he was given was useless, and they claim that they're treating her. 

Adrian was the first of his brothers to arrive. He was the one who was honored on his birthday with that big chocolate cake. I smiled towards the tile floor as I thought about the brown icing on his face. When Beau appeared from the other side of the emergency room doors, Owen stood up. I think Beau must be his favorite, because he hugs him in a way that I didn't seen with Adrian. Beau was the oldest, twenty eight, I think. He was most likely a father figure in Owen's life, something he never got even a taste of. 

I check the time, and decide to call James when I see that its already nine o'clock. "Hey," I whisper, catching one of Owen's fingers with my own. He turns and gets a good grip on both of my hands, and pulls them up to his chest. He's not smiling, or frowning. I guess he's just blank. I rub the area just below each of his collar bones and hum in a comforting way. "You're okay." I don't ask, because I knew if I did he'd say he wasn't okay. So I tell him instead. His eyes close for a second, and they open when I push the hair off of his forehead. My body is moving without help from my brain, and my limbs are doing whatever they want. He sighs out of his nose, and my hands go up to wrap around his neck. After his finds my waist, I see Adrian watching from the corner of my eye. "You're okay." I repeat. "I'm gonna go call my brother." I let go of him when he nods, and suddenly my hands are cold from not having his warm skin beneath them.

James agrees to pick me up at ten, and when I migrate back into the hallway, Vincent and Gian have arrived. When Gian sees me, he hugs me and picks me up, and I have no choice other then to bury my face into his hot neck. "Hey." I say it with enthusiasm, more than called for, especially right now in our situation. But then again, he's the one who just leaped for my embrace. And I saw him smiling. In a friendly sense, I think I get along with him best out of them all. Vincent politely kisses me on the cheek, a sort of ritual that I noticed in their family. He came with his wife, who's name I forgot. I knew it started with an M. Missy or Mimi or something.

I sit next to Owen, and once again my body moves with a blank mind. He needs a haircut, so much that I can tuck stray hairs behind his ear. And I do. "If you give me a few dollars, I'll get you something to eat." I say in a low voice, as close to his ear as I can get. I'm afraid I say it too seductively, even thought that wasn't even my intention. I guess I was just used to that kind of talk around him.

He shakes his head. "I can't eat." I place my nail in my mouth and start chewing, and he slaps my hand away from my face. I fold my hands in my lap bashfully, and my head falls against his arm. "Keep telling me." he says, so only I can hear. He looks down, so the hair that I just tucked comes undone again, and flops. I know what he means when he says that, but somehow my face is still confused. I prop my chin onto his shoulder so he can hear me loud and clear.

"You're okay." 

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