Out Of Bounds

In all honesty, my sister and I had never been close

But one person was going to tear us further apart

His name is Luke Hemmings

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21. 21

Coming back home was the not the sweet closure I thought it would be. I was literally packed by Friday evening and all weekend dad and Jennifer have done nothing but argue. I look at my bedside clock, it's only nine a.m and yet they are on round twelve of bickering. I put a pillow over my head and try and get back to sleep but it's no use

"I can't believe you are letting her go!"

"Her mom is ill! What did you want me to do?"

"At least consult me? That girl is like a daughter to me! And you didn't even think to tell me what was going on? You just go back to Sydney and don't even pick up the phone? You are a selfish prick sometimes Carl!"

"Do not talk to me like that! You are out of line. Carly could move to the end of the earth and she would still be my daughter. It hasn't been easy letting her make this choice"

"I will talk to you the way I see fit! Did she even make that choice or was it made for her?"

I throw the duvet off of me and literally stomp my way into the kitchen which is about five steps away from my bedroom

"Guys, stop! This is getting silly! This is not how I wanted to spend my last few days here. It's not"

"I'm sorry Carly" Jennifer steps forward, literally pushing dad away with her shoulder "but you left here for a vacation that you didn't even want to go on and now I'm being told that you are leaving? When did I not become a part of this family anymore?"

"You are my family. But right now my mom needs me. You didn't see her Jennifer, she's alone there. Jodie will soon be going to university, Tom will be at work. She can't go through it alone"

"But you will be alone don't you see that! Your home is here! What will you have there?"

Nothing. I know she's right. Luke will be gone, my mom is going to feel like crap with treatment and Tom ... Well it's not like we will hang out

"I'm used to my own company. I will be ok. I promise"

"No. This is not fair! I know you. You have been pushed into this. They should be ashamed of themselves!"

"Enough" Dad bangs his hand off the table and it makes us both jump "stop guilt tripping her when it's already hard enough. You are welcome to your opinion but just stop! I mean it!"

Jennifer steps back and for a moment I think she's going to cry but she's not a push over

"Fuck you Carl. You've been distant since you've been there. What is it? You've seen her mom and now you feel loyal to her. Well she wasn't loyal to you was she! I'm sure it's been lovely reminiscing over old times. What's the matter Carl? First love cuts deep and it seems your loyalty is not where it should be!"

"Please stop this" I move in between them and Dad looks furious. In fact I don't think I've ever seen him so mad

"You are crossing a line with me. Do not go there Jennifer"

"Oh I went there! She's used you for the sympathy vote and now she's using Carly. She didn't care where she lived until she realised she needed a carer"

"Jennifer I'm begging you, please just stop this now. You are both saying things you don't mean"

"Oh no Carly, I'm saying exactly what I mean"

"You couldn't get the time off work, if you could have just come to Sydney and have seen her -"

"What?"

"Carly shut up" I look at dad but he's not looking at me, his eyes are fixed on Jennifer

"What did you say?"

I swallow nervously and knot my hands in front of me

"I hmm, I thought you couldn't get the time off work?"

"I wasn't even asked!" She throws a plate at the wall and I duck as pieces of it scatter all over the floor "You know what? I'm done. I'm over this"

She walks out of the room slamming the door behind her. I literally push dad to follow her and I cover my ears with my hands as the arguing continues

"Shit" I grab the dustpan and brush and sweep up what is left of the plate. When I said I felt like my world was crumbling ... It's just exploded.

That afternoon Jennifer left with all of her things. Dad let her go

Once the sun has set Dad and I sit on the porch with some beers and pizza. I throw a blanket over me and lean back against the old rocking chair. Coonamble is silent, just the way I like it. The air is still, Like no drama has unfolded. It's like the air is closing itself around me keeping me here, but even though I am physically in this chair, my thoughts are with Luke. And that's how I know it's time for me to leave. Even when he's gone I know I will still be close to him in some way. His house will still be there. There will always be the chance he comes back. Maybe university won't work out and he'll come home? I have to hold on to the hope he will, that somehow through all of this we will find each other. But most of all I know I have to go and stay with mom because I can't imagine her life feels very still at the moment. She needs me and I need to make it up to her

"You ok baby?"

"I'm ok Dad. Are you?"

He sighs and takes a long sip of his beer

"I will be"

"Dad, do you think she'll come home? What if she doesn't? I don't want you living alone"

Dad smiles and a small laugh escapes his mouth

"Honey, you are the child. Yes you are an adult but you are still my baby. And you shouldn't worry about me. I've got this house, I got a job. I got stars above me" he looks up and I do the same. All the stars in the universe seem like they are glowing down on our small home. Shedding some light on a dark situation. A star shoots across the sky and I close my eyes and make a wish. Luke. He's my only wish. I open my eyes and dad is looking at me

"What?"

He runs his fingers over his stubble and then cracks open another beer

"We've always been able to talk. Nothing is ever off limits because I would never judge you Carly. One thing Jennifer was right about, is the fact that you didn't want to go but now you are moving your whole life to go there -"

"I thought that's what you wanted?"

"It is. I stand by the fact that Sydney has more to offer you! But other than your mom, Is there another reason why you are going back?"

"I don't know what you mean dad?"

He shifts in his chair uncomfortably and then leans forward

"A boy Carly. I mean a boy. Luke to be precise"

He looks at me and I wish that it was darker, so I couldn't see the underlying disappointment in his eyes. I bite the inside of my cheek and shake my head

"No dad"

"He thinks a lot of you, and you of him. I'm not an idiot. I can see it. But don't get yourself into a mess like your mother did. That's the only advice I can give you. Jodie is your sister and I would not be happy to think you got into a situation that could hurt someone Carly. Do you know what I mean?"

I can't find the words so I just nod my head. What can I say? He can see through me. I've never been able to lie to my dad so if I don't say anything, then in a way I guess I'm not being dishonest

"Well we don't have to talk about it if you don't want to. But I'm always here for you, no matter how far away you are. You know that right?"

"I know Dad. Thank you. I'm kind of beat, I'm going to bed. Are you sure you'll be ok?"

"I am more than sure. Get some sleep sweetie"

"Goodnight. I love you"

He squeezes my hand and I kiss his cheek before making my way inside. I get some Pepsi out of the fridge and then exhausted, fall into bed.

**********

Jennifer came by the house to say goodbye. We both cried as we said what we needed to say but before I got into the truck I asked her to speak to Dad. Even if he doesn't want to admit it he needs her and I can't imagine a world where they aren't together. Saying farewell to Dad was the hardest thing I've ever had to do, A part of me wanted to take my things back into the house and stay with him. To carry on life the way it was, the way it's always been. Ok, So things are slow paced and mundane here but that's the way I like it. No drama, no illness and no Luke Hemmings to mess with my head. I hugged dad for what seemed like eternity and then he gave me an envelope with one thousand dollars inside. We argued about it, I refused to take it, but Dad reasoned that this was his gift to me, to tide me over until I found a part time job to fit around my studies but really I know that he doesn't want me to feel like I need to ask mom and Tom for help. He's stubborn about not being seen as the poor parent so even though I hated taking it, for his pride I did.

The drive has been easier in the new truck, the radio has worked perfectly and I haven't had to worry about it breaking down. I pull into the street and scream on the inside when I see a banner hanging from the front of the house

WELCOME HOME CARLY

I groan and pull the truck into the drive. I've barely taken the key out of the ignition when mom comes running outside

"You're back! It's so good to have you home"

I get out and hug her

"I guess I am"

"How was the drive? Are you tired?"

She pulls away and holds my cheeks in her hands

"Mom I'm fine I promise, The drive was ok" I check my watch. It's four p.m, it only took five and a half hours this time

"Carly" I look up when I hear his voice. He walks towards us and I so desperately want to run to him, to feel his arms around me but somehow I find the strength so stay put

"Hey Luke"

"need help with your bags?"

"That will be great. Thank you"

Me and mom go into the house and Tom and Luke take my bags and boxes upstairs. Jodie is the in the garden sunbathing but she comes running in when she sees me

"My little sister is moving in. Fun times! Sucks I'm moving out soon. You can't have my room though, you know that right? I know it's bigger but it's still my room"

"I promise I won't touch a thing. I'm quite alright with what I've got"

"Glad to hear it. I was just making sure you knew the rules" she messes up my hair and I force a smile. Asshole

"Your things are upstairs. Come here" Tom is holding out his arms and I hug him even though I want to vomit in my mouth. This cheesy display of acting like a family freaks me out but I promised Dad I would really try and be polite so I do what I can to keep that promise

"Thanks for letting me stay"

"Will you stop it, this house has always been yours too and I'm just glad you're here to stay"

I pull away and again, the fake smile I have now perfected graces my face.

Luke stays for dinner but as yet we haven't had any time alone to talk. I catch him watching me and I look down at my lap and smile

"C, we are going to the beach later. Wanna hang with us?"

The beach. No I do not

"I'm kinda tired, I think I'll just have an early night. But thank you for asking"

Jodie shrugs, obviously not bothered if I went or not. Charming

"Are you sure? There's a few of us?"

"Thanks Luke but I should unpack and get settled in"

He frowns, I hope he doesn't think I'm avoiding him but for tonight I just want to get my head around the fact I'm here. And this is a permanent vacation that I can't escape from so I need to get used to it somehow

"Stop fretting over her she's fine" Jodie snaps at him and I return my attention to my dinner. It's times like this that I question what he sees in her?

After I've helped mom wash up I go to my room and watch Jodie and Luke get into his car from my window. I close the curtains and sigh. I'm here. I'm really here. I unzip my suitcase and open the wardrobe. I step back in disbelief and look at all the new clothes that are lined up in colour coordination. There's at least seven new pair of jeans, twelve new T shirts and ten new cute summer dresses. I look on the floor of the wardrobe and there's boxes of new shoes. New converse, new ankle boots, new flats. I sit on the floor and shake my head. It's so kind of my mom but it's also so unbelievable of her! We could have gone shopping together but no, mom always thinks she knows best. Maybe she does? I'm not going to argue over this. I grab my copy of twilight from out of one of the boxes and climb into bed. I get snuggled into the pillows and then once I'm comfortable I let Bella and Edward take over my thoughts. My phone vibrates alerting me to a text message so I grab it off the beside table and sit up

*why didn't you come to the beach?*

It's Luke, and just like I thought he sounds pissed off

*I'm tired, plus I felt like I would have been in the way. Have a good night though. We'll catch up soon*

He responds straight away and I run my hands through my hair. I'm too tired to argue with him

*catch up?*

*sure x*

I leave it five minutes then reside to the fact he isn't going to text back. Instead he calls

"Luke?"

"Yeah it's me. Are we ok?"

I sigh and pull the duvet closer around me

"Yeah we're fine. What's wrong? Why are you calling?"

"Aren't I allowed to phone you?"

"Sure, if no one hears you"

"I've walked back to my car. Calum was here tonight. I managed to sell your tickets to a guy I know. I gave cal his half and I will give you yours when I see you"

"How is he?"

"With a red head so he's fine"

"Good. I'm glad to hear he's ok"

"Why are you being weird with me what have I done?"

I hold the phone closer to me and play with a thread on the duvet

"You haven't done anything it's just -"

"Just what?"

"I thought being back would make me feel closer to you but I feel like we are further apart"

"I know what you mean, I hate it too and you have to believe me on that Carly. But you should also know you owe me a date. You bailed on me last Friday so I have something planned for us. Jodie and Tiff are going to club from what I've heard, it's an all night rave. They do one every so often so I've told her that me and jack are going camping, Maybe do a hike, so all I ask is that you are ready for four o'clock. I'll meet you by the old bakery in town, do you know where it is?"

"Yeah I know where it is. Can I have any clue as to what we are doing?"

"Nope, lips are sealed" I love the sound of his laugh. He sounds genuinely happy and this makes me happy, knowing that at least when we talk it makes him smile "just bring some spare clothes and whatever else girls need for an overnight trip"

"Overnight?"

"That's it now, No more questions" the line goes dead and I sink back into the pillows. I put my hand to my mouth as I try and think what he could possibly have planed but I don't even know what to think? Where Luke is concerned everything is a mystery but at least this gives me some time alone with him to get to know more about the person that has captivated me since the first time I laid eyes on him.

That night I fall into a restless sleep but maybe, just maybe, things will work out after all

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